There’s Something Happening Here

May 16, 2020

I think we can all agree there is definitely something happening here.

Today (May 16, 2020) the World Chart reads: United States

Coronavirus Cases: 1,484,579, Deaths: 88,523

Even so, there is a segment of stupids who still believe it is all a hoax, the numbers are inflated, precautions are a violation of their civil rights and on ad nauseam. When did so many people decide science was a hoax? Boggles the  mind.

Negative thoughts: Yep, I’ve got them. I bet you do too. Today a Facebook friend posted:

“I just heard about people who foolishly dismissed COVID 19 as a hoax and then died. Sad enough. But then I read about other people making comments like ” he got what was coming” and gloating. If someone disagrees with you or denies science, maybe quite stupid –it is unfortunate and tragic, but remember that they are human beings– flawed and foolish– but just as precious to those who love them as we are to our loved ones.

The people who denied COVID 19 as a hoax and died, may have been foolish and reckless, but they and more importantly, their families are human beings. If you believe as I do, that human beings–however distasteful– are as Martin Luther King reminded us are no less in the image of God than we are. Love your neighbor. Easy when you like your neighbor, but divine when you don’t.

Growing up an Army brat provided me with a flexible upbringing and open mind for which I am grateful.

But, probably nothing prepared me, or the rest of us, for what a global pandemic can mean for our health and well-being as a population.  Especially as we have a President (and I use that term loosely) who is out of his depth entirely, and quite clueless as to how to help us. Perhaps he really doesn’t care what happens to the hoi polloi–as the fewer of us there are, the more for him and his cronies.

One of the cool things happening are the virtual concerts, meetings, medical appointment etc. But again, we need to remember not everyone has good access to the internet or knows how to navigate a computer or smart phone. I hope I never outgrow my wonder of learning new stuff.

Sammy Hagar and others perform the title song

 


Serious questions and other stuff

May 7, 2020

What’s going on in your brain these days? Here are a few things that keep me up at night.

Cool tips for toilet paper roll art.

What was the deal with the run on toilet paper? Some of us have issues with tissues and were a bit concerned, and relieved when all the panic buying leveled out. I still count the squares and try to be conservative just in case.

Now meat production is in the COVID cross-hairs as workers are falling ill at an alarming rate.

Where has God been hiding thru all this–what’s the purpose–are we being punished? I get my free range faith from a number of sources including my parents and the nuns with whom I worked for 20+ years. It’s been 18 years since I set foot in a church. I’m ok with that. I go to church in my mind and I pray often. My daughter in law is a Pagan–which is a reverence for the natural world. She wrote this on her Facebook page and I concur. “I believe in the power of prayer no matter the faith. Prayer with good intentions to The Divine, by whatever name, is powerful and exponential.”

Why are there so many stupid people? A friend of mine asked me what makes some people so stupid? The question was a reference to the folks who still believe COVID-19 is a ‘fake news hoax’ and/or maybe having to wear a mask and practice social distancing is a violation of their rights. Welp! that’s a complicated question. Nature vs Nurture kind of question. Scientists and sociologists have studies and theories galore. It’s just life. Everyone is a unique mixture of their genetics, upbringing and culture.

“Life’s lessons can take many forms and present us with many challenges. There are scores of mundane lessons that help us learn to navigate with grace, poise, and tolerance in this world. And there are those once-in-a-lifetime lessons that touch us so deeply that they change the course of our lives. The latter can be heartrending, and we may wander through life as unwilling students for a time. But the quality of our lives is based almost entirely on what we derive from our experiences.” (Daily Om) “And to our ability to respond positively to change.” (me) as I ascribe  to this statement from Charles Darwin.

What would we have done without the internet and steaming entertainment? I’ve been streaming and binge watching thru several platforms for about 8 years now. We cut the cable early and never looked back. I read Netflix had 16 million new subscribers in March alone. There was marvelous and quick adaptation of online learning from school districts and teachers all over the country through technology. Too many businesses to count found out really quickly that it was either embrace the online presence or not survive.

I see on Facebook and other social media all the clever ways people have made do with alternate resources. Heck, most of the masks people are wearing come from enterprising individuals who answered a call. All of these things represent adaption to change in a good way.  Oh yeah, let’s add food and wine delivery services to the awesome adaptation list.

Adapting the cocktail hour–in the town-home alley with neighbors

Adapting well and staying healthy might just be my new motto.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Standing on Sinking Sand

May 3, 2020

Pandemic week seven, or maybe eight–but who’s counting.

