Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Morgan Griffith's Updates

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


Civil Liberties, Lawful Transportation of Firearms, and Accessing Public Lands

In my column of February 29, I wrote of an amendment I successfully added to the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act (H.R. 2406), legislation which protects Second Amendment rights and guarantees Americans ample access to federal lands in order to hunt, fish, and recreationally shoot. My amendment would strengthen federal protections for law-abiding Americans traveling with firearms. More information can be found on my website, www.morgangriffith.house.gov.

As part of Congress’ efforts to return to a more regular order, members of the House were recently selected to serve on the conference committee with the Senate to resolve the differences between House- and Senate-passed energy and natural resource legislation. Among the natural resource bills which will be considered by the conference committee is the SHARE Act. I am hopeful the Senate will not block my amendment to the SHARE Act from passing and being sent to the President as part of what will be the final comprehensive energy and natural resources package.

Combating Zika

In my column of May 23, I discussed persistent concerns regarding the Zika virus as well as ongoing Congressional actions to fight the spread of this disease. As you recall, Zika is spread primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito, but may also be passed from a man with the virus to female or male sex partners. Symptoms may include fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis. However, Zika has also been definitively linked to the microcephaly birth defect in which a baby’s head is smaller than expected. This defect may lead to such issues as seizures, developmental delays, intellectual disabilities, issues with movement, balance, feeding, etc. As is outlined at www.cdc.gov, microcephaly may also be life-threatening.

There are ongoing efforts at many levels to try and stop the spread of Zika and learn more about the virus. A recent Roanoke Times article, for example, highlights the work being undertaken by officials in the Commonwealth as well as Virginia Tech scientists on this issue.

Dr. Molly O’Dell, medical director of the New River district of the Virginia Department of Health, emphasizes “dump, drain, and cover” to prevent such commonplace items as gutters, watering cans, flower pot saucers, etc. from becoming a mosquito hatchery.

And the Virginia Tech scientists are in the early stages of advancing technology to render the mosquito incapable of producing.

On top of our efforts outlined in last week’s column and as part of our package of legislation intended to combat the Zika virus, my colleagues and I in the House last week passed the Zika Vector Control Act (H.R. 897), which deals with the regulation of the use of pesticides for control of exotic diseases such as Zika as well as West Nile.

More specifically, as summarized by The Hill, the legislation would prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “from requiring permits to spray pesticides near bodies of water as long as the application has been approved by a state and the pesticides themselves are federally approved.”

Also, in last week’s column, I shared my view that folks may wish to be careful when traveling, or that they consider avoiding traveling to areas such as Central or South America where Zika is prevalent. Congressman Michael Burgess, M.D. (R-TX) shares these concerns.

Further, according to Roll Call, eleven Democratic Senators wrote to the U.S. Olympic Committee and said, “As proud supporters of the U.S. Olympic team and our outstanding athletes who are preparing to travel to Brazil to participate in the upcoming Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games, we write to ask what steps the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) is taking to assist and protect our athletes against the spread of the Zika virus.”

As the story details, “Brazil has become ground zero for the Zika virus with more than 91,000 likely cases registered in February and March.”

I remain concerned, but I am hopeful adequate answers will be provided. We must continue working to responsibly and effectively help protect people – Olympic athletes or not – from the spread of the Zika virus.

If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. 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.

Who Was the Hater?

This Sunday's and next Sunday's book review feature detective stories written by a retired Christian minister, about Christian characters. The author of these stories, Charles Merrill Smith, had written several "serious" nonfiction books for Christians. He was one of the leaders of the "liberalizing, ecumenical" movement in the church, way back when it was fresh.

I didn't realize, until I looked up his last and most obscure novel on a search engine, that a minister like Sheldon Emry--who was NOT the "liberalizing, ecumenical" type--had actually enjoyed Smith's book, How to Become a Bishop Without Being Religious, in a snarky way, and sold it to those of his flock who had indicated an interest in buying full-length books.

Let's just say that although there are a few millionnaires in my family, my parents were not them. I grew up with very nice stuff, yes, and with a lot of privileges...and with a constant daily awareness that we were the poor relations. My parents were, like, actually trying to make a living by farming. Granola Green organic farming.

My father didn't usually bother trying to enlighten ministers who asked for money during church services, but he delivered very long lectures, at home, on the theme that Preachers Who Ask For Money Are False Teachers Whom We Should Not Support.

Meh. Ministers have to live too, and I'm not sure that, as Dad used to claim, they need to be "examples of doing without" material goods. Sometimes the fundraising is done in aid of good causes. I respect, but don't share, Dad's lifelong rule that if an offering plate is passed during a service he wasn't going to sit through that service. I've even been known to put money in the plate...though not often, because I have found that, in churches that pass the plate, often there is what the Bible calls "respect of persons."

Being landed poor, a poor relation, gave me a unique window into this dynamic of social psychology in the church. As a young churchgoing introvert I learned that I was seen as having completely different personalities depending on whether a church group perceived me as coming from a have-more family or a have-less family (not that I'd lived long enough to have developed any personality of my own yet).

Basically, I learned that, when a group of people believe that you have less money than they have, you can't do anything right. If you do happen to do something better than they do, those people are going to resent you. If you do it about equally well, or less well, they're going to despise you. As John Santrock reported in his book, popularity in middle school is fairly well tied to having rich and indulgent parents. This situation becomes less dynamic but more rigid for less wealthy adults. In churches, introverts are attacked for being "snobs" if perceived as rich, for being "withdrawn" and "sullen" and "bitter" if perceived as poor--but it's much less unpleasant to be perceived as rich.

This is a fact--as solid a fact as anything in social psychology is ever likely to be. It has no more to do with anybody's feelings, or even their beliefs, than the temperature has. However, those who feel guilty when it's mentioned tend to identify themselves by "crybullying" about how the person who mentions it is aaaangry and meeeean, and they're probably hurrrt too.

Possibly because Dad might have noticed this first...we didn't attend church often when I was growing up. Dad didn't approve of very many ministers, even if they were his cousins. For a few years he showed some respect for Herbert W. Armstrong. Then HWA died and we were a family without a church. Then Dad took some interest in Sheldon Emry's radio broadcasts, which echoed the Worldwide Church of God's debunking of Christmas rituals, and we joined the Lord's Covenant Church for a few years.

Was Pastor Emry a "white supremacist" as many claim? He overtly preached to North Americans of British descent that following the whole Bible was especially important to the Saxon and Celtic "races" because they were physical descendants, and heirs, of the promises made to the descendants of Abraham, along with the "true Hebrews" (Sephardic Jews) as distinct from "them which say they are Jews, but are not" (Ashkenazic-Russian Jews, thought to be the remnant of the extinct Euro-Asian Khazar tribe). (Dad warned us not to put much importance on this aspect of LCC doctrine because it will never be proved--even though it can't be completely disproved either.) Pastor Emry also preached that Christians should know, distrust, and be prepared to defend ourselves against enemies--including enemy nations, most especially that bad old Soviet Union, our great enemy in those days.

He did not, however, preach that any nation had been created just to fuel the Eternal Fire. The doctrine of the Lord's Covenant Church was that, if and whenever the English-speaking nations committed themselves to following the teachings of the whole Bible, then God had promised equal--though longer delayed--blessings to the other nations of the world. Meanwhile, it was possible that a few righteous "foreigners," like Ruth and the Ethiopian courtier in the Bible, might be sincere believers who could be "adopted into Israel," which is what most Christians believe non-Jewish Christians have been, in any case.

I read several of Pastor Emry's shorter books, and I will say that they show a learning process over the years. When reading his work (some of which is now available in PDF form online, at a memorial site for Pastorsheldonemry.com) you have to brace yourself. Remember at all times, first of all, that these are the words of an old man who grew up with the idea that he was supposed to speak out boldly, talk tough, and denounce evil, rather than smoothing things over or being tactful, as most Christians expect ministers to do now. Remember, also, that many of those documents were written in a climate of real fear, when Americans expected the evil Soviet Union to drop bombs on us any day. One of the book titles was Russia Will Invade America and Be Defeated. (It's not available on Amazon; it's available at the memorial site.) I knew the man well enough before he died to believe that he didn't write as a real hater--often I suspect he wrote out of fear, whistling in the dark--but he certainly did write some hateful words.

