The Raven

The Raven

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Environmentally Friendly Winter Washing Tips

While it's tends to get too cold to haul your laundry out to the line to use the solar dryer, we must use our electric dryers to dry our clothes. Last year I read some clever tips to help save some energy... and money: (of course be sure your lint trap is cleaned out before these tips)

Use COLD water; 90% of the energy associated with doing laundry comes from heating up the water (

~Dry heavier clothes, jeans (be sure to pull inside of pockets out to dry), sweaters, towels... separate from lighter clothes, blouses, lingerie. Add in a couple clean, dry bath towels. This will help absorb dampness and cut drying time almost in half. I tried it, it works pretty well!

If you do venture out to hang clothes in winter and they freeze; carry them in FLAT, don't crumple or fold, it can cause the fibers to break (Household Hints and Handy Tip; Reader's Digest Association; 1988)

The common liquid Fabric softener and dryer sheets are horrible for the environment; try Eco-friendly ones that are ok'd by the EPA such as:

Seventh Generation Free and Clear Fabric sheets

DETERGENTS ok'd by the EPA:

METHOD laundry detergent free of perfume and dyes
METHOD laundry detergent with smartclean technology
PUREX with Natural Cleaners (Dial Corporation)
CLOROX free and clear, lavender and original scent

~If you have an old umbrella, remove the material, turn upside down; the skeleton of it makes a brilliant indoor drying rack (Household Hints and Handy Tips; Reader's Digest Association; 1988)

~Hairspray can remove stains; spray on stain, blot until the stain disapears and then wash (Joey Green's Magic Brands; Rodale 2001)

~Baking Soda boosts your laundry detergent's cleaning power; add about 1/2 a cup of it with your usual amount of detergent (Joey Green's Magic Brands)

~To help reduce dampness in closets or other storage areas hang a bundle (about 12 pieces) of chalk (Household Hints and Handy Tips; Reader's Digest Association 1988)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Slutty Halloween: Why Can't Women Just Wear Normal Fancy Dress?

Posted: 31/10/11 10:09 GMT
Lauren Bravo
I found something disturbing in The 99p Store last week. It isn't a radical statement, being a place that you can buy industrial-sized jars of pickled eggs for pocket change, but this was on a new level of consumer bafflement. It was a pair of tights, in the kids' Halloween section, with "bitch" emblazoned down the leg. Bitch. The KIDS section.
But while demonising our infants is a new worry to add to the Halloween list (we've been sending them out to beg sweets from strangers for ages, after all), it foreshadows the phenomenon adult humans face every year. I like to call it Slutty Halloween.
I think we were all vaguely aware of it gathering speed over the last decade, but it wasn't until 2004'sMean Girls put it into words that Slutty Halloween truly became a 'thing'. "In Girl World," explained Cady, "Halloween is the one day a year when a girl can dress up like a total slut and no other girls can say anything else about it."
In other words, somewhere between the Thrillervideo and Kitty Brucknell humping that dartboard on X Factor at the weekend, Halloween became the get-out-of-slutty-free card - a chance for nice, normal girls with a tasteful line in Uniqlo cardigans to crank their assets up to their chin and embrace their slaggy alter egos for a night. And what's wrong with that, really? Fancy dress has always been a chance for escapism - be it as a teary five-year-old inkeeper, or a hobbit in live action roleplay in a wood somewhere in Norfolk. If your heart's desire is to spend the night as a lascivious incarnation of Little Bo Peep, then by all means go for it. But watch where you put that crook, you'll have someone's eye out.
The problem, you see, isn't so much that Halloween offers the chance to dress slutty, but that recently it seems to have become the only option. It started small enough, with sexy she-devils, minxy vampires and the 'underwear with arbitrary animal ears' get-up so well illustrated in Mean Girls. But then (probably as all the fancy dress shops started selling out of red PVC), it spread. And lo, we were forced to sluttify every costume we could, just to keep up. Nuns, literary characters, historical figures - all now have to come with a side of knee-socks and pouting.
Dressing as the Honey Monster? Ah, but how can you make it SEXY Honey Monster? Add a pair of hotpants to your furry mask, there's a good girl. That's it, get your sugar puffs out...etc.
These days it's a brave move to pick a frumpy costume. For let's remember, after the office party and New Year's Eve, Halloween is one of the key pulling occasions of the year. And who's more likely to get some - the gung-ho lass in the historically-accurate Joan of Arc outfit, or the one dressed as a wayward Minnie Mouse?
Having sported my fair share of 'generic busty wench' outfits myself, I can sympathise with that. I can. But while we're sticking sequins onto our nethers with eyelash glue, are the men backcombing their chest hair and winching themselves into 'Sexy Jeremy Paxman' outfits? No. They're wearing a giant sleepysuit and looking darned comfy with it.
It's a part of the much wider question, continually plaguing us womenfolk - why can't we just wear normal clothes? Proper, functioning clothes, that cover us adequately and don't garrotte us in intimate areas. For the modern woman, day-to-day life can sometimes feel like a feeble battle against the landslide of booty-bearing, quasi-stripper expectations gradually falling in on our heads. Halloween is the epicentre of this. In Railway Children terms, it's when we'd be ripping up our red flannel petticoats and waving them frantically in front of the train. The Ladyflesh Express. Final destination: Nakedsville.
Also, Slutty Halloween encourages laziness. A basque and a bowtie do not a costume maketh. Buying a pre-prepared 'raunchy traffic warden' outfit off the internet is a cop out. I like to see a fancy dress that blood, sweat and a few dedicated charity shop dashes have gone into, ta. If you've not cut up a bedsheet and permanently stained a few towels, you've frankly not tried hard enough. And aside from all its implications of feminist doom, there's a very practical reason for forgoing Slutty Halloween: it's cold.
Halloween, we must remember, is at the end of October. And all the body glitter in the world isn't going to keep the chill out when you're at Old Street bus stop at 3am in your scanties, now, is it ladies?
Follow Lauren Bravo on Twitter:

Saturday, October 15, 2011

He is right- even though he is technically a Wall Street fat cat!

