Thursday, April 30, 2020

The History and Lessons from "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings" ...

Anyone who knows me knows that Maya Angelou is one of my favorite American poets, and that "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" is one of my favorite books. 

But what many people don't know is that the title of the book is based on the poem "Sympathy" by Paul Lawrence Dunbar 

Just an FYI, we have a high school here in Lexington named after Paul Laurence Dunbar  - because his family was enslaved here in Kentucky before the Civil War, moving to Dayton, OH, after emancipation.  

Ironically, the newer, suburban Lexington high school that bears his name is actually filled with wealthy, suburban white kids - whom I bet you a dollar don't even know who Paul Laurence Dunbar was :/

I hope they do know who he was, someday, and that they read this poem ....

"Sympathy" - Paul Laurence Dunbar

I know what the caged bird feels, alas!
When the sun is bright on the upland slopes;
When the wind stirs soft through the springing grass,
And the river flows like a stream of glass;
When the first bird sings and the first bud opes,
And the faint perfume from its chalice steals—
I know what the caged bird feels!

I know why the caged bird beats his wing
Till its blood is red on the cruel bars;
For he must fly back to his perch and cling
When he fain would be on the bough a-swing;
And a pain still throbs in the old, old scars
And they pulse again with a keener sting—
I know why he beats his wing!

I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,—
When he beats his bars and he would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
But a prayer that he sends from his heart’s deep core,
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings—
I know why the caged bird sings!

The poem is called "Sympathy," because he's expressing sympathy for both for the bird in the cage, as well as for his parents who were slaves - and he realizes as a adult that he's still in a cage, like his parents, just a new cage - still struggling with racism and segregation - he is now understanding himself as an adult what life is like in a cage.

It's about not truly understanding how it feels to live the life of others until we actually live it ourselves, to some degree. 

In Maya's book, however, the cage represents many types of cages - some imposed on her by others like racism, sexual assault/threats - other cages are self-imposed, from our own fears, pain, grief, or even buried, righteous anger.

You see, after Maya experiences a violent sexual assault as a child and is hospitalized, she fears telling who the assailant was -  at first for her own safety, because she had been threatened with her life if she told anyone.  

In the courtroom, when put on the stand, she is asked whether this was only the first and only assault. Her mother, fearing that if she told the truth, that it happened more than once, it would be used against her even at 9 years old - her mother shakes her head "yes" sternly - so Maya answers yes, though it was many times, and she was just afraid to tell anyone until she was hospitalized and it became obvious.  

The man is found guilty, but before he is taken to prison, he is beaten and killed by men in the community. 

Afterwards, Maya begins to fear the powerful consequences of words, truth or lie, that they sometimes can mean the difference between guilty and innocent, life and death, so she decides not to speak at all - she becomes a selective mute for 5 years.  

It is not until a teacher notices her gift for writing and encourages her to speak again, reading her own writing, because she says it takes the human voice to infuse words with life - and free herself from the cage she's imprisoned herself in :)

The cage has several meanings in Maya's books - external structures imposed upon her like racism, sexual assault - but also self-imposed ones like being selectively mute due to trauma or anger or not reaching her full potential because she's limited herself based on erroneous self-belief that was originally "predicted" upon her. 

Regardless of the cage, the point, however, is that the reason that the caged bird still sings though caged is because longs for freedom, the hope for freedom, whatever the cage may be - and if it's a self-imposed cage, let yourself out :)

If it's a cage that has been imposed upon you rather than self imposed - i.e., COVID-19 - keep singing for freedom that will soon be here :)

And if/when you are freed, never forget your sympathy for the caged bird - what it felt like to caged - sympathy for others who must continue to live this way, and worse, due to poverty, racism, etc. 

Monday, April 27, 2020

Never Alone with Nature and an Attitude of Gratitude :)

Not long ago, comedian Tracy Morgan was on the home edition of Jimmy Kimmel.  (You may recall Tracy was nearly killed in a car accident, a few years ago, and still suffers from traumatic brain injury, but is still hilarious). 

He said: 

"This is normal life for black people not to be able to do what they want to do and have money.  White people are just mad because they can't go into Starbucks anymore."


Jimmy Kimmel then asks him where he is, and Tracy reveals he's in his personal bowling alley in his home.  

Jimmy then asks him if he's a big bowler, if he likes to bowl?

Tracy says ..

"Nah, man.  I just said when I get rich, I'm going to have a bowling alley in my home for no reason, because that's the kind of crazy stuff white people with money do, just because they can" 

LOLOLOL again! 

I laughed myself silly because it's true.  

Well, me personally, I'm not a coffee fan, and couldn't see paying $6 bucks a cup for it anyway.  Plus I've never had the sort of white-privileged life where my biggest worry was not being able to go into Starbucks, to yoga spa, or get my hair and nails done.  

In fact, I haven't had my hair cut professionally since before Mark's stroke in 2017 and before Snuggy got sick, and it's not like I went to a salon every month before then, maybe every three or four months or before a special event.  I cut it myself - not great, but it works :)

In fact, I went to Great Clips for years during the recession.  Hey, it was $7 and they did a great job! 

I have never had my nails done - or maybe I did once literally 30 years ago - not because I don't like to have pretty nails, but because I can't justify spending money on it, plus I type for a living and they'll break/be damaged within a week lol.  

Back when I was a struggling single mom, white privileged people used to said things like this to me:  "Go get a pedicure" or "Go to yoga class"  for stress relief.

Dohkay.  With what money? :)

My older sister was one of the people who said this, having no clue or remembrance what it was like to struggle, and insisted this would be a big stress reliever, so she once paid for a pedicure for all of us at Christmas.

