Profiting from Food Banks

Before I begin I need to make one thing very clear. I am not writing this article to disparage or criticize Food Banks or the people who run them. Food Banks and the volunteers who give their time are among the heroes in our society today. They are doing everything they can to help those less fortunate than themselves. They should be applauded and recognized for all they do out of the goodness of their hearts.

My issue is with the companies that supply them. We have all seen the ads touting how these companies are donating millions of dollars worth of food to help feed the poor. Some actually ARE doing that. Unfortunately there are a lot of others who are using the Food Banks and the tables of the poor as a means to save themselves disposal costs and gain tax credits.

Why would I say such a thing? Because over the past few months we, like so many others in our country, have been brought low by circumstances and rising costs. We can no longer afford NOT to frequent the local food banks. Here is what I have found:

Most of the food is prepackaged items high in carbohydrates and sugars. Cookies, sugar loaded cereals, outdated chips and crackers, pastas, candies are all in the boxes pretty much every week. That alone is not surprising. As a side note, it answers a question I often asked in the past: If these people are so poor, how come they are so often overweight?! How can you be poor and fat?! Try living on a diet consisting primarily of carbs and junk foods and you will find out!

But that’s not the worst of it. Remember I said businesses were saving themselves disposal fees by donating the things they would normally be expected to either return to manufacturers or dump? Look at the dates on the packages in the images below which we received in the Oct. 10, 2020 distribution in our little rural town.

Dairy products are sometimes available. Again, the dairy is either already expired or will expire in a matter of days. Neighbors who regularly frequent Food Banks tell me of eggs that explode for no reason in their refrigerators or that turn out to be rotten when cracked to prepare a meal, milk being sour, “fresh” juices so old they have mold in the cartons when they are opened. I checked the dates on a few things in the Octo. 10, 2020 distribution. Images below:

The “fresh produce” is even worse. Most of the time there are lots of bags of potatoes, apples and oranges but again, they are “on the edge”. When they have time, the Food Bank workers will pick through it and just give each family a few items like tomatoes, apples and oranges that are still good. More often they will set out boxes and tell folks to go ahead and pick through and take all they want. Most of the produce is so moldy and rotten people don’t want to touch it, let alone pick through it.

At recent distributions we received blueberries and strawberries. Yay! They looked great! 4 containers to each family. However, when we got them home and opened the little plastic crates we found under that lovely top layer most of the fruit was again moldy and/or appeared to be freezer burned. After washing and picking through the 4 containers of each type of fruit we were left with just under a single 10 or 12 ounce crate that was still edible.

The policy on bread is pretty much the same. Take all you want because it’s usually starting to get moldy.

Meats are iffy as well. There are usually either chicken, ham or hamburger. Most of the time it is frozen and either freezer burned, semi-thawed or showing signs of having been previously frozen, thawed and refrozen at least once, if not more. This is another item I have received calls from other recipients on, telling me not to eat such and such because they got sick after eating it. And that’s not just one call. A few weeks ago four different people called cautioning not to eat the chicken that had been distributed that week because their families had gotten sick from eating it.

Looking at the “use by” date on this ham, I am not surprised. Yes things last longer when frozen but even frozen food is questionable after a year in a commercial walk in freezer.

So I have to ask:

Are companies trying to help the poor or are they looking for a free place to dispose of their garbage?

Is it right to feed garbage to people just because they are experiencing difficulties and need help feeding themselves?

What can we do to change this trend and get truly nutritious food to those in need?

To add insult to injury, here is the letter that was in each box in the Oct. 10, 2020 distribution in our town wherein Mr. Trump tells each “Dear Family” how much he and his administration care about the poor in our country and how much they have done/are doing to improve people’s lives.

Trump Letter to Food Bank Recipients.

Election Cycle Thoughts

Just a thought:

With the elections so close why are candidates not discussing many of the things that are important like:

What will they do to repair and build our country’s crumbling infrastructure? Roads and highways at both the federal and state level are crumbling and dangerous. Our school buildings are crumbling as are our veteran’s hospitals and other publicly owned buildings. Our power grid is inadequate and at risk.

