Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Short Heavy Fiction: JR Gets the News

And here's the next thing on the to-do list: a Free Sample. Someone asked for a novel about a young man who, like Bill Clinton, has to try to reach some sort of peace with a dying father-figure. Since Bill Clinton has told his own story rather well, and it just may be the best thing he gave to this country, this fictional story of how the character comes to that first step toward forgiveness is a mash-up. Bits of my stepson’s story were in my mind, bits of my own, bits of an ex-boyfriend’s, bits of men's published memoirs. This summer I've been reading my way through a box of vintage magazines my father saved; his notes on the covers called attention to other articles, but the majority of those magazines contained a father-son, or rarely a father-daughter, reconciliation story.

This story is a heavy read. If it grows into a novel, it will get heavier. Its purpose is to vent some feelings the collaborator and I have lived through, not to embarrass our other relatives, but to encourage people to think and talk about reconciliation with their parents (or with their children). Mr. Spencer is a callous heel, his son's becoming another, and in the potential novel about him his family will meet parents who are even harder to love...except that, sometimes, love seems to improve them.


***

The phone was ringing. He didn’t recognize the number. He pressed the button to put the caller  on hold while he transferred the call to his answering service. Instead he heard a stranger’s voice: “...James Randall Spencer, please.”

“Speaking.” If the woman was selling something he’d blast her...

“JR, my name is Caroline Murray. I’m your stepmother,” she said.

His ears rang. He heard his heart pounding at the top of his aching head.

“I’m sorry to bother you, but your father is ill,” she said. “The doctors at University Hospital are fairly sure he has cancer, but they’ve not located the cancer yet. It would mean a great deal to him if you could spend some time with him now.”

“Time,” he repeated idiotically, massaging his scalp.

“I’m sorry,” she repeated. “I know that’s a shock—well, it’s been one to me, to see him deteriorate so fast. His kidneys are involved. His blood minerals go in and out of balance; he goes in and out of touch with reality. When he does know what’s going on, JR, he always asks about you. He didn’t want me to call you or your mother, and yet he does want to see you again. More than anything, I think. We don’t know how many days he may have. The sooner you could come out, the better. He’s very ill.”

“Stepmother,” he said, trying to make sense of what he’d just heard. “My mother never told me I had a stepmother.”

“We’ve been together almost ten  years,” she said. “I always hoped to meet you under better circumstances. You’re not a boxer, are you?”

“Boxer? Not since high school. I work for a telecommunications company.”

“I thought so. JR, your father always wants to watch boxing, but only lightweight boxing, because that was your sport in high school.”

“Sh—” he blurted.

“Well don’t say it to me, say it to him,” she said. “Stepson, please—I know nothing about your situation. All I know is that when my husband loses memories of everything else, he asks about you. I’m sure you know where to find the University Hospital, where Dr. Wetherby is the head of the cancer department. When your father’s not there, he’s at home...do you have our address?”

He wrote down the address, read it back to her, wrote down her and his father’s phone numbers. His headache had subsided into numbness, and not a blindness, but a sort of tunnel vision. He saw letters and numbers on a notepad. He saw more letters and numbers on his computer screen. Those numbers related to a work-related problem, which was soluble. His eyes held on to those numbers as if they were the ropes and posts of a pier. He landed on the accounting problem and tinkered with codes and numbers. Before the end of the day he was able to tell the accounting department what to shut down while he plugged in his solution. It seemed to work perfectly.

He drove himself home, thinking about his elegant solution  to the accounting data problem. He was a precision driver; that was one thing he’d inherited from the old man. No chorus of horns warned him that only part of his mind was steering the car.

Stepmother.

His parents had always agreed that their marriage had been a mistake. They stayed together because they’d had a church wedding. They went to church together on Sundays, and entertained his father’s few friends from work and his mother’s dozens of new connections on Saturdays. His mother had always kept her looks; his father had always seemed sincerely proud of that. At home, his father was usually out of the country on business—it was no secret that he’d chosen a job with as much international travel as possible. When the old man did come home after work, he went straight into the den. If the woman didn’t pursue him into the den for a quarrel, the man drank himself to sleep in front of the TV.

As a child JR had always seen his beautiful, vivacious mother’s side of things. She was emotional; she said terrible things to him, as she did to his father, when she was angry, but she was extra-nice to make up for it afterward. Then he’d realized, when the news channels went into their feeding frenzy, that one of her pet politicians had been caught hosting a drug party with money his own mother had raised by cheating poor people out of their homes. Everyone thought his mother had a warm and loving heart. JR knew his mother’s heart was as cold and hard as his father’s.

So far as he could tell the old man’s heart was pure anthracite. James Martin Spencer had taught him to swim by throwing him into the pool, taught him not to be afraid of bullies by signing him up for boxing, and taught him to stay sober by lacing his first few drinks with emetic pills. JR hated bullies and, so far as he knew, JM Spencer was the meanest bully he’d ever faced.

How a man like JM Spencer had ever persuaded one woman to marry him, JR didn’t want to know, but now apparently there were three. His mother was a second wife JM used to compare, always unfavorably, to the first one, and now JR had a stepmother.

JR had promised himself he wouldn’t walk into the trap that had destroyed whatever good qualities his parents must once have had. In high school, where he’d been a skinny geek with a painfully cultivated set of boxing moves, never dating the same girl twice was no problem. In his twenties, when his mother’s eyebrows and father’s cheekbones and so on finally came together to form an adult face, he’d been tearfully called a heartbreaker, a callous heel, and a closet gay. At thirty-five he’d become comfortable enough with his flaming feminist housemate Norah Lee that their other housemates had moved out, then been replaced by the children in the front room.

They were his children, beyond all doubt. If their faces hadn’t shown it, their fierce concentration on their game would have done. He’d insisted on their video games being the kind that called for large muscle movement. As he walked in, so far as JR could tell, James Jefferson’s little dance was steering a getaway car through a Rocky Mountain pass while Tamara Louise’s was blowing the wheels off the gangsters’ cars.

He walked past them to Norah’s home office.

“Riga, dear, I can’t just write that chapter for you. If you want to put it in, you’ve got to tell me what happened.”

JR waited. Norah quietly clicked her mouse, no doubt working on a whole separate document, while the heiress sobbed on about the chapter her fans most wanted to read being too painful to write.

“Well, you don’t have to go into all the details do you? You can say you blacked out or spaced out or something and don’t remember what happened next.”

If JR had ever formed the smoking habit he could have smoked two cigarettes or more while Riga von Hake ululated into Norah’s phone. Instead he considered different ways of saying what was on his mind, finding all of them equally bad, and watched Norah multitask.

