February 29, 2012

Last Train

I had the opportunity to see The Monkees in concert sometime in the eighties (I think).  I remember the where, it was at the old Texas Ranger's ballpark.  Three or four reunion-type bands played after the baseball game.  I saw the Beach Boys, too, can't remember if it was the same night.  I do remember that Micky Dolenz butchered the national anthem before the game.

I always liked this song, even though Daydream Believer is probably the song they are best known for.  I never really cared that they were a 'manufactured' band, I like what I like.  RIP Mr Jones.

Glad they aren't my tax dollars...

I have a 15-year old cousin once removed (I think that is the proper term for my first cousin's kid) that is in the care of the state. 

So the girl is in some trouble.  Put a bored teenager with an unfulfilling home life, together with  the magical power of the internet and BAM!, a girl gets in trouble.  And she should be in trouble, as should the adult men that showed up at her house to meet her.  So now, the girl is in the juvie klink, as the home situation seemed to enable her behavior.

Come to find out that once a person is 'in the system' in Kansas, they get a free ride to a state college.  Nobody claims any big matriculation numbers, but the offer is there.  This kid and others like her, are guaranteed a free college education. 

How many kids do we think are in the system for their own actions, versus the actions of someone else?  Quite frankly, I could understand giving an abused or neglected kid a shot at something good.  But, perpetrators are 'in the system' just as much as victims.  Throwing a free college education at them won't make them better people, nor will it make them smart.  My friend Tim would insert some moaning here about how ill-prepared most of these kids are for college level work

What a system begging to be taken advantage of.  A free education?  Nah, can't be any corruption in that.  Let's not forget that these aren't the cream of the academic crop, nor do they have many social skills.  Yeah, push them on through to college.

February 28, 2012

People are dumb

This week is the busiest of my year.  It is also, usually, the most infuriating week of the year because people are stupid.

I field about 10 calls a day from people that can't find an email in their own damn inbox, until they call me and I tell them exactly when it was sent...then I hear, 'Oh, there it is.'  You betcha, there it is, right there in your inbox.

My work voicemail provides some succinct information.  Nine times out of ten, people leave a message, asking a question that was already answered.

Then there are the people that just like to check on things.  Repeatedly.  And then again.   

I think that for all of our technological advances, society is getting dumber.

February 27, 2012

I tried

I tried turning off the sucky word verification, but ended up getting spammed out the wazoo.  Had to turn it back on, sorry if it gives you trouble.

FOD White Girls for Anyone But Obama version

Blowie recently played the trump race card and launched 'African Americans for Obama'.  One would expect that the administration would have done just a bit of preemptive domain purchasing and bought out the African Americans for Obama.org website.  I wonder how many hits that deserted domain is getting these days?

As we all remember, Blowie was half-white right up until he was elected, then he became the first black president.  While he is currently playing up the black prez thing again, one curious click on his website brought up this horrifying (to those of us of Irish decent) reminder that he will also be playing up his white side, when the votes are needed.

February 26, 2012

My wife's so fat....

...she drives a couple of Cadillacs.

Okay, so that isn't even a funny fat joke.  Unfortunately, it is what came out of Romney's mouth, after mentioning his TWO vehicles.  Is he campaigning for Obama?  I really don't begrudge him his wealth, but there are some things that you don't need to run your mouth about.

And, around the :12 mark, he says, 'I love this country' and then it sounds like he says , 'I SHOULD love this state.' Should? What the hell does that mean?

February 25, 2012

A funny thing happened on the way to the convention...

I am a little confuddled.

Rick Santorum held a fundraiser in Westlake, Texas on Thursday night.  Texas doesn't even know when our primary will be, April 3rd is fading fast and seems impossible without an immediate legal judgement..  So, why would Santorum be in Texas, just days before a critical primary in Michigan (and Arizona)? 

The situation gets murkier.  My kids go to school in Westlake.  In fact, the school is owned by the town of Westlake.  This fundraiser was the talk of the school all week, as Westlake, unto itself, is a small community of 736 +/- people.  The gated community where the fundraiser was held houses, I am guessing, about 80% of the town's population.

Two years ago, the key note speaker at graduation was Rick Perry, 'cause some people knew some people and some people around Westlake write big ass checks to political candidates.

Where I am going with this is that the normal players - the ones that are known for hosting political fundraisers, are Grand Old Party people.  By the book, party Repubs.  It looks like the establishment is turning on Romney.  And by consequence, or intention, they have also turned on Perry and his endorsee, Newt Gingrich.

It must have been one heck of a promising fund raiser, to make a stop in a state that hasn't even set their primary.  Shouldn't Santorum have had his boots on Arizona or Michigan soil?  Is there some strategy to making an appearance in Texas, well before several other planned campaign stops? 

February 24, 2012


Toilets, bathtubs, and sinks in two southeast Houston houses became fecal fountains Thursday afternoon when a City of Houston Public Works employee tried to clear a clogged sewer line and sent the sewage, at high pressure, in entirely the wrong direction.
Can you imagine?  And at the hands of a municipal employee!
 Alfredo Nuno’s home at Greendowns Street and the Gulf Freeway was the hardest hit. The sewage exploded through his toilet and bathtub, showering the bathroom with fecal matter and spreading sewer water of various consistencies down the hallway, into his bedroom, and through the bathroom wall, flooding his kitchen.
“They ruined my house,” he said, while leading KHOU 11 News to the rental unit in his backyard, where his brother’s apartment suffered the same fate.
Behind that, a neighbor’s house on Southern Street received the same treatment. Ana Zamorano stood outside her rental home, refusing to go back inside. The stench was unbearable.
“There’s nothing I can do now. Look I haven’t even changed,” she said still wearing her work uniform. “It’s ridiculous. It stinks too bad in there. Seriously it does."
“I don’t know what to say that it smells like,” said Nuno, choosing his words carefully. “The thing that comes out from your behind.”
Let me help you out there, sir.  It smells like shit.  Because it is shit. 

I avoid Houston at all costs, can't stand the place.  This is all the more reason.  But, if I were anywhere in the area, I would buy all of these people several large adult beverages.  God Bless You.  Call a haz mat clean up service and a lawyer.

February 23, 2012

Call of the Wild

I'm not going to sleep tonight, so if I start posting a lot of blather, just click on by.

My pending insomnia has two causes.  First to blame is a newly acquired steroid dose pack.  You know, one of those pill cards that start out with 6 doses the first day.  There is even a note that says no matter how late in the day you get your prescription, all 6 pills should be taken the first day.  That applies to me.  I took 4 of them between noon and dinner and the other two right after dinner, as I was already manic and wanted to get the full load in my system so I might get some sleep around 4 am.

The second cause of my future sleeplessness is a dog.  Not one of my dogs, though they are generally to blame for waking me up.  A neighbor's dog.  We call him Raj, which is a Big Bang Theory play on his actual name, which we don't like.  I think I have written about him before.  He is/was an escape artist.  His family keeps him in a chain link dog run outdoors and he doesn't like it.  He is the sweetest damn dog.  He used to get out regularly and come hang out with us.  On one of the bitterly cold days last winter, he showed up and scored a warm indoor bed for a couple of nights.  We let him out to see if he would go home, but he just curled up on the porch, so we let him back in.

