January 31, 2012

A Harper Beatitude

Blessed are those who suffer idiots and bitches, 
They will be avenged by their God rewarded with Shiner.
75% of the 'work' I do (not the mom parts, but the outside-the-home parts) is uncompensated.  While I love being able to work from home and be here for my kids, I envy all of you that have real jobs with real policies and HR departments and supervisors and expectations of civil behavior.

There is something about volunteer organizations that brings out the bitchiness in people.  They seem to think they can leave all decorum at the door and act like 12-year olds.

The only actual paycheck I receive is a small stipend as director of a non-profit foundation.  Basically, I am compensated for the use of my home office, my computer and other office equipment, utilities and storage space.  I certainly don't get paid enough to deal with psycho volunteers.

If you have ever worked with other volunteers, you know what I mean.  Maybe a group of youth sport's parents, or a school event.  Maybe some non-profit fundraiser.  They are all the same.  There is inevitably one or two raving idiots that would be fired, if it were a corporate environment.

Suffering the gross incompetency and rabid bitchy defensiveness of someone I can't fire is my challenge for the day.   What's yours?

January 30, 2012

FOD

Just because, it seems so fitting (and yes, that is a unicorn behind him):

January 29, 2012

Not your average Sunday morning post -MNSFW

I had some free time and decided to click around to a couple of time wastage sites for a giggle. I have a go to list that I don't look at very often, but are the cream of the crop of all that is great about the Gorenet.  Regretsy was the clear winner this time, as my howls of laughter echoed throughout the house. The basic premise of Regretsy is to 'feature' products being advertised on Etsy that consistently produce the same reaction - "Who would buy this crap?"

The writers who comment on the posts make the experience that much more enjoyable. This post still brings laughter-induced tears to my eyes. Sure, sure, the product is ridiculous for anyone with a couple of functioning brain cells, but it is the Regretsy staff commentary that made me spew my Shiner. Specifically the last three words...


“This is NOT Summer’s Eve!” Like there’s some great disadvantage to buying FDA approved sanitary products made in hygienic conditions. That is so corporate, man. Down with Big Pussy!
I’m sorry, there is no way I’m buying a bag of parsley and cat hair douche from a stranger on the internet. Jesus Christ, I wouldn’t even buy food on Etsy, much less hillbilly bajingo wash.

January 28, 2012

Personalized service, no mas

While I am sure that it is a much easier thing to manage corporately, I am worn out on all the things in our world that ignore the individual situation.  I've written before about our health care system and how impersonal it has become, due to all the regulations, insurance company oversight and deadbeats that affect the doctor-patient relationship.   Here I am making generalizations, but it is all interconnected.

This week I got our annual homeowner's policy renewal.  We have never had a claim at this house.  Our other house had one claim for water damage that was ultimately determined to be caused by faulty construction (there was a successful class action suit against the home builder) and that was over 8 years ago.

This spring there was a massive hail storm that carved a swath of destruction in our community.  The damaging hail missed our house by less than a quarter-mile.  Neighbors at the end of our street had to have roofs replaced.  People half a mile away had cars totaled, windows broken out, paint stripped off of barns and all of the trees were stripped of their leaves.  The electric company just finished replacing meters that were damaged by the hail.  It was a big ass storm.

Since we escaped it so narrowly, I would think that we are more or less included in the statistical probability of NOT having another storm that severe for some period of time, while enjoying the benefits of NOT having a rate raising claim.  The insurance company instead lumped me into the 'area with a butt load of claims this year' category and jacked my rate.   

They also did one of their famous home value studies and upped that a ridiculous amount as well.  Did you know that they don't care what the home has recently appraised for?  They apparently could care less that the real estate market has tanked and that they have my home valued for $40,000 more than the county tax assessor says it is worth.  I have a friend who has been in the insurance biz for decades and he explained that they all use the same valuation tool (some German sounding name that I can't remember), and location and economy have very little to do with determining coverage and replacement cost. 

It is no wonder that people commit insurance fraud.  If my house burned to the ground, we would be much better off financially than we are now and would have a much nicer new house.

January 27, 2012

Anniversaries of birthdays

I had a birthday this week.  Birthdays just aren't my thing at this point in life.  Sure, it is nice to get treated to lunch and/or dinner and get some nice gifts, but, at this point in my life, the passage of years isn't appreciated.   I am not young enough to be looking forward to any milestones.  I am not old enough to wear my age like a badge of honor.

I don't feel as old as the number makes me sound.  My kids are always trying to suck up and tell people I am much younger.  They tried saying I was twenty-one, but I told them that they were skewing too young.  They asked me what age I wanted to be, for eternity.  For some reason, twenty-eight came out of my mouth.  So we decided to celebrate the fourteenth anniversary of my twenty-eighth birthday.

After thinking about it for a couple of days, I must have selective amnesia about what makes a good year.  Back in my twenty-eighth year, I had an infant, born in October of the previous year.  I had major surgery with a long rehab time in the spring.  My husband (at the time) was deployed to Bosnia.  His unit lost four soldiers that summer. We were living in Germany, far away from family and friends in a time before email, Skype, cell phones - just $1+ per minute long distance phone calls and good old fashioned letters.

