Archive | coronavirus survival RSS feed for this section

Our First Foray ‘Post’ Pandemic

4 May

Since Late January, 2020, my husband and I have stayed close to home.  In our normal life we would have been all over the globe.  We had several international trips planned from March 2020 to March 2021.  It amazes me how much time we would have been traveling.  Our destinations included United Kingdom, Spain, France, Holland, Hungary, Germany, Bulgaria and Romania, in Europe; Israel in Asia; Australia and New Zealand.  These do not include the little trips we would have taken in the United States to meetings and to visit family.

When I look at this list, I tense up just thinking about all packing and arrangements I would have been doing to make these trips enjoyable and stress free.  We did so much traveling that we never worried about packing and making these arrangements because traveling was second nature.

In an instant everything changed.

Instead, like most everyone else, we stayed home.  Our March and April trips were immediately cancelled.  But before that, on March 2, we actually closed on a new home and moved in April.  I was going to do all of the packing and moving in between travels! Now, when I think back about having all these trips planned, I am stunned at my own arrogance.  I would have had a new home and all the issues that go with that while traveling!  I honestly just did not think about it.  I would have just done it… with much stress!

In a way, the pandemic did me a favor. 

I am glad all those trips got cancelled and I had a chance to stay home.  I enjoyed having time to get everything accomplished with less stress and just being in my own back yard, eating in my own kitchen and walking along the paths with friends in my community.

However, we did miss our family and friends.  Zoom and phone calls were nice. But to me they are not the same as seeing people in person.   With both of us being fully vaccinated, and with many of our friends vaccinated, it seemed like the time had come to plan a trip. The pandemic was not over, but with vaccines, it was definitely better in our area.

View of Beaver Lake From

We were both a bit nervous about leaving home and venturing out.  So we planned our first trip as a road trip to Arkansas where we have some really good friends, our long-term neighbors, who retired to the Eureka Springs area of Arkansas.  We loved the Beaver Lake area, and the great views from their home. We knew with them we would have a great time.  Feel safe.  And, most of all, be with friends we missed!

While there we could also meet up with other friends who lived in Bentonville and Fayetteville.  It was especially important for me to meet up with my Bentonville friend.  She and I had grown up together in New Jersey.  Her Mom and my Mom were good friends.  And during COVID, her 94-year-old mother passed away.  With all the restrictions, I could not go to see her.  This made me really sad.  Like so many others, she had to do her grieving alone.

Plans were made.  Arrangements to meet up in Bentonville were finalized.  We went on our first foray out of Kansas.  The drive down was uneventful. When we arrived, we had the best hugs with our friends.

Later we realized our packing techniques were a bit out of practice. My husband forgot socks.  Not a big problem.  But reminded us we had not done this for a long time.

Getting ice cream.

The next day was a trip to Bentonville.  Six of us enjoying a the lovely weather.  We Visited the C21 Museum Hotel and saw the exhibits. We got ice cream at the ice cream parlor by the original Wall Mart. We walked around the town square.

At lunch my childhood friend turned to me and said, “I am really glad you are here today.  It is the one-year anniversary of my Mom dying.”  I think we both had tears in our eyes at that moment!

I did not remember that it was on April 30 that her Mom passed away.  I knew it was early in COVID.  I thought how serendipitous that we arranged this trip.  But then I thought how sometimes events happen for a reason.  Arranging this trip, being there at this time, in a way made up for the time we lost, when I could not come.  Now, I was there when she needed me. It was a moment that felt had some divine intervention.

The one-lane Beaver Bridge in Arkansas, reflected how I felt…tentatively venturing out.

I am glad we went trip for so many reasons.  We needed to be able to travel again. To cross over the bridge of just staying home to going somewhere close, and with people we feel so comfortable with made a difference.  It felt strange to be away from home; to be eating at someone else’s kitchen table and speaking with people; to be watching my favorite reality show, “Escape to the Chateau,” with another person who also loved it!

But most of all, I am glad I was there to mark the anniversary of my friend’s mother.  So many lost people they loved in the past year and were unable to follow the usual path of grieving.  Marking the first-year anniversary helped.

It will take time for me to feel back to normal when I travel.  I am not sure when I will feel comfortable flying again.  But this trip gave me hope that there will be a post pandemic return to some sort of normal.

Bittersweet Return After A Pandemic Year

12 Mar

One year and five days have passed between my visits to the elder care facility where I am a Spiritual Care Volunteer.   I last went on March 4, 2020.  I returned on March 10, 2021.  In between there was a pandemic.  Most of the year, I was not allowed to visit.  For a short period I could see people outside, and I did met with one of my people.  But I could not meet with my group.

On March 9, I was two weeks past my second Pfizer vaccine.  This means life changed for me.  As soon as I could I returned.