I know that he comes here because we pay attention to him and always get him water and, sometimes, food.  He loves to be petted.  He is gorgeous, a black Lab with big brown eyes.  We always grab him and walk him to his home when we see him out.

So, Raj was coming around pretty regular last winter.  Then, we didn't see him all summer or fall.  His house is well back from the road and his dog run is not visible without getting well onto the property.  At some point, we were told that he was missing, but we never heard anything else.  We assumed the worst, since he gets out all the time, and we live on a pretty busy street, and near a very busy highway.

Two days ago, Raj re-appeared.  Same as ever.  I put him in our fenced back yard for the afternoon and my kids walked him home after school.

Today, he was free again.  My mom called that he was swimming in the pond across from her house.  She got him to follow her in the golf cart and first went to his house.  No one was home, so she backtracked to our house and put him in our backyard again.  When I got home, he went out the gate when I came in.  He was headed toward his house, so I decided to watch him and make sure he got there.  I got distracted by the phone and when I turned around, he was gone.  On my way out of the neighborhood a bit later, I saw him in the pond again (chasing ducks, which would really tick off the guy who lives there), so I took him back to my yard.

Mr Harper called when he got home to let me know that Raj was fine and that he would take him home.  Somewhere between 'Raj is fine' and me arriving home, Mr H let him out and he disappeared.

It is the not knowing that is killing me.  That is why we always take him home.  We couldn't stand knowing that we could have prevented some horrific accident.  If I just ignored him running wild and then we saw his dead carcass in the ditch, my kids would be heartbroken.  I am biting my tongue to keep from saying something along those lines to Mr H.

I get that he isn't our dog, but we love him.  We can't make him stay at home.  We really don't have any right to hold him here when he gets out.  But, crap, I really wish I knew whether he made it home today or not.  I have long wanted to walk him home and tell the owners that we love him more than they do and that we want him.  But, I don't suppose it is the neighbor kids' fault that their dog escapes, they shouldn't lose him just because their family is careless.

If that mutt would just show up on my porch, I could rest easy and actually get some sleep tonight.

Why the FDA sucks

The knee doc prescribed a topical NSAID gel for my knee inflammation and pain.  After talking to eight pharmacists, I was assured that I had effectively checked every wholesaler and pharmacy inventory in a three-county area.  I did manage to get the last 300 grams available.  I know I should feel bad that some little old lady isn't going to get her osteo-arthritis meds, but my knee hurts, too.

Products Affected - Description

Voltaren gel, Endo 100 gram, 3 count (NDC 63481-0684-03) 100 gram, 5 count (NDC 63481-0684-05)

Reason for the Shortage

  • Endo is the sole supplier of Voltaren gel.
  • Endo could not provide a reason for the shortage

Available Products

No products are available.

Estimated Resupply Dates

Endo has both Voltaren gel presentations on back order and the company cannot estimate a release date.
Okay, so forget about my knee ache.  The American Society of Health System Pharmacists' drug shortage website is an eye opener.  I had read recent stories of cancer drug shortages, but, that is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
Don't get bit by a Black Widow Spider, there is very little antivenin available.
This one hits close to home - Epi-Pens are in limited supply.
Don't fool with a rabid animal, the post-exposure rabies immune globulin is hard to find.
Can't get surgical lubricant.  Can't get some sterile empty vials, because they had to halt production of them in order to ramp up production of drugs that are in short supply.
Lots of antibiotics and pain meds on the list. 

Yes, I want my pharmaceuticals safe.  No, I do not believe that the FDA and American manufacturers are the only people capable of keeping them safe.  And, in all actuality, I am a big girl.  If I want to take my chances with some Canadian or Mexican arthritis cream, why the hell shouldn't I be able to? 

Never fear, my fellow Americans.  The FDA and Blowie are on the case.  The FDA wrote a letter to the industry and they have an action plan.  And the FDA has done a review of their approach to medical product shortages.  We have an executive order dealing with drug shortages.  And a government rendering of the drug supply chain, to show us simple folk how stuff works.  Health and Human Services did an economic analysis of the causes of drug shortages.

Think we have the drug shortage situation studied, reported, reviewed or analyzed enough?  And yet, I can't get my knee gel.

February 22, 2012

Tuning out

I am avoiding the television and internet news like the plague.  I do not want to hear the GOP debate.  More specifically, I do not want to hear any media hack's interpretation or analysis of the debate.  I really don't give a rat's ass.  It matters very little who is on the ballot in March (for my state's primary) and then again in November.  I know which candidate I most align with and I will vote for him as long as his name is listed, and if/when it isn't on the ballot, I will vote for whoever isn't Obama.

Instead of the scintillating debate post mortem, I am entertaining myself with this:
Tyler police are asking for help in finding a beauty shop owner wanted for allegedly performing an illegal breast augmentation.
A 26-year-old Longview woman is hospitalized in critical condition after she said she underwent the procedure one week ago in the back room of Queen Divas Hair Salon and Spa, 102 East Martin Luther King Street, in Tyler.
What is it with people thinking they can get plastic surgery in a back room?  First it was the Fix-a-Flat booty and now we have some unknown substance injected for a boob job.  Do these people really know so little about anatomy to think that you can just inject something and it will stay there?  Have they never seen an implant? 

There is some correlation between the two different topics of this post, but I will let you connect those dots.

February 21, 2012

Family flame war


One of my brothers-in-law occasionally emails a joke or history tidbit.  This BIL is well aware of my political stance and has steered clear of that subject.  Until yesterday.  Last night he sent out this picture to his siblings and children:

Click to enlarge
I shook my head, sat on my hands and decided that I might respond, but would need to tread carefully.  I shouldn't have bothered worrying.  My other BIL responded, very kindly, with this:
My Big Bro, I feel compelled to respond to this note you sent on why you will vote for obama, again.
There are 7 talking points in the note and I've heard obama repeat them over and over even though many of them have no truth to them whatsoever.
The following are a few talking points we can add to the discussion.
Is it fair that the richest 1% of Americans pay 40% of all Federal Income Taxes and the richest 10% pay two-thirds of the tax? I believe I know your answer to this one.
Is it fair that American Corporations pay the highest statutory corporate tax rate of all other industrialized nations but Japan, which cut its rate on April 1?
Is it fair that obama sends his two daughters to elite private schools that are safer, better-run and produce higher test scores than public schools in D.C.--but millions of other families across America are denied that free choice and forced to send their kids to rotten schools?
Is it fair that Treasury Secretary Geithner, former demo Senate Majority leader Daschle, former Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (what a crook this guy is) and other leading democrats who preach tax fairness underpaid their own taxes?
Is it fair that after the first 3 years of obama, the poor are poorer, the poverty rate has risen, the middle class is losing income and some 5.5 million fewer Americans have jobs today than in 2007?
Is it fair that wind, solar and ethanol producers get billions of dollars of subsidies each year and pay virtually no taxes while the oil and gas industries (which produce 10 times as much energy) pay tens of billions of dollars in taxes while obama complains that the oil and gas industries are "subsidized"?
Is it fair that those who work full-time jobs to make ends meet must have to pay taxes to support the 99 weeks of unemployment benefits for those who don't work? And I dare say, choose not to work?
Is it fair that thousands of workers won't have jobs because obama sided with the tree-huggers and blocked the Keystone XL oil pipeline?
Is it fair that some of obama's largest campaign contributors received federal loan guarantees on their investments in renewable energy projects that went belly-up (what, Solyndra got 500 billion!!??...freakin' unbelievable)
Is it fair that in 27 states workers can be compelled to join a union in order to keep their jobs?
Is it fair that nearly four out of 10 American households no pay NO federal taxes at all?---this number has risen every year under obama
Is it fair that our kids and grandkids will have to pay off the 5 trillion in debt accumulated over the past 4 years without any benefit to them?....as usual you can continue to blame this one on Bush...
Is it fair that obama is offering $75,000 to private citizens who can come up with a plan to enroll more people in the food stamp program?...it appears obama and his lemmings have run out of ideas...
Is it fair for you and me and other tax paying citizens to have to foot the bill for all the folks on welfare who get their free cell phone and 250 minutes a month of free service? They can have more minutes if they apply for them. Then, instead of looking for work, waiting for their check so they can buy their beer and cigs and make calls for free on their obama cell phones...incredible!!...
I could go on because obama is, without a doubt, the absolute worst thing that has ever happen to America but I'll stop here.
Like we discussed at one of our recent debates, I don't care if it's Mitt, Newt, Rick, Ron or Foghorn Leghorn....he gets my vote.
A full throttle family flame war is now underway.  So typically liberal, in that there have been no factual responses, just personal attacks and mass generalizations from the Obama supporters.  I really should stay out of the fray.  But, hell, I can pretty much guarantee that I will never have to host my nieces in their 'Obama Girl' T-shirts, if I speak my mind.  That, in itself, is worth it.

