Update on Life

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It’s getting nice out, I feel like I’ve emerged from a long and snowy winter, and I wanted to give a few updates on the changes that I’ve made to my life.  So, I’ve gotten the children’s book that I was writing pretty much done – the writing part anyway.  This weekend I want to start in on the illustrations, and have someone other than myself read it so I get some feedback on any changes that need to happen.  I’m so glad that I’ve finally finally gotten to this point!  Because I’m trying to write fairly consistently, I’m feeling much more creative, and I absolutely love the feeling!

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My quest to get rid of junk around the house unfortunately has not yet turned into an actual plan.  I got a good start on Spring Cleaning last week, but this week has been pretty much taken up with wood stacking for the winter.  We’re almost done with that, well, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, so we’re more than halfway to the end.  This weekend I hope to get a workable plan in place for that.  And, to try and get the Spring Cleaning done, once and for all.  (At least for this Spring!)

My eating plan has been having some pretty good results.  I’ve lost fourteen pounds (maybe more, I haven’t yet weighed myself this week).  I’m eating all that I want, I’ve just changed what it is that I eat.  Oranges, bananas and grapes are some of my latest favorites.  I’m looking forward to the strawberries, blueberries, plums and peaches that the summer will bring.

Here are a few of my recent photos of flowers and trees in all their Spring beauty!

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Signs

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This is one of those signs that everyone should think about and reflect on.  States are drug testing welfare recipients.  While this testing costs a lot of money, few people have been found to have taken drugs.  That money could have been used for other social welfare projects.  Also, there are a few bills in both state and federal legislatures to stop the free lunch and breakfast programs.  Wrap your head around that…a lot of people want children to go hungry.

Standing Rock is just one example of an oil companies’ profits outweighing the right to clean water and air.  Money over people.  The head of the EPA wants to dismantle it.  Does anyone remember why there was a movie about Erin Brockovich?

Refugees are now leaving the U.S. and walking into Canada.  I never thought that people would need to leave the U.S. in order to be safe.  My question, and it should be your question also, who is next?  The LBGTQ+ community?  The reporters who report the truth?  The Jewish community?  Minorities, any minority take your pick.  People who blog about these issues?  The potential list could go on and on.

Lastly, but not least, health care supposedly is not a right.  The U.S. in one of a few countries (and none of them are considered “first world” countries), that do not have universal health care.  We also spend more, by far, on the health care that we do have.  So, what your rights include is,  the right to die from not enough money to pay for health care.  Yes, that’s right.  Death is your right.  That’s what freedom is – apparently.

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Corporations vs. Citizens

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I don’t know if any of you have been following the Dakota Access Pipeline story, but here is the story in a tiny little nutshell.  Energy Transfer Partners is building a pipeline that will extend thousands of miles across the U.S.  The problem is that these pipelines have a long history of leaking and exploding, and then, of course destroying the environment.  (I will be leaving links to news stories that prove this point at the bottom of this post.)  In this case, the pipeline is being built extremely close to a river, with the potential (and given the history of these pipelines) the distinct probability of polluting the river and groundwater.  As a matter of fact, the pipeline was moved from close proximity to the town of Bismarck to where is being built now, due the environmental fears of the mostly white citizens of Bismarck.

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Oil pipeline spills since 2010

What I really want to discuss today is that since the Native Americans have begun peacefully protesting, the reactions by both Energy Transfer Partners and the police have been excessive in their use of force, criminalization of peaceful actions, and cruel in their treatment of arrested protesters.  While I often listen to NPR, I have been disappointed by their reporting of this, since they do indeed take money from the oil industry (Constellation Energy Group, Vanguard Group, and CITGO Petroleum Corporation) are just a few of these donators.  Therefore, coverage of this story has been spotty at best.  But, I’ve also noticed that there has been little in the way of coverage in the largest newspaper in my state.  I can only assume that not that many television stations have been covering the story either, however I can’t say that for a fact, since I don’t have cable.

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Tonya Sands after being pepper sprayed for swimming across a creek to gain access to Indian Land.

The one news source that has been on the ground since the first days of this story is Democracy Now, and they have been stellar in their reporting.  I don’t know if any of you have been looking at some of the videos that have gone viral, but if you have, I hope that you are worried for your own safety as well as the safety of the protesters.  If peaceful protesters are being assaulted with various weapons such as pepper spray, tear gas, water cannons, rubber bullets and sonic devices what does this say about our ability as citizens to peacefully protest?  Energy Transfer Partners have also used dogs to bite the protesters.

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If these actions aren’t worrisome for you as citizens of the U.S., maybe being arrested, stripped and kept nude overnight might be.  Or, if not that, perhaps having numbers written on your arm (reminiscent of an infamous Nazi regime), and kept overnight in a dog kennel after being arrested for peaceful protest might be a little disconcerting.

This behavior by police and corporate-backed security is unsettling.  In the U.S., we not only have a right to protest, but our constitution requires us to do so.   https://www.loc.gov/law/help/peaceful-assembly/us.php

If you want to look into this matter more yourself, I suggest Democracy Now, as their reporting is extremely well-informed.  What do you think of these actions by the police and private corporate security forces?  Do you think that Native Americans (as well as all Americans) have the right to peacefully protest?  Have you seen other videos of peaceful protesters being pepper sprayed directly in the eyes by police officers, and what do you think of that?  Let me know in the comments below.

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http://www.alternet.org/environment/white-tribes-onslaught-against-native-americans-isnt-history-tale-its-alive-and-well?akid=14682.302291.avRCV9&rd=1&src=newsletter1064310&t=10

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/10/27/1587590/-ND-police-and-National-Guard-currently-using-LRAD-sonic-device-weapon-to-disperse-Water-Protectors

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/11/7/1591511/-Standing-Rock-Update-Rubber-bullets-500-clergy-represent-matriarchal-leaders?detail

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ixEKJ0oo-dk

 

What is a “Regulation” and How Does it Affect People?

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There has been a lot of talk about getting rid of many regulations that corporations are required to follow in order to keep manufacturing in the U.S.  I recently listened to a story on NPR in which a linguist was speaking about the use of the word regulations, and why so many people seem to think that they are bad.

As I didn’t hear the entire conversation, I’ve come up with my own theory of why people seem to think a regulation is a “bad” thing.  The word itself sounds a lot like rule, and people don’t really like to follow rules in general.  That’s my take on the word.  However, a regulation when it comes to corporate practices is more like a protection.  And a protection is usually a good thing.  It is used to protect citizens from a variety of troublesome corporate actions.  The very reason that we have many of the protections that we do is due to the lack of corporate accountability in the past and the cancers, harm and deaths caused by those corporations.  Look into the past actions that unregulated and poorly regulated corporations have done that have destroyed citizen lives.  This is the link to the Superfund that keeps track and reports on both past actions and current actions of corporations.  https://www.epa.gov/superfund

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Understanding that most regulations are imposed in order to keep citizens safe and healthy, it is beyond my understanding why a great many people seem to think a regulation is a bad thing.  They are law in order to protect citizens from a corporation whose only reason for being is to make as much money regardless of the environmental, economic and human cost.  A regulation is a protection from unmitigated greed.  Isn’t that a good thing?

 

Thoughts on Captain Fantastic

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First of all, I must say that I’m extremely “taken” with Viggo Mortensen – I think he’s not only handsome, but an interesting person (odd, but interesting).  I try to watch all the movies that he makes, since not only is he a wonderful actor, but he makes good movies.  Even if I find a movie difficult to watch (The Road and Good come to mind), any movie he makes is definitely fodder for thought.

So, with that in mind, I watched his latest movie, Captain Fantastic, the other night.  There is much to think about in this movie.  A quick over-view of the plot is that a husband (Ben) and wife (Leslie) decide to raise their children “off-the-grid” and away from all the “bad” influences of the modern world in the middle of the wilderness that is the Pacific Northwest.

