Saturday, December 19, 2015

She Walks with the Spirit...She Reaches the People

When I had my radio talk show in Connecticut, I had the distinct privilege of having Retha Walden Gambaro as a guest on my show.  She had come to New London to display her sculptures "Attitudes of Prayer" at the Ya-Ta-Hey Gallery.  I realized during our conversation that I was sharing airtime with an incredibly special woman.  We became friends as a result and Warren and I were graciously invited to spend a weekend at Retha and Steven's home in Stafford, Virginia.  On the Saturday of that weekend, Retha and I sat down in her living room and she proceeded to tell me her life story which she asked me to record.

She walks with the Spirit….She reaches the People

As we settled into the luxury of overstuffed couches to begin our interview, I marveled at the grace and beauty of the woman seated near me.  At the tender age of 85, Retha Walden Gambaro exuded not only the strength of her ancestors, but a love for all that surrounds her.

Retha Walden Gambaro, born of a Creek Indian mother, is a sculptress who has captured the essence of Spirituality in an amazing 38 piece exhibit she calls “Attitudes of Prayer.”   As a child, Retha says, she loved to touch things and remembers receiving lifelong spiritual messages from the touching.  As a grandmother and great grandmother, she wanted to pass on to the children in the family the spiritual messages that come with prayer.

After her last child left home, Retha decided it was time to do something for her.  She bought canvas, paints and brushes and, nothing happened.  Her husband, Steve, kindly suggested that perhaps she should trash the canvas.    Minutes later, a phone call from her friend, Lois, changed the course of her life.

Lois insisted that Retha was a sculptor because she had seen a big green cheese frog Retha had fashioned for a party.  The two bought 25 pounds of clay and Retha started working with it.  As she saw something emerging from the clay, it was as if she wasn’t doing it.  She was overcome by emotion, the tears streaming down her face and she realized she had a gift.  She says many times when she is truly inspired and doing something that comes from deep within her, it’s as though she is receiving a gift instead of giving something.

Retha didn’t begin any formal lessons until another friend, Elizabeth, encouraged her.  She had done 3 or 4 small sculptures in clay.  Elizabeth saw a bust Retha had done and sent her a note with a check to cover a six week summer course at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington D.C.   Elizabeth’s note ended with “G-d has given you a gift and this money is just to help you polish it.”   Retha was 52 years old.  But, she says, she’s been in training most of her life without really realizing it; by the way she observed life around her.  

She went to the Corcoran and was taught by Berthold Schmutzhart.  After the six weeks, he called Retha out into the hall and told her, “I don’t give A+’s, but my wife and I have been talking about you and we feel that G-d has given you a gift and we want you to share our studio for a year to polish that gift.”  He knew nothing of Elizabeth’s note.   At the end of that year, Retha and Steve bought a studio and her career as a sculptress began.

“Attitudes of Prayer” was an idea born of the need to help children learn that praying is something that can be done anywhere, anytime because it can be done silently and children should be encouraged to do that.  She began with small simple things that children could come and help her sand.  They would talk about the sculpture and she would help them realize that the sculpture was a prayer.

Retha recalled that as she and her grandmother, whom she idolized, walked under the cottonwood trees and along the Salt River in Arizona, she never heard her pray out loud, but somehow, Retha knew she was praying.  Retha finds sacredness in the silence and peace that comes from within one’s heart.

The 38 sculptures range from 8” high to over six feet tall, with names like: ‘Gratitude’, ‘Prayer for Deliverance’, ‘Exultation’, ‘Child’s Prayer’, ‘First Prayer’, ‘Meditation’, ‘Unity’, Supplication’, ‘ Warrior’s Prayer’, ‘Acceptance’, ‘Mourning’, and ‘Peace.’  They were created, not as an example of any organized religious group, but as a universal spiritual feeling that many people experience without words. 

“Attitudes Of Prayer” is the central theme of Retha’s life.  She feels that her life has been one long blessing with the experiences she has had, the people she has met and, the spiritual force that has been with her and within her for as long as she can remember. She calls this force, this spiritual thing,  ‘Love’ and she finds it everywhere she goes and within everyone she meets.  As a young child, she always knew that she was never alone, that there was some sort of protection surrounding her.  This strong feeling has propelled her into the creative life she enjoys now.

Her studio in Stafford, Virginia is crowded with pieces in various stages of completion.  She has done commissions for the Marjorie Merriwether Post Pavilion in Washington, D.C. …colleges .... Pfizer Pharmaceuticals ........


At this point, we stopped recording and just continued to talk about our respective families and lives and our spiritual backgrounds. That weekend was a life-changing experience for us.  Warren and I had never been in the presence of two people who loved each other more, radiated spirituality, goodness, graciousness and love in every word, in every movement, in every look, in every touch.

Retha, born December 9, 1917, in Indian Territory, Oklahoma, left us on September 9, 2013.  Warren and I were blessed to be in her presence, to have known this kind, gentle, talented, lovely woman who filled the space around her with goodness, love and serenity. I think about her often and count her among the best parts of my life.


