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Posts Tagged ‘Texas’

My heart goes out to Texas during Hurricane Harvey. And in particular, a Houston family of five we first met in Nashville years ago, who lived for awhile in Cville; they escaped the storm yesterday, on their oldest child’s birthday, and are now sheltering in Austin. Thankfully.

The Rocker was only 7 years old when a nurse and her husband/firefighter rescued him and his big sister from the December 11th No Name Storm. He dragged his lovey Wiley Coyote along through the flood. Our newly renovated Rumson home was taking on water from the Shrewsbury River, and we were miles away at a conference. Airports shut down, as did I, until I could hold them again.

Someone told me yesterday that refugees from Katrina are still living here in Nashville. She said her brother is a master electrician, and he was on his way to Houston to volunteer. Then she told me he would stay in Texas, as the insurance money flows in for rebuilding, construction workers will have plenty of jobs.

I remembered the Nashville flood of 2010. A newly married Groom, exhausted from late night hospital shifts, woke dreaming his dogs were swimming in the basement. Which of course, they were! The Bride was stuck in her ER, her car on an upper level in a flooded parking garage. I couldn’t wrap my head around a landlocked city flooding, I thought the moon and tides of our coastal towns dictated devastating storms. I was wrong.

An important dam outside of Houston is beginning to overflow as the reservoir rises over its banks. “While spillover would not cause the Addicks dam to fail, it would add more water to the Buffalo Bayou, the main river into the fourth largest city in the US.
Flood officials are also concerned about the Barker dam, which also controls the Buffalo Bayou west of Houston.” http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-41081629

I hate to see this tragic event politicized. Democrats criticizing Republicans for calling for a smaller government while also asking for FEMA aid. Republicans continuing to support  a president on his way to Texas to offer what? Empathy, I’m not sure he’s ever heard of the word. Sorry folks, I couldn’t help myself. Still, chances are he’ll use the limelight to blow his own horn.

But maybe this time, we could forget the political minefield for a moment and all come together to help our fellow citizens in Texas. Because we all are in the same small boat, and the sea is so very wide. You can donate your money, or your blood, or if you can manage to get down there with a skill, your sweat and tears too.

http://www.redcross.org 

Happy Birthday to Mikey in Austin, we miss you buddy but we’re glad you’re safe with your family! Your friend Moana sends you hugs and courage!

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Today Republicans will be voting on healthcare. Apart from a last ditch effort to blame their inability to “repeal” OR “replace” the ACA on Democrats, at least one Congressman from Texas believes the gridlock is a “repugnant” result of his female colleagues.

“Some of the people that are opposed to this, they’re some female senators from the North East… If it was ‘a guy from south Texas’ who was generating so much discord in the party, I would ask them to settle their differences in a gun fight,”  Blake Farenthold said. One woman senator is from Alaska, but I guess if you count West Virginia with Maine that makes it 2 -1

So it’s High Noon on the Hill?

While it is true that three GOP women profess they will not vote on any bill they haven’t seen or don’t understand, they may also be slightly peeved that they were excluded from the bargaining table in an infamous photo of an all men panel. Or maybe their reticence indicates a deeper truth – that women and children will suffer if Medicaid is cut:

“According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, about half of all births are now paid for by Medicaid, ranging from 72 percent in New Mexico in 2015 to 27 percent in New Hampshire.” Oh, and it also pays for about 62% of all nursing home residents, most of whom are women. So the party who calls itself the party for LIFE, would like to cut the life line of those women most in need of health insurance.

In fact, all their so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” will most likely have to close. The irony of it all…and since Planned Parenthood is under attack, your guess is as good as mine as to where our country will fall on the world’s Maternal Mortality Rates. Oh wait,

U.S. women are more likely to die during childbirth than women in any other developed country, leading the U.S. to be ranked 33rd among 179 countries on the health and well-being of women and children. Women in the U.S. face a 1-in-1,800 risk for maternal death, the worst among the developed nations surveyed in Save the Children’s 16th annual State of the World’s Mothers report http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20150506/NEWS/150509941

In 1979 when the Bride was born, the entire hospital bill was $2,600. That included a day in the NICU, which I’d rather not explain since I’m sure that doctor would not like my story. We paid for that bill ourselves because we didn’t have insurance at the time. Due to an ancient and unheard of practice, all my pre-natal visits were free, ie “professional courtesy.” Today, the cost for a C-section (I had a breech birth) is most likely tens of thousands of dollars!

