A House Divided: The Challenges and Struggles of Everyday Americans

Instead of feeding the hungry, spending money on war and foreign policy is prioritized. Instead of fixing the border and creating a fair immigration policy, politics is valued. Money flows to the coffers of big businesses, corporations, and foreign countries while some in Congress want to slash funding for programs that assist people in need at home. Policies to safeguard the citizens are stalled by party politics and political rhetoric dominates the news cycle on both sides. Too many seek their moment on the camera and in the political spotlight due to the upcoming election cycle. Neither side is ready to compromise in order to get things done, they rather cling to their party lines, agendas, and the desires of their base than do what is right for all of the people.

Many veterans, the elderly, and other citizens face daily challenges to maintain shelter, food, and bills while coping with rising inflationary prices. Many are jobless due to their location, age, and/or health. There is also the fact that higher education now costs most Americans more than it would to purchase a house. I really think the senior politicians in Congress have become disconnected from everyday American citizens and their struggles. I am worried they have gone astray and forgotten why they became politicians and why they were elected into office.

Both parties are shifting, becoming more radical, and the once moderating and dominant moderate politicians in both parties have either vanished or chosen to remain silent or inactive. Those that used to bridge the party lines and forge compromise in order to get policies and work done seem to no longer exist or they are just so overwhelmed by the extreme elements in both parties. Everything is getting personal in politics, and everything on the news and on social media is becoming political. If we do not find a way to restore things to working order, the hostile nations out there will exploit this disorder and our country will pay the price for that fact.

When both parties drop all the partisan politics and the rhetoric, they can accomplish some great policy-making. When things run smoothly, our country can surmount almost any kind of tragedy or challenge before it. We need to pull ourselves together politically and socially and cooperate towards a better future for our country and the world as well. I leave you (The politicians) with these little words of wisdom, A house divided upon itself is doomed to fall.


How Vitamin A Can Boost Your Lung Health and Fight COPD

Vitamin A: A Friend of Your Lungs

If you are living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), you know how hard it can be to breathe. Your lungs may have suffered damage and inflammation from cigarette smoke or other irritants. You may be looking for natural ways to heal your lungs and improve your breathing. One nutrient that may help you do that is vitamin A, a fat-soluble vitamin that has many benefits for your body. Vitamin A helps your immune system, vision, reproduction, and cell communication. It also helps your heart, lungs, kidneys, and other organs work well.

Why Vitamin A Matters for Your Lungs

Vitamin A is essential for your lung health. Your lungs need vitamin A to grow new cells and tissues, especially when you are developing in the womb and as a child. Vitamin A also helps your lungs fight off infections and inflammation by controlling the immune system and the production of mucus.

However, many things can lower your vitamin A levels, such as cigarette smoking, the main cause of COPD. Cigarette smoke contains a harmful substance called benzopyrene, which blocks the absorption of vitamin A in your body. This can lead to vitamin A deficiency (VAD), which can harm your lung function and increase your risk of respiratory diseases.

How can you tell if you have VAD? Some of the signs and symptoms include:

  • Night blindness
  • Dry eyes
  • Dry skin
  • Increased susceptibility to infections
  • Poor wound healing
  • Growth retardation in children

A moderate VAD can cause changes in the lining of your lungs, such as loss of hair-like structures called cilia, an increase of mucus-producing cells called goblet cells, and a change of cell type called squamous metaplasia. These changes make it harder for your lungs to work normally and protect you from infections. A severe VAD can also affect the structure and composition of the tissue that supports your lungs, called the extracellular matrix. This can result in the thickening of the membrane that surrounds the air sacs in your lungs, called the alveolar basement membrane, and abnormal deposition of a protein called collagen I. These changes reduce the ability of your lungs to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide.

How Much Vitamin A Do You Need?

The amount of vitamin A you need depends on your age, sex, and health status. For adults, the recommended amount is 900 micrograms (mcg) for men and 700 mcg for women. Pregnant and breastfeeding women need more vitamin A to support their babies’ growth and development. However, too much vitamin A can be toxic and cause liver damage, birth defects, and other problems. The maximum amount you can take without risking harm is 3000 mcg for adults.

