Postcards: The text messages of yesteryear? | The Historic New Orleans Collection

But even before most households had telephones and cars, people did have a relatively cheap and easy way to keep in touch: the postcard. Then as now, postcards were often sent to friends far away—a “wish you were here” note from a scenic vacation spot. In the early 20th century, though, a postcard was also the simplest way to send the equivalent of a text message to a pal across town.

Postcards: The text messages of yesteryear? | The Historic New Orleans Collection

Just for fun: click through to see some entertaining postcards from the Historic New Orleans Collection.

Blast from the Past: Some Thoughts on Moral Cowardice

The thoughts I’m about to share turned up in my Facebook memories from eight years ago today. I debated about sharing them here, and nearly came down on the side of not doing so. Yet, I have spent the last hour or so coming back to those paragraphs. So, here we are.

I was just thinking about, of all things, moral cowardice. On my last DoD job, I had a severe bully boss. If you were one of her sycophants, you could get away with anything — including sexual harassment (I have written before about how I got a letter of reprimand for telling the guy who was harassing me to get the fuck away from me … and how, when that guy left the unit, the JAG officer brought the unit copy of that letter to me, tore it up in front of me, and said “This bullshit never happened). She tolerated a guy being drunk on duty *every single drill weekend.* She gave people points for drill in exchange for doing her favors.

When the unit was having a change of command on a Navy base, she said “And we are inviting the media.” I asked whether they had contacted the Public Affairs office on that base to arrange for media credentialing … Public Affairs, after all, was how I made my living until the DoD sent me to that unit through its “Priority Placement Program.”

“We are the Army; we don’t have to get the Navy’s permission,” was her reply.

Needless to say, the media were escorted off the Navy base by the MPs since they were not credentialed … but that’s a digression.

This is the woman who, when my physician pulled me off work for three weeks on the heels of a full-on nervous breakdown, told me it was “selfish” of me to take that leave and that I needed to “learn to put the unit first instead of ” my “little personal problems.”

I could write an entire book on the stuff that happened on that job.

And what does this have to do with moral cowardice? There were people who witnessed what she did to me and who flat-out refused to testify when I filed a complaint. “It could be the end of my career. I’m sure you understand.”

But there were two people … both from subordinate units, who came and testified. One of them was someone I had only met twice … but he was willing to talk about what he’d seen.

The people who were there every day to witness the abuse wouldn’t say a word on the record … because they were too afraid of this bully boss, frankly. And that’s unfortunate. Speaking out against wrong-doing shouldn’t be dependent upon what might happen to you for speaking up, if you ask me.

Standing up for the downtrodden is important. Period.

Blast from the Past: Loma Prieta Earthquake

born of warThirty-two years ago today, while I was on my way home from work on the Presidio of San Francisco, my carpool driver pulled over. The car had pulled sharply to the right, and he thought a u-joint had broken. He inspected the car, and it was fine. We got on the Golden Gate Bridge (we were at the viewpoint) and went home to Marin County. It was not until we were all home that we learned that what later became known as the Loma Prieta earthquake had just happened. Marin was almost entirely unaffected, while the rest of the Bay Area had huge amounts of damage. A couple of days later, I was putting in 12+ hour shifts in the Emergency Operations Center as part of the group controlling the military’s disaster response and relief efforts.

All we had to monitor the media was the radio from my desk (one of the guys had gone upstairs to get it … the only place on base that had electricity was the EOC). We had been begging for media monitoring equipment and been denied under the budget. Needless to say, we got it after that.

Just a couple of months prior, I had been to a disaster relief field training exercise that prepared us greatly (little did we know …) for managing in the wake of Loma Prieta, because we learned where the problems were and could plan for them.

It was a difficult time in San Francisco Bay Area history, but one that showed the mettle of our Public Affairs Office team in a way that nothing else could have done.
Born of War … Dedicated to Peace was my first book, written in 1995 as a souvenir for the decommissioning of Sixth U.S. Army. You can read it for free on Scribd.

Weekend Reads: “Within Our Reach: Ending the Mental Health Crisis”

Hi, everyone. I went into the Wayback Machine for this week’s review. As previously mentioned, October is Depression and Mental Health Screening Awareness Month. I promised to share some of the information that helped me during my struggles, even though I eventually learned that my issue was Hashimoto’s disease (which can cause depressive episodes) and situational depression rather than chronic/clinical depression. If you believe you are experiencing depression, please insist that your workup include a thyroid test.

Within Our Reach: Ending the Mental Health CrisisWithin Our Reach: Ending the Mental Health Crisis by Rosalynn Carter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter has long been a staunch advocate for the mentally ill. In “Within Our Reach,” she details some of the reasons that improvements for their care recommended more than 30 years ago still have not been implemented, and why the mental health crisis has escalated.

One cannot watch the news or read the papers without seeing stories about returning veterans suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder in numbers greater than ever seen before, and how their promised safety net fails them. TV dramas portray the mentally ill as dangerous (despite the fact that one in four people suffers mental illness and only a tiny minority of such patients are dangerous at all). There is enormous stigma aimed at the mentally ill, which impacts their ability to seek treatment.

Carter talks about programs that are helping (she acknowledges that not all people are helped by medication and that psychotherapy is not always available), as well as new technologies that show the hyperactive prefrontal cortex (where thinking occurs) in those with clinical depression. She also talks about the importance of peer support advocacy, where people who have experienced mental illness help others in the same situation.

It’s not all dry and clinical, though; Carter shares stories from her own childhood, as well as personal histories that mentally ill people have bravely shared with her.

This book is an important one to read if you care about the mentally ill in your community, your family and the world.

(Review based on uncorrected advance proof.)

View all my reviews

Blast from the Past: A Book Under My Pillow

Facebook informs me that I wrote this little essay 12 years ago today. Enjoy!

When I was a little girl, sometimes I would sleep with a book under my pillow. This book was generally one that was special to me; perhaps I had it from the library. Perhaps it was being read to me by my mother at bedtime. Perhaps it was one that I just loved and made me feel good. I remember one night getting very upset when one of my parents (I don’t remember which one) wanted to take the book away … I remember being quite distraught and saying “Don’t you dare take No Love for Schnitzel away from me!” The story was about an older dachshund given to a teenage girl who wanted a show dog, and how she grew to love the little dog. I still get kind of choked up when I think about this book, to tell you the truth … it’s been out of print for years, and sometimes I would like to read it again. (I think I will check my library.) Two other books, which I read repeatedly, spent a lot of time under my pillow: King of the Wind and Born to Trot

Lately, there have been two books under my pillow. The first is Byron Nease’s Behind The Mask … No More, which I have passed on to my husband with a recommendation that he read. Mr. Nease is a performer whose work I admire, and whose grace under pressure is something to which I aspire. The other is Homer’s Odyssey, about which I have written previously.

I realized that the stories that moved me the most … the books that stayed under my pillow … were about people and creatures who had some difficulty to overcome. Something that they had to get through to blossom … and that was what made them special to me. Seeing struggles to which I could relate … and seeing successes that gave me hope.

I hope there are always books like these to put under my pillow.