Kaepernick, Black Lives Matter, and Trigger Happy Cops


So I haven’t written a new blog post in a minute (or maybe more), but I’m so damn tired of so many white Americans losing their shit over a pro-football player taking a stand against oppression of people of color in this country, and yet the same people turn a blind eye when yet another killing of a black, or Latino, or Native, occurs. Honest to God people, wake up!

I don’t even know the name of the latest victim of a trigger happy cop. I know that he had his hands up the entire time. I know that he presented zero risk to the cop. I also know, considering how other cases like this have gone in the past couple of years, that said cop will be placed on paid leave (paid vacation), and that there will almost certainly be no charges file. If there are charges filed, the chances are good that the cop will get off without a conviction.

What is wrong with this picture? Why are we living in a country where having anything other than white skin causes people to be viewed as “dangerous?” 

I don’t know what it’s like to grow up as, or live life as, a person of color in this country. But I have experienced racism firsthand, simply because I was in the company of a black man, in 1980 Biloxi, Mississippi. I was stationed at Keesler AFB in Biloxi, attending tech school for the Air Force. One of the other airmen in my squadron, a young black man from Chicago, and I decided to go to the mall in Gulfport. The distance was about five miles, and we decided to walk. It was the longest five miles of my life…because every single vehicle that passed us, regardless of the color of the individuals in those cars yelled insults at us. “Hey nigger, how do you like that white pussy?” “Hey white cunt, is that black cock good to you?” And more. Much more. We were sharing a fucking sidewalk, that’s all. For two wet behind the ears airmen, both from the north, the shock was like a gut punch. 

I grew up surrounded by diversity. I love diversity. And honestly, if you want to live in a country where xenophobia, racism, and hatred are acceptable, where they are the norm, perhaps you should move to Afghanistan. Because the U.S. Is not the place for you. As for me, I will fight against racism every opportunity I get.

Stop The Notoriety – Please!


Today I woke up to horrible news out of Orlando, Florida. I don’t need to explain, because (unless you have been under a rock or something) it’s everywhere today.

My plea, and I am seriously begging, is that people, everyone, STOP sharing the photo of the shooter. Stop sharing the shooter’s name.

Let me ask you, of the widely publicized mass shootings, how many vicitms can you name? Take your time. Probably few to none. Now let me ask you this, how many of the shooters can you name? How many of their faces, the shooters, that is, would you recognize? Which is exactly my point.

Far too many of these mass shooters, and copy cat shooters, are seeking notoriety. Please, I beg of you, don’t give it to them. When someone posts their photos or names, respond with #NoNotoriety – and consider unfollowing media sites that insist on giving these sick individuals notoriety.

For further information

I’m Raising a Kid With Microcephaly. Here’s What the Media Gets Wrong. – The Daily Beast


Please read this. It’s worth your time.

Rcooley123's Blog

As the father of a child with Down Syndrome, I can identify with the author of this article to a great degree. – RJC

In the panic over Zika virus, major media outlets are calling kids with microcephaly ‘misshapen,’ ‘heartbreaking,’ and ‘dystopian.’ The exact opposite of my joyful, funny, vivacious son.

Source: I’m Raising a Kid With Microcephaly. Here’s What the Media Gets Wrong. – The Daily Beast

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Why Don’t We Make The 2016 Election A National Plebiscite On Guns?


mikethegunguy

So Hillary’s beginning to look around for a VP and, not without good reason, the names of some other women have come into view, the most prominent of course being Liz Warren. I say ‘of course’ because this trial balloon is probably being floated by the folks who want to make sure that Bernie’s most ardent supporters don’t bolt and run during the Fall election.  Like where are they going to go?  To Ralph Nader?

hillary            Anyway, I think with all due respect to the gender warriors (said positively, btw) that what Hillary really needs to do is forget about balancing her ticket by using the traditional methodologies like geography, class, so on and so forth, and instead think about issues, in particular the one issue which gave her campaign a real boost, namely, the issue of guns.  Because you may recall that when Hillary raised the gun issue in…

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Today is Semicolon Project Day


  I found the above image on Facebook, and can’t give artist credit. April 16, 2013 was the first semicolon project day. The symbolism of the semicolon is explained below.
  
I’m not going to get into my reasons for having this tattoo on my left wrist, but wanted to share my own semicolon.

