Monday, February 12, 2018

The cold and Flu season; This years epidemic (to get the shot or not)

The cold and flu season. Usually starting in mid October and continuing on to the following year, sometimes in to March. 

For me, it starts in late November, and I usually have it until the beginning of January. This time however, it has hung on until just the past couple weeks, and is slowly going away. I do not have a spleen, so it is harder for me to fight anything I get. I do not though, get the flu shot. 

Here's why; several years ago, when the doctors figured out I did not have a spleen, they loaded me up with shots. The flu shot, the   
pneumococcal and more. I had a rare auto immune disease that was treated with chemo, so all my defenses were low. Through the years though, I stopped getting the shots. Moving, changing Doctors, life changes, and so on, so I just stopped. I have found that I have been healthier without the shots and other medicines that I have been on. 

This year has been the 1st year that I caught the flu really bad, and it knocked me for a loop. I got it one day before the New Year, and still have the cough, and sinus issue. (mostly from working in a smoke filled casino is what I believe) Anyway, I don't get the shots. This is a personal choice. 

In Washington State, we have had over 150 deaths from complications of the flu, 27 have been in Snohomish county. The highest in the state.  This is my county. I live in the North end where homelessness and drug abuse has also risen. No doubt contributing to these statistics. 

According to the CDC the shot this year was only 46% effective. That's not a high number. I'm not a Doctor, nor a scientist, I didn't study medicine, or biology. None of those things, but it seems to me, that getting a shot that is not 100% effective, is not really worth it. I'm basing this on personal experience, but think about it. Why would you want to put a live virus in your body. (I get it, it builds the immune system) but if it's not going to work, then why do it? We've seen through the years what shots our Doctors give us, and our Government says we need, to go to school, to travel, ect; have done in the long term. Higher rates of Autism, meningitis, and other side effects. So, to me, there is just no point in getting one. (Again, a personal choice) 

Personal belief; It all comes down to DNA and Genetics. To get the shot or not is up to you. 

Other statistics involving shot's that our Government tell us we need. Let's look at the Amish, and people and culture who do not go by the guidelines of popular society.

So there ya go; think things through before you blindly do what someone else tells you is good for you. You decide. 

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

A mother's view of the racial divide

It's been a bit since I have written, and I've been thinking a lot on the racial divide in this country. 

22 years ago, I gave birth to my oldest son. Antony Michael Yousseff Ahmed. I was married to his father at the time. The gulf war was happening, and tensions in the Arab community were high. 

I didn't really worry about Antony all that much when it came to his ethnic decent. He was born in America and therefore, he was American. Period. End of story.  My outlook was complacent. 

Over the years, as America has engaged in more and more conflict with the middle east, I worry more about my son. That conflict has now come to our soil, so as a mother, you can see why I would be concerned. 

I've always accepted people for who they are, regardless of skin color, social status, or religion. We are all human, and all have the right to the pursuit of happiness. We, as a people, have taken to stero typing individuals, and putting them into one group. Arab? Yep, he's a terrorist. Black? Yep, thief, rapist and more. White poor? Heroin and drug abusers, Mexican? Illegal immigrant, and so on and so forth. I wonder if anyone has taken a step back and really looked at their own behavior and reactions to each individual group. 

When we talk about the racial divide in this country, we tend to lean towards speaking in hostile tones, and pointing fingers, and yet we claim to be a tolerant people. Tolerant of what? A color? A religion? Just what are we tolerant of, and why is that particular word even being used? Why can't this be as simple as "I like this person, but dislike what that person is choosing to do?" Based on character, and nothing else. 

From my standpoint, when people view my son as "Arab", and lump him in "that" category, it scares the crap out of me. Is some whack job going to shoot him? Beat him to a bloody pulp, target him in some way? What about our own government? They have now decided that the Arabs are terrorists. All of them? Really? Come on people. Wake up! It's not our place to judge, and by doing so, we are apart of the problem, not the solution. 

My son's not Arab. He's American born and raised, educated and an upstanding young man. A productive contributor to our society. Isn't that the goal in this world? To raise productive well rounded children? I'm damn proud of him.  I don't know that I can relate to the black man who gets discriminated against for the color of his skin, or the Mexican man for wanting a better life for his family, or the Arab who lives here and get's snubbed, just for being Arab. I'm white. So I do not have the same prejudices against me.  But I can empathize, and I can start a conversation that can lead to solutions. I can understand the plight of all people trying to live in peace in this world. 


