Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"Trigger" Congressional Buyout

Health care reform emerging from the U.S. House of Representatives appears to include a Public Option. Just how that choice will occur, if it does, in the final bill the House and Senate members must formulate, then pass and send to the White House for our President’s signature, remains to be seen in the next few weeks, months ahead.

Bipartisan support for this bill has been abandoned by the sole Republican who earlier alarmed her political party by supporting in committee the bill’s formulation until the Public Option was added without the "trigger" element she wanted. Others in both political parties seem to lack the courage to step forward and vote positively for what the majority of the American people have said they want -- the Public Option.

I strongly urge reading Ronni Bennett’s recent discussion on “Time Goes By” – ‘The (Non)Public Option.’ She gives a succinct analysis on the bill-castrating “trigger,” also offering a view of what is really going on in Washington. She provides an excellent source link to a web site, Open Secrets, by which we can easily see some of the specific corporate and interest groups efforts to wield congressional influence. Their self-interest views may well take precedence in our legislators issue positions over those actions that would be in each individual citizen’s best interests – including yours and mine.

"Open Secrets" is an excellent credible web site reference, for now and in the future, that tracks the monies our duly elected Congressional persons in House and Senate accept in campaign contributions and provides other factual information. Everyone supporting any political party, also Independents, would be wise to read there exactly where the monies and the legislation come together.

"Follow the money!" in relation to specific issues before Congress. Being an intelligently informed citizen is especially needed now and in the decision-making process regarding whether to re-elect some of our Congresspersons on their next election day.

Presently, the correlation of that site’s data can inform us on such issues as health care reform. We may recognize a need to stress our favorable view for a Public Option to select Congresspersons to offset the weight of their political contributors unfavorable views. Your Representative’s and Senator’s name is easily located there.

What's especially interesting right now are the monies the health insurers and pharmaceutical companies are pouring into our Congresspersons’ campaign coffers.

We can be assured that these health care reform plans coming out of Congress are being tailored to be exactly to the benefit of those companies income and not our own best interests, especially if they eliminate the Public Option.

Once again the American people are being sold down the river. Far too many citizens are allowing themselves to be deceived into believing these companies and interest groups so-called compromises reflect legitimate bargaining. Their actions are part of a show-case design process in which they support, alternately protest, then acquiesce to some weakened plan variation. They are attempting to convincingly mislead the public into believing that they are genuinely seeking a solution to the health care issue instead of sincerely assisting with the development of a viable system that’s needed and best for our nation.

The insurance, pharmaceutical companies and their lobbyists are all about strengthening their monopolistic grip on the American health care purse contents. These companies have enlisted far too many of our Congresspersons who either directly or tacitly cater to them. Our nation's intense need for health care costs to decline will not occur except on a most superficial level, if at all, and costs will continue to rise unless private insurers are challenged with an alternative system giving everyone choices including a Public Option.

I care about the kind of country and government that will exist for each of us, our citizenry and future generations. This is not the time to throw up our hands in discouragement and swear off further advocacy for a Public Option, or to abandon our future voting privilege.

It is time now, and will continue to be time, to let our Congresspersons know our views and that we hold them accountable for their actions based on our informed knowledge.

We now have an unprecedented number of ways to communicate our views quickly and easily. Our taking action is always important during the best of times and the worst.

“The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.”

A truth as important today as when issued by Plato.

“The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment."
Another truth of which we should be mindful from educator Robert M. Hutchins.

This is not to say we must dedicate every waking thought and action to focusing on issues of our day. We want to enjoy life, lead active lives in all respects, but we do need to devote some time to exercising our right and responsibility for living in these United States by participating in the striving democratic system within our republic.

Health care reform is one of the most critical and important issues of our time. Continuing to do our utmost to bring about needed health care changes including a Public Option may be the most crucial action we can take that will directly affect our own lives, significantly impact that of every American and future generations to come -- our legacy.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Third Year Blog Anniversary

Three years ago I took the great leap into the blogosphere with "Along The Way." I'm giving my blog a slightly new look for the second time. Launching my blog when I did was a consequence of accidental mouse clicking, coupled with my panic at having done so and lack of technical knowledge to rectify the situation.