What do the powers that be and candidates propose to do to solve these problems?

Wake Up and Smell the Bullshit America!!!

Okay. I’m fed up with the attempts to divide this country in every way people can. The article below was posted to FaceBook with the title “Linda Sarsour Asks Muslims To Form “Jihad” Against Trump, Not To Assimilate”

There are a lot of people who only read headlines. I believe the person who created this banner headline knows that. The clear intent is to put this woman, and the groups she represents, in the worst possible light. The intent was to create anger and discord, once again, in our country.

This is exactly what she said: “I hope that we when we stand up to those who oppress our communities that Allah accepts from us that as a form of jihad. That we are struggling against tyrants and rulers not only abroad in the Middle East or in the other side of the world, but here in these United States of America where you have fascists and white supremacists and Islamophobes reigning in the White House,” Sarsour said.

“Our number one and top priority is to protect and defend our community, it is not to assimilate and please any other people and authority,” she said. “Our obligation is to our young people, is to our women, to make sure our women are protected in our community.”

“Our top priority and even higher than all those other priorities is to please Allah and only Allah,” Sarsour declared.

First, there is nowhere in that speech where she asked or suggested to anyone “form a jihad” nor is there anywhere in it that she suggested anyone “refuse to assimilate”.

Second, let’s get a clear understanding of what the word “jihad” truly means. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary: Definition of jihad. 1 : a holy war waged on behalf of Islam as a religious duty also : a personal struggle in devotion to Islam especially involving spiritual discipline.

According to a BBC program on world religions in 2009 : “Jihad explained. The literal meaning of Jihad is struggle or effort, and it means much more than holy war.

Taking those two sources into consideration, and bearing in mind she was speaking at the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) convention in Chicago, most likely to a group of American Islamic women, here is how I interpreted her comments:

We hope that Allah accepts from us that as a form of jihad” is not calling for a religious war. She is saying they hope Allah sees their spiritual struggle as they build and nurture their religious community as an act of faith and devotion. If a Christian said, “ We hope God sees our work within our community under adverse conditions as an act of faith and devotion” I strongly doubt anyone would take issue with it!

 In the context of the statement, she said their number one priority is to protect and defend their community, their young people and their women…all other priorities being lesser than that and to be dealt with after those things. She is not saying they refuse to assimilate. She is simply saying that in light of what they are facing it is not the top priority. And I have to respect that. I have always told my kids, “Family first! Always family first! After that you look out for your friends, your neighborhood and your community. But family always comes first.’

This woman is saying exactly that, and I respect her for it.

Wake up people! Stop simply reading the inflammatory headlines. Dig deeper. At least make an effort to fully understand what is going on before you make any judgments. Our country’s infrastructure is crumbling. Our civil rights are being chipped away. The things that made our country great are being eroded and flushed away while we are foolishly letting the people who are doing it, our not so illustrious supposed leaders, distract us with bullshit.

Stop REacting and start ACTING like free American citizens. Vote only after looking at the records of what candidates have (and have not) done in the past. At the very least, look at their voting records. Then get off your asses and to the polls on each and every election day.

If you’re sitting there telling yourself your vote won’t make any difference you are a fool. Every landslide election starts with the first person who casts their vote. Then the next and then the next. One single vote DOES matter. Just look at where we are today and ask yourself, “If I had voted last election, and everyone else like me had done the same, would we be where we are today?”

Time to Raise A Little Hell?

A few years back, during the 2016 Presidential election campaign, it occurred to me that the leaders of the two dominant (Democrat and Republican) parties were pulling a quickie on us, the American people. Call me crazy, but it had seemed to me for quite a few years that we were devolving into a corporate controlled society. No more republic, as we had originally been established as. Special interest groups and their corporate controllers had bought the dominant parties, and thereby the Congress, and we had ceased to be a country of the people, for the people and by the people. Our federal government had been bought and paid for and all that was going on was the corporations and special interest groups fussing at one another to decide who was the biggest, baddest dog on the block. The American public was hooped.

