Thursday, November 26, 2009

I Was Cursed

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

Some of you may remember that I was getting a new hip a year ago today after falling the day before.  Because I ended up at Urgent Care another Thanksgiving getting my head stitched up after another fall, I decided I was under a Thanksgiving curse.


The curse is still with me, only it's not my body that suffered this time.  Yesterday my computer crashed big time and I was unable to get the desktop, much less get on line.  I gave it up and read my book. 


Then last night I turned a small portable heater on in my bathroom and closed the door so the room could warm up for my shower.  A few minutes later I tried to open the door.  It was locked.  Now I know the curse of the holiday was in full swing because I never lock that door.  I live alone and there has never been the necessity to do so.  Unfortunately, there was no way to open the door or remove the door knob.  I know that an evil elf put a Thanksgiving curse on me and locked that door.  Maybe it's my ghost from Thanksgiving past.  I must have failed to invite him to my feast one year.  (Memo to evil elf; enough already!!!!)


My good friend, who is also my computer guru, came over and helped with both problems.  He had to take a hacksaw to the door knob and use lots of energy trying to get it unlocked.  Then he tried to solve my computer mess and ended up reinstalling windows.  Of course I have lost my music, photos, programs, etc.  You know what I will be doing all week. 

Therefore, I will probably not be posting or commenting on your blogs. I just want you to know that I will play catch up as time allows and hope you will stop by to see what I'm up to.  (Probably up to my ears in trouble.  Frustration will be my state of mind.  I will really need that 'Oh Shit' key on my keyboard. ;-).


Enjoy your feast and I will enjoy one tonight.  I have banished the curse with this post. Having exposed the witch or elf that cursed me I think I have put an end to Thanksgiving woes.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Computer Humor

I am having all kinds of computer woes and it would be my guess that I am not alone.  Before throwing the darn thing out the window I got this in my e-mail and laughter saved the day.

COMPUTER UPGRADES FOR 2009


  Are you laughing? 

Monday, November 23, 2009

Hard Times

On my last post I made the statement that this is the worst economic downturn I could remember since the Great Depression.  That prompted a comment requesting me to write about the Great Depression and how it impacted my life.  

The economists keep telling us that we are in a Recession and that the stimulus package kept us from sliding into a Depression.  I have no doubt that this is true, but I am sure it feels like a Depression to the millions who have lost their jobs and homes.  The Washington Post just reported that the number of mortgages that are delinquent has risen to 14%.  The jobless rate is over 10%.  Try telling those unfortunate people that this isn't the same as a Depression.  

For the wealthy, things couldn't be better.  Some will take advantage of the misfortune of the losers and buy up those mortgages at pennies on the dollar.  CEO's that caused this disaster walk away with billions.  Is it no wonder that people are angry?

Since I have 'been there and done that' I will try to recreate what life was like during the Great Depression.  Because there was no Workman's Compensation the unfortunate jobless  had to scrounge any way they could to feed their families.  I don't think a day went by without several salesmen ringing our front doorbell selling can openers, home made furniture, Bibles, or anything else they could peddle for a small commission.  Other men knocked on the back door begging for any kind of work in exchange for a meal.  Bread lines were long and pathetic.  Still other men without travel money rode the rails to another part of the country where they hoped to find work.  

My husband's brother-in-law was one of those men.  He was a trucker by profession and he was out of a job.  He boarded a box car in California in the winter and nearly froze to death.  When the train stopped in Utah he was treated to a hot meal and warm clothing by the Salvation Army and he blessed them the rest of his life for saving him.  His story was not unique.   

The lucky ones who still had a job helped the less fortunate in any way they could.  My grandmother gave a party each Saturday night for the entire neighborhood.  Because nearly everyone was in the same boat, there was no shame in being hard up.  But people needed an escape from the worry and cares of every day life.  Few had money for an evening out, so the parties were well attended.  The meal was always a pot luck and people brought what they could.  My grandmother would play the piano for dancing and would be joined by anyone who could play an instrument.  The whole family was invited so the children had some fun too.

I was more fortunate than some children.  My grandmother was able to support my mother and  me; my Uncle and his wife and son; as well as helping strangers.  Nonetheless, I was not privileged.  My birthday presents were predictable.  Hair ribbons and panties.  I had two pair of shoes.  When school started I would get new school shoes.  When I outgrew them my Sunday shoes became school shoes and I would get new Sunday shoes.  I got two new dresses when school started.  Some children wore hand-me-downs from a charity or a friend.  

I was not spoiled materially because my family would have felt guilty if I had more than other children.  I never knew what it was like to go hungry, but it was drilled into me from day one that I was never to waste food.  I was only to take as much on my plate as I could eat and, believe me, I had better eat every scrap I took.

I will tell of two examples of how difficult times were for some families.  A little girl who attended my elementary school wore glasses provided to her by welfare.  One day her glasses got broken on the play ground and she burst into tears because she had been told to take good care of them; she would not be given another pair.

