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Wednesday, December 30, 2009


From the title of this post, one might assume I am going to blog about my mother. Well, one would be wrong. Were I to do that, I'm afraid, this site would ban me for life!

Instead, I am going to blog about other mothers in the news. Today while I had my morning coffee, I clicked on the news page and what I found both amazed and depressed me. There was a boy found in an Idaho canal allegedly killed by his step father, a woman in Texas (of course) who cut off her 2 year old son's genitals while on cocaine, meth and zanax, another mother who beheaded her 4 year old son with a common kitchen knife. Great way to start the day wouldn't you say??

I want to expound on the Idaho child for a second. As I read the article, I was shocked at the family's history of murder and abuse. First "mom" (Melissa Jenkins) had 3 children all by different fathers. The oldest child (Robert Manwill) is the one found in the canal. His father sought and received custody of this child back in 2008 but the mother received visitation rights (when you continue reading her history with children you will wonder how she EVER obtained visitation). The boy was on a visitation with his mother when he disappeared. The middle child of this woman was taken away from her by that child's father also in 2008 and the mother has visitation rights however, she is never allowed to be alone with the child (good thinking on the part of that dad). The baby of the "family" is the offspring of "mom's" current husband (Daniel Ehrlick Jr.) who is a convicted felon with a previous history of battery convictions.

Back in 2008, mom was convicted of slamming the baby's head against "a solid surface" which resulted in fracturing the baby's skull. This is what prompted the other dad's to seek and gain custody of their children. The mom was given probation for this act. Had the Court given her the punishment she deserved and immediately stepped in and removed the child from her home, I have no doubt that this baby's half brother would never have been found floating in a canal. But, as I've stated before in my blogs, children are treated as possessions in this country. If you fracture your dogs skull and get caught, you will never get that dog back. You fracture your child's skull and you get probation AND the kid comes home to live with you so you can finish the job.

Another interesting (but sad) note is that this little boy's father (Charles Manwill) had another child. In 1993 his then wife fatally stabbed the 4 year old boy in the chest. This guy really needs to let someone else pick his women. He's not doing too well in this department.

Now on to the Texas woman who castrated her son. Katherine Nadal was high on meth, zanax and cocaine when she took a knife and completely removed her infant sons genitals. She blamed it on their small dog and continues to deny she ever "harmed" her son. The genitals were never found and there is speculation that she either fed them to the dog or flushed them down the toilet. At any rate, this child is looking at years of surgery and even more years of therapy to deal with this mutilation. In one of the first examples of emotion in any of these cases, the father had to be escorted from the courtroom when the verdict was read. Katherine shouted out "I didn't harm my child" when the verdict was read. When the father heard her, he stood up and lambasted her before being escorted from the Courtroom. HURRAH'S FOR HIM! He screamed at her that she had abused him in the womb by being high while she was pregnant. This 23 year old received 99 years in prison. The Court remarked that they wanted to make sure she was well beyond child bearing age by the time she gets out.

Texas has a rich and plentiful history of bizarre ways to kill your children. They really do. If I were a child and my parents even mentioned moving to Texas, I'd run!! Must be something in the water??

But that's just me.

Jon & Kate plus 8, Kate plus 8, Jon plus Hailey, whatever

Reality show update here!! Unless you're a Buddhist monk or live in a cave high in the Andes, you know who these folks are. Well, today's blog is to update you on the latest shenanigans of reality TV's most "affable" couple.

My daughter and I watched the entire first season (along with the however many specials that aired prior to the first season). We loved it! We loved that they lived in a small house overflowing with babies and baby items. We loved that Jon and Kate seemed to work as a team to care for all of these babies. Albeit a highly dysfunctional team, but a team nonetheless.

Initially, Kate's verbal slamming of Jon was attributed (in our minds) to her overwhelming daily routine (that was before we found out that they had scads of help 24/7. Back in the early years, Kate denied that they had any regular help). We marveled at Kate's extraordinary organizational skills. I mean, I only had 2 children and yet my floors most certainly did not get cleaned immediately after each meal. We thought this woman was amazing!

Then came season two. TLC began airing more and more of Kate's verbal punches to Jon and gradually the story emerged that Kate had constant help from a multitude of caregivers. No wonder she had time to do the floors 3 times a day (IF she was indeed the one doing the floors and not one of her workers). Still, we tried to watch it that season but only made it through maybe 4 of the shows before we stopped watching. Kate berated Jon at every turn and worse, she talked smack about him to her kids! One of the older twins became an overly aggressive smart mouthed little terror and the babies (now toddlers) were shown pushing one another and crying all the time and biting, it became not so great of a show. It became like a video that you make to get Supernanny to come to your house and show you how to parent.

Now that you're caught up on that, let's jump forward to the latest news on the Gosselin family.

Just days after TLC announced its decision to take Jon out of the show renaming the show "Kate plus 8", Jon gets "an epiphany" (he actually used that term) and decides to lock TLC out of his family home and shuts down shooting. He gives interview after interview stating that his getting fired had NOTHING to do with his actions. He insists that he did this for the protection of his kids. Right.

Someone needs to tell Jon Gosslin that had he done this even a month ago, maybe then some idiot who lives with Buddhist monks in a cave MIGHT believe it, but the timing was just a touch suspicious for anyone else to come close to believing that he stopped shooting (which by the way, is what puts food on his children's table) because of his "concern" for the kids.

He certainly appeared fine with it as recently as a week before he was fired. He happily showed up to film and did his thing never uttering a single word about his concerns for his children and the effects the show was having on them.

I believe that were Jon a woman, they would have pulled the plug on that show long ago. No one likes to watch a woman being verbally and emotionally abused. No one likes to see a daddy talking smack about the mommy to the kids. However, it appears that it's okay to show mommy as the abuser. If Jon were a woman, I think he would be diagnosed with "battered woman syndrome". I truly do. Kate has beaten him down repeatedly over the years. I actually think that what I saw on TV was her being on her "best" behavior. Can you imagine how she treated him once the camera crew left??

It was really no surprise to me to see him become a party guy once he left (or she kicked him out whichever). If you look at women who break free from their abusive husbands, they oftentimes will run the streets wild for a period. I'm not saying Jon handled this whole thing well or intelligently. Because he certainly did NOT. What I am saying is that it didn't surprise me in the least.

However, he is not showing the kids how to be an adult. Neither is Kate, but at least she appears to be concentrating on being a mother where Jon is concentrating on being a frat boy. Albeit now, an unemployed frat boy.

My bet is now that the news of his dismissal has hit the airwaves, all his trips to ski and weekends at the vacation homes of famous designers will abruptly end.

Which brings up another point. This summer, Jon spent a long weekend with a famous designer. Said designer wanted to hire Jon's kids to model and be the spokespeople for his line of children clothing. Jon had NO problem with that. He was all over it. Now being a mother myself, which would I prefer for my kids? Having a TV crew follow them around while they do what they do all day anyway or trying to make 8 kids be still so as not to mess up their hair and make up and then be still some more so they can have their pictures taken all day long??

I've done the take the kids to the studio for pictures thing when my kids were small and trust me, it was a nightmare just getting that done occasionally. To try to make that happen every day??? Oh hell no!

Then we have the "Jon stole all our money from the bank and I can't pay the bills now" versus, "Kate has a million dollars hidden away and I only took $22,500 out of the bank which was my paycheck". Hmmmm. First, Jon, it has surfaced that $22,500 is the FAMILY paycheck NOT all yours. Secondly, the money that Kate socked away actually was earned because of HER book and personal appearances. Which would make it HER money NOT yours to squander on designer clothes and loose women (aka Hailey Glassman). If you want YOUR money then you should have taken 1/10 of that sum which would have only been $2,250 and left the rest for Kate to spend keeping food, shelter and clothing for the kids that YOU helped bring into this world. Course, you might have had to stay home a couple of nights a week rather than party, but hey, that's what parents do all over the world in order to support their kids.

So my conclusion with the Jon side of this is that he has behaved in the worse possible way during this split with Kate. Battered or not, he has shown the world (and his kids) that he is extremely self centered, a doormat, whiny, "nothing is my fault", rather party than parent kinda guy who takes money out of his children mouths in order to support his new "swinger" lifestyle. Not much love for you there, Jon. I was rooting for you when I first heard that you had jumped ship on Kate, but now I'm thinking she should have booted your behind years ago.

Now onto Kate. Where to begin?? I will say that Kate Gosselin is one smart cookie when it comes to parlaying having 8 kids into living in a multi million dollar home. However, I am wondering how much of the money that THE KIDS earn every week actually goes into an account for the kids?? My bet? Zero. I don't know if Pennsylvania has laws in effect to force parents to put aside a certain amount of the kids earnings like California and New York have. I doubt they do. Which means Kate can spend the money any old way she pleases.

The stories about Kate's abusive nature have been rampant. Even before the separation. Stories like why you never saw the grandparents on their show or any of their aunts and uncles save for Kate's sister in law and brother who were suddenly erased from the show early on.

Kate's MO appears to be "as long as you keep your mouth shut about anything that I say and do, you can remain in the lives of my children. However, come even close to criticism and you are out!!" She has systematically cut off all of the kids relatives. These kids will grow up without having that extended family connection simply because Kate is just so hard to get along with.

My parents prevented me from being close to my multitude of cousins growing up and I missed that so much! Especially once I became an adult and looked the cousins up and tried to have a relationship with them. It was impossible. They were total strangers to me and it always hurt me to listen to them talk about "remember when we were kids?" stuff with the other cousins. There was just this whole other world that they all shared that I was and would never be a part of. That's what the Gosselin kids are facing.

Kate is perhaps the most narcissistic person on TV. She seems to think the world really does revolve around her and her wants and needs. It's a good thing that she had so many kids because the chances are great that a big majority of them are going to grow up to hate that woman. At least with this many kids, she may possibly get one of the bunch that will come see her on a regular basis once they're grown.

Just wait for the teenage years! Wow! Now I'd watch that show! They are going to tear Kate Gosselin up when they become teenagers. She is going to have to hire full time bodyguards in order to just keep them in the house on a school night! She thinks it's hard to corral 8 toddlers? Just try to corral 8 teenagers. I feel for her there!

I've said it before and I'll say it again, Personally, I have always thought that social services should have stepped in and put a stop to this show a long time ago. When they were just doing a couple of specials a year, it was fine. But now with them filming all the time, it's too much. These kids need to be kids and they certainly don't need for the world to be watching them all the time. Especially with the divorce turning as ugly as it has. They need some private time and not just when they're asleep. They don't need the world (and their classmates) to see all of this. It's just not right.

