The Gothic School

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“This place scares me, Amanda,” Carrie, a student nurse, remarked to her friend.

“Yes, Carrie, it scares me too. I can’t believe we have to live here during our nurse’s training,” Amanda replied.

“You know this place used to be a hospital for people with smallpox?” Carrie said.

The girls were walking along the corridor of the Renfield building, now a training center for nurses. They were returning to their rooms.

The corridor became cold and the girls heard a moan.

“What was that?”

In front of them, there was a dim apparition. A person walking and moaning. They ran.

100 words

Photo Credit Roger Bulltot

 

Lessons From Hurricane Katrina: Hurricane Harvey

 

Today, August 29, 2017, is the twelfth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, one of the five deadliest hurricanes and the costliest natural disaster in the history of the United States. As we note this anniversary, we watch with horror as Hurricane Harvey continues to drop unprecedented amounts of rain on southeastern Texas and, now, Louisiana. Hurricane Harvey is now the wettest hurricane ever recorded in the U.S., surpassing Tropical Storm Amelia in 1978. There are places in Texas where more than 50 inches of rain have fallen.

The tragedy in Houston, TX cannot be calculated. It will take years, perhaps decades, for Houston, our fourth largest city to recover. It is impossible to know how long it will take for the water to recede. The rivers and streams are still rising. The reservoirs are failing. The underpasses and bridges are failing. The number of homes that are destroyed cannot be determined yet. We don’t even know how many people have died. The ongoing tragedy in Houston, Texas is not over. In fact, Hurricane Harvey has moved back off into the Gulf and is expected to move back onshore. Houston may yet get more rain..

Hurricane Katrina was a Category 3 Hurricane when it came ashore in southeastern Louisiana. Hurricane Harvey was a Category 4 storm when it landed north of Corpus Christi, around Victoria and Rockford, Texas.

Hurricane Katrina took over 1200 lives, primarily in New Orleans. The storm caused the levees to fail in New Orleans. The city flooded and the flood did not recede for many weeks. Many fled New Orleans and many of those went to Houston. Those from Houston who could flee and wanted to flee could not go to New Orleans. That city is already flooded. The new pumps installed by the Corp of Engineers after Hurricane Katrina have failed, at least some of them. The flood in New Orleans had nothing to do with Hurricane Harvey at that time.

My question. Why have the pumps in New Orleans not been repaired? Prior to hurricane season?

New Orleans had not recovered before Hurricane Harvey. Now, a flooded New Orleans is getting the rain from Hurricane Harvey. One has to wonder what is going to happen to that wonderful city this time.

Houston is using a large center much like New Orleans Superdome to house people who had to evacuate and they may have to open more large facilities. Will the lessons learned from the Superdome tragedy help the mayor of Houston make appropriate decisions? Do you agree with the decision not to evacuate Houston? How would you evacuate a city of 6.5 million people?

Hurricane Harvey is ongoing. The scope of this tragedy is hard to wrap one’s mind around. Did Hurricane Katrina teach us some lessons about how to cope with a tragedy such as Hurricane Harvey?

Full disclosure: I have three cousins who live in Houston, all in different parts of the city. So far, they are all right. One is without power. We’re keeping in touch and there is water very close to their homes. We have no idea yet what will happen.

 

Abortion and Planned Parenthood

 

Let’s state the facts minus any opinion. There is something called the Hyde Amendment which prohibits the use of federal funds for the purposes of abortion. This means that Planned Parenthood does not use federal money for abortions. More to the point, only three (3) percent of the services they offer are abortion services. Why exactly are we defunding Planned Parenthood?

The overwhelming majority of Planned Parenthood’s funds go toward providing low income women with contraception and screening for and treating sexually transmitted diseases and infections.

About 80% of the women served by Planned Parenthood live at or slightly above the federal poverty level. Many of them are on Medicaid. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), defunding Planned Parenthood would significantly raise the number of low income women on Medicaid.

Song Lyric Sunday – Summer in the City

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This week’s theme for Song Lyric Sunday is “heat.” This is one of the first songs I remember with that theme! By The Lovin’ Spoonful!

Summer in the City
The Lovin’ Spoonful

Hot town, summer in the city
Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty
Been down, isn’t it a pity
Doesn’t seem to be a shadow in the city
All around, people looking half dead
Walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head
But at night it’s a different world
Go out and find a girl
Come-on come-on and dance all night
Despite the heat it’ll be alright
And babe, don’t you know it’s a pity
That the days can’t be like the nights
In the summer, in the city
In the summer, in the city
Cool town, evening in the city
Dressing so fine and looking so pretty
Cool cat, looking for a kitty
Gonna look in every corner of the city
Till I’m wheezing like a bus stop
Running up the stairs, gonna meet you on the rooftop
But at night it’s a different world
Go out…

 

Defunding Planned Parenthood and Government Welfare

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When someone mentions the defunding of Planned Parenthood to me, I don’t dignify that comment with a response. The very idea of defunding an organization that has helped so many women is offensive to me. My feelings on this subject has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that some Planned Parenthood’s offer abortions. My feelings have everything to do with how much Planned Parenthood has helped not only women, but men, since its inception.

They offer pap smears that screen for cancer, a variety of birth control methods, including compassionate abortion in some cases, HIV services, LGBT services, services for men, and more.

