Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Important Information 4-U-2 Know:

This is off of a pamphlet from Resources for Families with different numbers around Racine County, if you need anything. This is not a complete list, but, there are referral services here, so those people should be able to help you, if there is something you need, but it’s not covered here. But, here you go... Please share widely for those who may need help.
General Information:
Information & Referral: 211  
*If 211 doesn’t work from your phone: 866-211-3380
Catholic Charities Hispanic Outreach: (262)635-9510
Love Inc. (Western Racine Co.): (262)763-6226
Birth to Three (Special Needs Birth to Six): (262)638-7720
Aging & Disability Resource Center:(262)833-8777 
 -of Racine County (ADRC): 866-2191043
United Way of Racine County: (262)898-2240 
 -Advancing Family Assets: (262)898-2240
Workforce Development Center: (262)638-6312 
+Western Racine County: (262)767-5399
Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR): (262)638-7200
First Choice Pre-Apprenticeship: (262)633-3285
Life’s Transitions: 877-678-0743
OIC of Racine County: (262)636-3818
Racine Vocational Ministry: (262)633-8660
UMOS: (262)657-2170
YWCA S.E. WI: (262)898-5530
Veteran’s Employment: (262)638-6564
Veteran’s Service Office (Racine Co): (262)638-6702
Vet’s Place South East (Racine): (262)633-5180  
+Vet’s Place Southern Center: (262)878-9151
Baby Express: 800-579-1145
The BUS: (262)637-9000
K-Town Transportation: (262)764-0377
SPARC (Burlington): (262)412-8641
My Ride Free Transport for Senior Citizens: (262)417-7544
Legal Action Wisconsin: (262)635-8836 (800)242-5840
Non-Profit Legal Services of SE-WI: 877-619-8944

Friday, August 5, 2016

Elections, Candidates, and Why This Curious Mind Wants to Know...

As I've stated in the past, I have been active with the election and campaigning process for a very long time.  It is fun for me to participate in this action, as well as gratifying to be an activated advocate.  The biggest reason being that I just love the way our Founding Fathers have laid it out as a governmental system run BY the people FOR the people.  To me, it represents the fact that ordinary, regular, everyday people like us get to speak to our elected officials, and voice our concerns, support, and even suggest what kind of law to be maid.  I am most definitely dating myself, but, here is my hard work in action, and while it died in committee due to a study that didn't finish before the 2 year legislative session, I was proud of myself for being able to push it to the point of being heard in the Committee for Criminal Justice & Corrections.

Please click for the article:  The Force Behind April's Law Wisconsin 

In any case, I just love the Preamble for The Constitution:

The 1st 3 words speaks for it all...  "We the people"...  This reminds me of the song I Got the Power which rings true for every American citizen...

Okay, sorry, I digress...  Thanks for bearing with me.

Because voting at every election is very important to me, because these are the events that shape the direction of where our country, state, county, and municipality will be going for the next 2-6 years, depending on how long each term is.  I encourage everyone to vote at all elections, even small primaries, because the decisions at these primaries will decide who is on the ballot for the general election, which will pick the person to represent us in what ever political position they are running for.  So, if anything, please pay attention to what is going on at home.

I, on the other hand, am interested in what goes on all over the country, and some election races are more important than others.  Sometimes it's because of the issues.  Other times it's the candidates.  This election run, a specific candidate (out of my voting arena) grabbed my interest.  You probably already know...  The professional wrestler named #Rhyno, whose real name is Terrance Guido Gerin, is running for state representative in Dearborn, MI - part of the Greater Detroit area.

I have to admit, I'm really not a huge fan of supporting celebrities who run for office.  When Arnold Schwarzenegger and Donald Trump ran for office, I had a few of those eye-roll moments where I think I showed up a group of teenagers being lectured by the neighborhood eccentric about behaving...  I still can't believe Trump made it this far...  There were so many other Republican candidates who would have been so much better qualified...  Arnold was pretty unremarkable as the governor of California.  It was cool to have a real live action figure in office, but, for me, there wasn't too much of interest after that.

On the other hand, when Clint Eastwood and Jesse "The Body" Ventura ran for their respective offices, I was curious, because both of them have their intellectual aspects that is extraordinary even in the everyday world without the fact that they are famous for their acting, and Jesse as an athlete as well.  I especially appreciate the fact that Jesse Ventura ran under a 3rd party, and won.  He ran as a part of the Independence Party, which was previously called the Reform Party.  I found that very interesting, and very neat.  (You see, as a tame rebel myself, I love when people "break the rules" and do it their way, and succeed; and it's actually LEGAL)!

Okay, okay, sorry...  I'm famous for going on tangents...  Back to Rhyno the Wrestler who is running for office...  Anyway, what intrigues me is the fact that I would have NEVER pegged him as a candidate.  So, when I heard the news, of course, I had to investigate.  I read up on him in as many venues as possible, to ensure that I pick up even the smallest piece of information because he piqued my interest as to why he took such a huge leap from doing extreme wrestling to running for state assembly.

What I can gather from what I have read, and I think I'm mostly correct in my assessment of him, is while Mr. Terrance Gerin is a self admitted workaholic, I think he has this urge to want to be a people pleaser and wants to do it in the best ways as possible.  Just like Madonna wants the whole planet to love her, Terrance Gerin wants everyone to be proud of him for doing a good job for them.  It interests me further, that as the character, Rhyno, he is a tough force to be reckoned with, more like Mother Nature, while as the person, he comes across more like an eager Father Time, in my opinion.  I say this because he wants to stay on the active roster for WWE as a wrestler, while busting his chops as an elected official.