  
Please know that if you suffer from depression, PTSD, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts; or if you self-harm, have ever felt like giving up, or have low self esteem – your story isn’t over yet! You are not alone. If you need someone to talk to, reach out; I am here.

Hello darkness (depression) my old friend


  Living with chronic depression sucks. There is simply no other way for me to describe it. The fact that I was dealing with depression is why I was basically forced to withdraw from grad school, even though I had a perfect 4.0 GPA. Depression has caused me to more or less give up on life. Not as in, “I want to die,” but rather, as in, “Getting out of bed and doing more than drinking coffee is a freaking miracle.”

Eight and one-half years ago I moved to south central Nebraska from the San Diego area. I did this for a couple of reasons, one of which was financial. The other reason is not important to go into here, but let’s just say that the move forced me to succeed at something I had been unable to accomplish while living in paradise. That being said, I have hated where I now live since about five minutes after my arrival here on October 2, 2007. Here I was, with a 26′ U-Haul and a 5×8 U-Haul trailer behind my own vehicle, and BAM, I was miserable.

To say that I have lived with some degree of depression every single day since landing here is no exaggeration. It is fact. My life is surrounded by things that remind me, every single day, of my failure to overcome my depression. About three weeks ago I began taking a Mood Management class; my latest attempt in a list of many, to beat this horrible beast. 

  
The first real assignment was that we were supposed to set smart goals. Smart, in this case, is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time based. I was left wondering if a good goal for me would be simply to get out of bed every day, to get dressed at least five times a week (please don’t judge), and maybe (questionable) to take a shower at least every other day. But that’s what I set, and two weeks later, I’m already failing with those goals. 

Antidepressents don’t work for me. I’ve been on every SSRI the VA carries, and all but one caused me to have bad reactions. Even the one that I am able to take causes a bad reaction if I take a full dose. No joke, my body is super finicky. I’m not sure why God, or nature, or whoever-the-fuck-makes-these-decisions decided to make my body chemistry this way, but needless to say, I’m forever pissed at whoever is in power. Even though I know that it is senseless, and a complete waste of time, at least once a day I ask myself, “Wy me?” I’m a firm believer in karma, but apparently whatever I am paying for happened in a previous lifetime, because I know that I haven’t done anything in this lifetime to warrant all of this. 

So why am I writing about this? Is it my hope to get people to feel sorry for me? (FUCK NO) Do I want to create sadness in others? (Again, FUCK NO) I’m writing about this because even though I am struggling every single day, and even though my success is limited to teeny, tiny successes, I refuse to give up on hope.

  
No matter how difficult it is, and trust me, some days it feels like I’m trying to scale Everest without training, I recognize that the elusive brass ring, the dream of someday again being “normal,” is so worth the effort. I am writing this because I want others who suffer from chronic depression, and those who are living with major depressive disorder, to know they are so not alone. There is always hope. And even when we fail more often, even far more often, than we succeed, we need to focus on those successes, and realize that giving up in not an option. When I go back to see my psychiatrist for a medicine review later this month, I am going to ask him to please try me on a different class of antidepressents. It’s a class that I have been steadfastly refusing to try before, but that damn bird, that noisy bird, named Hope, refuses to shut the fuck up. I want, more than anything, to feel differently. And I do believe it is possible. So I’m not giving up, and if you are dealing with this crap too, I hope that you will allow that noisy bird to keep perching and singing in your soul, too.

Criminalising the ‘T’


Transgender Voice

Just as the segregation of blacks and whites was never about drinking fountains, the events that are happening in North Carolina, and elsewhere in the United States, is not about bathrooms.

It is not even about what is, or is not, in someone’s pants.

It’s about fear. It’s about hatred. It’s about taking a group of people and making them less than human.

That’s what this is about.

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My Personal Brush(es) With Gun Violence


mother jones(Above image from Mother Jones)

I have made a lot of poor, even bad, choices in my life. I have always trusted too easily, loved too fully, and viewed the world through a pair of rose-colored lenses. That being said, even though many of my decisions have ended up being less than positive experiences, I doubt seriously that I would change most (or maybe any) of them, because they have made me who I am.