I appreciated the attempt -  but my older sister sometimes cannot fathom why other people do not do things exactly the way she does,  nor why things that work for her don't work for everybody. 

Can I just say I did NOT feel stress relief, with total strangers massaging my feet, with whom I could not communicate with, because we did not speak the same language - but at least I tried, whereas most people don't even try to talk to them?

Neurotic Side Note: I should mention, here, that as physically affectionate as I am - and as much as I like hugs or do the "double-grasp" when I shake hands while greeting people I like (one hand over top, one underneath) - not now, of course, with social distancing - I have a thing about people touching my feet.  

It feels very much like when grown-adult strangers at the mall suddenly wanted to rub my belly when I was pregnant lol.

IMO, these are body parts that aren't up for grabs by total adult strangers or people I don't know well  - not because they're sexual body parts, but just because they're more vulnerable body parts and thus touching them are intimate acts of affection, reserved for people we're familiar with, feel close to, and trust.  

(But speaking of body parts you shouldn't touch without permission, it should go without saying body parts that we do consider sexual should be off limits and not up for grabs without permission,  either, for the same reasons.)

With children, I didn't mind for them to come up and rub my belly and ask questions, because that's just kids, they're curious and fascinated and I'm happy to unravel the big mystery for them and let them know how natural and cool it is :) 

Adults should know better, but no one ever knew it bothered me, because I never said anything when people did.  I mean, I get it and just smiled that it made them happy. However,  I did always appreciate it when people asked first and thanked those people for doing so :)

I mean, culturally, we just don't go around rubbing feet and rubbing bellies. In fact, I can't think of any culture where anyone would walk up to a total stranger and say, in any language "Hey, how ya doing today?" - while rubbing their feet or belly!

I'm sorry, that's just weird, in any culture lol. 

Back to the pedicure,  that's fine if it works for you  - but for me, in in addition to the above, I was mostly uncomfortable because I felt like this was over-privileged nonsense, like some falsely entitled white American girl who expects non-white, non-American-born people to wait on me literally hand and foot, without caring that we can't communicate - most people don't even try to talk to them and wouldn't give them the time of day even if they could. Plus it just felt like a total waste of money that could not be justified, unless you have foot/nail problems.

However - rest assured, I made sure these poor people who could not speak my language, and had to massage and pamper the feet of snotty, falsely entitled white people, all day, were tipped well ;)  

Essentially - all I learned from that is that I don't like to feel "pampered" by other people, as if I "deserve it" more than anyone else, I'm really uncomfortable being "pampered" -  and if I do want a little TLC and pampering after a hard day, etc.?  

Well, nobody knows better than me how to do that, and I guarantee you it does not involve total strangers massaging my feet lol.

I also learned that I hope I never do get addicted these types of things, expecting other people to wait on me hand and foot and make me feel better, especially without treating them like human beings, whether they speak my language or not.

I mean, my husband sometimes pampers me after a rough day, and I allow it, but only because he knows  I do the same for him.

I also think all this "all about you" and "you deserve it" advertising stuff is essentially just marketing for falsely entitled narcissists, of which we have far too many, in this country, running across the full political spectrum lol. 

No - everything really isn't all about you,  no one really earns or deserves being treated as if we're better than anyone else, and it's not all about making ourselves feel better and to hell with everybody else, either lol.

So "as God is my witness," I will never put a bowling alley in my home for no reason, by the way.  If I ever have that kind of money, it'll go to the poor and people that need it, not wasted on frivolous, pointless displays of wealth and then try to say "Oh, look how God blessed me for my piety";). 

God may send blessings, but it's usually not money, I can almost guarantee you that - and if you paid attention to Christ's life and message in the gospel, blessings never came in the form of money either. 

The one thing this pandemic thing should be teaching us is what and who really matter.

And if you're focused on what you can't do and don't have, instead of what you can do and do have - then you just don't get it - and you're in for a very long and rough journey.

Thus, people like me are kind of sailing through this because we're not accustomed to that kind of privilege, and are grateful for what we have rather than throwing fits and tantrums because someone told us we can't do something or we can't afford to do something.

Oh well, par for the course - at least this time it's for good reason, not because society imagines I must not work hard enough or am not good enough because of reasons A, B, or C  :)

Also, I'm lucky to enjoy spending this much time with my husband, plus I'm also the reflective sort, I don't mind my alone time, and I never feel alone with nature all around me. 

Nature's entertainment is often the way God brings blessings, IMO :)

Every day, I'm treated to a bevvy of birds and squirrels on my balcony banister for seeds.  The American Goldfinches just showed up Saturday (early, in fact) - just for a second, too quick to get a  pic.  This is a pic from last year ...

 I also have rose finches, chickadees, cardinals, blue jays, robins, sparrows, blackbirds, starlings, cowbirds - and even Carolina wrens show up early in the morning, singing their happy, pretty little songs to start the day :)

In addition to Gibbley (see prior posts), there are now two other squirrels that come and sometimes they squabble over the food.

There's also one particularly fat dove that sometimes puffs up challenges Gibbley for food a bit, until they've finally learned I'll put enough out there for both to share lol.

And yesterday afternoon, while I was working, I saw a dark shadow pass my big window out of the corner of my eye and then I noted a big striped tail hanging down from the corner eave of the covered part of my balcony, and unmistakable golden eagle-like feet.

A broad-winged hawk was sitting on my roof, but flew away just as I grabbed my camera.

(Not my picture, but just so you know what type of bird I'm referring to.) 

Broad-winged hawks are supposedly my totem, and they usually don't come so close to people or where people are; thus, when your totem approaches you that close, you're supposed to pay attention.

