Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Why don't We Count?: The Stimulus and the US Census are Just the Tip of the Iceberg.

At the present time, people like me who receive Social Security, SSI, or Medicaid are waiting for stimulus funds that were promised a long time ago.  Since they were announced, I prepared a book for publication, worked with an editor and graphic designer, and started discussing the audio version with the narrators.  The “self-published” book is out.  I have people to pay, but the stimulus funds are not here.  I was warned not to trust the Federal Government again even though the Congress and President pretended to be Mr. and Mrs. Santa claus and the Easter Bunny all rolled into one.  Now as I wait for the deposit of funds that might not arrive for a very long time, if ever, I feel like Charlie Brown kicking that football one more time and trusting that Lucy will not pull it away at the last minute. 

I should have known when I filled out the US Census form online that people like me don’t count.  This form is short.  It has questions about gender, age, ethnicity, and more.  It does not have any questions about disabilities.  If American Girl is able to create and sell dolls with a variety of disabilities, it seems that we should also count where the federal government is concerned.  Once again, and for another decade, we will not get important figures that can be used to make policy decisions that regard Social Security Disability Benefits and Supplemental Security Insurance.  Counting with the federal government also counts at the state level where departments of human services distribute food, housing, and health insurance benefits based upon a person’s eligibility.  Without an accurate count, we don’t know how many people are eligible and how many people are falling through the cracks in the system.

If there is a long census form,  I have not seen one.  I couldn’t read it if there were one unless it were available online and screen-reader accessible to people who are blind or sight impaired.  I have to give the federal government credit for getting this far, but they have a long way to go.

Currently, some people who are blind or sight impaired and experiencing discrimination after completing their education and entering the world of the unemployed have opened their own small businesses with the encouragement of programs offered by the Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired.  People with other disabilities have also been successful as self-employed workers and business owners who employ others.  Without census figures, we do not know how many people are in this category.  We also do not know how many blind and sight impaired people or people who are living with other disabilities are unemployed, underemployed, and seeking employment.  That includes senior citizens who do not have an income high enough to care for themselves and pay for the caregivers they need.

Numbers need to be counted at the federal level.  It would be worthwhile to also have each state have its own census because the poverty line is different in each state.  People who are living in Michigan, for example, and receive no benefits other than Social security because their income reached the poverty line, would be eligible for Medicaid in California where the poverty line is much higher.    It is my opinion that the poverty line in all states should be the same and all should be raised to match the California poverty line level.  A city in Michigan such as Ann Arbor is as expensive to live in as many cities in southern and Northern California.  Rents are so high that many professionals are living outside of ann Arbor, as far away as the Detroit area, and driving to work a long distance every day.  While rent costs might be higher in one place than another, the costs of everything else from food to utilities, clothing to health care are the same.

It is important to ask not just why don’t we count but when did we stop being counted.  I recently heard a local Lutheran minister who gives a few minutes of “inspiration” each day on a conservative radio station.  He meant well, but during his rant about something I forgot as soon as I heard it, he referred to people who want to count, “African-Americans, Latino-Americans, LGBT-Americans.  Then he added “et cetera.”  Et cetera?  When did people with disabilities get moved to the back of the bus?  Actually, when it comes to the US Census, our inclusive community that has members from just about every gender, race, religion, and nation wasn’t even invited to get on the bus.

The Secretaries of the US Departments of Education and Labor should be as furious as I am.  With a reported 70-80% unemployment rate among the blind and visually impaired seeming to be more legend than fact since we cannot get accurate statistics, such an apparent failure rate by these departments on behalf of their clients should at the very least call for a study to see if the roles of these departments should be combined under a new Department of special Education and Labor.

Meander, the Princess who had Ants in her Pants is for sale on Amazon along with The Misadventures of Mistletoe Mouse.  My writing hobby is taking time away from my job search  because it is time to start marketing again.  I have many books downloaded including The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Marketing since self-promotion is my major weakness.  I like Mother Angelica’s honest and humorous approach to marketing, so I will borrow her strategy:  “Please buy my books.  I need the money.”  For more information, you may go to the following link or ask your local bookseller:

I hope you are loving what is left during these stimulating times.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Need Relief from the News and Social Distancing? Read my New Release.