You can get vitamin A from animal sources, such as liver, eggs, cheese, and butter. These foods contain ready-made vitamin A, which is easy for your body to use. You can also get vitamin A from plant sources, such as carrots, spinach, sweet potatoes, and kale. These foods contain substances called provitamin A carotenoids, which need to be changed into active vitamin A in your body. The rate of this change depends on several factors, such as your genes, dietary fat intake, and other nutrients.

Can Vitamin A Supplements Help With COPD?

There is some evidence that taking vitamin A supplements may help heal your lung tissue if you have COPD. Some studies have found that vitamin A supplementation may improve lung function or reduce the risk of COPD flare-ups in people with low vitamin A levels. For example, a study published in Nutrients found that VAD mice had reduced air sac surface area and increased collagen deposition in their lungs compared to normal mice. However, when VAD mice were given retinoic acid (RA), a form of vitamin A, their lung structure and function was restored.

However, other studies have found no benefit or even harmful effects of vitamin A supplementation in people with normal or high vitamin A levels. Therefore, more research is needed to find out the best dose and duration of vitamin A supplementation for people with COPD.

The best way to make sure you get enough vitamin A is to eat a balanced diet that includes a variety of foods from different food groups. If you have COPD, you may also benefit from following a meal plan that meets your nutritional needs and helps you breathe easier. You can talk to a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) who specializes in COPD to create a personalized diet plan for you. You can also ask your doctor before taking any supplements or making any changes to your diet.


Vitamin A is an important nutrient for your overall health and especially for your lungs.

Related Links

Save Money and Boost Your Music Skills With These Amazing Free Online Resources

Being a musician can be costly and difficult. You have to buy instruments, gear, software, books, and more. You have to practice, learn new things, find gigs, promote your music, and network with other musicians. You have to invest a lot of time, money, and energy into your music career.

But what if you could do all of these things for free? That’s right, there are tons of free online resources that can help you improve your music skills, learn new songs, create your own music, and connect with other musicians. In this article, we will show you some of the best free online resources that every musician should know about.

Learn From the Pros for Free

One of the best ways to improve your music skills is to learn from the pros. There are many professional music instructors who share their knowledge and expertise online for free. You can find free online lessons and tutorials for any instrument, genre, or skill level on platforms like YouTube, Udemy, Skillshare, and Coursera.

For example, you can learn how to play guitar from Guitar Tricks, which has over 11,000 videos that teach you how to play guitar in any style and technique. You can learn how to play piano from Pianote, which has a comprehensive piano learning system that guides you from beginner to advanced levels with feedback and support. You can learn how to sing better from Singing Success, which has tips and exercises that teach you how to sing better with professional vocal coaches. You can also learn how to produce music from Berklee Online, which has courses that teach you how to produce music using popular software like Ableton Live, Logic Pro X, Pro Tools, and more.

Master Music Theory for Free

Music theory is the language of music. It helps you understand how music works, how to write your own songs, and how to communicate with other musicians. Music theory can seem complicated and boring, but it doesn’t have to be. There are many online tools and resources that can help you learn music theory in a fun and interactive way.

For example, you can learn the basics of music theory from Ableton Learning Music, which teaches you how to make melodies, chords, basslines, beats, and song arrangements. You can also learn about intervals, scales, chords, harmony, rhythm, notation, and more from Musictheory.net, which has lessons, exercises, and tools for learning music theory. You can also train your ear for music from Tone Gym, which helps you identify intervals, scales, chords, progressions, and rhythms by sound alone.

Access Sheet Music for Free

Sheet music is a written representation of music that shows you the notes, rhythms, chords, and symbols of a song. Sheet music can help you learn new songs, improve your sight-reading skills, or perform with other musicians. However, sheet music can also be expensive or hard to find. Luckily, there are some websites that offer free access to sheet music for various instruments and genres.

For example, you can find over 170,000 public domain sheet music files for classical music from IMSLP. You can also create, play, print, and share your own sheet music using MuseScore, a free notation software. You can also find free printable sheet music for elementary school students from Making Music Fun.

Connect With Other Musicians for Free

Music is not only a solo activity. It can also be a social one. Playing music with other musicians can help you improve your skills, get feedback, find opportunities, and have fun. There are many online platforms that can help you connect with other musicians for free.

