Thursday, July 30, 2015

25 years of accessibility and a salute to Tom Harkin

“Many of those things that I worked on for all those years were inspired by my brother.” Tom Harkin, former United States Senator from Iowa

JULY 26 marked the 25th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Iowans can take pride in this milestone; we elected Senator Tom Harkin who was one of the main authors of the bill.

Below, find a first-person story from The New York Times about what the bill meant to one man and his family; below that is a salute to now-retired Senator Tom Harkin lifted from the Omaha World-Herald.

Former Senator Tom Harkin

An Act That Enabled Acceptance
By Ben Mattlin
July 25, 2015

VISIT me and you’ll see, prominently displayed in my living room, my wedding portrait. My wife looks radiant in a lacy white cloud, standing beside tuxedo’d me in my motorized wheelchair. I’m not propped on a sofa or lounger; my wheelchair is deliberately not cropped out of the photo. It’s literally part of the picture, as it’s always been for us.

We were married almost exactly one year before passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act, the 25th anniversary of which will be celebrated July 26. I’m a lifelong wheelchair user because of a genetic condition called spinal muscular atrophy; my wife is what’s now called “neurotypical,” a fancy term for nondisabled. But on our wedding day, my disability — and my concomitant lack of basic civil-rights protections — was far from our minds.

Of course, the A.D.A. had nothing to do with marriage equality. What it did do, the government noted, was mandate equal access in employment, public accommodations and government programs for anyone who “has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities” or“a history or record of such an impairment” or “is perceived by others as having such an impairment.” This meant public spaces like stores, theaters and restaurants had to install ramps or electric lifts; many doorways had to be widened; elevators revamped with Braille buttons; and public restrooms altered. Employers, too, had to make “reasonable accommodations” for disabled workers, such as allowing flex time or providing telephone headsets or appropriate computer software.

Before the A.D.A., only public schools and other institutions that received federal funding faced similar requirements. A few states — notably, California — had already established some accessibility standards, but nothing as broad-based as the A.D.A.

Back then, I was only marginally aware that I could be — or even had been — discriminated against. I tended to minimize my disability and its impact on others. My wife and I were probably more concerned about the fact that I was a New York urbanite and she a suburban Californian. We met on summer break from college, talking endlessly during long warm-evening strolls, trying to keep pace with each other though we moved by different means. Our many differences, I think now, were part of the attraction. To me, her West Coast free-spiritedness was exotic; to her, my determination must have seemed like a force of nature. Also, she told me later, seeing the no-nonsense way my family assisted me at home helped demystify my limitations and needs. The novelty of our relationship felt like an asset, not a liability.

Certainly, the longevity of our union also owes a great debt to honest communication and creative problem solving. The wedding photo is a good example. We put it up only after we grew tired of deliverymen and repairmen and housecleaners asking if she was my sister, or my nurse. Some have even called her a saint for staying with me. It makes us want to scream: “No! The disability didn’t come as a tragic surprise. It was there from day one, a strand in the very fabric of our lives together.”

The picture also comes in handy if my wife isn’t home and some clueless visitor addresses my attendant instead of me, discounting my presence. I’ll try to draw attention to the photo, as a way of saying, “Hey, I live here, and I have a life beyond these wheels.”

When I was in grade school, my parents fought to get me “mainstreamed” into regular classrooms rather than segregated in special education. (Full inclusion, as it’s now known, didn’t become law until I was in eighth grade.) When I started college, at Harvard, it was the first year accessibility was required at universities and similar institutions, per the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (which took years to be fully implemented). One dean, I painfully recall, quashed my request for roommates instead of the isolation of a separate dorm room. He said he feared how my disability might affect them. Forget about how this sequestration affected me.

More shocking still is how easily I accepted his judgment. Accommodating the disabled did seem like an impossible imposition then. Indeed, when the A.D.A. passed, one of the biggest fears was what it would cost businesses, even though the law plainly states that accommodations can’t cause “undue hardship” for other patrons or employees or the employer’s bottom line. (The Department of Labor found that modifications for workers with disabilities averaged only $500 each.) Moreover, businesses that make accessibility modifications can receive tax benefits — a deduction of up to $15,000 a year for removing barriers, as well as a tax credit of up to $5,000 annually for small businesses.

