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Archive for September, 2014

For another day I’ll be the same age as Bruce Springsteen. Tomorrow I’ll leap ahead of him and catch up with Bob, who has a birthday the day after the Love Bug in August. My sister Kay already called, my MIL sent me the usual Chico’s gift card (thank you Ada), and my son already posted on Facebook. This year it feels like people are jumping the shark on my birthday, let’s all take a breath. I’m in no hurry to age.

I had to pick up the latest Atlantic magazine because it was all about aging. You can’t miss it. The cover is an old geezer on a skateboard, doing an ollie with his socks slouching down around his ankles.  The cover story is, “What Happens When We All Live to 100?” Good question. I started reminiscing about skateboarding down a parking lot ramp in my old hometown of Dover, NJ. I was one of very few high school girls who had the nerve to do this stuff, and I never got very good at it. But I remember the woody station wagons, the street lights, and blaring the Beach Boys while I tried to “hang ten” without wiping out on asphalt.

Then I was back in real time, reading, “Why I Hope to Die at 75.” http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/09/why-i-hope-to-die-at-75/379329/

I am talking about how long I want to live and the kind and amount of health care I will consent to after 75. Americans seem to be obsessed with exercising, doing mental puzzles, consuming various juice and protein concoctions, sticking to strict diets, and popping vitamins and supplements, all in a valiant effort to cheat death and prolong life as long as possible. This has become so pervasive that it now defines a cultural type: what I call the American immortal

This morning I chewed my gummi multiple vitamin and my calcium chocolate candy. I popped my supplements for my psoriatic skin condition and my swiss-cheesey, osteopenic bones, and then to top it off, I swallowed a Claritin for my allergies. I’m not taking any meds for anything serious, I’m blessed with an Irish peasant’s good DNA so my heart and blood pressure seem to be doing fine all on their own, knock knock.

What I’m not doing is sticking to any sort of diet whatsoever, and I don’t think I’m obsessed with exercise, though at one time in my 40s I may have been.  Still, I’m not willing to give it all up in a mere 9 years! I kept reading. Is this guy for real, or is he writing satire for the Atlantic? Could this just be Gulliver’s Travels for the well-heeled, senior set?

The author, Ezekiel Emanuel, talks about how modern medicine has managed to prolong life, and asks the  important question, “But as life has gotten longer, has it gotten healthier? Is 70 the new 50?” Let me warn you, if you are over 70 and prone to depression, do not read this Atlantic article! You may as well hang up the cleats, or stilettos, now. The inevitable stroke or stent is lurking right around the corner.

So, let’s hope we are all outliers who will experience a healthy old age! And if you are one of my readers who is crying their eyes out already because the last chick has left the nest, take heart. Let’s end on a positive note, let me count the ways being an empty nester has improved this old gal’s life.

  1. I can get into the hot tub, naked, anytime I want
  2. I can eat ice cream for dinner if I feel like it
  3. I can sleep in (until 8am  sometimes)
  4. I can listen to my music in the car and YES Bono I’ll download your free album!
  5. I can sing anytime, anywhere with impunity without using the “right” words

Oh, and I can still search for flea market finds and transform them into tiny treasures for the grand baby!  IMG_1143

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It’s that time of year again. Time to cook with apples and honey. Time to walk to the river and throw our sins away, symbolically of course. Time to make a fresh start, before the Book is closed on Yom Kippur.

Yesterday I drove into town for a haircut. IMG_1149My stylist, Christopher, is a wizard, who wears his scissors in a tool belt like a hipster cowboy. One of his clients brought him a bottle of Grey Goose, I usually only bring yellow cherries. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, our hairdressers are like priests; we tell them everything in exchange for making us feel beautiful. If only until the next shampoo.

It was an overcast, rainy day with satellite trucks placed strategically around the Historic Downtown Mall. News outlets from all over the world are waiting to hear if  our outstanding Police Chief, Tim Longo, will find Hannah Graham. She will be missing for 2 weeks this Saturday. The Person of Interest, JL Matthew, is being held in Galveston, TX since last night. Our Chief must have found some evidence in his home or car since he is now being charged with Abduction and not just Reckless Driving. http://www.click2houston.com/news/suspect-in-hannah-graham-case-in-custody/28238756

This new year, I wonder if we can begin to understand how words help shape our culture.

