The Sun Also Rises

January 19, 2019 at 1:10 pm , by Alyce Wilson

originally published in “The Standard-Journal” (Milton, PA), December 17, 1998

The holidays are upon us: a time of merriment, festive lights… and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). As Steve Martin says in the movie “Mixed Nuts,” people get more depressed around the winter holidays because they expect more. On the days when we’re supposed to celebrate and be merry, any hardship seems that much worse.

Too often, instead of being a time of celebration, the holidays become a time of tragedy. That seems to be the time that, if it’s going to happen, your husband will leave, your long-term girlfriend will break up with you, your grandmother will die, your pet be killed by a truck, your water shut off, your job lost.

Of course, these things happen all year round. But when they happen near the winter holidays, they take on more massive importance.

An important lesson can be drawn from both “Mixed Nuts” and the holiday classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The lesson is this: Life, even at its most terrible, is worth living.

Today, your boyfriend might leave you. Tomorrow you might meet your true soul mate. Today, you might lose your job. Tomorrow a friend might take you on a trip across the country. Today, you might break an ankle. Tomorrow you might get a call from a long lost friend. Life is a roller coaster, a series of ups and downs. You never know what’s around the next turn, but one thing is certain. If one part of your life sinks, another will rise.

Another lesson to draw from both films is also simple: pay attention to what you’ve got. Chances are, as some parts of your world crumble around you, other parts will remain firm. If you feel abandoned, depressed or dejected, talk to a friend. Talk to your family. Talk to co-workers. Amazingly enough, they may be supportive, too. Soon you’ll find yourself buoyed by a life raft of support.

If your problems are severe, don’t be afraid to talk to a professional. A clergy member, doctor, psychiatrist or helpline can help you work through your grief or depression.

Ironically, as terrible as it seems for tragedies to happen this time of year, it’s also the best time, in a way. At this time of year, sharing and caring abound. Total strangers might notice a tear and stop to cheer you up. The “angels” who stay with us and guide us are particularly active near the holidays. If you open your eyes, you’ll find bright lights and festive occasions and love.

As bad as it might be right now, it will get better. Live in the present, not in the past, and soon you’ll find your present is growing brighter all the time. Trust me. I’ve been through it, too.


My late mother, Vivian Starr, who was a domestic abuse and senior abuse counselor/advocate for 25 years, liked this column so much she had it printed up and hung in her office. Sometimes I give myself very good advice. I have to remember to follow it!

Response from Senator Bob Casey Jr. on Immigration Policy

July 24, 2018 at 6:54 am , by Alyce Wilson

I wrote a message to my legislators several weeks ago, expressing my concerns about the Trump administration’s policy of separating undocumented families from their children at the border. Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey (D), just sent me a very thorough response.

Dear Ms. Wilson:

Thank you for taking the time to contact me about the separation of immigrant families by the Trump Administration. I vehemently oppose the policy of family separation, and I appreciate hearing from you about this issue.

I have heard from many Pennsylvanians who are opposed to the Trump Administration’s policy regarding the apprehension and detention of immigrant families upon their arrival in the U.S. On May 7, 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a so-called “zero tolerance” policy toward individuals apprehended crossing the U.S. border between official ports of entry. Thousands of immigrant children have been separated from their parents at the U.S. border since October of 2017, and this policy has caused a steep increase in family separations. Under the “zero tolerance” policy, once families are separated, adults go to the custody of the U.S. Marshals and/or to the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Children considered “unaccompanied,” either because they arrived alone or because they are separated from their parents, are transferred to the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Not only is tearing families apart unconscionable on a moral level, it is also damaging to the development of children. Studies show that the separation of children from parental figures during their youth and adolescence is detrimental to the child’s development of social and cognitive skills. Trump Administration officials, including Attorney General Sessions, have stated that this proposal is intended to deter families from crossing the border into the U.S. I believe this policy is inhumane and intentionally cruel, and there is no evidence to support the assertion that it would act as a deterrent.