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Who can argue with this assessment of the modern world?  I actually agreed with much of what Ben and Leslie believed.  Our food is poisoned; social media is invasive; schools teach to the test, and don’t promote much in the way of critical thinking; the pursuit of money and profit at the expense of people is pervasive.  These are all valid issues that should be discussed both individually and in larger venues.  So, with this in mind, the family grows their own food, hunts their own meat, learns survival skills and are almost completely independent.  Everything goes well, until Leslie’s mental illness makes her ability to cope (and live) frighteningly difficult.  Ben seeks help for her from her parents, and she is institutionalized.  While there, Leslie commits suicide.  The children want to attend the funeral that Leslie expressly did not want to have, and the family commences their exotic journey from the wilderness back into “civilized society”.

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However, as with most, if not all, reintroduction’s to “civilization”, they encounter stressful and comic situations.  In the first restaurant they go to, the younger children are convinced that the other people are ill due to their lack of physical fitness and weight.  When subjected to violent video games which their cousins are playing, the children are aghast, even though they all partake in actual hunting of animals for food.  Even though their aunt and uncle allow for violent game-play they refuse to let the cousins hear about the suicide of Leslie, finding no irony that their children routinely “kill” people while playing video games, but are too delicate to hear about mental illness.  This juxtaposing occurs throughout the movie, giving us fodder for the brain.

If you haven’t watched this movie, I hope that you do so.  If you have watched it, let me know what you think of it in the comments below.

 

Yes, I am an Introvert!

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As a child, my family were all extroverts.  I was considered an odd, strange and downright unfriendly child.  Since I loved to play by myself, I was seen as extremely strange.  My mother actually had more than one conversation with my doctor regarding my behavior.  Why did I prefer to go for solo bike rides or read in my room when I could be doing whatever it was the rest of my family was doing?  Unfortunately, my doctor was no help and his solution was for my parents to force society on me.  Just let me say that I’m so glad that my childhood is over!  All that being forced into interaction with other people did, was make me even more introverted.  Once I got to college, I loved to study in the sound-proofed music rooms.  Because I was able to closed myself off for a few hours, I was more likely to be social at other times.  The point was, I got to choose when I wanted to interact with others and when I didn’t.  I never did tell anyone where I was when they couldn’t find me, I didn’t want to share my location with the people I knew, since I needed that time alone.

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I could have said this!

Fast forward to my child-rearing years, when I couldn’t shower, much less go to the bathroom by myself.  There were times that I thought that I would scream for lack of alone-time.  My children have often said that they went to bed much earlier than their peers.  Of course they did!  By the time night-time rolled around I thought I’d lose my mind if I didn’t get to take a breath without them there!  Hence the early bed-time.

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As an adult, I’ve gotten really good at small talk.  My trick is to ask a leading question, listen to the answer, and continue asking questions.  All I have to do is listen and keep the conversation going.  In fact, I’ve gotten so good at it that some people would be surprised if they found out that I’m an introvert. Of course, the whole time I’m talking with them I feel like I want to jump out of my skin and run away.  However social constraints make that behavior unacceptable.

It’s so wonderful that there have been so many articles and books explaining all about introverted people.  I hope that no children are forced to endure the unwanted social interaction that I did.  I’ve left some links for you to read if you want to educate yourself on the introverted people in your life, or find some comfort if you, too are introverted.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201403/nine-signs-you-re-really-introvert

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-power-of-introverts/

 

 

 

Finding Wisdom

I have a difficult time celebrating Thanksgiving.  Remember, I’m Vegan so the food can be more than a little offensive.  This year I’m trying Tofurky for the first time!  I can hardly wait.  Then, there’s the first Thanksgiving thing, that was followed fairly quickly with that genocide thing.  So, here are a few quotes from the Native Americans.

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Here are a few videos of how the government treats Native Americans.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15YAD0Us4N4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBgDt0aWXmQ