A Friend in Need… [Repost] Please help if you can

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Last week I briefly mentioned that a friend of mine passed away suddenly. Nick, and his fiance, Morgan were my teammates on our annual Gishwhes scavenger hunt. I had known Nick for just over three years.

Nick was a fun, caring, kind person; one of the kindest I’ve had the privilege to know and his family is devastated by his loss.

Morgan’s sister set up this Go Fund Me to help them and give their family a little peace of mind until any benefits from Nick become available. They are in the process of moving to a new state, a new home, and new schools for the kids. And, of course, they will be doing all of this while they are grieving and healing. To say this is a stressful time would be an understatement.

If you can share this Go Fund Me, I would thank you, and if you can afford to donate, every little bit helps and is appreciated, please do. Continue reading

Product Review – Skullcandy Ink’d Wireless Earbuds

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​Ink’d Wireless Earbuds by Skullcandy (with box). (c)2019

I requested and received these as a gift this past holiday season. I had seen them in a Target ad for half off on Black Friday. I think they retail at around $49.99 in most places. I wouldn’t normally spend that much or even half that on earbuds, but visually, they seemed to be what I was looking for.

I was happy to find out they are! And much more!

The earbuds themselves are very comfortable in my ears, either on their own or with my hearing aids. Other earbuds were practically useless with my hearing aids, and I don’t like taking them in and out during the day to listen to a podcast or music.

The part that worn around the neck is also very comfortable. So comfortable in fact, that I have forgotten that I’m wearing them, and will take off my jacket at a church or library function and realize then that I never took it off. I’ve fallen asleep with it around my neck and with the earbuds in my ears.

The website and the product box both extol its functionality: It connects to your tech with bluetooth wireless technology and the battery will run for about eight hours. It has a built-in microphone for calls, pause, track and volume control right at your fingertips.

The sound is the best sound I’ve ever had in an earbud, including other Skullcandy that I’ve used in the past. Both sides blend well to give a great stereo sound and I can hear some background vocals and commentary that I hadn’t heard in listening before. I really noticed this when listening to the Hamilton original Broadway soundtrack. In a couple of the songs there is a low side-talking that I had never noticed before.

I haven’t tested how far away I can go from my tablet, but I have left it in one room and gone to get dressed in another or went to the kitchen to cook or do dishes. I’m definitely not tied to my tablet in one place.

The bluetooth pairs seamlessly to my Kindle Fire as well as my Samsung Galaxy 9, although obviously not at the same time. I primarily use it with the Kindle Fire.

I would highly recommend these earbuds. I have used them constantly since getting them for Christmas, and I will update as the year goes on as to how they last for the long haul.

10/10!

Are Libraries Still Essential?

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Libraries are the thin red line between civilization and barbarism. – Neil Gaiman


I originally saved the Vox link, thinking that this was a fluff piece; a ridiculous headline that they easily debunked in the article. I hadn’t realized that someone had actually written in favor of getting rid of libraries in favor of Amazon bookstores/coffee shops.

I need to preface this by saying that I happen to love bookstore-slash-coffee shops. Whenever my family goes to Barnes & Noble, I find a comfortable space in the cafe and read or write. I frequently (before Howard Schultz began running for President) went to Starbucks with the specific intention to get something to eat and drink and to write. There is a comic book store that is also a coffee shop in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that is on my list of places to visit. I love bookstores and coffee shops, together or apart.

However, I don’t confuse them with libraries. Libraries have a whole different feel to them. They also have a different necessity to them. In fact, I’ve just come from my local library. I meet a group of people there once a month for a writing group. We’ve been getting together for about seven years, although they had been meeting prior to my joining them. I woujldn’t have met them if not for the memoir workshop that I began to attend, which not only gave me a wonderful learning environment but was also one of the important things that led me out of the darkness of my depression.

I returned two of my daughter’s books that she had finished reading, and I collected the forms to file my taxes.

In summer, I bring my kids for special programs as well as their summer reading program that includes prizes and a special celebration at the end of the summer. My older son attended a Harry Potter evening in costume and my younger kids met therapy dogs and learned some cooking techniques during two separate events. We’ve attended Olympics activities and Halloween parades. All of these activities were either free or for a nominal activity – one or two dollars.

I almost always see people using the computers, checking their email, searching for jobs, and whatever else they’re doing that they can’t do at home, either because they don’t have access to the internet or because it isn’t safe to (domestic abuse victims and the homeless).

There are several daily newspapers and hundreds of magazine subscriptions.

On my Kindle, I will often have the maximum loan of four library books. I am currently reading Timothy Egan’s The Immortal Irishman. I can hold books and sign up for programs through my Kindle.

Libraries often have local art exhibits, both from local artists working in several different mediums and school kids showing off their artistic talents from art class in school in all grade levels.

I’ve attended concerts and lectures, and will be attending a storytelling event on the first of March.

Last year, one local library had a comic book convention with activities, free items, and displays both to see and/or for sale.

I remember being a kid growing up in NYC and having the bookmobile come. What a special day that always was.

Every community needs a library.

If you don’t believe me, listen to Neil Gaiman; or to librarians.]

What was your favorite thing to do at your local library?

What was your favorite book?​

Susan B. Anthony: Suffrage and Equality, and How Far We Still Need To Go

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​One hundred ninety-nine years ago today, Susan B. Anthony was born into a Quaker family in Adams, Massachusetts. Her activism began early at her family’s hearth as the entire clan was involved in the anti-slavery movement as well as temperance movements all throughout their lives.

Her birth year of 1820 was coincidentally one hundred years before the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote, was ratified.

In 1868, she, and her longtime close friend and women’s rights collaborator Elizabeth Cady Stanton published a weekly newspaper called The Revolution, focusing on women’s rights and calling for women’s suffrage as well as highlighting other opinion and discussion pieces in relation to suffrage as well as politics and finance. It’s motto was: “Men, their rights and nothing more: women, their rights and nothing less.”

I think we’re seeing a resurgence of this attitude if not the outright message. Coming to a head in 2017 with the #metoo movement, women are finding their voices and speaking out when they feel ignored or condescended to, which happens in all walks of personal and professional life.

When the 15th Amendment was proposed and ratified (giving former male slaves the right to vote), Anthony was firmly against it, feeling that African Americans and women should receive voting rights simultaneously rather than continue to give men, regardless of race more rights than women.

In 1872, she brought her Declaration of Rights for Women to the nation’s centennial in Philadelphia, wanting to share it at the official celebrations. Permission was denied, but Susan B. Anthony, leading a group of five women interrupted the speaker and handed the Declaration to the him. Leaving, she handed out copies to the crowd, and then found a public space nearby and read it to the crowd that had formed around her.

1872 was also the year in which Susan B. Anthony cast her vote. In doing so, she was arrested and brought to trial. Prior to the trial, she went around the county doing speaking engagements. Her speech was titled, “Is it a crime for a US citizen to vote?” At her trial, she was found guilty and ordered to pay a fine. She refused. Instead of the judge holding her in contempt, he declined any further action, and the fine has never been paid.

‘Failure is impossible’ quickly became the watchword for the women’s movement” according to her Wikipedia article. Those three words were taken from comments made by Susan B. Anthony at her eighty-sixth birthday celebration a few weeks before her death:

“There have been others also just as true and devoted to the cause — I wish I could name every one — but with such women consecrating their lives, failure is impossible!”

She and Stanton were the first to lead the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), and after the ratification of the 19th Amendment, the organization’s name was changed to the League of Women Voters, still a formidable voice for voting rights.

In addition to her house in Rochester, NY named as an historic landmark and her gravesite visited on many Election Days, most especially in 2016 when Democrat Hillary Clinton ran as the first woman nominated by a major party, she was also commemorated on a US postal stamp in 1936 and is the first woman to have her likeness on a US coin when her image was depicted on the dollar coin, first minted and released in 1979.