Even though there is a push to reopen ‘Merica, we are still staying home and wearing masks when going on our weekly shopping trips. The San Antonio community has generally been complying and following the guidelines to continue social distancing.

This week I read “Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope” a book from Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. (Both who I have seen in person!)

If you think we are still the greatest country, I’ve got news for you. We ain’t–not even close. One thing the pandemic has done is highlight “the state of our disunion.” (Tara Westover)

“For starters, America doesn’t adequately invest in children, whose potential so often goes unfulfilled. One reflection of the state of the American dream: 76 percent of adults expect their children’s lives to be worse than their own. The World Bank Human Capital Project estimates that American children reach only 76 percent of their potential because of inequality and shortcomings in our health and education systems. That gives the United States a ranking of 24 out of 157 countries, in line with its score on the Social Progress Index. Many other countries, even much poorer ones, do better.”

Another quote: “The United States has chosen policies over the last half century that have resulted in higher levels of homelessness, overdose deaths, crime and inequality—and now it’s time to make a different choice.”

My question is-but will we make different choices?  We’d better or you can kiss your red, white and blue ass goodbye.

On the other hand…

The hubby and I watched about six hours of “The Call to Unite” live stream. It was full of beautiful people from all over the globe with hopeful, helpful, interesting and entertaining messages. We both got so saturated with emotions we had to turn it off. Now they’re posting some of the pieces on their website and Facebook page

So two sides to reconcile. Do we despair and throw up our hands? Or do we work to make things better thru all this time?  What will it look like on the other side of Covid-19? I don’t think we can count on anything just yet. The only thing I know for sure is it’s going to be what ever we make it.

Meanwhile.


Uncertainty is the new normal

April 20, 2020

It’s week six for us doing the ‘COVID-19 isolation rag’

I seem to be less anxious than I thought I might get. But, in all honesty, we are not in any of the tenuous–even scary–situations that many in our community or others around the country may be experiencing.

Fully retired, we have our Social Security money and small savings. We have a very affordable Medicare Advantage plan, and are so far in good health. We have our little house, transportation and other things that might have all been taken for granted until the pandemic got a hold of our country.

I read a very good article from Jon Pavlovitz which I think you (whoever you are) need to read.

      

Because uncertainty is the new normal. This all could have gone a much better way, but it did not. What we are left with has changed us individually and as a country and will continue to change us for years ahead.  Hopefully in many ways  we’ll grow, learn and be better to each other. I’m seeing it already, are you?

Let me know how you’re doing!

 


Doing the social distancing dance

March 27, 2020

As with most of my fellow Americans, I’ve spent the past two weeks perfecting the art of social distancing.

All across the country schools, retail stores and offices restaurants, theaters, gym… were mandated closed. A brand new sort of abnormal daily life is being created from one moment to the next as our lives changed seemingly overnight. It probably looks differently according to our respective jobs, family dynamics, our needs and wants. For some it’s learning how to home-school the kiddos, for others it’s figuring out how to work from home–where to put the laptop so the dogs or toddlers don’t run through your meeting with the boss on Zoom.

Some church pastors feel God can only be heard if one is sitting in their congregation. This is totally irresponsible as now several congregations have reported dozens of their members testing positive for COVID-19, which can be deadly. Some of these folks will get to meet their Maker sooner than expected.

Others are busy being the super heroes of these new, scary days by stocking the grocery shelves and cleaning everything twice so the customers are safe. Delivery drivers often save the day by allowing us to have food and other stuff (wine) brought to our doors.

Working with not enough vital equipment and resources in hospitals and clinics  our doctors, nurses and medical techs are putting their very lives on the line every day to save those infected with COVID-19.

We all know, but some won’t admit, that our current government administration not only dropped the ball on helping the American people survive this pandemic, but refuses to pick up the pieces in any helpful manner. Some in our government are fighting for us. Others have some kind of macabre desire to actually fight against our survival. I know you know what I mean.

For me, Netflix and Prime Video are my new best friends. Finding toilet paper and eggs was like a scavenger hunt–with the prize found at a small organic food store. I walk every day, passing by my neighbors with at least six feet leeway which usually means one of us is out in the street. I decided to re-learn to crochet, work a crossword puzzle daily, read books and magazines. Silver Sneakers yoga has also been a good exercise and has meditative value as well–focus on breathing in and out ignoring the absolute panic of uncertainly which looms right around the corner.

Social media is good and bad all at the same time. Good luck sorting thru the true vs false posting. But, it can also be a really good resource, lifeline, fun time kind of place. Ignore the gobbledygook and connect in a positive way is my humble advice.