Retha Walden Gambaro, in her studio in Stafford, Virginia.

Friday, November 20, 2015

This country is already in Hell, courtesy of the GOP!

I'm at the point where I want a large number of people to disappear from the face of the earth, recede into the woodwork permanently, be forever silenced, be exiled and never to be heard from again.  How many different ways can I say this?   All of these people I want silenced are Republicans.

I'm just totally and completely fed up with the hatred, stupidity, fear-mongering, war-mongering, lying, greedy, racist, misogynistic, bigoted sons of bitches who think internment, identifying badges, Christians only, God above the Constitution, denigrate and silence women and minorities, feed the rich and starve the poor shit is what the United States is all about.  Where the hell did they come from?

Every day, some more crap slithers out of their lying, frothy mouths. Who, in their right mind, would say the drivel, the swill that they come up with?  Is there some sort of contest among these crazies to see who can think up the most outrageous, non-sensical, claptrap utterances with the prize being a seat at the White House?

Not one of the current load of crazies running for the GOP presidential nomination has enough mental ability - intellectual acuity to run a sewage plant. They play to the worst rage in humans and feed it until it explodes.

I just can't stand that this country is so full of idiots in the form of gun nuts, tea baggers, right wing Christian lunatics, all of them filled with intense hatred of those who are not like them and don't mind  unloading that hatred on the rest of us.

My anger runneth over and under and around and through.  Honestly, a deathly plague on all their houses.

Friday, September 4, 2015

So, I've actually done the things I love

I've actually worked in three different professions during my working life: elementary school teacher; radio news broadcaster/reporter/talk show host; and law office manager. Loved them all, but REALLY loved the radio stuff.

Among the things I would have loved to incorporate into my working life was singing and playing the drums and photography and tap dancing and acting and researching and writing.  Realizing, of course, that I probably couldn't make a living doing many of those things, I managed to work them into my life in other ways.

Ah, the singing part! Alas, my singing has now been restricted to vocalizing in the car, sometimes quite loudly and swaying a bit to the beat.  I think that was because as a teenager, someone indelicately described my singing voice as sounding somewhat like a file on a tin table.  I didn't sing much after that.  However, the kind director of my junior high glee club allowed me to be part of it anyway.  I sang very softly.

I played piano for a while as a kid but didn't go far enough with my lessons to become really proficient to be able to sit down and play anything confidently.  Nevertheless, I enjoyed making some music and played at home for many years until we moved to Arizona and sold the piano so we didn't have to move it!  I do miss it, though. During my teen years, I purchased a set of bongo drums which I still have.  Every once in a while I bang out some rhythms.

I was brave enough to offer to play some instruments in my college music class.  I was given a glockenspiel and that was fun but a bit too heavy for me to handle.  I switched to the bass drum and that was a hoot! So, bongo drums and the bass drum, sounds and rhythms I dearly love.  I think I would love to have my own drum set.  My love for music rubbed off on my younger son who is an incredible guitarist and owns an audio post-production studio in Phoenix where he gets to be musically creative with his clients.

I became a teacher and was allowed to be creative with my lessons. I taught in my home town, at an Air Force base and in Connecticut: all were very different situations where I could incorporate many of the things I love.  Writing lessons that would inform, inspire, and generate a desire to know even more became a lesson in creativity for me.  But it was one well learned. My students brought out the best in me and I think I did the same for them.  I remember many of them with great fondness and hope that they have gone on to have really wonderful and productive lives.

While working in radio, I wrote news reports, made sure they were factually correct and delivered   fluently over the air. I also had the chance to do special, multi-part reports. A favorite was a three-parter on Russian immigrants who had settled in our local area.  Interviewing them, editing the audio, writing the story, adding of the best experiences of my professional life.  But the MOST fun was interviewing people on my talk show.  Politicians, entertainers, authors, artists, a sculptress, attorneys, doctors, heads of every social service agency in the county, teenagers and senior citizens were all on my show. We covered every topic under the sun and I learned a lot as did my audience. When I think of that experience I know I was really lucky to have been in the right place at the right time.

Even at the law office, the experience of meeting so many interesting people and learning their stories held a special fascination for me.  This is where I learned that "justice" is not always "the law."  That was the source of some very lively conversations in the office.  My expertise in critical thinking was honed to a fine point here!

I've been in several amateur shows, plays and musicals where I had the chance to tap and sing and wax poetic.  And over the years I've always had a camera in my hands.  Photography seems to gallop in this family, on both sides.  Almost half a dozen family members were or are wonderful photographers and one, my older son, is a photojournalist for Getty Images.  And since moving to Arizona, photography has become my avocation.  I get to be creative with my photography and that makes me happy.

And..... I write this blog.  This has given me the chance to do the writing I've always wanted to do, writing about a lot of things, some personal, many on politics, current events, religion, sports (professional and college), dogs, music and just whatever piques my interest. And my interests are legion.  Oh yes, I read......voraciously.  Books of all kinds litter the house, all in various stages of being read. I go from one to another and pick up the threads as if I never put the book down.