One Halloween some of us were going trick or treating and we knocked at the door of a very humble house.  The man opened the door and there must have been 6 or 8 children in that family.  They had a big barrel of apples that had been donated to them.  Some of the apples were rotten, but he offered an apple to each of us.  I remember not wanting to take it because I knew that might be the most food they had.  (It will probably shock some people to know that this kind of hunger still exists in our country.)

John Steinbeck's award winning novel, 'The Grapes Of Wrath' is not only a good read, but it will tell you more about what the Depression was like than I could.  The Dust Bowl caused Kansas and Oklahoma farmer's to migrate to California and Steinbeck has captured that era perfectly. 

What was life like then for the middle class?  We learned to value things, we learned to entertain ourselves, and we learned thrift.  That meant that we took care of our possessions.  It meant that we did things as a family.  If there was enough money for gas, we took a Sunday drive.  We played checkers, dominoes and card games for entertainment.  We saved our money for a future indulgence.  In the summer a big evening for us was driving to Manitou Springs to fill up jugs with mineral water.  If we felt 'flush' we stopped for a root beer float.  To today's kids, that would be a dull outing, but to me it was an exciting event.


Most people helped each other and were compassionate.  Sadly the other side of the coin were the greedy unprincipled men that had money and used the dire circumstances of others to further their wealth.  We had a neighbor who had been gassed during WW I and he had a pension.  When the value of the dollar plummeted, his pension remained the same allowing him more money than he needed to survive.  I suppose you could call him an entrepreneur, but that would not be my name for him.  He haunted the Court House and searched the records for delinquent taxes.  Those were usually owed by widows.  He then paid the taxes, took over the property and evicted the unfortunate owner.   I wish I could say that he was an isolated example, but it is not so.  All over the country such men got wealthy on the misfortune of others.

Itinerant preachers were numerous.  Many of them became wealthy because the gullible would give them money they could not afford.  Evangelical preachers were followed because people were looking for something to hang on to.  Aimee Semple McPherson was one such preacher.  She was involved in an scandal involving an extramarital affair, but before that happened she became extremely wealthy. 

I hope the 'powers that be' can avoid another Depression.  For some it is already happening.  We need men of wisdom to guide this country so it doesn't fall into the abyss again.  We need strong leaders who will put restrictions on the lending institutions so we don't fall down this rabbit hole once more.  We need patience and guidance.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Laws

I am weary of the talking heads on TV when all they can do is parrot each other on inane subjects like the Balloon Boy, Sarah Palin and her book of fantasy and other useless subjects.  I think if the world were coming to an end and Betty Boop were reincarnated we would hear about Betty endlessly and there would only be a brief notice in passing that this was to be our last day on earth.


On second thought, that might be news because it's dramatic.  The news is, after all, about entertainment.  It would be most entertaining to see people panic.


Okay, I'm exaggerating.   I am not exaggerating when I state that I am not the only person who doesn't have a clue about what to do about the economy.  This morning's NY Times had two diametriclly opposite views on whether Timothy Gaithner had done a good job or not.  Paul Krugman, a Nobel Prize winning economistn said 'no' and David Brooks, Conservative columnist, said 'yes.' 


I confess, David Brooks is a conservative whom I admire and read.  He presents his case with thoughtful reason.  Having said that, I would rather go with an economist's opinion than a columnists.

If you want to read the op-ed pieces here are the links:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/20/opinion/20krugman.html?th&emc=th

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/20/opinion/20brooks.html?th&emc=th

I will leave it to the experts to fight it out.  All I know is that I haven't seen it this bad since I was a child during the Great Depression.  Call me a pessimist, but I am very sure it is going to get much worse for the average guy before it gets better.  


Since I am unable to make a rational comment on this I will leave you with some giggles to take your mind off of the depressing news.


THE LAWS OF ULTIMATE REALITY

 Law of Mechanical Repair:  After your hands become coated with grease, your nose will begin to itch and you'll have to pee. 

 Law of Gravity:  Any small important part when dropped, will roll to the most inaccessible place.

Law of Probability The probability of being watched is directly proportional to the stupidity of your act.

 Law of Random Numbers:  If you dial a wrong number, you never get a busy signal, and someone always answers.

 Law of the Alibi:  If you tell the boss you were late for work because you had a flat tire, the very next morning you will have a flat tire. 

Law of the Bath:  When a body is fully immersed in water, the telephone will ring. 

Law of Close Encounters:  The probability of meeting someone you know increases dramatically when you are already with someone you shouldn't be with.

 Law of the Result:  When you try to prove to someone that a machine won't work, it will.

 Law of Bio-mechanics:  The severity of an itch is directly proportional to the square of the difficulty to reach it. 

 Law of the Theater:  At any event, the people whose seats are furthest from the aisle arrive last. 

Starbuck's Law:  As soon as you sit down to enjoy a cup of hot coffee, your boss will ask you to do something that will take until the coffee has become cold.

 Murphy's Law of Lockers:  If there are only two people in a locker room, they will be issued immediately adjacent lockers. 