I will say, though, that as a minister Sheldon Emry both baptized and ordained people who were not English, Irish, or "pure Aryan" types; I'm not sure how the Lord's Covenant Church attracted any Black members, but it had a few. My father had true "Red" skin; although my brother and I didn't inherit that trait, out West people generally expected us to be Mexican. I have read Christian literature that claims that the Cherokee and other Native Americans were punished by God for their especially wicked ways. It did not spew out of the Lord's Covenant Church.

But a minister's acceptance of my father as a congregant involved more than just not hating his complexion. Dad was the sort of Christian who, when he did listen to a sermon, believed it was his duty not only to ask the minister to explain parts he wasn't sure about, but to call out the minister on any points where Dad thought the minister was in error. Though younger than Pastor Emry, Dad had the same "talk tough, and fight it out if necessary" approach to disagreements. Anyone whose church we attended had to be prepared for serious head-butting and horn-locking.

This was especially true if a minister ever had to mention, even in a printed newsletter that was distributed to people who'd requested it, that reprinting and tape-recording sermons cost money. The Lord's Covenant Church didn't ask for more than the cost of printouts or tapes, so far as I've found. When possible the church did distribute these items free of charge. Dad's contribution to the church was to share them liberally with friends. When it became necessary for Pastor Emry to mention that the stock of pre-paid tapes was running low and the church needed a dollar for this or that sermon, and Dad started ranting, "Just another preacher who's after money...I'm not going to share any more of his rubbish...the people I've been sharing my copies with can buy their own copies if they want to, but if they listen to me they won't," etc. etc. etc., I realized that Pastor Emry had stopped preaching his (more unusual and controversial) doctrines (to attract attention) and started practicing genuine Applied Christianity.

So apparently did Dad, because, even after Mother, my brother, and I had been baptized in a Seventh-Day Adventist church and I'd gone off to that S.D.A. college, Dad did continue to buy, save, and share Pastor Emry's literature.

Well, that sort of vigorously confrontational, yet respectful, relationship may have been possible only for men born before, I don't know, 1930 or 1940 or thereabouts. I don't think I've seen it among my own generation. But it needs to be taken into account by anyone reading the more offensive things Pastor Emry said. He didn't believe he was supposed to sound friendly or hand out warm fuzzies--or even show a snarky sense of humor in sermons, although it came out when he talked or wrote letters. He didn't preach "hellfire," but he'd learned his preaching style in that school. Sermons were for strong, bold denunciations. He expected to be challenged in equally strong terms; he would, occasionally, even back down.

Neo-Nazi? No. The type of Christian whom some sort of neo-fascist movement might have been able to exploit, if Pastor Emry's vision of World War III had come true in the way he apparently expected it to do? Possibly. I'm glad we'll never know.

Time passed. That generation passed. I lived in a city and attended mainstream churches, often more than one of them, every weekend. I learned "Placater Mode verbal abuse" as a dialect, from church people, then unlearned it. I learned that, although of course some churchgoers aren't verbal bullies looking for a fight, the vast majority of the ones who do the vast majority of the talking are. To avoid verbal abuse and hostility, I found it helpful to avoid churchgoing; as an adult I rarely visit any church.

I have always said that, if ever it comes to pass that, on the six days of the work week, I find myself working with, for, and among people who all attend the same church, I'll join that church. (I did say "church." Muslims do have that kind of loyalty; my definition of "church" does not include mosques.) It's never happened. I don't usually talk or write about church, nor do I usually talk or write about money.

As regular readers know, I was pushed over the brink, when it comes to talking about money, last winter. I was living on less than Republicans typically spend on their dogs and I was getting e-mails, hourly, from various Republicans (or maybe from Democrats trying to turn people against the Republicans?) asking for money for various Republican presidential candidates. Oh, fear it not, there were e-mails from Democrats too--but on a weekly rather than hourly basis. I started asking people for money. Anyone whose e-mails asked me for money, or who started "following" me from a web site that did, began to get an e-mail from me, worded differently according to the words they used, but telling them how much money I've (not) been earning lately and suggesting that they support my project so that I can eat regularly, and, if they do, assuring them that I'll endorse their projects as at least showing sincerity in whatever religious, political, or humanitarian ideals they've claimed.

I sincerely hope that Candidates Trump, Sanders, and Clinton have received, and will continue to receive, the kind of response I got from you, Gentle Readers.

Such that today, yesterday, and on Sunday, I didn't eat any solid food. So far the Portal Paper has brought in $7; $3 of that was for the cats.

I hear you loud and clear, Gentle Readers. You're saying, "We have no use for you, the writer known as Priscilla King. If you'd rather die than try to adopt an immoral lifestyle at this point in your life, then die. We want your stuff anyway." I hear that message coming from you, and I reflect it back to you. If you want your life or death to mean anything to me, get that $100 into my hands now. If you want to go on spending all your money on beer and cable television and unnecessary driving, then...I'm not a violent person, but the funerals of people with that kind of priorities do a great deal to improve this world.

One of these alleged e-friends, to whom I'd mentioned a religious experience, did reply, in a way.

What I said was that "in 2006 I received a very vivid mental impression--it didn't look like a "real" sight or sound like a "real" sound, but I seemed to see Jesus as a very sick patient trying to press the button to summon the nurse and not being able to move His hand, and the words passed through my mind, "The church is the body of Christ." The meaning was clear. My prayers can be answered only if real Christians start paying me for what I do."

What the alleged Christian e-friend said was a classic piece of churchy verbal abuse, actually including a phrase I'd hoped might have died from overwork around 1989: "I don't know who or what has hurt you so bad to sound so bitter and angry, but I will not allow you to take it out on me."

You asked someone who has less than you have for money, Stupid One. Own your stupidity instead of compounding your offenses with verbal abuse. All this guy needed to say was, "I don't send out money online." I don't either, and I understand; if you've not been following a writer for years you have no way of knowing whether any of your e-friends actually exists as an individual, much less as the sort of individual s/he seems to be on the Internet. Or he could have done another version of that tired old whine about not having any money to spend, personally, and being accountable to spend funds he raised according to the policy of his church, which is also normal. This glutton-for-punishment has a real emotional need to insult people.

He represents himself as the pastor of a church--not in a neighborhood where anybody I know in real life has recently been. If that's true, he probably has a lot of "depressed" parishioners who don't know why, when everything they hear coming from him sounds so bland and nice and warm and fuzzy and even chummy (he probably says things like "I love you, brother" and "I'm praying for you, sister" a lot), they leave the church building feeling so much worse than they felt when they got up in the morning.

At this guy's site there's no overt mention of "enemies," no attention to Bible prophecies about wars or economic crises or even natural disasters. Everything looks nice and smooth, as long as nobody ruffles the surface.

Well, there is no shortage of people to follow in cyberspace. One more or less will hardly be missed, or even noticed. I might have forgotten this jerk by now if, when I was looking up one of Charles Merrill Smith's titles on Bing, I hadn't come across a site where somebody complained to somebody else that How to Become a Bishop had been "endorsed by a white supremacist hater like Sheldon Emry."

The contrast blazed up in my mind. Pastor Emry, a great American eccentric preaching primarily to an earlier version of the more extreme types of "preppers" and Tea Parties, responded to angry, Blamer Mode verbal abuse--from a congregant who didn't even look White, mind you!--with the stiff courtesy and ongoing good will of his and Dad's generation. Pastor One-of-a-crowd-of-fools-and-hypocrites responded to a very plain statement of fact, made without emotion or accusations, with a spew of putrid hate.

Who's the hater? Not Emry--whom I wouldn't have asked for money, because he didn't ask people for money without a straightforward accounting of what he wanted it for and why. Mr. Goodygoody Mealymouth is the hater.

And although the real hater might deserve to be called out by name, I don't want to do that now because there are thousands of him in these United States today. I want you readers to ask yourselves whether he's one of the so-called Christians you know...and feel free to denounce the "Christian" verbal abusers you know for being him, if you think that may help anybody.

