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Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Demon wearing Her Sunday Best

I sometimes reflect on my youth.  There was this one particular day when I was about 17 years-old and still in high school.  I used to catch two county transit buses in order to leave school and get to my job at a fast food joint.  Work usually lasted from about 5 or 6 until about 8:30 or 9:00 p.m.  After work, I would leave enough time to allow me to get to the bus terminal across the street at the mall. Back then, it took about two buses for me to get close to home.  I use the term home very loosely in this case.  For at this time, I was a ward of the state and temporarily resided in a foster home. 

I am still a little surprised that DCF allowed me to keep my job.  It’s because DCF (or HRS as it was called back then) had some problems with children running away from foster homes and shelters when they had the opportunity.  Maybe they figured that they could keep tabs on me better if I didn’t have a job.  My social worker/ counselor tried to push me to quit my job but I was pretty stubborn and refused. After a few months he stopped trying to persuade me. He was a nice fellow and probably saw that it would benefit me to keep the job.

Like I said, it took two buses for me to reach my foster home in the evenings.  I’d get off that second bus at a stop along a major highway and walk about 7 or 8 blocks to get to the foster home.  This home wasn’t in the greatest of neighborhoods, either.  There was obviously crime and drug-related activities going down in the area.  Sometimes, grown men would attempt to entice and cat-call me but I ignored them. 

Thankfully, no one ever attacked me or anything like that.  I think God was protecting me, because anything could have happened to me.  I did however, have some problems with a few stray, bad ass dogs that would roam the area at night.  One of them came very close to running up on me and biting me a few times.  So, I had to find an alternate route to avoid the bad dogs.

I thought that I had found the perfect short cut one day.  It was a church parking lot and it would help me get home much faster without facing those bad dogs.  The first few times that I used the parking lot, there was a woman standing in the parking lot like a sentinel.  I am assuming that she was a member of the church posted there to keep people from trespassing or causing problems. She and I would speak to each other and I just kept going.

I think on maybe my fifth or fourth time using the church parking lot as a short cut things changed.  The woman was there again but she refused to allow me to pass.  I told her that I was trying to avoid some bad dogs on the next block over.  It didn’t make a difference to her and she still wouldn’t let me pass. 

The reason being:  I was wearing short pants.  No, I wasn’t wearing Daisy Dukes or coochie cutters.  I was wearing shorts that stopped just above my knees.  She said, “You’re not coming through here wearing those shorts!”  I told her that the shorts were part of my work attire.  Which should have been fairly obvious to her because of the company cap and T-shirt I wore.  She didn’t care.

I tried to go around her but every time I tried going around her, she just moved in front of me with her arms extended to block me.  And, she called some big guy over to stop me.  At that point I knew that could have gotten into trouble for trespassing.  I had no choice but to turn around and leave.

It was a complete mind-fuck for me that someone who was supposedly Christian would pass judgment on me due to my modest attire.  The first few times that I used the church parking lot, I was wearing long black pants.  But, it still doesn’t justify the way that she treated me.  Did she think I was a whore because I was wearing shorts?  I don’t know.  And sometimes, older women have a way of getting jealous of younger women. Regardless, she was stuck on some old-fashioned superficial shit. The bible even says, ‘Judge not lest, ye be judged”.  

Now you know the reason behind the metaphor used in the title. That woman was wearing a long skirt and blouse. It wasn’t not even Sunday when this happened.  I still liken her to a demon wearing her Sunday best.  I was a virgin and was probably more virtuous than her. She looked dapper outwardly, but I can tell she is an ugly bitch in her spirit.  But, some people take their religion to a whole other level with their lunacy, minutiae and idiosyncrasies.  I never want to be that kind of Christian pedant. 

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Reason That I Don’t Go To Church, Part I

I have a relative who is very religious and each time that I speak to her, she uses our time together to proselytize and preach the Gospel.  She is always inviting me to her church and I usually come up with an excuse for why I can’t go.  I’ve even told her flat out of the many reasons that I don’t attend church services.  She remains persistent in her quest to recruit  new members.

It’s not that there is anything wrong with someone being deeply passionate about Christ or their religion.  Everyone is free to worship, believe or not believe in whatever they choose to.  I was actually raised up in the Christian faith and respect people’s right to worship.  At the same, I don’t see myself as very religious and I rarely go to religious services, and am rather reluctant to call myself a Christian.  I am not against the idea of settling into a church home and attending regular services.  However, at the present time I choose to read my Bible and pray in private, rather than having fellowship with other so-called Christians. 

There are a few main reasons why I have chosen this path.  The first being that most churches that I have visited seem to have the greater agenda of raising money over saving souls and spreading the Gospel.  The other major reason is that there is so much hypocrisy and foolishness within the Christian church, that it makes fellowship nearly unbearable.  The last reason has more to do with the actual conflicts and things that don’t make sense in the written text of the Holy Bible.

Now, let me get into a little detail on my thoughts about the money aspect of the church, more specifically the Black church in America.  Most Black churches in America seem to have a common thread, which is the commercialization of Christianity.  Now, I am certain that there are White run churches that engage in the same activities (just watch some of the programming on TBN) but I can only speak more to what goes on in some Black churches.  By the way, I am NOT saying that all churches or Black churches are like this- just some of the ones that I’ve encountered.