Dear Wall Street, this is why the people are angry

Josh Brown may be in the same group as the bankers and brokers that the Occupy movements are protesting against, but he's just as angry as the protestors are at his own industry.

'Occupy Wall Street'

'Occupy Wall Street' demonstrators protesting near Wall Street in New York. (EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

TESS VIGELAND: Inequity is arguably the main rallying cry of the Occupy movement. And on that score, the primary bogeymen are the nation's bankers, brokers and traders -- the so-called "one-percenters" who control about a third of the country's wealth.

Commentator Josh Brown is one of those one-percenters. He's an investment adviser at Fusion Analytics in Manhattan. If you think you know what his take on all this is going to be, here's his open letter to the banks that don't seem to get why people are mad.

JOSH BROWN: In 2008, the American people were told that if they didn't bail out the banks, there way of life would never be the same. In no uncertain terms, our leaders told us anything short of saving these insolvent banks would result in a depression to the American public. We had to do it!

At our darkest hour we gave these banks every single thing they asked for. We allowed investment banks to borrow money at zero percent interest rate, directly from the Fed. We gave them taxpayer cash right onto their balance sheets. We allowed them to suspend account rules and pretend that the toxic sludge they were carrying was worth 100 cents on the dollar. Anything to stave off insolvency. We left thousands of executives in place at these firms. Nobody went to jail, not a single perp walk. I can't even think of a single example of someone being fired. People resigned with full benefits and pensions, as though it were a job well done.

The American taxpayer kicked in over a trillion dollars to help make all of this happen. But the banks didn't hold up their end of the bargain. The banks didn't seize this opportunity, this second chance to re-enter society as a constructive agent of commerce. Instead, they went back to business as usual. With $20 billion in bonuses paid during 2009. Another $20 billion in bonuses paid in 2010. And they did this with the profits they earned from zero percent interest rates that actually acted as a tax on the rest of the economy.

Instead of coming back and working with this economy to get back on its feet, they hired lobbyists by the dozen to fight tooth and nail against any efforts whatsoever to bring common sense regulation to the financial industry. Instead of coming back and working with the people, they hired an army of robosigners to process millions of foreclosures. In many cases, without even having the proper paperwork to evict the homeowners. Instead, the banks announced layoffs in the tens of thousands, so that executives at the top of the pile could maintain their outrageous levels of compensation.

We bailed out Wall Street to avoid Depression, but three years later, millions of Americans are in a living hell. This is why they're enraged, this why they're assembling, this is why they hate you. Why for the first time in 50 years, the people are coming out in the streets and they're saying, "Enough."

VIGELAND: Josh Brown. He wrote a scathing blog post along these same lines earlier this week. You can also follow him on Twitter @reformedbroker. While you're at it -- follow me @radiotess.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


I was so excited to find that I have had similar ideas:

I have discovered the secrets of the Universe!... Creation is like musical vibrations coming together in a symphony…Hints of the works of God are discovered by mathematicians, astronomers and musicians. It is the formula God made us from on Earth… Who knows what is in far off other places! If we study the elements of Nature, we will be enlightened. We will not be God-like, no never… we are merely an idea behind the All Seeing Eyes of God. Behind God’s Eyes is the Cosmic Garden we call the Universe. Overcoming the darkness of our minds will enable us to defeat all obstacles reversing human progress-hatred, prejudice, hunger, poverty sickness, WAR -Death’s advocate- bringing out all the demons of mankind.

The second reason I wanted to share was because I recently heard on NPR about something that made me think time travel is possible, but not like how they write about and show on TV. The development of a new telescope that can "capture images of what the universe looked like just 400 million years after the Big Bang, " said NPR during an interview with Peter Stockman, leading the development of this telescope in Baltimore. Named The James Webb Telescope, after the second founder of NASA, the light it will collect is very faint, from stars that are more than 13 billion light years away.

"And a light year is about six trillion miles, so if you do the math it's a long, long way away," he says....

The NPR website said that The James Webb telescope will see about half a billion light years farther than the Hubble!


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Violence Against Women

The White House Blog

Sixteen Years of the Violence Against Women Act

Ed. Note: For more information, visit the Department of Health and Human Services violence against women website and the Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women.

Vice President Joe Biden Speaks at Violence Against Women Event

Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a reception at the Naval Observatory Residence marking the 16th Anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act, in Washington, DC September 22, 2010. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

Last night, more than a hundred advocates and college students from around the country gathered at the home of Vice President Biden to mark the 16th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The Vice President spoke passionately about his ongoing commitment to ending violence against women and girls and the next steps we must take to change societal attitudes about violence.