So while I'm trying to figure out what THAT'S about, all I noted was that all the squirrels and birds were gone for a couple of hours afterwards, so the only significance at present seems to have been the hawk took note of all the wildlife on my balcony and chased them all away lol ;)

Back to my point, do I get bored, antsy, even lonely some days?

Of course - and I even have from PTSD depression and anxiety so I'm more prone to it than most people (and can sometimes get plagued with bad memories when it's quiet) - but it tends to pass pretty quickly - because a little bit of gratitude for what you still have goes a long way :) 

Take it from people that have lived with nothing chronically - if you have to live like this a little while longer, trust me, you can do it - and the best way to get through it is to allow the tough moments, but then let them pass like a wave over you, and then back out to sea - appreciating what you have :)

PS - For whatever it's worth, here's what this site says about the appearance of hawks close by - particularly if hawks are your totem ...

Hawks scan their environment from high above the ground, looking for potential threats and sources of food. If you see hawks showing up in your life frequently, it may be a call to see things from a higher perspective and focus on your observation skills.

The hawk symbolizes the ability to use intuition and higher vision in order to complete tasks or make important decisions. Animal guides can deliver important messages to us from beyond, and hawks definitely serve as animals that can heighten our spiritual awareness and help us along our paths.
Hawks represent the messengers of the spirit world, so seeing them definitely means the universe wants you to learn powerful lessons or expand your knowledge and wisdom. Hawks also encourage you to use laser focus and precision to get things done, and to take the lead in life. So, if you happen to spot hawks often in your life, the universe could be trying to send you these important messages.

As with any other animal totem, hawks will show up when you need guidance from the universe and support from something beyond yourself.
The hawk represents focus, strength, and poise, and can show you your hidden abilities to lead yourself and others to a more positive outcome. Hawks can also help you to see the bigger picture and avoid getting caught up in the small details, so look to this powerful spirit animal the next time you need perspective on a certain situation.

Hmm, I shall ponder that - gain perspective and focus, continue to balance the big picture with detail, stay alert and resourceful, and ... try not to scare all the other creatures away in the process? ;) lol


Sunday, April 26, 2020

It's The Last Kingdom Season 4 Day!

Getting ready to watch in 10 ...


(It's okay, my husband knows all about my Uhtred/Alexander Dreymon crush.  I'm allowed a certain amount of celebrity other husbands, and he's allowed the same number of celebrity other wives  lol)

Plus, there's my other favorite characters, the quick-witted/ sometimes foul-mouthed-but-hilarious and bad-ass priest, Beocca ...

Who learns to stop demanding Christianity and hating Uhtred, to love him like a brother despite being a Dane (who has rejected all faith), as well as falls in love with Uhtred's sister, who is Pagan  (Thyra), whom he is protecting at Uhtred's request.

And the initially reluctant (until raped) -  but eventually equally bad-ass -  warrior nun, Hild, who is otherwise the most spiritually enlightened person in the show.

Despite being a Christian nun, Hild believes Christians, Danes/Viking Mythology followers, and pagans can and should coexist - but make no mistake, she can whup some arse if anyone messes with her, after Uhred teaches her how to wield a sword to further protect herself/the nunnery/the church/the village from raiding parties.

If Beocca and Hild die, this season, I'm not watching this show anymore.  Probably.  Maybe ;)

Heat and UV Light, As Well as Clorox and Hydrogen Peroxide, Are Environmental Cleansers - NOT Human Treatments or Cures - Nor Substitutes for Social Distancing

This should go without saying, but apparently we need to. 

Yes, as I mentioned in this post on March 22nd  - which includes a link to the March 6th NIH research study -  the coronavirus is sensitive to heat and UV light, as well as Clorox and hydrogen peroxide do literally kill the virus.

HOWEVER  - what that means is those things are effective environmentally - NOT within the human body - and they are NOT substitutes for social distancing in terms of transmission.

I even pointed in the above link you have to be careful with Clorox on skin, to heavily dilute it or use hydrogen peroxide?

(Additionally, you have to be careful even inhaling Clorox in large amounts,  because inhaling too much Clorox can be harmful to your lungs.)

The reason these disinfectant products kill the virus is because they are 
biohazardous - which means they can also kill you - if ingested or too much enters directly into your blood stream  - because they kill anything comprised of biologic tissue.


Only an idiot would interpret that to mean those things are actual human treatments and cures.

Speaking of idiocy - apparently, both Clorox and Lysol have had to field numerous questions, after Trump said the following at the WH coronavirus briefing on Thursday ...

Watch the video (C-Span) and read the below transcript and judge for yourselves of what Trump said, and then what he said the next day, after the backlash.

Thursday, April 23rd, WH press conference, after William Bryan's presentation: 

Trump: "A question that probably some of you are thinking of if you’re totally into that world, which I find to be very interesting. So, supposing we hit the body with a tremendous, whether it’s ultraviolet or just very powerful light, and I think you said that hasn’t been checked, but you’re going to test it."

"And then I said supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way. And I think you said you’re going to test that too. Sounds interesting, right?"
"And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute, one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning, because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs."

"So it’d be interesting to check that. So that you’re going to have to use medical doctors with, but it sounds interesting to me. So, we’ll see, but the whole concept of the light, the way it kills it in one minute. That’s pretty powerful.

Later in the briefing, at around 30 minutes, William Bryan - Acting Science and Technology Secretary for Homeland Security - speaks again, after being asked why hot/humid areas still are experiencing "hotspots," like New Orleans - despite virus sensitivity to heat/light.

GREAT question.

And IMO, despite a few (but not all) of my own preferred liberal press sources spinning/panning him a a bit, I actually personally felt that Mr. Bryan handled this question very well. 