Me in my new favorite shirt for no reason, just fun.

 


A letter to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

January 21, 2019

Dear Dr. King,

The day you were assassinated I was on the campus of Prairie View A&M, which in 1968 was still an all-black college located just west of Houston, Texas. I was in a group of white students participating in an ‘exchange program’ in collaboration with the college I was attending.

In those days, Southwest Texas State College students mostly came from small Texas towns. The guys were shit-kickers i.e. studying agriculture; the women aspiring to become teachers, nurses and wives. There were no African Americans on campus. There was one beatnik who became my boyfriend–but that’s another story.

Dr. Clyde Bullion, our very liberal and a tad kooky sociology professor, spent several years opening minds and hearts, encouraging everyone to embrace racial and social justice. He held the first class on Black History and introduced us to African American writers and poets.  Bullion would stand on his desk and holler out readings from Langston Hughes and W.E.B. Dubois. Quite impressive–even though Bullion was white. We thought the visit to Prairie View made perfect sense for us.

During our two day visit, we were treated respectfully by the students and staff of the college. We attended classes, plays and social events. I remember sitting with a group of black students in an off-campus bar and asking, rather naively, the question surely stolen from me by Rodney King (whose beating and related consequences are attributed to the 1992 Los Angeles race riots) “I don’t know why we all can’t just get along?” Later, stunned and disheartened to the core to hear you were assassinated, we visitors were immediately sent home to “avoid any problems.”

I think you would agree, it seemed to have gotten much better. We even elected our first black president! Then, sadly, we are reminded of how deeply racism runs in our country with shootings of unarmed black children and men. #blacklivesmatter, the statistics regarding racial profiling by the police, voter repression tactics in some states, and the appalling racist behaviors of some citizens toward our very own President Obama. These incidences have us facing realities we may not wish to admit.

The statistics also prove inequality still exists.  Here are a few stats from Black Demographics website.

Blacks make up 14.1% of the population in the US.

Percentage in poverty: Blacks 24.2%           All races 11.8%

Percentage in poverty under 18: Blacks 39.6%      All races 22.6% (Appalling so many children of any ‘color’ are living in poverty.)

Graduation rate: Blacks 63.6%              All races 80.6% (Which seems rather low as a whole.)

According to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), African Americans constitute nearly 1 million of the total 2.3 million incarcerated population, and have nearly six times the rate of whites.

Black Median Household income: $33,460

(all races $50,502)

All Black Workers 2012 weekly earnings:$606

(all races $765)

Black Men weekly earnings: $633

(White men $854)

Black Women weekly earnings: $590

(White women $712)

MLK-2014-2

So, Dr. King, there seems still much work to be done. Annually, on a federally instituted day to celebrate you, people in cities around the US march to keep your spirit and desire for social justice alive.  I still hope someday we can all get along.

Peace and love y’all,

Laura

Right here in San Antonio, we have one of the largest marches of any city. For more information on this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day San Antonio March, click here, or find one in your city.


Happy New Year from an old hippie

January 11, 2019

When is it too late to say “Happy New Year”? My personal opinion is it’s appropriate all through January, then it becomes tiresome. Also, we forgot our black-eyed peas. I hope that does not forecast a calamitous year.

However… things aren’t looking too good in the USA right now. Most days, I open up Facebook, Twitter or news sites and go WTF! 

At my age, it’s hard to face the reality of our possible demise. My generation spent so much time and energy trying to create a place of equal opportunity for all genders, ethnicities, ages et. al. and for education, housing, healthcare, civil rights…

And, the saddest thing to me was when I told a group of 30-40ish women that ‘I was just an old hippie’ and that’s where my values and attitudes were born and raised, they just gave me a blank, puzzled stare. Suddenly, I felt my age a bit more. 

Our poor planet! Katharine Hayhoe’s TED Talk addresses the issue of climate change.  Her message “the most important thing you can do is just talk about it,” makes this talk essential viewing.

If you want to escape reality for a while, my suggestion, if you like science fiction, is to watch all three seasons of “The Expanse” on Amazon Prime. Best stuff out there! I confess to watching it three times–’cause I’m old and my mind wanders.

world peacePeace and love y’all,

 

 


My Encyclopedic Beginning

May 30, 2018

Evidently, I was still a very young child when my mother introduced me to books, setting me on a life-long safari of endless reading adventures.

