Posted 10/13/16 at 12:16 PM | Karen Kramer
Restricting immigration makes perfect sense, but then there are people like David.
David’s mother often repeated the stories about his German grandparents. To escape the aftermath of Seven Years War, Czarina Catherine II invited Germans to travel 2000 miles and farm the fertile slopes along Russia’s Volga River.
His grandparents took the invitation and then worked the ground tirelessly—David’s parents were both born there and married at 17. The crops yielded mostly misery as marauders frequently absconded with the harvest.
Then the political climate worsened under Bolshevik and Communist rule. The family fled Russia with a single trunk carrying their most valuable possessions—farm implements.
In England, they boarded a ship bound for America. The migrant family built a rustic home in the west—where David was born in 1904. Their homesteaded plot of fallow ground became abundant wheat land. By 1917, David handled more than most young teens. After his father’s fatal illness no one was left to manage the farm. His family depended on him. His older brother had been crippled by polio, leaving David to handle all the manual labor. FULL POST
Posted 10/6/16 at 11:50 AM | Karen Kramer
Panhandlers aren’t new to Seattle, but she happened to be sitting outside the restaurant where I wanted to grab a veggie wrap.
I’m not a cash-carrier so I couldn’t offer any money. She was probably in her mid-20’s, but she looked much older in a scarf and old coat as she tried to stay warm on this blustery day.
I grabbed my take-out bag and stood just inside the door observing the young woman. She was using an iPhone. My first thought was if she can afford an iPhone why was she begging?
But this is poverty in America. Most of our poor have flat screen TVs and live in subsidized rentals.
According to a social services friend, food is often bartered for “other” things.
While the government hopes to get folks in a better position to get back to work—some choose a beggar’s life. FULL POST
Posted 10/3/16 at 11:09 PM | Karen Kramer
Have you noticed how churches have been in the cross-hairs for their tax exempt status? Loud voices are clambering for changes to the Internal Revenue Code regarding tax-deductible donations to churches—and that churches pay tax on what’s in its collection plate.
It’s important to analyze the data, and recently Dr. Brian Grim of Georgetown University did just that.
What he discovered is that 344,000 churches have contributed $378 billion directly into the economy.
For comparison, he noted that Apple, Google, and Facebook combined haven’t done that.
Here’s how churches have spent those donations:
Programs serving the health care needs of Americans contribute millions of dollars, employ thousands, and impact many. The Catholic hospital system contributes a vast amount to the national economy. FULL POST
Posted 9/29/16 at 2:11 PM | Karen Kramer
When a newlywed friend asked me about marital fights, I said money causes a lot of them.
Unfortunately, I was able to give her a fresh example of what not to do.
Here’s what happened: On a sunny afternoon, my hubby and I went to the garbage dump. Smile all you want, but getting out for a drive, even heading to the dump can be fun.
Our truck was chock-full of partially odorous plastics, glass bottles, and paper to recycle along with a few bags of garbage to dump.
It took just 10 minutes to put the recycle in the appropriate bins and dump the rest. After hubby paid the dump charges a “discussion” ensued.
Hubby: Why should we make these recycling trips when we can have it picked up? FULL POST
Posted 9/23/16 at 11:13 AM | Karen Kramer
My son bought a cute little Labrador puppy just after his grandpa passed away. Soon, we all were captivated by her energy, love, and playfulness—and the heartfelt distraction helped us heal.
Who doesn’t love gazing into the gentle face of a Labrador?
Recently I read just how special Labradors are. The capability of their noses is astounding. While we humans can sniff out a teaspoon of sugar in our morning coffee, these dogs can detect that same teaspoon in a million-gallon pool of water. Our brains are hard-wired to use 5% of its capacity to detect smells and our canine friends use 35%.
As a routine ferry passenger, I’ve watched special service dogs and their handlers proceed up and down the rows of waiting cars—on the alert for explosive devices. While I call them bomb dogs, they are officially referred to as explosive detection canines (EDCs), and include breeds like Shepherds too. After training, these EDCs can sniff out an array of chemicals used in bomb making. FULL POST
Posted 9/21/16 at 12:52 PM | Karen Kramer
The headlines declared that 21 were arrested in sex-predator sting operation. Scanning the list of men, ages 20-59, they all shared something in common—pornography. All the men were caught trying to arrange to have sex with children. Some had porn in their cars, or on their computers and phones. Others were prepared with lubricants and condoms. All were intending on using children for their perverse sexual pleasure.