Written and championed by then-Senator Biden, VAWA focused on improving the criminal justice response to domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assault. Since 1994, VAWA has sent 4 billion dollars to states and local communities to develop specialized law enforcement units, provide services to victims, improve prosecution of these crimes, and train professionals about domestic violence and sexual assault. In many ways, VAWA has been successful. Since the passage of the Act, domestic violence has dropped by 58%.
In spite of all this progress, we still have much work to do. Three women still die every day at the hands of husbands or boyfriends. Domestic violence causes two million injuries a year and untold amounts of human suffering. Domestic violence shelters are still full, hotlines are ringing, and for every victim who has come forward, many more are suffering alone.

Even more alarming, young women between the ages of 16-24 have the highest rates of relationship violence, and one in five women will be sexually assaulted while they are in college. Vice President Biden pointed out that we must focus on changing attitudes of our young people so that violence against women is not acceptable. He also noted that we must reach young people with the new technologies—like texting and other online media—that they use to communicate. The Vice President is committed to working with teens and college students to meet this challenge and he applauded those who have already joined this effort and were gathered at his home last night.

Check back on this blog for photos, video, and interviews from the event!

Lynn Rosenthal is the White House Advisor on Violence Against Women

Friday, September 23, 2011

Prepare an Evacuation Plan for Your Pets

Prepare an Evacuation Plan for Your Pets

By Bev Greco

-from The News of Cumberland County, Monday, September 12, 2011

(all CAPS and bold are my doing, not from the primary source)

"...The hurricane evacuation was actually a good drill for the shelter, receiving just 70 animals to care for. We were able to test our capabilities without being overrun. The storm was intense, but only left us with a short-term power outage and a little roof damage....

For the most part, the [cats and dogs] were little angels with only one accident the entire weekend,a dn even that was just a little initial reaction to being in a new place without mom or dad....

All in all, we were pretty happy with the way things went, but we were very lucky that the impact was limited.

Here's what we learned and what we hope to accomplish after this event:


As a SHELTER, we need to establish a larger group of trained volunteers to assist with pet care in the event of a larger or longer term emergency.

As a COUNTY, we need to establish a cohesive animal response team which includes: ALL the municipal animal response teams, the Office of Emergency Management, the manager of the human shelters and a national animal response team with the resources to assist in large scale operations.

...Given the weather patterns we've been experiencing the past couple of years, it;s time to get serious about our preparations.

After Hurricane Katrina, it was federally mandated that all states and counties have an evacuation plan for companion animals. Cumberland County has yet to comply with that mandate.

PLEASE SPEAK TO YOU LOCAL LEADERS in support of creating a good disaster response plan for our pets.

Let's not wait till it's too late

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Water Under the Bridge

Obama wants to create American, union jobs through a new jobs bill. The Republicans are saying is just another stimulus package. I don't know what the answer is. All I know is that we need jobs, healthcare and a return to stronger worker representation, i.e. unions!
Republicans say if the bridge needs fixing, fix it... and I'm sure they'll find a way to outsource it and kill our economy even more and put more people in the unemployment and welfare lines. It's ironic that they claim to be patriots and all-American, yet they have done everything ANTI-American they can do.
I may be a sucker for getting excited and inspired to hear our President and thousands rally on NPR about pro-union, American jobs that will be brought back by re-building the Ohio River bridge. People who voted him in are feeling disappointed. I was starting to wonder if they were right, until I reminded myself that the Republicans made clear, through a hand-written letter to Harry Reed, that their priority is defeating Obama... I guess even if they hurt Americans in the process. They want to block EVERYTHING Obama tries to do to restore America's economy, health, jobs and environment, so come election time, they can say, "See, Obama made all kinds of promises he couldn't keep. Is that someone you want to RE-elect?"

I am not saying Obama and the Democrats have all the answers, but they are the only ones I have seen give a damn about American jobs, unions, healthcare, women's rights and education.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Depression and Anxiety

"Anxiety disorders ARE NOT due to any character flaw or lack of moral fiber. They are not within the individual's ability or volition to control; these are not "your fault," nor are you able to treat these disorders simply by "trying harder." (p. 11 Anxiety Disorders: Everything You Need To Know; J. Paul Caldwell, MD, CCFP)
It really is all in our head! There are physical, chemical reasons for feeling depressed, anxious and not being able to function normally. Anxiety is necessary for survival. For survival, we need to be able to anticipate dangers that could be hazardous to our survival. We are then, through natural anxiety, able to plan what to do if the worst happens. Relatively, to living in the wild with man-eating predators, there should be no compromise with our survival and going to the grocery store....? But, there is always evolution. And trouble evolves with the living- trouble, survival is all relative.
I have been successfully medicated with Paxil 20 mg for the past 5 years. I never thought I would go on any meds, but the panic attacks became unbearable! I would get tormenting thoughts in my head:
what if when i die something rips all my teeth out and makes me eat glass?
I saw a tree once that looked like a person who had been taken, turned upside down, had their head plunged into the ground and I imagined it being a person, their head in Hell and the devil pulling all their teeth out and the blood pouring out of their mouth.
what if i accidently cut myself and i can't stop bleeding?

Being depressed, anxious, obsessively worrying made me feel like a ghost. I felt no one could see me, hear me, feel me or help me; I felt lost even from God.

