Sunday, October 4, 2015

My Dog Has A License

There's a terrific meme going around social media that sums up much of what I am feeling about guns:
How about we treat every young man who wants to buy a gun like every woman who wants to get an abortion — mandatory 48-hr waiting period, parental permission, a note from his doctor proving he understands what he's about to do, a video he has to watch about the effects of gun violence, an ultrasound wand up the ass (just because). Let's close down all but one gun shop in every state and make him travel hundreds of miles, take time off work, and stay overnight in a strange town to get a gun. Make him walk through a gauntlet of people holding photos of loved ones who were shot to death, people who call him a murderer and beg him not to buy a gun.
It makes more sense to do this with young men and guns than with women and health care, right? I mean, no woman getting an abortion has killed a room full of people in seconds, right?                                                                                                                                                                origin unconfirmed

And not just young men. This should apply to anyone who wants to buy a gun.  

I've written about the Second Amendment so often I feel like it's an alternate address for me. And I keep coming back to the same phrase over and over: well regulated militia. Uh, we don't have a militia, well regulated or otherwise.  

What is it about this country that makes people think gun ownership is the same as home ownership or car ownership?

It's not. I am so damn tired of the argument, "I need a gun for protection. But I'm a responsible gun owner and keep them  locked in the gun safe." Excuse me, but that's idiotic. What? You're gonna tell the robber, "Wait a sec, I have to go get my gun outta the safe so I can shoot you." 

The Gun Violence Archive keeps a running list of statistics. This is the list as of October, 4, 2015:

This is a serious and very scary list. It's important to note that of 39,794 shooting incidents, only 910 have been defensive, and only 1,707 have been for home invasion. It's important to note the these are reported as defensive and home invasion; they do not differentiate for errors in judgement. Translated into percentages, that means .02286% have been defensive and .04289% have been home invasion. That is a total of .06576% of gun incidents are almost reasonable. That's a tad over 1/2 of 1%. Gunshot deaths, on the other hand, represent 25% of all reported incidents. 