So, when I think back to what I've actually done over the years, I can sit back, smile and enjoy the memories while I contemplate making new ones.

Copyright © 2015, Reisa Sterling Miller.  All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Back and forth with Sen. John McCain

This is the reply I got from Sen. John McCain when I wrote to him about Planned Parenthood.  Below that are the comments I shot back to him.

On Aug 26, 2015, at 1:54 PM, Senator John McCain <> wrote:
 August 26, 2015

Ms. Reisa Miller
(my address)

Dear Ms. Miller:

     Thank you for contacting me regarding the recently release videos depicting senior executives of Planned Parenthood discussing the organization's practice of harvesting and selling the tissue and organs of unborn babies.  I appreciate you taking the time to share your views on this matter with me, and while we disagree, I understand your position.

     As you know, abortion is one of the most heavily debated social issues and it often invokes strong emotions from its supporter and opponents.  I am sure you are also aware that I have long opposed abortion and have consistently voted against federal funding for abortion-rrelated activities.  Because of my strong belief in protecting the sanctity of life, I found the videos regarding Planned Parenthood, and the apparent practices being discussed the videos, to be appalling.  With this in mind, I recently joined 42 other Senators on a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Burwell questioning the legal, ethical, and policy implications of the footage and calling on the Department to cooperate with future investigations into planned Parenthood practices.

     I believe that society has a moral obligation to protect the unborn, and this obligation cannot be considered insignificant or irrelevant.  The Supreme Court's ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey did not overturn Roe v. Wade, but it did affirm the right of the individual states to determine whether and how abortion services could be regulated.  Therefore, I encourage you to let your state legislators know your thoughts on this issue.

     Again,, thank you for sharing your views with me.  I hop you will continue to share your thoughts on other issues of mutual concern with me, as I am sure that we will find that we agree on a number of these issues.  I look forward to hearing from you again.

   John McCain
        United States Senator

My Reply:

Aug. 26, 2015

Dear Sen. McCain:

 The videos have been shown to be doctored.  Yet, you won’t admit that you’ve been duped. You continue to reside on the bandwagon of sound bites and deny the truth because it doesn’t suit you. Are you just too old to do your own thinking?  97% of the services Planned Parenthood provides are essential and life-saving services for women of little means.  Your position just tells me that you don’t care whether these poor women can access these medical services. And what you don’t understand is that no one WANTS an abortion but that women must have the right to LEGAL services and to make their own decisions about their own medical needs.

You’re an old, White crotchety male who has no right to stick your nose in any decisions women have the right to make. And you’re really wrong and a hypocrite about the so-called "sanctity of life” you profess to protect when you and your Republican gang constantly eradicate safety nets that help children, the poor, the elderly and everyone who is not part of your rich, White corporate world.

You are being led by the nose, you spout the same ideas every other Republican utters, you have nothing to offer, no empathy for the majority of citizens.  No, we don’t agree. And I can’t wait for the day you are no longer in the Senate and the harm you and your GOP cohorts perpetrate on us  will be, at least, diminished by one.

Reisa Miller
Chandler, AZ 85225

Copyright ©2015, Reisa Sterling Miller. All Rights Reserved

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Hypocrite, thy name is Republican

The definition of Hypocrite would show one word: Republicans.

Swiftboating John Kerry (D) for his Vietnam service (3 Purple hearts), Max Clelland (D) who lost three limbs during his service in Vietnam and Tammy Duckworth who lost her legs and who was told to shut up about her military service, but coming to the defense of John McCain because an insignificant twit like Donald Trump spits out an obnoxious comment about McCain's service. Trump, who got three deferments and one medical deferment, spent his time having lunch at swanky restaurants, should choke on every bite of food he consumes from now on.  He's a schoolyard bully, belligerent, and highly vindictive.

Republicans have defined and refined the word hypocrite since, at least, Ronald Reagan, who proved to be just an actor in an empty suit.

Hypocrasy about Obamacare, once hailed by the very Republican Heritage Foundation and originally instituted in Massachusetts by, horrors, a Republican governor, Mitt (Is that a real name?) Romney.

How about all the Republicans who voted for the US to go to war but continue to deny veterans the benefits they need when they come home broken and injured!

How about the war on women?  Republicans don't call it that but women are the victims of their assaults on reproductive rights, equal pay, personal medical decisions etc.

And the hatred for everyone who is not white or Christian from the party of "family values", the one where white and/or Christian pedophiles are apparently okay (Dugger, priests), oft-married whites are okay (Gingrich, Trump, and so many others).................

We have home-grown terrorists who are white, Christian, Tea Party members but the GOP doesn't talk about or acknowledge them.  Much of the murder committed in this country is done by white males. But the GOP blames Blacks, Muslims (even those who are American citizens) and or immigrants (legal or otherwise) for everything.