Now, having said that, for anyone who reads my blog but isn’t aware, I am very active in gun violence prevention (GVP). Even though I have met many, many survivors of gun violence over the past two years, I have to admit that it never dawned on me that I myself am a survivor of gun violence; not until December when I was on my way to Omaha for an Orange Vigil for the victims of the Sandyhook School shooting, and other victims of gun violence. I realized while I was driving that evening that based upon the way Everytown For Gun Safety defines a survivor, I would probably fit the profile. So I asked, and the response was, “Absolutely, you ARE a survivor.”

Even then, it didn’t enter my consciousness that I have actually had more than one brush with gun violence until last week. I’m not sure why this is, perhaps I blocked those times out, or possibly (more likely) I just never considered my story to be that important in the grand scheme of things. But I know that is not the case, because every single survivor has a story that is important, and those stories are helping to open hearts, to open eyes, and to change minds. And because of that, I decided to write down my three near brushes, actually far too close for comfort, experiences with gun violence, in case my story will help someone else feel less alone.

In January of 1978, just a week or so before my twentieth birthday, I was out at a disco (yes, I really am that old), celebrating another friend’s birthday. While I was inside enjoying myself, the abusive husband of a dear friend of mine came up to me, telling me, “Jan, I need to talk to you.” Well, it was too noisy inside, and this was January in North Dakota, so without really thinking about it, I got into the passenger seat of his car to talk to him. Now in those days, cars with electric door locks didn’t have a manual override for the passenger. This man proceeded to lock the doors, then took out a gun, which he held pointed directly at me, demanding, “I know (name withheld) is planning something, and I know you know what it is, so spill,” or words to that effect. Over the course of what was probably fifteen minutes, I sat there an lied so well that I still contend that I deserve an Oscar, especially since lying has truly never come easily to me. I insisted that I had absolutely no idea what she was planning, and then (thanks to a false sense of courage from the fact I was drinking maybe?), I told him, “You won’t shoot me, you don’t dare! There are probably 200 people less than twenty feet away. You’ll never get away with it.” Again, or words to that effect. Realize that I probably used some pretty choice curse words too. And being 19-almost-20, I was also at an age when we tend to believe that we are invincible; going to live forever. So, for whatever reason, I was able to be brash and forceful, and to finally get out of his car. My friend (we are still friends all these years later) was able to get on a plane a few days later, without him ever finding out what she had planned.

Fast forward to 1990; the year I left my ex-husband, the father of my children. At the time I was working for Dominoes Pizza as an in-store trainer, which is basically a fancy term for the driver who trained new drivers; and who was in charge of other drivers during the shifts that I worked. I had rented a small, three bedroom guest house after leaving my ex, and took pity of a Marine who was a part-time driver, and rented him a bedroom in my place. Unbeknownst to me, this guy, Steve was his name, slept with a gun under his pillow at night. And what a gun. It was a “Dirty Harry” type revolver – a great big, long, heavy gun. It was a .44 magnum, and to be honest, had I known about the gun, he would never have been allowed near my home. But I didn’t. One morning, after he left for work, my barely two-year-old son came walking out of Steve’s room, holding this gun, saying, “Bang, bang.” I probably don’t need to tell you that I jumped into action immediately, took the gun from my son, and then locked it up, do I? I called Steve on post, and his only response made me so angry that to this day, it’s lucky for him that I couldn’t physically reach him. When I told him what happened, he said (no joke), “Oops.” Oops? Seriously dude?  Okay, that was a long time ago, my son wasn’t injured, and neither was anyone else, so I will calm down.

My third brush with gun violence was, without question, the most terrifying of the three, because there was a very real possibility that my children could have been injured or killed. It was either late January or early February of 1993. I had been homeless** since October 1992 (my children lived with their father), and just recently learned that my mom, back home in North Dakota, was fighting lung cancer. I agreed to go home, but wanted to find a way to spend some time with my kids before I left, so my mom wired me the money to rent a motel room with a kitchenette for a week. I still remember the place where we stayed, as if it was yesterday. At the time it was called “Super 7,” and was one of the few places in north San Diego County that rented by the week that also had kitchen facilities. It was not a nice place, not by a long shot. But it was clean, and it offered me the chance to spend some time with my son, who was two months shy of five-years-old, and my daughter, who had turned eight just a couple of months before.

During the week I was in that motel room, I developed a passing acquaintance with some of the other people who were staying there for long term visits. One of them was a woman I became friendly with, although to save my life, I don’t remember her name. There was also a man who had come down to San Diego County from either Victorville or Apple Valley (in California’s high desert) with his two “wives,” one of whom was pregnant, and several small children, including one little boy who was 14-months-old.

