Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Nope, I'm Not Back - Just Leaving a Copy of My Comment Under a Med Tech Article


Nope, haven't changed my mind - I still feel the same way that I wrote about when I left, in November,  about blogging/social media.  

However, after just learning that Bezos and Amazon jumped in the medical transcription AI/VR game, none of us are too happy about it - so I left a comment under a medical technology article and needed to leave a copy of it to verify that it was me (considering a certain someone likes to impersonate me).

Here it is below - which I felt was a necessary thing to do, on behalf of all the (mostly) women and (a few) men still in this field, whose livelihoods have been affected by the tumultuous transition our field has undergone, in the past 15 years - followed by a New Year's note to all my fellow transcriptionists/editors (and only here) :)


For starters, Amazon/Dr. Alexa being responsible for collecting and tracking people's private medical information? I don't think so - like, ever. Security risks and HIPAA? No security system fortress in the world is completely impenetrable and un-hackable. Everyone always says their system is safe because it's encrypted, but so were Anthem's insurance claims, and we know how that worked out. Amazon collecting and tracking commercial products I buy is fine, but they're not welcome to collect my private healthcare information, sorry.

Bezos is not doing this "cheap" service out of the kindness of his heart, he's not exactly known for being charitable. There's always an endgame, with Bezos, so what is it?
So that Amazon, via "Dr. Alexa," can sync that info and start recommending products from Amazon that patients can buy for their medical condition, without "Dr. Alexa" having any true understanding of the mildness or severity of that condition, nor considering other comorbidities patients might have that affect that condition (or vice versa) and it's treatment?

Well, that's a potentially health-dangerous idea. Not to mention, in that case, it's not just medical transcriptionists/editors like me who should be worried for their jobs - clinicians should be worried about the future of "Dr. Alexa," too.

Haven't we commercialized healthcare in the US enough?

If I found out that my personal doctor was using Amazon Alexa-ish software to do my transcription, I'd change physicians immediately lol.
And let's review our history and do an actual cost-savings recap of the transcription transformation that began in the early 2000s. First, outsourcing to India was the cheaper answer. Then it was VR/AI. Then EHR/EMR and "checking boxes." All of these "revolutions" ultimately resulted in hospitals and clinics finding out they still needed to pay humans to go back and proofread and edit them, with their first language matching that used by the dictator - and that the box-checking aspect of EHR alone wasn't working.
In the end, the cost of VR licensing, implementation, and tech support of EHR/EMR - plus tack on later adding editing contractors (the clinicians themselves do not have time) - eventually cost them the same, if not more, than just hiring a handful of human employees from the get-go, not to mention displaced thousands of American workers, contributing to the last recession.
Even Nuance, the current "best" in VR, is still far from "captain's log, star date." I know, because I've been a medical transcriptionist for 24 years, now editing Nuance-based VR software's mistakes. The going industry rate for doing so has now dropped to around 4 cents a line, regardless of contracting company, which works out to about $7 to $8 an hour on average (and that's if the dictation is clear, with no background noise and no accent ) - with no benefits - as we are all now subcontractors.
Editors are still needed because VR often cannot understand accents for even simple words, let alone complex medical terminology, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices, especially if there is background noise like beeping machines, babies crying, etc. They cannot translate slang, idioms, and figures of speech.  
They often cannot distinguish important medical terms like hypertension versus hypotension, which is extremely important for patient care. Cheaper programs cannot even distinguish between "discreet" and "discrete," and often even "their" and "there." 
Even Nuance VR/AI, the industry's current gold standard, still puts in things like "The patient had a cabbage" instead of "The patient had a CABG" (meaning coronary artery bypass grafting)" - even ones that claim to have "machine learning."

At some point, healthcare needs to realize that you still need humans for this one, at least to proof/edit them, because we're talking about the interpretation of human language and communication, and technology cannot pick up on all of the subtleties of language and keep up with our evolving forms of communication and perhaps never will.
That is because interpreting all the subtleties of human communication, especially medical terminology, is a specialized skill - a distinctly human skill - and the clinicians themselves do not have the time, nor did they pay all of that money to medical school, to spend most of their time proofreading themselves.
These are legal documents; thus, there's an inherent, imperative need for them to be accurate - not only for communication/coordination of proper care for patients between clinicians, but they are often used later in court depositions for disability claims or malpractice lawsuits. However, of even more interest to the readers here is the fact that both public and private insurance companies require these documents to substantiate the need for your patients to receive treatment and pay you for your services.
Since they're that important, it's important that they be accurate - and if you want that type of accuracy, you need to pay for it.