The Michigan primary was on August 2, 2016, and Mr. Gerin won the Republican ticket against several other contestants.  He is now gearing up for the general election in November, where we have one of the most heated presidential race to date in this country.  I believe that since presidential elections always bring in the biggest crowd, he has a better chance of winning his seat because of this.  I also think that after being elected, that you will see he will be the change this country needs, because of his dedication to his hometown and the fact that he loves being American, and being a hometown hero, who truly has his best interests in his community.  I think he is going to be awesome, in the true sense of the word.  I just wish all other candidates had his passion for our country and community as well.

To tie his passion and love for his work and for the elected position, his campaign slogan is, "Vote for Rhino; he will fight for you".  Perfect.

Here is a telephone interview, courtesy of Syma Chowdhry, an Emmy Award winning reporter and fill-in anchor for Detroit News station WXYZ-TV:  Rhyno Speaks to WXYZ-TV
He is running for Michigan's 15th district for State Representative.

To stay in the loop, please like his facebook page:  Vote for Rhino 

Or if you're on Twitter:  Rhyno313 

To support the campaign directly:  Terrance Guido Gerin for State Rep 

Or buy a T-Shirt as a souvenir and support the campaign at the same time:  Pro Wrestling Tees 

Thursday, August 4, 2016

GMO, Fast Food, & Health Issues: Where Government Agencies Sit

We have been hearing a lot about GMO foods.  What does it stand for?  Genetically Modified Organisms, which are usually some kind of fresh produce, for the purposes of us common people.  For a better definition of how it works, please refer to Non GMO Project 
website to find out more.

The thing about GMO is that not all combinations of the modification are low risk.  Many are consider high risk, and more of them are medium risk, and very very few are low risk.  It's not like taking the heartiest apple, and crossing it with a mildly sweet pear, to get one of those Asian apple-pears, which is more of a hybrid, as opposed to being outright a modified product.  Many of these fruits and vegetables you  buy may have animal and viral aspects mixed in, so those who want to be vegetarian or vegan may end up eating animal products, without knowing about it, because not all of the modifications are necessary to be labeled.  I think this is a crooked practice.  But, you can educate yourself about what products are potentially GMO, just like you can educate yourself on what kinds of eating plan is right for you, depending on what your needs are.

Of course, if you're trying to lose weight, fast food is most definitely the type of thing you want to avoid.  Many of the ingredients are the bottom of the barrel.  The buns are from highly processed white flour of little nutritional value.  The "meat" patties are filled with soy extenders.  The cheese is probably equivalent or lower than the individually wrapped cheese-food product we see at the grocery store.  The fries are deep fried in rendered fats or shortening, and it is all bad for your health.  If we have other health issues that are somewhat connected to being overweight such as high blood pressure or diabetes, a steady intake of fast food is a big No-No.

For those of us who are in our mid 40's and older, we remember the 4-4-3-2 rule of thumb.  4 starches, 4 fruits and vegetables, 3 dairy products (which actually included cheese), and 2 meats.  I don't recall what they told us was the size of each serving.

When my son was in elementary school, it was Pyramid Pete's food pyramid.  The bottom layer is your starches telling us to eat 6-11 servings, the next level was a combination of 3-5 servings of veggies and 2-4 servings of fruit.  The 3rd layer from the bottom is 2-3 servings of dairy, and 2-3 servings of proteins.  The top tip was your fats and sugars, which was to be used sparingly.  Again, cheese is categorized with dairy products.

Today, we have My Plate, where 1/2 of the plate is vegetables & fruits with veggies getting a bigger portion of that 1/2, 1/4 of the plate is starch, 1/4 of the plate protein, and your 1 serving of dairy in a glass.

I'm sure there are other versions, but, I see a problem with all of these plans.  Growing children at different stages of growth have different needs.  You can't lump all elementary school children into one group.  A kindergartener who is small is going to eat a lot less than a 5th grader who hit their pre-teen growth spurt early...  Adults in their 20s have different needs than those who are in their 80s.  Men and women have different needs.  Athletes and couch potatoes have different needs.  So, how do we know, based on this information?  More educating yourself...  Or be able to hire a personal trainer.  There are a LOT of issues that you need to take into the fact that we are all individual, and you should always discuss any drastic changes with your primary care physician.  If your doctor refuses to work with you, maybe you need to find another one who will.

Then there are the health ailments you need to take into account...  Got cardio-vascular issues?  You may need a "heart healthy" diet, which reduces the amount of salt you take in, or, you may have cholesterol issues and need to lower the amount of fat in your diet...  Or even both.  Of course, changing the way you eat this way is not always easy...  Salt can make the flavors of your food blend better, or you have to cook it slower for longer.  Fat also adds that flavor, and it's easy to miss those flavors, and to all of a sudden you have to use spices you've never heard of to put the flavor in it...  But that is okay.  To learn, think about what you are cooking, and what flavors you are looking for.  Let your nose do your bidding.  Yes.  Open those spices up, and take a good sniff.  If it smells like it would go good with what you're cooking, put some in.  Start small.  You can always add more.  Once it's in, you can't take it out.  You'll be surprised with what you can come up with by making your nose do some of the work for you.  It's fun.

