December 31, 2013

Buck my Fank

I accept partial blame for the steam coming out of my ears this morning.

Weeks ago, when my bank placed the last straw on the proverbial camel's back, with another nickel and dime charge for a printed statement, I vowed to move my primary checking to another institution.  It should have gotten done.  It hasn't yet.

I have various accounts at other banks, both of which would be suitable replacements.  It is just a supreme P.I.T.A. to switch out automatic debits and direct deposits, and I wanted to get the holidays behind me.

Last night at dinner, my Visa branded debit/credit card was declined.  Since I had shopped at Target during the past month, I assumed that my bank had likely taken some action and that I would arrive home to find a telephone message or email explaining the situation. I did not.  This is the third time in two years that the bank has either canceled my card, or modified the use without FIRST notifying me. 

This morning, just as I was getting ready to call the bank, I finally received an email stating that they had issued a new card, and outlining the limits of use for my current card until the new one arrived.  There is a $100 limit on point of sale purchases, but they have significantly raised the ATM withdrawal limit.  For my security, I can't charge dinner for my family of six, but I can go to an ATM and withdraw large sums of cash to line my pockets with. 

And, to add insult to injury, the sorry ass bank didn't overnight my new card, I can expect to receive it in seven to ten business days. 

It's situations like this that I wish I was less responsible and willing to risk bodily injury, just so I could be careless and bait someone to mug me at the ATM, so I could turn around and sue the ever-loving-crap out of my bank for putting me in that situation.  

December 30, 2013

FOD

The obligatory Obama Hawaiian Vacation FOD.

The prez was on the golf course yesterday, that marks the fifth round played this trip, resulting in a grand total of 45 rounds of golf this calendar year, and 156 rounds of golf during his presidency.

I kinda had to search to get the golf count, and White House Dossier didn't disappoint.  What I found while looking for the info, is that there don't seem to be too many stories about the president's vacation activities.  Has the media grown tired of following the First Family around the islands?

My kids squabble in, what I assume to be, normal sibling fashion (I was an only child and don't really have a point of reference).  When they start annoying one another, often my advice to one or the other, is to ignore the instigator, as attention is really what they are seeking.  Sure, it's hard, but it tends to be very affective. 

Wouldn't it be great if the narcissist in chief didn't get his attention fix? 

December 29, 2013

Retrospective Time

It is hard to open a newspaper, turn on the television, or click around the internet without running into some sort of 'year in review' article or slideshow.  Some are entertaining, some informative, and some that reinforce my belief that we are witnessing the decline of civilization.

I like to review the 'big news stories' of the year, and I always appreciate the review of notable deaths. 

I do not need to know about celebrity marriages, divorces, births - especially the celebration of those that are out of wedlock or by surrogate, or that resulted in a name more commonly considered to be a direction on a map.  I don't care which rehab center is en vogue.  I don't care about the top ten plastic surgery disasters of the year.

I suppose it is time for me to review how 2013 went for me.  No major illnesses, thank God.  No family crises.  No (immediate) family births, deaths, marriages, or significant progress toward any of those events.

This year passed me by particularly fast.  I know that is often said, but, really, I just recently got to the point that I didn't have to stop and think about the year when writing the date on something. 

While it isn't Thanksgiving, I think the end of the year is a good time to reflect on the blessings of my life; good friends and a family that I love.  Not much else matters.

December 27, 2013

From Horses to Drones

In 1860, the Pony Express was able to cover a route between St. Joseph, Missouri and Sacramento, California in 10 days.  As you surely recall from elementary school, the PE used horses and single riders that traveled between stations, with riders switching out to a fresh mount at the stations.

The logistics of such an operation are impressive.  There were over 150 stations, hundreds of horses, and 1,900 miles to cover.  Station personnel had to have a fresh horse ready to go, at precisely the right time, day or night, to keep the schedule.  They did this without computers, GPS, weather forecasting, cell phones, or convenience foods.

It makes me wonder what cog in the great wheels of UPS and FedEx got stuck and caused such a major disruption to their service these past three weeks.  I wonder how much of their logistical issues can be blamed on Amazon...

Since we had the great Icemaggedon of 2013, there was some delay to be expected.  Like many other people, I used the iced-in time to do some online shopping.  I ordered about 30 items from Amazon on December 8th.  At the time, I was not a 'Prime' member, but all of my purchases qualified for free shipping, and the latest estimated delivery date was showing as the 19th.

Other purchases from various sites began shipping, and I started getting delivery exception emails, as they encountered delay after delay.  I began to grow concerned, especially with my Amazon order, as they hadn't even processed it for shipping.  I ordered some additional items and signed up for a free trial of Prime, to get two day shipping.  I found out the hard way that Prime's two-day shipping means just that...once it ships, you receive it in two days, not that you necessarily get the item within two days of purchasing it.   

I ripped Amazon via email on the 18th, pointing out that they couldn't use UPS or the ice storm as an excuse for me not receiving items, as they hadn't even found the time to box them up and turn them over to the shipping company.  They magically upgraded the shipping method and I had all but two ot the items the very next day.

That two-day Prime shipping purchase?  UPS delivered it at 8:30 am Sunday.  Yes, you read that right.  All I could think was, "Damn, they're union...that means double time for working Sunday, I wonder who foots that bill."

I have had a couple of pleasant conversations with the delivery guys that come to my workplace.  I see how hard they are working, I see them jog to and from their trucks, I see them worn down and discouraged, as they share that people have been yelling at them and threatening them.  I know that the delivery guy simply gets in his truck each day - a truck that someone else loaded for them.  After a complicated computerized system moves the packages around the country to distribution centers and prioritizes the order in which they go out the door to the end customer.  I know that the driver is the least of the problems in the logistical nightmare that still grips most delivery businesses two days after Christmas.  I don't know what caused it, but I suspect that the ease of shopping and the impact of major online marketplaces will force changes to the industry's standard operating procedures.

December 26, 2013

Holiday Hangover

Not that I didn't imbibe a little, but the hangover to which I refer in the post title is more of the 'I made it to December 26th without keeling over dead from stress' variety.

Presents opened.

Children not yet bored.

Only half a dozen items to return. Among them, a 'careful what you wish for' object lesson:

I harangue my husband to involve the children in shopping for me.  I think it important for them to make decisions and learn about budgeting, as it pertains to Christmas gifts.  I do enough of my own shopping, thrusting things I have purchased for myself at Mr. H to wrap and put under the tree.  I try to put 'foolproof' items on my list, so those who wish to buy for me will know that they are getting something that I need or want.

I made a mistake this year, and put too little descriptive information next to an item on my list.  'Blow dryer' was the entry, the one I have is being old, cracked and showing signs of impending death.  I am not a fancy girl.  My hair is not terribly high maintenance.  My only requirements for said dryer are that it blows warm air and has two variable speeds at which to blow the air.

Mr. H dutifully took Crash and let him pick out the dryer.  Not at the discount big box store, but at the elevated-prices-because-we-are-a-specialty-store.  I saw the $92 charge when checking for any Target-related debit card damage to our bank account.  I thought the $92 surely included several items, perhaps perfume or something else from my wish list.  Nope.  I got a $92 hair dryer.  I can't reconcile the cost difference between this dryer and the $20 versions that I eyed at Wally World.

When I mentioned returning it, Crash's lip began to quiver.  Crap!  Now I get to explain my way around hurting a child's feelings because the other adult in the household left his common sense and discernment at home while shopping.  The Mister begged forgiveness, saying that he had no concept of what a blow dryer should cost.  Despite that fact that he hasn't had a 'do that required drying since the early 80's, I can't believe that a man wouldn't question paying $92 for something that simply blows hot air.

December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

I told my husband the other day, that the frustration of shopping for each other, and our older kids, is caused by an embarrassment of riches - there isn't anything we need, and the wants are limited.  And we aren't wealthy by any American standard.  It is good to know that we are happy and (mostly) content with what we have earned in this life so far.  I hope that the gathering of family, celebrating with friends, and picking out thoughtful gifts, rather than expensive ones, are the things that will leave a mark on my children's memories.

I hope that wherever you are in the world, and in life, that this Christmas day finds you at peace, surrounded by those you love, remembering fondly the days that have passed and looking forward to those yet to come.

Merry Christmas to you and yours.

December 24, 2013

The Missing Countdown

Across the globe tonight, children and adults alike will be counting the hours until Christmas.  Some for the religious celebration, some for the materialism, and many for both.  The media and retail industry has been reminding us of this impending date since about mid-September. 