And not only have I personally seen patient care suffer due to VR and EHR "checked-box" mistakes, but you're being penny wise, but pound foolish, to choose this route, thinking you're cutting costs this way, because you will pay more in the long run, either due to having to hire scribes or editors or money lost from lost insurance payments due to inaccuracies on reports.
But please continue - realizing that despite all the previous promises this industry has heard, with the advent of each newer, cheaper, better idea, they have all ultimately resulted in the same thing - return of work back to the US to some cheap contracting company to edit them for you, who universally will exploit their subcontractors by paying them for less than minimum wage and no benefits, claiming they have to in order to compete with India and VR/AI. And in the end, with the cost of clinic or hospital-wide software licenses and launch, plus editors, the cost will end up being the same or greater than just hiring a few human transcriptionists or scribes outright as actual employees.
Lastly, this is healthcare - you're supposed to care for people - all people - including the people being exploited, sweatshop style, to edit these VR reports for you, to make sure your important medical-legal documents are accurate, so that your patients are well cared for, so that insurance companies pay for your services, and so that your butts are covered, when you get sued for malpractice or are called in to give a deposition on someone's condition for disability claims ;)
Please value the skilled work that we do to provide this service for you with the accuracy you require (and often demand), because it is a specialized skill - and if you haven't realized that yet, you soon will - after implementing VR alone with no one to edit it. At the very least, please make sure the contracting company you eventually hire to edit them for you are not exploiting their subcontractors (which is a rarity, especially with larger contracting companies).

Dear Fellow Contractors and Subcontracting Medical Transcriptionists/Editors,

I understand we've all been through a lot, in this field, the past 15 years - and there's little work for low pay, and that it has to be that way to compete with EHR/EMR checkbox systems, AI/VR and India.

However, just because the humanity of this field is being replaced by automation, doesn't mean we lose our humanity and begin to behave in an automated way (or worse).

There's no need to be overly competitive, cut-throat, rude, bullying, and/or verbally abusive, demanding perfection for pennies per line - resources truly are scarce, but there's still some work.  And there's no android apocalypse yet, there's no terminator saying, "Are you Sawah Connah?" yet, I promise :)
If it is no longer possible to pay people properly in this field anymore, because we've lost value by market standards, then the least we can do is continue to value each other.

Please be kind to each other. This business has become hard enough on us, nobody needs your nasty on top of it. Please give the same benefit of the doubt you would like others to give you - kindness doesn't cost anyone a thing.
Warmly wishing you bright days in the coming New Year - Happy New Year :)
~ Chrystal Chaplow

Otherwise, I've just put some favorite posts back up over the past year - either my favorites, other people's favorites, or otherwise had a private good memory attached to them (parking in draft any that revealed too much personal info) - enjoy :) 

(Comments are still closed, however, due to persistent harassment from a certain individual).

My best to you in 2020 :)

Since A Couple of People Mentioned Missing Seeing My Christmas Decorations This Year (Thank You) ... :)

I hope your Christmas was full of as much love and light, this year, as mine was :) 

Thursday, November 14, 2019

New Blog Decision ...

I just pour out my thoughts, here, in my quiet little corner - sometimes in a stream-of-consciousness, unorganized fashion. I've continued to do so, to practice - despite a persistent harasser (why my comments are closed), despite miscommunications/misunderstandings sometimes occurring, and despite personal information being used and words twisted by those so inclined.

I would often read back later and edit, when I had more time, to correct typos, for clarity, and to try to prevent this happening and so there could be no misunderstanding - and in fact, parked more personal posts in draft so as not to give those so inclined ammunition - which of course led to said persons accusing me of "hiding" things instead.

For those who know me well, you know that I hide nothing - and if I make mistakes, I admit them (and have on this blog, to include issuing apologies).

Regardless, I began blogging in 2005, just to have a voice, in a marriage and family I had no voice in - like a message in a bottle, hoping someone, somewhere in the world that I'd never meet would know exactly what I meant.

At the time, in both my marriage and the family I grew up in, I wasn't a person, deserving of an opinion or feelings - do as we say or else - and I was shut down, labeled, and sometimes worse, when I tried to speak up.

And I halfway believed them myself, at the time, that something was wrong with me that I couldn't just play along with what seemed toxic to me - and that I didn't deserve basic human decency.

HOWEVER, I never spoke publicly about any of that personal stuff going on, back in 2005 - because at that time, that would be asking for trouble and my own abuse - it was only later that I learned to fight back - which did me no good, actually, it often made things worse.

Sometimes I overdid it. I said a lot of pent-up things I'd wanted to say, I let 'er rip. Sometimes that cost me relationships.

But having that said that; in some cases, I'm sorry those relationships were lost, and in other cases, not really - the truth is, I'd wanted to away from the toxicity for a long, long time, but didn't know how.

So I definitely found a voice - even if only I was the only one who heard it lol.

I'm not sure what I've learned - I've never really found that balance of remaining silent and letting people walk all over me and saying "No" or "please don't do that/talk to me that way"or "no, that's not okay" in a way that works out for me.  

People want what they want and if you don't give it to them, or stop giving it to them, even if it's not good for them or you, there's often hell to pay. 

Regardless, I had previously been told by college teaching staff that I was both a good writer and good communicator, so I began blogging trying to find that girl inside myself again and just write about ... whatever.

There was nothing personal and only occasionally political - mostly just fun stuff, creative writing or observational comedy, at that time - my blog now is a far cry from what my first blog once was - that one originally was very interactive and a lot of fun :)

However, things changed over time - for me personally and in society - in the beginning, there weren't as many malicious games and truly scary and unnecessary competitions over 15 minutes of social media fame - that came later.

Long before Trump and politics became so invasive and toxic, and before social media became a bathroom wall stall of the world and people behaved themselves - it was fun.

However, lately I just feel ... exposed, when I write here, and judged - even from my quiet little corner.