Calling something “domestic abuse” is ridiculous, it’s shorthand for what it really is – assault. If a man pinned another man against a wall in a bar, choking him and threatening to kill him, why I believe he’d be in jail soon enough. If a man punched the lights out of another man in an elevator, well, you get the drift.

When we tell our young women to “Never walk alone,” to “Watch what you wear,” or “Don’t drink too much,” which is what many are saying around the Hannah Graham case, and I previously didn’t even want to go there, but what they are saying is, “Get Back,” don’t display yourself, don’t ask to be raped. We blame women, we say as our college President has said, “Don’t put yourself at risk” – which is putting the blame on the victim, the woman, again and again.

Because we would never tell a man what to wear, not to drink or when he could go out alone.

This Saturday women are gathering around the country at house parties for “V to Shining V” – a Lady Parts Justice initiative to get women out to vote and supporting our reproductive rights. I’m liking this new breed of feminist, thank you Sarah Silverman. It’s not enough to burn bras and knit nipple shaped hats for our nursing babies. We need to elect legislators who know what we’re talking about, who don’t want to go backward. http://ladypartsjustice.com Here are some reasons to join in the fun:

Because women decide elections and if we get together, blow this shit up in a smart and funny way, we just may be able to get folks to sit up, take action and reverse this erosion of rights.
Because neanderthal politicians are spending all their time making laws that put YOUR body squarely into THEIR hands.
Because extremist goon squads exist in EVERY statehouse in America and are sneaking in tons of creepy legislation. We’re staying on top of this shit so you can stay on top this shit.
Because you use birth control.
Because you like sex and it’s not all about having babies. Think about it, if it were there would be no room to stand.

It’s like a second women’s consciousness raising group, only better because it’s huge thanks to social media. I couldn’t wear pants in the streets of Boston, or obtain birth control when I was in college. Look at us now. Let’s take back our language, let’s guard against the erosion of our human rights.

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Morning All. Today is National Voter Registration Day so do yourself yourself a favor and check to see if the rules have been changed in your state. And if so, become acquainted with said new rules – like picture ID and/or your original stamped birth certificate, along with your energy bill and a library card maybe? Maybe you moved? Or maybe you got divorced this year and changed your name back to your birth name, or maybe you got married and adopted his name, you’ll need those papers…And if you don’t have one of those things you will now need to show at the voting booth in November, today is the day to get them together and register people! http://nationalvoterregistrationday.org

The deadline to register is usually 21 days before an election, which would make this year’s date for a November 4 election to the  US Senate and House of Representatives October 14th in VA SO we have 15 weekdays to get everybody registered. Remember Nate Silver has said that the GOP has a good chance of taking over the Senate.

As of July 1 of this year voters in VA need to present a valid photo ID card at their polling place, and it could be one of the following:

  • Valid Virginia driver’s license or DMV-issued photo identification card
  • Valid Virginia DMV-issued Veteran’s ID card
  • Valid U.S. Passport
  • Employee photo identification card issued by employer in the ordinary course of business
  • Other government-issued photo ID card (issued by the U.S. Government, the Commonwealth of Virginia, or a political subdivision of the Commonwealth)
  • Virginia College or university student photo ID card
  • Virginia Voter Photo ID card issued by any local general registrar’s office

  Another change this year for VA’s voters is Gov McAullife’s initiative to restore voting rights to convicted felons who have served their time in prison. “Nine months of Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s administration so far has restored voting rights to 3,200 ex-felons, Secretary of the Commonwealth Levar Stoney said enthusiastically to members of the Lynchburg Voter’s League Thursday. That total, which he said is three times more than any previous governor, is only an appetizer…His office helped secure a change in the criteria for drug offenses to nonviolent offenses, which drew applause.” http://www.newsadvance.com/news/local/restoring-voting-rights-to-ex-felons-the-topic-of-state/article_dec5ea20-3fa3-11e4-9e28-001a4bcf6878.html

The kickoff for voter registration will be all afternoon on the Historic Downtown Mall, near the Post Office and Free Speech Wall. If you have not yet registered to vote, remember that your vote is your voice. On the day after our President has started bombing Syria without a vote from the House, we should all be enraged engaged with this upcoming election.