There is another looming event on the horizon, one that hasn't had much press, and I find it a bit odd.  In ~45 days or so, dependent on your time zone and when you are reading this, the opening ceremony for the 2014 Winter Olympics will take place.

I have seen a handful of news items on the subject.  There is the stink about gay athletes, which has generated several stories and I skimmed a story about Tiger Woods' girlfriend hurting her knee earlier this week.  Our local paper had a tidbit a few weeks ago about a fundraiser for a local kid who is on the Olympic speedskating team. 

Other than that, the only indication that, perhaps, the Olympics are imminent, is the Olympic Rings image that lives in the corner of the television screen on NBC stations.

What is arguably the biggest winter sports event in the world is just over six weeks away, and there is no buzz building.  What's up with that?

I have a theory.  It is sad, and likely small minded, but it just might be correct.  I think it is a combination of our country's icy relationship with the host country and the gay athlete issue.  I believe that our liberal media isn't doing the usual athlete-in-training and glimpse-at-Olympic-preparations stories because of the stance the Russian president has made about gay athletes.  Our president has such an abysmal history with foreign relations, that he has no political capital to expend on the issue.

I honestly wonder if the White House has encouraged the lack of Olympic coverage due to the leftist hot button issues associated with it.  Or maybe the prez and company are keeping it on the down-low for now, in preparation for some future governmental screw up.  Like when Obamacare policy coverage begins next week, and people aren't really covered, or doctors don't get paid and the system begins its inevitable collapse.  You can bet they will roll out the feel-good, rags-to-Olympic-hero stories then.

December 23, 2013

FOD - late edition

FOD completely escaped me, because, unlike the president, I am NOT on vacation.  I am at work.  And when I am not at work, I am averaging 3 hours of sleep each night as I try to find time for Christmas shopping, baking, wrapping, socializing, and decorating. 

So I have little energy to devote to the effort of coordinating a thought about how crappy our president and his policies are.  I do, however, have just enough energy to look to the west, toward the president's Hawaiian hideaway, and lift my middle finger in a genuine expression of the sentiment I have for him this Christmas season.

December 22, 2013

The Jerks Among Us

Way back when, circa 1978 or so, I had a college student for a bus driver.  The last time he drove us, was the day he finished his classes and knew he was going to graduate.  As a celebration, he made a very slight detour that took about 20 extra minutes, and treated all the kids on the bus to an ice cream cone.

I never saw him again, so I am not sure if it was intended to be his last shift, or if they fired him for it.  I was a latchkey kid, so my 20 minute delay didn't affect anyone other than my dog.  I doubt my mom even believed me if/when I told her about the ice cream cone. It was a nice thing to do, but certainly not the best decision, going rogue with 30 kids in tow.  Today, that guy would likely be in jail for kidnapping, with a dozen civil suits filed against him for buying little lactose-intolerant-nut-allergy Johnnie some Rocky Road.  Sad days, indeed.

For 15 years, a nice mom in Minnesota has been baking cookies each Friday for the occupants of the bus her kids ride on
Every Friday, Anne Tabat has met the school bus in her subdivision with a basket of cookies. It began as a thank you to the bus driver. And, Tabat said, she couldn't give the driver a cookie without giving one to every child on the bus.

Tabat said the cookies were also a way to get to know her neighbors.
Recently an anonymous complaint was filed and Tabat can't hand out cookies anymore.

I am a little fuzzy on how the school can prevent a person from standing on, what I assume to be, either a public sidewalk or a private citizen's property, not to mention the lack of a basis for telling people they can't give something away on said property.

If you are the killjoy that doesn't want your kid to have a cookie, tell your kid to NOT take a friggin' cookie.

Better yet, meet your own damn kid at the bus stop and walk them home without taking the friendly cookie offering.  No harm, no foul.

Tabat sounds like a really nice person.  After 15 years of handing out cookies, she has made friends, been to the bridal showers of prior cookie bus riders (and gifted them with cookie making equipment for their kitchens) and hosts an annual cookie party so the neighbors get to know one another:
Anne Tabat uses flour power to break down the walls that separate people.

“I didn’t live in the suburbs until I turned 40,” she told me yesterday, while baking some of the 200 dozen cookies she’ll need for her family’s annual cookie party for anyone who wants to show up.

“Look at the way these houses are designed here,” she said. “They’re not designed with a friendly neighborliness community in mind. I haven’t been in most of the houses in my neighborhood. People live such busy lives; you don’t talk to your neighbors, you don’t know your neighbors.”
We need more cookie ladies in our world, and fewer anonymous complainers.

December 21, 2013

Friday Night Lights

The high school football season is drawing to a close in Texas, with the last of the championship games taking place today at JerryWorld.

Last night, our local high school won the state 3A title, a first for them.  A couple of weeks ago, a friend posted a picture on Facebook, of a group of today's senior players, when they played together and won the third grade football title.  That Pee Wee coach predicted, during the team celebration some 11+ years ago, that someday they would win the state high school title together.  That coach now volunteers as one of the radio crew for the team, and listening to the broadcasts during the title run has been heartwarming and entertaining, to say the least.

The game following 'ours' was for the 4A title, and was won by a high school just up the road from our town.  Their team lost a player early in the season, the victim of an accidental shooting during a hunting trip, and the victory was dedicated to him.

I am sure that the outscored opponents also had a story or two that would have added more emotion to the narrative, had they won their games.  I hope that they see past the loss, and remember how many people from their communities traveled to that stadium to cheer them on, and that they remember how far they went due to hard work and a team effort.

December 20, 2013

A humorous statistic

Not trying to drag out the whole Duck Dynasty thing, as I have said my piece, and I realize the futility of trying to change the opinions of the close-minded - but - this little tidbit is telling...

After A&E released their statement condemning Phil Robertson's statement of his opinion (which is what the interviewer asked him for, his opinion of what a sin was), several dozen social media-based support pages sprouted.  A few quickly gained traction as they were shared and forwarded across the magical interwebs.

The FB page titled "Boycott A&E Until Phil Robertson Is Put Back On Duck Dynasty" was created at 6 pm Wednesday night.  Within 24 hours, it had half a million supporters.  As I type this, FB shows 1.3 million people have 'liked' the page.

The support isn't without controversy, as FB 'accidentally' blocked the admin of the site for over 8 hours on Thursday, causing some to proclaim that FB is trying to censor support for Duck Dynasty.

But this is the statistic that I intended to share...twice as many people 'liked' that single FB page in 36 hours, than have signed up for Obamacare in over two months.

December 19, 2013

Into the Duck Fray

I love Duck Dynasty.  It is a refreshing respite from other crass reality shows.  I enjoy seeing a family that loves one another, shares values similar to mine, and has a crazy uncle.  I suppose there are some people in America that watch Duck Dynasty and think that they are backward murderous simpletons that are making millions off of hunting-related products and, now, a television show that highlights traditional values and practices that are completely foreign to many city dwellers.

No matter what 'they' think, the right to free speech belongs to all Americans.  We also have the privilege of religious freedom.  And, I am having a little difficulty reconciling those rights with the statements released by hate-filled people, that claim Phil Robertson should be denied of those rights.
"Phil and his family claim to be Christian, but Phil's lies about an entire community fly in the face of what true Christians believe," GLAAD spokesperson Wilson Cruz said. "He clearly knows nothing about gay people or the majority of Louisianans -- and Americans -- who support legal recognition for loving and committed gay and lesbian couples. Phil's decision to push vile and extreme stereotypes is a stain on A&E and his sponsors, who now need to re-examine their ties to someone with such public disdain for LGBT people and families."
I am not sure how you can take someone's opinion and label it as a 'lie'.  And, for the record, the state of Louisiana does not recognize same sex marriage.

I read somewhere, that approximately 2% of our population would/could/should be labeled as 'gay', meaning that, once again, the virulent minority is deciding how things should be for the other 98%.  And that results in headlines like this:
A married, heterosexual gym teacher at a tony Upper West Side private school was fired because his lesbian supervisor disapproved of his “traditional family status,” the canned teacher claims in a new Manhattan lawsuit.
If I've said it once, I've said it one hundred times - minority groups, alternative lifestyle types and all of the rest - they don't want equal treatment, they want special treatment.  They don't want to be accepted, they want to be praised and put on a pedestal for their lifestyle choices.  I don't walk into my workplace each day and proclaim that I am white, heterosexual and proud.  I don't have any T-shirts or bumper stickers that make the statement for me as I shop and travel around town.  I am content in my own skin, with my own beliefs, just like Phil Robertson.  I have no burning desire or need to share those sentiments with anyone, but, hell, if I were being interviewed by GQ and they asked me about my beliefs, I have every right to speak my own personal truth.  Just like any gay person.  And just like Phil Robertson.