It has been a most stressful year for so many.   But I think the elderly took the brunt of the stress.  Many were kept isolated, away from their family and friends.  This isolation took its toll.  So many died, so many advanced in dementia, so many suffered from loneliness.  I cannot comment on my people. But I will just say that they faced the same challenges as others.

For me, personally, it was difficult not to visit.  I had been seeing them once a week for over a year.  We had formed connections and friendships.   They even surprised me with a birthday party when I turned 65.  At which time, these friends of mine, in their 80s and 90s, told me how young I was.  They told me I was Just a kid.   Which made me feel better about turning 65, if only I could be as independent as so many of my people.

Six weeks later I was no longer young: in the pandemic announcements it stated that elderly people over the age of 65 should stay inside, be careful because their lives were at higher risk.  In a short time I went from being a young 65 to an elderly person. 

I thought back to my aunt over 50 years ago.   It was summer in the Catskills.  I had run into her bungalow to see my grandma.  My aunt was reading the newspaper.  She turned to me and said, “I went to bed last night, a young woman, I woke this morning, elderly.“ 


What was she talking about?  She showed the newspaper, The New York Daily News.  An article stated that an elderly man, aged 59, had died on a tragic accident.   I looked at her and laughed.  I knew her age.  But I also knew the age she said she was.  “Aunt Leona, don’t worry.  To me you are always 39!”

But I now really knew what she meant.  I went to bed on March 11, 2020, a young 65.  I woke on March 12, 2020, an old, elderly 65.  It was a shock.

My life changed as did everyone.  But I had an added concern.  How would I keep in touch with my people who were so important to me.   I was not allowed to see them.  But I could write.  I started writing letters and notes.  I started sending goodie bags about every six weeks.  Two of my people emailed me.  One sent me everyone’s phone numbers.  I tried calling about once a month.  Some months I reached everyone. Others I only reached a few.  But I kept in touch.

The organization I volunteered for originally told the Spiritual Care Volunteers to not give out our phone number. That was now obsolete.  I gave my number to whoever wanted it.  I put them in my phone list and answered them whenever they called. They needed me. And I needed to know I was helping them in any way I could.

Over the year, some of my people did pass away.  Others moved into more skilled nursing.  At least one had Covid  and survived. I kept in touch the best I could.

Then came the vaccine. My people were among the first vaccinated in Kansas. It was so exciting. I was so glad to know they were safe and their quarantine was beginning to ease up.  I could go see them once I was vaccinated.

But for me it was difficult at first to get a vaccine.  I also have an autoimmune disease, so I was being oh so careful.   I found a spot that was providing vaccine to those who volunteer and worked with the elderly.  That was me.  I signed up on their list and soon was accepted.  I got my first vaccine in early February.  My second on February 21.  As soon as my two weeks was up I knew where I wanted to be…with my people.

I emailed the elder care facility and got permission to visit.  We set the date at my usual time, Wednesday at 2 pm, two weeks and one day past my second vaccine.   Because of my volunteer work I got my vaccine early.  So I intended to make sure I would be with my people.

I now needed permission from my volunteer agency.  I sent my Covid vaccine record.  But I did not hear back.   It was getting close.  To be honest I planned to go no matter what.  The elder care facility said yes, my people were expecting me.  I had to go!

Early in the morning on March 10, I got my approval from the agency.  I was told that I was the first Spiritual Care Volunteer returning to their facility. I was eager to go! Two in the afternoon I was with my people.  Six were there.  I was so happy to see them.

I knew what we had to do. We had to bench Gomel.  I read them an essay written by Rabbi Neal Gold that I got from a website. I read it to them.  In his essay, Rabbi Gold said, “In our time, the spirit of this prayer has expanded to all sorts of other life-and-death situations, such as surviving a car accident, recovering from major surgery, or enduring childbirth…..It is not designed for people ‘who merely with headaches or stomachaches who are not confined to bed.’ Rather, it is only for those brushes with mortality that leave us shaken — and profoundly grateful for our survival.”

 I think surviving the COVID pandemic counts!

So we benched Gomel, even without a Torah, thanking God for the goodness he sent to use to allow us to survive.

“Blessed are You, Lord our God, ruler of the world, who rewards the undeserving with goodness, and who has rewarded me with goodness.” We did the response as well.

We then talked about what happened to each of my people during this time.  The one who spent two months in the hospital with Covid. The one that was lucky because she lived on the first floor with her own entrance and could see her daughter.  We remembered the three that died. We thought of those who have moved into more skilled nursing.  We delighted in being together.

It was definitely a wonderful and joyful event for me, and I believe for my people as well. 

A pandemic year is a year I will never forget.  But the joy of reuniting with others, although bittersweet, is definitely a gift!