What really kills me is that the biggest flame was lobbed by my niece (and Obama girl) that is married to a soldier.  WTF?  Any clue what Obama has and is doing to the military?  Any concept of what it is like for those of us without government provided housing and health care?

I am doing a good bit of editing to my email response, because I think brevity is a key when dealing with the Obama-blind.  If any of you have some very good, concise examples refuting the original 8 points, please send them my way.

If it wasn't crystal clear, these are my relatives BY MARRIAGE only.    

February 20, 2012


I am surfing the 'net for some blog fodder while watching the local network news with one eye.  One of their efforts at improving the economy is to do 'hot job' announcements and brief local business stories.  Tonight they are visiting a salon that does waxes.

I listened as the reporter was touring the facility, glanced up as she was being shown to a room and discussing the privacy measures and reasons that everyone should be comfortable with putting all their bits out there for this company to remove the hair from.

I caught the tail end of a description of the salon's trademark package that includes some 'sparklies'.  Ahhh, a vajazzling kind of a salon.

As the story was wrapping up, the reporter's voice-over was recounting the location and noted that, "everything from a basic clean up to a full Brazilian is available.  And while they specialize in kitties, they also wax eyebrows and other body parts."

Holy shit, did the TV lady just use a cat euphemism to describe the female genital area?  Is that generally accepted?  I had to rewind it three times, I couldn't believe that is what she said.  My husband is still laughing.


Soledad O'Brien's thinly veiled enthusiasm for Blowie on display at the close of an interview following Whitney Houston's funeral:

A couple of weeks ago, Soledad and Roland Martin high-fived after a piece recounting her attack on Mitt Romney. I'm no Romney fan, but whatever happened to journalism - finding and reporting facts? I don't need Soledad or Roland or any other media hack telling me how to interpret a candidate's statements. Nor do I have any respect for 'journalists' that congratulate themselves for such trivial shite. You can skip to the end to see the limp wristed high-five:

CNN, pro-Blowie all the time.

February 19, 2012

What color is the sky in Robert Gibbs' world?

I am trying not to wet my pants as I re-read Gibby's statement on ABC's "This Week" this morning:
(Gibbs)...says GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum went "well over the line" when he questioned Obama's Christian values.
Robert Gibbs tells ABC's "This Week" that it's time "to get rid of this mindset in our politics that, if we disagree, we have to question character and faith."
Here are a few things that have come out of Blowie's mouth that might make a reasonable person question his faith.  Mind you, Blowie is the one that (on certain days) claims to be a Christian, thereby creating the confusion pointed out by Rick Santorum.  
"It's not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."
"Whatever we once were, we're no longer a Christian nation."
"As a student of history, I also know civilization's debt to Islam."
"Islam is not part of the problem in combating violent extremism - it is an important part of promoting peace."
"The Holy Koran tells us, "O mankind! We have created you male and a female; and we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another."
Quoting the Koran, praising Islam, saying we are no longer a Christian nation and characterizing Christians as bitter Bible-clingers.   Yet, Santorum is the one who 'crossed a line' in questioning Blowie's faith.

Welcome to Bizarro World.  At least it is good for a laugh every now and then.