Commemorative Stamp 1936, US Postal Service. Public Domain. (c)2019

Susan B. Anthony Dollar Coin, 1979. Public Domain. (c)2019

In reading the title of her speech: Is it a crime for a US citizen to vote? it made me realize that as far as we’ve come, we still haven’t come all that far. We saw in 2016, an amount of voter suppression that many didn’t recognize in prior years. Some of it was so obvious as to be racist and sexist that it boggles my mind that it was allowed by officials and ignored by the media. The questions asked of Secretary Clinton, and the ridiculously higher expectations and almost impossible to meet standards expected of her in relation to her male opponents was embarrassing. 

Even more embarrassing is the way the media is currently treating the four women candidates for the Democratic nomination. I hear about Sherrod Brown’s ties to working class families, and reflection on Joe Biden’s status as elder statesman, and they haven’t even decided if they are running for 2020. However, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren, and Amy Klobucher are being lambasted for listening to rap music, eating fried chicken, mocked for family lore, and treatment of her subordinates instead of where they stand on the issues. Is the idea that Amy Klobucher expects her staff to live up to her expectations more problematic than a President who lies constantly about everything, even the insignificant? Bill Clinton played the saxophone on television, Mitt Romney has a car elevator in one of his houses, former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert is in jail for sexual misconduct, but no, let’s find out if Amy raises her voice trying to get things done. Journalism is in a tailspin, and I thought we were, if not past this sexism then at least pretending to be fair in public.

Also standing out significantly is the Georgia governor’s race in 2018, the Voter ID laws that disproportionately affected the Native American population in North Dakota, also in 2018, closing polling places, shortening voting times, which thereby increased lines and eliminated the working class who can’t afford to leave work early or go in late. Deciding that polling places didn’t meet accessibility requirements for the general election even though there were no problems during the primaries, and those polling places that didn’t meet the requirements were in primarily African-American districts (in Georgia, where the Secretary of State who is in charge of those things was also running for governor. He won. Big surprise there.) There is still a congressional seat in North Carolina that has not been certified because of blatant fraud.

So, how do we combat this?

Should Election Day be a national holiday so more people can vote without losing time and money from work? Why do certain segments of political partisanship want less people to vote, not more despite their being eligible and wanting to vote?

Should we have a standard set of questions to address to each office-seeker when they’re being introduced as a presidential candidate?

Why do we continue to allow the Senate Majority Leader to lie about what the American people want (as shown in poll after poll), and allow him to not bring bills to the floor that have passed the House?

Why do we allow the White House and the President’s enablers in Congress to block investigations into the Russian interference in the 2016 and 2018 elections? I would hope that no one wants a foreign power controlling our votes and who is elected to our national offices, but it seems that some of those politicians blocking access and investigatory avenues are dominated by their monetary reliance on that same foreign power. This is wrong. When will they come to their senses? When will their patriotism extend to real American sovereignty and equal rights instead of their false flag patriotism?

How do we also encourage voting participation?

Why do some from one side think it should be harder to vote, whether because of economics or transportation or accessibility?

This needs to be addressed before the 2020 election. 2020 will celebrate the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment. We should come together for a comprehensive overhaul of the registration and voting process to make it accessible to all eligible voters. If we wait much longer, we won’t have anything worth voting for.

How Rainbow Cake Sprinkles Are Made

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Moving away from the romanticism of Valentine’s Day, enjoy a video of how rainbow sprinkles are made. It is from Dessert Insider, and they can be followed on Facebook.

When my son was small, we really enjoyed these types of videos that Mr. Rogers would share in his Neighborhood.

Happy Valentine’s Day!​

National Tea Month (Jan) – Tea Resources

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Please add your own in the comments.

Adagio

Barry’s

Celestial Seasonings

English Tea Store

Glengettie

Hamilton Beach Tea Kettle

Harney & Sons Master Tea Blenders

Kung Fu Tea

Murroughs Welsh Brew Tea

PG Tips

Republic of Tea

Saratoga Tea and Honey Company

Stash

Starbuck’s

Tazo

Teavanna

Tu Hwnt I’r Bont Tearoom, Llanrwst, Wales

Twining’s

The Whistling Kettle