Here is a list of mass shootings since Columbine High School in 1999 compiled by David Hodari at the UK's Daily Telegraph:
April 1999 - Two teenage schoolboys shot and killed 12 schoolmates and a teacher at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, before killing themselves.
July 1999 - A stock exchange trader in Atlanta, Georgia, killed 12 people including his wife and two children before taking his own life.
September 1999 - A gunman opened fire at a prayer service in Fort Worth, Texas, killing six people before committing suicide.
October 2002 - A series of sniper-style shootings occurred in Washington DC, leaving 10 dead.
August 2003 - In Chicago, a laid-off worker shot and killed six of his former workmates.
November 2004 - In Birchwood, Wisconsin, a hunter killed six other hunters and wounded two others after an argument with them.
March 2005 - A man opened fire at a church service in Brookfield, Wisconsin, killing seven people.
October 2006 - A truck driver killed five schoolgirls and seriously wounded six others in a school in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania before taking his own life.
April 2007 - Student Seung-Hui Cho shot and killed 32 people and wounded 15 others at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia, before shooting himself, making it the deadliest mass shooting in the United States after 2000.
August 2007 - Three Delaware State University students were shot and killed in “execution style” by a 28-year-old and two 15-year-old boys. A fourth student was shot and stabbed.
December 2007 - A 20-year-old man killed nine people and injured five others in a shopping centre in Omaha, Nebraska.
December 2007 - A woman and her boyfriend shot dead six members of her family on Christmas Eve in Carnation, Washington.
February 2008 - A shooter who is still at large tied up and shot six women at a suburban clothing store in Chicago, leaving five of them dead and the remaining one injured.
February 2008 - A man opened fire in a lecture hall at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois, killing five students and wounding 16 others before laying down his weapon and surrendering.
July 2008 – A former student shot three people in a computer lab at South Mountain Community College, Phoenix, Arizona.
September 2008 - a mentally ill man who was released from jail one month earlier shot eight people in Alger, Washington, leaving six of them dead and the rest two wounded.
October 2008 - Several men in a car drove up to a dormitory at the University of Central Arkansas and opened fire, killing two students and injuring a third person.
December 2008 - A man dressed in a Santa Claus suit opened fire at a family Christmas party in Covina, California, then set fire on the house and killed himself. Police later found nine people dead in the debris of the house.
March 2009 - A 28-year-old laid-off worker opened fire while driving a car through several towns in Alabama, killing 10 people.
March 2009 - A heavily-armed gunman shot dead eight people, many of them elderly and sick people, in a private-owned nursing home in North Carolina.
March 2009 - Six people were shot dead in a high-grade apartment building in Santa Clara, California.
April 2009 – An 18-year-old former student followed a pizza deliveryman into his old dormitory, and shot the deliveryman, a dorm monitor, and himself at Hampton University, Virginia.
April 2009 - A man shot dead 13 people at a civic center in Binghamton, New York.
July 2009 - Six people, including one student, were shot in a drive-by shooting at a community rally on the campus of Texas Southern University, Houston.
November 2009 - US army psychologist Major Nidal Hasan opened fire at a military base in Fort Hood, Texas, leaving 13 dead and 42 others wounded.
February 2010  A professor opened fire 50 minutes into at a Biological Sciences Department faculty meeting at the University of Alabama, killing three colleagues and wounding three others
January 2011 - a gunman opened fire at a public gathering outside a grocery in Tuscon, Arizona, killing six people including a nine-year-old girl and wounding at least 12 others. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was severely injured with a gunshot to the head.
July 2012 - Masked gunman James Holmes opens fire at midnight cinema screen of new Batman film The Dark Knight Rises, killing 12 and injuring 58.
August 2012 Gunman kills six people at SIkh temple in Wisconsin before being shot dead by police. Suspect is named as white supremacists Wade Michael Page.
September 2012 – Employee kills five coworkers and himself at Accent Signage in  Minneapolis. [added by WP]
December 2012 - Adam Lanza, 20, forces his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. He kills 20 first-graders and six adults. Before arriving at the school, he had killed his mother at their home.
June 2013 - John Zawahri, an unemployed 23-year-old, kills five people in a rampage which begins at his father home and ends in Santa Monica College's library.
September 2013 - Aaron Alexis, a Navy contractor and former Navy man, engages police in a running firefight in the Washington D.C. industrial complex before being shot and killed. Thirteen people were killed and three injured.
May 2014 - Elliot Rodger opens fire in the campus town of Isla Vista, California from inside a black BMW, killing seven people. Rodgers acted alone and written and video evidence suggest the attack is premeditated.
June 2015 - White supremacist, Dylann Roof, begins shooting in a historic black church in an attempt to start a race-war. He kills nine people.
August 2015 - Vester Lee Flanagan II aka Bryce Williams shoots dead two former colleagues from the WDBJ7 news team.

October 2015 - Ten people were killed when a gunman opened fire at Oregon's Umpqua Community College. [added by WP]
Those are really the highlights of mass murder more than anything else. 

We demand driver's licenses for all those who would drive a car in this country. We insist they carry insurance in case of the inevitable accident. 

We demand manicurists and hairdressers be licensed. 

We even demand dog owners have licenses.

But we cannot pull our act together to have some sort of gun control laws? Really?

We don't live in a war-torn nation with terrorists blowing themselves up in supermarkets, yet the gun laws in Israel make owning a personal gun an arduous process and almost an impossibility. We don't have roving bands of miscreants shooting tourists or families in cars. And folks, we don't have vigilantes tearing through the countryside taking potshots at illegals sneaking across the border. Nope. We just kill our own.

We, the People, of the United States look totally stupid to the rest of the world. And not just stupid, We, the People, look like violent barbarians, greedy and unrestrained. We live in the richest country in the world, yet we barely provide subsistence services like health care and affordable housing. We treat teachers, the foundation builders of our future, like unskilled labor. And we treat the veterans of our armed services as nothing more than an old inconvenience to be swept up with the trash when they need help most. 

We are the proud owners of an entitled aristocracy that sees themselves above the vast populace with no social responsibility ...not even noblesse oblige. And that includes, but is not limited to, corporate lobbies that fight against the good and welfare of this nation.