I guess I have chosen to remember more of the good than the bad.  I was living in Germany!  Ysenburg Schwarzbier!  Kreuzberg Beer!  Traveling across Europe.  Wonderful neighbors. Vacationing in the Alps. Coming home to Texas for a visit, and my oldest son taking his first steps in Lajitas during that trip.  Back then you could pay a guy two bucks to row you across the Rio Grande, so you could have lunch in Mexico.

It's fortunate that time softens memories, at least enough that they take some thought to remember the emotions and details.  I suppose twenty-eight isn't such a bad year to memorialize with an annual anniversary celebration.  Unfortunately, The Princess noted that half of my children, including her, were born well after my twenty-eighth birthday.  Looks like next year we will begin celebrating the anniversary of my thirty-seventh year.

Either way, I still sound older than I feel.

January 26, 2012

Spam Foul!

Way back when, I sent a whopping $5 to Herman Cain's campaign to get a "Cain versus unAble" bumper sticker.  I thought the sentiment was hilarious and I wanted a little piece of American political campaign history for my scrapbook.

Tonight my email inbox greeted me with an email from Newt Gingrich.  It began 'Dear Conservative..." and then continued in a heavy old school GOP vein, citing Ronald Reagan no fewer than three times.  It was a plea for money, of course, as well as a laundry list of the ways ol' Newt could beat Blowie in '...a series of three hour Lincoln-Douglas style debates...'.

I skipped down to the small print at the bottom.  "Paid for by Cain Connections (www.CainConnections.com) and not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee. Cain Connections is a federal political committee."

Wasn't it just last week that Cain endorsed 'the people'?  Apparently he has cast his lot with Newt.  That is fine and dandy for him.  Using the email addresses of people who quite intentionally opted OUT of receiving emails when they threw a nickel bill your way - not cool.

January 25, 2012

Original thought MIA, again

Saw this over at Parkway Rest Stop.  I love how they turn these things around so quick.  Why can't Blowie's speech writer come up with something new and different?

January 24, 2012

Hard to read

Do you ever read a speech or transcript of some sort of dialogue and find yourself hearing the original speaker in your head?  I am now trying to read out loud, so I hear my voice instead of Blowie's...

I have been trying to read the transcript of the SOTU before the media starts telling me what it means.  I like to draw my own conclusions.   Yes, there are arguments to be made about his 'facts' and plenty of political fodder for all sides to interpret and regurgitate.  Here are some random things that jumped out at me as I skimmed the transcript:
There was an early plug for unions and Master Lock. 

Blowie touted American auto makers for a stellar recovery, even noting Ford, who took no bail out money (though he didn't make that distinction).  He also mentioned Chrysler which is partially owned by Fiat - an Italian company.

A bit later, he is eschewing the need for corporate tax breaks of various types and says that 'high-tech' manufacturers should get double what other companies get. All you low-tech companies, suck it.

Blowie makes lots of 'goals' that we don't hear about until he has met them.  Let's see what has happened over the past year and then take credit for it by claiming I had set that benchmark as a goal.

Frequently mentioned making the government smaller and easier to deal with but also announced the formation of: Trade Enforcement Unit, one stop employment website and program, Finance Crimes Unit and a special unit of federal prosecutors.

Blowie must be buttering up Angela Merkel, as he touted a Seimens' program that creates and provides training for jobs in their plants.  He knows Seimens is a German company, doesn't he?

The president is calling on demanding states require students to stay in high school until they graduate or turn eighteen.  Watch and see - he will craft federal legislation, another attack on state's rights.  Then the states can figure out how to entertain (cause they damn sure won't be educating) the teenage mothers, drug addicts and those who need to work that will be forced into attending school.

All illegal immigrants need to enroll in school now, because they will all get a free pass to stay in the country.

Crass use of a dead man (Steve Jobs) to segue between immigration issues and energy issues.

Every home owner gets $3,000.

Wants the power to modify the Constitution consolidate the federal bureaucracy.

Began and ended the speech by mentioning terrorists.
 I don't know how you keep a straight face and tell fairy tales give speeches like this.    

SOTU Bingo!

I Googled and clicked and decided that Americans for Tax Reform has the best State of the Union bingo cards for tonight's speech.  If you choose to sit through it, I would suggest some form of drinking game to go along with the bingo.  I will be sitting through another sort of hell known as municipal government. 

ATR got my vote for the bingo cards because they included definitions for their key phrases:
"Investment" – Spending taxpayer money on Obama re-election constituencies such as government employee unions, teachers' guilds, and big-city political machines.
"Children and grandchildren" – The people picking up the tab.
"Energy" – Something that flows from good intentions, government programs,
"Stimulus" spending but not pipelines.
"Exports" – That trade – and only that trade – acceptable to union bosses.
"I" or "Me" – Center of the known universe.
"Compromise" – Tax hikes.
"Sacrifice" – Tax hikes.
"Bipartisan" – Tax hikes.
"Fair" OR "Fair Share" – Tax hikes.
"Balanced" – Tax hikes.
"Small business" – Those who will pay the most under my plan to tax "the rich."
"Special interests" – Taxpayers who do not wish to give their money to my friends.
"There are those who..." OR "Some" – [INSERT STRAW MAN HERE]
"Middle class" – Those who are the target of seven tax hikes in Obamacare.
"Deficit" – What Democrats want you to focus on when what they really want to sell you is a tax hike.
"Regulations" – The governmental leash attached to the choke collar around the neck of the economy.
"Recovery" – This time it's real, I swear, not like that "Recovery Summer" we had in 2010 after spending $1 trillion of borrowed money.
"Infrastructure" OR "Roads and Bridges" – Spending taxpayer money on those states voting Democrat in '08.
"Affordable" – Reality for the taxpayer only after they've worked 224 days to pay for the total cost of government.
"Obstructionists" – House Republican lawmakers who have actually passed a budget – NOT the Senate Democrats who have refused to pass a budget for 1,000 days.
"Streamline" – The  pretense of dieting after an all-out spending binge.
"Wall Street" – 1. Where your IRA and 401(k) live. 2. A bauble to distract you from noticing my bailout of Fannie and Freddie.
"Jobs" – "You want to find work on the Keystone XL pipeline? Tough luck – I've got a campaign to run."
"Profit" – Money without which jobs would never be created.