I was always, since a baby, restless, sad, crying, didn't sleep at night. I remember many times after school, lying on my floor, curled up, after fighting with my mother, being made fun of at school, balling my eyes out. I wrote alot in my journals; I still do. What tormented me, at the same time, blessed me with the talent to create vivid imagery, I could describe through my writing things that people could see- I could evoke emotions people get when they listen to a song and could make them see a painting just by describing it.

There are environmental reasons for depression. There are also biochemical reasons for it. I tried natural remedies for a while. As a child, before bed, I could feel the thoughts waiting on my pillow ready to overcome my mind and become nightmares. I would sit up and read and do puzzles in the Highlights magazines. I would read, do art projects in my bed until I got so tired I would nod off. In school, many times I would feel nauseous, wouldn't eat. As I grew into my late teens, early twenties, new symptoms joined the nausea- dizziness, cold sweats, heart palpitations and near fainting, but I usually would kneel down or sit down as I felt that tingling darkness creeping around my eyes.

I began to read about what was happening to me. I was always told I was too sensitive, kinda dismissed. That is the WORST thing you can do with a depressed, anxious person. We are already scared we are going mad, if people do not listen to our fears and feelings, do not give them recognition as something out of our control.... I tried yoga, talking about it to my mom, who also suffers from anxiety and depression. Nothing she said could comfort me, which worried her more; it would frustrate her and often come out as irritation or anger, and made me feel like no one could help me.
The catalyst for me was one day at work, at my cash register, I nearly blacked out. A girl had been talking about her wisdom teeth, which conjured horrible thoughts of blood; my heart began to flutter and cold-sweats seeped from my palms and under my arms. I tried to busy myself, think of other things. I managed to wait on my customers. Then knelt down at my station, humiliated, pretending to get more bags from underneath. I couldn't stand, and people began to gather asking if I was ok.
I went home "sick" that day. I called out for a couple days, scared to go back, scared it would happen again.
you need to calm down. you need to grow up. you're so sensitive. you need to snap out of it. you need to get into reality. why can't you just try to look at the bright side. you have nothing to be depressed about. I KNOW THAT'S WHAT MAKES THIS WORSE! WHY AM I FEELING THIS WAY?
Eventually I went back to work. I remember one day, it was a very damp, dark day; I love those kind. I walked into work feeling okay; I wanted to try hard and be positive. Soon into my day, I felt the anxiety again. I ended up going home again. No one was home when I got there. I hurried into the kitchen; tears blurring my eyes, knelt down by the cupboard and desperately grabbed a bottle of gin and swigged it. It made me feel worse. I lied down on the couch. Later my parents came home, they seemed angry at me for leaving work again. Told me I need to stop doing this.
I went to the doctor's. My doctor ordered an EKG and of course, to my horror.... blood work to check my thyroid and such. There ended up being NO PHYSICAL REASON why I should be having these spells.
I was prescribed Nirivam. I was to pop one of these when I felt panic attack coming on. The bottle said to be sure my hands were clean before I took one. I obsessed over this. I worked at an old grocery store. It was mostly a butcher shop, it smelled of rancid meat when you first walked in, but then you got used to it. I was always handling wrapped meat products that often leaked, grubby money. So I had to shut off my register light, thankfully since it was a small local store, we could pretty much manage ourselves, and sneak off to the dank, dim and disgusting bathroom, which one customer so eloquently described it as "triflin" (try-flyn). It felt like you could get AIDS just by standing in there.
I went back to the doctor; thank God I had good medical coverage. She gave me a number to a good counselor. I did that and still took the pills. I called that day and was comforted by the therapist's kind voice; I was surprised she answered her own phone, which comforted me more. The office was a small building that was by the railroad track- it looked like a box car I thought. I made the therapist tear up as I talked about my past, which made me feel like I shouldn't talk too much about sad stuff inside me. I read more and more about my problem and one day was SOOOO relieved to read, ""Anxiety disorders ARE NOT due to any character flaw or lack of moral fiber. They are not within the individual's ability or volition to control; these are not "your fault," nor are you able to treat these disorders simply by "trying harder." I read about many other people with the SAME feelings as me! About 25% of the world's population suffers from what I do. The scientific understanding now is that in our brains,"anxiety disorders are associated with dysregulation of neurotransmitter systems" (Caldwell). This was a relief to me! I went back to my doctor and told her about what I had read. She prescribed PAXIL. Within a week, I felt happy and confident. No more panic attacks. I still had the images in my head, but they didn't make me ill anymore. People noticed the change in me.
I am in a way thankful to have depression and anxiety, it allows me to feel deeply and empathetically . It makes me creative. Yet, before, it would be too much for me and I couldn't function normally. I see my depression and anxiety as a tragic beauty and I am happy with it..

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

‎"We mustn’t let the complexity of the situation absolve us from responsibility to act." -Bono

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

I am in an abusive relationship and I love it. I am happy when I am miserable. I love to be kicked when I am down. I love to wake up tired with a tear- stained face, aching throat, and all ambition drained from me. I must. Why else would I continue to imbibe something that makes me violent to my loved ones, that makes me apathetic towards going back to college, that makes me cynical about bettering myself at my job. Drowns my ideas that I used to give a fulfilling place in my writings. Alcoholism a specious, handsome devil that convinces you that you can't live with out it. Tells you that you are nothing without it. That you need it to be strong and calm. Makes you black and blue and then kisses your wounds, comforting you. I hate it. I love it. Sticks its tongue down your throat, sups on the honey and spits acid back in your face and tells you it loves you. I am in an abusive relationship and I love it. I am aware of all this, so therefore, I must love to be

abused. I must love to be struggling to keep my head above water- my thoughts creating the sea that tosses me about in a bottle of whiskey, the only life preserver- a few pieces of change I can collect to save up to buy my next drink.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"Handicaped by History"

"[Helen] Keller, who struggled so vaiantly to learn to speak, has been made mute by history."