Because he did concede, several times, that the virus is still being studied and not well understood yet, as well as the DHS study has not been peer-reviewed and thus their study has not officially been published yet, but the DHS study does corroborate this NIH's study I posted (as well as other institutional studies).

Bryan clearly stated that "heat/light are just one tool in the toolbelt, they are NOT a cure," and that "not following social/safety restrictions to prevent transmission" -  
(i.e. holding Mardi Gras parades anyway?) - likely played a significant role in transmission in New Orleans - despite plenty of heat/UV light.

Bryan also explicitly said: "It would be irresponsible for us to say that we feel the summer will totally kill the virus."

(This was likely stated because Trump has previously touted summer will make the virus "disappear" and will be "like a miracle."  When in fact, Australia and Malaysia have disproved Trump. Their numbers were less - but this may due to some combination of heat/UV light and early adoption of social restrictions, rather than one versus the other  - and again, the truth is - we don't really know/understand why, yet, no one does).

I actually think despite some of my own preferred press panning/misinterpreted/spinning a little bit of what Bryan actually said, Bryan actually did a fairly good job of making it clear that heat and light were NOT cures, they were environmental "tools in the tool belt" that may help, and that social distancing was more important.   

However, what my own preferred liberal press did NOT misinterpret/spin in the least was what Trump literally said - they didn't have to - because Trump literally did say what press is saying he said, very clearly.

Because note that the very next thing Trump did was to promptly completely ignore everything that Mr. Bryan had just said ...

Trump: "I would like you to speak to the medical doctors to see if there’s any way that you can apply light and heat to cure. You know — if you could." 

"And maybe you can, maybe you can’t. Again, I say, maybe you can, maybe you can’t. I’m not a doctor. But I’m like a person that has a good you know what." 

"(To Dr. Birx) Deborah, have you ever heard of that? The heat and the light, relative to certain viruses, yes, but relative to this virus? 

Dr. Birx:  "Not as a treatment. I mean, certainly fever is a good thing. When you have a fever, it helps your body respond. But not as — I’ve not seen heat or light- 

Trump: "I think it’s a great thing to look at. I mean, you know. Okay?

Again - exactly how much Kool-Aid are you Trumpers going to drink, here, nearly literally now?  

I STG, I honestly think if Trump told you all to drink poison-laced Kool-Aid to prevent/treat coronavirus, despite what physicians, pharamacists, and even poison control said, you'd do it, wouldn't you? lol

Regardless, the next day, it was a different story  ...

WH oval office press meeting the following day, Friday, April 24th:

Unidentified Reporter:   "Can you clarify your comments about injections of disinfectant?

Trump: "No, I was asking a question sarcastically to reporters like you, just to see what would happen."

"Now, disinfectant, or doing this, maybe on the hands, would work. And I was asking the question of the gentleman who was there yesterday — Bill — because when they say that something will last three or four hours or six hours, but if the sun is out or if they use disinfectant, it goes away in less than a minute. Did you hear about this yesterday? 

"But I was asking a sarcastic — and a very sarcastic question — to the reporters in the room about disinfectant on the inside. But it does kill it and it would kill it on the hands and that would make things much better. That was done in the form of a sarcastic question to the reporters. Okay."

Unidentified Reporter: "But ... you were asking your medical experts to look into it?

Trump: "Uh, no, no, no, no."

Reporter: "Were you being sarcastic with them?" 

Trump: "To look into whether or not sun and disinfectant on the hands, but whether or not sun can help us because, I mean, he came in yesterday and he said they’ve done a big study. This is a study. This isn’t where he hasn’t done it. This is where they’ve come in with a final report that sun has a massive impact, negatively, on this vir– in other words, it does not live well with humidity, and it doesn’t live well with sun — sunlight — heat. It doesn’t live well with heat and sun and disinfectant. And that’s what I brought out. And I thought it was clear. Okay. Anything else?

Oh, BS lol.  He very clearly directly asked the doctors and public health administrators to check into it - several times. 

And he thinks that makes him look better, to claim he was "being sarcastic just to see what would happen?"

How much of a psychopath do you have to be to play games with critical information, for your own amusement, during a pandemic at a White House Press Conference?!? lol

Never mind.  I withdraw the question lol. 

I personally don't believe he was being sarcastic/joking in the first place, but if he was, that's actually worse than just being ignorant/stupid.  

Either way wouldn't surprise me lol. Regardless, both answers are dangerously socially irresponsible - because his cult followers hang on his every word as gospel, instead of listening to what actual doctors, pharmacists, and scientific researchers say - and he knows that. 

Again, IMO, Trump needs to talk less and listen more, when it comes to this virus, because this is not his area of expertise and he could kill somebody with his lack of knowledge about it. 

And can anyone explain to me if I found the NIH study which corroborates the DHS study - 3 weeks ago - why the POTUS is just now even mentioning these things? 


Maybe they knew if they gave this information, he'd misread/misunderstand it and eff it all up, which of course he just did, not disappointing us lol. ;)

In fact, I sent the link to the NIH study to family the day I found it, and even one of my brother-in-laws, who is a Trumper, realized this this meant environmentally, not as treatment. 

Because he joked back, "I guess we should all get tanning beds then." 

I replied, "lol.  Yes, that's exactly what it means. Do I want melanoma or COVID, it's a tossup." 

Now THAT is sarcasm and joking -  because we both knew what this study actually meant, how the other would take the joking, and most importantly, we didn't start seriously asking medical professionals about checking into it lol.

