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Why I’m Voting NO on Question One

Massachusetts Ballot Question One 2018

Not all Massachusetts nurses want a ‘yes’ vote on Question 1. The Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA) is promoting ballot Question 1, which would set limits on the number of patients assigned to a nurse at one time. First, this bill only pertains to hospitals and it’s important to note that hospitals staff about half of all nurses and the MNA only represents about 25% of nurses statewide.

The idea of limiting patient load is good in theory, but it’s more complicated. Supporters say that hospital nurses are often over-worked and limiting patient load could make hospitals safer. It is not surprising hospital administrators oppose the ballot question, because it would be expensive. The cost of health care in the US is a much bigger issue and our whole health care system is a mess, but that’s another story.

Regarding Question 1, I’ll be voting no on Question one for a very different reason, simply because there are not enough nurses to fill the jobs we have now. This country has had a nursing shortage dating back to the 1930’s and I don’t see an end to the shortage anytime soon. If this bill passes, hospitals will drain nurses from other much needed and already short staffed places like nursing homes, group homes, rehab facilities, doctor’s offices and home care.

Hospitals already have the most skilled nurses and they should have the flexibility to move staff where it is most needed, without government imposed ratios. Creating nursing assignments is complex and dynamic and needs flexibility. Hospitals will do just fine without this bill. However, if the bill passes, it will be devastating and life threatening to long-term care facilities for the elderly, sick and disabled – our most vulnerable citizens – who often can’t speak for themselves.

I have been a nurse for 36 years and have worked in several different settings including hospitals, nursing homes and home care. It is the nursing homes and home care who are desperate for nurses and this bill would make a bad situation worse. For example, I know of children with complex medical needs who are approved for home nursing hours, but there are simply no nurses to fill those hours. If there were plenty of nurses I would have no objection to Question 1, however at this time when I weigh the pros and cons, I think a yes vote would hurt more people than it would help.

Please Vote No on Question One.


Celebrating 100 episodes of Rubber Duck Theater

Producer Cindy Bissell during a production of an episode of Rubber Duck Theater.


GRAFTON: Grafton Community Television celebrates another cable access milestone during August. GCTV producer Cindy Bissell, along with program hosts husband Richard Bissell and son Aaron Bissell have reached the 100th episode of their cable access show “Rubber Duck Theater.”

“Rubber Duck Theater” debuted on August 1st, 2011. Cindy, Richard and Aaron Bissell are certified access producers for Grafton Community Television. The program featuring the Bissells with recurring guest Nicholas Nicklebee, is primarily billed as a half hour movie review show, but it includes a variety of topics including family travels and themed conventions. The Bissell family reached episode #50 in January, 2014 and episode #75 in November 6, 2015.

The 100th episode features a one hour special that will run on Grafton Community Television during the month of September. The show airs on Grafton Community Television’s Charter Channel 191 / Verizon Channel 34 on the following weekly schedule: Tuesdays at 11:00 PM, Friday at 10:00 PM, Saturday at 10:00 PM and Sunday at 7:00 PM. The program will also be available at the GCTV VOD link:

Past episodes of “Rubber Duck Theater” can also be found at and at

Grafton News article PDF
Grafton News (web)
Grafton Patch (web)


Meeting Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins is a British ethologist and evolutionary biologist; but he is probably more well-known as an outspoken atheist. He is definitely a hero of mine. What a thrill it was to actually meet Richard Dawkins in person!

Richard was a speaker at the 70th Annual American Humanist Association Conference, which happened to be held in Boston this year. Aaron is also a big fan, so we went to hear him speak. His speech was interesting, insightful and entertaining. I just love listening to his British accent. We were even more excited to be able to meet Richard at a book signing after the lecture!

Aaron and Richard Dawkins
Richard Dawkins and I

Aaron brought his book “The God Delusion” and was able to get it signed. In this best selling book, Dawkins ruffled many religious feathers when he wrote that a supernatural creator almost certainly does not exist and that all religious faith is a delusion. Dawkins encourages Atheist to speak up against religion because religion is a major source of conflict in the world and because it gives people justification to blindly believe without any evidence.

