607: Independence and Subsidies



It used to be that Americans were independent and took care of their own.

Why is it now the responsibility of other citizens/taxpayers if I fail to adequately plan, provide for, and save for my own retirement (what used to be called my ‘declining years’)? When did that personal failure become a subsidized ‘right’?

Was it when the US government established the Social Security program in an effort to ameliorate the fallout from those grasshoppers who foolishly played and spent their lives away, while the ants prudently saved and stockpiled against an uncertain future?

Now that social security is firmly entrenched (even if the last generations of lawmakers have plundered the fund to help offset their own grasshopper profligate spending) Americans save even less than they ever did – and our performance as a nation never was too good on that score in the first place.


Yeah, I’d LOVE to have spent my productive years engaged in pursuing my own interests (financially supporting or not) instead of reporting to work – but having proved myself stupid enough to be willing to work, I don’t qualify for any benefits for sitting on my fat behind.

The idea is that people work to support themselves. Each one responsible for him/herself – unless you have turned over your financial future to someone else who agrees to be responsible for both themselves AND you (this is what many women believe marriage is for – absolving them from all responsibility). If you put your care into the hands of another person and they fail to make adequate provisions for themselves and for you in the event something happens to them, well, they failed you.

My first husband did that – he let more than a half million life insurance policy lapse a few months before he unexpectedly died. Thank God I was already a working wife, and didn’t have all my eggs in his little basket, so I had something else to fall back on besides Uncle Sam. Plus, in the past, families cared for each other. When a family member became disabled or elderly and needed care, they were cared for within the family unit – not handed off for the government (really, other citizens/taxpayers) to care for.

It isn’t the fault of the citizens that you failed to provide for yourself – it isn’t even the fault of the citizens that you are disabled, and need assistance. Neither is it their fault if accident or illness befalls you that you didn’t plan for. Yup – it’s a tough break when that happens. Thankfully, assistance is available for those who are unable (legitimately unable, not having simply purchased their disability from an unethical physician) to provide for themselves, but it still isn’t the fault of others that they are disabled, such that others are then required to pay their way.

THAT is what used to be called charity, before charity became a dirty word, and it used to be the province of faith-based people who took up the slack and provided that assistance locally. They knew their neighbors, and they knew who really needed the help, and who needed the harsh life lessons earned by making very poor decisions.

You know, like the grasshopper.


469: Hello, Microbes


As a teacher, you learn one fact about changing your job. You are going to get sick. Not of life, or of the job (though sometimes that does happen), no: literally, you will get physically sick. See, here’s how that happens:

When you work in one school for a number of years, your body develops antibodies against all the local germs that the darling kiddies you are working with (regardless of their age) bring to school and share with all and sundry – including you. So, after a few years, you manage to stay reasonably well, because you have already suffered thorough all the local varieties of common cold, influenza, etc., etc., etc., and now you are mostly immune and can stay mostly healthy.

When you change your job, and go to a new school, guess what you are meeting along with all those interesting new people? Yep. All those uninteresting, new, local microbes. You are going to get sick. The fact that you are working with children, and lots and lots of them (nearly 800 in this new school) does not help that situation. Children are still learning to wash their hands and blow their noses, and when to stay home and be sick in private, and when it is OK to be sick and come to school (like, virtually never). So you quite literally shake hands with lots and lots of new (to you) varieties of germs. Now multiply that truth by the interesting complexities of germ adaptation in totally new countries in different parts of the globe.

Yep. *cough*


You got it. No, actually, I got it.


103: Rescued Orphans

Yesterday, the apartment manager at the off-campus residences asked me if I would be willing to take two orphaned kittens. We have eight cats already, so of course I said yes. He explained as he led the way that these young kittens had either lost their mother, or she had abandoned them, which does sometimes happen. Since they were in a visible place, he told me, the complex children (the human ones) were playing with them. The only problem with this is that very young kittens are very delicate, and if you play with them a little too roughly, they “break.” That had already happened to one of the three kittens when he saw them, so he was trying to find a way to save the remaining two from the attentions of the children, who were probably not trying to harm them at all, but just played with them in the wrong way.

