Friday, September 24, 2010


I took Hilda for a walk yesterday.  I don't do this very often because of her advanced years and back problems, I wait until she has days when she is especially active and interested in something other than occasionally adjusting her napping position.

Because she is getting a bit blind and quite hard of hearing, she is paranoid when outdoors in wide open spaces.  Her nose works, so she can smell other dogs and things, but she does not trust her other senses to know the proximity of the things she smells.  When we walk, her normally non-stop wagging tail is tucked in and her head swivels from side to side taking in the possibility of ambush.  Sometimes she slows and takes a long look behind her.  Now, don't get me wrong.  I am not torturing her by taking her for a walk, she LOVES going out.  She just trots along happily.

Usually I go to our Sports Park because it is a nice 2.5 mile loop, away from traffic noise and a pleasant park.  But lots of people walk their dogs there and I think it might be more stressful for Hilda.  So I found a new trail that I walked yesterday.  It is in a more rural setting and we were the only ones there.  I usually wear my iPod, but I decided not to.  It was a beautiful cool morning and there was a breeze and I enjoyed hearing the leaves scuttling around.  I saw lizards and squirrels (fortunately Hilda did not see them.)  I love the smell of the dry grasses. 

On the return loop back to the car I was really into the whole experience.  The blue of the sky, the smells, thinking about the changes the Fall would bring soon.  A huge hawk took off from one of the oak trees and was gliding across the open field.  It was such a perfect finish to our outing to see this elegant creature. Then it dropped the longest, whitest spray of bird poo I have ever seen as it soared off.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Have you read he latest study on the "costs" of obesity? There are many interesting statistics which have been pulled together from a number of other studies and put into a report by George Washington University researchers. Most of it we have heard over and over about the health care costs being higher and work productivity being lower. This report even adds in the cost of clothing and gas - guess what? Higher.

One thing that makes me mad is that they report that wages for overweight women are lower than wages for overweight men. Men are not penalized for their weight in the workplace, at least when it comes to salary, but women are. Dig deeper in the study and you see that you are less likely to even be hired if you are overweight and white. The highest number of overweight women working are African American.

They do not examine the attitudes behind the lower salary and hiring decisions. I am sure they want it everyone to think it is all about the numbers. But it is well known that working mothers miss more days of work than working fathers because that is how families traditionally handle sick children. If the woman happens to be overweight - she is counted for this as being related to "obesity." Thus overweight women have higher absenteeism. These studies don't scratch the statistic to find the reality underneath and that bothers me.

In the study they suggest more research needs to be done on the reason health care costs are lower for obese African American women. They also admit that more needs to be done to break out the gender related medical costs. You think? Women, by virtue of our biology have higher medical costs, what with child birth and all. Tossing all of that together and calling it obesity related is very misleading and self serving.

Just as misleading is assuming that every medical intervention has to do directly with one's weight. My skinny sister has sleep apnea and so do I, but I am sure mine is "related to my obesity" in some statistic somewhere.

I know I am pretty sensitive on this subject. I am very healthy. I missed one day of work for sickness in five years. My health issues do not relate solely to my weight. (ie: I know that my knees will be happier when I lose more but my bad knees are genetic and I am in my mid 50's.)   I do not have heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure.

I am tired of feeling like I am the scum of the earth, the cause of our societal problems and that I deserve all the trouble I had getting a job because I am fat. I am tired of being a scapegoat along with the smokers, welfare cheats and  illegal immigrants. Even the bankers are treated more nicely...

Monday, September 20, 2010


I believe that the recent gas pipeline explosion and subsequent fire, loss of life and homes in San Bruno, CA was widely reported.  what may not have been reported in the national press is the fact that PG&E, the utility company which owns the pipeline knew that that pipeline which ran through a residential neighborhood was in their "top 100 highest risk line sections."  The utility company had planned to repair by 2013 a 7,481-foot long section of pipe - among the top 7% most dangerous pipelines in the nation, according to the AP.

You might ask why would they delay that repair until 2013?  PG&E had other priorities, which included spending $46 million in a failed effort to limit local democracy  and protect their monopoly with Proposition 16 (which was on the June ballot.) 

We keep hearing from the right that the private sector can do things better than the government, and so we should turn over things currently handled by government to the private sector.  That $46 million would have bought a lot of new pipeline and jobs for those who would install it. This is typical of  corporations where using their wealth to attract more investors and fend off competition and regulation is preferable to being responsible to those they serve.