It is a widespread and common tactic for many pastors of Black run churches to implement the “Prosperity Gospel” for their own financial gain.  What they do is interpret the words of the Bible in such a way to manipulate the feeble and vulnerable minds of people who can‘t use their brains in a logical manner.  These types of preachers/ false prophets appeal to people’s emotions when they are up there in the pulpit shouting the words from the scripture and do it in a very theatrical manner. 

Many people catch the Holy Ghost, start falling out, dancing, doing cartwheels and running all over the church like they’ve lost their cotton-picking minds.  The music, the setting, the hand clapping (mostly in those “charismatic” and “evangelical” churches) have the effect of putting the congregation into a hypnotic state.  Some of the stuff is real.  And there are documented cases of people getting healed in church.  But, sometimes it is a big farce.

Before you know it, you’re all teary-eyed, feeling like the Holy Ghost is in the house and you’re reaching for your wallet or check book.  Hey, if you fell for those deceptions, don’t be down on yourself.  It has happened to the best of us.

I can recount many occasions where I have gone to different churches and the pastor of the church solicited money several times during the course one service.  I have been to quite a number of revivals where the pastor stated that God told him or her (liar!) that there were a certain number of people who could sow a faith seed of specific amounts of money.  Now, they have things planned down to an art where they actually have envelopes pre-made up with the dollar amounts written on them (for example, $50, $100, $1000, $5,000 denominations).  Many of these churches have their systems setup to where they not only accept cash and checks but also debit and credit cards.  I find this particularly disturbing because it encourages people to go into debt in order to support the church and receive “their blessing“. 

Before I get too far ahead of myself, let me make something very clear:  There is absolutely nothing wrong with a church collecting donations in order to maintain the church and pay its administrative expenses.  Some people disagree but depending on how the money is allocated, I don’t see anything wrong with parishioners paying tithes, either.  I don’t pay tithes to a church, since I am not a regular member of a church.  If people feel that paying tithes is biblically correct, then that is their business. 

There is nothing wrong with a pastor and church employees taking a modest salary for their work.  If they are devoting their entire lives to spreading the Gospel and don’t have a job, then they need a way to support their families. I definitely don’t see anything wrong with the pastor of a church being wealthy, provided that his wealth came from business outside of the church itself. 

There is something very wrong with a church accepting money from the public without making a full accounting of what the funds are being used for.  There is definitely something remiss about funds being used for unnecessary, lofty building renovations and pomp, while there are people in the local community whom are suffering both spiritually and economically.   It is very sick and twisted for a Christian to even want to exploit and take from someone who needs it the most, only for their own financial gain.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Toxic Relationships- She Needs to Let Go

Several months ago, I was talking to a young lady who I met.  I don’t know her all that well but apparently she felt really comfortable relating some of her personal problems me.  One day, she was so distressed that she mentioned that she had a recent falling out with her boyfriend. 

There was one thing that was particularly disappointing to her about the break-up.  He had promised her some of his income tax refund money.  He was expecting a very sizable sum and she was really counting on that money. When he did actually receive the money, he reneged on that promise.  Instead, he got all of his personal belongings together and moved out.  In addition, he purchased a car and sent her a hostile “f%$k-you” type of texts after he left. 

Now, I don’t know this young man and we have never met.  So, I got all of my information from her.  According to her, this man:

  • Is unemployed
  • Has a drug problem 
  • Lived with her and her family for a good amount of time
  • Physically abused her in the past
  • Broke up with her before.  Then, she reunited with him.  

Sitting there and listening to all that she said, led me to believe that he is a pretty toxic person.    As mentioned before, I don’t know the woman well, so it is hard for me to even make a proper character assessment of her.   On one hand, I couldn’t comprehend why she had such a hard time coping with the fact that he left her.  Per her account, he is a pretty messed-up person.  I remember thinking that he must have had that “good-good”.

On the other hand, she could have her own psychological issues and character flaws.  There is always two or more sides to every story.  She is certainly not telling me of all the mistakes that she made in the relationship.  Sometimes, people have a tendency to get themselves into less than ideal situations and form unhealthy relationships with others. Perhaps, she attracted this toxic man into her life because she is a toxic person herself.  Or it could be that she has no idea how to choose a partner whom has positive attributes.  This is not meant in any way to pass judgment on her, though.  Everyone has their own issues that need to be dealt with before they can truly love someone else. 

With that said, if you’re going to be in a relationship, then be with someone who is doing something with their life.  Be with someone who will inspire and uplift you and help you to progress. Forming toxic relationships with a toxic person can literally destroy a person’s life and have them crazy all out doors. It can put you in such a state of confusion and emotional turmoil, that you won’t know whether you are coming or going. This may cause you to either be stuck or regressing in life. Nobody needs that!