“Oh yes!”Norah clicked back, obviously, to the memoir she was ghostwriting. Riga von Hake talked more than a hundred words a minute when she got going. Norah was her ghostwriter because Norah’s fingers could keep up with her. “Mhm,” she murmured, typing, and “Oh,” and “Oh no.”

The address the stepmother had given him was in a neighborhood JR’s mother would have avoided. Maybe that was why. JR’s mother believed in using money to impress people; his father, not so much. It wasn’t a slum, exactly. JR had been in that neighborhood. The scholarship kids at his high school lived there. Little look-alike houses were all packed together on the slope of the hill below the best public elementary school in the county. Kids played in the low-traffic streets; adults grilled and gardened in the yards. Would JM Spencer have moved there because he and this Murray woman had a school-age child? Did JR now have stepsiblings the age of his own children?

He pictured the old man sitting in his armchair, more than half drunk. “What’d you do all day?”

“I fixed the part of the accounting system the accounting people keep messing up.”

“How long d’it take you?”

“About six hours.”

Six hours? An accounting system like that? You ought to have been able to rewrite the entire system from the DOS prompt up in three hours.”

To block it out he’d liked to hang out with friends who, according to the old man, weren’t worth counting as friends. Maybe they weren’t. The crowd started to break up when one new chemical experiment of Marla’s sent several of them to the hospital. Some of them were still locked up there. Jeremy, the suspected squealer, was run down by a car that fit the description of the one Marla’s brother used to drive, and Paul, the actual squealer, became a missing person. Sitting on Paul’s bed with Paul’s family pet purring beside him, JR had helped generate a new identity for Paul: Tom Gray. About ten years ago, feeling curious, he’d found that Tom Gray was also a missing person, now.

“Breathe,” Norah was saying. “Biofeedback time. Count one deep breath below the big red one. Count two deep breaths below the big orange two...”

JR let himself visualize the numbers along with Riga von Hake. It was silly but it helped.

“So where are those friends of yours now?” the old man had rasped.

“I don’t know,” seventeen-year-old JR lied.

“Well, I do! They’re behind bars, aren’t they? Where druggies like that belong!”

It was June. Seventeen-year-old JR had a summer job to do before he went to college. He went upstairs and wrote a note telling his parents not to worry; he’d heard of an even better job and was going to college now. Hah. He’d been all set for an internship in a government office. Arriving after all the summer jobs on the mall were taken, he’d been lucky to get work as a busboy, especially as he’d started the summer living in a shelter. He used to get to sleep at night fantasizing that the big, posh house of his high school years was his again, because his parents were dead.

“Wow,” Norah was breathing into the phone. “You were so brave, Riga.”

JR had been brave. He’d joined a good club at college, had his share of dates later, got a good job. Norah was the closest thing he’d had to a friend since the night Paul became Tom Gray. Actually, considered as a friend, Norah was a good one. It was just more fun to consider her as the girl who used to multitask all around the house, naked, in summer. Sometimes when the children were out of the house she still did that.

“I did. I think I’ve got it all. So let me send it now, and find out what’s on my housemate’s mind, okay? It’s going to be,” Norah rolled her eyes at JR, “a sensational book.”

Forgetting the ways he’d planned to break the news, JR said, “I just heard that my father’s dying of cancer.”

“Are you serious?”

“Yeah,” JR said, and his ears began ringing again. “Might leave me some money if I go out to see him. I think I'll do that this weekend.”

Status Update: Beating Down Bullying

This is not a real, sponsored blog post, just a quick status update that relates (in a general way) to a paid writing project...I was thinking about bullying on the way into town, and then the first thing I saw in the e-mail was Dan Lewis's very cute story about an aquarium's efforts to reduce bullying among fish.

http://nowiknow.com/the-aquarium-that-turned-a-blind-eye-toward-bullies/



A hundred years ago, the word "bully" most often referred to a young man. It was often spoken with approval. "Bully beef" was marketed as a better grade than ordinary steers' beef. Theodore Roosevelt used "bully" as a general term of praise like "swell" or "fine." The popular song about "The Bully of the Town" expressed an intention to challenge the guy for leadership of a (not necessarily criminal) gang; fighting for dominance seems to have been one of the things guys in their teens and twenties were expected to do, after work, along with playing sports and, if they were lucky, tinkering with cars.

As people became more concerned that fighting with their friends was more likely to make young men violent and abusive than to make them good soldiers, the meaning of "bully" went through the process linguists call pejoration. It was more often applied to little boys than to young men. By the 1970s, most of us had a mental image of a "bully" as an eight-year-old boy who beats up five-year-old boys.

Then in the 1990s more attention was paid to the subtler ways girls (and older, smarter boys) make their schoolmates miserable, not usually by beating them up, but by leaving them out of things, laughing at unexplained jokes in a way that makes the people who are left out think they're the joke, and general verbal abuse. Yes, girls could be bullies too.

And the late-blooming guys with glasses who hung out in the computer lab? In the Information Age, they could do some serious bullying. College guys might laugh at the gawky nearsighted fellow who tripped over his fast-growing feet but three years later, when he went to work for the IRS, guess whose taxes were next to be audited.

For, no surprise, adults do not outgrow bullying; they gain access to more sophisticated ways to do it. Empire-building is the ultimate form of bullying. Prejudice and discrimination, protectionist legislation, censorship, hostile gossip, and other social abuses are the usual ways adults continue the bullying behavior they learned in primary school.

Socialist politics is a form of bullying. Socialists want to make people share their stuff! They'll "nationalize" it and "redistribute" it--their way! Yarrayarrayarrrrr! Socialist governments can come to exist when very nice, peaceable, neighborly people agree to let somebody plan their lives for them. That's happened in small independent communities, and occasionally even in small countries, when conditions were just right. Swedish people, who had a very long history of communitarian practice anyway, chose to set up their own form of national socialism as an answer to the uglier kinds of national socialism stronger countries were threatening to inflict on them. It didn't make them a strong enough, rich enough, or large enough nation to stand up to the huge Russian army or the fierce German one, but it did keep people from falling for the idea that German-style or Russian-style socialism was what they needed, and it won the sympathy of other countries that helped Sweden avoid being absorbed into the Third Reich or the Soviet Union. Sweden has become poorer in some ways by adopting Swedish-style socialism, but it has remained intact. This has made Sweden the wonder of the world. In other countries, in order to last very long, socialist governments have become bullies and tyrants...or else they've quietly abandoned their socialist ideals.