For example, you can find and book gigs from Gigsalad, a platform that connects party planners with talent. You can also share your music, tour dates, and news directly with your fans using BandApp, a free app for musicians. You can also connect with industry professionals and showcase your music using Music Gorilla, a platform that helps artists get exposure and opportunities.


As you can see, there are many free online resources that can help you save money and boost your music skills. You can learn from the pros, master music theory, access sheet music, and connect with other musicians for free. All you need is an internet connection and a passion for music. So what are you waiting for? Start exploring these free online resources today and take your music career to the next level.

The Healing Power of Music: Recent Studies on Music Therapy and its Benefits

Music has been an integral part of human existence since ancient times. It has the power to inspire, soothe, and heal, and has been known for centuries for its therapeutic properties. Recent scientific studies have further explored the healing properties of music, uncovering its ability to alleviate both physical and mental health problems. These findings have led to the emergence of music therapy, a field that uses music as a therapeutic tool to enhance the quality of life of individuals.

One recent study, published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, examined the relationship between music and pain relief. The researchers discovered that listening to music for just an hour each day can significantly reduce chronic pain. Participants reported a 21% decrease in pain levels, and the need for pain medication was reduced as well.

Another study, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, focused on the effectiveness of music therapy as a treatment for depression. A meta-analysis of 7 randomized controlled trials with 421 participants found that music therapy significantly reduced symptoms of depression compared to standard care.

The healing power of music extends to those living with dementia as well. A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease demonstrated that music therapy can improve the cognitive function, mood, and behavior of individuals with dementia. Participants who received music therapy reported better memory, cognitive function, and overall quality of life, with less agitation and aggression.

Anxiety is a common mental health issue, and studies have shown that music therapy can be an effective treatment for it. Research published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine showed that music therapy reduced anxiety in patients undergoing medical procedures. Similarly, a study published in the Journal of Music Therapy found that music therapy reduced anxiety levels in individuals with generalized anxiety disorder.

Music therapy has also been shown to be a powerful tool in stroke rehabilitation. The Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry published a study that revealed that music therapy improved motor function and reduced depression in stroke patients. Participants who received music therapy demonstrated better motor function, improved mood, and decreased levels of depression compared to those who received standard care.

In conclusion, scientific studies have shown that music has the power to heal and soothe, with music therapy emerging as a promising new field of medicine. The ability of music to enhance physical and mental health is now more evident than ever before. It is a powerful tool that can help individuals lead happier, healthier, and more fulfilling lives.

Discover the Joy of Diverse and Original Music with Creative Commons Licenses

As someone who appreciates the value of music in our lives, I’m excited to share with you the benefits of using Creative Commons licensed music. Being a music lover and hobbyist DJ of several online radio stations and a loop-based music artist, let me express my passion for music and how it can enhance our experiences.

Music has a unique power to evoke emotions, bring people together, and inspire us to create. It can be a tool for healing, a means of self-expression, and a source of joy. However, not all music is created equal. The music industry is dominated by major record labels, which often prioritize profit over artistic integrity. This has led to a homogenization of music, where many popular songs sound the same and lack originality.

But there is an alternative: Creative Commons licensed music. Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that provides free, legal tools for creators to share their work with the world. Creative Commons licenses allow musicians to give permission for others to use their music under certain conditions, such as attribution or non-commercial use.

By using Creative Commons licensed music, you can support independent musicians who are creating original and diverse music that may not be found on mainstream platforms. This music is often a reflection of the artist’s unique perspective, culture, and experiences, and can be a refreshing change from the same old songs on the radio.

Additionally, Creative Commons licensed music can be used for a variety of purposes, such as background music for videos or podcasts, music for events or performances, or even as inspiration for your own creative projects. The licenses make it easy to find and use music legally and ethically, without worrying about copyright infringement.

So, how can you find Creative Commons licensed music? There are many websites that specialize in providing free and legal music, such as Jamendo, Free Music Archive, and ccMixter. These sites allow you to browse and download music by genre, mood, and license type, making it easy to find the perfect track for your needs.

