March 31, 2014

FOD

I don't routinely watch Saturday Night Live.  While there has been a funny skit or two each season, and they sometimes have hosts that are worth watching, mostly, I fall into the camp of people that bemoan the good old days of the Not Ready for Prime-Time Players.  The comedic genius of Belushi, Aykroyd, Chase, Radner and the rest, simply can't be replicated.

When artsy people make fun of a Dimocratic president, it is usually worth a giggle or two.  And, this past weekend's opening bit is worth posting for FOD.

NBC's embed code and/or Blogger isn't playing nice today, so click this link to view the video.

March 29, 2014

Need more options

I'm a Turbo Tax girl.

I am not stupid, but I do not have the time or inclination to wade through tax code.  I do not desire to make a simple mistake and suffer the wrath of the IRS, whose agents, incidentally, mostly use computer-based programs similar to Turbo Tax, to audit returns.  My return isn't terribly complex, so I am usually comfortable with this method.

Turbo Tax doesn't always ask the right questions.  Or, it asks them in a way that does not offer the sort of answer I think I need to select.  Most years, I can cross-reference actual tax code, read the instructions, put a pencil to a worksheet, and feel pretty confident that I am inputting the correct information.

Through careful planning, dumb luck, and four kids, I have never had to pay the IRS at the end of the tax year.

This year ain't looking so good.  Luckily, I know a great CPA that is going to help maximize what he can to minimize the check writing, as well as warn me of the pitfalls that caused this situation for the year.  He is even more fabulous in that he will login to my Turbo Tax account and do his magic, versus charging me by the hour for him to enter basic information.  So, I have spent a few hours making sure everything I had was entered, clicking through each section, so my tax guy can make the best use of his time when I turn it over to him.

This morning I was finishing up, clicking through the final sections of Turbo Tax.  And there it was at the end.  THE question.  Just after something about foreign accounts, and donating $3 to the presidential campaign fund, there was the one question that I knew was coming, but had kinda forgotten about in the midst of the numerical soup of forms I had been wading through.  "Do you have health insurance?"

I will admit that I expected a more technical-sort of query.  The simplicity of the question stirs up Clinton-esque responses, such as, "It depends on how you define 'insurance'."  Many people put their faith in things other than a written, and paid for, commercial policy.  I think I could probably always make an argument for answering 'yes' to the question, no matter my actual participation in the sort of plan that I know they are intending to quiz me about.

I clicked 'yes' and moved on, but really, really, think that there should be a third option.  Might I suggest, "It is none of your f'ing business."

March 27, 2014

The next argument for a path to citizenship...

Social Security Insolvency - Google that and you will get a slew of articles, reports and studies pointing to an estimated 20 year end date for a program that costs American workers millions of dollars out of their paychecks each year.  Assuming they are 15-20 years from 'retirement', they aren't likely to see any of that money again.

Pundits, politicians, and the Trustees of the Social Security program all agree that if something doesn't change, the cash runs out.  The money phrase is found in this quote from Jack Lew:
“But as was true last year, it is projected that the combined Social Security Trust Funds will be exhausted in 2033, and incoming revenues will be insufficient to maintain payment of full benefits starting in that year,” he added.
Using 2010 numbers, the Social Security Administration estimated that illegal aliens working in the United States, contributed some $13 BILLION in payroll taxes, while only $1 BILLION in benefits was paid out to those in the same category.

Our Social Security system is receiving $12 BILLION +/- net gain from illegals each year.  Our system should be flush.  Where in the heck did our political system get so broken that we, the sane people who can figure out basic math - never mind actuarial tables, let the entitlements and welfare systems of our country get so big that a $12 BILLION gift each year isn't even a drop in the proverbial bucket?

Can't you hear it now, "We can't deport illegals or Social Security will go broke."

March 26, 2014

Supreme Ignorance

The Hobby Lobby/Obamacare case is being heard by the Supreme Court, and it didn't take very long for a couple of female liberal justices to make their opinion known.
During oral arguments in the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday which focused on whether the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act violates the free exercise of religion, Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan suggested employers who have moral objections to birth control should not provide health care coverage for their employees. “But isn't there another choice nobody talks about, which is paying the tax, which is a lot less than a penalty and a lot less than -- than the cost of health insurance at all?”
To be clear, I don't have a religious-based concern in this matter.  I do have the same concern that I have had since Day One of Obamalamadingdongcare - the government mandating ownership of federally-approved insurance, or they will be fined, taxed, flogged, whatever.