On June 20, 2018, President Trump issued an Executive Order that he characterized as reversing his family separation policy and ending the separation of families. While this order changes the most egregious aspect of his policy, the separation of families, it still instructs the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary to “maintain custody of alien families.” In essence, it exchanges family separation with family detention. The order also instructs Attorney General Sessions to go to court to seek modification of the Flores settlement, a settlement that outlines basic child protection standards and which limits the length of times that children can be detained.

While it was long overdue for President Trump to change the most egregious element of his cruel family separation policy, substituting a lesser form of cruelty for a greater form is still cruelty. Family detention is far from the only or best solution for the majority of families at the border. In addition, for thousands of children, the damage is already done. Medical experts have said that the long-term impacts of this barbaric treatment could be lifelong health problems, such as heart disease and substance abuse disorders. The Trump Administration has an obligation to ensure that children whose health has been adversely impacted by this policy receive appropriate medical services and must take steps to reunite every child that has been separated from their parents.

I am proud to have joined with many of my Senate colleagues in the minority party in cosponsoring legislation that would end this practice and in sending letters to the Trump Administration urging it to end this inhumane practice immediately. Before the policy of family separation was officially announced by the Trump Administration, I sent two letters to DHS asking for more information about rumors of family separation practices and demanding that DHS refrain from implementing such a policy.

After Attorney General Sessions announced in early spring the new Trump Administration immigration policy, I sent a letter along with 39 of my Senate colleagues to President Trump demanding that his administration end the abhorrent policy of separating immigrant children from their parents. This letter cites research describing the short-term and long-term harm these traumatic separations can do to children and their families and repeatedly asks President Trump to end his practice of family separation. In late June, I signed onto additional letters to the Office of the Inspector General at the Department of Health and Human Services asking for an investigation to be opened to investigate the treatment, care and reunification procedures that are in place to carry out the family separation policy. I am pleased that in response to this letter the Inspector General’s Office at HHS announced it is opening an investigation to complete a comprehensive review of the operations of the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) program.

Additionally, I have cosponsored bills in the Senate that would expand the rights of children whose families are affected by immigration enforcement proceedings. I am a proud cosponsor of S. 3036, the Keep Families Together Act. This bill is a direct counter to the Trump Administration’s policy of family separation. It prohibits DHS officials from separating children from their parents, except in extraordinary circumstances. Furthermore, I am a cosponsor of S. 2937, the Humane Enforcement and Legal Protections (HELP) for Separated Children Act, which aims to protect children affected by immigration enforcement actions taken against their parents. Through this bill, if a parent is having immigration enforcement actions taken against them, the parent would first be allowed to make calls to arrange for the care of their children and ensure that children can call and visit their parents while they are detained. These protections will provide some small peace of mind for parents and children as they go through immigration proceedings.

On Tuesday, June 26, a federal judge in California issued an injunction in response to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union that calls for all children who have been affected by the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy to be reunited with their parents within 30 daysI am pleased that this injunction has set specific timeframes for the reunification of separated families. I will continue my strong oversight of the Trump Administration’s actions to ensure it is complying with the court order and that families are being reunited as quickly and safely as possible.

The Trump Administration’s systematic policy of family separation is inhumane and has inflicted trauma on children, parents and families. The administration must reunite all families. I have been vocal in my opposition to the policy and will continue to conduct critical oversight until every family is reunited and treated in a manner consistent with our Nation’s values.

Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future about this or any other matter of importance to you.

 For more information on this or other issues, I encourage you to visit my website, http://casey.senate.gov . I hope you will find this online office a comprehensive resource to stay up-to-date on my work in Washington, request assistance from my office or share with me your thoughts on the issues that matter most to you and to Pennsylvania.

Sincerely,

Bob Casey
United States Senator

Help Us Make Pets Happy

February 4, 2018 at 4:45 pm , by Alyce Wilson

KFP has now joined his Daddy’s videogame streaming marathon, playing “Plants Versus Zombies” right now. They are trying to raise money to help the Animal Coalition of Delaware County, a no-kill shelter that helped us find out kitty 12 years ago.

