Showing posts with label Controversy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Controversy. Show all posts

Saturday, February 28, 2015


Owning and using a car is a big responsibility.  A car is a useful tool for getting you places and transporting others who do not have a means of getting somewhere.  It can open doors to new worlds.  It is also dangerous if used carelessly.  You can kill or maim yourself or others.  Therefore substantial training, testing, and licensing of both you and the vehicle is required.  Cars can be stolen by others and thus we have gotten much better over the years in providing locks to prevent this.  That is not saying cars don't get stolen, but we have more complicated preventions, such as more complicated locking devices, silent alarms, cars that stall when stolen and GPS tracking devices so that we know where cars are at all times.  Not all types of vehicles can be used on public roads.  For instance, if you own a tank or one of those big wheelers, you must get a special permit to go from point A to point B and if you want to move a bus you have to have a specific license and testing in the majority of states.  Cars are not cheap to own and most states require insurance to protect the driver and others from tragic expenses and lawsuits.  Those that do not require insurance do require a vehicle fee paid to the state or the posting of bond. You cannot drive when under the influence of a drug and if caught can lose your license and/or car and must find other means of transportation if needed.  You may need to be re-tested for an understanding of the laws or even re-tested for eyesight and reflexes as you continue to drive. You are required to have your vehicle certified over time to make sure that it still has all the safety and other features working.  Law enforcement can check fairly easily any information on a vehicle by checking the license plate number in a database. 

All of these protections can be bypassed with effort, but that does not stop me from supporting the laws and technologies now in place even though it makes owning a vehicle an expensive privilege.

I feel the same way about guns and would like to have similar rules implemented.

( I should be home tomorrow...back into the polar express area of the world.  I saw the sign above and realized it was not something I would have seen years ago.)

Monday, January 19, 2015

Research, An Expensive Vitamin

Hubby got an email the other day from someone he had never met.  She was the niece of a research scientist that he had gone to school with many decades ago.  She was doing some historic exploration on her uncle, but not because he had passed away recently.  He had died a long time ago and she wanted to know more about him.  This uncle had taken a night dive off the coast of Oahu back in the 1970s and was never heard from again.  Some surmised that he had been taken by a tiger shark that had been cruising the area, but since he had had a diving partner who also never returned, there were other guesses of an accident and perhaps heavy currents.

I think this is a gray taken by me back in the 1970's

I used to S.C.U.B.A. dive fairly often when I lived in the South Pacific, and I have posted on this time in my life earlier in this blog.  I look back on those years as if I was some other woman, because I never got out of the water until my tank was nearing empty; I was fearless.  Over the years, I preferred snorkeling, because there was more flora and fauna in the less than 30 feet water.  It was a wonderful time in my life.  We were young, just married, in good health, and the cost of diving, since we had just purchased a small outboard motor boat, was easy to swallow, as was the ability to enjoy the remote beaches sans clothing.  I should tuck a story or two away for my grandchildren to read someday so that they can think Grandma was just a little fascinating and not always a boring old lady sitting at home, because this was where my love affair with the earth kicked into high gear.

This is I next to some soft coral.

Crinoids which were my favorites when they waved their feathering "arms" in the current.

An other life form bored by all the paparazzi. (squid)

I remember seeing small sharks (3 to 5 feet long) at the edge of reefs on half of those diving days.  They ignored us and we just kept an eye on their distance and dorsal fin to check their mood as we cruised looking for interesting stuff.  (A dorsal fin is like the hair on the back of a dog.)

I digress.  Getting back to Hubby's email, Hubby thought back over his relationship with this former colleague and said he remembered that the guy was super-focused on his work which was to research cave fish that came out only at night, and therefore he had to do a lot of night diving before his grant money ran out.  There are always those that take dangerous chances for their passion and sometimes inadvertently give their life.  In spite of what conservatives like to tell you, scientists are like policemen, teachers, journalists, doctors, nurses, parents etc. They feel their work is important even if it revolves around cave fish, they do like their work, and they are as honest or dishonest as the next guy.  The huge majority of scientists are truly focused on finding the facts, taking that chance and making the world a better place with their discoveries, not on beating a drum for a preconceived agenda, or doctoring results so that they can get that pittance of a grant that barely pays for the boat fuel once a graduate student's salary is paid and lab materials are purchased.

I have worked very briefly on a committee reading and reviewing grant applications, and politics never came into the discussion on whether a grant should be awarded.  It was always whether the grant was well thought out, well written, had an accurate budget, fit the discovery of the granting institution and of compelling interest to the citizens. There were always many more grant applications than money to grant.  Scientists and their assistants spend much time writing even while researching and many good applications fall by the wayside.  Regardless of who gets the money the search for INFORMATION is the key.  (In this cave arena information involves bacteria that may have applications in cancer research, data showing changes and evolution in species adapting to environmental change, etc.)