Songbird

I cannot think of anyway to explain this, except maybe that the bird was trained by some crazy guitarist in another band to interrupt Josh's playing.  Jamie Dailey would pull that kind of prank - but I think this was nature all on its own.  

I have had the pleasure of working with these guys and just know that they are tickled pink to be in a 'viral' video.  If you can't appreciate a little bluegrass music, you can skip to 1:25 to see what the fuss is about.

January 23, 2012

FOD

It is becoming a habit of mine, to click over to White House Dossier for a FOD post.  It never disappoints.

(Not very many) news outlets are reporting that a judge in Georgia has ordered Blowie to appear in an Atlanta court this Thursday.  The case is birther-related and intended to keep Blowie's name off of Georgia's primary ballot in March. 

Blowie's current schedule includes travel to Las Vegas, Denver and Detroit on Thursday - but no Atlanta stops are planned.

Apparently, the president doesn't have to abide by the laws of our country.

My favorite comment on the story was this one:
How can they get Obama to show up for the court hearing?
Tell him it is a fundraiser.

January 22, 2012

Now what?

This week we learned that Romney didn't win Iowa, Santorum did.  Perry called it a day.  Newt won South Carolina.  Is there anything at all predictable about this campaign season?

Is it just me or does it seem like voters are intentionally voting for a result that is the opposite of what the media builds up in the week before the primary?  I think that ABC screwed the pooch airing a sour grapes interview with Newt's second ex-wife.  Considering our country's divorce rate, there are plenty of people out there with an ex or two that know exactly how they would feel being put in Newt's shoes.  I think many South Carolinians wanted to express their feelings about that sort of journalism by voting for Newt, when they might have voted for someone else before that interview aired.

Florida, Nevada and Maine are up next.  Then Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri. A three week break and then Arizona and Michigan, followed by Washington and then Super Tuesday.  Do you think it will be decided by then? 

The sooner, the better, I think.  We need a candidate that is running against Obama, not his peers in the GOP. 

January 21, 2012

Because they might see cooch on the Shore

I hate Obama.  Crash has been saying the word 'hate' quite a bit lately and I am trying to break him of it, by telling him we don't 'hate', we 'dislike' or 'can't stand' or 'abhor' (that last one was a mistake because 4-year old's don't always pronounce it correctly), so I am a total and complete hypocrite in this instance.  But I really, really HATE Barack Obama.  He divided the country I love.  His political party is destroying my Constitution.  His supporters are a bunch of blind jackasses.  If there were any doubt, guess what most democrats were doing during the GOP debate?

5 MILLION WATCH CNN DEBATE [6.2 MILLION MTV 'JERSEY SHORE', 18 MILLION 'AMERICAN IDOL']...

January 20, 2012

Rental car scams

There have been a few media stories and emails floating around about rental car scams.  Most recently I saw a post by Old NFO and was reminded to share this story.

Mr Harper has been overseeing his company's El Paso market since last summer, traveling a couple of times a month to check on things.  He is a creature of habit and likes routine (as well as the extra miles reward), so he always rents his car from the same place. 

Two weeks ago we got a letter from the rental car company claiming $600+/- worth of damage to a rental car.  The tone of the letter was along the lines of, 'we are sure you have contacted your insurance company by now and here is the detail of the charges to fix the vehicle'.

I asked Mr H if he had the condition report from the rental, as my experience has always been that there is a document signed at the beginning of the rental and the end of the rental detailing any existing or new damage to the vehicle.  'There isn't one,' he said.  Huh?

Whether it was an assumption of trust or technological advances, Mr H explained that his experience with this company has always been a walk-around of the vehicle before and after, but no document or condition report.  There has never been any damage on check out or return, so the agent has printed out some sort of rental receipt and sent Mr H on his way.

Mr H called the representative listed on the letter asking for an explanation and asserting that there was no damage.  Well, guess what?  There is a condition report that is supposed to be filled out before and after - the company's SOP.  The rep emailed a copy of the damage report to Mr H - it was a lengthily hand-written statement of how the damage occurred signed by someone purporting to be my husband.  After seeing it, Mr H called the rep back and explained that he had never seen that document, nor any condition report like it and that the signature on the document was a forgery.  Forging my husband's signature is a little tricky because he does not sign his legal name.  Anyone simply signing the name from his credit card is easily tripped up.

Being a frequent customer, Mr H suggested to the corporate office rep that she review other records that they surely had on file, such as his rental agreements, and compare the signatures.  He further suggested that she research a little further and see if there were any condition reports routinely filed from that location, or if the only condition reports that existed were those for damaged vehicles.