In fact, we then began talking seriously about how even in Malaysia and Australia, who were experiencing their hottest temperatures of the year, were still experiencing the virus - just not as rapidly as countries experiencing winter/early spring - but then again, note Australia hopped on social restrictions early and immediately, too, so it may be a combination of those things that kept numbers down.So seriously - how stupid/ignorant/brainwashed would you have to be to interpret the studies this way? 

If my Trumper bro-in-law knew what that meant  -  3 weeks ago, mind you - why didn't Trump? 

(And a further question would be,  how can smart people still listen to one word Trump says, after things he says like that.  Thank God Melania is raising Baron, that's all I have to say, because God forbid, if Baron got the virus what Trump would do. )

Even if Trump was joking/being sarcastic (which I don't believe)  - he has to know that some Americans really are that ignorant and you can't say things like that to the whole American audience. 

(However, I digress - I think he knows that most of his followers are that ignorant, he's counting on it for re-election lol.)

Regardless - please do NOT inject cleaning products into yourself - these will assuredly kill you almost immediately, as these products kill not just viruses, but all biologic tissue.

Also, tanning beds and/or sunlight are NOT going to keep you from getting the virus, nor will they cure you.  

Virus sensitivity to heat and UV light simply means they can kill the virus in the environment and slow the spread of the virus  - it does NOT mean these things are effective once the virus is inside the human body - nor will these things prevent you from getting the virus! 

Friday, April 24, 2020

Almost Caught (On Video) Gibbley, My Squirrel Buddy, Scratching At My Door for Food :)

I keep trying to catch my squirrel buddy, Gibbley, on video, who has taken to scratching at my French door, to let me know she's here for a visit/food -  but I still wasn't quite quick enough to catch her in the act. 

I caught her just afterwards, sitting up looking at me to make sure I saw her before, she scratched again - running back on the banister to wait for me with food :)

Today, she nearly took the cracker right from my hand, but our Sheltie, Brookie, began barking and she changed her mind (but still sat inches from my hand, waiting for me to put the food down.

I hadn't seen her in a couple of days, so I was getting worried, but it had been raining.

But today, she came back - she's been coming for about a year, now -  TOO cute :)

New FDA Warning Against Hydroxychloroquine Off-Label Use for COVID-19

As I mentioned earlier in this post, hydroxychloroquine has many side effects, some which are fatal.  

As mentioned previously, the French trials that had been done were extremely small (20 patients, 80 patients) and were not randomized or double-blinded.

(That link is the official announcement at the FDA's site).

Specifically, the drug is known to prolong your QT interval - which can be reversed, if caught soon enough - but being that people cannot see the doctor for outpatient visits, right now, that's an extra risk.

In other words, we need to wait for the clinical trials to complete before we push this drug for purposes other than its labeled indication - as a certain politician has been doing.

I'm not really sure why anyone would listen to what a politician says about a drug VS. physicians and pharmacists, anyway.

Again - more evidence of the cult-mentality/ brainwashing we've developed regarding our political leaders - behaving as if they are omniscient.

Instead, these politicians should stick to their area of expertise and listen to/allow educated, trained, and well-researched/practiced experts in the subject to better advise.

Still Haven't Received Your Stimulus Check Yet? Top Reasons Why

We haven't either, nor have we received the letter that a payment is forthcoming.  

However - we check the "Get My Payment" site every day and we finally got the "You are eligible - Need Your Bank Account Info for Direct Deposit" message.

Though you can't call the IRS due to shortened staff, several financial advising sites have been aggregating and analyzing a comparison of people who received them and those who didn't - and though there are several sites that explain their results, this site seems to lay it out the most succinctly. 

The first/top reason that more than over half the U.S. population hasn't received them yet is because the first round of payments went to people who received a refund in 2018 or 2019, rather than people who owed taxes (we did). 

This makes sense, if you think about it - not only are they the easiest for the IRS to get to first, but they are also the lowest-income people and the most at risk for losing their jobs, right now. 

However, if you're frustrated with watching national chains like Shake Shack and Ruth Chris Steakhouse, as well as expensive private universities like Harvard, receive giant stimulus checks they really don't need and argue amongst themselves about returning them -  before we, the American people, receive even our measly $1200, despite millions of laid off  - I feel you.

Even if you paid your taxes to the IRS from your bank account, they will still need ask for your bank bank account information at the Get My Payment site - which is what we just did. 

In other words, if you got a refund in 2018 or 2019, they have your bank account readily available, if you owed, they have to ask.

Note:  You cannot call the IRS to find out why. Well you can, but you will be told by automated recording that the staff has been cut due to COVID-19 and no one can accept your call.

*Also, the IRS will never call, email, or text you - only paper mail*.

Thus, if you receive a call, email, or text from someone claiming to be the IRS -  they are NOT the IRS, it's a scam - and you should report it to authorities immediately. 

Other next top 3 reasons are: 

1)  You didn't file taxes for 2018 or 2019.  (You don't have to file 2019 until July 15th now, but as I understand it, people who didn't file 2019 yet weren't in that first round of payments. 

2)  You used a third-party tax preparation service (not a CPA) such as Jackson-Hewitt, H&R Block, or TurboTax.   This is because there was a third party that you paid; thus, the IRS doesn't have your bank information on file. 
(Other than the fact that we owed rather than received refund in 2018/19, this is likely the additional reason that we weren't in that first round.)  

3)  They just haven't gotten to you yet, with a short staff - hang on tight - hopefully help is on the way - and if it helps, know that you're not alone. 

See the link above for any other possible reasons which are less common, but there are many financial advising sites explaining why - however, I just found that link laid it out pretty succinctly.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

PS - Protesting Against Health and Safety Laws Enacted For Your Protection Is Proof of Kool-Aid-Drinking Cult Mentality

I don't even know what to say to people with this mentality, at this point, because it's fucking insane.

