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.