I had been toying with the idea of starting a blog but had already intentionally passed twice on doing so. I first thought I might start on my husband's October birthday, and later on my own but did neither because my blog was not ready. I was awaiting some future to-be-determined date. I definitely was busy making plans. That said, I am reminded of one of my favorite sayings, "Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans."

I fully expected first to acquire many new computer skills, create a unique appearing blog, shape and polish writing subject matter, establish categories about which I would write, and generally organize my blog in an orderly fashion before ever beginning publishing. Then when suddenly my blog was "out there" for all the world to see I lurched ahead. I had little idea of what I was doing but concluded the prospect of writing here was intriguing.

My technical skills were very limited as I had only started using a personal desktop computer a few months earlier. I could easily see the many attractive features I might want to adopt from various blogs I visited. My aspirations and expectations were to quickly learn how to adapt many of them for use on my own blog, but that was not as simple as I thought.

Primarily the difficulty for me was needing much more concentrated time than I had to devote to the different tasks. My expectation of coming to my computer for fifteen to twenty minute blocks daily or focusing an hour or two on acquiring more technical knowledge was not a realistic approach that worked for me. Given the events during that life period, I also had need for self-indulgent time which could waffle between extreme activity and doing nothing.

My reality was that I became what some might consider addicted to writing, of every kind. The fascination of connecting with all these interesting bloggers I had never personally met who were scattered about every U.S. State and around the world caught my attention. I enjoyed commenting on their blogs, and exchanging lengthy incredibly frequent emails with some. I can best describe my activities then, as I have before, that I was like a squirrel running madly round and round on a perpetual nonstop rotating wheel. Time to learn many technical skills could not fit into that regimen, much less allow me many instances to explore the rest of the Internet.

My periodic part time work in health care as a Speech-Language Pathologist demanded some preparation time. Though I was no longer providing inpatient and outpatient therapy in acute care hospitals, or a local rehabilitation hospital, the retirement community settings I primarily was serving could become very busy with complex therapeutic patient needs. In addition to their speech, language, voice, hearing, visual and cognitive problems, I was continuing to encounter many individuals with a wide range of eating/drinking/swallowing difficulties.

My husband's pre-mature death some five months before I started my blog was a major life adjustment for me that absorbed time in multiple ways, becoming much more complicated than I could ever have imagined. We had shared much but each of us had acquired our own niche of responsibilities that we pretty much left to one another. After his death I gradually began to encounter much he had routinely handled, for which I had then to assume responsibility. He had remarkably left information and records I found that were of great aid. There were also a multitude of "little things" of major proportion I had to ferret out on my own that erratically, but perpetually, surfaced when I least expected.

I've not recorded all my specific life ups and downs in writings over these past three years, but a glance at the archive postings frequency from one month to the next reveals a wide variation in blog post numbers. The reasons for this vary, but here are a few influencing factors. Sometimes the numbers reflect my emotional state. Other times they show how I self-imposed set publishing demands, and how, occasionally, I became disenchanted with my perceived blogging obligation, so I stopped writing.
Some other instances correlate with social activities, trips I've taken away from home, or when I've had visitors.

I have been genuinely interested in the topics about which I have written. Following that criteria I can always count on at least one reader, me, the person for whom I initially stated this blog was being written. Once again I have surprised myself with the realization as to how much I value all of you who come to read my words. You have proven over and over again what I've always believed. As much as we are all different in many ways, we are also very much the same in so many other ways. Our differences are what make life interesting for me. Our sameness is what causes me to feel a deep sense of belonging to others, such an important component for mind, body and spiritual health. Thanks to each of you for being you and sharing some of yourselves with me.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Almost Forgot ..... A Special Occasion

My mail arrived containing an envelope that clearly looked and felt like a greeting card of some sort was inside. I wondered to my self what was the occasion that would prompt a card? I carefully slid the letter opener along the envelopes flap, removed the card and read the words that answered my question .....


B I R T H D A Y !

Why, yes, I realized, I am another year older.

The sentiments inside the card brought tears to my eyes as I knew they were heartfelt personal expressions from the sender.

Do others tend to forget their birthdays, too, as they've gotten older, I wonder?