Law of Physical Surfaces:  The possibility of an open-faced jelly sandwich landing face down on a floor covering directly correlates to the combined newness and value of the carpet. 

Brown's Law of Physical Appearance:  If the shoe fits, it's ugly. 

Wilson's Law of Commercial Marketing Strategy:  As soon as you find a product that you really like, they will stop making it. 

 Doctors' Law:  If you don't feel well, make an appointment to go to the doctor. By the time you get there, you will have recovered. If you don't make an appointment to see the doctor, you will get worse. 

 Law of Logical Argument:  Anything is always possible if you don't know what you are talking about.

 Law of Healthy Food:   If it tastes good, spit it out.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

New Wine For Elders

I am busy today and will refer you to one of my favorite blogs. 
If you want to read a really good blog head over to
"The Rant" by Tom Degan.   He is a master of satire and
his take on politics matches my own.  He gets some lively
debates going because some of his followers are as far right as Tom
is to the left.  It's great fun.
He wrote a post today that I wish I had written on Sarah Palin. 
While I vowed to never give her the time of day again,  I 
really enjoyed Tom's rant.  Here is the link:
http://tomdegan.blogspot.com/ 
 
 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
You can tell from my photo that I still enjoy  good wine and when this
arrived in my e-mail I just had to share.
kid you not....
a new wine
for elders

has been 
developed.









California Vinters in the Napa Valley
area,which primarily produce 
Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir and Pinot 
Grigio wines have developed  a 
new hybrid grape that acts as an
anti-diuretic. 

It is expected to reduce the
number of trips older people
have to make to the bathroom
during the night. 

The new wine will be marketed as 
 

PINO MORE
 



 
I HEARD IT THROUGH 
THE GRAPEVINE


I just couldn't help it. 
 

 
Sorry!
  

Monday, November 16, 2009

Long Term Care Awareness Month

Like most elderly, I want to remain independent and in my own home until I die. My greatest fear is of having an illness so debilitating that I can no longer do that.  I am not alone in my worst nightmare because we elderly do not want to burden our families.  Therefore, unless we are wealthy we must enter a nursing home or allow a loved one to give up part of their life being our caregiver. Neither one is a palatable option.  

This is a subject that you don't hear much about in the debates on the pending health care reform legislation.  For those of us in our declining years it is a subject that is of primary concern and should be addressed.  

In my grandparent's day there was no social security or medicare.  When aging parents were no longer able to live alone a loved one would step in and move the elderly relative into their home.  Quite often this was an unhappy event for all concerned.  My grandfather died at home and my grandmother, a fiercely independent business woman, continued working and helping to support her children.  She was the provider for her son, daughter and their families during most of the Great Depression.   After the death of my grandfather she continued to provide for my mother and me although my Mom had remarried.  

Then my grandmother, in her 70's, broke her hip and she was no longer able to run her business.  She owned a Cottage Court and Trailer Park that catered to tourists.  My mom and step-father moved into my grandmother's home and took over.  My step-father was a very lazy man and he resented having to take money from my grandmother.  (The psychology of that might be a subject for a future discussion).  As a result, he was not kind to the woman who had taken on the responsibility of providing for him and his family.  After a few months of what must have been bitter unhappiness, my grandmother moved into the home of her sister. 

 I am now older than my grandmother was at that time and I can understand how miserable her last years must have been.  

I have given some thought about what will become of me should a stroke fell me.  I do not have the money for an assisted living place, nor will I burden my children with my care.  What is left?  It is too late to obtain a long term care policy so I have come to the conclusion that my only out would be suicide.  There is the possibility that I will not be  physically able to carry it out.  

Oregon had the best answer for this; the Death with Dignity law.  Doctor assisted suicide  should be the right of anyone in my position.  If you recall, John Ashcroft, Attorney General under George H. W. Bush, sued to make this illegal.  The law remains in effect after the Bush Administration sued and lost the appeal.  (As an aside I have to throw this question in.  What is it about the conservatives that make them think they have to be the guardian of the morals of those who do not believe as they do?)

It would be less expensive for Medicare to pay for in-home care instead of the costly alternative of a nursing home.  Why is this not part of the health care debate?  After all, they will be eliminating Medicare Advantage to pay for the program.

I am posting on this subject not as a 'pity party' issue, but as a wake-up call for those of you who are younger.   I don't think our legislators will help you so my advice to you is to look into Long Term Care insurance.  

 An article on the Huffington Post by Ken Dychtwald, PhD, gerontologist, had some eye opening statistics. 

  • A person who is 65 years old today has a life expectancy of 85 and it continues to rise.
  • Home care is approximately $42,000 per year and a nursing home is $74,000.
  • Nearly 70% of those over 65 will need some type of long term care
  • The children of the elderly are working and/or relocated to another state.

     Long Term Care insurance rates go up as you get older.  I do not believe that politicians will do the sensible thing and include home care in the legislation. If you are younger and can afford it, it would be prudent to check out Long Term Care policies.  We are not all going to "go gentle into that good night". 