And over the past couple of years, I have come to recognize that whatever writing ability and good communication skills I once had, have been lost - perhaps I've taken on too much damage in my personal life or my teachers were wrong, I don't know. I have lost the ability to creatively write altogether, in fact - I can't write creative fiction anymore at all, it just doesn't come to me - plus it's just not fun anymore.

Regardless, I have made the decision to either mark this blog private and/or abandon it in a week, after anyone that does still read it, sees it.

I'm not hiding anything, and though I made mistakes I've admitted and was embarrassed, I'm not ashamed of anything I'ever ever said, as even mistakes were never made with ill intention, and if you simply didn't like what I said, it probably means it was truth you didn't care to hear.

I'm simply doing either going private and/or abandoning this blog exactly for the reasons stated above.

Thank you to those who read this still, but in fact, I didn't care if anyone ever read it - it was about finding my voice again - but perhaps I shouldn't have lol.

Anyway, I'm leaving this up for about a week so anyone still reading knows why - and my best to you all and much love,

Chrystal Chaplow (Chrysalis)

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Fall Mantel ... Almost Finished ... :)

... I'll just add some baskets and gourds/pumpkins to the fireplace below later this week and voila, it will be all finished and ready for Thanksgiving :)

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Proud of You, BB ...Keep Going :)

So, I'm already emotional today, over my dog (see below post, if I haven't removed it yet) - but my husband, Mark, thought I needed some good news  - thus forgive me if I'm perhaps overly joyful with this news lol. 

Well, not really, because I'd still be happy over it, but you know how when you're feeling sad and something good happens to someone you like, and it makes you feel at least a little less sad? :)

So, some may recall that I mentioned a "young man" in a previous post (I won't link it to now, with such great news) - this young man was a former intern for my husband while in high school - the son of a coworker at FCPS.  

We love his mom, but him  being her son was actually a knock against him at first, when my husband was selecting interns, because he didn't want to choose based on connections alone.  

However, B blew him away on his own right - he had the grades, the skills, the work ethic, and the references, and he interviewed like a pro at 16 years old :)

He was the only one of the 3 interns that showed up every day, early in fact - rain or shine, did whatever he was asked to do instead of playing video games, and solved IT problems on his own right.  B was/is special and we saw it, even at 16 :)

When he comes back from college for the summer, he still interns for IT central office at FCPS and everyone just adores him - and my husband has given him career advice (which is always much easier to do in hindsight, isn't it? What pitfalls to avoid, etc. lol) - so he and my husband are fairly tight, my husband was like mentor/uncle to him.  In fact, B helped us move, a few years ago, come to think of it :) 

So BB, if you ever get bored or homesick and read here, again ... 
According to your mother, I understand you were accepted into the prestigious program you wanted (we knew you would)... 
... AND a well-known social media agency picked up sponsorship for your white paper research on Russian bots and want to publish it? 
 ...AND you were one of 3 Ohio college students who were invited (at the last minute) to the DNC Dem debate, last week, in Ohio?
... AND at that debate, one particular well-known candidate (don't worry, won't say her name) sought you out and said, "I've heard good things about you?" and you have pictures with all of them?
What? WHAT?  That's crazy!  In the best of ways! 
Oh my gosh, we couldn't be happier for you - everyone at FCPS is so proud of you! (Yes, even Trump Republicans.) 
See?  Didn't we tell you "ghost" girl was a blip on the screen of your life, to focus on your studies and career - at this rate, in a few years, she'll be kicking herself, you wait and see ;) 
I also understand you now have 2 choices - politics or law enforcement.  You didn't ask, but maybe the latter, then the former? Build a rep first, then run?   
Whatever you do, I know you have a big heart AND a big brain - don't EVER lose that balance.  
You're gonna see a lot of things, in this world, you'd probably rather not see - don't let them jade you, any more than you ended up letting "ghost girl" jade you. 
Name the price you'll pay for the life you want, and don't go 1 moral step past it - your integrity is never worth what you may be asked to do, to obtain it.  
PS - Again, in a few years, when you finish your program, I'd be proud to put in a good word for you with my daughter lol - but that's still a few years off - because right now, both of you have too many things to accomplish first :)  
 Mark and Me.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Keeping Elijah Cummings' Hope Alive, Despite Our Grief: In Remembrance of Elijah - "This Little Light of Mine (Let It Shine)" :)

Once upon a time, during the Baltimore riots, Congressman Elijah Cummings got on a bullhorn, telling people this is not the way - then locked arms with his constituents singing
"This Little Light of Mine (Let It Shine)" ... and succeeded in getting others to join in, nearly single-handedly quieting the riots.

Cummings was old school - he preferred to handle things Martin Luther King's way, the peaceful, civil-disobedience way ;)

FYI, Ignorant Deplorables, disparaging Elijah - Elijah was one of few Democrats from Congress to attend Trump's inauguration, in the interest of peace and unity, as well as a public demonstration of acceptance of America's decision and at least giving Trump a chance.

Unfortunately, Trump blew that chance Elijah gave him - several times over.

Particularly when he targeted Elijah a few months ago on Twitter, when they disagreed about upping congressional aid to Israel (already receiving the 3rd largest amount of funding, to become the 1st).

Trump tweeted Elijah was from a "rat infested" district and that he, and other members of congress of color, needed to "go back to where he (they) came from."