December 18, 2013

I See Stupid People

No matter how hard I try, I can't seem to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  This time of year is frantic to begin with, and this year seems busier than most.

I have decided that part of the issue is the proliferation of stupid people.  They seem to be everywhere.  School, work, public places.  It is almost like something has empowered all of the stupid people to come out and declare their stupidity with words and actions. 

I can't count the number of times over the past few weeks, that I have stood in shocked silence, jaw on the floor, shaking my head, at some of the stupid antics on display.  Driving, shopping, working - I can't avoid the stupid.

Is there a way to shield myself from it?  I generally hang around with people that I like, respect, and think are pretty smart.  Is this the universe's way of making me even more grateful for the smart people in my life?

As I have said before, stupidity should be painful - then maybe it wouldn't come out to play so much.

December 16, 2013

FOD

Mele Kalikimaka to your ohana.

Blowie and the fam will be loading up on Air Force Uno this week to head for the islands.  No word on whether the dogs will be flying with the family, or on a separate trip, this year.

The president is scheduled to spend 17 days off the mainland.  I can't manage to leave my average middle class job for 17 minutes without someone calling or emailing me.  How in the hell does the president get a 17 day vacation?

Have you ever noticed that the members of the press that travel with the president are NOT the ones doing the exposé pieces on the cost and extravagance of the trip?  Must be a pretty sweet assignment, to be able to go on a 17 day Hawaiian vacation and let your company pay for it.

And then there is this, which has nothing to do with Blowie's vacation, but made me laugh out loud:



December 15, 2013

Careful what you wish for

Our family likes Christmas Lists.  I realize that some may think that writing down what you would like to have is contrary to the spirit of the season, and adds to the materialism that so many of us complain about.  In our family it is really is more about specifying preferences; sizes, colors, operating systems - for those that are going to buy gifts, list or not.  There is no expectation or demand aspect to it (well, except for my step-sister).

Step-sister interlude...her list contains eight very specific items.  Seven of them range in price from $90 to $250.  The eighth item is an iTunes gift card.  When Bang read the list, and asked about prices for a few unknown items, he sagely concluded, "Well, she must really want that iTunes gift card."


Now back to what I wanted to talk about - Mr. H's list.  We often put on our list some dream item that we know we can't have right now, if ever, because other things take priority or we can't afford it.  They aren't unreachable goals, usually just things that are 'someday'.  The 'if we win the lottery' list would be much different!

This year, Mr. H continued the tradition, putting 'Harley Davidson' at the top of his list.  Unfortunately for him, I read the list on day two or three of Icemaggedon.  I had spent many hours house-bound with my children, my job was causing a great deal of stress, the heat pump was acting wonky and the dryer had just quit working.  Instead of smiling and moving on to the other items on his Wish List, I took offense.  And then I typed a two page list of every item in our home and life that needs repaired or replaced.  This is generally my realm of responsibility, so putting it all on paper for the rest of the family to see was somewhat cathartic.  It also gives me something to point to when anyone complains of being bored.

And, as much as I enjoy unwrapping presents on Christmas, it would truly make me just as happy if someone took that shopping time and effort and re-caulked my shower instead.

December 14, 2013

So much to do

When was your last great Christmas?  I am not talking about the end result, as most, I hope, eventually turn out to be good (after the shopping, wrapping, cooking, cleaning, planning, executing, etc.), but when was the last Christmas season that you didn't have any stress, didn't worry about hurting feelings, or affording gifts, or meeting some unrealistic decorating goal?

I think it was probably pre-1980 for me.  Seriously.  I think that this season brings too much of everything on adults, and I think the stress starts much earlier in life, about the same time that Santa stops being the focus and friends, boy/girlfriends, and social engagements come into play.  My 10-year old is right on the cusp, I think.  She loves all the trappings, but is now old enough to appreciate the resources necessary to pull it all off.


I have it relatively easy in the family department - they are just down the street.  Nobody is calling wanting to come stay for a week.  No annoying houseguests to deal with.  No struggle to find a way to say 'no' so undesirables won't come. 

We do have a little family drama, but it is mostly good, old-fashioned behind the scenes sniping about the bad choices my step-sister makes in life, and how she only shows up on gift-giving holidays. 

But, the kids like to see their cousin, and there is enough alcohol flowing to make it tolerable, if not downright entertaining.

And yet, getting to that day takes so much Work.  And here I sit procrastinating, knowing that I need to hit the streets.  Shop, bake, cook, decorate, clean, wrap...

All I really want to do is sit down and soak up my family - we are all here, together, for a time, and that is the best part of Christmas.

December 13, 2013

Fitting Friday Song

As I drove to work this morning, I sang along with 'Ramble On' by Led Zeppelin, and wondered if the disc jockey made a clever choice, or if it was a happy coincidence.

I was never the sort to analyze songs or read biopic volumes about why the songwriter choose the lyrics, but they seem self-explanatory if you are a fan, which Robert Plant clearly was.  Bonus points to all who know of what I speak without Googling

And I love this live video of the song.  Plant perfected the saucy hair flip long before any of the pretty boys of pop...


December 12, 2013

The Clock is Ticking

Icemaggedon has put a serious damper on the holiday shopping.

There wasn't much movement for five days, supply chains are behind and this weekend people will be out in droves trying to make up for lost time.  I am not sure that the supply will meet the demand.  I am, however, quite sure that there will be plenty of demanding and grouchy people filling the aisles.

I have done all the shopping I can do online, with the remaining shopping that I need to do requiring visits to places I would rather not go, and certainly not this weekend.  But, time is growing short.

Time to organize and plan my strategy.  No time for casual window shopping, no dawdling for a cinnamon pretzel or an overpriced coffee drink.  Get in, snag the stuff, get out. 

Christmas isn't for the weak.

December 11, 2013

Icemageddon - The Thaw

Day 6

Supplies low, patience thin, one major appliance inoperable, ice still around, but most roads are passable.  Kids going to school whether it is open or not.

It is well below freezing this morning, but the temperature is expected to quickly climb to near 40, which should make short work of the remaining trouble spots on bridges and overpasses.  It will dip down below freezing again tonight, which will make for another slow commute tomorrow morning, as all the melting runoff will have frozen overnight.  But, at least we have regained mobility.

And, perhaps, most importantly, stores and gas stations are starting to receive deliveries.  Everyone jokes about Texans overreacting and clearing store shelves when ice is forecasted, but many of us have seen this before (like everyone who came to town for the Superbowl a couple of years ago) and we know that it can be a long time before shelves are stocked again.

I rode the train into Dallas yesterday, to join the mister at a company Christmas event.  It was a nice perspective from which to view the road conditions, the traffic nightmare that I wasn't participating in, and reinforcement of why Texas shuts completely down for any sort of frozen precipitation...idiot drivers.  My 'favorite' traffic maneuver was on full display, as drivers reached normal highway speed and then slammed on their brakes as they reached each overpass.  Yeah, that works.

Hoping things are back to normal for Boom's commute home for the holidays at the end of this week.  Once she is back, I don't care what the weather wants to do for the coming month.  All my family will be together, with warmth, shelter, and the obligatory 4 gallons of milk and 6 loaves of bread for each predicted storm.

December 9, 2013

FOD

The Obamacare website debacle is/was entertaining, and, an unexpected bonus for those of us who thought it would be several months before Obamabots started to see and feel the effects of this disastrous law.  The exchange website is underperforming, healthy young folks aren't signing up as needed to fund the pyramid scheme, there are far more people with canceled plans than with new coverage, and now the headline that some of the best healthcare in the world will be unavailable to most on the exchange.
Americans who are buying insurance plans over online exchanges, under what is known as Obamacare, will have limited access to some of the nation’s leading hospitals, including two world-renowned cancer centres.
Amid a drive by insurers to limit costs, the majority of insurance plans being sold on the new healthcare exchanges in New York, Texas, and California, for example, will not offer patients’ access to Memorial Sloan Kettering in Manhattan or MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, two top cancer centres, or Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, one of the top research and teaching hospitals in the country.
Around here, MD Anderson treatment or consultation is the gold standard.  It is the answer given when you ask the doctor where he would send his loved ones. 

I am not as familiar with the other facilities named, except noting that those are the names mentioned when celebrity types get sick - and one would assume that they demand the best treatment money can buy.