If you're diabetic, you need to watch out for those carbs...  They get you in many different ways.  The more processed, the worse it is.  White generic bread, which includes Wonder bread, is the worst type.  Generic wheat is a little  better, but not much.  Cracked wheat is much better, and there are multigrains, ancient grains, etc.  The more complex, the better.  But, different flours are not created equal.  Buckwheat flour is quite healthy, and semolina is fairly healthy, yet other ones are not as healthy.  Not all whole grains are created equal, either.  Oatmeal is a super grain even as oatmeal cookies.  But it has to be old fashioned or steel cut.  Instant oatmeal is a junk food not much healthier than Suzie Q's, so be careful.  What you eat does affect how your body can deal with it.

Then, if you're an organ recipient, and have to take anti-rejection medicines, you have to watch other foods.  There is also the issue of kidney failure, where you have to watch your potassium (vitamin K) intake, and it's not easy to keep everything straight, if you have multiple issues going on.  Again, important to talk to your doctor.  If your doctor isn't working with you, get a different one.

As a person with multiple health issues myself, I refuse to just sit back and let my ailments take over my life.  What ever I can do, I will...  But, I also realize that with what I have, I need to get help from medical personnel.  Just eating right and exercising is not easy, for the fact that I have chronic pain issues that started 31 years ago as a teen, which only lasted a couple days, and about 18 years ago, became 24/7.  It's progressive.  Every year, I can compare from a year ago, and know it's worse now, than it was a year ago.  So, while lifting weights may be out of the question, doesn't mean I can't go swim.  I do what I can.  As a diabetic, I know what I need to stay away from.  Having a genetic disorder called 16p11.2 microdeletion, where just eating less is near impossible, and losing weight is a two fold issue of increased appetite and lowered metabolism.  I'm not giving up.  So far, I've lost 50#s.  I still have a ways to go, but, I am doing what I can to move it along the best I can.  Type 1 is when your pancreas does not make ANY insulin at all.  Most people with this have it when they are very young, but, can occur anytime.  Type 2 is when you either don't make enough insulin, or receptors are not working properly, or your insulin isn't efficient, or any combo.  This is more common today, yet it is not new.

All of these issues can affect different people differently, and the fact that there is so much corn syrup hidden in bread, candy, soda, etc.  GMO.  Processing the nutrition out.  Staying away from fast food.  What is safe or not to your health.  Yes, you have to spend more money on healthier food.  While sure, somethings are easier, such as trading your bag of chips for a bag of apples, or putting down the soda for water.  But, what about breads, and lean ground beef vs. fatty?  90% lean usually what, $4.49/lb?  More?  73% lean hamburger is $2.99/lb.  Bologna is relatively cheap.  Lean chicken breast w/o addatives is relatively expensive.  It's crazy.

Once upon a time, when people were hunter/gatherers, or even old school farmers, people ate a lot of fatty foods, and didn't think much about it.  Now, that there are modern conveniences and such, we are not so lucky.  Part of it is that our biology and physiology has not caught up with technology.  We can't eat like those who used to migrate on foot, w/o getting more exercise.  Does this mean that diseases didn't exist before?  I bet they did, just not as prominent, because they ate real food back then, plus they worked hard to get it.

But if you figure...  Do you know that diabetes has been found and studied for a couple thousand years? And think.  They didn't have highly processed foods back then.  Obesity wasn't as prominent.  People were more active.  Everyone was poor or middle class.  Today, there are such wide spread poverty, it's not funny.

So...  We have government agencies like the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) National Institute for Health (NIH), Occupational Health & Health Administration (OSHA), National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) among many others that oversee the many different aspects of industries and life in this country.  As governmental agencies, they do not directly benefit from big corporations.  Money may be given to legislators, or maybe a group can lobby hard, but, for the most part, these agencies are government run, and just like anything else, may or may not have the most current information.  I would not say they are corrupt, though are not perfect, either.

The health care industry, on the other hand, can be crooked.  I remember when I had regular insurance, all of a sudden, tons of different places wanted to vie for my business of treating my back pain.  The red carpet rolled out.  As we lost income and went back onto medicaid, the red carpet was taken back, just to say screw it.  What is crazy...  Yes, I agree that those who are able to work should, and I am able, in an office setting.  To expand my scope, my back needs to be better.  To have the better back, I need a job that pays well and can afford to get the treatments.  But to work those jobs, I need to have my back better.  Since it is bad, I am on medicaid, which won't pay for the treatments because I should pay for it...  Catch 22.  Wish I was better.  I'd be wonder woman for sure.  But, I aim to do what I can, and hope for the best, although my patience is definitely tried, and tried hard.

Got questions?  I might have answers.  If not, I'll find out.  Ask away in comments.  Thanks.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

A Rant About Ethnic Food Recipe: Can We Keep the Flavor Yet Make It Healthier?

Hello, my loyal readers, I'm hoping to help everyone be able to enjoy good foods, especially if your doctor told you that you had to lose weight, and sends you to a dietician or nutritionist.  Mind you, I am all about trying to eat healthy, but at the same time, also to allow us to enjoy our favorite foods, especially our ethnic foods.  Don't forget, I do not have a kitchen, I have a science lab where I create tasty food that is also nutritiously balanced.

