Community Creatures

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The topic of this blog post
the poem: “Community Creatures”
is best presented with a rhyme
a rhyme, that is, which features

An invitation to peruse
by clicking on this LINK
the observations of a poet
that both entertain and make you think

My introduction, above, is presented with apologies to “real” poets everywhere, including the creator of the very clever verse titled: Community Creatures.

If you take just a very few minutes to read Community Creatures you will easily find yourself and/or your favorite group within at least one of its five stanzas. Solo bloggers, social bloggers, and those of you dedicated to or entranced by forums or wikis are all represented in a way that will surely make you smile and nod. We “creatures” have been captured!

Even if you normally ignore poetry, rhyme or free verse I really think you’ll enjoy Community Creatures.
. And while you’re there, click on the “Trails” link at the top of the page to find other cleverly rendered poems on your favorite topics.

This post is sponsored by Community Creatures

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America’s Most Serious Threat?

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The most serious threat to the American way of life may not be illegal immigration, job outsourcing, irresponsible government spending and taxation or even the threat of terrorism; the most serious threat to our way of life may be the threat illustrated by the fact that survey after survey shows that an alarming percentage of Americans have become addicted to drugs and alcohol.

According to a recent USA Today article titled Nationwide study: Drug use dips, but alcohol use on rise, SAMSHA (the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) has conducted nationwide surveys that show that:

“Drug use nationwide dipped slightly from 8.1% to 8.02% in the previous study, while drug use in Alaska rose from 11.79% to 12.16%. One in 10 Alaskans said they smoked marijuana. Iowa had the lowest rate of illicit drug use, at 5.88%.”

Clearly we have a problem if 24 million of us (on average) are using drugs to get through the day and this problem takes on an even more threatening dimension when you realize that we are passing the habit on to our children . . . a recent survey showed that there are many middle and high school aged kids who show up to school either drunk or high on a regular basis.

Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation

Many drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers have sprung up around the country in response to the still manageable, but nonetheless devastating, problem of drug and alcohol addiction and one of the most successful of these is The Stone Hawk Rehabilitation Center located in south central Michigan.

What makes Stone Hawk so successful is that they do not rely on outdated methods like counseling or medications to treat their patients . . . in fact the people who go to Stone Hawk are not considered patients; they are thought of and referred to as “students.” Stone Hawk students are in fact not being “treated” they are learning; learning to handle the stresses that originally pushed them into their unhealthy addictions.

This one brief, powerful statement from the Stone Hawk website tells you what Stone Hawk does and how they do it much better than I could:

“In short – we use the New Life Detoxification Program for drug detox (Saunas) to sweat the drugs (toxins) out of the body. Then we show the student what ethics are, they make the decision to change their life – we just direct them by showing them the path to freedom. Helping someone recognize their addiction and giving them the ability to end it – is what we are all about. It’s all about stopping, changing, and starting (a new life).

If you know someone who is trapped by an addiction and you care about that person, encourage him or her to get help and mention Stone Hawk, at least as one of their options.

This post was sponsored by The Stone Hawk Rehabilitation Center

A New Forum For Our Troops

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A brand new blog/forum: us-troops, is looking for current or former members of the U.S. military to share their day-to-day experiences or memories of life in a war zone. The author of this blog, Susan Rowen, has dedicated this forum to our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines as a place where they can talk about their lives, their hopes, their fears and their plans and communicate with some of their greatest fans, American bloggers.

If you are a current or recent member of the military and have something you would like to share, this is a great place to share it — this is, as I said before, a brand new blog and a brand new forum; and right now us-troops is looking for its first of what will hopefully be many posts from our troops. Your pictures and videos are very welcome along with your thoughts and experiences but please, lets keep this a place where entire families can come to meet the people who have kept them safe and learn from them what it means to be in the military, without being exposed to unnecessary profanity or scenes of blood or gore.

Soldiers May Ask: Why We Want to Know

We want to know about you and communicate with you through this blog because, as ‘corny’ as it may sound to some, you ladies and gentlemen in the U.S. military, who have given up a considerable piece of your lives to fight for us and for your country, are our heros! Each and every one of you deserve (and have earned) a special place in our lives and deserve to have whatever we can give you in return for your service — this space on the Internet is just symbolic of our real debt.

The public is constantly presented with the views of journalists, politicians, educators and other “experts” who gladly color our involvement in the Middle-East (and other places) with ‘brush strokes’ that enhance their own personal political perspectives and it is about time the public heard the real story from the real experts, those of you who are doing the fighting, the peace-keeping, the training and the re-building; those of you who have earned that moniker: our heros!