There was a recent bill passed in the House of Congress (H.R. 1422--little chance of it ever being moved and signed but let's continue to waste the taxpayers dime) that has restricted independently funded scientific environmental experts from being appointed to boards of the EPA, because Congress feels these scientific experts "have an agenda."   It also restricts scientists that get grants from EPA to serve on the boards; I am assuming that Congress feels their results will be questionable as well.  The same bill makes it easier for petrochemical scientists to be on the boards of EPA though, because this will erase any "appearance of impropriety".  Pretend that someone who studies viruses finds that his data foretells a preventable epidemic and he gets his funding from NHS, but he must pretty much keep from talking to the primary institution and hope they read it and grasp its importance.. but those who could take action on it are well informed by pharmaceutical companies that have a new weapon against this self-same virus. (Can you tell I am furious with this ignorance or actually the greed of self-serving politicians?)

Research scientists that work for universities and the government are not the ones bringing down big salaries and making money off of polluting the air and the water and causing this documented increase in small earthquakes near fracking sites or the tremendous increase in carbon dioxide being now held in ocean waters---soon to reach its limit.  Yes, it will cost you and me money to breathe clean air and drink clean water and stem the tide of the rising oceans and mitigate the long droughts.  But at what price is a healthy world?  Although in reality it is too late to prevent some of this---islands and low lying parts of countries are going to go underwater and we will have waves of refugees leaving their sunken land in coming decades.  (A glacier recently calved a piece of ice the size of lower Manhattan and three miles wide!.)

As an aside, in my research, the FBI website lists eco-terrorists as more active in this country in causing havoc than ISIS.  I am NOT advocating that!

By the way, neither political party gets even a B from me on their environmental report cards. And sadly I think most people do not seem to care what kind of world the meek will inherit much less what they leave their grandchildren because many of faith in Congress leave it all up to God and those of money know they can build their castle high on a hill in a better climate.  I think Sophocles wrote, "No good e'er comes of leisure purposeless; And heaven ne’er helps the men who will not act."

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Too Good To Not Pass Along

Banging head on desk and wondering why some people cannot find a country with no government where they can go live and leave the rest of us taxpayers alone.  When you are done reading this brilliant response from a small town newspaper note the first letter in each paragraph.

You can go here or cut and paste below.  It has gone somewhat viral on the "net" already.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Walking in Someone Else's Shoes

Bryan quietly slipped on his right boot.  They were laces, so they would not make the noise that his Velcro running shoes made.  He was trying to be whisper quiet as he wanted to avoid waking his wife and the baby.  Because of the holidays his work schedule now started before the sun got up.  The shoes were new and still pinched on the sides a little.  Bryan forced himself to ignore that pinch because policing the Brinker neighborhood was going to take all his focus today.  As the holidays got closer the crime rate went up on those narrow streets and there seemed to be more crazies.  His partner, Colin, had already started to get angry even before he hit the breaks of the car.  Colin pushed the situation just to get it over with and to get on to the next crazy thug.  The cops at the station thought that Bryan was just too naive in these situations.  They told him he would be sorry one day when he always wanted to give the other side the benefit of the doubt.

Jimar laced his favorite new tennis shoes carefully tightening the turquoise neon-blue laces.  He was going to get to the park early, before his dad came to pick him up this morning.  He knew it was wishful thinking because his dad was always late.  Jimar was excited because he only saw his dad once a month and for just a few hours.  He grabbed his black plastic gun which he took everywhere.  It made him feel safer for some reason and it looked like the ones the big guys in his neighborhood sometimes pulled quickly from their pockets just like a magic trick.

Morty rubbed the sand from his eyes.  One of them was itching more and he knew it was probably infected again, but the free clinic didn't open until Monday.  He moved his stiff joints knowing he had to walk to another corner before that cop came by and banged him on the legs telling him to get moving.  He liked to sit just on the back corner near the grocery store because the housewives sometimes gave him food or change this time of year.  Maybe that fat guy was going to be selling cigarettes today.

(all photos taken from the Internet and Photoshopped to protect the honest)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Dining with a Closed Mind or Where Do You Sit (fit)?

I somehow got on this dining memory streak and because the writing muse has totally gone on a long vacation deep into the heart of some black hole, I will have to go with whatever memory string hangs loose in front of me and create a weave of a story from that.  Wow.  Enough mixed metaphors for you?

Lets go back to Guam for this dining memory.  I was in my early twenties and full of career-minded visions.  I was working in a vocational school for young adults from the islands and a conference or meeting or something resulted in my trip to Guam.  I was living on a small island and flew out with one of the other teachers...a young Micronesian man.  I cannot even remember what he taught.  He was handsome and friendly and intelligent...looked a little like Benjamin Bratt except he was shorter.  I was happily and newly married, so our travel together was strictly professional.  We were staying at the same hotel and although he was attending a different meeting that day, we decided to have dinner together at the end of the day.  As I look back on this it was probably my idea and he felt guilty letting me dine alone and accepted.

I do not remember how we selected the restaurant or even if we got there in a rental car.  I remember that I was on some normal school girl planet and looked forward to eating a nice meal at the end of the day without another stray thought in my brain.  As we entered the restaurant, I noticed subconsciously that my dining companion was acting a little odd.  I could not put my finger on it, but I sensed something out of sync as we were shown to our table.  He seemed ill at ease, and I, being the sophisticated married worldly gal, was concentrating on making small talk and smiling and trying to get him to relax.  I thought, naively and egotistically, that he was just impressed with dining with an attractive woman his age, and concerned he didn't do anything stupid.  I knew that many of these 'local' teachers probably did not get to eat out often.