Granted, these days, you can get some really good tips and a list of stuff you try to still eat a healthier version of things, such as whole grain pasta and ultra grain tortillas.  But, my biggest complaint about all of these tips, is if you eat the "typical" middle American types of food, you're in luck, these lists, suggestions, tips, etc are like hitting the jackpot.  But....  What if you are from a different ethnic background, or a multi-ethnic background?  Here is what many "food experts" say, and I take this from a multitude of Certified Nutritionists, Registered Dieticians, Nurse Diabetic Educators, and online sources such as Mayo Clinic, is that the highest rate of obesity related diabetes occur in our Latino/Hispanic, Asian American, and African American ethnic groups...  Mostly because in many of these cuisines, they are either carb heavy and/or high in fat.

Why does this happen?  When talking Mexican food, the carbohydrates come from the tortillas (flour is a worse offender than the corn), Spanish rice, and the refried beans (legumes are a starchy protein) which are fried in bacon fat or some other form of lard or saturated fat.  In many Asian restaurants, there is a high amount of sugar in the sauces, and of course, there is always rice, some even breaded and deep fried...  Soul Food consists of BBQ'd ribs (fatty), fried chicken, collard greens cooked with pork hocks, and the barbecue sauces are often high in sugar or corn syrup as well.  All of these foods are delicious, but, in their usual format, not very healthy.

Unfortunately, when we ask our "experts", they are usually of the American country cooking types, who have NO idea how to do these ethnic foods correctly, nor how to honestly use better swaps to make it better.  For example, I had one nutritionist, who just thought she was all that and a cute bag of chips, too, tell me that to make Spanish rice, to just use a tablespoon of salsa with the rice.  So I asked her how she would prepare that...  I think she said something like making rice on the stove top, with plain water, and when you put it on your plate, to put the salsa on...  So I mentioned that I don't want to use cold salsa or room temp either, because it takes away from having hot rice, and getting a good blend of flavor to make it still feel authentic when doing it that way.  She asks me how the salsa can be cold.  Um.  I buy a jar of salsa...  Use it with tacos...  The remainder of the salsa goes into the fridge because it's opened...  So, a few days later, I want Spanish rice, and so I take the open one out of the fridge...  Because it's been in there, it's refrigerated, so the salsa is cold, and you said to use 1 TBS on the rice...  So she says to just put it into the sauce pot...  I tell her I use a rice cooker, and I want the measurements, because 1 TBS is not going to be enough for the amount of rice, she says just to put as much as I want...  *sigh*  so I ask her, if she has any suggestions, and she snaps at me about how she just gave me one, and I'm being difficult...  

Okay, but, for those of us whose cultural foods which utilize rice or cous cous, knows that having these whole grains means that it has to be the right texture...  As in, if you use 1.5 cups of water to 1 cup of rice, you don't want to use the whole 1.5 cups of water AND a 1/2 jar of salsa to cook that rice, unless we want soggy food...  No, we do NOT want soggy rice, it is the medium as to which the rest of the meal revolves around, especially for someone like me, who was born and raised in Tokyo for 8 years, and the word "gohan" (Think the vowels of Gold Bond - go like the go in gold, han rhymes with bon in bond) means rice, but it also is used to mean "meal".  Imperfect rice is just NOT acceptable.  At all.  I also think that it is completely silly of these people that they think everyone should make the foods so, well, WHITE!  When you want Mexican food, you want Mexican food.  You don't want Taco Bell.  You don't necessarily even want Tex-Mex.  You want bonafied, authentic, real deal Mexican food that slaps your taste buds the only way these flavorful foods can.  But, if you need to lose weight, or need to lower cholesterol, you know you need to make these adjustments for your own sake, so you can keep taking care of family members.

What I am attempting to do, is to try to take at least a couple of these recipes, and keep the honest to goodness flavors in there, while making it better for your health, so you can feel good about serving your favorite people the foods they love while making the move toward being a stronger people.  I say this, because, if you have to use exercise to offset your eating habits, there is something wrong with your eating habits.  It's a good balance of eating well, loving what you eat, and exercising to take you that extra mile toward a holistic healthy of mind, body and soul.

So, here it is...  These are not perfected, but, these are at least a slight improvement of family favorites to serve.

Sesame Chicken:
2 TBS Soy Sauce
1 TBS Sake - dry
2 tsp Sesame Oil
3/4 tsp Mrs. Dash
1 tsp fresh ginger juice
     Mix well.

1 lb  boneless/skinless chicken breast, in 1" cubes
     Marinade at least 1/2 hour (longer is okay)

10 minutes before you're going to cook, add the white of an uncooked egg

5 - 6 TBS of Arrow Root flour or Water Chestnut starch

Deep fry in hot peanut oil.  Drip dry 1st on cooling rack, then paper towel lined baking sheets. 

Serve with steamed rice and a spinach salad

1 lb 90% lean ground beef
1 -  15oz can of vegetarian refried beans
1 medium onion, minced
2 jalapeno peppers, minced
1 TBS cumin (to taste)
3 TBS cilantro (to taste)
Lime juice - varies, to taste/cookware
Red pepper flakes to taste

Brown ground beef with the onion 
Add the peppers/spices
When meat is almost all done, add refried beans*
As the mixture becomes tacky and difficult to handle, use lime juice to de-glaze pan to add & blend flavors together

I do not use salt, because the can of beans has enough sodium, plus using other spices lessens the need for salt.

*I do not drain the 90%, because SOME fat need to be able to absorb into the beans, and because the grease will be minimal, it is better for you than rendered bacon fat.

Don't forget to top it with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, and your favorite garden salsa.