People in other countries have wished for a long time that their countries could be more like pacifist Switzerland, and in the twentieth century they started wishing their countries could be more like almost-successfully socialist Sweden. I don't believe that can happen. What those countries have in common is that they're small, with geographical conditions that have rigorously selected for a small, sparse population who have more or less chosen to be there as part of a large voluntary community. Sweden was ethnically homogeneous into the late twentieth century, while Switzerland is so heterogeneous they've never even agreed on a single national language, so blondness is not the key factor. Brutal winter weather probably is a factor. Sparse population is probably the most important factor. In order for a nation to function as a voluntary community people probably have to be spread out widely enough for thoughts like "Who cares if the people in the next town down the road want to speak a different language? If we ever need to talk to them, we'll find a way" to become commonplace. I do not imagine this happening in any English-speaking country.

The political opposite of bullying is libertarian politics. There are different schools of libertarian thought, and the Libertarian Party, in the United States, has failed to grow because it's failed to unify around a consensus among those schools. Libertarians should be people who can agree to disagree about economic plans, religious beliefs or the lack of them, fashions, manners, etc.; this agreement to disagree can make it hard to rally behind a candidate. My libertarian thought is probably closest to Jim Babka's ideals of "complete nonviolence" and "voluntary-ism."

Libertarians realize that, even if you and I think Billy ought to share his stuff, the only way we can make Billy share his stuff is to become a bigger, meaner bully than he is. That's not good for us, it's not good for the little brother who wants to use Billy's crayons, and--badly though Billy might need a good whack on the seat of the pants--it's not really even good for Billy. So what we can do, instead, is organize a game that everyone else will want to play, and when Billy wants to play, too, we can tell him he has to choose to share his crayons in order to join our game. We have to respect his freedom of choice. We have to push ourselves to be smarter leaders than Billy, rather than meaner bullies. If we're smart leaders who want for some reason to surround ourselves with a voluntary community that agree to be guided by socialist or communist ideals, we can organize one--but we have to limit membership to people who want to be part of our community.

These days we hear a lot of candidates for office promising, in one way or another, "Give the U.S. federal government, or the U.N. as a global government, total control of all the money and we'll make everybody happier." Right-wing advocates of government expansion openly say they want more power to enforce stricter laws at gun-point. Left-wing advocates of government expansion talk about wanting more money to help people and more power to rescue people, but since they're talking about bigger government, what they mean is more power to enforce stricter laws at gun-point. The helping and sharing parts sound good, but that's not the way they're going to happen.

But expanding the powers of government, getting rid of that scary, "chaotic" democracy where people are responsible for their own choices and the bullies have no way to predict what they might do, is only one way adults extend bullying behavior into the adult social world. Nagging, gossipping, chattering, clamoring for dress codes or censorship...any time we try to get behind people and push them to do what we want, rather than honestly asking them to do what we want (and respecting their right to tell us the rewards we offer aren't enough to get them to do it), we're trying to be bullies.

For those true extroverts who become anxious when they're not in full control of someone else's attention, the temptation to be a bully is constant and needs to be constantly repressed. "I was just being friendly. I just want to talk to people. How can you be around other people and not want to talk to them?" The answer to this question, which is probably a sincere one, is "By respecting their right to lead their own lives without my interference." This concept probably needs to be pounded into the heads of little extroverts from the day they first toddle toward another toddler, squawking for attention. If those other people have anything close to normal lives and levels of competence, it's almost certain that they have at least fifty other things that they believe need more of their attention than you or I do.

Those of us who've developed enough of a talent and enough of a conscience to be called introverts don't usually find it difficult to imagine that other people have their own lives but we may find it difficult to imagine that, because they have lives, other people may not have learned as much about something as we have. In yesterday's Glyphosate Awareness chat I was accused of "condescending" to someone who has the Twitter profile of an ignorant party-line left-winger, who tweeted something about being anti-glyphosate but not thinking it was something to be greatly concerned about. Whether or not the accusation was part of the ugly social bullying pattern that's become common among young leftists, the "Follow my party line exactly or I'll call you a nasty name," is irrelevant because the fact is that I do feel "condescending" toward people who've been ignoring the harm glyphosate's done to people in the last eleven years. More than that, I'm tempted to feel like a martyred saint when I only talk down to them, rather than demanding that their death by torture begin today. I'm not immune to all temptation to engage in social bullying.

This web site, once again, affirms an anti-bullying position, and asks readers to consider when and how we may be tempted to engage in some form of bullying.

Do we try to shove our message in front of people with clickbait e-mail headers ("You have to open this e-mail to find out what it's about!"), screen-hogging ads that demand that readers do something about the ad in order to get on with reading the story, efforts to override people's right to ignore us if they're not interested in the contents of our web sites? This web site has never done those things but many otherwise excellent web sites do them.

Do we demand that people we pass by on the street, or even wait on in the workplace, interrupt their thoughts or even their conversation to indulge us in "greeting" behavior--even when these "greetings" are not redeeming themselves by opening real conversations? The function of words like "Hello, how are you" is to entrain the brains of people who have something of substance to say to each other. Some of us are tempted to subvert "greetings" into grown-up versions of a toddler's squawks and screams for attention.

Do we spew hate at people with whom we disagree? Donald Trump obviously has no problem with people calling him a clown. Barack Obama probably feels pain when people call him a token, but he's obviously learned to cope with it. And so on through the list of nastier insults this web site's policy bars repeating. As long as we're not actually talking to either one of them I suppose the great American tradition of insulting the President does less harm than other things people might say. But the partisan political cyberbullying at some forums and social sites does more harm than people realize...to the people who indulge in it, and to the causes they support. I've got through more than fifty years without feeling any desire to put on a red hat, even upon the occasion of reaching the qualifying age for membership in the Red Hat Society (old ladies who recognize that life is too short to put off doing the things we want to do), but ever since a Democrat blogger whined that seeing Trump supporters' red hats aggravates her emotional problems, I've had an irrational urge to go out and buy a Trump hat. And I didn't even vote for Trump. The hatespews, the name-calling and howls for censorship, need to stop before they make it impossible for any of us to support any party.

Well, this is long enough for a status update. On to the next item on the list...

Friday, September 13, 2019

Glyphosate Awareness Newsletter 8

There would have been more news in this newsletter if I hadn't been sick yesterday. Not too sick to work around the house, but definitely too sick to be out in public. I really thought it might have been a virus, because several people mentioned being sick yesterday. Then this morning, after finally getting some sleep, swallowing some food, and not feeling urgently sick (it had finally rained a bit), I saw the browned-out grass along the road...