Thursday, December 21, 2017

Sexual harassment and pay offs

This is a follow up to my article on Sexual harassment; a different perspective. 

In the news lately there have been a lot of stories on Sexual abuse, or sexual harassment, or mis conduct. The most recent as of yesterday is about a young woman by the name of McKayla Maroney. 

She was an Olympic gymnast,  a Gold medalist, and starting at the age of 13 at her training camp in Houston Texas, Dr. Larry Nasser allegedly abused her. Her and 141 other young girls in his charge for the Olympic's. McKayla was paid off in a mediation settlement for an undisclosed amount to keep quiet about her abuse. For full story, see here;  Nasser is now serving 60 years in prison. 

So clearly we have a legitimate case of Sexual misconduct, and cover up. However, here is the million dollar question that I think any mother of a young girl would be asking herself. Why did McKayla's mother allow this to happen and why did she take the pay off? McKayla was underage when the mediation and settlement happened. Therefore she had to have a parent or guardian with her when the legal paperwork was signed. So what the hell was she thinking and why aren't charges being filed against her for neglect and child endangerment. (at a minimum) 

At Nasser's hearing McKayla and her mother both submitted victim impact statements. Seriously? I'd like someone to explain how Mama was a victim of the Olympic committee and the "Law". Was she coerced also? Or did she see a fat paycheck. I did some digging and came up with nothing on Erin Maroney, McKayla's mother. Not her back ground, not her source of income. Nothing. I also cannot find anything on McKayla's father. He's not mentioned once in the articles on McKayla. 

The photo above shows McKayla and her mother Erin. Both look healthy and happy. Either way, I am watching this story as it develop, and you can bet, I will have an opinion regarding Mama's duplicity in this case. 

As for McKayla, my heart goes out to the young girl she was, and the young women she is now. I pray she finds peace with her past. 

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Sexual Harassment; A different perspective

I'll start this with a caveat; This is in no way a defense of current events that are happening around the globe and in our news. I cannot speak for the women who are currently going through this or have gone through this in the past. My belief and views should not negate what other women go through, nor the Law, or statue of what they are dealing with. It is not my place. 

I am speaking for me; and me alone. I believe each of us experience the same things in different ways. 

I've always been a hothead when it comes to politics, policy, rules, and guidelines, and this is no different. Should sexual harassment be taking place, and in what capacity does it become a law suit. 

This should come down to individual experience. Period. We have no right to judge what someone else has gone through. Question, yes, not judge. 

In 1987, I was working as a cocktail waitress in a local bar. The uniform back then was a black mini skirt, white tux shirt with a cummerbund and tie, and high heels. I was barely 22 years old, and did not question our "look". ( no, I have no I did not date, and did not put up with men who made sexual innuendos. I was there for the job and paycheck. Period.  

When I switched from cocktail waitress to bouncer, my look did not change much. I was still required to wear skirts and heels, but I could choose my own clothing. 

The owner of the club I worked for was in "love" with me... and a few other girls. I considered him a friend only. He was about 6'5 and weighed about 600 pds. His frequent comment to my turning him down on a relationship was "It's because I am fat isn't it?" my answer was no, "it's because you are an alcoholic". That, and he was 22 years older than me. 

That said, he kept the guys away from me, either with his "looks" and intimidation, or flat out telling them I was his. Me being me, I would roll my eyes and tell him to get stuffed. He fired me at least once a week, and called me back to work the very next day after he would do it. 

He showed up at my parent's home in his limo one morning at 3am, and got my father pissed off as all get out, as his limo blocked my dad from leaving to work. My father then pounded on my bedroom door, getting me up. 

In the meantime, Steve was in the driveway, yelling that he was gonna marry me, or see me dead. He also pulled a 9mm on me and my cousin one night when I was being walked to my car at the club. Was this sexual harassment? I'm sure in other women's eyes it would have been. In mine, it was just flat out annoying.

The point I am attempting to make with this little story, is, I was smart enough to know that this was just a game with Steve. It was harmless. I'm also smart enough to know that women like Katie Couric "appears" to be jumping on the band wagon of sexual assault victims these days. Breaking her silence". 
Indeed. Did she really feel her livelihood was threatened by Matt Lauer? Was he really "pinching her on the ass" as reports say? Or is this all media hype because people want Trump out of office for his sexual misconduct. (Which, by the way was prior to him being in office.)
 It's entirely possible. However, I'm seeing a trend here and it's called diversion. Media blitz. Yada Yada.... Katie is and was in a position of power. Her Intellect put her there. Do we really want to believe that she would not have come forward when this was happening 14 years ago? Her salary was 15 million a year. 
I for one cannot believe that a woman in her position, or any position of power; ie: the rest we are reading about right now, would not speak up. She did stories on victims, and was one herself? I smell B.S. Why now? What's the benefit? The statue of limitations on Sexual assault in New York, (where the Today show is filmed) is 5 years. So this becomes a civil suit if true. In Virginia where Couric lives however the statue is 20 years. So this begs the question, why come forth now. 

I'm sorry folks, I just don't buy into this media frenzy of Sexual miss conduct. Do I think it happens? Yes, do I think the women that are coming forward now have had it happen to them? I just can't say. It's all allegation at this point, and I don't believe that anyone should be fired before a fair and impartial trial. IF that is, charges are even going to be filed. I also know that had it been sexual miss-conduct with me 30 years ago when I worked for Steve, you can bet your sweet ass I would have filed charges and pursued them. Then, not now. 

I've raised 3 boys, and if I ever caught wind of sexual miss conduct from them against a co-worker I would be the 1st to stand up for her. My boys would get a boot up their you know what for it too, along with any charges from the woman. 

I'll say this, what I do believe is how a man treats his mother is how he'll treat a woman.  I'd be interested to know what Matt Lauer's relationship with his mother was. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Class war; the Division that will always exist.

I'll start this by taking a look at our current President. Donald Trump. Self made man, self made Billionaire. New money; as opposed to old money. Is he accepted in the hierarchy of blue bloods? The answer is no. No, he is not. He's allowed a certain standing, but a precarious one. If we were to strip him of his money and title, who would he be. 

I digress, this is not really all about Trump. In 2016, the year of Brexit and Trump, two pieces of data, neglected by the shrewdest of establishment analysts, Tells the story That in the U.S. , more than 1/2 of  Americans could not qualify to buy the cheapest car on the market. The Nissan Versa Sedan, priced at just a little over 12,000.00  According to Federal Reserve data. Meanwhile in the U.K, 40% of families were using credit and food banks. 

The elites readiness to ignore widening class divisions and replace them with class blind identity politics has been the greatest gift to toxic populism. 

Hating to recognize the intensified class war, the vast public bangs its head on conspiracy theories and Russian influence with bursts of misogyny, the flow of migrants, and the rise of the machine, ect. Meanwhile the fears are correlated with the militant parochialism fueling Trump and Brexit. These, only tangential to the deeper cause. Class war against the poor. (Which we spoke of with the car affordability in the U.S and the credit dependent U.K. This is all propaganda to further turn you're head away from the classes. 

Politicians love division, and if they can get our attention in area's of less importance, while lining their coffers, so much the better. 
You see, they don't care about us. They do not care about affordable health care, Social Security, or retirement. They do not care that we might possibly live on the streets, or go without food. It's just data to them, and we, "the people" buy into it. It then perpetuates itself. 

Does it matter what kind of car you drive, or where you live? What kind of education you had, or how you got it? What about the clothes you wear, or even the state you are in? Have you asked where your taxes go, or do you blindly allow the government to tell you where they went, with no proof, no accountability. 

I like to think, that I can put on a million dollar outfit, and attend a benefit with a 35,000 dollar a plate entrance, and no one would be the wiser about my background. 30 years ago, I could have. Maybe not so much now. I come from middle class America, which no longer exists, and live below poverty level. You would not think that, to look at me, or talk with me. So does the division really exists? 

In 2008, the financial collapse of the market, and subsequent recession buried the dream of class equality. Yet the liberals ignored the the fact that there were huge losses incurred by the quasi-criminal financial sector, that were cynically transferred to a working class they thought no longer mattered. "Polite society" seemed not to give a damn that it was now easier to get into Harvard or Cambridge, whether you were black or poor. It was blatantly ignored that identity politics could be as divisive as apartheid if allowed to act as a lever for overlooking class conflict. 

Just recently, The University of Colorado set aside 3 buildings housing students, for all Asian, all Blacks and  LGBTQ students. So what happened? Now we have not only division of class, we have taken a step back in time and have a division of race. What I find even more interesting is that it was the students themselves that requested this division. Since the inauguration of President Trump; everything we have worked for in America, stood for in America, and fought for in America has come full circle.

Trump has had no compunction to speak clearly of class division. It has largely been ignored although deceitfully. Predictably, the embrace of the working class by Trump and the Brexiteers was always going to arm them with electoral power that, sooner or later, would be deployed against working-class interests and, of course, minorities — always the penchant of populism in power, from the 1930s to today.


Suicide; before and after

This is one of the toughest subjects out there; because there are no answers. 

Suicide. I've known 3 young boys that have taken this step in the past year. 

Words are meaningless, and being a person who rely's on words to express my thoughts, I didn't have many. Not when it happened, not after it happened, and certainly not during the telling of it. 

I went to a viewing today, and as I sat with the mother of this young boy who died, I thought, "grief" what is it. What does it mean? I drew a blank. Like the look in his mother's eye's as she went through the motions of tending to her family. Minus one. His father, greeting people, and repeating the same thing, over and over. Thank you for coming, please light a candle, I'm sorry if I'm being rude, I need to greet people. 

I heard his wife say, you be you, and I'll be me. But who are they now? After this young boy had blessed their lives with his grace and love. Daniel was 15. He loved music, and animals. He loved his friends, and family. On the surface, he was generally a happy kid. Hiking, camping, playing. He was a gamer, a musician, a brother and a son.  He was a normal teenager, with normal teen angst. But somewhere along the line, he got lost. 

I believe the spirits of these young men who have been lost to the tangible world are still with us. I do not believe that these things happened through any fault of the parents of these children, nor friends, or school officials. Its been a little over a week since I went to this viewing, and I still have no words. 

As a parent myself, I fear the pain of this kind of loss, and can only sit back helplessly as other parents go through this and attempt to carry on as if life was still normal. But it is not.... not for them, and not for anyone close to them. I find myself attempting to start a conversation with the parent's. Thought out in advance in my head, and nothing seems appropriate. Everything is trite. Flat, as I imagine it is for them. Words hold no meaning. We take them out and analyze them, yet there is nothing cohesive. Nothing to put the word together and make it mean something. 

I think about the 1st's; 1st Christmas, 1st birthday, 1st everything. How do you get through this, knowing a piece is missing. Getting up and facing the day because there is no other choice. Stumbling through,  acting as if nothing is wrong, but everything is. 

31 years ago, My best friend in the whole world lost her 15 year old son. My godson.  I was on the search and rescue for him. I really did not know how she did it, getting through all these things, going back to life again. I asked her this past week, and the only thing she could put her finger on was life. Her life, her 2nd son's life. She said the 1st few years after loosing Tim were a blur, as I imagine it will be for Daniel's family. Things will cut you and make you bleed, memories will make you want to curl into a fetal position and never come out of it. But the human spirit is stronger than we realize, and for the parent's of these lost boys, they will also find a way to get through In their own time. 

I want to tell Daniel's family that they will make it. Yet  I don't know how. I want to say to the other 2 boys family the same thing, and again, do not know how. So in this, maybe this is one of the 1st answer's we really have, these lost boys did not know how to tell someone how they felt. The words they may have used would be flat, and hold no meaning. There was nothing tangible for them to point to and say, this is why I did this. This is why. And maybe this will be the 1st step in the healing process for them.

Warning signs of suicide

  • Talking about wanting to die
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious, agitated or recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Displaying extreme mood swings

What to do

If someone you know exhibits warning signs of suicide:
  • Do not leave the person alone.
  • Remove any firearms, alcohol, drugs or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.
  • Call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or send a text to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741.
  • Take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional.
Most people who die by suicide grapple with mental health or substance abuse, or both, although sometimes those conditions go un-diagnosed. In 2015, suicide was the second leading case of death among 15- to 35-year-olds in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of suicides that year, 44,193, dwarfed the number of homicides, 17,793.

I'm choosing not to use photos in this piece, because I don't feel that photo's belong to this story. Photo's do not belong to the term Suicide. A voice does. And word's can become a voice. 

This is dedicated to Daniel, and his family. May god surround you with his love and peace, and may Daniel fly with the Angels. 

Please; If you can,  make a donation in Daniel's name to

Friday, November 24, 2017

Corporate careers should not come in two flavors; his and her's.

30 years ago, I started my career in the food and beverage industry.  (Even though I wanted a career in Law enforcement) Waitressing in a local club. This was just one of many jobs I would have getting to my final goal.  I say club, because back then, the focus was the alcohol for money, not the food. Food was only on the menu because of the liquor laws.  I learned within 6 months that this is not where I wanted to be. I had no patience for people. Period. My perception was, they were like drunk 2 year old's. 

About the 6 month mark, I had a table that had 6 or 7 guys at it. They all knew the owner. One in-particular I ended up cutting off.  Of course he was not pleased with this, and proceeded to put his hand up my skirt on my return to the table with drinks for the others. All of them finding this hilarious, although they could see I was seething. I turned to the guy who had done this and dumped my entire tray, (about 27 drinks in all) on his head. Chaos ensued. My girlfriend who was the bartender, came rushing out to pull me off the floor, and the owner of course had rushed down to apologize to his friends, and get them more drinks.   

Jennifer got me a drink and pulled me to the side, and then talked to the owner while I was calming down. She came back and asked if I wanted to work the door. I said yes. The term bouncer was used back then and the protocol was a lot different than it is now, but that is what I was. 

The rest of that story is a hazy memory these days, but the point was, I ended up in the security industry from then on. (My dream to go into law enforcement was on hold due to other things happening in my life. 

So the story goes, Security became my career. My start was that 1st local club, and then more local clubs, due to how good I was, and then along with recommendations from the liquor board, I went to private security. 

Now, in the security industry, there were not many women at all. I was one of 3 that I knew of at the time, and the other two did not pursue this. I was up against men for local jobs but because of my gender, I ended up with some pretty cush positions and wages. My ceiling was 16.00 an hour and that was then. (more than I am making now, (working food and beverage) and the same in that particular field) 

When people 1st realized what I did for a living, they were like, no way! How do you do that? Aren't you scared of getting hurt, or getting into fights? My answer to all this was no. The reasoning was because I am female, the expected is no longer the norm. Men fight, not women. So I was the un expected element in this industry. I had 2 incident reports in 20 years of doing this, compared to men, who had 1 -2 a night or weekend. 

I'm back in the food and beverage industry, and it's taken me less than 2 months to realize, again, this is not where I want to be. Let's face it, people are A**holes, and if I were to go back to security, I can throw them out. (for the most part) 

What I have noticed in the job I am in right now, is that if there is any conflict, either internal with co-workers or with the general public, we (women) do not have the power, or confidence to take a stand on what is right or wrong according to club policy. (or Casino) where ever you may be. It's a strange feeling to be back under an invisible ceiling after 30 years of having a semblance of control in your position. You literally feel suffocated and like you cannot contribute to making you're current position feel like you are on a team. 

In chatting with other women in this field they also feel the same way I do. When I bring this up with men in these positions, they have no idea what I'm talking about. They do not feel like I do, as if I am running to the boss to tattle, or to solve an issue that cannot be solved alone. There is an atmosphere of being stifled. Feelings that if something is brought up, or mentioned, then my job is at risk. 

It's the supervisor's position to create an atmosphere conducive to good moral and teamwork. Not to allow one that makes you feel like a 2 year old when an issue cannot be solved on your own. 

In my current position, I have come across 2 co-workers, that feel the need to constantly put me on edge. If I were in security, I would not be feeling this way. I'd have my game back. I would be able to work freely without fear of retribution or job loss. The difference between being a man and a woman in these fields, are glaringly noticeable, yet nothing is done about this, even 30 years later. 

Women will always have a ceiling, whereas men will not. I would think in this day and age, that invisible line would have long since been blurred and washed away. So, with that said. No, we are not equals, and I don't believe we ever will be. No matter what we do. I think there will be a select few, who disregard that line, but it will still be there. I'd dearly love to be the one that can erase this line, and I am sure there are also many women who feel the same. The only thing I can do is write about it, and hope that enough people, men and women, read it and spread the word. Policy and protocol should be the same for all of us.