People with disabilities also represent a huge potential market. The United StatesCensus counts nearly one in five Americans as disabled, and we spend $17.3 billion a year on travel alone, according to the Open Doors Organization, a Chicago-based nonprofit.

Looking back, perhaps the most unexpected achievement of the A.D.A. isn’t the wheelchair lifts on buses or the sign-language interpreters at political conventions. It’s that it gave people like me a sense of entitlement, of belonging, of pride.

The A.D.A. is about more than ramps and Braille; it’s about dispelling stereotypes, ensuring parity and fairness, creating opportunities and opening up our society to the full spectrum of types and needs. It’s about accepting, even welcoming, a huge and often marginalized segment of the population.

Our two teenage daughters, both able-bodied, have grown up in a different world. Recently, one came home from her high school’s Diversity Day incensed by a presentation about disabilities. “It was all about being kind to people who face difficulties, which is fine,” she said, “but there was nothing about respect or empowerment or equality!”

Maybe I’ll bring my wedding portrait to the next Diversity Day. Whether we knew it or not at the time, our brand of mixed marriage sends a powerful message.

Tom Harkin's brother fueled his ADA determination
By Andrew J. Nelson
July 21, 2013

Many people look to their older siblings for inspiration. U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin is no exception.

Harkin's older brother, Frank, was deaf. His struggles were behind many of the younger brother's efforts to help the disabled, including the landmark 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act. Tom Harkin was one of the main authors as well as the chief Senate sponsor of the legislation.

“He was a great guy and a great brother,” Tom Harkin said in a 2000 interview after Frank Harkin died at age 78. “Many of those things that I worked on for all those years were inspired by my brother.”

The act was signed into law on July 26, 1990, by President George H.W. Bush. The legislation altered the American landscape by requiring that buildings and transportation be wheelchair-accessible and that workplace accommodations be provided for those with disabilities. It also prohibited businesses and governments from discriminating against the disabled in job applications and required closed captioning for television.

In 1999, the U.S. Supreme Court found that unnecessary institutionalization of the disabled violated the act. But a study released last week, commissioned by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that Harkin chairs, found that institutionalization remains a problem.

Harkin said that moving working-aged disabled out of nursing homes and similar facilities would not only be more humane but also be less expensive.

“The isolation of working-aged persons with disabilities in institutions is a shameful holdover,” he said. “Integration into the community is the right thing to do. It is a smarter use of our Medicaid dollars.”

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Janis Ian talks about Bill Cosby

"If it was consensual, why are there so many women who do not want money, who do not need fame, who are by turns ashamed, violated, exposed, vulnerable, and still continue to speak out?" — Janis Ian

PAUL follows Janis Ian on Facebook. In a recent post she wrote about the recent New York Magazine Bill Cosby cover story, including her own memories of knowing and working with him. Here's what she had to say:

"Thank you all for the response to my Cosby memory. Someone pointed out that by starting it with the New York Magazine link, people sharing it would only be able to share the link, not the text. So here it is again with a different format.

The photos are of me, at 16, on the Smothers Brothers show.

Do I have a stake in this issue? Yes. Of course. Outside of being female, outside of knowing women aren't "heard" as loudly as men are heard, outside of firmly believing that if women were treated equally around the world, many if not all of the world's problems would no longer exist - outside of all that . . . I have a personal stake.

No, I was not sexually bothered by Bill Cosby. We met because he was curious about me.

My song "Society's Child" was climbing the charts and creating a great deal of controversy. The Smothers Brothers took a huge gamble and had me on their hit television show. I was just sixteen years old when we taped it. I'd been on the road for months, doing press and one-nighters. My chaperone/tour manager, a family friend six or seven years older than me, was doing everything in her power to make sure I was protected and getting as much rest as possible.

Remember. I was sixteen. Still in high school. Fairly naive, including about my own sexuality. For months on the road, my chaperone was the only consistent face I saw. Everyone else was a complete stranger - radio personalities, newspaper reporters, magazine photographers, audiences, promoters, disc jockeys, all strangers. So I clung to my chaperone.

We'd never been to a big-time TV taping. We had no idea we'd have to be inside from early early morning until whenever they called for me. There were only a couple of chairs for us on the set - I was pretty low on the totem pole, way lower than Jimmy Durante or Pat Paulsen or Mason Williams (all of whom were wonderful to us). And I was exhausted. I'd been having nightmares for weeks, the result of the controversy surrounding "Society's Child" and the death threats I was receiving daily. I needed to sleep. So I fell asleep in my chaperone's lap. She was earth motherly, I was scared. It was good to rest.

We taped the show. I had a ball. (You can see it on Youtube, in fact. That's me, looking scared, in the green dress. My friend Buffy from East Orange, where I'd started high school, made it for me. I treasured it.) Then we went back to New York, and I went back to school.

A while later, my manager called me into her office. "What happened at the Smothers Brothers show?!" I had no idea what she was talking about, and said so. "Well, no one else on TV is willing to have you on. Not out there, anyway." Why? I wondered. And was told that Cosby, seeing me asleep in the chaperone's lap, had made it his business to "warn" other shows that I wasn't "suitable family entertainment", was probably a lesbian, and shouldn't be on television.

Again, a reminder. I was 16. I'd never slept with a man, I'd never slept with a woman. Hell, I barely been kissed, and that in the middle of the summer camp sports area, next to the ping pong table.

Banned from TV. Unbelievable. Bless Johnny Carson and his producer Freddy de Cordova, one of the nicest men I've ever worked with, because they didn't listen. Or maybe they didn't give a damn. I don't know. I do know that they broke the barrier Cosby tried to create.

There's a lot to bother a sensible person about this. The years these women were ignored. The years they were derided. That the story finally really "broke" because a male comedian named Hannibal Buress kept bringing it up, kept calling Cosby a "rapist". Not because woman after woman after woman went to the police, to the press, to anyone who'd listen, with horribly similar stories.

Let me be snarky for a moment. Interesting that there are so few women of color in the New Yorker photo. Interesting that the ones in the photo all appear to be light-skinned. Perhaps darker skinned women have not come forward yet? Perhaps they're among the other 12 women who've accused him but aren't pictured?

Or perhaps not. I have to wonder if this rapist has some issues with his own race.

Continuing the snarkiness, I find it horrifying that his wife is still insisting it was all consensual. That she sounds more upset by "the invasion of privacy" than the rapes.

People seem to be confused because she continues to stand by him. I have just two words for that - money, honey. According to the press, she's his manager, and has been for years. And his "business manager", eg the person who handles the money. So if there were pay-offs, she saw the checks. She is complicit.

If it was consensual, why pay anyone to be silent?

If it was consensual, why are there so many women who do not want money, who do not need fame, who are by turns ashamed, violated, exposed, vulnerable, and still continue to speak out?

Cosby was right in one thing. I am gay. Or bi, if you prefer, since I dearly loved the two men I lived with over the years. My tilt is toward women, though, and he was right about that.

But what an odd thing, that a black man who slept with so very many white women chose to take my possible lesbianism away from our one meeting, rather than the message I tried to get across with "Society's Child." How pathetic. How truly, truly pathetic."

The cover and the story

"I told my supervisor at the Playboy Club what he did to me, and you know what she said to me? She said: 'You do know that that's Hefner's best friend, right?' I said, 'Yes.' She says to me: 'Nobody's going to believe you. I suggest you shut your mouth.'" — P. J. Masten

BY NOW, if you haven't read the New York Magazine's Bill Cosby feature story from the July 29 – August 9 issue, you've probably at least seen the cover. Did you know that for a time, a hacker crashed the magazine's site, preventing people from reading the article?

Below is a short piece from the Chicago Tribune, and below that the text of the New York Magazine article.