In conclusion, using Creative Commons licensed music is a win-win situation. You can support independent musicians, enjoy original and diverse music, and use it legally and ethically for your own projects. So why not give it a try? Explore the world of Creative Commons music and discover the joy of music that truly reflects the diversity of the human experience.

How to Improve Your Blog Writing Skills for Free

Writing is a skill that can be learned and improved with practice. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced blogger, you can always benefit from some free resources that will help you hone your craft and reach more readers.

In this post, I will share with you some of the best free resources that I have found online for improving your blog writing skills. These resources cover various aspects of writing, such as grammar, punctuation, structure, style, and content. They also offer different formats, such as courses, articles, blogs, podcasts, and tools.

I hope you will find these resources useful and inspiring. Let’s get started!

  1. Coursera

Coursera is a platform that offers free online courses from top universities and organizations. You can find courses on various topics, including writing. Some of the courses that I recommend are:

  • Writing for Social Media: This course will teach you how to write engaging and effective posts for different social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
  • Writing in the Sciences: This course will help you write clear and concise scientific papers, reports, and proposals.
  • Writing for Young Readers: This course will guide you through the process of writing a children’s book, from generating ideas to publishing.

You can enroll in these courses for free and learn at your own pace. You can also earn certificates if you pay a small fee.

  1. MIT Open Courseware

MIT Open Courseware is a website that provides free access to course materials from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. You can find materials on various subjects, including writing. Some of the materials that I recommend are:

  • Writing and Reading Short Stories: This course will help you develop your skills in writing and analyzing short stories.
  • Writing About Literature: This course will teach you how to write essays and reviews about literary works.
  • Writing and Reading Poems: This course will introduce you to the craft and appreciation of poetry.

You can download these materials for free and use them for self-study or reference.

  1. Writing Commons

Writing Commons is a website that provides free resources for college-level writers. You can find articles on various topics, such as:

  • Grammar: This section covers the rules and conventions of grammar, such as nouns, verbs, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, etc.
  • Punctuation: This section covers the use and misuse of punctuation marks, such as commas, periods, semicolons, colons, etc.
  • Style: This section covers the elements of style, such as tone, voice, word choice, sentence variety, etc.

You can browse these articles for free and learn from the examples and exercises.

  1. Merriam-Webster Online

Merriam-Webster Online is a website that provides free access to dictionaries and thesauruses. You can use these tools to:

  • Check the spelling and meaning of words
  • Find synonyms and antonyms for words
  • Learn new words and expand your vocabulary
  • Play word games and quizzes

You can also subscribe to their newsletter and podcast to receive daily word tips and trivia.

  1. Poynter’s News University

Poynter’s News University is a website that offers free or low-cost courses for journalists and writers. You can find courses on various topics, such as:

  • Writer’s Workbench: 50 Tools You Can Use: This course will teach you 50 practical tools that will help you improve your writing skills and productivity.
  • How to Write Better Headlines: This course will teach you how to write catchy and informative headlines that will attract readers’ attention.
  • How to Write Opinion Pieces: This course will teach you how to write persuasive and compelling opinion pieces that will influence readers’ views.

You can enroll in these courses for free or pay a small fee for certificates.

These are some of the free resources that I have found helpful for improving my blog writing skills. I hope you will find them helpful too. Remember, writing is a skill that can be learned and improved with practice. So keep writing and keep learning!

What are some other free resources that you use or recommend for improving your blog writing skills? Share them in the comments below!

Balance is not the agenda in politics, it’s party domination that drives both parties it seems

So much division in society due to the politicization of almost all things newsworthy and or postable on social media platforms. Too much trust in conspiracy theories and not enough trust in science. Fear-driven reaction to impossible situations as big business and politicians cash in on the disarray. The homeless, elderly, and those without children are left behind or cast aside like refuse by politicians and society. Those in power seek to take away all the safety nets in place to help and protect the less fortunate part of the population.

The age they set for retirement is too old for a portion of the population, some are not healthy enough to work but too healthy for disability benefits. Some who still can work have to deal with age discrimination when it comes to trying to find work as well. Then you throw in the discrimination that minorities have to face due to their color, sex / sexual preferences, and nationalities, and there are many being left behind and looked at as less than human and/or second-class citizens. This and more is happening in the nation touted as the melting pot, the land of the free, and the guiding light of the modern world.