    Helpful resources:
    . www.longtermcare.gov, www.caringtalk.com, and www.ResearchLTC.com.


    Sunday, November 15, 2009

    TheTrip From Hell

     On one of my solo trips abroad I was with a diverse group of people.   Of course, this is normal when you are traveling with a tour group.  Most people are friendly and very nice but there is always one sour puss that you try to ignore.  On this trip the it was a couple in the group who were constantly complaining and spoiling the happy enjoyment of the rest of us.  Nothing was right; the food was bad, they had to get up too early, etc.  You get the picture.  I will return to them later, but first the Moroccan part of my trip.


    Everyone who has traveled has probably had a trip from hell and this was mine.  It started before I left home.  The Stagecoach Van was to pick me up at 4 am.  I was so worried about not hearing my alarm clock I decided to sleep fully dressed sitting up on my couch so I would be ready to pop out of  the front door when the van arrived.  Needless to say, I got very little sleep.  No worry, I thought, I have hours that I can catch up on sleep on the plane.  When I got the the airport I discovered that my departure gate was at the very end of the furthest concourse.  When I reached the gate for departure to New York the sign was suddenly changed to San Francisco.  My plane had been delayed and another plane would be coming in at that gate.  I was worried about making my connection in NYC because I only had a 3 hour window between connecting flights.    Eventually my plane did arrive; only it was at the gate I originally came in on.  So I trekked back along two long concourses to end up at the gate where I first came in.  Are you with me yet?  If so, you can imagine my stress and the beginning of sheer exhaustion.    By this time I was too tense to sleep.  No problem, I thought, I will sleep on the plane to Madrid.


    When I got to NYC and finally located the gate for Iberia Airlines the plane to Spain was already boarding.  I had to check in and, in doing so, I requested non-smoking.  After they decided that I did have a valid ticket I had to literally run up a flight of stairs and down the concourse to my gate.  Panting, I was the last one to board and they closed the door after me.  I don't like waiting, but this was cutting it way too close.  

    At last I was on my way and could finally relax.  With great relief I found my seat, stowed my overhead carry-on and looked around.  Cigarette packs were stuffed in the other passengers pockets and I discovered I was in the smoking section.  I asked the flight attendant if I could move to the non-smoking  section.  She was very snippy and told me to find a seat if I could.  The only seat left was next to the galley and the crew gathered there to chat all night; lights on, of course.    Eventually dinner was served and it included a packet of Italian dressing.  My tray was broken and tilted to the left.  I opened the dressing and laid it on the tray.  Since this was the trip from hell when everything was going to go wrong it slid off and spilled on my skirt making a big oily stain.

    At midnight they showed the movie by Oliver Stone, JFK.   No sleep for me yet.  The young couple next to me were returning home and were Spanish.  Their English was as bad as my Spanish, but they wanted to chat.  We tried mightily to converse all night.   There were lots of giggles, but no sleep.



    I may have gotten a few hours sleep, but it didn't feel like it.  When we arrived in Madrid  we had to change planes to a smaller one and the gate was on the next level up.  The girl who hurriedly told me where it was located was very sparse with directions.  I made it up the escalator and found that this was not your normal airport arrangement.  I had a miserable time trying to find where I was supposed to be but eventually I saw a sign pointing the right direction.  By this time I was becoming a basket case from lack of sleep and stress.  


    Ah, but that was not to be the end of my woes.  My luggage didn't arrive.  Then our guide announced that we had to be up at 3 am to take the bus to the port where we would get the Ferry for Morocco.  Oh happy day; another sleepless night.  I didn't even have time for jet lag.  

    We were in Morocco ten days and my suitcase never arrived.  However, that turned out to be a great ice breaker because people on the tour had great fun telling me how much they loved my dress each evening when I came down for dinner wearing the same stained knit.  It was almost worth having to wash my undies each night and putting them on damp in the morning to get that friendly teasing.  I do love being the center of attention.  One kind woman finally loaned me a blouse and skirt and at last I had a new outfit to wear.  I guess she got as tired of seeing my hot pink dress as I did of wearing it.










       

    The ancient city gate.  The King's Palace.  The Souk.  (click to enlarge)

                                                                                                    

    This turned out to be an exciting trip and I did enjoy seeing a different culture.  The morning we left I had to cross the swimming pool area to get to the dining room for breakfast.  As I didn't have any luggage to put outside my door I carried everything in my purse and it was heavy. I foolishly decided to leave it in my room when I went to breakfast.  Big, huge, ENORMOUS mistake.   When I returned to leave my room for the last time I opened my billfold to get the American dollars that I used for tipping intending to leave a gratuity for the maid.  Poor girl; she got zilch.   My dollars were gone, my Spanish Pesatas were gone, and my Moroccan Rials were missing.  I had been robbed.   There was not time to call the police, but it would have done no good anyhow.  Your know, we rich Americans have so much money we should be happy to share the wealth.  (If they only knew how I scrimped to make that trip.)   Well, to quote an old cliche; live and learn.