The Glyphosate Awareness Newsletter is published weekly by Priscilla King, c/o Boxholders, P.O. Box 322, Gate City, Virginia, 24251-0322. It’s available free, in plain text as an e-mail or attachment. Printed or audiocassette versions are available for the cost of production. (Audiofiles are free to anyone who can convince me that s/he is blind and can’t read a document aloud using widely available software.) Reprinting, recirculating, and sharing this information at the reader’s own expense is encouraged, provided that all sources of material are credited.

1. WHY AREN’T OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS DOING THE LIVE CHAT?

Although I’ve certainly invited my elected officials to the live chat on Tuesdays, 2-3 p.m. Eastern time, and I’m sure you’ve invited yours, seriously, how many elected officials actually want to be caught participating in a Twitter Live Chat? How...Trumpy. My State Delegate does officially tweet during the state legislative session, but only about what’s going on, on the floor, and it’d be downright unpatriotic to expect him to look at tweets about anything but bills; when he’s at home, earning his credibility by being a good neighbor and lawyer, he’s mostly offline. Your people are busy too, and their eyes aren’t getting any younger.

We need to make it easier for them. Your elected officials receive stacks of printed material from industry lobbyists, along with free samples and social invitations and all sorts of goodies some people think they ought to refuse to take. They receive more stacks of printed material from partisan lobbyists like Friends of the Earth, who have the right idea about glyphosate but tend to bundle it together with a lot of other ideas that some of us might not endorse. They hire help to sort, file, maybe even read this stuff. Many of these helpers have young eyes, which helps, but even young eyes can’t stare at computer screens all day long.

Here’s what you can do: Print and mail your Newsletters to your elected officials (they are supposed to recycle mail that doesn’t come through a post office in their districts). Or, if you want to be flashy, you might even choose to fax the Newsletters to them. Elected officials you don’t know personally probably prefer faxes, tedious as those are to handle, because some of them still remember the year some lifeform even lower down the scale than Bayer’s goons mailed out first-class letters with nasty stuff in the envelopes. If you don’t want to inflict faxes on the world or burden the congressional office buildings with envelopes, you might want to experiment with printing key information on single pages you can fold and send through the mail—stamp and addresses on the front, content below the fold.

Visit your elected officials’ web sites to find out more about their systems for handling incoming messages. If their web sites sort messages by topic, you should do that too. If you get a reply from a staffer, cherish this attention from an Official Expert on the Topic, and address follow-up correspondence to that person. If you still have a land phone, I’d never recommend putting your phone number on the Internet, but I would recommend sharing it with legislative staff. They may get unlimited free or cheap long distance calls, and if incoming calls aren’t costing you money, that’s definitely the way to talk with them.

2. WHY “GOOD” BRANDS LIKE KELLOGG’S AND LOMA LINDA ARE STILL TOXIC

Monsanto bought pieces of a lot of food brands before selling out to Bayer. Although these brands aren’t officially Bayer brands...here’s why Ben & Jerry’s ice cream is full of glyphosate and GMO: Ben and Jerry sold out, years ago, to Con Agra, which sold out to...The precise current ownership of some of these corporations is debatable, since this list was compiled before the merge, but basically, if it’s a huge nationwide brand found in all big-chain supermarkets everywhere, it’s probably tied to Monsanto and it probably contains glyphosate. And if the people who originally produced it, when it was something safe to eat and even nutritious, are still alive, like Ben and like Jerry, they’re probably very unhappy with what’s been done with their original, excellent idea.


3. NO SPRAYING WITHIN 2 KILOMETERS OF A RESIDENCE

Quebec was where, in the 1980s, a map of Parkinson’s Disease was found to show a weird resemblance to a map of “pesticide” use. Quebeckers have not forgotten this, much as some people wanted Parkinson’s Disease research to forget it (the map appeared on Michael J. Fox’s web site, temporarily, and was pulled down). (The map was discussed in Oliver Sacks’ Case of the Frozen Addicts, book and movie.) Daphne Cameron reports on a bold, forward-thinking move to demand a ban on all “pesticide applications” within 2000 meters of a residence. Opponents of the proposal are already claiming that, if it’s enacted into law, it’ll be used to interfere with the sale, maintenance, or reclaiming of rural houses in order to give greedheads more acres they can legally poison...We all need a ban on spraying any poison within ten miles of a residence, and we also need a ban, just to keep the greedheads from grabbing for more small farms, on marketing any “food” that contains any trace of any “pesticide.”


Incidentally, the article above mentions that the pesticide most likely to have been involved in Parkinson’s Disease was an older one than glyphosate, known as paraquat. Paraquat, Cameron claims, has been used to produce symptoms of that disease (neuromuscular spasms) in laboratory animals.

4. GLYPHOSATE AWARENESS SALUTES ROSEMARY MASON

The United Kingdom has its own Queen of Glyphosate Awareness: Rosemary Mason.


Because Glyphosate Awareness is non-partisan even about US politics, this newsletter hereby refuses to add any further comment on the relevance of Dr. Mason’s paper to current UK politics. Actually I think Colin Todhunter’s said it all. For those who’ve not been following British news lately, some background...Where do we need to begin? Britain joined the European Union many years ago. Some people in Britain want to dissolve that alliance. Our President likes this because he thinks it’ll lock the UK into an exclusive trade deal with the US. Some people in Britain fear that, if that deal went down, it would subject them to, among other things, toxic US food. Since they don’t have a glyphosate ban their fears are beyond the scope of this newsletter. Here’s a sample British explanation of what they do fear (quite rightly I’m afraid).

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/uk-us-trade-deal-food-standards-chlorinated-chicken-gm-brexit-a9060876.html

5. ON THE DARK CONTINENTS, THE DENIAL CONTINUES

This unenlightened, outdated article published in South Africa echoes the stale whining we find in North and South America. Hello, Johannes Richter? The claim that glyphosate contributes to cancer is not based entirely on mouse studies, any more. It is based on more ominous, longer-term human studies. There’s no rational way to deny that most of the documented glyphosate reactions promote the growth of cancer, but the statistical debate at this point is between a study that suggested that people who handled glyphosate were much more likely to get two rare forms of cancer than other people, and another study that suggested that, maybe, they weren’t. (All the studies suggest that glyphosate exposure may indeed reduce an individual’s risk of developing some slow-growing cancers—very likely by causing the individual to die from other reactions before the cancers have a chance.) Glyphosate Awareness encourages editors to stop publishing this kind of display of ignorance.