Americans have been brainwashed to believe that the only political parties they can trust, the only political parties who are strong enough to govern, were the Democrats and Republicans. THEY got into that position by the support of the people with the big bucks back in the 1800s. Prior to that, people from other, smaller parties were often elected but as time went on, they were elected only at the city, county and state levels. The two Big Boys had the corner on the Congress, Judicial and Administrative offices. We were brainwashed to believe that they were the only realistic, logical choices and, like good little sheeple, we followed their instructions.

Consider this. We are supposedly a Republic. In a republic, communities, counties and states control their society. They set laws and make regulations that are in the best interests of that state because they know what the needs of each district in the state are. The federal government is just there to see to it, through guidelines and legislation that is arrived at in consensus, that the laws of those states are compatible and things run smoothly across the country. That’s all.

But once Big Business started taking over the states were convinced to give up more and more of their self autonomy. First by being convinced federal regulation would be in their own best interests. Then, as the federal became stronger they enacted the Internal Revenue to get money from the citizens to support them. As they got more money, they were able to go to the states and say, “Hey, we have all this money and in the interests of making the country stronger, we will share it with you states… as long as you knuckle under to our demands.” And so the downward cycle began of the death of the republican form of governance. Federal taxation took such a big bite of citizen’s income that the states didn’t dare hit them hard with the taxes to run their governments… and the states became beggars and supplicants at the feet of the new form of federal governing.

It was a very slow process up until the late 1800s but it’s traveled at the speed of a downhill snowball ever since. I know this is a little long, but bear with me. I’m finally finished with the history lesson and getting to my point!

When the 2016 election season rolled around and we were presented with a choice between Democrat Hilary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump all I could think was, “What in the hell are these people (the Democrats and Republicans) thinking?! Neither one of these people are fit to hold the highest office in the land! Are they joking?!

This was the time for the American voters to take a serious look at the other parties out there, start thinking about what was being offered, and vote like it was done in the old days… for the most capable candidate representing the party that was offering the most sensible solutions to the nation’s problems. If only!

Then another thought occurred… and stuck… and is still with me only now it is more of a certainty than a suspicion. See what you think of this scenario.

Most people in this country, and the world, equate the position of President of the United States with THE power in this country. Most don’t realize that the President doesn’t (under normal circumstances) have nearly as much power as they believe. The real power lies in Congress, and the President tries to keep peace in Congress between the two party factions and signs legislation that THEY wrote into law, or not, if he chooses to veto. Granted, President Obama made a lot of use of Presidential proclamations, but usually, the president signs bills into laws, represents us on the world stage, mediates and cajoles the factions in Congress into reaching a consensus, etc..

The federal government has finally been completely bought and is now controlled by Big Business/Corporations. The Democrats and Republicans thought they had control of the relationships with the entities that bought and paid them. They have finally come to realize they have control of nothing. Big Business has bought and paid for the United States of America and now owns it. Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans want to go down in history as the responsible party for that particular “honor” once it becomes clear to the rest of us. They want to look good in the history books.

So each party, unbeknownst to the other, figured they’d field a candidate that NO ONE would want or trust or vote for. That way, the other party’s candidate would win and the world and the American people would be able to blame HIM, and the “losing party” would win in the history books. Unfortunately they were right in assuming the American voters were too brainwashed to even consider voting for any other party’s candidate. I was pleasantly surprised to see how many people did vote otherwise, but it just wasn’t enough. Perhaps, in the future, there might be hope. If there is still a United States of America for them to vote in.

I believe the chaos, disenchantment, disenfranchisement and financial upheaval that is happening right now are what the Democrats and Republicans saw coming. It has been accelerated by Donald Trump’s lack of substance and real leadership. But this is what they were preparing for. The moment of truth is at hand.

The questions are:

What are we going to do about it?

What CAN we do about it?

If those first colonists with a dream of a better life for themselves managed to throw off the chains of British rule, can WE be as strong and as determined, as willing to sacrifice and do what needs to be done, in order to save ourselves from corporate enslavement?