Rice Pilaf:
18 oz risotto or Jasmine rice
26 oz low sodium/99% fat free chicken broth 
1 small onion, minced
parsley flakes to taste

Mix well, steam in rice cooker

In a skillet, heat olive oil, saute to get that fried/crusty flavor

(Yes, I do it in reverse order)

If you have any requests for your favorite foods, let me know, I'll see if I can find a way to polish it up, and then give it back to you for you to try it out, and let me know if it passes your test.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Ethnic Food Meets USA: Taco Burgers

This is a cool recipe. Here it goes:
2 pounds ground beef
1 medium onion, minced
1 egg
1 & 1/2 TBS lime juice (to taste)
2 TBS cumin
3 TBS cilantro
1/2 TBS red pepper flakes (to taste)
pinch of garlic salt
8oz your favorite cheese, crumbled or shredded
8 slices of tomato, or diced, your choice
8 leaves of lettuce, or shredded
8 burrito sized tortillas
Your favorite salsa 
Optional: Sour cream.
Mix the meat, onion, cheese, and spices together. Form into 8 patties. Cook on your George Foreman type grill, or broil until outsides are seared, and most of the grease drained out. 
Place each patty into a tortilla, fold the tortilla over. If using diced tomato and shredded lettuce, fold that into the tortilla as well.
Lightly fry in a fry pan by placing folded side down, or, if you have a press, to grill it into a panini style sandwich.
If you’re using the sliced tomatoes and whole lettuce leaves, place those on top, similar to how you’d make flautas. Add your salsa, and enjoy.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Bucket Wish List & Walls of Poverty