Getting My COVID Vaccine Takes Me to 1960s

5 Feb

This week I received my first COVID vaccine. I traveled through a snow blast to get to my 10:30 am appointment. My walking buddy took me. I don’t like to drive, so she volunteered to get me there. While we went, I thought of my Mom. I called her the snow witch because she attracted snowstorms. She died during the December 27, 2010, snowstorm that blanketed the New York City area over two feet of snow. For me, the snow seemed apropos. Mom was telling me she was looking out for me. Getting the vaccine was important.

When we arrived at the vaccination site, we lucked out finding a parking space in the crowded area.  The parking lot was full, but we were able to find a street parking space not too far away.  In fact, when we left, I told another woman who arrived that we were leaving and had a great spot.  She followed us and parked there as we drove away.

But the main point is that I got my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.  Yes, I stood in a line for a while.  Actually, there were four parallel lines waiting to be checked in after our temperatures were taken and our paperwork reviewed.  Then it was to the computer check in, and finally the shot line, then I sat in a chair while a nursing student gave me that wonderful little jab.  I honestly felt the edges of my lips curl into a smile as the needle went in.  I never wanted a vaccine more than I wanted this one.

I then joined my friend and sat there for the required 15 minutes.  It was well worth it.  My friend, a dentist, already had both her doses. But she was happy to go back with me to make sure I got my vaccine.

While I was waiting in line, and then waiting for my 15 minutes to pass, my memory went back to my first pandemic vaccine.  Yes, I did have another one.  Just like many of my peers born in the 1950s and 1960s. I was one of the millions of children vaccinated for the polio vaccine.  Then for children, it was the taste of a sugar cube that saved our mobility and lives.

Every summer we went to the Catskills, to the mountains, to get away from the New York City area where parents were afraid that we would get polio in the summers.  People forget that polio was one reason why families wanted to escape the metropolitan area.  But I remember.

I also remember the long line that we stood in to get our vaccine. It was 1962 or 1963. I don’t remember the exact date. But I know I was 7 or 8 years old. My parents, my brother, my sister and I, stood outside in a slowly moving line that snaked into the North Bergen High School building. We never actually stood still. We just kept moving, and others kept joining the long line. Just like I did for the Covid vaccine: in one door and out another.

When we finally reached our goal, there was hundreds of little paper cups. In each one was a sugar cube. But not any sugar, these were doused in the live polio virus. To add to my enjoyment, each sugar cube that had the vaccine was a lovely shade of pink! We joyfully ate our sugar as we walked away. To be honest, I wanted a second sugar cube.

There was a worry that a few of the children might actually get polio from the live virus. But because it was the BEST way to keep the virus at bay, parents were willing to take a risk.  Due to these sugar cubes and the other vaccine developed by Dr. Jonas Salk and Dr. Albert Sabin, in the 1950s and 60s, polio basically disappeared.

So now when I stood in another line to receive another vaccine to help stop the spread of a different pandemic, a little part of me stood in that other line, remembering another vaccine in a time when lies and anti-vaxxers were not trying to destroy faith in vaccines.  When we did not have people protesting and trying to stop people from getting their vaccines, as some protestors did at Dodger Stadium in California. When people understood the need for all to come together to stop a pandemic.  When kindness to others and true altruistic love for your neighbor took precedence over the lies found on social media that seem to be corrupting kindness.

I was so thankful to get my vaccine this week. I look forward to getting my second dose in three weeks, which also reminds me of my polio vaccine sugar cube. We had to have three in all for the vaccine to work.

I am still smiling, even though my arm is a bit sore. As each of my friends and relatives get their vaccine, I feel relief. Life will get back to some semblance of normal. And this vaccine will help us get there. I just wish that kindness to others really meant something. That this kindness included keeping everyone safe and the COVID pandemic at bay.

https://www.cdc.gov/polio/what-is-polio/polio-us.html

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-02-04/anti-vaccine-activists-dodger-stadium-have-more-plans

Blue M&Ms Welcome A Healthy New Year

1 Jan

I cannot think of one person I know who does not like M&Ms.  My personal favorites are peanut butter or peanut.   I remember as a child my mother doling out regular, plain chocolate M&Ms to my siblings and me.  It was a process.  We each had to have the same number of each color: Tan, Red, Brown, Green and Orange.  If there was a variation, there was trouble. Which is strange because they did not taste any different, but we all had favorite colors so having an equal amount was important, especially at Hanukkah when we used M&Ms to play the dreidel game! 

My Blue M&M swag.

However, notice the colors!  There were no Blue ones when I was a child.  They did not join the mix until 1995.  I remember the election that Mars held that year.  We could vote on blue, pink or purple.  I had two young children, ages 9 and 4, with whom I had discussions on the vote as my daughter loved purple.  At the time, I was busy: teaching in a high school, taking care of my children, free-lancing for a local newspaper where I wrote a commentary column.  But the vote on M&Ms was so important for me, I took time out to vote: BLUE! Blue won hand downs with over 50 percent of the vote. (Perhaps a precognition for November 2020?)