-James W. Lowen

Helen Keller was a "radical socialist." She was born in 1880, and grew up in upper class home in Alabama. It seems her communist comminment came from her empathy for handicaped people, many whom made up the working class, injured from factory and other laborious work. She said, "I have visited sweatshops, factories and crowded slums. If I could not see it, I could smell it."

Before she became a socialist, she was beloved because of her endearing struggle as a blind, deaf and mute child. As soon as she became an outspoken communist and rebelled against President Wilson's ant-democratic policies, such as racially segregatiing the federal government, militarily intervening in foreign countries, she became not so adored. Newspaers constantly wrote negatively about her handicaps, saying that because of her "limitations of her development," she had no "independent sensory" and was prone to error. I cannot iunderstand this idea when she was born deaf, blind and mute and overcame these things, graduating from Radcliffe in 1904, founding the American Civil Liberties Union and supporting the NAACP financially and through an essay in The Crisis; she also was on the forefront of the women's rights movement... ofcourse she had independent, and very acute, mental abilities and empathy for the world around her, more empathy and understanding than those who can see and hear the world around them.

In a letter to a a fellow communist, Elizabeth Flynn, then leader of the American Communist party, Helen Keller wrote, "May the sense of serving mmankind bring strength and peace into your brave heart!"

*the title is taken from a chapter in Lies my Teacher Told Me written by James W. Lowen 1995

"Capitalism has failed. We bailed them out, which is Socialism," my cousin told me during a converstaion we had Friday night. She has a very good point that not too many people seem to be concerned about. I hear many people complaing about Unions and taxes, which the Republicans dont want to cut out to save Americans money and solve the deficit problem and create jobs, but they want to "starve the beast" cut out social programs that make living barable for the lower classes of society. The lower classes are a symptom of something greater in this Capitalistic society. They always come for education first- the foundation of society. I think the less educated someone is, the harder their life will be and the more likely they are to be on supplemental assistance. How can the Republicans be concerned about the economic state of this country when they were so busy sending American, union jobs to Asia and the Central and South Americas? Thus, putting more people on welfare, and needing unemployment benefits. No one understands that by supporting WalMart we are supporting China, communism and killing the American economy? We borrow money from China for the wars, then we pay them back, AND give them our hard earned money by buying from places like WalMart, and Target and pretty much anywhere else that has a name we are familiar with. Why do people not realise that if we bust all the unions that we are left vulnerable to falling back into the gnashing machine of worker abuse that was the Industrial Revolution? Because of collective bargaining workers can negociate contracts that ensure their rights, saftey, pensions, AND help the company remain competive. Where I work, Shoprite, is unionized and we are able to keep low prices in this econmoy while still paying union wages to the workers and negociating the fairest possible contracts.

Too many people seperate themselves from the world around them. Portable electronics are great for communitcating, but it discourages observation of the world around them. What affects the poorest village in some unknown thrid world country will make its way into our world. We all need to step back and look at the entire working of the world's economies, social issues, labor practices, culture.... We need to pay attention from where our stuff, our food, clothing, cell phones, comes from and what it took to get it to us. Who burrowed into the mines to dig out the colbalt that is in your cell phone? Who assemembled your laptop or sneakers? How much oil did it take to make it? How much oil are we using to deliver the protein rich soybeans to farms for the cows (why dont we just eat the soy instead to get the protein instead of butchering the cows?)Everything in the world is connected and affects us ALL. Why not work together?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Union Busting

I read an article in my most recent UFCW (United Food and Commercial Workers) union magazine that I really liked:


"The phrase 'union busting' describes the many ways in which employers, often with outside assistance, try to prevent their employees from seeking union representation at the workplace.
In the past, companies deployed Pinkerton agents, street thugs and even National Guard troops to beat, shoot and intimidate striking employees and union organizers. These days, employers are more discreet as they go about violating their workers' human rights.
Through the years, they have become expert at exploiting weaknesses in federal and state laws that were initially written to protect the rights of the workers to organize themselves and bargain collectively for their wages, benefits and working conditions.
Upon hearing the faintest whisper of pro-union sentiment, companies routinely hire highly-paid "consultants" to advise them of "union avoidance" strategies. Employers also deploy lobbyists and make campaign donations in order to enact laws that make the environment even more difficult for union organizers.
Workers can experience union-busting tactics in many ways. They mights overhear someone spreading anti-union lies in the break room. They might be forced to attend high-pressure "meetings" in which those same lies are expressed in a more forceful and direct manner. All too frequently, they will see their pro-union coworkers harassed, transferred to graveyard shifts and even fired. Recently, we've observed how state governments can engage in blatant union busting as they strip teachers and other public-sector workers of their collective bargaining rights.
In fact, we are in a new golden age for union-busters. A factory on Danville, Va., that makes furniture for Ikea provides a case in point.
When the Swedish retail giant came to Danville to build its first production facility in the United States, workers in the region were hopeful that Ikea, which has a worldwide reputation for progressive ideas, would become a model employer.
Unfortunately, that didn't happen. The 335 employees at the non-union plant complain of erratic scheduling, compulsory overtime work and canceled promises of wage improvement. They are paid wages that are far lower than those earned by Ikea's unionized workers in Sweden, where minimum wage is close to $19 an hour.
The workers reacted to these abuses by seeking union representation. Ikea's U.S. subsidiary responded by hiring a notorious anti-union law firm and forcing the workers to attend anti-union propaganda sessions.
This is just one example of the realities that America workers experience every day.
They aren't carrying clubs and shotguns, but the union-busters are out in force. Confronting them will require all of the dedication and courage we can muster. We've worked too hard to get what we have to let them take it away from us."

