December 21, 2014

It's beginning to look a lot like panic

Christmas is for children and grandparents.  Not the Christian celebration, which, let's all be honest here, has absolutely nothing to do with the lights, music, parties, gifts, and yards of wrapping paper.  No one is synchronizing their outdoor light display to music solely for the glory of their savior.  I love the Lord, but am also realistic enough to acknowledge that Christmas is a two-part event, and every person with a 'Jesus is the Reason for the Season' sign in their yard is equally as guilty of the same materialism as the atheist next door.

Again, I have come to the conclusion that Christmas is for children and grandparents.  Children are showered with toys, stuffed with candy, and squired around to various seasonal events.  Grandparents generally live to have their grandchildren and family visit, and Christmas fits the bill.  Those of us stuck in the middle are the ones slaving away to make the holiday magic happen.

My husband took 3/4 of the children shopping for me after school one day last week.  They were home before dark, as I ran all over town trying to cross a few things off my list; gifts for my four children, husband, parents, step-sister and niece, co-workers, White Elephant for husband's office party, hostess gifts for parties, parent's anniversary gift (thanks for that 12/22 bonus!), design, order, address and mail cards, harangue, demand, and walk oldest children through process of procuring gifts for their fathers and step-families, then the baking and candy making.  This morning I am tackling the wrapping.  We have a few presents under the tree, but nothing near the number of Amazon boxes stashed around the house, holding things that need to be wrapped.

I have a spreadsheet that tracks gifts, delivery dates, and number of wrapped gifts that each child will get (this is important amongst the young ones, so I have to combine and separate accordingly so they feel everything is equitable).  This is ridiculous, but entirely necessary.  Without the document,, I am likely to have hidden something that I purchased and forget about it until April.

I might have told this gift-story before; and while I might not have been appreciative of the big picture before, I now have the utmost appreciation for a gift I received when I was 16 or 17.   A male friend handed me a Fram oil filter for my car - topped with a bow, with a Sharpie-inscribed message that promised a free oil change.  Now that was a good gift, with just the right amount of wrapping.

I have a few last minute things to buy - stocking stuffers and something for the step-sister.  A trip to the Big Box discount store and the liquor store should do it.  Unless I have forgotten something or someone.  Better double-check the spreadsheet.

December 19, 2014

Game Day Guard Duty

If you are criminally inclined, today is the day to come to my community and burgle homes (but, please don't).

This afternoon, the local high school's football team is playing for the state championship.  A title they won last year.  They are going up against another undefeated team that won the championship the year before last.  It will be a contest of epic proportions.  Nearly every able-bodied member of the community will be traveling to Jerry World stadium to cheer for the hometown team.

School is getting out early.  Businesses have posted signs of closing.  By 2 pm, it will be a virtual ghost town.  

Last night, the high school hosted a community pep rally.  Television crews did live spots on the evening news.  The head coach was giddy on camera, pointing to the crowd that had turned out and commenting that everyone loves the football program because it is the "only entertainment in town".

I don't know if I would go that far, but it sure will look like it today.

If you aren't familiar with Texas high school football, it is hard to describe how seriously it is taken.  They are, still, just high school kids playing a game.  Albeit on a big field, in a big stadium, semi-nationally televised (if you get Fox Sport Southwest), and the half-time performance will feature the state champion marching band.  It seems almost mean, that one school can win so much, and get the chance to flaunt it over and over.

I worry, some days, about kids who grow up in this atmosphere.  Always winning, always adding trophies to the case.  Heck, even the school newspaper's editor is achieving national acclaim for his coverage and photography of high school sports.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must say that my kids don't go to school here.  They did once, and they have many friends here, but they are educated elsewhere.

And, maybe that is why a little tiny part of me hopes that the team loses.  I will be cheering for them, and I really do hope they are victorious.  Maybe it is more accurate for me to say that if they lose, I won't be terribly disappointed as it might knock some people down a few notches, nearer to reality.

And, for the record, I won't be going to the game.  Even though most of the people in my office will be heading to the stadium, I plan to go home and watch the game on television, wrap Christmas presents, and be point-woman on neighborhood watch.

December 18, 2014

Hola Voters

Anyone care to explain to me what the heck is going on with this 'normalization' of America's relationship with Cuba?  Help me, if you can, understand what Cuba has that we need or want?

If 'cigars' was the first thing that came to mind, you aren't alone, but, in spite of the 'relationship' and five decades of trade embargoes, the United States has always remained the world's biggest consumer of Cuban cigars.  Cuba is roughly the size of Tennessee.  It has a few natural resources, but nothing that is in high demand, or hard to find elsewhere.  
Why take these steps now, what is at stake?  Don't tell me that Alan Gross was worth all of this.  Had you even heard that name prior to this week?  If not, let me fill you in.  This from the 'Bring Alan Home' website:
Alan Gross is a 65-year-old American citizen who has been imprisoned in Cuba since 2009.  He was arrested for his work on behalf of the U.S. Agency for International Development to increase Internet access and connectivity in small communities across Cuba.
I have an irrepressible revulsion for people who are portrayed as 'aid workers', when, in fact, their work has little to do with feeding, clothing, or providing necessary medical care for human beings at risk of death.  You aren't going to sell me on having a chummy relationship with Communists so that more liberal tools can travel to their countries and ensure that little Cubanos can access Instagram, without fear of being 'unjustly' imprisoned.
I also feel compelled to share with you my utmost respect for and fondness of the people of Cuba.  In no way are they responsible for the ordeal to which my family and I have been subjected.  To me cubanos, or at least most of them, are incredibly kind, generous and talented.  It pains me to see them treated so unjustly as a consequence of two governments' mutually belligerent policies.  Five and a half decades of history show us such belligerence inhibits better judgment.  Two wrongs never make a right.  I truly hope that we can now get beyond these mutually belligerent policies and I was very happy to hear what the president had to say today.  It was particularly cool to be sitting next to the secretary of state as he was hearing about his job description for the next couple of months.  In all seriousness, this is a game-changer, which I fully support.
Not exactly bleeding red, white, and blue, is he?

I know it is a stretch, but is anyone else counting the number of Cuban-American voters?  Is anyone else making the Florida political connection here?  Is it unrealistic to suppose that Obama, and his Dimocratic buddies (if there are any left) are looking down the road at having to defeat the former Governor of Florida (and his Hispanic wife)?  Amnesty for illegals, and all you Cubans can now travel freely to your homeland.  I can't seem to find any other logical reason for taking these steps now.  

December 16, 2014

Rätsel

Rätsel translates to 'conundrum' or 'puzzle'.

While living in Germany, I made several friends that became close enough that we could have 'that' conversation. We spoke about the Holocaust, what it was like for their families, how it affected them in the present. Many older Germans simply did not speak of it. It was an embarrassment, something that they were ashamed of - for whatever reason, whether it be action, inaction, ignorance, denial. Some likely didn't speak out of respect, some out of pain. At that time, there were buildings occupied by the American military that bore the marks of the Third Reich. Swastikas inlaid in tile work of WWII-era buildings, covered with carpet, but frequently pulled back to satisfy the curiosity of youngish Americans. A rather macabre visual reminder of the events that we had learned from history books.

We were acquainted with one family that embraced the members of our Army unit, as the family patriarch, Dr. Uhl, credited his life to American soldiers and his family showed their eternal thanks by befriending the soldiers. They entertained, shared their home, 'adopted' single soldiers, took us to a friend's Christmas tree farm each year, and bottled and served a potent brown liqueur that was legendary for its memory-erasing abilities.