My loving blue M&Ms from the time they were available, became a reason for family laughter  since from that point on, I only wanted to eat the blue ones.  I remember going to family life cycle events, and just picking out the blue M&Ms from the bowls.  One year, at my niece’s bat mitzvah, one of my cousins brought me over a little of tub of all colors, since he knew I loved M&Ms.  But I remarked, “Now I only eat the blue ones.”  He came back a bit later with a bowl of blue ones that he had collected from all the bowls. He is an excellent cousin!

When I play mah Joong with my friends, or go to a party,  I still only eat the blue M&Ms.  It has become so well accepted, that as others reach into the bowl, they often pass the blue ones on to me. They don’t even think about.  I get the blue ones. 

 It is a bit difficult when the holiday ones come out.  Valentine’s Day, Halloween, Christmas, NO BLUES.  But Easter is fine as there are light blue ones!

I have three reasons for my obsession with blue ones.  First of all, blues and teals are my favorite colors.  Why not eat what I like?  I also love blueberries!  But I have another more important reason.  I am actually allergic to dairy.  I get really ill if I eat too much.  So limiting my intake of M&Ms by only eating blue ones, contains my addiction. The final reason is weight control, by only eating the blue ones, I am able to reject other colors and not overeat.

When my children were younger, I fabricated a bit.  I might have told them I ate the blue ones because they were better for me, healthier.  It was, at the time, wishful thinking.  Eventually my children figured out my ruse, and they would laugh whenever I gave that explanation.  But then in 2009 I found out that all these years, I was actually correct! 

My daughter was in graduate school, when I sent her an email telling her to laugh no more!  Scientists had found out that the blue dye used in blue M&Ms and blue Gatorade, known as Brilliant Blue G (BBG), was good for you.  They found that it stopped the inflammation that increased damage when someone had a spinal cord injury.  (See link below.)  I was being proactive, eating only blue ones!

A few years later, imagine my delight when I found the M&M World store in Las Vegas.  I had never been in such a store before, and the sights within filled me with glee.  There were bins with many colors of M&Ms you don’t usually see.  And several of different colored blue and teal pure chocolate ones. Although not my favorites, I still had to fill a bag. There was all sorts of M&M items to admire.  I had to purchase some blue M&M swag that now lives in my kitchen.

Blue, teal, dark teal, light teal and some green M&Ms

But why is my first blog of 2021 about Blue M&Ms? 

Last night, since we could not go out for the holiday, we participated in two Zoom events. On our family New Year’s Eve Zoom with my sister, brother and sister-in-law, and nieces and nephews, my daughter and us, the topic of M&Ms came up.  My lust for blue M&Ms was once again publicly announced and I must admit some ridiculed!

My sister-in-law admitted to a peanut M&M addiction.  I said I had it as well, but only the blue ones.  They all laughed, except my daughter, who knew what was coming! Yes, I told them all about the medical properties of blue ones. They did not seem to believe me, so I sent them the link listed below.

That led several of us on the Zoom, to leave the room,  return with our M&M bags and locate a blue M&M to eat. As we displayed the blue M&M, as we expressed wishes for a healthy year and vaccines for all as we enter 2021.

Wishing you all a very happy 2021 and the joy of finding something you enjoy as much as I enjoy blue peanut and peanut butter M&Ms.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%26M%27s#:~:text=In%20early%201995%2C%20Mars%20ran,replaced%20tan%20in%20late%201995.

https://www.popsci.com/scitech/article/2009-07/good-news-animal-lovers-and-folks-spinal-injuries/

Walking Through the COVID Pandemic

24 Dec

Walking as saved my sanity through the past nine ten months.  

I walked the Gezer Park trails with my real estate agent/friend.

I have been walking several times a week for over 20 years. When it has been nice, I walked outside with one of two friends.  When it was cold, my main walking buddy and I walked inside at our gym.   She and I have been walking for the past 20 years.

When the virus shut everything down, walking became my lifeline.  We were told going outside to walk was important.  And we were told as long as we stayed six feet apart, outside was okay.  With that advice, my walking dates increased.  Instead of walking three or four days a week, I upped it to six or seven days a week sharing these walks with two different friends. 

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday with my neighbor: Wednesday, Friday and Sunday with my walking buddy and when in town, another friend would join us.   On these outside walks, we visited and talked.  We shared our feelings about what was going on in the world. We discussed our families and what we were going through.  We spoke about how important it was having each other to walk with during this time.

Occasionally I walked with other friends. My real estate agent/ friend and I walked Gezer Park once and around my new neighborhood another time. I loved walking at Gezer Park because my daughter and son in law got married there! A close friend and I eat outside on some Thursdays and then go for a walk when we can. There are other friends who have graced me with a walk as well! Thank you to all my walking buddies! Being with you outside has been wonderful!