Before I end this tirade, I'd like to blog a bit about Kate's "holier than thou" attitude.

Remember Octomom? I have seen numerous clips of Kate on the Larry King show and Kate on the Today show, on The View and various other shows where Kate repeatedly looks down her nose at Octomom. Seriously looks down her nose at Octomom. Now I myself, feel enormous disdain for Octomom and firmly believe that instead of having scores of kids, she needed to be in a mental health facility but that's just my opinion. I don't get on TV and label myself the supermom of all supermoms either.

She gets on "Christian" television shows and professes to be this immaculate Christian while all the time she is abusing her husband, exploiting her children, talking smack about people she has never met and being an all round bitch. Not impressive in my book.

But that's just me.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Update on Children in Prison post

Robert Barnes wrote a piece for the Washington Post that caught my attention this morning. The article is entitled "High Court to look at life in prison for juveniles". (

It states that today the Supreme Court will decide if sentencing juveniles to prison without the possibility of parole is unconstitutional. However, they are only asking that the juveniles who have committed non-homicide crimes be included in this. Surprisingly, there are currently 111 people in prisons across our country who were sentenced to life without the possibility of parole while they were juveniles for non-homicide crimes which would leave the subject of my earlier post out in the cold. I was really disappointed in that but at least this current development is a step in the right direction.

I was tremendously surprised that there were that many in our prisons and also that they were sent away to die in prison for non-homicidal crimes. What didn't surprise me is that Florida has 70% of these people. This was a result from Florida's rash of crimes against tourist back in the 1990's. As much as I would love to blame this on Jeb Bush, I was saddened to learn that he was not governor during these times. Instead the blame should rest squarely with Bob Martinez and Lawton Chiles.

There were (to my surprise) state representatives from 19 states who showed up to contest this. Of course, Florida was present but Louisiana was perhaps equally vocal in its opposition. I honestly cannot understand why anyone would oppose this.

The two cases being reviewed from Florida concerns Joe Harris Sullivan a convicted rapist (who maintains to this day that he is innocent) and Terrance Graham who was convicted after he was caught in a burglary while on probation.

Sullivan and Graham are supported by a wide-ranging group of organizations: the American Bar Association, the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, and academics and social scientists who argue that juveniles cannot be held responsible for their actions in the same way adults are. For the same reason, they say, younger teenagers are not entrusted with decisions such as voting, marrying or drinking.

But the states supporting Florida said the penalty is reserved for the worst offenders. "It is a rare and agonizing decision to sentence a juvenile to life-without-parole," said a brief filed by Louisiana and other states. "But rare does not mean unconstitutional. Rather, rarity is an index of mercy -- of reluctance to take this severe step."

The National District Attorneys Association, supporting Florida, said that while life without parole for juveniles might be unusual, "permanent incarceration for the most violent, hardened juvenile offenders is by no means 'cruel.' "

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote that the immature actions and developing nature of a juvenile meant that "it is less supportable to conclude that even a heinous crime committed by a juvenile is evidence of irretrievably depraved character." He added: "It would be misguided to equate the failings of a minor with those of an adult, for a greater possibility exists that a minor's character deficiencies will be reformed."

Until a crystal ball is invented with which we can foresee the future, there is no way that we can state without pause that a child will NEVER be able to be rehabilitated. We simply cannot do this and should not even try.

I am completely against the giving of a life without possibility of parole or any sentence coming even close to that for a juvenile. I am also against the sending of minors to adult prisons. It wasn't until 2005 that our country stopped allowing minors to be executed for their crimes!! 2005!! Good God!

I can understand where this all started. There was a time not too awfully long ago, when gangs would take juveniles and "train" them to do illegal things because they knew if the juvenile was caught, he would go to juvie and then be back on the streets whereas his adult counterparts could face "the chair". This led to a rash of juveniles being recruited by gangs and other illegal groups and also to a rash of crimes, oftentimes violent, by these juvenile "armies".

However, allowing a child to grow up and die in prison is not the deterrent that the "powers that be" might have hoped for. This experiment failed miserably and needs to be stopped!

Why did it never enter into their heads to up the pressure on the adults who were recruiting these minors? Are our police in this country so inept that they can only catch juveniles in these situations? I mean really! Get these gangs off our streets and out of our neighborhoods and there will be no one to recruit these juveniles and without the recruiters, the vast majority of these juveniles either won't be arrested for anything worse than the stealing of a bike or a fight in the alley.

Let's look at it from a financial standpoint. To predict the cost to taxpayers to convict a juvenile is almost impossible. It depends on the nature of the crime and the depth and length of the trial. However, I can list a few costs that are pretty much across the board. There is the cost of the public defender and his/her staff. There is the cost of trial exhibits, the costs of finding witnesses and obtaining their statements. There are motions to be drafted, filed and argued. Subpoenas to be drafted, filed, executed and followed up on. Then comes the actual trial, conviction and sentencing phases. It is estimated that this can go as high as $700,000 per trial. Even higher if DNA or other specialized tests are performed and even higher still if expert witnesses are called.

Above all that, is the cost taxpayers pay for the other side. The prosecution. We have to have at least one prosecutor involved. There are police to investigate and come up with witnesses, witness statements, evidence and the testing of said evidence. There is a Judge to be paid and court costs, a court reporter. We have to house this juvenile while all this is going on. The cost can be pretty extreme.

It cost a minimum of $33,000 a year to keep a person in prison. That's an adult criminal. It costs more for a juvenile because of the extra protection and isolation that the juvenile has to have until he/she becomes an adult and is then thrown into the general population. But we will go with the $33,000 number.

Let's say the juvenile spends 20 years in prison. That's a pretty low number since if you are convicted at the ripe age of 17, there is a very good chance that you will live to be well over 37 years of age. But we will just go with that number for the sake of argument. 20 x $33,000 = $660,000.

So, $700,000 + $660,000 = $1,360,000 This number does not take into consideration increases in the prices of trial or imprisonment. Nor does it take into account the extra cost of housing a minor OR the extra cost of providing said minor with health care, dental care, vision care, or other "benefits" afforded them during their time in prison. It most certainly does NOT take into account any appeal cost.

Now let's look at the cost of sending that juvenile to an institution until they are an adult or rehabilitated. If you break it down, it costs an average of $93.22 a day to house an adult in prison. It costs approximately $618.00 to house an adult in a state mental health facility. That is a vast and enormous difference in price. On the surface it would certainly appear that the money saving is in sending the kids to prison.

However, remember that you are sending them to prison for the REST OF THEIR LIVES. You are providing them with health care for the rest of their lives. You are providing them with other benefits for the rest of their lives. Also, bear in mind that these prices are for adults and that juveniles in prison require extra's that are not reflected in this price.

Another thing to consider is supply and demand. The more people who use a facility, the lower the cost of that facility becomes. Simple economics. That's one reason private facilities cost so much more. Fewer people go there. If the government entered into a contract with a facility for their juvenile offenders, they would receive an awesome discount and this price would go down accordingly. Also, remember that this juvenile won't be spending the next 50 years in that facility. There is a more obtainable end in sight with this scenario versus prison.

So, if you take into account just the base cost of prison where they will simply be warehoused against the cost of sending them to a state facility where they could get help and perhaps be rehabilitated and get out in time to actually have a life ahead of them, it is on the surface less expensive to send them to prison. But as I said, factor in the health care and other benefits given to them during their lifetime in prison and it comes out pretty even.

Another good side effect of not sending them to prison is the room it will make for adult criminals in there making our need to release early due to overcrowding a little better.

I don't really care if it is more expensive, I just want us to stop sending our children to prison for the rest of their lives. Period.

But that's just me.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Anti Hate Laws

This country has enacted and continues to enact strong laws protecting the gay and lesbian communities, the black community, the religious communities, the Latino communities and every other sort of "minority" community it can think of. The communities that our government is steadfastly ignoring or refusing to protect are the elderly communities and the children communities. If you murder an elderly person or a child, your sentence is vastly less than had you murdered a 30 year old. Sad, but true. Especially in the instance of murdering a child. And most especially if the child was yours.

If I kill an adult white male, I will get far less time than if I kill an adult black male or an adult gay or lesbian IF the prosecutor can plant a seed of doubt in the jurors minds that I might not like black people or gays and/or lesbians. Would they have a difficult time dredging up past statements by me to that effect?

Probably not. I think nearly everyone at some point in their lives have made racial statements or has rolled their eyes at some gay/lesbian comment or media report. I think practically everyone at some point in their lives has uttered a racial joke or a joke about gays/lesbians. I really do. We do it in the privacy of our homes or with our friends/relatives/co-workers and then we forget all about it. Because we weren't doing it to incite violence or to spread hatred.

However, if the prosecutor is worth his/her salt, they should be able to dig up a person or two who heard the statement(s). That's all it would take for my sentence to be doubled.

Now, why is it that as the laws are written, a black person or a gay/lesbian person cannot (or are not) charged with these extra offenses if they kill me? I am reminded of Malaika Tamu Griffin. She has appeared on America's Most Wanted because she was a fugitive for quite some time.

This was a black woman who hated white people and eventually shot and killed her white neighbor in front of witnesses. She then disappeared and was a fugitive from justice for over 5 years. When the police entered her apartment, they found numerous magazines, articles and journal entries written by Griffin pertaining to her intense hatred of white people and the possible eradication of the white race.

They also found scores of weapons, ammunition and other items which obviously pointed to the fact that Ms. Griffin was not a passive believer but fully intended to actively involve herself in this process.

Was she charged under the hate crime laws? No, she was not. She was charged and convicted (once they found her) of simple 1st degree murder, vehicle theft and aggravated robbery. The vehicle theft charge stemmed from the fact that after she (unprovoked) shot and killed an unarmed man in his own driveway, she committed a car jacking in order to secure a getaway vehicle.

With ALL of this abundant evidence including eye witnesses to the crime, it still took the jury over 7 hours to deliver a guilty verdict. Huh? She received life in prison. However, why didn't she receive the extra punishment that a white person would have received had they been in her shoes?

This is not the only case of this type out there. I could pull up case upon case of such hate crimes against unprotected "classes". However, this is perhaps the most famous due to the fact that AMW aired her profile twice before she was caught.

This is my take on the entire situation. If a crime is committed against an elderly person, a child, (in very rare situations) a woman, or on an adult who is severely handicapped, then give them lots of extra time.