After the September 11, 2001 attacks, Dawkins was asked how this event might change the world, he responded:

“Many of us saw religion as harmless nonsense. Beliefs might lack all supporting evidence but, we thought, if people needed a crutch for consolation, where’s the harm? September 11th changed all that. Revealed faith is not harmless nonsense, it can be lethally dangerous nonsense. Dangerous because it gives people unshakeable confidence in their own righteousness. Dangerous because it gives them false courage to kill themselves, which automatically removes normal barriers to killing others. Dangerous because it teaches enmity to others labeled only by a difference of inherited tradition. And dangerous because we have all bought into a weird respect, which uniquely protects religion from normal criticism. Let’s now stop being so damned respectful!”

Dawkins gives atheist the courage to come out of the closet. Atheists are far more numerous than most people realize and our voices need to be heard in order to fight back against religious intrusion in our schools and politics. We need to fight back against those who force their own religious agendas down the throats of our children and our government. It is vital to uphold the separation of Church and state. Religion is an unnecessary part of our global problems and it is time to stand up against the enemies of reason.

It is also important to help remove the negative stigma associated with atheism. Here in the US, research has found that Atheists are the most hated and distrusted minority in the country. University of Minnesota study found that atheists are more distrusted than Muslims, recent immigrants and gays. While in reality, Atheist are statistically more peaceful, moral and trustworthy than Christians. The best way to fight back against the negative stereo typing of atheist is for atheist to stand up and say, I’m an atheist and I’m a good person. After all, an atheist is just a “non-theist.” A theist has a belief in the existence of a god or gods, an atheist does not have a belief in the existence of a god or gods. Is that really such a bad thing? On the contrary, it’s a good thing. Being an atheist is evidence of a healthy, independent mind.

Thank you Richard for speaking out for free-thinkers. It was a pleasure to meet you!

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Pick Your Side

I am horrified by this recent story from Los Angeles, California! The L.A. County Sheriff is investigating the sexual assault of at least 10 women with severe disabilities. The Sheriff received 11 DVDs containing graphic videos of these men – these pigs – sexually assaulting women with disabilities.

As a disability advocate who has attended many trainings on the subject of safeguarding people with disabilities, I am painfully aware of the dangers our most vulnerable members of society face. Of course, being a parent of children with physical and developmental disabilities also makes this a personal issue. Most parents of kids with disabilities will tell you that the hardest thing about having a child with a disability is the worry they have about what will happen to their children when they are gone or no longer able to care for their kids. I know this is my biggest worry. Who will take care of my kids and keep them safe? It takes money – a lot of money – in order to properly care for a person with a disability; many require 24/7 care. It is impossible for most families to afford proper care on their own. For this reason, they need government assistance.

How does something like this L.A. story happen? I can guarantee that a big part of the problem is lack of services for people with disabilities. Sadly, when money gets tight, state budgets get cut. More often than not, it is our most vulnerable citizens who are hurt. Typical conservatives who want small government and low taxes don’t understand that cutting state spending puts people at risk. For example, here in Massachusetts, our DDS (Department of Developmental Services) is cutting back on staff for group homes. There are people in these homes who have serious mental and physical problems, yet the state is cutting out nursing care. Many homes have to share one nurse with several homes. This leaves clients being cared for by minimum wage, uneducated workers who are expected to take care of all of their needs, including the administration of medications. This is dangerous for both the health and safety of people with disabilities.

We’ve all heard the horror stories of the abuse and neglect that went on in large institutions back in the 60’s and 70’s. This led to a push to close these human warehouses in favor of smaller community settings. This was a step forward, however, if we keep cutting community services, we are going to hear more and more stories like this one in L.A. You can’t just stick people out in the community without the proper supports and safety nets in place.

Republicans, when you push for small government and lower taxes, you are jeopardizing the health and safety of the disabled, the poor and the elderly. How can you sleep at night? Some conservatives will say, “Oh, I don’t want services for people with disabilities cut, just cut out waste and the people who are cheating the system.” First, there are always going to be people who cheat a system, any system. That’s life, deal with it. But keep in mind that the corporate welfare and millionaire tax loop holes make social service waste look like a drop in the bucket. Second, when you cut taxes, people with disabilities will lose services. This is historically true and it’s happening now. Whether you like it or not, this is the way our government is currently set up. We have a two party system and a country divided. So, pick your side.

In my opinion, a country should be judge by how well it cares for it’s most vulnerable citizens. Put people before money and vote Democrat!


Haiti quake death toll surpasses 111,000

First official death toll release by the Haitian government on Friday following the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010.

Deadliest Earthquakes arranged by Death Toll, Event, Location and Date:

830,000 1556 Shaanxi earthquake China 1556
250,000 526 Antioch earthquake Antioch, Byzantine Empire (now Turkey) 526
242,000 1976 Tangshan earthquake China 1976
240,000 1920 Haiyuan earthquake China 1920
230,000 1138 Aleppo earthquake Syria 1138
230,000 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake Asia 2004
200,000 856 Damghan earthquake Iran 856
150,000 893 Ardabil earthquake Iran 893
142,800 1923 Great Kanto earthquake Japan 1923
137,000 1730 Hokkaido earthquake Japan 1730
111,481 2010 Haiti earthquake Haiti 2010
110,000 1948 Ashgabat earthquake Turkmenistan 1948
100,000 Messina earthquake Italy 1908
100,000 1755 Lisbon earthquake Portugal 1755
100,000 1290 Chihli earthquake China 1290
86,000 2005 Kashmir earthquake Pakistan 2005
85,000 1854 Great Ansei Nankai earthquakes Japan 1854
80,000 1667 Shamakhi earthquake Azerbaijan 1667
77,000 1727 Tabriz Earthquake Iran 1727
70,000 1932 Changma, Gansu earthquake China 1932
69,197 2008 Sichuan earthquake China 2008
66,000 Ancash earthquake Peru 1970
60,000 Sicily earthquake Italy 1693
60,000 1935 Balochistan earthquake British India 1935
50,000 Calabrian earthquakes Italy 1783
40,000 1927 Gulang, Gansu earthquake China 1927
40,000 1498 Meio- Nankai, Japan earthquake Japan 1498
40,000 1797 Quito earthquake Ecuador 1797
37,000 Genroku earthquake Japan 1703
35,000 1990 Manjil Rudbar earthquake Iran 1990
32,962 1939 Erzincan earthquake Turkey 1939
30,000 1707 Great Ho-ei Earthquake Japan 1707
30,000 2003 Bam earthquake Iran 2003
25,000 1988 Spitak Earthquake Armenia 1988
25,000 1978 Tabas earthquake Iran 1978
23,700 Kamakura earthquake Japan 1293
23,000 1976 Guatemala earthquake Guatemala 1976
20,000 Gujarat earthquake India 2001
20,000 1812 Caracas earthquake Venezuela 1812
20,000 1939 Chillán earthquake Chile 1939
18,000 1949 Khait earthquake Tajikistan 1949
17,118 Izmit earthquake Turkey 1999
15,000 1960 Agadir earthquake Morocco 1960
12,225 1962 Bou’in-Zahra earthquake Iran 1962
10,700 1934 Bihar earthquake India 1934
10,000 Apennine earthquakes Italy 1703
10,000 1944 San Juan earthquake Argentina 1944
9,748 1993 Latur earthquake India 1993
9,500 1985 Mexico City earthquake Mexico 1985
9,000 1933 Diexi earthquake China 1933
8,064 1966 Xingtai earthquake China 1966
7,000 1968 Dasht-e Bayaz and Ferdows earthquake Iran 1968
6,433 1995 Great Hanshin earthquake Japan 1995
6,000 1960 Valdivia earthquake Chile 1960
6,000 1861 Mendoza earthquake Argentina 1861
5,300 1974 Hunza earthquake Pakistan 1974
5,000 1972 Managua earthquake Nicaragua 1972
4,000 1945 Balochistan earthquake British India 1945
3,894 1948 Fukui earthquake Japan 1948
3,000 1933 Sanriku earthquake Japan 1933
3,000 1906 San Francisco earthquake United States 1906

Source: Wikipedia: List of natural disasters

Some suggested places donate:
American Red Cross
Physicians for Peace

Suggested Reading: My Nephew Nicholas’ excellent article on the Haiti quake: ‘Kléré tankou flanbo sou tè-a