Monday, December 31, 2012

THE RESOLUTION

I wish I was one of those wonderful, insightful people who could look back over the year coming to an end and call up the meaningful and important things to discuss in a post. 

I tend to be more of the moment - which is sometimes a good thing, but often I feel that my reactions and actions are too short sighted and often self-centered.  I have 59 years of experience behind me and a fairly good outlook to guide me - yet I often react with poor judgement and negativity.

In the year ahead I plan to change that.  To let the moment be, but to take a breath and call on my better self before reacting and acting.

I am inspired by Barb and her post about becoming a "Love Ninja".  It is a great post and worth taking time to click over to read. She calls on herself and others to join in. To act in love and kindness - and I have pledged to do that in the new year.

That and get back to the gym...

Thursday, December 20, 2012

HOLIDAY HOME TOUR 2012

I am joining in on Jen on the Edge's annual Holiday Home Tour 2012.  Returning visitors wiil note I have not made major changes this year.  I am still recovering from surgery and the energy is low.  I have, however, punched things up with some lime green accents this year - and lot's of sparkle. 

Enjoy our holiday dressed home!




One trip to Home Goods and the lime sparkle was on!




My mosaic tree collection.




Ally's alligator ornament fits the theme.


Not many cards yet this year...





My favorite thing about the holidays - the kids are home!


Happy Holidays to everyone - and a wonderful 2013 for us all.

Monday, December 17, 2012

TIME WARP TUESDAY

Today I am posting our only family photo with Santa for Time Warp Tuesday.  Check in with Jenn to see who else posted this busy week!


For about 4 years we lived in Bellevue, Washington.  My husband worked for a company in Seattle and one of the benefits was that they gave us a membership to The Ranier Club which was housed in a beautiful old building downtown.  They had hotel accommodations, a nice restaurant and many social activities.  We loved getting dressed up and going with the kids to the family events because they were always so spectacular. 

This photo is from the first Christmas Party we went to.  I wish I had more photos of that day - they had elves and jugglers and all kinds of entertainment.  Tom and I didn't intend to be in the Santa photo but Ally was afraid of him and thus my "death grip" on her during the photo!  Of course, now it is one of my favorite family pictures!

MONDAY FAST ONES

I was so busy on Friday that I forgot to post this!

1.)  The area where my office is located is close to the foothills to the West; so it starts getting dark really early - like shortly after 3pm.  By 5 when I get to leave it is really dark. On the other hand, if I sneak out a bit early, I get to see some beautiful sunsets...

2.)  Tom turned 60 on 12/12/12.  To celebrate on Friday night, he wanted to see the movie Hitchcock at his favorite theater which serves food and beer.  He didn't know it, but all the kids arranged to be there, too!

3.)  Circumstances were such that Tom couldn't put off getting new phones for various family members (mine got wet in our big storm due to sideways rain... I am not kidding.  It was in the pocket of my raincoat and got wet enough to kill it.)  We are very behind the rest of the population and don't have smart phones and the kids have been clamoring for them but he was resistant.  He couldn't see what the big deal is and didn't want to pay for 5 phones and especially a data plan.

Well, he negotiated 5 free phones and a very affordable data plan and the phones arrived last week. Guess who is addicted to his smart phone?  The man never puts it down.  He plays with the "personal assistant" - Sam is her name and he gave her a British accent.  He has a dozen apps, plays music, started reading a book and even watched a movie on it all in the first 3 days!

On his birthday he asked Sam to sing Happy Birthday to him.  She declined.  He called her a bitch and then she refused to open his emails. 

4.)  Am I the only one who has a problem with ads showing items I have previously searched or ordered online popping up all over the place when I am online?  This makes it very difficult to keep my "Santa shopping" private since my computer is sometimes shared and is in the kitchen out where everyone can see. 

Every time I close the ads down in one place they open up in another.  This is an invasive marketing technique and this time of year it is especially irritating.

5.)  House is decorated, almost all the gifts are wrapped, most of the cookies are baked and some are in the mail, the holiday letter is written and the photo of the kids ready to print.  I seem to be in good shape considering I got a late start to things this year. 

How are your holiday preparations going?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

SEXISM STILL AND ALWAYS?

Today is my husband's birthday.  In my e-mail was an e-greeting to him wishing him a Happy birthday from our insurance agent.  This was my response:

Dear Victor,

I am Susan Walker, my husband is Tom. My birthday was on December 1st and I didn't receive a birthday greeting, even though you clearly have my e-mail address.

 The reason I mention this is that I have been insured by Liberty Mutual since I was 16 years old - continuously insured by the same company. When I got married, my husband joined me on MY policies. Yet your company - the one I have been paying premiums to for over 40 years, keeps sending greetings and thank yous to my husband. I wrote a similar response to something we received over 10 years ago - and yet you are still following this protocol.

Wake up!! Women are not just along for the ride. I am pretty tired of this attitude from businesses. It is time to update your software or data so that you are acknowledging the party who actually chose to make you their insurance company, or at the very least, communicate with husband and wife in equal ways! In the 21st century is it right to default to the man?  I don't think so.

Sincerely,

Have you experienced this sort of institutional sexism, too?





Monday, December 10, 2012

TIME WARP TUESDAYS

I have been out of the loop for a few weeks - but I am back for Time Warp Tuesday.  We are following Jenn's idea to post our family photos and tell the stories behind them.  Check out all  the participants!



So last time I featured a photo of all 3 of the kids taken in a photo studio and discussed how difficult it was to get Ally, the youngest,  to cooperate in those settings.  So you can imagine how I felt when the pre-school sent a notice that the kids were going to have an opportunity to ride a pony and have their pictures taken...

Apparently, a pony was just what was needed to make Ally sit up and pose! 