The question on this year’s Albemarle County ballot is:

Question: Shall Section 6A of Article X (Taxation and Finance) of the Constitution of Virginia be amended to allow the general Assembly to exempt from taxation the real property of the survivng spouse of any member of the amed forces of the United States who was killed in action, where the surviving spouse occupies the real property as his or her principal place of residence and has not remarried?    tumblr_nbyk9pjnfn1qz8q0ho1_500

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CLIMATE CHANGE RALLY MELBOURNE

Today is the People’s Climate March all over the World. My Twitter feed has been buzzing with all the climate scientists I follow, like Michael Mann, the ex-UVA prof who was actually sued by our AJ and WON his right to teach about the “hockey stick” stats of climate change https://mountainmornings.net/2012/01/14/baby-its-cold-outside/

Although 161 countries will participate, New York City will be action central today with thousands pouring into the streets (stay uptown Kay!) along with the United Nation’s Director, Ban Ki-moon. The UN will host a Climate Summit on Tuesday with 125 heads of state

He (Ban) will join thousands of people on the streets of Manhattan, including business leaders, environmentalists and celebrities. Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio will also attend, having been appointed as a UN representative on climate change last week. http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-29301969

But here in Cville, volunteer marchers/searchers are combing the area for the second day in a row for any clues to the disappearance of Hannah Graham. It’s been a confusing weekend. Our Police Chief gave an inspiring press conference, saying they have a “person of interest” in their scope, that they have searched his car and his apartment, but they have yet to make an arrest. People are wondering what he’s waiting for, did they ever question him, do they need more evidence, or is their suspect in the wind?

Also his name, Jesse Matthew, was leaked on Twitter yesterday by our local newspaper, the Daily Progress, and by our NBC affiliate, some commenters said he was a UVA employee. However, this morning on the Today Show, they refused to name him! So they have this “person of interest” the last person seen with Graham, stalking her on video, they have his car and the contents of his place, and they have a witness who saw him buying her a drink…http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2759584/UVA-student-Hannah-Graham-FIFTH-young-woman-five-years-vanish-Route-29-corridor-one-body-found.html

Bob searched the brush around our yard in town, and all he found was a soccer ball. If someone saw her getting into Matthew’s car, she could be anywhere. He has been described as “…a black male, 6ft., 250lbs. with dreadlocks.” My prayers are with Hannah Graham’s family this Sunday. Latest update – police have confirmed his name, still no arrest. http://www.insidenova.com/headlines/updated-police-confirm-jesse-lj-matthew-person-of-interest-in/article_865681c2-4040-11e4-a18b-0710e0693940.html

I wonder if they put dreads on the police sketch they have of Morgan Harrington’s killer? I wonder if Bob ever met him in the hospital, where he works as a nurse’s aide?

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a familiar mystery gripped Central Virginia, where a string of young women have gone missing over the past five years, starting with Morgan Harrington in 2009.

When we first moved to this Southern enclave, the best place to retire/be happy/enjoy your golden years in a college town/ we loved it. The encircling, comforting Blue Ridge views, the non-stop cultural happenings, the historic homes and of course the weather wasn’t bad. Except for all the ice storms –  and so what if I had to learn to pump my own gas, I was still in my 50s, a mere youngster, anything was possible.

This is our tenth year in VA, it should be feeling like home about now. Seven years ago, on September 20,  we moved into our newly built house,

Niece Lucia came to visit

Niece Lucia came to visit

and yes it took us three years to find the land “with a view” and the contractor to make it happen………..

And today I’ve been invited to a Candlelight Vigil in town to “Bring Hannah Home.”

A Second Year UVA student, 18 year old Hannah went out to dinner last Friday night and was going to meet up with some friends at a party later. Her last text message was something about being lost in the very early hours of Saturday morning. More than 24 hours went by before her off-campus room mates noticed she was missing and her brother and parents notified the police on Sunday afternoon.