Of course, the day rarely goes unnoticed by others who care about us so we aren't likely to completely forget the day, and I don't want to. That card arrived yesterday, the day before my birthday which is today, so I'll have all day long to celebrate.

Last year at this time I was visiting my son and his wife. We drove to northern Michigan where we enjoyed dinner with his wife's parents. Coincidentally, my daughter-in-law's mother's birthday falls on the same date as mine, or is it that my birthday falls on the same date as hers? A dear friend who lived in Florida and I also shared the same birth date.

I passed on a last minute opportunity suggested by friends a couple weeks ago for a long desired repeat of a driving trip my husband and I took years ago up the east coast to Maine during peak fall colors. My friends flight east leaves today. Maybe another year. We'll enjoy their photo journal after they return and we experience one of our laughter-filled weekends together.

You may check for fall foliage maps across the United States. Some lovely fall photos can be seen on that web site, also.

Time for me to start celebrating. This song holds special significance to me. I initially heard this musical arrangement at my then very young daughter's first dance recital. I think I'll listen to it again today.

Kool and the Gang's YouTube video can't be embedded so I'll have to click on this link to "Celebration."Why don't you join me?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Climate Change - Blog Action Day

This is Blog Action Day! Addressing the very serious topic of climate change in a superb informative colorful concise photo and link-filled article is the writer at "Darlene's Hodgepodge."

I strongly urge readers to click on the link above and acquaint yourselves with the myriad issues facing our world today -- not to be discouraged, depressed or frightened, but to discern what each of us in our own small way can do to mitigate some of the effects. We can choose ways in which to adapt our own lives as we adjust to these climate changes.

We feel these changes in California as we cope with drought. Our city and water company have instituted some voluntary conservation measures. These consist of determining a typical range of water usage for various size households. Water rate charges will be broken down into increasingly larger amounts with pricing accordingly. Watering restrictions for our yards, washing autos continues to be voluntary but likely those will begin to become more specified and limiting. Soon dollar penalties and fines will likely be administered.

I am in the process of converting part of my yard to drought resistant plants, eliminating some grass in this normally desert-like area of Southern California.
I will write more about this in the future.

I am enthusiastic about learning better ways in which to adapt to our environment and determining how to best preserve for future generations this spectacular planet on which we are privileged to live. I hope you are, too.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Blogs of Interest

During the past months I slipped into my blog roll without fanfare some more blogs I enjoy visiting. They deserve a bit more attention in case you aren’t already aware of them and haven’t already been visiting them.

“Photoblogging In Paris” features the photographic delights that Claude shares with us from Paris and her travels elsewhere.

I first enjoyed Claude’s commentary and photos in her blog titled “Blogging In Paris.”

Claude has created a new blog emphasizing her photography. I am ever more mesmerized by the wide range of colorful photos she offers from that of the simplest objects, ancient to current architectural locations, spectacular scenes and lovely flowers that bring much viewing pleasure. Her most recent post visually showcases her trip plans to a faraway exotic location. I’m looking forward to the forthcoming photographs.

"Darlene’s Hodgepodge" is a most enjoyable visit with a variety of interesting commentary from the humorous to extremely serious. Her Southwest perspective includes sharing photos and family accounts that enable me to know her better. Sometimes pithy observations on current pertinent issues accentuate her advocacy on matters such as health care reform that is of such vital concern today.

Darlene evidences such a positive outlook that encourages me on effectively adjusting to health changes as they occur throughout our lives. She has had the unique experience of receiving a cochlear implant to enable her to hear again, some of the details of which she has interestingly shared. Most recently I’ve been fascinated with her occasional accounts of the re-learning process required to appreciate the pleasures of listening to music again.

"Hattie’s Web" takes me many places including to Hawaii’s Big Island which holds special personal interest to me. I’m always interested in what’s happening with Pele’, the periodically erupting volcano whose continuing lava flow into the Pacific Ocean is actually increasing that State’s size. What other U.S. State can say their land mass is growing? If Pele’ begins ‘dancing,’ as I like to characterize what happens when her lava flows, Hattie will know and share her observations. During Pele’s long quiet times I can enjoy the variety of Hattie’s commentary.

