Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Just the other day Jen on the Edge posted about people making mean comments on blogs and personal attacks on bloggers. That day my sister sent me a link to an article about her husband who was selected to be the new Fire Department Chief in another state.

The article had a nice photo, comments from the selection committee who chose him unanimously over all the other candidates and how much they admired his career and his attitude. It also mentioned that he is from California and that he had retired from his previous position as Assistant Chief.  (He is 51.) It listed his new salary.  It also mentioned that he and his wife have a second home in Coeur d'alene Idaho, which is about 40 miles away from the location of the new job - so they have local ties.

Scrolling down to the comments - wow.  What a bunch of haters!  Out of the 20 or so comments there were only 2-3 that were positive and welcoming.  Mostly they were nasty about being from California, which I ran into when we moved to Washington State back in the '90's.  I would have thought after all these lean years that the benefits of business, tourism and money to buy homes flowing in from California and other states would be appreciated - apparently not. I guess they prefer for their economy to be stagnant rather than have to interact with us lepers from California.

The second wave of vitriol was about the fact that he had retired and was now taking another job.  He is only 51.  He has a son in college and a daughter in high school.  They don't know the circumstances of his "retirement" or how much his benefits are or when they even kick in but they are attacking him for "double dipping" in the public sector.  They also don't know that my sister is permanently disabled from complications of breast cancer treatment so they do need an  income.

Third wave of criticism?  That they have a vacation home.  Like the good financial planning of my sister and brother-in-law and the way they choose to invest should be on the table for discussion. Not to mention that my sister worked over 20 years as a Neonatal Intensive Care nurse - no taxpayer money involved.

I suppose commenting on blogs and postings has taken over from the days of gossiping over the fence or at the water cooler.  Except in those days it was kinda done behind the back of the person involved - fewer hurt feelings.  My sister and brother-in-law sort of laughed off the comments, but we all know it leaves a residue of hurt and mistrust behind, no matter how we try to rationalize it away.

We all need to remember that we don't always know the whole story and walking a mile in someones shoes is the least we can do before we go all judgemental and snarky.

Friday, January 25, 2013


1.)  This morning I was driving behind a vintage car and as my car filled up with the exhaust fumes being emitted from that old Chevy I was taken back to the days when most cars put out that stink.  So glad we have managed to do better with those emissions.  Looking forward to the day when we do even better. 

2.)  Went to see The Impossible last night.  (Actually we had hoped to see Hyde Park on the Hudson but that theater was showing Gone with the Wind for some reason!)  I had mild interest in seeing The Impossible because of the award nominated performances and yummy Ewan McGregor - so we went.

Tom told me that there had been some negativity about the movie because of the "happy ending" aspects of it and the fact that it focused on a Western family when there were so many Thai victims and families torn apart by the tsunami.  So I went into it with some wariness.  I came out feeling that the criticism was unwarranted.  I felt that the filmmakers made a mistake in prolonging the ending scene but that the devastation of the local, the loss of life, the tearing apart of families and the displacement so many people was well documented and featured in the film.  I felt the devastation deeply and I think the characters who had their "impossible" happy ending felt it too.

3.)  I let out a big cheer when I saw Hilary Clinton angrily speaking out to Congress in response to their inane and repetitive questions about the attack on the consulate in Benghazi.  I didn't see the clip but read that at another point she teared up.  I am so happy to have a woman who isn't afraid to show her personal involvement and feelings about these events.

Surprise, surprise some douchy GOP members and media outlets are saying she faked her emotions to avoid answering the tough questions... I'd want out of that job, too. The woman has worked herself into a nub and still gets no respect or courtesy.

4.)  I have been to a number of gatherings lately and keep hearing women talking about things their financial planners have told them.  Having never had a financial planner or even considered it - I wondered about this trend.

Do you use a financial planner and has it been helpful?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


18-year-old college freshman Rosea Lake chose to display the labels so commonly attached to women based on appearance, on a young woman's legs in a photo that has  gone viral.

Lake, who studies graphic design and illustration at Capilano University in Vancouver, never thought she'd become an Internet sensation when she posted her "Judgments" photo project to Tumblr on January 5th.  Horizontal lines are drawn up the leg, reflecting various skirt lengths, and next to each line is a description. Lake labelled the longest skirt length "matronly" and the shortest "whore." 

It is interesting to me that the descriptions are negative both at the top and at the bottom -  what woman wants to be considered prudish or matronly any more than they want to be considered a whore?

Monday, January 21, 2013


Welcome to Time Warp Tuesday sponsored by Jenn at Juggling Life.  We are posting pictures we have around our homes and telling the stories behind them.
This week I am posting two pictures.  My twins, Maggie and Zac wanted to get tattoos when they turned 18.  Then they decided they should wait until they were 19 so they wouldn't be too cliched plus they were still deciding what they wanted to do.  It was going to be a twin thing, they knew that. By that time they had been separated by the entire country for 4 months at their colleges and during winter break they got their ink.

