Pennsylvania Judge Sentenced For 28 Years For Selling Kids to the Prison System

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Pennsylvania Judge Sentenced For 28 Years For Selling Kids to the Prison System

Illinois illegally seizes bees resistant to Monsanto’s Roundup; Kills remaining Queens

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Illinois illegally seizes bees resistant to Monsanto’s Roundup; Kills remaining Queens

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I will be in Edmonton for the next few weeks without internet.

How the US Turned Three Pacifists into Violent Terrorists | Common Dreams

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How the US Turned Three Pacifists into Violent Terrorists | Common Dreams

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Anyone who tells me that the only period appropriate materials for an outer garment are wool and silk can expect a verbal bitchslap, complete with documentation.  Not to mention the fact that the northern Pacific coast is NOT IN THE MIDDLE OF A MINI ICE AGE!  It's ridiculous to expect anyone to wear wool layered over linen and undergarments in the middle of summer.  And no, that doesn't mean that I should just give up and make a "modern" cotton bliaut.  It can still be period if made in linen.  And linen isn't that expensive if you hit's weekly sales, happy hour, and/or their discount code (ilovelinen).
Don't mind me, I got a little worked up over an authenticity nut.

A Day in the Life of Kasima the Gypsy

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During my NPC shift yesterday, I was Kasima the Gypsy, complete in bellydance finery.  She thought that the townsfolk needed a lesson in respecting gypsies and not judging a book by its cover.  So she proceeded to poison as many drinks, potions, and cookies as she could get her hands on.  (Logic is not Kasima’s strongsuit as she’s a bit temperamental).  She stole whatever she could get her hands on for her sisters to sell at their shop, and named one of the town guard “TinCan.”  Then, to top it all off, she offered to sell the Queen’s newborn son on the black market with a “60/20” split of the profits.  Once someone told Kasima that selling children was technically illegal, she stole a necklace from the Wantadoobie pygmies and gave it to the Queen in recompense for the offense.

Mood Disorders

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Mood disorders are more than a "bad day," and telling someone who suffers from them to "just snap out of it" or to "just be happy" does not help.  Would you tell someone with a broken leg that they're just "faking it for attention"?  No.  So why do we treat someone with depression any differently?  People with mood disorders lack the internal control that most people do in order to avoid extreme highs and lows, whether it's from abuse or a chemical imbalance.

Life Care Charged With Medicare Fraud

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A Tennessee-based nursing-care company systematically defrauded Medicare of millions of dollars by pressuring therapists to perform expensive, unnecessary treatments, according to a recently unsealed federal complaint.
I worked there, and I am not at all surprised.

Hyperbole and a Half is Back: Depression Part Two

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Yeah, it's like that

Myths and Facts About Mental Illness

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Myth: Young people and children don’t suffer from mental illness.
Fact: It is estimated that more than 18% of young people (ages 15 – 24) in Canada may suffer from a mental health disorder that severely disrupts their ability to function at home, in school, or in their community. Suicide accounts for 24% of all deaths among 15 - 24 year olds and 16% among 25 - 44 year olds. Ninety percent of people who commit suicide have a diagnosable mental illness. The mortality rate due to suicide among men is four times the rate among women.
Fun fact: my own depression presented between 12 and 13 years of age.

Myth: Mentally ill persons are dangerous.
Fact: The vast majority of people with mental illnesses are not violent. In fact, they are more often victims of violence rather than perpetrators of violence. In the cases where violence does occur, the incidence typically results from the same reasons as with the general public such as feeling threatened or excessive use of alcohol and/or drugs.

Myth: People with mental illness can work low-level jobs but aren’t suited for really important or responsible positions.
Fact: People with mental illness, like everyone else, have the potential to work at any level depending on their own abilities, experience and motivation.

Myth: A person who has had a mental illness can never be “normal.”
Fact: People with mental illnesses can and do recover and resume normal activities. The vast majority recover.

Types of Mental Illness

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Mood disorders – involve changes and disruptions in a person’s mood and emotions. Depression and bipolar disorder are examples of mood disorders.

Anxiety disorders – are the most common type of mental disorder. They cause people to be overly anxious and afraid of situations or events that most people consider normal. Panic disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder are anxiety disorders.