For those who don't know this Southern gospel hymn, there are 3 styles of it in the video below, and it is based on the bible verse Matthew 5:14-16:

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.
15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."
Thus, after Trump trolls had taken over at the WaPo with their hate, disparaging Elijah even at death - I wrote the below comment.

The responses/replies that continue to come in since I made this screen shot, brought more tears to my eyes - but instead of tears of grief, now I cry tears of hope: )

Yes, his death is doubly hard-hitting, as it also horrible timing, as he was on the House oversight committee and instrumental in impeachment, as he was well respected as a man of integrity and considered fair, by both parties - but we cannot lose hope and get bogged down in fear of "What's gonna happen now?"   

Elijah wouldn't want us to - that is NOT the way Elijah lived his life.

Elijah would want us to keep going, twice as strong now, carrying on with his legacy.

In fact, what Elijah would want us to do instead is sing his beloved Southern Gospel song of hope together :)

So ... you can sing it the upscale Harvard a capella way ...

... or the Mississippi delta blues way, with a electric bass guitar ...


Or you can sing it my preferred way (Southern roots) and Elijah's way - the original way - starting out slow, with nothing but 1 soulful soloist and a piano, ending with a full-on Southern gospel choir, soulful voices, getting faster and faster singing in harmony.

Get on up, now - on your feet ... :)

... your style choice, doesn't matter - just keep letting that light shine - Just. Keep. Singing. LET. IT. SHINE! :)

Sunday, October 13, 2019

My Squirrel Buddy, Gibbley ...

So, this is my little squirrel buddy, Gibbley, who comes every day for a small share of the sunflower seeds with this birds at 9:00 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. sharp - I took this picture literally as close to her as the picture looks  :)

It took about a month for us to get to this point, though - she knows I won't try to catch or touch her, just feed her :)

She began visiting each day in late July, when we discovered she was trying to feed her babies in the tree, and she discovered that I left sunflower seeds out for the birds every day:)  

She's an unusually very considerate squirrel - she eats only her  small share in the corner, right along side the birds - she doesn't chase them off and they don't chase her off :)

Sometimes, she'll even lay on her belly for a while in the sun after she's full - however, I only got 3 pics this morning because Brookie noticed her and barked and she climbed up to the roof again until I quieted Brookie, then climbed back down and I went inside to let her eat quietly ;)

If I'm busy with work and all the morning seeds are gone, she'll sit on the deck balcony on her haunches and look at me through the big picture window and patiently wait until I come out :)

If I'm already outside, sitting under the covered portion of my balcony, she'll peek down at me from the roof or the hook in the gutter drain pipe  - upside down - as if to say, "Hi, I'm here - is now a good time for a visit?"

Then I greet her, so she knows it's okay  - then she'll climb down fully and sit on the balcony and I go inside to get her seeds :)

In fact, now, she lets me walk right up to her and put the seeds out if the birds have eaten them all - but only me for some reason - not my husband, not Snuggy Pug, and definitely not Brookie - who believe me, takes an active interest in what Gibbley is doing outside ... this is her having quieted and just watching Gibbley in Sheltie shepherdess pose ;)

I actually have two that come visit - Gibbley with a fluffy tail, and Twitch - who has a thinner tail, doesn't come as often, and twitch is a little bit more skittish and twitchy-tailed than Gibbley (thus the name). 

Not really sure why I named her Gibbley, probably because I wasn't sure if she was male or female at first (she's a mama, feeding her babies), but always said, "Good morning, have you come for your little share of gibblets for you and your babies?"

She likes me to talk to her/greet her - in fact, she won't begin eatin the seeds until I say, "Good morning, Gibbley.  How are you today, darling? You may have those seeds, go on, darling, they're for you, it's okay. we won't hurt you." :)

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Top 5 Reasons to Watch College Game Day, Even If Not a Football Fan (and Sig Ep Salute to John Goodman Today)

(*PS added*)

First of all, like I have a choice, in this house - my husband already has on his Michigan State shirt from the moment he woke up (playing Wisconsin today) lol.

And what else is there to watch on Saturday morning besides cartoons, if you're an adult? (Well, okay, we all watch cartoons every now and then, like Sponge Bob. And there's a new one called Mighty Mike I've watched recently, about a pug, that I watch as a as a pug parent, because their brand of CGI animation gets the pug expressions right - but shhh, don't tell anyone lol).

But the truth is, even if you don't care much for football (me), you watch for other reasons:

#5) What will make Desmond Howard laugh :)

I love people that laugh easily, and Desmond is one of those people - he the first one to laugh at whatever event happens live - funny, awkward, scary, or just plain weird, it doesn't matter - it prompts Desmond to laugh, he can't help himself.

Everyone's sitting there speechless, with their mouths open, like, "What just happened?" - and Desmond just starts giggling at the awkwardness of the situation itself - and thus manages to smooth it all over with his contagious laugh :)

#4) The "You Had One Job" segment, in which someone within the sports industry will have unfortunately embarrassed themselves by somehow botching their "you-had-one-job" shining moment - they're not all play moments (sometimes the band, the cheerleaders, the crowd, the stadium staff are included) - and they get better as they count down :)

#3) To see the ridiculous, random, and hilarious signs from the crowd in the background ...