February 18, 2012

The Yeas

Here are the 293 House members asshats that voted to extend the payroll tax-cut extension: 
(Republicans in roman; Democrats in italic; Independents underlined)
Alexander, Altmire, Amodei, Andrews, Austria, Baca, Baldwin, Barletta, Barrow, Bartlett, Bass (CA), Bass (NH), Becerra, Benishek, Berg, Berkley, Berman, Biggert, Bilbray, Bilirakis, Bishop (GA), Bishop , (NY), Blumenauer, Bonamici, Boren, Boswell, Brady (PA), Brady (TX), Braley (IA), Buchanan, Bucshon, Butterfield, Calvert, Camp, Canseco, Cantor, Capito, Capps, Carnahan, Carney, Carson (IN), Castor(FL), Chandler, Chu, Cicilline, Clarke (MI), Clyburn, Coble, Coffman (CO), Cohen, Cole, Conaway, Conyers, Costa, Courtney, Cravaack, Crawford, Crenshaw, Critz, Crowley, Cuellar, Culberson, Davis (CA), Davis (KY), DeGette, DeLauro, Denham, Dent, Deutch, Diaz-Balart, Dicks, Dingell, Doggett, Dold, Donnelly (IN), Doyle, Dreier, Duffy, Ellmers, Emerson, Engel, Eshoo, Fattah, Fincher, Fitzpatrick, Fleischmann, Flores, Frank (MA), Frelinghuysen, Garamendi, Gerlach, Gibbs, Gibson, Gonzalez, Green, Al, Green, Gene, Griffin (AR), Grijalva, Grimm, Guinta, Guthrie, Hahn, Hanabusa, Hanna, Harper, Hartzler, Hastings (WA), Hayworth, Heck, Heinrich, Hensarling, Herger, Herrera Beutler, Higgins, Himes, Hinchey, Hinojosa, Hirono, Hochul, Holden, Holt, Honda, Huelskamp, Huizenga (MI), Hultgren, Hunter, Hurt, Inslee, Israel, Issa, Jackson (IL), Jackson Lee (TX), Jenkins, Johnson (OH), Johnson, Sam, Jones, Kaptur, Keating, Kelly, Kildee, King (NY), Kinzinger (IL), Kissell, Kline, Kucinich, Lance, Langevin, Larsen (WA), Larson (CT), Latham, LaTourette, Latta, Levin, Lewis (CA), Lewis (GA), Lipinski, LoBiondo, Loebsack, Lofgren, Zoe, Long, Lowey, Lucas, Luetkemeyer, Luján, Lungren, Daniel , E., Mack, Maloney, Manzullo, Marchant, Marino, Markey, Matheson, Matsui, McCarthy (CA), McCarthy (NY), McCaul, McCollum, McGovern, McHenry, McIntyre, McKeon, McMorris Rodgers, McNerney, Meehan, Meeks, Michaud, Miller (MI), Miller (NC), Miller, Gary, Miller, George, Moore, Murphy (CT), Murphy (PA), Myrick, Nadler, Napolitano, Neal, Nunes, Nunnelee, Olver, Owens, Palazzo, Pallone, Pascrell, Pastor (AZ), Paulsen, Pelosi, Pence, Perlmutter, Peters, Pitts, Platts, Polis, Price (GA), Price (NC), Quigley, Rahall, Reed, Rehberg, Reichert, Renacci, Ribble, Richardson, Richmond, Rigell, Rivera, Rogers (KY), Rogers (MI), Rooney, Ros-Lehtinen, Roskam, Ross (AR), Rothman (NJ), Roybal-Allard, Runyan, Ruppersberger, Rush, Sánchez, Linda T., Sanchez, Loretta, Scalise, Schakowsky, Schiff, Schilling, Schock, Schwartz, Schweikert, Scott (SC), Scott, David, Serrano, Sewell, Sherman, Shimkus, Shuster, Sires, Slaughter, Smith (NE), Smith (NJ), Smith (TX), Southerland, Speier, Stark, Stearns, Stivers, Stutzman, Sutton, Thompson (MS), Thompson (PA), Tiberi, Tierney, Tipton, Tonko, Towns, Tsongas, Turner (NY), Turner (OH), Upton, Velázquez, Walden, Walsh (IL), Walz(MN), Wasserman Schultz, Waters, Watt, Waxman, Webster, Westmoreland, Wittman, Womack, Yarmuth, Yoder, Young (AK), Young (FL), Young (IN)
 Here are the 60 Senators:
Akaka (D-HI)
Ayotte (R-NH)
Baucus (D-MT)
Begich (D-AK)
Bennet (D-CO)
Blumenthal (D-CT)
Boxer (D-CA)
Brown (D-OH)
Brown (R-MA)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Carper (D-DE)
Casey (D-PA)
Cochran (R-MS)
Collins (R-ME)
Conrad (D-ND)
Coons (D-DE)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Franken (D-MN)
Gillibrand (D-NY)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Hagan (D-NC)
Heller (R-NV)
Hoeven (R-ND)
Inouye (D-HI)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kerry (D-MA)
Klobuchar (D-MN)
Kohl (D-WI)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Leahy (D-VT)
Levin (D-MI)
Lieberman (ID-CT)
Lugar (R-IN)
McCaskill (D-MO)
McConnell (R-KY)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Merkley (D-OR)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Murray (D-WA)
Nelson (D-FL)
Nelson (D-NE)
Pryor (D-AR)
Reed (D-RI)
Reid (D-NV)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Rubio (R-FL)
Schumer (D-NY)
Shaheen (D-NH)
Snowe (R-ME)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Tester (D-MT)
Udall (D-CO)
Udall (D-NM)
Webb (D-VA)
Whitehouse (D-RI)
Wicker (R-MS)
Wyden (D-OR)

For those keeping track, those votes were for a $143 BILLION package that is unfunded.

If you see one of your representatives on this list, and they are up for reelection, I suggest voting their ass out of office.

February 17, 2012

Target as Big Brother

Target's bullseye logo is on our backs.

This is too scary to summarize, you need to go read the whole thing.

If I ever have to shop at Target again, which I vow to avoid, I will be paying cash.  Data mining, stalking creeps.

Parenting lamentations

Do you ever have those days/weeks/months that make you wonder where the hell you went wrong as a parent?  This week has been a doozy in the parenting department.

Crash.  Well, Crash is four.  He is the revenge child.  You know, the one that my mom warned would come.  The one that will give back everything I gave to my parents, and then some.  Crash can wing a Hot Wheels car at about 92 mph.  At the back of my head.  While I am driving.  Yes, I have searched his scalp for the mark of the beast.  It is clear, so now I blame his dad's genes.

The Princess is a dramatic, attention-grabbing presence at home.  At school she tends to be dangerously passive.  Yesterday, she reported to an after-school activity that, unbeknownst to her and a few others, had been cancelled.  Did she call me, seek an adult for help, find her big brother?  No.  She sat outside to wait it out for 45 minutes until her regularly scheduled pick up time.  Sure, I place a little blame on the school for not being more proactive in making sure everyone got the word about the cancellation and not questioning why a third grader was sitting alone outside for nearly an hour.  But, sheesh, haven't I done a good enough job teaching her what she should do in situations like that? 

Let's not overlook the fact that a substitute teacher did notice her, and waited with her the last few minutes - never knowing the whole story and, instead, gave me the stink-eye, assuming I was just extremely late in picking up my kids.  Nothing like a little undeserved humiliation thrown in.

Bang is literal.  Infuriatingly literal.  He can't move past this point right here and now and think ahead.  'How many words is your research paper supposed to be?' I asked.

'I don't know, I could check.'

Twelve hours later, getting ready to leave for school, 'Bang, write a note to yourself in your planner to find out how many words your research paper is supposed to be,' I say.

'Okay, but it is probably in the packet I have in my room.'

*Blink, blink*

'I thought you said you didn't know how many words and you would have to check?'  I say.

'Yeah, I don't know.  I meant I would have to check in the packet in my room.'

OMG, give me a break, kid.  I don't have room in my brain to try to remember all the things you need to remember to do. 

And Boom.  Christ, where have I failed with this one?  Five months short of 18.  Three months from graduation.  Major project she could have done over the summer, still working.  That little driver's license and car thing, couldn't care less.  Investigative research paper assigned before Christmas and due next week?  She'll get to it this weekend.  Two-year record of community service and volunteer work in blog form for IB diploma?  She says she'll do it over spring break.   

She wanted to wait until she got her braces off to have her senior pictures taken.  The braces came off the week after Christmas.  My conditions before scheduling the photographer were simple: figure out what sort of outfits you want to wear and if there needs to be any shopping done and decide your hair and let me know what to schedule at the salon.  I got nothing.  No plans, no appointments, no pictures.  I have requests for photos for the senior banquet slide show.  I need to have graduation announcements printed.  I am tempted to use an assortment of naked-in-the-bathtub-with-my-brother and middle school yearbook photos.  Deadlines are well before anything could be booked with a professional photographer.  Does she care that she is missing these high school experiences?  Apparently not.  I guess I need to quit caring too.

She has no social life.  It isn't like she is out partying or hanging out with friends.  I think that drives me nuts just as much as the procrastination.  There is so little to restrict her from, that there is no incentive for her to get things done.  Except for prom.

So there is my parenting failure to cap off the week.  I let everything get to the point that I have told Boom she can't go to her prom if she doesn't get the school work done.  Actually, knowing that she thinks March 31st is light-years away and she has plenty of time, I told her that she couldn't even go dress shopping until the work was done.  That gives her, oh, to about this Sunday to get her work done, if she hopes to find anything remotely pretty, appropriate and correctly-sized. 

I know that some people would be thankful for my problems and I am not ungrateful that my kids are healthy, mostly happy and smart.  I really don't think I have been unreasonable, and I know they are capable of doing everything that I ask of them, which brings me back to the conclusion that this is all a failure in my parenting abilities. 