To Join Us

To join the forum, simply go to us-troops and click on the “forum US-troops” link to register. Hope to ‘see’ many of you there!

This post is being sponsored by the us-troops website and forum and has the wholehearted endorsement of “My View From the Center”.

http://signatures.mylivesignature.com

The Convenient Way Not To Lose Money

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I often stress personal accountability as one of the most important principles of American life and there may be no better practical, every-day example of personal accountability than wisely investing your money to maximize your returns on all your investments . . . even including your savings account.

There are many people who choose a savings account based upon the location of the bank, or on high ‘introductory’ interest rates or gifts (‘premiums’), or even just on name recognition; all these approaches may have advantages for some few individuals based on their circumstances but in most cases easy access, instant gratification or psychological comfort factors are just convenient ways to lose money.

Granted, there are so many banks to choose from and so many types of savings accounts it seems like a Herculean task for the average person to choose the best one for their individual needs, but there are ways to make the task far less daunting and here is one of them: SavingsAccounts.com.

SavingsAccounts.com is a great place to find honest and easily understandable information about savings account interest rates offered by premier banks such as Bank of America, Chase, Wachovia and a host of others; and the key words here are “easily understandable.” SavingsAccounts.com does not offer you ‘gobbledygook’ like many investment websites or the hyped-up versions of reality you may get on some banks own websites.

Kick that personal accountability into ‘high gear’ and, while you’re at it, do yourself a favor by getting the best interest rate you can on your savings . . . and it all starts right HERE. Maximizing your savings account interest rates is the convenient (and responsible) way for you to add to your personal wealth.

This post was sponsored by http://savingsaccounts.com

No More Incumbents . . . What a Concept!

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I’ve always felt (and have ‘preached’ in my posts) that the majority of politicians care more about winning the next election than they do about doing the job they were elected to do. Before they became politicians . . . back when they were candidates for office . . . they were being driven by their dissatisfaction with the status quo, by their idealism and by their determination to serve the people by solving the problems that they clearly saw needed solving. Once in office, however, things changed rapidly.

When candidates become politicians, they find themselves in a world where they are virtually powerless to accomplish their goals or to make good on their campaign promises because they are now in direct competition with politicians who have been in their jobs for decades and who have, by virtue of that long service, the vested power and the contacts to accomplish their own objectives. These newly-minted politicians then have a choice: either kowtow to the old and powerful and accept that status quo that they got into office by fighting against, or become powerless non-entities with voices so small that they can’t be heard and will never be listened to.

Oh well, you say, that’s the way it is! That isn’t, however, the way it has to be!

Try this scenario on for size: In 2008, every Senator and Congressman running for reelection is defeated and replaced by a new face . . . a new face with idealism and new ideas, new faces who will have more power to implement their ideas because many of the old-time Washington power-brokers will be gone. Then, in the mid-term elections in 2010, the same thing happens. By 2011 we can have the “Hill” transformed into a place where politics-as-usual is a forgotten concept.

Now I know the first thing that comes to mind is we will have 100 inexperienced Senators and 400 and some inexperienced Representatives but when you consider that becoming “experienced” in Washington politics only means that you have become corrupted and have developed “special relationships” with ‘generous’ power brokers, you’ll understand that experience is not an asset (except to the “experienced” politician). Washington needs more dedication and idealism, it does not need more ‘experience.’

Now that you’ve been introduced to this new concept of Washington politics (actually this could easily also work on a state or city level just as well) I want to introduce you to a new blog: No More Incumbents Blog. The No More Incumbents Blog promotes the idea that I’ve been talking about and they are gearing up to run with it . . . and they needs your help.

What the No More Incumbents Blog needs is political writers who will sign on to provide regular political coverage and political perspectives of key races in their home states during the run-up to the 2008 elections. Naturally they would like these writers to have some level of dedication to the principle that power corrupts and therefore an incumbent politician has been at least partially corrupted.

They also want to hear your views on the other side of the issue: if you feel that multiple terms in office is somehow a good thing let them know about it and about why you feel that way.

One thing to keep in mind: This is a new website and it is actually in it’s pre-launch stages so don’t expect a lot of “bells and whistles” or catchy graphics — that will all come eventually but right now they need people who are willing to jump in on the ‘ground floor’ and help them grow.

Go over and take a look and see what you may be able to contribute.

What happens in 2008 will be vital to the future of this country. Our national budget is in disarray, our national defense is weak, our borders and port security are problematic and most of our politicians are on the virtual payroll of special interest groups. Do you want more of the same or might you be able to buy into the No More Incumbents concept?