My husband and I often take walks on the weekends. These are additions to my walks with my friends.

My main walking buddy and I have done charity 5 Ks together.  How would we do it this year. Well we figured it out and we did. We signed up for the “Run For Ruth We Dissent” virtual walk. We donated to one of the charities listed and then walked together the 3.2 miles needed.  Our other buddy could not sign up because the registration closed, but she walked with us.

The start of our walk in my old neighborhood.

Since I moved during the pandemic, my old neighbor and I have been alternating walking sites. One day in my old neighborhood trails, the next time at the new house. We realized that the tail system by my old house hooked up with the trails by my new house in a three-mile trek. We walked it! My husband dropped me off at her house, and we walked back to my house. Then I drove her home.

On our 3-mile walk through the Tomahawk Trails.

I used to make 10,000 steps about three or four days a week.  Now I have hit that goal almost every day.  I just ended a 56-day string of 10,000 or step days.  I finally took a day off hitting just 6700 steps.  I am back at six consecutive days of walking over 10,000 steps.  Before COVID, I averaged walking 22 – 26 miles per week. When I went over 26, I was ecstatic.  Now I average 29 – 38 miles per week!  A major increase.

Walking has become the silver lining of my pandemic experience. 

Now the weather is getting colder.  We have had several very warm days, even taking advantage of one and going to our local arboretum. Walking in the afternoons has taken over our morning walks. Too cold at 8 am, so we walk at 2 pm.  But some days we just cannot walk outside.  Because of the risks of indoor exercise at our gym, we have decided not to walk there.

Monet Gardens, Overland Park Arboretum

In the pre-pandemic days, I would have just taken these days off.  But now, I get on my treadmill and walk the 2 to 2.5 miles I would have walked with my friends. Some days, I walk slowly, 3.5 miles per hour while I watch my favorite HGTV shows.  Other days, I hustle and try to up my speed and incline to get my cardiac workout. 

Instead of seeing walking as a chore and thinking I could be using my time more wisely.  I now know that walking is what has saved my sanity, my health and my feelings of isolation, as I have walked by way through the pandemic.

Serious Pandemic Estate Planning

25 Nov

My husband and I recently updated our estate plan.  We have done this several times to keep things updated to the age of our children and our situation.  The last time we did it was when our youngest child turned 21.  He is 30 now, and our daughter is married.  It was definitely time.

Because we are now in our mid 60s and there is a COVID pandemic, it made sense to make sure we had all our financial arrangements organized, and our living wills and power of attorneys updated. Several people I know did not have plans, and upon their death, complications occurred. I like to be organized!

Our attorney told us that we were not the only ones thinking about estate planning.  Actually, many people are worried and so are doing what we did, updating or starting a new will or trust. (See article below.)

I did not want to leave my children with a mess.  My father and mother were in the process of updating their wills, when my Mom died suddenly.   My father never completed the changes he had planned because then he became ill and died.  I did not want my children to have the long-term situation we had as we navigated through some issues. 

Our biggest crisis came because of a donation to charity.  My parents were not specific.  And this caused a battle between the charity and the State of New Jersey.  The charity wanted the money used as they wanted it to be used.  The State of New Jersey wanted the money to be used only in New Jersey.  We really had no control over this mess as the state and the non- profit battled it out.  Just to let you know, New Jersey won.

Thus, we will not be leaving any money to a non-profit in our estate planning. We set up a separate Donor Advised Fund years ago, our donations will continue to go through that fund, we will make decisions while we live.  I do not want to leave it to lawyers to determine what we wanted. Everything we put in our estate plans is specific!

Almost all of the planning was done through email and phone calls.  This actually was not unusual nor due to COVID. Each time we updated our documents, we used phone calls and email! It took several months to get all the documents completed. Then we had to sign and date all the documents: trust, power of attorneys for health and finance, and the very important living wills that outlined how we wanted our health care to be completed as we neared death.  We are strong proponents of no feeding tubes and to have a DNR order, Do not resuscitate, as we near death.  For this we had to go to the lawyer’s office for the witnesses and notary to do their jobs. 

Last week we completed this final task to get our estates updated and ready.  Not that I am planning to get sick and die, but I am a bit OCD, and I want everything in order.

However, I was not prepared for what our lawyer told us after everything was signed and the notary and witnesses left the room.

To be honest, we have been using the same estate attorney for 25 years.  When we started working with her, she was the newest attorney in this company’s estate department, she now chairs it.  I can honestly say, she has NEVER said this to us before.  We were in our mid 50s last time.

What did she say that startled me? That caused this emotional outburst?