    We only had one more night in Morocco and my meals were covered so I waited until I got back to Spain to cash a traveler's check.  Fortunately, my passport, credit card, traveler's checks  and airline tickets were in a neck safe that I wore under my dress. 



    After we arrived in Spain the coach stopped for lunch at a horrors McDonald's restaurant.  
    Because I still didn't have any cash I sat and watched my tour friends scarf their lunch.  Now, back to the couple who griped.  In Spain we were housed in a hotel with mini kitchens and we were free to make our own meals.  I watched as the female complainer filled her very large bag with handfuls of napkins, condiments, and other freebies.  I thought , it figures; the ones who make the most fuss are the ones who are capable of petty theft. 



    I wish I could say my problems were over, but during my time in Spain I caught a cold, pulled a muscle in my shoulder and was not feeling up to par.  Nonetheless, I saw some wonderful things and enjoyed the thrill of that.  


    I took a trip to Gibraltar where I purchased four David Winter cottages.  (I was a collector at that time).  The cottages are small but the boxes are large.  When we were to leave Malaga for Madrid I had three carry-ons; my purse, the shoulder bag furnished by the tour company and my sack containing the cottages.  I got to the door of the plane and a man standing there folded his arms across his chest and sternly told me to step back.  He informed me that I could not get on the plane because I had too many carry-ons.  I said I had to board because I was going home.  He was adamant that I was not to board that plane.  I was naive and I now think that if I had given him $20 I would have been swiftly allowed to board.  It just didn't occur to me, probably because that was the last $20 I had.  (I travel light and it was much lighter after being robbed.)  Just before I was ready to burst into tears a fellow traveler behind me asked me what was wrong.  I explained the situation to her and, as she only had her handbag, she took mine from me and said, "Come on."  The fury on the little despots face was fun to see.  I thought he was going to explode.


    We arrived at Madrid only to find that fog had grounded all planes.  We were stranded for three hours and there weren't enough seats for all the passengers.  I stood up the entire time while waiting for the air to clear.  By now I was getting used to glitches and half way expected it.  When we were finally airborne I breathed a sigh of relief.  I was in one piece and was headed home, complete with my David Winter cottages.


    Did you ask if I had more problems?  Well, remember the name of this trip so of course I did.  Because the plane from Madrid was late most of us missed our connections at JFK.  
    There were two long lines of people trying to get hotel rooms and I didn't want to spoil my losing streak by getting in the right line.  By the time I got to the desk I must have become invisible because the people on the other side totally ignored me.  After what seemed like hours a representative from the tour company came up and asked me if I was being helped.  Me? Get attention?  You jest.  She slammed her fist on the counter and said in her best Brooklyn accent, "Let's have a little service here."   That got their attention.   I asked them to call my daughter to tell her I would be delayed and they promised to do so, but they didn't.  Are you surprised?  My daughter  went to the airport to pick me up and there was no Mom.  (Now we are wiser and we call before leaving the house, air travel being what it is.)



    But all is well that ends well.  Because I didn't have a reservation on the morning flight I was stuck at the very back of the plane.  By the time they got to me for breakfast they were out of orange juice and coffee.  A very good looking young flight attendant started giving me special service and made coffee for me.  My ear plugs were broken and he gave me a new pair.  I was being treated like a queen for the first time in my life and didn't really know what I had done to deserve this special attention.  After the attendant was through with his duties he sat on the arm of my seat and said, "You look just like my Mom."  Sometimes it pays to have a double.


    I have a friend who is a world traveler and he told me that it's the things that go wrong that make for interesting conversation when you get home.  If he is right I hope you enjoyed reading about my experience and I promise not to bore you with a story of the trips when everything went went right. 


    A post script to this tale.  I kept in touch with that young flight attendant for years,  One year my card to him came back undelivered.  I never heard from him again and will always wonder if he is okay.  And the final end to the story is, if I had to do it over again including  all of the things that went wrong I would do it in a heartbeat exactly the same way.  

    Saturday, November 14, 2009

    Happy Birthday Mark

    Today I have come to the conclusion that the word 'elder' no longer fits me.  I am an ancient.  Why, you ask.  My son, the oldest child I gave birth to, is having a birthday today.  He will be 59 years old.  I feel like a great gap must have occurred when I wasn't paying attention.  How did this happen?  Wasn't it just yesterday that I proudly applauded my little ten year old son as he bravely stood on the stage and played his little heart out on his Selmer clarinet?





     Someplace in the intervening years he joined the Navy and was in the Special Services and I cried all the way home after leaving him at the train station heading for Boston and the plane that would take him to Great Lakes Naval Training Station.



    I must tell you a funny story about my son's first night in the Navy.  Before he left home his father had given him the usual talk about how to behave and survive in the service.  Because Mark would not officially be in the Navy until after auditioning (he was joining as a  musician) he was sent by American Airlines to Chicago while the other recruits were sent in a military plane.