Sen McCain will be returning to vote on some form of a healthcare bill that would affect up to 69 million Medicaid patients – there was an increase in 11 million after the ACA passed. This means 15 million people may lose coverage by 2026. It would have a devastating effect on women, on the elderly and disabled, and patients undergoing opioid addiction services. Is that what the heartland wanted when they elected Mr T? http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/06/27/534436521/from-birth-to-death-medicaid-affects-the-lives-of-millions

I’d like to think that just like Gary Cooper, who played the marshal in High Noon, McCain will stand alone and face down evil. He will exhibit compassion by doing the right thing. The producers of the iconic western in 1952 were being pressured by McCarthy’s Red-baiting fears to fire the writer and blacklist Carl Foreman, who was Cooper’s friend. John Wayne was leading the charge against Foreman when Gary Cooper said, “If Foreman goes, Cooper goes.”

“They’re making me run, I’ve never run from anybody before,” Marshal Will Kane said to the neophyte Grace Kelly.

Today is the day to get up and move, to call your senators people. Here are my grandchildren under a wishing tree; what will these senators tell their grandchildren?

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Purely speaking, we all know money can only get us so far. The finer things yes, like cars and homes and private schools. But I always thought it can’t buy you happiness. Rich people can be just as miserable in their second home as somebody in their rented walk-up. Optimism is available to one and all. And I like to think we can all still aspire toward that American Dream with enough hard work and luck!

What money certainly can buy you, in this country, is legal representation should you screw up.

Which is exactly what happened to Ethan Couch, that “Affluenza Teen” in Texas. How many of us have done something dreadful, used poor judgement in whatever shape or form, at the age of sixteen? Admit it. Bob has often said he would never get away with some of things he did then, if his sixteen-year-old self tried them now.

My point is that the Texas teen may or may not know right from wrong when he royally screwed up, killing four people while driving drunk. His parents hired a great legal team that came up with that defense, and he was tried as a juvenile. Which is as it should be, we’d all want our child to have a second chance at life. To find redemption eventually once his brain stops growing at around age 25. To become a mensch. We are a country that believes in second chances.

But let’s face it, Couch received probation because he came from a wealthy family. Let’s think what might have happened to a poor boy of color. In Texas.

I thought a lot about him while I was reading this article in The Atlantic at the gym: “The Silicon Valley Suicides” http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/12/the-silicon-valley-suicides/413140/ It was all about the stress of top tier high school students wanting to go to Stanford, taking lots of AP classes, not sleeping and some are jumping in front of trains. In fact, they have a second cluster of high achieving teen suicides in Palo Alto, California. What I found fascinating was a secondary Yale Psychiatry study that was referenced.

In the inner-city school, 86 percent of students received free or reduced-price lunches; in the suburban school, 1 percent did. Yet in the richer school, the proportion of kids who smoked, drank, or used hard drugs was significantly higher—as was the rate of serious anxiety and depression. This anomaly started Luthar down a career-long track studying the vulnerabilities of students within what she calls “a culture of affluence.”

The researcher, Suniya Luthar, found that in comparing students across the board along socio-economic standing, she came up with a statistical U curve, ie the poorest students and those from the wealthiest families had the highest incidence of discipline and behavior problems. Aha, so someone actually is researching what’s going on in our schools! But surely it’s not ALL about the money.

To paraphrase F Scott Fitzgerald, the very rich are very different from you and me. I would only add because they can afford a good defense. Why should we expect their children to hold any better virtues, to have a moral compass,when their parents do not? A mother who runs to Mexico with her fugitive son, and pays his tab at the strip club, deserves our sympathy. And maybe some counseling while she sits in a jail cell awaiting her right to due process.    5p0fkm-L

 

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“That’s it!” I said to Bob this morning while watching the Breaking News Conference out of Dallas on CNN. This could be your real retirement plan, become a disease detective!

We turned up the sound as Dr. David Lakey confirmed that the first case of Ebola contracted inside the US tested positive in their Austin lab, and that they didn’t want to give his/her name at this time. As reporters questioned Lakey, we learned it was a health care worker who took infectious disease precautions, and not someone who treated their patient from Liberia, Thomas Eric Duncan, at his first fateful trip to the ER – when he was sent home with antibiotics. Duncan has since died.

So now we have our first case here in the US, like Spain, a provider is sick with Ebola. And it wasn’t the janitor who cleaned up the ER room when they first thought Duncan had a cold; when the travel history the triage nurse obtained never made it back to the doctor.

Cue the Mystery Detective music. Our family and friends have always thought Bob was the medical oracle. When signs and symptoms just didn’t make sense, when people were getting the run around from doctors, they would tell Bob their story and the sky would clear. He could somehow always make sense out of a complicated medical scenario. He is our very own Dr House!

But of course I’d rather he do some medical school teaching, or even golfing, rather than run around the world trying to solve real-time medical mysteries. Even though the CDC is probably hiring right now. Here are the facts, and only the facts about Ebola: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en/

In my dystopian view of the crisis, I can see the GOP blaming this outbreak on Obamacare. I can see the National Guard putting up a fence around Dallas, and I can see some crazy militia taking up arms. As soon as the TX Health Resources guy told people of Dallas not to panic, while ambulances are currently being diverted from that Presbyterian Hospital, I just knew people were going to panic. But let’s get real.

“The Ebola epidemic has killed 3,431 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia; it has killed one in the United States.” http://mic.com/articles/100618/one-powerful-illustration-shows-exactly-what-s-wrong-with-media-coverage-of-ebola

So if we can keep some sense of perspective about this whole business, we’ll be alright. If we remember that yet another child in Michigan has died from enterovirus D68, that this upper respiratory infection is something we really need to wash our hands about, we may not panic about Ebola. “Enterovirus is very common, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimating 10 million to 15 million infections each year in the United States.” http://edition.cnn.com/2014/10/11/health/michigan-enterovirus-68-death/

“…D68 is a particularly virulent strain of this respiratory virus. So far there have been 691 cases of enterovirus D68 in 46 states and the District of Columbia;” six patients who died had the virus strain. It mostly affects children with asthma, or compromised immune systems. And like Polio, there can we some paralysis associated with its symptoms. Enterovirus-D68--EV-D68-jpg-1

Oh, and remember to get your flu shot!

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Time stands still for no man, or woman, except for this week – I wish it would just linger a little. Last week, we traveled from Eastern, through Central to Mountain Time in Cabo, losing two hours. And now we must fidget with our clocks again, Spring Ahead this weekend, and gain an hour of evening light. What’s a girl to do?

In general, “losing” an hour in the spring is more difficult to adjust to than “gaining” an hour in the fall. It is similar to airplane travel; traveling east we lose time. An “earlier” bedtime may cause difficulty falling asleep and increased wakefulness during the early part of the night. Going west, we fall asleep easily but may have a difficult time waking. http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/coping-with-time-changes

So that’s why I was staying up till midnight after our vacation, my circadian rhythm had shifted with the sun. But returning home with a full-blown flu-like illness, which left me napping at odd hours and waking all through the night in order to try breathing, has left me wondering. How does all this this sleep-shifting affect our health?

If you’re alive, you know what sleep deprivation feels like. The Rocker suffered from one ear infection after another when he was born. For six whole months I didn’t sleep more than two hours at a time because I was nursing and being very stoic about help. When his ear drum turned the corner, and I slept for six hours straight, I told Bob he wouldn’t have to commit me after all. That’s the closest I ever came to crazy. That’s what most people who torture people for a living know; keep the lights on and the music blaring. That’ll do it.

I hope the Rocker has adjusted to turning around one day after returning to NJ, to fly to LA and pick up on Nicole’s tour out West. It’s really only an hour’s change from Mexico, and he’s young. *see below for dates!

In order to Save Some Daylight, we’ll all be waking up an hour earlier this Monday. We’ll be groggy and just slightly flustered, trying to compare the new time to the old, making sure all our clocks have been adjusted, our smoke alarm batteries changed. We might need an extra cup of coffee to get going. But think about the positive, those long summer nights to come…I like to think about that since we still have snow on the ground and a chill in the air in VA. I’m happy to put this polar vortex in the rear view mirror.

The experts say it should only take a day to adjust our bodies to a one hour time change. But they don’t say much about traveling through two time zones, getting sick and adding a dose of daylight savings time too. Let’s take this opportunity to refine our sleep hygiene. Get all those tech gizmos out of the bedroom, eliminate alcohol and caffeine at night, and develop some calming bedtime habits.

And for all parents out there with a baby, like our Love Bug, who likes to wake up with the birds, rejoice! Their circadian rhythm will finally align with yours, and “…peace will guide the planets and love will steer the stars.” Let the sun shine in.

Mar 6, 2014 8:00 AM
Singer-songwriter Nicole Atkins recently released Slow Phaser, her latest record. In commemoration, The A.V. Club has the premiere of the video for one of the album’s best tracks, “Girl You Look Amazing.” A riff on modern Instagram society, “Girl You Look Amazing” plays on the idea of a person having a seemingly fabulous digital life while, in actuality, actually being kind of sad.Atkins has some dates on the horizon—including some with Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds—and those are listed below. Slow Phaser is available on iTunes now.