-written by Anthony Benigno, UFCW Secretary-Treasurer

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I had a bad night last night. I don’t know why I write, I just feel compelled to write what I see in my head, yet I suppose it is a form of therapy, since I am very shy, and have a hard time describing my thoughts and ideas aloud before people
I polished off a 1/2 pint of whiskey alone in my room. Tears heavy with heartache. I soaked my pillow so much that if it were filled with feathers, they would never fly again. My mind falls victim to my pillow harboring ominous ideas that wait in shadows to become nightmares.
When I drink to excess I have vivid dreams and the next day I cannot separate reality from my dreams. What people do in my dreams I think really happened.( a kinda funny one, I woke up one morning thinking the Leaning Tower of Pisa fell!) The shows on TV enter my mind as I lie half awake between dreams and slipping away into another. Lat night in my dream my brother was acting schizophrenic and speaking vulgarly to me and today while driving I had to really try to think if that really happened. I know now, it didn't. My sleep is fitful. I sometimes yell out, waking people in other rooms, and also my dog, who runs to my door to see if I'm ok.
At first, when I start drinking my head euphorically spins- mind is suspended in a fragrant warm pool of water- that bitter, burning, sweetness of bipolar ecstasy… a warm rush, spinning euphorically in your own mind, then, restless anger, desire to rebel and be heard and understood, then defeat and overwhelming sadness, yet still feeling, I am grateful for- a passionate feeling.
When I drink in bars, I often get into confrontations and wake the next day with the soft skin around my wrists bruised from pounding my fists on the bar. More than once I have been rescued by family members from these places, only to have me climb out my window, or leave their couch and wander out into the woods, lie in the grass, pretending to stir the stars with a stick I found. I am not easy to take. I have physically fought with my father and got thrown into the car because I wouldn't leave willingly with my parents. I have been bitten by a dog, blood running down my leg, my nose almost broken from falling and I didn't even know it. I was still screaming and arguing about something I cannot remember now.
I went this past week without a drink and felt great. Yesterday, alas, I let myself drink. I didn't even want to. I just told myself I need something to drown my thoughts, or numb me from them for a little. Yet, when I got to the bottom of the bottle, they were there waiting, more intense and painful than before. They followed me into my dreams, made my head pound, and my stomach acidic and nauseous. I writhed in bed all night.
As the birds were summoning the glowing, grey morning light, from the rain soaked tree, looking like spilled ink, I stared up out the window above, my aching head on my pillow. I turned again and tried to sleep. I felt a sick heaving wave in the ocean of my stomach. As I drift slightly, I heard a sound from a bird I had never heard before and I felt it was a message from some other greater Spirit around me letting me know it'll be ok now; it is a new day, a different one and in the grand scheme of things, my life is just a little moment, though it is intolerably painful sometimes, there is nothing God will let happen that you cannot handle with what you have been equipped with inside. I have the ability to bring peace to my body by meditating on God and asking for help. Even though my life is a fleeting moment in the Grand Universe, it is not lost from God. Today is a new day to start over, to start healing.

This time of year is so enchanting!
When the clutch of Winter loosens, and the haughty howls of the cold are soothed by nurturing Spring. Trembling rain drops, like delicate pearls adorn the tree branches full burgeoning buds.
Soon, my yard will look like Heaven spilled a milk pail of tiny purple and blue flowers- turning my yard into an ocean of fairy flowers and the sighs of wild honeysuckle will float on the breeze with the butterflies as I doze in the grass.
I want to work WITH Nature. Surely we can energize and sustain our planet with the more benevolent elements of the Earth- a celestial sphere that delicately exists on the Great Cosmic tree, like the trembling rain pearls. Let us harness the energies of sunlight, water and air- not Uranium. Reuse our waste to fuel machines and vehicles.
I think then the Earth Mother may be happier with us, kinder to us. I feel she is sick and we need to help her get well! We need to come together and help each other and our Earth!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

There Was Time Now

How I love old books! Torn, stained unraveling books! My best friend recently gave me an old book from 1926, called Wisp:A Girl of Dublin by Katharine Adams. It was from a library in Charleston, West Virginia. The other night I discovered the library card sleeve and inside an original check out card; the most current return date was March 17, 1931! And here I hold it in my hands in March 2011! A little thing, but I find it haunting.
All throughout the book as I turn the pages, learning more and more about the characters, I find smudges and fingerprints- these people are all probably dead and buried now, but they live on through these now ghostly fingerprints; my thumb landed almost directly on top of a rouge colored thumb print as I turned a page. I get distracted from the story and wonder what the person who held this book in their hands 80 years ago was doing as they read. Was it for school they had to read it? What did they think of it?
There is a small scrap of paper that was probably once white; age has stained the paper and impressed its shadow on the pages. Some nights, I notice when I go to save my place for the night, I fold the top corners at the same places the readers before me have. There are sloppy little side notes and thread peeking out from the pages just before the title page. It is alive with the words of the author, but also with the marks of the people who brought it into their lives briefly. The book and its pages don't erase time or memory; a book gains more character- spirit as it is stained by Time. Books build layers of remnants that become part of the story for every new reader to discover. Not only can you learn from and be entertained by the words of these old volumes, you can FEEL and smell the history as your finger tips grace grains of time.
I don't ever want print to go away!

