Smartphones? Your opinion, please…..

Here is the article:

What is your opinion? The only time I use mine is on a long bus ride. I use it to make sure I walk in the right direction once I get off the bus, since I am unable to read street signs. I might use the Maps app for this. Or I might search for the closest ATM to the bus stop that won’t charge a fee (since I can’t actually see the ATM). Or if I am transferring, I check to see if the bus I am transferring to is on time. (Some people are map-challenged and won’t have much use for map apps, I’m afraid.)

Occasionally I talk on the phone during the bus ride if the bus is quiet or I have reasonable privacy. Other times, people sit too close for me to have a reasonably private conversation. Sometimes, I hope they get off the bus so I don’t have to keep talking in code.

Other than that I don’t use my phone much. At home I use a landline, which I much prefer. I find it easier to talk on the landline and the reception is much better. I never take the phone if I’m walking Puzzle.

In my opinion, the writer of the article is totally missing the fact that visually impaired people who cannot read text find smartphones a lifesaver. They can use them as talking devices to do many things that sighted people would never even think of. Imagine the possibilities of a talking GPS for a blind person who cannot read text directions and might have trouble seeing where, exactly, the correct turnoff might be.

From what I hear, elders are also finding smartphones helpful. I’m not sure how, but somehow they’re developing helpful ways that smarphones can help elderly people, possibly with diabetes self-management and other things like that. Already there are many “diet” apps out there which you can use (or abuse) as much as you want. Never mind Crisis Text Line…if you want the cops at your door…This is how to get them invited.

Times have changed. In my opinion the only people who really “need” smartphones are those who use them for accessibility reasons. We all need to keep up our conversation skills and not lose touch with our human ways to interact. We shouldn’t be texting constantly when we can be speaking. I’ve been saying this for about a decade now. It’s about time the world caught up.



How would you feel if you knew your neighbor owned a gun?

How would you feel if you knew your neighbor owned a gun? Perhaps you do already have neighbors that own guns. If you live in a rural area where people hunt a lot, you are likely not surprised and not too upset over it. If your neighbor is a cop or armed security guard you likely expect him or her to own one because it’s part of the job.

What if your neighbor was not someone who used a gun as part of his or her usual job? What if the person was a teacher, college professor, factory worker, janitor, psychologist, drug rehab worker, nurse, salesman, McDonald’s manager, or worked in a preschool?

What if your neighbor was a politician? How do you feel about those who represent you in government owning weapons? Some who work for government hire people to protect them and some wear bullet-proof vests, so I hear.

Apparently most presidents, that is, US presidents, have legitimate concerns when they go out in public, but I can’t see the politicians working at lower levels needing the same kind of security.

Any of these folks would have the “Constitutional” right to own a weapon, sure. Just because you have the right, as written in an outdated law, does  not mean you should.

I’m just playing with this here. I have the right to own a number of things by law, but does that mean I should go out and get them? A Wii. An XBox. Fancy jewelry.  A life insurance policy.

What if I obtain something that I have the legal right to own but obtaining it with the claim I have a right to own it might in fact reflect a certain ignorance on my part?

Let me give an example here of the person who adopts a half-breed of half-dog and half other species that may be legal in one community and not another community…or questionable, or there is no law regarding a half-breed in that new community where the person has relocated.

You have likely heard about plenty of half-breed wolves, dingos, and others that are fine. You may also have heard about some that are not, that end up unable to adapt to domesticated life, especially when they grow up to become adults. Some communities have laws against breeding or owning such dogs, and other communities do not.

Lawmakers straighten out things like this. Their job is to fix outdated laws and to fix laws that conflict. Such conflicts sometimes arise between federal and local laws. Their job is to mediate between the two. We elect them to do this. We supposedly consider them trustworthy. We try to elect people we think will do the right or most reasonable thing.

Back to the half-breed issue. If I lived in a fairly urban community and I knew in my heart that owning a half-breed dog might lead to trouble, yet legally I had the right to own such a dog….Don’t you think that simply having the RIGHT doesn’t quite justify owning the dog? Just based on RIGHTS alone…this doesn’t cut it for me.

So here’s what happened. I wrote to my state rep, with whom I have a decent relationship, and told him I support Mayor Peduto, who is among other mayors speaking out for common sense gun laws.

I was shocked at the reply. I cannot, legally, copy and paste it here. To do so would be a privacy violation. However, I don’t think the information he sent to me was in any way a big secret. He told me his home recently got broken into. And he said it was a good thing he wasn’t home at the time….good thing for the burglar, that is.