They are getting close: 65 percent of the way there! Only a few donations will help them make their goal.

Please check it out, donate to help homeless pets, and listen to KFP getting silly with his daddy!

https://tiltify.com/@toanstation/thank-you-acdc

Share the love!

Help Pets Who Need Homes

January 31, 2018 at 11:16 am , by Alyce Wilson

Join my husband, Toanstation, in supporting the Animal Coalition of Delaware County’s pet rescue efforts. Watch live gameplay, or even join him, and give to help ACDC find forever homes for animals on Feb. 3rd & 4th.

https://tiltify.com/@toanstation/thank-you-acdc

Want to Give a Pet as a Gift? Read This First

December 16, 2017 at 5:24 am , by Alyce Wilson

In the past, I’ve posted about adopting our own cat, Luke — who is now officially a senior — and because of that, I wanted to provide some tips for people who are interested in adopting their own pets.

Over the holiday season is a popular time to adopt a new furry friend. What should you consider when doing so? Hopefully, the following article will help:

“Ultimate Guide to Pet Adoption”

Joyful wishes to you and your family — and possibly new furry friends — this holiday season!

My Philcon 2017 Schedule

November 5, 2017 at 3:16 pm , by Alyce Wilson

I got my panel requests in late this year, so I’m not sure they’ll be on the official schedule. Here they are:

<b>Fri 7:00PM in Plaza V (Five) – Learning to be an Effective Panel Moderator</b>

Moderating a panel is more than just showing up and asking people to quiet down if a discussion gets out of hand. Learn what the best mods do to prepare for and handle the panels they are responsible for managing.

<b>Sat 2:00PM in Plaza V (Five) – SciFi from the Parents’ Eye</b>

How to shepherd our children through the modern age of SF.

<b>Sat 3:00 PM in Plaza II (Two)—If Christianity Had Never Come Along</b>

Imagine what the 21st century would be like without Christianity in history. Would we be worshipping a different god or gods? Or would society have developed in a different direction? What fiction is already exploring this idea?

Hope to see you there!

Letter on Environmental Issues & Sen. Casey Reponse

February 23, 2017 at 5:57 pm , by Alyce Wilson

A couple weeks ago, I sent some letters about environmental issues that had been written by the Environmental Defense fund, including one expressing concerns about Scott Pruitt as the new Environmental Protection Agency administrator. Here is Senator Robert Casey (D-PA)’s response. I appreciate how detailed it is!

<hr>

Dear Mrs. Wilson:

Thank you for taking the time to contact me regarding environmental policy under the Trump Administration and the nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). I appreciate hearing from you about this issue.

President Trump’s statements denying the reality of climate change are short-sighted and threaten to undermine the progress that Pennsylvania and the Nation have already made to address environmental issues. His statements ignore the growing evidence that indicates that adding large amounts of heat-trapping greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide or methane, to the atmosphere is a leading cause of climate change. Greenhouse gas pollution poses a threat to public health and the environment, particularly for vulnerable populations like children with asthma or the elderly, and failing to act on climate change could lead to, among other things, disruptions in food production, malnutrition, water scarcity and childhood stunting.

We as a Nation have a moral obligation to address this issue. I believe that we must rise to the challenge and revitalize our economy by increasing our efforts in the areas of energy efficiency; developing and adopting cleaner ways of producing electricity; and creating jobs. I support the need for a comprehensive climate change plan and EPA’s Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon pollution from new and existing power plants.

As Pennsylvania transitions to clean energy, there must also be a strategy to maintain multiple forms of electricity generation including clean coal, nuclear energy, natural gas and hydropower. In addition, I believe that we should be encouraging the development and deployment of carbon capture and storage technologies, which will enable fossil fuel power plants across the world to dramatically reduce carbon pollution. Finally, it is critical that the Administration and Congress focus on policies that help those workers in the energy sector who have been adversely affected by changes in the energy economy.