I’ve been virtually traveling with Hattie recently to some delightful European locations. Now that she has returned home she’s written a fascinating piece providing a list with brief reviews of many books she’s been reading. Hattie is not shy about expressing her views on the vital issues affecting Island life locally and nationally, often raising broad-ranging ideas that are important to me, too, on the Mainland.

Hope you enjoy visiting these bloggers as much as I do. I’ll be adding some new blogs I've recently started reading very soon.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Special Dates Bring Memories

This has been a significant annual date to me for more than forty years -- over half of my lifetime. Remembrances from other years of this day have kept slipping into my thoughts ever since this month began. This is the important date when our family celebrated my husband's birthday, the date I lovingly remember and on which I prefer to focus rather than that other date on which he physically departed this life.

This date has threads to other times that join in my thoughts to this one. One such date that always enters my mind is when we wed, so I usually have similar memory triggers earlier in the year when that month arrives. I recall how we conspired to keep secret from family, friends, and co-workers the fact we were getting married that evening after we each finished work. Ostensibly, we were going on separate unrelated vacations that happened to coincide. I didn't know until later that he had confided to his best friend our plans, because the friend came from out of town and always stayed overnight on that weeknight at my husband's apartment.

This mutual friend of ours, my husband's long time best friend, commuted some distance every day from northern Ohio to central Ohio to perform with the musical quintet on the live television show where my husband and I met. This was the one night a week when the friend's schedule allowed him to stay overnight and not have to make that long drive from his home to the studio for an early morning air time. My husband told me later he couldn't just give our friend the key and not explain why he wouldn't be there. I thought, I probably could have. But I realized he had a lot of history with this friend since they had met in college about fifteen years earlier; were bound also by their professional connection in my husband's various jazz musical instrumental and vocal groups. My local relationships didn't have the same depth of time as his, having existed for only three or four years beginning when I moved to that city.

After we returned from our honeymoon trip we learned that friend had confided our wedding news to another of their close friends, a casual friend of mine. This illustrious group had all been bachelors together as I mentioned recently in this link to my "Route 66, Music, Memories" piece noting they had shared a cross country driving trip. Only on returning from our honeymoon did we learn how precariously close we had come to being subjected to the humor and whims of these friends vivid imaginations of how best to welcome us back to our apartment on our wedding night. I had already moved my belongings to my husband's bachelor abode so we both could immediately begin living there. Spending our wedding night in what was now our apartment was the plan, then we could leisurely leave whenever we pleased the next day for an extensive driving trip to include Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

I'm still not sure to this day how or why these buddies managed to restrain themselves from instigating some of their hastily planned mayhem during the time we were being wed. They even resisted initiating any pranks while we were gone on our trip. Maybe they were afraid they wouldn't have adequate time in our apartment before we returned following the ceremony, since they didn't know whether or not we had additional plans that night. We did, and went out to dinner after saying our vows. Also, they might not have wanted to risk us catching them in our apartment. Should we arrive unexpectedly a lot might have been happening between the bride and groom once the downstairs only entry or exit door was closed and we were climbing up those stairs. They might have thought about the possibilities and determined the experience might best not be shared among so many of us.

They're really quite wonderful guys so maybe they had compassionate feelings. Still, there's always the possibility they might have been intimidated by how I might react since they didn't know me nearly as well as they did my husband. Come to think of it, maybe, pure and simple, they didn't want to antagonize my husband. We never knew. I'm sure they spent some enjoyable hours plotting what they might do, trying to figure out if they could get away with it. To this day I'm not convinced they ever admitted all they had in mind. They had great fun sharing with us a few commonplace activities they had resisted initiating, including short-sheeting our bed and removing all the labels from the canned goods on my husband's kitchen shelves.

The memory threads from my husband's birth date lead to additional highly significant memories. These select annual dates in differing months are the ones in which our children were born. We shared events unique unto themselves surrounding our babies births that were separated by a few years in different states on opposite sides of the country. We were, indeed, such ecstatic parents -- this couple that had been so busy living life that for many years they had made no time for marriage and had never seriously contemplated bringing new lives into this world.