She basically said the following:  When the event of first death occurs, the surviving spouse needs to contact us and provide us with the original signed copies of the will and estate plans of the deceased spouse.  We will then need to re-evaluate the estate of the surviving spouse. 

These are not her exact words, but they are her meaning. One of us would die, and we needed to be prepared.  WOW!

There were a few other instructions, like taking a picture of our living wills and keeping them on our phones in case we ever had to go to an emergency room!  It is actually a good idea.  I already have photos of our medicines on my phone.  But now I will have our living wills on my phone as well.

After we left the office, I turned to my husband and commented on all these instructions. He, of course, was pragmatic.  We had to know.  And I guess we do. 

I turned 65 at the start of this year and did not feel old. But in March I found out that the pandemic is worse for older people of my age. And now I am aware that I could die. And I need to have everything ready for an emergency room visit and for the death of the first spouse.  Sigh.  Being organized is a good thing, however sometimes it is a bit depressing.

No matter the tiny bit of ambivalent feelings, I am glad that we did some serious pandemic estate planning.

https://www.law.com/texaslawyer/2020/07/26/covid-19-has-increased-demand-for-estate-planning-heres-how-to-do-it-right/?slreturn=20201024104622

Just Getting Out My Frustration

27 Oct

I wish I was the editor of a newspaper so that I could put my views out to the public more efficiently. I have written letters to the editor of the Star, but I think I have sent in too many. One got published, but three others did not. Here is my last one that was not accepted for publication. However, due to the vote in the Senate yesterday, and the despair I am seeing, I will publish it here with a few additions.

In last Sunday’s KC Star a letter writer said he was voting for Trump because he was pro-life based on his Supreme Court nominees, specifically Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and now Barrett.  The writer is wrong. The president is not pro-life, he is anti-life.

If he was pro-life, he would insist that everyone wear a mask.  That would save over 100,000 lives according to all scientific estimates.

If he was pro-life, he would leave the Affordable Care Act (ACA) alone, as it provides health care for young adults up to 26 under their parent’s insurance, no lifetime cap on health care payments, no pre-existing conditions clause, and better medical care for our seniors.

 If he was pro-life, he would make sure that all children in our country had access to food, not trying to cut SNAP, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, food assistance funds to families.

If he was pro-life he would be working toward a safer environment instead of loosening rules about the air, the water and the environment and work for renewable energy.

If he was pro-life he would reject the behavior of the alt-right and the militias who are attacking minorities, but he does not, instead he encourages them.

If he was pro-life he would work to keep guns away from the mentally ill and ban semi-automatic weapons instead of kowtowing to the NRA.

This administration is not pro-life, it is pro getting votes by playing to a one-topic audience who sees abortion as the only evil in the world. 

This country has passed HIPAA laws to keep the medical records private, including the private discussions between a woman and her physician. That is the law that should be followed!

The Senate should have stayed out of women’s medical health, instead focus on helping the many suffering due to the President’s horrendous response to COVID-19.

Barrett appears to be anti-choice and anti-gay rights. This is discouraging and flashes back to the 1950s. However, we do have laws and precedent for the good. What we really need is a President and Congress who believe in all rights. Who like Pope Francis has endorsed Same-sex civil unions.

We need a truly good person who follows the moral and ethical rules that we should care for the needy, help to heal the sick, welcome the stranger.Unlike these Philistines who mouth words but do not walk the walk and do good deeds.

I am tired of hearing that this President and his evil cohort in the Senate save innocent lives all because they seem to support anti-abortion decisions. But stopping abortion is not really about saving lives, instead it is about controlling women.

They have sinned by trying to cut SNAP. They have sinned by separating children from their parents at the borders, leaving over 500 children without their parents. They have sinned by ignoring the universal laws of dealing with refugees. They have sinned by not helping the sick and dealing nationally with the COVID-19 Pandemic. They have sinned by rejecting science on health care and the environment.

While they need to seek forgiveness, atonement and redemption for the evil deeds they have brought to our country, we need to keep working toward a healthier, safer and better world.

.

Having my Identity Stolen to File False Claims Invigorates My Political Drive

16 Oct

Having my social security number used for fraudulent activity really made me angry.  When I got the first letter on Monday, September 28, from the Kansas Department of Labor telling me that I had filed for unemployment benefits, I was shocked. I had not done that. I was still working. But it listed my employer and had my information.

I spent the next day dealing with the fallout.  Luckily for me, I had frozen my credit accounts five years ago, when someone filed a fraudulent tax return.  My credit was safe, but my sense of security was now stolen.  I contacted the Kansas Department of Labor (who filed a police report), the Social Security Administration through www.theft.gov., my bank, my credit card companies, the credit agencies just to add a one year fraud alert, my job, my accountant and my brother because I had a joint bank account with him.

I began to realize that I was not the only one, when my accountant admitted that he too had received such a letter, and his Social Security number was being used fraudulently!  Several other people I knew also had it happen.