What it all comes down to: Republicans never take responsibility for the atrocious, horrendous, unfair, racist, misogynist, extremist positions they espouse.  They simply point fingers and blame their opposition for doing the same things. Republicans/Tea Party extremists are not the same as Democrats/Liberals/Progressives.  The GOP and their minions are incredibly backward, nasty, unintelligent, seemingly crazy, sometimes really stupid, hard of heart, greedy and have taken lying to a new level.  They are ISIS, the Taliban, Al Qaeda all rolled up into black suits, red ties and white shirts.  They are on a mission to serve up the United States to their paid masters.

They really should change the name of their party to HYPOCRITES UNITED, INC!  That's much more honest.

And for the record, this is strictly aimed at the legion of double-talking Republicans who make the news, not my Republican friends who still have hearts and brains and eschew the craziness of their party. I have not painted the ENTIRE GOP with  a broad brush, just most of them!

Copyright ©2015 Reisa Sterling Miller All Rights Reserved

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Chicago Botanic Garden--Simply Gorgeous

Recently, my husband and I visited the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe, IL for the second time.  It's described as a living plant museum and, indeed, it is. The first time, we took a train ride through the over 385 acres.  This time, we leisurely strolled through the gardens just enjoying the absolute beauty of the place.  Here is a sampling of that beauty.  ENJOY!

Copyright © 2015, Reisa Sterling Miller.  All Rights Reserved

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Driving? Yeah. Flying? Not So Much.

I would rather walk across the United States than get on a plane and fly.

How was I to know that flying wasn't going to be a great experience for me?  My first clue: Leaving Logan Airport on the first leg of our honeymoon trip, we start to taxi down the runway.  My head starts to scream and swirl, my mouth is desperately holding back the urgency to vomit and the sweat is pouring down my face and neck.  By the time we get up in the air, I'm like a crazy woman digging my nails into my new husband's hands and desperately looking for a way out of this monster tube I'm in.

By the time we land in New York (at the wrong airport) I'm a basket case. Northeast Airlines has become two of the dirtiest words in my vocabulary! We have to helicopter to the correct airport.  It's really hot in the helicopter, no air conditioning, the priest on the flight is ripping his collar off and I'm looking for the door! We land and run to catch our next flight.  I run to the bathroom to vomit. I hear "Last call for BOAC flight to Bermuda" but I'm still hunched over the toilet. My new husband runs into the ladies room, finds me and drags me to our flight where the flight attendant is handing out cold towels. She looks at me and shoves two down my blouse and slaps one on my forehead.  I sit and promptly go to sleep.

BOAC is serving filet mignon on the flight. The aroma wakes me, my tray table comes down, I take one look at it and my husband enjoys both portions. By the time we get to Bermuda, I am green, faint and don't do well on the bumpy ride to our hotel.  As far as flying, it's all downhill after that.

It's been almost 49 years since that first flight and I have flown back and forth across this country visiting family and friends.  None of the flights have been wonderful for me.  I've endured some particularly bad ones (for me) where I've landed with weak knees, green to the gills and trying to keep the vomit from spurting out.  But, I continue to get on planes because it's the fastest way to get from here to there, especially in emergencies and there have been a few.

My plane anxiety has lessened somewhat since I started gulping down Dramamine by the bucket, chewing ginger (which I don't like) and packets of gum.  I can almost manage a coast to coast trip without ripping out my husband's throat.  But plane trips are becoming a less frequent occurrence.  And even though I sincerely would love to travel to Israel (our Rabbi is taking the gang---for the third time) I just can't get on plane for a trip that takes more than twelve hours and goes over the ocean!  And I no longer will fly to anywhere in New England during the winter or anyplace where there is snow on the ground.  Nope, not going to do it.

So, if I'm not going to get a filet mignon or cold towels on any future flights what's the point?  Considering the hassle it is to fly today i.e. no legroom, no food, charged for everything, small seats, lost luggage, the TSA, high ticket prices, ad nauseum, I won't be doing a lot of it, just what's necessary to keep seeing family and friends.  I'd just rather they come here. Besides, my husband rather likes the skin on his hands.

Flying!  What keeps that damn  plane up anyway???

Sunday, May 31, 2015

So, you think you " support our troops."

All over the Internet there are memes that have the words: "I support our troops" along with photos of service people, active duty, retired, lost in combat, graves at Arlington, etc.  What do those words actually mean?

How many of us say those words or share those memes, especially on Facebook?  And that's the only thing we do.  We even fly the American flag from our homes and cars, we attach red, white and blue magnetic ribbons and decals on our cars to proclaim our support.  What does that do? Nothing.

Do we actively try to find a job for a vet who doesn't have one?  What are you doing about finding that homeless veteran a safe place to stay?  Do you donate time and/or money to legitimate groups who actually do these things for veterans?  How, exactly, do you support our troops?

There are those who demonstrate their support by actively and physically doing things to make veterans' lives better.  There are those who can send money to legitimate groups who help make veterans lives better once they come home.  These people are wonderful and I'm grateful that they do what they do.