But if the crime is against one adult to another, give them equal time. We don't need to send a message to our citizens and the world that in this country the only people we protect are minorities or gays/lesbians or religious people or whatever.

We need to give the message loud and clear that we don't tolerate beatings, lynchings, rapes or murders PERIOD. End of chat!

But that's just me.

Children in Prison.

Sara Kruzan: Life Without Parole for Killing her Pimp

Let's discuss the video that I have linked to this blog and the fact that we have children sitting in prison for life.

A 16 year old girl who had been raped by her pimp since she was 13 thinks there is no way out for her from this hellish life except to kill her pimp. She gets life without parole and then some. Fair? Is this justice? Let's take a look at that.

Now don't get me wrong on this, I hate my taxpayer dollars being spent on long drawn out trials just as much as the next person. I truly do.

I hate it SO much whenever a defendant gets on the stand and wastes taxpayer money and the Courts time by sobbing about what a crappy childhood they had or how they were entangled in the clutches of drug addiction or alcoholism or how they were abused by their husband/wife (whoever). My normal reaction is "so what"?? LOTS of people in this world are abused, raped, beaten, drug addicted, alcohol addicted and still they manage to see another way out of their situation. It happens every stinking day. These people don't resort to murder to get out of their situations.

However, in ever-increasing frequency you run across a person who truly had no other avenue available to them and this is the situation with this young woman.

She was raised by a neglectful (to put it mildly) mother. She had no father in her life. She was an isolated 11 year old when she met her future pimp. He treated her very well for a couple of years and worked his mind control "magic" on her before raping her at the age of 13 and then putting her out on the streets as a prostitute. Her hours were from 5 to 5.

Now where was her mother during this? My daughter was once 13. Do you think for a second that I would allow her to be gone during those hours? Uh, no. For that matter do you think I am going to allow her to run around with a grown man when she is 11 without me being present at all times? Uh, no. Neither of these scenarios would have happened. Not on a dare! However, no adult stepped in to protect this child. They in effect threw her to the wolves without a second thought.

Sara had NO ONE to protect her. She was a child left to her own devices and made to look out for herself. I don't care how "street smart" you are, when you are 11, your decision making abilities are not to the point that you can protect yourself from every situation that crops up. Not nearly.

For Sara, there was no trusted adult anywhere in her life that she felt she could turn to and ask for help. She absolutely fell through the cracks in her life. So, she did the only thing she could think of to do in her 13 year old mind. She murdered her pimp to put an end to this hell.

When she was sentenced, the judge told her that she had no "moral scruples". SHE WAS 11 YEARS OLD WHEN HE GOT HIS HANDS ON HER! Where in the world (or at least in her world) would she possibly have had moral scruples taught to her? Who in her world had the ability to show by example or to teach these to her? Who in her world even possessed them?

After she got to prison she had to look these words up in a dictionary because she didn't even know what they meant. Does that sound like a hardened killer to you?

Even she admits she should be punished for what she did. Even she admits that what she did was wrong. Why should she have to spend the rest of her natural life in prison when it is her mother and the pimp who should be punished. Well, the pimp did get his sentence, but her mother is free as a bird and able to do as she pleases while the daughter that she created sits in prison.

This is just not right!!

To date, over 2200 children have been sentenced as adults and sent to adult prisons in this country.

Prisons (at least in America) were initially created as a way to rehabilitate the criminals who could still be rehabilitated and only as a last resort to warehouse those individuals who needed to remain off the streets for the safety of the general public. Sara is no threat to the general public. She is a shining example of someone who could very easily be rehabilitated.

I'm all for the 3rd strike laws. If you didn't learn anything the first two times, then by the third time, you need to go away permanently. That's my take on it. But if you are a child, I don't care what heinous act you have committed, there is always the possibility, however slight, that you can be rehabilitated and at some point in your life, you can lead a productive and law abiding life! We aren't a country of psychics! How can anyone say with complete certainty that a child can NEVER be reformed? No one knows that!! And by locking that child up with adult offenders for any period of time, we are insuring that they are lost forever.

Stop sending money to other countries so their children can be educated and fed and clothed and protected! SPEND THAT MONEY IN OUR OWN COUNTRY SO OUR CHILDREN CAN BE PROPERLY FED, CLOTHED, HOUSED, PROPERLY EDUCATED AND MOST OF ALL - PROTECTED!

Start sending these children to juvenile facilities. Not the ones we currently have in place. They are nothing more than junior prisons and warehouses.

Let's spend the money to create facilities where the children will be emotionally, psychologically and physically cared for. Let's give them the tools that they obviously did not get from the adults in their lives to deal with life's numerous situations without resorting to violence. Let's up their opinion of themselves a notch or two. MOST of these children can be salvaged. MOST of these children can learn from their mistakes no matter how horrendous they were and can go forward and be productive law abiding citizens.

Many of them would need to be housed in a mental health facility for sure. But the money we would save down the road would far exceed the money we will spend to house these children in adult prisons for the rest of their lives.

What is wrong with this country???? Why do we turn our backs on our own children while all the time we are sending Angelina Jolie to foreign countries to help their children?? Why are people like Oprah and Madonna opening schools for girls in foreign countries while we have a staggering number of girls in this country every day who are being pushed into prostitution, raped, beaten, molested, etc. Are our girls not worth the time and money?? Are their girls more valuable than ours??

I am sick of this! Spend your time and money HERE. Save OUR children. Let other countries worry about their own children until we have taken ours back.

What hypocrites we are and don't think the rest of the world doesn't see that. We seem to be the only people in the world who doesn't.

But that's just me.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Savage Grace

Several weeks ago while up late not being able to sleep (for whatever reason) I ran across a movie starring Julianne Moore called "Savage Grace". It was such a strange and unbelievable story that I had to immediately purchase the book upon which the movie is based. The book (by the same name) was riveting. It is written in a documentary style which is rather difficult to read at first, but it is such an intriguing story that I simply couldn't put it down! After I caught onto the rhythm of the style, it was quite pleasant reading actually.

It is the story of Brooks, Barbara and Antony Baekeland. Brooks grandfather (Leo) invented plastic (Brooks himself invented a parachute but that is the extent of his contribution to society).

Barbara was a stunningly beautiful, highly violent and manically energetic woman who decided she needed to have sex with her son (Antony) in order to "cure" him of his homosexual tendencies. Barbara came from a long line of mentally unstable people. Her mother had a severe mental breakdown before Barbara was born. Her father committed suicide. Her only sibling, a brother, also committed suicide.

Antony was a very attractive and artistic young man who didn't have a dogs chance of surviving in the world into which he was born and eventually died while in prison.

The book is filled to the brim with interviews with such luminaries as Dominick Dunne, Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali, Jim Jones, Sam Green, Patricia Neal (the actress), Sir Cecil Beaton, Georges Bernier, Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia, Peter Gimble, plus assorted Guinnesses, Vanderbilts, Astors and titled Europeans.

Brooks says in the book that because of his grandfather, Brooks was able to live his life with "fuck you money". They never owned a house. They traveled like gypsies around the globe renting one place after another in whatever country they decided to land for anywhere from a month to a year at a time. Antony was raised with adults and was taught from early childhood to speak and react as an adult. Brooks was insistent that instead of Antony learning to recognize a butterfly (as an example) he was instead taught to recognize it as a Papilio (the Latin term). He wanted to make sure that Antony learned the scientific terms for all things rather than what Brooks considered to be the "slang" terms for them.

As a matter of fact, throughout Antony's short life (he was around 30 at the time of his death) he was treated as a pet more so than a child. At dinner parties (one in particular), he was offered up to read a chapter from "Lady Chatterley's Lover" to the guests in attendance. I believe he was 10 at the time?

I think the book enthralls me so much because it is such an example of the idle rich and their skewed moral courage (or lack thereof). Had anything similar to this occurred in an inner city family, it would not have been made into a movie starring Julienne Moore. It would undoubtedly not even have made the nightly news.

I think because of their vast sums of money, we expect more from these types of people. We expect them to have just a little more common sense, intelligence and morality than the common ghetto dweller. However, as this book shows, very often, they certainly do not.

Brooks Baekeland was a self proclaimed author who never published a book. He however, did invent a specialized parachute for high altitude jumping that is used by every military authority in the world for this purpose.

During such a long life as he enjoyed with all the financial resources at his disposal, one would expect so much more from him. Especially if he truly were nearly as smart and creative as he proclaimed himself to be.

Whenever he spoke of Barbara's painting talent, he says he stood behind her when she painted and instructed her. When he talks of her writing ability, he states he instructed her and edited her words. No one on earth was anywhere near the intelligence level as Brooks, or at least in his own mind.

Barbara was an entertaining genius by all accounts. It was said repeatedly that if she felt a dinner party was "going south", she would come up with ingenious ways to liven it up. Thus making her parties the must attend functions in many countries.

Their lives were the fodder of at least 2 successful novels. One of them entitled "The Merry Month of May" 1971 by James Jones who also authored "From Here to Eternity" among others, was reviewed by the New York Times.

The reviewer for Time magazine noted in his review, his feeling that the book's characters were not very believable. The Saturday Review (John W. Aldridge) notes in his review, "Even with all due allowance for his evident faith in human credulity, Jones cannot really expect us to believe any of this." Little did they know, that the main characters in the book (the Gallagher family) were indeed the Baekelands and everything in the book was factual. Sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction.

I think the reason this is the subject of my post, is because when I googled Antony Baekeland, I got scores of articles about Barbara or Leo but absolutely nothing about Antony. This movie, this book, this horrific story is NOT about Brooks, or Leo or even Barbara so much as it is about Antony. Yet he is treated as an afterthought, he is treated as a minor player in the whole thing. Had it not been for Brooks and Barbara and their miserable failings as parents and human beings, there would be no book or movie and perhaps Barbara would be alive today. Although Barbara was indeed murdered, Antony is the real victim in this saga.

As I see it, Antony's (and Barbara's) deaths were due in large part to three situations.

1) His mother. Barbara was not only having sex with him from the time he was a teenager until he murdered her, but she was cruelly manipulative and very often violent with him. He had no one to shelter him from this treatment and as this was all he had ever known, he felt he had no escape from it. Much like a "Battered woman syndrome" situation.

The few times that he did move away from his mother, she allowed him to stay for a few months and then would pull him back with threats of cutting off his money.

I think his state of mind where Barbara is concerned, could best be shown in the following. At one point, Sam Green had lunch with Tony. Sam had been Barbara's lover for a short time and some sources state, he was sexually active with Tony as well although after the book and movie came out, he denied ever having been intimate with Tony.