I suppose it is comforting for the rich and famous to know that under Obamacare, money still buys the best healthcare.  I wonder how comforting it is for those who Obamacare was intended to help, knowing that they still can't afford the best care. 

December 8, 2013

Icemageddon Day 3

In my little corner of north Texas, we received about 4 inches of sleet.  It is a saucy thing, this sleet, as it looks like pretty white snow when you look out the window, but when your foot hits it, you do not sink-in to fluffy frozen precipitation.  Instead, your foot slips out from under you and you go flying.

We dodged the freezing rain bullet, which resulted in collapsing structures, falling trees limbs and downed power lines in other areas.  What we didn't get sticking to those things, we made up for in the thickness of the ice on our streets.  This, unfortunately does not discourage those that consider themselves accomplished all-weather drivers.

Many of those self-professed 'excellent' drivers have been parked on I-35 since Friday.  There were so many stuck semi trucks this morning, that Fort Worth's plan to close all highways at 6 am for treatment/plowing, was jettisoned.  Can't clear the road of ice if there are trucks parked on it.

From Fox 4 DFW

You know a winter storm is serious in the South when church is canceled, and the only ones I know of that are open are the ones along the I-35 frontage road that have opened their doors to those stuck on the highway (see above). 

My kiddos didn't have school on Friday, and tomorrow isn't looking good unless it gets much warmer than forecasted today.  They have played on the ice quite a bit, but we are rapidly approaching the end of our entertainment resources even with Christmas related crafts, baking, wrapping and decorating thrown into the mix.

This time spent with my children, with a fourth day of captivity togetherness probable, has me working on a proposal for the school to develop a distance education plan for bad weather days - with all this technology, there is no reason why they can't broadcast out a lecture or two, assign some homework, keep the educational wheels turning. 

December 7, 2013

We Remember


December 6, 2013

A Quick Quote

I have a habit of emailing myself things.  Bits of information, links I want to recall soon, and other flotsam and jetsam that would get lost were it not staring back at me via my email inbox.  Of course, this leads to frequent and significant ballooning of the number of emails residing in the generic "Inbox" folder, and on cold, icy nights, I sometimes click through a couple hundred and see why they were worth saving in the first place. 

I emailed this quote to myself in May of 2008.  I think I have seen it in fairly regular rotation, as our president has reigned over this country, but was struck anew tonight at how aptly Donald James Wheal's writing applies to America, today.
A truth’s initial commotion is directly proportional to how deeply the lie was believed. It wasn’t the world being round that agitated people but that the world wasn’t flat. When a well-packaged web of lies has been sold gradually to the masses over generations, the truth will seem utterly preposterous and its speaker a raving lunatic.

December 5, 2013

The thrill of an ice storm

I had to grab this screen shot of a local news station.  Ice storms are such an event for north Texas that we gather around the computer to watch "slow-moving traffic".

December 4, 2013

Skiing Stoned

The problem with believing in small government is that sometimes, though not nearly as often as the government thinks, just sometimes, there doesn't seem to be any other way to deal with an issue, other than heavy-handed government regulation.

For the record, I generally support legalization of marijuana. It isn't a hot-button issue for me, so I don't have a bulleted list of talking points and opinions, but in my experience, it just isn't that big of a deal.

Which reveals this conundrum; how to support the legalization of the use of a mind altering substance but keep it from impacting my family?

It has been entertaining, to sit back in the comfort of my Texas home, and watch the wackadoodles in Colorado and on the left coast deal with the legalization of marijuana.  It is fun to watch the video of big pot festivals, with the hippie wannabes and the re-born flower children dancing like the baby from Ally McBeal.

Thinking about those people, on skis (or a lift), near my family, sobers the mood a bit:
Rocky Mountain resorts are preparing for a rush of pot smokers looking to light up on the slopes. One might think that skiing and pot-smoking would be an unwise combination -- and that's probably correct. But a handful of marijuana-themed ski trips already are being marketed, and the state's ski industry is trying to get in front of what could be a dangerous fad.
The illegality of a substance tends to keep those using it mostly on the down-low.  I suppose I hadn't really thought about all of the potential places and ways that openly stoned people might interact with my family.

I guess I had always thought that most of the stoned people would stay home - because that was my reason for not having an issue with legalization.  What people do in their own home is their business.  When they take it outside, I guess I have an issue with it.  But there is no way to effectively police that.

Which brings me to the question...is there a way to definitively tell if someone is stoned?  We have breathalyzers for alcohol, is there something similar for dope?  As states have legalized the substance, what have they done to define marijuana intoxication, and what levels are incapacitating?
 
I guess it all boils down to the unavoidable truth about humans and regulation...you can't fix, or regulate, stupid.

Looks like New Mexico is the place for winter recreation now. 

December 3, 2013

Things that don't matter

I suppose maybe it is a result of growing up and growing older, the lens through which we view the world changes.  As we create life and see life end, our priorities shift, what matters to us changes and we develop the ability to shake our head and walk away from things, or smile knowingly and accept whatever situation we are faced with.

I used to be a 'why' person.  I needed to know everything.  Yes, I was the kid that read encyclopedias.  I like to understand the way things work, why things happen, what actions result in which outcomes.  Now, I am more accepting, tolerant, and more willing to accept what life hands me.

I hate the way our media picks apart lives lost, in some misdirected mission for 'the truth'.  People are no less dead, whether we ever know exactly how they died or not.  I can respect a family member's need to know for closure.  I can respect reasonable intervention if the death was the result of something that could harm others in the future.  But mostly, I think we should let people rest in peace, and recognize that their peace is not the same as our peace.

Paul Walker and Roger Rodas died in a car accident.  If they were racing, or intoxicated, or speeding, then it is certainly senseless and shameful - but they are no less gone.  If the car malfunctioned, then we certainly should discover the cause. 

Four people died in a train derailment, and dozens were injured.  Perhaps the train was traveling too fast.  Perhaps someone made an error.  Obviously something went wrong.  The technical and mechanical issues should be fully vetted.  If the person in control of the train made a mistake, then that should be dealt with.  But, there will certainly be untoward and unnecessary personal details of each of their lives put on display for all the world to see.

Unfortunately, by the time the media finishes their investigation, too many unrelated and private details of their lives will be revealed to an eager public.

December 2, 2013

FOD

In a recent Barbara Walters interview, the Obamas let loose the possibility of remaining in D.C. after the end of his presidency in 2017.

As well they should, they are considering the well being of their children in the decision, as the youngest Obama daughter will be midway through her sophomore year of high school when the next president is inaugurated.  They have said that Sasha will have a big say in whether they stay in D.C. for her to finish high school, or whether they move on.

They did not mention the frequency of drive by shootings in their native Chicago as any sort of determining factor.

In addition to the general 'ick' factor of the Obamas being anywhere near the nation's capitol for any longer than they are scheduled to be, there are other potential drawbacks:
A former president is an easy political target, and to stay in Washington is to be a close-range one as well. The journey from leader of the free world to the person most to blame for the early problems of a new administration is as short as a walk across Lafayette Square.
In this case, the target will be an accurate one.

I just want them to go away.  Far away.  Where I don't have to hear about them anymore.  If staying in D.C. means a constant stream of paparazzi and comments on every news story of the day, then good riddance to the family.

I am betting that one good heartbreak would do wonders for helping Sasha decide where to attend her junior and senior years of high school.   Surely there are one or two decent conservative-minded families with handsome young men attending Sidwell Friends School that are equal to the task and willing to help rid D.C. of the Obama stain.

November 30, 2013

The Witch in 7A

Elan was on a delayed Thanksgiving flight on which some woman made an ass of herself by loudly informing the flight crew of how important her life and plans were, with no regard for the rest of the passengers or crew.  Elan tweeted about it during the flight, read the whole thing here.

Here is a close up of the writing on the coaster when he sent her a glass of wine:



I think that the sentiment he displayed on the coaster was perfect.  I wish he would have stuck with it, and kept it biting and clean-ish, but I wasn't on that plane, and I can't say that the whole thing wouldn't have sent me over the edge and caused me to respond in a similar fashion.

It would have been awesome to be on this flight.  Seriously, I can't believe that no one intervened to help this guy out.  Just a little humor and additional cooperation would have likely led to a less crude, yet just as effective, interaction.

After the whole ordeal was over, Elan wrote a bit of a reflection on being kind to one another and treating people in service positions with dignity and respect:
I don’t care what’s going on with you: Don’t be rude to people who are doing their job. 
Don’t do it.
Don’t dismiss them. Don’t act like they are less than you. Don’t abuse them just because you’re the customer and “The Customer Is Always Right.”
If you’re the customer, you’re only right if you’re kind, polite and positively thankful.
If you’re not, you’re a jerk, and that’s the bottom line.
Absolutely.  