In the coming months we will be treated to the idiocy of the GOP Clown Cavalcade and the Democratic Sanctamonium Soirée as they march lock-step toward Election Day 2016. You will be sick and tired and disgusted by the attack ads, swift-boat attempts, lies, accusations, and assorted bullshit lobbed across the airwaves and newspapers. You will hate it for everything that is wrong with the system. You will threaten not to vote at all.


If you don't like what you read above, do something to change it. Get off your butt and fight for sensible laws. Do not sign this nation over lock, stock, and barrel to the the big lobbies who don't give a damn about We, the People of the United States. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week

? אם לא עכשיו, אימתי
If not now, when?
                        Pirke Avot 1:14

Sunday, September 27, 2015

A Fish, A Pope, A Clown and an Etrog.

The other night, I got to read a bedtime story to Little Miss. Junior Son suggested THE RAINBOW FISH, adding, "It's a story about how to buy friends." I was intrigued.

Beautifully illustrated, it's about a fish who has sparkly rainbow scales but doesn't seem to interact with the other fish at all. One day, a little blue fish asks he if can have a scale. Rainbow Fish declines. The upset blue fish tells all other fish, and soon they are shunning Rainbow Fish. Rainbow Fish goes to the local wise elder for advice, and the octopus tells him if he wants to play with the other fish, he should give them his scales. The little blue fish comes back, and Rainbow Fish starts handing out scales....until he has only one scale left. And then....he gets to swim with his new "friends."  

Surely, Marcus Pfister thought he was writing about learning to share. I am sure he meant well, judging by how many people love this book. But I could not get this story outta my head. There was something so wrong about it that I went on-line and found Ernest Borgnine reading the book aloud on StorylineOnline. I followed along using closed caption, so I knew I was getting the text right. 

There are a bunch of odd messages. Rainbow Fish has to go to a cave out in the middle of nowhere to get advice. And then the advice he's given is to give away his colors so that others would like him. The octopus doesn't mention that Rainbow Fish's aloof behavior might be the root cause. Instead he tells him, in essence, to give up his natural appearance in order to fit in. Appearance is everything, and who you are is completely irrelevant. 

This is not a book about sharing. No one else shares anything in this story. In fact, it vaguely reminded me of the stories about inner city kids held up for their name-brand sneakers and team warm-up jackets. No one ever accused the robber-bullies of being in it to teach a moral lesson. Maybe this is Kiddie Maoist Theory: everyone should look the same, have the same, individuals need not apply. Nah. There was no re-education camp near the octopus cave. This is not a message I want to give Little Miss. 

And speaking of re-education, Pope Francis tried that over at Congress the other day. Gave a great speech, too. He scolded our dear leaders on greed, climate change, poverty and the death penalty. Assuming you can put aside that even with all his scientific learning and leaning, he is still against marriage equality, a woman's right to control her own body, and the role of women in the church, he's a pretty cool kinda guy. I'll admit I like him. I'd probably enjoy meeting him at a dinner party where the wine and the conversation freely flows. I also understand he's in charge of one giant ship that cannot turn on a dime. 

Wanna know what I wanna know? What exactly did the Pope say that is making Speaker Bonehead sit down and shut up. Permanently. 

Perhaps, in their private conversation, the Pope told Boehner he was an amoral, reprehensible sonofabitch and that he was going to burn forever in the fires of hell for throwing the other 92% of We, the People under the bus. I would like to believe that. But I don't really. I think Boehner got a good look at what was coming down the pike and decided to bail before they hoisted his petard on the nearest yardarm. Kinda like Cromwell's head outside Westminster. Interesting though, that both Republicans and Democrats consider him a traitor ....but for vastly different reasons. 

What concerns me now is that the fight for the position of Speaker is going to be a bloody brawl between the lunatic Tea Party and the rest of the Republicans. The further splintering of the GOP does not benefit We, the People in the least. We need reasonable choices in the voting booth. And so far, we're not getting them. This is potentially really scary stuff. 

At sundown, the Jewish world begins the observance of Sukkot, what some Christians call Tabernacles. Basically, a sukkah is three sided hut in which the harvesters used to live while they were harvesting. It's a harvest holiday, as is Pesach (yes, Passover) and Shavuot (aka Pentacost,) discussed at length in the Torah. It might be worth remembering that this is harvest time in both north and south hemispheres, and that without a good harvest, people do go hungry. 