This post was kindly sponsored by No More Incumbents Blog

The Non-Lethal Self Defense Option

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Among the news stories you might run across today, you may read about a man or woman who died while confronting police officers . . . police officers who used their tasers rather than their guns just to prevent what ultimately happened — the death of the perpetrator. What you may not read in the news today will be an account of police officers successfully subduing a violent citizen through the use of tasers; even though these incidents are far more prevalent than the ones that lead to the death of the perpetrator, the success stories are not considered news: “When it bleeds it leads” is, and probably always will be, the motto of the news business.

When a police taser kills a suspect it is, of course, possible that the incident was the fault of a scared or poorly trained police officer but more than likely, as in THIS recent story from the Palm Beach Florida Post, the death will be caused by illegal substances in the body of the “victim;” the same drugs that caused the behavior that led to a confrontation with the police in the first place.

A fact that we need to face is that we live in an increasingly violent world where, statistically, you and I have a greater chance of dying in a violent crime than we do in a car crash and our chance of being the victim of a violent crime some time in our lives is right around 50%; that’s right, the odds that we will become a victim of violence at some point in our lives are just about the same as the odds that we will not.

Isn’t it smart to do something to increase your odds of coming out of the almost inevitable violent confrontation without being hurt?

Most of us have an aversion to the thought of killing anyone, even in self defense; and if you are carrying a gun and are attacked, the chance that either your attacker or you will wind up dead is pretty good. The good news is that the options that the police use to avoid ‘deadly force,’ the use of a non-lethal weapon such as a Taser, a Stun Gun or Pepper Spray, are all options that are available to most* of us.

(* Some states: Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island, have blocked the sale of these self-defense devices to private citizens but, ironically make it possible for those same citizens to carry a gun.)

A site I’ve found that will provide you with virtually all you ever need to know about these non lethal self defense alternatives is Brickhouse Security.

Stun guns and Tasers are sure fire ways to stop an attack and may be preferred by some, but my personal recommendation for the ordinary citizen is Pepper Spray

2 oz Police/Home Pepper Spray

A Small can of pepper spray in your pocket, purse or pack is an incredibly effective (and inexpensive) way to stop an attacker in his tracks. By the way, don’t confuse real pepper spray with the stuff you may buy at the corner convenience store — some imitation pepper sprays will do nothing but irritate your attacker, real pepper spray, like that sold at Brickhouse, will immobilize him.

This post was generously sponsored by Brickhouse Security

The Tragedy of Youth Drug Abuse

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by Whymrhymer

I’ve been very fortunate to live as many years as I have without developing any major addictions, and that is probably because I’ve met far too many people with dependencies on various chemicals and drugs, and on alcohol, and have seen first hand how those substances can shatter lives.

The greater tragedy is when the victim of substance abuse is a youth or a teenager. A still developing mind and body can be terribly, and possibly permanently damaged by any number of chemicals and drugs. Way back when I was in high school I remember the glue sniffers and remember being amazed at the all too obvious effects of what they considered to be innocent fun. I don’t think any of them realized that their ‘innocent fun’ and that intoxicating high that resulted was actually doing permanent damage and was starting some of them on the road to even more damaging addictions.

The good news is that SAMSA (the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a division of the U.S Department of Health and Human Services) issued a report late last year that indicated that rates of “illicit drug use” among youths (ages 12 thru 17) has been on the decline since 2002. A bone-chilling report issued by the ONDCP (Office of National Drug Control Policy) last year confirms this downtrend.

The bad news is, even after the downtrend, an estimated 9.9% of children in this 12-17 age range are using some form of illicit drug. The ONDCP report also indicates that 2005 figures show that there were over 2 million youths who needed treatment in a specialized facility, unfortunately the majority of them never receive such help.

One teen drug treatment center that really goes the extra mile for kids in this sort of trouble and their families is Echo Malibu, a beautiful facility located in southern California. The licensed professionals at Echo Malibu not only help their patients ‘get clean,’ they go well beyond rehabilitation by identifying and treating the root causes of the teen’s addiction, rather than merely focusing on the behaviors that result from addiction. Echo Malibu also offers a 24-hour hotline, not just for their patients but for all teens with addictions and their families.

If you or a child you love is being victimized by drugs, get help and get help soon. The longer an addiction runs the harder it is to beat it and the more damage it will do. Contacting a facility like Echo Malibu is a positive first step that may pay big dividends.

This post was kindly sponsored by Echo Malibu