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:


October 29, 2013

Get some khakis

There isn't a sport remaining that commands my attention to the point of distraction, unlike my husband, who wouldn't hear a freight train in the living room while the Cowboys are on television.

I enjoy taking in a game or two on the TeeVee, and I enjoy attending sporting events.  I have even been known as a participant in ball-related sports, though the church softball league and a mother-daughter indoor soccer league cost me three knee surgeries between them.

None of my preferred teams are playing baseball this week, but it is the World Series, and worthy of some viewing time.  Perhaps due to the magnitude of the contests, the camera crews seem to be spending an inordinate amount of time focusing on each team's coaches as they stalk the dugout. 

And this highlights what is arguably my biggest sports-related pet peeve.

Why do MLB baseball coaches and managers wear the same uniform as the players?  No other sport does that.  And for good reason. 

Please peel the polyester baseball pants off of your fat old asses and get some khakis or dress pants like other sports' leadership does.  Hell, wear jeans or shorts.  Anything would be better than what you are wearing now.

October 28, 2013

FOD

Obama made it church and the golf course this weekend!  It was the first time since Easter that he darkened the door of a church (no racist pun intended) and the 37th time this year he hit the links.

Unless you just awakened from a coma, you are well aware of the glitches in Obamacare's gargantuan system.  I am not an expert in any facet of the health care law, but I am somewhat involved in my company's benefits program, so I try to stay educated.

Our insurance agent invited me to attend a luncheon seminar last week, in which the guest speaker was an expert, a lawyer in the Chief Counsel's office of the IRS.   Guess what?  He isn't a fan of the law, not necessarily because of any political opinion he professed, but because of the glaring and numerous contradictions, omissions and duplications in the law.  Most of the other people taking part in the seminar were benefits specialists and tax professionals.  They asked very technical, very smart questions.  It was entertaining, in a morbid kind of way.

Without going in to the infinite rules and procedures, I will try to summarize one of the looming scenarios:

First, the Obamacare subsidies to aid those who can't afford to comply with the individual mandate are given in the form of a tax credit.  And, unlike any other tax credit before it, this one can be granted in advance for the coming year.  Or something like that.

The employer mandate, which has already been delayed a year, depends upon reporting.  Employers have to report to their insurance company and the IRS information such as; number of full time employees, types of coverage offered and the employee's share of the premium of the lowest priced plan offered. 

In turn, the insurance companies must report to the IRS the same information above, as was reported to them by the employer, as well as their records of coverage and cost.

The IRS will review the reports.  Maybe.  The whole penalty thing for employers, once in force, is only triggered if an employee shops for insurance in an 'exchange/marketplace' AND applies for a tax credit to help pay for it.  So, the IRS might only be reviewing the reports of companies with potential penalties, or they might be reviewing everyone.  Even the IRS doesn't know at this point.  If they do review and find a potential penalty is due, they notify the employer and there is a period of time for the employer to respond.

Thing is, the IRS won't know if an employee has had to seek insurance on the exchange until they apply for the tax credit.  And that is done on their individual tax return.  Keep with me here.

Employer mandate effective 2015.

Employee taxes filed, due April 15, 2016 or as late as October with routine extension. 

IRS compares return information with reports that are reviewed 'later in the year', so let's say the IRS performs miracles and can do it by December 2016.

Notification and response period, hell, I don't know, another six to eight months?  August 2016. 

First potential payments of penalties from corporations, maybe, just maybe, by the end of 2016.

In the meantime, the individual mandate and its associated tax credits are in effect January 1, 2014.  Just over two months from today, and nearly three years from when we can expect penalty payments to begin rolling in.

Who in the hell is footing the bill for all those advance tax credits in the meantime?

October 27, 2013

Slackers

Last night was the school's annual Halloween carnival.  Each primary classroom is tasked with a carnival sort of game and parent volunteers are solicited to work 30 minute time slots.

With today's technology, the room moms and dads use various computer-based platforms to ask for volunteers.  They send emails and links to online sign up forms, and then continue to beg, via technology, for more help as people ignore the earlier pleas.  I bet the enthusiasm, participation, and outcome would be improved if some of these people actually spoke to the people they are requesting help from.