New York Magazine's Bill Cosby cover story is required reading

By Heidi Stevens
July 27, 2015

(UPDATE: The New York Magazine site was back up and running as of 3:15 p.m. Monday.)

Someone with a lot of power doesn't want you to read New York Magazine's Bill Cosby cover story.

You should read it anyway.

As of Monday morning, the magazine's website was offline. "Our site is experiencing technical difficulties. We are aware of the issue, and working on a fix," a tweet explained.

A few hours earlier, editors had posted this week's cover, which shows 35 women who share an unenviable title: Cosby accusers. (Forty-six women have come forward publicly to accuse the comedian of rape.)

"A sorrowful sisterhood," Joan Tarshis, who says Cosby assaulted her in 1969, told the magazine.

A hacker who calls himself ThreatKing is claiming responsibility for crashing the site, saying he was motivated by a hatred for New York, according to The Daily Dot, which interviewed him via Skype.

"I have not even seen the cover, LOL," he said.

You can still read the entire article here, thanks to's Wayback Machine.

It's a powerful, important piece of history in the making, finally gathering almost three dozen of the women who've accused Cosby of assault and giving them a united voice.

"The group, at present, ranges in age from early 20s to 80 and includes supermodels Beverly Johnson and Janice Dickinson alongside waitresses and Playboy bunnies and journalists and a host of women who formerly worked in show business," writes New York staffer Noreen Malone. "Many of the women say they know of others still out there who've chosen to remain silent."

Malone's article considers our culture's slow evolution in its handling of rape accusations. A decade ago, she writes, 14 women had already accused Cosby of rape. "But they were met, mostly, with skepticism, threats, and attacks on their character," she writes.

They haven't gone silent.

"Among younger women," Malone writes, "and particularly online, there is a strong sense now that speaking up is the only thing to do, that a woman claiming her own victimhood is more powerful than any other weapon in the fight against rape."

P.J. Masten says Cosby assaulted her in 1979. She tells the magazine:

"I told my supervisor at the Playboy Club what he did to me, and you know what she said to me? She said: 'You do know that that's Hefner's best friend, right?' I said, 'Yes.' She says to me: 'Nobody's going to believe you. I suggest you shut your mouth.'"

"In 1975, it wasn't an issue that was even discussed," accuser Marcella Tate tells New York. "Rape was being beaten up in a park. I understood at the time that it was wrong, but I just internalized it and dealt with it and pushed it down, and it resided in a very private place."

Barbara Bowman wrote a Washington Post piece last year reminding readers that she spent 30 years trying to get people to listen to her story. She tells New York:

"Listen, he was America's favorite dad. I went into this thinking he was going to be my dad. To wake up half-dressed and raped by the man that said he was going to love me like a father? That's pretty sick. It was hard for America to digest when this came out. And a lot of backlash and a lot (of) denial and a lot of anger."

"People often these days say, 'Well, why didn't you take it to the police?'" accuser Tamara Green tells New York. "Andrea Constand went to the police in 2005 — how'd it work out for her? Not at all. In 2005, Bill Cosby still had control of the media. In 2015, we have social media. We can't be disappeared. It's online and can never go away."

Where will we go from here?

Toward justice, I hope. Away from doubt, I hope.

But I can't help but think of another powerful quote, from another brave survivor.

"(Rape accusations) challenge our beliefs about the world and the people we can trust and our own safety and security," Anne Ream told me last fall. "It's much easier to believe you're dealing with a confused or unstable or money-motivated person. That's a lot easier to embrace than believing someone we otherwise know and trust can be a sexual predator."

Ream, who was kidnapped and raped by a stranger when she was 25, wrote "Lived Through This: Listening to the Stories of Sexual Violence Survivors" (Beacon Press), a narrative account of 18 survivors' stories.

Assigning voices and faces to survivors can be a critical part of helping them heal, Ream contends. It fosters a community and pushes back against the notion that sexual assault should be shrouded in shamed silence.

It should also push back against the reflexive disbelief that so infects this culture.