6. QUIRKY LOSES THE CONCEPT

I posted at Quirky.com the idea that the inventors there invent workable boiler and steamer devices for delivering safe, well controlled jets of steam or hot water to targeted plants, rendering pesticides obsolete. How funny to find that that page isn’t showing up on Quirky.com any more. They say people can bat ideas around into marketable forms...apparently they want to limit those ideas to cheap joke gifts.

7. GLYPHOSATE HARMS FISH

When glyphosate is sprayed near the bodies of water where fish can still live, in North America, it’s not uncommon to find fish floating or beached downstream. Here, in a scholarly journal whose print date is scheduled for November, is the write-up of a study of exactly how glyphosate harms the next generation of itty-bitty fishies:


8. BEEKEEPERS ABUZZ

Beekeepers (who’ve chosen to post a video rather than a useful document) are suing “the Trump Administration” for failing to ban glyphosate already. Nice try, beekeepers. I think we’ll have more luck leaning on Congress, to regulate a misguided executive branch, rather than suing the President, but some people don’t like their Congressmen and want to sue somebody. Meh. In addition to suing manufacturers of glyphosate, we could sue the un-neighborly, stubborn, stupid people who’ve continued to spray the stuff since this summer’s TV ad blitz.


9. GLYPHOSATE-TAINTED VACCINE CAUSES “ANTI-VAXXER” REACTIONS

This is news? Maybe. Some of us might have thought that “anti-vaxxers” are just people who don’t like needles, or who, having got through life well enough when only seven vaccines were recommended for babies, aren’t sure why seventy vaccines may now be pushed upon the modern baby. Wrong, says Robert Kennedy (Junior). Several of them became “anti-vaxxers” because they or their children reacted to a specific batch of vaccine that was tainted with glyphosate.


10. CAN A WOMAN CLEAN UP THE BULLYBOYS’ MESS?

Bayer hires former Johnson & Johnson chief Marianne DeBacker, Ph.D., as “head of business development and licensing of pharmaceuticals.” At least we can hope that DeBacker won’t be as sexist as some Bayer employees have shown themselves to be. For more than that, Ben Adams doesn’t offer much hope...


11. AUSTRALIANS START SUING BAYER, TOO

Copycats. Though probably right.




Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Teen'Zine Crosses Line

This post is for John Horvat at returntoorder.org . I don't know that the editor of a teen'zine site is going to be impressed by non-subscribers' pronouncements about a pro-teen-sex article being an offense against God. I do remember, though, that there are teenagers who might appreciate a frank discussion of the fact that some teenagers want to obey the law that orders them to practice abstinence until they reach the magical eighteenth birthday that's supposed to make them old enough to become parents.

Here's the e-mail I sent the'zine, which does not deserve the publicity of a link:

"
Dear Editors,

In a world where it's treated as a crime if anyone over the magic age of 18 touches a teenager's back, you're *encouraging* teenagers to think about boinking their hearts out, buying birth control pills, considering prostitution? I'm a Protestant and don't usually feel as censorious as the Catholic correspondent who complained about the August sex article seems to do, but you should be encouraging teenagers to sublimate, sublimate, and sublimate some more--not to get themselves and the people they usually find attractive (who are over 18) in trouble that may ruin their lives even 30 or 40 years later.

Believe it or not there actually *are* teenyboppers who appreciate help distracting themselves from their hormone surges. Not because they think having hormones is a sin; because they want to do something besides become teen single parents. I was one, once. I know teenagers today who would prefer that magazines try to stir up whatever hormones we baby-boomers may still have, toward one another, and tell teenagers how to pass tests, get jobs, avoid being manipulated into silly quarrels...things their hormones are not already screaming at them nonstop for three days of every month, or, when the male hormones take over, every seven seconds of every day. They don't WANT to be jailbait, or single parents, or used to ruin someone's career. They would prefer to get on with their own lives.
"

Teenaged readers are hereby encouraged to set up alternative screen names your friends won't recognize and debate this anonymously, on Disqus, below, or on Twitter. Those of us who want help to practice self-control, whether tempted by sex, food, alcohol, angry outbursts, fears, procrastination, laziness, or whatever else, don't need to be teased about it, but we would appreciate not having temptation shoved in our faces.

Which is why, as a teenager, I seldom read the printed magazines that used to consist of "Darling, you are growing up" or "Look at this stranger's face, it's supposed to make your heart throb" or "Buy this so you'll look sexier in the sponsor-approved way" pieces. And I don't recommend them to today's teenyboppers, either.

Here's a book by a fellow who felt the same way. I didn't come to the same conclusions he does, because he and I grew up in different subcultures that used the word "dating" in different ways; as a teenager I liked dating, Seventh-Day Adventist style, meaning you go to a school or church thing with a friend of the opposite sex, free of charge, and if you had a particularly nice time you shake hands. But Joshua Harris, Wendy Shalit, and other writers are onto something. If adult society wants teenagers not to be single parents, we have to stop trying to use sex to sell them stuff, too. Fair is fair.

Tom DeWeese on "Developments" We Do Not Need

After posting our Congressman's latest, I next found this e-mail from Tom DeWeese. It's a fundraiser but it exposes the problems built into many "development grants"--people who want to destroy small farms and rural communities, and herd people into slums. "Planners" want to replicate the conditions that made (some of) our ancestors leave old Europe, to replace the conditions that allowed our more recent ancestors and us to enjoy better lives than people do in Europe. Let's be clear: Some people who think this way may also be socialists and/or Europeans, but basically it's about money. They want to make money on those slums. This is the kind of "development" we need to avoid, in the point of Virginia and everywhere else, however alluring the grants may seem to be.

"
The attack on private property is growing across the country at a frightening rate. And the target is single-family homes – most likely -- your home.

I have warned in recent weeks that Sustainable Development/Agenda 21 advocates are now calling zoning for single-family neighborhoods RACIST!

Minneapolis, Minnesota became the first city to end single-family zoning as the Mayor called such protections “self-segregation” devised as a legal way to keep black Americans and other minorities from moving into certain neighborhoods. Unbelievable!

Seattle, Washington followed Minneapolis. Other cities are looking into such plans. The federal agency HUD is pushing such plans under the Obama program called Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH). And city after city are taking HUD grants that force them to impose such plans.

So, attacks on single-family homes are racing across the nation.

Now Oregon is about to become the first state to eliminate single family zoning across the state...

The speaker of the Oregon House, Rep. Tina Kotek, says this action is urgent because Oregon has a “housing crisis.”

That is bunk!  Oregon has a government-made crisis. 

For over 20 years Oregon has been enforcing “Urban Growth Boundaries” (UGB) around its cities. This is part of the Sustainable “Smart Growth” policy.