Before this summer came a string of cases involving young women, starting with Harrington, 20, the Virginia Tech student who disappeared outside the John Paul Jones Arena during a Metallica concert in October 2009. Her remains were discovered on an Albemarle farm three months later. No suspects have been named in that case.
Two 19-year-olds — Orange County’s Samantha Ann Clarke in September 2010 and Charlottesville’s DaShad “Sage” Smith in November 2012 — since have vanished. No suspects have been charged in their disappearances. In the spring, a jury convicted Randy Allen Taylor in the killing of Alexis Murphy, 17, a Nelson County High School student who went missing in August 2013. She never has been found.
Roberts said police do not believe there’s a connection between Graham’s case and the others.           http://www.dailyprogress.com/news/local/charlottesville-police-chief-landowners-should-check-downtown-properties-for-signs/article_9bd9be5e-3db3-11e4-9762-0017a43b2370.html

And now we are seeing video of her running past a gas station, and walking along the Historic Downtown Mall, with a man following her. This man told the police he was trying to “help” her and later he witnessed another man putting his arm around her. Bloodhounds are tracking her scent, the police have established a Tip Line, (434) 295-3851, and asked residents to check their property if they live within a certain radius of the Mall.

Our little four-square brick house, the 100 yr old home we lovingly restored to house medical students, is right down the road from that gas station, just two blocks off the Mall. Today I’ll check out the backyard. Tonight I’ll hold a candle.

When we first moved here, while I was looking for land with a view, the Cville police were looking for a serial rapist who was attacking young women in the university vicinity. Pictures of his face, drawn by a police artist, were hanging in the women’s bathrooms all over campus. It turned out he was working in the meat department of the Harris Teeter on Barrack’s Rd.

It would seem there is a serial killer in our midst, he may hide around gas stations, or he may live and work right next door. The FBI has been called in. Our thoughts and prayers are with Hannah’s family.

Hannah Graham

Hannah Graham

 

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Medicine, there’s the good, the bad and the ugly. Let’s face it, we’ve just about cured childhood leukemia and polio has almost been eradicated from the face of the earth. The bad news, besides Ebola, is sometimes the side effects of taking life lengthening drugs makes you want to die sooner, just ask any cancer survivor. And the ugly? It’s the business of big pharma and insurance companies in this country.

We’ve all heard about people up in Michigan, who travel across the border to Canada to buy their drugs. The medical community will usually give drug manufacturers a pass for the high costs, believing that the money it takes for research and development to bring a new drug to market offsets the limited time they can be marketed on their patent, before the patent expires and the drug goes generic.

A company must apply for a patent before they go into clinical trials with a new drug, so the usual profit-making time can be whittled down to seven or maybe ten years. Barely enough time to make back their investment, right?

Well Baby Boomers rejoice! There’s a new HepatitisC drug that has virtually erased this virus from the blood stream. And now you can fly to India, first class, purchase this drug and fly back, first class for less than it would cost you to take a course of this liver-saving drug in the good ole USA!

The drug is Sovaldi and it has a 94%+ cure rate, yes CURE…and it doesn’t have the horrible flu-like-side-effects of previous drugs. I know someone who was part of the test study in NC and she has been totally cured after carrying the diagnosis for over 30 years! The drug company, Gilead, just brought the drug to market this summer and so far the results are outstanding.

The problem is, Sovaldi is a thousand dollars a pill! It costs Americans $84,000 for a 12 week course to cure HepC – hence the flight to India scenario. And OK, if you have insurance, or your state has accepted Medicare expansion, well then maybe you can afford to take this drug. I wondered aloud why we haven’t seen a lot of breaking news about this breakthrough cure. After all, chronic HepC affects 150 million people worldwide. It is a slow, silent killer.

If a drug came along that cured 95% of cancers we’d be sure to hear about it.

