I'm Not Sure If I Am Amused or Ashamed, But I'm Definitely Not Surprised!


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Every day I read some of the news from my hometown, basically to see who among my friends and classmates has passed away. Luckily, for the past few days of checking no one I knew had passed away.  But the news feed was full of the featured story, a fast-food chicken franchise was recently opened. I'm not going to reveal the name of the franchise or the name of my hometown. I doubt that anyone I know from my hometown will ever read this, but I'm still a bit embarrassed.
For three days photos and articles were showing long lines at the fast food restaurant with the ensuing traffic jams.  There was even a picture of the Trump sycophant congresswoman at the grand opening, hoping to grab some headlines for her far-right campaign. It appeared that this was the most significant event the city had seen since the end of WW II.
What was really sad, was reading the comments of some of the residents of my hometown.  You would think this was the second coming of Christ.  Numerous people commented on how the opening of this restaurant would save the town. From what, I don't know. They were thankful "the Lord's chicken" finally came to their little Red town. Amusing, but I'm not surprised.
Now for a little history of my hometown. It is a very Conservative city that has been struggling with high unemployment and poverty ever since I can remember. They have almost always voted Republican and the hardcore Republicans always seem to vote against their best interests. There is little industry there. The largest employer is the US military. The population has been slowly declining since I left. There is a community college, but most people leave the area after graduation, due to the lack of opportunities. It is and has always been a very conservative area, with numerous churches, especially evangelical churches. It is 85% white and predominantly Christian, with very people of Jewish, Muslim, or Eastern Religions. When I live there everyone seemed to get along quite well.

I must admit it was tough, being gay, growing up there. I understand it is much better now, except for your usual religious fanatics.  I can remember when I was in high school our own version of "the Church Lady" fought to ban a certain book at our public library over the nudity in the book. It was a book of Michelangelo's artwork! It seemed back then there was always something the religious nuts wanted to ban, whether they be books, movies, bars, or the gay flag. 

Now back to the "lord's chicken". It seemed odd to me that people bitching about the high price of gas would sit for hours with their car idling, wasting gas, just for a piece of frigging chicken. And the media, instead of covering news or topics that would be of some use to the poor people of the area, cover the opening of a fast-food chain restaurant. I have to admit that I have never been to one of these restaurants because of their financial support for movements to abolish gay marriage and LGBTQ rights. I do not wish to support a business that is trying to destroy my marriage and my life. When I see people in my hometown, lined up to pay for a piece of chicken at a business that supports destroying who and what I am, all in the name of religion, I feel anger and disgust, and even pity.

My hometown is not unique. There are towns like this scattered all over our country. Some are better, and some are worse. I have some good memories of growing up in my hometown and there are a lot of good people there, including many old classmates, but I couldn't go back there to live.  What's the old saying? You can never go home again?







Covid Finally Found Me


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Ever since the coronavirus pandemic came on the scene my husband and I have been extra careful.  We both received the vaccines and the boosters we were eligible for.  We avoided crowds and made sure we were masked when we went out in public. We had many friends and neighbors who came down with Covid, but we avoided them until long past the time they were contagious. We began to feel lucky that we were among those who had not gotten sick. Well, that soon changed.

We decided that it was safe enough to take a much-needed vacation to New Orleans. When the time for us to leave arrived we made sure we had enough masks to last us the week we would be gone. We realized that those times we may be at the highest risk of contracting Covid were on the plane, at the airport, and in very crowded areas, so we were extra careful wearing masks and sanitizing our hands after touching anything.

Luckily New Orleans was not very crowded during the week we spent there and we managed to avoid large gatherings of people. We both had a great time seeing the sites and especially eating the great Cajun and Creole food. We walked a lot, burning off the calories we consumed, and remained quite healthy the entire trip.  We didn't even get overly tired with all of the walking.  It was a great vacation.

