Midtown Pantry: Convenience Store/Valero Gas Station Finally Re-Opens in Tyler, Texas–by J.D. Meyer

The Midtown convenience store/Valero gas station re-opened on at 720 S. Fleishel Ave; Tyler, TX 75701 on Sunday, April 22nd. Located on the southeast corner of S. Fleishel & E. Dawson, it’s called Midtown Pantry by White Oak Pantry—a company based largely in Arkansas. It’s across the street from the new Christus Trinity Mother Francis 6-story parking garage.

The store went through extensive repairs after closing many months ago—including its sewers. Now it’s a snack grocery store (lots of chips) with a taco restaurant that sells beer and wine too. The beer selection is extensive with budget beers along with higher-priced beers. Midtown Pantry sells the strongest alcohol beverages for take-out in Tyler—Wild Irish Rose wine (various flavors) and some simulated liquor drinks—all at 17% alcohol.

Your soft tacos can be on corn or flour tortillas. The meat filling choices are coarse ground beef, chopped pork, and chopped chicken and coarse ground sausage— all mildly seasoned. The topping is a blend of sautéed sliced bell peppers and onions. Red and green salsa is available too. I bought four fried jalapenos stuffed with melted cheddar cheese for $1. Thanks to their first Taco Tuesday, my beef taco on a corn tortilla with bell peppers and onions was free! But they’ll be $1.99 from now on.

Midtown (The Hospital District) now has a wonderful new store that’s really close to both hospitals–Christus Trinity Mother Francis (TMF) & UT Health East Texas—formerly known as East Texas Medical Center (ETMC), as well as Pulmonary Specialists of Tyler, also on Fleishel. The Midtown Pantry and its location exemplify the “Eds & Meds” economy of Tyler, Texas. Cities with dominant industries of colleges and hospitals attract restaurants. Furthermore, the population of Tyler is just over 100K, but it swells to 250K during the day from those living in nearby rural towns coming to work or to see the doctor. I will return, and you should check it out too.

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SOL18: Recent Highlights: Supporting the Dreamers, Pulmonologist Visit Followed by Long Walk, and Reaction to Resilience Talk, by JD Meyer

After writing a lengthy description of the first part of the Transportation Works Conference in Waco on Thursday, March 1st, I’ve missed doing blogs since then.

This afternoon, I went to a DACA Dreamers event downtown and held up a beautiful sign for the cause that had a picture of a big butterfly. Apparently, butterflies are symbols for the cause since they don’t have to worry about national boundaries. I’d gone shopping at La Michoacana on my way there, and bought two jars of pickled nopalitos (cactus), spicy tamarind candy, granola, and more. A photographer took a picture of my groceries and outfit—a red T-shirt with a Maya pyramid, a cap with a flag of Mexico, and a long-sleeved shirt with a Mexican design. She talked into her fancy cell phone too. Watch for me on a Mexican TV station! I met the principal of one of one of Tyler’s two high schools at the event–quite a pleasant surprise.

Yesterday, I read and commented on three SOL blogs. One was about how multicultural education is needed to reflect the composition of your class. Another was a response to the prompt, “If you really knew me, then…” The other was about a mom taking care of her baby.

Earlier that day, I got a pulmonology exam and showed improvement since October. Since I moved in February and started going to three committee meetings instead of one for my favorite non-profit, I’ve missed pulmonology rehabilitation meetings, so I was told to go get a new evaluation. Not only had I improved in the past four or five months, but I’m better than when I first started going to a pulmonologist in 2012! I brought a backpack full of folders and binders on my research of asthma and COPD: original articles, journal articles, drug descriptions, and illness descriptions from the hospital emergency room.

Ironically, I missed my bus transfer on the way home, so I took a less direct bus (straight south) and walked several blocks to the southeast in one hour and 12 minutes! I finally used a $25 gift card to buy a book at a store on the way—something on urban studies. Aren’t we supposed to be vague and not try to sell the book nor the store? On my walk, I found some artificial flowers too—white, yellow, and red. I wash out fancy beverage cans and convert them into industrial art vases.