The meal moved on, but there was still an oddness about the stiffness of his behavior.  Mid-way he accidentally knocked a piece of silverware onto the floor.  I winced, hoping it would not mortify him even more, because this sort of thing could happen to anyone.  But, as he leaned over to pick it up I noticed two young men at a nearby table looking our way and chuckling with what appeared to be derision.  Instantly, little miss attractive, got her brain in gear and a casual look around the restaurant revealed several couples and others (about 25%) staring at us with what was clearly rude condescension and/or reproach barely hidden.  It was the first but not the last time I would be exposed to racism in all its subtle ugliness.  But it was one of the few times I would find the derision directed at me and someone I was with.

We finished our meal and returned to our rooms.  I did not talk about it.  I think I was too young to try an intelligent conversation and I am thinking he was more than relieved for me to forget the whole incident.

I rarely have to keep my radar up as a middle class "whitie."  I think it must be a real energy drain to always be compelled to have your radar running.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Power of Rhetoric

I wrote a long and complaining post a few weeks ago.  I was smart to sit on it.  I had scheduled it for posting on the 20th of this month and just now I marked it as a draft and will probably not post it, and once I get over myself, will actually delete it.  It was one of those "the world is going to hell in a hand basket" posts.  Since we all know that is true...why belabor the point?  People have enough crud in their minds and probably read blogs for enlightenment or humor...although both of these are in limited amounts on my blog.  The recent Arizona shooting of a large number of people including a Congressman(woman) and a Federal judge brought me to my knees...and most of you know by now that I am not a religious person but certainly spiritual and willing to call on any good powers that be.  But the tragedy also caused me to remove that scheduled post.

This shooting while involving public servants had very little to do with politics, and I think most of the media are missing that point, although by the time I write this, they may be getting more accurate in their questions.  This shooting was no more Republican than President Ronald Reagan's shooting was Democratic.  Drawing a line from this incident to violent rhetoric is also fuzzy and difficult.

The most frightening aspect, to me, was Secretary Gates recent announcement of plans to cut military health care at the same time the talking news heads were discussing the lack of aggressive mental health support for this shooter.  Gates is probably just shaking the bushes as no one will allow this.  He knows that.  He doesn't talk about tighter controls over contracts and lost money in Iraq, unfortunately!  But if anyone needs easy mental health support, it will be our returning troops.

Well enough.  I need to find something more inspiring to post.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Reflecting On A 'Reasonable' Request

Years ago when I was in my twenties and thirties I was a big American football fan. I started my interest while in college watching various college football games and then male friends spurred (? oh so many ways?) my interest in professional football.  I knew the players and the team rankings.  I think it was after my children were all potty-trained that I realized I had outgrown this sport. The talking heads talked way too much, the replays from every angle possible went on too long and the drugs and money were too mind boggling for me to look at these guys as athletes anymore. I began to see that a 10 second play took more than three minutes to review/discuss/repeat.  (This was not the fall of the Berlin Wall, after all.)  Football is now the absolutely SLOWEST game on the planet in a culture that encourages video games with numerous explosions and demolition derbies.  In America there are homes where games can be on back to back for 9 hours on a weekend day!  When get-togethers were just the blood relatives I would busy myself with cleaning up dishes after Thanksgiving or watching something else somewhere else while the gang watched their games.

Today if there is a game (and puleeze when isn't there a game?) I retreat to read in the bedroom or hubby heads to our TV downstairs while I watch something I had previously recorded.  If the game becomes a bore, he re-joins me in a short time.  A few weekends ago I had planned a nice dinner for my daughter, who with two little ones and a pending child, rarely gets a break.  I selected several CD's for nice casual dining atmosphere and had them playing.  When they all arrived I was outside on the deck handling a small emergency for my husband involving a deer, a gun and the neighbors.  I was greeted on the deck by daughter and kids but after 10 minutes wondered where S.I.L. was.  I went back inside to find he had turned off the music and turned on the football game.  He was standing watching it even before he had greeted his host or hostess!  I let him know in no uncertain terms that I at least expected a hug and greeting BEFORE football took his total attention!  This real issue, which a mother-in-law will bravely admit, is that I do not get a chance to visit with my daughter as I would like because she is the one babysitting while her husband is watching the game.  There are some men that can do two things at one time...but I do not know many of them.

My son's 'new' girlfriend recently turned 33.  She had planned a birthday party at her house with the theme on threes.  She set up her Ipod for her favorite music.  She had cooked various meals with three ingredients or three in the name but was dismayed to find when she emerged with snacks from her kitchen the guys had turned off her Ipod speakers and turned on the TV for their Alma Mater game!  Their argument was that it was THEIR college and they really wanted to see this.  Her argument was that it was HER birthday and she wanted conversation and music!  She, being the hostess and knowing her mind, won.