TimeEnoughAtLast.jpg Time Enough At Last

Monday, March 21, 2011

Power to the People!

I have some catching up to do... so forgive me for the late news!

It is because of unions and negotiations that employers give their workers health insurance, raises, time and a half, paid holidays, vacations and sick days. Unions set the standard of what is acceptable as a employer-employee relashionship. Collective bargaining allows for a representative of the worker and the employer and a representative of the local gov't to sit and discuss a reasonable agreement that benefits both the employer and employee. Why are we people letting unions loose their power!? The people, workers united made unions! Employers are not doing us a favor by giving us a job. They need us to have a successful business. Unions are a necessary voice that works to prevent the worker from being taken advantage of.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Home for the Holidays (part 10 of brother's story)

Our aunt had told him that she wanted him to get well and home; she wanted to hear his beautiful music at the Thanksgiving dinner.
It was November, before Thanksgiving time that my brother came home. He had spent about 4 weeks in Ancora. After further testing and observation, the doctors re- diagnosed him as bi-polar and put him on a mood stabilizer and sent him home. He was again medicated and frustrated. He couldn't play; he couldn't control his hands. It was weird, scary, yet familiar to have him home. He was actually acting like how I had known him. My parents said never again, about sending him to Ancora. (a couple years after this, there was talk about shutting the place down). Maybe I was loosing my mind, but I asked if he could come along on a trip to New York City with my Amnesty group. We were going to a seminar hosted by Amnesty to discuss the human rights abuses of Native American women. I wanted my brother to hear this, expose him to other cultures, ideas. I talked it over with my psychology professor. She said as long as he signed the waiver, as we all did, he could go. i felt sorry for him and what he had been through. He agreed to go. He was witty and charming in the van. He got a little arrogant at times, and I cringed since they had never met him, and my professors were a bit uncertain of taking him to begin with. But he really hit it off with one student. They had us laughing and I felt more at ease. However, as soon as we stopped for food at an enchanting, colonial restaurant, grey stone, slick and glimmering in the pouring rain, I had myself a Jameson. He and I wondered around the little museum upstairs and learned that Washington's teeth were actually made of ground up human and animal teeth.
At the seminar, I cringed again when I saw him taking samples of wine that were offered to the guests. I thought he would trip up again. I told him to be careful, especially with the meds. He ended up being okay. It was the two jackass girls who had never even been to a meeting, but somehow kissed up and got in, that got wasted and embarrassing, but I digress. There were a couple eerie coincidences... the obvious one to me, that I had started campaigning for Native American women, as he was obsessed with the Cherokee Spirit, and while walking through New York, we passed a lane where a sign hung over a cafe door that read Ancora. I don't know exactly what his journey was all about, but I know it is more significant than the human mind can comprehend. I think that's why there are mental disorders; some people are closer to the higher planes of knowledge, more in tune with the astral, metaphysical energies- like a third eye or 6th sense.

We had a normal Thanksgiving in Greenwich, at my aunt and uncle's, just as we always had since children. That same month, just before Thanksgiving, my brother got a job as janitor at Shoprite, our local grocery store. As time went on, he weaned himself off his meds, as well as from his assigned case manager, who weekly would stop by, and who also helped him get his job.
As more time went on, he began to open up about his experience at Ancora. He said that many times he was left to watch the patients, since he was the most sane among them. He saw a patient shitting himself and throwing it at a nurse as she cowered against the wall and sobbed afterwards. I think a lot of it he keeps inside. He says he has a whole new philosophy about life now, after being locked up in a mental hospital.
To this day, February 21, 2011, he is still at Shoprite, now an apprentice to a butcher, working full time and making Union wages. He is off all meds. He drinks and smokes a lot, but maintains himself. It has been four years of normalcy. When stoned or drinking, he gets a bit of the glaze over his eyes and he talks like he did while under psychosis, playing with words, and believing he has all the knowledge of the world inside him, but he doesn't separate himself from the common, understood reality. For the past 2-3 years, his moods have been stable, mellow. He has a steady girlfriend who he met at work. They have been together for just about as long as he's been out of the hospital; she knows his history and his temper. Sometimes, now, I am the one who is paranoid. He always talked about the Cherokee Spirit. She is Native American, and sometimes I wonder if she is part of his mental game, a self-fulfilling prophecy he is trying to create. Many times, especially after the two of us have been drinking and philosophizing together, and I get upset and start yelling and arguing, I have nightmares about him. Many things I ask or talk about when he was going through all this, he says he doesn't remember, which is understandable. Now, we even laugh about a lot of what happened. We have a lot of thoughts in common. He tells me we're like the same person, yet we are the opposite sex version of it. He also uses logic, with a grin and says, or it's because we're brother and sister!

It is 2011, and he keeps the philosophies in his pocket, and plays the game like a good boy. For, when you speak what's in your head, they shut you up, lock you up and drug you up so that you become a twitching zombie, a vessel for the pharmaceutical corporation... I must wonder, therefore, who is the one with devils dancing in their head?
Not a big fan of this picture but dont I look like John Lennon in his later years?!

It's All in Your Head (part 9 of brother's story)

I had heard that what causes schizophrenia is a gap between the hemispheres of the brain. Haunting that gap are voices, taunting are they to the body controlled by the brain. This gap in the brain creates a chasm between the schizophrenic and the family. They are on opposite sides, so far from their loved one. All they can do is watch them on the other side- you can see them, but there is an impenetrable glass wall between you- glassy eyes, glazed, staring, taunting that they know more than you do- completely unaware of how far from you they are.

I have learned that many people confuse schizophrenia with multiple personality disorder. Schizophrenics do not have split personalities, or multiple ones; they suffer from delusional beliefs, such as believing they are God or on a secret mission; they are very occupied with themselves, usually having high intelligence and an inflated feeling of self importance. They see the world- faces - distorted and freighting. They hear commanding voices in their head and they are real, coming from some greater source. They suffer from visions such as things climbing through electrical outlets, or see faces coming out of the T.V. They believe food to be poisoned; they have a hard time trusting anything. Nothing comforts them. Medication makes them exhausted, twitch, grimace, and feel like a shell of a human with the voices still echoing through their hollow innards. Many do not leave their homes. Unless they are among the ranting homeless- maybe their family let them go. Maybe they ran away. Maybe they have no family left.
It had a name now. My brother was a schizophrenic. He was certifiable.
Our mother was trying to connect how he got this way. She said he family was never diagnosed with anything, yet it could have been masked by alcoholism. Not much is known about the mental health of our father's side, and again alcoholism was rampant in his family as well.
He would call our house, angry, wanting us to get him out. I explained to him one day that he had to bring his mental level down a bit for them to let him out. I used the analogy of how musicians create music- how not everyone hears the inspiration, or can tune by ear, but musicians can tune it and make it understandable to the common ear. He thanked me for explaining this to him, with a bit of bitterness lingering somewhere behind him. He said it as if no one had tried to tell him anything, even though we had exhausted ourselves trying to. Yet, he still called, not as much as he could when he was at Bridgeton Crisis Center, as if I hadn't said anything to him. He had to win the game to earn the get out of jail free card. We used to play Monopoly all the time. He always won.

Red Ink (8th post of my brother's story)

Lambasting my mind was all the things I had heard and seen my brother do:
As he sat on his bed in the hospital he angrily said to my parents, "Why are you making those faces at me!"
"I hear Uncle Mike laughing at me."
He wrote all the time about noise in his head. But he spelled it Noiz, saying it was Zion spelled backwards. He heard our father yelling at at him in his head.
As he was strapped down to a gurney, he said, "C'mon Dad, give me the key."
He told me while at work one day, in the warehouse, he saw a face with sharp teeth and claws swatting at him.
People were worshiping him
He took pills, whatever was placed in his hand, just like Jim Morrison.
We are living in the Garden of Eden. I shouldn't stay a virgin. I should wear tampons to get used to "that feeling"
His temper compelled him to stab walls and smash things. His mind compelled him to resurrect Beethoven, Bach, Vaughn and Mozart from his electric keyboard. He strummed strings as he got inspiration from the symphony of his mind.
When he was a child I found him in his room tying his little Lego men to weights and dropping them in water. When I asked why, he said that he had been throwing them into his fan and he was afraid that during the night they would take their revenge on him.
His love for family brought him to tea at our aunt's and all holiday dinners. Sometimes, he would play music for us, after much begging from me, and laugh along at our conversations. He valued the wisdom of our elders- I could tell the way he listened and responded. When he was very little, about 4, he was in the tub as I stood hugging a towel around me, and told our mother that he wanted to be a cow when he grew up and became very upset when she told him he couldn't because he is a human. I remember waiting for the school bus, he was about 6. The collar of his coat, that our Dad had brought home from work (he worked a sewing plant), was standing up. Mom said he looked like Dracula. He said in his best Transylvania accent looking up at Mom, "Bend down, let me have your neck." We all laughed. For a moment I forgot my school jitters and anxiety.

My brother had been given a very sweet social worker who talked to my mom often over the phone about Sean. She said for the most part he was good, but often he would make sexual remarks to the nurses. He was moved to Lurch because of hugging a female patient (Sean later told me this) I'm not sure if this is the whole story or not. Somehow he was able to keep his Cross necklace. He had added a circle charm and once he motioned a sexual act by moving the Cross in and out of the circle at a female nurse.
Today was the most dreadful call. My mom sat at the dining room table talking to the social worker- her notebooks full of Sean's behaviour, medications, jumbo calendar marked all up with pen, pencil and marker with appointments and records of hospital admittances, releases. She had a red pen in her hand. I heard her say with fear, "Oh please no, Kelly..." I walked into the room and looked down at the page she was writing on; she was scribbling down "paranoid schizophrenic" she had written the word descending down the lined paper trying to figure how to spell it right. I turned and stared out our patio door- a sunny autumn day- you'd never know we had just gotten this kind of devastating news.

He's better off dead than a schizophrenic