As I have told my audiences around the nation, under Smart Growth, planners put an artificial line around the city and declare NO GROWTH will take place outside that line. That’s “Urban Sprawl!” And the planners insist that urban sprawl is a danger to the environment because it encourages the use of automobiles, strip malls, and the need for infrastructure like roads and power.

We used to call that building an economy until the Sustainablists declared war on human society! 

Here’s what they didn’t count on. The UGBs assure the area of the city doesn’t expand. But what happens when the population does? The only way to grow is UP!

That means there is no room for single family homes with backyards for the kids. According to the rhetoric of the Sustainablists the only solution is to flood single-family neighborhoods with duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, and “cottage clusters.” They call this “up zoning.” Says Oregon House Speaker Kotek, “The state’s housing crisis requires a combination of bolder strategies.”

I love how these control freaks always use the words “bolder”, “innovative”, and “master plan” to make their destructive policies sound urgent and brave!

The truth is they are pushing their own political agenda, and when they get caught by their unworkable plans, they pretend to offer a solution to their own idiotic regulations -- which they created.

For example, Portland Oregon has long been the poster child – the shining example -- of the genius of Smart Growth praised in government and environmental meetings across the country.

Smart Growth is an utter failure as property rights have been destroyed, housing costs have skyrocketed and now there is a housing crisis!

Why? Because over the years, under Smart Growth, Portland’s population has grown by over 80%. But legislators have only allowed the Urban Growth Boundary to expand by no more than 6%!

NOW PORTLAND HAS A HOUSING CRISIS AND SO WE MUST ABOLISH SELFISH, RACIST, SINGLE-FAMILY HOMES!!!

Imagine what these policies will do to your property values – your equity – all that you have worked for?

Most people could quickly figure out the problem and dump such destructive policies. But WHY can’t your city councils and county commissions see the lies?

Because they are surrounded – inundated – with special interest Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) - private groups with their own private agendas.

The worst offender of this is the American Planning Association (APA). They, or affiliated planning groups, are in nearly every single community in the nation. They have the plans and the ability to get your local officials to apply for specific grants from HUD, EPA and other federal agencies to put it all in place.

I have fought the APA in city after city. I have exposed their lies and their tactics, exposing their direct ties to Agenda 21. As local citizens heard my warnings and took action to stop such plans in their communities, the APA panicked.

The APA rushed to create an “Agenda 21 Myths and Facts” page on their website. They did all they could to hide any connections between their planning and Agenda 21. Their planning was all local, local, local, the APA insisted.

They assured communities that planning “protects private property…preserves and protects its value.” They said “planning preserves neighborhoods, providing certainty to homeowners…”

Well, do you think calling single family home owners “racist” and destroying single family zoning protections “preserves” neighborhoods --- or destroys them? When they build an apartment building in your neighborhood will you feel “protected?”

The truth is the American Planning Association is part of the Planners Network. The network is officially part of a group called the Organization of Progressive Planners, which is, “an association of professionals, activists, academics, and students involved in physical, social, economic and environmental planning…” That is Agenda 21!

On the website. www.plannersnetwork.org, you will find in its Statement of Principles this quote, “We believe planning should be a tool for allocating resources…and eliminating the great inequalities of wealth and power in our society…because the free market has proven incapable of doing this…”

That is social justice. Anti-free enterprise. Anti-private property. That is what every planner, working in every American city, believes!!

And the APA is digging in to promote more of Agenda 21/Sustainable Development policy which they deny exists.

Right now, the APA is sponsoring a webinar series for planners and elected officials. Here are some of the subjects they are addressing.

“New examples of cites approaching the challenge of climate change in creative and innovative ways,” including “rethinking transportation, to greening city buildings, to protecting against sea-level rise…” They go on to say the speakers at the webinars will offer guidance which “contextualizesinternational, national, and state mandates and goals.”

This is NOT local. This is NOT protection of private property. This is why you are seeing such reorganization of our local communities and counties across the nation.

The American Planning Association and its NGO co-conspirators are using their LOCAL planning lies to bring every city in the United States into compliance with UN Agenda 21/Sustainable Development policy.

Let me be very clear about where this is all headed.

Single-family homes are the greatest example of private property ownership. Private property is the greatest means for individuals to build personal wealth through the equity earned. That’s why America grew so fast!

As private property ownership is destroyed, the wealth of the nation is diminishing. Now we are hearing some economists worry about a lack of housing starts in the building industry that could lead to an economic crisis.Yet, these “experts” rarely mention the true culprit – Sustainable Development, Smart Growth government tyranny!     

Now, as we see more and more housing moving toward the high-rise stack and pack rental properties, a new attack is growing – this time against private owner landlords.

New government regulations are raising taxes on landlords, along with higher building costs. But now, many communities are starting to impose rent controls, because it’s not “fair” to make people pay so much for their homes!

Here is the bottom-line goal of this attack on private property and single-family homes. If we lose this battle against Sustainable Development/Smart Growth policies, then, eventually all housing will become government controlled. There will be no private homes or condos. Only government housing!
 
A free society cannot survive that!

This is the tyranny that I have dedicated my life to stopping! The American Policy Center (APC) is the leading organization in the nation fighting to save private property.
"

With all that information I think the APC deserves a link, but their buttons were messing up the formatting of the whole page...donations will be accepted by americanpolicy.org.

Morgan Griffith on Rural Development Grant Workshops

From U.S. Representative Morgan Griffith, R-VA-9:

"
USDA Rural Development Grant Workshops
Encouraging economic development and providing essential government services in rural areas come with challenges. The many rural areas of Virginia’s Ninth Congressional District are no exception.
In order to draw more jobs and investment and to more fully provide those services, it is important that communities know what resources they have at their disposal and how to best access them.
One of those resources is U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development. The mission of this agency is to serve rural Americans through loans, grants, and loan guarantees, as well as technical assistance.
Many communities in the Ninth District have already benefited from Rural Development programs. For example, I recently announced that it had approved a grant of $30,000 to the Dickenson County Public Service Authority to study the replacement of certain water lines. This grant indicates the type of quality-of-life improvements Rural Development supports.
My office is hosting two workshops during October in partnership with Rural Development to help communities navigate the process of applying for grants.
The first will be held on Wednesday, October 9, at 1pm at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon. It will focus on Rural Development’s Broadband ReConnect Program, which offers loans and grants to help fund broadband service in rural areas. The program lends a hand to rural Americans as they pursue the ever-expanding number of economic and cultural opportunities found online.
The second will take place on Friday, October 11 in Bassett and will address the broader array of opportunities funded by Rural Development. Details on location will be announced closer to the date.
I am glad to be hosting these workshops to better inform you about the resources available to our communities. Working with our partners in the Federal Government such as Rural Development, we can bring new opportunities to rural Virginia.
If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405, my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671, or my Washington office at 202-225-3861. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov. Also on my website is the latest material from my office, including information on votes recently taken on the floor of the House of Representatives.
"