    Mark's audition was to be the next day at Great Lakes Naval Training Station.  He arrived at O'Hare at 1:00 am in January.  If you have ever been in Chicago in January you know it's really, really cold.  There was no tour guide to meet Mark and tell him how to get to Great Lakes NTS.   Being a very bright boy man, he asked for directions.  He got on the bus as directed and when he got to the gate the guard wouldn't let him stay on the bus because he didn't have a pass and was not military.  After getting off the bus Mark told the guard why he was there.  The obliging guard made a few phone calls and was told to put Mark on the next bus and to have the driver let Mark off a building #1234 (?)   So far so good.  When the driver let Mark off, my poor son discovered that building 1234 was vacant and locked.  To keep from freezing to death Mark started walking down the road.  Did I mention that he only had a light jacket on?


    Luckily for Mark a Lieutenant was returning from a late date and stopped to ask what the h---l a civilian was doing on base at that time of morning.  Mark went through his story again and the Lieutenant decided the only thing to do was to find a place for Mark to sleep.  The only vacant bed he could find was in the psycho ward.  Mark later decided that the place was appropriate.


    The next day Mark had his audition and was, of course, accepted.  He started a letter to us as he waited to be processed with the next group of recruits.  The first paragraph contained these words, "It's not so bad, Dad.  I am doing just like you said and obeying orders.  Oh-oh.  Here they come (the recruits) and I'll finish this later."   The next paragraph was written after a week in boot camp.  It started out, "It's a world of s--t, if you know what I mean."  His father and I had a big laugh over that.


    Mark became a professional musician and if you want to see him  you can rent that old movie, "Someone To Watch Over Me"  and you will see Mark playing the Saxophone in the orchestra.  For a few years Mark played with a Disco Band and they had a gig in Las Vegas as well as Magic Mountain.  With the West Coast Saxophone Quartet he has played in Carnegie Hall,  Japan, and other places.  This is the album cover from one of their CD.s.  Mark is on the right holding the tenor Sax.  The next photo is the Disco Band,  Organized Crime (Don't ask).  You will have to click to enlarge to see Mark standing on the left as you face the photo.

     




    Thursday, November 12, 2009

    War and Health Care

     Rumor has it that President Obama is going to announce how many troops he will be sending to Afghanistan.  Didn't the tragedy at Ft. Hood make clear how worn out our military is and bring to the forefront the human tragedy of repeated deployments?  Didn't Viet Nam teach us anything?


    Nicholas Kristof has written an excellent op-ed piece in today's NYT.  I have posted the link and I urge everyone to read it.  If you are opposed to sending more troops to Afghanistan (as I am) and you are for sensible health care reform (as you know I am) you will see how they are tied together.  Kristof makes a good case fiscally and logically for spending our dwindling dollars on health care  instead of on a war that can never be won.  Here is a quote from that article and following is a link:
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


    "Doesn’t it seem odd to hear hawks say that health reform is fiscally irresponsible, while in the next breath they cheer a larger deployment of troops in Afghanistan?  Meanwhile, lack of health insurance kills about 45,000 Americans a year, according to a Harvard study released in September. So which is the greater danger to our homeland security, the Taliban or our dysfunctional insurance system?"
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    I read that Ben Nelson, Dem. of Nebraska is now taking over where Olympia Snow left off.  He is threatening to join the Republicans in a Filibuster to stop the health care reform bill from coming up for a vote unless it includes that terrible Stupak amendment in the House bill (no federal money for abortions) and that the Public Option be removed.  It's no coincidence that Nebraska is the Insurance Capital of the World or that Nelson has received 2 million from the insurance and health care industries.


    Why, oh why, are such ideological stupid men constantly elected to Congress?   For example there's that 'Mr.Tan Man', John Boehner quoting form the Bill of Rights while holding up his copy of  the Constitution and proudly proclaiming that's where his quote can be found.  I think it should be mandatory  that anyone elected to public office be required to take a course in Civics. But I digress.


    If a family is deep in debt they have to spend their dwindling dollars wisely.  I fail to see why a government is any different.  I am liberal, but I am also pragmatic.   Our dollars must now be spent on putting our citizens to work and balancing our budget.  We cannot afford the mounting costs of war while our own country is falling apart.  Part of balancing the nation's budget is controlling the escalating cost of health care.  Reform is vital and for a nincompoop like Bill Nelson to halt that reform is unconscionable.

    Tuesday, November 10, 2009

    What is a Liberal?

    Shakespeare said, "That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." While that is true, it is also true that if  twisters of words repetitively called it a weed  it would lose it's standing as a flower in the eyes of those who believed the liars.

    Words have consequences and no one knows that better than Karl Rove, a petty little man who is an expert at twisting words and facts around with the sly mis-use of language.  When he is through manipulating the English language white is viewed as black, good is suddenly bad and a liberal becomes someone who is naive and stupid or to be scorned.   The use of the word liberal in a negative way began in the Reagan administration. We liberals have had to endure the following labels:  bleeding heart liberals, liberal/commie/pinkos and even fascists.  The sneers and derisive tones of voice when saying the word by the right wing is appalling.  