But, like Congress, if you "support" the troops when they are off fighting in other countries but don't give a damn when they come back by not electing people who will support them physically, emotionally, making sure they can get jobs, housing, benefits (that were promised), top-notch health care and education, then you don't support the troops.

Talk is cheap. Posting memes on Facebook or slapping a magnetic ribbon on your car is cheap.  Back it up with real action, physical or monetary.  But back it up.  Don't make your words ring hollow.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

A Source of Money

People aren't lives.  They are a source of money.

I've lost two dear friends to cancer in the last fifteen months.  Each passed away about six months after diagnosis.  While I still can't wrap my head around the passing of such wonderful and young women, I feel intense rage at the machine that continues to rake in money through costly treatments that, for the most part, don't result in cures.

With all the money donated over so many years, ostensibly to fund the research to find a cure for this goddamn disease, there hasn't been the breakthrough I, and millions of others, expected..... a full cure for all of the different types of cancer.  This horrible malady should have been eradicated years ago.

What goes into "so-called" treatment?  Weeks, months and sometimes years of ingesting chemical cocktails, all in the hopes of "going into remission".  Even being in remission for a certain number of years is no guarantee that this dreaded disease won't come back in some form or another.

And the money for all this "hope"?  It all goes to the pharmaceuticals who reap in HUGE profits on the drugs they hawk, the researchers who find bits and pieces to the puzzle but never really come up with enough significant results to wipe it out completely, the cancer charities (some of whom are bogus like the few just shut down here in Arizona).

We are lulled into thinking pink ribbons mean something.  They don't.  "Running for a cure" is an admirable thing to do but that money raised goes partly into someone's pocket (sometimes a lot of it) or pays for the outlandishly expensive drugs (because profits, you know) or pays for telemarketing calls begging for more money, and, yes to research where finding A CURE FOR ALL CANCER still seems to be very elusive.

There are cures out there.  There has to be but Big Pharma would lose an enormous amount of money (profits) if they became widely known.  To them, people aren't lives.  They're a source of money (PROFITS).  And so I lose friends. I feel rage. And I cry because that's all I can do.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

I'm your next blog!

Okay, I was going through my FaceBook page and came across a funny meme. I wanted to read it to my husband who was watching television.  I asked him to mute the sound and watched while he poked the remote here and there, changed channels, brought up the Guide and generally looked bewildered trying to "mute" the damn thing.

I just couldn't hold it in any longer and proceeded to split my sides laughing and laughing and laughing.  I was guffawing so much I couldn't read the meme to him at which time he said to me, while laughing, "I'm your next blog."

The TV remote seems to be a complete mystery to him.  I think, sometimes, that he'd prefer the old buttons on the TV.  To say that he is tech-deficient would be an understatement.  But he sure does provide the reason for a lot of laughter in this house which he good-naturedly endures.

Still laughing so hard, I managed to croak out to him that I'll do the blog and include the joke.

Here it is without the photo of Bush accompanying it:

Donald Rumsfeld briefed the President this morning. He told Bush that Three Brazilion soldiers were killed in Iraq. To everyone's amazement, all of the color drained from Bush's face, then he collapsed onto his desk, head in hand. Finally he composed himself and asked Rumsfeld, "Just exactly how many is a brazilion?"

So, here's to my husband, who always provides the funniest off-the-cuff moments.  No wonder I have so many lines on my face.  They're all laugh lines!

Monday, April 27, 2015

I'm sick at heart

The violence in Baltimore is making me sick.  I understand the utter despair and rage of those who are rioting but those acts of destruction only make things worse. Freddie Gray's death was unbelievably horrendous, an immense travesty of justice, a symptom of police brutality and policing getting out of hand.

It shakes my belief that law enforcement officers, police officers are supposed to "Protect and Serve". I am not an African-American but if I was, I'd be scared out of my wits to walk on a sidewalk, drive a car, walk to school, or do anything in public that normal Americans usually do for fear of being shot, bludgeoned, kicked or choked to death by a racist guy who works as a cop to "legally" act on his hatred of "others".

And I do believe that there is much more hatred toward African-Americans, Latinos, LGBTQ and all 'minorities' because Republicans and the Supreme Court have encouraged the legalization of racism through laws, state by state.

I cry because I don't recognize this country.  It has become an unsafe, scary, hate-filled place to live for so many people.  The only light shining on this country is the light of bigotry, misogyny and hate.  The goodness of individuals is overshadowed by the boots of the white and rich coming down on the necks of those who have so little power.  We have lost our democracy and humanity.  I don't think we'll get it back any time soon unless there is a sea-change in attitude toward all of humanity that every single person deserves respect, kindness, a helping hand when necessary and every person is worthy of dignity, consideration and courtesy.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

My "conversation" with Senator John McCain regarding net neutrality

I recently wrote to Senator John McCain regarding net neutrality.  This is his response to me and below that, my reply.  It remains to be seen whether there will be any more communication.