High-ho cowgirl!!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

SCREWED UP BIG TIME

I really screwed up.  I didn't notice when I paid my one store credit card - JCPenny, or as they want to be called now JCP - that there was a missed payment and a late fee.  So I paid my usual something above the minimum payment, but not the correct amount.  And, of course, they reported it to the credit agencies.  Tom found out because he was trying to buy me my hearts desire - a very expensive gift -  and wanted to finance it.

So because I was distracted (getting ready for surgery) and then didn't read my bill, our credit score was dropped by over 100 points.

I take responsibility.  I am an idiot.  However, when I called JCP to talk to them about this and make sure I was making an additional  payment to cover all the current charges to bring me up to date, the woman on the phone said that they "have to report" accounts late over 41 days.

This is not true.  There is no law or other requirement that credit card companies report to the agencies. 

Why such a huge hit to our credit score?  According to a finance writer on Credit.com:

The bottom line? One slip up and your credit score may take a dive, especially if you have otherwise stellar credit.

'The old analogy of 'the bigger they are, the harder they fall' applies to credit scores, too," warns Ely. "If you have a really high FICO Score, you'll take a bigger hit for a late payment than someone with a lower FICO Score."

We are going to try to get it removed, of course.  Not in  order for me to get my gift, but because we plan to move in the spring and we need that credit score back where it was. 


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

MY SPECIAL NIGHT


I am very lucky that my son and his girlfriend are employees of the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  They work the overnight "camping" events and there happened to be one on my birthday last Saturday.  I received a special invite to come along and tour the whole place at night, when it was pretty much empty.

Wow.  Anyone who has been to this aquarium or any other very popular museum or exhibit, knows that it is sometimes hard to see everything and especially to linger where you might like when visiting these places.  Saturday night I wandered and meandered and stood spellbound for as long as I liked over the jellyfish and the seahorses and tried to wait out the octopus's shyness.  Even cooler, later in the evening I got to go on a behind the scenes tour of some of the exhibits, see the home of the albatross which lives on the roof, hear the rescued otters smashing abalone shells to get to their dinner (they keep them out of sight of humans so they don't associate food with us and can safely be returned to the wild) and hear many stories about funny things that happen around the place - lots of intruders and escapees!
After I was worn out from touring, I went to a nice little hotel down the road which had a Jacuzzi tub and basked in the bubbles for a good long time, got into my pj's and had a long sleep. Woke up to a massive rain storm so I stayed put until Zac and Liz were done with their campers then we braved the storm and went to a cafe with a wood burning fireplace and had the most delicious tea before I went off into the rain to drive home.

There were a couple of casualties, though.  My cell phone was in my pocket and got wet in the rain and stopped working and even my camera got wet and lost the photos I took.  I think the camera is going to recover. The cell phone will be replaced with the new smart phones Tom is getting for the whole family as a Christmas gift.  Pretty good timing for getting drenched, I guess!  I will be much more careful of my phone in the rain from now on.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

LITTLE BOYS LOST

Fox news has joined in on the junk science of the "war on men" in an article by one of those odd women like Phyllis Schaflay who want to protect women from losing their rights to be "dependent housewives" while themselves being working professional women.

Statistics have been floating around about more women than men pursuing higher education, young women enjoying "higher levels of success" than young men and fewer men valuing marriage and family as much as women.  The reason, according to Fox News writer Suzanne Venker, isn't that the achievements of women have made men less valued:

 It has pissed them off. It has also undermined their ability to become self-sufficient in the hopes of someday supporting a family. Men want to love women, not compete with them. They want to provide for and protect their families – it’s in their DNA. But modern women won’t let them.

Okey dokey. 

On a personal note - I say "I'll let you!!  I will give up my dead end boring stupid job that I do so our family can have medical benefits!!  Provide for me!  Protect me! I'm all in."

Got that out of my system.

I am not one of those modern women of which she speaks, I know she is speaking  of young women who have managed in ONE generation to twist male DNA into shreds due to efforts to educate themselves and be economically and socially independent.  I suppose my generation started it by saying to our daughters: You can be anything you want when you grow up you just have to get a good education and work hard.  And when it comes to having a family, well, there are going to be hard choices to make.

Wow - who knew how powerful we were? We wanted our daughters to be able to support themselves in case they didn't marry or theirs was one of the 50% of marriages which ended in divorce - and BOOM we changed men from loving, protective providers to slackers.

I can't wait for all the lovely women in their 20's and 30's to just quit their jobs, buy some cookbooks and dusting cloths and through the power of "surrendering to their femininity" magically turn all those gamer guys into productive members of the working class ready with a ring.  Paying rent in the meantime may be an issue - but hey, anything to help the guys find their way back to their true nature...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

THANKSGIVING IS THE NEW BLACK

Last year I remember a petition online sponsored by a Target employee asking for support to stop Target from starting "Black Friday" on Thanksgiving night. Last year Target opened at 11pm, this year they are opening at 9pm.   This year there are now 2 dozen petitions by retail employees asking that stores allow them to spend Thanksgiving with their families and not at work.

I'm with them.  I think this rush to get people away from their families and into the stores is just wrong. And, apparently, these early shopping hours do not even help the bottom line sales. According to the Wall Street Journal, the early store openings just take sales away from the first week or so of December (while shoppers wait for the next round of discounts to be taken) and have not had the effect of causing shoppers to spend any more money than they have in the past 5 years.

A Walmart spokesperson said that their customers like the Thanksgiving night store hours because they can get their relatives to babysit while they shop.  Now there is a reason to invite Aunt Bridget to dinner...

So who is responsible for this invasion of holiday tradition?  Overeager consumers who will run out to shop on Thursday night instead of waiting until 5 am on Friday?  The stores which open earlier and earlier (now a whole day earlier) to accommodate them?

It just reeks of bad behavior on both sides. But maybe I just don't get it...what is the thrill or allure of "early" shopping?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

WHAT'S UP AND DOWN

I haven't been very active online because I have made a lot of changes in the past couple of months.  As I mentioned before, I underwent weight loss surgery in late October.  In preparation for that  and because I had gotten the word that I may no longer need the medication, I slowly, over 2 months,  weened myself off the SSRI I have been taking for about 14 years for atypical migraine. The medication had a side effect of raising blood pressure, so I have also been on blood pressure meds for 14 years.