This is just one isolated bust, but crimes like these are committed daily (hourly) with innocent children. At the root of these horrendous crimes is porn addiction. It’s only going to worsen and here’s why: When the most rented porn films were analyzed, 95% of the violent scenes the victims were women and they responded either with pleasure or with neutrality.
Not all porn is violent, but typically porn involves drugs, alcohol, or some sort of coercion. Sexual aggression is portrayed as well. Porn invites viewers to a world where sex involves dominance, submission, and sex is dehumanized. FULL POST
Posted 9/15/16 at 1:43 PM | Karen Kramer
No matter what decade you were born, music has always been playing in the background.
While driving, I was listening to talk radio. The discussion turned to music, and the commentator noted that Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit was 20 years old. She remembered buying the CD as a teen and now every time she hears it she recalls exactly where she was and how she felt at the time.
Music just has that kind of power. I had a two-hour drive ahead, why not go back in time? I switched to a classic rock station and let the miles bring musical memories.
Go Your Own Way (Fleetwood Mac) started the FM commercial-free set. I turned it up and opened the sun roof. A glorious day for a drive. Since no one could hear me, I sang along, remembering my restless older-teen years.
The raucous You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet (Bachman-Turner Overdrive) followed and had been a fitting theme song for our high school football team on their way to earning a state title. Next up, I recalled my first job in the local music store when I was selling Elton John’s double-album, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. FULL POST
Posted 9/8/16 at 11:59 AM | Karen Kramer
Mother and daughter sat together in the special room used for discussing medical options. The news of terminal cancer had already been delivered and now plans were being made for the time remaining.
No one wants these meetings, but they happen every day.
When they were alone again, the mom took her daughter’s hand and asked “We know how I’m doing, but how are you doing?” A dying mom wondering how her daughter will fare with such devastating news. In truth, the daughter was more scared than she’d ever been.
The treatment options would hopefully extend her life by a year, and this determined mom would make the most of it. And she did.
Every chemo infusion became an excuse for a party. She and her daughter would bring party hats and small gifts to share with other patients. Even her doctors and nurses had to wear party hats. Fear was not invited to the parties. FULL POST
Posted 9/7/16 at 12:03 PM | Karen Kramer
Just what every home needs—an explicit filter on Hollywood. VidAngel takes the garbage out for you—all the bad language and graphic scenes—leaving you with a family-friendly film.
As VidAngel CEO explains, “We created this company because—as parents and consumers—we understand deeply the surging demand for filtering content to suit the needs of families.”
VidAngel has a library of over 2,500 TV and movie titles available—for multiple devices like smartphones, computers, and AppleTV.
The service even allows users to pick their filter strength. The best part is the cost: users purchase the video online for $20.00 and can sell it back for a credit of $19.00 if viewed within 24 hours. That’s $1.00 for filtered entertainment. FULL POST
Posted 9/1/16 at 12:35 PM | Karen Kramer
Back in 1977, due to under-enrollment, a small public college was deeply in debt. The Washington State legislature, wanting to cut its losses, proposed to close it. The college, designed to be a stark alternative, had no stringent academic requirements, instead encouraging students to love learning, with faculty and students collaborating in a relaxed woodland setting. It attracted mostly East Coast “hippies” and quite a few prestigious faculty anxious to leave the Ivy League rigmarole.
At the time, Washington State students avoided it like the plague.
In a strategic move to avoid imminent closure, The Evergreen State College board of directors, hired a new president—one of its founders—the highly respected, former Washington State Governor Daniel Evans.
Just after he arrived on campus, President Evans was a keynote speaker at a dinner honoring some student scholars from across Washington State. I was among the students there and we’d been asked to speak briefly about our college and intended major. I listened as the other students proudly spoke of their reputable universities and advanced fields of study. As a sophomore at the wildly unpopular Evergreen State College, I loved being part of the challenge to save it, so I stood and gave a three-minute impassioned promotional speech. Game on. FULL POST