So even if you don't get to hang out in a sukkah for a week, do go outside and look around. Go to the grocery store and look around. Go to a city street filled with restaurants and food trucks...and look around. Then ask yourself, what if there is no harvest?

If you can answer that question, maybe you want to run for Congress. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Hey, kids! Don't toss that old, used etrog!
Make marmalade!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Culling the Herd

Wednesday is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar....and exactly one year since FIL left the building. I still marvel that he managed to do it on Yom Kippur, a kind of karmic bookend to his life, especially the last decade under our very Jewish roof. But he did, so tomorrow morning I will head over to Fort Snelling for the first time since we buried his ashes to put a small rock on his head stone, and out to Sons of Jacob to talk to Ziggy. Kever avot....visiting the graves....a quiet way to end a very eventful year.

Meanwhile, with this cancer thing going on, I may not be under total house arrest, but my oncologists say I'm supposed to be going easy on myself, sleeping more, walking more, having a little bit of fun, and getting my strength back after two major front-to-front surgeries...all in preparation for getting irradiated which I hear is going to make me really tired. Still, I'm so disappointed I'm not going to glow in the dark. I was hoping to do magic tricks for Little Miss. Oh, well.

To keep myself amused when not in shul (this is, after all, the height of Jewish holiday season) I try to think up ways not to yell at the television. That is really hard. Between The Donald and Dr. Ben "I Missed School The Day They Taught The Bill Of Rights" Carson, it's damn hard to contain myself. 

More than any of the other members of the Clowns Cavalcade, these two represent the absolute worst of American thinking. I don't mean worst as in stupid, unintelligent, or even backward. I mean the worst that America has to offer: racist and ugly. Trump is a side show. (Once upon a time, even Michele "I'm Too Stupid To Live" Bachmann had good poll numbers.) Trump and Carson are small-minded bigots. They stand for everything the Founding Fathers fought against: oligarchs, religious wing nuts, and governmental morons. Disgust is too kind a word to use when describing my response to their rhetoric. 

On the other hand, however, little gift to cheer us in this our hour of intellectual need, two of the smaller black holes have left the galaxy: Rick Perry and Scott Walker. How did We, the People, get so lucky? Those two wormhole-riddled brains at the bottom on the intelligent-life barrel figured out they don't have a chance against the likes of super-morons like Trump and Carson. Hard to believe that they're just not stupid enough.

I don't call these guys stupid blithely; they earned it. All four of them have made some pretty egregious pronouncements, the kind normal people with brain function just don't make. 
  1. Scott Walker's analysis of why his term as governor is so successful is a fine starting point. According to FORBES, slightly socialist Minnesota is the 9th best place to do business while Wisconsin is 32. Can you say delusional, boys and girls?
  2. Rick "I'm Not A Scientist" Perry maintains scientists manipulate numbers for the grant money, and that he's not so sure climate change is man-made. 
  3. Dr. Ben "We Don't Need No Stinking Bill of Rights" Carson believes there is a litmus test for POTUS and not the usual abortion one. His has to do with whether or not one's religion is compatible with the Constitution. 
  4. Donald "I'm Going To Look Into Things" Trump apparently thinks POTUS is a despot who can do whatever he/she wants. His presidency will be set up with him as the host/deal-maker and Congress be damned. I wonder how long We, the People are gonna put up with that? Meanwhile, I wanna know what things he's looking at. 

Now, Carly "Let Me Explain In My Kindergarten Teacher Voice, Boys and Girls" Fiorina has had a bump in her polling numbers, but I suspect that's about the Carson/Trump implosion. At some point, her inability to actually run a company anywhere but into the ground will be an issue with the CorpoClown Brigade. Besides, the Planned Parenthood screed was one lie piled on another. She is a traitor to anyone with a uterus. Thankfully, she will not last. The GOP doesn't like things that bleed....and then refuse to die. 

Bush sounds reasonable by comparison, but then you remember who the brother is and there's a really good reason not to vote for him. He's flagging, as is Christie. Jindal will be gone within a fortnight, Pataki just hasn't fallen over yet. Graham and Gilmore have already disappeared. Kasich might hang on for a while, but he's not tracking. The rest will just fade away. What a glorified waste of money. 