Oh, and the local angle?  One of the longest and worst pipelines on the PG&E list of overdue repair and replacements?  Runs nearby our home and then for about 8 miles through the grass and oak tree studded hills not too far away.

I have a couple of fire extinguishers - not sure that would do it, though.

Friday, September 17, 2010


1.)  Ally and I took the day to visit the San Francisco State University campus yesterday.  She didn't want to attend the Senior "Picnic" which was held at the waterslides park (?) so we headed for foggy SF and toured around then met one of her friends who is a freshman there.  The campus is medium sized, tucked into the southwest area of the city, away from the touristy spots, it is a lovely, well laid out and landscaped campus with easy access to all the goodies of the most fabulous cities in the world.

I loved living in SF when I was in my 20's and I think it could be a good fit for Ally.  She wants to spread her wings and get the experience of a place bigger than home - yet it is still close to home.  She can learn to use the Muni system to get around the city and take the BART system to come home on the occasional weekend visit.

Applications for the California State schools are due October 1 and we have been worried about which school should be her first choice.  I think we found it.

2.)  So about that Senior Picnic...what happened to having a picnic?  In a park.   Running around an expensive waterpark isn't exactly the bonding experience I remember our Senior Picnic being.  Why do they make everything such an extravaganza now?

3.)  I am enjoying getting "dressed up" for work.  It is nice to get out of my shorts and polo shirts and put on some business (casual) clothes and put on a bit of make-up. 

4.)  However doing the above quietly and in the dark so I don't wake anyone before I leave at 6:30am is going to take some practice!

5.)  And wouldn't you know, just as soon as I get a job, there is an event of such importance that I would love to attend being held in Washington DC on October 30.  The Restore Sanity rally, hosted by Jon Stewart.  And the Keep Fear Alive march hosted by Stephen Colbert.  How I wish I could attend.

6.)  Those folks so intent on cutting out PE to save money should take a look at these studies which show that fit children had "significantly larger basal ganglia, a key part of the brain that aids in maintaining attention and “executive control,” or the ability to coordinate actions and thoughts crisply."  The groups of children tested had similar socioeconomic backgrounds, body mass index and other variables, the researchers concluded that being fit had enlarged that part of their brains.

A still-unpublished study compared the cognitive impact in young people of 20 minutes of running on a treadmill with 20 minutes of playing sports-style video games at a similar intensity. Running improved test scores immediately afterward. Playing video games did not.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


In my new job one of the things I am getting accustomed to is all the different terms for things.  The software we use for adding new files refers to the people as the client and the pet as the patient.  When we refer to the pets and the people in person we tend to refer to them in terms of family - the people are the parents of the pet.  We will say "Fluffy's mom is here to pick her up."  No one seems to mind this label.

So it is not surprising that 30% of Americans actually count pets as part of the family when polled.  The very sad thing is that only 40% of Americans think a gay couple are a family.

New research on the topic how a family is defined is contained in a book-length study, "Counted Out: Same-Sex Relations and Americans' Definition of Family" and in a separate 2010 survey overseen by the book's lead author, Indiana University sociologist Brian Powell.

Only about one-third of those surveyed said they considered same-sex couples without children to be a family. And in 2006, when asked if gay couples and pets count as family, 30 percent said pets count but not gay couples.

"The sheer idea that gay couples are given less status than pets should give us pause," Powell said in an interview.  (At least the gays have come up in the polls by 10%  since 2006 - good job America...)

In the 2010 survey, 83 percent of the respondents said they perceived unmarried heterosexual couples with children as a family; only 40 percent extended that recognition to unmarried straight couples without children.

The problems with this isn't really just about bigotry - there are real life altering issues for people which flow from attitudes about what makes a family.  Among other matters, it affects  income tax filings, adoption and foster care practices, employee benefits and inheritance rights. 

I think of all those kids out there waiting for a good foster home; waiting for an adoptive mom or dad and the attitudes of people stuck in "Ozzie and Harriet"  mindsets which are denying them the warmth and safety of those family bonds. 

We really need to get over ourselves and let everyone open up their homes and hearts to the kids out there, just as we encourage people to open their homes and hearts to all the little animals out there.  There are all kinds of families and all kinds of family members.

Monday, September 13, 2010

300 POSTS!

This is my 300th post.  I have no idea what all I have had to say in 300 posts (plus another 100 about dieting.)  I know I originally started because I was blogging for work and it was during the Presidential election and I wanted a chance to say political and personal  things I couldn't say on my work related blog. 

I did the 30 posts in 30 days challenge one time.  That was interesting.  Since then I have just posted when I had something to say - sometimes it has been a bit forced, most times it has just been very off the cuff - write and post without a lot of extra research or thought.