Tony was desperate to talk with someone, anyone, about what his mother was doing to him sexually and manipulatively. Sam advised him to get away from her and stay away from her. Tony's response was utter shock, "Where will I go? What will I do?"

Sam's response was, "Do what people all over the world do.....get a job!" Tony was stunned. No one in his immediate family worked, or had ever really worked. He didn't really know anyone besides the domestic help that worked. His overly pompous, braggart of a father certainly had not set an example of this to him, nor had his status seeking, party girl of a mother.

2) His father, Brooks. Brooks throughout the book, brags incessantly about how rich he is, how super intelligent he is, how he succeeds at every little thing he attempts. He scorns Antony at every turn. He offered no assistance, when it became clear that Antony had mental issues. Severe mental issues. As an example, there was the times Tony tried to kill his mother even going so far as to drag her by her hair into traffic in the hopes of throwing her beneath an oncoming car, leaving her partially bald, bruised and with numerous broken bones in her hand as a result of him repeatedly slamming the gate on her hand as she held on for dear life. Brooks steadfastly refused to pay for a stay in a hospital or for psychiatric treatment touting psychiatrists as charlatans. It should be noted here that his brother, Dr. Fred Baekeland was a rather prominent psychiatrist at the time.

Even when Antony was writing and calling his father literally begging him for help, Brooks ignored the letters and calls or would berate him on the few occasions that he actually accepted the calls. Brooks in essence abandoned his son leaving him to fend for himself knowing Tony lacked the proper mental equipment to do so.

Brooks literally sentenced Barbara and Nina (the maternal grandmother who was the last of Antony's victims to be stabbed) to their fates. He also assured Tony of his fate as well. Tony should never have been incarcerated at Riker's Island Prison.

For that matter, he should never have been released from Broadmoor without supervision. He should have remained in a mental health facility until he died or at the very least, he should have been sent to a halfway house with constant appropriate supervision.

However, that's not what happened.

3) There were a group of Barbara's friends who visited Tony regularly during the nearly 8 years that he was in Broadmoor. They felt that he was changed. They felt that killing Barbara was the only thing he could think to do in order to stop the torture both sexually and emotionally that she had inflicted upon him during his life. They felt that he was no threat to anyone else.

So they campaigned relentlessly to get his release. Even to the point of getting the American Consulate involved in the saga.

Eventually, they won his release. However, when the British Courts demanded that someone be made responsible for him upon his release, NONE of them stepped up to the plate and volunteered. Thus, he was sent to live with Barbara's elderly mother in New York and was given absolutely NO conditions of supervision or continued mental health care. Again, Brooks flatly refused to finance medical treatment for Tony.

Without the medicines which had kept him on a somewhat even keel while in Broadmoor, within a week of his stay with Nina Daly, he decided that she was nagging him too much about the noise he would make during the night as he stayed up all night playing his music.

He also had erected a shrine of sorts to Barbara in Nina's tiny living room (which was where he slept as she lived in a tiny one bedroom apartment). He would, according to Nina, conduct occult type ceremonies to Barbara there.

Nina had fallen and broken her hip not long before Tony was released and she was slowly on the mend from that. One morning nearly a week after he came there, he threw a phone at Nina causing her to fall to the floor, fearing he might has re-fractured her hip again, he decided to kill her to put her out of her misery.

In his mind, he thought that to be the most humane and decent thing he could do for her. He went into the kitchen and grabbed a knife and began stabbing her repeatedly but the blade kept hitting bone and she didn't die. Furious because he couldn't kill her, he finally called for an ambulance to come get her. He remarked to the police when they arrived that he hated it when they just wouldn't die!!

This was the crime that eventually led to him being sent to Riker's Island Prison where they found him with a plastic bag over his head dead one afternoon shortly after he had returned from a court hearing in which his bail was again denied.

All of these "friends" of Barbara's knew what she was doing to Tony for years! They admit in interviews that either Barbara or Tony and sometimes both, had admitted to them that they were having sex. They knew that Barbara was violent and erratic and mentally ill herself. They knew that Brooks had deserted both of them. Yet not one of them ever admits to coming forward and telling Barbara that she should stop treating Tony that way or volunteering to take Tony or in any other way, trying to help Tony.

Only when he finally gets to a place (Broadmoor) in which he can get the help he needs and is doing well, do they decide to form a committee to "help" him.

I honestly don't know how they sleep at night. I don't know how Brooks could live with himself.

What a complete and utter waste of space Brooks and Barbara Baekeland were. Utter waste of air.

But that's just me.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Update & reprint of former post

Below is a reprint of a former post of mine. It would appear another woman is missing. What does this woman looks like? Blonde hair, average height and build. Walked out of her office in Riverside Alabama at lunch and was never seen again although her car remained in the parking lot. Odd.

So here is my previous post and I have updated the timeline to include Kelley Howard in the list. I will update this post as new information is uncovered.


Since October, 2008 or so, I have noticed reports of missing women and bodies found in and around Birmingham, Alabama. A couple of the missing women have been found alive. Women who decided to start over or were running from the law (such as the case of the Alabama woman who disappeared after being charged with child neglect or the Alabama preacher's wife who disappeared and then surfaced in New York living under an assumed name). But there are many who have not been found alive and well. There are also bodies that have been found but not identified. I have not included any of these women in my list below.

When I decided to write this post, I tried to find reports of these bodies and missing women, but could only come up with a few. Most of the time, I find the Internet highly over rated when it comes to research. Or at least FREE research. Honestly I think it's more of a "users" issue.

So below is the list I have been able to compile. I will update this list as necessary. Hopefully I can become more adept at "keywords" because apparently I kinda suck at it right now.

I have only gone back as far as 2006. However, when I have more time available, I intend to take a closer look at the years 1995 - 1999 because most of the missing women I have found were from that time period but right now, let's concentrate on more current dates. Fodder for my next post I suppose.

Sherry Milton. Age 26, white-blonde - from Tuscaloosa. Disappeared 08/2006 while visiting in Birmingham. Her car was found the next day in the Ensley area (near the same spot that a more recent missing woman's - Nadia Kersh - car was found abandoned). Sherry was slender and had collar length light brown or dark blond hair (this is the most common thread among all of these women).

Lori Ann Slesinski. Age 24, white-brunette - from Auburn. Disappeared 06/2006. They found her brand new car on fire 5 days after she went missing. Again, slender with shoulder length blond hair.

Britney Jenae Wright. Age 19, white-blonde - from Vernon. Disappeared 07/2007. She was last seen at her residence. All of her personal items were still there when the police investigated. She has not been seen or heard from since that date. She again fit the general description of the other women.


Pamela Pendley. Age 42, white-blonde - from Hueytown. Disppeared while on a business trip to Pamama City, FL on 1/27/08

Lisa Green. Age 44, white-blonde - from Brookwood. Disappeared 07/2008 from a convenience store. Now Lisa is well over the "normal" age bracket if these are all connected. However, Lisa is a slender blond who easily could be mistaken for someone years younger in that she dressed & wore her hair in a style much younger than her age and her facial features belie her age well. Lisa was last seen at a grocery store in Brookwood.

Jennifer Lee Hampton. Age 21, white-blonde - from Florence. Disappeared 9/2008. Jennifer was last seen at a hotel where she was attending a conference for work. Same general physical description as the others.

Shannon Ellis. Age 31 - from Birmingham. Disappeared 9/2008. Had darker hair but otherwise is the same general physical description as the other ladies.

Nadia Kersh. Age 23, white-light brunette - from Homewood. Disappeared 10/2008. Her abandoned car was found blocks from where Sherry Milton's car was found. Same description. Slender, blond or light brown hair above the collar length.

Brianna Parish. Age 21, white-blonde - from Daphne. Disappeared 11/2008. Body located. Last seen at a local bar. Killer unknown.

Emily Phillips Milling. Age 23, white-blonde - from Leeds. Disappeared 11/2008. Body located. Suspect has been arrested but no conviction or confession at this time. Same description.

Layla Adkins. Age 32, white-blonde - from Leeds. Disappeared 11/13/08.

In January a body of a young female was discovered just off Rocky Ridge Road. She was nude and her clothes were near her body. She has not as of yet been identified. Police have stated that she was not at her location for very long after her death. (NOTE: THIS YOUNG LADY WAS AN AFRICAN AMERICAN FEMALE WHICH DEFIES ALL CONNECTION WITH THE OTHER LADIES. HOWEVER, AS NO ONE HAS YET TO BE ARRESTED FOR THIS, I AM LEAVING HER ON THIS LIST).

Sherry Ann Sellers, white blonde, age 50, average height and build. Missing from Norther Tuscaloosa county.

Kelley Howard, white-blonde and of average height and build. She left her place of employment at lunch. She has not been seen or heard from again. Her car remained in the parking lot.

That's all that I have been able to find from the general area at this point. How many more are out there that I have not been able to find out anything about? My rule of thumb has always been if I can find 1 then there are probably 2 more out there. Also, there are numerous others in bordering states along the border with Alabama that I have not included such as Florida, Mississippi and Tennessee. I haven't even looked at Georgia.

None of the above may be related or they may all be related. Also, there are other missing women and found bodies, that I have run across during my informal searches that I neglected to bookmark and now cannot find them.

Alabama doesn't have the history of making serial killers that some other states "enjoy". We had a few home grown serial killers. Daniel Siebert (killed 13 total - 5 of which were actually in Alabama), Donald Wayne Darling (I can't find a total on his victims) and Jack Trawick (6 known kills). We had the 18 year old girl (from Alabama) and her much older husband who traveled around Alabama and the surrounding states killing people and then in the early 1900's we had the infamous "Axe killing" serial killers. These were a small group of black men who roamed Birmingham, Alabama killing folks with an axe. I guess I should include Rhonda Belle Martin in this list. I hesitate only because she killed only family members. She poisoned 6 and attempted to poison another 9 before she was caught and eventually executed in 1957.

Am I excited about the possibility of an Alabama serial killer on the loose? Lord no! However, I am curious about it. As I said before, I will research the '90's timeline and see what else I can come up with. Maybe the northwest and states with cold/wet climates are not the only places that breed serial killers? We shall see.

Be on the lookout for updates on this subject. Gruesome as it may sound, this subject matter intrigues me greatly. I mostly hang with the ultra liberal crowds and our hottest debates have always been about environment causing predatory behavior.

You see I believe that predatory behavior and the ability to act upon that behavior, is born - not caused in 99% of these cases. I believe that people are just more evolved animals who, for the most part, have learned how to restrain their basal animal instincts or channel it into more socially acceptable ways.