Do not get me wrong, The US is a great place to grow up and live in. I just think it is falling short of what it could be and should have been. I would not choose to live in any other country and would die to protect it if the situation was to arise. The politicians have lost touch with both reality and the people, well at least the common people they are supposed to represent, serve and protect. Too much extremism in politics nowadays, smaller pockets of the population which have the loudest voices drown out the cries and voices of the rest of the population right now.

Balance is not the agenda in politics, it’s party domination that drives both parties it seems, soundbites and extreme political grandstanding take priority over policy and the issues at hand. Both parties have good qualities and policies if they were to work together we would probably have a better country for all to live in. Just the same both parties have some bad policies and agendas driven by the lust for power and profit that needs to be weeded out.

No system or government is perfect, but we can and should hold those in power accountable for their words, actions, and so on.

Ray’s Ramblings 4-17-2023

I sit here in my autumn of life looking back on my early years, thinking about how easily I fell into the ways of my peers. How when something was seen as normal behavior or common behavior I would emulate it without even considering the moral aspect of it. Mind you when you’re a child you think less and emulate others to fit in out of your desire to fit in. I was a child in the 1970s, and there were many social issues back then, being a kid I was not too aware of most of them until I was around 12 years old and which would have been about 1979.

Unfortunately, many of my peers used racial slurs towards one another during these years of my life and even I fell prey to using some a few times back then. I was so fortunate to have some really good parents that through example showed me that was wrong and that we should see one another as human beings, and not judge one another by skin color, sex, sexual preference, religion, and so on. Between my parents and the many friends that I had, I avoided going down a dark and sad path. I emerged from my childhood into my teens with a better mindset and friends from all walks of life.

It is so sad how easy it is for a child to get pulled into such negativity, the child only knows how to emulate and seek acceptance. It’s human nature to seek a group to belong to and for them to emulate that group. It is of course just as easy for a child to fall in with the right kind of crowd as well. The problem is providing more positive groups for them to belong to and reducing those negative ones. And then there are some children that never feel like they fit into any group and they bounce from the outer edges of one to another and find themselves feeling unwanted or outcasted.

We should all try and remember how it was for us when we were a child, the same problems we faced kids today face and they also face newer threats and challenges as well. Parents should take the lead in teaching their kids tolerance and acceptance of those who are different, and teach compassion and understanding to them as well. Children are just children and they need room to grow, learn from mistakes, and be guided by parents through it all.

My parents did the best they could, they could have done more and could have done better in some areas of how they raised me. But I am very fortunate that they did as well as they did in raising me. They are why I am the way I am and they gave me the ability to accept others as they are. I pray one day Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech becomes reality and we all can live side by side seeing one another as brothers and sisters in this world together.

Politics, the world, the power of your vote and voice.

Time is speeding by as the world becomes more and more divided. So much polarization of political views and so much anger, fear, frustration, and financial disparity. The wealthy continue to get richer as the middle class slowly disappears and the poor becomes even more impoverished.

Mass shootings become more commonplace as gun control is being discussed in Congress. Special interest groups with large reserves of cash to funnel into the gun lobbyist groups have more sway with politicians than the parents of children who had been killed in school shootings.

Some politicians just do what they can to get tax breaks through for the wealthy as they cut their budgets for programs that help the poorer groups of the population. Balancing the budget for them is finding a way to help themselves and passing on tax breaks to their benefactors in the business world.

Politicians get too wrapped up in their own party and the agenda of that party. They also become more and more out of touch with the majority of their citizens. I guess when you make the money a politician does and have a guaranteed retirement with benefits for serving one term in office, you do not think about the regular folks who rely on social security to retire.

Sure There is a lot wrong with our government, that is for sure. But we must remember that the government is run by humans so it will have to have problems with all those egos and different belief systems. I believe that it is easy to lose touch with how hard it is to be in the working class when you are up there on capitol hill.

Heck, it is hard to relate to other financial classes no matter which one you are in. Unless you take the time to walk among the other social classes, you become blind to their needs and wants. Just as it is hard for politicians to get things done when they are slaves to their political party, their agendas, and ideals.