November 29, 2013

Just a regular Friday

This was shared on FB so many times the original author is unclear:
So I got dragged to Black Friday.
Next time I have another bright idea shoot me in the dick.

We (they) decide to go to Wal-mart for the 'deals' that save us (them) 10% and make us (them) spend 300% more than we normally would have.

American consumerism at its finest. I digress.

So as we wait in line for 2$ DVD's for three hours, my nose is violated by the stench of tortilla and unwashed Neanderthal. I'm also mentally scarred by the endless images of every redneck, hood rat, and welfare participant in 30 mile radius dressed in their Sunday best.

The aisles are so clogged that I can't force my way through like I usually do and I'm again required to inhale the soft stench of week old pork rinds and 3 day old sex sweat.

The average shopper is about as wide as their cart and this doesn't help the issue. I took a moment to enjoy the irony of morbidly obese people stuffing their faces with beef jerky and chocolate donuts while herded together like cattle.

Anyway, I can deal with all of this. I can deal with people fighting over a shitty DVD player, the 3 hour wait just to check out, and the ridiculousness of the entire experience as a whole.
We practice atrocious consumerism, spend outside of what's reasonable and lose all sense of civilization over a 10% discount on a 32" TV. What's worse, is that we pass these habits down to our children.
And that, my friends, is just one of the reasons that I am warm, safe, and going nowhere near a shopping area today.  Sites like this one shouldn't exist, and things like these shouldn't be the day after Thanksgiving headlines, and as long as they are, we are a lesser society for it.

November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving


Food, football, family...here's to enjoying 2.5 out of 3.  I love most of my family but there are always those that would be more fondly remembered in their absence rather than their attendance.

Hope your day is blessed with those things and people that mean the most to you.

November 27, 2013

Do we need struggle?

I am starting to form a theory about the violence in our world.

I think that the absence of real, physical, intimate, daily violence in our lives - or the threat thereof - causes some sort of unfulfilled need in those with weak character and causes them to act out.

When life was more hard scrabble, more of a day-to-day struggle to stay alive, keep yourself and your family fed, protect your property from invaders and thieves, I think that some dark need was satisfied. 

There is too much comfort and protection in our world.  I am not offering to go off the grid and live in a cabin in the woods, hunting and gathering for sustenance and schooling my kids by the fire - but I am willing to recognize that this place in time, without a daily struggle to simply live another day, isn't specifically what humans are hardwired for.

While I think that rapists, murderers and child molesters should die a slow and painful death, and I am staunchly opposed to insanity pleas, I do believe that some people simply can't explain why they do violent things, it is a primal instinct that isn't fulfilled by their modern lives.

I don't have any answers, again, this theory is in its infancy.  But, I am beginning to think I can see the 'why', which must surely, eventually, lead somewhere.

November 26, 2013

Remember when...

Remember that whole Occupy 'movement'?  All those students and un-or-under-employed people that had the time to camp out in various cities, to make some sort of statement about socioeconomic equality?

Remember all the 1% and 99% crap?  All the finger pointing, race baiting, and fear mongering.

Remember when the president said, "...you didn't build that"?

For how many years did the Dims and this president divide using money?  For how long did the hapless Obama voters buy into the belief that Obama was just like them, not those evil greedy corporations and rich people?  Nevermind that his government assistance comes in the form of a free house, airplane, limo rides and endless vacations on the backs of taxpayers.

So, Obama is out on the left coast, rubbing elbows with his famous supporters, a who's who of sports stars and Hollywood types that add to my list of things to never support again, if I can help it.

The fundraiser was hosted by Haim Saban.  Yes, that Saban, of Power Rangers fame.  Interestingly, Saban is an Egyptian born Israeli Jew - but that doesn't seem to dampen his enthusiasm for supporting this president.

Coming to America and realizing the American dream, and becoming the poster boy for 1%ers can make a man forget to stand on principle, I suppose.  It can also turn a man into a jackass. 

When introducing Obama, what did jackass Saban complain about?  The lack of valet parking at the White House:
Saban said, “Last Friday, the president and first lady were very generous and kind with their time, they invited us to the White House for a very small intimate dinner. And we had a wonderful time – great food, great company, very inspiring. No valet parking! You know what? I had to walk to the White House. We have valet parking at the Sabans! So, Mr. President, if you would, please, thank you. Taxpayers’ money? I’ll fund it, no problem".

November 25, 2013

FOD

Do you ever wonder how Obama would come across without the speech writers and teleprompters?  Obviously, he is, quite on his own, arrogant to the point of narcissism, dishonest, and phony, but how much of what we hate about him is really his own and how much should we attribute to those who put the words on the screen and in his mouth, for him?

It is easy to pick out the policy issues that separate us.  It is infuriating when the president shows more emotion in a speech about a policy loss, than in an address to the nation on the loss of American lives.  When his handlers created this persona and crafted their plan to elevate him through the political ranks, did they knowingly start with someone devoid of redeeming personality traits, or was that an unexpected bonus?

November 23, 2013

Pink is not my color

Sigh.

I hate cold weather.  I am especially perturbed by cold weather coupled with precipitation.  Welcome to my pink hell:



Pink on this graphic indicates a winter storm, which signifies, in this instance, ICE.  No fluffy white snow for the kids to play in, no pretty flakes to land on tongues.  ICE.  Black ice on the roads in which all of the inexperienced Texas drivers will be playing vehicle pinball prior to landing in the ditches.  Heavy ice on tree limbs and power lines, causing outages and road blockages.  No winter fun, just forced captivity and/or treachery on the roads.

Luckily, my kid has college classes at least through Tuesday.  While I was envious of her peer's parents crowing about the impending arrival of their scattered collegians this weekend, now I am thankful that Boom isn't on the road or trying to catch a flight home until this mess has cleared out.

My saving grace for this weather event may be that I have already purchased a few Christmas gifts - the sort that can be broken out for entertainment, should the natives get restless during their confinement. 

I joked that it is Murphy's Law of Texas winters, that the first potential 'bad weather day' for which they might have missed school, falls during their Thanksgiving break.  While they will miss that distinct childhood glee from a Snow Day, they also won't have to make it up at the end of the year.

November 22, 2013

The Nuclear Option

It doesn't mean what you hoped.

No mushroom cloud over D.C. today.

The Dims in Congress have done what no one thought they would ever muster the cajones to do - they have voted to change the rules of how the Senate approves presidential nominees. 

Do I think that the filibuster is the best way for our legislators to consider nominees?  No, I don't, but I do believe that our partisan lawmakers cast aside all decorum, protocol and common sense on consideration of nearly all things that make it to Capitol Hill, long ago.  The filibuster, once used to make sure that decisions were carefully weighed and measured before being voted on, has, of late, turned into a media spectacle that is often just a distraction to slow down a vote on something that was decided behind closed doors long before being introduced on the floor.

Therein lies the root issue.  Governing is supposed to be transparent to the governed.  Debate and consideration of issues is supposed to take place on the floor of the Senate (and House), not in closed-door meetings that take place months in advance, with carefully crafted strategies and plans of attack.

The Dims claim that the nuclear option was necessary to relieve the partisan gridlock in D.C., but all they have done is poke the beast and encouraged an even uglier division in our government.  I don't think it is an accident, the timing of it.  Distract the simpletons that were starting to catch on about Obamacare, and create a new rift in Congress nearly a year before the next elections, for all the short-memories to forget.

I love my country, but despise this government.

November 21, 2013

My lunch is racist

My routine for the past few months has been to go home for lunch, to let our puppies outside for a bit and grab a quick lunch.  Usually my lunch is leftovers or a sandwich.  I have always loved peanut butter and jelly with potato chips.