Nicole Atkins Tour 2014

March 5—Bootleg Theatre—Los Angeles, California *
March 6—Soda Bar—San Diego, California *
March 8—Musical Instrument Museum—Phoenix, Arizona *
March 9—Outpost Performance Space—Albuquerque, New Mexico *
March 12—The Conservatory—Oklahoma City, Oklahoma *
March 13-16—SXSW—Austin, Texas *
March 17—Dan’s Silverleaf—Denton, Texas *
March 20—The Nick—Birmingham, Alabama *
March 21—Hi-Tone—Memphis, Tennessee *
March 22—High Watt—Nashville, Tennessee *
March 23—Terminal West—Atlanta, Georgia *
March 25—Evening Muse—Charlotte, North Carolina *
March 26—Ram’s Head—Annapolis, Maryland *
March 27—Johnny Brenda’s—Philadelphia, Pennsylvania *
July 19—Moody Theater—Austin, Texas ^
July 21—Mahalia Jackson Theater—New Orleans, Louisiana ^
July 23—DAR Constitution Hall—Washington, D.C. ^
July 25—The Mann Center—Philadelphia, Pennsylvania ^
July 26—Celebrate Brooklyn—Brooklyn, New York ^
July 29—Masonic Temple Theater—Detroit, Michigan ^
July 31—Sony Centre—Toronto, Ontario ^
* with Arc Iris
^ with Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds

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I’d like to apologize in advance for flooding your mailbox with 2 holiday cards this year. But since I’ve never been one to check my emails constantly and reply immediately to anyone, I received this message from Shutterfly a day late and a dollar short: “We are writing to inform you of an error we have discovered with your recent Shutterfly card order.  When you placed your order, you selected Rounded Corners, Pearl Shimmer Cardstock, or both.  Unfortunately your order has shipped without those options.  Our print facilities are working around the clock to ship your corrected order as quickly as possible.”

I’d also like to apologize to the world for the news out of Texas this week. It seems that Judge Jean Boyd, an elected official who has said she will not seek another term on the bench, ordered a 16 year old drunk driver to a posh rehab facility in California for 6 months, followed by serving 10 years on parole. Well that’s it for him right? College dreams dashed, having to attend AA meetings and be randomly tested for drugs and alcohol until he turns 26. Poor thing. All for killing 4 people and paralyzing one friend, and leaving another in a coma.

I get the outrage about his sentence, but really people is this news? Maybe the term “affluenza” is new, although I’ve heard of it before. Every time a parent runs in to rescue a child from some disaster or another, that parent is saying, “Don’t worry Johnny, We’ve got your back.” Which translates to, “Anything you do, anything at all, has no consequences whatsoever.” A parent from the Country Day School on our peninsula in NJ (called a “tony” suburb by many where brokers, bankers and hedge funders live in Stanford White clapboard mansions by the sea) once told me a story.

Her friend’s child was about to attend a pricey boarding school. The Day School stopped at 8th grade, so many students were shipped off like the British system to fend for themselves at exclusive places like St Andrews or Miss Porters. The mom with lots of time on her hands decided to purchase a condo in the same town in order to “help” that child cope with things… affluenza is when helicopter, or severe attachment parenting goes ballistic.

Extreme wealth is like adding steroids to a cocktail of adolescent rebellion. Let’s see, how can we upset our perfect parents? Shall we dress in black and cut ourselves? Maybe driving drunk will get their attention? Who knew that rehabilitating rich kids is a billion dollar industry, and unfortunately growing? When your kid can’t make it at a regular old boarding school, there’s always Rocky Mountain Academy , a therapeutic boarding school in Bonners Ferry, Idaho. The rules are strict, and the punishment is old-school hippie-based tough emotional love. Boot camps, where troubled teens face harsh treatment in the desert, and sometimes die, are for the middle-class I guess.  http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2002/1014/140.html

And jail time for a juvenile offender is for the poor.

Let’s save our holiday outrage for the real crime – for the children living in poverty who make one mistake and end up in the revolving door of foster care and prison because their parents or guardians cannot afford the lawyers with a “poorfluenza” defense. For the 200,00 children, some as young as 13, who have been charged as adults in our American justice system. http://www.eji.org/childrenprison I have no sympathy at all for drunk drivers, my own foster care was a direct result of someone’s carelessness. But I cannot deny a child of any race or economic circumstance a second chance.

At our Richmond Christmas party last night, I met a rescue border collie. Lexey was starting a new life with a loving family after spending years as a service dog. While petting her, I listened to some of our Big Chill group reminisce about their close calls with the law. I’ll spare you the details, but we all grew up to be tax-paying citizens. photo

 

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