People whose religion is all about warm fuzzy feelings, not about doing what Jesus actually did, are the haters we should be most concerned about in the Christian church. People who project their own hate onto you if you call attention, even inadvertently, to the hollowness of their feel-good babble, are the ones who "crucify our Lord afresh and put Him to an open shame." People who bustle around inviting the rich (or rich-looking) people to take the best places, tucking the poor (or shabby-looking) people out of sight, and simpering at anyone in real need, "Depart in peace! May you be warmed and fed--somewhere else!" are the ones who are doing nothing for Christ. Whether they affect the full-blown Universalist creed and try to avoid mentioning Christ so as to be more inclusive of those who prefer to worship Ishtar or Diana in the church, or whether they take the Fundamentalist tack and denounce "New Age" fluff as "of the devil"...their "religion" is as false and fluffy, and as much "of the devil," as anything in the "New Age."

God hates you, Preacher Goodygoody Mealymouth. The Bible never denies that God hates things, or suggests that we shouldn't hate them. The Bible tells us that God, not willing that anyone should perish, lets evildoers (like Preacher Goodygoody Mealymouth) go on polluting this world on the chance that some of them may repent. The Bible tells us to be as merciful as God is but it does not tell us to continue to support these evildoers' evil work. In fact, if evil work (such as verbal abuse being spewed at those who have less) is going on in a church, the Bible tells us to help those evildoers toward repentance and forgiveness--by walking out of that church, shaking its dust off our feet as a witness against them, and withholding all funding or moral support from that church or those people. To that extent, in King James English (which was often more picturesque than most modern dialects of English), the Bible commands us to hate the real haters in the church...just as God hates them.

This is not, of course, to be confused with the kind of hate that spews out of terrorists, or even the terribly confused "Westboro Baptists." The Bible at least gives us the example of people who concentrate on positively preaching what they do believe, rather than wasting much time denouncing what they don't believe. Still, from time to time it is necessary to rebuke people, to help them repent. Cutting off any donations of money that you might have been making to a church is an excellent way to correct a preacher.

Should Dominion Pay?

Here's a petition the Virginia River Healers posted to Change.org...yes, another petition I'm not signing, although you might. The text of the petition appears below. A long messy link is tucked behind the last line of this post.

The petition asks the governor of Virginia to require the Dominion Power company to pay for water testing for anyone who may have been exposed to spilled coal ash material.

This sounds fair, all right; Dominion fully deserves it. But, without specific legislation ensuring that Dominion will take the financial bite all by itself without any way to pass the cost on to the customers, it won't cost the people responsible for spills and leaks Penny One. They'll probably keep their high-salaried jobs, and get automatic raises next year, right on schedule. Dominion will take that extra money out of the pockets of an underpaid sailor in Norfolk, whose three toddlers are constantly exposed to colds in day care and will lack adequate heat next winter.

I'd suggest that the River Healers identify the individuals responsible for any spills and leaks, and demand that those individuals pay, while specifically barring Dominion from raising any person's utility rates for any reason for another twenty years. Otherwise, the ones who pay will be that sailor and those toddlers.

I demand that you require Dominion Virginia Power to pay for third party professional water testing of residents’ drinking water and well water in the immediate area of coal ash ponds. This demand is for all of Dominion’s power stations that are slated for coal ash cleanup and lifetime “capping” around the commonwealth.

Following Duke Energy’s 2014 Dan River coal ash spill, the state of North Carolina required Duke Energy to pay for residential water well testing. The testing found that 93 percent of residential groundwater wells within 1,000 feet of similar coal ash ponds were contaminated with dangerous chemicals found in coal ash.

The timeline of coal ash leaching is still undetermined by inorganic chemists. Some professionals predict leaching toxins could become worse in 50+ years, leaving communities that are left with Dominion’s coal ash waste sites environmentally displaced.

If Dominion Power is going to move forward with closure plans, we demand a thorough assessment of the current condition of well water in the communities that live near coal ash ponds. Virginia residents have the environmental right to know if their water is currently safe to drink. We also demand that Dominion Virginia Power is to be held responsible for continued third party testing and monitoring of well water in the immediate area of “capped” coal ash ponds to ensure our water tables and aquifers stay protected and safe for consumption in the future.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Book Review: Reverend Randollph and the Wages of Sin

Title: Reverend Randollph and the Wages of Sin 

Author: Charles Merrill Smith

Date: 1974

Publisher: Putnam

ISBN: none

Length: 254 pages

Quote: "[N]ow we've got a sex murder."

Although the seven novels in which Reverend Randollph tracks down an unusually high incidence of serial murderers in his parish weren't originally meant to reflect the classical list of Seven Deadly Sins--Smith hoped to live longer and write more of them--this first volume needed to grab readers' attention. Merely being a detective story by a popular Christian writer wasn't enough. In 1974 the way everyone thought readers' attention could be grabbed was by referring to the Deadly Sin of Lust.

So, after introducing Reverend Randollph, a liberal and ecumenical thinker whose first career was in pro football and who "doesn't look like a minister," and his future bride Samantha Stack, a divorced TV news reader who lets Randollph convince her that she's an agnostic rather than an atheist, the detective action in this novel begins with the naked corpse of a philandering church lady being found in the choir practice room.

The wronged husband is too obvious a suspect for seasoned murder mystery readers to consider. Smith had some (very pastoral) points to make about other ways lust affects people, anyway, and since he was known as a liberal churchman, he makes several of them in Wages of Sin.

As mentioned in the Blogjob posts where I reviewed some other volumes in this series, this is primarily a detective story, even though it was written by a Christian, about Christians, and much of the action takes place in a church. By scheduling a book review to appear on Sunday I'm not claiming that reading it qualifies as Christian lectio for anybody--I'm actually affirming that, although I can show Christian content on Sundays, I have no right to prescribe what may or may not qualify as Christian lectio for anybody. (Serious lectio, however, is slower than novel reading, so those engaged in it don't need a different book every week!)

This is not a Fair Trade Book; however, if you send $5 per copy + $5 per package to the address at the very bottom of the screen, we can fit other books into the same package, including Fair Trade Books.

Friday, May 27, 2016

May 27 Link Log

After careful review of the way the site works, I've decided to cancel this afternoon's plans to write another piece for ipatriot.com. So it's a Twitterday!


The Bible...in hieroglyphics?


Sigh. I'm glad +Marsha Cooper has had the pleasure of reading Nickel and Dimed; it is, indeed, a pleasure to read. I'm disappointed that she's apparently not read anything I've posted all year.

Food (Yum) 

Me, personally...I'd just as soon not get close enough to see a living hog, much less eat a dead one. That's my quirk. If it's not yours, and if you're in the Central States, you might want to check out this Missouri farm. They process beef too, but what they personally raise is pork.


I mention this hog farm here because I owe them thanks for sharing this link. If you have unlimited cell phone time and can afford to play around with "apps," here's an "app" that promises to tell you--by bar code--which things you see in the grocery store are certified GMO-free. You probably can't buy everything you eat from a local farmer you trust, so this "app" might actually help you avoid pain. Sounds more worthwhile than 99% of all advertised "apps"!


Scones, with a graphic showing variations on the basic recipe.


What the upscale restaurants in Nashville are doing with Tennessee-grown food:


Food (Yuck) 

"The maximum level of glyphosate residues allowed in foods is 30 ppm in the United States." That's not a lot of parts per million, but it's enough to make a lot of people sick!



Frugal people read printed newspapers. Seriously. You're reading this online and thinking, "But I already have Internet access--at least some--and news is free on the'Net." Frugal people don't have Internet access at home, and home is where many of us read newspapers. They're easier to read than a computer screen, it's cheaper to subscribe to a newspaper than to the Internet, and you can do a lot with old newspapers...like starting your wood stove, and absorbing the moisture so that your water-free toilet runs at peak efficiency. (I have an older toilet that wasn't meant to run on solar power. I've been running it on solar power anyway. Works! If only I could get my old Net-free computer to run on solar power...) And more than one person, or family, can read the same papers in a day.