Well now I am down 40 pounds, I am off all medications and although my BP is only in the "fair" range, I am sure it will improve when I am completely healed and can get back into exercise in a more vigorous manner. 

Coming off an SSRI - I was on Effexor - is not easy.  I am still, 5 weeks since my last tiny dose, experiencing side effects.  I did a lot of research on how to come off Effexor because it seems the medical community, including my doctor, does not know how debilitating the side effects of even a missed dose can be.  But going online taught me that "brain zaps" and other side effects were not just an issue for me and I got good advice.

I have been healing and making my way back into normal days since the surgery - 3 weeks ago today. I am back to working 5-6 hours a day before I go home for a little nap.  Naps are new for me.  Never was a napper even when my kids were little. 

So - all this good, positive news and yet I am feeling a bit down and negative.  I realized that not feeling good makes me feel cranky and I have to be careful not to dwell in that.  But I came back to my job and don't like it much; I am finding things and people irritating and I don't want to be there all day.

I'm not excited for the holidays. I want to pull the blankets over me and wait until January when all the hoopla is over.  Not like me at all!  So I am hoping two things - One: that as I continue to heal my attitude will continue to improve and, two: that the SSRI I was taking for atypical migraine wasn't also keeping depression at bay without my realizing it!

Monday, November 12, 2012

TIME WARP TUESDAYS

Time Warp Tuesdays, sponsored by Jenn.  A day to show off the photos we display at home and tell the stories!  Go see the rest of the participants here.

Last week I featured the first "mall" photos of the twins, so in that theme, today I share the first one with all 3 of my kids.



Maggie and Zac are 6 and Ally is almost 1.  She started walking a few weeks before this was taken and it took some effort to get her to stay still.  That's why I don't have one of her alone.  She would not sit still and after her second tumble from the posing platform, the photographer refused to try again. 

So when Miss Ally complained about there being more photos of the twins when they were little - I had a ready explanation!  The next time I tried to get all of them in a photo, she made a break for the mall and I ran around trying to catch her while the photographer took photos of the twins.  Sigh.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

IT'S OVER


Lowlight on election day?  The older man at my polling place who answered his wife when she offered him her cheat sheet "Oh, I just vote no on everything."

Highlight of my election day? My 19 year-old calling me while on the way to vote. She wanted to ask me about some of the initiatives on the ballot to see if she understood them correctly before voting.


Here's hoping our young voters remain involved, informed and passionate about democracy.

Monday, November 5, 2012

TIME WARP TUESDAY

Time Warp Tuesday is Jenn's idea - now we have several bloggers posting photos from around our homes with the stories behind them.  Go here to see who's playing this week!

I missed the opportunity to post a Happy 25th Birthday to my twins last week - so this week I am featuring their first "mall" photos.  And I mean mall photos. 





There was a spot in the middle of the mall (a predecessor to the "kiosks" that now fill up all the walking space.)  The set-up  was a table and an easel with backgrounds on it and a photographer right out there in the middle of things. This always made for a crowd willing help distract crabby babies (ahem, Zac) and get involved in the whole enterprise.

Back in the late 1980's, twins were not as common as they are now and we drew quite a crowd.  Maggie sat up, smiled a bunch and that was that.  Zac wouldn't sit and it took a looonng time to capture a somewhat pleasant look - I think he was shy of the crowds hooting and waving at him.


So happy 25th birthday and thanks for all the wonderful memories! I don't even mind how old I feel to have kids who are 25.



Saturday, November 3, 2012

JUST LIKE US - SO THEY SAY

My e-mail has been flooded with political stuff, campaign contribution requests from candidates all over the country notifications of Facebook posts, etc.  I delete my way through them a few times a day.  I should have deleted the e-mail my mother sent without looking at it, too.

So this is one of those emails she gets from her friends and thinks is so real, so non-partisan and so illuminating that she sends it to us - her children who are Democrats in hopes we will see the light. My smarter sister just deletes them without looking at them.  I am, apparently, the curious cat who can't help but look.

So this e-mail is all about the "real" Romney based on someone who bought one of their vacation homes, contents and all.  Apparently the fact hat the linens were basic department store brands and the bathroom fixtures weren't "gold" and especially that a glove left behind had been patched with duct tape are all indications that:

Romney is very different from the man that many of us have been led to believe. Clearly he is more like most Americans than not. We learned many things about Mitt Romney that contradicted what we have been told. He is not aloof or out of touch. He is a man of faith, family and American values.

The new owners were charmed that there were no maid's quarters or tennis courts and that  there was a picture of Jesus left behind in the master bedroom shows Mitt Romney clearly had a home of faith and family just like the rest of us.


They found some alcohol (forbidden the the Mormon faith) in the kitchen available to guests who do not share their personal restrictions. They took this as a sure sign that:
By not imposing his beliefs on others even within his own home, then clearly a President Romney would not take away rights and impose his beliefs on all Americans. Those making such accusations should stop. The facts do not support their claims.

So wake up all you women who think Romney/Ryan won't impose their views on abortion, birth control, health care, fair pay.  All you folks concerned about  Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, enriching the military industrial complex, reducing benefits to veterans,  and privatizing emergency services;  all you have to do is look at the window coverings in one of Mitt Romney's 7 homes to see that he is a great guy, just one of us.  He would never take over a company, dismantle it, steal the pension fund and fire everyone.  That stuff has to be made up by the big bad media. 

Please let me learn from this and NEVER open one of my mother's emails ever again...

Sunday, October 21, 2012

TIME WARP TUESDAY

Time Warp Tuesday was Jenn's idea - post pictures we keep around the house and tell the stories behind them - come play with us!


Truth be told, this photo is not up on the wall.  I keep it under the bed. 