When I got there, there were two, about four weeks old (maybe), one brown tiger-striped, and one little fuzzy tuxedo (black and white), huddled together, who started mewing as soon as they saw us. The brown one was probably the runt, since it was significantly smaller than the other kitten, and my heart sank when I saw it. This kitten was very sick.

We used to raise rabbits in my other life in Georgia, in the United States. Once, out of hundreds of baby rabbits, we had a little one that exhibited this kitten’s symptoms. I took baby bunny to the vet, and he told me that it had a parasite in its brain. This parasite works on the balance area of the inner ear. They way you can tell is that this causes the animal to think that the world is tilted. Because it “sees” the world as tilted, it turns it head sharply to one side, so that it now sees the world as “right side up.” The vet sadly told me that this condition has no cure, and that the animal will gradually turn its head more and more to the side, trying to keep the world “right side up,” until it has its head completely upside down, and it can’t even eat or drink anymore. I think this little kitten has this condition, because he carries his little head sharply turned to the left – all the time.

The other kitten is normal, like the poor  little rabbit’s litter-mates were also normal. We had to ask the vet to put the little rabbit to sleep, because there is no cure for this condition, and we did not want it to suffer. I am afraid that when we take this kitten to the vet, this will be the diagnosis, but I am still hopeful, and he is still able to eat and drink, so he is not suffering…yet. We already have an appointment to take our other three kittens to the vet, one for her second round of kitten shots and two for their first round, so we will take the new babies when we take the others.

Sometimes it is tough being a cat mom.

82: Snotty Nose

My babies are sick. My kitty babies, that is. Humsa, my gorgeous orange-striped lover boy, is sneezing, and has infection in his eyes. He is not feeling well. He is still eating, but he does not want to play, and that means that Humsa feels bad, if he is not wanting to play. Honey Bunny is bleary-eyed, too, so she has caught the bug as well. And Timinia, number eight (too many OF ya), is sneezing and bleary-eyed. All he wants to do is sleep, so he is not feeling too well, either. At least they are all three eating still, so they are not TOO sick, such that I must take them to the vet.

So my husband and I discussed what to do. If it is a virus, a round of antibiotics will not really help, since a virus is not affected by an antibiotic, which is designed to kill off BACTERIA, not viruses. Colds are viruses. If they have a cold, the antibiotic won’t help them with that. BUT, the antibiotic will help with the bleary, infected eyes, so we decided to purchase the antibiotic for them, and treat them for the part of their illness that we CAN treat – the infection.

After just one dose, Humsa was playing with Timinia and Honey Bunny, the very next morning. YEA!! They are all three feeling better!! We will treat them for a couple of more days until the antibiotic is finished to be sure they are getting well, but apparently that medicine did the trick and kicked the bacteria’s butt. I have happy babies again!

76: Symptoms of a Galloping Zebra

I looked up some annoying symptoms I have been experiencing lately on the Web. I am dying.

Apparently, these symptoms (muscle aches, joint pain, fatigue, inattention) mean I have several different terminal illnesses – all at the same time. I did not know I was so sick!

Actually, I am not really that sick, and all of these can be explained away with fairly simple reasons: overwork and more-than-usual mental and physical stress right now. But, when I looked things up on the medical sites online, I could not help but freak out – just a little bit. Everything pointed to a variety of dreadful diseases and conditions that mean I should go on permanent disability from work immediately, or at least see several medical specialists this week, as soon as possible. No wonder hypochondriacs love the Internet – of course they do, because it says they are dying!!  

I once read a story about an old doctor that was interning a new medical student, and he said, “son, when you hear the sound of hoofbeats, don’t automatically assume they belong to a zebra.” What this was supposed to mean to the youngster was that you look for the common causes of a symptom before you begin to consider the rare and exotic things. Rule out the simple things before you begin to suspect the complex things. I think I was looking up the zebras, when all I really have is a plain, old, ordinary horse.