So, this date my mind is filled with episodic laughter, my thoughts are flooded with many memories and my heart is overflowing with love. I think of our children and now grandchild. As tears fill my eyes to the brim, I am so proud and grateful they and their families are in my life. Somewhere I think their father knows we're thinking of him with much love.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Preparation for Next 50 Years -- Again

Almost twenty-five years have passed since I sought a fifty-year medical check up to prepare for my next fifty years. I recall telling my doctor, in part seriously and partly in jest, I was planning to live to 100 years of age, so needed to ready myself. Of course, I explained, my intent was to optimize my physical health. I also emphasized quality of life was an important issue, so my mental and spiritual health were also vital components to aid in reaching my goal.

My then general practitioner medical doctor and I had established an ideal patient-doctor relationship by my standards. His approach epitomized to me the mutually interactive collaboration most effective for a doctor to provide optimal patient care, at least with me. When there were serious matters we could be serious, but we laughed a lot other times. His examination’s result confirmed that considering the wear and tear of the first fifty years of life to which my person had been subjected, I was in pretty good condition. My body was probably carrying about twenty pounds more weight than needed but I was confident I could drop that when I made the effort to do so. After all, at forty years I had started bike riding, successfully ridding myself of extra pounds I had kept those years following my childrens birth.

Earlier years when in graduate school I unintentionally caused myself a potentially serious spinal disc problem that with effort I had effectively overcome. During that time there were family stresses with the vagaries of young children becoming teenagers, a dedicated husband coping with professional issues along with the beginnings of his own medical problems, and my additional struggles intertwined with my dear mother’s care, especially after her stroke. In those ensuing years for myself I had regrettably been less attentive to or successful in avoiding the body effects from constant long term distresses that cause unhealthy chemical releases into the system.

Still, I had a naturally positive attitude. I knew relaxation and imaging techniques, but may not have utilized them as much as I needed. I neglected to maintain some sort of exercise regimen, was careless with my eating habits and may have reaped the consequences of too many years of minimal erratic sleep patterns that were continuing even then. Eventually parent caregiving following my mother’s death evolved into increasingly complex spousal coping complicated by my husband’s declining health.

I did take care of myself as much as possible but probably not in as beneficial a way as I might have. When some pressures released I tended to think I deserved to reward myself with periods of unstructured time for having survived years of what seemed like 24/7/365 scheduled routines. So exercise, eating, sleep habits remained unaltered. My doctor of many years died and though my new younger doctor was simultaneously admonishing and supportive as he could be, the relationship was not the same. There was too much history in dealing with me, the whole person, that the new physician would never know, nor given what health care had become would there be time to delve into such factors had I been so inclined, which I was not.

My husband’s unexpected sudden death seemed premature despite his increasing health problems. A few years spent adjusting to that major life change had to pass before I finally began to focus on core life planning for my future. The past year or two I gradually reached the conclusion I needed to get myself into the best condition possible. Coincidentally, at that time various medical issues periodically developed as deterrents. I persisted in viewing these problems as only temporary as I became determined I would eventually initiate my plan.

Just as I concluded I could safely start I experienced what at first seemed another medical delay, but one I was able to turn into a motivating factor. That impetus came from some of my body parts sending me strong, sometimes painful messages. Not only have I been neglectful but the question arose in my mind as to whether I might have waited too long to begin re-invigorating my system physically and just what would be my limits.

Well, I’m convinced now that it’s never too late to begin some sort of physical exercise program. Intellectually, I knew this and had someone asked me I would have told them so. Now I know it in quite a different way from the first hand experience of what I’m learning through a regimen of physical therapy I’m receiving. I have been able to integrate my own plan with those exercises that I’ve been able to implement over the past three months.

Meanwhile, I’ve been hearing media references to increasing belief that future life expectancy may well be extended beyond the current 70+ and 80+ years, especially since more people now are living into the 100’s. Speculation is that future generations may well experience 120 year plus life spans. Such news has given me cause to re-examine my whole life plan. I’ll be sharing here more on what I’m doing on this topic in the future.

So it is that I have concluded I may well have another fifty years ahead of me. I’m not going to fool around when it comes to rectifying some of my shortcomings caring for my mind, body and spirit this next fifty years. I’ve already started with major emphasis on the body, so maybe I’ll make it to 121 years because I’m getting a years head start.