Lazing in the pool soaking up sun always sets my mind to wandering. Yesterday I was reminiscing about how when I was about seven years old my parents bought a set of Encyclopedia Britannica. It was a big dollar investment in those days (1954). I remember the salesman talking about an installment plan. It was also a big load of books for an ‘always on the move’ Army family.

I started with the first letter of the alphabet  and, over time, worked my way through XYZ. I finished up as I turned 11. It was glorious journey. My siblings were younger, but the books grew up with them as well.

Ben Franklin said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”  I’m so glad my parents invested in our knowledge in this way.  

Of course, there is now a very different set of Encyclopedia Britannica online which is just one of the places I go for information. It’s worth checking out.


Just the Facts, Ma’am

February 5, 2017

I confess, I love data. Not fake date or #altfacts but real, factual data. I also love @Twitter where I follow @ConradHackett Senior Demographer and Associate Director of the Pew Research Center–a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world.

I am of the mind most political polls generated from news organizations or other paid entities are flawed. For one thing, these polls don’t often acknowledge their methodology. And, for another, not once have I ever been asked my opinion for a poll! To understand why the Pew Research Center differs from most other polling  read their article on key flashpoints with links to references and research

For example, this timely report might help you understand Key Facts about refugees to the US.

They have a great page of Key Indicators about many of the things that influence our every day lives.

Charts are another reason I love this org.

pi_2015-10-22_religion-and-science_homepage-2black-change-chart-2

America’s Shrinking Middle Class might give you insight into the why the middle class is looking for help–which they thought they would get but will not, with the new administration.

On the on TV show “Dragnet” Detective Joe Webb used to say to the crime witness, “Just the facts Ma’am. just the facts” My advice is get some from the Pew Research Center before taking everything you read verbatim.

 


Senior City Dreaming

November 5, 2016

San Antonio is a great big city. Even though, we hold the dubious distinction of being the least equal city in the nation when it comes to the extreme differences between our more prosperous neighborhoods and our most distressed neighborhoods, I think we have a decent community oriented vision for city governance which includes trying to equalize opportuniies.

Over the past several years there have been district and city-wide calls for San Antonio citizens to come together to share their ideas and visions for the future. As we are imaging of the best way for all of us to enjoy life to the fullest, separate sections of the city, through their district leadership and neighborhood associations have become active in trying to determine their specific needs from budgets to services.

Through a community-wide visioning process in 2010the nonprofit SA2020, created and set goals for eleven different measurable areas from arts to family well-being to economic competitiveness. Now I see that some folks are looking for input for 2040—when I most assuredly will be dead.  But the 2020 goals I believe, God willing, are within my reach. As a senior citizen, I have not been aware that much of this planning or vision making has been aimed at seniors.

However, last Friday there was a good community conversation–Successfully Aging and Living in San Antonio aka SALSA, organized by the SA2020, Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word and the San Antonio Area Foundation. A decently diverse (maybe there could have been more African-Americans) group came together in a guided discussion about our experiences as a senior citizens in San Antonio. The discussion comprised of three parts: The best of what is, the best of what could be and imagining what might be the best world for successfully aging in our city.

Our table of four women and two men talked about access to health programs, continued educational opportunities, transportation and relationships. The following slide is a complication of all tables’ discussions. They are listed not necessarily in order of importance.

20161104_132653

20161104_115534

We agreed that while there may be a good deal of senior resources already in place, communication of their availability is lacking. We think good medical services, including the VA, are abundant.

We dreamed of more home-based assistance for those who need help keeping on track with medications or transitioning from hospital or rehab to home. We envisioned a “Silver Service” bus system specifically for transportation to medical facilities. Or, what about a program to address the many issues that would help us stay in our own home as we and the house age.

Laura McKieran, DrPH, Director of Community Information Now (CINOW) said this on her Facebook page. “We just wrapped up a community event where over 100 people talked about their vision for their future in SA – about what’s good and right, about what a life well-lived looks like, about what we together can make true of our community. So much positive energy – hope, excitement, straight-up-legit *joy* – no election pall in the room at all.” That pretty much sums it up for me.

Here are a few resources I thought were good to share.

The City has nine senior centers.

San Antonio Oasis

Alamo Service Connections

Someone asked me about community gardens. Actually, NOWCastSA has a lot of good information geared toward seniors.

In May 2017, TPR is having a Silver Solutions event.

Call a Ride for Seniors

Successfully Aging and Living in San Antonio (SALSA) is the Area Foundation’s newest initiative to create a community where seniors thrive and are prized as vital citizens. They will use what they learned from our session, along with other information, to create a strategy for action and grant-making.

Everyone who contributed is an agent of change, which suits me just fine.