On our flight back home, from Charlotte, NC to Rochester, NY, we were unfortunate enough to have some asshole sitting behind us who coughed constantly during the entire flight. We were careful to leave our masks on, except for that one time while we drank our juice and ate our pretzels.  We were among the very few people on the plane who were wearing masks.  Masks are optional on American Airlines flights.
We returned home on Saturday and felt great. All of this changed on Sunday. Kevin began to feel sick with a scratchy throat and chills.  I just had my usual sinus problems which affect me on most days. Kevin tested negative for Covid on Sunday. Since he was negative I didn't test myself.
On Monday Kevin had a high fever, muscle aches and pains, and a bad cough. I felt okay.  Kevin tested positive for Covid, so I tested myself too, and I was also positive.
We both had a scheduled doctor's appointment for Tuesday but cancelled.  Our doctor spoke to us by phone and suggested Kevin be prescribed Paxlovid for Covid.  Since I was taking medication for Afib I could not take Paxlovid, so I had to ride it out. Paxlovid was not easy to get. Wegman's doesn't carry it and there was a bit of a wait at Walgreens's.  
When Kevin finally began to take the medication he almost immediately began to have side effects.  He had a terrible sore throat and trouble swallowing.  After conferring with our doctor he stopped taking Paxlovid.  After about a week Kevin no longer had a fever and began to feel better except for the bad cough, aches and pains, and fatigue. He did, however, lose his senses of taste and smell. I never developed a fever or muscle aches or any of the other usual symptoms of Covid, except for extreme fatigue.  It felt as though I had a bad sinus infection, which is nothing new to me.
About 2 weeks after initially testing positive, we both tested negative and were feeling much better.  Kevin is slowly getting some of his sense of taste back, but not his sense of smell.  We are slowly getting back to normal and feel lucky that we both had our vaccinations and booster shots. We both are going to wear our masks when in public and will take all precautions to avoid getting this again. Covid can still get you when you least expect it!

I've Finally Found Something That Works for Arthritis Pain and Stiffness

Like many older people, I suffer from arthritis. On any given day I have back pain, neck pain, hip pain, and knee pain.  Every morning it seems as though every muscle and joint in my body is stiff and painful. It sometimes takes me more than an hour after waking to be able to move somewhat normally.  When I sit for even a short time the stiffness and pain returns and I have to move about again to ease the stiffness. When I walk for too long my back and hips begin to ache and I have to sit down for a rest.  When the weather is hot and humid or rainy I feel as though I got hit by a truck.  My whole body hurts.  Since I also have chronic sinusitis the weather makes my head explode.
I used to take acetaminophen, but that does little or nothing to ease the pain.  I began to take turmeric supplements and that helps minimally.  The only thing that helped was ibuprofen, but I was a little leery of taking it too often. With this summer's hot and humid weather I really suffered from the aches and pains of my arthritis. I felt much better when I went to the gym, which has excellent air circulation and air conditioning. But as soon as I left the gym the pain and stiffness returned. On some sweltering and humid days, I couldn't leave my air-conditioned house.
Last year I was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation and because of the medications I was prescribed, I could not take NSAIDs for my pain.  I could only take acetaminophen, which for me was useless.  The pain was so bad a few times that I took ibuprofen anyways to relieve the pain, hoping I wouldn't get a reaction with my prescription drugs.  
I began to extensively search the internet for supplements that would help with my pain and stiffness.  It seemed as though every time I found one that might work I discovered that it couldn't be taken in combination with the prescribed drugs I was taking or they could cause a rise in blood pressure.  I'm already taking meds for high blood pressure, COPD/asthma, and BPH, so I had to be very careful choosing the right supplements. 
As I was searching the Arthritis Foundation for help I discovered a supplement called Boswellia, which they recommend for osteoarthritis.  I searched the internet looking for information on Boswellia, in particular side effects and contraindications.  After searching for a few days I could not find anything that would discourage me from trying the supplement.  I searched for the best brands and found that NOW Boswellia is quite highly rated and available on Amazon for a reasonable price.  The price in the above link is $26, but I paid $15.90 on Amazon.
A couple of days after I ordered the supplement from Amazon I received it and immediately took my first dose.  The recommended dose is 1 to 2 capsules per day. I started out with just one capsule and then decided on the second day to take 2 capsules.  Most articles I read said that it would take about 7 days, and sometimes less, to notice a difference. On the 3rd day, I noticed a significant difference in my pain and stiffness, especially on waking in the morning.  
My research found that taking Boswellia with turmeric, which I already take, enhances the pain-relieving effects.  I feel much better, even on hot, humid, and rainy days and will definitely continue taking this supplement. I would highly recommend Boswellia to anyone suffering from the pain and stiffness of arthritis.  There are numerous brands available, but you don't have to choose the brand I use. Choose the one that is right for you.  Hopefully, you too will feel better!