    I am so very tired of the conservatives using the word liberal in a false and misleading way.  I am liberal and I am proud to be so.  It really irritates me when I am equated with being a pinko or other misleading  label.  Well, I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore.  I will start with the dictionary definition of the word:   (This definition is from the On Line dictionary.)

     lib·er·al  (lbr-l, lbrl)adj.

    1.
    a. Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry.
    b. Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded.
    c. Of, relating to, or characteristic of liberalism.
    d. Liberal Of, designating, or characteristic of a political party founded on or associated with principles of social and political liberalism, especially in Great Britain, Canada, and the United States.
    ~~~~~~~~~~
    And this from the Mirriam dictionary and Bing.com

    Liberals believe that the rights of the people, of the majority, are to be valued much more sincerely than those of corporations, and therefore have frequently proposed the weakening of corporate power through heavier taxation (of corporations), environmental regulations, and the formation of unions. Liberals often propose the heavier taxation of WEALTHY individuals, while alleviating taxes on the middle class, and especially the poor. Liberals (American sense) do not support laissez-faire economics because, to put it simply, multinational corporations take advantage of developing countries and encourage exploitation and child labor (multinational corporations are spawned from laissez-faire policies). Instead, many propose the nationalization of several industries, which would make sure that wealth and power is not concentrated in a few hands, but is in the hands of the people (represented by elected officials in government).privatization and globalization have greatly damaged the economies of Latin America, namely Argentina and Mexico .

    Are you a liberal?(From the Liberal party)

    Imagine our world without a Bill of Rights, free speech, secular government, the end of slavery, trial by jury, child labor laws, public education, women’s right to vote, social security, Medicare, the Peace Corps, civil rights, fair economic trade, marriage equality, fair labor standards, or stem cell research. These are but a few accomplishments which can be attributed to liberal ideals. Would you be willing to lose any one of these? If not, then you are a liberal.


    BROADMINDED. Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry. Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress ; tolerant of the ideas of others. Archaic laws hold no relevance unless those laws continue to hold empirical truth in the present.


    LIBERALS believe respecting the equal and inalienable human rights and liberties of all members of the human family is the foundation of a free, just and peaceful world. Notable Liberals: Susan B. Anthony, Cesar Chavez, Dorothy Day, Frederick Douglass, Thomas Jefferson, Dolores Huerta, John & Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Thomas Paine, Eleanor & Franklin Roosevelt ; Voltaire.


    MILESTONES: Abolition of Slavery, Public Education, Social Security, Child Labor Laws, 40 Hour Work Weeks, Civil Rights Movement, Right of Peaceful Assembly, Medicare, Peace Corps, Trial by Jury, Fair Economic Trade, Free Speech, New Energy Initiatives, Stem Cell Research, Marriage Equality, Fair Labor Standards, Women’s Right to Vote or Secular Politics.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~

    Sunday, November 8, 2009

    The Single Payer Plan

     

    Explanation:  I had this ready to post last night, but my computer and I were both sick yesterday.  Instead of spending the entire day typing I watched the speeches leading up to the passage of the vote  on the bill in the House on the Health Care Reform bill.  What's with those 39 Democrats who voted against it?  Dennis Kucinich was one of them.  (He was very upset that his amendment that would allow States to opt for a single payer plan was stripped from the final bill.)   I am going to have to research who the others were and write some nasty e-mails to them.  The brave Republican who voted for it was a Freshman from Louisiana, David Cho.   He was under intense pressure before the vote to push the Nay button.  Good for him for voting his conscience.



    The poison pill Stupak amendment on abortion passed and I heard that Nancy Pelosi had to allow it in order to get the votes to pass the reform bill.  What a pity that women lost again.  Shame on the 64 Democrats who voted for it.


    The rest of the post is the one I intended to post today.  We now know that the Public Option is included.  Will it survive the Senate?  Stay tuned.

    ~~~~~~~~~
    The bills in the Senate and the House are now so confusing and problematical that I think it's time to start pushing hard for the Single Payer plan again.  If the powers in Washington realize that we will settle for nothing less it might spur them on to include a strong Public Option. 

    While any sensible person who has really studied the issue knows that the single payer plans enjoyed by other countries would be the most efficient and cost effective, it is still impossible to get it enacted due to the massive power of the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries.  As a pragmatist I realize that my dream of a single payer plan is not going to happen.   I do not think it's too late to put our representatives on notice that their jobs are at stake if they don't listen to their constituents.

    Even if we have to settle for a strong public option, it will be a start in the right direction.  Anything less is just window dressing and will do nothing to bring down the cost of insurance.  It will, instead, make the insurance companies more powerful and profitable.  

    Friday, November 6, 2009

    A Birthday Card to Sarah

    Sarah



    Today, November 7, you become thirteen years old.  Now you are officially a teenager.  This is an important milestone on the way to independence.   I hope you have a wonderful birthday and a superfragilisticexpealidocious life.