When Meander, Cinderella’s second cousin thrice-removed, is chosen by Charming Prince Fred to be his lucky bride, no one at Wildwood Castle is expecting the newest princess in the realm to be dissatisfied with courtly life.  But Meander is indeed an unhappy princess.  Wouldn’t you be if you were stuck inside a castle most of the time?  Read all about Meander, the Princess Who had Ants in Her Pants.  This hilarious fairy tale is a beginner chapter book for readers  Pre-K through 4th Grade.  It is available now as an e-book or print book from Amazon or upon request from your local bookstores.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Is Practicing Social Distancing making Us Anti-Social?

In a recent presentation sent to the Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired community, a learning expert who is blind and recovering from a case of the virus discusses what we can do to protect ourselves and others.  The presentation is excellent and can be found on the Hadley website (www.hadley.edu).  The most important thing that Lisa said during this presentation is that we do not need social distancing.  We need physical distancing.  Most of us, blind or sighted, need more social connection during this very stressful and lonesome time.  While social connections cannot be made in person, they can be made by phone, online, or from a safe distance indoors or outdoors.

Everything that those of us who live with disabilities were taught about independent living is thrown out the window at this time when interdependent living is so important to all of us.  Now people are offering to pick up food or prescriptions.  Offering to read notices on apartment bulletin boards.  Businesses like Freedom Scientific are even offering free downloads of JAWS and Zoom Text products for a limited period of time.

I am finding that many people who are socially distancing themselves are becoming anti-social.  They seem so cranky when you interrupt their TV viewing, computer explorations, Alexa concerts, and streaming movies that I feel worse after I attempt to engage with them socially.  Some are obviously listening to too much news, political commentary, and virus debates.  Their rhetoric is bombastic, belligerent, crude, immature, and uncharacteristically boring.  Rather than having an original thought, they are repeating what they heard or read.  It is like having a discussion with a walking, talking, research paper.  “According to ….” 

In 1968-69, I was a dormitory resident assistant in a residence hall for girls.  At the beginning of the academic year, we Ras were given sensitivity training.  The academic landscape was changing, and university staff needed to be prepared to work with students from a larger variety of environments, experiences, and races than ever before.  It seems that this is also a time in history when sensitivity training and discussions are needed.  I, for example, am suddenly overcome by the word, “live,” when so many people are dying or coming down with a potentially deadly illness.  I cringe every time I hear the word whether it is in an announcement about the return of “Saturday Night Live” or the “Live from NPR News.”  “Live streaming” an interview with a political figure has the same result.  I know.  I am just a poet and writer who is more sensitive to words, their meanings, and their effects.  I’m not going to conduct a survey to see how many people have the same reaction.  I am just going to add this to the list of things that I hope will not still be bothering me when the current challenges are over.

I did stay up past my bedtime and watched “Saturday Night Live” this weekend.  Hearing a sports announcer doing a play-by-play of popcorn popping and an banana ripening made it worth losing some much needed beauty sleep.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

"It Came Just the Same."

Christmas came just the same in spite of the Grinch who stole Christmas, and Holy Week that will end on Easter Sunday came just the same in spite of the Coronavirus.  May this time of solitude show you that you are never really alone

God Bless.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

True Confessions: More Sick Satire including a Practically Perfect Parody of a Saturday Night Live Presidential Skit from a Perplexing Perspective.

“Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.  I wrote another sick satire after promising that I wouldn’t.”
“How long have you been telling lies, my child?”
“Since my senior year in high school when a classmate and I inherited a gossip column, ‘Eye Witness.’  If students didn’t rat on each other and put juicy tidbits into our drop box, we made stuff up.”
“Fake news?  You wrote fake news?  I am not sure that is pardonable.”
“Oh, please, Father.  I haven’t told a lie since.  In fact priests always throw me out of the confessional and tell me I am scrupulous.”
“Oh, dear.  That is bad.”
“I know.  But what is even worse is that I thought it was a compliment until I looked it up in the dictionary.  For my Penance, do I have to stop writing sick Saturday satires?”
“Of course not.  They are the only thing keeping me going until Sunday morning now that Saturday Night isn’t live.”
“Then what is my Penance?”
“For the rest of your life, my dear, stop trying to be perfect.  If you pay attention, someday you might be President of the United States like Jefferson, Lincoln, or Trump.”
“Wow!  That would make me the first vision impaired President of the United States of America!”
“Sorry, my dear, but you would not be the first person to be President who has been vision impaired.  You would be the first to be sight impaired.”
“I think Gavin Newsom, the Governor of California who has severe dyslexia, will beat me to it.”

