Wednesday, November 18, 2020

COVID and Thanksgiving

I just came across another survey that, once again, shows the differences between baby boomers and millennials.  In the midst of a pandemic, Lending Tree conducted a survey to find out how much money people, who are planning to host a Thanksgiving dinner, will spend on all the fixins'. Based on the responses, millennials plan to outspend baby boomers by a 3 to 1 margin.

Here were some of the key findings:

On average, Americans will spend around $475 to host Thanksgiving, which is up more than 50 percent from 2019.  Those who are hosting say the additional expenses are being used to make up for holidays that weren't celebrated earlier in the year due to Corona. Millennials expect to spend $556.46 while baby boomers say they will be spending less than $175.  So when you go to your daughter or son's house for Turkey Day this year expect a Happy Thanksgiving, Valentines, Memorial Day, July4th, Birthday celebration! 

41 percent of Americans plan to host Thanksgiving this year, up from 33 percent last year (when there was NO pandemic). 

Hosts say they will spend roughly 8.5 hours preparing for the holiday feast and someone will take off from work to prepare.  (Why, when we're all working from home anyway?)

42 percent of the hosts surveyed say the worry about heated debates that could  break out at the dinner table. (Perhaps everyone should be required to leave any perceived weapons at home because Donald Trump's name is sure to come up!) 

22 percent are nervous about discussing politics.  Only 22 percent? (Having a woman of color as the second in charge of the U.S. should generate some lively discussion or to discover how many family members truly believe the election was stolen from the bully baby in the White House).

15 percent are concerned their guests will argue about the pandemic.  Again, only 15 percent?  My question for the survey would've been: "Will you be requiring ALL guests wear a mask?"

10 percent say they are concerned about "family drama." 

38 percent of the hosts surveyed say they plan to borrow money to cover Thanksgiving costs, including charging a credit card or taking out a holiday loan. (Perhaps Lending Tree will drum up some more business since they do give out personal loans) 

32 percent say they will use coupons and shop around for the best deals.  Or perhaps they can check out the Food Bank in their community and get a free Thanksgiving food basket. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

The Right to Vote After Death in North Carolina

 It's uncertain if baby boomer Anne Ashcroft knew she would be dead on Election Day when she voted by absentee ballot in Brunswick County, North Carolina back in September.  Sadly, however, she did pass away on October 11th.  Her death meant her vote would be thrown out because there is a Law on the books in the State that says voters must be alive on Election Day in order for their absentee OR early-in person vote to count.  Her daughter, who just happened to be the Brunswick County Elections Director, says she was the one to ask the Elections Board to reject her mother's ballot.  She said, "Honestly, when she was voting her ballot, she was under hospice care.  So I knew that she may not be alive on Election Day."

North Carolina is one of 17 states that prohibits counting ballots of someone who dies before election day. Those states include Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan, where 864 ballots were rejected in their Primary earlier this year because voters had died before the election even though they were alive when they filled them out.

My guess is a Law like this was put into effect primarily by Republican led State legislatures as another method of voter suppression.  If a person is eligible to vote, they should be allowed to and their ballot count should they die before Election Day.  We have no control over death but we do have control over our vote when we are alive.

As for 62-year-old Anne Ashcroft, no one knows how she may have voted but Brunswick County, NC is heavily Republican and have voters have cast their ballots for a Republican President in the last five presidential elections.  

 To learn about how North Carolina voted in 2020, click here:  Politico

Sunday, October 18, 2020

How to Find the Right Doctor

 If you're over the age of 50, you probably have at least one doctor.  As a matter of fact, most of us probably have two or three.  I've had pretty much the same doctors for the past 20 years.  They know me quite well and have seen me at my best AND worst during that time.  Earlier this year I saw a survey in AARP Magazine that caught my attention because it was about how people go about selecting the best physicians for themselves.

The survey was conducted by the University of Michigan in conjunction with AARP.  Of the 2,256 people who participated, a whopping 93 percent said the most important critical factor in selecting a doctor was whether or not he/she accepted the medical insurance they're covered under. I can see why that's important because no one wants to incur additional expenses if they don't have to. If your physician isn't covered under your private health insurance plan, you'll end up paying 100 percent of the cost. If you are retired or underemployed, the added medical expenses could become a burden. The IRS will allow you to claim medical expenses if you are itemizing your deductions if you have unreimbursed expenses BUT they have to be more than 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income.  For example, if your AGI is $50K for example, the first $3750 of qualified medical expenses (7.5 percent of $50K) don't count for deduction purposes.  