I hope that my regulars and my lurkers and friends will let me know what kinds of subjects are of interest and what kinds if topics are not so much.  Going forward I am interested in having your thoughts!

I asked Ally to take some pictures to use in place of my wave "avatar."  We were not terribly successful.  She insists that the one I have used is the good one...

Friday, September 10, 2010


Every parent wonders how the years go by so fast - how did she get to be 17?

Happy Birthday to my little Ally Sally!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Because I kind of  left things hanging, an update on my new job.  Turns out the HR guy took Friday off so I did not start training last weekend as the supervisor hoped.  I will start this Friday night - which is a bit unfortunate in timing as it is Ally's 17th birthday. 

The good news is that the pay is better than I had thought, the bad news is that the position is not 30 hours (full time) as presented but 24 hours (part time.)  Good news is that they still offer benefits!  But at a reduced contribution rate from the employer.  The health insurance should still be less expensive than our Cobra payments, though because they are a much larger employer.  I'll know more in 90 days.

That's it for now!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center, which has an anti-Islamic philosophy, told the Associated Press he would go ahead with plans to burn the Koran this weekend to protest the 9/11 terrorist attacks even though General David Petraeus, the top US general in Afghanistan, has said the Koran burnings could endanger American troops.
“Images of the burning of a Koran would undoubtedly be used by extremists in Afghanistan – and around the world – to inflame public opinion and incite violence.”

What is even sadder is that a press conference was called by interfaith leaders to discuss their united from against these protests against Islam and argued against what organizers called “an atmosphere of fear and intolerance” toward Islam.  And guess who did not bother to cover this press conference?  Right -  Fair and Balanced Fox "News."  Instead, they had  commentator Lou Dobbs holding forth on President Obama and the “sad isolated state this president has put himself in.”

At the interfaith press conference, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the former Archibishop of Washington, said the growth of anti-Islamic sentiment was a “powerful moment that calls for a powerful response.” Cardinal McCarrick added, “our message is a message of working together.”And shame on you to Fox "News" and all those people who think they get they actually get the whole story from that source.

The Rev. Richard Cizik, representing the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, said “shame on you” to those who would burn another religion’s sacred texts.


My parents are life long Republicans.  I remember when I was in high school and the war in Vietnam was raging, I would try to discuss politics, my point of view and be berated by my father for no having enough life experience to form an informed opinion.  I read the same newspapers he did.  We read Newsweek magazine and viewed the same news programs and yet took different things from them.  I frequently left the table in tears of frustration from his attacks because I knew I was informed and yet he dismissed and mocked me.

Over the year I learned to simply not discuss politics with my parents. I just did not engage when they brought things up, I walked softly around their opinions.  During the Clinton years our family thrived economically, especially my parents.  Yet he insisted on calling President Clinton Bubba and constantly had negative comments about him.  He refused to acknowledge that the improvements of his business or anything else could be related to the 8 years of a Democratic presidency.

When we gathered for my parent's 50th wedding anniversary it was just a week after Bush manipulated our country and invaded Iraq.  I paid a lot of attention to the build up of that invasion.  I watched the testimony, I read a lot.  I just KNEW what they were dishing out was not real.  My instinct told me that it was all about Bush Jr. wanting to go after the guy Bush Sr. didn't get.  It was personal.  I also knew enough about the middle east to know that if we were not in and out like Bush Sr. was back in his day,  that it could easily become a quagmire like Vietnam.

We were all gathered for a dinner preceding the big anniversary event, my dad at the head of the table said something about Bush and Iraq and 9/11.  I said Iraq had nothing to to with 9/11 and that I felt more threatened by our government than I did by Iraq.  (Okay - I had had a few cocktails and was not treading lightly at that moment.)  My mother said something like "I must be one of those  idiots who thinks it was about the oil."

I said I think it was about revenge.  Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 and that the country was being sold a pack of  lies.  I also said that I'd be damned if they were going to get hold of my son and daughter to send to their wars because it was all going to be like another Vietnam going on for years and years.

My dad went ballistic and ordered me out of his house, I had to eat humble pie and apologise (which I did, for disrupting their anniversary.)   The fact that I was right has never been acknowledged directly to me.  My mother admitted it to one of my sisters.  So back to ignoring their comments and the stuff they send to my e-mail and that they watch Fox "News" and seem to get crazier ans crazier.