Morgan Griffith on Federal Funding for the Opioid Crisis

From U.S. Representative Morgan Griffith, R-VA-9:

"
More Resources to Fight the Opioid Crisis
On September 4, the Trump Administration announced the release of $1.8 billion in funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to help communities around the country fight the opioid crisis.
$20.4 million of that money will go to Virginia in support of efforts here in the Commonwealth.
The federal funds come from two sources. The first, State Opioid Response grants, were originally created, authorized, and reauthorized by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, on which I serve. They are awarded by the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration and go to state governments for their prevention, treatment, and recovery services.
Overdose Data to Action grants, awarded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), help collect information on overdoses, supporting the development of better policies.
Virginia’s portion of these funds will be split between the state Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services and the Department of Health. By supporting efforts to combat addiction and overdoses at the state level, HHS is providing flexibility for states and communities to find the solutions that match their circumstances.
These funds are the latest resources devoted by Congress and the Trump Administration toward turning the tide in this deadly epidemic. Encouraging signs of progress can be found. CDC Director Robert Redfield recently observed that the provisional overdose death count in 2018 declined by 5%, the first decline in two decades.
Virginia has been deeply affected by the opioid crisis, with enormous quantities of pain pills pouring into some of our cities, towns, and communities. If these provisional numbers are confirmed, the decrease in overdose deaths is certainly welcome news.
Nevertheless, now is no time to become complacent, as the crisis shifts away from prescriptions pills and heroin that characterized it toward synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. From my place on the Energy and Commerce Committee, I will continue to support policies that will make a difference in the fight and conduct oversight to make sure they are carried out properly.
"

Friday, September 6, 2019

Glyphosate Awareness Newsletter 7

Here's the text of Glyphosate Awareness Newsletter #7:


The Glyphosate Awareness Newsletter is published weekly by Priscilla King, c/o Boxholders, P.O. Box 322, Gate City, Virginia, 24251-0322. It’s available free, in plain text as an e-mail or attachment. Printed or audiocassette versions are available for the cost of production. (Audiofiles are free to anyone who can convince me that s/he is blind and can’t read a document aloud using widely available software.) Reprinting, recirculating, and sharing this information at the reader’s own expense is encouraged, provided that all sources of material are credited.

1.THE EPA FALLS SHORT

This week’s big news, though no big surprise, was that the United States’ Environmental Protection Administration failed to ban glyphosate. Environmental organizations are already churning out form letters for US citizens to send to our Members of Congress, urging the EPA to do its job.

Glyphosate Awareness once tweeted to the EPA that just restoring levels of glyphosate contamination in food to pre-2009 levels would probably make a lot of people suddenly feel more than ten years younger. We received a reply, “Thanks,” from an unknown Twit. We can’t take credit for it, but after all our comments the EPA went ahead and re-licensed glyphosate use at something similar to pre-2009 levels, allowing farmers and gardeners to continue spraying this poison on fields, but supposedly not “approving” it for use as a desiccant (i.e. spraying it directly on food).

This should bring some people relief...temporarily, anyway. If farmers comply with the current EPA rule, which we’re told many are not, then it should become safe to eat fruit and vegetables again. For how long? Who knows?

We will, of course, continue to need to document every symptom everyone reports during the days after fields, roadsides, etc., are poisoned with glyphosate. We will, of course, need to complain bitterly and begin filing lawsuits against those who recklessly endanger our health.

Glyphosate Awareness does not officially recommend violent retaliation.It would be such a pity if random persons, call them John Stiles and Richard  Miles, suffering from allergies recognized the stupid farming practices of another person, call him Bill Giles, as a cause of such allergies, tackled Giles, and poured a 32-ounce spray bottle of “Roundup” down his throat, after which Giles was paralyzed and unable to roll away from the puddles of blood-flecked froth that continually formed in the bed where he lay for the next forty days. It would be a pity because in some states, although a jury trial would probably ensure no real loss, Giles or his heirs would have a right to sue Stiles and Miles. State legislatures need to correct this. Spraying poison is a violent crime against anyone downwind or downstream of the site.

2.UNPAID FOOD ADS

Glyphosate Awareness positively celebrates food producers that at least try to deliver glyphosate-free food. We note that some of them, like Ben & Jerry’s, have failed to meet this goal. Others, like the whole Riviana rice empire (which now packs Zatarain’s, Success, and Mahatma brand rice products), have succeeded with some products not others: while Success Brown rice and some Zatarain’s flavors are at least low enough in toxicity that I can eat them without immediately becoming sick, others, especially rice mixes containing beans or soy products, lag behind. Some, like General Mills and Bob’s Red Mill, may be trying to “work to rule” and advertise products that may be lower in glyphosate content but are not really 3-G-Free.

Glyphosate Awareness does not currently have any test results for Orville Redenbacher’s popcorn.

We have found good results for Barbara’s brand cereals, Arrowhead Mills grain products, Xego fruit bars, and Joolies dates. All of these are available online (for outrageously high prices, of course) if not in stores near you.

3. CALIFORNIA ORDERED TO STOP LABELLING GLYPHOSATE A CARCINOGEN

In California, the legislature ordered that labels on glyphosate product warn people that it may cause cancer. The EPA ordered that California withdraw this order, on the grounds that glyphosate has not been confirmed to be a primary carcinogen. (The primary cause of many kinds of cancer is believed to be a virus.)


It would be helpful to consumers if Californians blanketed product labels, and entire stores, with the full text of the EPA’s very own early study of the effects of glyphosate exposure on human emergency hospital patients, including the photos of skin lesions if possible.

4.GLYPHOSATE AND PARAQUAT BLAMED FOR DEATHS OF SUGAR CANE WORKERS

While the report mentions Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Cuba, it doesn’t specify how many countries in South and Central America have lost over twenty thousand sugar cane workers, altogether, to kidney failure linked to exposure to glyphosate and paraquat. It is written in German.


5. BOILERS AND STEAMERS, THE WAVE OF THE FUTURE?

People need to move away from the whole idea of spraying poison over an entire field, to the idea of carefully removing unwanted plants. Build a better boiler, and you’ll make glyphosate, paraquat, dicamba, chlorpyrifos, and all the other abominations in this class obsolete.

