Friday, August 21, 2020

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bites (No bake, gluten free)

It's been a LONG time since I've shared a recipe on here. Honestly, it's been awhile since I felt like baking anything because working from home has kept me so busy and I no longer have coworkers to take treats into. 

Slowly but surely I've gotten back into the kitchen. This week has been super stressful so I've found myself baking more than usual. I don't know what it is about baking, but it's such a good way to relax. 

With the summer heat the last thing I want to do is turn on my oven. Instead of baking, I've been testing out no bake recipes. This one has been a winner with my hubs and our neighbors. It's quick, easy, it's a great one to involve the kids on, and best of all you can keep your ovens off!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bites
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 3 Tablespoons butter (I used plant butter and it works just as well as dairy butter)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 4 oz bakers chocolate
In a mixing bowl using an electric mixer combine peanut butter and butter until smooth.

Add in powdered sugar to peanut butter/butter combo and mix until combined.

Next, using your hands roll the mixture into balls and place on a plate. Depending on the size of your balls you will get between 10-15 balls. 

Place plate with peanut butter bites in freezer for 15-20 minutes until firm. 

When you take peanut butter balls out of freezer, put 4 ounces of bakers chocolate into a microwave safe bowl and heat up in 30 second intervals until melted. Depending on the strength of your microwave it will take between 1-2 minutes. 

Once chocolate is melted coat one peanut butter bite at a time until all have been covered in chocolate. 

Place chocolate covered peanut butter bites in freezer again for 15-20 minutes until the chocolate has hardened, then dig in!

Store chocolate peanut butter bites in fridge for up to a week. 

If you make them tag me in your photos on instagram @rachael_miner, I can't wait to see your creations!

Monday, August 3, 2020

Let's Talk About Defunding the Media

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This topic gets me all sorts of fired up. First off I hate the term, "The Media." There are different types of media and there's a huge difference between local and national media. Not to mention the media is not funded, media outlets survive off advertising. Before I dive into those topics I want to give you a little background into what it's actually like to be a reporter. 

My experience is as a T.V. reporter which is very different from being a radio or newspaper reporter, however we largely cover the same things minus feature stories (the feel good stories). Being a T.V. reporter is a ton of fun, but it's not a walk in the park. Local news reporters, the ones in your towns not the national ones, don't get money for clothes, hair, makeup, let alone there are not people who do our hair or makeup before each newscast. Often reporters are doing their makeup and hair in a rush before the newscast starts and it's likely they're doing it in a news van (or live truck) without great lighting. 

As a reporter every single day is something different. We pitch story ideas which are usually things happening in the community and any sort of breaking news from the day. Once we have our story or stories for the day we set up interviews which I shoot and edit by myself. I write my own story, track my voice, put the entire story together, get it up online, and present it in a newscast or two. It's a ton of work, but it's fun because no two days are ever the same. Same days are nuts with breaking news or big events like elections, protests, state executions (yes, those are a thing here), etc. 

HOWEVER, What most people don't know is not only do we do every single thing by ourselves, we pay for our own clothes and makeup and we make less than people working at McDonalds. We do not get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to be on T.V. In fact, reporting is one of the worst paid businesses out there aside from retail. First time reporting jobs make on average 25k a year. THAT'S BEFORE TAXES Y'ALL. No one goes into T.V. to get rich quick, that simply does not exist in the news business. 

Not only are we paid crap, we get to deal with viewers harassing us on a daily basis both online and in person. People think that because someone is on T.V. it gives them license to say anything about them- NOT TRUE. If you wouldn't say it to my face don't say it online. If you do want to say rude things to my face, which a few people have, I will 100% call you on it. I always made sure to live in a secure, locked building while I was single because people are creeps and try to find out where we live- I don't even want to think about what they'd do if they figured it out. I've been sent dick pictures, more men than I care to count have harassed me, and don't even get started on the sexually explicit messages that have been sent to me- I don't take crap from anyone and have filed numerous police reports. I'm not sure in what universe anyone thinks these things are ok to do just because someone is on T.V. but it's not ok and no reporter gets paid enough to deal wit that sh**. Even if I made 150k I still wouldn't tolerate that behavior. 

Now that you have a little background, let me explain how T.V. stations operate. T.V. stations are license by the FCC- Federal Communications Commission- and they regulate what can and cannot be aired on television as airwaves are publicly owned. There are restrictions against indecency and obscenity that stations can be fined huge amounts of money over (think 250k per offense) and even lose their FCC license over. There's a ton more that goes into regulating what can and cannot air on television but I don't want to bore you to tears. Just know broadcasters are held to a very strict standard and there are huge consequences for any sort of actions (if interested look into the changes the FCC made after the Janet Jackson/Justin Timberlake Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction).

T.V. stations are funded by advertising- both traditional over the air advertising and digital advertising. Digital ads bring in money but the majority of money is brought in by traditional over the air broadcasting. Prices of advertising, or "spots" which are 30-60 seconds in length, depend on ratings in the market. If you're the number one station in the market- that is you have the most viewers tuning into your newscasts- you can charge more per advertising spot than someone with less viewers. Ads are sold both locally and nationally, but largely local news stations are supported by LOCAL advertisers who pay for the airtime to get their product/service in front of people. There's other small ways that local television stations make money, but it's primarily based on advertising. 

When people talk about "Defunding the Media" not only do they have no clue what they are talking about, they largely have no idea how a news station is run. A television station could not run without advertisers, if advertisers choose to pull their advertisements from a station for any number of reasons it does impact a station. The federal government/taxpayers do not fund T.V. stations but T.V. stations are required to operate in the, "public interest, convenience, and necessity." Stations have to air PSA's (Public Service Announcements)- things like wildfire prevention, stop the spread of COVID information, etc. 

Local news stations do not have an agenda. Let me say that again for all the naysayers- LOCAL NEWS STATIONS DO NOT HAVE AN AGENDA. We are required to give equal air time to political candidates (if you don't believe me check with the FCC) and we have to remain unbiased. It's not our job to tell you who to vote for, but it is our job to tell you there's an election happening, tell you who the candidates are, and tell you how long the polls will be open for. Not once have I ever had a news director (the person who's in control in a newsroom) tell me to not say or do something because of politics. Reporters don't have an agenda, we're just doing our job. 

National outlets are an entirely different ball game as are cable outlets. National outlets like ABC news, NBC news, CBS, they are separate from your local stations. Stations are affiliated with a network (I won't even go down that rabbit hole to explain things) for programming and other things. In recent years national news outlets have let their politics be known by their coverage of political issues. Network anchors and reports have been very open about their politics, which is a HUGE NO NO at local news stations. We always said if someone could figure out our politics we have not done our job correctly. Other national outlets like The New York Times have come out with their hatred of our current President and that is their choice. They lost advertisers because of it because some advertisers don't want to be aligned with a political preference.

Here's the great thing about news and media- YOU choose what YOU consume. If you think ABC News is too liberal don't follow them. If you only want to see a conservative opinion follow Fox News (cable news outlets are typically very open about their political opinions). You are 100% in control of what you see on your social media feeds. If someone kept posting on their Facebook about what a terrible person you are you would unfriend them, so why not do the same with news. Be a critical consumer. News outlets seek expert opinions on matters- doctors, scientists, etc.- and you get to evaluate if you believe what they are telling you or not. If you don't want to see their content anymore unfollow them it's that simple. Not every single thing you see on the internet is true and not every site that claims to be "news" is in it for the good of the public.

Defunding the media not only does not make sense, it's actually harmful to our communities. Local news stations give people in your community and mine a chance to have their voices heard. Locals news stations help criminals get caught, they partner with local charities giving away tens of thousands of dollars, they share vital medical information that saves lives. Local T.V. stations do so much good in their communities.

No one goes into news for money or fame. We get into news because we care about our communities and we want to make them better places to live and work for everyone. We want to tell you about the amazing work someone in your community did and we want to catch people who prey on other people so our communities are safer.  If you think you can do a better job than a local reporter then by all means apply for a job. I can guarantee you would be shocked by how hard your local reporters work, how little they make, and by how much they actually care about their local communities. Also, if there were no reporters how would you ever know what is going on in your community?

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Let's Talk About Hydroxycloroquine

Hydroxycloroquine. Unless you've been living under a rock for the last six months you've undoubtedly heard of the medication. It's been touted as a COVID "wonder drug" by our President and been approached with skepticism by the medical community. Before we get into all that fun, let's chat briefly about the drug's history. 

Hydroxycloroquine (HCQ) was first approved for medical use in 1955 in the United States as anti-malaria drug. It can be used for both the prevention and the treatment of malaria, especially when traveling to areas where malaria is common. HCQ is commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and other autoimmune diseases. The drug is generally very well tolerated with mild, if any, side effects they present in nausea, stomach pains, and headache. HCQ is even safe to use while pregnant. People who do use it on a regular basis have to have their eyes checked for a rare eye condition called retinopathy which can lead to blindness. HCQ is only available by prescription. 

More recently HCQ has been making headlines for it's potential to treat COVID-19 as it was used to treat SARS patients and had shown success. The President had touted HCQ as a "miracle drug" before any large scale studies had been done, thus it's impossible to say for certain if HCQ is indeed a treatment for COVID-19 or not. Studies take a lot of time, energy, and money to conduct. For a medical study to be credible other specialists and researchers have to be able to replicate it, but because COVID is a brand new virus there hasn't been enough time to study it let alone find a cure for it. We're still learning about this virus so it's too early to say something is or is not a cure without significant medical research.  

There are people like me who rely on HCQ to function and live our lives in any sort of normal fashion, but when the President started touting how wonderful HCQ was it became nearly impossible to get the medication I (and many others) need. Doctors started prescribing it to themselves, their family members, and friends so the demand for HCQ SKYROCKETED thus making it incredibly difficult, if not impossible for people who need the medication to get it. The pharmacy I go to started seeing perfectly healthy people coming in with prescriptions for HCQ- these were people who did not need the drug but got a prescription from a family member or friend because the President said it worked. I'm not getting into the political issue of it all, I'm just saying look to qualified professionals in the medical field who have years of experience studying infection diseases and helping patients rather than someone who has never been to medical school. 

How does HCQ work? Basically, HCQ helps suppress the body's immune system. The immune system helps fight infections and helps prevent you from getting sick. I have Lupus, an autoimmune disease, so my immune system does not function properly. To better understand how HCQ helps, imagine a normal five-year-old. Now imagine giving that five-year-old Mountain Dew and Pixie Sticks- the kid is going to be bouncing off the walls and there's no attempting to make the child behave with that much sugar in his/her system. The five-year-old on too much sugar is my immune system- it's overactive and it's attacking EVERYTHING (the good cells and the bad cells) which is harming me instead of helping me. HCQ lowers my immune system to try to prevent it from attacking itself- so the HCQ is basically the kid not on that much sugar. HOWEVER, with my immunity lowered I'm more susceptible to infections. Not only am I more susceptible to infections because my immune system is attacking itself, I'm ever more susceptible because HCQ is suppressing my body's ability to fight infection because my body lacks the ability to distinguish between good cells and bad cells, thus I'm an incredibly high risk for contracting and suffering complications from COVID-19. It gets WAY more complicated but I'm trying to keep things relatively simple. 

Not being on HCQ is WAY more harmful to me than being on it. I've been on HCQ for the better part of a decade and the one time a rheumatologist tried to get me off the medication I was worse off than being on the medication. Lupus is a complex disease and I'm on several medications to help control it (there's no cure for lupus), but HCQ is the main drug. Without HCQ the joint pain and immflamuation is so crippling I can't get out of bed because my entire body hurts. It's psychically impossible for me to walk- the swelling in my feet gets so bad even setting my feet down on the floor is so painful I scream in agony. My hands blow up like balloons and I can't bend my fingers. The exhaustion becomes so overwhelming simply walking to the bathroom takes all the energy I have. Let me be clear that HCQ does not eliminate all these symptoms, it doesn't and some days even with HCQ I'm still in crippling pain or too exhausted to move. HCQ helps reduce symptoms along with some of the other medications I'm on. Even on HCQ I've ended up in the emergency room for crippling pain and in the hospital for a week with pancreatitis. Lupus is complicated and so is HCQ. 

I need HCQ to function on a daily basis. Even missing a single dose of it I notice a huge difference in how I feel and my ability to function. If you don't have an autoimmune disease or malaria or are traveling to place where malaria is common you don't need HCQ. 

I totally understand why doctors are trying to use HCQ in the fight against COVID. COVID presents so differently from person to person so maybe it will work for one person and not for another. All I'm asking you is to do your research on where you are getting your information from. Look into a doctors background because it does matter. There's a huge difference in being a family physician and being an infectious disease doctor. Do your research, know where information is coming from, ask questions, and be kind. You have no idea what it's like or how stressful it is to be on HCQ right now and not know if you'll be able to get your medication or not. You have no idea how stressful and scary it is to have an autoimmune disease and be high risk for COVID (I shared a bit about that here). 

I'm not going to pretend to know everything because I don't, but I do know HCQ very well after having been on it for so long, reading countless books and studies about it, and having pestered my doctors with thousands of questions. 

If you'd like to learn more about HCQ here are some resources: