Friday, May 21, 2010

feline tastes

My favorite breakfast is grits mixed in with crumbled sausage and bacon. It is easy to prepare, not taxing my meager cooking skills and very satisfying, at least to me. I have cooking it in the microwave down to a near science, except when I add a bit too much water and the durn thing boils over in less then two and a half minutes.

Every time I fix this culinary delight, my cat Chernobyll sits and stares at the bowl. If I happen to get up and walk away for a moment, I will catch her creeping her nose closer and closer to the contents, whiskers quivering in anticipation. She does know quite well what will happen when I am finished with my breakfast; she gets to lick the bowl. She does this with nearly every breakfast I consume, that isn't hand held. She is also rather fond of pancake syrup, but I don't have pancakes that often

. The odd thing is, she and Lunatic the other feline vying for my constant attention tend to avoid plain meat,. They will eat pulled pork, minus the bbq sauce, but avoid cooked or raw chicken, turkey and beef. I've given them bits for a treat, or a small bowl of broth and they snub it. Of course they snub all forms of bargain brand cat food as well, preferring to starve to death rather then eat it. I once had a cat that would literally stand on his back feet so that he could beg for cucumber peels.

 The only real exception aversion to meat sources in un-kibbled states is canned tuna. They would gladly sell my soul for canned tuna. Give them a freshly emptied can with small bits of tuna and they will happily push the can around with their tongues long after every trace of tuna flavor is gone.

Ok breakfast is done, Nobyll has licked my bowl clean to her satisfaction. Time to go put it in the dishwasher.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Confederate Memorial Day, a personal viewpoint.

Today in South Carolina is Confederate Memorial Day. It is a day set aside in seven states, all of them Southern ones that are designed to honor fallen Confederate soldiers. I can't help but shake my head in wonder that a war in which well over 600,00 people perished, for a reason which essentially boiled down to government control, economics and ownership of human beings, is being remembered in such a way by only the states who found themselves the instigators and the ultimate losers of that war.

Slavery had always been mostly a southern matter as most northerners had given up on slavery by the Revolutionary war. One can remember indentured servants, which occurred prior to the Revolutionary war. These were people who went under contract for a set period of time, usually seven years, after which they were granted freedom from their indentured contract. That contract offered passage, food, clothing and shelter in exchange for work for the contract holder. Many Europeans chose this route as a passage to America and a chance at a new and better life.

 The folks who came to the US from Africa had no such option. They were forced to leave their homes, and were never given a time frame where they could have a chance to start life on their own. In both cases however life was very hard for the indentured servant or the slave. Their lives were not their own. They could be sold to new masters, could be punished, often violently so. Women had it especially hard. They had little rights because of gender, and were in danger of sexual violence of which they had little or no protection.

The practice of indentured servant hood gradually evolved into the practice of apprenticeship as the population grew. The need for trade skills grew in demand, and more families wanted their children to have an education. Apprenticeship was a method where people would go under contract to earn a trade and get at least some education.

Reading the history of the decades leading up to the tragedy called the civil war, one can quickly surmise that there was certainly a difference between the way the southern states ran their economy and the way the north did.

The attempt to end slavery in the US had begun with the abolitionist movement of the 1820's. The expansion period were several states and territories were added to the United States became a sticking point as Southern States wanted new states and territories to allow slavery. Missouri and Kansas were key hot points in that debate. In Kansas fighting broke out over the matter that lasted for three years as a result of something called The Missouri Compromise, which was enacted in an attempt to give states the ability to have popular sovereignty.

The political fragmentation of the Whig party which led to the birth of the Republican party was another factor as the parties split pretty much along geographical lines. The presidential election of 1860 was a key element to the secession of first South Carolina followed by Mississippi, Texas, Lousianna, Alabama, Florida and Georgia. Lincoln's inaugeration was May 4. The following month the war began and Virginia, North Carolina Arkansas and Tennessee joined the Southern end of what proved to be the opening rounds of the Civil War.