A new documentary about GMO food...hey, it has Danny Glover in it, and stars Zoe Lister-Jones...sounds better than many documentaries are. (A random Internet search for "Consumed the Movie" would find that specific address; it would take you to this link too.)



You knew weeds are resilient. Here's a science news story about how they're resilient.



In Dirty Sexy Politics Megan McCain said something like, "Apparently there's a longstanding tradition of making the story better when you write a memoir..." When this kind of thing becomes a "tradition," people may honestly think that putting a false statement of fact in a nonfiction memoir doesn't count as lying. The problem is that many readers have never heard of this "tradition" and think that "lying" is the applicable word.


Venezuela Update 

From bad to worse, to...do not vote for the Socialist candidate, U.S. readers.


Morgan Griffith on Zika Virus

This was too far down the e-mail for too long. Apologies. From U.S. Representative Morgan Griffith (R-VA-9):

Combating Zika

On March 2, my colleagues and I on the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations convened a hearing examining the public health crisis involving the Zika virus, which has affected Africa and Asia for decades but last year reached the Americas. This virus is spread primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito. These mosquitoes are known as “container-breeding mosquitoes,” because they lay eggs in and around standing water. The Aedes aegypti mosquito lives in our area, and may live in or around our homes.

Additionally, Zika virus may be passed from a man with the virus to female or male sex partners. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Zika virus can generally be detected by current diagnostic tests in blood and/or urine up to 14 days after the onset of symptoms. It also has been detected in semen as long as 62 days after onset of symptoms. However, the length of time that the Zika virus can persist in various bodily fluids is under active scientific investigation, which is a fancy way of saying we don’t yet know how long it stays in the system.

Common symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis, but Zika has also been definitely linked to the microcephaly birth defect in which a baby’s head is smaller than expected. This defect can lead to other problems including but not limited to seizures, developmental delays or intellectual disabilities, issues with movement, balance, feeding, etc. In its severe form, microcephaly can be life-threatening. More information can be found at www.cdc.gov.

Among those testifying at that March 2 hearing was Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the federal government’s top expert on infectious diseases.

On ABC’s May 22 “This Week” Sunday show, Dr. Fauci indicated that mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus may begin infecting Americans within U.S. borders within the next “month or so.”

Dr. Fauci said, “a vaccine certainly is the long-term solution,” though he noted a large trial may not be ready until early next year.

In an effort to prevent mosquitoes from living and breeding around your home, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends emptying, scrubbing, turning over, etc. water-holding containers such as vases, pet water bowls, flowerpot saucers, pool covers, and more. Additionally, to help prevent spreading Zika, the CDC recommends taking steps to prevent mosquito bites. Because it can also be transmitted sexually, the agency also recommends practicing safe sex. Again, more information can be found at www.cdc.gov.

Further, you may wish to be careful when traveling or even avoid traveling to areas such as Central or South America where Zika virus is prevalent. Congressman Michael Burgess, M.D. (R-TX) is so concerned he has urged the CDC to raise its travel notices advising travelers and clinicians about health issues in various destinations from an Alert Level 2 (urging the following of enhanced precautions for those destinations) to a Level 3 Warning, which is a warning to avoid nonessential travel.

Last week in the House, we passed legislation to provide the immediate funding of $622.1 million through the end of the fiscal year for use in fighting and preventing the spread of Zika virus. This bill, which contains strong oversight measures to ensure the responsible use of taxpayer dollars, is fully paid for by using leftover unobligated funds from the Ebola outbreak and other unused funding. While the President has asked for more funds, his funds would be utilized over a longer period of time. What the House has passed frontloads the funds, because as Dr. Fauci said, getting “a vaccine certainly is the long-term solution.” The quicker we can get a vaccine or other treatment options, the more lives we can save or make better.

Additionally, my colleagues and I in Congress recently passed the Adding Zika Virus to the Food and Drug Administration Priority Review Voucher Program Act (S. 2512), which was signed into law. This will encourage the research and development of vaccines and potential treatments, helping us to learn more about Zika virus.

We will continue working in a responsible, effective manner to help protect people from the spread of Zika.

If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. 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.

Book Review: Caregiving

A Fair Trade Book?

Title: Caregiving 

Author: E. Jane Mall

Date: 1990

Publisher: Ballantine

ISBN: 0-345-36460-0

Length: 229 pages

Quote: "You can't teach her about proper nutrition. She already knows what a proper diet is; she simply doesn't care."

Caregiving is for anyone taking responsibility for an aging parent (written about mothers, largely applicable to fathers). Mall was a Christian and, so far as I can determine, still is. Some of her other books are more specifically Christian; this one is clearly meant to interest readers of any faith or none.

How well can she explain the idea of caring for an aging parent? Well...she wrote this book with, and probably for, her daughter. She was born in 1920. She's not very active in cyberspace, but her writing is well documented and nothing about her death or disability is documented. I would imagine she was as good a teacher of this subject as anybody.

The difficulty is of course that caregiving is inherently so complicated. "[C]aregivers take on the role but too often are incapable of meeting all of the elderly parent's needs. They're not even sure what those needs are," because, in practice, those needs change from day to day. That "unique mother-daughter relationship" is part of the specific definition of an individual's caregiving experience, but not nearly as big a part as the parent's actual condition.

Whether you're a son or a daughter, caring for a father, mother, aunt, uncle, grandparent, older cousin, or friend...recognizing and adjusting to changes is always key. One year, ideally for many years, all your elder really expects or needs may be a phone call--daily if you live in the "local calling area," weekly or monthly if you don't. Then s/he is ill and needs you to run errands, visit daily, clean, drive, supervise hired help, even move in. Then s/he recovers and might really prefer that you move out again and carry on with your own life. On and on it goes. Most, not all, parents become disabled and die before their custodial children do.

So how much is it possible to learn from a book on this subject? Depends on what your parents have already taught you. If you grew up with grandparents in residence, for whom your parents were the "caregivers," you may have absorbed all the information in this book. (Buy it anyway; during the most stressful times you're likely to share with your parents, a pre-printed checklist of things to do before a real crisis can be good to have.) If your grandparents died suddenly while your parents were young, you may never have thought much about the kind of relationship into which you and they may get.

There's nothing quite like Caregiving and, in its general way, this book contains very sage and practical advice.

"The picture of the old woman searching for her glasses while they are perched on top of her head...could just as well be a young woman."

"Myth: Old people...become frail and helpless. Sure, but we're talking real old-old here. Like close to one hundred. Most of the elderly...walk, exercise, take care of themselves...don't become frail and helpless for a long time. Don't baby your mother...Help her keep her strength."

"I am here! Those are my groceries. Talk to me. Ask me what I want."

(For the record, the "black-haired twits" who act as if competent senior citizens needed to have everything translated through their younger associates have always annoyed me too. Many of my paternal relatives did lose hearing with age; my grandmother at 70, and my mother and maternal aunt at 80, probably heard more than I've heard since age 30. And even if we'd been at Johns Hopkins rather than another, deservingly unrenowned, university hospital where we shared many snarky laughs at the black-haired twits, my husband might still have had the highest I.Q. score in the place. Most young people in these United States don't seem to grow up among a lot of different elders, so don't realize how differently people age. I suppose it's understandable when fifteen-year-old bag boys are clueless, but it's a disgrace that university-age nurses and interns in hospitals are.)

"Perhaps your mother is living in her home and it's much too big for her and too far from your home...Trying to force her to move would be wrong and most likely futile, but...you can be prepared...Try not to get impatient."

"No matter...how much she loves her grandchildren, don't regard her as your built-in baby-sitter."

There's more. Quite a lot more. And young people need to absorb all of it. If you are young enough to be able to read (even with glasses), and are not wheelchair-bound, you're likely to be called on to be someone's "caregiver" at some point; therefore you should read Caregiving. If all the information seems familiar, based on what your parents taught you by example, you are blessed and can pass the book on to someone who's been less privileged.

If you hurry up and buy it now, it's still a Fair Trade Book: $5 per copy + $5 per package (you could probably get four copies of this book into one package, or mix it up with three other books for the same $5 shipping fee). That adds up to $10 for one copy, from which we send 10%, or $1, to Mall or a charity of her choice. If you order four copies, you pay $25 and Mall or her charity gets $4.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

May 26 Link Log (edited for clarity)

Categories: Animals, Charity, Food (Yum), Nature, Shopping, Stupidity is a Choice, Travel, and more. I'm rushing this online because I have deadlines to beat in the morning.