Hey now, step off Harbaugh - he's most likely my cousin, and I'm pretty sure he never pays for a dang thing, as the head coach of the University of Michigan Wolverines lol

Okay, so - according to Ancestry.com a few years ago, I'm supposedly somehow likely distantly related to the Former San Francisco 49-ers coach, current University of Michigan Wolverines coach (and former Western Kentucky University coach),as well as former Michigan star quarterback and Rose Bowel champion, Jim "Mr. Khakis" Harbaugh, as well as his brother, Baltimore Ravens coach, John Harbaugh - through my great-great-great grandmother, Martha Harbaugh, whose parents immigrated to Maryland in the 1700s.

Do you see a family resemblance between us?

Yeah, no - though that's a crappy, fuzzy cell phone photo - we don't see a resemblance either lol. Like I said, very distantly related lol.

Back to the signs - half the time you're like, "What does that even mean?" But it still makes you laugh :)

Thank God that CGD has apparently finally established some crowd control and put the kibosh on political and politico-religious signs right up front/on camera, this year, as well as particularly nasty/mean signs rather than ridiculous trash talk - the political, condemning religious, and general meanness of signs was getting out of control.

(Purely religious signs are apparently still allowed camera time - IF - they are hopeful and positive rather than condemning and/or politically associated.)

CGD is known for funny sports trash talk, not nasty, mean, political BS - and Desmond and Kirk Herbstreit are not social media fans and anti-cyberbullying advocates. Thus, exerting a bit more crowd control is a good thing so we can return to normalcy and at least all get a break from the nasty political climate for a couple of hours when watching this show :)

#2) Which mascot head 84-year-old ESPN CGD commentator and former coach, Lee Corso, will choose for the win ...

That man is 84 years old and still as tough AND silly as ever. However, during this exchange between Lee (who had chosen the LSU tigers) vs Matthew McConnaughey (Texas Longhorns fan), my money was still on Lee ...

#1) Speaking of Matthew McConnaughey, the top reason to watch College GameDay is to see who the guest picker will be and what they will do on live TV - and this week, they are in Baton Rouge for the LSU/Florida game, and hat the guest celebrity picker (at the end of the show) will be the much beloved resident of nearby New Orleans, actor/comedian/musician, John Goodman.

Who doesn't love John Goodman, I ask you?

Whether it's his TV role that shot him to stardom Roseanne ...

... who not only survived, but miraculously managed to nearly single-handedly carry the show with continued strong ratings, despite Roseanne's - erm - abrupt dismissal (and total public insanity), and a show name change to The Conners.

Or you're a Coen Brothers' movies fan, maybe it's his memorable big-screen performance as a Coen Brothers' movies featured actor, particularly as Walter in The Big Lebowski ...

(Even when he tries to play a jerk or psycho, you still can't help but like him.)

Or his 28 appearances on Saturday Night Live, hosting it 13 times (third place at number of times hosting, behind only Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin) ... to include memorable cameos as "friend" of Monica Lewinsky and Ken Starr paid political plant, Linda Tripp ...

Though hard to find clips, the here's a link to one of the old-opens from SNL in 1998 with John Goodman as Monica Lewinsky's "friend" and "whistleblower," Linda Tripp, who secretly recorded her conversations with Monica Lewinsky for Ken Starr, admittedly for money (which she used to get plastic surgery) in attempt to get Bill Clinton impeached - hilarious both because it's proof of how Republican definitions of impeachable offense, hearsay/admissible evidence, political conspiracy/hack job, and whistle-blower protection laws are not only politically biased and change if it's someone in their party - and because it's just hilarious in general.

And of course, his recent stints as Rex Tillerson. Here's one, during better times for former Exxon Oil CEO, Rex, as Secretary of State (before Trump fired him via Twitter), with his oil buddy, Vladimir Putin (whom he affectionately calls "Puti." ;) ...

He is on my list of celebrities who have never let fame go to their head and appear genuine, and you could totally see as your best friend next door/more genuine type of people. (Examples on this list include Jimmy Fallon, James Cordon, Maya Rudolph, Rebel Wilson, Emma Stone.)

We knew that he lived in New Orleans (which gives him extra points, one of my favorite cities in America, which we may visit at Christmas), but weren't sure if he went to college/why else he's at the LSU/Florida game?

Turns out he actually went to Missouri State and is just an LSU fan (Baton Rouge is just an hour from NOLA) - but what we didn't know until today is that John Goodman is a member of the same college fraternity my husband pledged - Sigma Phi Epsilon - John Goodman's a Sig Ep, too :)

(Not to be confused with Sigma Alpha Epsilon, also sometimes called Sig Eps).

The Sig Ep creed is "building balanced men" - which apparently means different things to different colleges and different regions, but it's important that you have well-rounded interests, not just one thing.

For example, in the Midwest and Mid-South (and most regions), Sig Eps value being strong in both mind and body, both smart and athletic (i.e., John Goodman was on football scholarship at Missouri State at the time), as well as a bit of a bad ass when pushed that you don't want to mess with - including athletes Orel Hersheiser, Bill Brown, Rich Gannon, Sean Casey, John Matusak, Bobby Hurley, John Fina and basketball creator, James Naismath were Sig Eps - as well as military pilots and astronauts, including highly-decorated air force pilot (from Detroit, like my husband) Ivan Kincheloe, Major General Anthony McAuliffe, astronaut Karol J Bobko

Also true in the Midwest/Midsouth (like John Goodman), but particularly true for northeast and West, Sig Eps are known more for strong minds, being smart and also funny, rather than smart and athletics - examples are WSJ editor, Robert Bartley, as well as Dr. Seuss and Conan O'Brien's sidekick, Andy Richter, are former Sig Ep, as were actors Carroll O'Conner and Joe Don Baker.

Though Sigma Phi Epsilons were founded in Confederate capital, Richmond, Virginia, the Sig Eps today are of both political parties, to include current and former politicians in both parties in many states - but they are are most often moderates rather than extremists, on both political sides.

However, northern and more urban chapters are predominantly moderate liberals, and were among the first fraternities to accept Jewish brothers as members, as well as people of color.

For example, my husband, a Sig Ep at Michigan State, had 6 Jewish brothers, 3 African American brothers, 1 East Indian brother, and 1 Muslim brother (from Iran, in fact, in the 80s), and even 1 openly gay brother - which was a huge deal in the 1980s - all MSU athletes with straight A's, mind you.

Again, as is the national trend, they are typically known for being liberal in bigger cities - thus in 2014, they were the very first former college fraternity to openly accept LGBTQ brothers nationally as a policy - as long as you represent the core fraternity character values :)

HOWEVER - there are still some colleges in the Midsouth, Midwest, and especially Deep South where Sig Eps have a notorious reputation for racism, aggressive/dangerous hazing, and aggression towards women - thus, much like other campuses where these events have been increasing since 2007 - the Sig Eps have have been kicked off Southern campuses 17 times for extreme hazing, drug-date rape/aggression towards women, and racism. As you can see in this link, these incidents are mostly in chapters in the mid and deep south.

The most notorious of these incidents was performed by 3 Southern Si Eps at the University of Mississippi's campus in 2014 - for admittedly putting a noose around the neck of the statue of James Meredith ...

... who in 1962, became the first African American student to attend college at Ole Miss, whose first day of attendance received international media attention for needing to be escorted to class by the federal troops for his own protection and to ensure he was allowed to class ...

Exactly how full of racist hate are you, if even Ole Miss finds you too racist???

My husband was horrified and completely ashamed that anyone from his frat, in any region, would do these things; and thus, he does not mention he's a Sig Ep while living here in Kentucky or deeper South because he doesn't want any association with that noise/those type of people.

As an officer for his Michigan State chapter, he helped kick out a few pledges and frat brothers by frat jury, deciding that despite their socioeconomic status or what the police decided to do/overlook, they took sexual assault seriously, and if they independently felt their behavior with women or people of color was inappropriate, unacceptable, inappropriate, and incompatible with fraternity character values and representation - they were out of the fraternity - regardless of what the authorities or university itself chose to do :)

If fact, despite Michigan State's recent sexual assault problems - which so disgusted Mark and his brothers, especially the way MSU covered up for Dr. Larry Nassar, that they refused to wear/watch any MSU alumni gear for 2 years until there was staff turnaround.

Mmy husband tells a specific story, confirmed by 2 of his frat brothers, where they caught a Sig Ep visiting from another university sexually assaulting a woman in the act, when they heard her screaming for help and that he'd locked her in his room, busting down the door.

The girl refused to go to the authorities or either university (MSU or the university he was transferring from), knowing what happens when you do (and rightfully fearing the guy's privilege and power) and half-blaming herself for being alone with him and having a few drinks.

Mark and his brothers felt partially responsible, because the woman felt safe to be alone in the frat house with the new pledge, because she trusted them - at the time, the Sig Ep reputation with women at Michigan State was stellar.)

So the brothers had a meeting, told him they knew there was no chance for his Sig Ep-ship to transfer to MSU, they knew he had done this, and they gave him a chance to turn himself in to campus authorities at both universities.

Of course, he didn't - and repeatedly declared his innocence.

Because they felt partially responsible because the girl trusted them, as well as because they didn't want to see him rape again, they turned him in to campus authorities themselves.

However, as per usual, both universities pointed fingers at the other for jurisdiction, and campus authorities ultimately blamed the victim for being alone with him and drinking, so nothing was done - and they turned the other way because of the rapist's wealthy-family status and good grades, despite eye witnesses - exactly what the girl feared would happen and why she didn't come forward herself

Thus, not only did my husband and his brothers make sure the rapist did not transfer to MSU and was kicked out of their fraternity nationwide - but they delivered their own brand of MSU/Detroit vigilante justice that rapist will never forget, too ;)

It always amazing to me that everyone from the victim to bystanders are the ones left carrying around all the responsibility, guilt, and shame for rest of their lives - everyone but the rapist or abuser themselves, and their dysfunctional "family" of enablers :(

Regardless, this news that John Goodman was also a Sig Ep made my husband happy, there's a brother he can be proud of - so my husband, who sends a big Sig Ep salute and some sort of secret handshake he refuses to share with me, but it's all good lol.


PS - I just discovered that Desmond Howard got in a bit of language trouble in August and had to issue an apology - but I actually found it hilarious - but then I got the joke.

It's not his own, his quoting a Wayne Brady/Dave Chappelle skit, which is a parody of the Denzel Washington/Ethan Hawke movie, "Training Day," in which Denzel Washington play a dirty cop, abusing his power and trying to straight-laced Ethan Hawke dirty/take him down with him.