What is sad is that up to 75% of Southerners were not slave owners. Those that did own them were the more affluents citizens of the region. As slaves were an expensive commodity.  It was for their so called property rights that this conflict was largely for. 

It makes me shake my head in wonder at the pride that people still perpetuate over this tragedy. It is almost like a badge of honor, and I do wonder if many people really know the history of the conflict or of the decades leading up to. The South saw the collapse of their economy, the destruction of a great deal of property and the loss of lives of hundreds of thousands of individuals so that 25 to 30% of their population could own human beings. the power vacuum following the war invited unscrupulous people to delay a sound recovery, and the newly freed slaves found themselves displaced, without resources and often right back into a near slave existence. It took a long time to recover, and what is even sadder is that the anger, prejudice and hatred brought on by the Civil war has been handed down from generation to generation. We need to set that mindset of animosity aside for good here in the South.

 I think we need to remember our history here in the South, but I cannot romanticize it. The history of the South is rich, and glorious, but it has a lot of darkness in it as well. All human history has that. We should remember the people who fought and died in the Civil War. They are an important element in American history and their lives mattered to their families and friends. Did they have to have their lives cut short like that? Absolutely not. As happens so often in human history, a few with money and power has the capacity to make decisions that can have dreadful and tragic results for those with no power and little money. I hope that we can learn from the tragic lessons of that war so that our nation never has to endure something like that again.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Hello nebulizer

As I am writing this I have a machine hooked up. It is plugged into a wall socket at one end, and I have a mouthpiece at the other end. That mouthpiece is currently helping me inhale Alburterol into my lungs. Yes I have a nebulizer, or my own personal and completely legal bong. I hate the nebulizer, but I hate wheezing and asthma attacks worse. I have a high gag reflex so leaving a mouthpiece at my lips is a bad reflex just looking for an excuse to happen. I am not really all that fond of the  initial side effects of Albuterol either. The side effects are gittery, somewhat grumpy feelings and the desire to eat a bag of potato chips, followed by a strong desire for a nap. However the intended effects are usually worth the temporary discomfort.

For the past two weeks, this asthma sufferer has been well aware of the state of her lungs. I just am still not all that great at managing my symptoms. Mostly because my rescue inhaler is expensive, and I try to use it when I only when am having an active attack. I've had several of those in that time frame, plus a whole lot of wheezing going on. So I called my doctor's office. The nurse suggested daily doses of the Proventil from my rescue inhaler and at least one breathing treatment via legal bong. I will do that for the next couple of days to see if things clear up. I know the alternative is a trip to the doc, and a likely shot of a steriod designed to reduce lung inflammation. Shots are "fun".

So why have my asthma symptoms escalated? I've not sure. One reason may be the record pollen year we are having this spring. Another could be the fact that my work has me in contact with chemicals and aerosols for extended periods. A third is likely the air quality in my adopted city. Spartanburg scores an F for high ozone days and a C for particle content in our local air. i doubt I am the only person in this area feeling like I have. I hope that some steps are made to help improve the air quality here for my sake and for every other asthma sufferer. Plain old pollution may be playing a part. I just don't know, and just want it to go away.

I am quite thankful that I've been spared my usual cases of bronchitis or the springtime sinus infection this year. It may be that the allergy shots I've been on for the past two years are helping, at least with the allergies. the asthma is a different story. It's getting worse. It also preventing me from doing things like mow my lawn. Anyone want to do it for me this week?

So what's a wheezy gal to do? Well be a bit more assertive about my medications for one. Another is to try to pin down my episode triggers, hard to do when one doesn't have a sense of smell, but I suspect my work environment holds the key. I am worse there then anywhere else. The last is to take the steps necessary for a career change. That means a return to school, and time will tell if a new career path opens up before graduation several...years...away.

Ok, I am done with my breathing treatment now where are those potato chips?