Preliminary Warning 

+Lyn Lomasi , I tagged you so people can find you on Google + , but please do not read further until Nova Skye is born.


I kill those garden centipedes. I'll admit it. Y'know why? Guess what they eat? Manure, that's what. Not only can they bite; they can also carry diseases. They're the closest thing the Cat Sanctuary offers to the nasty kind of cockroaches (as distinct from relatively sanitary Wood Roaches).


Charity or Substitutes for Charity

Right. I'm a service not a charity, but I need money. I am contemplating an untimely end to my own life, like next week--not like Sylvia Plath, bite yer ignorant tongues, but like Katniss. Nevertheless, from time to time I post about organized charities that also need money. Well, this is...not exactly a charity. Someone who's been a very good e-friend for a very long time, who has (like me) actually tried to pay other writers when she's had a dollar to spare, is in an emergency situation and needs money.

Maybe she doesn't need it as desperately as I do, and then again, this is the exact same point where my slide down into desperation began--with a friend, "Jane Doe," who unthinkingly lent me about $6000 for moving expenses,'cos in Washington any of us Bright Young Things could've paid that back in a few months, without realizing that when I unloaded that moving truck, at the age of 40, I would no longer be either a Bright Young Thing or in Washington, ever again. I would be a penniless cancer widow who couldn't repay money that Jane couldn't really spare, because of the complications of her 40-year-old-type problem pregnancy. That impulsive act of friendship cost Jane Doe a lot. It cost me a lot; never mind the only substantial chunk of money I've ever received from any really rich relative, which of course I forwarded directly to her, it cost me Jane.

+Lyn Lomasi is a bit younger than we are, a deeply decent person (although a Democrat), a "Mommie to Lots" at Associated Content, a cancer wife, and dealing with a 40-year-old-type problem pregnancy. What happened to Jane Doe and me should not happen to her. If your income for this month was $1000, you should send $50 to me and $50 to Lyn. If your income reached a taxable level, then you should also send money to the USO.


Food (Yum)

How yummy is cauliflower? Hey, if you can use it before that yucky mold starts to form, it's actually pretty good. Here are 31 different ways, apart from noshing on it raw, to make sure cauliflower never forms mold in your vegetable bin again.


Who knew...you can "bake" cake in a rice cooker? I've not tried it, but I'll take +Peach purple 's word for it. Now I'm wondering how gluten-free cornmeal or rice flour "cakes" would work this way.



Have bacteria really defeated antibiotic technology at last? (Note: Washington Post stories that induce alarm and despondency, including this one, have historically had a tendency of leading into stories of problems being solved. I'm guessing this one saw print because there is at least a good chance of next week's headlines showing hope for defeating these "superbugs.")


Now the happy, healthy story...apologies for Nytimes.com's tacky formatting, at least as it shows on this computer:



Pretty flowers, with bees, from California:


How worms speed the composting process...I was tempted to choose this as the "Cute" entry in the Portal Paper. It's not gross--even if you don't like to look closely at earthworms. (For some reason, although roundworms, flatworms, caterpillars, and centipedes at close range gross me out, earthworms do not. I feel that they're cool.)



E-mail about this one caught my attention by being off target. On Thursdays the computer center opens and closes "late." I wasn't online in time for the "Twitterfest" in which a large Republican network Twittered opposition to a last-minute amendment tacked onto this bill (which had, otherwise, been overwhelmingly passed). With the amendment--which was tacky all right, and I might've taken the time to oppose it if I'd read about it--the bill failed. I came online in time to read an e-mail headed "Thank you, Priscilla." Er, well, thank you, those who did oppose it. It's too early to find out how or whether Congressman Griffith voted on this one, but I'm guessing that he would've opposed the tacky "Maloney" amendment (which added a demand for unisex communal bathrooms, and a requirement that federal employees bother their heads about the "pronoun of choice" for the gender-confused) even without the Twitterfest. That sort of thing goes on in Congress all the time and it is always, even when the sneaky last-minute additions make some kind of sense, tacky. It's why some call for legislation requiring that bills in Congress be limited to one issue at a time.


(Rand Paul upholds the idea of keeping bills in Congress down to a bulk that allows them to be read--thanks to @thomasn456 for the link.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qnfZfAY980&sns=tw )

Elsewhere in the Senate, Tim Kaine introduced a bill "to extend the sunset of the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 in order to effectuate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in guaranteeing that all nuclear material in Iran remains in peaceful activities."


He also cosponsored a bill introduced by Senator Durbin of Illinois, just this morning, to dedicate the entire month of June as "Gun Violence Awareness Month." As in...spending tax money to harp on a theme TV, B movies, B-to-F-grade novels, and video games have been so thoroughly covering for, what, like two hundred years? Let's hope not, but, just when you're thinking your Congresscritters have likable qualities, they go and do something like that...they'll do it every time...This web site prefers to feed attention to the nonviolent uses of firearms, although this web site never minds feeding attention to the prevention of violence without firearms, either.


Politics (Election 2016) 

Who's funding Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign? Not some bunch of earnest students using Twitter and what-you-can-spare-for-all-you-can-eat potluck parties, for sure.


How many voters remember the whole Clinton story, or at least are old enough that they "should"?



And, need we add...real-world stores use cash!


Stupidity Is a Choice, Continued 

Admittedly: (1) Plenty of things are still named after Robert E. Lee, no worries; and (2) Russell Lee deserved to be commemorated somewhere, too. But what a rationale for changing the name! Nobody would have named anything after General Lee as a Confederate general. Hello...he lost. People named things after General Lee because he was a Peace Chief, not merely a War Chief. He led people to make peace and seek reconciliation; he even made poverty, as related specifically to having lost the war, chic. So you want to purge the memory of how to be a good loser from U.S. history? Dum, duh, dum, dum, dumb...


Well, I suppose wanting to ban those nasty old grades, which choosing stupidity means you don't earn the best of, sort of follows...



Surprise! Lower tech can be safer tech. (Actually I've known this for years, and where d'you think I heard it first? Actually I can't remember whether it was the IRS guy or the FBI gal.)



I don't often share travel ads, but today's e-mail contains two unusual ones. This one has the potential to be special for some people...if health or diet concerns have been a reason why you've not spent a week in the tropics, while your home town was snowed in, here is your dream vacation: a vegan week in Hawaii, the end of January. Doctors and dietitians will be hosting a group of food-sensitive vegans near Waimea beach.


Now this one...who voluntarily goes to Washington in June? British-Americans, or U.S. citizens with especially strong ties to the U.K., that's who. That's the group for whom this event was planned. It does not include me, as the correspondent seems to have guessed it might. It may include some readers who were especially interested in Congressman Griffith's "Brexit" post, though, so it belongs here:



Who knows where writers' time goes? +LadyNightwave BrendaMarie does. All writers are likely to appreciate the clock image.


I Didn't Write a Tortie Tuesday Post, but the Cats Are Pushing It...

(Trigger warning: This long post starts out terribly cute and ends up, from some people's perspective, just plain terrible. I can stand living it, so you can stand reading it...but be prepared.)

For bloggers who don't have a literal bench (a piano bench) one-third full of things they intend to post when they get the time, Tuesdays are "Tortie Tuesday." I don't normally participate in that, although my Queen Cat Heather can be called a "tortie." Heather does, however, have a mind of her own, and on Tuesday two of the other cats seemed to be joining her side of a debate she's been nonverbally carrying on with me this spring.

Officially, all resident cats at the Cat Sanctuary are outdoor cats. Cats who are in transit, in quarantine, ill or injured, rearing kittens, in need of a place to get out of the weather, or just eager to be as close as possible to anyone lighting a fire or cooking on the wood stove, have traditionally had access to the mud room (and been able to find ways into most of the older part of the house). Unfortunately, last winter's chimney fire made the wood stove unsafe to operate. I just chucked a lot of mothballs into the corners in the older part of the house, to discourage mold and vermin, and let those rooms freeze. Only my home office, or "warm room," was heated. Technically it's not my bedroom, but I'd often slept in it before the fire and have been sleeping in it since. During a few days of really cold weather the cats snuggled up with me in the warm room.