One evening, shortly after putting my kids to bed, I picked up the room phone and called the woman who I had more or less become friends with. Only instead of her answering, it was a police officer. When I asked where my friend was, the officer came back with, “You are calling on an inside line, where the fuck are you?” Well, okay, I was taken aback, but I told her my room number. After all, she was a cop. She basically said that it was impossible that I was in that room number, because all the rooms in that part of the  motel had been evacuated. Really? At this point, I grew concerned. Then I found out there was a SWAT team outside, that the man from the high desert (who was in the room next to me by the way) had taken hostages, and the bottom line was that my children and I were in danger.

The officer told me to get on the floor, behind the bed furthest from the front door, and to pull the mattress on top of us. I woke my kids up, told them we were playing a game, and more or less followed her instructions, except that I didn’t get under the mattress myself. For the next couple of hours I sat there, repeating the rosary over and over again, while my son wore my Miraculous Medal, and my daughter had my physical rosary around her neck. I was watching the window, not that I could see anything, because the drapes were drawn. But then I did see something, probably right after I heard a loudspeaker, giving orders to this man they were after. He came out of his room, carrying a loaded AK-47, and using his 14-month-old son as a human shield; then he sat on the outside part of the air condition that was under our window. In other words, if they had fired on him, the chances of rounds coming into the room were extremely high.

The SWAT officers finally got this man away from my window, got the baby away from him, and took him into custody. Later I learned that he had come down from the desert with two pounds of methamphetamine, and that he had more than one AK-47, as well as a drawer in one of the two rooms they were in, full of several hundred rounds of ammunition.

I’m not sure why or how I could have three such close brushes with gun violence, and never have suffered physical injury. I’m also not sure why I didn’t even remember this last incident until last week, unless it was because my mind intentionally blocked it out, or maybe it was just because there were other, equally traumatic, things going on in my life. My mom was not expected to survive her cancer, although she did for many years. I had been homeless, living on the street, for months. I often went without enough to eat in those days, and even during that time I was there with my kids, I fed them quality food, while I lived off toast with peanut butter, and Cheerios. So for whatever reason, this last, and unquestionably the most terrifying, brush with gun violence was not in the front of my brain. I’m also not sure what jogged the memory last week. But I know that my story, or stories, have value, and that by sharing them, there is something good that can come out of this.

quiet mike

(above image: Quiet Mike)

After three close experiences with gun violence, I sometimes now wonder, “Will the next time (God forbid there be a next time) be the time that I don’t survive?” But I refuse to live my life in fear, and I will never stop working to end gun violence.

If you, or someone you love, has been personally affected by gun violence, and you feel comfortable in doing so, please reach out to me via email. I can put you in touch with a great support network. My email is JanH.Nebraska@gmail.com

 

**I feel the need to add that my homelessness was not caused by my own piss poor planning, or lack wanting a home. Rather it was because I had, once again, trusted too fully, and had two roommates who screwed me over by moving out, after stealing everything of value from me, and leaving me in a position where I couldn’t afford the rent, nor could I save up the first/last months’ rent plus security deposit.

Hillary Clinton & Gabby Giffords Getting Out the Vote in Hampton, NH


#ImWithHer

Still4Hill

Hillary and Gabby shared a stage again today on Hillary’s first day back in New Hampshire after her win in Iowa.  Hillary never stops and never wastes a minute.  There is no question that she has it all: the smarts, the wisdom, the compassion, the policy plans, and the energy to get it all done!

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton waves to supporters as she arrives for an event in Hampton, N.H., Tuesday Feb. 2, 2016, on her first day in New Hampshire after winning the Iowa Caucus. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton waves to supporters as she arrives for an event in Hampton, N.H., Tuesday Feb. 2, 2016, on her first day in New Hampshire after winning the Iowa Caucus. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton waves at supporters as she arrives for an event in Hampton, N.H., Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016, Clinton's first day in New Hampshire after winning the Iowa Caucus. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton waves at supporters as she arrives for an event in Hampton, N.H., Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016, Clinton’s first day in New Hampshire after winning the Iowa Caucus. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton applauds former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords as she speaks at a Clinton event in Hampton, N.H., Tuesday Feb. 2, 2016, on Clinton's first day in New Hampshire after winning the Iowa Caucus. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton applauds former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords as she speaks at a Clinton event in Hampton, N.H., Tuesday Feb. 2…

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Living Through Snowmageddon – Updated


  
I live in South Central Nebraska, six short miles from the Kansas state line. The tiny slice of Nebraska where I live is often called the “banana belt,” because we tend to have milder weather than the rest of the state in winter time. Starting yesterday (February 1, 2016) through today, this was definitely not the case. When I got up yesterday morning, there was not a flake of snow to be seen anywhere, not even on the protected, northern side of buildings. Not a single flake.  It was raining, but within a very short period, the rain turned to sleet, and then to snow. 