A Practically Perfect Parody of a SNL Presidential Skit from a Perplexing Perspective

The President of the United States called for a press conference in order to make an announcement to the American people.  As he gets near the podium, the shouting begins.
Journalist 1:  Now what, Tweety Bird?”
Journalist 2:  Where’s your mask?  Your puss is going to break the cameras.”
Journalist 3:  “Speaking of masks.  Why are they all white, you racist?”

The President steps up to the podium.
President:  “My fellow Americans, you’re fired.”  Turning to Mike Pence, he adds, “They are all yours now.”
Mike Pence dropping to his knees and throwing his arms around the President’s legs:  “Oh, no, not that!”
Hilary Clinton:  “That’s deplorable.”
Nancy Pelosi:  “One down and one to go and I’ll be President.”
Dr. Fauci turning to whisper in Nancy Pelosi’s ear:  “Your test came back positive.”
Nancy Pelosi:  “I’m pregnant?  But I’ve already had five.”
Head of Planned Parenthood:  “We can take care of that, dear.”
Planned Parenthood Assistant:  “Do you know how old she is?”
Dr. Fauci to Nancy Pelosi:  “You are not pregnant.  You are too old to be pregnant.  You have the virus.  Doesn’t anyone in Washington know what a fact is?”
Debby De Vos:  “Wasn’t ‘fact’ taken out of the textbooks along with ‘God’ when the definition for ‘marriage’ was changed?”
Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York, to the Governor ofCalifornia:  “Who is this Pence guy?”
Gavin Newsom, Governor of California:  “Some guy from Indiana.”
Andrew Cuomo:  “Where is that?”
Gavin Newsom:  “Didn’t they teach you anything in school?  It is below Chicago and above New Orleans.”
Debby De Vos:  “Did Governor Cuomo spend his early years in a public school?”

President Trump unwraps Pense from his legs and returns to the podium.
“After consulting with my Vice President, I have changed my mind.  I am the only Man big enough for this job.  I will not let you down, even though you have let me down, you ungrateful mere millions.  Instead of firing all of you, I am just grounding you until the pandemic is over.”
Melania:  “I thought it was too good to be true.  Another nine months in this drafty old place.”
President trump:  Nine months plus four more years, My dear.”
Melania:  Sobs uncontrollably along with the Press.

                                                  The end   

If you are all fired up and eager to be a part of the political scene as a participant instead of an arm chair critic, I recommend that you start reding online biographies of everyone who is expressing an opinion, looking for your vote, or making a decision on your behalf.  Wiki is a good place to start.  Then you can move on to biographies on BARD and Learning Ally, and from your favorite bookseller.  Since I read some of Donald Trump’s books before he became President when I wanted to learn more about how to make business decisions, I decided to give the ladies and the Democrats equal time.  Women and U.S. Politics, Know your Power by Nancy Pelosi, and A Fighting Chance by Elizabeth Warren taught me that the lack of experience, the lack of an education beyond a BA in Political science, or the lack of a law degree need not keep a person a mere political observer.

 Warning to Parents who are Socially Distancing their Children:  Shoving children into a corner and telling them that they are meant to be seen and not heard might turn them into future court jesters, comedy writers, and educators.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Do-It-Yourself: Measuring Up Ruler Cross Lenten Activity

 I had an idea for a special Ruler Cross that I wanted to share with others this Lent.  For this craft activity, all you need is a 12” ruler and a 3’ yard stick.  Intersect the two tools at the 6” mark on the ruler and the 1’ mark on the yardstick.  Then put the words, “How do I Measure Up?” or “How do We Measure Up?” or “How Do You Measure Up?” at the top and a copy of the 10 Commandments at the bottom by arranging them all under the Ruler Cross or by placing five commandments on each side of it.  There are many versions of the Ten commandments online  from which to choose.

 Because I am visually impaired, computer impaired, and my library with its helpful computer clerks is closed, one of my volunteer readers helped me from a distance.  Sherry Warden, the current President of the Washtenaw Association of Retired School Personnel and a retired special education teacher who is a member of my church, put the ruler and the cross on the floor in order to take a picture of it.  She sent the image to her email as an attachment before adding the words on her computer.  The Ruler Cross can also be attached to a wall without any words and simply gazed upon during prayer and meditation as you ask yourself, “How do I measure up?”
 In addition to using the Ten commandments, you could be creative and make your own list of commandments such as the Ten Commandments of Being Stuck at Home.

 You might enjoy listening to the song, “From a Distance,” on You Tube or Alexa while you work.  May your Holy Week be filled with many blessings as you bless others from a distance.