After the Texas freezepocalypse…

I’m working in my office one day per week (Tuesdays) and have since September. I took 6 months off because of COVID, and it’s almost 6 months since I’ve been back.

Working one day a week means that my workday is full with no gaps between appointments. This is time-efficient for me since I have a 30-minute commute each way (barring rush hour, which can take 20 minutes longer).

Although I optimize my road time by listening to relaxing music or audiobooks or podcasts, honestly, I’d rather not be in the car that much.

I’ve had one dose of the Pfizer vaccine with the second scheduled for later this month. My system should reach maximum COVID immunity on April 7, and at that time I will add another day in my office, Wednesdays. I’ll continue to add days as my time in the office fills up.

I’m seeing a lot of people coming in for craniosacral therapy. It’s so good for stress, and the pandemic and recession and political insanity have taken their tolls. You may have heard something about the polar vortex reaching Texas in mid-February, creating what’s being called “snowmageddon” and “freezepocalypse” because of the electrical grid nearly going down.

There was a lot of uncertainty with that. Even for those who came through it with little discomfort (including me), no one knew if they would lose power or how long it would be out, or if their pipes would freeze or burst, or if they would have food and water.

Temps got down to 4-8 degrees F in this area and stayed below freezing for 4-5 days. Usually if our winter temps go below freezing, it gets down to maybe 28 for a few hours. So homes aren’t built for cold. We have no snow plows. We sand icy bridges, and businesses and schools and offices close, and that’s it. “Snow day”.

So…lots of stress means lots of clients for me. I’m offering a discount now, which helps make craniosacral therapy affordable for more people. And we’re still taking full COVID precautions. And because of the downtime, I’ve been able to study in more depth both Upledger and biodynamics styles of CST.

I spent 8 days with my family during the freeze, and it was wonderful, 5 of us under the same roof, cooking, watching WandaVision (which I liked although Avengers fans had to explain the backstory to me), Servant (which I didn’t enjoy), enjoying each other’s company. One member has 4WD but not much was open. Cats, dogs, guinea pigs. Laughter.

I did miss the silence of my solitary abode, where birdsong is the soundtrack, but I was out of propane to cook with, and it was cold. My pipes froze but didn’t burst, and my electric bill will probably be enormous.

And now it’s spring, just like that, with highs ranging from 60 to 80.

We’re taking stock of the freeze damage to the plants. My Meyer lemon tree is probably a goner but I’m going to wait before doing any cutting. My spinach, collards, parsley, cilantro, carrots, onions, lettuce, and fennel made it through with frost damage, but chard and beets, snap peas, fenugreek didn’t.

The live oaks look bad but will probably recover. Palm trees, agaves, cacti, nope.

I’m doing a lot of MELT method sessions to help my body recover from a low back injury last fall when I tried to lift too much. Because some yoga poses were prohibited, I decided to give up yoga classes and to do MELT at home this year. It’s so good at helping the body to release compensatory tension patterns from injury and lack of use (being sedentary or workouts that don’t work the whole body).

I have a way to go but the pain is much less and my range of motion in all my joints has improved a lot.

Although the governor of Texas has declared Texas 100% open for business and ended the mask requirement, all the major grocery and superstores are requiring them, although how good enforcement (which usually falls to low-paid but somehow essential workers) will be remains to be seen.

Texas is something like 47th among states in getting its population vaccinated, and Houston is the only city in the nation with all 5 variants of COVID.

What? What was he thinking? Diversion from the near-crash of the electric grid and dozens of deaths and billions in damages resulting from that? Because of policies recommended during past less-serious strains on the grid but never enacted, to keep Texas attractive (cheap) to businesses? Because he appointed the members of the Public Utility Commission, which oversees ERCOT (whose board is mainly people he appointed)? Because most of the cities in Texas are Democratic — although GOP gerrymandering and voter suppression are what keeps them in power? To slap President Biden in the face after he quickly released FEMA funds to the state (in the minimal amount Abbott requested) with no questions asked?

I’m pretty sure only Republicans will be attending mask-burning parties, before they are even vaccinated. I’m pretty sure that businesses who thought Texas was a good place to do business are having second thoughts.

Time will tell, but this extreme partisanship and lack of sensible governing could sure tilt Texas blue again. I’m ready for it.

Now registering voters in Travis County, Texas

I have been deputized to register voters in Travis County, Texas, and I’d like Travis County residents to know that, so I’m posting it here, even though many readers are not Travis County residents. If you’re not, please feel free to ignore this post, but you may find something interesting here.

Why fill out a voter registration card?

