Michelle's Musings

Mon
17
May
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Organizing

There is something that has been weighing heavily on my thoughts. The failure of Amazon workers to give the nod to a forming a union with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union at a warehouse in Bessemer, AL.

I know this event happened weeks ago, but I have been mulling around all of the things that I read about the possibility for all workers if we could revive or reform our unions again. When it was voted down it bought a lot of thoughts and memories because I have watched the demise of labor unions in the US.

Sat
08
May
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Vaccinate

I know at times over the past year plus I have sounded like a broken record pleading, begging, cajoling and demanding that people wear masks in public. I do this because there are people in our society that need a constant reminder to do the right thing to protect others.

Well, today I want to plead, beg, cajole and demand that everyone eligible (16 and over right now), get a COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccines have been around for decades, and the vaccines on the market for COVID-19 have been thoroughly tested, despite being developed in a short amount of time. In fact, data from current trial results are being examined and the 12-15 age group will likely be approved for the Pfizer vaccine next week. 

I totally understand the initial “wait and see” attitude that some people have had, but those that still blatantly refuse in spite of five months of vaccinations, no longer have that excuse. You have waited, you have seen others get vaccinated, now it’s your turn.

Fri
30
Apr
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PFAS

Many years ago, when I began taking journalism classes at a community college, I was tasked with writing a paper about a timely topic. The assignment included writing an investigative news story and then explaining the process you went through in attaining information, interviewing, organizing, etc. 

The topic I chose for this assignment was Lake Erie recovering from being declared a dead lake in the 1960s due to decades of pollutants being tossed in the water. It was once thought that you could throw anything into the Great Lakes and it would just magically disappear–not unlike a magician’s rabbit. Of course, humans learned the hard way that this was not the case, and many of the contaminants have and will linger for years to come.

Fri
16
Apr
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Value Black Lives

I had just started to write this column early Monday morning about the Derek Chauvin trial in Minneapolis, and the fact that the defense is hellbent on putting George Floyd on trial. (I will get back to that topic.) Instead, I decided to read the news first. 

I was horrified to read a story about a man in Virginia, Army Lt. Caron Nazario, allegedly being threatened and pepper sprayed when he did not pull over immediately but went to a well-lit gas station to stop. Nazario is Black and Latino and held his hands up when the police officer approached and told him he was scared to get out. The officer responded, “Yeah, you should be.” The cop then pepper sprayed him. Police proceeded to illegally searched his vehicle.

His crime? Not displaying a license plate. But there was a temporary plate in the window, which police saw when they approached according to the police report.

Fri
09
Apr
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Home, Sweet, Home

Well, it’s almost official–my husband, Matt, and I are soon to be homeowners once again. We are over the moon with excitement because we have been in a rental property for almost three years, and quite frankly, our landlord is the very definition of a slumlord. At one point I had water coming down from my ceiling and up through the basement floor. I was literally sandwiched in water.

We started looking for a house to buy in January 2020, just a couple of months before the Coronavirus lockdown began. That search was cut short for obvious reasons, but once we were all comfortable (us and the realtor) to meet again a couple of months ago, we resumed the search with much greater aggression.

Fri
26
Mar
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Stop Asian Hate

When Donald Trump was running for office and began hateful rhetoric about immigration, immigrants and migrants, I became worried. When it looked like was going to win, I called my brother in Des Moines and insisted he get a passport. You see, my brother is Asian and a naturalized citizen. While I was expecting Trump to start banning migrants from the country, I also worried that he might turn on naturalized citizens as well if he didn’t like their race.

My brother thought I was overreacting, but with no parents, I feel the need to look out for him. Once he secured the passport, I was a little more at ease. If necessary, he could flee the country until Trump was gone, I thought.

Fri
19
Mar
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Overlapping Insurance

For over a decade my husband and I did not have employer subsidized health care insurance and have been at the mercy of the Health Care Marketplace, an entity that formed after the American Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, was put in place. Prior to the marketplace, before my husband and I were married, he had insurance through work, and I bought a private policy because I could not be on his coverage if we weren’t married. 

Fri
12
Mar
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I Learned it on YouTube

I love YouTube. Not for watching cat videos or bloopers or workout videos or any other number of videos to waste the day away, but as a means for instruction. Although, I will admit that there is one YouTube channel I follow for entertainment. TwinsthenewTrend is a favorite because these college age boys listen to an array of music they have never heard and give commentary. Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” is my personal favorite. 

Anyway, over the years I have learned how to do a plethora of repairs, crafts and even found story ideas. 

Mon
25
Jan
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Honoring Dr. King

I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day this year. The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way we honor King, and likely hindered the normal amount of volunteer hours people put in on Monday. Often the remembrance of his birthday, which was actually Jan. 15, is marked by volunteering within the community. 

Volunteerism is something that was important to King, and also something that was instilled in me early on. Helping others is something that anyone can do, and often only involves your time.

I was surprised to learn from a recent Middleton survey that volunteerism is low. Maybe it’s partly due to the pandemic because people are less inclined to leave their homes, or maybe people don’t know how to connect with volunteer organizations. 

Thu
14
Jan
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Looking for Hope

In January 2009, I was working at the Anamosa Journal-Eureka, a newspaper nestled in the rolling hills of Jones County, Iowa. It’s the county seat and a hotbed for political activity as the vast majority of presidential candidates visit the town at least once while campaigning.

My coworkers and I had all gathered around a single computer screen to watch the presidential inauguration of America’s first Black president, Barack Obama. Most of us had met, or at very least seen him on at least one occasion. He was charismatic, articulate, intelligent and laid back. He easily won over the people of Jones County in 2008 with his message of hope, his promises to repair infrastructure, end the war in Iraq and improve education. 

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