Within 15 minutes, Mr H had a terse email reply telling him that he was absolved of all damage claims and that the matter was closed as far as he need be concerned.

It makes me wonder what the scam truly is.   Surely rental car porters across the nation aren't all such poor drivers that they are routinely crunching up cars in the rental lot and blaming the last renter.  I would bet there is a way for the local outlet to collect money from the corporate office and/or insurance and that these vehicles don't have any damage at all.

My advice mirrors that of the media.  Get a signed condition report on check out and return (and note every little smudge, windshield chip and door ding on check out).  Take cellphone pictures of the vehicle. 

In typical red-headed fashion, Mr H isn't completely satisfied with the company's resolution.  In a couple of hours he will be approaching the very same rental car counter to pick up this week's rental.  He wants to have a little chat with the perpetrators...

January 19, 2012

Small moral dilemma

A bit of a backstory:

Way back in October, the school's senior class conducted a fundraiser wherein they took orders to deliver a little package of candy sent from one friend to another, called 'Boograms' for the Halloween season.  My kids' school sometimes gives too much responsibility to the students, and in this case there were some issues that wouldn't have happened, had an adult been more actively involved.  Despite a firm deadline, a huge number of orders came in late.  The student leader made a series of poor decisions; she didn't seek help with procuring additional supplies or help in assembling the extra product needed to fill the orders, and when she realized that she would never accomplish the task in time, she made the decision that she wouldn't fill the orders for Boograms that were sent to seniors (since it was their fundraiser) and would instead use those Boograms to fill the other orders.  I understand the intent, but she clearly didn't think it through to the point to realize that other people had paid money for those items.  In the case of my family, The Princess and Bang had each sent one to Boom.  So we were owed an apology and $4.

The week before Christmas break, Boom came home with the $4 refund in an envelope.  I set it to the side and it ended up buried on my desk until yesterday when I was looking for something else.  When I came across it, I grabbed the four dollar bills to stick in my wallet and tossed the envelope.  I like my money to be facing the same direction, so I was flipping through the bills when one of them caught my eye.  In typical multi-task mode, I also happened to be on the phone with my mom.  I started to say that I thought one of the bills looked counterfeit, and then I read what it said on it to my mom.  She said, 'Harper, that is an old bill, what is the date on it?"  It looks like this:

My mom, obviously, has seen them in her lifetime, but I never had.  A couple of clicks and I learned a little more about them and that they are worth slightly more than face value ($2 to $18 on various sites).  I just love the history of it.  This series was the first paper money to say 'In God We Trust' on the back.  It is in great condition, still crisp and clean.  I figured I would just keep it forever.

Then the doubts started creeping in.  The one that goes something like...kid wants to buy a Boogram, knows where there are some dollar bills in Dad's office or in a box in the closet and helps himself not knowing any better.  Or it could be that the kid was told 'no' and decided to help himself to Dad or Mom's collection knowing full well that he shouldn't.  In any scenario, someone may be missing this bill.  This bill certainly hasn't been on the open market for any period of time over the past fifty-five years. 

If a notice of any sort was put out by the school, I absolutely would not hesitate to return it to the rightful owner.  If I heard someone talking about it, I would track down the owner to return it.  I have even considered contacting the school and having them send out a notice asking if anyone happens to be missing a semi-valuable Silver Certificate Dollar.  What I don't want is for this bill to end up in some purgatory waiting to be claimed.  I don't trust that the school would ever return it to me if it weren't claimed.

On the other hand, there are lots of valuable coins and bills in circulation.  I have a jar of wheat pennies, buffalo nickels, silver dollars - most plucked from change given freely at a cash register.  This is really no different.  While I do believe that this bill is in too good of shape to have been on the market for long, it is just as likely that someone at school had gotten it recently in change.  I could be making a mountain out of a mole hill. 

What would you do?

January 18, 2012

Love the ones you're with

I had one of those hug-the-kids-real-tight kind of days yesterday.

Really, it started last week when a gentleman I knew died in his sleep.  We were business acquaintances, so while I mourn his passing and feel for his family, it was more of a gentle reminder to treat people with respect, because you never know if it will be the last time you see them. 

Yesterday, a 7th grade boy in my town died in his sleep.  Normal, seemingly healthy, all-American kid next door.  No drugs, no alcohol, just sports and Scouts.

In addition to the obvious horror of the situation, this one hits really close to home.  He was a year younger than Bang.  They played on the same basketball team a few times back in elementary school.  They were in the same Cub Scout Pack back then, too. 

What has me the most upset is the imagery of that morning and how closely it mirrors those at Harper House.

The boy didn't come down to breakfast at the usual time.  His mom called up to him a time or two.  Then, she headed to his room to see what was keeping him.  He was clearly gone when she found him in his bed.  The beginning of this scene plays out often in my home, as I am sure it does all over the world.  I can just see and hear his mom climbing the stairs, muttering about that lazy boy, or declaring that he needed to start going to bed earlier if he couldn't get up in the morning.  I can feel the twist in my gut, the wrenching chest pain, the panic she must have felt when she realized that he wasn't breathing.

I am sure, by now, the family has replayed their last moments with him.  What did they say?  Was it a good bedtime, with hugs, love, maybe prayers?  Was it gruff, with admonitions about homework or a messy room?  How long before the thirteen years of good memories edge out the agony of the loss? 

