The First Amendment under siege

This really IS illegal. Totally outside of our constitution. Shame on them. Shame on us.

THE SHINBONE STAR

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances
– First Amendment to the United States Constitution

With the news that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has established a “religious liberty task force,” the Trump administration’s assault on the First Amendment is now complete.

It seems surprising that people who take the Second Amendment literally have such a hard time with the First, which makes several things crystal clear:

  1. Congress, which is the lawmaking body of our nation, cannot establish a state religion, nor can it stop anyone from worshiping however they please.
  2. Nor can our system of laws restrict freedom of speech or of the press, no matter how upset it makes the current…

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RDP # 61: PULSE – I’VE GOT ONE! – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP # 61: I have a Pulse 


There was a time when whether or not I would continue to have a pulse was a matter of considerable discussion. Apparently, if I didn’t have a lot of surgery, it was going to go away and not come back.

My post surgery heart pillow; You grab it and hug it when you need to sneeze or cough and that is supposed to make you feel better.

I didn’t like that idea much, so eventually, I had the surgery. Two pig valves, one myocardial-something-or-other-y in the left ventricle, a bypass, and a Pacemaker later, everything pulses in a reasonably tidy, efficient way. As long as the batteries don’t wear out, or one of the animal valves stops working, I’m good to go.

So far, anyhow.

I have a pulse. Check yours. It’s always useful to keep checking.

THE UNOFFICIAL SHARING MY WORLD – Marilyn Armstrong

From sparksfromacombustiblemind come some questions. And since I don’t have any other brilliant thoughts, I figured I’d answer them!


I want to start out by answering the big question of the month for this household.

How is Garry doing?

Garry is fine for a guy recently out of surgery. The pain is past, but the imbalance is not. This is a common side effect of surgery to ears because that’s where our little gyroscope is.

Looking pretty good

That gyroscope is the thing that lets us keep our balance. He will regain balance eventually. I’m hoping sooner rather than later, but what will be will be.

He isn’t writing much because part of the lack of balance is linked to him having trouble finding the keys on the keyboard. This too shall pass.

So Garry isn’t driving and is uncomfortable on the stairs. I’d rather he not do anything that would cause him to fall, so basically, we aren’t doing much. Visitors are welcome, but we are not traveling.

Have you ever been in a food fight?

Do you count trying to feed a one-year-old baby?

How do you deliver bad news?

Simply. Because bad news doesn’t get better when you make it more complicated and a lot of sighing, moaning, and crying probably makes it worse.

What (if anything) do you think is beyond the stars?

I would guess more stars.

What “redneck” (unsophisticated) activity do you like to do?

I’m not sure what I do is particularly sophisticated, unless reading, writing, and taking pictures are sophisticated. I also think, but I used to believe that this was one of the privileges of being a human. Apparently, I was wrong about that.

I still eat, sleep, use the bathroom. I scrub the floor just like the rest of the world. No house cleaners, yachts, or fancy cars. Not that I would mind having any of the aforementioned, mind you. I just can’t afford them.

Is there a scary scene from a movie (or book) you viewed a child that still haunts you?

Nope. Not much of a scary movie watcher. Probably because if I watched those movies, the scenes would bother me.

If I don’t watch them, no problem.

Last (rock trivia courtesy of Glyn), which true to form I won’t answer.  I wanna see if anyone (besides Glyn) knows the answer:

Seal’s ‘Kiss From A Rose’ was the theme from which film? 

Batman Forever?

SYWBestUnoff

CHASING CARROTS … by Sue Vincent

It has been hot in England recently… hotter than usual, even for summer. There has been no rain in my part of the country for weeks now and the ground is parched and cracked. Harvests are being brought in early, fields are already shorn and neatly dotted with straw-bales, and the human population has been slowly wilting in the scorching, heavy air. So, it was with some eagerness that we awaited the promised rain and thunderstorms.

They didn’t arrive… The forecasters shifted their predictions to the next day, then the next… and all we had seen was a spot or two of moisture accompanied by a distant, lazy rumble of thunder. When the rain finally arrived last night, it was no more than the briefest of light showers. The dog and I, nevertheless, headed outside to enjoy the fall of water, watching its instant evaporation on the superheated concrete of the paving, but glad of the momentary respite.

Although the weather is a national preoccupation in England, we generally don’t suffer too badly from its vagaries. Ours is a temperate climate. Summers are generally warm, winters cold but not glacial… but whatever the weather is doing, we will soon be complaining about it. On the odd occasion, we do get a severe winter… by English standards… or an unusually hot summer. We are prepared for neither, and both can bring the country to its knees at temperatures other nations would consider mild. We don’t cope well with what we consider extremes of anything… be that weather or behaviour…

There is a ‘normal’ for everyone… parameters within which we are comfortable because they are familiar. They do not have to be good, or what we would choose … they are just our accustomed and accepted standards of normality. Step beyond their boundaries and, depending upon your temperament, you are in a zone of unease, or one of excitement. Such boundaries shift and change with time and circumstance… and the adaptability that is one of humanity’s greatest assets can also be its greatest handicap, as we learn to accept a new ‘normal’ very quickly and alter the parameters to suit the moment.

I was talking to my son about this as we headed out to the local farm shop on Saturday. Because of the changes in his life and capabilities caused by the brain injury, he has been redefining his ‘normal’ on a regular basis. He tends to forget where he has come from, and what he has endured and achieved to get here, and the latest version of ‘normality’ takes a great deal of the journey for granted.

We took the country lanes back to my home after we had done the shopping, stopping by a field gate so he could get out, lean on the gate, and watch the fast-forming clouds race in. It is a simple thing, but I remembered the first time he was able to do that a few years ago… and the wonder we both felt at that achievement.

This time I watched as he lost himself in the moment, seeing emotions on his face shift from bright to dark and back again, like the cloud-shadows on the land. The wind was getting stronger as dark clouds raced in. The little bit of rain had enhanced all the colours, turning the dry grasses to gold and illuminating the green of the hedgerows, where blackberries glistened amongst the wildflowers. The changing weather and the experience of beauty lifted him out of his normality and allowed him to see what he might otherwise not have noticed.

Continue reading at The Silent Eye

FACEBOOK AND WORDPRESS – A NOTIFICATION YOU SHOULD READ

First the released my data to Cambridge Analytica. That led to having my identity stolen and my computer hacked. How many new ways can they find to become worthless?

FROM WORDPRESS:

You have probably gotten the same message via email, but in case you missed it or deleted it without reading it, you might want to read it. Many of us use Facebook for publicizing our blogs. This will stop the day after tomorrow. You can return to what I used to do: copy and paste your link into Facebook, especially if you have a fair number of followers on Facebook as I do. I already disconnected it from Publicize. I’ll probably manually post pieces as I see fit. I guess we will all have to make our own choices about this.

We wanted to update you about an upcoming change Facebook is introducing to their platform, and which affects how you may share posts from your website to your Facebook account.

Starting August 1, 2018, third-party tools can no longer share posts automatically to Facebook Profiles. This includes Publicize, the WordPress.​com tool that connects your site to major social media platforms (like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook).

Will this affect your ability to share content on Facebook? It depends. If you’ve connected a Facebook Profile to your site, then yes: Publicize will no longer be able to share your posts to Facebook. On the other hand, nothing will change if you keep a Facebook Page connected to your site — all your content should still appear directly on Facebook via Publicize. (Not sure what the difference is between a Page and a Profile? Here’s Facebook’s explanation.) You can review and change your social sharing settings by heading to My Site(s) → Sharing on WordPress.com.

If you’ve previously connected a Facebook Profile to your WordPress.​com site and still want your Facebook followers to see your posts, you have two options. First, you could go the manual route: once you publish a new post, copy its URL and share the link in a new Facebook post. The other option is to convert your Facebook Profile to a Page. This might not be the right solution for everyone, but it’s something to consider if your website focuses on your business, organization, or brand.

While Facebook says it is introducing this change to improve their platform and prevent the misuse of personal profiles, we believe that eliminating cross-posting from WordPress is another step back in Facebook’s support of the open web, especially since it affects people’s ability to interact with their network (unless they’re willing to pay for visibility) We know that this might cause a disruption in the way you and your Facebook followers interact, and if you’d like to share your concerns with Facebook, we urge you to head to their Help Community to speak out.

Yours,

Love The WordPress.​com Team

ROCKS AND GRAVEL – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP # 60 – Quarry

New England was one of the first place in North America that Europeans set down roots. I’ve always wondered why. Especially in New England.

Those people were farmers and if there’s one thing you can say about this area is that it’s not great farm country. Not only is the weather awful, but there is no topsoil in most places. It’s not a bad place for orchards and dairy cattle, but everything else? It’s pretty hard to find a large, flat area with good earth.

Up the driveway, stone fence holds up the garden. Owen hauled those boulders from the middle of the woods

Between the hills, mountains, boulders, and trees, there’s almost no earth you can plow without moving a lot of rocks first. That’s from where all our stone fences emerged. They were not created to divide areas of land. The farmers just needed a place to put all the rocks.

This is also why you find rock walls in the middle of nowhere. The middle of the woods. Where the stone fences were put didn’t really have a lot to do with location, just how far they could haul that rock before they said: “Okay, this is as far as I am going!” The horses always agreed.

Eventually, someone got the bright idea to dig up the rocks and pound them into gravel. It turns out that you can never have too much gravel and sand in this world. We also have a lot of big holes in the ground that have filled up with water because no one is using them anymore.

Is there a child who, one hot summer’s day, won’t take the plunge into an old quarry? This doesn’t always work out well. Over the past few decades, cities throughout the region have been trying to fill in those holes. Too many kids diving in, hitting unexpected rocks and drowning.

Also, it would seem that diving into a quarry is the easy part. Getting out can be fraught with challenges.

Last night, my son pointed out this his house is actually built on an old gravel pit. That probably explains why they have such a nice, flat piece of ground … but also explains why the backyard is about 12 feet lower than the front yard.

New England has quarries. Lots of them. In use, out of use, full of water. That’s what you do in a land full of rocks and roots. Dig!

COMFORT LATE AND BED – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Comfortable

It is late. I am in bed. My mattress is new, but the bed is not. It is nearly 20 years old but if it is not the most comfortable bed in the world, it’s pretty close.

Tinted doll in the bedroom

The room is air-conditioned. Lightly air-conditioned. I’ve always been averse to heat but lately, I’m cold. The breeze from the fan means I put on long sleeves.

I’ve taken my sleepy medications and my eyes are closing. It doesn’t get better than this.

See you all in the morning.

EXPECTATIONS AND THE LACK THEREOF – Marilyn Armstrong

Everything is weird.

The weather is weird. The government is even weirder. Maybe our government is the weirdest of all. Between one thing and another, I feel like I’m living on a different planet. I have no idea what to expect — in the most literal sense. If rain is predicted, I don’t know if it will actually rain. It might be cloudy and then again, the sun might shine. If they tell me it’s going to cool down, it might be swelteringly hot.

Or not.

Yeah, whatever. At least we got the hell out of 2018. – The New Yorker

Maybe I am living on a different planet. Maybe the reason I don’t know what to expect in these surreal circumstances is that I’m still expecting stuff.  I expect the news to be true and weather maps to actually show real weather. It’s as if the weather is lying too.

The president lies. He says the media lies. I know the media is not lying, but apparently, the climate is lying.

How can the weather lie?

Is that what climate change is about? That we have no idea what to expect and the maps don’t mean what they seem to mean. It’s all a jumble.

Nothing means what it should mean and I think my next move is to stop expecting. Anything. Give up all expectations. Whatever happens, happens.

That’s downright zen of me, isn’t it?

NEGLECTED – THE SAD TALE OF OUR USED-TO-WAS-GARDENS – Marilyn Armstrong

A Photo a Week Challenge: Neglected


Once upon a time, we had hedges and a garden. Now we have a wild place with wild and running-amok flowers … and the forsythia hedge from hell which is planning to overrun the house. It might just succeed this time!

An attempt at taming

Photo: Garry Armstrong

You can see that not only is the hedge enormous — 10 to 12 feet tall — but it too is being overrun by wild grape vines.

And the shed is about to fall down …

Overall, I think the house is getting serious about falling down, too. But not this week. Just … eventually.

You think the plants are a little out of control?

YOU ONLY CHANGE WHEN YOU’RE READY – BY ELLIN CURLEY

A good friend finalized her divorce after 30 years of marriage. She has started a new life and is happier than ever.

I’ve rarely seen such a dramatic transformation in a person in such a short time. We’ve known her for 14 years and we’ve never seen this relaxed and happy version of her. She has changed physically too. She lost 25 pounds, changed her hair and looks like a different person. She has an inner glow about her. Her inner happiness and self-confidence shows. She’s not depressed, angry, or feeling bad about herself. The marriage was weighing her down.

I tried to get her to see the toxic nature of the marriage three years ago. She admitted that there was little left in her relationship except anger and resentment. They led separate lives with little positive communication and no love. He refused to acknowledge his contribution to the problems. He also refused counseling and showed no interest in changing in any way.

The one thing she had left in the marriage was hope. She still, somehow, believed it could work. She was not ready to pull the plug. Now she looks back and wonders why she couldn’t see the writing on the wall, those giant, black letters screaming “It’s over! Get out!”

She wasn’t ready to see it.

I had the same experience with my son. Tom and I saw that it was time to end his severely dysfunctional and destructive marriage years before he was ready to accept the inevitable. He too had a major transformation when he left the negative relationship. He became more relaxed. He seemed lighter, more positive. He laughed more and looked like he had shed a giant weight off his back and heart.

But he could not end his seven-year marriage – until he was ready.

Something happens inside of us when we are suddenly receptive to change. A light goes on or a switch is turned somewhere in our psyches. Suddenly, things gel. We see things differently. The blinders are gone and so is the hope. People cling to the familiar. We, as a species, hate and fear major changes in our lives. And divorce is one of the biggest and most difficult.

Sometimes with divorce, people can’t see past the pain and hassle of the separation and divorce process. They can’t focus on the light at the end of the tunnel. Many people can’t even see the light. They don’t believe they’ll have a better life on their own. All they see is how they are feeling at that moment — lonely and heartbroken.

It takes people time to prepare for change. It can’t be rushed. I never pushed my son or my friend. I supported them through endless decisions to just give it “a little more time.” I led them to the water to see if they were ready to drink. When they weren’t, I backed off. That’s why I could be part of the divorce celebrations when they finally came.

I have to admit, my life is better now that both my son and my friend are divorced and happy. We wanted these divorces to happen, for personal, selfish reasons as well as for altruistic ones. So even if you desperately see that someone needs to end a relationship – shut up.

They will let you know when they are ready.

WHISPERING – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP#59 – The Whisper In Your Ear

The day before the earthquake hit San Francisco in 1989, I decided I needed to go home a day early. I wasn’t feeling well (I actually had the flu, but didn’t yet know it) and most of my work was done for the moment. It was like a little whisper in my ear telling me it was time to leave.

Had I not left, I’d have been one of the many crushed cars on the road between San Francisco and Oakland.

Whispering.

My boss in 2001 was supposed to fly to Los Angeles on September 11th. For some reason, a little whisper in his ear said “Cancel the trip. Go another day.”

The plane on which he had been booked crashed into one of the towers in New York.

Whispering.

There are all those little whispers out of nowhere. They tell us what to do. They tell us what to avoid. Listen to those whispers.

THE ALLURE OF THE UNKNOWN – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Unknown


I got a note from a reader about an article I wrote more than five years ago about blood types. I’m a B+ from an O+ mother and an AB+ father, which cannot, in theory, produce me. But it did and there’s no doubt who my parents were.

It turns out that unexpected blood types just sometimes “pop up.” Why?


Unknown.

There is more we don’t know about blood types and where they come from than we do know. The article is titled: DESCENDING FROM THE GOLDEN HORDE – B+ AND ME  and it is the most popular article I ever wrote. Especially since I wrote it more than five years ago and it’s still widely read today.

I got a letter yesterday from what turns out to be a first cousin. Or is it second cousin? I’ve never worked out the first, second, third and how many times removed thing in familial relationships. Regardless, she’s a pretty close match and is the great-granddaughter of my grandfather’s sister. This came with pictures and everything and damned if we don’t all pretty much look alike. Not exactly the same, but similar enough to form a congenial family portrait.

I didn’t even know this branch of the family existed. If my mother knew, she never mentioned it. I never knew my grandparents. They died when I was too young to know anything except how to walk. When you don’t know your grandparents, you lose a lot of history.


Unknown.

The older I get, the more I realize how little I know. The more I learn, the more yawning the unknown gets, too.

Maybe that is why so many people enjoy ignorance. If you don’t know anything, you don’t need to recognize how much more you need to learn to lose your ignorance. No matter how much you know, you always need to know more.

Ignorance is so easy. You just assume what you know (or think you know) is everything there is to know. Then carefully avoid learning more. If anyone intrudes on your ignorance, you can run screaming with your ears covered lest your lack of knowledge be devastated by the intrusion of previously unknown information.

Meanwhile, I have a whole unknown branch of my family branch to explore. Call me crazy, but I find the unknown the most alluring part of my universe.

Send down the Mother Ship! I’ve got my bags packed.

THE LONG ROAD

Recovery, by Rich Paschall

Bill was to report to County Hospital at 10 AM so he had to hustle through his morning routine, if you could call it that.  He slept until the sun woke him up, so he barely had an hour to wash his face, shave, get dressed, make coffee and leave the house.  In his usual haphazard fashion, Bill accomplished his tasks on time.

From the kitchen window he spied clouds that might roll in from the west, but nothing could erase the shine from this day. A goal had been met and Bill would have the honor of walking the winner across the finish line.  But despite his bright attitude, Bill grabbed for the large golf umbrella on the way out the door.  No, Bill did not play golf.  He just never knew when there might be a need for such a large umbrella.

Clouds rolling in

Everyone seemed to know Bill when he arrived at the hospital.  He had been making regular visits there for months, and chatting up the nurses and interns along the way.  Now he only had time to smile and wave as he made his way to the fifth floor.

In room 502 a nurse was assisting the patient in getting ready to leave the rehabilitation floor to head home.  Slowly he dressed, needing some help from others as he went.  When he was all set, the nurse helped him to stand, and after a minute on his feet, to sit in the wheelchair.  His personal items were stuffed into two plastic bags marked “Patient Belongings” and a small plastic tub, which was used a few times for washing up, was filled with a small half used tube of toothpaste, a cheap toothbrush, a small unopened shampoo bottle, a half bottle of mouthwash and some hand lotion.

The patient, a retired Industrial Planner from the Midwest, had arrived rather unceremoniously  three months earlier.  Paramedics brought him in after collecting him from the floor of his screened in patio.  A neighbor had spotted him and another neighbor arrived with his first name.  A medical investigator actually discovered his last name by visiting the home where he was found and looking on the mailbox.

Now the entire staff on the fifth floor of County Hospital knew Harold.  Although he said very little due to his condition, nurses and therapists liked to stop in to have a little chat.  For the first month, Harold could say nothing in return.  As time progressed, he began to react more to the comments with a nod, a smile, or even a word or two.

He had spent the first week at County down stairs in ICU.  For the second week he did little but lay in bed in 502.  Sometimes someone would turn on the television, but it was doubtful Harold was aware of it most of the time.  After that, the plan was put in motion.  It was not the plan of the supreme Planner, but one on which the rest of his life depended.

It took many helpers to carry out the plan for Harold.  A physical therapist was brought in to get Harold back into motion.  He worked his arms and legs and soon began to prompt the patient on which action to make.  When he was quite ready, the therapist would take him to the activity room where Harold would sit and roll a large ball across the room to the therapist who would roll it back.  After that there was standing and walking.  By the third month, Harold moved to the stairs.  It was a narrow set of three with railings on both sides to grab.  He went up to the top, then down the other side.

As movement improved, Harold was taken to a room set up like a kitchen.  There he would practice opening jars and bottles and sometimes even cans.  It was a struggle.  In the third month he would prepare his own lunch.  It was soft foods which he sometimes could not eat.

From week three a therapist came to teach swallowing.  Weeks of exercises lead to attempt at swallowing thick liquids.  Water and coffee were no good unless thickener was added.  Harold looked at the therapist with a bit of disdain every time she poured thickener into a good cup of coffee.  In truth, he could barely swallow the liquids when his time at County was up.

Another therapist worked on speech.  Harold found it strange that someone must teach him how to shape his mouth and exercise his throat for sounds in order to say words again.  It was not perfect after three months, but at least he could speak and be understood.

The long road home

Bill arrived in 502 with all of the enthusiasm of a relative welcoming someone back from the dead.  His smile was even larger than the patient’s, who still was working on his facial muscles and reactions.

“Ready to break out of here?” Bill said with a laugh.

Harold nodded slowly.  He actually was not sure he was ready, but he was certainly glad to be going home.

“OK then, I guess we will just roll you out of here, since they will not allow you to race through the halls,” Bill blurted out, amused with himself.

A member of the hospital staff rolled the patient to the front door and Bill pulled his car right up to the front.  They both had to help Harold get into the car, as his range of motion was limited.

The hospital worker handed into Harold a cane, the kind with four feet on the bottom.  “I guess you will be needing this for a while.”  With that, the two retirees drove away.

Leaving the hospital was not the end of the journey for Harold.  It only took him part way down the long road.

 

 

 

Four Billion Years Of Evolution In Six Minutes

We are not the end of evolution. Not even close.

ScienceSwitch

Did we evolve from monkeys or from fish? Well, the first animals to develop a backbone were fishes. So technically, we all evolved from fish, and not from monkeys.

Watch this TED Talk as ichthyologist Prosanta Chakrabarty dispels some hardwired myths about evolution, encouraging us to remember that we’re a small part of a complex, four-billion-year process — and not the end of the line.

“We’re not the goal of evolution,” Chakrabarty says. “Think of us all as young leaves on this ancient and gigantic tree of life — connected by invisible branches not just to each other, but to our extinct relatives and our evolutionary ancestors.”

THIS IS COOL. I WANT TO LEARN SOMETHING ELSE, TOO!

Video via – TED Talks

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A GLASS COLLECTION – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I have an extensive glass collection. It is scattered all through my house. It’s my pride and joy in decorating. I thought I would share some of my collection with you. I hope you enjoy it!

paperweight

paperweight

paperweight

bowl

paperweight

paperweight next to bowl

glass fish