Tom had this photo of me (taken when I was 25 a couple of years before we met),  made into one of those big canvas portraits and surprised me with it when we moved into a new house.  As I was 20 years older and maybe 80 pounds heavier - I did not take it well.  I took it as his indictment of my failing to maintain my looks.

He didn't mean it that way, but I was never able to put the picture up in the house. 

Now I look at it to see what I once was as I am preparing to undergo weight loss surgery today.  I hope that a year from now I will be able to see a picture of myself on the wall and recognise that young woman in myself again.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

ROMNESIA - SNORT

At a rally in Virginia on Friday, President Obama lampooned Romney for memory lapses.


"If you come down with a case of Romnesia," the president said, "and you can't seem to remember the policies that are still on your website or the promises you have made over the six years you have been running for president, here is the good news: Obamacare covers pre-existing conditions. We can fix you up. We've got a cure."



Wednesday, October 17, 2012

ROMNEY DIDN'T SEEK OUT THE BINDERS OF WOMEN - MORE FACT CHECKING


That whole "binders full of women thing from the debate last night?  Yeah, no surprise, it wasn't exactly as Romney took credit for.  Here is the TRUTH:

The Massachusetts Government Appointments Project (MassGAP) is a non-partisan collaboration of women’s groups whose purpose is to increase the number of women appointed by the new governor to senior-level cabinet positions, agency heads and selected authorities, boards and commissions in the Commonwealth. The Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus (MWPC) is the Lead Sponsor of this collaboration.

Our History.

In 2002 women held approximately 30% of the top high-level appointed positions in the Commonwealth, even though they compose 52% of the population. To rectify this inequity, more than 25 women’s organizations banded together to form the bi-partisan MassGAP Project for the purpose of increasing the number of women in high-ranking appointed positions in Massachusetts and achieving fairer representation of women. MassGAP sought to eliminate the difficulty that state executives say they experienced whenever they tried to find qualified women for high-ranking positions. MassGAP did this through providing names and resumes of qualified women for top appointments.

Between January 2002 and July 2004, 42% of the new gubernatorial appointments made by Governor Mitt Romney were women. Massachusetts was widely recognized for that achievement and MassGAP was given credit for it.

I strongly suspect that if it had not been for this organization, already in place and ready to make resumes available, that 42% would not have happened.




Monday, October 15, 2012

TIME WARP TUESDAY


Steve, Jane, Nancy, Polly, me



This photo was taken of me and my 4 siblings in the back of our Rambler station wagon.  Based on the PJ's, I suspect we were heading out on a long trip - probably to Boise to see the grandparents.  My mom used to dose us all with Dramamine and toss us in the back of the wagon with blankets and pillows to sleep our way there.

I remember waking up hearing thumps when we drove through the high desert in the middle of the night - hitting jackrabbits blinded by the headlights.  I would also wake up and be blinded by the lights during service station stops!

I am probably 9 in this picture.  When I turned 16 the Rambler was turned over to me to drive.  Standard transmission, shift on the column.  I could haul a lot of people around!


Time Warp Tuesdays participants:

http://jugglinglife.typepad.com/juggling_life/
http://smalltownmom.blogspot.com/
http://jen-rantsraves.blogspot.com/
http://tonya-lynn.blogspot.com/
http://fondofsnape.com/
http://garysthirdpotteryblog.blogspot.com/

Join the fun!





LIARS AND THEIR SUPPORTERS

Maybe election cycles are not the time to do this, but I just unfriended someone on Facebook.  I new that she was a Romney supporter and a few weeks back she posted something I considered racist and insulting.

10/8/11 - Bill Bennett at the 2011 Values Voter Summit suggests a bumper sticker about Barack Obama:
"If you voted for him the last time to prove you are not a racist, you must vote against him this time to prove you are not an idiot."

It wasn't just the above quote, it was all done up in a poster.  I decided against commenting and let it go by even though I was incensed.

Then she posted that the Vice President was speaking jibberish in the debate last week. I did not comment on that.

Today I re-posted this:

This is a statement from an earlier post by The Truth of It:

"It doesn't so much bother me that the Romney/Ryan campaign isn't listening to the fact checkers, more so that their supporters are so morally lacking that they have a limitless tolerance for dishonesty. I guess when people can't be honest with themselves, they're not the best judge of honesty in others."

Rob Portman Falsely Claims Unemployment Is Higher Than When Obama Took Office

livewire.talkingpointsmemo.com

Appearing Sunday on ABC's "This Week," Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) inaccurately claimed that unemployment is higher now than when President Obama took office.  
She commented "What an ignorant generalization.  Shame on the author."   I commented back in the heat of my reaction and then unfriended her - not to avoid further comment but because I have lost tolerance for people who attack the media and attack the fact checkers and don't bother to try to get to the truth of things.  People who accept candidates based on their image and look no further for some substance.  Who don't bother to look for the reality behind the spin.  

For instance, why the doesn't the Democratic  party make more of the fact that Romney made the Olympics a success because the government bailed him out?   Yes, his great management of that event was based on getting 10 million or so from congress.

And Bain Capital, his calling card for being such a good businessman?  While not bailed out by taxpayers, per se, bailed out from bankruptcy by a deal with the FDIC.

As a businessman, Romney made avid use of public-private partnerships, something that many conservatives consider to be "corporate welfare."The Cato Institute said the story of the Romney-linked companies is "an example of the government stepping into the marketplace, picking winners and losers, providing profits to business owners and leaving taxpayers stuck with the bill."  An example?  After the pension plan at Bain-controlled GS Steel was underfunded (read raided)  and the company went bankrupt, the federal agency for pension insurance supplied a $44 million bail out. According to Retuers, “records show that the mill's Bain-backed management was confronted several times about the fund's shortfall, which, in the end, required an infusion of funds from the federal Pension Benefits Guarantee Corp.