Sorry for my language, but I'm done with diplomacy and proper decorum  - this virus is too dangerous. 

So if you're one of those people who are mad at me for not playing along with your political propaganda and/or sugar-coating reality for you anymore -  as well as because I called you on your political BS during a pandemic -  oh well.

I can't and won't apologize for trying to keep you, and the rest of society, safe from this virus.

A virus that never will go away, if we return to business as usual too quickly - without proper social/safety equipment and restrictions in place or agreements to cover healthcare costs/lost wages for employees who return to work and get COVID-19.  

If  that makes me the bad guy, here? 

So be it.

 - OR - 

You can stop whining and get a grip on reality, "snowflakes" :)

Because at least I was coming from a place of concern for your health and safety first, rather than my bottom-line investments.

And I'm pretty sure those shareholding politicians and execs pushing you to put yourself at risk to protest social restrictions and raise all kinds of hell with the government to return to work - while they sit safe at home, without ensuring safety equipment and precautions (or to cover your health costs if you get the virus), mind you - can't say the same. 

So who really has your best interest at heart, then, hmm? 

When we have reached a point in society where we believe shareholding politicians in corporate executives' pockets versus medical doctors about a virus, demonizing any politicians actually trying to protect us -  I think it's safe to say we've reached Jim Jones level cult-mentality crazy.  

Like I said, I'm done with diplomacy when it comes to how dangerous this virus can be.

Thus, I cannot be any clearer than to say it this way, so there can be no misunderstanding and misinterpretation ...

Wake the fuck up, people - protesting against protection laws for your own health and safety is almost literally like drinking the Kool-Aid in cult-mentality suicidal madness.

Don't Like the Government's Social/Safety Restrictions? Private Business Could, But Won't. Yet Someone Still Needs To ...


So I just had a talk with my father-in-law.  As he knows, I refuse to ever discuss politics, because after watching him and my husband fight over it, I just realized it wasn't a very good idea - so we've just never discussed them.

And before today, we generally agreed on the handling of the virus. 

However, today, for whatever reason, he decided to go off on the governor of his state, as well as Nancy Pelosi.

So I made this one-time exception, because this virus is too real and too dangerous to NOT speak up.

Now, Nancy Pelosi, I don't care  - I agreed with him about her general personality ( I'm not a Pelosi fan, though she does have a point that testing and safety equipment need to be included in this small-business package deal.) 

She wasn't discussed until nearly the end of our conversation, though, that end going something like this: 

Him:  Pelosi is mean, she's a mean person and sinister, she's a troublemaker." 

Me:  "I  agree, she can be, she's essentially a tamed-down Trump in a skirt lol.  But I think Trump still beats her by a long ways in nastiness/meanness and being a crazy troublemaker in general. You don't you think Trump is mean?"

Him: "I think he speaks his mind and people don't like it. He goes off sometimes, but overall, no, he's a good man."

Me:  "Interesting.  I see what you mean about Pelosi, but I think Trump's worse.  In fact, I think he's verbally abusive. Ever read his Twitter feed?  lol.  I just find it interesting, political bias.  It's always easier for people to see it in the opposite party lol.  Especially with how popular it's become to vilify just Democrats.  It wasn't always like that.  It used to be like a balanced marriage, one reined the other in if they went too crazy.  Now it's like a bitter divorce.  S even calls us "libtards" now lol." 

Aside: I did say that last part about what S said in family text on purpose - because I strongly suspected whose mouth these new opinions on the virus came from, versus the last 2 times we spoke - it was like a total 180.

I mean, 3 weeks ago, he was panicked, literally nearly yelling to call the mayor and demand to have her shut down the city and schools to get Mark home (which of course I did not do) lol

Now that our cities and states have reached their peak, they're suddenly all Nazis, we should be protesting the shutdown , and people need to go back to work??? 

And two weeks ago, he was trying to sell me on the fact that God sent the virus as a plague because of greed (which I didn't buy, but did agree there did seem to be a spiritual lesson in it) - but now, people need to make money?


Who are you and what have you done with my beloved father-in-law? lol

I literally felt like I was talking to a different person.  

I mean - the 180 didn't make any sense.

Thus, it became pretty clear he was parroting S - who has been bitching about shutdowns since Day One and has been on a mission to make the virus as political as he possibly could ;)

Mark and I already suspected that S had run to him and played the victim, after he'd increasingly worked political propaganda into the family group-text conversation that became increasingly "one-upping" competitive and personal, instead of just having fun and being supportive, like everyone else in the conversation was doing - so I called him on it - and then I bowed out of the thread rather than play petty competition games - we already have enough stress without that BS ;) 

Regardless, my FIL got mad, raised his voice. 

 Him:  "I don't want to discuss politics and argue with you."  

I'm thinking, "You brought it up," - but I didn't say so.

 I just waited until he was finished then quietly said:  

Me: "I ... didn't realize we were arguing? We're not arguing -  are we? I was responding to what you said, telling you where I agreed, but then asked if you saw the same qualities in Trump. You answered you essentially didn't, so that's that, I guess we disagree."

Him:  "I don't know!  I don't have an answer!  Have you ever lost a business, Chrystal?  I don't think so. It's rough."

He was clearly still upset, by the tone of his voice.   

Me: "No, I'm sure it is.  Well, in a way I have, actually, my job was outsourced four times, working two, sometimes three jobs to make ends meet during the recession and it didn't matter.  Have you ever been homeless?   I'm not trying to downplay business loss, both business loss and job loss can be rough.  Regardless, this time, we have a choice with this one, our health or not.  