On December 8, 2016, President Trump announced he would nominate Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to be the next EPA Administrator. Mr. Pruitt’s record is clear: he fought to dismantle the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, anti-pollution programs that target ozone and mercury in the air, the agreement to clean up the Chesapeake Bay watershed and denied the science of climate change. Attorney General Pruitt is also leading the effort to overturn the Clean Power Plan, which is vital to getting control of our energy future and creating clean energy jobs. I do not have confidence, based on Attorney General Pruitt’s record, that the EPA under his leadership would enforce our environmental laws like the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act. Therefore, I have determined that I will vote to oppose the confirmation of Attorney General Pruitt to be Administrator of the EPA.

Please be assured that I will remain committed to defending sound environmental policies while cultivating new clean energy jobs, re-energizing the manufacturing sector in Pennsylvania and revitalizing the national economy. I will keep your views in mind as the U.S. Senate considers Cabinet nominations, as well as legislation related to climate change.

Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future about this or any other matter of importance to you.

For more information on this or other issues, I encourage you to visit my website, http://casey.senate.gov. I hope you will find this online office a comprehensive resource to stay up-to-date on my work in Washington, request assistance from my office or share with me your thoughts on the issues that matter most to you and to Pennsylvania.

Sincerely,

Bob Casey

United States Senator

Response from Rep. Patrick Meehan

February 23, 2017 at 5:27 pm , by Alyce Wilson

Yesterday, I was pleased to receive a response from my congressman, Patrick Meehan, regarding my concerns over possible cuts to the school lunch program and, specifically, to those programs, such as CEP, designed to fund school meals for low-income communities. You can read my letter in my previous post. Now, while his letter doesn’t specifically mention CEP, it does indicate that he shares the concerns about funding for school lunches for needy children. Hopefully, he will continue to vote in line with what he says in this letter.

I have now signed up for his newsletter and am also following him on Twitter, so I can keep up to date with news about what he’s doing in Congress.


February 21, 2017

Dear Mrs. Wilson,

Thank you for contacting me regarding childhood nutrition. I appreciate hearing from you and having the benefit of your views.

I share your concerns about America’s youth and ensuring at-risk kids do not go hungry. I voted against cutting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) because I felt the proposed bill would hurt many of the families and children who the program is intended to help in the first place. Compromise legislation was later reached to ensure taxpayer dollars are used wisely and appropriately while meeting our responsibility to needy families. It passed on a bipartisan basis and became law.

As Congress works on Child Nutrition Reauthorization this year, please know that I will keep your concerns in mind as we work to ensure no child in America goes hungry.

Again thank you for contacting me regarding this issue. I appreciate hearing from you. For more information on my work in Congress on your behalf, please visit my website www.meehan.house.gov, where you can sign up for my e-newsletter. Please follow me on Twitter @RepMeehan.

Sincerely,

Patrick Meehan
Member of Congress

Letter to Congress on Funding CEP

February 18, 2017 at 2:49 pm , by Alyce Wilson

Recently, I read an excellent article in the Huffington Post about the School Lunch Program and how important it is to continue a little-known aspect of the program, the Community Eligibility Program, established by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. The article also referred to high-profile comments from some congressmen about the possibility of defunding the program.

Doing my own research on the program, I learned that roughly 6 million children received free lunches in impoverished school districts back in the 2014-15 school year and, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, that number was expected to increase.

Our legislators will be actively discussing the budget soon. Now is a good time to make certain they understand their constituents’ priorities. Following is a letter I sent to both my senators and to my congressman. You can find out how to contact your legislators at at USA.gov.

Feel free to use my letter as a starting point, and to share it with your friends!


Dear Legislator:

As the mother of a first grader, I know the importance of proper nutrition to a child’s health. That’s why I urge you to look out for low-income children through continued funding of the Community Eligibility Program, established by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-296), which provides free lunches to the most poverty-stricken eligible school districts.