I dutifully signed up for a 5:30 slot in each of my younger kids' classes, sending Mr. H one way and me the other, with The Princess in tow, to work our shift before beginning our family fun.

The other parent that had signed up to work the 30 minute time slot with me showed up 12 minutes late.  She then proceeded to let her kids play the game, for free, several times.  She left twice to go ask a question.  And then, without a word to me, and without waiting for her scheduled relief, picked up her things and walked out the door at 5:58.

And we wonder why the younger generations have no sense of responsibility or work ethic.  Look no further than their parents.

October 25, 2013

Silent but not deadly

I am not much of an early shopper, but I think I have the men in my family covered for Christmas - and it is only October!
Shreddies flatulence filtering underwear features a ‘Zorflex’ activated carbon back panel that absorbs all flatulence odours. Due to its highly porous nature, the odour vapours become trapped and neutralised by the cloth, which is then reactivated by simply washing the garment.
Don't you love it when companies make up important sounding names to describe some 'technology' they came up with.  Zorflex?  Really?

The company is British, but with all the probiotic yogurt in the USA (loaded with Bifidus Regularis!), Americans are snapping up the magical underwear:
"Americans are making up the majority of our sales at the moment," Shreddies spokeswoman Ianthe Betts-Clarke told The Huffington Post.
Since word about the odor-neutralizing Shreddies passed through the Internet a few days ago, the company has experienced a 400 percent increase in orders over all, Betts-Clarke estimated.
Now all we need is sound dampening underwear to make life with gassy people tolerable.

October 24, 2013

Sweet Zombie Jesus on a Pogo Stick

Next week brings Halloween.  Little ghosts, goblins, superheroes and various characters take to the streets to load up on candy.

We have two children of trick-or-treating age, one has elected to go the momma-loves-you route and is wearing something from her closet and using a prop she already owned.  The Princess is dressing up as Lilo in a Hawaiian-print dress and carrying her Stitch stuffed animal.  Crash chose the Super Deluxe Ninja with 8 authentic plastic weapons costume.  He is itching to wear it, but has made do with wielding the arsenal that came with it.  For the record, Nerf swords are easier on the shins than those cheap hard plastic things.

I am not sure that either of my children's costumes would be acceptable at the University of Colorado:
In the letter sent by a university official students are asked to consider the impact that their costumes could have.
Christina Gonzales, the dean of students, wrote: "Making the choice to dress up as someone from another culture, either with the intention of being humorous or without the intention of being disrespectful, can lead to inaccurate and hurtful portrayals of other people's cultures.
No cowboys, no Indians, no hookers, no 'ghetto' or white trash costumes - all named as banned by the university.  Living near a college campus, and routinely seeing college students in their natural habitat, I am not sure how they will accurately determine if someone is wearing a costume or daily street wear.  I frequently see college kids at the local mall and wonder if they are, in fact, on their way to a costume party.

Attention students at UC Boulder...perhaps one or two of you would like to do a little research on the following topics: the Constitution/Bill of Rights, freedom, education, harmless fun.

October 23, 2013

Exactly.







October 22, 2013

Parenting Fail

Each day, as Crash waits to be released to go home at the end of the school day, his class has 'free draw'.  After they have put away their study tools and prepared their backpack to go home, they are allowed to sit quietly at their desks and draw until they are dismissed.  Nearly every day, sweet little Crash gets into the car with a piece of construction paper in his fist, anxious to tell us about what he drew that day.

Yesterday as the kids got in the car, they were all smiling, albeit for different reasons.  Crash climbed in and thrust today's art work toward me, as Bang started laughing and The Princess started tattling.



Yes, you probably read that right.  The word bubble contains the phrase 'Holy Shet'.  And yes, he meant what you think he meant, he just doesn't spell great yet.

As I started to reprimand him, he spoke those magic words that make it hard to parent effectively in a situation such as this...'But you say it, Mom.'

Yes, child, yes I do.  And, the presentation of this drawing, and the knowledge of what conversations I could be having with his teacher, or other school staff members, had they seen the drawing, make the caption more apropos than I would like to admit.