Now is where you all tell me this is normal...

February 16, 2012

Shoulda clicked 'ignore'

I just clicked send on an email to my kid's principal, right as I realized that I agreed to let spell check change his name to 'Calzone'.  His last name is not supposed to be an Italian entree.

You would have thought I would be more careful, as I had just sent another email to a teacher at the school whose name is remarkably similar to 'stroganoff' and made sure that spell check left it alone. 

Walmart hates old people

I don't know about your neighborhood Wally World, but at mine, there is a long-serving contingent of retirement age people that greet shoppers, inspect returns and dole out stickers to the kiddos.  Wal-Mart has decided that they don't need that job position anymore.
Walmart announced it's no longer staffing the greeters at its front doors. The workers are being moved deeper into the stores to help shoppers find what they're looking for.
But, but...who will put the little stickers on the return items?  Who will jump in front of the carts when the security system goes off?  Who will demand to see receipts for items that aren't in bags?

At my neighborhood Wally World, many of the greeters are allowed to sit at their post.  Some of their physical conditions would prohibit them doing a job that requires being on their feet much.
Company officials will still try to accommodate workers who have physical difficulties with tasks, Hardie said.
Hmmm.  They will 'try' to accommodate.  Why not phase out greeters by attrition?  No offense, but it isn't that much of a long term strategy.  Instead, the old and infirm will be forced to shuffle around the store, trying to help people.

I got news, I know where every item in Walmart is.  I know when they re-arrange.  This innate knowledge must show, because people stop me all the time and ask where stuff is at Walmart.  I got answers.  On the rare occasion that something has been moved or I am looking for something new and I have asked about it - Walmart employees have never been helpful.

I take that back.  At Christmas we were looking for a particular candy, Christmas shaped Milky Way bars.  They had the Snicker's Santas and the Russell Stover marshmallow trees, but Bang had a Secret Santa gift to buy and he wanted Milky Ways.  Boom was shopping with us and caught the attention of a (young, cute, male) employee who went out of his way to go in the back and talk to the candy rep that happened to be in the store that day, to find out about the Milky Ways.  But that is one time out of 50 and Boom gets the flirting credit.

Why is Walmart eliminating the one job position in the store that so easily accommodated older people and those with disabilities that require them to sit?

Watch out, seniors!  The sewing counter, paint department and dressing room positions will be next.  They are coming for the old folks. Who needs medical insurance death panels for the elderly when America's largest employer is going to kick them to the curb?

February 15, 2012

Food Fight

CenTexTim posted about this last night, so I am a little late to the game.

I am nearing the end of my thirteenth year as a parent of school aged children.  I have known the great and the horrible, the people that had no business being in education (and its administration) and I have known people so gifted at what they do that their touch is still evident upon my child.

There are school policies that are ridiculous, overreaching, nonsensical.  Not all of those battles are worth fighting.  My children's school has some restrictions on the content of lunches.  They can't trade, they can't have carbonated beverages, they can't have deep fried fast food items.  None of those rules are strictly enforced and many are never enforced.  Most are for the little kids because teachers don't want to deal with caffeine and sugar highs.  By 8th or 9th grade, the teachers don't care what they eat or drink, as long as they can stay awake in class.

So help me God, if any person ever inspected my child's lunch from home and passed judgement on it, as they did in this case, I would come unhinged. It wouldn't be about whether or not to fight the battle, it would be a full on war, and my kids would only be in the situation once, I guarandamntee it.
A mother in Hoke County complains her daughter was forced to eat a school lunch because a government inspector determined her home-made lunch did not meet nutrition requirements. In fact, all of the students in the NC Pre-K program classroom at West Hoke Elementary School in Raeford had to accept a school lunch in addition to their lunches brought from home.   
And what horrifically deficient meal did she send her kid to school with?
a turkey and cheese sandwich, a banana, apple juice and potato chips
Gasp!  Her crime, in the inspector's eyes?  No vegetable.  What are potato chips made from? 

In the accompanying story, Mom explains that her daughter, like many 4-year olds, doesn't like vegetables.  They pull a con job or threaten early bedtimes to get her to eat them at home.  Mom points out that without a parent standing over her, she won't eat vegetables, so she doesn't put them in her lunch to have them be thrown away.  

Mom also explains that the teachers routinely make her child add a milk to her lunch from home, because her lunch lacks a dairy item.  Um, what is it that cheese is made from?

Actually, forget my freaking questions about potatoes and cheese.  IT IS NONE OF THE GOVERNMENT'S GODDAMN BUSINESS WHAT IS IN MY KID'S LUNCH.

what my kids eat
how their food is prepared
what my kids weigh
what language they speak at home 
how many hours of TV they watch
how they score on a test
what kind of light bulbs are in their desk lamp
if they have insurance

Stay the hell out of my family's business.

February 14, 2012

More Vday Fun

This was in my inbox.  Better late than never, and these cards are funny:

Happy Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day Boobage, below the fold.

February 13, 2012


A gorgeous piece of satire from my fav FOD resource:
Obama to Give Catholics a Present
by Keith Koffler  

The White House today announced that President Obama is planning on buying Catholics a present to make them feel better in the aftermath of a an administration decision to require Catholic institutions to provide employees with free birth control.

“It will be a beautiful gift,” said Obama in an interview with Diane Sawyer, who looked on lovingly at the president as he described searching Amazon for something “meaningful and expensive.” Said the president: “I mean, it will be at least $25 so I can get the free shipping, but probably much, much more.”

Obama refused to reveal any details about the gift itself, even declining to say which Amazon category he will ordering from. “I want it to be a surprise,” he said.

Obama acknowledged he had underestimated how much Catholics care about their religion.

“My political adviser, David Plouffe, told me his polling had shown that people stopped clinging to their bibles in 2010,” Obama said. “I mean, I thought the small people had  advanced in their thinking by now, after three years of listening to me. But I believe everybody has a right to live in the Dark Ages, and just to show I love them anyway, I’m getting them a gift.”

Obama apparently will not select the button on Amazon that would have the gift wrapped. A lucky Associated Press photographer photographed Michelle Obama Thursday shopping at Target for wrapping paper.

Meanwhile, an unusual coalition of Jewish, Muslim, Evangelical, gay and lesbian, transgender, Native American, and women’s groups vehemently condemned Obama’s plan to purchase a present of Catholics.

“Oh, so we don’t get a gift, is that it?” said the group’s spokeswoman, Arlene Quibblesworth. “Nothing for us? Can you imagine how we’re all going to feel when the Catholics are opening their gift and we’re just sitting there without anything? This is clearly establishment of religion, by the way.”

The White House signalled it was also ready to potentially relax some of the requirements of the new rule, or at least to give Catholic organizations a way to pretend they are not supporting birth control.

“We’re going to work out an arrangement with Catholics where they won’t have to compromise all of their principles – just some of them,” Obama told Sawyer.

In a conference call with reporters, a senior White House aide denied the arrangement would have any impact on the president’s determination that nothing should impede free love.

“The president is firm in his conviction that people must be allowed to have all the sex they want at the lowest cost possible,” he said. “This is an important Constitutional principle that was established in the 1960s by The Beatles. It supersedes nebulous concepts like the free exercise of religion, especially after a couple of drinks.”