Yes, this is another one of my gripe blogs. A rant of sorts. Story telling of disgruntled people, including advocates. But, I promise to keep the rating at PG-13.
I have a bucket list. No. Don’t worry. I’m not going anywhere too soon, and it will be a LONG time until anyone will be able to rid the planet of me. My job as an advocate is nowhere near being complete, or the ball rolling fast enough to hand off the baton to the next person. So, if you want to see this as a positive thing, go for it, though, there isn’t much that can be said to the fact that somethings will never ever happen, unless some sort of freakishly good karma kills off this insanely crazy dogma that seems to be a regular in my life. I wish it would go away, because no luck is sounding like good luck in this long time of bad luck.
So, let me start with my bucket list, so you can rant and rave about how cool my list is, because, you know, sometimes I just have to drown myself in cotton sheets of coolness. But don’t get me wrong. There is no awesomeness here, because this is only a bucket list, and nothing more at this time. So, here it goes, you freaky cool friends of mine, here is my list.
1) Hand Gliding - solo... Yes, I want to jump off of a cliff, strapped into a mock set of wings, and fly in the air until I’m good and ready to land on solid ground. And I want to do it w/o being attached to someone else. Yes, I am afraid of heights, but, soaring through the wind is so appealing, that it overrules my acrophobia.
2) Playing a Trombone... Yeah, you know, that golden brass instrument that you buzz your lips into, and it has a moving slide that helps you change the notes you’re going to play. And, even if it’s just once, I’d like to play it in a Big Band, Swing Band, Jazz Band... think “Sing, Sing, Sing with a Swing, with the Christopher Columbus Intro”... That would be totally awesome. And yes, I want to play in front of an audience, and hope that at least a few people know how to dance to this kind of music... Pass the smiles around, you know? Yes.
3) Electric Bass... Yes. Plug me in, you crazed rockers out there! You know you love to rock out, and I want to jam on! Classic rock, alternative rock, if it rocks, I want to jam on, similar to this short list, but there are more: Turn to Stone by ELO, Basket Case by Green Day, Born to be Wild by Steppenwolf, other stuff including some Billy Joel songs, most of Dead or Alive’s Rip It Up album, and other cool songs by awesome bands like Bachman Turner Overdrive, and you know, that stuff... Only a couple of bubble gum songs from the 80’s, but, it would just be neat.
4) Drums... Oh, yeah, you know, like the one song... I want to bang on the drums all day, and a song similar to The Entertainer by Billy Joel. And a couple others. Just to say I learned how to play. That’s it.
5) Becoming a Diver, as in, a Search & Rescue Diver. Just because, it isn’t necessarily to save anyone, but, in many cases, in situations like missing persons or other important times, people need closure, and I’d like to help get that for people. Even if it isn’t the result they are looking for, it at least will give them the opportunity to move forward with life.
6) Droning - like Bag Pipe Drones. And not the usual type, I was thinking more like The Kilt Meets Wednesday Addams. I know, I know... I’m a little off center. But, hey, it would be crazy fun, to pull off an act like this. Maybe I could be a secret ninja moonlighting as a weird piper... Okay, so even joking aside, though, yes, I would do the Addams Family themed piping, another is to play at funerals of people who may not have had anyone to give them a funeral, or maybe too destitute to have anything except to just be dumped into Potter’s Field. This, because no one should have to die alone and forgotten about. I know it’s just me, but, sometimes that is all it takes, is just one person to make a huge impact for someone else, and especially if they were forgotten about in life, doesn’t mean they should be forever forgotten in death.
7) Be in a movie, somehow, or rather than write an autobiography in book form, to write a screen play instead, for my life in words and pictures.
8) I’d love to be able to work with a dog sled team in Alaska or Canada. And while I’m there, go fishing and cook up what I catch on an open fire.
9) There are a few celebrities I’d love to meet. Of course, #Rhyno is at the top, but, there are others, too, that would be super neat. These include #HughJackman, #BrookeShields, and won’t bore you with a long list of who I’d like to meet. I’d also love to become on good terms with Russ Feingold. Rhyno, whose real name is Terry Gerin, is at the top, as a professional wrestler who is also running for state assembly in the greater Detroit area. He’s not your typical athlete, who get pegged as being meatheads. He is actually quite smart, and with what I have read up on him, he will be excellent as a state rep. Mr. Gerin has passion, loves the community he calls home, dedication, and is moderate in his vision, which will bring back more unity in state government for Michigan. The fact that Detroit used to be famous as “Motor City” for all of the various car companies that manufactured there; Racine, WI used to be famous as “Tractor City” for the Case tractors that were manufactured here. Also, Racine and Detroit are in S.E. corners of respective states, and while Racine has Lake Michigan, Detroit has Lake Erie to the east.
10) Be an ambassador. To some foreign country where it may be difficult to find someone to go to. As a kid, I had many dreams... I wanted to be a performer, or POTUS, or a lawyer, or a ball player, or a hockey player.... But, with each thing, I came back to being able to be a dignitary in a foreign country. I’d graduated with a BA in International Relations with a minor in Political Science, hoping that this would be able to get me into the game, but, it never happened... 
11) As the founder of a 501c4, #YouthVoiceInitiative, I’d like to be able to say that the organization passed at least 1 good piece of legislation to protect our abused children. I have a few people that have been coming to meetings, and seems as if we will be able to do that sooner than later. Here is to hoping that this part WILL happen. So, to make up for # 10, maybe redefining what it means to be an ambassador would be appropriate, to be the voice from those who are in abusive situations that can’t speak for themselves without risking being hurt very badly. I would be happy with that.
12) Start my own business, where I can sell my creations. But, again, I have no start up capital. No one seems interested in buying my stuff. While no, it’s not designer bags or what have you, but, I also don’t charge a lot, either. I love to cook, but, with a bad back, I don’t know if I could do the restaurant thing. Most people who have eaten my food will testify to you that not only do I make nutritious look delicious, but also that it is fit for fine dining.
Of course, I consider myself lucky, it’s not as if I have NEVER done anything exciting, it’s just, somehow, life just dudded out on me... BIG TIME!!!! I’ll get around to this later. But, to bring the mood back up, here are some of the things I have done: 
1) Traveled to New York by myself (I was 19), and met my friends Saddaf and Farah, and met their sister Furyal and the rest of the family, over the New Year holiday. They were nice enough to take me to the Pak-Am party, where we got to spend New Years Eve at a New York penthouse on Time Square, to watch the balloon drop... Though I didn’t get much of that view, it was just too cool to be able to do that, and yes, almost 30 years later, I am STILL bragging about this...
2) As you may have guessed, I am pretty musical minded. As a young child, I had made up my mind that I wanted to march in a band for the 4th of July parade, and to be able to play a concert in a concert hall. I did both with my clarinet, as I did join the Lighthouse Brigade marching band, and even got to be in the drum-line for the last 3 years. I also played tenor sax, and played concerts locally with both my clarinet and sax. I even played a short stint semi-professionally with the local municipal band.
3) Took a cruise to Mexico and Bahamas, and went parasailing, and it was totally fun.
4) I did get to go around much of Wisconsin with the marching band, and got to go to Cheyenne, WY for the Western Days as part of a band competition, as well as to Traverse City, MI for the Cherry Festival for more band competitions.
5) Traveled to Boston, MA for the Sister City Planning conference way back in time, and I must say, Boston is a big city with a LOT of history, and it’s beautiful there. I wouldn’t mind going there again, and if I were to move to a coastal city permanently, it would be Boston.
6) Went to Washington DC twice, during the lobby days where I was successful in getting a few bills passed with the legislators, and being spring, the cherry trees were in full blossom, and was very impressive. The smell off of these trees in blossom is my second favorite, behind the scent of lilacs in full bloom.
7) I love amusement parks, and I love riding roller coasters. I’ve been to 6 Flags; Disney in Florida, California, AND Tokyo; Epcot Center.
8) Got paid to be a nude model for an art class. B) Was co-coach one year, and the head coach another year for my son’s little league baseball team.
Okay, sorry, sorry... Didn’t mean to brag, and there are a few more things I’ve accomplished, and well. Maybe I can include everything in my screenplay, if anyone will take it, produce it, and make it into a movie. I am just glad that I at least had a little bit of an opportunity for myself. What I don’t have, though, is the fact that I’d like my son to have the same type of experiences, but have not had the money to be able to pull it off. I’m not even sure how I’m going to be able to replenish his bank account since I had to deplete it a long time ago to pay off our electric company. Yes, that was irresponsible of me. Yes, I feel guilty because there should be a small chunk in there, but there is nothing for when he graduates in 2018. I have no idea how I’ll get it in there with the way this crap is going.
This brings me to the humongous poverty wall... Here is the thing. The US economy crashed in 2008. We are still on our knees and struggling to get back up. Japan’s economy crashed in 2014. They are already doing a much better job to bring the economy back up. While I’m sure they exist, I had not witnessed any homelessness while I traveled there. Though there were those who were poor, even health foods were more affordable.