I am very much afraid that the only recourse left us is complete revolution. Do we have enough citizens in this country with enough backbone to do what needs to be done and #RaiseALittleHell?

Thoughts on Addictions and Public Perception

From The Free Thought Project’s Facebook page

I came across the attached image today on the Free Thought Project’s Facebook page. The variety of reactions to it were pretty amazing. Lots of LOLs. Several WOWs. For the most part all people were acknowledging was that the two figures in the bottom image were gross and out of control. The sad thing? That was not where I was going by sharing it. Not at all. The range of (to me) inappropriate reactions just proved my point.

Too often, when we think of addictions, we only visualize people out of control as a result of using drugs. But the truth is, we are almost all hostage to one addiction or another. The fact that the devastation is not as obvious as alcoholism or substance abuse seems to make people complacent. They don’t believe they  could possibly be suffering from addiction.

But think about it. (more…)

Father’s Day 2017

At 70 years of age both my fathers are gone. Yeah, both my fathers. Lavera_June_Richard_Edwin_At_ManningPop w Sahoni and Loretta

I got lucky. I was adopted within my mother’s family. So at the age of 19 I learned I actually had two fathers instead of a father and an uncle. Each of them showed me love in their own way. So…
Richie – Thank you for supporting my mother in her decisions and standing by her through thick and thin. She told me how the depressions after I came to visit drove her crazy, so it couldn’t have been easy on you either.
Hal – Pop. Daddy. You loved me like I was your own. You showed me that I could be all I chose to reach out and be. You stood behind me when I made decisions both good and bad, and never stopped being supportive and loving me.
To my two fathers: Thank you. I love you. At my age, I think I understand each of you better. Thank you both for all you did for me and for all you didn’t do for me so that I could become the person I am today.

The Foolishness of Eulogies – Part 2

If you’ve read my previous post on this subject, you know that I have learned to tell people how I feel about them while I can. Not putting off until later when there might be “a better time”. From that perspective, I came to the conclusion that eulogies were foolish. But I have always tried to maintain an open mind on things. Which is a good thing.

A good thing especially in light of the fact I unexpectedly lost my best friend last week. I am oh so glad she knew how much I loved her. How much I admired her. How much she has enriched my life. She was my friend, my mentor, the big sister I never had, my partner in explorations both temporal and intellectual. My poor husband couldn’t figure out how we could spend as much time together as we did and yet still be able to talk on the phone each evening for never less than half an hour, often for well over an hour. In many ways we were kindred spirits who were just so relieved and happy to find someone else who valued what we did, loved life and the wonders around us as much as we did, who got it.

I thought eulogies were foolish but I’ve had a change of heart. I am driven to speak of her to others. To let others know what a wonderful, wise, kind, giving, loving, gentle soul we have lost. If they didn’t know her, to let them know what a treasure they missed. If they did know her, to enlighten them as to the additional dimensions of her they probably missed.

JoyAnna Singer was a woman who had the kindest heart in the world. A person who had gone through many trials and tribulations. A person who often was less than totally confident and who was very aware of her weaknesses and failures, yet was able to maintain an open and loving attitude to everyone around her. If you missed the chance to know her, you missed a true humane, human who was well worth the admiration and faith she inspired in me. If you knew her… I hope you know what we’ve lost and will miss her as much as I do. There is a huge hole in my life right now that hurts more than I could have imagined. But I am oh so very grateful to have had her in it because she enriched my life enormously. She helped me be a better person.

So I hereby change my stance on eulogies. They may not do the person who has passed any good, but those of us left behind need them. We need to be able to share our love and appreciation, vent our grief. Eulogies help us to move through our grief.

I sincerely hope that The Great Spirit, God, Allah, the Void, whatever you choose to call that Force in the Universe that is greater than ourselves, will grant her joy, serenity, peace, great rewards for the richness she gave the world in her own way. Have fun exploring, JoyAnna! The Motherducker will carry on and see to it that your ducks are cared for and that Miss 70% (Her favorite duck) has a safe, happy home for the rest of her quacked life!

Drug Addiction vs Drug Dependence

If you know anyone who has been dismissed or refused employment because they are taking an opiod prescription drug, you might be interested in this post. Employers are woefully uneducated concerning the difference between drug addiction and drug dependence.

We all know about drug addicts, or think we do. These people have wrecked their lives in the pursuit of drugs. Drugs are slowly (or not so slowly) killing them. Addicts spend their life in search of another, better high. Their health, families, friends, obligations, futures have been abandoned in search of that driving, all consuming obsession with getting high. If you take their drugs away without tapering them off, their bodies will go into withdrawal; and withdrawal can kill them just as surely as the drugs and getting high eventually would.

What we do not readily see, do not recognize, are the thousands of people out there who are drug dependent. Like the addicted, if they are taken off their medications abruptly they will suffer the same kind of physical effects.

So far as the general public and most employers are concerned, because the physical symptoms of withdrawal are the same, all of these people are addicts. The truth is, they’re not anything alike and they are NOT all addicts in the classic definition of the word.

Let me put this as simply as I can:

A drug addict lives for their drugs. The drug dependent take their prescribed drugs to improve their ability to live a full, healthy life.

Drug addicts take highly addictive opioid drugs. Drugs they have acquired, usually illegally, in order to escape life and reality. They want to get the best high they can. There is nothing positive or constructive in their drug usage. Drug addicts are mentally addicted as well as physically addicted. By that I mean, they mentally & emotionally crave their drug of choice. Usually that results in a constant search for a stronger drug that will give them a longer, hopefully less expensive high that will allow them to escape the realities of life.

Those who are drug dependent take highly addictive opioid drugs. That is where the similarities end. Drug dependent people have been prescribed a certain drug that will enhance the quality of their life. This classification includes not only epileptics and people with neurological disorders, but those under pain management.

My husband is a perfect example of a drug dependent person. At the age of 16 he was ejected from a truck when it crashed. His back, hip, tailbone, collarbone and a few other things were broken. As a result he spent over a year in hospitals, in a cast and was told he would probably never walk again.

This guy is not a quitter and set out to prove the doctors wrong. He walked. Then he got a job as a Canadian parks back country ranger and fire lookout. He went on to ski, ice climb, roller blade, get his open ocean SCUBA certification… in short he went on to live a full life. But it was at a price. All those broken bones and nerve damage meant he was in pain 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. As he got older, he was no longer able to ski or rock climb or work an outdoor job, so he took retraining as a computer instructor, technician and technical writer. He was still in pain 24/7/365.

In 2008 we were working a job in the Phoenix, AZ area and he was quite frankly very depressed and thinking of giving up. His physician sent him to a pain management specialist who, after extensive testing and analyzing, decided to put him on a form of morphine.  We both did a bit of a freak out, but the doctor asked us to trust him and just try it.

Within a week there came a morning when I looked at my husband as he was laying in bed after just waking up and there were tears streaming down his face. I asked what was wrong and his reply was, “Nothing. Absolutely nothing. For the first time in my adult life I just woke up and was able to lay here and listen to the birds and watch the shadows of the branches on the wall and I AM NOT IN PAIN.” He went on to say he always woke up because he was in pain, and on this day there was… nothing.

The form of morphine he is on is an extended release. It feeds into his system slowly over several hours. The dosage is quite small (30 mg). It is just enough to take away the pain and allow him to live a better quality of life. In the eight years since being put on this drug, he has never increased the dosage, in fact, his original prescription was for 60 mg 4 times a day and on his own, with his doctor’s approval, he has cut it back to 30 mg twice a day. He is able to be more physically active, hikes, swims, rides a cruiser motorcycle, splits our firewood himself, builds furniture, does minor repairs around the house, gardens… many of these things he was not able to do prior to getting on the morphine.

Is it dangerous? Yes. Is it physically addictive? Yes. If he doesn’t take it as prescribed (Skips doses) does he experience withdrawal symptoms? Yes.

Here’s the sad part. He is now 65 and since he was around 55 he has worked security, first at a high security power generating plant and more recently since we moved back to the Pacific Northwest, at a large mall. All employers were aware of his prescription. His specialist has certified in writing to his employers that this regimen does not impede his motor skills, mental cognition, equilibrium or ability to function normally. He is safe to drive, operate equipment, etc..

He was required to take periodic drug tests at all his jobs, all of which he passed with no problem. In fact, he has always gotten the highest scores in his performance reviews and has received recognition for at least two instances where he helped save people’s lives in the course of his job.

Does this sound like a drug addict? I think not! But he IS drug dependent. And there are thousands of people like him out there, doing their best to keep on living a decent life, supporting themselves and their families, being physically active and living healthy.

Last year the security company he worked for lost the contract at the mall he was working at. The new company told everyone they would most likely be hired. “Just fill out the application.” My husband did as instructed and was put through the new company’s training program and issued a new uniform. Then he was asked to bring in his medication bottle to be photographed. Then he was informed the job offer was being withdrawn because the drug prescription that he has been taking for 8 years, and performing at the top of the staff where ever he worked, was on their dangerous substances list.

The EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Council) has reviewed my husband’s wrongful dismissal case and has ruled it to be a legitimate case. So we know what it is like to suffer this kind of discrimination. Another man who is on epilepsy control drugs was awarded a cash settlement for discrimination last year after the EEOC determined he was released from his job just because of his prescription.

I guess what I am saying here is: If you, or someone you know, has been discriminated against because of a legally prescribed medication you need to stand up, fight back, don’t just take it. By fighting back we can hopefully make more people aware of this problem and increase the chances employers will make an effort to educate themselves and their human resources departments so the practice can be stopped.














Hothouse Humans

Have you noticed that people are getting sick more often and more easily than in the past? Do you ever wonder why?

I had a theory: In the past getting out in “nature”, whether it was in the form of a farm, yard, sandbox or playground, was a natural part of growing up. We were exposed to all kinds of stuff and we not only survived but flourished. So I came to the conclusion that dirt, to some degree, and exposure to pollens and germs, again to some degree, was good for us.

I looked back through history and realized that the people who had to work for a living and who were not so protected, were healthier than the more privileged, who were usually coddled and kept separated from “life” as children. Privilege does have it’s downside.

So I let my own children get out there and live a full life. I let them get their share of bumps, bruises, sniffles and scratches… and a few stitches along the way.

Recently I came across an article on WebMD that supports my theory. How about that?! Common sense made medical sense for a change! Check the article out. Especially if you are currently raising children or have children who are raising THEIR children like hot house plants.

Hmmm… reinforcement for the old adage that “what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger” seems to apply here as well.

In 2015 May You Have Enough…

2014 was a pretty rough ride for an awful lot of us. As I look ahead into 2015 and all the possibilities out there for all of us, I am reminded of a story I heard a while back about “enough”. I’m not going to retell it here. You can find the version I first heard here.

Look ahead to an infinity of possibilities.

Look ahead to an infinity of possibilities.

Here is what I hope you each have enough of in the coming year:

  • I wish you enough love to spur you on to be your best.
  • I wish you enough adversity to help you better appreciate the good things that come your way.
  • I wish you enough faith in yourself to give you the courage to do what you know is right instead of what is most expedient or what “everyone else” is doing.
  • I wish you enough challenges to keep your life interesting.
  • I wish you enough compassion to make an effort to help someone else whenever you can.
  • I wish you enough friends to make your life merry.
  • I wish you enough quiet time to allow you the opportunity to look inside and get to know yourself.
  • I wish you enough wisdom to know when to speak and when to listen.
  • I wish you enough courage to follow your dreams, no matter what anyone else thinks of them.
  • I wish you enough health and happiness to let you appreciate all you have.
  • I wish you enough comfort in your times of trial and sadness.
  • I wish you enough of an open heart and mind to embrace life and the people around you.

Happy New Year everyone!

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