 Romney personally saved $2.6 million in just one year on a tax loophole that allows wealthy executives at firms like Romney’s to pay a lower tax rate on their income than many middle class workers.  Private equity executives are taxed at the capital gains rate of 15 percent on most of their earnings, a rate well below the 35 percent tax on ordinary income. Most of his income comes from distributions by Bain Capital, the private equity firm that he left in 1999 but he still takes the discounted rate.

So - I suppose some people can see a smart businessman who can lead the country - what I see is someone who has taken advantage of what the government has made available in order to get rich and richer. 

So - who is more of a taker?  Someone trying to get back on their feet after losing a job or getting sick or disabled or needing help to make ends meet on their minimum wage job?  Or a "leader" like Mitt Romney?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

EMPLOYERS AND FEAR MONGERING


While I admit I have not read the entirety of the Affordable Health Care Act, I have done some reading and research into the provisions of it relating to businesses.  I am still trying to find out why so many businesses believe that they will no longer be able to afford to provide insurance to their employees and why they think "Obamacare" is going to make their rates go up.

I read on Huffington Post about a CEO who, when handing out bonuses to his employees, admonished them to vote for Romney or next year there would be lower pay and higher taxes, plus he would pass the health care increase on to them:

Richard Lacks, CEO of Michigan-based Lacks Enterprises, a car-part manufacturer, is urging his employees to vote for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Not doing so, he warns, could lead to higher taxes and lower pay.


"It is important that in November you vote to improve your standard of living and that will be through smaller government and less government," Lacks wrote as part of a letter that also announced a bonus for the company's 2,300 employees, according to the report. A number of progressive economists warn, however, that suddenly slashing government spending could plunge the economy into another recession.

More specifically, Lacks warned that Obamacare may raise the company's health insurance costs, which he said he would pass on to employees.

Nearly two-thirds of employers expect higher health benefit costs as a result of Obamacare, according to a recent survey.

This seems to be an employer trend; forcing employees to attend rallies and threatening them to vote in the interest of "the company" or else.  And the concerns about voter fraud are about picture ID?

I have tried to get a straight answer from a number of sources about the concerns business owners have about the coming insurance requirements.  I have gotten no new information which supports these fears.  Insurance premiums have been going up at a rate of about 10% a year for the past 6 years without the new options, this year, the rates only went up about 7%.  It would appear that the insurance companies are already aware of the competition the new plan will provide and slowing their greedy rate hikes a bit. For an employer who subsidizes employee premiums, that is good news. 

But paying any part of the employee plan is not required - and providing a plan is required only if an employer has 50 or more employees.  My company has 5 employees.  We have a health care plan and the company pays a generous 75% of the employee's premium. (My last employer only paid 25%.)

An insurance broker sent an e-mail to my company with dire sounding warnings about potential increases in insurance plans if Obama was elected.  I e-mailed back and forth with him and finally, finally got him to admit that the only issue for small businesses was that those which offer insurance were at an advantage in attracting good employees - which is true now.  He had a hard time admitting that the only cost to an employer offering a plan to their employees was some admin time.  No other requirement exists but his marketing campaign still goes on, spreading fear and mis-information. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

TIME WARP TUESDAYS

Jenn had the idea to post photos we have around our homes and tell the story behind them.  I used to have a long hall with photos lined up mixed in with the kids artwork and other family things.  Now, I just have a few photos out in our smaller house.


Our scanner isn't available tonight, so I took a photo of the photo on the wall! I will be more organized for this next week...

But since it was our 28th Anniversary Sunday - I thought I would start with the wedding photo I have out.  My parents in the middle, 2 of my sisters and my brother and sister-in law.  Don't we just look so 1984?

We were married outdoors in a small park and had a reception on the patio of a neighboring restaurant.  The colors were pink and gray.  Tom worse a tux because his only suit was tan and we couldn't afford to buy him a new one. It was a small wedding, mostly my parent's friends because we had recent moved to the Bay Area. But some of our friends came from San Diego and my best friend from high school managed to get a quick break from her residency and come down from Seattle. My mom and I made my dress and the whole thing cost about $2500.00 - nothing compared to how things are done now!  But it took.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

ANNIVERSARY TRIP

Tom and  just returned from our weekend in Yosemite.  We went to celebrate our 28th anniversary.  We had a great time, very relaxing and the weather could not have been more perfect.  Tom had never been to Yosemite before, I have not been back since I was a teen. 

We had a nice guided tour of the Valley conducted by one of the young staff at the Evergreen Lodge - which is a fabulous place if anyone is considering a trip that way.  Bryant is an avid naturalist and climber; he and Tom talked about hikes he could take on during future trips. We were joined on our tour by a family visiting from Australia and a guy from the UK who pronounced every sight "gooore-jus" with great enthusiasm. 

When I mentioned that my family used to fill jugs of water from the springs around the valley, Bryant made a point of stopping at one and we all drank real spring water!


We stood and watched several teams climbing El Capitan through binoculars.  My camera could not pick them up.  Most climbers take 3 days to reach the top and then descend. Bryant explained in some detail the way that they do the climb, including eating, sleeping and containing their waste to take back down the mountain. He also talked about the exhilaration which makes it so worth the pain.

We had really nice meals at the Lodge and sat out under the stars in front of an outdoor fireplace finishing off the wine from our dinner.  It was wonderful.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

WHAT THE HELL??

I am freaking out.  I am so disappointed in President Obama and his team - this passive approach, allowing Romney to lie, lie,lie and claim to care so much about the poor and downtrodden with that smirky face. 

I have such a stomach ache from watching that damned debate.  What the hell are the Dems thinking?  Are they so afraid that Obama might bring out the racists by ratcheting up his cool demeanor to angry black man?  Hello?  The racists are already in full force, no reason to try to avoid riling them up. Get in there and point out the lies, point out the disdain for the 47%, point out the cuts from Medicare, privitization of medicare and Social Security, turning over education to profit making private companies and the fact that his plan will push the middle class further down the tubes.

I am not sure I can take any more of this.  I am going to step away from the pundits now and take a nice hot shower.

BE KIND, THAT'S IT

There is a quote, attributed to Plato, which keeps making the rounds on Pinterest which goes: 

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

This thought goes through my mind a lot.  When I realize I am being critical of another person, it comes to me like a mantra.  Of course, then I want to argue with myself that there are battles and there are battles, but that is the point of this mental exercise.

When I read something like this (I am linking the Jezebel article about this because Psychology Today must have pulled the blog post from it's website) I realize that there is a problem with trying to characterize the "battles" other people are fighting.  The writer of an article titled "Female Obesity: It's Not All Her Fault" suggests that obesity in women stems from a lack of male sexual and flirtatious attention. (I am not sure how this relates to lesbian couples, but perhaps he meant a partner, rather than male attention?)

This "relationship counselor"  is looking around the grocery store and sees all these women in their 20"s and 30's he considers obese and then proclaims that they must  not be getting any love from their husbands because otherwise they would magically be slim - or maybe just large because large can still be sexy according to this guy.

He is not the first to attach sexuality to overeating. But usually the shrinks are saying obese women are avoiding their sexuality by making themselves "larger"  and less attractive.  Frequently this is due to rape or molestation.  This PhD is suggesting that if their guy flirted with them and made them feel sexy, that they wouldn't get so fat.

So I have changed my mind.  Even in his effort to feel empathy for women like me, I feel judged by him.  So I am not so fond of that quote anymore.  Be kind is just fine - no further explanation or judgement is necessary.

Friday, September 28, 2012

FRIDAY FAST ONES

1.)  The New York Post reports that plastic surgeons have seen a 30 percent increase in the demand for eyebrow transplants, Many requesting actress Megan Fox's bushy brows. The price for the procedure costs between $4,000 and $8,000.  No details about whether you can pay extra to be able to raise one at a time.


2.)  Once again, if there hadn't been a homeowner with a gun involved, a tragedy could have been avoided. In a Connecticut neighborhood a local high school teacher got a call from his sister that someone might be breaking into her house.  He went to investigate and found a masked person outside the house, when confronted, he claims the intruder lunged at him  with something in his hand, so he shot him.

Turns out he killed his own son.  They don't know why his son was masked and lurking around his aunt's house.  He was 15.  Teen aged boys are not the most logical creatures.  They are unpredicible and do stupid things. If his dad didn't have a gun, they might have found out what he was up to, what craziness was in his mind. Now they will never know and his dad has to live with that.

3.)  Some conservatives are voicing big doubts and conspiracy theories about recent polls that show President Obama pulling ahead both nationally and in key battleground states. They contend that pretty much everyone but the conservative pollsters over at Rasmussen are relying on "turnout models" that unfairly favor Democrats. If the turnout models were tweaked appropriately, they say, Romney would have a substantial lead coming down the home stretch.

Credible pollsters like Gallup have explained the methods used and the changes to the methods they have implemented due to land line/cell phone usage and just generally says - this isn't an exact science but we are doing it in a legitimate way.

Today the guy at unskewedpolls.com pretty much lost his conspiracy argument when when Fox News released its latest survey, which showed Obama up by 5 points, 48 percent to Romney's 43. 

4.)  This is a very serious subject to me as it comes close to my home.  This is the first time I have read anything on this subject that is so illuminating.  This links the whole article which is long but very well written and worthwhile. The point I had never known before is this:

New research suggests that pedophilia—the attraction to children, not the act of molesting them—is essentially impossible to change. James Cantor, a senior scientist at the Sexual Behaviors Clinic of the Center of Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, is at the forefront of neuroimaging studies of pedophiles and has described a kind of crossed wiring in their brains that they’re likely born with. He has expressed hopes that by pinpointing pedophilia’s neurological origins, it may someday lead to a course of prevention.

The reason this research and knowledge is important is that it smashes the myth that pedophiles are weird, scary guys we can recognise when we see them.  We can't.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

SURPRISED MYSELF

I have made it a point in the past 5 years or so not to add any new shows to my TV viewing - unless it is something out of the blue amazing like Downton Abbey or Homeland.  I don't like being in a rut of nightly tv viewing. 

I am surprised and a bit sheepish to say that I watched 2 new sitcoms and laughed out loud and will continue to watch them.  One of them is Go On with Matthew Perry.  Even Tom liked it; we dissected it a bit to determine why it was so appealing - good writing, charmingly wacky cast and thoughtful set-up - the grief group.

The other show follows it, The New Normal.  From the commercials I thought I would hate the character Ellen Barkin plays - a bigoted, ultra bitch conservative.  But the writing is good and there is some balance to the show which I like. (Please note: I would not watch a Seinfeld episode if George was in it because I couldn't stand him. So we will see how I feel over time.)

It's been a while since I had guilty favorites.  Watching any of the new shows?

Monday, September 24, 2012

NEW NOOK

Well, the battery change did not fix the Nook.  Tom isn't sure if it was his error or if the battery was the issue.  I bought a new one on Sunday and got everything back on and started reading a new book.  I thought about getting the less expensive non-color version, but I confess, my occasional Angry Birds game just would not be the same...

Also, this time I loaded in my e-mail info so I can use it when away from home.  I am getting ready to do a "medical tourism" trip next month and I want to be able to keep in touch.  If interested, you can read more on my Fitness, Food, Life blog.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

FRIDAY FAST ONES

1.)  Now we have some insight on why Romney and friends are  saying the President is going to raise taxes on the middle class - He thinks people making $200,000. - $250.000 ARE the middle class.

2.)  I noticed a long time local politician being lauded for his "long history of public service."  I suspect if they didn't like the guy they'd call him a "career politician."

3.)  We happened to catch a documentary the other night : Sexy Liberal Comedy Tour.  It is showing on Current TV.  Very funny and smart.  Stephanie Miller, the focus of the movie,  has a radio talk show which they film daily and show on the same channel.  We added it to the DVR list. 

4.) I have managed to miss the Honey Boo Boo show so I didn't realize until now that HBB is not her name.  It is a nickname and there is a nick name generator which tells me I am "Sweets Wisteria."  Not nearly as interesting as my hooker name which is Stubbs St. Francis.

5.) Tom is moving his office into the house this week,  He has been very cranky and bothered over the process and freaked out by how noisy it is when the neighborhood kids all come home from school in the afternoon and start playing outside. We'll see how long this set-up lasts.  At least it will get cold and dark in the next few months which will keep the shrieking kids out for a shorter period of time.

6.) Found out that the arsenic in rice thing is even worse in brown rice because it likes to reside in that nice brown husk.  I don't eat much rice because I eat low carb most of the time, but the irony of the "healthier" version of rice being more potentially toxic is interesting. Apparently rinsing and cooking rice in larger amounts of water (vs. a steamer) helps reduce the amount of the naturally occurring arsenic.

7.) Right before my Nook died, I finished a book called The Age of Miracles.  The premise of the book is that the Earth begins lowing in it's rotation around the sun.  Instead of a big apocalyptic end of the world, it simply starts slowing and we follow the changes through the eyes and experience of a 12 year old Southern California girl.  It is a sort of limited take on the premise, but interesting and thought provoking.

POLITICAL DAY DREAMS

Trica wrote a comment to my last post asking "how do they keep getting elected?"  Well, I think it is because of  knee-jerk voters - hey automatically vote a certain party or they hear something they don't like, never look into the truth of it and vote based on that.

As the Romney campaign falters (some say dies), the polls are rising in President Obama's favor. They have also been rising  for other democrat candidates. I hope that it is because of their wonderful convention speeches and the focus on the positive rather than the negative which the GOP seems determined to project.

I also hope, as the polls continue to favor the President, that he spreads the positive energy out on the road in support of other Democratic candidates.  Perhaps voters will see that the President is going to be re-elected and do what they can to make the second term more effective - which is to put a congress in place that actually wants to get things done.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

KNUCKLEHEADS IS TOO NICE

So did you see Rachel Maddow talking about the Job Corps for Veterans bill that died in the Senate today?  She was spitting mad and for good reason.

Seems that the Dems wanted to come up with a way to help veterans get jobs after deployment.  The jobless rate for vets is 10.9% - higher than the rest of the population.  So the Dems sought out some GOP support to write the bill and help get it passed. The for GOP Senators who wrote most of the bill then turned and votes against it.

“It’s both shocking and shameful that Republicans today chose to kill a bill to put America’s veterans back to work,” Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and a bill co-sponsor, said in a statement after the vote. “At a time when one in four young veterans are unemployed, Republicans should have been able, for just this once, to put aside the politics of obstruction and to help these men and women provide for their families.”


Murray called the vote a “stark reminder that Senator McConnell and Senate Republicans are willing to do absolutely anything to fulfill the pledge he made nearly two years ago to defeat President Obama.”

It is clear that the GOP has little regard for our troops and veterans and would rather try to "hurt" the President than take care of those in need of a hand, even those who have served our country.



Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Monday, September 17, 2012

DEAD NOOK

My Nook died.

The guy at Barnes and Nobel said it would cost $140. to get a new battery.  A new Nook costs $149.

I was pretty sad about the whole thing.

Tom said - we'll get a new battery.  I told him the guy at B&N said the reason it is so expensive to replace is the difficulty - thus high labor cost.

Tom snorted and  found YouTube vido showing how to do it and a site selling the battery for $40.

It's on the way.  To be continued...

Friday, September 14, 2012

IS THE TRUTH OPTIONAL?

I know I just posted about lying.  This just  seems to be a themed week.

I was explaining to Tom about a small claims court case I had prepared for my boss to argue. It was clear and factual and supported by a ream of documents that they had the work done, they knew they owed the money, that they had been notified for nearly 2 years of the bill and mounting finance charges.  One of the plaintiffs arrived in court with her toddler in tow, lied to the mediator and then to the judge and the judge ignored the documents and shafted our business out of about $2000.00.

Tom said 2 things 1. Going to court is always a crap shoot. 2. Everyone lies.

He said he thinks it has to do with politicians.  The bold face lie has proven to be a winning strategy.  I would add all those uber wealthy bankers and investment brokers - not much truth telling going on there.  Pharmaceutical companies care about sick people. That's a good one.  Oh, how about "Your call is important to us" which is why we don't hire more than a couple of people for our Customer Service 800 line.

What is your favorite lie?



Thursday, September 13, 2012

LYING POLITICIANS - OXYMORON?

A lot of people hate politics and politicians because they are not honest. People love to complain about politicians and lawyers - calling them crooks and out for themselves and worse. Being married to a civil rights attorney who sees his work as service, who picks and chooses his cases based on the merits and the  law, who doesn't take on cases in order to "blackmail" people into paying money unjustly; I have a soft spot for those who are lumped in with the bad guys.

Are there lawyers and politicians who behave badly?  Yes.  Are there doctors and bankers who behave greedily.  Yes.  Are there accountants and plumbers who behave shoddily?  Yes.

When it comes to lies, though, politicians seem to be making it an artform.  If I learned anything at all during the Bush administration it was that a lie told repeatedly takes on the veneer of truth for a whole lot of people.

He came by it honestly, as they say.  In 1984, his dad,  George H.W. Bush made up a quote about Walter Mondale's campaign that was both damaging and untrue. Bush's press secretary said: “You can say anything you want during a debate, and 80 million people hear it”; when newspapers point out the lies, “So what?” he said. “Maybe 200 people read it, or 2,000, or 20,000.”

Seems that this cynical disregard for the truth has become part and parcel of the GOP's campaign strategy. In the words of W.C. Fields, “If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bull---t.”  This election is a further test of how far politicians can bend the truth and have people repeating it to the point of believing it. Musch has been written about the factual inaccuracies of the Ryan and the Romney budget plans - are people paying attention?  I guess we will see.

To be fair, "a Politifact analysis of the two campaigns so far has rated 28 percent of Democratic campaign material as untrue to at least a degree, as against 46 percent for the GOP."  The thing is, statistically,  the Democrats seem to exaggerate,and misstate things, while the GOP runs major falsehoods up the flagpole.

This year I will proudly vote for President Obama, not because Democrats are perfectly honest, but because they have shown far more respect for the truth and for the public's  ability to discern lies from honesty than has the GOP and Romney.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

REUNION

Christina, Me, Sue - Graduation Day
Last week was eventful.  I went to my high school reunion on Saturday - my 40th.  Yep, Class of 1972.  Just imagine, if you can, what it was like to start high school during the "Summer of Love" and to graduate the month they finally stopped drafting young men to Vietnam.

People of my specific age group had one foot in the 1950's and the other in the turbulent 60's and 70's.  I always felt torn between my traditional upbringing and the more demanding world I was being offered.  I would blame the times for my lack of focus and inability to figure out my life's goals - except I am surrounded by women (and men) who managed to excel.

In high school I was editor of the newspaper for a while, I was deeply involved in student government, I helped plan dances and a recycling center on the campus. At the reunion - I was a non-entity for the most part.  I loved going with my friends Christina and Sue.  Sue even spent the night at my house so we had a long visit.  Christina and I had our photo taken together as we have at all the reunions (I always make her go.) I missed other old friends who were not there.  There was one woman who remembered me though I didn't recognise her.  There were a handful I remembered who looked blankly at me.


People I didn't know!  We had a class of about 800 students.
 All in all I am glad I went.  Having the event as an afternoon picnic was a huge improvement over the evening dinner dances held in the past. The socializing was more natural and easy going. They are planning a 60th birthday bash in two years instead of waiting another 10 for a reunion.  I'll probably go - can't seem to quit them.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

CONVENTIONAL POLITICS

This morning one of the discussions on the radio was whether people tuned in to the Democratic convention or to the first football game of the season.  One of the on air people said that she didn't watch "infomercials for politicians".  OK, I guess that could be what the conventions have become.  I do miss the old days when there was some degree of suspense.  I loved the roll calls through the states when they offered up their little speech and then pledged their delegates.

I am just enough of a political junkie that I always watch both conventions.  I like to see who will speak and what they have to say - even if it makes me yell at the TV in frustration.  And maybe they have become more cookie cutter - but having the pleasure of watching Bill Clinton speak last night is worth sitting through some canned speeches.  And the dynamism of Michelle Obama compared to the fluffy false notes of Ann Romney underscores the difference between the two families up for election.

Does what happens at the conventions change any minds?  I don't know.  I do know that they get me excited.  The "real people" chosen to speak can have the most enlightening stories. I like seeing the up and coming politicians speaking that I wouldn't otherwise know about - (and on that score the Dems beat the GOP hands down.)

I also know that my 3 children, all of voting age, were not likely to be watching either convention, and that's too bad.  Being tuned into the political process as a whole, not just the ads and soundbites, makes us better informed voters and maybe a little less cynical about politics.

Friday, August 31, 2012

WHAT WOMEN WANT MRS. ROMNEY

This morning Ann Romney was asked point blank by a reporter about what her husband was going to do for women.  Yes, she "loves women!" but what will his administration do, specifically to help women.

Mrs. Romney said that women don't care so much about their jobs or their husband's jobs but care about the future of the country for their children.  That was her answer. 

I say - want to do something simple and specific to help future generations of women?

 How about equal pay. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

WHICH IS WORSE?

The insane personal beliefs which he would impose on all women:

“I’m very proud of my pro-life record. I’ve always adopted the idea that the method of conception doesn’t change the definition of life,” he said during an interview with television station WJHL. In that statement, Ryan basically admits that he believes 1) rape is a form of conception and 2) it’s equal to conception by consensual sex because both produce life. This reasoning is apparently why Ryan opposes the rape exception for abortion.


Or the bold faced lies:

1. “A downgraded America.” Ryan blamed the president for the nation’s credit downgrade in August 2011 after Republicans threatened to allow the government to default on its debt for the first time in history. But the ratings agency explicitly blamed “Republicans saying that they refuse to accept any tax increases as part of a larger deal.”


2. “More debt than any other president before him, and more than all the troubled governments of Europe combined.” Romney has made the almost identical claim, that Obama has amassed more debt “as almost all of the other presidents combined.” But their math doesn’t add up: when Obama took office, the national debt was $10.626 trillion. It has increased to slightly above $15 trillion.

3. Shuttered General Motors plant is “one more broken promise.” Ryan described a GM plant that closed down in his hometown, Janesville, Wisconsin, and blamed Obama for breaking his promise to keep the plant open when he visited during his campaign. But Obama never made that promise, and the plant shut down in December 2008, before Obama even took office.

4. Obama “did exactly nothing” on Bowles-Simpson. Ryan said, “He created a bipartisan debt commission. They came back with an urgent report. He thanked them, sent them on their way, and then did exactly nothing.” In fact, Ryan was instrumental in sabotaging the commission, leading the other House Republicans in voting against the plan.

5. “$716 billion, funneled out of Medicare by President Obama.” Ryan’s favorite lie is a deliberate distortion of Obamacare’s savings from eliminating inefficiencies. Furthermore, Ryan’s own plan for Medicare includes these savings. Romney has vowed to restore these cuts, which would render the trust fund insolvent 8 years ahead of schedule.

6. “The greatest of all responsibilities is that of the strong to protect the weak.” Ryan closed the speech with an invocation of social responsibility, saying, “The truest measure of any society is how it treats those who cannot defend or care for themselves.” However, numerous clergy members have condemned Ryan’s budget plan as “cruel,” and “an immoral disaster” because of its devastating cuts in social programs the poor and sick rely on. Meanwhile, Ryan would give ultra-rich individuals and corporations $3 trillion in tax breaks.