The saddest thing about the poverty level here in Racine, is that I am not the only one here, and the others who are also hit hard by it are not just strangers or acquaintances. I KNOW these people. They are some of my friends. People who also have dreams, things they’d like to accomplish, pursue their other interests besides work, etc... But, notice how everything on my bucket list requires a chunk of money... Money I don’t have... I’ll give it to you straight.
I realize my finances aren’t public interest, but, I have no reason to be embarrassed, so here it is. My son gets $666 for child support each month. Every Saturday, I work for an elderly lady who pays me $20 each week to help her with her shower, grocery shopping, and a little bit of light housekeeping. This is it. This is what I am supporting 4 people on. Both Mike and David had their jobs fall through, and are in the same bracket as myself to try to find employment. My rent for the house I live in is $500/mo. Sure, at that price, it is a good deal for a whole house. But, having internet costs money. Electric and gas cost money. Nonfood items such as toilet paper, tooth paste, etc. cost money. Money I don’t have to be able to buy everything, yet, I do what I can so that even if I use double coupons to make the food stamps last longer, so I don’t have to shell out cash for that. Gas costs money. Technically, the rent I can afford is $175-250/mo for rent (that would bee around 25-33% of my income). We all know that the lower your income is, the less amount of your pay should go for it. So, if you make $2.5 million a month, you could probably afford to spend 50% of your income on housing. For those of us who are in poverty, it is actually irresponsible to pay this much, yet, here in Racine, there is no place available to help us make up the difference in the rent, because the list is still 2 years out. We can’t even get on that list at this time.
For those of you who may not know, I left the home care agency I was working for as a CNA to go to the VA nursing home to be the full time unit clerk for one of the buildings. The main reason was because my back, which was already partly messed up to begin with, ended up going totally to pot by the time I ended my 12.5 years of employment there. While I still experience 24/7 back pain, it’s not as severe as it was when I used to work as an aide. There were days where when I left my last client, I could barely get into my car, and had to have help getting out of the car when I got home. On two separate occasions, the back pain was so bad, one time I got a morphine shot just have it calm me down from the excruciating pain I had... The next time, I was given a prescription for hydrocodone. Of course, it was only for a short run, just 3 days worth, but, with the pain level was so bad, I would have rather died than to have to live with it. As in going into labor to birth 8 pound babies on a daily basis sounded better than the kind of pain I was experiencing, because at least once the baby is born, the pain level comes down fairly quickly to tolerable zones. 
Okay, so back to this poverty thing... When people see me, they figure that I am strong and capable. I look like I am physically strong. I am. Or at least I used to be. Mike says that he can still feel a thick layer of muscle on my back, that most women and half the men he knows doesn’t have the kind of back muscle I have... And I wish I could do a whole lot more. But, I was tested for physical function, and I was pushing to try to work what I would call a normal amount for me... And I was surprised that it lists that I have a 20# weight limit for 1/3 of the day, and should be broken up throughout, as opposed to doing it straight through. OR, 10# weight limit for 2/3 of the day, and also be intermittently done. Doing work where I would have to crouch, kneel, twist, or work overhead for long amounts of time are off limits for me. So, that leaves office work.
Mind you, I am fully capable of working in an office. I know how to use the office programs, file, fax, use multiline phones, take messages, be professionally helpful, etc. My goal is to make sure that the boss has as little on his/her desk as possible, and to solve issues before they become big problems. Happy customers/clients are repeat customers who bring their family and friends back for said services and such due to the high level of work performance on my part, while making them feel comfortable. Yet, in the last year and a half, no one has wanted me for any office work. I have bills to pay for. A teenage boy to fend for. Things I need to get to run my household the way I want. But, I don’t have employment. I hate the fact that there are times I get dirty looks from other people when I pull out my food stamp card.
Now, mind you, I’m not trying to complain. I’m glad we have the food stamps and medical care, because without them, I don’t know what I’d do for us. That, I am thankful for. But, of course, it’s one of these things that I would rather have my own money that I earned to be able to pay for my own stuff. It’s that little thing called self pride. I am ready and willing to work. People tell me not to give up, to keep trying... But seriously... I have easily filled out 3000 applications since April of 2014... What am I supposed to keep trying? I’ve already applied to these places, and I can’t get anything? Even after graduating with a BA... My best job based on my education was as a substitute teacher, where I got no benefits at all, and the call rate was so erratic, I had to leave.
Thing is, what is there that is helping people? Only if you are homeless, have AODA issues, or just released back into the community after serving time as a felon... Seriously? GEEZE!
Yes, I have used the Workforce Development Center. I got my CNA & HUC diplomas there. I was certified. I went in for all of the workshops. I updated my resume. I applied like a crazy lady. Nothing. I signed up for this F-SET program, and they wanted me to go do house keeping for a shelter “to develop work skills to put on the resume”... Um... I’ve been working for over 30 years. I did all of my own housekeeping until my back wouldn’t do it anymore. And I need work experience doing housekeeping to have something to put on my resume? UGH! I updated my resume again, through the orientation. Still no luck.
I went to DVR. The one lady dropped my at the end of 90 days over this function test that the center doing it had sat on it so long, that my time expired. The original lady assigned to me pretty much refused to help me in any way that made logical sense. I had told her that I went to my doctor, got the referral, sent it over to the therapy department, and had called, they didn’t get back to me, and then ignored my call backs to find out info, and rather than the DVR counselor stepping in to help, also sat back and let my time expire. Then refused to answer my inquiries on what I can do to open my case back up.
So finally I go to Racine Vocational Ministry. They send me back to reapply at DVR. I did get started. But, so far, I don’t think it’s going to help me much. I got handed a list of “job developers”. I picked one. I met with her. Aside from a small little tweak on my resume, and a template for a cover letter, I really haven’t gotten anything else...
Yes, I am using online job boards. I’m on Job Center of Wisconsin, Wisc.jobs, City of Racine, Racine County, Career builder, every hospital in S.E. Wisconsin, Indeed, and a bunch of others... I am capable of office work, I try and want to learn everything about the job, so I can be efficient in the organization I work for... I want to work. Yet, not. one. single. offer. After all of these... then I get accused of being insecure, when I come across strong. Um. No, wench. I am not insecure. I know I’m worth hiring. But, after literally, 3000 rejections in the last 2 years, and over the course of time since I graduated with my BA in 1995, and have worked graveyard at gas stations just to have income.... I figure the amount of jobs I’ve applied for to be gainfully employed in a meaningful workplace adds up to about 7000 professional type jobs... And 7000 rejections for what ever reason... Am I supposed to be happy? I would think most people would have given up long, long ago. Maybe I’m insane. If one cannot understand that I am frustrated in this situation, maybe you don’t “get it” that yes, some of us actually bust our butts to get little to no success... Yet still poke stupid comments and think it’s cute... Well. Since some of these people think that they’re being cute, when they make stupid comments, yes. I flat out tell them they are being stupid. If that is offensive, maybe it’s the truth. Then be glad I’m doing you a favor, so you can stop being stupid....
Until then, hoping to be able to find something that works, though I don’t know where. It seems as if no one wants anyone my age who is qualified, has a set of work ethics, and is willing to go the extra mile, because some 20 year old bubble head who acts like Kelly Bundy got hired for my job because the boss thinks that stupidly cute is grand. Then don’t wonder why your business failed or that you’re not doing the business you wanted and is within reach... If you wanted a successful business that brought in the comfortable type income, you should have hired me instead. I would give accurate information. Pointed them in the right direction. Actually paid attention to customers... And they would have been satisfied, became repeat customers and brought in family and friends... The saddest part of all of this? I have at least 5 friends, 2 acquaintances and 4 others who are friends of my friends who are in this same predicament that their life dream is slipping away, and don’t know how they’re going to have their children go to college or learn a trade, or what ever it is. All of us have bucket lists that are not even on the back burner. They are in the basement or garage collecting cobwebs because it seems that even our leaders don’t seem to care, because survey says the unemployment numbers are down. Where? - then lead us to the places we can get those jobs, then! That would help solve a lot of our problems. I dare you to ask me how it would.
Peace out.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