I heard a fine talk on resilience on Sunday at church. References were made to plants by the speaker, a biology professor. That got me thinking about the concept. Resilience is the opposite of being fragile or showing withdrawn shame and a lack of assertiveness. I feel more resilient since my move across town.

#SOL My New Apartment, by JD Meyer

I moved to a new and improved apartment at the start of February 2018. It’s my fourth neighborhood in Tyler: South, North, East-Central (Midtown/Hospital District), and now Southeast. My new place is almost double the size of my previous efficiency! It’s a one-bedroom with a dining room, dishwasher, and balcony.

I still receive a HUD discount and received a lot of help from Neighborhood Services when I was trying to move. I’m a retired teacher on SSDI with COPD among other issues. My major teaching fields were Developmental English/Writing, the pre-College Composition remedial education course, and ESOL. I at least subbed in all grades from PK-12.

Choosing a good location isn’t easy–especially if you ride the bus or walk and no longer drive. For example, there are a couple of apartment complexes in Far North Tyler that are on the other side of a river and a few miles away from any stores. Another time, I hiked a couple of blocks east to find an apartment complex that cost less than average but nowhere near a HUD discount. Now I live close to a giant WalMart and a few convenience stores with plenty of beer. I’m close to a bus stop, though not as many as before.

Importantly, I’m quite near East Texas Human Needs Network (ETHNN)–the non-profit organization where I’ve volunteered for several years. We have five committees: Education, Employment, Healthcare, Housing, and Transportation. Transportation has been my major focus, but I’ve also gone to Education and Healthcare meetings too. I’ve organized Tyler Transit field trips with lunch for each of the five lines–going to both malls, two grocery stores, and Neighborhood Services. Now I’m going to more meetings than ever and doing more research too. They helped me with the move financially, and a neighbor non-profit donated some wide metal file cabinets to me! All this excitement occurred a week after my all-expense paid trip to Waco for my second Transportation Works conference for Texas Society of Independent Living Councils (TX SILC). Last year, my Cigna representative nominated me as a Consumer Advocate for Transportation(CAT), one of 30 in Texas and the only CAT in Tyler. Our Transportation conference was in Austin last year.

I just called the two Neighborhood Services ladies, and they got my note under one of their department’s cars that was in my complex’s parking lot a week or so ago. I went two weeks without TV, phone, and Internet. Glad to have seen a rerun of the Super Bowl last Sunday night. I’ll return after some more breakfast–anew invention–guacamole dip with cold collard greens, chopped onions, pickled cactus (nopalitos), minced garlic, cilantro, and spices. I’ve been more creative lately.

Just did some editing after the Healthcare Committee meeting; last Tuesday was the Education Committee meeting and next Tuesday is the Transportation Committee meeting. I’ve revived my Bilingual All-Level Academic Vocabulary (BALAV) project, as well as publicizing the Intellectual Entrepreneurship (IE) consortium at UT-Austin again. Much of my motivation, besides the kindness of my movers, is the UT-Tyler President’s plans for university improvement and the upcoming arrival of Chinese businessman, who wants to build condominiums, bring exchange students and retirees, and research East-West medicine. Earlier in the week, I sent my article on the personality type-major-vocation choice link to the UT-Tyler Faculty Senate President. That was my answer to improving the graduation rate.

Hopefully next Tuesday, I’ll describe some of my interior decorating moves–such as hubcaps and a bar stool look great on a balcony. Plus, my review of the Transportation Works conference in Waco will be due. Do you think for-profit businesses with a vested interest in the senior population would donate to local transit to help finance a struggling paratransit service for tax deductions?

Art of Peace Statement 2017, by J.D. Meyer

The Art of Peace implies a wide range of peace-making efforts. I’m going to analyze this issue according to four views: (1)my North Korea approach, (2) health, (3) apprenticeships, (4) the fiscally responsible approach to defending DACA and fighting The Wall. But first, I’d like to give an account of my spiritual experience some 30 years ago like a previous speaker. Self-confidence in one’s sincerity is the goal of the unity of knowledge and action (chih hsing ho-i). “Spontaneity as conforming to pattern-principle” (tzu-jan chi li) is another way to express having self-confidence in one’s sincerity.