The official, who declined to be named but who claimed to be supine while on the phone, added that the issue wasn’t just about the rights of women, but the rights of men as well.

“How can we tell all these studs who want to sleep with dozens of women that they should have to risk knocking one of them up?” he said.

A spokesman for the Vatican described White House efforts to placate Catholics as unsatisfactory.

“While we of course are looking forward to our gift, we continue to believe Catholic institutions should not be forced to pay for birth control,” he said.

February 12, 2012

What a waste

I was never much of a Whitney Houston fan.  During her heyday, some of her hits were virtually inescapable, so I am aware of her body of work, and could probably sing along with a decent bit of it.

I never saw The Bodyguard and have always preferred Dolly's version of 'I Will Always Love You', but again, I didn't mind Whitney's music, I just didn't pursue it or own it.

It is a sad waste of a life to die at age 48, being a known drug abuser.  There is a young woman who is motherless as her adult life begins.  I can't imagine what that girl's childhood was like.

It pisses me off that people with so much talent, success and wealth so often squander it.  Sometimes it seems like the bigger the celebrity, the weaker their personal character. 

I suppose this is one of those times to gather my family tight, remind ourselves to be content in our no-where-near-the-limelight lives, and rejoice in the happiness that we have in this life.  I would rather be normal, boring and unknown, than famous and dead.

February 11, 2012

Obama's magic money tree

And I'm not talking about the place in Fort Worth printing the money.

Obamacare's mandate requires insurers to provide free birth control but:
the new policy would not allow health insurers to increase their premiums, charge co-payments or deductibles to make up for the cost of contraceptives.
Really?  Then who pays for it?  And how in the world can they control what insurers are charging for?  They most certainly will pass on the cost to the consumer.  If they can't do it outright, they will hide it somewhere else in the policy - so much for transparency and reforming the system Blowhole.  Blowie's very own policies force corporations to resort to smoke and mirrors to meet the regulatory requirements.

I have an idea for birth control.  Keep it in your pants.  Keep your knees together.  If you choose to do otherwise, why in the world should anyone else be responsible for funding your sexual activity?

I understand that preventing pregnancy is a lot less costly to insurers than paying for pregnancy related health care.  Still, they won't just happily start paying for every form of birth control the law mandates.  The cost will trickle down, to someone, somewhere.  It has to.  Why can't this administration grasp basic principles?

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that Blowie thinks that free means no one ever pays.  Heck, his wife was in town promoting healthy eating at the home of never ending pasta bowls, soups, salads and bread sticks.  'Cause that makes perfect sense.

Blogging friends photo fun

My friend Allen is a Very Important Person in local libertarian politics.  A couple of weeks ago, he was chosen as Grand Poobah of his county's party chapter.  Shortly after his appointment, he started goading a local restaurant critic/political columnist on Facebook.  Said columnist did what all First Amendment loving newspaper guys do...he started censoring and deleting the comments.  Way to stir the pot, Allen. Keep up the good work.
Allen's company moved into some new digs a year or so ago.  He soon posted a picture of himself with this sign.  Later, he talked his mother into being a rebel and posted her picture by the sign.  I think there should be some sort of reward for those of us who manage to find the sign and get a photograph without being chased away.  Neener, neener, neener, I sat by your shrubbery...

Hell no that isn't photoshopped.

February 9, 2012

Screwed and moving to Oklahoma

49 states have agreed to a $25 billion settlement with the five major banks in the nation that were accused of mortgage/foreclosure abuses.  Oklahoma is the only state with any integrity in this matter.

The big plan, finally, is to:
...force the five largest mortgage lenders to reduce loans for about 1 million households. The reduced loans would benefit homeowners who are behind on their payments and owe more than their homes are worth.
The deal includes $2.7 billion in guaranteed cash payments altogether, and estimates of $1.5 billion for payments to victims of wrongful foreclosure, $3 billion from a refinance program and $32.3 billion in homeowner benefits from loan modifications.
For those taxpaying citizens that have borne the burden of foreclosures, tanking home values, bank reform, etc., while still paying their own mortgage on a home that they have lost some, most, or all equity in - there is NOTHING.  And don't be fooled into thinking that the banks are actually shelling out their own money.  Fees and charges have increased for several years and are sure to increase even more as they have to cover this plan.  And who bears the burden of those increased fees and charges?  Those of us with money in the bank.
The agreement requires the banks to commit a staggering amount of money toward changing loan terms. At least $10 billion will go toward reducing the principal for borrowers who are delinquent or underwater borrowers at risk of default. At least $3 billion will go toward refinancing.
Is it just me, or does this plan seem to encourage people to default on their mortgages?  When decent, hardworking, bill paying people are stuck with higher interest rate mortgages because their home won't appraise for anything near what it did three years ago, something is desperately wrong with the system.  When the government is now forcing banks to reward people in default, instead of the people that have been helping the economy limp along, something is desperately wrong with the system.  What the hell have I been thinking, to cut back and make sure that we can meet our obligations?

I heard a statistic that 90% of the foreclosures in the U.S. would have happened eventually, no matter what.  Even if the banks had tried to re-structure loans, if they hadn't done the robo-sign thing, if they had reduced payments (while extending terms) - the fact remains that most of those people were going to permanently default anyway.  Many of them lived in the houses they weren't paying for, for months.  Now we are going to give 750,000 of them $2,000.  (Mind the line at the lottery ticket counter and the casinos).  

Blowie promised transparency, and there you have it.  The price of a vote?  $2,000 of someone else's money.

February 8, 2012

One of these kinds of days

This week's glaring example of government overreach

That rending scream you hear is the sound of our Constitution dying.

I realize it has been over 200 years ago, but I can't believe that Americans have forgotten the driving force behind the birth of our republic, escape from religious tyranny.  Our forefathers came to America to get out from under the King's orders and the very first of our Constitution's amendments prohibits the government from interfering with an individual's religion or speech.
'Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.'
Obamacare was passed with a provision that requires all employers/private insureres, even religious ones, except churches, to provide birth control (including sterilization surgeries and abortion-inducing drugs), no matter their beliefs on the matter.  Needless to say, Catholics and many other conservative religions are in an uproar over the violation of their Constitutionally guaranteed religious liberties.

Then, Big Brother stepped in and suppressed a (military chaplain) Catholic Archbishop's freedom of speech, by refusing to allow other chaplains to read his letter decrying the health care mandate, from their pulpits.  Did you get that?  Military commanders told priests what could and could not be said during their sermon.