When I went to pick Crash up at his (church based) pre-school, the youth minister was gathered with a group of the boy's close friends and teammates.  I wanted to grab each one of them and let them know how much they were loved. 

You just never know.  I selfishly thanked my God for using another family's pain to remind me to always show my family and friends love and respect - even in less than perfect circumstances.  Whoever you love in this life, let them know it.  I love those of you that stop by here.  I wish I knew each of you personally.  (Most of you, trolls excepted). 

I need to go hug my kids once or five times more before they go to school.

January 17, 2012

Secrets

Have you ever been asked to keep a confidence that, once revealed, will out you as knowing about it beforehand and result in hurt feelings? How did that work out for you?

Thank goodness the confidence was shared with one other person, so we have been able to commiserate.  And I told my husband, though he doesn't appreciate the ramifications of the situation.  It was nice to be able to say it out loud.  It didn't make it better, but it did make it less surreal.

Tomorrow the rest of the interested parties will get the news and, along with it, the realization that some of us knew it was coming.  Now, some people will scrutinize a situation like this and think, 'Wow, Harper is trustworthy to be able to keep something like quiet for a friend.' 

Unfortunately, most people will wonder what else I am keeping from them.  Oh well, I just have to keep reminding myself that the judgement that really matters isn't the one received here on earth.

January 16, 2012

FOD

OMFG, please no, please, please, please, don't plant ideas like this.



From the Daily Caller via White House Dossier. Click over to WHD and read some of the recent posts about the Obama's increasing attendance at church and use of religious imagery as we get closer to election day.

January 15, 2012

Cat lover

I was clicking through a slideshow of 'Bad Paid-for Tattoos', which I gather is a feature of Ellen Degeneres' show.  There were plenty of misspellings, poor artistry and inexplicable subject matter (though I totally 'got' the tattoo of Tatu from Fantasy Island).  This one, though, takes the cake, IMHO:

January 14, 2012

Relocating Rats

Virginia has its pants in a wad over the potential inheritance of the Occupy DC rat problem - and rightfully so.  Now, you might be wondering why the folks in Virginia think that the rats are going to swim across the Potomac.  Never fear, it isn't rat migration they fear.  It is government regulation.
D.C.'s new rat law--the Wildlife Protection Act of 2010 (Wildlife Protection Act of 2010.pdf) --is “crazier than fiction” because it requires that rats and other vermin not be killed but captured, preferably in families; no glue or snap traps can be utilized; the rodents must be relocated from where they are captured; and some of these animals may need to be transferred to a “wildlife rehabilitator” as part of their relocation process.
The law does not allow pest control professionals “to kill the dang rats,” Cuccinelli told CNSNews.com. “They have to capture them--then capture them in families. [Not sure] how you’re going to figure that out with rats. And then you have to relocate them. That brings us to Virginia. Now, if you don’t relocate them about 25 miles away, according to experts, rodents will find their way back. Well, an easy way to solve that problem is to cross a river, and what’s on the other side of the river? Virginia.”
Good Gawd.  When did PETA start writing legislation?

It gets better - so the law requires the use of a 'wildlife rehabilitator', but:
When asked what a wildlife rehabilitator is, Cuccinelli said, “That’s a darn good question! But I understand, if there are any functioning in D.C., there are darn few of them. And I’m not aware that there are any.”
When D.C.'s attorney general's office was contacted for comment:
the communications office there said it was unfamiliar with the new rat law.
And if one set of ridiculous and confusing regulation wasn't enough:
“As for the rat infestations at the Occupy DC camps, treatment of those problems is also made more difficult by new EPA restrictions prohibiting the use of rodenticide products further than 50 feet from buildings,” he told CNSNews.com by e-mail.  “The new EPA restrictions also limit the use of rodenticides to commensal rodents, so the only [way] pest management professionals can legally manage non-commensal rodents, such as deer and white-footed mice in the District, is to live-capture them or build a completely rodent-proof structure."
I am surprised that the Occupy (human) vermin don't take issue with these regulations that put the lives of rodents above those of humans.  Seriously.  Our government will allow humans to live on the streets, in tents, occupying parks, without basic infrastructure, and then oust them at will, using pepper spray and riot gear - but when a large number of rats take up residence, they are handled with kid gloves and treated to a full relocation package to the country.

January 13, 2012

Mind the stampede to the tattoo studio

A 21-year-old Iranian man now suffers from a permanent erection after getting a tattoo on his penis, according to a report of his case.
Is 'suffers' really the appropriate verb in this case?

I have never given a moment's thought to piercing, clamping, tattooing or otherwise mutilating any sensitive body tissue.  The attraction escapes me. 

Stand by as the thundering herds begin their respective stampedes; the doctors who truly care about humankind and advise against penis tattooing, the pharmaceutical companies that make Cialis, Levitra, Viagra and the rest - as a permanent erection without chemical help is not to be tolerated and all of the idiotic men that find the idea of a permanent erection too good to pass up.

Leader of the formerly free world

Free: Not under the control or in the power of another, able to act or be done as one wishes.  Without cost or payment.
Driving the kids to school this morning, the radio DJs played Blowie singing Lady Gaga's 'Born This Way' .  Sometime during the resultant conversation, one of them referred to Blowie as 'the leader of the free world'.  There are a dozen arguments to be made about the appropriateness of assuming that the American president is the leader of 'world' anything, but the word that got my attention was 'free'.

What is free in America?  Is there anything that escapes the long arm of government?  I started to take inventory of my surroundings. 