I could not understand what a person would gain from this filing, the department of labor had all my information.  But then came the stunner. The next day I got a second letter showing a filing for (Pandemic Unemployment Assistance) PUA, of $22,000.  There was a claim that I as a ‘gig’ working earning close to $100,000 a year.  WOW.    I filed and updated my stolen identity reports.

Later that evening I got a phone call from my boss, someone else at work had received a letter from the Kansas Department of Labor for an Unemployment claim. Could I help her? Yes. I could.  I had an email from my husband from his place of employment outlining exactly what to do if you had your identity stolen. It seems many at his place of employment also had also had employees with unemployment claims filed.   I passed the email on.  The next day I reviewed a revised edition of this email that my boss had edited for our staff.

I will say I began to feel better knowing I was not the only one!  It was not schadenfreude, it was relief. First the Department of Labor had a note on their website letting me know that this was not my fault, and that I was not in trouble.  In fact, over 45,000 fraudulent claims have been made by crooks during the pandemic just in Kansas alone.  I, at least, found out because I am still working.  Many don’t find out till they file a claim and find out someone has already received unemployment benefits in their name!

But it shook my world in a time when the world keeps shaking.   We have COVID.  We have false information about masks. We have rampant unemployment.  We have gun violence.  We have an increase in young adults and teens dying by suicide.  We have increasing racism and anti-Semitism. We have fires burning down communities resulting from climate change that is causing other issues as well.  We have politicians who seem to be more concerned about their own political careers than about the people they SERVE!

That is why I am voting to return sanity to public service.  I am putting my voice behind candidates who still care about the people of the United States and Kansas. People who I know care about our children, our education system and our health care. Barbara Bollier, Sharice Davids, Ethan Corson, and Joy Koesten are all Kansas people I believe Kansans can trust in a time when we all have so many reasons to be distrustful! 

As for the United States, Biden and Harris have such a more positive outlook for our country.  I am tired of lies, misinformation, misdirection and conspiracy theories being supported.  I am tired of the lack of support for health issues and the wearing of masks to help our country and our people.  I am tired of an administration that does not care about all the peoples of the United States and only wants to help some of the population.   It is time that we were all united once again.

WE need cyber security.  WE need to help our environment.  WE need to put the racists back into a box and seal the lead.  WE need health care for all especially in a pandemic.  WE need women’s rights to be protected. 

Everyone needs to vote. 

Check Your Posts, Don’t Spread MisInformation!

26 Jul

When my daughter started high school in the year 2000, just 20 years ago. The internet was still new enough that some teachers were concerned about information that the students would get online using websites and not just books and magazines.  Would it be real? Would it be fake?  The librarian put together a group of parents who volunteered to check websites to make sure the information the students would find was accurate.

 I volunteered to be one of these parents.  I did this for two years. Every week or so, I would be sent a list of websites to check out. Which I did immediately.  To be honest, after being a research assistant for a professor in college, then getting a master’s degree in journalism, searching for the truth was something that I loved doing. This was the perfect volunteer position.

My search or need for truth reverberated in my family as well.  When my children got in trouble, they knew the rule. Tell me truthfully what happened. You will face consequences, but it will not be too bad as long as you tell the truth.  Tell a lie and the consequences doubled.  I hate lies.

That is my biggest problem with social media: the lies; the misinformation; the harmful memes that express false information.  I especially hate when a photo from 2, or 3, or7 years ago is used to say this happened now.  Like a photo of a vandalized replica of the Vietnam War Memorial which inferred that Black Life Matters protestors vandalized the memorial in Washington DC.  Sorry that photo was four years old; Had nothing to do with Black Life Matters; and was a replica of the wall, not the real.  So, of course, I had to post the truth in the comments.

The number of misinformed posts disheartens me.  I have to do something!!

I decided that my new calling was to rout out these lies and the false information on Facebook.  It offends me that the powers that be allow these lies to rotate through again and again. It horrifies me that sometimes people leave the false post up even when multitude of people tell them it is fake or false.  I feel much better when people take the fake meme or photo or article down!  It is a disservice to humanity.

There are people out there whose main purpose in life seems to be to sow discord and distrust among us.  But I also know there are governments who do that as well.  On Fareed Zackaria GPS today, he had two experts on who spoke about the misinformation campaigns currently being waged by China, Russia and Iran against the US and the 2020 election.  They play on people’s emotions to polarize us. And people keep falling for the lies.

Look we are polarized enough. We need to find compromise and learn to speak to each other again.  STOP believing all you see on Facebook. Many of the memes are made by people telling lies.  I have seen this coming from both sides of the political world as well as outside sources.

If you post something that is not true and I see it.  I will find the articles that refute.  Please take the fake post down and report it. 