I never thought that my lunch was considered racist.
Apparently, it’s because people in some cultures don’t eat sandwich bread. Verenice Gutierrez, principal of Harvey Scott K-8 School in Portland explained to the Portland Tribune:
“Take the peanut butter sandwich, a seemingly innocent example a teacher used in a lesson last school year,” the Tribune said.
“What about Somali or Hispanic students, who might not eat sandwiches?” Gutierrez asked. “Another way would be to say: ‘Americans eat peanut butter and jelly, do you have anything like that?’ Let them tell you. Maybe they eat torta. Or pita.”
Wait a minute.  So, just because other cultures don't eat the same foods that I do, speaking about such foods is racist?  And schools are training teachers to be even more ultra-politically correct and not mention any food that could signal any relationship to a particular culture?  GMAFB
…The Tribune noted that the school started the new year with “intensive staff trainings, frequent staff meetings, classroom observations and other initiatives,” to help educators understand their own “white privilege,” in order to “change their teaching practices to boost minority students’ performance.”"Last Wednesday, the first day of the school year for staff, for example, the first item of business for teachers at Scott School was to have a Courageous Conversation — to examine a news article and discuss the ‘white privilege’ it conveys,” the Tribune added.
The link they are making is that using a peanut butter and jelly sandwich as an object in a teaching lesson conveys 'white privilege'.  Oh, shit, I can't quit laughing.  I keep thinking of that giant generic tub of peanut butter that my friend used to pick up from the WIC office when she was a teenage mother.  White privilege....BWAHAHAHA.

I fear that all common sense has left this country.

November 20, 2013

28 years of Windows

How has your life been changed by that little innovation released by Microsoft 28 years ago today?  Windows 1.0 was a little different, I am sure, it looked nothing like the high-def image heavy, multi-tasking genius that most of us take for granted today. 


As much as I like to complain about the behemoth Microsoft has become, I am chained to it by home and work machines; PC, laptop, tablet, and Android phones.  As I type, I have three monitors in front of me, with Fox News running, financial tickers, music, email, and this Blogger window.  My grandmother and those of her generation are pictured with a toddler on their hip, while stirring something on the stove with one hand, ironing with the other, and rocking an infant cradle with a foot.  They were domestic multi-tasking geniuses. 

I remember how groundbreaking the first beepers were.  I recall being at a special occasion dinner with my father and someone's beeper went off in the restaurant's coat room.  Half the men in the room jumped up to see if it was theirs - these being the Most Important Men in the room, the doctors, lawyers and executives that were so vital to their business that they needed to be reached night and day.

Today, children Snapchat, Instagram, Tweet, and can put together a computer based presentation that would rival the professional products of just a few years ago.

I am not always sure that this technology has been a resounding improvement to our lives, but I have hope that our short attention spans will soon tire of the bells and whistles our tech society currently thrives on, and we will again treasure companionship, face-to-face contact, and human relationships built on interaction outside of the digital realm.  If/when that happens, I'll be sure to blog about it.

November 19, 2013

White Suburban Mom

My childrens' school doesn't use the Common Core curriculum, but that doesn't mean that I don't care about those families that are affected by it.  And it certainly means that I am offended by the United States Education Secretary making profoundly racist comments about people who resemble me:
It’s fascinating to me that some of the pushback is coming from, sort of, white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were, and that’s pretty scary. You’ve bet your house and where you live and everything on, ‘My child’s going to be prepared.’ That can be a punch in the gut. 

My kids are in a public charter school.  One that we waited five years to get a kid into.  One that has all the same leadership and political issues as any other school, but has a curriculum and foundational teaching style that fits my kids.  There is always room for improvement, but the deciding factor is, and always has been, what sort of education my kids getting in the classroom.  When the politics affect the classroom, we gone.

And that is what bothers so many people in relation to Common Core.  It is inherently political.  It appears to be a wet dream of educational indoctrination curriculum for liberals.  No more 'See Jane run'.  Sample grammar lesson sentences from the above linked article include, 'Government officials' commands must be obeyed by all' and 'An individual's wants are less important than the nation's well being'.  Gah.  If my kids were in a Common Core school, I think we would jump ship and educate at home.

I don't need the school to teach my children morals, values, or political views.  That is for me to do.  I do believe that a world-view of belief systems can be presented in a way that doesn't force allegiance or derision in the school setting.

Arne Duncan made an offensive observation, because he brought race and affluence into the equation.  No parent, regardless of skin color, bank balance or address, likes to hear that their children aren't brilliant - but, we are also, most of us, acutely aware of our children's abilities (those people who let their tone deaf kids try out for American Idol, notwithstanding).  The real punch in the gut is realizing that our great country, founded by courageous rebels, that once was the breeding ground for innovation and invention, is now run by the very sort of dullard that Arne is trying to describe.  Our government officials aren't even bright enough to realize how stupid they are.

November 18, 2013

FOD - The Big 4-Oh

The president hit the big 40 over the weekend.  No, no, he is not celebrating a long past birthday, rather, he set a new record for himself for rounds of golf played in a year.  And, it is only mid-November, with the big Hawaiian vacation just around the corner.

Let's think about that number for a minute.  This week marks the 42nd week of the year.  Obama is just shy of averaging a round of golf a week.  How many of those weeks were we 'sequestered'?  How many were Americans suffering because of the action, or inaction of those elected to represent the people of this nation, while the president worked on his short game?

I don't have the time or memory recall to detail every other thing that should have been occupying some of those hours he spent on the course, but shouldn't running the country, especially considering the state it is in, take a little more time? 

Perception is key to a job that puts you in the limelight 24/7.  Most people that rise to the level of a presidency realize that.  This president is content to have his elitist, expensive, time-consuming hobbies and rub our collective noses in it every weekend.

November 16, 2013

Life Lessons

This morning finds me at my kids' school, awaiting the start of a charity 5k event to benefit the family of a teacher whose sweet baby girl was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia two weeks ago.

Also on my mind is a little boy in College Station that was sent home from the children's hospital in Houston to spend the days he has left with his family loving on him.  Aggies raised over $100k in one day to support this precious family as they say goodbye to their son.

Both of these kids and their families have awesome support networks and seem additionally fortunate that those networks are able to provide the resources that allow them to afford medical care and time away from paying jobs, to focus on their kids. 

This is how communities and charity should function. There is no government mandate, no law, no requirement for anyone to do anything other than what their conscience, heart and pocketbook will allow.

November 15, 2013

How do you keep a plan that is no longer offered?

Does anyone else think that none of this Obamacare crap is a surprise to the administration?  Well, maybe the website disaster blindsided them, but not the plan cancellations.  And I don't buy, for one second, that they think any insurance corporation can magically turn back on plans that they discontinued to comply with the law.

The minute the law passed, insurance companies went to work trying to figure out "what was in it", so they could continue to operate as a profitable business in compliance with the law.  Countless resources and man hours have been spent getting ready for implementation mandates.  Insurance companies didn't cancel plans because they wanted to.  They canceled plans because they had to.

And now, with one fairy dust sprinkled speech, the president thinks the insurance companies can get in their time machines and re-visit 2009, and ignore the 8,736 meetings they have had about the changes in the law, and dismiss the millions of dollars, forests of paper, and months of guidance they have given to their customers - and offer the 'old' plans...but just until the end of next year.

Read that as "until after the mid-term elections".

There was a point of no return on much of the Obamacare-related changes to the health and insurance industries.  A benchmark that we blew by sometime in 2010.  There is no going back as long as this law stands.  There is never any going back in terms of costs, employment changes and medical personnel lost in the sucking black hole of Obamacare.

November 14, 2013

Toast, now pre-toasted

When I moved to Texas nearly 30 years ago, Mrs. Baird's bread was a new thing for me.  The bread aisle offered many different varieties of bread, most of them bearing the Mrs. Baird's brand name.  Six Flags used to have a little shack that handed out free mini-loaves of the yeasty white bread.  And, to this day, the Mrs. Baird's bakery south of downtown Fort Worth, situated next to the Coor's brewery, emits a wonderful aroma for the drivers on I-35W.  I wonder if they have a common yeast supplier.

A few years ago, the iconic Mrs. Baird's brand was sold to Grupo Bimbo, a Mexican bakery conglomerate that has been buying up American brands for the past decade.  Whether you noticed or not, brands like Entenmann's, Sara Lee, Oroweat and Thomas' are now under the Bimbo umbrella.

While Bimbo hasn't changed the brand name on Mrs. Baird's products, the shelf space in the bread aisle is now filled with new and different products that bear the Bimbo name.  I don't suppose the ownership took the time to research the English word "bimbo" before forging ahead.

This product caused Boom to go off on a mini-rant for several minutes the first time she spied it at Wal-Mart:


As Boom asked on that day, who can't make toast?  Why in the world would people buy days old, dried out, crunchy bread?  Is this some Mexican delicacy that we haven't heard of?

Many a time in my more youthful and under-furnished apartment days, we toasted bread directly on the rack of the oven, or on a cookie sheet using the broiler.  Even in the absence of the specialty kitchen appliance known as a toaster, there are ways to get the bread warm and golden brown.