I admit it, I swear like a sailor.  But, c'mon, I don't smoke, I drink in very reasonable moderation - I deserve a vice.  Kids these days just don't buy into the 'because I say so' model of parenting the way they should.  

October 21, 2013

FOD

Ah, the shutdown is over, back to the golf course he goes.

36th time this year, putting the prez a little below a once-a-week average, but I am betting he makes that up during his annual Christmas in Hawaii golf binge.

It is the 147th time he has played since taking office, well on his way to breaking the 200 mark that I predicted he would surpass before leaving the White House.

Even though the White House tours were stopped as part of the sequester, Blowie thinks we won't remember the difference between the sequester and the shutdown, and has had the tours reinstated.  Just like no one was supposed to notice that all of the "closed due to government shutdown" signs were professionally pre-printed and installed on nearly a daily basis by organizations that were, supposedly, not working.

Blowie should really take notice.  Even Maureen Dowd is turning on him.
When sweet reasonableness doesn’t work, Obama’s default position is didactic disdain. He underuses the fear and charm cards. When he first saw the White House movie theater, he was surprised there were so many seats beyond what the first family would need. Bill Clinton, on the other hand, probably would have built a balcony and auctioned off seats, if he could have.
Heh.

I like that phrase, "didactic disdain".  Heck, D.D. could be his nickname.  And this is the photo that perfectly complements the description:

October 20, 2013

Freedom gone

I once knew a guy who would describe himself as "confident".  Kind people might agree, but add that he was confident in an obnoxious sort of way.  You know the type, consistently convinced that their way is the best way and they are wrong most of the time. 

Case in point, he was a decent cook and he was always bragging about this dish he liked to make.  I politely declined several times, as the main ingredient was one I am allergic to.  Somewhere in his tiny brain, the belief that I would love his famous meal so much overpowered any semblance of common sense on the outcome of feeding someone a food they are allergic to.  He snuck it in on me one day, putting a plate in front of me with a smile.  Four or five bites later I walked out the door, and never looked back.

You can't change that kind of blind obstinance.

Someone should tell the president.

Our republic was never meant to 'work' this way.  In fact, our country was founded on ideals intended to prevent a government that forced its belief of what was best for the citizens, onto them.

Look around you.  Pick any object or service related to any item around you.  Heck, think about the computer or phone screen you are reading this on.  Any guess as to how many governmental rules, regulations, trade laws and taxes have impacted the product you see in front of you?  Help me justify the word 'FREEDOM' with what we have today.

October 18, 2013

Verizon sucks

I love my FiOS service.  Except when it goes down.  That's the trouble, you see, with putting all your eggs in one service provider's basket.

Wednesday night, during the late news broadcast, the television signal went a bit wonky, blacking out for a few seconds every couple of minutes.  I turned it off and read a book.

The next morning, I picked up the landline phone to make a quick call.  No dial tone.

Turn to the computer, and techno-freak out mode sets in.  No interwebs!

Just to be sure of what was already sinking in, I turned on the television.  Nada.

I am no slouch, so I rebooted the router, checked all connections from outside Verizon box through to all inside components.  Battery back up green lighted and operational.  All good on my end, so I dial up my handy-dandy Verizon app (luckily I do not have my mobile egg in the Verizon basket).  Wouldn't you know it, their online support app was down!

Called support to be told by the computer voice that there was a known outage in my area and it would be fixed by 3 pm.  When I left the house, I noticed the Verizon truck at the Big Green Box at the end of the street, with a repairman hard at work.  I received updates via text throughout the day and was pleased when the problem was fixed by noon.

Except that it wasn't.  When I went home after work, we still had no service of any sort.  I did the reboot dance again, thinking maybe that was in order.  No luck, so I called in again.

And this time I had to go through several minutes of computer generated demands to take all the same steps I had already done, before said computer ran a line test from their end and agreed that there was an issue to the house.  Then I had to stay on the line for a Real Live Person and my wait time was Over Ten Minutes.

The real live person went through all of the corporate mandated steps to verify address, account, and the Same Freaking Problem that their computer voice and I had already isolated.  While he ran the line test, he started to ask me if I had considered downloading and using their In-Home Agent service.  Yes, you moron, and it works great when I have mother-f'ing internet access!  Two week's ago I chatted with a service agent to get a dead set-top box replaced, do you see that on your screen?  And that, due to Verizon being closed on Sundays, we went without for two days. On the month we are beginning to look at a net loss on the old Verizon service.