Does anyone else find football addiction as rude and intrusive as I do?  Shouldn't the hostess be the one to determine if she wants a pseudo tail-gate party or an actual get-together where you play games or talk with friends and family or break-up into sports and mind groups?  If someone says lets get together and eat before the game...that is different.  But does every weekend get-together have to be a game day?  Am I being hopelessly narrow-minded or very naive or heading down a path of no return?

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

I Got It All Figured Out...For Me At Least

I think I have figured out the basic difference in conservative and liberal mindsets at the far reaches of civilization.  Most of us are sane and reasonable people with little deep seated insecurities that we try not to let rule our brain.  Most of us are willing to try compromises.  But we do have deeply ingrained fears.

Conservatives fear that liberals will get that 'coddle the world' thing going so strong that liberals would be willing to have us all living on a commune with vague morality and therefore stifle progress of all types.  There would be no incentive as all money earned from development of new businesses and new ideas would be distributed evenly to the masses regardless of effort.  We would drown in the laziness of the free ride as liberals insist on saving everyone and refuse to defend themselves with weapons.

Liberals fear that conservatives will get that 'don't trust anyone different' thing going so strongly that conservatives will put us all be under some vague conservative standard that measures our patriotism and loyalty within narrow definitions, and therefore, all liberals will have freedom of speech or privacy or other personal freedoms slowly taken away.  If we don't fit the perfect standard we would be watched closely on every decision that we make.  Rebellious intellectuals would be sent to the country for an improved work ethic as happened in China.

Yeah, probably an oversimplification...but it makes sense to me.

I really think that we both have the country's best interests at heart and if the shouting stopped, we could walk down a middle road.  With compromise, yes, with back-stepping and correcting, yes, but also with progress.  

Monday, March 29, 2010

Pat---Characters #1

Our country neighborhood recently got a new Olive Garden.  Now if you live in the city you are thinking...yeah, big deal?  But out here where every restaurant is fast food or fried something, this chain ups the bar on interesting food.  The place is huge and had been opened about three weeks already.  Last week we decided to stop by and eat (on a Friday night) and when we got there the parking lot was filled.  The lobby was full of patiently waiting people and the host told us there was an 80 to 95 minute wait!  We did not want to spend that much time waiting for our dinner and went somewhere else.

OK.  So on a Wednesday two weeks later, and over a month after it had been opened in this very rural area, we decided to try again.  This time there was only a 30 to 40 minute wait!  Geesh.  Someone has a gold mine here!  We went to the bar and actually ended up ordering dinner there.  I don't usually like eating at a bar but the atmosphere was cozy, the bar staff were wonderful and very charming and the food was delish and arrived much sooner than it would have otherwise.

While sipping my wine and waiting for our salad there was a young person sitting at the end stool next to me.  I turned and smiled at him/her.  Perhaps you are wondering what I am getting at here.  If you ever saw Saturday Night Live and saw Julia Sweeney's terrific rendition of the character 'Pat' you will understand what I am talking about.  Pat was a sexually vague character and each skit was a set-up where someone tried to figure out if he/she was a man or a woman.  Sweeney is perhaps one of the most underrated comedians and played this character memorably.

Well, this person looked like a 19 (could have even passed for 16) year-old.  He/She, whom I will now call Pat was drinking a coke and waiting for his/her takeout.  Pat was so much nicer looking (handsome, pretty) than TV Pat.  Dressed in a T-shirt and slacks and wearing a baseball cap with a man's haircut that covered orange-died curls in the front, made it impossible for me to resist making small talk.  

I learned that 'Pat' was 29!  I commented that while he/she probably did not like looking so young, they would welcome this in later years.  'Pat's' voice did not provide a clue as to the sex.  'Pat' was very nice and I found out that he/she did technical/mechanical work on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter for the Navy!  Pat loved this work and had been shipped all over the world at times because of his/her exceptional skills.

Pat had served in the military in Iraq and liked it there but now worked for a contractor and was able to die 'their' hair orange just to drive the old command officer nuts.  I also learned that 'Pat' had an estranged relationship with his/her father who had left when he/she was only four and hated that the father now knew where he/she was living because of a regular security check that the contractor has to run every time there was a promotion.  (I obviously have a trusting face as we had an intimate conversation on all this while Pat waited for take-out and I waited for breadsticks.)

Pat made a very good salary because of his/her skills and told me that he/she owned a town home and 4 vehicles but was unhappy to be living so far from the maddening crowd of the city.  Pat was a really interesting person with a great sense of humor and made me confident that our defense pilots were in good hands and I thanked Pat for his/her service to this great country.

And, of course, just in case, I did not ask and Pat did not tell about... whatever.

Monday, March 22, 2010

I Should Be Relieved

I should be happy and relieved today since millions of Americans will soon be able to get the same or similar health care to mine.  Americans today who get a tragic chronic illness can feel more hopeful about getting the care they need.

But I am depressed.  I saw too much ignorance and ugliness in the debate leading up to this bill.  I saw a video of a small man in a wheel chair with Parkinson's carrying a sign in support of the bill and being surrounded and yelled at by 6-10 white men who told him to go out and get a job!  They threw money at him as if he was some beggar rather than a citizen with a right to an opinion and a right to give that opinion.  He was very brave sitting their with these ugly souls towering over him.