You would think with all that money, they could find someone smart to run for POTUS. Ha! Not happening!

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
If you live too far to go to the cemetery for kever avot,
take a quiet moment to remember those who have come before you 
and are gone. Remember their smiles, remember a story, 
remember when you last held a hand. 
When you remember, even for a moment, they live again. 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

L'shana Tova 5776 ~ May you be inscribed for a sweet New Year.

Sundown begins 5776, the new year on the Jewish calendar, which means we've been continuously counting time since what was thought to be the beginning of creation. has a nice, compact explanation:
The year number on the Jewish calendar represents the number of years since creation, calculated by adding up the ages of people in the Bible back to the time of creation. However, this does not necessarily mean that the universe has existed for only 5700 years as we understand years. Many Orthodox Jews will readily acknowledge that the first six "days" of creation are not necessarily 24-hour days (indeed, a 24-hour day would be meaningless until the creation of the sun on the fourth "day"). For a fascinating (albeit somewhat defensive) article by a nuclear physicist showing how Einstein's Theory of Relativity sheds light on the correspondence between the Torah's age of the universe and the age ascertained by science, see The Age of the Universe.
Archaeology will tell you there are cities way older than 5776 years old, so let's not get all wrapped up in the exactitude of the number. Okay? Can we at least agree on that much?

If you like numbers, 5776 is a good one. It's 3761 years before the Common Era began, 4282 years before Columbus set sail, and 4000 years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, So even if the start date is not exactly accurate, there's a sense that Jews have been counting time for a long time. We do have a sense of longevity, of history, of continuity. 

But continuity does not mean frozen in time. It does not mean every Jew agrees with every interpretation of the Torah or the 613 mitzvot (positive commandments) found in the text. It does not mean every Jew agrees with how Israel runs itself as a secular or religious state. And it most certainly does not mean we think everyone has to be/needs to be/ought to be Jewish. 

Most Jews would agree on one thing: stop trying to terrorize or change us. We have history on our side; we don't need anyone's permission or approval to be Jews. Chances are that, unless you're Hindu or Buddhist, your religion has a basis in ours. That includes but is not limited to Christianity and Islam. We don't tell you how to run your religion, so don't try to tell us how to run ours. In other words, respect your religious elders. Get off our case....and don't try to align your end-times mythology with our desire to live peacefully wherever we are, including in the land which our people settled and built up some 3000+ years ago and have remained in every since. The only three independent states ever on the land now called Israel were the First Kingdom c. 1050 - 587 BCE,) the Second Kingdom (538 BCE - 70 CE) and finally, after almost 1878 years of struggle, the modern State of Israel was established in the same place. That tiny little space between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. The cemeteries alone state quite eloquently that we are not new to the neighborhood.

We live in turbulent times. Jews are still threatened for being Jews...both here in the US and abroad. There are those who would see us pushed into the Mediterranean. There are those who would like more ovens. There are those who would change us into whatever they are. We Jews learned a lot back in the middle of the last century. We're good that way.

In the coming year, all humankind is going to be faced with challenges we could not have imagined a year ago. Everyone everywhere must step up to the plate to assist in the Syrian refugee crisis. There will be refugees coming to your neighborhoods soon enough. Let's remember what they are fleeing and teach them about the lands in which they are finding refuge. We were once refugees. We should remember that.

As we begin 5776, let's promise ourselves we will help those in peril to choose renewed life. And in our own world, let us choose to be honest and less judgmental. Let us choose to curb the rhetoric and hate speech in our own lives in order to create a place where can make wise decisions about the future of this nation. 

May you all be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life 
for a happy, healthy, and wondrous new year. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

That Time of Year

Well, here we are again, at the lead in for Rosh HaShannah. Unlike secular New Year, this one is full to the scuppers with rites and rituals, evaluation and introspection. 