Real Live Person came to the same conclusion as the computer and informed me that the outside box needed to be replaced and he would be happy to schedule a service call with the first available appointment being between 5 and 9 pm the following day (today).

I can't wait for the Verizon repairman to show up during dinner tonight, or perhaps it will be just after bedtime for my youngest children.  Our outside box is near the back door, fastened to the house.  This area, with its location under the eave, offers a little protection from the elements.  It has been a rainy week.  The Dachshund hates water, and all but refuses to go outside in the rain.  When we force it on him, he will walk two or three steps from the door, staying under the eave, to do his business.  The puppies like to go wherever he goes.  Did I mention it rained for days earlier this week?  Right under the Verizon box is four days worth of Dachshund excrement and puppy poop.  And poop scooping day is Saturday.

I know it isn't the repairman's fault, but I do like to take all the steps I can to encourage him to fix everything just right, so he doesn't have to return to the Labrador-puppies-and-full-of-shit-Dachshund-yard anytime soon.

October 17, 2013

Mugger Psyops

Brilliant thinking on the part of a young woman being mugged in D.C.:
The victim was walking home to her Capitol Hill townhouse when she was violently confronted by a man in the dark, grassy area between the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Heritage Foundation.

The assailant grabbed the victim's arm and demanded her wallet and phone. "I said the first thing I could think of," the victim, who asked to remain nameless, told the Washington Examiner.

The victim, who weighs a petite 95 pounds, explained to the assailant she was an intern with the National Security Agency. As an intern, she said, she had no cash to fork over (she is actually a staffer at a D.C. nonprofit, and in fact did have cash on her).

The victim elaborated further, warning the would-be mugger that the phone she held in her hand — complete with a pink-and-blue Lilly Pulitzer case — would be tracked by the NSA if she were to turn it over.

"I told him that the NSA could track the phone within minutes, and it could cause possible problems for him," the victim recounted.
 This changes my whole contingency plan framework.  Sure, some things will still get you pumped full of lead if you try it, but, some situations could certainly warrant the NSA defense.  And I think I can be much more convincing than this fortunate lady was.  I read the news and I watch spy movies.  I just know I can craft a totally believable story line.

Living near a major airport will be a help...there is almost always the sound of an airplane off in the distance...I mean drone, because I am a super secret spy and HQ must always know my whereabouts, and if I don't transmit the code sent to my phone in the allotted time, they will do a flyover.  Here they come now...

October 16, 2013

The Great Manipulator

Over the weekend, there was a swift and unexpected snowstorm in the Great Plains.  If you read more conservative new's sites, you may have seen the story.  For reasons still confusing to me, nearly 100,000 cattle were frozen to death - trapped in the fast moving storm, their carcasses scattered for miles.

While I have many family members that have herds of cattle, they don't live quite that far north, and I don't think that they do anything special in the face of a snowstorm.  I understand that in South Dakota and surrounding areas, they generally move the cattle to winter pastures that offer more shelter - something that hadn't been done yet, as this type of storm is unheard of in October.

100k head will make a mark in the beef market for a bit.  Some ranchers lost all or most of their herd, and some Indian reservations were particularly hard hit.

This is a Big Deal to Americans, economically.

Why isn't it front page news?  Well, that government shutdown thing has taken top billing.  Running a close second, yet not getting nearly the press that it should, is the Obamacare exchange rollout debacle.  Obama has announced that once this debt ceiling pseudo-crisis blows over he will push immigration reform.

That's right, in the midst of (if you believe the hype) the possibility of the United States of America defaulting on its debt for the First Time Ever, our president is announcing his next divisive move.  One that is necessary to appease a huge block of voters if the Dims have any hopes of winning future elections. 

Americans - native and legally immigrated are suffering.  Some are hungry, some are unemployed, some just saw their livelihood die on the Plains.  This administration is laser focused on two things; saving their messiah's trademark healthcare law and getting their party re-elected, the health, security and economy of American citizens, be damned.