From sometime yesterday, through midnight tonight we were, and remain, under a blizzard warning. In fact, the conditions were bad enough that I-80 was closed down from mile marker 257 (Elm Creek), through 353 (York), and numerous other state roads were closed. Growing up in North Dakota, I was used to major storms. In fact, for those of us who grew up in North Dakota, we might argue that our state defined winter storms. Snirt storms (blowing snow and dirt making travel impossible), ground blizzards that leave a driver feeling as though they are driving sideways, because of the blowing snow, and even snowfall in excess of 18″ in 24 hours. Yes, North Dakota knows storms. But this part of Nebraska, not so much. Tornadoes, and flat line winds, sure. But nothing like major winter storms. Omaha and Lincoln, areas north of I-80, and out in the panhandle; those locations get a lot of snow, and some truly major storms. But the banana belt is just as the name suggests, some place that doesn’t deal with this often.

This afternoon early, at noon in fact, I took some pictures of the area closest to my house. The above photo is of my red cedar tree. I can normally walk under this tree, although some branches I have to duck to clear. Today the lower branches are all dragging on the ground. One limb has cracked. 

The last time I checked, granted a couple of hours ago, we were still having wind gusts as high as 62 mph, with consistent wind speeds in the 33 mph range. 

When I woke up this morning, there was no power. My guess is that power lines outside of city limits much have been compromised. Fortunately, the city I live in has their own generators, so the power outage lasted only about an hour. Nine years ago, before I moved here, this part of the state experienced an ice storm (far more common than blizzards) that knocked out power to some homes for as long as forty days! I am forever thankful that where I live, they have those city-owned generators. 

When there is a storm forecast, people in this part of the world swarm to the grocery stores, stocking up on supplies. It’s seriously incredible to watch. Even people who live, like I do, only a couple of blocks from the grocery store, go out and buy copious quantities of milk, bread, eggs, and other “necessities.” Not me. I’m not sure why, but I refuse to worry.

Anyway, this storm actually came through with large amounts of snow and wind. But I survived, because I have enough food in my house to last for a week. I have coffee to last even longer. Priorities, people! I worry about those individuals who live on farms, and in outlying areas. Do they have power? I sure hope so. I don’t mean to sound cavalier, or as if I don’t care, because I do. But seriously, surviving this storm was so much easier than some of the summer storms I have lived through here.

  
The view from my front porch at noon, CST today. Normally, in fact virtually always, I leave my house thinking the weather isn’t bad, because there is no problem with visibility in town. Then I get a mile north of town, and I find that the roads are dangerous, or we are socked in with fog, or very limited visibility. This was the first time I have seen such limited visibility here in town, after living here nearly 8 1/2 years!

  
The view out my bedroom window this morning! 

I think it is safe to say that snowmageddon was a new experience for me here in Nebraska. Thank goodness I didn’t have to go anywhere today.   And, truth be told, I’ve been through far worse winter storms elsewhere in the country. But this one was fun for me – fun because I could stay put. I really hope that those who live in those outlying areas around here are also doing well! And if you are someone who lives where snow is rare, then enjoy the photos. I still haven’t shoveled my sidewalk. My snow shovel is buried under a 3′ deep drift on my front porch!

This morning, before I even managed to finish my first cup of coffee, I heard noises from my front porch. My amazing (truly) neighbor Jen had taken it upon herself to shovel my front porch and sidewalk! That is true Nebraska Nice! She is, without question, the #BestNeighborEver!

  
Reported totals of snow: The National Weather Service in Hastings said my town got 13″. Grand Island, about 80 miles from me, got 18.5″! As of about 10 a.m. today, I-80 was still closed between North Platte and Lincoln, a distance of 229 miles.