 No doubt, the people of Germany have had to deal with a history that is notorious, inexplicable, horrifying, humiliating. The German people are infinitely sensitive to nationalistic behavior and displays. How difficult it must be, then, to be faced with the growing threat of 'Islaminisation', and struggle with the inevitable judgment that will/would come should they take a stand against immigration, or rally for people of a certain race, culture, or ethnicity to be prohibited from living in Germany. I hope that Germans can find some middle ground. Some place where patriotic Germans have the freedom to express their views without being branded an extremist. Some place where voicing concerns about national security and the need to control immigration doesn't earn comparisons to Hitler.

December 15, 2014

FOD

Looking ahead to Friday, when the Obama family will pack up and head to Hawaii for the holidays.  On Friday, I will be at work.  Then again on Monday, Tuesday, and part of Wednesday.  Might have to come in the next Friday.

Am I bitter?  Not so far as I get to spend Christmas with friends and family, people that I love.  I have had the privilege of spending Christmas with family in Hawaii once.  And once was enough.  I find we love each other more when we can go to our own respective homes at the end of the day.

I am bitter about the annual holiday that I, and my fellow taxpayers, pay for.  Take the example of the British royals visiting the states last week.
The duke and duchess will take commercial flights and stay in a New York hotel, which their spokespeople wouldn’t name.
Their retinue includes two private secretaries, two media aides, an adviser, a personal assistant, and a privately paid hairdresser for Kate. The British government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Royal Foundation — the couple’s and Harry’s charity — and St. Andrews are splitting other trip costs.
Why should the American people fund the vacation(s) of the president, his family, his entourage and their families, etc., etc.?  The Obama's have plenty of personal wealth.  It is about damn time that someone enacts legislation, or whatever it will take, that forces presidents (not just this one) to fund their own damn leisure activities.

December 12, 2014

Pace Yourself

Most of us have had a job or a situation in which we were cautioned, or observed, that our work pace was such that it was going to make others look bad, or set an expectation for the future that might not serve us well.

This morning, I walked into work and was greeted by several employees that were ready to take up their pitchforks and light the torches...their direct deposit wasn't in their bank account.  Payday is Friday and, as with most ACH transactions, we have grown accustomed to seeing a pending deposit notice or the money credited to the account around midnight on Thursday.  It doesn't matter that the contractual agreement says that pay is credited by COB on Friday.  When it deviates from the norm, all bets are off.

For field employees, it is the worst.  They threaten to walk off the job, and, at best, will work at about a quarter of their normal productivity until the money is in their account.  No matter that it isn't due to them until the end of the work day.

Remember when you had to work a full Friday and then the boss would hand out the paychecks?  There is some beauty in that system that is lost on today's worker.  An honest day's work for an honest day's pay.

December 10, 2014

'No time to date' is the least of his issues

I work in the industry, so I am keenly aware of the benefits and drawbacks of people working in boom towns.  Housing is at a premium, services are often scarce.  Even big cities, like the Midland/Odessa area in Texas, have seen their resources tested by the influx of oil and gas patch workers and those that support them.

Their are opportunists in every crowd.  And this guy, well, he takes the cake:
I work in the oilfield (mid 20’s) and have no time to date so I’m looking for a homeless girl that wants a place to stay . You do not need to work just cook clean and bedroom fun. I want someone I can chill with watch movies with and play PS4 with and gamer girls are a plus. You go from the streets to a big comfortable bed , hot bubble baths , and good food and a person to cuddle with on the couch. I want a girl to take to movies walks in the park , and to share hot coco with when the winter comes. You must be drug free and willing to stay that way. I have a high sex drive and love to cuddle. If this sounds like something you would be willing to try please send a couple pics to prove you are real and put the word “Home” in the title. You must swallow. I am real and it has been a little rainy lately, in fact it’s raining right now and all weekend!! Any RACE is fine under 25 preferred. Any older than that and you’ll come with an attitude and blame me for your situation…..!! Hope to hear from you soon. Thanks
This gem of a 'job' description was posted in the housing section of Craigslist, 'cause that's where homeless people look for housing, right?