I was dropping my kids off at school.  Kids that are at school because the government says they must be educated.  The school is funded with my tax dollars.  Not only must they be educated, but they have to meet standards set by the government and take government mandated tests.  My tax dollars pay for the mandatory education of others.

I was driving in my car.  A car manufactured to meet government standards for safety, fuel economy and emissions.  A car that bears a government mandated, fee based-license plate, registration sticker and mandatory annual inspection sticker.  A car running on fuel that is sourced by extensive government regulation-ruled petroleum drilling, refining, transport and dispensing laws.  Subsidized and taxed to the nth degree.  I traveled with my government mandated seat belt on, traveling at government mandated speeds on tax funded roads.

Clothing subject to government regulation and/or import laws.

Cup of coffee containing government inspected, imported coffee beans and American dairy regulation (and subsidy) burdened milk.

Radio broadcast subject to federal regulation and traveling across government licensed radio waves.

Arrived home - house built to local, state and federal standards using materials approved through similar channels.  Permitted, certified to occupy and taxed by the same.

Greeted by dogs that are duly licensed, vaccinated and fed FDA inspected and approved dog food.

Sat down to computer to check Facebook and blog knowing that key phrases are monitored by Homeland Security.

Where is the freedom? I challenge you to find ONE freedom guaranteed by our Bill of Rights that hasn't been curtailed, restricted, degraded or belittled by our government.

There is no free world. 

January 12, 2012

Come Back to Texas Criplets Version

Not to be confused with the Governor Perry version from a couple of days ago.  I always think of this song as 'Come Back to Texas' even though it is officially titled 'Ohio'.  Paul should get the reference to '...there's a seat for you at the rodeo...' if he ever went to the Rockin' Rodeo while at UNT.  And I always think of CD, during the lyric, 'Pantera wants you back'...

January 11, 2012

Goliath buys out David

Many a time, when headed to Blownstar and other points south and west, my family would stop in Dublin, Texas, for a Dr Pepper or request an order from whoever was making the trip.  The bottler in Dublin made Dr Pepper with Imperial sugar, the old fashioned way.  In recent years it became easier and easier to find cane sugar sweetened Dr Pepper in local grocery stores, but it wasn't 'Dublin Dr Pepper' and the trip to the bottling plant, museum and soda fountain in Dublin was still a fun thing to do.  And that is the only place I know of that serves Frosty Peppers (vanilla Blue Bell ice cream with Dr Pepper syrup drizzled over the top).

Alas, Dublin Dr Pepper is no more.  Dr Pepper Snapple sued the small bottler last year for violating the sales territory agreement and who knows what else.  Today, the suit was settled with Dr Pepper Snapple buying out Dublin's distribution rights.  Everyone claims that cane sugar Dr Pepper will continue being made (probably at the Temple plant that has been shipping it to grocery stores), it just won't be called 'Dublin Dr Pepper'. 

If you haven't ever heard of Dublin Dr Pepper, you might be surprised to hear that the crux of Goliath's suit was that David (Dublin Dr Pepper) was diluting their brand name and stealing sales.  (The bottling machinery runs once a week).


They laid off 14 of their 40 employees right off the bat.  Right after they changed the websites and signs.  Some companies would pay millions of dollars to have a niche market driven by a cult-like following of people wanting to purchase a specific version of their product.  Not those crazy Dr Pepper Snapple guys.  Kinda makes me want to have a Coke Shiner.

January 10, 2012

Come Back to Texas

Rick, the time has come. I know you are concentrating on South Carolina, but what do you expect? Don't take it personally - not really. The election is little more than a popularity contest, with the media being the equivalent of the head cheerleader who decides who the cool kids are. It isn't even about who can beat Obama, 'cause the infighting among the GOP has hurt everyone.

When all is said and done, I am afraid that Americans will stay home on election day, or go with the status quo. After all, look what the last 'change' did to us.

Friendly Wagers

Last night was the final college football game of the season.  While the NFL is still playing, no one in this house has a dog in that hunt.  There isn't a team playing that any of us cares enough about to make it interesting.  It's a shame, because our differences of opinion regarding sports teams have led to lively trash talking and creative wagering over the years. 

Though nothing we have ever done is as crass as some of these, which are clearly the brainchildren of men:

January 9, 2012

FOD

Obamacare Waiver Tally: 

543,812 for Union Members

69,813 for Private Employees

If you click on over here, you will find the list of 'multi-employer group health plan' waivers that have been granted. Compare that list with this list:
Here’s a breakdown of what some of the top unions donated to the Democratic Party  in the 2008 and 2010 election cycles.
  • The AFL-CIO, donated $1.2 million to Democrats in 2008 and $900,000 in 2010.
  • The American Federation of State, County and Municipal employees donated $2.6 million to the Democrats in 2008 and another $2.6 million in 2010.
  • The National Education Association donated $2.3 million to Democrats in 2008 and $2.2 million in 2010.
  • The Teamsters union donated $2.4 million to Democrats in 2008 and $2.3 million in 2010.
  • The SEIU donated $2.6 million to Democrats in 2008 and $1.7 million in 2010.
  • The Carpenters and Joiners union donated $2 million to Democrats in 2008 and $2.1 million 2010.
  • The Laborers union donated $2.6 million to Democrats in 2008 and $2.2 million in 2010.
  • The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers donated $3.8 million to Democrats in 2008 and $3.2 million in 2010.
  • The American Federation of Teachers donated $2.8 million to Democrats in 2008 and $2.7 million in 2010.
  • The Machinists and Aerospace union donated $2.5 million to Democrats in 2008 and $2.1 million in 2010.
  • The Communication Workers of America, which includes employees from several television and radio stations and other publishing platforms, donated $2.2 million to Democrats in 2008 and $2.1 million in 2010.
  • The United Autoworkers union (UAW) donated $2.1 million to Democrats in 2008 and $1.5 million in 2010.
  • The United Food and Commercial Workers union (UFCW) donated $2.1 million to Democrats in 2008 and $1.9 million in 2010.
I might not like anything else about Mitt Romney, but he needs to keep screaming the phrase 'crony capitalism'.