If you don’t like what’s happening politically in Texas, work to replace those holding office. The days of apathy are over. The least you can do is vote for someone different and better. You could also campaign for a candidate you like, make donations, write letters to the editor, hold house parties, drive people to the polls, and so much more.

One thing that many people don’t know is that just because you’ve voted in the past, it doesn’t mean your voter registration is current. For one thing, if you haven’t voted in two years, your registration gets purged. If you’re not sure when you last voted, fill out a card!

For another, if you’ve moved to Travis County or within Travis County since you last voted, you need to update your voter registration with your current address.

I can help you with that. Seriously, if you’re a Texan, contact me, and I’ll get you registered.

I have the word of Bruce Elfant, Travis County Tax Assessor, who oversees voter registration, that they’d rather you register twice than show up to vote and not be eligible. They screen for duplicates and only use the most current card.

Apparently a whole bunch of us uppity Texas women (and men) have gotten deputized to register voters recently, due to current political circumstances. I heard that over 100 people showed up to the training held yesterday.

How to become a voter registrar

If you’d like to register voters yourself, you can go through the training every Saturday at the First Unitarian Church, 4700 Grover, at 10 am, through the end of August.

You can also become a volunteer deputy registrar on Tuesdays at 10:30, 12:30, and 6:30 at the Travis County Tax Office on Airport Blvd. Training takes about an hour.

Here’s a link to the website for the latest information: http://www.traviscountytax.org/goVoters.do. Bruce Elfant runs a great program educating voters and training registrars. If your Texas county doesn’t have a great program, use the information here.

Being political and registering voters

You can be as political as you want, according to Bruce Elfant. You can sit at a table for the Democratic Party, a particular candidate you support, the Feminist Justice League, Stand With Texas Women, Planned Parenthood, or whomever sponsors voter registration drives, and register voters.

The catch is you have to register anyone who asks to register. You cannot turn anyone away because you disagree with their politics. So I’m going to let them know up front what my politics are!

I’d like to create a button, an orange t-shirt, and a bumper sticker that say:

Don’t Mess With Texas Women. I Register Voters.

I’d love to have other voter registrars go in with me on this. But I only know one other. Maybe this will reach more?

One of the best organizations going (and I’m so glad to see them in Texas) is Battleground Texas. Remember how shocked the Republicans were when Obama got re-elected? Karl Rove on Fox News, refusing to believe the truth? Obama’s campaign staff actually knew how to get out the vote. Obama’s campaigners have fine-tuned electioneering to make it extremely effective.

After he won, his national field director decided that turning Texas blue would be a good follow-up (no matter how long it takes — and it’s inevitable given demographic trends) and set up shop in Austin. Battleground Texas is not a bunch of good ol’ boys slapping each other on the back. These folks are political nerds who collect and analyze data and take action based on facts. They register voters, get them to the polls, encourage early voting, and know where to target to get great results.

Face it, Battleground Texas is the anti-Koch Brothers, the anti-Ted Cruz, the anti-Rick Perry, the anti-Greg Abbott. It’s the pro-women’s rights, the pro-democracy, the pro-Constitution, the pro-health care, the pro-education team working for a better future for the whole state of Texas.

I’m excited about working with them and am waiting to hear back about how I can register voters where it’s most needed.

P.S. added October 17: I have BGTX training on Saturday, October 19!

Repost: Why Your Health Is Bigger Than Your Body

Why Your Health Is Bigger Than Your Body

Thanks to Eric Towler for posting this article from YES magazine on Facebook.

There is a link between health, economics, politics, and ecology.

[Dr. Ted Schettler,] the Harvard-educated physician, frustrated by the limitations of science in combating disease, believes that finding answers to the most persistent medical challenges of our time—conditions that now threaten to overwhelm our health care system—depends on understanding the human body as a system nested within a series of other, larger systems: one’s family and community, environment, culture, and socioeconomic class, all of which affect each other.

It is a complex, even daunting view—where does one begin when trying to solve problems this way?

Currently getting over a case of Lyme disease, Schettler notes that the condition wasn’t even on the radar three decades ago. Likewise, West Nile Virus. And dengue fever, first identified in the late 18th century, has soared since the 1960s, now infecting up to 100 million people worldwide each year.

“Can there be any doubt that human health is enormously dependent on ecological systems that we are having a major influence on?” Schettler says. “It’s all one world. Our tendency to describe the natural world as something without humans is part of the problem.”

Click the link to read on. Farm policy, obesity, diabetes, pesticides, Parkinson’s disease, inequality, asthma, breast cancer, DDT, school lunches, lead poisoning, iron deficiencies, hospital food, medical waste… There are a lot of dots being connected.