Now my mom, who actually seemed to have had a period of clarity and voted for Obama, is after us to read Sarah Palin's book.  (As if Sarah Palin actually wrote her book...)  When my sister refused my mother said that she and I like to "keep our heads in the sand."  When my sister pointed out that watching Fox "News" isn't exactly getting the big picture, she said they also read "liberal" newspapers. 

Doesn't that just say it all?  Now if it isn't sanctioned by the right - it is "liberal."  Their local Palm Desert paper, the San Francisco and Los Angeles papers, the New York Times, all "liberal."  Apparently after taking Newsweek for 50 years they don't anymore because it is "liberal" now.  They refuse to accept that they are being lied to even when I send articles countering the articles they send me.

The point of this long, long rant is  this - these are two educated people.  My mom supports gay marriage and is pro-choice.  They are not overly religious, though my dad has recently reverted back to his childhood Catholicism.  They have jumped on this "populist" bandwagon and it bothers me, it scares me. 

This meanness and blatent disregard for truth and cooperation on the part of the Republican Party, mimics my parent's lifelong behavior.  Maybe I should not be so shocked?

It also makes me really mad that at 56, better educated, better read and with more experience of the world, my opinions and point of view are still dismissed as ruthlessly as those I had when I was 16.

Friday, September 3, 2010


1.)  I am very disappointed to hear that our military is not actually leaving Iraq.  President Obama has left 50,000 soldiers behind to continue to "train and support Iraq's forces."  This means they will still be not only in harms way, but embarking on combat missions as part of that support.  Which means more deaths and woundings of Americans.  Seven and a half years and counting - How much more money?  How stupid are we to think this is ever going to end well?

2.)  I have been watching Top Chef and Project Runway this summer - not much else is on.  I am really getting tired of the strange decisions of the judges on these shows.  They get rid of people who are good and leave people on for unknowable reasons - well, sometime it is because they are real "characters" and so make "good TV."  I should not look to these shows as reality talent shows, but I was really mad when Top Chef sent Tiffany home on Wednesday.  And making Michael the winner over Mondo on Project Runway was just ridiculous.

3.)  All the hoopla over the allegedly spontaneous and leaderless populist uprising doesn't mention one important thing: the sugar daddies who are bankrolling it, and have been doing so since well before last summer. Rupert Murdoch of Fox News, where both Beck and Palin are on the payroll is one of them. The other two, the brothers David and Charles Koch, are even richer, with a combined wealth exceeded only by that of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett among Americans.

The Koch brothers must be laughing all the way to the bank knowing that working Americans are aiding and abetting their selfish interests.  While Koch foundations donate to cancer hospitals, Koch Industries has been lobbying to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from classifying another product important to its bottom line, formaldehyde, as a “known carcinogen” in humans (which it is).  They were the biggest opponents of Health Care Reform and yet signed up for the first round of  the Government funded  Early Retiree Reinsurance Program under that plan.

Also, Tea Partiers may share the Kochs’ detestation of taxes, big government and Obama. But there’s a difference between mainstream conservatism and a big business centric agenda while dismantling fundamental government safety nets designed to protect the unemployed, public health, workplace safety and care for the elderly.

4.)  I have finally managed to become employed.  I start training on Saturday.  I will be working varied schedules on Saturdays and Sundays and  on Monday nights.  This makes me full time so I will be able to participate in the company benefit package - my husband is happy about that.  I am happy that I will still be able to work with my sister in our new business venture.

Thanks to everyone for putting up with my complaining  and wishing me well all these months!

Thursday, September 2, 2010


For me the picture says it.  The sleek, multi-millionaire candidate who can write check after check to fund her own campaign and say anything (true or not) to discredit her opponant. After being fired from her CEO job she took a $28 million severance package.  HP, once considered one of the most employee friendly, ethical companies in the country is still paying fines from the kickback scheme to get in on government contracts engaged in while Carly Fiorina ran the show, a failed merger, fluctuating stock value, a spying scandal and thousands of  US jobs sent overseas.  Fiorina has been characterized as "as self-centered, she also fell short as a moral manager" in a study  printed in  Entrepreneur Magazine.

Then there is scruffy little Barbara Boxer in her ill fitting suit.  She has been in public service for much of her life.  She is a California Liberal, supporting marriage equality, reproductive choice, environmental issues including keeping green industries in the US rather than overseas, biomedical research, education and more.  While she has stood up against the wars in the Middle East, she did not refuse funding for the troops and their welfare.  She is a humanitarian and can not be faulted in the least for her ethics or charged with self-interest.

So while the candidate will represent California - the Senate makes decisions which affect the entire country.

Which would you rather have in office?