“Sovaldi is already on track to be one of the world’s biggest-selling drugs, with sales in 2014 – its first full year on the market – set to exceed $11 billion, according to consensus forecasts compiled by Thomson Reuters Cortellis.” http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/09/15/us-gilead-sciences-india-idUSKBN0HA0TT20140915

Bob tells me another drug company is about to release another HepC drug, one that may prove 100% effective in curing HepC. So my cynical mind thinks the reason California-based Gilead is now offering its drug to the developing world at a fraction of the cost ($300 a month in India) is so that it can corner the market on the planet before this new drug is released…or maybe it’s because they are such an altruistic brand? http://blogs.hepmag.com/lucindakporter/2014/04/new_hepatitis_c_drug.html

If you are over 60 it’s probably a good time to ask your doctor for a HepC test. If you needed a blood transfusion during surgery. If you were a soldier in Vietnam, sharing blood with your brothers on the battlefield, or if you dabbled in drugs, sharing needles during a Love-In, you may have been infected. Medical workers who experienced a needle stick, before the advent of HIV-prevention methods, could also have contracted the blood-borne virus. If you had sex with someone who has the virus, at any time over the past 40-50 years. You may not even know it, or show any symptoms until it is too late.

Higher cure rates, fewer side-effects. Let’s hear it for American Big Pharma, and their gigantic profit margins. For me, I’m enjoying Ken Burns’ Roosevelt documentary – http://www.pbs.org/kenburns/films/the-roosevelts – and dreaming about a time when a President could wrangle banks and trusts and bend them to his will! When Teddy brokered peace between Japan and Russia and built a canal through Panama. I wonder what Teddy would do with Sovaldi and Syria?

Yellowstone National Park archives

Yellowstone National Park archives

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I got my first hater the other day on Twitter, “Captain so and so” I forgot his made up, cowardly name. The problem was, I was just getting out of the shower, so I made the mistake of favoriting him and actually retweeted because I didn’t have my glasses on; and it never would have occurred to me  that someone might hate me?! Little old me? But hate he did, pasting a link to an article where some Kroger clerks got beat up outside their store. Threatening much?

Why? Because I had the audacity to take a picture of my lox and bagel lunch and post it with the hashtag,

#Groceries Not Guns.

I was thanking Panera Bread for their delish bagel and for instituting a sane gun policy in their stores, ie no open carry please. Leave your ammo at home! Then later I took a picture of my grocery cart at Whole Foods, filled with produce and such and said:IMG_1084

Love @WholeFoods #GroceriesNotGuns too bad @HarrisTeeter n Kroeger     

That’s Twitterspeak for let’s all boycott Kroger and Harris Teeter because they allow open-carry-gun-toting-zealots into their stores and I don’t want to bear witness to such foolishness.  This campaign by Moms Demand Action recently resulted in Target changing its gun policy, and I must admit I feel a little thrill each time I post something; like a revolutionary, I’m proud to join the ranks of Shannon Watts and these moms.

At home in an Indianapolis suburb the morning following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, Shannon Watts, a 41-year-old former public relations executive and mother of five, created a Facebook page calling for a march on the nation’s capital: “Change will require action by angry Americans outside of Washington, D.C. Join us—we will need strength in numbers against a resourceful, powerful and intransigent gun lobby.” The seed for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America—today a national organization backed by nearly 200,000 members and millions of dollars—had been planted. “I started this page because, as a mom, I can no longer sit on the sidelines. I am too sad and too angry,” Watts wrote. “Don’t let anyone tell you we can’t talk about this tragedy now—they said the same after Virginia Tech, Gabby Giffords, and Aurora. The time is now.” http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/09/moms-demand-action-guns-madd-shannon-watts-nra

Using social media in a way that MADD could never have dreamed – which one doesn’t belong? –10635909_879992738677881_2827510542402008695_nto change the culture of drunk driving, this movement is winning hearts and minds of people who own guns, and have permits, and store them securely, and would never in a million years carry an AK47 into a grocery store! Pointing out the absurdity of the NRA’s policy is one goal, changing our wild west culture and getting the NRA out of the pockets of lobbyists is another.

It’s about time we women fought back. The Violence Against Women Act celebrated its 20th anniversary yesterday. If you’d like to learn more, this article is for you: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/soraya-chemaly/50-actual-facts-about-dom_b_2193904.html

“Number of U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq: 6,614:
Number of women, in the same period, killed as the result of domestic violence in the US: 11,766”

I blocked my hater on Twitter, haters gonna hate. I refuse to be intimidated. Three women a day are killed in this country by an intimate partner. It’s not just the NFL that has a problem. Teach your children well.

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