Another thing is this:  Some people make the mistake of becoming overly attached and too comfortable with people before knowing them.  This is bad because it can cause us to put on the blinders and ignore obvious warning signs. Even when we know that someone is not good for us we, sometimes continue the relationship, hoping that someday the person will change for the better.  Some people are the enablers and they think that they can change someone in a relationship. The truth is that you can’t change someone unless they already seek to change.  

Okay, I’m getting back to this issue with the lady and her ex-boyfriend. Being that her ex-boyfriend allegedly has a drug-problem, he not going too far.  He doesn’t have a job and he will need money to support himself.  So, that money will be used up in no time.  He’ll probably try to come running back to her or find another easily manipulated woman to hook up with. 

I am much older than her.  I didn’t ask her age, but she looks to be in her mid-twenties.  I can definitely relate to some of the things that she was saying.  There were times that I cried myself to sleep at night over broken relationships.  Therefore, I can look at her situation and offer some objective advice, having ‘been there, and done that”. 

Frankly, I don’t even like to get involved in other people’s affairs.  However, she was really distraught.  To my surprise, she mentioned that in the past she felt suicidal. Therefore, I felt compelled to offer her some words of encouragement. The advice that I rendered was quite simple:  “Let his ass go!”  He basically told her what his intent was and that he didn’t need or want to be involved with her at the present time.  "I know that it hurts and the way that he treated you was wrong.  The fact that he left you without, you having to put him out, is a blessing.  Now you can move-on, heal, and get your life together.”  She responded by saying that her mother told her the same thing. 

Based on his track record, things could have ended in more negative way.  At least no one was hurt or ended up getting arrested.  And it is even better that she doesn’t have any children with this man.   Neither one of them seems mature enough to take on the responsibility of parenthood. I don’t know how this situation turned out, since I have not seen her in months.  Hopefully, she is doing well and I wish her and her ex the best.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Is This Workplace Racism?

Several years ago, I worked for a small family run manufacturing business, with less than 30 employees.  It was run by two college buddies, who were the president and vice-president of the company.  The company also employed the president’s son and daughter.  For the most part, the employees were respectful, cordial and we all usually got along. I am actually grateful to the company for hiring me straight out of vocational school and giving me an opportunity, with no related work experience.  However, there was this one unpleasant experience which never left my memory of that place, even after all these years.

While I was a new employee with the company, I was having lunch in the company break room one day.  The company vice-president walked in and sat at the table near me and we started to have this dialog. He was a White, Canadian guy in his late forties- early fifties.  The conversation went from the getting-to-know-you type of stuff, to him talking about his high school aged son going off to college.  He boasted about his son getting accepted into MIT but in the same breath, he expressed concerns about the costs of his son’s college tuition.  He further went on to say that he didn’t want to take out any student loans but that he may not have any other choice.  His son had not been awarded enough money in scholarships and grants to cover his full tuition.

Now, this is where the conversation took a strange turn.  He asked me what high school I went to and I told him.  Then, he stated something to the effect that he didn’t believe that anyone who graduated from that school could ever get accepted into MIT.  I was taken aback by that statement and it felt like he was simultaneously insulting me and making major generalizations about the student body of the school.  I am quite certain that he understood that this school was not a high standard public school.  I said as much in a previous post about public education.

But, then I feel that he was wrong for making a blanket statement and presuming that anyone graduating from that school is not smart enough or resourceful enough to attend an Ivy league or top-tier college or university.  Never mind the fact that there were exceptional, alumni who chose to go above and beyond with their curricula and normal course of studies.  And just completely ignore the fact that you can’t know where a person is going in their life just by examining their current circumstances and from whence they came (poverty, homelessness, etc.). 

I challenged this man, asking him what would make him think that.  He was silent for a few seconds and couldn’t come up with any logical reasons for his statements. He said some other stuff about Affirmative Action that exposed some of his political and social leanings as well. He talked about how he didn’t think that it was fair that poor people get free money to go to college. 

I suspect that what he really wanted to say was that he didn’t think it fair that so many Blacks and other “protected classes” of people were getting financial aid, while more “deserving” and “capable” White people are deprived of their opportunity to get an education.  That’s what he really thought but couldn’t be so blunt about it. 

Now, I could be wrong but I had a very strong suspicion that he is a racist and/or bigot after that interaction. He never used any blatant racial slurs or derogatory statements towards racial and ethnic minorities.  However, a person doesn’t always have to be blunt or direct about their opinions on certain matters.  I am pretty good at reading between the lines.

This was not my first encounter with a person who has racist ideals but it further confirmed to me that some White people just don’t have very high expectations of ethnic minorities.  Some White people seem to think that they are culturally and intellectually superior by default.  A lot of racism and discrimination these days, is very subtle or covert and that is what makes it insidious and pernicious.

Another thing that I found bizarre, is that he complimented me on my English.  WTF?  Was he expecting for me to attempt to communicate with persons outside of my culture in Black English Vernacular?  I can visualize that scene right now on a meme with the caption:  White people be like…“Wow, a real live Black person speaking proper English!” And, then the guy kept trying to talk to me in French after I repeatedly told him that I am not Haitian and that I don’t speak French or Creole.  LOL!

Now, the company president’s son, daughter and others were in the break room while this exchange took place. I glanced over at these people as the vice-president spoke.  They either sighed in exasperation, rolled their eyes or shook their heads.  It was like they were non-verbally saying, “That guy is a real asshole!”

At that point in my career, I didn’t feel like I was in any position to further challenge him and call him out on his bullshit.  I was trying to keep my job and get past my probation period.  I was definitely in no position (financially) to tell him to go fuck himself. Later on that day, the president’s daughter, Kris pulled me to the side and told me to just ignore the vice-president because he’s an idiot.  I took her advice.

Ironically, there was a White male, Hill-Billy-looking employee who worked for that company, who was in fact a racist.  We didn’t know it at the time, though.  I just thought that he was a little weird because he would always stare at me funny.  Sometimes, I’d speak to him and he would either grunt or not respond.  So, I usually acted as if he didn’t exist.  Some of my co-workers gossiped about him saying that the man is racist.  I just sort of brushed it off, not giving it much thought.

Well, several months after the gossip spread, a co-worker (who happened to be White), showed up to work one day with a clipped newspaper article.  He said, “I told you guys he was racist!”.  The article detailed how the man had set his own yard on fire in protest to the amount African-Americans that were moving into the neighborhood.  When he purchased his home, the neighborhood was mostly White but years later, shifted towards a more mixed-neighborhood.  I actually lived in some condos just a few blocks from his home.  Funny how life plays out sometimes.

Every human has his or her own prejudices.  It’s not quite right, but it is part of the human condition. But, this whole racism thing is just so foreign to me and I don’t understand it. Most racism comes from a person’s upbringing and media propaganda.   I wasn’t raised to be a racist or bigot.  My godparents were White people and some of my father’s best friends were White people. When I was growing up, I never heard my parents express any hatred or malice towards a person of any other race or culture.  Mistrust- yes.  Hatred- never.  So it is just not in my blood.   

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Squandered Legacy

I was thinking about my great-grand mother's home in South Florida.  The home itself had a very storied past. My great-grandmother, was called Belle as a nickname.  She passed away from cancer, when I was about five or six years old, but I remember her faintly.  I have a few vague memories of going to church with her.  And, she didn't play and would put that switch on our asses in a heart-beat, when we acted a fool.  She was a definite character, being part Native-American and part Black.  Belle was a peculiar, tobacco-chewing woman, born and bred in Georgia. 
Belle got married and moved from Georgia to Florida, raising her sons, daughters, and one grandchild (my mother) here.  My great-grandmother, and her husband were raising my mother. This is because my mother's mom passed away shortly after giving birth to her at a young age. 
My great-grandmother's husband (my uncles' father) had died years before she did. My uncles' father actually died in that home after an extended illness.  When Belle died, she left the family home and other personal property to her children and my mother.  The beneficiaries of her estate quarreled so much about the property, that my mom and aunty relinquished their equity in the home.  One of my uncles was newly released from prison around that time. But for some strange reason he felt very entitled, as if he was king of the castle, in spite of spending so much time incarcerated.
During my early adolescence, my immediate family lived in that home for a few years, so I have some fond and bad memories of the place.  The house set up off the ground on top of some blocks.  There were several homes like it in the neighborhood.  I think it was a manufactured home moved from somewhere else.
There were many citrus and mango trees in the backyard, making it dark and dense like a jungle. There were lush cherry bushes surrounding the property.  Lizards and huge, colorful grasshoppers- the type that I never see anymore, were all over the place.  My mom says that when she was a kid, that her grandmother had a garden in the backyard.  She remembers bunny rabbits coming to eat up the vegetables that were growing back there.   I wonder what happened to the rabbits.
I used to go through some of my great-grandmother's stuff when I was about thirteen.  There was this back room in the home that was filled with boxes of her clothing, jewelry and photos.  Once in a while, when I was bored I would try on her jewelry and church hats. I even stumbled upon her obituary once. 
The home mortgage was completely paid off, so that we were able to live there, rent-free and mortgage free.  The only responsibility that my family had was to maintain the property, pay the water bill, the light bill, and the yearly property taxes levied by the county. 
Well, as I mentioned before my mother and us children lived in the home for a few years, after she separated from our father.  The first year was okay but afterwards we went through a dark period.  During the dark times, there was a lot of arguments amongst the adults of the household.
Do you think that any of the "adults" stepped up to the plate and made sure that the bills were consistently paid?  Some of my relatives had substance abuse and addiction problems.  They had no problems living in the home with no electricity and no running water.   They had jobs, but the strange thing was that, they hardly ever had any money to keep the bills paid for long.  None of the adults could agree on who would be responsible for paying the bills when they came due.  My parents managed to save up some money.  And, my mother and us kids moved out a little after it got to that point.  The conditions were just deplorable and the stench of the bathroom alone was unbearable.
There came a time when the county was threatening to foreclose on the property for overdue property taxes.  No one had any money to pay off the property taxes.  I heard that a long-time family friend actually stepped in and paid the overdue taxes and took ownership- a decision that they probably now regret. 
The home fell in dire need of repair.  It was infested with scorpions, cockroaches and rats, which were entering the home through openings in the floor. The foundation of the home was falling apart.  The roof was leaky. Even worse, the home became a neighborhood eyesore and crack house. The city eventually condemned the home as a safety hazard and put an orange sticker on the front door.  Therefore, my uncles and the other people who lived there had to find somewhere else to live.
It is a disgrace and shame that those, grown people allowed the home to fall to such disrepair.  My great-grandparents probably turned in their graves after their children lost the property and squandered their legacy.  After all, they had worked so hard to realize the American dream of home ownership. They weren't wealthy or educated people: Belle worked as a housekeeper cleaning the homes of well-to-do people and her husband ran a landscaping service.  They were also very prominent members of the community and church which they attended and helped to found. So, it is just horrible all around to see their legacy and hard work go to waste.  This is something that could have been preserved, kept in the family and handed down through generations. 
The home was demolished several years ago and the lot where the property once stood is now vacant except for shrubs and grass.  I believe that except for sentimental value, the property is not worth much, financially.  The property is now encumbered with several liens by several creditors.  Therefore, it can't be bought or sold without paying off those debts and clearing the liens. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Traction Alopecia Caused by Wigs and Weaves

Several months ago, I noticed that my hair was getting a little bit thin at my hairline.  The thinning is mostly around the edges of my face and forehead.  My hair is actually natural and seldom wear my hair in natural hairstyles, (Afro, braids, etc).  However, most of the times I have worn wigs.  I guess I am pretty addicted to the versatility of wigs ( I loves myself a bob). 

I believe that the hair loss is due to wearing stocking caps almost every day underneath a wig, for many years.   I went and did some research and discovered that it is possible that I suffer from traction alopecia.  Typically, the disorder results in thinning around the edges and nape of the head.  Sometimes there are patches and hair loss at other places on the scalp.

It comes from continuous tension or pulling on the hair and hair follicles.  The tension may be due to wearing tight braids, weaves, wigs, caps, tightly drawn pony tails, glues, etc.   The first signs of traction alopecia are irritation and bumps on the scalp at the affected area.  If ignored, the disorder may lead to permanent hair loss.  

Many years ago, I did suffer from hair loss due to wearing a weave.  When you get a sew-in type weave, the stylist will braid up your hair and then sew the wefts of weave onto the braid tracks.  Well, if the braids are done too tightly, then it can result is hair breakage and hair loss. 

I went to a hair salon about 10 years, ago to get a sew-in by my stylist.  During the process, I kept telling the hair stylist that she was braiding my hair way too tight.  I mean, it was really painful. At first she made excuses, like the weave is not going to last long, etc.  Then, she said “Okay” and let up some.  But, the end result was that the damage was already done.   I looked Asian after this woman finished the hair style.  I couldn’t lay down to sleep without feeling that tension and pain on my scalp.  And, I had too much pride to go and remove the style after spending so much time and money in the salon (Ah... foolish pride).

Eventually, the crown of my head scalp became really itchy.  The edges around my hairline became itchy and some white tiny bumps started to develop.  Then, slowly the hair around the edges and the crown of my head fell out.  The hair loss was so bad that it looked like someone took a clipper to the top of my head and trimmed a perfect circle.  

Every time I looked at my hair in the mirror, I whimpered like a kid! That experience made me swear off getting weaves and cornrows. Thankfully, the hair loss was not permanent and the hair grew back.

Now that I took note of the more recent hair loss, I am not wearing wigs as much.   I allow my hair to breathe more and usually wear an Afro or cover my hair with a loose cap or head scarf.  I been doing this for about three months and I am beginning to see the difference.  I see some hair regrowth but the process seems kind of slow.

The hair loss doesn't look as bad as other people's because I caught it early on.  Glad I don't look like Norman Osbourne or George Jefferson. My hairline used to be straight across, with no jig jags. 

I am hoping that there is not permanent hair loss.  I been doing some research on products that help with this problem and stumble upon some info on Jamaican Black Castor Oil and other essential oils.  Some people are giving positive testimonials on it.  Perhaps, one day I will give these products a try if my hair growth continues to be slow. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Uncontrolled Diabetes and High Blood Pressure can Destroy the Kidneys

The kidneys are vital organs in the human body.  They filter the blood of metabolic waste products, excess electrolytes, fluids and toxins like, urea. There are millions of microscopic filters in the kidneys called glomeruli which cleanse the blood through oncotic pressure.  There is an exchange of ions such as sodium and potassium in the filtering process, also.  Ions which are needed are reabsorbed back into the bloodstream.  The ions that aren’t needed are excreted in the urine along with toxins and waste products.  These are just a few of the many functions of the kidneys.

Someone who I know is suffering from renal failure resulting from uncontrolled diabetes and high blood pressure.  The dialysis patient requires hemodialysis at least 3 times per week.  It is a very exhausting process and the dialysis patient is connected for hours to a machine that cycles and cleans the patient’s blood.  The machine essentially does the job that a pair of healthy kidneys would do. 

Dialysis is not a pleasant process, either.  The patient has a couple of shunts inserted in one arm and in the neck artery.  It is like a catheter embedded into the vein to facilitate the process.  The process of inserting and removing the needles is painful and leaves ugly scars, especially keloids. 

The patient complains about severe cramping during and after the procedure.  Then, they go home and spend the day resting after the exhausting procedure.  Not to mention that they are required to maintain a special diet and are on several medications.  They are not able to work and declared disabled.  The patient is currently waiting for the chance to get on the kidney transplant list.

How Uncontrolled Diabetes Affects the Kidneys

Conditions like uncontrolled diabetes and high blood pressure are very damaging to the glomeruli in the kidneys.  Type II diabetics, with uncontrolled blood glucose and insulin levels are at increased risk of kidney damage.  Persons suffering from type II diabetes either don’t produce enough insulin or the insulin doesn’t function to properly metabolize sugars.  When there isn't enough insulin in the blood to breakdown sugars, a diabetic's body can't use the excess glucose for energy.  So, fats are utilized for energy, instead of glucose.  This can lead to increased levels of ketones in the blood. 

The ketones are the metabolic by products of fat breakdown. They are really toxic to the blood and kidneys.  But, it is the job of the kidneys to filter this waste out of the blood and into the urine. This dangerous cycle is called diabetic ketoacidosis.  It occurs when people with Type II Diabetes have high blood insulin levels. The ketones build up in the kidneys and blood can lead to glomerulonephritis (inflammation and destruction of the glomeruli), kidney failure, coma and even death.

The Effects of Uncontrolled High Blood Pressure on The Kidneys

People with hypertension are at increased risk of stroke and heart attack.  Chronic hypertension can destroy the glomeruli in the kidneys by way of very high oncotic pressure.  So, this cause the kidneys to improperly filter out excess fluids and electrolytes.  The body becomes more prone to retaining salt and water.  It also starts a cycle of the kidneys having to work harder.

Some people have a genetic predisposition towards developing these chronic illnesses. Sometimes, people aren’t even aware that they suffer from these ailments until much damage has already been done to the body. Many forms of glomerulonephritis are irreversible. If at all possible, the proper measures must be taken to prevent these diseases from occurring. 

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Regular physical exams are a good idea to detect any problems in the early stages.  Generally, when there is glucose and ketones found in the urine, along with high fasting glucose levels, it's an indication of diabetes. 

It is vitally important for diabetics to keep track of the blood glucose levels. That’s why diabetics prick themselves with a needle and check their blood insulin levels frequently though out the day.  They must make sure that they take their insulin as prescribed by their doctor and check their blood sugar levels.

It is also important for people with hypertension to monitor their blood pressure.  Inexpensive blood pressure cuffs and blood glucose monitors are available online and in pharmacies.  Free blood pressure check machines at most Publix and Walmart super centers. 

There are often opportunities to get blood glucose meters free by taking advantage of sales and using coupon match-ups.  However, you don’t need to run out and buy one of these unless you have been diagnosed as a diabetic by doctor.  Routine annual physical exams will uncover these diseases.

Get regular exercise and maintain a healthy weight; Obesity and poor diet are contributing factors in both diabetes and hypertension. 

DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is a suggested diet for people with high blood pressure.  The most important thing to do is to eat a low-fat, low-sodium, balanced diet.  Spicy foods tend to raise the blood pressure.  I know several people who have high blood pressure that must go to the emergency room after eating really spicy foods.  And, drink plenty of fresh water to keep the body hydrated and flush the kidneys.  People with renal failure should drink the amount of fluids suggested by their physician.

Stress is a contributing factor in the onset of many chronic illnesses, especially hypertension.  Be sure to get enough rest and relaxation.  Yoga and meditation practice are good for reducing stress.

I hope that this post inspires more people to take better care of themselves.  

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Breville Juice Fountain Compact BJE200XL Review

The Breville Juice Fountain is one of the best juicers (if not the best) in its price range on the market.  These juice machines are available for under $100 through many retailers, including Amazon. 
The first experience that I had with juicers is with a very cheap Juiceman Jr., which I purchased in the 1990s.  That juicer was okay for a starter juicer but not as powerful as I would've liked.  So, I sold it after a few years. 
When I was ready to get back into juicing, I wanted something economical, sturdy and powerful enough to withstand the rigors of regular use.  I knew that an industrial grade juicer wasn't necessary.  The options were narrowed down between a Jack LaLanne Stainless Steel Juicer and a Breville Juicer.  On the one hand, the Jack LaLanne Juicer had a beautiful finish, but numerous lukewarm customer reviews.  On the other hand, the Breville Juicer was not as aesthetically appealing as the Jack LaLanne Juicer, but it is highly functional.  The wise choice for me was the Breville Juicer.