They had each other's initials with an "&" placed close to their hearts.

I am not a fan of tattoos, never wanted my kids to get them, but how could I help but be touched by their choice?

Then for Christmas this year, Maggie found this ornament for them to share.

Sunday, January 20, 2013


1.)  The nest is going to empty again this weekend.  Ally is going back to school - actually back to work as school doesn't start for another week.  She registered for an easier semester, class wise.  Last semester she was running ragged between work and some tough classes.  I agreed to pay for summer school and a lighter load this semester.  Got to explore the financial aid opportunities for summer and jump on the new FAFSA.

2.)   I am so thrilled to see that the Obama proposal to stop gun violence includes
$150 million proposal to hire thousands of new mental health professionals and social workers, provide teachers and school officials with training to identify symptoms of mental illness and shore up services for at-risk youths.

The President endeared himself to some mental health advocates when he went out of his way to emphasize that mental illness isn’t a predictor of violence.

“We will make sure mental health professionals know their options for reporting threats of violence — even as we acknowledge that someone with a mental illness is far more likely to be a victim of violent crime than the perpetrator.”

3.)  Just finished reading Barbara Kingsolver's "Flight Plan" and loved it.  Her last book left me cold  - The Lacuna is still sitting on my shelf only partially read; a rarity for me.

4.)  Terrific piece of journalism on about the trumped up education crisis on  in our country which is the alleged reason for outsourcing by companies like Apple.

The fact is, while our cash-starved schools would obviously benefit from more resources, and while better schools clearly couldn’t hurt our society, there’s no empirical, data-based reason to believe that improving our schools would reverse the trend of America losing high-tech jobs to slave-labor nations like China. Without a change in tax and tariff-free trade policies that economically incentivize companies like Apple to keep moving production to cheap labor havens overseas, the only “education” that will bring those jobs back is the kind that indoctrinates high-tech American workers to compete with Chinese workers by accepting the horrific labor conditions those Chinese workers experience. Based on the New York Times’ own reporting on Apple, that means an education system in America that teaches our workers to simply accept being paid $17 a day, to work six days a week in 12-hour shifts and to live in crowded dormitories so that they can be stampeded into the factory at any hour of the day.

It is really worth a read.  Especially because it appears that some members of Congress are trying to pass legislation to bring our country's hard earned labor protections down. They are seeking to eliminate overtime pay requirements and soften child labor laws.  Not even speaking of  hard fought for environmental protections being stripped away in the name of global competition. 

Instead of being a worl leader in human rights, environmental protections and corporate responsibility, these people would have our country sink down to the level of unscrupulous, uncaring, greedy, "profits at any cost" third world dictatorships.

5.)  And one more thing, GO NINERS!!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


Today I was reminded about my love for books - the physical entity of books.  I enjoy my Nook.  It allows my tired old eyes to be able to read longer and in low light, but today we received a book in the office and I just can't stop hefting it, running my fingers across the cover, inhaling the ink and flipping the pages.

I'd almost forgotten those pleasures.

Monday, January 14, 2013


I am happy that this time around a mass shooting has gotten some people in this country up and in protesting mode.  The VP gets to try again to get some sane gun control legislation going and maybe we can make it a little harder for people to get guns.

Of course, the other part of our society is running around like chickens getting gun permits and stocking up on ammo at gun shows and generally saying and doing all the stuff they have been forever.  "It's not the gun...Only criminals will have them...Out of my cold, dead hands..."

In San Francisco there was a record turn out at the gun show last week.  No one could walk away with a new gun because we have a 10 day waiting period here in CA. That is one of the proposals being taken to Congress.  Ten days - to check the records (hopefully they will get better at the record keeping) and to cool down from any incident which has sparked the desire for a gun.

NRA President David Keene said:  "The two people who are selling so-called assault rifles are Sen. Feinstein and President Obama - not us.  They're the ones that are scaring American gun owners. It isn't the NRA."

Harry Reid might find himself in the NRA cross hairs - he seems to be changing his stance on guns following Newtown:   "We need to accept the reality that we are not doing enough to protect our citizens,” Reid said on the Senate floor.

I commented on a few blogs after the last school shooting that it is too late to do anything about guns in this country.  There are too many of them, too much money behind them and too many ways to skirt the existing laws. But maybe things will change bit by bit,  child by child gunned down.

Thursday, January 10, 2013


1.)  Went to see Les Mis with Ally.  I openly wept during Anne Hathaway's performance of I Had a Dream. I have never seen a performance so moving and Oscar worthy in my life.

2.)  I joined a gym on Saturday, worked out that day and the next.  I am soooo sore and sooo happy that I am back to working out.

Working on getting up super early to stop at the gym on the way to work at least a couple of mornings. Excited to try the Barre class this Saturday and see what else is sore next week!

3.)  From Slate:

This month a team of Yale psychologists released a study indicating that male jurors—but not female jurors—were more likely to hand a guilty verdict to obese women than to slender women. The researchers corralled a group of 471 pretend peers of varying body sizes and described to them a case of check fraud. They also presented them with one of four images—either a large guy, a lean guy, a large woman, or a lean woman—and identified the person in the photograph as the defendant. Participants rated the pretend-defendant’s guilt on a five-point scale. No fat bias emerged when the female pretend peers evaluated the female pretend defendants or when either men or women assessed the guilt of the men. But when the male pretend peers pronounced judgment on the female pretend defendants, BMI prejudice reared up. Jesus wept. The justice system and our basic faith in male decency took another hit.

The article goes on with more depressing "observations" from the skinny guys about the fat women...sigh. And the comments - deep, deep sigh.

4.)  About a year ago I tried to take some clothes to a local consignment shop and got shot down rather rudely.  Now that I have lost about 70 pounds - I have piles and piles of clothing I need to pass on.  I started to bag it all up to donate - but man do I need clothes that fit.  So I pulled out the best I had and am taking another shot at consignment.  Maybe this time the person reviewing them won't be so designer label conscious. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013


I think I need to change the name of my blog to "CRANKY OLD BAG."  I need to dig deeper and deeper for the bright side these days.

I have been thinking about all the failures in customer service I have been confronted with just in the past months; both at work and at home.  I wonder what it is all about.

Customer service just gets worse and worse - how is it companies stay in business?  Have we become so accepting of bad service that they know they don't really have to make an effort?  After all, the erosion of service has escalated over time but do we ever write a letter, change companies or otherwise make our displeasure known to the decision makers?

Personally, I have. I also found that one cable company is as bad as the other.  Banks equally deceitful and manipulative with their fees and policies.  Most business decisions for retailers and services are made so high up that it's impossible to get a message through to the decision makers about problems.  The people you are face to face with may acknowledge the issue but are powerless.

The telephone/Internet service we use at work is very difficult to get through to customer service - very long waits on hold (no exaggeration, I have listened to their music for 5-15 minutes before a person came on the line) or waited 2-3 days for a response to e-mails. On the phone, the employees are very helpful, very thoughtful.  They really work hard to resolve the issue.  Then I am inundated for days with e-mails asking me to rate the experience, rate the person who helped me, rate the company, etc. Yet even though I have repeatedly expressed what I said here with regard to the waits, etc. - nothing has been improved.  So what is the point of the surveys? To make me think they actually care? Is that their customer service model?

On the other hand, 2 days and over 4 phone hours into trying to resolve the USBank/Quicken problem (I got up at 5:30am to try this morning); no one has taken responsibility for it, figured out how to resolve it, or offered any inkling that they care what I think of their service.  USBank made it worse because the "banker" would not listen to me and ended up reconfiguring everything in my system for USBank bill pay when I use Quicken bill pay when I asked to talk to someone else,  I was "disconnected."

Is that better?  Incompetent service and we don't care to know what you think. We are not going to ask and there is no contact information for you to tell!

 Neither approach seems to care about the satisfaction of the customer and I am scared to think how much worse it is going to get. When a few corporations own everything and there is no alternative, the whole concept of customer service will become obsolete.  It will be take it or leave it. Feels like we are almost there.

Thursday, January 3, 2013


Well, it is January 3rd and  I have already failed to keep my New Year's Resolution to be a "Love Ninja".

I thought it would be difficult to maintain my love while driving to and from work.  I had a comment from Smalltown Me that she has the same issue with tourists driving in her area.  I was thinking that I need to come up with a mantra to chant while driving to keep my mind otherwise engaged while navigating in and around the other human beings on the road (see?  I wanted to call them idiots but I didn't...)

But driving has been ok.  I tapped my horn at someone who didn't notice the light had changed and they actually waved a thanks.  I gave him a thumbs up.  Very loving.

USBank, on the other hand is neither giving or getting my love and while I was not bitchy to the person who (after going through 5 menus and then being transferred twice and being on hold then having to repeat strings of numbers and personal identification) told me the error message I received when I could not upload my bills from Quicken to the bank was not their issue.  Even though the error message was quite specific about the source of the problem.

When I informed him I was at work and not on the computer with Quicken he was quite snippy. He said I need to call again when I am home in order to fix it.  I wanted to tell him how unhappy I am with my banking experience this morning and in the past few months (I won't even go into the problems they created when they changed the Health Savings Accounts.)  I wanted to tell him that I spent 15 minutes at home trying to make the bills upload and then 12 minutes at work just waiting to talk to a human.  But I didn't.  I hung up on him.

I immediately felt shame for my behavior.  So while I have broken my resolution already, I know I can do better.  Love, forgiveness and kindness in the face of unhelpful, alleged customer service - om.