Cold weather, as defined by active, healthy, fur-covered animals, never lasts long in Virginia. Cats do need shelter when the temperature drops below freezing, but they won't stay in their shelter all day. In the years when we do get bitterly cold days, cats like to go out and mop up the little animals that succumbed to the cold. As the Washington Post mentioned last week...sometimes predator species do act like predators.

So the cats resumed their mostly outdoor life, using the deep earth-floored cellar as their shelter, as soon as temperatures crept back into the double digits on the Fahrenheit side of the thermometer. No complaints. They still have access to the mud room, but when nobody was using the wood stove they didn't want to use it. Not even for having kittens, which Heather and Irene have always done indoors. Too many mothballs.

Heather didn't think a nest of rags between storage bins on the porch was secure enough for her babies, even though we no longer have resident raccoons. Who knows when another raccoon might find its way into our corner of the Blue Ridge? Heather did quite a bit of planning and work to construct a more secure nest for both her kittens and Irene's. If I thought that was the end of this cat's calculating, I was mistaken. The kittens soon began to want to climb out of their nest, didn't want to go back in...and Heather launched a campaign to get me to stay home every day and move the kittens into the office room.

I am not making this up. I can't afford to take digital photos every week, nor will my cheap cell phone take decent ones in anything less than full sunshine, so you'll have to take my word...like this morning, when I started out the door, the cats had already had breakfast and the nursing mother cats had already had their snacks, so two senior cats, three junior cats, and four kittens formed a solid feline chain across the porch, nonverbally saying, "Stay here! Play in the garden with us! Maybe you might find another snack?"

Is it only my imagination that, this week, the cats have been demonstrating all the reasons why some people advocate keeping cats indoors even when the cats would rather go out? For years on end, all anyone would notice is how many cat behavior problems and "neuroses" my cats just don't ever have...and then...

First of all, on Monday Irene got into trouble. Irene is generally the quiet homebody cat. She has led a very sheltered life, seldom straying far enough from home even to explore the outbuildings. So, when she did venture out into the world--I'm not sure whether she was lured by a tomcat or just a whiff of food--she made a stupid kitten mistake.

Food manufacturers just love marketing this fad for Dainty Little Portions of food. If they can sell us the idea that the full standard measure of anything in a can, box, or bottle causes obesity, some people will tamely fork over the same price for the Dainty Portion that they'd pay for the full size. Personally I'd rather drink straight out of a 2-liter bottle in public than pay as much for a 20-ounce or even 10-ounce bottle as I do for the 2-liter bottle, but some people do fall for this marketing ploy. Apparently my Neighbor Grouchy is one of them. He has reasons to be concerned about obesity.

Irene found a Dainty Little Portion can of pork and beans in Neighbor Grouchy's recycling. She licked the yummy, meaty broth around the rim. She kept licking a little deeper into the tin, a little deeper, and before she knew it that little can had become her world. Sounds were muffled! She couldn't see anything! All she could smell were pork and beans, tin and saliva! Who wouldn't panic? She started blundering around in a circle, unable to call for help, with no idea how to get back home.

When Irene didn't report for breakfast on Tuesday I was worried. I called her name. Elmo, who was born to Heather but brought up by Heather, Irene, Ivy, and Sisawat communally in classic social-cat style, responded with "Meow? Meow!" and led me toward Neighbor Grouchy's shed, waving his tail high in that "follow me" signal so many animals use. Irene was that way, he meowed.

Neighbor Grouchy was a nice little kid once, before Gulf War Syndrome. Now he's subject to irrational hostile moods. He's less likely to give himself a heart attack over a surprise visit from an animal than one from a human. I decided to let Elmo deal with him, and continued off to work.

Elmo did deal with the situation in a really heroic way. Somehow, although Irene was still in an irrational state when I came home Tuesday night, Elmo had managed to guide, chase, or push her into the yard. She was still blundering around the yard in a panic, bumping into things, not responding to calls from me or the other cats, until I picked her up and slipped the little can off her head.

It slipped off easily. Irene could have pulled it off with her own paws; if she'd been a more adventurous kitten she would probably have learned how to do that. Heather and Ivy and Tickle and Elmo have done it many times. If Irene had even stopped running in circles, the other cats might have been able to rescue her, but apparently they couldn't! Well...Irene is intelligent in her own way, very sensitive and empathetic when it comes to what other cats need, a great foster mother, but she's not a problem-solver.

When she found herself back in the world outside the tin, Irene was very, very glad to see me. She wanted to rub her greasy face against me. Not particularly wanting that, myself, I fended her off and hastened up onto the front porch. Right where I intended to step, Inky was curled up, cuddling kittens. It was too dark to see them clearly until I'd gone inside and fetched cat food and a light. Turning the light toward Inky, I saw that she was licking one brand-new kitten of her own clean, while another clean, dry baby of her own was nursing, along with one of Heather's kittens, and a third kitten was slowly sliding out of Inky.

Normal cats want privacy when they give birth. I'd expected that Inky would act like a normal cat about this, anyway, no matter how well life among older social cats has "socialized" her...but no. Social cats welcome any help friends can give them. Inky stood up to rub against my hand and purr even at the moment when her standing up added gravity to the new kitten's emergence into the world.

Er. Um. I love her, but Inky has the Manx gene. Although cat breeders on the Isle of Man and in Japan have selectively bred for the distinctive look this gene produces, it is a lethal gene. Irene inherited the weakest form of the gene from her father, and as a result most of Irene's kittens have died young--screaming in pain--from birth defects associated with their chunky frames and short tails. If I'd been earning decent wages, Inky would have been spayed when she was checked for deadly diseases in December. That didn't happen, so by yesterday morning she'd brought five little Manx-mix kittens into the world.

Then...Irene and Heather had four kittens apiece this year. I was encouraged to touch them before Heather hid them away, and had picked out eight suggested names: Dandy and Lion, Peri and Winkle, Violet, Burr, Crocus, and Daffodil. Lion (if it had accepted that name) died before their eyes were open--presumably from "Manx Syndrome." On Wednesday, Heather's smallest kittens, Dandy and Daffodil, disappeared.

I'd left a small container of kibble where a raccoon, if one had been in the neighborhood, would have been unlikely to resist the temptation to steal some food. (Raccoons don't actually like eating kittens; when they kill kittens, the motive seems to be to reduce competition from fellow predators.) My house snake, however, can't eat kibble and can swallow very small kittens. Dandy and Daffodil were the smallest in the litter...the ones Gulegi, a big old snake, could still have eaten.

At least, if Gulegi was the culprit, the bigger kittens should be safe. They are too big for even Gulegi to swallow. Mostly he eats smaller, less human-friendly snakes, which is why I put up with him.

Anyway, this morning, when Heather was waiting for me on the front porch, nonverbally beckoning for Irene and the kittens to stampede into the office. "This is a good safe place for kittens! No other animals! No flies! No fleas! Smell that dried pennyroyal--isn't it better than mothballs? No cat door, but the human will get up and let me out when I tell her to! All we have to do is convince her to stay in all day, and we'll Have It Made!" she purred. She's only been doing this every morning since her kittens were born.

"No, Heather. Stay out, Heather. Back out, Burr! Irene, I said out! Teach these kittens right, can't you? Breakfast is outside!" I've only been saying this every morning since Heather's kittens were born.

"But you adore these kittens!" Heather nonverbally persists. "Irene and I have been training you to adore them! We've been teaching them to make themselves adorable! See how they're already starting to recognize their names? See how they climb onto your feet and hug your ankles and invite you to pick them up? The younger ones will pose and act cute any time you want to snap some more pictures! All of these kittens are going to be Real Pets! We've been doing market research on you for four years, and we've trained every one of these kittens to behave in exactly the ways that you find least ignore-able and most adorable. You're going to love having them curl up all around you and those objects you play with whenever you're indoors. Really! Let us show you!"