The Breville Juicer is powerful centrifugal juice machine with a, 700 watt motor, reaching speeds of up to 14,000 RPM. It does a great job of extracting juices from most fruits and vegetables, leaving behind fairly dry pulp.  I use it primarily to juice carrots, apples, pears, broccoli, celery, spinach, ginger root, kale, and citrus fruit.  Occasionally, a few chunks and bits slip through in the juicing process.  Most of the juiced ingredients, leave behind a dry pulp.  And, the fiber rich pulp doesn't have to go to waste.  Pulp can be used to prepare delicious and nutritious soups, pastries, and sauces.
I have used this juicer since 2012 and it is still performing quite well. It has never malfunctioned on me and has delivered on performance nearly every time.
It is compact and can be neatly tucked in a closet or under a cupboard. 
It’s easy to assemble and clean. The manufacturer includes a cleaning brush for the sieve, which also doubles as a spatula.
The Breville Juicer comes with a 1 year manufacturer's warranty. 

It is loud as heck, which can be disturbing to others.
I don't know what it is, but whenever I juice grapefruits, a small amount of juice seeps down on the side of the juicer.  I am not sure if there are others who have that experience.  I tried reseating the basket securely and still have the same thing occur.  The seeping juice is a really minute amount, though.  But, it is a bit annoying that I can't figure out where it is coming from.  It only happens when I juice grapefruit. 

I have used the Breville juicer to juice apples, carrots, broccoli, kale, spinach, ginger, cucumbers and all sorts of other stuff.  You can't use this juicer for grasses (wheat grass, barley grass) and seeds.  A masticating juicer is more effective at extracting juice from these ingredients.
I think that the plastic parts aren't as durable as I would like.  Be careful that you don't drop them, as they may be damaged.  The replacement parts aren't cheap, either.
I will upgrade to other types of juicers when the Breville juicer wears out.  For now, this juice machine suits my needs wonderfully well.

Why Juice? The Benefits of Juicing
The USDA recommends that adults consume between 6-8 servings of fruits and vegetables into the daily diet.  Fruits and vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants which have wonderful properties, like boosting the immune system, slowing the aging process and fighting disease.  Let’s take a step back and look at reality:  Can you imagine sitting down and actually chewing up 6-8 to servings of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis?  That would become very challenging and tiresome within a few days.  It is also very time consuming.  The process of juicing foods makes getting your daily servings more convenient.
I recommend purchasing some organic fruits and vegetables for juicing.  You don’t want to ingest all of those dangerous pesticides and chemical used in traditional farming.  Organic produce is very expensive so it may not be an option for some people.  You can purchase some produce cleaning solution and a produce cleaning brush and scrub the produce before juicing it.  Or, you may substitute the produce cleaning solution with a homemade lemon-vinegar-baking soda solution, diluted in distilled water.
Overall, I am very happy with the Breville juicer and recommend it to anyone as a starter juicer.

Additional info:


Saturday, December 27, 2014

Embarrassing Moment in the Women’s Restroom

Today I went to the nearby McDonald’s restaurant to satisfy my cravings for a quick breakfast snack and a cup of coffee.  I could tell that something wasn’t going to be quite right because the coffee didn’t taste as good as it usually does (it was weak-like decaf).  But, I didn’t feel like standing in line to ask for another cup.  So, I sat down to eat and drink. I was there for about an hour, just using the free Wi-Fi after eating. 

Just before I decided to leave, I went into the women’s restroom to wash my hands.  What I saw will remain in my memories (and nightmares) for the rest of my life.  

When I opened the door to the restroom, this horrendous smell hit me right in the face. It was a combination of body odor and waste. Then, there was a woman standing at the sink washing an article of clothing.  I think it must have been a pair of panties.

But, the worst part of all is that she had no clothing on from the waist down!  I couldn’t believe it.  She immediately turned around and said, ‘Oh my God!”.  I backed out of the restroom right away. 

I am not sure what she was expecting, considering that she was using a public restroom to do what she should be doing in a private bathroom.  I assume that she was a homeless woman, using the sink to wash up.  Or, maybe she made a mess of herself and was trying to get cleaned up.  The thing is that the restroom was designed in such a way that the door can’t locked behind guests.  So, she have known that anyone can walk in at any moment. 

Not only is this not a sanitary thing for people to clean themselves at the sink where people wash their hands.  It is not right that a family centered business be exposed to this.  Suppose a child walked into the restroom and saw her there like that?

I told one of the employees what happened and then immediately jumped in my car and left.  One of my relatives works at McDonald’s and she told me that this situation happens at her workplace sometimes.  When the management is informed of it, they usually kicked the homeless person out and banned them from coming back to that location.  I am not too sure whether I will ever return and use their restroom ever again. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Public Schools Need Improvement Part 2