I drove out of the city on Saturday and was delayed by a long cadre of police motorcycles and cars going into the city and learned later that it was because of anti-health care bill protesters angrily surrounding several black Congressmen calling them racial names and spitting on them.  They also shouted homophobic epithets to Rep. Barney Frank the next day.  Who are these dangerous people?

Some Tea Party protesters carried signs saying that if the bill passed they would incite violence.  My sister who is an attorney said last year that her Republican legal colleagues have actually purchased guns to be prepared...for what I do not know.  Where are their critical thinking skills?

This was not a bill about sending our men and women to war.  This was not a bill about rescinding the constitution.  This was a bill about caring for our citizens who through no fault of their own need a hand.  These are not welfare junkies but people who have lost jobs or lost fights with the death panels of the insurance agencies.  We need to stand by them.  This is about the numerous hospitals that are closing their doors because they can not continue to provide health care for those who have no insurance and still balance their books. 

Conservative Congressmen were far from conservative in their rhetoric.  There were far from statesmanlike in their incitement of the part of the  crowd that was protesting the bill.  The difference between a democracy and other forms of government is that you have the right make your argument peacefully and without threat of violence.

OK, I am done.  I do not like writing like this  because this is not what my blog is about and because I cannot change the minds of others.  But I am glad I got it off MY chest.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Eye of the Camera

(Brief interruption of my tedious Florida travel can leave and go to the bathroom.)

I like to think that my love of photography is my new hobby due to having more time now that I am retired.  I also like to think that the digital technology has made this another reason I take pictures so generously and spend so much time looking for new things to take pictures of.

But, in truth, I have taken pictures my whole life.  I saved my allowance for my first camera when I was about 11.  It was a Kodak Brownie box camera.  It was just exactly that, a small black plastic box with a tiny lens to preview your shot.  I could barely afford the film and had to send it out for development to some address I discovered on the back of one of my well perused comic books each time I saved enough money.  I had the camera for about a year, when one hot summer day I forgot and left it in the back window of our Chevrolet and it warped in the heat.  My mother was totally unsympathetic and hoped I had learned a lesson.  (I always suspected she saw it there and left it to prove a point although with her odd punishment theories, who knew.)  I was devastated.

There were later cameras to follow that I purchased as a teenager.  After I married my husband, I was free to use his expensive Nikon with the underwater housing, a camera that became my best pal when I was learning to SCUBA dive in the South Pacific and beginning to discover the beauty beneath the surface of the ocean. 

While we traveled overseas to many countries there were only two times when I was very uncomfortable taking pictures as a tourist and realized how much contrast there was in freedom in American.  One time I was traveling in Taiwan.  I was approached by a policeman who made it quite clear that I would not be allowed to continue to take pictures on one of the outlying islands close to Mainland China that we visited.  I was also told to keep my camera in my lap during the short plane ride to the island. (I think I remember that I cheated a little.)  While living in  Egypt for a short time one summer, I was approached by a police officer in Cairo and told I could not take photos down a certain street.  I was also approached later that week in Port Said, Egypt, and told I could not take photos after approaching a bridge area that was leading to the Suez Canal.  These Egyptian uniformed and weapon-carrying men were stern and serious and I did not question their authority, both because I could still see the damage to buildings from a recent war, and I did not want to lose my camera or film.

A few weeks ago I received the following link in an email newsletter on photography.  If you take pictures I suggest you watch it carefully because it says a lot about how fragile our freedoms can be.  It also reminds us that we need to know our countries laws and rights and to be aware of how silly irrational fears can make us lose important freedoms in an instant.  Freedoms that when taken away do NOT make us any safer.

Of course one should always ask permission before taking someone's photo, because sometimes they can be very shy and intimidated.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

You Cannot Choose Your In-laws

My life is too short to worry about the views of others and the choices made by my adult children and minds that cannot be changed.  Anyway, my daughter was far into the relationship with my then-to-be S.I.L. before I had even met him.  But I have grown to love him in spite of our substantial differences.

He is a good Catholic (I will not even dwell on my prejudicial fears there..fears about the religion not the people) but my daughter said he did not expect her to convert.  He got a point from me for that.

He is very good looking, well groomed and extremely well-mannered.  He gets points for that although I think he does spend a little too much time on appearances.  (He even gave my 4-year-old grandson a brief lecture on the various ways hair gel can create a look before the pre-school holiday program!)  In balance, he does run and exercise to keep in shape and while vain, it means he will remain healthy into old age.

He is romantic beyond words and loves his children and wife with a passion and gets lots of points for that.

He is hard-working and a good provider and gets points for that.

He has longstanding loyal and honest friends which attests to his character.

He spends too much of his free time either playing golf, watching football or playing fantasy football on the computer...but all people have their vices and his does not involve alcohol or other women.

I did get a clue about some of our basic differences when he tried to shut off the skylight in the bathroom until my daughter explained what a skylight was!

I got another clue about our differences when he told my daughter that he felt we were somewhat prejudiced because we valued higher education so much.  (He doesn't read anything unless it is on a computer screen or in Entertainment Magazine.)