However, from time to time there comes along the human who for whatever reason either cannot or will not restrain that urge. When that occurs ultimately a serial killer is born into our society.

I never understood people who were shocked at this occurrence. After all it is animal nature to prey on the weaker animals. Only in the (true)animal kingdom is it done normally just for food or survival. Somehow once it crosses over into the human arena, it becomes more for sport than survival. It's more a case of "I do it because I can" scenario.

That is the part that intrigues me. The total and complete lack of empathy for their victims. The part of them that actually enjoys the pain and fear that they are inflicting upon their victims. The complete and utter control they have over their victim(s). The part of them that doesn't even attempt to explain their behavior. the "it is what it is" kind of attitude.

Many of these killers mouth excuses "my parents beat me" or "I felt I had no control in my life and this gave it back to me" but I have always felt they were simply mouthing what they had read or what shrinks had told them as a last ditch effort to either make themselves appear less of a monster or as an attempt to influence their possible future endeavors to either get out of prison or at a minimum off death row.

Then you have the unbelievably evil and frightening people like David Parker RAY and Cindy HENDY a/k/a the "Toy Box Killers". Of all of the serials, David and Cindy are perhaps the most frightening of the lot if for no other reason than the shear enjoyment they felt for this "hobby" and also for the fact that they lived in total obscurity for decades before being caught.

We can study these killers from here to eternity and we will never know how to actually spot them early on and prevent them from allowing their killer instincts to run rampant. We simply must admit and accept the fact that there are people born into this world with this need and drive to kill & torture. The best that we can hope for is that we will be more vigilant in protecting ourselves from them and in our ability to catch them early.

But that's just me.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

My last blog

This may very well be my last blog. No one apparently reads it. I keep a journal so why on earth would I need to blog?? Just in case this is my last blog.........enjoyed it while it lasted! See ya later!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Crazy Dog Lady??

In my life I have experienced more than my fair share of death. Beginning when my brother and I found our grandfather shortly after he committed suicide by shotgun when I was 7. Since then, I have had 3 husbands die; my father; my best friend in the whole world; 3 boyfriends (3 seems to be the magic number with me doesn't it?); my beloved sister & the usual aunts, uncles, classmates. Yet, I carried on and dealt with each of them. Of the above deaths, my sister's death has affected me the most I think. However, with the exception of my sister, none of these has affected me nearly as much as the recent deaths of my 2 dogs. How strange is that?

Cole (short for Nat King Cole) was a 158 pound black Huskador. Gorgeous dog. Each of his eyes were half sky blue. He was handsome and so very smart. I bought him and his twin sister (Bennett - short for Tony Bennett) when they was 6 weeks old way back in 1997 and Cole was my shadow until June, 2009 when I had to have him put down. Bennett accidentally hung herself trying to jump a fence when she was about 2. Unfortunately, had she not done this, I would have had to have her put down because she was EXTREMELY mean.

Quincy (short for Quincy Jones) was a Chesapeake Bay Retriever. Thick red hair, I called him my Irish boy. Smartest dog I've ever seen. Of the two, he was by far the most attached to me and I was the most attached to him. Cole loved me but Quincy adored me. I rescued Quincy back in 1997 from my mother. Quincy was born in 1994 and for the first years of his life, he lived in my mother's yard. She lived in the country on some acreage and he had the full roam of it. However, she wasn't the best at making sure he had food and water and she never allowed him to come inside no matter how harsh the weather might be. She didn't pet him or spend time with him. Finally, on Thanksgiving in 1997, my daughter and I went outside to play with him and noticed that his water bowl was frozen solid and there was not a sign of food anywhere. We looked at one another and put him in our car and took him home to Memphis and he stayed with me until May, 2009 when I had to have him put down.

The hardest two things I have ever had to do was have these guys put down. I struggled with both of them longer than I should have for their sakes.

Quincy had glaucoma to the point where he couldn't see 2 inches in front of his face any longer; his hips had gone out on him and towards the end he could only drag his back feet; he had suffered from diabetes for the past 3 years requiring twice daily shots of insulin; he had become incontinent. The last 4 months of his life, he was in considerable pain all the time.

Within 2 weeks after Quincy died, Cole developed bone cancer in his shoulder. The last week of his life all he could do was lay around. He could no longer walk to the yard to do his business, he had the most difficult time walking anywhere. He was in a lot of pain.

I find it more than coincidental that Cole would develop cancer shortly after Quincy died.

Cole and Quincy were two peas in a pod for over a decade. You never saw one without the other. They took their doctor visits together, they took their naps together, they played together, they lay side by side in the yard and watched the world together.

When I lived on a lake, every morning they would go down to the lake and Quincy would lay on the dock while Cole swam in the lake, then they would go for a run for an hour or so until time for me to call them in so I could go to work. They always came back together. There were times when a pack of stray dogs would come into our land and Cole and Quincy would stand side by side as they backed those strays off and oftentimes it would come to a fight and Cole and Quincy would be slugging it out side by side. They always won.

Every Sunday for over a decade, I would put them in my car and we would go for a ride. Sometimes it would only be for an hour and sometimes we would ride all afternoon. Always, we would stop at either Sonic or Burger King afterwards where I would buy them each a bag of french fries (I know - not good for them) and once they had eaten their fries, we would head for the house.

It was amazing at the shear volume of words they completely understood. It wasn't the "tone" of my voice that they understood or body language - they completely understood much of what I said. My children and friends used to try so hard to trick them by saying words they were familiar with in different tones or by going into another room and saying something like "want to go for a ride?" to see if they got reactions and they always did. They could be sound asleep and if I said "want to go for a ride?" or "treat" or "bedtime" or any hosts of other sentences with which they were familiar, they would immediately jump up and pay attention. They understood. You'll never convince me otherwise.

I have had a lot of emotional pain in my life as has everyone. For 12 years whenever I cried, no matter where they were, they would always come to me and comfort me. They slept in my bed, they went with me whenever I visited friends, they went with me on vacations, they went with me to the park, they went with me whenever I had to go the doggie grocery store so they could pick out their food and treats, they even attended my dinner parties that I used to have at my house as well as my yearly Christmas parties. They knew to never get around people food or close to people when they were eating. They would get a safe distance away and would both sit there side by side watching people eat but they would never approach the people or get near the food. I could put a plate filled with steak on the floor and walk outside and when I came back they would be sitting at a distance staring at it, but they would not touch it. I would like to say I taught them this, but I didn't. It was just a natural thing that they knew. They knew if they were good when the people were eating that I would reward them afterwards and I always did. They were the best friends I have ever and will ever have.

I told them everything and they listened. That's the greatest thing about dogs. They listen to whatever you want to tell them and they never ever pass judgment or try to give you advise or tell you how silly or stupid you are for feeling that way. They just maintain eye contact and listen and then once you're finished, they give you lovin.

Quincy used to sing with me and Cole used to love to dance with me. We used to sit by the lake and after we moved from the lake, they would sit on my deck with me, for hours each of us in our own thoughts. Quincy on one side of me and Cole on the other. We'd sit there for hours and watch the sun go down over the lake and the geese on the water. No need for conversation. We were just enjoying the view and the company. Occasionally I would pet them and occasionally they would lick my hand. We were just comfortable being together.

I couldn't go with them when it came time for each of them to die. I just couldn't. They loved me and trusted me to always take care of them and I felt that I had let them down. I just couldn't go. My son in law (God love him) did it for me. They are both buried in my daughter and son in laws back yard beneath a tree.

When I first got them, I asked the vet what their life expentancies were and he said that for Cole it would be 6-8 years and for Quincy it would be 8-10 years. Cole made it 12 years and Quincy made it 15 years. I'm thankful about that but I sure wish they could have made it much longer.

I can't tell you how much I miss these guys. I have since found two strays puppies and have taken them in. They are cute. They aren't Cole and Quincy. I try to love them but I compare them constantly to Quincy and Cole. They will never be as handsome or as smart or as good as Quincy and Cole. If I live to be 1000 years old I will never again find dogs as smart and good as them.

Quincy was always a good dog. His only vices were the litter box (he loved brownies) and the garbage. I found that as long as I kept the kitchen garbage can empty and kept the litter box where he couldn't get to it, we were good. Those were his only shortfalls.

He had another issue which I wouldn't really call a shortfall and that was to open doors. Quincy loved my cats (Miss Billie Holliday and Hank). Whenever they wanted to go outside, Quincy would take his paw and hit the door knob until he heard it click and then he would take his mouth and pull the door open for them. Unfortunately, he never saw fit to shut it behind the cats so there was more than one time that I woke up in the morning to find the back door standing wide open. It became my habit after a period of time to make certain that the deadbolts were turned as well as the knobs before I went off to bed.

Cole, was a very BAD puppy for the first full 2 years of his life. He ate my inside plants, he ate my shoes, he ate my phones, he ate my extension cords (while they were plugged in) he ate a hole (literally) through to the outside brick in my den, he ate the frames around my kitchen door, he ate his glass water bowl, he ate my steam cleaner, he ate the siding off my house - getting the picture??? He was BAD. My vet had told me that if I could just not kill him until he was 2 he would be a great dog. I kept telling myself that every day after work when I would come home to find that he had gotten my closet door open and he was found surrounded by my shoes with one hanging out of his mouth. I kept telling myself that when I would have to come home at lunch everyday and clean the carpets because he had overturned all of my houseplants and played in the dirt. But the vet was right. When he was 2, he turned into the perfect dog. Never again did he chew anything he wasn't supposed to. Never did he do anything bad again for the rest of his life. He was the perfect dog.

When he was maybe 1-1 1/2 years old, I tried to keep he and Quincy in my back yard while I was at work (hoping to keep the damage inside my house to a minimum). I had a decent sized yard with a privacy fence all the way around. I also had an abundance of mature oak trees in the back yard which prevented sunlight from getting to the yard. A perfect place for them to be in the heat of summer. I bought them kiddie pools (one for each because they didn't care to share) and they would play in it - Cole liked to just lay in his.

I worked about 10 blocks from my house. EVERY day - EVERY day one of my neighbors would call me at work to tell me that Cole was at his house. I would get in the car and go home to find Quincy being a good dog in our back yard while Cole would be either at Bill's house or at Larry's house or next door at Steve and Tina's house being loved on and fed. We lived in a small very tightly knit neighborhood and we all had dogs that we were obsessive about. I would brag and brag about how good Quincy was not to get out and how bad Cole was to get out until one day Steve and Tina told me that Quincy got out every time Cole did BUT Quincy knew the sound of my car and whenever he would hear it rounding the corner, he would stop eating his treats and high tail it back to the back yard where he would be waiting for me - like a good dog. I spent every weekend and God knows how much money trying to fortify that fence so they couldn't get out. It never worked so they went back to staying in the house while I was gone.