    Sometimes dreams do come true and my dream became a reality when you were born, Sarah.  I was not present for your birth because I was home watching your big sister, Rachel.  But I got to the hospital later that day to see my new adorable granddaughter.  And you slept through the whole thing.







    Mommy had your picture taken in the dress I had given to her for her girls.  


     


    You were such a good baby and always ready with that big smile.  




    You were so curious about everything and the dog endured your fingers that were intent on his eyes.





    You loved Grandma's swimming pool.  
    And before I knew what happened you were a school girl, growing up so fast before my eyes. 





    The  birthdays just started flying by.




    Before I knew what happened you had become a lovely young lady.








     






    It has been so much fun watching you grow up.  I am looking forward to the next milestone when you change from a teenager into an adult. I know you will be a very special one and everyone who meets you will love you instantaneously, just as I do. 



    I love you, my precious Sarah.  Have a very happy day  and a successful life.





    Tuesday, November 3, 2009

    Dennis Kucinich and My Voting Record.

     

    "Representative Kucinich was livid when he found out that his provision to allow states to create a single payer system was stripped," News Junkie Post noted. "Kucinich’s amendment passed the House Labor and Education Committee in July. 'No one gave me any rational reason,' Kucinich said. 'I can only assume the insurance company interests brought pressure to take it out. Otherwise I would have heard from someone.'


    Watch the video.  It enrages me that they stripped the amendment from the bill.  A pox on all their houses. 


    I was watching C-Span years ago when a right vs left issue was being debated.  Dennis has just finished making a rousing speech for the liberal view when my right wing Arizona Senator, John Kyle, loomed over little Dennis and gave him a nasty 'brow beating' tongue lashing that was shocking in it's ferocity.  I have never been more angered and disgusted.  When Kyle gives interviews here at  home  honey drips from his mouth.  It was amazing to see him become a Goliath to a David on the floor of the house.  Dennis just looked stunned and didn't respond.  John is a large man and Dennis is a small man in stature.  That day Dennis was the big man while John became a tiny mean spirited midget.   For my money, David won again that day.



     During my lifetime as a voter I have been a member of all three parties.  When I was young I had to wait until I was 21 to vote (Yes, kiddies; back in the dark ages that was the law.).   I wanted all the perks of adulthood, so after my 21st birthday I rushed right down to register, but having no firm convictions of my own  I borrowed my families allegiance to the Republican party and registered  as one.  I did not always vote Republican, but I always voted.  I have never missed an election.



     My family were staunch Republicans because it was the party of Abraham Lincoln and two of my great grandfathers fought for  the North in the Civil War.  I can assure you, they would not be Republicans in today's repugnant party.   My grandparents were far too liberal to stay in the party of NO.


    When I got married at the age of 23 my husband and I decided we should do our civic duty and become voters.  Since we were not sure of what the political parties stood for we decided to register as Independents.  That worked until we realized that we were unable to vote in the Primaries.  Now that we were full fledged adults, with all of the attendant responsibilities, we wanted the whole enchilada.  Because my mother always worked during election for the Republican party I decided that we should change our registration to Republican.   (You did get that part about "I decided" didn't you?  I guess you know who wore the pants in my family. )
      
    We remained Republicans until Richard Nixon changed all that.  I watched the hearings with an avid curiosity and became interested in politics with a vengeance.  When I realized what the difference was between the Republican and Democratic parties I decided I was with the wrong group.  I think I was born a liberal and I am proud of it.  (But that's a subject for another post.)   So with my husband in tow, it was off to the Court House again to switch to the Democratic party .  (He was not as obsessive as I was and probably went along with me to keep peace in the family.)


     I remain a Democrat because there are still a few men and women of principle in their ranks.  Dennis Kucinich is certainly one. The Republicans are now a lost cause.  I will stick with the Democrats as long as there are Democratic Congresspersons who still put the nation's good above their pocketbooks.  Or until another party has enough clout to make a difference.  



    My expectations for Obama were too high. I wish it were not so, but I am becoming disenchanted with his lack of strong leadership.  Yes, he talks a beautiful game and I am still hoping he matures and grows the backbone to do more pushing and shoving.  Bipartisanship has its place but the Republicans have proven over and over that it will not happen as long as they are able to filibuster a bill.  I say, let them stew in their own juice like they made the Democrats squirm when they were in power.  


    If I could give advice to Obama it would be 'Forget the Republicans and start putting the pressure on the cowardly blue dog Democrats and tell them they will not get the backing of the White House when election time rolls around if they continue to be obstructionists.' The same goes for that turncoat, Joe Lieberman IN SPADES!  

    Obama has the veto pen and it's time he started to do a little threatening with it.  If he doesn't he may lose his majority in the next election.  Politics is a brawling, messy game and not for the faint of heart.  You can't be an upright mild mannered gentleman if you want to win.  Sorry but that's the way it is.  It's a fight to the finish.