Wayne Brady and Dave Chapelle both had shows on Comedy Central. Dave Chappelle (back when still essentially sane and funny) had a reputation for sometimes being difficult and pushing the censor envelope, but Wayne Brady was a clean-cut, clean-mouthed comedian, always playing it safe.

Dave invited Wayne on his show as a guest star, where they made a parody of the Denzel Washington movie,"Training Day" - the point being that Hollywood was asking the audience to suspend their disbelief too far, asking them to believe that famously clean, good-guy both onscreen and off, Denzel Washington, was now playing a he dirty psychopath cop in Training Day - by doing the same with their own reputations.

Thus, clean-cut, good guy, Wayne Brady would now play Denzel's bad-boy character, and foul-mouthed, sometimes offensive, Dave Chapelle, would play Ethan Hawke's straight-man character, in total shock and horror about Wayne's behavior lol.

As they ride through town, Wayne gets out like a semi-automatic and just starts shooting people, and being that the character is also a pimp, says out the car window to some prostitutes who didn't give him enough money (referring to himself in third person): "Is Wayne Brady gonna have to choke a bitch? Am I gonna have to get up out of this car and choke a bitch?"

For the more ignorant/racist white people who don't understand that black people don't have individual personalities the same as we do - the reason it's funny - is that asking the audience to believe that Denzel Washington OR Wayne Brady could ever say or do any of these street thug things is absolutely absurd and hilarious - it's asking the audience to suspend their disbelief too far.

Okay, so Desmond Howard - who, like Denzel Washington and Wayne Brady - is also known for being a mild-mannered, clean-mouthed, extremely friendly and nice/good guy that everyone loves - is also a former Heisman trophy winner as a star wide receiver from the University of Michigan, right?

Well, though they're getting better, at the beginning of this year, Harbaugh's Michigan Wolverines were terrible. I mean, terrible. No, really (Sorry, cousin Harbaugh.)

So when his colleague, Rece Davis, asks him what it's going to take for Michigan to make a splash and beat their archrival, Ohio State, this year - Desmond jokingly responds with a reference to the Wayne Brady skit: "I don't kn ... is Desmond Howard gonna have to choke a bitch?"

Note that Rece, Herb, and even Lee Corso laughed - and that is because they know that would be so out of character for Desmond and got the joke/reference.

C'mon, people - and I'm talking to both the conservative racists AND the liberal women who got upset - lighten up!

The entire point of that Wayne Brady/Dave Chappelle sketch and Desmond's joke was how ironic and unbelievable it was that someone like Denzel Howard, Wayne Brady - OR Desmond Howard - could ever do street thug things!

Not that Denzel, Wayne, or Desmond couldn't whup some ass, if they wanted to (and have) - it's just that they're good guys, on screen and off :)

Which of course you would already know, if you weren't racist, the only black people you knew personally and well weren't the ones you saw on the news, and understood that just because people have black skin doesn't mean they don't have individual personalities, just the same as we do.

Okay - quicker translation for the ignorant, racist sort of white people mentioned above, who were the most upset by the joke - it's the same as asking the audience to believe Tom Hanks was dirty cop and psychopath in a movie - get it now?

The mere fact that we have to explain this joke and reference to so many white people who thought he was serious and didn't get the joke - because they don't understand that just because people have black skin doesn't mean they don't have individual personalities, just like we do - is proof that racism is still very much alive and well. 

I didn't see CGD that day, we were out and about, I just now heard about it and watch the clip - and I LMAO - but that's because I get the joke/reference, have black friends, and understand that they have individual personalities the same as us and don't all engage in violent, street thug behavior, and that Desmond Howard is an anti-thug - sorry you didn't get the joke!

Nevertheless, Desmond had to issue the first CGD apology of the season - oh, but there will be more - there always are - just not usually from Desmond. He's usually just the guy laughing at all of it :)

Monday, October 7, 2019

Pumpkin Spice Sugar Cookies: Channeling Both My Inner Julia Child AND Julia Sugarbaker ;)

So, I made these pumpkin spice sugar cookies the other day, using this recipe I found online (sorry about pic quality, just snapped a quick pic on the way out the other day) ...

They are SO good and everyone loved them so much, I may make them again and give them out on Halloween along with candy! 

Thank you "Big C" recipe lady at All Recipes! lol.

After watching Halloween Wars and Halloween Baking Championship on The Food Network, though we don't have time to decorate as we'd like, Mark decided he wanted to bake something, and I wondered if we could  try to make a pumpkin-spice/sugar cookie mix.

Just one problem - Mark doesn't cook or bake at all, and though  I'm a fairly good cook, I'm a terrible baker lol.  

Well, I mean, I'm fairly artistic/creative on the decorating part (when I have time), but the actual recipes themselves require more precision - you can't be as creative, and just add a little of this or that, during the process, like regular cooking or writing or artwork, instead you have to use exact measurements and be precise until it's baked, then taste it to see if you like it, then decide what  it needs next time.

Plus I've never had much of sweet tooth - cakes and pies are usually too rich for me (these cookies even pushed it).  Not a big fan of cakes or pies - soft drinks, ice cream or cookies, and maybe a little chocolate when I'm hormonal is the extent of my sweet tooth - everything else is too rich sugar wise?