October 15, 2013

Rotten Tomatoes

The spin on this shutdown is something to behold.  I am, as you would expect, biased, but who isn't framed by their life's experience?  I don't think that my belief system changes how petty this administration has been during the shutdown.  The idea has been to make citizens feel the pain of the government's actions.

One area in which they have failed miserably in the shed-a-tear-for-us department is the cuts to the White House residential staff.  Does anyone really care if the normal staff of 90 is cut to a bare bones 15?  Is it a national tragedy that the White House garden is going unharvested?
The first government shutdown in seventeen years has had a dramatic impact on First Lady Michelle Obama's world-famous Kitchen Garden on the South Lawn, currently bursting with more than thirty kinds of vegetables, including Presidential pumpkins awaiting harvest just in time for Halloween.  

In the eleven days since the shutdown began on Oct. 1, the pounds and pounds of ripe organic bounty have gone to waste.  The vegetables filling the 1,500 square-foot plot are now rotting away on the vines and in the boxed beds, thanks to the mandate for "minimal maintenance" placed on the skeletal crew of National Park Service gardeners who remain on duty at 1600 Penn.  

The gardeners are not allowed to harvest the crops, a White House source told Obama Foodorama. 
Weeds are springing up everywhere, and the vegetables that have already fallen off the vines are now mouldering on the ground.
Did you catch that last bit?  It isn't that there aren't people there to pick the tomatoes and pumpkins, they aren't allowed to.  It is a mandate, from on high.

Apparently, Michelle can't put on her gardening gloves and pull weeds unless there is a photo op involved.

Somewhere in that ridiculous article quoted above, there was mention that this was the first White House garden since Eleanor Roosevelt's Victory Garden during WWII (wrong, Hilary had one on the roof when Bill was the prez).  The juxtaposition is worthy of notice.  Roosevelt's White House garden was intended to encourage Americans to support the war effort and supply shortages by rolling up their sleeves and providing for themselves.  Michelle's garden was a PR object, used to bolster her initiatives aimed at healthy eating and exercise - the product and activity of maintaining a garden seemingly takes a back seat to proving a point with this administration.

October 14, 2013

Columbus Day FOD

When the government is already shut down on a federal holiday, is it still a holiday?

Apparently no progress has been made in getting the governmental gears turning at full speed again.  I empathize with any affected by the shut slow showdown, but other than continuing to confiscate my tax dollars regardless of work effort, the shutdown has not manifested any immediate or discernible affect on me or mine.

I anxiously read and watch the news, expecting to hear of what is being done to re-open the gov and stave off the default looming if no budget deal is reached.  Often times it is hard to get much information, which stymies me, since this was supposed to be the most transparent administration in the history of the universe.

Remember?


October 13, 2013

Misplaced sympathy

Even non-sports fan are likely to have heard or read about the death of an innocent 2-year old boy fathered by professional football player Adrian Peterson.

Since the toddler was injured (and now after his death), social media and every sports-related media outlet has highlighted the condolences sent to Adrian Peterson.  Today, the stories have taken on the tone of Adrian the Mighty, since he announced that he would play in his regularly scheduled NFL gig this afternoon.  Oh, how brave to soldier on and play a game, no doubt in tearful memory of his son.

Except that Adrian Peterson didn't even know that the boy existed until recently.  He had never met him before seeing him in ICU at the hospital before his death.
The football star — whose son died on Friday after his mother’s boyfriend allegedly badly beat him — learned three months ago that he had a child with a woman living in South Dakota, the site reports.
The woman called him with the news after her ex took a  paternity test revealing the boy didn’t belong to him — and the NFL star quickly made arrangements to meet the tot, the site reports.
"Quickly made arrangements", huh, three months have gone by, I guess my idea of 'quick' differs from that of Mr. Peterson.

When the news of the toddler's injury first broke, I read a story that quoted a family member as saying that the child was not Adrian Peterson, Junior.  Which doesn't seem strange anymore, now that we have some context:
Peterson has at least two other kids with two other women, including a daughter, Adeja, and son named Adrian Peterson Jr.
Seems like Adrian isn't just an expert football player, he has perfected the baby daddy thing, as well.