‘I’m No Longer Afraid’: 35 Women Tell Their Stories About Being Assaulted by Bill Cosby, and the Culture That Wouldn’t Listen
By Noreen Malone and portfolio by Amanda Demme
July 26, 2015

More has changed in the past few years for women who allege rape than in all the decades since the women’s movement began. Consider the evidence of October 2014, when a Philadelphia magazine reporter at a Hannibal Buress show uploaded a clip of the comedian talking about Bill Cosby: “He gets on TV, ‘Pull your pants up, black people … I can talk down to you because I had a successful sitcom.’ Yeah, but you rape women, Bill Cosby, so turn the crazy down a couple notches … I guess I want to just at least make it weird for you to watch Cosby Show reruns. Dude’s image, for the most part, it’s fucking public Teflon image. I’ve done this bit onstage and people think I’m making it up … That shit is upsetting.” The bit went viral swiftly, with irreversible, calamitous consequences for Cosby’s reputation.

Perhaps the most shocking thing wasn’t that Buress had called Cosby a rapist; it was that the world had actually heard him. A decade earlier, 14 women had accused Cosby of rape. In 2005, a former basketball star named Andrea Constand, who met Cosby when she was working in the athletic department at Temple University, where he served on the board of trustees, alleged to authorities that he had drugged her to a state of semi-consciousness and then groped and digitally penetrated her. After her allegations were made public, a California lawyer named Tamara Green appeared on the Today show and said that, 30 years earlier, Cosby had drugged and assaulted her as well. Eventually, 12 Jane Does signed up to tell their own stories of being assaulted by Cosby in support of Constand’s case. Several of them eventually made their names public. But they were met, mostly, with skepticism, threats, and attacks on their character.

In Cosby’s deposition for the Constand case, revealed to the public just last week, the comedian admitted pursuing sex with young women with the aid of Quaaludes, which can render a person functionally immobile. “I used them,” he said, “the same as a person would say, ‘Have a drink.’ ” He asked a modeling agent to connect him with young women who were new in town and “financially not doing well.” In the deposition, Cosby seemed confident that his behavior did not constitute rape; he apparently saw little difference between buying someone dinner in pursuit of sex and drugging them to reach the same goal. As for consent, he said, “I think that I’m a pretty decent reader of people and their emotions in these romantic sexual things.” If these women agreed to meet up, his deposition suggested, he felt that he had a right to them. And part of what took the accusations against Cosby so long to surface is that this belief extended to many of the women themselves (as well as the staff and lawyers and friends and others who helped keep the incidents secret).

Months after his depositions, Cosby settled the case with Constand. The accusations quickly faded from the public’s memory, if they registered at all. No one wanted to believe the TV dad in a cardigan was capable of such things, and so they didn’t. The National Enquirer had planned to run a big story detailing one of the women’s accounts, but the magazine pulled it when Cosby agreed to give them a two-page exclusive telling his side (essentially that these were instances that had been “misinterpreted”). People ran a story alleging that several of the women had taken money in exchange for their silence, implying that this was nothing more than an elaborate shakedown. Cosby’s career rolled on: In 2014 alone, there was a stand-up special, plans for a new family comedy on NBC, and a high-profile biography by Mark Whitaker that glossed over the accusations.

Read the full article here.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Teaching emotional intelligence

“Our next step is to take it beyond education out into our communities and throughout the state. That’s really where the need is.” — Ed Graff, Anchorage School District superintendent 

OH MY, there are those I could name who really would have benefited from programs like the ones described in the attached New York Times piece by David Bornstein. Mind-blindness limits those who are thusly deficient, but unfairly exacts a harsh penalty on everyone around them forced by circumstances to have to live or work with them.

Can we go backwards in time and make programs like these retroactively mandatory?

Teaching Social Skills to Improve Grades and Lives
By David Bornstein 
July 24, 2015 

In the early 1990s, about 50 kindergarten teachers were asked to rate the social and communication skills of 753 children in their classrooms. It was part of the Fast Track Project, an intervention and study administered in Durham, N.C., Nashville, Seattle and central Pennsylvania. The goals were to understand how children develop healthy social skills, and help them do so.