I got another clue when my daughter explained his surprise that she had such strong ethical rules and honesty standards (stronger than his) even though she did not attend church on a regular basis. (This was after he hit a car while attempting to park several spaces ahead and slightly damaging the other car's side mirror.)

I got a clue when we learned he was an ardent Republican and totally had no passion for environmental issues.  He also thought our prior president was pretty smart.

One more clue was provided recently when he told my daughter he thought we were a little strange for taking in an injured wild bird and then spending the time to drive 3o miles to a rescue shelter. 

But the final clarity of how deeply we were different came when he noticed the number of cookbooks on the shelf in my kitchen and asked why more than just one or two would ever be needed.  My life will always be spicier and more interesting and perhaps I can add just a little spice to his life.

I do think that differences in people are what help the world go round and help test our values and beliefs.  We just have to realize we cannot change people and we can only change ourselves.  (It has taken me almost my full life to learn how to live this!)

These two young people do make a well-matched couple as was in evidence when they were visiting their friends over the New Year's weekend.  They were staying up late playing cards, when the mistress of the house where they were staying saw a tiny gray mouse dart under her refrigerator and proceeded to scream in panic as she jumped on the couch.  My S.I.L. followed in like manner and with the same panic stood on a nearby chair.  My daughter and the man of the house got a broom and bucket in an unsuccessful attempt to corner the little free-loader.  There is a pattern and balance to life that works out in the end.

Monday, November 23, 2009

That Digital Sugar High

I listened to a program on MSNBC  (I think) that was discussing how hard it is for people to stop checking their Bl**kberries or logging into FB or Blogger on their computers at least a dozen times a day. They were addicted to any new items from friends or from news feeds. The network interviewed a psychiatrist and she said that our brains were hardwired for the novel. We automatically were intrigued by a new view, a new vision or new news. Therefore this new social networking was like a chemical addiction for the brain. She actually said is was like sugar for our brain.  My husband, who does not own a hand-held personal communication device like a Bl**kberry, said that on his travels many of the people he met with had these little electronic devices in hand and were checking routinely.  (It is almost as if they were waiting for a tweet that the world is indeed coming to an end.)

I find this so true. We want that quick interesting new hit. But we don't really have time or energy to follow the deeper links and really understand that new/new. We read about some climate disaster, or a celebrity breakup, or political icon's last interview or that next emerging plague, but we don't research beyond the initial report. We don't apply critical thinking. What was the extent of the disaster? How are people coping days later? Where did Palin get the facts to make that scary statement? What really is the definition of a plague that they are using and what are the chances this new germ will affect me personally?  Why do I read anything about Paris Hilton anyway?  I have written before my concern about our schools no longer teaching critical thinking skills.  Analysis of what we feed our brain, instead of just feeding our brain is key.

We don't have time for deep thought anymore.  We are unexcited unless there is blood or spittle.  We are even bored at trying to think deeply about an issue, finding it hard to really study other sides and see other angles.   It is always on to the next exciting news or photo or embarrassing event.  We are always on to the next roadside accident which makes it all so simple.  Everything is black and white or start and stop and never gray and there is an endless supply of this novel two bit stuff.

That is one of the reasons I have my other blog. It forces me to sloooow dooown. It forces me to study what is happening in the very small area of my world where I live on a day to day basis. It creates a habit for me to see how I fit within that quiet realm before I try to react in the larger scheme of things. Then when I am breathing at a normal rhythm, if I see something of interest, I know that I need to ask questions about it and not just skim it and then repeat the nonsense to someone else as if I really know what I am talking about. (Maybe I need to research this report?)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

This and That

What does it say about us when we post colored charts for threat levels on terrorism and Canada posts colored charts for this .

I decided that I would adjust my blog settings so that any comments that come in more than 10 days after a post would be held until I could moderate. I did this because for some reason blogger lets spam and scam through for commenting on older posts. I get comment posts weeks later and of course I don't get back fast enough to read those posts to delete. So now they sit on my dashboard hidden until I decide to delete. I have been getting quite a few lately.

I also have been feeling guilty for not commenting on some blogs. I read the entry but can't really think of anything interesting to say when everyone ahead of me has said the same thing. So I just keep my keyboard shut.

My husband's trip took him across the many, many, many islands in the Indonesian chain as well as some bordering countries. Indonesia is both Muslim and Christian but Bali is mostly a hybridized Hindu. He noticed that the island and/or villages where the majority of citizens were either Muslim or Christian remained relatively peaceful and the areas where the division was 50/50 or 40/60 were full of rancor and anger as each group fought for control of the local political system. Why does God make people so angry? I know, I know...just had to write that

While staying at my daughter's house last week a young father came by with his son to play with my grandson. As we got to talking I learned that his wife worked for the FDA and was in the office where they worked on drug approvals for humans. He said she had been there for 10 years. I asked how she liked her job and he said that during the past administration their budget had been cut substantially and they had also felt pressured to get drug approvals moving faster and she had been very miserable. Now she is happy as they have been given a decent budget and are being allowed to do their job as professional scientists without any outside interference.