April 10, 2015

Dear Ms. Miller:

     Thank you for contacting me regarding the issue of network neutrality.  I appreciate your taking the time to share your views with me.  I have been closely monitoring developments in the net neutrality debate as they have quickly unfolded in the months since the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia struck down the FCC's 2010 Open Internet Rules in Verizon v. FCC in January 2014.

     As you may know, on February 26, 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to approve a 317-page plan to regulate the Internet by classifying broadband as a telecommunications service under Title II of the Communications Act.  The Commission's party-line vote will dramatically increase the government's role over our nation's broadband by treating the Internet as a public utility under federal regulations that were originally created for monopoly-era phone companies.

     Over the last two decades, the Internet has flourished under limited government oversight.  I have long opposed efforts to increase the government's control over our nation's broadband, and believe the FCC's action will undermine the innovation that has allowed the Internet to become what it is today.  Allowing businesses to thrive without burdensome regulations is the best stimulus for our economy.  This is a matter for Congress to carefully consider and correct.

     Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me regarding network neutrality.  Please do not hesitate to do so regarding this or any other matter of concern.


                                        John McCain
                                        United States Senator


April 14, 2015

Senator McCain:

You're very much mistaken if you think I believe your reasoning.  Regulations preventing your big corporate friends from screwing the rest of us is what's needed.  You're just a shill for your very rich friends who want to control every damn facet of our lives.  What you think of as "burdensome regulations" are what's saving the average person from being drowned by rich corporations.  For further proof just look at the Internet overseas where the cost is significantly less and the speed is greater.  Without regulations, carriers here would slow down usage for those who pay less and favor more affluent businesses and individuals.  This would help your campaign contributions but would do little for the middle class and would certainly stifle the poor.

Can you explain what regulations have stifled US carriers' innovation so as to prevent them from coming close to providing services comparable to those in other countries?  The spectre of carriers creating a tiered Internet which would surely place burdens on most Americans but allow the rich unbridled access is most disturbing.  Your propensity (like all your Republican cohorts) for favoring the rich over everyone else is abhorrent and very un-American.

I strongly disagree with you and your position and, like me, we are numerous.  Regulations keep things fair and safe.  If you can’t see that, it’s time to pack it in.

Reisa Miller
___________, AZ
 My email address appeared here.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

News reporting and a conversation with an Arizona Republic columnist

I was a news reporter on the radio many years ago.  I read news stories off the wire but only after I checked and edited them, if necessary, for clarity, accuracy and essential content to keep the meaning clear.  My own news assignments were done the same way: written for clarity, accuracy and essential content.  It's a job I truly loved and wish I had had the opportunity to make it a life-long career.

I read an article in the finance section of the Arizona Republic yesterday and something jumped out at me.  I decided to write to the columnist about it and this is the result.  What do you think about this exchange?  My thoughts about it are at the end of the blog.  

Russ Wiles is an accomplished personal finance writer who is the co-author of two books on mutual funds. He's been with the Arizona Republic since 1991 and covers anything to do with money.

Our email conversation began here..........

Dear Mr. Wiles,

I was interested in reading your Sky Mall article in today's AZ Republic until I got to the paragraph that included the following, "Many of the firm's senior executives and employees are Orthodox Jews, according to the Fast Company article."

Since that kind of information is not germane to the story what possible reason would you have to justify including it other than to play to a negative stereotype?  Would you have written the same sentence had those people been Catholic or any other religion?

I don't think you meant it to be offensive but it was.  If that statement jumped out at me, I'm sure I'm not the only one who took umbrage at it.  I'm probably the only one, though, who has taken the time to write to you about it.             

 Will you please enlighten me as to why you included such an irrelevant statement?  

Thank you for your attention.

His reply:
On Apr 1, 2015, at 12:14 PM, Wiles, Russ <> wrote:

Hi Reisa,
Thanks for the note. I’m sorry you found the reference to Orthodox Jews to be a negative stereotype.
Mr. Pikarski seemed comfortable discussing it, and other press reports about C&A have mentioned it too.
I find it unusual and interesting, at least for a company with an Arizona presence.
Catholic-owned firms aren’t uncommon in Arizona but might be in other parts of the world.
Russ Wiles
Finance and money writer
The Arizona Republic | | 12 News

My reply to the above:

Mr. Wiles:

Mr. Pikarski may have seemed comfortable discussing it but that doesn't mean it needed to be in the article unless he specifically asked you to include it.  It simply was not germane or pertinent. I don't know what someone's religion has to do with the purchase of a company (unless, of course, it plays into "Hobby Lobby" problems later).

It's  a red flag to me and probably others.  I've been a news reporter and I would have specifically asked my interviewee for permission to use that kind of information, although I don't know why it would be included.

It was an interesting article but, in my opinion, the information in question was just not necessary.  I appreciate you getting back to me so quickly.