So, I thought about winging it, but was a-feared lol - so we went looking to see if there was an existing, tried-and-true recipe and found THIS - and it was so easy, but SO good - turned out exactly as she said, half pumpkin pie, half sugar cookie, perfect combination of soft chewy and crisp!

I did add my own little glaze to it which set it off - confectioner's sugar, milk, drop of lemon extract - but make sure to keep it thin, they're already very rich.


PS - I can see certain individuals have hit my blog site several times, while I was away (comments are closed, mind you, due to persistent harassment by a certain individual) - perhaps hoping I'll be drawn into the civil war they're just chomping at the bit to have?

FYI - I haven't been to anyone's social media since early Saturday and I'm not going to - because I. Don't. Care lol.

As I said, you may have your little civil war, based on lies and distortions - without me, thanks :)

However, Republicans, I will be glad to share these cookies with you, too - IF - you finally remember how to do the right thing (for America and in general) and GROW. A. PAIR!

Geez, what a bunch of wusses the GOP is today.

No need for we of the left to "p----fy" you with Gillette commercials (*snicker*), you all willingly emasculate yourselves with fear of standing up to Trump lol.

Dang - once upon a time, in this country, we had men and women who were willing to be ordered to their deaths for standing up against tyranny and for our constitution and this country - but you wusses in the GOP today are afraid of what Trump might say about you on his Twitter page? 

Regardless of how this impeachment thing turns out, in the long run, he'll go down in history as an unconstitutional traitor, tyrant bully and criminal, and you'll be remembered and cowards and traitor sympathizers - or brave, true patriots, for standing up against the bully - what's it going to be?

You're so short-sighted - how would you prefer to go down in the annals of history versus Trump's Twitter page today?

You were supposedly all about "conservative," strict interpretation and adherence to the constitution during Obama's administration ...

... now you don't care if our president ignores the supreme law of the land that is our constitution and openly asks foreign governments to meddle in our elections?

Any illegal, immoral, dishonest, deceitful thing is okay with you - just so long as the white, straight, supposedly "Christian," anti-abortion male wins - is that about right?

Oh, "patriots and Christians" my arse, GOP - the fact that you only care about the supreme law of the land that is our constitution when it's a Democrat in office proves that you are nothing more than political prostitutes for hire.

At least Mitt Romney and Colin Powell had the cajones to put their country first, go Mitt and Colin!

(Btw, Trump, not everything is about winning and dominating - some things are more important. Mitt clearly has more character and cajones than you and refused to stoop as low as you do, to win - and good on him for not doing so, when he could have.)

Like I said, my plan is to hibernate until this impeachment thing has been decided one way or the other, because Trumpers and believing their own lies remind me of a bunch of 10-year-old girls at a slumber party, scaring themselves with ghost stories they just made up themselves.

If that's the case, and these are my choices - Trumpers and their crazy, proofless conspiracy theories VS. preteen slumber-party ghost stories - I choose preteen ghost stories and spooky movies - because even the bad ones on SyFy make more sense and are definitely more fun than Trumpers lol.

* Thus ends my Julia Sugarbaker-style rant LOL - but here's a real one from Julia/Dixie Carter in 1992*

It's just as relevant today as it was in 1992, perhaps even more so - I genuflect to the master of passionate political tirades - put your hands together for the master, Julia "The Terminator" Sugarbaker :)

JULIA: (irritated) "No, Mr. Brickett. I have not forgotten. I was just thinking that you seem to have forgotten the phrase 'Separation of church and state,' but the one thing I did forget was just how divisive, dishonest, and distasteful someone like you can be. I've sat here today and listened to you pander to these people, but you don't actually care about them, or you wouldn't be sitting here reinforcing their ignorance and prejudices."
BRICKETT: "You heard that, Caller. She just called you ignorant and prejudiced!"

JULIA: (angrily) "I do not think everyone in America is ignorant! Far from it! But we are today, probably, the most uneducated, under-read, and illiterate nation in the western hemisphere. Which makes it all the more puzzling to me why the biggest question on your small mind is whether or not little Johnny is gonna recite the Pledge of Allegiance every morning!"

"I'll tell you something else, Mr. Brickett - I have had it up to here with you and your phony issues and your Yanky Doodle yakking!"

"If you like reciting the Pledge of Allegiance everyday then I think you should do it! In the car! In the shower! Wherever the mood strikes you! But don't try to tell me when or where I have to say or do or salute anything, because I am an American too, and that is what being an American is all about!"

"And another thing - I am sick and tired of being made to feel that if I am not a member of a little family with 2.4 children who goes just to Jerry Fallwell's church and puts their hands over their hearts every morning that I am unreligious, unpatriotic, and un-American!!"

"Because I've got news for you, Mr. Brickett - all liberals are not kooks, anymore than all conservatives are fascists!"
 "And the last time I checked, God was neither a Democratic nor a Republican!"
"And just for your information, yes I am a liberal - but I am also a Christian. And I get down, on my knees, and pray - everyday. On my own turf, on my own time."

"One of the things that I pray for, Mr. Brickett, is that people with power will get good sense, and that people with good sense will get power - and that the rest of us will be blessed with the patience and the strength to survive the people like you in the meantime!!"