This isn't the first time the military tried to silence the chaplain corp, which is what makes this move so unbelievable.
In the summer of 1996, the Roman Catholic Church launched the "Project Life Postcard Campaign." The Church's goal was to defeat President William J. Clinton's veto of a bill that would have banned certain abortions. The Church asked its priests to urge parishioners to send postcards to Congressmen asking them to override the veto.
Father Vincent J. Rigdon was a Roman Catholic priest and lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Reserve who preached at Andrews Air Force base in Washington, D.C. In response to the Church's campaign, the military ordered Rigdon and all other chaplains not to participate in the postcard campaign. The military said the campaign violated rules that prevent military personnel from lobbying for or against legislation in Congress.
Rigdon sued the armed forces to challenge the order. He said it violated his First Amendment rights to free speech and religion. A Catholic officer, an Air Force rabbi, and the Muslim American Military Association joined Rigdon in his lawsuit. They feared the order would prevent chaplains from discussing important issues during sermons, counseling, and confessions.
The military said the order did not prevent chaplains from discussing moral issues during sermons and religious teaching. On 7 April 1997, however, the federal district court ruled against the military and in favor of Rigdon and his fellow chaplains. The court said chaplains are allowed to urge congregants to write letters to Congress on important moral issues. The court said, "There is no need for [the government's] heavy handed censorship."
A shortsighted comment from the chaplain's attorney, Kevin Hasson, after the ruling:
"This was the first time in U.S. history that the government dared to try to censor chaplains' preaching," he said. "The court has made sure it will be the last."
Well, it lasted 15 years.  This administration has little regard for our Constitution (don't get me started on that shitbox, Ginsburg), no care for religious freedom or freedom of speech and certainly can't be hampered by legal precedents.  The only saving grace is that it is an election year and Blowie won't sit idly by and lose all those Democratic Catholic votes.  The administration will make some concession - not to religious freedom, but to the mandatory health care rules, at least until after the election.

Rigdon v Perry summary from here.

February 7, 2012

We could have put an eye out

Two blondes walk into a barn carrying a golf ball, a ten pound dumbbell and a Red Ryder BB gun.

Sounds like there is a punchline coming, but, no.  This is a description of Boom and me yesterday afternoon.

My parents and their across-the-street neighbor are out of town.  We are gathering eggs at the neighbor's and keeping an eye on the house for my parents.  My stepdad has a habit of ordering things right before he leaves town, so I am always on the lookout for a UPS delivery.  My parents left Sunday morning and we made the swing by their house on the way home from school, to check on things.

I noticed the barn door was cracked open.  Now, the door needs a new knob and doesn't always latch without some jiggling - and that was my first thought as I took off walking toward it, 'Somebody didn't get the door shut before they left.'  Then, I slowed a little realizing that something else might be afoot.  I turned and made sure the kids waiting in the car had my cell phone out and ready and knew what to do.  What I didn't do was turn around and go in the house to get a weapon, I guess I didn't want to give up any ground by backtracking at that point, should someone be watching from inside the barn.  I would have lost sight of several escape routes, had I gone into the house for a gun.

Boom decided to be brave and followed me offering to grab the dog poop scooping implements that were nearby or the snake-killing hoe that is kept by the back door.  She settled for picking up an errant golf ball from the putting green, ready to bean someone on the head with it.

The Red Ryder BB gun was leaning up on the barn porch, where my stepdad likes to sit and plink at the sparrows that nest under the barn roof.  We made a ruckus going in, but the noise of a lever action BB gun isn't nearly as reassuring as the chick-chick of a pump action shotgun.

I stepped in and hit the light switch.  Boom grabbed the dumbbell.  Nothing seemed amiss, all of the tools and electronics were in their places, undisturbed.  The other side of the barn houses my stepdad's home away from home, his Casita RV.  The door side was facing away from us, but we could see it was wide open.  Neither of us could remember if that was the usual state of the door, so more loud tough talk ensued as we walked toward it.  I nosed the barrel of the Red Ryder in ahead of me, listening for any little sound that would indicate someone was inside.  I did my best Horatio Cain impression opening the bathroom door with my foot while keeping the gun trained on the opening.  It was empty, as well.

We secured the building and had a little laugh at our stupidity and courage.  I think the best thing we had going for us was the reputation of Texas women.  It is an off day when the only weapon at hand is a BB gun, regardless, we could have done some damage with the rest of our improvised weapons.

February 6, 2012

FOD notRomney edition

Top Ten Reasons Romney Thinks He Can Win This Fall:
1. He has Utah completely locked up.

2. Obama is weakened by vegetable diet forced on him by Michelle.

3. Trump endorsement will add at least 15-20 votes during the general election.

4. Mormonism allows him to promise the country two and even three first ladies.

5. Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, and Biden is from Saturn.

6. He won’t make McCain’s mistake of being a genuine person.

7. His campaign is preparing new challenge to Obama’s legitimacy to be president based on where he was conceived.

8. Plans not to select Dan Quayle as running mate.

9. Feels certain he can out-Tweet Obama any day of the week.

10. Is in possession of Obama’s college records, including term paper titled, “How I plan to establish a Communist paradise in the United States during my second term as president.”
Lord help us.  The poll that really needs to be taken is one that asks, 'Will you vote for or against Obama?'

There is no 'electing' that is going to be done, it is going to be a whittling down to the lesser of two evils.

Top Ten List from White House Dossier.

February 5, 2012

Beer me

According to a 24/7 Wall Street report, these are the 8 beers that Americans No Longer Drink.
  1. Michelob (-72%)
  2. Michelob Light (-64%)
  3. Bud Select (-60%)
  4. Milwaukee's Best (-53%)
  5. Old Milwaukee (-52%)
  6. Miller Genuine Draft (-51%)
  7. Milwaukee's Best Light (-34%)
  8. Budweiser (-30%)
Those percentages are over the period 2006-2010.

The article points out that most of the losses are in full calorie beers, and that the sales have been replaced by light, craft and import beers.  Well, it's good to know Americans are taking Michelle's nutritional advice and drinking lower calorie beer.

Of the eight on the list, I can say with certainty that I have sampled at least six of them.  I am not sure about the Milwaukee's Best and Best Light.  I can say with certainty that I haven't had a single beer on that list in at least twelve years.  Living in Germany dramatically changed my taste preferences for beer.  I was a lager-drinking American girl when I left the states and came home a dunkel and bock-lover.  I learned to appreciate the subtleties of regionally brewed beers.  I cried when I drank the last drop of Kreuzberg beer, which I had brought back with me (before the days of TSA and no liquids on planes).  Sometimes I go to the live webcam on their website just to bask in the memories of sitting at a fest table, taking in the view from the hilltop, drinking the best beer I have ever had.  But I digress...

Michelob was sort of a premium beer in the seventies - I remember how fancy those bottles with the shiny gold labels looked in the cooler case, next to all the canned varieties.  I remember when Miller Genuine Draft was the Zima of the eighties.  In other words, yuppies sidled up to the bar and ordered a 'MGD' as if it were the best thing being served in a bar since Prohibition.  In my mind, MGD was the beginning of the silly season of American beers introducing something new every year.  Might be a good marketing strategy to lure in the younger crowd, but they never really hit on the quality part of the equation.  I think that is where micro and craft brewers seized an opportunity that has been to the betterment of the beer market.  

I can't say that the list bothers me.  America's triplet brewing giants are now two foreign-owned mega-conglomerates.  My beer money goes to to that little company in Shiner, Texas and their parent company in San Antonio - and a little goes in the wish jar for a trip back to Germany one day.

February 4, 2012

Looking Forward

My 'job' is producing a music festival for a non-profit foundation.  In the course of my work, people often tell me that I 'made their year'.  They look forward to the event so much that hearing the news or getting their tickets makes them giddy.  I have always just smiled to myself, thinking 'different strokes for different folks' - because it certainly isn't my thing and I can't imagine how someone would put my festival at the top of their 'best moments of the year' list.

But then the word I love to hear appeared on the Criplet's blog....'Blownstar'.  And it made my year.  Not just the calendar year, but pretty much the year since the last time I got to gather with my blogging friends.