You are no doubt aware that the CEP benefits more than 14,000 high-poverty schools in more than 2,200 school districts across the country, serving more than 6 million children. Because of this program, eligible schools have greatly increased access to healthy meals while reducing paperwork for parents/guardians and administrators alike.

Thanks to the nutrition provided by the CEP, students whose schools use the program benefit from stronger thinking skills, behavior and health, all of which impact academic performance. According to the 2014 paper, “Nutrition and Student’s Academic Performance” by Wilder Research, multiple studies have demonstrated the academic benefits of healthy eating, while other studies have shown the negative impacts of junk food on academic performance.

Reducing the funding for CEP would create a hardship for the school districts and children who have come to depend on it. In contrast, continuing full funding of CEP will lead to countless benefits for the children, their schools, and by extension, our nation. Please keep CEP in mind while assessing priorities in upcoming budget discussions in Congress.

Sincerely,
Alyce Wilson

Why We Love the Muppets Like Family

November 21, 2015 at 7:30 am , by Alyce Wilson

In honor of one of my Philcon panels today, “Muppets! Muppets! Muppets!” I am reprinting a piece I originally published on the now-defunct Yahoo! Contributor Network.


The new Muppet movie, “The Muppets,” will relaunch the brand with the classic characters, along with some new faces. After so many years, the Muppets are like old friends — or better yet, like family. So who’s who in our Muppet family?

Kermit the Frog, The Perfect Dad

No matter how perfect your real dad might be, there’s no way he’s as patient, as gentle, and as understanding as Kermit. The soft-spoken father figure of the Muppet clan leads his misfit crew with TLC, offering support and advice where necessary, mediating disputes, and occasionally sending family members to their (dressing) rooms. Even his rage is cute.

Miss Piggy, The Flamboyant Stepmother

Dad remarries to a glamorous diva who never really wanted children to begin with (unless they’re part pig). She insists on being called “Miss Piggy” and will never answer to “Mom.” But at times she is a lot of fun: telling stories about the celebrities she’s met, demonstrating her martial arts skills, and singing us to sleep with operatic bedtime lullabies.

Gonzo, The Weird Uncle

Just about everyone has one: the uncle whose bachelor pad is festooned with a quirky collection of his personal memorabilia, the one who makes archaic references you don’t get but that make your dad go “tsk-tsk.” The guy who has absolutely no idea other people think he’s odd, even while he’s wearing skates, balancing a bowling pin on his head, and juggling chickens. At times, it’s hard to believe he’s related.

Rowlf the Dog, The Cool Uncle

Rowlf is the uncle who’s in a band, gives you backstage passes for his concerts, and teaches you how to play chords. He tells you that you’re talented and introduces you to all his cool music-making friends. Even though Kermit is the perfect father figure, there are times you wish that, instead of plinking away on his wimpy little banjo, he’d rock out on the keyboards with a bluesy growl like Rowlf.

Fozzie Bear, The Daydreaming Older Brother

Ever since he was born, older brother Fozzie was convinced he was destined for greatness. Unfortunately, his chosen profession was comedy, and as everybody knows, Fozzie isn’t terribly funny. But with plenty of support from dad Kermit (after all, he even put Fozzie in his show), Fozzie continues to follow his dreams. He might still be living in his old bedroom, but he knows one day he’ll make it big, get his own place, and bask in the adulation reserved for a star.

Scooter, The Geeky Younger Brother

While Fozzie is a dreamer, Scooter is practical, which is why he helps run the family business, serving as a stage manager for the Muppet Theater. Everybody knows that someday it will be him and not Fozzie who takes over for dad Kermit. He is young but detail-oriented and eager to please. If you need someone to fix your computer, ask Scooter.

Statler and Waldorf, The Wisecracking Grandfathers

Retirement was the best thing to ever happen to Statler and Waldorf; it freed them from any real responsibilities. Now they can just sit back and criticize the world around them. If you listened to just their words, you’d think they hated everything their family does. But as much as they claim that sitting through it is sheer torture, they make sure to get a box seat to every performance.

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