The complete list of waivers is available here.

January 8, 2012

Independent thought, MIA

I didn't get a chance to watch the debate last night.  I didn't even record it.  There were a couple of sporting events on television that took precedence.  We had family in town for the weekend, having come to attend the Cotton Bowl, and Saturday evening was time to visit before their departure this morning.

Is it wrong to admit that college basketball, NFL football and a couple of games of Bananagrams were infinitely more exciting than watching another GOP presidential debate?

And no, I didn't get out of bed and in front of the television at 8 am this morning to watch today's debate.  Who in the hell thought an 8 am (central time) Sunday debate was a good idea?  Isn't most of the GOP's base headed to church at that time?  

These debates have become ineffective and redundant.  I understand the grand tradition.  I was a high school debater, I appreciate the foundation, the intent.  That ship has sailed.  There is little subject oriented debate.  There are few facts, verifiable statistics or moral statements presented.  The candidates take swipes at one another.  The 'moderators' show their political leanings and do little to actually moderate or facilitate the event. 

The media draws broad and hopelessly varied conclusions over the outcomes.  My local fish wrap had a large headline declaring Mitt Romney the clear winner.  Unfortunately, too many people will take that opinion to heart, never forming their own opinions or watching a debate themselves. 

How many debates will there have been by the time of the GOP convention?  How many clearly biased mainstream media commentators will slant questions and pull things out of their ass to trip up whoever their bosses have said they need to discredit?  The media has pushed the point that this election will be decided on the status of the economy.  Is it any surprise that there are suddenly a slew of stories about how positive the economy is looking?  The media is declaring Romney the candidate while setting the stage for Blowie to cruise to another term.  And the sheeple are following.  

January 7, 2012

Avoid Ghetto

Like Shirley MacLaine's portrayal of  Ouiser Boudreaux in Steel Magnolias, I someday hope to be of the appropriate age and character to get away with saying whatever the hell comes to mind.  It takes a certain amount of snark and wrinkles to get people to tolerate and/or believe what you say.  I bet this lady knows exactly what I am talking about:
A Fayette County jury cleared 67-year-old Alberta Kelley of drug possession and manufacture charges on Wednesday after she told them she simply tossed a handful of seeds into her garden after a bearded stranger gave them to her.
Connellsville police charged Kelley a year ago after receiving a tip about Kelley’s garden. Investigators say they found seven well-cultivated, four-foot marijuana plants behind her home.

But Kelley claimed she didn’t know what she was growing. She said she’d been given the seeds by a stranger in a pointy hat who told her they were flower seeds.
'A stranger in a pointy hat'?  C'mon, folks, at some point you must realize she is toying with you.  The article doesn't say, but I am betting that Ms Kelley's glaucoma is well controlled.

Along the same lines, politicians sometimes try to speak harsh truths to the citizenry.  Not many can get away with it - it takes an extreme level of respect and a heartfelt, 'I know what is best for you' sort of fatherly delivery and self-deprecating humor to be successful.  Ronald Reagan could do it.  Newt 'Paychecks not Food Stamps' Gingrich, not so much.

Bill Gates has always struck me as a democrat.  I am not sure why, and I am certainly wrong, if one is to believe his donation record.  With over 100 Microsoft  lobbyists in D.C. and Gates giving over $192k to Republicans, Gates seems to be well to the right.  Therefore, it won't be long before this little patent story is somehow linked to every GOP candidate and used to escalate Blowie's class warfare campaign strategy::
Microsoft has been granted a patent for its “avoid ghetto” feature for GPS devices.
A GPS device is used to find shortcuts and avoid traffic, but Microsoft’s patent states that a route can be plotted for pedestrians to avoid an “unsafe neighborhood or being in an open area that is subject to harsh temperatures.”
Too bad those people Newt is trying to speak to can't install an 'avoid ghetto' feature into their offspring.

January 6, 2012

Public humiliation as a crime deterrent

I don't know what laws make crime records public information.  Being a (mostly) law abiding citizen, I have never had occasion to be immortalized in a mug shot for all the world to see.  Probably because I don't have a criminal history, I love that the average Joe can pull up mug shots and criminal records.  Until someone gets the nerve to bring back public punishments, my kids have to be intimidated by the weekly 'Mugshot Mayhem' feature.

A neighboring county chose to create a webpage listing all of their New Year's DWI offenders.  If you want to see if any friends or co-workers in the Fort Worth, Texas area were arrested, you can click here for the list

We don't put anyone in stocks in the public square.  We don't nail ears to a post.  There are no scarlet letters worn.  We don't brand or tattoo murderers.  We don't cut off the hands of thieves.  We don't publicly execute.  Most people don't ever dig any deeper than what the media tells them.  It's a shame, because there is usually much more to the story.  I would appreciate less protection of criminals and more public humiliation.