Do not let social media be your only news source.  Try the Flip Side. This daily news email takes one topic a day and provides content from the conservative and liberal sides.  You see all the comments.  And you see what people are really say.   Here is a link to sign up for it:  https://theflipside.io?rh_ref=4a061f4d 

Do not just mindlessly repost something without first reading it or checking it or making sure it is the truth.  I don’t care if you are way right or way left, both sides are driving me crazy with ridiculous memes and posts.

Some of my friends might begin to get annoyed with me.  I am not sorry.  If you are posting misinformation, I am going to comment with the truth and with another article to support my claim.  If we all started doing this. If we all checked what we posted before we posted it, maybe the world can be a bit happier.   It is obvious to me that there are people who want to spread strife and discord.

Please do not become part of the problem.  Check your sources.  I do not care what political side you are on. Just post articles and memes that are true!

My Personal Rules for Dealing with the Storm

18 Jul

For the past four months I have found it difficult to get back to my genealogy research.  I just was overwhelmed by moving and the pandemic and working from home and watching the craziness of the politicalizing health care and wearing masks. 

I touched a bit of my passion when I discovered my husband’s parent’s wedding album and was able to write about it and put a photo up for his family.  We were supposed to have a family reunion of all the first cousins in June, but that was called off due to the pandemic.  The blog about the wedding album was a way to remember.

But as for my research on my family, I hit a mental block.  I am beginning to think that the worldwide rise in antisemitism part of the problem.  When I research my family, I often end up back in concentration camps, ghettos, death and destruction due to the Shoah.

 I just cannot bear to deal with that now.  I see history repeating as horrible political cartoons and national figures make horrendous statements about Jewish people.   It disgusts me.  And even people who I consider friends, sometimes do not see the antisemitism in the comments or cartoons.  And that frightens and sickens me.

I have a high level of anxiety about baseless hatred.  The same hatred I see rising in the USA.  But not only the hatred, the use of the military to attack US citizens.  The use of unidentified soldiers in Portland illegally arresting people in a militia like the SS. It is against the law in the USA to arrest someone without identifying yourself and with no due cause.

The use of the military to attack peaceful protesters at a church so the administration could have a photo op.  The use of the military in non-identified uniforms at the Lincoln Memorial.


These soldiers and members of the military need to say a resounding NO!  They should not be brainless lambs like the Nazi/German soldiers whose response after the war was, “I just did what I was ordered to do.”

I am beginning to see some light.  The pentagon said No to the Confederate Flag.  The general who was at the church apologized for being at the church in uniform and giving what seemed to be military approval of this behavior.  The mayor of Portland saying get these federal agents out.

Sane people have to behave in a sane way.  Right now fear and lies are ruling our country. So my rules:

  1.  Do not be a lie spreader.  Please check your sources before you post anything.  Misinformation on either side increases the divisiveness. 
  2. Don’t stop talking to others who do not believe what you believe. If we stop talking to each other, we add to the polarization of this country.   We can agree to disagree, but we should not end conversation.
  3. Believe the science of disease.  Wearing a mask will not hurt you. You will not get sick from carbon dioxide. This is a cruel lie.  Wearing a mask does stop the spread of the disease. This is the truth.  And honestly, doctors and nurses have been wearing masks for a long time. And they are alive.  Except those who have recently died because of their constant exposure to the Covid virus.  Even masks and PPE cannot always save you from infection. But it does help.
  4. So wear a mask out of kindness for others.  Keep physical distance inside out of kindness to others.  This will eventually pass, but to save the most people as possible we need to be responsible.
  5. United we stand, divided we fall.  We are one country which includes people of all races, religions and creeds.  When one group is made the scapegoat or the outcast, we all suffer.  It is time for racism to stop.  It is time for anti-Semitism to stop.  It is time for rants against the other to just stop.  We have to learn to live together again.
  6. Finally, just be kind. The administration has taken kindness out of the vocabulary.  Follow the words that we are supposed to follow:  Isaiah 58:7  Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Ezekiel 18:7  Does not oppress anyone, but restores to the debtor his pledge, commits no robbery, gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment, Matthew 25:34-46: Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? “Feed the hungry, visit the sick and set free the captives.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari, volume 7, Hadith 552) “(The righteous are those) who feed the poor, the orphan and the captive for the love of God, saying: ‘We feed you for the sake of God Alone; we seek from you neither reward nor thanks.” –  Quran, 76:8-9. “One should not behave towards other in a way that is disagreeable to oneself. This is the essence of morality. All other activities are due to selfish nature.” Mahabharata, Anusasana Parva 113.8. My religion is simple. My religion is kindness.” The Dalai Lama

Do NOT remain silent when you see evil taking place. The silent bystander, who does nothing, is just as bad as the ones who commit the evil. We have learned this from history. We all need to say a resounding NO to the cruelty that that is being spread.