On the other hand, it may not matter if you find a doctor you believe gives you the absolute best care, has a bedside manner second to none, and you don't go to the doctor that often.  

After knowing whether or not the doctor is covered under your plan, survey participants listed the following as other important elements:

Ease in getting appointments:  61 percent
Doctor's years of experience:  42 percent
Recommended by family/friends:  23 percent
Medical school attended: 17 percent
Same gender as patient: 6 percent
Same race/ethnicity:      2 percent

So now that you've seen this list, what are YOUR Top 3 choices for selecting a doctor? '

To learn more about deducting medical expenses go here:  IRS

Thursday, October 08, 2020

Lessons from The Fly

If you watched the Vice Presidential debate Wednesday night between Senator Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence you probably got distracted when a "fly" flew on the side of Pence's brylcream looking hair.  Out of nowhere, the fly just sat there calmly on top of his head for roughly two minutes.  As a result, social media blew up last night with all kinds of meme's and comments like:  

The #FLY was the big winner not Pence. 😂🤣😅 He can smell $#&T from a mile away. #TrumpFailedAmerica #VicePresidentialDebate2020 #pencefly

The truth of the matter, from my perspective, is that little fly was the most compelling part of Pence's presence on the debate stage.  If you listened carefully, he avoided answering the moderator's questions directly and tried to use the same bullying tactics Trump demonstrated when debating Biden the week before.  What woman in America (or perhaps the world) hasn't been subjected to a man trying to "outtalk her" or "put her in her place" or make her feel like she's "less than" he is.  It's a never-ending cycle but it's gotten old and Pence showed a lot of women what a lack of compassion and disregard for a woman's intellect and opinion looks like.

But let's talk about that fly and some little know facts about flies in general.  Why did the fly choose to land on Pence's hair and not Kamala's?  Why did the fly seemed to be unmoved by Pence while he was talking?

Well, did you know:

1)  Oil is an important food for flies.  Oily hair is an attraction (remember how Pence's hair looked).  Also, some body odors are more attractive to flies than others.

2)  House flies defecate A LOT! It is speculated that house flies defecate every time they land on something or someone.  Do you think Pence washed his hair when he went home or did he become a nest for future flies?

3)  They can spread a wide range of diseases.  Due to their feeding and breeding habits, house files come in contact with a range of harmful bacteria such as salmonella and E.coli.  These flies often spread the bacteria onto us by contaminating our food, cooking utensils and glassware. 

4)  They have unhygienic breeding habits.  House flies will lay their eggs on feces, rotting carcasses and decaying fruit.

So based on this information, one might conclude that Pence had a lot of oil in his hair and a body odor that was attractive to the fly.  Perhaps if he had been wearing a cinnamon, lemongrass or lavender fragrance, the fly would've left him alone because, according to experts, they hate those smells.

But this wasn't the first time a fly took center stage at a political debate.  Maybe you recall a fly landed on Hillary Clinton's eyebrow during the second round of the Presidential debates in 2016.  Just like Pence, she was unfazed by it and we all know the outcome of that election. 

Does the fly know something we don't? Hmmmmm............ 

Saturday, September 05, 2020

What My Grandson Has Learned from Number 45

This post was inspired by a conversation I saw on Facebook between a white woman I knew and one I didn't know.  The woman I knew issued a warning to parents about the state of the world and how our children were being influenced by all of the negativity they're seeing around them. The woman I didn't know responded this way: 
Bullshit!.....children learn from what they are shown in their homes.  I can't ever learning from politics any of my lifes lessons. (I intentionally didn't clean up her grammar.  That in itself makes a statement).

Of course, I took issue with her post and responded.  Here's what I said:

All I can say is IGNORANCE is bliss.  It's a fact children do learn from home, however, there is a lot of influence from peers and social media so if one thinks children are not paying attention to what's going on in the world, they are truly ignorant.