My Cousin Wedded:

James and Breeyn, sharing a kiss after cutting the cake.

Yesterday, my cousin Breeyn married the love of her life, James. From what I understand, even from siblings of both the bride (Caelyn and Logan) AND groom, they are meant for each other. And, it’s neat that the parents and family of the bride took James into the family, while at the same time, the parents and family of the groom took her in as one of their own. I was overjoyed, as I was speaking to the groom’s mother, Diana, that she was honored to “finally have a daughter” (she has 3 sons). For both sets of parents, it’s the oldest children who married, and it’s the first wedding of all of their kids. It’s neat.
Anyway, it may seem weird, I don’t know, but, Sean is my oldest cousin, and I remember always looking up to him somehow, and maybe someday, I’ll explain a little bit how he had “rescued” me from a couple of silly predicaments I got myself into. But, it’s just one of these things where the rest of us cousins are a few years younger, and at the same time, the rest of us are in a close age range of 4 years with 6 of us in that 4 year span. So, you can imagine what could happen at family gatherings with just a small gesture by Sean, and the rest of us would push the limits from there... Breeyn, his daughter, is the 1st grandchild for our family. Also the 1st great grandchild for our grandparents. So, attending this wedding is kind of a milestone for the extended family as well.

Jennifer, myself, Sean, Kristen, and Jerry

Two of us are missing from this picture. My younger sister Megi, and my cousin Michael, who is the youngest of Jennifer, Jerry, and Kristen. Yes, it’s the 6 of us, who all probably worshiped Sean on one form or another, and I’m sure that Uncle Joe, (Breeyn’s grandpa) will tell you that the 6 of us together could have counted as a group of rascals or something.
It was kind of crazy, because as Sean walked Breeyn down the isle, of course all of the parents were teary eyed, but not like Sean, who probably felt like he had 1000 emotions running at the same time... I think most of us in attendance were teary eyed, too... I know I couldn’t help it at that point. Yet, here we are at this point, and of course, Breeyn was perfect (as if it would be any other way). But, okay, enough of me blabbing...
The service was great, the dinner was fabulous, and the reception was totally fun! Here, I’ll share the fun. And, if you don’t believe me, you can also ask “Aunt Joannie”, “Uncle Warren”, or Abbi, who is dating the Best Man. It’s all good.

Breeyn and James, encouraging others to dance
Abbi and Jason - she has a beautiful smile, and what a cute couple!
Diana and Michael, parents of the groom
Joannie and Warren dancing
Me with Breeyn - she makes such a perfect bride!
Me with Sean, next best thing to being my older brother
Father of the bride & mother of the groom sharing a break from dancing, while Jackie (mother of the bride) listens to the conversation
My aunt Judy, aka Sean's Mom, aka Breeyn's grandma, aka my Godmother

Some of my pictures didn’t turn out as good, but, it as a fun time, and blessings to everyone.