Schizophrenia – involves people losing the ability to know what’s real and what isn’t (this feature is called psychosis). Schizophrenia also makes it difficult for people to think, speak and interact in an organized way. Psychosis is not just a part of schizophrenia, but may also be seen on its own, or with other disorders like mood disorders.

Eating disorders – involve a distorted body image along with serious behaviours to manage food and weight, making it difficult to nourish oneself properly. Eating disorders can be life-threatening. Examples of eating disorders include anorexia and bulimia.

Personality disorders – affect the way a person acts, feels and gets along with other people. They can also cause people to be more impulsive.  Borderline personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder are examples of personality disorder.

Substance use disorders (commonly called addictions) – occur when a person becomes dependent on a substance such as alcohol, tobacco or other drugs.

Dementia – involves the loss of brain cells and results in loss of memory, judgment and reasoning, along with changes in mood, behaviour and communication abilities (beyond what might be seen in normal aging).  Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia.

Attention deficit (hyperactivity) disorder (ADD or ADHD) – can be diagnosed in adults but is usually found in children and youth and affects their ability to focus their attention. This condition may also include hyperactivity, which is when a person becomes easily over-excited.

Mental Health Fact Sheet

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Here are some holistic ways of managing your mental health.  Some of these are simply common sense.  Some of them I have tried to incorporate into my own lifestyle, and I do struggle with some of these (such as negative thoughts).

Learn ways to cope with negative thoughts
Negative thoughts can be insistent and loud. Learn to interrupt them.  Don’t try to block them (that never works), but don’t let them take over. Try distracting yourself or comforting yourself, if you can’t solve the problem right away. You might want to try focusing on an issue in a more balanced way (e.g. - try looking at all sides of an issue rather than from just one point of view).

Do one thing at a time
For example, when you are out for a walk or spending time with friends, turn off your cell phone and stop making that mental “to do” list. Take in all the sights, sounds and smells you encounter.

Regular physical activity improves psychological well-being and can reduce depression and anxiety. Joining an exercise group or a gym can also reduce loneliness, since it connects you with a new set of people sharing a common goal.

Enjoy hobbies
Taking up a hobby brings balance to your life by allowing you to do something you enjoy because you want to do it, free of the pressure of everyday tasks. It also keeps your brain active.

“Collect” positive emotional moments
Make it a point to recall times when you have experienced pleasure, comfort, tenderness, confidence, or other positive emotions.

Set personal goals
Goals don’t have to be ambitious.  You might decide to finish that book you started three years ago; to take a walk around the block every day; to learn to knit or play bridge; to call your friends instead of waiting for the phone to ring. Whatever goal you set, reaching it will build confidence and a sense of satisfaction. Writing the goal down, giving yourself a timeline, and telling others about your goals can all increase your chances of success.

Do new things/challenge yourself
Challenging yourself can help to increase your motivation and to set personal goals.
Keep a journal (or talk regularly to loved ones!)

Expressing yourself after a stressful day can help you gain perspective, release tension and even boost your body’s resistance to illness.

Share humour
Life often gets too serious, so when you hear or see something that makes you smile or laugh, share it with someone you know. A little humour can go a long way to keeping us mentally fit!

Volunteering is called the “win-win” activity because helping others makes us feel good about ourselves. At the same time, it widens our social network, provides us with new learning experiences and can bring balance to our lives.

Treat yourself well
Cook yourself a good meal. Have a bubble bath. See a movie. Call a friend or relative you haven’t talked to in ages. Sit on a park bench and breathe in the fragrance of flowers and grass. Whatever it is, do it just for you.

Ask for help
Learning to set boundaries and say no is a very important skill for mental health as is asking for help. In addition to help from family and friends and mental health services, you may find that some of your problems can be solved with help from community agencies. Sometimes, practical help such as home nursing care, Meals On Wheels or subsidized door-to-door transportation for people unable to walk, will greatly reduce the stress in your life.

How You Can Learn More
Many communities have information centres that produce lists of available services, which you can view at social service agencies or public libraries. Other possible sources of information include:
• books about your problems, available at your public library or local bookstore
• films, videos and audio tapes
• courses and workshops offered through community centres, secondary schools, colleges and universities
• other people you admire for their ability to find balance
Learn more by visiting

LARP for the Physically Borked

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I have several physical issues, and while I would love nothing more than to play a badass Amazon, my body tells me, “No way in hell.” Normally this would not be as big of a deal if my local group didn’t bill itself as HARP: Heavy Action Role-Play. Just yesterday one of the member was waxing nostalgic over when they didn’t pad their weapons and bragged about how he chipped a tooth during some warm-up fights just before this weekend’s mission. That’s all fine and dandy for him, but what about those of us where being tackled almost always ends in a trip to the hospital? My group, Medieval Chaos, gives people the option of being non-combatant. The non-com wears a neon orange stripe of duct tape somewhere it can easily be seen. The person is not to be hit under any circumstances, however, this means that if a combatant comes within striking distance and yells at them, they’re dead. My first session out, I tried to go non-combatant. Then when my arcane apprentice was talked into drawing from the Deck of Many Things and subsequently became dim-witted (aka unable to read and therefore cannot cast arcane spells), I had the choice of sitting sober and bored in the tavern or ripping off the badge and picking up a weapon. I went with the latter and charged towards combat, yet when faced with actual melee, I role-played being paralyzed with fear. Both in and out of character I had little to no experience with two-handed maces (the weapons that happened to be discarded), so I held them in front of me as if to hide behind them. During a siege on the fort, I turned to one of the few healers and asked if she needed an apprentice. The weapon was traded for potions of resurrect and I gained some basic abilities and spells. Despite my chosen class and physical issues, I still go to our practice nights a few times a week, but have had to hold myself back from trying to keep up with the teenagers, the people who weight 100 lbs less, and/or are more physically capable of keeping up with our ex-military leader. The difficult part is getting it through my head that I don’t have anything to prove to anyone but myself. The first time out for practice, I didn’t have my inhaler and tried to keep up with everyone else. 20 minutes in the asthma kicked in.  I realized that I had two choices: go all out, end up in pain, and unable to breathe after a very short time or go at my own pace, stopping when I need to, have a good time, and still be able to function later. Now I moderate myself and when the asthma starts up while sparring, I step back to let it calm down. I still apologize profusely, but no one has a problem with it. After all, where’s the sport if your opponent is gasping for breath? 
When signing in at gate, we are asked to leave as much of our gear in our cars/tents as possible in order to make the experience real. Inhalers and other necessary items are kept in a pouch or pocket, and are listed on our membership paperwork. I go one step further and ensure that most of my friends know where I keep my inhaler, where the first aid kit is in my car, and that I have medical training. 
Before and after every mission, MC has meetings that we call “conch.” Someone blows a conch shell and we all gather in town. Before the mission, the NPC’s step forward so we’ll recognize them (as opposed to their characters), non-combatants announce themselves, and we can all generally get an idea of how the day is going to go. After the mission, we can all share something that we enjoyed/appreciated and constructive criticism. For example, last weekend I thanked people for the most part recognizing that I can’t be hit very hard (one solid blow and the resulting flinch/startled reaction could re-injure my back). Most people will hit you as hard as you hit them. That being said, you can’t say, “Please don’t hit me hard!” and then turn around and wail on them. Nor can you not acknowledge a hit. Because I don’t wear armour, I will take even the lightest of hits for both realism and honesty.
Most of the time when on site, I use a sturdy, carved walking stick and when in melee, I hold it behind my back in order to avoid the instinct of whacking my opponent with it. Once I have the money, I’m going to invest in a staff in order to avoid anyone getting hurt accidentally. Only once or twice has the bar’s bouncer tried to make me leave it outside, at which point I break character to inform him that do need it. Enough people have seen me fall flat on my ass when one of my ankles decides to go out and I’m stubbornly avoiding using it that it’s barely even noticed anymore. Although it was both entertaining and humiliating when this happened as an NPC zombie (i.e. no stick, and I thought that the limp added to the authenticity) I was “invisibly” on my way to the outhouse and everyone broke character to see if I was all right. I even took the crippled trait in order to at least get some in-character benefit from my issues. In short, work within your limits, have fun with it both in and out of character, remember to laugh, and stand up for yourself and your needs when necessary.

Mental Health Week May 6-12

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Mental Health Week is a designated week created by The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) to talk, reflect, engage and celebrate mental health for all. The theme of Mental Health For All represents the right of every Canadian to enjoy and have the best possible mental health. It’s this attitude that represents ways in which all Canadians can actively protect and preserve their mental health at home, work and in their own community.