Reisa Miller
Chandler, AZ

Again, I heard from Russ Wiles:

On Apr 2, 2015, at 8:42 AM, Wiles, Russ <> wrote:

Hi Reisa,

I’ve been thinking about your Catholic comment in more depth and, yes, there are several situations where I can envision citing religion in some cases.
For example, if SkyMall was purchased by a group of Catholic nuns or Syrian Christians fleeing ISIL or Baptists who all attended the same mega-church in Gilbert, then I think we would definitely mention those situations and possibly give them more play than one sentence near the bottom of the article. Granted, it’s a judgment call, and I still don’t think the Orthodox Jew reference was negative. But I also agree that it wasn’t terribly significant, so I did remove it from the online version of the article.
Anyway, thanks for the feedback.
Russ Wiles
And my reply to him:


You have a great sense of humor.  I assume you’re not Jewish and may not be familiar with the subtleties that some words/phrases conjure up when used in certain ways.  But enough on this.  Thank you for removing it from the online version.   It’s removal doesn’t change the point of the article.

Your interest in following up with me is greatly appreciated.  Thank you for doing so.

Best to you…..

Reisa Miller
Chandler, AZ

My thoughts about this exchange:

When I wrote to Mr Wiles, I wasn't sure I'd get a reply.  I believe Mr. Wiles listened to what I had to say and explained how he came to write what he wrote.  The fact that he followed up tells me that he's more than a conscientious reporter.  That he ultimately agreed with me enough to make an adjustment to the online version is secondary to the fact that he took the time to reach out to me.   I deeply respect someone who cares enough to follow up on an email, act on it and not just dismiss a reader's concern.  I know this was a small concern, but he acted on it.  That's impressive . 

Monday, March 30, 2015

World war 3 is here, just in a different way.

World War Three:  Do you realize it has already started?  Of course it is not being fought in quite the same way as the first two.  Nevertheless, it's here.  How do I understand that the world is at war?

1.  It is a political war, especially here in the United States.  It is the decent, forward-thinking, intellectual, kind, tolerant, humanitarian, unbigoted, broadminded, enlightened, receptive, open-minded, inclusive, decent folks --  against the incredibly stupid, war-mongering, batshit crazy, lying, whining, racist, misogynistic, science-denying, fact-denying, hate-filled, right-wing intolerant mostly Christian religious zealots.

2.  It is a religious war, here and all over the world.  So many groups demanding that only their religion be followed and to hell with every other one. War, in the name of religion, has become a way of life, or more accurately, a way of death.  Religious hatred is making a comeback.  By that I mean people are using their religion to foment intense hatred of "others."  Religious hatred is a war against all those who believe differently.  Indiana's latest "license to discriminate" law is just another example of legalized hatred.  Also, see #1.

3.  It is an economic war, a war of the rich against the poor, in other words-a class war.  The Koch brothers, through the resurrected John Birch Society beliefs, have managed to buy Congress and wreck everything the United States used to stand for.  It is a war of crazy ideas that marginalize the poor, the infirm, children, seniors, women, students....just about anyone who isn't a white, wealthy, lying, cheating fat guy.

4. It is a race war.  A war of bullets and killings with impunity, here in our country and, frankly, everywhere else. A war of "Shoot the black kids," "Deport all the Hispanics," "Denigrate all who aren't white."  You get the idea.

5.  It is a war of the United States against most other countries, even our "so-called" allies who are not really allies at all.  And why should they be?  This Republican Congress doesn't have the reasoning power or the critical thinking skills to understand the damage they do just by uttering their incessant vitriol against our President (read "the black guy").  Also, see #1.

I once wanted to go up in space.  I always hoped there were other planets out there with living, breathing entities. It looks like a better alternative to living in a world that has gone mad. We're not bright enough (yet) to find them but they're bright enough to keep away from us.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

So, I was thinking......

I'm not young anymore although I keep thinking of myself as a "little kid" who still hasn't figured out what I want to be when I grow up.  I simply have this mindset that keeps my head in my 3rd or 4th decade and not where it's supposed to be.  Now that's not a bad thing, except that I have kids older than that.

Every once in a while I think back over the years, remembering the path my life has taken and I smile contentedly at how that journey has gone.  It's been an amazing, interesting, exciting, and joyful ride along with  many somber & mournful times interspersed.  If I had to pick one phrase that would describe that ride I would choose "laughing my ass off" the whole way through.

I bring this stuff up because I'm hoping I'm just in the "autumn of my life" and not the "winter," and because I've been sick for the first time in a very long time. Consequently, my thoughts about the future run the gamut from a bit of trepidation to very hopeful.

To those of my friends and relatives who are around my same age, I assume you've all had thoughts pretty much like mine.  Warren and I have been pretty healthy for most of our lives and we try to do all the things to keep us that way.  When there's a blip on the road, it brings you "up short," makes you assess what you're doing and then make the necessary adjustments.

I'm feeling much better now but I resolve to take even better care of myself.  I still have much of my journey to go and hope the ride will be full of good health and, with Warren's usual help, it's going to be one full of giggles all the way.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

My Phoenix Mercury will not only survive, but flourish.

