Summer Solstice

In the Park

Summer is here with bright, blue days. I went to the Farmer’s Market at Lippit Park, saw our beautiful fountain flowing for the first time in living memory, and I checked out a new business, Farmacy Herbs. They did not have what I wanted at their table. I wanted natural licorice as part of my weight loss scheme #527. Hope springs eternal.

And sometimes is rewarded, because I was able to buy licorice at their store on Cemetery Street, along with some nettle tea and catnip. If this works I’ll write a book and make some money. If not, it was cheap and it’s good to have an herb store in the neighborhood. The staff was pleasant, and the owner really does know where all the bodies are buried. Or at least most of them. She’s taken some walks through the historic North Main Street Cemetery.

You can visit the website for Farmacy Herbs here.

The Farmer’s Market is now open two days a week– Saturday mornings and Wednesday afternoons 3:30-6:30.

Farmacy Herbs

Tough Week for Women

Good thing my gyn gave me a reminder call for my yearly tuneup. I’d have hated to miss that, it takes months to reschedule and the doctor is very busy. I told her I was tired all the time, and she gave me a slip for some blood tests. Gyn is a form of primary care, for some women the only primary care they get.

This made me more sensitive to the situation of women in Indiana, who depend on Planned Parenthood for their health care. Planned Parenthood will no longer be reimbursed for Medicaid patients…

Medicaid patients are now paying for their own health services at Indiana’s Planned Parenthood clinics or looking for alternatives after the group ran out of private donations that had been paying those patients’ bills.

A state law that took effect in May denied Planned Parenthood Medicaid funds for general health services it provides to low-income women, including breast exams, birth control and Pap smears.

Over 90% of Planned Parenthood’s services are primary, preventive and educative.

Like all the young women I knew, I went there when I needed a prescription for birth control. I also got blood pressure checks, health advice and pap smears. I never got better care from private doctors than I got at Planned Parenthood.

I asked the secretary at my gyn whether they accept Medicaid patients. She looked at me sympathetically, and said that if I switched to Medicaid they could probably still see me. I said I was looking for gynecologists who accept Medicaid and she said they don’t take that insurance for new patients. She mentioned the Women’s Cancer Screening Program as a resource.

I used to refer women to them, and they do the best they can with a number of different providers. They save lives, they could do much more with more resources. Still, it’s not like having a clinic you can go to when you need a doctor.

Gyn, like dental, is one of those essential services that gets cut and cut again. I think about women in Indiana who will wait longer to see a doctor for cancer screening, for primary care, for birth control. They will search for a private doctor who accepts Medicaid, and maybe not find one.

This is not a good time for women who don’t have money or influence. Shutting down clinics is good politics, a few anonymous women giving up on cancer screening because no doctor will accept their insurance won’t get much attention because, frankly, we’re used to it.

The Federal Government has appealed
, the judge will decide on July 1. This action by the Feds is an example of why it matters who we elect as president and why the two parties are not the same.

WOMEN’S CANCER SCREENING- Several years ago I referred a woman to the Women’s Cancer Screening Program. She was uninsured and had never been able to get follow-up care for an ominous lump she had discovered in her breast. She did get help through the program, though it took a while. She had her breast removed on Valentines Day, that always seems especially sad to me. I ran into her a couple of years later, she was well, happy to be alive. She was working in a low-wage job caring for the elderly. It’s not uncommon for those who give care to be uninsured. The Women’s Cancer Screening Program doesn’t have a central location where women can walk in for care, but has a list of providers who will give free care to qualified women. It’s a tough process, and the heart of the program are the dedicated outreach workers who go where the need is and talk to women one-on-one.

A Modest Proposal for Wal-Mart

I wrote a post last year called Savers v. Wal-Mart. Since the ‘pre-worn’ look seems to be here to stay, you can get it at a fraction of the price at Sal’s or Savers. And it’s authentic worker’s garb.

Being an authentic worker is getting harder. Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision makes it easier for large corporations to nickle and dime their workers without accountability.

From today’s New York Times…

Wal-Mart Stores asked the Supreme Court to make a million or more of the company’s current and former female employees fend for themselves in individual lawsuits instead of seeking billions of dollars for discrimination in a class-action lawsuit. Wal-Mart got what it wanted from the court — unanimous dismissal of the suit as the plaintiffs presented it — and more from the five conservative justices, who went further in restricting class actions in general.

When you are working, everything is an equation of time vs money. All the big department stores have abandoned downtown Providence, except for the PPMall. The nearest convenient place is Wal-Mart. Time, gas, parking, overhead all figure in.

Buying small and local sometimes seems like too much work after a day of work, but there are ways to resist the Borg.

Shop mindfully. All stores strive to hustle you into buying more than you planned. Cutting one impulse purchase from your trip is only a fleabite, but a thousand fleas are no joke. What will happen if we keep our nickles and dimes in our pockets?