It wasn't much later that I read about CD coming to Texas on his relocation fact finding mission.  And Paul and his kiddos have arrived safe and set up house in their new Texas 'hood.  I couldn't be happier for all of them - and I can't wait to see them all this summer.

I think it is hard to instill in kids, not just a work ethic, but an understanding that many good things in life are worth the wait and effort.  Five years ago if you would have told me that I would walk into a blogmeet of complete strangers that I met on the internet and leave considering them some of the greatest people I have ever known, I would have called you crazy.  But they are great, and we are all a little crazy.  And I can't wait to see them all together again.

February 3, 2012

American Airtitudes

As I mentioned yesterday, I was a parent chaperone on a third grade field trip this week.  The field trip coincided with American Airline's announcement of their corporate restructuring plans.  There were several parents on the field trip whose livelihood is dependent on AA, and there was much discussion about the situation.

With DFW Airport nearby and the corporate headquarters in Fort Worth, the area where I live is heavily populated with AA employees.  I live quite near Alliance Airport, which appears poised to take a major hit as American says they will close their maintenance facility there.  This announcement came the day after Hillwood (the Perot-owned developer of the area) said they were planning to add 3,000 residential units over the next ten years.  They were quick to say that AA's plans wouldn't affect theirs, and noted the 1,200 AA jobs lost at Alliance make up only 3% of the airport's workforce.

The AA hangar at Alliance is massive - seven wide body jets standing wingtip-to-wingtip can fit inside at once! I am not well versed in such things, but the closing of AA's maintenance facility, which encompasses 1.6 million square feet, will surely be felt well beyond the people without a job.  Runway fees, aviation fuel sales, restaurants - the closing will have a negative trickle-down effect. 

So while I am sad for those losing their jobs and disappointed with AA's decision to close the Alliance facility, I have to say that listening to pilot and flight crew members bitching about the re-org was infuriating.  While maintenance workers were fretting over how to tell their families that they were out of a job, pilots were crying about how unfair their pay re-structuring was.  GMAFB.  I really could care less about the details, though you can read the pilot's proposed term sheet here and the flight attendants term sheet here

What really got under my skin was the entitlement attitude.  For instance, part of the flight attendant union's statement was this:
We know that Flight Attendants working at our competitors earn the same if not more than we do. We cannot be expected to take another 20 percent cut to do the same job. I won't stand for it.
One of the pilots that was on the field trip was asked about the possibility of US Airways making a takeover bid.  His major concern was that US Airways pilots are better compensated and that would create 'a class warfare atmosphere among the pilot ranks' should the two combine.


How about being thankful that another company might be able to save your job?  What about the thought process of, "If I work hard and show the new boss my worth, I could be promoted and make a better wage than I ever could have at AA."  How about looking around you and realizing that working 75 hours a month with the ability to fly anywhere in the world for free, is a pretty sweet deal.

Where do flight attendants get the idea that everybody in the world with a similar job should be making the same amount of money?  Fry cooks at McDonald's make a whole lot less than fry cooks at Chili's, but they're both still fry cooks.  Using the flight attendant's mentality, Mickey D's is going to have to jack up their pay, because it Just. Isn't. Fair. for anyone else to make more money doing the same job.

While I have no formal flight attendant training, and I fully realize that their true worth lies in the safety training for things we never hope to have to go through - the reality is that the core of their job is to get people to sit up straight, turn off their electronics and serve as a mile high cocktail waitress.   It ain't brain surgery.

February 2, 2012

Government Jobs

Yesterday I accompanied The Princess' class on a field trip to the Fort Worth location of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.  This facility and one in Washington D.C. make all of the paper currency for the United States.  If you are ever in the area, plan a stop for the free tour, it is really interesting.

The guided tour takes place on the second floor, where the corridors are lined with windows that provide a view to the production floor below.  There were about twelve adults on the field trip, and frequent comments were made about the pace of work on the floor.  For every person that was seen actively engaged in a task, there were easily three or four others standing around.  We joked about 'government jobs'.

The people down on the production floor also loved to stop what they were doing and wave up at the kids, or pick up a sample of the work done in their area and hold it up for the tour group to see.  The next generation one hundred dollar bills were being printed, they are quite colorful (the background color is a bluish-purple).  There is a tour every half hour from 9 am until 2 pm, Monday through Friday.  Anyone want to venture a guess at how productive that day shift is, when they stop every half hour or so to wave at the kiddos?

Toward the end of the tour, we were getting the tour guide's schpiel as we watched the final packaging of the bills.  They bundle together four 'bricks' into a cash pack of 16,000 bills and send it into a machine that shrink wraps it.  That is one guy taking the bricks off of the pallets, putting them onto a conveyor belt while another guy stands there talking to him.  There is one man guiding the bricks into the shrink wrap machine.  When the cash pack emerges, it continues on another conveyor belt to a man whose job it is to place a sticker on the end of the package.  Seriously.  He was sitting in a chair, in jeans, T-shirt and UT hat, holding a roll of numbered stickers and slapping one on each cash pack as it came by.  I would guess the frequency was around one package every 90 seconds.  I want that job.  Even if it is the lowest pay grade job in the place, that is a sweet deal.  Especially considering the bennies:

  • Challenging work, opportunities for advancement, competitive salaries, bonuses and incentive awards;

  • Ten paid holidays, 13 days of sick leave, and 13 to 26 days of vacation time each year;

  • Access to insurance programs that may be continued after you retire;

  • A wide choice of health insurance plans, coverage for pre-existing conditions, and no waiting periods.  We pay a substantial amount (up to 75%) of the health insurance premiums.

  • But that is really just the tip of the iceberg.  Our tour guide explained that there are 800 employees at the plant.  400 on the production floor.  Those 400 production floor employees are represented by ELEVEN unions.

    Can you imagine the number of jobs it takes just to keep eleven union's worth of employment agreements straight?

    February 1, 2012

    The real economy

    I am getting fairly sick and tired of the media telling me about all the signs of economic recovery.   Today there was a leading story about the 'blockbuster' performance of the stock market in January.  An hour later, the headline was 'Tepid Economic Data Deliver a Reality Check'. From now on, I just change the station or click on by each story about it.  I don't need an analysis of the stock market or a monologue about commodity futures to determine the state of the economy.  I just need to look at my bank account.

    It cost me $6 more to fill my car up this week, than it did last week.

    Milk costs $1 more than it did 18 months ago.

    I reached for the same 2 pound bag of coffee that I have been buying at Costco for the past 5 years, only to notice that the price has doubled over that time, with a significant jump coming since my last purchase.

    Orange juice is at an all-time high.  Beef is skyrocketing.  Fresh produce is inflated.

    I bought a pair of 'work' jeans, the kind I wear to work with the animals or in the yard.  Same style and brand as last year.  They were $5 more and the fabric is noticeably thinner.

    We are getting screwed from every direction, with a president that might gift us with an Real! Live! Budget! next month.  One that proposes tax increases and a trillion or so more in deficit, but conveniently leaves out the Buffet Rule that Blowie claims will save the world.

    I simply can't grasp how our government got so big that the working class are breaking their backs and watching their savings dwindle as their wages are garnished by taxes that fund programs and projects that benefit so few people.  I just want to raise my family, provide a good education for my kids and enjoy my golden years.  It is beginning to look like my golden years might be spent behind the counter at the golden arches.