What’s next for the Occupy movement, and where do you lie on the political spectrum?

Occupy Austin’s encampment at City Hall has been evicted. Occupy Wall Street has a dwindling number of protesters due to the season in NYC. It seems that the movement is fizzling.

Or not. Maybe it’s simply regrouping to come back in another form. The issues certainly haven’t gone away.

I notice a little more attention being paid to the vocabulary of political candidates, especially one poignant observation that the two-word phrase missing from any Republican candidate’s speechifying are these two words: middle class.

Why isn’t more of this political season devoted to which candidates support/oppose Citizens United and campaign finance reform? Because if they don’t vocally oppose them, they are comfortable lining their pockets with corporate money and being part of the corruption that has overtaken our government.

The Occupy movement got lots of criticism for being unfocused, for not having good sound bites. If you’re still wondering what it was/is about, I came across this article summarizing the 10 clearest demands of the movement.

Number one? Too much money in politics.

If there was a specific piece of government action that was most derided (directly or indirectly) by OWS protestors, it was Citizens United v. FEC.  For a bunch of highly-educated justices, the Citizens United decision was staggering in its boneheadedness.  Long story short, the court ruled that corporations have the same free-speech rights as individuals, and basically turned on the biggest spigot of private money into politics in recent memory. Oh, and it also expanded the definition of Corporate Personhood to absurd new heights.

Unsurprisingly, people weren’t too happy about the fact that no matter how much they canvassed, voted, donated to political campaigns or argued on the internet, they can never match the millions that private companies can muster.  Bought politicians were unwanted before Citizens United, but afterwards it seemed blatant — like they weren’t even bothering to pretend anymore.  Many OWS protestors took to the streets because they feel like we are now living in a country with two classes of people: those without money and those who matter to politicians.  It’s so absurd because, as one anonymous commenter put it: “I’ll believe a corporation is a person when one is executed in Texas.”

If the 70% of the people who for years have believed that government is headed in the wrong direction could focus together and elect/support policymakers to overturn Citizens United and enact campaign finance reform, well, we the people will have taken our country back.

Is that not what you really want — government of the people, by the people, for the people? I do.

How do we get this done? It is daunting, but I cannot say it’s impossible. And I’m open to ideas.

Here’s one thing you can do: You can support, campaign, and vote for candidates who support these two policies, who make them their top priority, who can stand in the face of opposition, corruption, and greed. They’re out there. I know it.

We can make “where their campaign money comes from” a litmus test for candidates. Here’s an organization working on showing where the money really comes from.

I wonder how unbought candidates can gain a toehold in the media and get their message across to voters.  Wealthy interests will of course fund their opponents, who can buy ad time and image consultants and speech writers.

Facebook, Twitter, and door-to-door campaigning, maybe?

For this “revolution” to happen, it’s gonna have to be mostly grass-roots, which Occupy showed us could be done. The concept and phrase “the 99%” is not going away, and it has made a difference.

It’s just gonna take even more of a revolution in people’s minds, hearts, and resolve to make these changes.

Supporting a truly free press is important. This table ranks nations on democracy, free press, and corruption. The U.S. is still better off than most nations, and that needs to be said. But we are less democratic, free, and uncorrupt than we like to think.

Where do you want it to go from here?

A friend asked what you call a government that caters to corporate interests. I looked it up on Wikipedia (political systems): it’s mostly plutocracy (rule by wealth — corporate interests, Koch Bros.), and I see elements of oligarchy (rule by the few — who buy politicians) and theocracy (rule by “God” or “his” representatives — Christian right) influencing it.

There are some elements of fascism (rule by a leader) in the way people’s civil rights have been taken away in the name of counter-terrorism. And there is also some technocracy/plutocracy (rule by wealthy experts) in the way that Wall Street provides the government’s economic experts and directs economic policy.

So there you have it: we live in a pluto-oliga-theo-fasci-technocracy.

If you’re wondering where your politics lie on the spectrum, go to The Political Compass. (Thanks, my friend, for telling me about this.) You answer the questions to view a chart showing where your politics lie on the left-right, authoritarian-libertarian axes.

I’m a far left libertarian in my politics, more than radical than Gandhi or any candidate or party shown. This doesn’t surprise me, because I came of age in terms of political awareness and involvement in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

I was told back then that the FBI had a file on me for protesting Vietnam. In high school. In Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Remembering that, my eyes are rolling. I’m coming out of the closet about that. And I ain’t done yet.