On the other hand, the citizens of this country have become complacent and choose to just go on with their lives instead of becoming active in the political process. They do not write their congressperson and express their needs, wants, and concerns. So it is basically all of our faults in a way that things are so messed up.

With all that said, I implore you to get more active in your local, state, and federal government. Write your representatives in each level of the governmental system to get change done. It is the government that is for the people and by the people so get involved. Vote, Write congress, protest (peacefully), and get your voice heard.

If all you do is complain about how things are messed up to your tv set and family members and never get your voice heard by those in power then it will be the voices of the rich and powerful that will shape the future of this country. They may have money, but we have numbers and we are the ones with the power to vote those representatives out of office that do not listen to us.

I just pray that the younger generations become more politically active than my generation did. The future of this nation is in their hands now.

Mindfulness and Meditation: Cultivating Inner Peace and Improving Well-Being

Mindfulness and meditation are two practices that have gained a lot of popularity in recent years, and for good reason. They can help you cultivate inner peace, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve your overall well-being.

Before we dive into the specifics of meditation, let’s first talk about mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of being present and fully engaged in the current moment, without judgment. It’s about paying attention to your thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations in a non-reactive way. When you practice mindfulness, you become more aware of your thoughts and feelings, and you develop the ability to observe them without getting caught up in them.

Meditation is a powerful tool that can help you cultivate mindfulness. There are many different types of meditation, but the most common is mindfulness meditation. To practice mindfulness meditation, follow these steps:

  1. Find a quiet place where you can sit comfortably for a few minutes. You can sit on a cushion, a chair, or even on the floor. The most important thing is that you’re comfortable and your spine is straight.
  2. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Focus on your breath as you inhale and exhale.
  3. As you continue to breathe, bring your attention to the present moment. Notice any sensations in your body, any sounds around you, and any thoughts or emotions that come up.
  4. When you notice your mind has wandered off, gently bring your focus back to your breath or the present moment. Don’t judge yourself for getting distracted; it’s perfectly normal.
  5. Continue to focus on your breath and the present moment for as long as you’d like. It can be helpful to start with just a few minutes and gradually work your way up to longer periods of time.

Remember, mindfulness meditation is a practice. It’s not something that you can master overnight. Be patient with yourself and keep practicing. Over time, you’ll find that you’re able to stay present and focused for longer periods of time.

In addition to mindfulness meditation, there are many other types of meditation that you can explore, such as loving-kindness meditation, visualization meditation, and mantra meditation. The key is to find a type of meditation that resonates with you and that you enjoy.


In conclusion, mindfulness and meditation are powerful tools that can help you cultivate inner peace, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve your overall well-being. Mindfulness is the practice of being present and fully engaged in the current moment, without judgment, while meditation is a practice that can help you cultivate mindfulness. There are many different types of meditation, including mindfulness meditation, loving-kindness meditation, visualization meditation, and mantra meditation, and it’s important to find a type of meditation that resonates with you. There are also many resources available online to help you learn and practice mindfulness and meditation, such as apps, websites, and research centers. With a little bit of practice and patience, you can learn to be more present and fully engaged in the current moment, and experience the many benefits of mindfulness and meditation.

Some websites to help you along the way toward mindfulness and aid in learning to meditate
  1. Headspace (https://www.headspace.com/): A popular app that provides guided meditations and mindfulness exercises.
  2. Mindful (https://www.mindful.org/): A website that provides articles, videos, and other resources on mindfulness and meditation.
  3. Insight Timer (https://insighttimer.com/): A meditation app with thousands of guided meditations, music tracks, and talks.
  4. The Chopra Center (https://chopra.com/): A website founded by Deepak Chopra that provides resources on mindfulness, meditation, and holistic health.
  5. Mindfulness Exercises (https://www.mindfulnessexercises.com/): A website that provides free mindfulness exercises and meditations.
  6. UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center (https://www.marc.ucla.edu/): A research center that provides resources and tools for mindfulness and meditation.
  7. Zen Habits (https://zenhabits.net/): A blog that provides articles on mindfulness, meditation, and simplifying your life.

I hope these websites are helpful to you on your mindfulness and meditation journey!