I have long said that executions should be on Pay Per View, with the money made reimbursing the costs of the imprisonment.  I won't go into the ridiculousness of a prison system that provides better care for its inmates than any other entity does for a free and law abiding public.  I applaud the Tarrant County DA for going the public humiliation route for DWI offenders.  Don't stop there.   

January 5, 2012

Not yet recovered

The surgery went swimmingly, though I don't have real specifics on what they found.  Mr H should have taken notes.  He remembers hearing torn meniscus, though not which one.  Significant damage under the knee cap and arthritis in the joint.  I will get the details and pictures in a couple of weeks when I see the doc.

My knee doesn't really hurt much, but I feel like crap.  I had an allergic reaction to one of the drugs they gave me.  We aren't sure which one, because there are two possibilities.  I am allergic to penicillin, and the gave me Keflex, which is a distant cousin.  The hives and nausea started right after the second dose of morphine.  So, one or the other, doesn't matter to me, I just want to feel better.

Hopefully tomorrow I will be up and around more, and able to offer my thoughts on that thing they did in Iowa.

January 4, 2012

Adjusting the weather knee

This fine January morning, I am off to day surgery to repair whatever has gone amiss within my knee.  This will be scope numero tres for the right knee.  They usually ask me to initial the leg that is supposed to have surgery.  I can't think of anything pithy to write, other than asking about a buy one get one offer, so both knees get fixed.   Think they would go for that?

I am a bit sad that my favorite anesthesiologist (and neighbor) isn't on the case.  He always used to walk into the room and quip, "Time for better living through chemistry."   But the guy who called tonight has a good reputation and was pleasant on the phone.  I have done this surgery gig enough to know how to finesse my answers to their questions, to make sure that I get the treatment I want. 

Leading up to this surgery, I visited the doc's office four times; for the initial consult, MRI, follow up and then the return trip when non-surgical methods failed.  I visited the adjoining PT office 8 times.  I have a nice working relationship with the doctor, his lead tech, the PTs and office crew.  I have good insurance.  I have met my deductible and paid at each visit, or as soon as I was billed.  I even paid in advance at the last visit, knowing I had some PT claims outstanding, but wanted to knock it out while I was in the office.  I believe I had a small credit on my account.

How in the world do deadbeats even get the opportunity to run up medical bills?  Yesterday I had to drive to the doc's office and pay, upfront, the presumed co-pay for his surgical services.  This morning, I have to pay the surgical center the presumed co-pay for their services before the procedure can take place.  When did it come to this?  I feel bad that the medical establishment has gotten screwed so many times that they now have to demand payment in advance.  I harbor no ill will for the docs that choose not to accept new Medicare patients.  Who could blame them for making sound business decisions?  If you had a group of clients whose insurer kept moving the goal posts, wouldn't you drop them?

I do resent that there is no mechanism to discern from good (paying) patients and the rest.  I had about a dozen other things that I could have done but I had to drive 15 miles and pay my surgery ransom.  If the medical community wasn't waist deep in red tape and insurance filings, they could get to know their patients better.

First, get paid, then, do no harm.

January 3, 2012

School's back!

It is no small miracle that all of my children have survived the Christmas holiday break from school. 

I have said it before, and I am not proud of it, but sometimes the young ones hear and see things they wouldn't, if they didn't have older siblings (okay, and me).  Boom wondered aloud today, if there is a name for the phenomenon by which the youngest among us can pick the most offensive words out of a conversation and repeat them.  They just seem to know which word they shouldn't repeat, yet can't help but say it.

Crash got a mouthful of Irish Spring today.  (He has since told me he prefers the Dove).  But even the soap treatment didn't stop him from re-stating exactly what he said to Mr H, when asked why he was punished.  It was as if he knew that he could get away with saying it again, since he was supposed to speak honestly to his father. 

He didn't use an alternate word, he didn't insinuate, he blurted out, 'I called The Princess an asshole!'.  And then he smiled sweetly at me, and asked if I was proud of him for telling the truth. 

Welcome to Harper House, ignore the teeth marks in the soap.

January 2, 2012

FOD the countdown

January 1, 2012

Happy New Year

2011 ended quite pleasantly for me.  The weather was beautiful, in the mid 70's, allowing for one of my favorite pastimes, mowing.  I got the weeds knocked down, some of the leaves mulched and won't have to think about it again until March or April.

New Year's Eve evening was spent in lovely Thackerville, Oklahoma.  Okay, not exactly Thackerville, but that is the exit one takes to go the Winstar World Casino.  Boom and I made the trip to see Maroon 5.  The tickets were a Christmas gift for Boom and she took me!  Of interest to the boys, Adam Levine's girlfriend was in the house, you might recognize her from her Victoria's Secret gig:


It was a good show.  I love the venue.  It seats 3,000 - so it is very intimate by pop band standards.  I haven't figured out why Maroon 5 was playing in Thackerville, Oklahoma on New Year's eve, when they aren't even touring - but it was a great setting.

Now I am home for what is generally the longest night of the year for me as Mr H is out on the roads with all the drunks.  I won't sleep until he is home safe again. 

For all that stop by this place, here's hoping that 2012 is better than the last.