Having spent time in parts of the world where toast is made in advance, and placed in little racks on the breakfast table, I can attest to the fact that 'warm' isn't a universally accepted state of how toast should be served.  But even then, the toast had been prepared in the very recent past, not toasted, packaged, and shipped around the country for enjoyment at a later date.

I suppose I shouldn't mock - I have relatives that can't understand why I buy salad mix in a bag and pre-shredded cheese.  Time-savings and lack of bloody knuckles are good enough reasons in my book, but my predilection for convenience foods still isn't providing me a justifiable reason to buy already toasted bread.

November 13, 2013

Psycho cyber stalkers

Luckily, my dating life was over long before the internet became a commonplace vehicle for meeting potential love interests.  While I have made great friends via the miracle of modern technology, I still have reservations about internet dating, having seen the consequences of a friend's failed attempts.

Case in point, this story out of New York:
A Manhattan architect has filed a $1.25 million defamation lawsuit against his ex-lover for trashing his reputation by making Web posts claiming he is a sex addict with a “tiny STD-infested weiner” who “sleeps with anything that moves,” according to court papers.

John B. Wender, 53, who is a principal at Bartolone Wender Architects located at 350 Seventh Ave., says he met Louise Silberling “over the Internet” in March 2011.

They saw each other in person only three times and broke up in March 2012, the Manhattanville resident says in his Manhattan Supreme Court suit.

Searching Wender’s name on Google returns more than a dozen hits on scathing blogs, on the social-networking site Tumblr, on professional review sites, and at the site LiarsCheatersRUs.com, all allegedly authored by Silberling.

The various postings accuse the Manhattan professional of having a “seedy BDSM lifestyle,” and of having sexual proclivities including “daddy/daughter scenarios . . . over-the-knee role playing . . . rape play . . . forced orgasm, spanking, whipping, paddling, flogging, gagging, strap-on-play, wax play, and auto-erotic asphyxia and strangulation,” according to court papers.

Silberling even allegedly posted fake reviews on professional Web sites, attacking her ex’s architectural work with such critiques as, “Every word that comes out of John Wender’s ugly mouth is a lie.”

Wender’s ex-wife and disabled son also did not escape attack, according to the suit. Silberling allegedly created blogs in their names with their photos attached — calling the wife a witch and the 13-year-old son “retard [and] ugly.”

All told, 32 Web postings are attached as exhibits to the Manhattan civil suit.
This pair only saw each other in person three times, meaning the rest of their year-long 'relationship' played out over the internet or telephone.  I don't know about you, but I think there is something to be said for the need for face-to-face interaction, if for no other reason than being able to judge the character of a person.  Maybe if Wender had gone to dinner and a couple of movies with this woman, he would have known that she was a few sandwiches short of a picnic before he got in so deep that she trashed him, his family and his professional reputation all over the internet.

Clearly, this woman is a psycho bitch from hell.  I am not one for lawsuits, but, assuming that she is responsible for these website postings, I hope she spends the rest of her life paying off that $1.25 million that he is suing for.

You don't drag someone's family, much less a disabled child, into your dating spat.  And, the best relationship advice I could ever give would be this; if someone breaks up with you, it is because they don't want to be with you, so Move On.  No amount of stalking, begging, insulting or threatening is going to make someone change their mind. 

November 12, 2013

The other Dave Wilson

This is probably the funniest or saddest story you will read this week.

Dave Wilson is white guy.  A sort of gadfly in municipal political circles, was elected to the Houston Community College Board last week.  Wilson is a (white) conservative Republican.  He beat a 24-year incumbent.  He was elected by, and to represent, an overwhelmingly black Democratic district.

So how did he get elected?

By insinuating he was black.

I don't know whether to cry over the stupidity of voters or laugh at his bravado.
Wilson, a gleeful political troublemaker, printed direct mail pieces strongly implying that he's black. His fliers were decorated with photographs of smiling African-American faces -- which he readily admits he just lifted off websites -- and captioned with the words "Please vote for our friend and neighbor Dave Wilson."

One of his mailers said he was "Endorsed by Ron Wilson," which longtime Houston voters might easily interpret as a statement of support from a former state representative of the same name who's also African-American. Fine print beneath the headline says "Ron Wilson and Dave Wilson are cousins," a reference to one of Wilson's relatives living in Iowa.

"He's a nice cousin," Wilson says, suppressing a laugh. "We played baseball in high school together. And he's endorsed me."
If any person bases their vote on skin color, information from which was gleaned from the clip art on one piece of direct mail, they get what they deserve.

November 11, 2013

FOD

Blowie hasn't yet finished his fifth year in office, but he hit the 150 mark for rounds of golf this weekend.  My prediction of at least 200 rounds during his presidency will certainly come to pass.  Heck, it could be as soon as next year.
I started to list all of the other things that Blowie should be spending his time working on, but, hell, you all know the list, and you all know that it is probably better that he stays out of anything that we would like to see actual positive progress made on.

As offensive and elitists as it is, Obama on the golf course is better than Obama in the Oval. 

November 10, 2013

Perspective

Borrowed from A Trainwreck in Maxwell:


The $2 straw

Sometimes in life you have to take a stand. 

Like most Americans, heck, most people worldwide, I would assume, I have watched as my bank of 20+ years chipped away at the perks of our banking relationship. 

Once upon a time, there were fees to be expected if one bounced a check.  Then came the minimum balance fees and the ATM fees.  Fortunately the minimum balance thing wasn't a problem, and with the advent of point of sale debit purchases, cash doesn't require an ATM.  Now, each year I get a small booklet outlining all of the fees associated with the privilege of letting them hold my cash deposits. 

This past weekend, while traveling, my husband was sent into a grocery store to buy a couple of items and get some cash back.  This particular store had a cash back limit per transaction, so Mr. H panicked and, instead of grabbing a pack of gum and going back through the line for the rest of the cash he needed, he went to the in-store ATM.

This ATM charged a $4 fee, and, to add insult to injury, our bank charges a $1.50 foreign ATM fee.  Fortunately for the bank, Mr. H was taking the brunt of my anger for this bonehead event.  It cost $5.50 to get $60 cash.

This morning, I was opening the mail that had piled up over the last week.  Call me crazy, but I still like to get paper statements for banking and credit cards.  I like to see it in black and white.  I like to mark up the statement as I balance my check register.  I like to have something tangible to shake at my husband when I question an out-of -budget expenditure.

Tucked in with this month's statement was the announcement that, should I continue in my one-woman pursuit of environmental destruction of wanting a tree-killing paper statement, they would be charging me $2 a month. 

If I make the switch before November 30, they will give me $5.

I will be taking that $5.  And then I will be taking my business elsewhere.  I have accounts at two other institutions that will be happy to have our business.  They waive most fees for long-term customers and refund the fees charged by ATMs. 

Somewhere, in some board room, a group of people sat around and made the decision to discontinue paper statements, thinking that $2 wasn't such a big deal to those who still wanted the hard copies.  They didn't stop to think of the sum total impact of the actions they have taken.  It might only be $2, but it was the $2 straw that broke this camel's back.

November 9, 2013

No Options

Where do we go from here?  "Here" being the smoldering scene of the Obamacare train wreck.

People like me have seen this coming off the rails since before the clown-in-chief was elected the first time.  The change he promised was unrealistic.  It didn't take a genius to see the obvious, but I am still amazed at how many idiots never stopped to think about what they were supporting and voted into office those who voted this monstrosity into law.

I am even further incensed by our governmental representatives that didn't and don't have an alternative.  We all warned about the train barreling down the tracks, yet not a single Repub or Tea Partier or Independent has a viable alternative to the law we are stuck with.  What did 'our' side do to prepare for this eventuality that they knew was coming?  Not. A. Damn. Thing.

The tragedy of this situation is that there is no going back.  Insurance companies aren't going reduce prices on the true 'gold'-type plans.  They have spent millions trying to comply, as well as figure our how to remain profitable.  Even if some part of the compliance issue goes away, the prices won't go down.  Ever.

Why don't we have a countermeasure ready to deploy?  Why have we spent the better part of over three years, just bitching about a law without coming up with something better?

November 8, 2013

The Two Hour Window

In September we bought Crash big boy bedroom furniture.  Being the youngest, his room was a mismatched haven of hand-me-down pieces, IKEA plastic bucket toy storage systems, 2,439 Hot Wheels cars and roughly three billion Legos.

Furniture shopping sucks.  There is a glut of cheap crap to choose from, cheap-cheap, cheaply made with moderate pricing, and moderately well made with obscene prices.  I did not come across any youth or smaller-sized bedroom pieces that were high quality.  Between this shopping experience and pricing kitchen cabinetry, I am more resolved than ever to take some high level woodworking classes and make stuff for myself.