God I miss those guys. I can't believe I'm using my blog to talk about it. I just can't seem to get over it. I still walk past their favorite places to lay and I think for just a second that I see them. They both liked to sit beneath my desk whenever I was on the computer, and still I am very careful as to where I put my feet because I don't want to step on them. I still think about it being time for Quincy's shots and I still sometimes hear the very distinctive sound of Cole's fingernails on the floor as he is walking to the bedroom at bedtime. I still have the last bottle of insulin and his needle in my fridge and I have Cole's pain medication in my purse. I don't think I'll ever get rid of either. It's all I have left of them.

For 12 years, every night of my life when it became 10 o'clock, Quincy and Cole would come to me and Quincy would bark and do this silly little dance he did where he would turn in quick circles and I knew it was time for bed. They would follow me as I turned off the lights and checked the doors and then they would run and jump on the bed each getting into their favorite spots. I started out with a full size bed when they were smaller, then I upgraded to a queen size and finally to a king size mattress. Cole was 158 pounds and Quincy was 112 so I had to have a bed large enough basically for 3 people and still I would wake up in the mornings clinging to the side of the bed to keep from falling off while they were sprawled out on my pillows. The last 2 year's of Quincy's life he could no longer jump onto the bed so I took an old rectangular coffee table, I cut the legs down some and then I put it at the foot of my bed so he could climb onto it and then onto the bed. The last 6 months or so of his life, he couldn't even do that any longer and he would just lay on a doggie bed that I had made for him which was next to my bed so I could reach my hand down and pet him.

Years ago, I discovered that if I kept the TV on tuned to the cartoon network while I was at work, they were very good all day. If I forgot - destruction would occur. If I had the TV on but on a different channel - destruction would occur. They liked their cartoons. When my son got out of the Army back in 2002, he came to live with me. I told him that the TV had to be on the cartoon network while I was at work and he laughed at me and said that was crazy. One day, he left the house while I was work and he turned off the TV. He came home and the house was in a shambles. He thought it was a fluke so the next day when he left the house, he left the TV on but it was not on the Cartoon Network - again shambles. So the next day he left the TV on cartoon network and when he got home - perfection. He became a believer at that point.

I used to think sometimes that it would be great when I could have the bed all to myself and when I didn't have to buy Quincy's insulin and needles anymore (not cheap) and when I didn't have to schedule my day around his shots and their bathroom breaks and when I didn't have to buy 100 pounds of dog food a month, 2 large boxes of treats a month and 60-62 cans of wet dog food a month. Not to mention the vet bills! The last year of his life, Cole had to have a very large tumor removed from his paw and Quincy had to have a super large tumor removed from his chest - neither of which was anywhere near cheap.

But I found the money for it somehow. I had to. They were my best friends. As melodramatic as it sounds, they were my soul mates. I've never had a person who loved me as much as they did or was as loyal as they were or as forgiving or as patient or as trusting. I never will. I love them with all of my heart and soul and I always will. I have turned into this crazy dog lady that I used to make fun of.

I remember many times working in offices when I would see a secretary with photo's of her dogs or cats plastered around her desk and I would think CRAZY. I would think how sad that they have pictures of animals on their desks and not people. They must be lonely souls. I didn't get it. Now I do. But I wish I didn't. This is more pain than I want or need.

My foster son (Dusty) lived with me off and on since 2002 and he loves to say that when he dies he hopes he comes back as one of my dogs because Cole and Quincy had a good life.

I hope they did. I tried as hard as I could to give them a good life. I just miss them more than I ever imagined I could ever miss anything or anyone (other than my sister).

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Michael and Elvis

As everyone knows by now, Michael Jackson has passed away.

In my mind there are two people who forever changed the face of music by their popularity and by their unbelievable success and hard work. Those two people would be Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley. Now don't get me wrong, there are others FAR more talented and innovative than these two. Many others. However, for whatever reason Michael and Elvis struck a cord with the common folks and as a result catapulted to the most outrageous success and immortal status.

Their individual endings were nearly exact. Both had placed their trust in a doctor who, I believe, abused that trust and both paid the ultimate price for it.

Both of these men were simple men. I realize they didn't live like simple men but in their hearts they were ordinary men who had accomplished extraordinary things. By ordinary simple men I mean this: In all the tabloids and "news" programs throughout the years you have never heard anyone ever say that either Michael Jackson or Elvis Presley was rude or mean to anyone. Never. You also never hear that either of them ever refused to help anyone when asked. Never.

You hear about their excesses and their weird behavior and their weight issues (Elvis too big - Michael too small) but never have you ever heard that either one of them ever abused anyone.

That brings up the children issue with Michael. I, for one, never believed those stories. I always felt that they were made up to extort money from Michael. Now, I am the first to admit that his having kids over all the time for sleep overs was inappropriate and beyond weird, but I don't believe he behaved inappropriately with them. I believe he took that time to act as a child with them and do the things he never got to do as a child. I really do. IF anything untoward happened with these children, I blame their parents for it because their parents placed those children in that position. I liken it to my taking my young child to the zoo and then unlocking the door to the lion's den and putting my child in there and walking away. Then when I come back, my child has been eaten alive and I want to punish the lion??? I know that is rather simplistic but truly the responsibility for our children's safety ultimately lies with the parent.

I am most certainly not saying that if Michael did something wrong with the children that he should not be punished - not at all. However, I don't believe he did anything other than play with them as if he were their age. Last time I checked being weird was not against the law.

Then you have Elvis. He was an overly kind and gentle man who, like Michael, never seemed to grow up. He, like Michael, paid (in my opinion) too much attention to what his parents said and always obeyed them without question. He, like Michael, lost the ability very early on to go out and have fun like all the other young people and had to resort to paying stores and amusement parks and theaters to shut down so that he and his friends could have fun or shop or watch a movie without being bothered. It's a shame really. I don't understand people's need to intrude on a stranger simply because they've seen them on TV or in the movies or heard their voice on a record. I have never understood that and I never will. What's the purpose of bothering them? Will they remember you 2 hours later? No. Will they become your BFF? Hell, no. They will look at you as a bother and a nuisance that you are and will wish you to go away and leave them in peace.

I can remember seeing Al Green, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Four Tops, Booker T, Rufus Thomas, Johnny Taylor, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley and others out and about in Memphis. I can remember seeing Elvis at the Cadillac dealership on Union Avenue where he bought his cars. No one bothered him. People would sneak peeks at him but no one approached him uninvited. No one invaded his space. The local folks loved him but we also knew that he wanted some space and we gave it to him. Elvis was very approachable and never was unkind to anyone who approached him but in my memory anyway, the only people I ever saw approach him were tourists.

I remember once sitting at the Arcade Restaurant on Main street in Memphis with my parents and my brother eating breakfast and Elvis walked in with Jerry Schilling and George Klein and some other older guy. They walked past us and sat in the booth behind us. My brother and I knew who Elvis was and we wanted to turn around in our seats and stare but our father put a stop to that quickly. He told us that Elvis was just another patron of the restaurant and that's the way he wanted it so we were to leave him to eat in peace and if he wanted to speak to us, he would. That was the opinion of everyone locally back then. And we respected that.

I hate it that Michael is gone. I remember when he was 6 and singing with his brothers. I remember when he was a teenager and came out with his first solo album (which I bought). I remember when he came out with Thriller (which I bought) I remember his entire life almost as if he were a cousin or something because we grew up together. Not together but at the same time. He was a year younger than me and I watched him from afar dating and marrying and falling from grace and climbing back up and I watched his successes and his failures. In a strange way, I will miss him. Even though I never knew him, I will miss him.

In a strange way, I miss Elvis. Whenever the world makes a genuinely nice person and that person is taken from us too soon, they will be missed as if we knew them intimately.

And in my opinion, both Michael and Elvis were genuinely nice people. May they both rest in peace.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Reality TV & the kids they exploit

I simply could not let this firestorm about Jon & Kate slide by without adding my two cents worth.

Let's compare reality shows/kids for a minute.

You have Octo-mom who can't get anyone even remotely interested in having her on TV (she really should have shopped around BEFORE she got pregnant)

Then you have Jon & Kate. WOW! What a train wreck. When the show first aired and the babies were like 6 months old or something, I really liked the show. I hated the way Kate talked to Jon and slapped him on nearly every episode but I liked the chaos of their lives and I liked that they lived in a smallish house with crappy furniture and admittedly had neighbors, relatives and the like helping them with the kids. I liked that Jon seemed clueless as to what to do with the kids BUT he tried. However, I hated that no matter how hard he tried Kate was never satisfied.

Even back then, you could see where this was going. I just hoped I was wrong. I wasn't. I watched the show sporadically until one episode, Jon and Kate took all the kids to a toy store for Christmas shopping. Kate was SO publicly abusive to Jon (screaming at him across the aisles in front of a multitude of strangers, etc.) that I was so uncomfortable, I just couldn't watch it any more. I had also begun to tire of the way she talked badly about Jon to his children. She said things like "Daddy should help mommy more and maybe then mommy could have more time for you" things like that which were completely and utterly inappropriate comments to make to your children but especially inappropriate because they were on national TV.

Then there were the blatant snubs towards their families. Comments like "we just don't feel that it's appropriate that my parents be involved in the children's lives" WTF?? Apparently this "little spat" originated because Kate's parents (a preacher and his wife) got their church to gather up love offerings for the Gosslins when Kate was pregnant and what the Gosselins received was just not up to par with Kate's standards so she told her father to go back to his church members and tell them that either they can buy brand new all matching stuff OR they can just give them cash and they will do the shopping. He refused and Kate took all the love offerings and donated them to a thrift store. She then cut them out of their grandchildren's lives. Yet she travels the church circuit giving speeches (for a fat fee I might add) about how to have a large happy Christian family and marriage. Hmmmm.

Yet, as I stated, in the early episodes, I liked the fact that they didn't have a huge fancy house & didn't drive fancy cars. I liked the fact that Kate was so amazingly organized and so very adept at time management. I loved the fact that if Jon and Kate needed to go somewhere (without the kids) it took all morning to shuttle the kids to various relatives and friends before they could get on their way. They really seemed like a team back then.