Word came down this week that Diana Taurasi will not play during the 2015 WNBA season.  Her Russian team has requested that she take the time off to rest for her upcoming season playing for them when the overseas season starts in the fall. As a huge incentive, they are paying her (a lot) not to play for the WNBA this year.  Diana has taken their offer. For eleven seasons, Diana has played basketball year-round, full time with little or no time off.  She deserves this time off, not only for her physical rejuvenation, but for her personally*.

This sent huge shock waves through the fans of the Phoenix Mercury, causing anxiety and despair.  Since Diana is considered the backbone of the team, some fans seem to be worried that this situation diminishes the team's ability to defend their 2014 championship season.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  

The Mercury has an extraordinary group of athletes whose only mission is to get another championship.  That said, I wrote the following on Facebook to a large group of Mercury fans with the hope that my words will assuage the anxiety, give us all incentive to become even bigger cheerleaders of our incredible team and, when the season is over, look forward to welcoming back to the team the absolute best women's basketball player in history!

"Mercury fans: You may know that I come from New England (MA & CT) and I am a rabid New England sports fan (Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics & Bruins.) It's in my blood. That includes the UCONN women' and men's basketball teams. And when we lived in CT, we were fans of the CT Sun. Living here in AZ almost 7 years, the Mercury has become a passion with us, not just because of Diana (although she is a BIG reason) but because we absolutely LOVE the game of basketball, especially the women's game. Team members change for a myriad of reasons. Sometimes those changes cause us anxiety. But, remember, Diana has promised to come back. She needs, desperately, the rest she'll take this summer. We have extraordinary personnel on "our" team and the Mercury will give us a season to remember. Understand, we are Phoenix Mercury fans, first and foremost. If you look forward to an extraordinary season, you'll get it. We love all our players no matter who they are because they give us their best and provide an extraordinarily fabulous experience. We are, indeed, the best fans in the WNBA. We are X-Factor! So, don't panic and come along for the ride and let the team know we are behind them 100% GO MERCURY!"

There is a prestige factor working here. To actually make the roster of a WNBA team is many a young woman's dream.  Besides the love of the game, to make that dream worth working for, monetary recognition has to be part of the equation.  *One glaring issue is the money paid to the team members.  It's just not enough.  Perhaps this is a wake-up call for the league to figure out a way to make the WNBA a more lucrative entity. All the young women coming up behind the Taurasis, Griners, Bonners, Duprees and Taylors should not have to rely on overseas play to make a decent living in a profession that has a finite number of active years built in.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Okay, I'm fed up so I let the Democratic Party know. Yes, I'm still a staunch Democrat.

This is from an email I received from Debbie Wasserman Schultz, head of the DNC.
Join us.
This has been a big week for Democrats, Reisa, and if you're feeling as fired up as I am, I hope you'll show it by becoming an official DNC member for 2015.
This was my reply.

No, I'm not fired up, I'm disgusted.  There was no big week for Democrats.  None of you has a backbone except for Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.  None of you speak with any force of authority.  You couch all your words in polite crap.  You don't call out those GOP bastards the way you should.  You tiptoe around issues with words formulated from the "Book of Well Behaved Words."

I don't see the anger that most Democrats in the real world are feeling.  If you really knew what rank and file Democrats were feeling, your remarks to those GOP bastards would be laced with the vocabulary of a salty sailor.  Instead, you speak with bland, uninspiring words and thoughts.

And all you do is keep sending me emails begging for money.  Get a backbone.  Use words that are fiery and back them up.  Understand that your constituency is not happy with your mediocre, flaccid, nerveless performance.  Until the Democratic Party changes to a dynamic, fire-breathing, take no prisoners entity, go lick your wounds and stop crying for money.  Make the change.  There is no other way.

In the meantime, I'll continue to fight for the Progressive, liberal things I believe in.  I just hope you can catch up.

Reisa Miller

Friday, January 16, 2015

You got up on this side of the grass. Rejoice!

What can be done each day to make you feel grateful that you got up on this side of the grass? Look around you.

Did you wake up in a warm bed, next to someone you love, perhaps?  Be grateful that you have a place to live out of the cold and grateful that someone shares it with you.

Lingering over a cup of coffee or tea with your breakfast means you have food to eat.

Did you go to work today?  You are among the lucky ones who have a job.

During your day did you see the flowers you planted?  Be grateful you have vision with which to look upon their beauty.

Did you speak with family members during your day?  Lucky you, to have a family who cares about you.

We take too much for granted until those things are not there anymore.  Think about what many of us have gone through in the last few years: loss of jobs, loss of homes, loss of self respect because of these tough times.

What matters in your life?  Your spouse, your children, your health, your neighbors and neighborhood, the people who make your life pleasant to live all make an impact on how you feel.  Every day someone does or says something to make you smile, to make you feel good or makes your day a little brighter by some small act of goodwill. When you think about those people, it's time to return the favor by thanking them in some way.

A simple act of gratitude like writing a thank you note or actually telling each one how much you appreciated something they said or did would make this world a much nicer place.

And G-d knows, we need a nicer world than the one we have right now.