Sotomayor continued to show how out of touch she is:
“Those employers could choose not to give health insurance and pay not that high a penalty – not that high a tax,” Sotomayor said. 
“There’s one penalty that is if the employer continues to provide health insurance without this part of the coverage, but Hobby Lobby would choose not to provide health insurance at all.
"And in that case Hobby Lobby would pay $2,000 per employee, which is less that Hobby Lobby probably pays to provide insurance to its employees,” Kagan said. “So there is a choice here. It’s not even a penalty by – in the language of the statute. It’s a payment or a tax. There’s a choice.”
I got news, lady, while insurance is costly, I doubt Hobby Lobby is paying $2,000 per employee.  I am involved in making benefit choices for my company.  My employer has a wonderful philosophy about health insurance - and our coverage is paid 100% by the company - for the employee and dependents.  We are the only company that our insurance broker knows of that provides fully funded coverage for employees.  We are a small group, so we get the crappy prices, but, even then, family coverage (and it is a 'Gold'-type plan) does not exceed $2,000.  I am sure Hobby Lobby does better in the pricing department, and I would venture to guess that the employees pay a share of their coverage.

The real lesson here, regardless of the decision that will be handed down in the Hobby Lobby case, is this: the Supremes are reinforcing their earlier decision that labeled the Obamacare penalty a "TAX".  Sotomayor and Kagan both labeled the penalty as such in their comments.

The precedent is now set, it seems, that gives the government the power and ability to regulate private conduct through the tax code.

March 25, 2014

Isn't their re-write insulting enough?

Foreign countries are infamous for their version of history.  China, Japan, Korea - all notable for their ability to paint Americans, and their allies, in whatever historical view suits their current purposes.  One would hope that this would be enough for us to overcome on the world stage.  Now we have the Michelle entourage in China, which is an embarrassment in and of itself.  Then she had to go and open her mouth:
First Lady Michelle Obama talked about America as she visited a school today in China. She talked about the American dream:
And my story isn’t unusual in America.  Some of our most famous athletes, like LeBron James, and artists, like the singer Janelle Monae, came from struggling families like mine, as do many business leaders -- like Howard Schultz.  He’s the head of a company called Starbucks, which many of you may have heard of.  When Mr. Schultz was a boy his father lost his job, leaving their family destitute.  But Mr. Schultz worked hard.  He got a scholarship to a university, and eventually built the largest coffeehouse company in the world. 
And then there’s this other guy I know who was raised by a single mother who sometimes struggled to afford food for their family.  But like me, this guy got scholarships and loans to attend universities.  He became a lawyer and a professor, and then he was a state senator and then a national senator.  And then, he became President of the United States.  This guy I’m talking about is my husband, Barack Obama.  (Applause.)
These stories are the stories of so many Americans, and of America itself.  Because in America, we believe that no matter where you live or how much money your parents have, or what race or religion or ethnicity you are, if you work hard and believe in yourself, then you should have a chance to succeed.  We also believe that everyone is equal, and that we all have the right to say what we think and worship as we choose, even when others don’t like what we say or don’t always agree with what we believe.
But [she] warned that not everything is perfect. "Now of course, living up to these ideals isn’t always easy.  And there have been times in our history where we have fallen short.  Many decades ago, there were actually laws in America that allowed discrimination against black people like me, who are a minority in the United States.  But over time, ordinary citizens decided that those laws were unfair.  So they held peaceful protests and marches.  They called on government officials to change those laws, and they voted to elect new officials who shared their views," she said.
"And slowly but surely, America changed.  We got rid of those unjust laws.  And today, just 50 years later, my husband and I are President and First Lady of the United States.  And that is really the story of America –- how over the course of our short history, through so many trials and struggles, we have become more equal, more inclusive, and more free." 
There is so much wrong with this speech.  First, the embarrassing stereoptypes:  LeBron as an example, well okay.  A little stereotypical, (black basketball player) but probably well known world-wide.  Janelle Monae?  Does she sell a lot of records in China?  Howard Schultz?  I guess she needed a token white guy, who, coincidentally went to college on an ATHLETIC scholarship and later owned a professional basketball team (so he looks black on paper).

Then, the memory lapse about the civil rights movement.  "Peaceful protests and marches".  Harlem?  Watts?  Post-King assassination riots?  The Black Panthers?

"We have become more equal, more inclusive, and more free."  Anyone feeling that, today?  Black unemployment has soared under Obama.  There is no equality in our nation.  If there were, my daughter could get scholarship preference for being white and middle class.  And pointing that out makes me a racist.

I suppose you are free.  Free to choose your government mandated health care plan.  Free to register your guns with the government.  Free to seek employment and fund programs that are promoted as "government funded".  Free to sit on your ass at home and collect welfare, unemployment, food stamps, on the backs of gainfully employed people.

Gah.  I love my country, but the people occupying the White House make my stomach turn. 

March 24, 2014

FOD

In preparation for the Obama entourage's tour of the Great Wall this weekend, nearby vendors were told to suspend display and sale of a popular T-shirt.  
After taking the gondola back down to the parking lot, several reporters fanned out and stopped at t-shirt stalls to investigate a tip — that merchants had been told to temporarily suspend sales of t-shirts that show President Obama in a Mao hat.
That tip turned out to be true. Several merchants denied carrying such items, but one merchant quietly took this correspondent to the back of her tent and showed off a whole box of the popular, normally seen t-shirts. As we were negotiating prices – she wanted 360 yuan, or roughly $60, an outrageous starting price – other merchants came by, and in Chinese, told her to be careful. The merchant became visibly rattled and put the t-shirts away.
 I wonder why anyone would worry about offending Moochelle and the kids by displaying for sale a shirt that depicts her husband, in what is likely considered to be, a compliment by Communist Chinese standards.

Obama would likely wet himself at the thought of achieving socialist goals anywhere close to what Mao is credited with.  He's well on his way.

FOD Golf Tally:  7 rounds this year.  164 during his reign.

March 22, 2014

The best laid plans

Sub-title: Never send a man to do a woman's job.

I got Bang and Mr. H out the door at the crack of dawn this morning, headed to Bang's track meet.  It is the first of the season, and the first big track event that our family will have attended, as well as being the school's inaugural event.  The school doesn't even have a track, the kids just practice on and around the soccer field, but they wanted to compete, and the school obliged them.

The meet was supposed to be huge, 40 schools had entered.  I am not sure if it turned out to be 40 tiny track teams, or if some were scared off by the weather, which has been cold and rainy, but, the little bit of info that Mr. H has passed on is that there aren't that many kids in attendance.  All the information we were given by our coaches was that runners needed to be at the track (40+ miles from our home) by 8:30 am at the latest.  Mr. H was supposed to observe and give me an idea as to how long each event was taking, so I could load up the other kids and make it to the track for Bang's last two events this afternoon.

Some five hours after their arrival, I got a series of texts, first telling me that Bang was not going to run his last two events - that he would only run the 800M, then everything was back on.  Mr. H finally called to say they were running the first race.  Was this the actual schedule?  Rain delay?  Some other issue?  "I dunno."

How many kids does it look like are running the first race?  How many heats will it take?  "I dunno.  Hard to tell which kids are practicing and which kids are gathering to race."

Have you talked to a coach? "No."  Are they following the schedule? "I dunno."

Historically, men can strategize and execute complicated battle plans, troubleshoot mechanical problems, organize logistical nightmares, why are youth events such landmines for them?  Want to see a deer-in-the-headlights look?  Mention school play dress rehearsals and concession stand schedules.  I know a few great Mr. Moms, but for the most part, I don't think we females need to worry about getting displaced by men when it comes to navigating school and sports events.

I think I will head toward the track now, as my request for a simple text each time a new event starts have yielded the information I was asking for all along, and have allowed me to make a reasonable estimation of the event start times.

Did I mention that while jumping up to answer one of the useless phone calls, I collided with a Labrador and have most definitely broken a toe, and possibly a metatarsal?  Yeah, so Mr. H gets to live that down, too.

March 21, 2014

Shake & Bake

Boys are stupid and it is fun to laugh at them.  I once had a boyfriend whose roommate decided to 'try on' another roommate's contact lenses one day.  Who does that?  (Answer: boys.)

I haven't seen many girls on YouTube doing stupid stunts or pranks, that territory seems to be firmly held by the males of the species.  In this video, a couple of Swedish guys (proving it isn't just American males that have a Jackass mentality) strap TENS units to their arms, crank up the current, and try to make a cake.

You don't have to sit through all of it, but it does get more funny as it goes on.


March 20, 2014

Racist Pizza Censorship

Dallas-based Pizza Patron is no stranger to controversy.  In fact, I would argue that they thrive on it.  In 2007, they made the news when they ran a promotion that highlighted the fact that Pizza Patron, an American company, accepts Mexican pesos for payment.