Sure, there are apples and honey, but fish heads? Here are some of the traditional offerings on a table:
1. Couscous with 7 vegetables: each tiny grain represents a blessing and the seven vegetables are for the 7 days of creation.
2.  A fish head is held up and a blessing recited: “May it be God’s will that we will be the head and not the tail.”
3. Beets: in Hebrew beets are silka (סֶלֶק) which is related to the word saluk (סַלֵק) which means remove. So you say, "May it be Your will that our adversaries are removed."
4. Gourds: K'rah (קְרוֹא) in Hebrew can mean proclaim, as in "May our merits be proclaimed before G-d," but there's a homonym (קְרוֹעַ) that means to rip up, as in "May harsh decrees be torn up."

I love the symbolism and the pronouncements. Growing up, we did the usual apples and honey thing, but I learned about the other customs from a variety of friends at whose table I sat. Every family had its own version. 

Which is one of the things I appreciate about Judaism. There are a zillion versions of tradition, even within a single community group. Sure, there are some groups that want to impose their version on the rest of us, but they are the exceptions, not the rule. And that's what worries me most about Israel. But you knew that. And I’m not going there right now.

There are times when religious practice needs to be accommodated, but any time someone tries to restrict the rights of others using the religion card, it's time for a reality check.  

At every job interview I have ever had, I have stated up front that I am a Sabbath observer and do not work from sundown Friday until sundown Saturday night. If the job has a hard requirement that work must be performed, I do not apply for that job. If there are schedules that can be worked out, I do apply for the job. For years, I was the "Sunday Person" in my department at Dayton's. And frankly, they were happy to have someone who didn't complain about working on Sundays. For the myriad Jewish holy days, I use vacation time, or unpaid time when there was no vacation time available. Often, I have to work with HR to make sure I can get the chagim (days with work prohibition,) but it usually works itself out. In return, I volunteered to work Christmas and Easter...and most certainly did when I became a travel agent in an office that was open 24/7. When lunch is brought in, I always hope for a non-meat/vegetarian option, but it doesn't always happen. But I'm not about to tell anyone they can't have a pulled pork sandwich or pepperoni pizza because my religion forbids those foods. 

Get my drift?


Clerk Kim Davis of Kentucky is really pushing the envelope here. She has empowered herself not to declare her beliefs, but to deny civil rights to people who don't see Biblical law the same way she does. The question becomes: can her religious observance mesh with her requirements of her job?

Eugene Volokh of the Washington Post published an excellent piece explaining the law and the Kentucky Clerk controversy: When does your religion legally excuse you from doing part of your job? Mr. Volokh states that Ms. Davis' objection is rooted in her name appearing on that legal document. Does having the clerk's name on the document make a difference? That is the section of the law that Ms. Davis should be appealing in STATE not Federal court. Is this a reasonable accommodation…and is this what her argument is really about?

Religious observance is a hugely slippery slope and the Federal government recognizes that. Instead of further codifying the law, it allows for the application of reason in accommodating religious observance. But that doesn't help much here.

Yes, the State of Kentucky can amend their laws to remove the clerk's name from all applications, and that, according to Ms. Davis' latest proclamations, will suffice. I don't believe that for a New York minute. I think Ms. Davis and her supporters are going for something much establishment of religious practice that will subvert the intention of the First Amendment. 

I didn't think this at first, but I do now. There are people in her support group likening her to Martin Luther King. That's like comparing Ayatollah Khomeini to Martin Luther King. There aren't enough electrons on the inter-web to fully discuss why that is in no way, shape, or form even remotely close to the truth. Unlike Dr. King who was fighting for civil rights, Davis supporters are supporting the act of bigotry as an American value to prevent civil rights.

Refusing to authenticate the eligibility of two adult humans...which is what her job not a simple religious freedom issue. No one is asking for her approval/blessing on a union between two consenting adults. Her job is to verify there are two age-appropriate adults standing in front of her.  Her refusal to recognize those adults is a civil intolerance issue, and as such, has no place in a government office.

I won’t even mention Kim Davis, Musical Marriage, and what her version of the Bible has to say about that.

There was one other little thing the Bible says that might be of importance this week in particular. It appears several Exodus, in Leviticus, and again in Deuteronomy. Here's my favorite version, Leviticus 19:33-34
33 When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not taunt him.34 The stranger who sojourns with you shall be as a native from among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord, your God. 

If you think this is a hot potato now….just wait until the Syrian refugees ask for asylum in the US. There’s your next GOP catfight. 