Blogging, Why Do I Still Do It?

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I've been blogging on and off for probably 15 years.  I've started and given up on at least three blogs when they got no attention whatsoever.  I started my first blog when I retired and moved to Malaysia. I had some success describing my move and life in a new country.  I recently deleted that blog since my return to the U.S. I now have 3 blogs that I choose to concentrate on. One is about living with my pet cattle dogs, "Cattle Dog Kids" and the other two are about my views on politics, social issues, and everyday life, "Steveso Thinks, and of course, this blog, "Stephen Sovie's Blog".

I didn't start blogging to get rich but to pass my time during retirement. It wasn't until later that I realized that I could make money through blogging.  I didn't intend to blog full-time to earn even a part-time living, but I thought I could earn enough money to pay for my blogging expenses. After 15 years I realized that I couldn't even make enough money for a couple of Starbucks coffees a month!

I have earned the most money republishing my blog posts on Medium, but this still doesn't pay for the cost of maintaining my blogs. Over 10 years ago I had Google AdSense ads on one of my sites while living in Malaysia but after a friend tried to help by clicking on the ads, Google suspended my AdSense account.  After explaining to AdSense that I was not responsible, they immediately denied my appeal and banned me for life.  That was over 10 years ago!  Google is very unforgiving!

Recently I moved 2 of my 3 blogs, from Google's Blogger to WordPress, where I was able to place ads from WordPress.  So far I have made a whopping 86 cents!  The big difference between using WordPress over Blogger is that WordPress costs $120 per year per blog, whereas Blogger is free. I also use Amazon Affiliate and Chewey Affiliate advertising on all three blogs but haven't earned any money from them.  I also have a "Donate Button" on my blogs, but once again I have earned nothing.

In blogging, you can't make any money if you don't have any visitors, and you can't get advertisers if you don't have visitors.  So the most important thing about having a successful blog is to attract a lot of visitors.  And that is the most difficult part of building a blog.  If you don't have the technical knowledge of SEO (search engine optimization) or the money to pay for it, you're doomed.  

It's easier to attract visitors if you have a product or service to sell or if the subject of your blog is popular or in demand.  One of my blogs is about my pet cattle dogs, and the other two are personal blogs related to politics and social issues.  Neither attracts an overwhelming amount of interest.  So, I don't have much of a chance to hold my head above water.  

So why do I do it? Why do I go through the aggravation and periods of depression and hopelessness and times of hope and renewal? Why do I deny reality and look for any glimmer of hope of succeeding? I'm not really sure.  If I stop writing my blogs and delete them, I'll save a lot of money, but in a way, I'll be giving up on myself.  After all, I spent 15 years expressing myself, my feelings, and my opinions.  Writing my blogs has allowed me to stand up for what I believe and show my support for the ideals I hold dear. I feel better when I can vent, even though no one is listening. At least I feel better.  I also can show my pride in my pets and share the happiness that my cattle dogs, Cato and Lucky have given me. 

I may never grow the readership of my blogs, or make any more money than I make now, but I refuse to give up.  I don't even know why I am writing this post, as most likely no one will see it or read it.  I guess it's my way of saying I may be down, but I'm not out. After all, blogging is just my hobby, not my career.