The only person deserving of any sympathy is that innocent child who died after living two years in an abusive home, never knowing who his father was.  What a sick society we have become to place so little value on human life. 

October 12, 2013

Bury me upside down, so the world can KMA

When I die I may not go to heaven
I don't know if they let cowboys in
If they don't just let me go to Texas, Boy!
Texas is as close as I've been.
Recently, my parents took a family gathering as an opportunity to update my step-sister and me on the whereabouts of their important documents, and their wishes upon death.  A talk that is necessary in all families, yet not everyone is comfortable getting past the emotional hurdle to be able to discuss the practical matters associated with the loss of a loved one.

My pragmatism is come by honestly, as my wishes seem to echo those of my parents - once I am dead, I really don't care what you do with me.  Graves, urns, and rituals are for the living, and while I have some boundaries on what should be done in my name, whatever best serves those left behind is fine by me. 

In August, I returned to visit my father's grave for the first time since his funeral in 1985, and, yes, there is a little misplaced guilt in my life over the fact that my father is buried 1,600 miles away, where no one from his family has ever been, and so far away that my life circumstances didn't allow for me to get there until nearly 30 years had passed.  Clearly, a grave to visit didn't shape my grief, recovery, or life after his death, though had it been nearer to me - or to his family - I am sure there would have been frequent visits out of respect or some need.

On the flip side, every animal I have owned since I was 12-years old is buried in my parent's backyard, under a shady tree, and every time they start to talk about down-sizing and moving, I have a little panic attack about not having access to my pet cemetery.  Mostly, I like to sit on the back porch, and look out toward the 'pet tree' and fondly recall the dogs, cats, frogs and fish buried there.

Death is personal, and families should be able to do what serves them best - to whatever degree they want, as long as it does not infringe on the rights of another.  I can't appreciate any reason why burials on privately owned property should be the concern of anyone but the property owner.
The Alabama Supreme Court on Friday rejected an elderly north Alabama man's appeal to keep the grave of his late wife in the front yard of the home they shared for decades.
It was her dying wish, and he kept it.  Who is harmed by this man burying his wife on his own property?

I like the thought of a fiery Viking funeral - the television version, not the historically accurate one.  Put me on a raft with the outgoing tide, and then shoot a flaming arrow to start the pyre.  Any chance that is legal?

October 11, 2013

Obamacare Ageism

One of the little quirks of Obamacare is the change in plan structure for small businesses.  For the coming year, the change affects employers with two to fifty employees, then in a year or so (barring a repeal or restructure miracle) employers with 50-100 workers will be affected.

If you know just the basics about group health, you are probably aware of 'composite' plans, those plans that take into account the general demographics of your company's employees and set a rate based on that information.  Employers with more than 100 employees will continue to have their risk assessed, and plan rates assigned, based on a composite risk.

Small employers are switched to a rate system that is based on each individual's age.  No more single rate for employee coverage, or employee + spouse, or employee + family.  Each employee, and any dependents, all have an individual price according to their age at time of plan renewal.  Our company got a look at what Blue Cross Blue Shield's rates for our company will be under this plan:



So, youngish people, with kids under 18 enjoy low rates.  A couple in their mid-20's with three (or more) children have a lower total per month premium cost than a 54-year old covering themself and a similarly aged spouse.  Sounds great for young people, huh?

Having seen the number, and magnitude, of companies that have slashed their full time work force and stopped offering health care to those working less than 30 hours, is there any doubt that the next major movement caused by Obamacare will be blatant and widespread age discrimination?

October 10, 2013

Tip a flight attendant?

This article asks the question, "Should you tip a flight attendant?"

Hell. No.

Some bleeding heart idiot is quoted about how little pay and benefits some flight attendants get, which somehow translates to me being responsible for forking over my hard earned money to make up for their poor career choices. 

I don't know about you, but free flight privileges would be a pretty sweet deal. And they make well above minimum wage, unlike restaurant servers.  Even then, if going to a restaurant required me to be full-body scanned and herded like cattle through various lines until finally getting seated in a cramped little seat that I have already paid hundreds of dollars for...I would probably think twice about tipping there, too.