I took hundreds of photos of fall scenery over the last month and recently found that my camera settings had been on a lower resolution than I usually have. I guess it was from fiddling around with settings that I don't really understand as I experimented with photos. When I was younger I could immediately figure out a camera setting and easily focus on the subject. Now with age I forget to make changes and focus...well even depending on autofocus doesn't always work! I do not like getting old, but I do love having the time to play with the camera.

Hubby brought back a number of gifts from the islands...most from him but some from friends of his. I will post on that later. They are not the usual things one brings from an overseas trip.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Ronnie's Challenge

Ronnie has given all us boomers a challenge to post our ideas about the health care reform activities on the 20th of this month. I could have done some research on segments of one of the 5 proposed bills, the one that is 1,000 pages, which I have not read in full, and write about that, but I won't as I think selective cherry picking on these bills is a waste of time. I have read numerous articles analyzing the various issues and watched lots of television discussion. I have watched all the white elderly citizens screaming at their Congressmen in various town hall meetings over this reform on CNN. I do not see Hispanics, Blacks, or very many young people angry in this debate. (Well, except for the black woman who was escorted out of a meeting after being attacked by another white elderly man at Senator McCaskill's meeting in Missouri for having a poster of Rosa Parks.) I really don't think specific issues of this health care are the reason for the angry debate. The bills are not even finalized. I don't hear people screaming at their Congressional representatives because they do NOT have health care. I do not hear these angry people proposing alternatives or specifics in their arguments. I am frustrated that most of these arguments are inaccurate, non-specific, use inflammatory speech and are based on a mind-set that is not open to discussion. I keep getting the impression that they are very happy with their current health care status and don't really care about those who do not have health care insurance. "I've got mine and you lazy bums can figure out how to get yours." I challenge these same gray-haired angry people to refuse the government run Medicare program when they reach 65.

Part of this seems to me to be an issue of trust---and perhaps in some cases, race. It seems that those who trusted the government to listen in on their phone calls and monitor their computer activities without warrant, do not trust the same government to find a way to provide health insurance to their neighbors and fellow citizens who do not have it. I am guessing that they also completely trust the insurance paid middle-men who are now determining what level of health care they receive under their current private insurance. They compare the ideas for the reform program to a 'socialist' Russia and seem to ignore the success of the Canadian and European health care systems.

This also is an issue of money. I have heard it said that it has to do with conservative people not wanting poor people to get something for nothing, fearing that the expense for this service will have to come out of their pockets.

Well, I also feel that I will be paying for it in some way. My health care costs are going to go up with or without this reform. They will go up with the reform to pay for health care for those who cannot pay or go up to pay for the inefficiencies and huge profits in the industry while many citizens go without, in spite of what this administration says. My health expenses already are inflated by including emergency room care for those uninsured. There are no guarantees but I think this reform will slow down the increase in costs for everyone. There are no guarantees that the private sector will not drop those insured right now...but they are doing that every day already. I still support the reform as it is the beginning of a long-needed process to improve health care for the richest country in the world and provide a safety net for us all. I just wish these same citizens against the reform would have been screaming at their Congressmen regarding the huge budget deficits that were incurred several years ago.

All that I have to write in this post is colored by the fact that I am not panicked for myself because I am in the catbird seat. I have the same type of health care that the Congress has (which as an aside is a government contracted program with private industry). I worked for the government for the correct number of years as did my husband. We have access to a number of health care plans, we can change plans every January to suit our needs regardless of pre-existing health conditions, and we still get reasonably good coverage. My husband's prostate surgery, his spinal surgery, the birth of my children, my biopsy...all paid for. Since my retirement our premiums have increased, but are still affordable. I remember years ago when a friend on one of the government health care programs needed a lung transplant. The program he was enrolled in refused to cover the operation. He would die without it. That 'death squad' consisted of the health insurance company employee(s). He had to wait the three months until he could change plans in January, got a different insurance company, and went on to have his transplant, even though he had a pre-existing condition. The government contract protected him from being excluded because of pre-existing conditions. Even this government program has its problems but this ability to change plans was his life-saver.

I remember the terrible fear I carried daily when my son had reached 21, graduated from college and could no longer be covered on either our insurance or a student health care plan. His employer provided no coverage. He did not make enough money to pay for health care and pay for his apartment and pay for food. We dug deep and paid for his health insurance until he got coverage through employment a few years later. (I have no idea if this insurance would have worked had he needed it!) What if we couldn't have afforded that? What if he had been involved in an accident or contracted some serious health condition with no coverage? Many hard-working employed people and hard-working students live with that fear daily and without health care reform more and more working people will have no health care.

To those who do not want government health care reform, I ask how you would feel if you had a life style disease and those Americans who were healthy said you should pay a much higher premium because of your poor eating habits, lack of exercise, dangerous life-style activities or decision to live in a polluted area? Why should other Americans subsidize your carelessness and poor life-style? Kind of cruel and frightening isn't it?