Anywho.  I settled for a much-too-expensive-for-what-I-got, but better-than-most-things I had seen youth bedroom set.  The dresser has been on back-order since September, but is finally due to arrive today.

So this morning I am at the mercy of the two hour delivery window.

One plus is that the store's website has a 'follow the truck' feature, which lets you see what the delivery order is, with each stop's city listed.  I am fifth in the queue, and, by my observation of the estimated delivery times of the stops after me, the last stop before lunch.  Good.  When they delivered the bed and desk, we were in the mid-afternoon window and they arrived at the late end of their estimated time.

Things have certainly improved since the days of sitting all day just waiting for the truck to rumble into the driveway.  GPS tracking, text messages, email alerts - but somehow I doubt that delivery drivers are any more productive than they were twenty years ago.

November 7, 2013

Getting out of the armchair

I am not a football player.  I have played the flag and back yard versions of the game, and I am a devout fan.  I can watch a game and spot what is being done right and wrong.  The classic armchair quarterback.

In life there are many such instances of areas that I am not an expert, but also not an idiot.  This also applies to business, where being a mature adult and parent has taught me lessons that carry over to the corporate world.  Sometimes work lends me the opportunity to get out of the proverbial armchair and show the kiddos how it should be done.

Yesterday was such an opportunity, with all hands on deck for an industry organization's annual sporting clay shoot.  Fun with guns!  Our marketing girl was all atwitter with her concerns about being in several places at once, as our company needed to man a sponsor booth, where we would have the opportunity to meet potential clients, and she had volunteered in several other capacities with the hosting organization.  Stand back, sweetie, we got this.  We sent her on her merry way, and three of us old hands made more promising network connections in one day than our young sales people average in 6 months. 


I think it is all about being comfortable in your own skin.  Not fearing casual small talk.  Being able to discern when it is, and is not, appropriate to insert a little business talk into the conversation.

A classic example of street smarts and experience versus book learning.  There is a place for both, but the street kids rocked it in this case.

I will admit that sales teams are hated in many corporate settings - they get to fly all over and rack up the expense account meals with clients.  They go to all the golf tournaments, fishing events, casino nights.  They get the convention swag bags.  Maybe that is a lesson in maturity, as well.  Going home to your family, and your own bed each night is something appreciated by an older crowd who doesn't get so excited about a new koozie and a trucker hat with someone else's logo on it.

November 6, 2013

My kind of party

A Wisconsin man was arrested early today after zapping his wife with a stun gun after winning a bet with her on last night’s "Monday Night Football" contest, police report.
Bwahahaha!

In case you were wondering, yes, your suspicions are correct:
Police noted that Nicole and John each consented to Breathalyzer tests. Nicole’s blood alcohol level, .155, was nearly twice the .08 legal limit, while John’s was a bit lower, at .137.
The fact that these idiots did their betting and paying up (read: tasing) in a public place just adds to the hilarity of the situation.  Who was the party pooper that called the cops?

The police report noted that there is video evidence:
While Nicole told cops that she had not agreed to the tasing, a cell phone video reviewed by officers showed that she was “standing still with her arms up and the male subject applies the Taser to her. In the video, Ms. Grant is seen laughing and it seemed apparent that Ms. Grant had consented.”

Hope the video makes it to YouTube soon.

In the end, John was arrested for illegally possessing the taser device, which happened to be illegal in Wisconsin.  He was not arrested for public drunkenness,  disorderly conduct, assault, domestic violence, or anything else directly related to goosing his wife on the ass with 50kV.

November 4, 2013

FOD

Golf count courtesy of White House Dossier:
President Obama headed out to Fort Belvoir today for a round of golf, the 149th time he has played as president and his 38th outing of the year.
Obama has golfed more times this year than any of his presidency.
He’s playing with a couple of college friends and a White House aide.
While the president and friends hit the links, I, like so many other Americans, was trying to digest the latest in a long line of personal budget-busting issues related to health insurance.

My employer is drafting a policy that will force all spouses and dependents that can get coverage through their own employers off of our policy.  My husband's employer just unveiled their new Obamacare-compliant Bronze, Silver and Gold plans - with decreased coverages, increased costs, and, you guessed it, a new carrier and network...meaning new doctors, new facilities and new rules to get accustomed to.

This week will bring one of those gut-check times of taking stock of our lives, our financials, and our health.  We will compare the penalty, plans, and cash pricing from our current doctors to see which is the most affordable route for our family.

It is sad state of humanity, to sit and be gleeful at every hard luck story that gets some news-time, of that select group of reasonably employed Obama voters that are now seeing the harsh reality of what health care reform means to them.  All that hope and change might work for the eternally poor and lazy, but the bill is coming due for those of us that have to fund their care and keeping.

November 3, 2013

Technical Difficulties

Pardon the interruption as I am at the mercy of hotel wi-fi. 

This is also the second time in recent memory that my hotel stay was, um, enhanced by a power outage.  Fun times.

More later.

November 1, 2013

Six

CBS News broke the story that revealed the number we have all been anxious to hear.  Six whole people managed to sign up for insurance through the healthcare.gov website on October 1st.

How do you spin that?

The next day was marginally better, but...
By Wednesday afternoon, enrollments were up to "approximately 100." By the end of Wednesday, the notes reflect "248 enrollments" nationwide.
The health care exchanges need to average 39,000 enrollees a day to meet the goal of seven million by March 1.
This information is from 'war room notes', taken during twice-a-day meetings at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.  The documents make it clear that the administration has known the numbers all along, despite their claims that they wouldn't have that information for at least six weeks.

This law and its implementation invoke a strong laugh/cry response for me.  I am one of the lucky people that had great insurance provided by my employer.  Now, part of my job is figuring out how we can, as a company, continue to offer equitable coverage that is affordable, while meeting dozens of unfunded administrative burdens that are required by Obamacare.  People like me will be paying for all those subsidized plans for people who have no interest in helping themselves.

I can't stand the president, can't even listen to the sound of his voice.  But, I would have paid good money to be a fly on the wall when he got the news that SIX people signed up for Obamacare on day one.  That was surely a tantrum worth seeing.

October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween

Work party today, luckily it just means food, no costumes.  I got an eyeful of inappropriate adult costumes at the kids' school Fall Festival last weekend.  What makes adults think that a costume that is titled "Sexy _____" should be worn at a children's event?  Wish I had seen this before Saturday, I would have been a sandwich board bearing the message they needed to hear:

October 30, 2013

Trading Places

Several years I go, I accompanied Boom to a midnight premier of the teenage vampire romance movie 'New Moon'.  Shortly after Taylor Lautner's (fully clothed) character appeared on screen for the first time, a girl some rows behind us called out, "Shut up and take your shirt off!" toward the screen.

This, of course, was a natural response to the preceding six months of shirtless movie trailers and teenage hormonal expectations of seeing little else.  I'll admit that it made the $8 popcorn a lot less painful.

Any amount of male skin showing in a movie that doesn't also feature female nudity is a rare occurrence, so I have little to no appreciation for actors demanding that directors justify requests for them to remove their shirts, in some gallant defense of their craft:
Hemsworth was reluctant to go naked from the waist up in an early scene in the "Thor" sequel in which the Avenger stands gleaming in the Asgardian moonlight. The Guardian points out that it kind of resembles the random beefcake moment in "Casino Royale" in which Daniel Craig and his ridiculous body emerged from the sea ... and, oddly enough, the whole thing was apparently "Avengers" director Joss Whedon's idea.
"That [scene] kind of came from Joss actually," said Hemsworth to MTV. "He just said that there needed to be something romantic in there. Then he said, 'Chris, get your shirt off.' I said, 'Well, I don't know. What's the why? What are we doing?' The justification was that it was him coming home from battle, washing blood off his hands. It is what it is. How to weigh into that without sounding like an idiot?"
And, the aforementioned Taylor Lautner, and seemingly eternally semi-nude Matthew McConaughey, claim to hate disrobing on screen as well.  Boo-frickin'-hoo.  Like anyone saw 'Magic Mike' for the plot.

There just hasn't been anywhere near an equitable amount of gratuitous male nudity in film, so 'shut up and take your shirt off' is the least of the demands female moviegoers could be making.  Even on this list of the '9 Greatest Penis Moments in Movies", four of the members highlighted are prosthetics or CGI.

If you boys are feeling inadequate, blame it on movie directors that choose plastic over real flesh.

Oh, and I almost forgot: