Wednesday, February 29, 2012

NO MORE FB FOR ME

 I deactivated my Facebook account.  Not because I spent so much time on it - I barely used it at all.  When I signed up it was so I could see what the kids were up to and I have enjoyed that part.

When I signed up I used my maiden name as well as my married name in case I was being searched out by old friends.  I never did hear from anyone I wasn't in some sort of contact with already.   I occasionally put things up about family and political stuff, but when I looked at it yesterday it was full of ads and stuff from sites I had "liked" for some reason or the other (discounts mostly) and it just bothered me.

The final issue was that I couldn't seem to edit things off the page.  Because I sometimes blog about work, I didn't want my employers name available to match up, just in case someone at work found my blog.  I could not get it to delete anything that was already there.  I could change the status of my employment or stop some people from seeing some stuff, but that isn't what I wanted.  I should be able to control the "about me" info, and couldn't.  Okay, maybe there is a way, but I am not asking for help.  If they make it so difficult to manage my own information, I don't want to participate.

Also, if I don't want unflattering photos of myself on my page, I should be able to delete them - so, okay, vanity played a part, too!

Friday, February 24, 2012

FRIDAY FAST ONES

  1.)  Still no resolution to the car accident in mid-December.  AAA insurance is certainly a sorry-ass company.  I submitted a bunch of evidence and photos and the agent said he would guarantee I would be at less than 50% fault.  Then nothing.  I think he must have gotten in trouble from the higher ups because weeks later I am talking with some creep who says if both cars are moving it is 50/50 fault - no matter what the actual facts of the situation are.  Period.

So now we have to go into arbitration.  I am determined not to cave in just to get my car fixed.

2.) Does anyone else say that they are going to see all the Oscar movies before the show and then year after year manage to see few, if any, of them? I saw The Help. That's it.

3. )  My memory lapses are causing me some consternation this week.  I have been changing e-mail addresses (forgetting passwords), doing the taxes (forgetting how to download the previous year's information into Turbo Tax), trying to use work time for productive things (passwords again), transferring a credit card balance (I tore the place apart trying to remember where I hid the credit cards I don't use.)

I am going to start putting everything into a little notebook so I can find what I need when I need it.  If we are burgled, so be it!

4.) Love having my days to do things.  Hate that there are now so many solicitors calling all day.  One woke me up this morning - 8am!  (I know that sounds late, but I don't tend to get to sleep until 1 or so.)

5.)  Just finished another good book - The Night Circus - for those who enjoy the magic and mystical in their reading.   

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

RUT BUSTERS

I have gotten into such a rut these past months.  I rose up for the holidays and dug in deeper afterwards. Sporadic visits to the gym, going to work, lots of tv watching and internet surfing and, of course, overeating has gotten done.  I made the mistake of joining Pinterest.  That didn't help.

A few things have poked me out of my stupor.  On Saturday we bought a new mattress. So I spent all day washing all the linens and blankets  from 2 beds (we  had them carry off the even older mattress in our daughter's room.)  I vacuumed under the beds and cleaned the frames and re-made the beds.  More activity that I have had in months. 

Then Tom decided we should switch from Comcast to ATT for our phone/internet/cable.  I have been frustrated by the internet connection ever since we downgraded to save money (hey, Pinterest needs some speed to load all those pictures!)  He has been frustrated by the more limited channels and the cost. So now the tvs in 4 (!)  rooms will all be disconnected and reconnected and installers will be all over the house.  So I cleaned more stuff.

The biggest issue isn't the dust bunnies, but after 11 years of the same e-mail address for pretty much every non-blogging thing I do, I have to  give it up. kept wanting to drop it around the time I dropped the matching vanity plates from my car - momrocs. I felt like it was time to move on from the "mom" thing. It was all too daunting to consider but now I have to do it. All the family, bill pay, health care, taxes, Quicken, colleges, shopping sites, facebook, banking, and who can remember what else is linked to my Comcast address.

I do have a new thing that I love.  I bought myself one of those steam cleaners for hard surfaces.  I bought one from Oreck.  LOVE. IT.  After mops and pails/sinks full of water it is so quick and easy.  I use it almost every day.

So, ruts? Things making you happy?

Friday, February 17, 2012

YOUR FIST IS HITTING MY FACE

rep·re·sent·a·tive   /ˌrɛprɪˈzɛntətɪv/ Show Spelled[rep-ri-zen-tuh-tiv]
noun
1. a person or thing that represents another or others.
2. an agent or deputy: a legal representative.
3. a person who represents a constituency or community in a legislative body, especially a member of the U.S. House of Representatives or a lower house in certain state legislatures.


I have had a bee in my bonnet on this issue for a long time.  It seems like it is coming up more and more frequently, and not just because it is an election year.

When we elect someone to office, it is their responsibility to then represent us.  I know that each election has a winner and a loser and that the losing side deserves some consideration when it comes to their point of view.  The concept of "majority rules" is meant to keep both sides working to have their points of view debated and weighed during elections and the "side" that wins is the one which gets the most consideration when positions are taken.

What I see developing more and more is elected representitives making decisions based on their own religious beliefs, on what is politically expedient or what they think will make them electable in the future.  So when I see these polls indicating that 67% of Catholics and 64% of other voters think the President's birth control coverage requirement should stand, why are we still talking about this?  What leverage should there be when the will of the people, the desire of the voters is to support the President?

Why are the elected officials of this country even meeting with the Catholic Bishops Council?  Beyond their individual vote and the sway they may hold over their church members, what other say should they have in the governing of our country?  None.  If they want to become a political force, then they should give up their non-profit status, pay their way and join in the fray.  Otherwise, their constituency is their own membership - which is certainly not the entire country.

When John F. Kennedy was running for President there were a lot of people against him because of his Catholic religion.  They said they didn't want the country run by the Pope.  Yet just these few years later we are being forced to fight off  religious intolerance, whim, mandate, threat and  prejudice at every turn.

As Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said, 'The right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins.' Rights must be limited to claims of freedom to do anything which does not violate the freedoms of others.

If you don't believe in abortion, don't have one.  If you don't believe in using birth control, don't use it.  If you believe homosexuality is a sin, don't have sex with someone of the same sex.  If you don't believe in evolution, teach your children what you do believe and let the science teachers teach what they know.  Your right to believe in what you believe and practice your beliefs doesn't bother me until you try to foist it on me, my family, schools and the rights of others in this country.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

THIS BOOK WORE ME OUT!

I spent the last week in a state of aggravation brought on by reading Stephen King's Under the Dome.  I don't frequently read King, but I so enjoyed 11/22/63, his book on time travellers trying to stop the Kennedy assassination  that I downloaded Dome.  In his notes at the end of the book, he wrote that he intended it to be "pedal to the metal" throughout.  It runs over 800 pages of anxiety inducing storytelling. 

Before that I read another book by Hillary Jordan; Mudbound was good storytelling but the 1940's southern racism and sexism got my hackles up. Before that I read The Tragedy of Arthur by Arthur Phillips.  Full of Shakespearean lore and, yes, tragedy.

So now I need a rest.  My nerves are shot, but I can't go more than a day without a book to read.  I think I'll look for a nice book  - something with screen doors slamming, fireflies and peach cobbler.

 I saw the commercial for the Hunger Games movie and it intrigued me.  It looks a bit intense, so maybe not next,  but my question is:  has anyone read the series and it it worthwhile?

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

SOLAR ENVY

Our neighbors just had solar panels installed on their roof and I feel envious every time I pass their house. I didn't feel the same way when the people across the street painted their house or when I saw new flooring going in down the street -  it is the solar that takes my heart.

If we ever own a house again, I am going to have solar and, if the recent study, "Peer Effects in the Diffusion of Solar Photovoltaic Panels," conducted by Bryan Bollinger of the NYU Stern School of Business and Kenneth Gillingham of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, is true, it will be contagious.

The report confirms that, “there is a positive, statistically significant, causal effect of previous nearby installations on a household’s decision to adopt solar panels…A one percent increase in the zip code installed base leads to approximately a one percent increase in the zip code adoption rate.” And at the street level, the study found that a one percent increase in installed solar leads to a nine percent increase in the street adoption rate.

In other words, if one home on the block gets solar, then other homeowners follow.  When the solar company drops the rate for multiple neighborhood installations, the number increases even more substantially.  Here in California, the utility company, PG&E, actually benefits when customers use less energy or go completely off-grid. The company recently invested $61 million in SolarCity and $100 million in SunRun, another solar leasing company.  (I don't really like the leasing thing, but that is another story.)

Most people who install solar do it to save money, seeing my sister's meter running backwards sure sold me on that.  But there is just something about seeing those panels soaking up the natural energy of the sun and using it to power things - it just gets me so excited.  Maybe I should invite our landlords over to see Nancy's meter, or better yet, to see the house down the street with the nice new panels on the roof!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

TAVERN SANDWICHES - A FAMILY RECIPE

My grandparents owned a bar before I was born, later they had a drive-in Called Aggie's Coney Island.  I don't know what the name of the bar was, just that it was actually called a tavern.  I grew up eating a family recipe called Tavern Sandwiches.  When I was older I realized that the recipe is the kind of thing that can sit and simmer on a stove all day, which made it perfect for a tavern setting.  A no fuss hot sandwich to serve up with a beer - or after a lot of beer.

I insist my family eat the first Tavern as traditionally made, I try to turn a blind eye when I see them make a second one for themselves and use catsup...

TAVERN SANDWICHES

1 pound or so of ground chuck (leaner beef an even ground turkey is ok too)
about half a container of bay leaves (a lot of them is best)
salt
mustard
dill pickle chips
buns

Put the ground beef, bay leaves and a good amount of salt into a saucepan, cover it all with cold water - about 1.5 cups for a pound of meat.  The meat must now be stirred and broken down into fine pieces.


Not this.

Like this.

Let the meat simmer on low for at least an hour - and up to all day, just check the water and add more if needed.  You can cover it if you want, but make sure it is simmered very low.

The proper way to make a Tavern is to put lots of mustard on both sides of the bun, and put dill pickle chips on one side. 




Using a slotted spoon, dip out a scoop of the meat, pull out any bay leaves and put them back into the pot. Drain the meat really well, I press it against the side of the pot.  Carefully transfer the meat to the bottom bun.  I put the bun up to the filled spoon and turn it over, making a well formed mound in the middle of the bun.  Flip the top on and eat - over a plate.  It is messy!

Yum.

Friday, February 3, 2012

FRIDAY FAST ONES


1.)  Earier this week I read that the Komen Foundation changed their policy for financial support of breast and cervical exams with Planned Parenthood shortly after they hired Karen Handel as their VP. She is actively anti-choice and has run for Governor of Georgia on the platform that she would remove state grants from PP and  any organization which counsels abortion. 

The newly adopted "cut off criteria" based on Federal investigations is just a way around the fact that this is a personal position made political by their newly hired VP.

As Mary Elizabeth Williams, writer for Salon.com puts it:  If you were one of the world’s biggest charities and were looking to hire someone who had women’s welfare as her greatest imperative, would you go for someone who’d send them to a place that offers breast cancer screenings – as well as ovarian cancer screenings and HPV tests? Or someone who prefers a bunch of right-to-life fanatics pretending to be a medical facility? If you picked the former, you’re smarter than Komen for the Cure.

 The Komen Foundation has now back pedaled in response to the outpouring of support for PP.  On the other hand, they claim that donations to the Komen Foundation have risen 100%.  There seems to be no end of supporters who (1.) believe the mis-information about the funding and mission of PP and (2.) A whole lot of people out there who wants us all to be stripped of our reproductive rights.

I think all those people thinking about doing their events and making donations in the future should think twice.

2.)  While my husband is glued to each Republican debate, I am at work and barely pay attention to the recaps.  I just get so irritated and I am saving the blood pressure challenge for the real campaign.

However, I can't help but comment on these discussions about the "poor."  Newt and Mitt blame our economic woes on the use of food stamps and unemployment insurance. They have it backwards according to common sense and Robert Reich:  The reason for the rise in food stamps, unemployment insurance and other safety-net programs is Americans got clobbered in 2008 with the worst economic catastrophe since the Great Depression. They and their families have needed whatever helping hands they could get.



The number and percentage of Americans in poverty has increased dramatically over the past three years. According to a study by Northeastern University, a third of families with young children are now in poverty.

Only 40 percent of the unemployed qualify for unemployment benefits because they weren’t working full time or long enough on a single job before they were canned. The unemployment system doesn’t take account of the fact that a large portion of the workforce typically works part time on several jobs, and moves from job to job.

 The "safety net" of food stamps, workers compensation, subsidized housing and social Security benefits has helped some of these families stay off the streets, no accounting for all those who have fallen off the "grid" all together.

3.) Once the SF 49ers lost their chance for the Super Bowl we lost interest in watching.  I have barely watched in years, actually, I admit that if there isn't a west coast team involved, I don't have any interest in the game.  The commercials, however are another thing.  Since the big budget ads started running, they have been a big part of the entertainment.  The half-time shows, not so much.  And this year - yuck.  I am not a Madonna fan.  At. All.

So what about missing the commercials?  Well, I need not worry.  some of the commercials are already on the internet!   Problem solved.  Sometimes I just love the over saturation of our media...

Thursday, February 2, 2012

IS AMAZON TRYING TO BURN THE BOOK INDUSTRY?


Photo borrowed from Bloomberg BusinessWeek.
I am one of those people who stops patronizing companies (and I do write and tell them I am doing so) when they do things I don't think are right. I never shop at Wal-Mart because of their anti-union activities and the employee abuses which have been reported and litigated for 20 years. I am no longer shopping at Lowes after they pulled ads from the TV show American Muslim. After Amazon started spending millions to avoid paying sales taxes in California and then learning of employee abuses in their warehouses, I stopped shopping on Amazon.

Not shopping on Amazon has been the most difficult decision to stick with and the main reason I ended up with a Nook and not a Kindle. Now Amazon is giving me more reason to stick with my position. It seems that the next move to be the only bookseller in the country is to get exclusive publishing rights to certain authors and to start publishing books themselves.

Barnes & Noble  has decided not to sell those books through their stores, saying: "Our decision is based on Amazon’s continued push for exclusivity with publishers, agents and the authors they represent. These exclusives have prohibited us from offering certain e-books to our customers. Their actions have undermined the industry as a whole and have prevented millions of customers from having access to content."

An article published in Bloomberg  BusinessWeek reports that Jeff  Bezos, Amazon's founder, doesn’t care whether he loses money on books for the larger cause of stocking the Kindle with exclusive content unavailable in Barnes & Noble’s Nook or Apple’s iBookstores. He’s also got almost infinitely deep pockets for spending on advances to top authors. Even more awkwardly for publishers, Amazon is their largest retailer, so they are now in the position of having to compete against an important business partner. On the West Coast people cheerfully call this kind of arrangement coopetition. On the East Coast it’s usually referred to as getting stabbed in the back.

I completely understand that everyone in business needs to keep up with the new technology and be ready for the future ways of doing business, the lack of foresight was why my favorite bookstore, Borders, went out of business. They were great about carrying a huge range of old and new titles, but they missed the boat on the shift to e-readers.

I just hate to see the continued gobbling up of the whole industry by one company.  Especially one company which has continued it's march to dominance by treating employees poorly, undercutting authors, refusing to contribute it's fair share of taxes and generally shoving it's deep pocketed weight around.