Meanwhile, just so you know...Cancer Part One went well last Wednesday,and tomorrow is Part 2. I expect to be right as rain before the sun sets at the start of the holy day next Sunday, so count on a new episode on Sunday instead of Monday like usual. Okay?

Wifely Person's Tip of the Day....the Week...the Month
May you all be inscribed in the Book of Life
for a happy, healthy, and wondrous 5776!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Knock, Knock. Who's there? Cancer.

UPDATE: The tumor is out and the lymph nodes are clear. Second surgery is Tuesday.

There's an old saw that Ziggy used to count as one of his favorites:
The flood waters are rising and Sam, standing on the front porch of his house, sees a man on a raft floating toward him. “Sam!” calls the man, “get on the raft and I’ll get you out of here!”
“Not to worry,” Sam replies, “G-d will take care of me.”
The flood waters continue to rise, and Sam is standing at the window on the third floor. He sees a man in a large motor boat coming toward him. “Sam, jump in! I’ll get you out of here!
“Not to worry,” Sam replies, “G-d will take care of me.”
A day later, the waters are still rising and Sam is standing on the roof of his house. He sees a helicopter coming toward him. It hovers over his house. “Sam,” calls the man on bullhorn, “I’ll lower a rope, lift you up, and get you out of here!"
“Not to worry,” Sam replies, “G-d will take care of me.”

The next day, the waters cover the roof and Sam drowns.

Before he knew it, Sam was standing before the Throne of G-d. “I was a good guy! I was a faithful husband and good father. I gave to charity willingly and anonymously, “cried Sam. “I observed mitzvoth and went to shul. What were you thinking?"
 G-d shook Her head sadly. “Sam, I sent you a raft. I sent you a motor boat. I even sent you a helicopter…….”

There is a raft waiting for me, and I am hopping on. I am not waiting to see what happens. Nope. Not me.

At my annual mammogram on August 11th, the radiology tech spotted a spot. It was teeny-tiny. It wasn’t the first time this has happened; I was not surprised when I got called back for an ultrasound. At the ultrasound, the radiologist looked at the spot and said, “I’m not so sure this one's a cyst.... Your biopsy is at 1:00 this afternoon.”

Within 24 hours, I knew it was an invasive ductal carcinoma. Breast cancer. 

Now, before anyone freaks and tries to sign me up for the Kult of Komen, take a breath. It’s tiny; less than a centimeter. My estrogen and progesterone staining factors are 95% and 85% respectively. My HER-2 is 1….and there appears to be nothing in the lymph nodes based on that very pushy ultrasound. The oncologist surgeon and the radiology oncologist have both classified the IDC as Stage 1A with a grade 1 tumor….with the understanding that it won’t be confirmed until they biopsy the sentinel lymph node. Either way, the prognosis is excellent...and probably won't involve chemo. 

Being an Ashkenazi woman…as in Jewish from Eastern Europe…this diagnosis is not exactly a surprise. Our risk is very high. Too many of my friends have been down this road. Before you ask, I already have my BRCA-2 kit and will have blood drawn on today. Here’s something I didn’t know. If I am BRCA-2 positive, I can pass it to the boys, and their risk for a variety of cancers increase, plus, it can then be passed to their children. 

So, here's the plan. The lumpectomy is on Wednesday. There will be some "adjusting" to the size of the shelf, set for the following Tuesday, and that is the really exciting part of this whole process. Both are out-patient. Six weeks after that will be a course of radiation. The radiology oncologist promised I would not glow in the dark when it's over. He said that so seriously. He's a really nice man, but has no sense of humor whatsoever. My next goal is to make him laugh. 

My job has pretty good insurance. I have access to Virginia Piper Institute at Abbot Northwestern Hospital and their Breast Care center. I have a job that allowed me to bank all those sick days I never used, and they will cover my leave-of-absence and then some. I will have a job to go back to when the surgical part is through, and then they will work with me during the weeks I have radiation. In other words, I am fairly well protected. My out of pocket may be about $6K after all the deductibles. Compared to what it's going to be billed (which is no reflection whatsoever of what the procedures actually cost,) $6K is chump change. Good thing I have it. 

But never mind the out-of-pocket stuff. Being considered high risk, I am well versed in the importance of regular mammograms. If I didn't have insurance, I would go to Planned Parenthood...assuming there is Planned Parenthood to go to. If there wasn't one available, I might not have been able to go. And not going would definitely be a death sentence....just like it is for other women without access to health care for women

I'm already pretty radicalized about affordable health care, but the ease with which my diagnosis has been processed, together with the seamless transition into an excellent facility make me realize how damn lucky I am. 

Lucky? That is fundamentally wrong. No one should have to be lucky to get health care. Everyone should have access the same way I do. Period. End of argument. 

For the record, I really do think Susan G. Komen is a cult and want no part of that juggernaut. There are plenty of other organizations that need your support to do good work for women's health. Like Planned Parenthood. 

Rest assured this blog is not going to become a cancer journal. The usual outrage for all things politically and socially absurd will continue unabated. This includes but is not limited to Trump-l'œil and the GOP Clown Cavalcade.

Meanwhile, Spartacus is learning to ask for help. Not an easy thing. 

With Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, just around the corner, I can think of no better time to renew a beginning. 

The WP's tip o'the Week
Widowhood taught me to set aside money for a rainy day. 
Sam would have to agree - this is a rainy day. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Matisyahu, Mayhem, and Market Basket.

This year, the reggae artist know as Matisyahu was invited to perform at Rototom Sunsplash Festival in Spain. I won't rehash the details, but the week before the festival a group approached the festival coordinators to demand Matisyahu sign a statement in favor of Palestinian statehood. 

Matisyahu used to belong to Chabad-Lubavitch, an orthodox Hassidic group with headquarters in Brooklyn. He was very observant. He was a religious Jew. But he left the movement in 2011, but that's not really the issue.

The issue is that the BDS movement that claims not to be antisemitic went after an American Jewish musician and demanded he sign a document. 

Boycott, Divest, Sanction is a front of Jew hating. I suppose they are entitled to think or feel whatever they want to think or feel, but lying about it? Do they think the entire world is stupid? Or just a select section of it?

BDS is a hate organization. They spread hatred with rhetoric that is meant to destroy. If they wanted to help Palestinians, would they demand the closure of one of the main sources of income for hundreds of Palestinian families...Soda Stream? Shouldn't they be holding that company up as an example of what cooperation can do? Not if their root purpose has nothing to do with Palestinians and everything to do with sending Jews into the sea. 

Hate. They are about hate. They aren't there for building up; they are only tearing down. And the Spanish came off as a whole lot smarter than quite a few American academic institutions. They called BDS out for what it was, embarrassed the hell out of Rototom Sunsplash organizers, and Matisyahu performed. 

There's a parallel going on here. 

I listen to speechifying by the GOP Clown Cavalcade, and I think the same thing. These guys aren't about building a country, a nation made of a crazy quilt of people; they are about hating someone else.... beginning with POTUS. They present no plans, no alternatives, no nothing that would make anyone in his/her right mind think that voting for a GOP candidate would be a vote for reunification of our own American lives. Does their fear mongering somehow justify the institutionalization the battle flag of the Confederacy and calling it patriotic ephemera? No. It's a blatant attempt to legitimize hate. Guys like Walker and Cruz are trying to scare you. They are trying to make you fear that which you should be facing head on. These guys want your lights out. They don't want to you listen to anything but the sound bite.

So there's this store called Market Basket out east. They had a really good CEO who was beloved by his employees and customers alike,  and shared ownership of the company with other family members. A year ago, the guy got forced out. 

Well, the people didn't like that, and they mobilized. The Market Basket  work force and community made their displeasure known. Using classic civil disobedience tactics, the public not just voted with their feet, they pasted their competitor receipts on the store windows. The beloved CEO is back.

The patrons and staff of Market Basket took the store to the brink of disaster. But the movement made very clear what it wanted....their CEO back.....and it made sure the management of Market Basket was clear about what had to happen. 

And it did. And Market Basket is recovering. The clientele is back. The employees are back. 

The only question that remains is "did anyone learn anything?"

Yeah, I did. Laughing at Donald Trump is not going to fix what's wrong. More than just a couple of people demanding someone tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth would be a good place to start.

Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Take nothing for granted. Really.