It was painfully obvious who the team leader was, but they seemed to work well together regardless. It's not an issue with me if the woman is the "team leader". Not at all. There are people on this earth who need direction and others who give direction. It's just a fact of life. Jon obviously is one of those who needs the direction and Kate is one who loves giving it so I thought they were a good match. However, Jon always seemed to me to be the type of passive-aggressive person who would only take so much and then without overt warning would just go out and misbehave. Like when you're a teenager and your parents forbid you to hang out with a certain friend and you give them lip service but still you sneak around and hang with them anyway? Apparently, I was correct in my assumption because it appears that is exactly what Jon has done.

Who can blame him really? I know what he did was inappropriate at best. He is the one who committed to this marriage/arrangement and as such he should either honor that commitment or get out altogether. You truly can't have it both ways. Now I'm not saying he "did anything" with those women he has been photographed with while he hung out at bars until all hours of the morning. I'm not. However, when you're married, you should avoid even the appearance of cheating at all costs. That's one of the unwritten rules about being married. He chose to ignore that rule and now he is paying the price. Unfortunately so are the children.

I found myself on a site that had a montage of photographs of this family throughout the years. There were about 80 of them altogether. As I skimmed through them, I was struck by the fact that in every single photo, one of the twins (who knows which one) never smiled. In every single photo, she looked angry and sullen. I then thought about the episodes I had watched and it dawned on me that even on the show, this child (again I forget the child's name) was always the one that created a scene. Always the one who talked back to her mother and was rough with the smaller kids. Do her parents not see this??

Then shortly before the "scandal" broke out about Jon, I found myself flipping through channels and I saw they were on. I hadn't watched in a long while so I decided to give it a try since the kids had grown so much. To my amazement and astonishment, there they were in this million dollar home with Kate in the kitchen cooking breakfast with her perfectly coiffed hair and dressed impeccably. No sweats, tee shirts and make up free face for this "reality" mom. I'm sure every mother of 8 gets up on a Saturday and before she feeds her brood of children, puts on her makeup, dresses in designer jeans and a designer sweater and does her hair so she can cook pancakes for her children while wearing cute little high heel boots. Silly me!

I didn't watch it long because it was just sad. The kids were squabbling, Kate was dressed to kill, Jon was outside playing with the dogs and their interaction with one another and the kids just seemed all so fake and forced. Then maybe 2 weeks later the "scandal" broke and I thought "now I get it".

The kids are no longer a happy bunch of kids who seem oblivious to the cameras. Jon and Kate no longer seem to be a team. Their life no longer seems admirable or even interesting. Who cares about peeking into the lives of a family who lives in a million dollar home and wears designer clothes and their children who appear starved for affection and privacy? Not I.

There is another show on TLC about an Arkansas couple with 18 kids. A family called the Duggans. I have watched this show since its inception as well. As with Jon and Kate, I grew tired of it after a while and began to catch it about once or twice a year just to see what's changed.

These people are either Academy material or they really are a close loving family. Never do you ever hear mom and dad take barbs at one another. Never do you see the kids literally fighting to get someone's attention. The older kids help the younger kids without having to be told and seemingly without resentment.

Mom and dad don't raise their voices and they don't belittle. They dish out discipline and lessons with an even tone and follow with hugs and "I love you's". Mom and dad hug one another and praise one another (and the children) numerous times in each episode. They laugh and smile often and seem to genuinely love one another.

They also live in a very large house when on the first year or so they lived in a tiny house. However, the difference is, they built the large house and they paid cash for it as they went along. They got the entire family, their church, their neighbors, their friends and relatives involved in building this house. TLC came in after the house was maybe 60% finished and helped finish it out and decorate it but this family did the rest without the aid of "commercial backers".

Their show follows mom and dad as they go to thrift stores to buy their kids clothes and toys. It follows them to the grocery store where they buy in bulk. It follows them on family trips where they pack their old school bus with enough food and snacks that they don't have to stop at restaurants to eat. It shows them pinching every penny they come across and making every cent count.

I'm sure they get commercial "freebies" like TLC coming in and finishing their home up for them. However, it's not as in your face and prevalent as Jon and Kate's situation. I get the feeling that if I were to drive up to their front door and ask to drop off a few bags of gently worn clothing that the mom would flash that big smile of hers and thank me for the gift. I feel equally as strong that should I drive up to Kate's house and extend the same offer, I would be escorted off the property by security.

I just generally like the Arkansas family so much better. Their kids seem happy and content and well loved and well cared for. The parents are never seen without at least one kid in tow. Usually many more than one. And they seem to honestly give these kids attention. Not like Kate who seems annoyed whenever she is trying to talk to the camera and one of her kids tries to interrupt. Arkansas mom (I don't remember their first names) takes the interruption with a smile and a soft voice.

To sum up their parenting ability, I would like to go back to when they were finishing up their house. At the time TLC arrived on board the upstairs rooms had not been framed out yet. They sat down with the family and asked them how many bedrooms they wanted upstairs for the kids. The parents said they felt that was something the kids should decide. The kids had their little meeting and their decision was they wanted TWO bedrooms. One for the girls and one for the boys. There was none of this "I want my own room" stuff. They all wanted to still be in the same room with one another. Their only request was that the boys and girls not have to share a bathroom. I was blown away!

My problem with kids on reality TV is the exploit factor. It is painfully obvious to me that at least one of Jon and Kate's kids resents the exposure. She obviously wants to be able to enter her teenage years without a camera in her face and without the sign of celebrity that hangs over her head all the time. Jon and Kate are in for a world of hurt when these kids reach their teenage years. Kate will discover really quickly that she will not be able to control them and they will not respect her. She is concentrating so hard on her "career" and celebrity status that she is sacrificing her parental bond with these kids. Kids may be slow but they're not stupid. They either already know or will soon discover that they are the breadwinners in that family and they will use that to their advantage. Kate will be outnumbered and since she doesn't have the kind of relationship with her kids where they can talk about anything OFF CAMERA, she will find herself in another Jon situation whereby she won't know what they're doing until the Enquirer tells her about it. By then, it's too late.

She cut her parents off because they gave her crappy presents and don't think that her kids won't cut her off at some point for some equally stupid reason. She is raising them to be callous and materialistic and to think that they are more special than anyone else and she will unfortunately reap the rewards for her behavior.

The Duggans, I think, will get their kids raised to a certain age and then they will disappear into the sunset where they will enjoy their grand kids and each other for the rest of their lives. Mr. Duggan still sells real estate. Unlike Jon, Mr. Duggan kept a job through this entire thing. He is smart enough to know that one day this will all go away and he will still have a family to provide for.

I hate that all of this has happened to Jon and Kate, I really do. I honestly was cheering for them for the first couple of years of their show. I honestly wanted this to have the happiest of endings. Unfortunately, I don't think it will. I think Kate will divorce Jon and marry someone more befitting her celebrity status. Perhaps her bodyguard? (or maybe not - after all he is the "help") Jon will go on to live a college guy lifestyle whereby he can hang out in the bars with all these young folks and date young girls and only sporadically keep a job. Kate will belittle him every time she opens her mouth around the kids and will give her kids caustic messages to give to their daddy when they spend the weekend with him. Eventually the gravy boat will disappear and Kate will find herself (unless she marries extremely well) back working at a hospital just to keep the lights on.

It's sad and I hate it. But that's the way life goes.

But that's just me.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Life Expectancies

I recently read a brief article about the life expectancy of the rich versus the poor in our country. It didn't really go into detail as to the why's - it was just statistical. Apparently the rich, as well as, the upper middle class tend to out live the poor and lower middle class by quite a number of years.

That got me to thinking and then to writing. Why would they outlive the poor? One reason would be genetic, I'm sure. Genetics can and oftentimes is "trained". Let me explain in a very layman way.

Along with genetics, diet and nutrition would rank right up there among the reasons the rich outlive the poor. In my explanation, genetics and diet/nutrition works hand in hand.

If a person is fed a superior diet from the time they are born, their chances of attracting a myriad of diseases fall dramatically. Diseases such as heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes, osteoporosis, certain tumors, gout, even Parkinson Disease according to some articles I uncovered on the internet. Their chances of catching and dying from common illnesses which normally attack those with compromised immune systems fall off the chart as well.

As with a good breed of dog, people lineage can be bred to be superior. If a persons lineage is full of generations of well nourished ancestors, their genetics grow stronger with each new generation. Or that's what I believe anyway.

I understand that there are many rich people who die from heart disease and cancer every day of the year. However, in comparison to the poor of this country, the numbers are not exactly equal - at all.

When talking about diet and nutrition, it should be noted that fresh fruits, vegetables and chemical free good cuts of meat are not a staple on the poor person's table. There is no bowl of delectable fruit sitting on the granite countertop of the island in the kitchen for the poor or fresh vegetables sitting in the independently cooled vegetable section of their sub-zero fridge for the poor. There is generic canned corn and maybe a can of peaches in syrup in the cabinet. The fridge contains more frozen pizza's, TV dinners that were on sale and animal by-products than New York strip steaks and Halibut to be sure. Macaroni and Cheese is not a main dish in a poor person's house and it is not made with organic macaroni and freshly grated cheeses, it comes from a box with powdered "cheese" and is used as a side dish to supplement the fatty, bone shard riddled piece of meat that is being served for dinner.

Another reason for the disparity would be stress. I completely understand that rich people have stress in their lives. Everyone has stress. However, I believe there is good stress and there is bad stress. I further believe that the rich have more good stress in their lives than do the poor as well as, the knowledge and ability to participate in a variety of ways in which to effect a positive reduction in their stress levels.

Rich people stress over their jobs and whether their children will get into Harvard and whether the wife will be elected chairwoman of the auxiliary club and whether the husband has grown far too attached to his new and very pretty secretary or whether they should buy the E or the S series Mercedes. This may sound like a superficial list, but these stresses are very real to the rich. As such, they are very stressful to them. They also have the normal stresses that comes with family life.

The poor also have job stress. They stress about whether their factory or restaurant is going to lay off workers or close altogether. They stress over whether they will be able to get a job at all. They stress out over whether their welfare check is going to be cut off since their teenager got a minimum wage job at the corner "stop and rob". They stress over their children finishing high school and college just as much as the rich do. But they also stress over their children living long enough to finish high school. They stress over whether the lights will get turned off or whether they will have enough money to pay the light bill AND buy groceries. They stress over whether the doors and windows are locked securely enough that they won't be killed in their sleep by an intruder.