Don't You Just Love American Dental Care?



Many Americans fear going to the dentist, but it's not always the pain they fear.  The biggest fear is the cost of dental treatment.  Sometimes we see people with obviously missing, broken, or crooked teeth and automatically think they are low class or indigent. That is until we have to go to the dentist for a problem ourselves.  Many of us have dental insurance through our employer or personal private insurance.  But that only covers a certain amount per year, usually $1200 a year.

Our insurance is fine for cleanings, x-rays, the occasional filling, and possibly a root canal, but that's it. But what happens if we need a crown, a bridge or God forbid an implant?  Then we're sunk.  Employer dental plans don't cover those kinds of dental care.  They're not usually covered by private insurance plans either. And if you are retired, you have neither employer-sponsored dental insurance nor insurance through Medicare.  
The other day I had an appointment for a consultation with a prosthodontist which was recommended by my regular dentist.  I have some missing molars which make it difficult to wear a bridge and my bite changes.  Reluctantly I agreed to this appointment because my dentist thought my insurance might cover any recommended work.  On the day of the appointment, I put the address into my auto's GPS and went on my way. As I turned off the main highway towards my destination my initial reluctance began to be justified.  I entered an area populated with stately oak trees and well-manicured lawns surrounding impressive-looking office suites.  There were probably 15 such buildings within this forested office complex.  As I looked for my final goal, I could see employee parking lots with the occasional  Corvette Stingray, Maserati, Lamborghini, and numerous Lexus and Mercedes.  I remember saying out loud, "holy shit, this is going to cost me."

Upon arrival at the prosthodontist's office, I was immediately taken into the exam room.  When the dentist asked what he could do for me I told him that I didn't expect he could help me, but the appointment was my general dentist's idea.  He then proceeded with the exam and studied the x-rays I had brought with me. He jotted down some notes and then gave me his opinion of what could be done for me.  Then he gave me the cost!

He told me I had 2 options, one was doing just enough to improve my bite a little with a couple of implants and the other option was to fully restore my bite with more implants. The first option was $32,000 and the second option was $115, 000!  I laughed and said, "no way in hell"!  He then said that the only other option was to suggest my dentist make a mouthguard to wear at night which would prevent further damage to my teeth.  The cost would be up to my dentist and it probably would be covered by my insurance. 

As I was driving back home I wasn't disappointed or depressed as I knew that dental care in this country sucked, unless you're wealthy.  If you're a senior citizen or poor you can look forward to a life of liquid diets or gumming your Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners!  You gotta love "merican dental care!

You might like a similar article I wrote on expensive dental care published on Medium.

Why Do Republicans Value the Second Amendment Over All Other Amendments?


"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed" is the second amendment of the Bill of Rights.  There are 9 other amendments in the Bill of Rights and 17 more amendments added to the Constitution since the Bill of Rights was written.  But why do Republicans value this one more than any other amendment?
The ignorant, ill-educated white supremacists armed to the teeth to go to Burger King are as far away from a well-regulated militia as can be.  Comparing these morons to the fit, well-trained members of the National Guard or a unit of any of the armed services is like comparing a Lamborghini to a rusty old tricycle.  The biggest difference is that the members of the National Guard and the regular military serve to protect our country or our community, whereas the gun-toting fascists serve to promote white supremacy and hatred of those of us who may be of different skin color, race, sexual identity, or religion.
The First Amendment protects the freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press,  the right to assemble,  and the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances.  To Republicans, this amendment is not as important.  It is only important when the rights mentioned are in agreement with their own views, their own religion, and their own ethnicity.  Even though the rights mentioned in the first amendment are the foundation of a democracy,  an assault rifle is more important to Republicans.
The Ninth Amendment states that American citizens have far more rights than those explicitly described in the Bill of Rights.  To Republicans, this amendment has absolutely no value, as they choose to deny the rights of women to choose an abortion, the rights of Blacks to vote, or the right of gay people to marry.  This amendment is only important as it narrowly pertains to them.
So why do Republicans value the Second Amendment over everything?  Could it be because they need a gun to affirm their masculinity? Or to reinforce their false sense of superiority?  Or could there be another more sinister reason?  Perhaps they want to be able, sometime soon, to be able to take over the government in another armed insurrection! This is the only way for the Republican party to remain in power forever. 

