Friday, December 23, 2011

All I Want for Christmas...

As the holidays come upon us, in my family, the question, "So what do you want for Christmas?" and the topic of the intermediate family gift exchange arises. The store shelves are full and the television is blaring ads for toys, gaming systems, fishing and outdoor equipment, electronics, etc. I haven't given much thought to this, although sure I'd like a Nintendo Wii, Amazon Kindle, books, compact discs (CDs), or digital video discs (DVDs), but I stand in my home and look around and am reminded of more immediate needs: my husband and I need new clothing and shoes to replace that which no longer fits and is worn out, my husband's broken hearing aids needs replaced, our broken vacuum cleaner needs replaced, we need new drinking glasses to replace those which have broken over the years, we need food in our refrigerator and cupboards, my husband's car needs multiple and expensive repairs (as it's with a barely functioning heater this winter and it's brake rotors need replaced). So in a sense, I guess I've grown up, matured, and gained new perspectives. Christmas and even life is no longer about what we want, but rather about what we need to get by in our every day needs. So in conclusuion, I don't want anything for Christmas this year, although clothing would be nice, and of course to spend time with my friends and family.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Some Redneck Humor....

Here are some redneck jokes you may not have heard before, some invented & some based off of real experiences of individuals

You might be a redneck if...
...your car air conditioning consists of a box fan duct taped in the window.'ve ever had to drain your kitchen sink into a 5 gallon bucket until the drain pipe was replaced.'ve ever had to brush your teeth and wash your hands in the bathtub because your bathroom sink was clogged.'ve ever hosted a party and told your guests that they'd have to relieve themselves in the woods behind the house because the toilet was broken...
...and one of your guests relieved themself on a tree in your front yard.'ve ever had more than a few mice, which weren't pets, in the house.'ve heated you home only with an open oven and space heater.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Texas Mom Denied Foodstamps for Months, Shoots Own Kids

This is sad...
Texas Welfare Office Shooting: Mom Denied Food Stamps For Months, Shoots Own Kids
PAUL J. WEBER   12/ 6/11 09:24 PM ET   AP

SAN ANTONIO — A Texas woman who for months was unable to qualify for food stamps pulled a gun in a state welfare office and staged a seven-hour standoff with police that ended with her shooting her two children before killing herself, officials said Tuesday.

The children, a 10-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl, remained in critical condition Tuesday. The shooting took place at a Texas Department of Health and Human Services building in Laredo, where police said about 25 people were inside at the time.

Authorities identified the mother as Rachelle Grimmer, 38, and children Ramie and Timothy. Laredo police investigator Joe Baeza said Grimmer had recently moved to the border city from Zanesville, Ohio, about 30 miles east of Columbus.

Grimmer first applied for food stamps in July but was denied because she didn't turn in enough information, Texas Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Stephanie Goodman said.

Goodman didn't know what Grimmer specifically failed to provide. In addition to completing an 18-page application, families seeking state benefits also must provide documents proving their information, such as proof of employment and residency.

"We were still waiting, and if we had that, I don't know if she would still qualify or not," Goodman said.

Goodman said Grimmer's last contact with the agency appeared to be a phone call in mid-November. When the family entered the Laredo office on Monday shortly before 5 p.m., Goodman said Grimmer asked to speak to a new caseworker, and not the one whom she worked with previously.

Shortly thereafter, Goodman said, Grimmer was taken to a private room to discuss her case. She said it was there the mother revealed a gun and the standoff began.

Police negotiators stayed on the phone with Grimmer throughout the evening, but she kept hanging up, Baeza said. She allegedly told negotiators about a litany of complaints against state and federal government agencies.

Despite those complaints, Baeza said it wasn't clear what specifically triggered the standoff.

"This wasn't like a knee-jerk reaction," said Baeza, adding that Grimmer felt she was owed restitution of some sort.

Grimmer let a supervisor go unharmed around 7:45, but stayed inside the office with her children. After hanging up the phone around 11:45, police heard three shots, and a SWAT team entered the building. Inside, they found Grimmer's body and her two wounded children.

The children were "very critical" and unconscious when taken from the scene, Baeza said.

Multiple family members in Ohio and Missouri did not immediately return phone messages Tuesday. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services said the agency had no information on Grimmer.

A YouTube channel the family appeared to have created in 2009 includes a profile that reads, "We are Shell, Ramie and Tim. Mom, daughter 10 and son 8. We like turtles, horses, and being outside. The kids have two turtles, an alligator snapper and a red eared slider. We work on naturalizing them and try to give them the most natural setting possible."

There are no videos uploaded. Tagged as favorites are an eclectic mix of nearly two dozen videos, ranging from a solar panel installation to a live clip of the band of AC/DC. The "Hometown" category reads: "We don't have one."

Goodman credited an office supervisor, a 24-year veteran of the agency, for ensuring the release of the other employees.

"He had told her he would try to help her, and that if she would let everyone else leave, he would talk to her," Goodman said.

Goodman didn't know whether Grimmer had a job, or whether her children were covered under Medicaid or the state children's health insurance program. The family had no history with the Texas Department of Child Protective Services.

The family's move from Ohio may have complicated Grimmer's application if the family had no Texas records the agency could check electronically, Goodman said. Grimmer also would have been denied benefits if she was receiving welfare assistance.

Grimmer also appeared to fall out of touch during her pursuit of food stamps. The mother originally applied July 7, but Goodman said Grimmer missed her first interview and didn't call back and reschedule for a few weeks. Her case was closed Aug. 8 for lack of a full application, Goodman said.

How much food stamp money a family receives depends on their income level. The average family on food stamps in Texas receives $294 a month.

Three months later, Grimmer called the agency's ombudsman Nov. 16 and requested a review of how her rejected case was handled. Goodman said the agency found that caseworkers acted appropriately after looking over Grimmer's file, and a supervisor called Grimmer's cell phone last Thursday to tell her the outcome. No one answered and the phone's voicemail box was full, Goodman said.

"The indications she had she was dealing with a lot of issues," Goodman said.

State welfare offices have come under scrutiny in the past for being overburdened, but Goodman said the agency has made significant strides in the past three years. She said wait times are shorter, and that Grimmer was scheduled for her initial interview just one day after applying. Grimmer didn't make the appointment, she said.

Goodman said it's not unusual for caseworkers to confront angry or confused benefit-seekers, but that it's very rare for a situation to escalate to violence.

Associated Press Writer Christopher Sherman in McAllen, Texas, contributed to this report.
Also, see Texas mom shoots self, kids after welfare standoff

Unfortunately there are those who'd politicize this tragedy in the name of the pro-choice view point. Pro-choice activists at the Facebook group Pro-Choice/Pro-Life Open Forum are quick to blame political opponents and assume this is the result of unwanted children. However, no where in the article does it state whether the children were planned or not. Also, I find it rather patronizing to assume one's children are unplanned or unwanted based on one's income and the number of children. Followed to it's premise, one could deduce  from the above discussion (at Pro-Choice/Pro-Life Open Forum), this incident could of been prevented if this woman only had access to birth control and abortion, which I feel is classist and the antithesis to "choice", akin to telling low-income women they need to be limit their family size and get "fixed" like a stray animal for their own good. Also, they are missing the bigger picture of the many socioeconomic factors which contribute to poverty and desperation, such as in this case, which can't be fixed by pushing for birth control and abortion access as a cover all solution. I see an overwhelmed mother, with an untreated mental illness, who did not have access to community resources and who fell through the cracks of an overwhelmed, flawed bureaucratic welfare system (which, in my opinion needs reformed, not removed).