My state rep, whom I have trusted, stated that he would have used one of his MANY WEAPONS. I repeat, many weapons….on this person who had done this.

Many weapons.

He did not say how many.

Are you okay with this? Who is your state rep and are you okay with this person, who represents you in government, owning “many weapons”?

I’m shocked. He’s very mild-mannered and seems otherwise reasonable. Many? Why?

He concluded the email by stating that his job was to “uphold the constitution.” That he had sworn to do so.

Sometime in my writing life, I swore, silently to myself, that I would write the truth. That I would tell you guys how I feel about life and the world. That if I saw inconsistencies or things that bugged me, I would say so.  I do this and the Constitution supports my right to Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Expression….by the way.  If I saw injustice I would write about that and tell the world, too.

I am disturbed knowing so many people have guns, and I’m disturbed hearing my state rep has “many weapons.” How do you feel?

If I go out with Puzzle I feel nervous sometimes due to our loose gun laws that someone who owns one might be drunk and decide it’s fun to shoot an innocent dog. I worry about Puzzle far more than I worry about myself.

You may hear about the school shootings but you don’t hear about the stuff that doesn’t make the national news, about the elderly guy who shoots himself but he was only cleaning it, or the kid who was playing and thought it wasn’t loaded, or the teen that “just got mad.”

The more I think about this, the more it really does bug me. Just having the right does not mean it’s wise to own one, and just because the laws are there do not mean the laws aren’t outdated. I think it’s time for a change.

Fears about employment

I challenge myself over what my biggest employment fears are. I have to ask myself this question several times because my real fears may not be what the average person fears.

I fear getting fired more than anything else. I do not fear that I won’t be able to do the work. I know I can do many jobs that are out there, especially many menial ones that require minimal training. I fear that once they find out I am blind, they’ll be very closed-minded and they will not give me a chance at all. I can’t hide it. It’s obvious. I’m afraid they will disregard the ADA, as my employer in January did, completely lie and find any excuse to get rid of me.

Many jobs do not require perfect visual acuity. One is psychologist, which is a highly paying job that usually requires a PhD or PsyD. You can be completely blind, meaning you see nothing at all, and be a great psychologist. People who do not use their eyes make up for it by using their ears and other senses very well.

People who see partially, like me, can work many jobs that do not require seeing things in the distance or seeing exact details. I have basic color vision but not good color vision.  I see close up if I take my glasses off.

Unlike most people my age, I have no hearing loss whatsoever. Yesterday, I heard a high-pitched squeal coming from my computer equipment that bothered me so much that I had to shut it down! I have not heard that awful sound since. I am not sure what caused it. The average adult, certainly someone my age, would not have heard it, but most teens would indeed have been bugged by the noise. Teens have excellent hearing. I have heard that your teen years are the prime years for auditory ability.

Due to brain plasticity, I believe people who use their eyes less and are forced to rely on their ears have enlarged areas where their hearing sense is used by the brain. It’s not better ears, it’s just a well-tuned brain. We don’t have better ears or better eardrums. Our brains get more use in the hearing area, so that’s why we hear more, and are bugged more by noises such as the one I heard yesterday.

Still, I doubt a discriminatory employer is even going to care. I fear being fired due to discrimination more than I fear  anything else.

I have already met this employer in person and eyeballed one of the female employees who appeared to be older than me.  I highly doubt, though, that she is a new employee, just trained. Simply seeing an older worker on the job does not mean they hire older workers as she may have been there for decades. The manager I interviewed with appears to be older also. This, too, is no safeguard against age discrimination, especially since he is male. After all, he may be on the lookout for young, sexy-looking female candidates for various other reasons I don’t need to mention here.

Do I fear sexual harassment on the job? If I were younger, yes, I certainly would. And did! Now, no. I have no clue what it is about me but maybe sometime in my 50’s I developed a MEN STAY AWAY shield and it is mostly effective. A Bug Off shield. I do not have to say or do anything at all. It works in the background, quietly pushing those unwanted advances away before they even start. (If I could package and market this to other women, I would make a fortune, but unfortunately I am unable to do so. Shucks.)