I can't imagine why there would be so many Pizza Patron customers with a pocket full of pesos.  Maybe in border towns, but in Illinois and Colorado?  I really don't care what forms of payment they take (and have no fear, they take EBT cards, too), I just can't imagine the accounting nightmare created by accepting foreign currency - but that is between them and the IRS.  I suppose my beef with anything that is intended to promote one culture, race or group over another, is that I don't think that is what was intended by the great American Melting Pot.  More and more, people immigrate to America and then demand that America treat them special, and acknowledge and celebrate their culture and heritage, rather than contributing to the tapestry of a blended nation.

And that is my problem with Pizza Patron.  They don't want inclusion, they want to be treated as an exception.  They scream about their Hispanic roots while setting up shop and making their fortune in the United States of AMERICA.  And, really, Mexican pizza?  GMAFB

This week, Pizza Patron is back in the news, as they have named their latest pizza creation with a phrase that is considered offensive slang by so many Spanish-speaking people, that television and radio stations have refused to air the commercial for fear of FCC sanctions, and many Pizza Patron operators won't sell the product.

I know all about context, just last night I had a conversation with my kids about female dogs being properly called 'bitches', but that calling a person that word is reserved for Mommy wrong.  We didn't get into it, but some groups affectionately use the word 'bitch' to address one another.  Girls may refer to their group of friends as 'my bitches'.  Does that mean we should name a product 'bitch' and air commercials using the word freely?  Do you want toddlers repeating that word at church?

While "La Chingona" is the name of Pizza Patron's new spicy pizza, and while it may be a slang term accepted in some areas, even here in Mexican-soaked Texas, I know what most people take it to mean.  There is an f-word connotation in there, for you Spanglish-challenged folks.

So, let's put this pizza name into my earlier example: Do the fine folks at Pizza Patron want children telling their pastor to keep the sermon short, because daddy wants La Chingona for lunch?

Can Pizza Patron accept that this isn't a great name for a food product?  Hell. No. Instead, they are screeching about oppression and judgement, racism, cultural bias.  Look at us, aren't we special?  You must put us on a pedestal because we are different and Mexican, otherwise you are racist.  Accept our profane name for our spicy jalapeno-stuffed Mexican pizza or you are narrow-minded.

Why aren't Italians throwing a hissy fit about the bastardization of one of their culture's most recognizable foods?

March 19, 2014

Failing our kids

Boom is nearing the end of her sophomore year in college.  She had, what I would consider to be, normal (but infuriating) adjustment struggles her freshman year.  She took a more rigorous path in high school, and she has done the same in college, and while there were some tense times last year as she made bad decisions, she is doing better now, a product of, I hope, learning from the choices she made and suffering the consequences.

More and more, I am hearing about Boom's peer group, and how they are failing at college.  I would expect a certain percentage of kids wash out for a variety of reasons.  There have been a percentage of party kids, a few sad tales of drug busts and jail time, a few teen pregnancies.  But some of the brightest, most driven high school kids are the ones that are dropping (or getting kicked) out of college.  One kid in particular, who was an absolute brain of a child, winning science and math contests, valedictorian material, I recently learned, has flunked out of two universities in as many years and is now living with his parents and working at a movie theater.  WTH?  
Other kids lasted one semester away from home and then moved back, with some going to local or community colleges, with no real aspirations.  Kids who were raised in upper/middle class homes, by educated parents, in an exemplary school district, are now proudly posting pictures of their Wal-Mart name tags, excited for their new 'career'.  I am not knocking any kid willing to go out and get a job, but these are kids that know there isn't much future career growth in retail cashier jobs, and they had/have every opportunity to do more with their lives.
Who is failing?  The kids?  The parents?  The schools?  I have a couple of theories, and probably, it is a combination of factors.  But, I think there is a big chunk of blame to be placed on a community (being the parents and schools) that doesn't let kids fail and learn the lessons that come with suffering the consequences.
Most anyone who stops by here frequently is of the same mind as I when it comes to 'participation' trophies and no-cut sports.  We don't let kids rejoice in their own accomplishments, or suffer through their disappointments when we treat every kid, every action, every outcome, the same, whether they are triumphant or miserable failures.  They never develop a drive to succeed.  They never develop resolve to improve or adapt.
The local high school has a program they call 'ZAP', it stands for 'Zeroes Aren't Permitted'.  If a kid forgets an assignment, he has until the beginning of the next class period to turn it in.  If he doesn't have it then, he is basically detained at the school (using study hall and/or detention) until he completes the assignment for a reduced amount of credit - but never a zero.  On top of this, the school uses frequent email, an online grade book, and an environment of constant reminders, to ensure that kids do their work.  They administer benchmark testing, and then require kids who do poorly to go to tutoring before the actual state tests.

This makes it all look very good on paper.  High test scores.  High GPAs.  High college matriculation.  But when these kids get to college and the helicopter parent is at home, the professors don't harangue them to do their work, and the tests are one and done - is it any wonder so many are failing?

March 18, 2014

False Hope

It has been 11 days since Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared.

At this point, one would hope, expect, presume, that the search would, at the very least, be narrowed down to some area, direction or scope that was a product of conclusive evidence or information.  Each day, it seems, this situation grows more muddled, the story more bizarre.

The search area now encompasses some 2.2 million miles.  Where they spent the first days looking seems to have been a complete waste of time.  The plane, it is now believed, could be anywhere from Kazakhstan to the middle of the Indian Ocean, between Australia and Madagascar.

I don't want to discuss the conjecture regarding crew, their possible deliberate actions, the political leanings of anyone on board, or any other media-hyped report that is desperately trying to provide a 'why' and 'how' to something that simply isn't known.

While I can't imagine the pain and despair the families must be feeling, I can clearly see the impact that the media makes by reporting every minute scrap of 'information'.  Locally, American Paul Wood's girlfriend and brother have been on the news, both of them proclaiming their belief that the plane landed safely somewhere, and that their loved one is alive.  It simply isn't rational or reasonable, but in the face of knowing nothing, I suppose I can understand their choice to believe something so illogical.  And the media's conspiracy theories fuel their fire.

March 17, 2014

FOD - Russia needs Caller ID edition

Last evening, reading of the Crimean 'vote' to break from Ukraine and (re)join Russia, I was struck by the apparent lack of phone technology in Russia.  One of the articles I read mentioned Obama making a third call to Putin, as well as John Kerry speaking to his Russian counterpart, to denounce their actions.

I can't imagine why Putin is still taking Obama's calls - unless they don't have Caller ID in Russian, and he is expecting someone else.  Why in the world would Putin, or anyone in his government, take calls from ours?  Entertainment value?

"Hey Sergei, he 'condemned' my actions again.  I do not think this word means what he thinks it means."
"Put Kerry on speaker, he is going on and on about his 'strong concerns'. We shall make it a drinking game.  One shot of vodka for his every 'concern'."

Could the USA look any more impotent?  Can't you just see Obama stomping his foot as he tells Putin that he rejects the results of the vote?  The Crimean vote doesn't count because the King of America says it doesn't count.  Or something like that.


Happy Saint Patrick's Day




I am of Irish heritage, though I don't think any of us need any sort of excuse to 'celebrate' what is supposed to be a religious feast day marking the death of a saint that wasn't even Irish himself.

We had our traditional meal yesterday, before Boom headed back to college, including corned beef and cabbage, but replacing soda bread with a nice Shiner Bock-studded beer bread.  I think Paddy would approve of the substitution.

Slainte!


March 14, 2014

Mile High Education

Pay no attention to the empirical evidence, the media tells me:
Colorado colleges and universities have seen a dramatic jump in applications, including from out of state, following the legalization of marijuana, but officials insist there’s no drug connection.
Oh, okay.  Colorado doesn't have a college that breaks the top 75 in US News or Forbes rankings, but we should attribute this spike in applications to Colorado's adoption of the Common Application and increased recruitment.  It has absolutely nothing to do with the state legalizing marijuana.

Well, maybe it depends on what they are handing out at recruitment booths, if ya know what I mean.

And that empirical evidence I mentioned?  I have a college student and a high school student.  I talk to them, their friends, educators, advisors, admissions folks.  They have the same old tired 'college night' at the local high school.  They have the same percentage of kids that want to go to certain Colorado schools for the same reasons; family allegiance, intended major, friends going there, etc.  None of which explain that up to 70% of the local kids that are actively applying to colleges are now including a Colorado school in that process.  Sure, some are doing it on a lark, for a laugh with friends, and some hoping to achieve a new level of college party decadence on mom and dad's dime for a few years.

The article points out that the legal pot possession age is 21, and that the substance is banned on campus.  Sounds just like nationwide alcohol laws - and we all know how successful those are at keeping alcohol out of the hands of college students.

I don't care what Colorado does with their pot laws.  (Well, I do think that there are many unintended consequences of putting the legalization cart before the standards of enforcement horse, but that is another post).  I know my kids, and, I know which of them I could send off to Colorado and still sleep at night, and which ones I couldn't - or wouldn't.

Colorado colleges should just embrace the fact that their state's schools are attractive for different reasons than before.  Denying that some percentage of students are coming to Colorado because of the pot laws just highlights how dumb these educators are.  I might not send my tuition money and my kid to your state's schools because of legalized pot, but I most certainly would not send my money and kid to your state's schools if you are too stupid to acknowledge basic truths of the world.

March 13, 2014

Gone Viral

There are often startling moments of clarity in the life of a parent.  Some happy, some not, some a glimpse of the men and women our children are destined to become.  Sometimes, bits of their character that we aren't so proud of even come out.  Usually it is in the form of an off-color comment in front of a person who would be most offended by it.  Such is life.

I had another sort of clarity moment last Thursday.  If I were to analyze if from a clinical angle, I would likely be in awe of the number of simultaneous thoughts, visions, and actions we humans are capable of within the span of just a few seconds.  As one thing happened, I reacted to it mentally and physically, and the immensity of the moment, the consequence of the occurrence, what it meant, and what it would bring, were brought into sharp focus.  It was, for lack of a better phrase, a classic, "oh shit" moment.  It went like this:

I picked The Princess and Crash up from school.  We had some time to kill while Bang finished track practice, so we went for a snack and to pick up some items at Costco.  The Princess had been yammering for a Shamrock shake, and who can blame her, they are only offered once per year, and it marks the rare occasion that I willingly darken the door of the Golden Arches.  Crash opted for something the marketeers had been hawking on the teevee, a Chocolate Covered Strawberry Frappe.  After one swig, he said he didn't like it.  The Princess grabbed his straw for a taste, to see if she would be willing to trade.  Instead she offered to mix in the whipped cream, thinking that it lacked some sweetness or something.  They passed it back and forth a couple of times. He seemed appeased, and sipped a bit.

We strolled around Costco, and, well, I swiped a few sips of the drink that Crash wasn't going to be able to finish.  We also shared a few samples.  We paid, we left.  As we pulled in to traffic, Crash started complaining of stomach pain.  I quizzed him on his symptoms.  I asked him if he felt like he was going to throw up.  He said, "No."

And then he ralphed all over my car.

The moment I heard that first retch, everything was illuminated.  As I verbally comforted Crash, tried to roll the window down, drive the car, and minimize the damage, I also saw, in my mind's eye, the drink sharing, the inevitable future illness that would befall The Princess and I, the missed work, the laundry, the helpless children, the smell, the pain, the sleepless nights - all of it, right there in that split second.

No amount of Lysol, Purell, or hand-washing was a match for this virus.  By Sunday, Mr. H was down.  Monday, Bang.  The Princess and I held strong until about 3 am Tuesday.  I tried to convince myself, as I sat with her on the cold tile of the bathroom, that my stomach was just puny from watching her be sick.  Nah, I was just hours behind her.  Boom, bless her heart, was the last one to get it.  Probably delayed by her weekend away from home, she should have taken my advice and bunked with the grandparents the rest of the week.

What a crappy way to spend Spring Break.  Especially for the college kid who wants nothing more than a few of her favorite home cooked meals for a week.  Two days I was too sick to cook, and now she hurls at the mere thought of food.

For the record, seeing it coming did absolutely nothing to prepare me for the misery.

March 10, 2014

FOD

Unemployment is still a thing.  3.8 million people are counted as long-term unemployed, which are the people still on the radar because they haven't given up on finding a job yet.  What a sad day, when 'experts' look at labor reports such as this one and say that it is good news, simply because it wasn't as bad as they thought it would be.  That's a heck of a legacy, "The Obama Years, it could have been worse."

Obamacare is an unmitigated disaster that Dims are running from, in last ditch efforts to save their midterm hides.

Last week, Obama unveiled his 2015 "budget".  Entitlement reform?  Hell. No.  Paul Ryan aptly commented that, 'This budget isn’t a serious document, it’s a campaign brochure.'

Three Americans are missing along with over 200 other souls, vanished along with their airplane, somewhere in the South China Sea.

But, hey, it is Spring Break, and it has been three weeks since the president had a vacation, so the Obamas are in Key West.  

I wonder if Putin ever pees his pants, laughing at our president.

March 8, 2014

Godspeed

About this time last night, I was reading the news headlines and learned that a Malaysia Airlines flight had lost contact with air traffic control.  I thought then what so many have said in the media, it sounded eerily familiar to the Air France tragedy in 2009.

Any sense of security we had about air travel is a false one.  No matter what the final report may show, no matter if terrorism had nothing to do with whatever outcome we discover - it remains that two people boarded an international flight using passports that had been duly reported as stolen.  Silly me, I assumed that there was some sort of database or something, since they scan your passport at customs.  Even the beleaguered credit card industry has a system that works worldwide, should you report your card stolen.  One would think that the identification needed to enter and exit countries would have stringent safeguards.

I sincerely hope that the passports are simply some sort of Thai black market thing, and nothing more nefarious.  Though, it sure seems odd that TWO people with false credentials ended up on the same flight.

As the few details have been released, and corrected, it is now believed that three Americans were on board the missing flight.  One of those Americans was from a neighboring town, and as social media has revealed today, the friend of friends, our children the same age, with numerous connections.  He was the father of two Aggie sons, one currently in the Corps of Cadets, the same year as my daughter, which makes him family to us, even if we have never met.

Seeing the expressions of grief for one man has been heartbreaking, I simply cannot imagine the pain that over 200 families are suffering with tonight.   Sometimes this world seems unnecessarily cruel.

March 6, 2014

Blurred Lines and Zero Tolerance

Remember how Joe Camel had to go away because he was too cartoonish and attractive to kids?  Alcohol companies should take note.  I didn't agree that a cartoon camel was encouraging kids to smoke, but I will say that I have been stumped recently, at the variety of alcoholic beverages that appear to be something else.

Last night I ran in to Wally World, and right there past the door, in the PRODUCE section, was an end-cap display of Redd's Apple Ale varieties.  There is the plain apple ale, a strawberry apple mix, and apple ale 'ice tea'.  My kids gravitated toward it, as they don't know, specifically, what "ale" is, and were confused by the ice tea moniker.  And the package has a giant apple on it, that's healthy for everyone, right?

In the past, I have seen sparkling cider near the apples, looking like champagne, offering the teetotalers and children a cork to pop on special occasions.  I don't recall ever seeing an actual champagne display near the grapes.  I have seen 'hard lemondade' in the produce section, though.

With marketing specialists and retailers blurring the lines between what we think are 'healthy and good for everyone' products and those containing alcohol, and considering how alcohol is promoted, packaged and featured in retail stores these days, I am not too surprised that there is confusion.  It will likely lead to more stories (or convenient excuses) like this:
Lainey Tackett, 13, said she was standing in line waiting for class this year when another student handed her a can of Bud Light Cran-Brrr-Rita that she mistook for canned cranberry juice, such as Ocean Spray or V8 V-Fusion.


Her confusion can be justified, don't you think?  She should also point out that food labels are too confusing for females to figure out, so she didn't realize it was alcohol.  If the president's wife says it, it has to be true.

Of course, poor Lainey is now another victim of a school's zero tolerance policy, kicked off the cheerleading squad and sent to alternative school for 88 days, because she brought the unopened can back on campus and returned it to the girl that handed it to her.  Zero tolerance policies do not take into account the student's past behavior, the circumstances of the situation, or the character of those involved.  I don't know whether Lainey's story is believable, because I don't know her.  She was a cheerleader and a good student, according to the article.  She didn't drink the alcohol, she returned it.  If nothing else, these cases need to be weighed on their merits and stop hiding behind idiotic policies, that, as my friend Tim pointed out, do nothing other than insure that school officials never have to make a decision on their own.

March 4, 2014

Taking Teen Angst to New Levels

I think we all had those rebellious teenage moments (some more than others), in which we yearned for the day of our magical 18th birthday.  Legal adulthood.  I remember I got a humorous birthday card that reminded me that I could be tried as an adult, but couldn't buy beer.  But, oh, the sweet sense of freedom.

I lived at home beyond 18, and while I had 'freedom', I also had a job, and shared responsibility at home.  I made car payments, got myself to and from work and school, cooked, cleaned, and mowed.  I didn't feel put upon, or entitled to sit around and watch MTV all day, but I suppose that is because I grew up being an active member of my family, not a little princess like this brat:
A New Jersey teenager claiming that her mother and father tossed her out of their home and cut her off financially is suing them for immediate support, current private-school fees and future college tuition. The parents, meanwhile, say that daughter Rachel Canning, 18, moved out voluntarily after refusing to abide by their rules.
And what big, bad rules they had, too.  They had asked her to reconsider her relationship with a boyfriend, which is likely a much nicer way to say that they forbid her to see him, they asked her to be respectful to them, and they set a curfew for her.  Pretty standard parent stuff.

According to the brat, her parents arbitrarily kicked her out the day she turned 18, cutting off all "financial and emotional" support. So now she is demanding that they pay her private school tuition, her "living and transportation expenses", and give her the money they saved to pay for her to go to college.  The lawsuit made possible because the friend she has been staying with has a lawyer for a daddy.  Obviously the kind of lawyer-daddy that treats his little girl like a spoiled princess and will use our legal system to try and force others to be bad parents, too.

As ridiculous and frivolous as the lawsuit sounds, it does strike a chord of fear - I haven't (yet) had a really rebellious child, but I think that if I did, some similar action would be taken.  I certainly am not going to pay for phones, cars, insurance, etc., for a kid running wild and not abiding by my house rules.  It seems disingenuous that I am legally responsible for a child's debts until that magical birthday, but a court will consider extending that responsibility into legal adulthood.

If the courts set some precedent about parents supporting adult children, well, that is a very slippery slope.  Where in the world would you draw the line?  None of the things this kid is asking for are life necessities.  She isn't hungry, or naked, or homeless, or ill.  She wants her cell phone and car and swanky private school, and then she wants four years of sorority parties.  On someone else's dime.

Somebody get that poor girl an Obamaphone and some college loans that a future democratic government will forgive.  If Obama had a daughter,...oh, wait...

March 3, 2014

FOD afternooner

Incredibly slammed for a snow day...

Kids are out of school, again.  I think they will be going until mid-June now, to make up the days.  Work hectic, despite everything else being shut down.

I forgot to post my original FOD, and something else is on my mind right this minute, so in tribute to the other, I say this, cutting the military while trying to exert 'influence' over Russia makes us the laughingstock of the world.  Again.

What is bugging me right this minute, and what I absolutely feel falls definitively into the FOD category is this:
Texans are again being asked to conserve electricity to maintain the power grid's reliability amid freezing temperatures, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. 
ERCOT anticipates that morning's rush will be hardest on the grid so the conservation warning is expected to last into Monday morning. It's too early to tell  how the thunder sleet that hit North Texas on Sunday will affect Monday's commute. Several area school districts already closed or are starting late. 
Thermostats should be turned as low as comfortably possible, preferably no higher than 68 degrees. Homeowners are also urged not to use big appliances. 
Can someone explain to me, with households full of government mandated Energy Star appliances and non-incandescent light bulbs - things that are saving millions of watts of energy every freaking day,  why do we now have 'power emergencies' all the damn time?

March 1, 2014

Moochelle steps in it, again.

If you have ever wondered to yourself, "Do the Obamas really think that the American people are stupid?", wonder no more.

The answer is a resounding 'YES!'.

Several days ago Michelle Obama, on yet another late-night television appearance was hawking Obamacare and referred to young people as 'knuckleheads".

More recently, the White House released a ridiculous video of the president and vice running around the place to their ultimate reward, a glass of water in the Oval Office.  This, part of the Wookie's anti-obesity campaign.  How often is it that we see any member of the first family doing any actual exercise?  Don't worry, I won't Google any photos of past presidents in their running short-shorts to prove my point.

And now, this:
In pitching new, improved nutrition labels at the White House on Thursday, first lady Michelle Obama tried to identify with women who do the grocery shopping for their families. Her message was aimed at mothers who want to buy healthy food and depend on labels to help them do that:
"So there you stood, alone in some aisle in a store, the clock ticking away at the precious little time remaining to complete your weekly grocery shopping, and all you could do was scratch your head, confused and bewildered, and wonder, is there too much sugar in this product? Is 50 percent of the daily allowance of riboflavin a good thing or a bad thing? And how on Earth could this teeny little package contain five whole servings? 
"This stream of questions and worries running through your head when all you really wanted to know was, should I be eating this or not? Is this good for my kids or not? And if it is healthy, how much of it should I be eating? But unless you had a thesaurus, a calculator, a microscope, or a degree in nutrition, you were out of luck. So you felt defeated, and you just gave up and went back to buying the same stuff you always buy. 
Can I get a resounding FU from all you confused and bewildered female grocery shoppers out there?

Could this administration be any more condescending?  Riboflavin?  Seriously?  In case you hadn't noticed, lady, there are people in this country that would do just about anything for the privilege of having grocery money, and there are people who take what little they have and manipulate it to the best of their ability to feed all of the mouths in their homes.  How's about you waddle your fat ass over to your husband's office and ask why so many unhealthy foods and ingredients are subsidized by the government.  Connect the dots to see why fresh healthy meals are un-affordable for many, while fast food places can push tacos and fried foods on a dollar menu.

Sheesh, what an ignorant, and insulting, cow.