Planned Parenthood offers general health services for low-income women. Women who are either receiving some sort of government welfare or, if they become pregnant with a child, will have to receive government welfare. Women don’t become pregnant by themselves. If Planned Parenthood is responsive to low income women, they are also assisting the men who are their partners. The men involved in an unplanned pregnancy might also need government welfare. The services that Planned Parenthood offers can keep a couple, not just a woman, off the welfare rolls.

The current Congress and President, as part of the conservative movement in the U.S., has been determined to defund Planned Parenthood on the federal level and turn whatever is left over to the states. This Congress and President also want to severely cut back the Medicaid program, our current version of government welfare. The two initiatives don’t seem to be compatible. Cut Medicaid and Planned Parenthood? Where are women and men who are low-income and possibly out of a job going to get health services, particularly in the face of a pregnancy? Where are low-income women going to get birth control services, along with family planning advice?

Does the conservative government really think that low-income women are just going to stop having children? They have to know that such a scenario is ridiculous. They will keep having children and the welfare rolls will swell. Emergency room visits will also swell as the women will have no health care options.

Does the conservative movement in the U.S. care? My thoughts? They will only care when it starts costing them money. They won’t care about the men and women they are hurting in the process.

Other posts by other bloggers:

What Gives White Men the Right to Take Away a Woman’s Right to Basic Health Care?

Coal Mining, Appalachia, and Alternative Industries

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I’ve written several articles on the plight of the Appalachian people and the occupation of coal mining always comes up. Many coal miners cast their vote for Donald Trump in the 2016 election. They will see no long-term benefit in their chosen occupation. It is a fact that Donald Trump dropped a regulation that stopped coal mine owners from dumping waste water into rivers and streams. It is also a fact that since he became President, a deep mine about 60 miles south of Pittsburgh came online. That mine contains metallurgical coal, not thermal coal and 90 percent of the coal mined in the U.S. is thermal coal. What’s more, this mine, the Acosta mine, was planned in September of 2016, long before Trump’s election. It created about 100 jobs.

Since Donald Trump became President, about 1300 coal mining jobs have been created. Even if he drops coal mining regulation after regulation, it will only stem the tide of the loss of coal mining jobs temporarily. The rise of natural gas as an alternative source of energy has seen to that as has automation.

Donald Trump could do something to help coal miners. He could support retraining of miners and give tax breaks to alternative energy manufacturing corporations if they would locate in coal mining country. Former coal miners need stipends in order to feed their families while they learn new occupations. Firms like wind farms and solar companies could be promised tax breaks if they would locate near where the miners live. Those would be positive things that the President could do for the miners instead of making them empty promises. Alternative energy firms need tax breaks to locate in coal country because geographic access is difficult.

There is one thing that coal miners could do to help themselves. They could relocate. I understand their wish to stay in the place where they are, where their family is. My mother’s family came from Appalachia and I spent 27 years teaching Appalachian young people on a university level. Sometimes, you have to make hard choices and one of them is that you do not sit and starve in place. You learn the lessons of the past when there was an out-migration from Appalachia to find jobs.

Unless the world changes in a way we don’t expect, coal mining is a dying industry. If you are a miner or former miner, don’t die with it. There is something better out there for you.

 

The Domestic

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She always rode her bike to her job. She parked in front of the great estate. She had worked for the owner’s for more than 30 years. She helped raise the children who she loved. She cooked and cleaned. She helped take care of the family. They felt like her family.

Mr. Wayne asked to speak with her. Mrs. Wayne was with him. She was crying. They told her they had paid into her social security account for her entire 30 years on the job. They handed her a check. She had never seen so many zeros. Mr. Wayne told her to buy a house, a car, set up a college fund for her grandchildren, anything she wanted. She knew she could do all of it with so much money.

Mrs. Wayne apologized to her. She said she’d always loved her and had never meant to treat her like a domestic. She’d been part of the family. They realized now they hadn’t treated her fairly. Mr. Wayne said he’d take her home.

She asked if she could keep her job. They told her she’d be treated fairly in the future. She thanked them and went to the kitchen to prepare dinner.

The Power of Longevity

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When he asked me to go camping, I looked at him as if he were a stranger. We’d been together for more years than I could count. For more years than I wanted to count. Camping? I love nature, but when it comes right down to it, I love nature on day trips. At night, I’m a room service kind of gal.

He wanted us to have a new experience. There was a campfire. That helped. When I left the tent, there was a coyote’s eyes looking at me from the edge of the darkness. I felt safe with him.

Photo Prompt Jan Wayne Fields

 

The Homeless Veterans

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Every morning they were there. All the jars with hot drinks in them. It was starting to get cold in the city. The season was changing from fall into winter. There was a man in an army jacket who came long before dawn and set up the jars. He took great care with them.

David was homeless and usually tried to sleep in a cubby hole he’d found in the park. Since the man had been setting up the hot drinks each morning, David sat in the shadows and watched him. David was a veteran of the Army. The Vietnam War. There was something familiar about the man.

The homeless people in the area always came with a cup right after dawn. David joined them. The coffee tasted wonderful and was hot. It warmed them, their bodies and their souls. The man kept coming with refills.

David looked up at him and their eyes met. They both started to smile. They had been in the same platoon in the war.

170 words