Using an assessment tool called the “Social Competence Scale,” the teachers were asked to assign each child a score based on qualities that included “cooperates with peers without prompting”; “is helpful to others”; “is very good at understanding feelings”; and “resolves problems on own.”

This month, researchers from Pennsylvania State University and Duke published a study that looked at what had happened to those students in the 13 to 19 years since they left kindergarten. Their findings warrant major attention because the teachers’ rankings were extremely prescient.

They predicted the likelihood of many outcomes: whether the children would graduate from high school on time, get college degrees, have stable or full-time employment as young adults; whether they would live in public housing or receive public assistance; whether they would be held in juvenile detention or be arrested as adults. The kindergarten teachers’ scores also correlated with the number of arrests a young adult would have for severe offenses by age 25.

The researchers had statistically controlled for the effects of poverty, race, having teenage parents, family stress and neighborhood crime, and for the children’s aggression and reading levels in kindergarten.

One major result: Children who scored high on social skills were four times as likely to graduate from college than those who scored low.

These findings add to a growing body of evidence — including long-term studies drawn from data in New Zealand and Britain — that have profound implications for educators. These studies suggest that if we want many more children to lead fulfilling and productive lives, it’s not enough for schools to focus exclusively on academics. Indeed, one of the most powerful and cost-effective interventions is to help children develop core social and emotional strengths like self-management, self-awareness and social awareness — strengths that are necessary for students to fully benefit from their education, and succeed in many other areas of life.

“These early abilities, especially the ability to get along with others, are the abilities that make other kids like you, and make teachers like kids,” said Mark T. Greenberg, a professor of Human Development and Psychology at Penn State and a co-author of the study. “And when kids feel liked, they’re more likely to settle down and pay attention, and keep out of the principal’s office, and reap the benefits of being in a classroom. And this builds over time; it’s like a cascade. They become more bonded with peers and healthy adults and they become more bonded to school as an institution, and all those skills lead them, independent of their I.Q., to be less at risk for problems.”

Read the whole article HERE.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Eat at Whataburger

“I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence.” ― Frederick Douglass

I APPLAUDE, Preston Atkinson. If any who read this live where there's a Whataburger, eat there and thank them for taking a stand against gun insanity. 

Paul was in HyVee recently — it's a grocery store for god's sakes where there are moms and children and silver-haired grandmas — and some civilian asshole, a mountain of a man, came swaggering in with gun on his hip. 

Paul left. He said, "I'm not shopping where they let armed idiots in. What's he afraid of — that the broccoli might try something?"

So vote with your purse or wallet. Eat at Whataburger, and tell them why.

Here's a link to all Whataburger locations.

Whataburger Takes Stand Against Texas' New Open Carry Law

by The Associated Press
July, 12, 2015

An iconic Texas restaurant chain will not allow the open carrying of guns on its properties, and industry experts say other restaurants will likely take the same stand against a new state law legalizing the practice in many public places.

Whataburger — with some 780 locations in 10 states — has drawn a mix of praise and rebuke since making the announcement this month, including a prediction of boycotts from one of the state's leading advocates for gun rights.

In an open letter on the company's website, Whataburger president and CEO Preston Atkinson said many employees and customers are "uncomfortable being around someone with a visible firearm." He described himself as an avid hunter with a concealed-carry license and noted that patrons licensed to carry concealed handguns will still be able to do so in Whataburger.

Atkinson's letter comes one month after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill that made it legal to carry handguns openly on the streets of the nation's second most-populous state, ending a prohibition dating back to the post-Civil War era that disarmed former Confederate soldiers and freed slaves.

The law, which gives private property owners the right to prohibit open carry, was hailed as a victory for gun rights advocates who have staged high-profile rallies at the Alamo and Texas Capitol over the past couple of years. Some even brought military-style assault rifles into businesses as part of their demonstrations, prompting the Chipotle restaurant chain to discourage firearms on their premises.