He was now silent, so I continued.  
(However, he was on speaker phone, so my husband became angry with his dad, at this point, because although his father blames the government, Mark blames his dad, believing the business loss thing could've been avoided had his Dad made different choices.)

Me:  "Okay. Well, I love you. I'm not mad at you, I hope you're not mad at me?

Him:  "I'm not mad!  I'm a positive person, I'm always positive!  I don't vilify anyone!  I don't want to discuss politics! I am NOT vindictive!"

Me:  "I ... never said you were vindictive?  I don't think you're vindictive.  Vindictive?  How did THAT  ... ya know what?  Never mind.  Okay.  Well, I hope we're okay. ARE we okay?  

Him:  "Chrystal, everything is fine, don't start this! I love you. Thank you for the toilet paper"

Me:  "Oh ... kay. You're welcome?  I love you, too, here's Mark" 


I'm ... not sure what he thought I was starting by asking him if we were okay?

And apparently, he clearly forgot that he was the one that brought it up in the first place - by being negative about the governor, Pelosi, and Democrats in Congress. lol

But okay, fine -  we'll let him believe he's always positive and that I brought it up, even though that's not reality, because he needs to believe that so badly :)

Because - sigh - this is not the first time I've been in this situation with people, and I think I've finally learned to just let people believe what they need to, despite reality and physical proof to the complete opposite of what they believe.

However, the one thing I did forget was the golden rule of dysfunctional families - you're not allowed to say "I disagree and here's why" - even with sugar on top - even if the person directly insults you (which he didn't, I'm just saying in general dysfunctional families) - or you're "starting an argument" or "creating drama." 

Thus, I imagine this will turn out the same way and get flipped back on me as "starting" something that wasn't even an argument, there will somehow end up being a victim situation, despite there not being one, simply because all dysfunctional families have to have a victim, don't they?

People can't just politely disagree in dysfunctional families, no -there has to be a victim, or there wouldn't be any unnecessary drama ;)

One person has to the perpetrator and one person has to be the victim, lest you break dysfunctional family tradition ;)

(Thus, why I'm writing this publicly, for anyone curious to know my perspective on that conversation.)

I then texted and said I broke my rule never to discuss politics with him, because this virus was too dangerous not to, but that it wouldn't happen again.

Regardless, Pelosi and Trump being crazy a-holes was NOT my overall point in that conversation lol.

My overall point was this ...

Unfortunately, the truth is, we cannot rely on each other in society to respect each others' safety, health, and well being and keep society safe from this virus if left to our own devices - because we don't love our neighbors as ourselves.

So then it does take restrictions, rules, and laws to ensure that we keep society safe.

I understand that businesses need to reopen and that there are many who don't like their governors' restrictions. 

And it may be true that in some cases/states, governors may have taken things too far.

However, I'd rather them be safe than sorry, err on the side of caution.

So you don't want the government to make social and safety restrictions and get back to work?

Fine - but considering people don't respect the safety, health, and well-being of others already - then who will?  Because someone will still need to.

Corporate and private businesses could be the ones making the restrictions and ensuring public safety of their employees and customers - but they aren't. 

Are we hearing "We're going to provide masks and gloves and sanitize daily and will pay for the full healthcare costs of anyone who gets COVID-19?" 

No, we are not. 

In fact, all we're hearing are pushes for lower-level employees to risk their own health by defying social distancing and raise all kinds of hell at the governors, doing the dirty work on behalf of execs and shareholders, who don't dare put themselves at risk to do so.

Thus, it's proof positive these protesters are clearly nothing more than expendable pawns to these companies, pushing them to protest.

When companies, corporations, execs, shareholders and politicians talk more about ensuring safety of employees and customers than they do about raising hell with governors, THEN we'll talk about reopening and using their businesses, ever again  :)

PS - Dr. Foxx's Faith AND Science ...

Just an addendum to my below post on the recovery of a very popular local family physician (at the same practice as mine) -  Dr. Foxx was one of 2 patients to receive an experimental plasma transfusion as an immunotherapy boost, donated from a recovered COVID-19 patient - not only with his consent, but at his actual encouragement, allegedly mostly paid for out of his personal pocket, as the treatment is not yet covered by insurance as it is awaiting FDA approval; thus, the extra incentive for applause :)

Dr. Foxx is reportedly a man of great faith - in both God AND science - believing, like me, the two are not mutually exclusive - despite political narratives today asking you to choose between the two. 

IMO, God, faith, and even "miracles" are science that we simply don't understand yet :)

For example, many "miracles" in the bible can now be explained by science that early civilizations didn't understand yet and thus considered "magic"  or "miracles."

For example, Christ healing the lepers - if Christ bathed his hands in sulfur water before he touched them (which was likely, as many wells contain sulfur water), already knowing centuries in advance that sulfur-based antibiotics can cure leprosy?  

Boom, lepers are cured :)

The plagues experienced by Pharaoh Ramses in the story of Moses, can be easily explained today by environmental/atmospheric science.

Does that make them any less "miracles" just because a master scientist knew what we didn't, how to consciously conduct the physical chemistry reactions  - at the exact right moment? :)

Come to think of it,  both God and love itself (which IMO aren't mutually exclusive, either)  - are not unlike this virus.  
Allow me explain ...

powerful "invisible" entity that people have different experiences with, which some still don't believe exists because it hasn't affected them personally yet?  

Yet the rest of us have faith that love, and God, do exist - even if we haven't seen love or God in a lab or personally experienced love and/or God, we still feel their effects, because they're are around us all the time lol

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Dr. W. Jeffrey Foxx Is Released from Baptist Health Lexington

On March 29th, the local newspaper reported that a provider in the same practice, at the same practice location that Mark and I visit - was admitted into ICU with COVID-19; however, we were not sure which provider.