I‘m a devout Twitter fan. I offered a different view of the North Korea crisis. “#NorthKorea wants praise for its nuclear weapons as a cash crop—their only crop! Make sure the bomb isn’t ticking #Diplomacy,”

I’m a member of COPD internet support groups and have written about health issues on my Word Press blog. Wear oxygen canula under your nebulizer mask to improve its efficiency. Also utilize your C-PAP while awake to end a bad exacerbation. I helped a depressed diabetic friend recently by telling her about the benefits of eating cactus (nopalitos). I buy my cactus already sliced, usually pickled in a jar. I don’t battle the quills.

How about more apprenticeships, as proposed by Tim Kaine and three other senators? The business would get a tax break, and the intern would make some money while they learned a valuable trade. People with a good job are more likely to be peaceful.

I’m a member of the local Indivisible group, a Fareed Zakaria Fan Club, and related closed Facebook groups. Let’s defend DACA and renounce Trump’s Wall through fiscal responsibility. It would take an average of $10.4K per person to expel a Dreamer. Moreover, we’ve heard many big business honchos, such as Mark Zuckerberg, protest against this proposal. Check out Congressman Henry Cuellar (D–Laredo, TX). 40% of agriculture workers overstay their visas. The Rio Grande is safer than the U.S. average. A wall is a “14th Century solution.” Texas Republican Senator, John Cornyn, prefers drones in environmentally-sensitive areas, such as the Santa Ana Refuge. The Wall would hurt ecotourism and reduce money coming into South Texas, among other atrocities. So when I say, let’s save focusing on humaneness concerns for a future generation, I sound like Booker T. Washington in a parallel universe!

So now we’ve examined a variety of ways to make peace. The possibilities are endless. To conclude, try to bring serious data to your argument in this hot-headed era. Strong self-respect is important; don’t let yourself get run over. For improving self-knowledge, check out a free online MBTI-style site, such as http://www.16personalities.com

2017 NE TX Community Health Worker Coalition Conference, By J.D. Meyer

The 2017 Northeast Texas Community Health Worker (CHW) Coalition Conference was held on July 14th at TJC West. According to the official booklet, the CHW conference addresses “the role CHW Workers/Instructors play in creating access to care, reducing care costs, and promoting health and happy communities.” The Conference stressed “the importance of CHW(I)’s reducing health disparities; return on investment; and methods of overcoming barriers to CHW(I) program success.” Participants who attended the entire conference received six CEU (Continuing Education Units). “Presentations can be downloaded after the conference at the following link: http://tinyurl.com/y7brtht7

There were three main presentations. “The CHW and Public Health: The UT Health NE Experience,” was delivered by Jeffrey L. Levin, M.D. “Creating and Maintaining Health Workplace Environments,” was given by Terrence Ates, M.ED and Detective John Ragland. “CHW Self-Care—Focusing on You While Giving to the Community,” was presented by LaShonda Malrey-Horne, MPH.
The CHW of the Year was presented to the late Cynthia Keppard, the former director of the NE TX CHW Coalition. Several of her family members were in attendance.
There were three Breakout Sessions also—a choice of 18 sessions. First, I attended “Helping Clients Self Manage Chronic Disease,” by Marcus Wade, LMSW & CHWI. Then I went to “A Community Health Worker’s Guide to Texercise Classic,” by Jeanie Gallegly, MS & CHWI. The last breakout session for me was “Tobacco Danger,” by Lana Herriman, BS.
There were several organizations serving as vendors and sponsors. For example, I was able to pick up the Cigna Health Spring Provider Directory and Over-the-Counter Products Catalog in the lobby. Lunch was from Jason’s Subs; snacks were available too. Once again, the annual NE TX CHW Coalition Conference was a success that drew a huge crowd.