"It's bad enough living in the office, myself," I say. "Having a litter box, and tomkittens who think it's clever to 'claim territory' outside the said litter box, in the office, I will not endure. And wherever a cat can go, fleas can most definitely follow...and, in any case, you older cats aren't likely to tolerate being 'indoor pets' for even one hour at a time."

"Well, of course not, but that's the point," Heather persists. "As even thick-witted humans have observed over the years, I am a hunter, not a homemaker. I'm a better than average hunter all by myself, and neither Irene nor any of the junior cats is anywhere near as good a working partner for me as Ivy was, but I think I might be able to train Irene to hunt with me if we could just train you to sit around and guard the kittens all day. All you'd have to do is stay home and do whatever it is you do with all those boxy things and papery things and other objects for which no reasonable cat could ever invent any use whatsoever."

"The part of what I do with those objects that actually brings in kibble, and other things, only works in town," I say. "Wireless Internet and even radio transmission is extremely unreliable in the mountains in summer, nor do I want it in my home even if it would work."

"You don't actually like going into town every day," Heather persists. "Anyway the kittens would grow big enough to take care of themselves before midsummer."

"That allows plenty of time for miserably hot and humid weather, for a full-scale flea infestation, and for me to lose enough of my pathetic little income for all of us to starve to death."

"Not all of us," Heather persists. "Look at Sisawat. She doesn't want to nurse her siblings again this year, so she's basically moved out, and see how well she's feeding herself in the orchard! When she checks in with the rest of us every day, she doesn't hang around waiting for you to bring her a meal, does she? When I went on strike and lived in the woods for ten days, while I wasn't feeding kittens, I didn't lose much weight, either, did I? I only really need kibble and treats when I have kittens to feed! Even Tickle and Elmo are...learning to fend for themselves. Anyway, when you've written about us in the past, didn't you say that there were other humans who'd feed us?"

"Yes, but they don't want to feed you. Nor do you want them to. At the minimum they'd want to take you to their farm, where there are a lot of other cats, and have you all surgically sterilized so you wouldn't have any more kittens--ever. Very likely they'd want to let different people adopt you--by ones--so you'd never have the company of your own kind of animal again, either."

"Well...er...actually, of course, we'd all prefer to keep you here with us, our own dear cook and litter box cleaner, by far our favorite among your bizarre, unreasonable, and foul-smelling (but useful) slave species," Heather admits. But she is, by now, a middle-aged cat.

Being middle-aged means to humans, and probably means to a cat as close to rationality as Heather seems to be, that we understand that the option we prefer is not always available. Sometimes life forces us to "choose" something very different from anything we can honestly say we really choose.

I love my life--my home, my work, my cats. Apart from the fact that most of my favorite fellow humans are dead, in every other way I'd be living in Heaven on earth...if I were only receiving prompt, fair payment for what I've done. Given the options I should in theory be able to choose, I should be able to go on doing writing and odd jobs (the odder the better, and I like jobs that involve physical exercise) for another forty or fifty years...which is most definitely what I'd prefer to do.

Whether it's actually possible for me to do that depends on other humans' ability to detach from (1) their self-conceited attitude that they're somehow superior to me if they can avoid thanking or paying me for work I do, and (2) their irrational-conformist belief that they're somehow better off if they buy things that look like what they see advertised on television rather than paying for goods or services that are "different" because they're produced by individuals outside the corporations that advertise on television.

It's time to put together tomorrow's edition of the Portal Paper. Last week was a breakthrough week for the paper because somebody finally mailed in some ad funding. The cats and I ate full meals every single day. And this morning I used the bulk of the payment to pay a particularly inflated and detestable bill. And now, once again, I have $4.24 to last until I sell some papers. Just staying home, detaching from my own preference to eat and drink, indulging the cats for another week or so, and starving is not a plan that appeals to me at all. It is, however, a plan that looks more rational, feasible, and practicable than trying to live on what the Portal Paper has been bringing in.

And I did say that I wasn't going to try to scrounge through another month on the kind of income the Portal Paper has been bringing in, Gentle Readers. $19 for a week? Is that living? I promised you: $1000--in cash, in hand--or I'd stay home and give up eating and drinking. Am I a woman of my word?

In order for my life to continue to be my life, do I need to let it end with cute little kittens gnawing the cold flesh off my bones after I succumb to dehydration during this year's first real heat wave, expected next week?

A year or two ago I posted a story about a woman who was literally choking to death in a house full of dust and dirt because she didn't want to rearrange her budget so she could pay somebody like me to get her house clean (after which, who knows, she might still have been able to do a job--which might have been why she prefers to choke on dirt). I don't know whether she's still alive; I've heard of several other people in the same situation, and said, No, that's not the person I meant. More recently, I received a long-delayed, barely legible letter from another woman who, when I called her, admitted that she had in fact scrawled it out with a cast on her writing arm, which was why it had taken three weeks to reach the mailbox from an address to which I could have walked in a day--but she didn't want to rearrange her budget so she could pay somebody like me to write, or cook or clean or lift things, for her. (Do people like her deserve to have broken arms?)

The majority of people who visit this web site aren't in my part of the world and can't pay me to come to their houses and do physical work, but they jollywell can buy things from me. Anything you're likely to buy, including furniture, car parts, and nonperishable food, can be bought from Amazon. I'm an Amazon Affiliate; I've never even tried to advertise the full range of Stuff You Could Be Buying From Me, only a few of the books, but rest assured, Gentle Readers, it includes just about everything. It includes non-perishable groceries. Some of you who spend a lot of money driving from store to store could actually save money by paying me (per package) to find and mail out the name-brand items you buy in stores...or the ones you'd like to buy in stores, if stores near you stocked them. Like f'rinstance, to pick something a local lurker mentioned in a live conversation last year, Lundberg's heirloom organic rice:

Lundberg Brown Short Grain Brown Rice, 32 Oz

Of course, you're not here to shop for groceries; you're here to read. Before the Internet existed, you would have had to pay five dollars a month to read whatever you've been reading. Once, one reader actually paid that amount. Do I have to starve to death, or more precisely speaking dehydrate to death, to get it into your minds that all of you are supposed to pay that amount, if you yourselves are not starving, each and every month?

I don't do welfare cheating; that's neither "living" nor "me." I don't have to go on playing out a real-world version of The Hunger Game, either. In fact, having publicly stated that I didn't plan to, I may be morally obligated not to do that.

I'll say this though. If I heard that you, "you" being anybody who's likely to visit this web site regularly--not a foreign spy or a child molester in a maximum-security prison or anything, but the sort of person with whom I interact online--were trying to live on US$19 for a week in the U.S., and I had $1000 or even $500 for a month, I would have found a decent, respectful way to have sent you some money by now. And thanked you for what you do, as writer, reader, postcard designer or whatever, rather than smarming on about what a favor Magnificent Me was doing for Pathetic You. (Blethered about your emotional mood? Judged you for mentioning the uncomfortable topic? Those reactions serve only one purpose--to identify those among us who really deserve to starve.) I would have done that much, without its having to be spelled out to me, merely because I am a Real Virginia Lady.

Apparently, I'm the last of the breed.

Therefore, these social cats are the closest I'm likely to come, in this lifetime, to companions whose opinions about anything I respect, and--unless somebody out there has sent some serious funding, really, it's just been delayed in the mail--there's no reason why I shouldn't indulge them next week.

May 25 Link Log (Sorry!)

I apologize for the delay; one of these links (the Health link) is time-sensitive--read it in the next hour. Anyway I think I've got the blogs currently in my blog feed showing up on the right side of your screen, down below the index to entries on this blog. Though this doesn't show feeds that aren't classified as blogs, like Google +, Twitter, e-mail newsletters, Reuters, CNN, BBC, or the online editions of the Washington Post, Washington City Paper (yes, still), New York Times, Miami Herald, Guardian, or WCYB news (all of which I follow when time allows)...it should give everyone plenty to read, as well as showing what a wide range of interesting people I follow (smirk, brag, preen). Categories: Agenda 21, Armed Citizen Fights Crime, Book, Cute, Education, Fun, Gardening, Green, Health, Phenology, Politics, Travel, Writing, Wsj.com.