Some public school are not very good in the United States. The quality depends partly, on the location/ neighborhood where the school is located.  The neighborhoods have varying property tax assessments and property values.  So, areas where the property taxes are higher, will most likely have better funded schools, with more educational tools and resources for the students and teachers.
I was fortunate enough to get enrolled in the Head Start program when I was a little kid.  This was prior to attending elementary school. From the time that I attended elementary school up until high school, I attended some really good schools. I think this is because the schools were located in predominately White neighborhoods.  Black students were bussed in from their neighborhoods.
During my junior year of high school I transferred over from a good school, where I learned a lot.  This school was located in an upper middle class school district.   The student body at this school was mostly White and Hispanic. The “bad” high school was located in a low-income, high-crime, drug infested, and urban neighborhood in the same county as the “good” school. The student body at this school was predominantly Black.  Many (not all) of the students were socially maladjusted and some came from broken homes and dysfunctional families. The difference between my former high school and the later one, was like the contrast between night and day. 
My last year and a half of high school was almost a complete waste of time and like a formality.   I don't feel like a learned much during that time frame.  Many of my teachers sucked at their jobs and lacked a passion and motivation for teaching.  Out of the few good teachers employed there, had a difficult time actually teaching, since some students wouldn't allow them to teach the class.  The high school administrators found a still born baby, placed in the trash inside the girls’ restroom. There were also many fights with blades and violence among the student body at that high school.
Other teachers didn't spend enough time teaching.  They would spend the class hour talking about topics which weren't related in any way to the subject matter.  One of my Economics teachers spent most of the time talking about his personal life (his family vacations, how he and his wife get refunds at stores by “raising Hell”, etc.).  I could tell that he was a perv because he was always looking the girls up and down, trying to get an eyeful of the young women in class (But, I guess that’s another blog post). 
A Chemistry teacher spent most of the class time talking to football players, who walked in and out of her class.  Her lecturers were all of ten or fifteen minutes long.  The rest of the class hours consisted of the students looking up vocabulary words from the textbook.  Her tests were almost always multiple choice and open book.  This was supposed to be a Chemistry class, yet we rarely did any laboratory experiments.  Years later, when I enrolled in General Chemistry at the university level, I was ill prepared.
I remember a Spanish teacher at this high school who was constantly mocked, taunted and disrespected by some of her students. She crumbled under the pressure and finally broke down and cried in front of the class. It was very clear that some of these students had no interest in getting their lesson. The ring leader of them, told the Spanish teacher to "shut up" and threatened to go to the front of the classroom and snatch the Spanish teacher's wig off.  That student was removed from the classroom by school administrators. I never saw him again at that school.  A few days afterwards, the teacher didn't teach there anymore.  I am not sure what happened to either of them.  I felt really sorry for the teacher after the incident I didn't see her anymore.
I was so fed up that the environment at that school was not conducive to learning, that I took to skipping class. I spent many days taking bus rides all over town.  During the bus rides I did my homework and self-study.  Sometimes, I would study at the mall or go to the county public library.  I felt that I could learn more from my own self-study than I would by attending classes.  School seemed more like a distraction than anything else.
Even though, I didn't get much out of the class sessions, I still managed to earn the credits required to graduate high school.  At that time, the "No Child Left Behind" standard of education did not exist.  We were required to take the CAT (California Achievement Test) and remedial courses in the event of failing parts of the CAT test. After remediation, students were granted the chance to re-take the failed portion.  I passed my CAT tests and got most of my high school credits required for graduation. 
Guess what?  I didn't go to my high school graduation because I felt so alienated from the other students at that school.  I chose to go to work instead. I was so mistrustful of the other students that I didn't develop many friendships there.  My best friends attended my former high school.  So, I missed out on a lot of social activities, like prom and grad night.  I didn't date high school boys:  The guy I was dating was in his early twenties and taking college courses.  I just wanted to get through that whole experience unscathed, without any physical fights and altercations. 
A few of the classes that I got the most benefit from, in those last two years of high school were English and composition.  I did have one Algebra teacher who was very good. The teachers in those classes were hard-nosed, disciplined and meant business. Those teachers really took their job seriously.  If you weren't there to learn, then you were dismissed. 
I have mixed feelings about my public high school education.  On the one hand, I got an opportunity that many people are not fortunate to ever get in their lifetime. My parents could not offer much help with my studies, since neither of them graduated from high school.  As low quality as my education was, it did offer minor preparation for college level studies.  I am the first person in my immediate family to get a post-secondary education. 
On the other hand, I feel like I was shafted by the public school system.  I didn't do too well in math.  My learning and grades in science were pretty marginal.  The highest level math course that I enrolled in during high school was Algebra II, which I barely passed after two tries.  My saving grace was that I got a firm grasp on language, writing, and reading.  Unfortunately, I ended up taking remedial math during my first two semesters at the community college.   I probably would've completed college quicker, had it not been for some of my deficiencies in math and sciences.
So many students slip through the cracks.  They graduate from high school without ever learning to read, write, and count.  I've seen with my own eyes, adults with a high school diploma, who don't know how to read.  How is this even possible?  It makes me wonder if the student was just passed to get them out of the school. 
Whose fault is it when the student does not get a good public education? The blame lies with the system, the teachers, the parents and the students.  Students in low-income areas may have trouble learning because they are hungry or worried about where they will sleep.  Some don't have stable home lives, so they can't focus on learning.  Some of the teachers have lowered expectations of students in certain neighborhoods.  Some of the parents don't take an interest in their child's education.  They are too busy trying to sort out their own life's problems or working long hours to support their families. They can’t afford to pay a tutor and many don’t have the skills to help their children with homework and studies. I guess everyone shares a small portion of the blame.


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