Whataburger's decision is expected to pave the way for other restaurants to enact similar policies that will further limit where gun owners can openly carry their firearms when the law takes effect in January. Texas Restaurant Association CEO Richie Jackson said he wasn't surprised by Whataburger's advance announcement, noting that "gun rights do not trump property rights" under the new law. "It can't be kept a secret," he said. "Given the number of units that they have in Texas, they just wanted to make it very clear as to where they were going to be, and I would expect to see a number of restaurants follow."

But Open Carry Texas founder C.J. Grisham said Whataburger's policy was "premature and irresponsible," and that the restaurant caved to "fear mongering." "I think most gun owners that know this policy are simply not going to go to Whataburger, like me," he said.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Love wins

“Being a mother is an attitude, not a biological relation.” ― Robert A. Heinlein, Have Space Suit — Will Travel

HERE'S the latest on Miss Shiva: She's continuing to recover! We're beside ourselves with relief and gratitude.

We still have no diagnosis, however. The results of her pancreas tests came back normal. We took her back to the vet for a checkup today and possible dental x-rays, but based on Shiva's near miraculous recovery from failing as rapidly as she was, the vet didn't think x-rays are necessary.

Her temperature is normal, she's now eating enthusiastically, bringing us her ball to throw, bugging us to go outside for a walk, and in every way, acting completely normal. The little lump on her cheek is a scab — not a tumor or an abscess from a tooth. We're guessing that the Boy clipped her with a claw, but the vet says her small wound in no way explains these three weeks from hell and her near-death experience. Dr. Flaming's best guess remains that Shiva either caught a virus or had a bout of pancreatitis.

We're keeping her on her "special" medicine and an appetite stimulant for awhile longer, though, until she puts back on all the weight she lost.

In celebration of her return to us, Hey Look is sharing this sweet video. It's the best!!


Friday, July 24, 2015

In search of perfect underpants

“You will treat my underwear with the reverence it deserves.” ― Molly Harper, How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf

MEN, you don't know this, but for women, finding just exactly the right undergarments is a challenge. 

For now I will address only the underpants dilemma. 

If a woman happens to be of a certain age and above — I'm going to take a rough stab and say 40-plus, she did not come of age wearing thongs — or butt floss, as Paul calls them.

There is one (and only one) advantage to thongs, and that is that they leave no VPL. What?!?! What?!?! You don't know what a VPL is? Visible panty line, of course,

And for a person like myself who would prefer there be no public knowledge of anything on or about my posterior (you see what a sacrifice this blog post is) — no line created to call attention to or encourage a potential gazer to speculate as to the nature of the garment or the body beneath it, not having a VPL is a considerable benefit. 

The downside of a thong is (duh) discomfort.

So when I discovered the "Very Sexy" line of Victoria's Secret women's undergarments, it was a hallelujah moment, and I bought at least a dozen pairs. 

Here's what made them perfect: There is no elastic or hem or any other thickening to the fabric at the top or on the legs. The fabric is itself gently elastic and very, very thin so as to stay in place, yet be invisible. The edges of the leg are even scalloped to even further avoid creating any kind of a line. 

They were ingenious. They were perfect. They were utterly invisible underneath clothing while still providing all the comfort of normal i.e., non-thong underpants.

So what did Victoria's Secret do? Stop making them of course.

They still make a line called "Very Sexy," but they are not the same!!! My suspicion is that they discontinued them because they were not only perfect, but it took years, literally, years for them to wear out. Women would never buy others in pursuit of better ones, and they wouldn't need to buy more of these oftener than every 10 years! 

I have spent at least four trips around the sun and many wasted dollars looking for a suitable replacement. At last I've found something close. Not as perfect, mind you, because they lack the scalloped leg edges, but very close.

They're made by Calvin Klein and are $12 a pair, although I got mine on sale, so I paid, I think, $8.00 each. They are SO worth it!

Below is a photo and a close-up of the skew tag so you can identify them if you want to enjoy wearing invisible underpants with no discomfort.

I consider this a selfless act of public service to women of the world. You're welcome.