Fear #2. Being fired because I am too smart for the job. This is totally embarrassing for me to admit. I am starting to learn about the pitfalls of being gifted, and why gifted individuals have a hard time “fitting in.” It is a sad commentary on the state of our Mental “Health” System that gifted people are mis-labeled with every mental dx in the book. Being smart is usually not an advantage if you are working a subservient position at a low-paying job, especially if you are dealing with inequity, complex hierarchy, worker oppression, gender bias, and perhaps the lack of unionization. I can credit my high intelligence as a major factor in my getting fired in the past. These workplaces do not like smart workers who speak up. And we will!

It isn’t a disorder that we dislike unfairness. It isn’t a disorder that we are smart enough to notice human rights violations. I’ve been learning more and more about why I’ve always been the one to speak up, and why this infuriated whoever was in charge.

You bet it infuriates the boss. It infuriated the boss at McDonald’s during the summer of 1976 when I challenged the policy of throwing out perfectly good food. I offered, as alternative, to bring the food to my neighbors who were struggling to make ends meet. They had five kids and had gotten a bad divorce deal.

I was fired.

Why? For wanting to feed poor people? For wanting good in the world? However, it was against McD’s policies. Period. You were not allowed to speak out against the gods. Even if you had a smart idea.

I learned to feel ashamed of being smart. To hide it. Even to lie about my college achievements or what I hoped to do.  It was shameful because it had gotten me fired several times.

I don’t know which year this was. I was maybe 18. Likely not older than that. I was walking back to the dorm carrying some books and my trumpet case when some students came up to me, a number of them. They stopped me, wanting to speak with me. I’ll re-create the conversation….Even now, I don’t want to name them, and I cannot recall exactly who, anyway.

“That test that’s coming up?”

“Okay, the one in a couple of days?”

“Yeah, that one. That one, Julie.”

“What about it?” I didn’t like their tone.

“We know you will do well on it.”

“Do you want to study together? I can give you some tips like I did before.” I figured offering might get them off my back, but I knew this was not what they were asking for. What was it? Then I added, “You know I can’t let you copy off of me during the test. That wouldn’t work.”

“No, that’s not what we want. This test will be scaled. This means whatever grade you get will push our grades lower. Do you see what we are saying?  You always do well and it makes us look bad. So we want you to make sure to make some errors on the test.”

I want to ask everyone out there if you would be offended by this.

To this day, remembering this event makes me cry. Not because it was traumatic. It wasn’t. I cry because of what it symbolizes. It symbolizes, for me, the deep hatred in our society for intelligence, often even more deep-seated for female intelligence. We cannot hold down a job because we challenge the status quo out of moral obligation.

We cannot even exist. This is why the mental health system denies us our personhood.

Well….off I go, fearing getting fired. However, if they hire me, it’ll be a job, anyway, till they do.

Gun laws, revisited

Scientific American, last year:

I keep thinking that if I knew a neighbor owned multiple guns, I would feel unsafe. I don’t know my neighbors but I assume a few do own guns. I find the idea very scary indeed. I guess it is the way I was brought up. I was not brought up around weapons and I was taught to solve conflicts nonviolently. I also agree with the realistic stance of the SA article. Break-ins are rare indeed. Why are people so paranoid that it’s going to happen to YOU? Know what’s more likely? That you’ll be captured and assaulted by psychiatry. One in four, right? One in four do not have their homes broken into. You may have had your wallet stolen at some point (and even returned) or someone took something out of your car if you forgot to lock it, or had something else “lifted” or some other minor mishap but an actual break-in is not too common, especially not while you are home. And if you are out at the time, which the burglar much prefers, the burglar has no worries about that gun you have.

2015 discussion of “thug” and the discussion goes on….

I found the following:

I have, however, seen in the media extremely derogatory uses of the word “thug” used by people to describe Muslims and immigrants from Muslim countries, and also occasionally applied to Mexicans. This usage I witnessed was more recent than 2015, coinciding with the rise of Trump.

I have seen propaganda advising people to defend themselves against “any thug that might come along” with implication that “immigrants are running rampant” and then, pushing gun legislation. It is truly sickening.

This is worth a speech, no? I love taking up controversial topics.

Should you own a gun to protect your home, and if so, what are the possible consequences?

I am writing this blog entry with a general idea of who reads here, that is, the type of people who drop in here now and then. I am also taking into consideration that there very well may be out-of-the-blue readers that show up from outer cyberspace.

Should you own a gun to “protect” your home from a potential break-in?

Are you worried that your home will be broken into? I’ve read about this and honestly I am not at all worried, but I know some people are very very worried and in fact, so worried that their worry consumes them and even wrecks their lives. They feel they have to do things to secure their homes in order to feel “safe.”

Now to me, “safety” is not the same thing. To me, being safe means having a roof over my head and being warm enough. It means not being assaulted by another person, that is, verbally or physically, or having my space imposed upon or my privacy imposed upon by overcrowding. Safety means I have adequate privacy in my life, and having a quiet environment also factors in. To me, having to listen to too much noise is an imposition on my feeling safe and secure.

I know people whose homes have been broken into. It is disconcerting and a huge violation. In fact, some people say it feels akin to rape, because your home is a part of who you are.

I had my wallet stolen a few years ago. It was hugely inconvenient, but it did not feel like rape. It didn’t feel that violating. Just extraordinarily annoying. I do, however, empathize with those who have experienced the horror of a break-in.

Would you own a gun to “protect” your home?

Okay, let’s say you did. What if someone broke into your home? Let’s say that happened. What would you do? Shoot?

Let’s all imagine the scenario here. You are home and you hear a creaking the sound of your window crashing open (which you realize you forgot to lock) and a number of loud thuds and muffled vocal sounds. You know immediately these sounds are inside your home and you have to think quickly. You grab your gun which is right near you by your desk.

Okay, now what?

Yes, now what? Do you shoot? You have a right to do so under law, and the law may protect you if you do, if you own your gun legally. I have read about cases where people have indeed shot intruders. They were not prosecuted.

I wonder, though…..Would an intruder even bother breaking and entering if he KNEW YOU WERE HOME? I mean, seriously…….

Who breaks and enters? Who could it be?

The media tells us “thugs” break and enter, right? Okay, so it’s a “thug.” A thug. A dangerous thug.  A person you might as well shoot. What the heck is a thug, anyway?

Who breaks and enters? Think….

It very well could be a teenager. A kid down the street who is having problems in school. A first-time delinquent. Do you want to shoot a kid?

It could be the young bubbly girl you hired years ago to babysit your kids but is now struggling to stop drinking and drugging. Do you want to shoot her dead?

Maybe it’s your elderly neighbor who is just starting to get dementia and is mixed up and thinks he locked himself out of his own home. Do you want to shoot dead a confused older person who meant no harm?

Maybe it’s your grandkid, who hasn’t heard from you in a few days because your phone hasn’t been working. Maybe you didn’t hear when she knocked on the door so she thought you might be in distress.

Or of course, it could be a “thug.” Ahem.





In support of Mayors’ statement on USA Today

This is my reason for supporting the mayors (which by the way, includes Mayor Peduto of Pittsburgh). Common sense gun laws are common sense. Gun crimes are not limited to school shootings, either. By far, most gun crimes are not school shootings, but school shootings are what are most disturbing to us and publicized in the media. We get upset.

Every day, across the country, in every city, even in YOUR CITY, someone gets shot. It will happen if people in your state have easy access to guns. You will hear about it, and you may even hear about it happening right in your neighborhood. You may hear about an innocent child getting shot by a stray bullet, or by someone getting shot in a road rage incident, or about your neighbor, or about some kids playing basketball and someone driving by and shooting them. You may wonder if it’s safe to let your dog or cat out because you wonder if your neighbor might have a gun.

In my opinion, too many guns are out there. Too many irresponsible people are owning guns. I don’t think someone should drink and then, run around with a loaded gun, do you? This is the same common sense we use when we make the heart-wrenching decision to restrict a person who has abused his driving privileges and driven drunk too many times.

If you screw up while using a gun, you might kill or injure someone. You might kill or maim yourself. Guns, like cars (which are also weapons), require proper training, maturity, and responsibility. This is why people have to have special permits to own them. We wouldn’t hand a car to a ten-year-old who hasn’t had the chance to learn responsibility, would we?

It doesn’t make sense to me to outlaw guns altogether, because I think what will happen is that people will start purchasing them on the black market. And that will mean anyone, which is asking for trouble.

I think people should be able to own one, but only for very limited purposes, perhaps recreational target practice, which is a competitive sport that I know of. As for hunting, I don’t feel I have enough expertise on the topic to comment. I don’t see any reason why guns should be near schools, around children, in bars or casinos, or anywhere in urban areas.

No one should be able to get a permit who regularly uses mind-bending drugs or alcohol. This is common sense. I don’t care if the drugs are prescribed nor what they are prescribed for! If you take benzos for back pain you should not own a gun, because benzos impair your judgement. If you are on painkillers or steroids for jaw surgery for an entire month you should be required to give up your permit for that month. I don’t think anyone should be able to get a gun while withdrawing from any of these horrible drugs, either.

I’m sorry to burst the bubbles of a lot of people out there. I’m aware that many people make the choice to be on pharmaceuticals. Then don’t own guns! Very few people should own guns anyway. You do not need one. Guns are not particularly useful as far as I can tell, and in fact are an invitation to trouble for some people.

From what I have read, if you are interested in protecting your home, the best way to do so is to own a dog. Doing so will discourage most common burglars and thieves. This will also help you feel safe and secure and you will have a great buddy as well. The song may say, “Happiness is a warm gun,” but guns are not warm! Dogs’ bodies are indeed warm, much warmer than humans and they keep you warm at night if you sleep with them. I highly recommend it!

I support the mayors in their efforts. Bravo, and thanks to USA Today for publishing the article.


Conehead Revolution

You’ve all heard of the gluten-free lifestyle which I am sure many of you were thrilled to give up once you realized it wasn’t a lifestyle. Were we happy to give up “low carb” and throw it overboard? Here’s the latest that I think Puzzle wants to demolish….


That’s right. Cone-head. Puzzle, that is. She is a conehead and has been one for days. Uh-oh. What next? Do we need the Great Danes in White Coats to come get her?

She’s gotten used to it, even. Accepted her new diagnosis as hopelessly cone-headed. I think she wonders if this might be a Permanent Condition and she might have to file for Doggie Disability!

Can dogs earn a paycheck while wearing cones? Are they employable? Do cones have side effects? If so, is it a trade-off?

Are dogs still dogs while wearing cones, or…are they sub-dogs….Shall we think less of them? Is there a stigma around this? Shall we turn this into a huge social justice argument?

National Alliance for…..

“I’m not my cone. Don’t call me a cone-name! Pleeeease!”

The Anti-Cone Movement.

Imagine….Anti-Cone marches in the streets. Anti-Cone publications. Writing to our congressmen. Heated arguments pro and con. Cops beating on dogs. Dogs biting anyone who argues either way.

Actually, Puzzle is snoring happily, and has forgotten she’s wearing it……


Targeting: Be careful

Many groups have now co-opted the word “target” as used as a verb. We have to be careful when we hear someone use this word. Always ask for clarification.

Now, ex-spouses are using the term to describe inaccuracies in marriage disputes. This is a rather far-fetched use of the term “target” but that’s the word commonly used.  For instance, if the wife gets the kids and then, lies to the kids about just how horrible the ex-husband was, which is commonly done, then the ex might say he was “targeted.” While it is true he was not treated well, and the law does not protect against these terrible crimes against the non-custodial spouses who very well may not be so evil, it’s not exactly targeting. It’s lying, deceit, and depriving children of a parent.

Another time “targeting” is used is if a person is chosen at random. Say you are searched in an area where people are randomly searched. You were not targeted if people are searched at random. If they had no stated reason to search you, then indeed it was random. However, if they state that you look suspicious or look like a crook, then, you might have been profiled.

If you showed up drunk and acted disorderly maybe they had a good reason to suspect you were up to no good. In that case, again, “targeted” isn’t quite accurate.

When I hear the word “targeted,” since the word is so often used in our culture when something else is meant, I ask for clarification. By all means I generally do not default to assuming the person is paranoid. That’s the last thing I assume.


Your next home! Take your pick!

Here is a map explaining cost of living in various places around the USA. Note the variation in cost of living. This is crucial for psychiatric survivors.

Around here, the area is very impoverished, driving down everyday rental rates.  This also means that the average person cannot afford to own a car. This means the demand for public transit is high. Demand is important because lack of demand could lead to closure of public transit in the future. I don’t think our transit system is going to close anytime soon, though now and then they revise the routes. There’s absolutely no advantage to living in HUD housing here whatsoever. NONE.

Back in Boston, which is sky-high expensive and wealthy (and snobby!), I was clueless about the wonderful places to live in the USA where rents were so low that I could actually live outside of HUD housing. Moving was the right decision. I love it here and wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Apparently I am not alone. People move here and fall in love with their new homes and then they are here to stay. I have heard so many stories such as mine. People who seek “the right place” for years, and then, discover it right here in our city.

Welcome home.

Family Budget Map