Via Politics Plus, we haven’t heard the last of the discrimination suit…

The women who sought to sue Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) for gender bias on behalf of 1.5 million co-workers said they will press their fight against the nation’s largest private employer in smaller lawsuits in lower courts and claims with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Weak government and strong corporations has been the trend for decades, confirmed by the Supremes this week. If you would rather be a citizen than a consumer or a human resource, this is a time to turn it around.

UPDATE: Wal-Mart stock is up following the Supreme Court ruling. A good day for corporations.

Hillbilly Report explains a court ruling that may ease some of the obstacles to workers wanting to form a union. Individuals are at a big disadvantage vs a multinational corporation, collective bargaining helps workers have a fair chance.

SHOP RHODE ISLAND: Here’s a link to Mi Vida Local with some unique, local small businesses that have what you need without the big box.

Long Term Effects

Two million Fukushima residents will undergo radiation health checks for thirty years.

This is not because Tokyo Electric Power Company is taking corporate responsibility, or because the Japanese nanny state is solicitous of the health of citizens. This is because the Japanese people demand an honest assessment of the real damage.

Citizen groups are buying their own radiation monitors and putting the information online. A radiation map is here.

As the people lead, local authorities have followed.

Daily Yomiuri–As the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant drags on, an increasing number of concerned citizens in Tokyo and the surrounding areas have started to measure radiation levels on their own.

One local government in Saitama Prefecture has been flooded with applications from residents wanting to use its radiation-measuring instrument.

People have become anxious about so-called hot spots, in which radiation levels in isolated places are much higher than the surrounding areas. Parents with small children have been especially uneasy about the situation.

The government cannot appease them with ‘no immediate damage’ when the crisis has repeatedly outpaced efforts to control it.

Our own corporations assure us that it would be different here, but the heart of the matter is using a deadly toxin, and creating more of it the longer we rely on nuclear power. In the US, we take the risk, industry takes the profits, and the long term problems are becoming apparent today as plants like Vermont Yankee age out.

Workplace– Artist’s Model

A guy I used to know, who was a pretty good writer but needed a day job was posing for the life drawing class at RISD.

“It’s the essence of job,” he said.
“You go to work, you plant yourself there and stay for a number of hours. Afterwards you get paid for the number of hours you were there.”

There’s something to that, although there are many people planted in cubicles who are less aesthetically pleasing than a model striking a pose. And whose work does not advance a great cause, such as art, and making sure youth do not draw people looking lumpy and ill-proportioned (unless they are doing it on purpose of course.)

Workers Dark and Stranded at Fukushima

A damning report today from the Toronto Star details how the Fukushima nuclear disaster was worsened by lack of an emergency plan. Workers were left to their own desperate measures to try to stop the radioactive core from melting– their heroic efforts thwarted by omissions and errors of management…

TOKYO — A new report says Japan’s tsunami-ravaged nuclear plant was so unprepared for the disaster that workers had to bring protective gear and an emergency manual from distant buildings and borrow equipment from a contractor.

The report, released Saturday by plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co., is based on interviews of workers and plant data. It portrays chaos amid the desperate and ultimately unsuccessful battle to protect the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant from meltdown, and shows that workers struggled with unfamiliar equipment and fear of radiation exposure.

The March 11 earthquake and tsunami destroyed the plant’s power and crucial cooling systems, causing three reactor cores to melt and causing several explosions.

TEPCO has been criticized for dragging its feet on venting and sea water cooling — the two crucial steps that experts say could have mitigated the damage. Company officials have said the tsunami created obstacles that were impossible to anticipate. An investigation by an independent panel is pending.

The report revealed insufficient preparations at the plant that TEPCO hadn’t previously acknowledged.

When the Unit 1 reactor lost cooling functions two hours after the quake, workers tried to pump in fresh water through a fire pump, but it was broken.

A fire engine at the plant couldn’t reach the unit because the tsunami left a huge tank blocking the driveway. Workers destroyed a power-operated gate to bring in the engine that arrived at the unit hours later. It was early morning when they finally started pumping water into the reactor — but the core had already melted by then.

Again, greed, carelessness and human error are facts of life. We have no engineering that can protect deadly toxins for tens of thousands of years. This is not the answer to our energy crisis.

All of us have workplace experience of corner cutting– management and workers alike thwarting safety measures that seem onerous and too expensive. Everything is fine until it isn’t. A new idea is mini nuclear plants, spreading the risk and stretching the resources of government to regulate safety. We know what industry’s record is on self-regulation.

Conservation, smart use and decentralization can buy time until solar, wind and water grow into the market. We couldn’t put a man on the moon today, the vision and will are not there. But this is our own race against time and we can win.