My grandson is 14---just started his first year of high school.  Sadly, he's learned more from the presidency of Donald Trump than he's learned in the classroom.  Here's what the Corrupter-in-Chief has taught him:

1)  Never apologize to anyone EVER

2)  Science is stupid

3) Don't serve in the military.  Protecting this country from foreign adversaries is for losers 

4) Anyone different is bad

5)  Cheaters CAN win!

6)  America is the only country in the world

7)  Women are less important that men

8) Be afraid of anyone who is not white

9) Facts and truth are not important

10) Low paid people are not important

11) Lying is fine, people are gullible

12) It's okay if your father cheats on your mother

13) Never take responsibility.  Blame others

14) You can hurt others badly, if it benefits you

15) You can lie, cheat and steal and be considered a hero

16)  The police can shoot you just because.....


But here's some other things my grandson has learned:  

1)  Having morals and values goes a LONG way in your life

2)  Racism is alive and well

3)  Life isn't FAIR but you play the hand you're dealt to the BEST of your ability

4)  He has a strong support system to help get him through

5)  Trouble don't last always

6)  Women are to be respected and appreciated

7)  Gold diggers really do exist so be mindful ALWAYS

8)  Take nothing for granted

9)  Be RESPECTFUL to everyone

10)  Knowing how to communicate effectively and with clarity is important

11) You can have a lot of money and still be ignorant

12) Mama and Grandma don't play that when it comes to bad behavior so he better recognize!

The sad truth is many white people want to play blind, deaf, or dumb when it comes to the stupidity and outright mean-spirited behavior of  Trump. In their ignorance, they see this man as demonstrating strength and power and the only one who can keep all things unequal under the law. What's worst is the media is going out of its way to make sure we ALL know how corrupt and inept he is to be President.  The only way a child isn't exposed to this is if they don't have access to any type of media  and they have no friends.  

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Chadwick Boseman was More than a Superhero on the Big Screen

My husband and I were watching a movie together on Friday night (8/28/20) when I decided to check my news feed.  There is was:


I couldn't believe it!  I thought it had to be some kind of mistake or joke---you know those false celebrity death reports that pop up from time to time based on a quarter of the story being told.  I immediately went to Twitter because I figured that would be my best source for this information because we all know the major networks wouldn't consider this "Breaking News."

And there it was..........

My Twitter feed was cluttered with reports of his death.  Then I went to his Twitter page and saw the official announcement from his Publicist. I shared the news with my husband and then we proceeded to watch one of his movies, A Message From the King.

The next morning I woke up and decided to look at a link my daughter shared.  It was of Chadwick surprising fans on The Jimmy Fallon Show.  As I was watching I just burst into tears.  I kept thinking that a bright light, in all of this dark and gloom we've been experiencing here in America, had suddenly gone dim--and without warning. No one knew.  His inner circle never said a word (By the way, that's what you call true friendship and loyalty) and he continued to share his gift with the masses on the big screen.

I then became obsessed  with wanting to learn everything I could about him.  Besides being born and raised in Anderson, SC, he reportedly got his start in TV in 2003 on the ABC Soap All My Children.  He played a character named Reggie Montgomery.  I have to say I don't remember his character even though I watched the ABC Soap faithfully.  He ended up being replaced by Michael B. Jordan (who I do remember ironically).  The next time I would hear his name (more than once or twice) was when the movie 42: The Jackie Robinson Story came out, followed by his James Brown impersonation in the Movie Get On Up and then the year-long anticipation for his role as T'Challa, our Black Panther King.

And here's what else I discovered....In the four years since he was diagnosed with cancer, he became a strong cancer advocate for others.  He visited a number young cancer patients without getting any fanfare.  He knew then what his medical fate was but he kept going. That probably explains why he was so overcome with emotion when talking about two young boys who told him they were trying to hang on so they could see Black Panther---but they DIED before the premiere.   He was living out Jimmy Valvano's "NEVER GIVE UP!" mantra in ways that many of us can't begin to imagine.  I know people still living who haven't done half of the things Chadwick did.  Hopefully, those of us older than 43 will take this extra time we've been given to fulfill our purpose without regret. 

In the four years since Chawick was diagnosed with cancer, he made 10 films!  And these weren't "I need mindless entertainment"  pictures.  These were movies that gave you some insight into historical figures who helped shaped this country (Thurgood Marshall, Jackie Robinson) and to allow us to see how powerful we can be (Gods of Egypt and 21 Bridges) 

But he will forever be known as The Black Panther---a superhero who some parents have said was just as inspirational to their children as former President Barack Obama. His Black Panther character gave black children hope and showed them there were strong intelligent people of color who looks just like them.  He gave black adults a sense of pride.  In addition, he showed white children they could love a superhero who DIDN'T look like them.  

Chadwick Boseman has demonstrated what determination, fighting against all odds, willpower and not letting your circumstances define you looks like. What will you see when you look in the mirror?  


Monday, August 03, 2020

Jimmy Butler's Life Matters

First of all, I will go on the record saying I was NEVER a Jimmy Butler fan.  His behavior in Chicago and Minnesota turned me off quite frankly.  Of course, the media instigated things by portraying him as the player who was always blaming others for losing and not coming across as a team player.


Today, I applaud Jimmy for being an instigator in the NBA.  Prior to the start of the Miami Heat's Re-Start tip-off against the Denver Nuggets, Butler walked onto the court in his Miami Heat Jersey without anything written on the back of his jersey. Once someone noticed it, he was forced to change.

Now, prior to going into the "Bubble," the NBA Players Association (headed by Chris Paul) negotiated with NBA officials on options to make a statement, on each team member's jersey, using predesignated names and phrases associated with Social Justice and Inequality:

Black Lives Matter
Say Their Names
I Can't Breathe
Respect Us

Or, like LeBron James and Anthony Davis, Butler could've just had his own last name and number on the back.  But Jimmy, being the seemingly defiant young man portrayed by the media, chose to be nameless saying, "If I wasn't who I was today, I'm no different than anybody else of color.  And I want that to be my message, in the sense that just because I'm an NBA player, everybody has the same right no matter what."  

And you know what?  He's absolutely right!  My guess is the average basketball fan wouldn't recognize an NBA player if they were just walking down the street in regular clothes.  Of course, LeBron, Anthony Davis and James Harden (Fear the beard) would probably stand out but out of the more than 400 NBA players, the overwhelming majority are unrecognized.  How do I know?  Well, let's take Thabo Sefolosha for example.  In 2015 when he played for the Atlanta Hawks, he happened to be outside of a New York City nightclub where another NBA player had been stabbed.  As a result of an altercation with police, the 6 foot 7 guard suffered a fractured fibula and ligament damage.  He ended up being charged with disorderly conduct and obstructing governmental administration but those charges were DROPPED and he later settled a lawsuit with the police for $4 million.

Then we have Sterling Brown.  He plays for the Milwaukee Bucks.  In January 2018 he was leaving a Walgreens when a white police officer approached him about his car being parked illegally.  Not long afterwards several more officers show up on the scene and the situation escalated when Brown put his hands in his pocket.  The officers rushed him, tackled and kneeled on his neck and then tasered him.  It was only after his body was semi-lifeless that an officer recognized him as being a basketball player for his hometown team.

Then there's Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards who had his own encounter with a police officer while driving on I-495 in the Washington DC area.  The way Beal describes it is he was pulled over because the tint on his windows were too dark.  The officer made him, his wife and a friend step out of the car so he could search it.  Beal asked if he could put the hood of his car up so he wouldn't be recognized by people passing by.  The officer asked him who he was, at which time Beal says he told him his name and that he played for the Washington Wizards.  The officer then asked Beal how much money he made and Beal is quoted as saying, "Officer I don't want to be a smartass but I think I make more than you per year."  The officer then reportedly threatened to arrest him and make him the headline on ESPN's SportsCenter.  

And countless others, like former Chicago Bulls player, Jason Williams, have been stopped numerous times by police just for driving while black with a fancy car.

Jimmy Butler attempted to make a powerful statement about how some white Americans treat NBA players when they're not on the basketball court.  As long as "Jimmy Buckets" is leading his team to victory he is loved and adored but the minute he takes off that uniform and goes about his daily life, he's just another n****. He clearly recognizes that just as we all do. 

Jimmy Butler, your life DOES matter!

COVID and Thanksgiving

I just came across another survey that, once again, shows the differences between baby boomers and millennials.  In the midst of a pandemic,...