Fear Thy Neighbor, and Even Friends and Relatives!



American society has changed since Donald Trump came on the political scene, and it's not for the good.  When Trump became President the heretofore hidden dregs of society were emboldened to come from underneath their rocks and into the mainstream culture.  Among them were racists, bigots, Nazis, fascists, and plain evil hate-filled people. Trump loved and embraced them, making up the bulk of his supporters.  He fired them up at his frequent rallies held, before his election, during his presidency, and after he lost re-election.  He attacked immigrants, the handicapped, women, the LGBTQ community, women, and people of color, to the delight of his followers.  

After his bid for a second term failed, he attempted a coup to stop the transfer of power and remain in office.  He did not attempt this coup alone.  He had the help of numerous Republican members of the House of Representatives and Senate, and even the wife of a Supreme Court Justice. As the January 6 Commission continues its investigation, the United States Secret Service has been implicated.  The coup is not over, even though the insurrection of January 6th is over.  The "big lie" continues with a majority of Republicans frozen in their fear of Trump's retaliation and the Red States scurrying to make it as difficult as possible for the poor and people of color to vote and setting the stage for the Republican state legislatures to overturn the election results if a Democrat wins.
We are now seeing the disastrous results of Trump and McConnell packing SCOTUS with 3 unqualified far-right Christo-fascists, who have overturned Roe vs Wade, New York State's common sense concealed weapons law, crippled major climate policies, and now set their sights on same-sex marriage, contraception, and possibly interracial marriage.  For the first time in our country's history, SCOTUS has become a political body founded on the Christian Bible.

We have become a society where not only do a majority of the people have to fear losing their Constitutional rights, but we have to fear our fundamental right of simply being alive.  Because the Republican party and now SCOTUS represents the NRA we have to fear carrying on with our everyday lives.  We have seen 19 children and 2 teachers killed in a classroom in Uvalde, Texas.  We have seen 10 people killed and 3 wounded in a Buffalo grocery store simply because they were Black. Seven people were killed at a 4th of July parade in Highland Park, Ill.  According to GunViolence Archivethere have been over 45 mass shootings from the July 4th shooting to today, July 24.
The Uvalde, Buffalo, and Highland Park shootings, as well as most, if not all of our mass shootings, had one thing in common, they involved military-style assault weapons. Yet Republicans in Congress have refused to ban assault weapons.  Even though Congress, with bipartisan support, passed a gun bill limiting the age for gun purchase and ownership, as well as ownership by domestic violence offenders, Republicans still oppose sensible gun control.
In the meantime Americans fear for their lives going to the grocery store, attending school, going to church, enjoying a parade, celebrating a holiday, going to a nightclub, shopping in a mall, or simply leaving their home!  Who is going to be the next mass shooter?  Is it the kid next door, the guy in the next aisle at the grocery store or Home Depot, a fellow worshiper, or someone in our family?  It's a gamble merely living your life.
At the same time, Americans fear losing their rights, their right to control their own healthcare, the right to choose to bear children, the right to love and marry the person of your choice, their right to clean air, the right to our Social Security, and even the right to vote. We don't fear the gunman, we have to fear the ones who will vote for those people who have said they will take those rights from us.  In other words, we have to fear those who support and vote for Republicans, who have declared war on our democracy and our right to live as we please. Please read my blog post, "You're Not My Ally and You Are Not My Friend" and be aware of who you trust.

I'm Not Sure If I Am Amused or Ashamed, But I'm Definitely Not Surprised!

    Wikimedia Commons     Every day I read some of the news from my hometown , basically to see who among my friends and classmates has pass...