After logging into our patient portal, the identity of the provider was not revealed.

Just today, we learned the identity of that provider - it was not our family physician, but it was the very popular founder of the practice - Dr. (William) Jeffrey Foxx. 

After nearly a month in the ICU, on a ventilator, Dr. Foxx was released from Baptist Health Lexington Hospital today - still on oxygen - to a round of applause :)

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Looking Towards the Future: Coronavirus, Gene Editing and CRISPR

So I was thinking, last night, about transcriptions past that I have done, particularly over the past couple of years - beyond what we will (eventually) do with immunization - about what we've only recently been able to accomplish by harnessing the power of the virus to actually cure other types of illnesses. 

We've already known for years prior that certain types of viruses can destroy certain types of cancers - which we found by accident, after observing people with certain types of cancer also became infected with certain types if virus and were suddenly "cured" - but we weren't sure why or how this worked (and still don't entirely).

Since then,  we've been able to take a small amount of certain highly evolved viruses and introduce them to make great strides in defeating certain types of cancer, in a process called "viral therapy."  We are still in the early stages of this research, but it does appear promising.

The most prominent form of this "gene therapy" or "gene editing" is via CRISPR - which will likely be the future of curing many diseases other than cancer - including genetic ones. 

CRISPR gene editing essentially uses a RNA to identify Cas protein enzymes produced by forms bacteria and viruses to identify foreign substances and either target and destroy, or more recently with viruses, break down their genetic code - and actually uses it to supplement what's lacking in our own DNA to "fix" our own genetic mutations and deletions, since viruses replicate by combining with our own DNA, or "transcribing" it into their own. 

Especially a highly complex evolved virus such as HIV, which actually has natural "DNA ripping" properties  - meaning the virus uses an enzyme to rip apart segments of our DNA and RNA and then injects/binds their own nucleotides to ours to survive and replicate themselves - to bind with the nucleotides of the cancer and/or our own DNA - resulting in the patient appearing to no longer show signs of cancer or a genetic disorder.

For example, you may have heard of "Bluebird" - which is a cure for hemophilia A, in which small, weakened amounts of a highly evolved virus like HIV are introduced into the patients to target specific protein-binding sites responsible for hemophilia A-associated genetic anomalies - and the end result is - your body starts producing the things you want, deleting the things you don't - and no more hemophilia A. 

Why do they most often use HIV? 

HIV is a particularly highly evolved retrovirus.

Which means, in very basic terms, that HIV has the ability to "unzip" virtually every nucleotide molecule "rung" in the "ladder" in your DNA/RNA, as opposed to just targeted segments, like other viruses.  

HIV then binds to your DNA nucleotide sequence, transcribes it,  translates the genetic info back to the virus, which creats a sort of own "copy" of your nucleotides, then rebinds its "copy" nucleotides with each broken rung of our DNA ladder, then "rezips" it back up -  merging your DNA your DNA with its own, replicating itself at lightning speed - only your body doesn't recognize it as a foreigner as readily because it partially uses your own DNA.

(I hope that makes sense - that's a very basic description, relying on- and going way back to - my college microbiology class days lol.) 

Of course, there's a hefty price tag for Bluebird - it entered the market at $1.3 million (thus, no private or public insurance will cover it at that price, it's out of pocket only).

Is it safe?  Do you now have HIV?

Yes, it's safe - and no, you don't now have HIV in its place.

First of all, we're we're talking genetically altered HIV, and secondly, due to targeted genetic alteration, one essentially cancels out the other's negative genetic properties. 

Essentially, adding just enough of a genetically altered virus can either supplement what is lacking - or inhibit/delete production of what's being overproduced - in your own DNA/RNA, so that your body can now do what it was originally designed to do before genetic anomalies occurred :)

Bluebird was approved by the FDA - and thus far, no one who has received the therapy in clinical trials has developed HIV (or any other virus used in CRISPR treatment) - and they do appear to be "cured" of hemophilia A.

A similar therapy is being trialed in sickle-cell - also expected to be approved by the FDA -  and likewise, has a million-dollar price tag - so forget about public or private insurance covering that cost; again, out of pocket. 

And yes - there is always the potential to use this genetic engineering for unethical as well as ethical purposes.

However,  CRISPR is still too fledgling for us to have the knowledge to do that, we're just now figuring it out.

Just in case, these treatments and current trials are being heavily monitored/regulated, even in the U.S., to ensure ethics and safety maintained. 

Thus, I was thinking - if this SARS-CoV2 is as potent and highly evolved as they say - if we can learn more about how it works, weaken it, and use it as immunotherapy for innoculation - the next step could then be another powerful weapon in actually using it to someday cure other diseases like cancer or genetic diseases using CRISPR?

Of course, we're nowhere near that point yet, we don't understand it enough - and just think of how long it took to understand HIV enough to treat it adequately, and then use it in this type of research - almost 30 years.

(But then again, though we knew about CRISPR since 1987, we didn't know how to use it effectively until the past few years.)

Just thinking forward and being hopeful, here :)

Also thinking about spiritual people asking where God is, in all of this. 

I personally don't think God did this or is punitive - I think God gets credited and blamed for far too much already lol.

I think you can see God and Christ in this, if you look in the right places, as I've posted about previously  :)

I am also reminded of Genesis 50:40 ... 

"20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives."

Just like everything else, bad things that happen - "the rain falls on the just and the unjust" - regardless of random or intentional - but it can eventually be used for good - if we recognize that and use our free will to achieve it :)

Thus, yesterday's shorter-term plague can become tomorrow's cure - even for a more chronic plague that we've been battling for a couple of centuries?