Do you know that in some neighborhoods in this country, people do not sleep in their beds at night? They sleep on the floor next to their beds so that if a bullet goes through their walls or windows the bed will act as a buffer zone and they won't be killed by the bullet. It's true. Iraq isn't the only war zone connected to our country.

They stress over whether or not their car will still be in their driveway when they wake up in the morning taken either by a thief or the finance company. They stress over their kids playing outside for fear of a drive by shooting or a predator on the prowl for children as the pedophiles very rarely live in the well to do neighborhoods. They stress over whether or not, the husband will come home drunk and decide to beat on the wife and kids. They stress over the wife falling off the wagon and turning back to the drugs she worked so hard to kick. They stress over the kids getting involved in drugs, alcohol and gangs and a multitude of other illegal activities and unsavory associations.

They stress over whether to pay to have their tags renewed or use the money to finish paying their rent and gamble on their ability to avoid getting a ticket before their next paycheck so they can tag the car. That is, provided they don't get a utility shut off notice in the meantime. They stress over whether the police will show up at their door before they are able to pick up the check they bounced at the Piggly Wiggly for groceries.

They stress over everyday things in life that the rich take for granted. Things such as food, shelter and safety.

The rich know how to take a break from the stress and "rejuvenate" their bodies and souls from the stress they encounter. They go on spa vacations and travel to various resorts. OR they go to their country home or their mountain home where they spend their weekends and summers relaxing by the pool or the ocean soaking up the sun and allowing the stress to evaporate.

The poor don't have this option. Nor have they gotten into a habit of taking stress busting weekends away from home. This is usually because they have never been introduced to this creature but also because they can't afford it. By the time they pay for the basics in life, their money is gone and they've already eaten into the next paycheck as well.

The poor and the working poor are always just one check away from being homeless. There are no stocks to sell or CD's to cash in or vacation homes to put on the market should they run into a cash flow problem. There is only used furniture, used cars, title pawn shops and cash advance stores to give them any emergency money.

Before I leave stress, let's cover the environmental stresses of being poor. Rich people live in beautiful neighborhoods far away from the hustle and bustle of the main drags of the city. They live on quiet streets where everyone has a beautiful house and an even more beautiful lawn with beautiful vehicles parked in the perfect driveways. Once they retire for the night, there is silence and when they awake they are able to go onto their veranda, deck or patio and sip their coffee while admiring their surroundings and the peace of their home and neighborhood. The air that they and their children breathe is the purest money can buy. Their homes are not close to dump sites or high voltage electrical lines or factories. There are no open sewer lines or rat and crackhead infested houses in their neighborhoods. Their home is an oasis of peace to which they can retreat from the stresses of the office and/or school.

The poor? Their environment is normally either on a main drag or very close to one. They endure the constant noise of the sirens, their neighbors parties, their neighbors fighting, the ever constant bass coming from the SUV with the darkened windows parked in front of their house listening to their music at 3 in the morning. As they try to sleep they listen to the sounds of gunshots and dogs barking.

When they get up and have their coffee, it's not clean air that they breathe. Their air is polluted with the many vehicles that constantly clog their streets. Chances are high that their house is close to a factory or an interstate which brings even more pollution and noise into their lives. Their street is littered with garbage thrown from vehicles and from the residue of wild dogs who have rummaged through the household garbage for food to eat. Chances are, there is at least one overgrown empty lot, vacant and condemned house and shut down business on their street. They can't allow their children to play outside without shoes because of the broken glass that litters their street.

Their environment is anything but a retreat from the stresses of the "office and/or school". Once they leave the external stresses and pull into their driveway, they have to be ready for a whole new set of stress factors that they and their family have to endure and survive.

So now that we've covered genetics, diet and nutrition and stress, let's move on to medical care.

You wouldn't believe how many upper middle class and rich people that I personally know who believe with all their hearts that medical care in this country is available to everyone and is equal to everyone. It boggles my mind.

Let me give you an example. Christina Applegate was diagnosed with breast cancer and cured due to a special type of MRI that can detect the cancer far in advance of it's "dangerous" stage thus allowing the physicians to treat it and cure it with amazing results. This special MRI is not available to those with most types of insurance. She admitted this in the article I read about this situation. She admitted that she had to write a check for the procedure in order to get it done.

Now do you think for one minute that if a poor person walked into the doctor's office that he would even tell them about this procedure? No. It would never happen because for one thing, the doctor would know that this person would never be able to afford it and for another thing the doctor that regularly treats the poor probably wouldn't even know about the procedure.

Just because you are a practicing physician does not mean that you are of the same quality as all the other doctors.

Trust me on this one. I have had insurance and I have been without insurance and as a result, I have gone to good doctors and I have gone to "cheap" doctors and the "cheap" doctors don't know as much about medicine as I do sometimes. I have used the "cheap" doctors on two occasions and on one of them, I walked in with a minor complaint and within a few days had developed the flu that was completely unexplained any other way than by my coming in contact with that doctor's office.

Years ago when I was between jobs and had no insurance, I asked around for the name of a cheap doctor because I needed a new prescription for some medicine that I took regularly for my high blood pressure and my refills had run out.

It wasn't a narcotic so I didn't feel getting a new script would be a challenge. All I needed was a cheap doctor who would give me a new script. Easy enough I thought.

I asked the check out lady at my neighborhood grocery store, I asked the guys who washed my car, I asked the lady who cleaned my friends house twice a week and whom I knew lived in the projects and required my friend to give her cash each week. She told me about this doctor on Winchester Road near Getwell who only took cash and didn't require an appointment.

So I got up one morning and dressed in my best "go to the doctor" outfit drove to this doctor's office where I stood (I was NOT about to sit) for a couple of hours waiting for my turn. The waiting room was filled to the brim. I probably couldn't have sat had I desired to due to the amount of patients waiting their turn with the doctor.

The patients waiting were colorful to say the least.

After more than two hours had passed, the door to the office opened and in walked 2 men in dark suits and 2 uniformed police officers. The men in suits walked to the receptionist window while the police officers turned to us and asked us all to leave quietly stating that the doctor would not be seeing any more patients that day.

The next day on the news there was a picture of the doctor and his office along with a short news story about how he was selling scripts for narcotics without an exam and also (as it turns out) without a valid license as his had been revoked years ago.

Why would these people go to a doctor like this when there are highly competent doctors all over town? Because he charged $20 for an office visit while my normal doctor that I used when I had insurance charged $85 for an office visit. Plain as that.

The people sitting in the waiting room of this doctor's office knew that he was a quack. They knew that there were better doctor's all over town. But they also knew that they might be able to round up $20 a whole lot quicker and easier than they could round up $85 plus the charges for any lab work or other procedures that a competent doctor might require during his exam.

This is just one example of why the poor die before the rich. When you are forced by circumstance to have your medical health "monitored" by this type of doctor, you can bet that you will either be misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all should any disease be growing in your body.

When all you can put your hands on is a $20 bill, you will get a $20 diagnosis which will probably include a script for something to mask the symptoms so you can continue to clean some rich woman's house so she doesn't have to.

And don't even try to say that every major city has a "welfare" hospital and free clinics as a way of saying that medical care is equal and available to all, because if you even go there, I will scream.

Let's touch on those for just a second. First let me share another personal experience I had. My second time to use (or in this case, attempt to use) a cheap doctor. In Memphis there is a "free" clinic that is owned by a group of churches. It has highly qualified and reputable doctors and nurses who donate their time to this clinic. It is in a beautiful setting and is easily accessible for those who take public transportation.

However, if you have any type of health insurance or HAVE HAD INSURANCE WITHIN THE PAST 6 MONTHS, they will NOT see you. At all period. Also, if the company you work for offers health insurance and you don't participate (probably because you can't afford to AND pay your rent), they won't treat you.

While I was laid off from a law firm that I worked at, I developed bronchitis. I called my doctor who told me his prices and I called my friends who gave me their doctor's numbers and I got their prices and finally a neighbor who was a student and had not had health insurance for quite a while told me about the Church Health Clinic.

I called them and they told me that if I wasn't covered, the visit would be free. Hot dog!!

I took a shower and dragged my sick body to the clinic where I waited in a nicely furnished and very comfortable waiting room for my turn. After wasting an hour sitting in a waiting room wishing to God I was back home on my couch, it was my turn.

I gave them my paperwork, they looked at it and promptly informed me that since I had been covered so recently, they could not help me but if I remained uncovered for 6 months, to please feel free to come back and they would be happy to help me. WTF?!

So what did I do? I went to my regular doctor and wrote him a hot check, got a script, went to the pharmacy where I wrote them a hot check to get my medicine and then went home where I got well enough to get a job so I could pick up the checks.

Then there are the welfare hospitals. The good news is, if you get shot or stabbed or have some other kind of violent "accident", those are the very hospitals to which you want to insist on being taken. However, if you suffer from anything else, STAY AWAY! They are understaffed and poorly staffed in every other area. The emergency room is the only place in those hospitals where you will receive decent care. The rest of the hospital will likely make you sicker than you were when you checked in.

So, that's my take on the life expectancy variations between the rich and the poor. It never ceases to amaze, disgust and sadden me when I see these Hollywood stars pushing for aid to the poor of third world countries and/or politicians trying to get billions of dollars of our tax money sent to other countries so we can stamp out hunger and childhood diseases in these countries.

WHAT ABOUT US? What about the working poor in this country who are forced to die from diseases that if caught early enough or treated properly wouldn't necessarily be fatal?

People live for decades with heart problems, high blood pressure, diabetes and an assortment of other diseases. People are cured every day from various kinds of cancers that were detected early and properly treated. There are many diseases that stem either directly or indirectly from improper nutrition and people in this country suffer from them every day.

Can we not be concerned for OUR people for a change?

I have a friend back home who is a pediatric surgeon. He participates in the doctor's without borders thing and goes on a trip every year in this capacity. I asked him once why he was spending his money and time operating on children in other countries for free when there are so many in this country who could benefit from his services and he told me that it was a legal issue.

He said that in the third world countries he doesn't have to worry about being sued if the end results weren't exactly what the patient and/or the patient's family had anticipated. He said that in those countries the hospitals are so thrilled to have the doctors at their facility that there is no cost for them using those hospitals whereas in this country no hospital is going to donate their facility for their use. It just wasn't financially feasible plus it would expose them to legal ramifications should the doctor get sued.

How very sad is that? How very sad that children, men, women have to die every day in this country because of our legal system? How very sad that they have to die every day while wonderfully competent doctors like my friend go to third world countries to save their citizens while our citizens die by the thousands.

But that's just me.