Agenda 21 

Say whaaat? Y'mean the U.N.-loving Obamas aren't planning to move to a high-rise apartment?


Armed Citizen Fights Crime 

This story is so rich, it almost seemed worth enabling Adobe Flash to watch the video. Make the baddies turn themselves in! I love it!



Thanks to @JonahNRO for sharing this review:



Libraries were not designed to be public meeting places, social clubs, or day care centers. They were designed to store things--specifically books--that people preferred to keep for occasional reference, share, and store in a public place, rather than using once privately and throwing away. My opinion is that adding short-lived electronic gadgets to libraries is a perversion of the original idea since these things don't last long enough to justify their purchase on a public library's budget. However, adding things like paintings, sculptures, maps, musical instruments, even machines, is not a perversion. (And it wasn't a unique "vision" in Sacramento, even if it seemed like one; Takoma Park, Maryland, was doing it in the 1980s, and Caroline B. Cooney wrote about the idea in a novel in the 1990s.) As long as libraries don't get rid of useful reference books to make room for the junk, I say storing and lending non-printed objects is a cute idea.


(Hmm, can I find that novel on Amazon? Cooney wrote so many short-lived paperbacks for teenagers...but although she didn't expect them to go into reprints, within the constraints of the genres she wrote them well. I think this was the one where one of the characters, a library volunteer, runs the "Toybrary.")


Stupidity is a choice...like the choice to be a monoglot. I saw one of those bumper stickers on a car last night. "Welcome to America--now speak English or leave." Somebody had to have been laughing at the suckers who'd buy this without thinking of the large chunks of "America" where the language of choice is Spanish, Portuguese, French, or something else. In some ways having only one language is like having only one leg, but how many one-legged people would refuse to use a second leg if they were offered one free of charge? If you speak Spanish, Portuguese, French, or maybe Swahili, Navajo, or Albanian, please do learn English...so you can teach us...those of us who don't choose to be stupid! Anyway, for those who can read Spanish, I think I've said this before but I'll say it again. +CNN en Español is free to follow on Google + and provides daily examples of both "standard" and slangy Spanish. It also provides different stories than you'd see if you watched CNN in English. (It's even the only reliable way I know to get the "tilde" mark over the N in a Spanish word, in Blogspot, without pasting a document in from Word!) If you can read this blog you probably have Google Chrome. If you have Google Chrome you have Google +. And if you have Google + and want more news stories than your local daily paper provides, the only reason not to follow +CNN en Español is that you didn't realize you had free access to it.


This is strictly for fun...had to mention it because there may still exist a photograph of me that reminded some people of Sitting Bull. (Couldn't they even find a face of the right gender? Of course they could have, if they'd looked further; the names that went with those faces aren't famous. My point here is that some "real," "full-blood" Native Americans have relatively light, sallow, olive complexions too.) And a friend and sponsor, who is Cherokee, was once recruited to play the part of Chief Benge, the half-Scotch, half-Shawnee misfit whose toughness and "woodcraft" earned him the rank of chief among a small group of misguided Cherokee warriors. Benge was a terrorist, a serial murderer; one of my home town's first claims to fame was being the home of the hero who finally killed him. Benge was also reported to be about 5'6" or 5'7", with "sandy," light auburn hair. Why would a man who is over six feet tall, and otherwise "looks Cherokee," be identified with Benge? "Because he looks like an Indian." Specifically, although Tecumseh wasn't quite that tall, this living man's face does resemble the best-known portrait of Tecumseh.



More about the neonicotinoids, including (I was wondering) how to pronounce the full-length word. (I've seen plenty of dead birds after somebody used "Roundup" (glyphosate); apparently neonics are even worse in that way.)


I'm not sure about this one. Glyphosate has many gross-out effects but how glyphosate would have caused a rash of deformities among baby animals recently born in Argentina, when it's not had that effect in the U.S., needs more scientific exploration and explanation relative to the gross-out photos. Was an unusually high level of exposure involved? Did other factors contribute to this effect? Anyway, for those who like a gross-out...here's one.


Will Americans let Russia corner the market on corn by choosing natural breeds?



Mother Earth News shares an excerpt from a vintage book about natural pest control. I could do without the clunky six-page format, which apparently can't be fixed, but if you have ants, bedbugs, or dust mites it's worth opening all six short pages.



McDougall "webinar" on weight loss--today:


Phenology Link 

This Illinois blog is what a phenology blog ought to look like.


Politics (Election 2016) 

Is Jimmy Carter senile? I don't think this news item proves that he is. I think he's always been sort of out of touch with my generation, and I think a lot of us have learned something we hadn't known about the way Americans react to being asked for money after a few years of incessant wailing about "The Economy." There is a massive, unprecedented, lack of a sense of individual responsibility for improving the local economy, or even hope that it can be improved, by judicious use of money. The Republicans arguably had more and better candidates this year than they've ever had before, but whom did actual individual Republicans choose? The one who (they mistakenly thought) wouldn't ask them for money; the one who hadn't asked them for money yet. No matter how many of the things he's done flouted their values, the #BankruptcyBillionnaire was right about one thing. If it had been documented that he'd committed a murder, some Republicans would still support the allegedly "self-funding" candidate over the ones who asked them for money. Though now, of course, having bullied the viable candidates out of the race, he is asking people for money. That's been very clear to anyone who's been watching the Republican race. But of course ex-President Carter is a Democrat, so he doesn't need to bother watching the race; that "Republicans are racists" meme may lack a basis in the real world, but it's alive and well in the heads of party-line Democrats. (Why would they bother to consider the fact that the other two top-rated Republican candidates belonged to historically underprivileged "race" groups?)


Meanwhile, from a non-White Republican:


Would I ever vote for Trump? The Portal Paper named a local sponsor who had considered it. I should probably make a fair disclosure here. During my Associated Content years my main day job was running a booth at a flea market. All the local secondhand dealers are acquainted with each other; most are friends. Mr. Gilbert, who built the Gold, Gun & Pawn Shop that still bears his name, was the highest-rolling in the crowd, the one most likely to invest $100 at a time in maintaining good business relations. No doubt all of us wish we could claim him as a relative...but apart from that, he's shown solid business sense and heroic fortitude, and I do respect his opinion. It was, in this case, based on information that changed during that week about Trump's "self-funding" campaign. Nevertheless, there is one possible (though very unlikely) scenario in which I could vote for Trump. I know I promised to do a series about Bill Clinton at ipatriot.com; I know I slacked off and posted that vent about welfare-cheating there last week; I know I want to post only one article there in a week--and I think the "how I might be persuaded to vote for Trump" piece may be more timely than the next chunk of the Clinton biography. What do you think? Let me know through Google + comments, please, Gentle Readers.



Underground community in the Australian desert...this kind of thing actually works in a desert climate.



A warning to bloggers: blogging too fast can destroy quality. Don't ask me how I know!


Some questions of style preference, here, and some good reminders to all writers. (Personally, considering how many computer programs either do the dashes automatically or don't do them at all, I do not want to see the distinction between en and em dashes--which is important in Spanish--become meaningful in English. A hyphen between a range of numbers looks fine to me. And I really don't think even the drafts of things that are going to be printed need to look as awkward as what Microsoft has imposed on the world as Blog Format style--unindented paragraphs, extra spaces between paragraphs when proper indenting would do, spaces between lines, etc. This format may be easier to read on a screen but, to my eyes, it's ugly; if Microsoft Word needs to impose "styles" on anything, it should get rid of this "style," never impose it on a document that may have been typed in a more attractive format.)



My experience was that, although the subscription was free, wsj.com uses an occasional interesting article to attract subscriptions, then fills their mailboxes with articles about online stock-market gambling. Is this too much of a price to pay for reading the rest of Naomi Schaefer Riley's op-ed about more profitable ways for people like Ward Churchill to use their time? You decide. I subscribed, put gambling-related e-mails in the Bacon Folder for a few years, and now feel that, if they're asking me to subscribe again, seeing a headline with which I agree is enough. Then again, I am not an active citizen of the Cherokee Nation. I will subscribe if any Cherokee readers want the full-length printout of this article.