Last week I ran the gauntlet of an American Eagle regional flight from DFW to Houston.  That plane, whatever it was, sat 54 people in 18 rows of three, with two seats on one side and one seat on the other.  There was overhead compartment on one side, but it only held backpacks and purses, normal rolling carry-on bags are gate checked - but they don't tell you that in advance.  As each person handed their boarding pass to the gate agent, she put a valet tag on it and instructed them to put it on the rack on the jetway since it wouldn't fit on the plane.  Knowing this information in advance would have alleviated the issue of 54 people hunched over their carry on bags in the jetway, trying to remove or repack items that weren't intended to be catapulted into the cargo hold of a plane.  But, I am sure American would lose even more business to competitors if people knew about the baggage issue in advance, so they choose to inconvenience people at a point of no return.

And on that return flight to DFW, the lone flight attendant was preoccupied with something at the front of the plane and never walked the aisle pre-flight to check for fastened seat belts and properly stowed items.  At first I thought I just missed her walking by, but it became a subject of conversation among the back half of the plane.  So, don't give me the "their job is to keep you safe" line of B.S. either.

October 9, 2013

Hearing a smile

Last night, just before 9 pm, our landline rang.  Yes I still have a landline, let's move past that.

It was a political survey.  Usually, I can tell fairly quickly which side they are surveying for and craft my answers so that the call is ended rather quickly.   This one didn't go that way.  After the first few demographic questions and gauging my likelihood of voting in the next midterm elections (will definitely vote), the caller moved into the meat of the survey.

All of the questions were centered on "President Obama" and "Republicans in Congress". 

I was asked who I most related to regarding the government shutdown, Obamacare, and the debt ceiling issue.  At times, the caller read long statements about each issue from two different political points of view, asking me which one I most agreed with.

One of the statements about Obamacare included claims that ''engineers are working around the clock to keep the website up as it registers millions of hits" and "thousands of people have successfully signed up for new insurance coverage" which differs wildly from the statements made by Sebelius and others to the media, in which they claim that numbers are not yet available.  Anyway, it was here that I laughed out loud, asking the caller where that statement came from - I mean, really, not even MSNBC has put a number to it, and all I have heard about are the issues trying to access the site.

Her response, "Ma'am, I just read the questions they want me to ask," except she pronounced it "axe". And then she went on to explain that she is instructed to read "bof" statements and get my answer without influencing either position.

Now, I won't draw the obvious, and raaaacist, conclusion indicated by her speech, but I will say that she remained professional throughout the call, even in the face of my clear derision of, what one would assume to be, her dear leader. 

What I will say is that my polite, yet pronunciation-challenged, telemarketer could teach politicians on all sides a thing or two about civility among those with whom you disagree.

October 8, 2013

Hail to the Redskins!

Yeah, I know, not their best year, but I am no fair weather Redskins fan.

Count me among those ticked off at the nanny in chief who has decided that the best way to spend his time during a government shut down and looming debt ceiling crisis is to bitch about the need for the Washington Redskins to change their name. 

Regarding the 'Redskins' moniker, as seen on White House Dossier,
A 2002 poll by Sports Illustrated found 75 percent of American Indians have no objections. A 2004 poll by the Annenberg Public Policy Center put the total at 91 percent.
Nobody cares except Obama and some liberal wonks with his ear. 

Here is my theory.  The Great Divider in Chief has done his bit to stir up racial tension with blacks, Hispanics and whites, so he has moved on to the next group of people that he thinks he can sway for his party.  I can't think of any viable explanation for Blowie to wade into something so mole hill-ish in the midst of Everest-ish problems.

So, the prez thinks the 'Skins need a new name, okay, I agree, let's call them the Maryland Redskins.  No, that's kind of feminine, how about the Landover Redskins?  Both are more geographically accurate and I would venture to guess that more people are offended by the 'Washington' part of the name, anyway.

October 7, 2013

FOD - GTFO edition

The king of vacations hates people with vacation homes of their own.  And he hates old people.
Joyce Spencer is 77-years-old and her husband Ralph is 80. They've been spending most of their time in the family ice cream store since going home isn't an option.
The Spencers never expected to be forced out of their Lake Mead home, which they've owned since the 70s, but on Thursday, a park ranger said they had 24 hours to get out.
"I had to go to town today and buy Ralph undershirts and jeans because I forgot his pants," Joyce Spencer told Action News.
The Stewart's Point home sits on federal land, so even though the Spencers own their cabin outright, they're not allowed in until the government reopens.
Park officials said property owners can visit only to retrieve belongings; they sent Action News a statement which reads in part, "Unfortunately overnight stays are not permitted until a budget is passed and the park can reopen."
As has been repeatedly pointed out in social media in response to the story, the president lives on federal land, yet hasn't been booted out.

This administration has taken more extraordinary steps to create pseudo-shutdown-related issues to influence the situation.  They have erected barriers around open air memorials, for goodness sake.  They have shut down scenic overlooks, barring the public from SEEING nature from federally owned asphalt. Park rangers have said that they have instructions to "make things as difficult as possible" for the public. 

One hopes that all of this assholery will ultimately wake some people up.  While libs find it easy to blame conservatives for the shutdown, surely some are smart enough to realize that the greatest number of these shutdown issues are unnecessary and arbitrary. 

October 5, 2013

Narcissist in Chief

Thursday, day three of the government shutdown, day three of Obamacare and it's high profile sign-up failures, the president is surely in wall-to-wall meetings with Cabinet members, advisors, staff...right?

Wrong.


October 4, 2013

Galveston Oh Galveston

Forgive my absence, I have been suffering through a conference in Galveston, Texas.  Of course, it has been beautiful, with sunshine, warm weather, and few tourists at this time of the year - but, I also have to sit through several hours of ass numbing workshops each day.

I have realized that the organization that I am here with, has a very liberal national leadership committee.  I have also been exposed to something I was peripherally aware of; the leadership of Galveston, and the surrounding area, is very liberal.  Much talk about wealth redistribution, in terms of housing, opportunity, and assistance.  I believe that everyone deserves a fair opportunity, but I don't think that includes providing assistance and housing for them to live on an island and in a community that many gainfully employed people can't afford.

It is always enlightening, and entertaining, to visit with leaders and politicians in areas that are so different in landscape and ideology.  Things that are assumed as truth and the American Way here seem completely foreign to others.

Needless to say, I am looking forward to that plane ride out of here tonight.

On the other hand, it sure is pretty...



Video from the Galveston Island Convention & Visitors Bureau

October 2, 2013

A Shutdown DREAM


The E-Verify work authorization program went dark Monday, becoming another casualty of the federal government shutdown.
While it is offline, employers won’t be able to enroll in the free online program or use it to verify whether newly hired employees are eligible to work in the U.S.
My husband's company uses E-Verify.  His HR department is now scrambling to figure out if they can legally hire during the shutdown - and what risks there may be in hiring someone, training them, and then having to un-hire them in the coming days or weeks.  Currently everyone has been asked to hold off on any hires that hadn't already cleared the system. 

I can't quit giggling.  The Denali Commission, whose own Inpsector General says is a boondoggle, is still at full strength, but we can't staff a skeleton crew to keep a computer database system online.  The 'Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (Department of the Treasury)' is still in the office, but you can't visit the George W. Bush Library - which really confuses me because they charge admission.

Wouldn't it be fun if everyone got fired, and then the general public decided which functions of the government were critical and important, and we re-staffed those functions based on popular demand?

October 1, 2013

The 24%

Using CNN's handy government shutdown chart, I added up the numbers of government employees that are estimated to be sent home until there is some resolution on Capitol Hill.

Among the various government agencies, 3,428,654 workers would normally be clocking in this morning.  And, drum roll please...a whopping 821,504 will be taking the day off.  How is a ~24% reduction in force a shutdown?  And this list appears to be only a sampling of government agencies, not to mention the fact that nothing surrounding the lives of politicians is affected.

Most of us have clear memories of this situation from past shut downs.  I waited rather anxiously for a passport to be processed, slowed by the 28 days the government was closed in 1995-96.  I still got it, and not much longer than standard processing in those days, but it was clear to me then, as it is now, that the government determines 'essential' and 'non-essential' based on how it may sway their constituency, not on actual importance of the job. 

Much ado about nothing, I think.  If you want to see real action, close the East Course at Andrews.