I’ve posted one idea at Quirky.com: https://invent.quirky.com/invent/331141 . Real inventors need to improve this idea. This one is for Jane Doe to remove stubborn crabgrass from the edge between her lawn and curb—a hand-held mini-steamer/boiler that would screw onto the garden hose, heating only the water she needs for the task. Because steam tends to distill into hot water that would be likely to drip onto Jane’s hand, this product would need to be used carefully.

Real inventors need to work on bigger and better ideas. We’re already seeing boilers fitted onto railroad cars, where a simple machine can spew out enough heat to keep railroads vegetation-free. We could start building in-between-size boiler robots to run through cornfields, too.

6. ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI, STILL NEEDS GLYPHOSATE AWARENESS


We have six weeks to help this city understand that the company that offers many city residents steady jobs needs to realign its entire company policy.Please be both gentle and thorough before the trial scheduled for mid-October.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Morgan Griffith: Back After Labor Day

From U.S. Representative Morgan Griffith, R-VA-9:

"
Monday, September 2, 2019 –                                
Labor Day
On the first Monday of September, Americans observe Labor Day.
Americans are a hard-working people. From farms to factories to mines, we are willing to take on difficult tasks to support our families and provide goods and services people need and want. It is appropriate that we take this late-summer day to celebrate the industriousness and dedication of American workers.
According to U.S. Census data, the industry that employs the most people in Virginia’s Ninth District is educational services, followed by health care and social assistance. Still very significant, manufacturing is in the next spot.
One of my priorities as a Member of Congress is supporting economic development in our communities. The right policies will help create and maintain good jobs.
To hear what’s on the minds of workers and job creators, I visit businesses and service providers as I travel the Ninth District. During the month of August, I toured quite a few to witness firsthand what goods and services they provide. Among those I visited were the Mar-Bal Plant in Dublin, ABB Inc. in Bland, Appalachian Plastics Inc. in Glade Spring, Southern Fishing Company in Martinsville, and Mountain Empire Older Citizens Inc. (serving Lee, Wise, and Scott Counties and the City of Norton). Last week while touring Camrett Logistics in Fairlawn, I had the opportunity to speak with many of their workers. 
America could never have become the great nation it is without the strength and spirit of its workers. We should always remember that fact every day, especially on Labor Day.  And we should honor the hard-working men and women of America.
Serving You
During the August district work period, I presented Navy veteran Johnny Nolen with a Good Conduct Medal at his home in Martinsville. It was long overdue since he had originally earned it 50 years ago in the summer of 1969.
Mr. Nolen had not received his Good Conduct Medal because his length of service was miscalculated. He apparently should have received credit for some of his early enlistment time and time while he was recovering from an injury he received on his ship.  A friend told him he should contact my office. 
After he contacted us, we inquired with the National Personnel Records Center. Subsequently in checking the records, it was discovered that Mr. Nolen did indeed deserve the medal.
His case highlights the work my office does for constituents of Virginia’s Ninth Congressional District. In many instances, we have been able to secure the medals earned by our veterans, ranging from this Good Conduct Medal to the Silver Star.
If you have questions or face difficulties with federal agencies or programs such as the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Social Security Administration, Medicare, the Internal Revenue Service, and more, the caseworkers who work in my offices and go to traveling staff office hours are able to assist. If you are in need of a passport, we can help. 
My staff can also help navigate the process of applying for grants from the Federal Government or seeking a nomination to the U.S. Service Academies.
A case with a federal agency can be opened on your behalf by contacting my office either by phone or website or attending traveling staff office hours held at least once each month in every county/city that doesn’t have a bricks and mortar office. Our bricks and mortar offices are located in Abingdon and Christiansburg. Before we can get to work on a case, you will need to fill out a privacy consent form.
In Washington, we can set up tours of several national landmarks, including the Capitol and the White House. Some of them can be booked up months in advance, so contact my office early if you are planning a trip to the nation’s capital.
Constituents can also order American flags, including ones that have flown over the Capitol.
It is my honor and privilege to assist you in your interactions with the Federal Government. If I can help you in this way, please visit my website or call my offices.
If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office.  You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405, my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671, or my Washington office at 202-225-3861.  To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov.  Also, on my website is the latest material from my office, including information on votes recently taken on the floor of the House of Representatives.
"

I really need to make sure more of these messages go online. I know some readers look for them...

Another Free Shopping Spree at Michaels

It's that time again...the time when I post about what I did with that Michaels store giftcard I got for filling out Yougov surveys.

If you too would like to receive occasional giftcards, YougovUS is easily the best survey site you could join. They don't waste your phone time, don't send you masses of spam, and almost never even send you one of those smarmy, phishy "surveys" that ask a lot of questions about you and then lock you out of finishing the survey. Most surveys are short and simple; a few might even give you ideas for blog posts. (If you blog about shopping and want to mention SEO-friendly topics for Google, Amazon, or Yahoo sponsors, Yougov is a steady stream of ideas.) Young people who buy a lot of stuff get a lot of shopping surveys and may earn giftcards on a monthly basis. Older, more frugal people earn a few giftcards each year. You can sign up all by yourself, but both you and I get bonus points if you use this link to sign up:

https://today.yougov.com/refer/brglBv6yISldXGeAQbYXBg/

I've been doing one or two surveys a week for about as long as this web site has existed, and as a knitter I've used Yougov to cover all my yarn buying needs. That's a rule I've set for myself. I filled a room with wonderful yarn bargains, years ago, and have knitted only just over halfway through it, but like most knitters I still enjoy looking at the new stuff and usually see something I want to take home, so I allow myself that pleasure whenever Yougov sends me a giftcard from Michaels.

If you're not a crafter, you're not limited to Michaels. You can choose giftcards from several participating businesses, including food stores, restaurants, sporting goods stores, clothing and shoe stores, theaters, hotels, hardware stores, Amazon, and now you can even ask for cash to be transferred to a bank if you have an account you're willing to connect to the Internet (which I don't recommend).

Anyway, I lucked out on the trip I made this weekend. All yarn was on sale. I had planned to buy this yarn, in three shades of blue, for the anti-bullying blue hat campaign:

(1 Pack) Lion Brand Yarn 550-110B Pound of Love Yarn, Denim

The regular price is about ten dollars a pound, so for three pounds I'd expected to use the $25 giftcard and pay about $5 in cash. But, during the sale, I was able to throw in another pound of yarn and pay only about $1 in cash. What fun. Thank you, Yougov. Thank you, Michaels.