To me it is a no-brainer that we need to begin to move in the direction of reform, but hard to convince those not using their brains, and instead, using the fear in their gut and the concern for their wallets to think. Being against something totally is the easy way out. Having to come up with ideas and suggestions to improve this reform and letting your Congressmen know takes far more work.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Cautious and Secretive

As you are reading this I am probably on a cruise ship heading to Nassau, or perhaps on the Disney Island beach watching my grandchildren run in the surf, or maybe in the bar of the ship having that final nightcap after all the Disney creatures get tucked into bed (least likely scenario). I have pre-scheduled this post so you don't forget me. I look forward to reading your comments when I get back.

It seems to me that the more popular blogs are those where people post their true identity and their actual pictures. I think we are more comfortable reading about someone we know is real and then it seems more honest because they show us who they are and tell us where they live either generically or more specifically. They are up front with us and we like that.

I think I commented once on my blog about my need for anonymity as I blog. I comment about relatives and friends and want the freedom to say exactly what is in/on my mind and not feel I have to couch terms to avoid hurt feelings or misunderstandings. A reader of my blog might think I do not say anything too controversial about others that I know, and perhaps they are right. But I still like to be able to write whatever I feel at the time. While I might be a liberal in many areas I am rather conservative in terms of my privacy. I really don't need those I love/dislike to know I am going through a down time or having second thoughts about decisions in my life. But it gives me pleasure to post this personal journal for my loyal blogger friends to comment on. (As Colleen writes
"Things I would not tell anyone, I tell the public." ~ Michel de Montaigne.")

There are other reasons why I do not blog more honestly. While I admire those who are 'out there' in all truth with their identities, I am a bit of a worry wart. I fear that being able to learn much about my grand-children from reading this blog could give a lurking pedophile an edge up on contacting them and becoming friends. Carefully reading several years of posts can give a good detective many clues about an identity. Sure, the odds are stupendous that this would happen. (Really, Tabor, how many people do you think actually read your blog?)

Also, I worry that telling others when I am on travel is like putting a sign up for lurkers who can find my house and take advantage of it. It is just like the community/church newsletter where people put in comments about their trips AFTER they return.

I guess the thought is always in the back of my mind that whatever you blog can end up on the front pages of the major newspaper. People have lost jobs, gotten divorced and even committed suicide due to something published on their or another's blog. This process is not as private as we tend to think, and unfortunately, people are not as nice as we like to think.

When ML came to visit last winter on her book promotion tour, I had to reveal my honest name and email so that she could stay with us. But that was no problem as I am not hiding my identity from my readers, just those millions of lurkers out there. (Yes, I repeat, probably very few lurk at my blog...but it only takes one crazy person.)

Therefore, I will continue to remain a mysterious woman of culture and education and sensitivity!

Now that I think of it, this post might be a story-line for the Butler and Bagman Chronicles. Although he would make it funny and sexy while I seem to be making it sad and scary.

(I wonder if I am getting seasick right now....?)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Monday Madness--Feeling "Blue" and Needing a Nap

1. I am very very tired of hearing how getting an ivy league education makes you an elitist. It makes you (or means your already were) smart and/or rich...and only, perhaps if lucky or hardworking, you can become a member of the elite. Was our last Ivy League educated president an elitist? (Def. elite: being an expert in an area.)

I am very very tired of class warfare. Some rich citizens are greedy crooks and/or lazy and some poor citizens are greedy crooks and/or lazy. Making everyone a black or white peg is even more lazy and cannot help solve our problems. Most of us are hard working and honest.

3. I am very very tired of all the hoopla about the price of gas. We in American are not having any effect on its rise or fall in price anymore...other countries are. We have lost our strong economic lead in the world...get over it.

4. I am very very tired of hearing how the "bailout/rescue" package will work. Anything it does is temporary. The economy will be forced to correct itself when the value of everything from stocks to housing prices to jobs reaches true values once again and this will be months and months from now. There will be more death and destruction along the way. (Most of the rich will be impacted only in the amount of caviar they can consume.)

5. I am very very tired of hearing talking heads on TV discuss the stupid issues and refuse to delve into the more complicated issues because we are a nation of channel surfers and want our news microwaved not baked. (ACORN is a primary example.)

6. I am very very tired of Barack Obama being touted as the first Black American candidate who has gotten close to being elected. Our culture is so prejudiced that his mother's heritage is trumped by any tinge of 'other.' I've got news, if elected he will be our first Bi-racial President.

7. I am very very tired of the lack of statesmanship and honesty that this election has been reduced to. Both sides have gotten mud all over themselves and it isn't even solid enough to make good pottery. Where are the great leaders?

8. I am very very tired of the argument that 'experience' trumps intelligence when we are looking for leadership. A President will have access to great advice. So if an intelligent candidate seems inexperienced look at the advisers that he/she selects. And of course the counter argument put out is that being an insider and having lots of experience is bad. Just look at the their record.

9. I am very very tired of the lack of transparency in our Republican candidates. John McCain's wife said that Sarah Palin was vetted very carefully and she was ready for prime time and to "Bring it on." OK, when is this babe ready for taking on the "liberal press?" As Tina Fey comments, she gets lost in a corn maze when talking about important issues. (I remember Bush's restriction of access by the press and lack of press conferences. The free press may be mostly liberal because it constantly questions, but truth trumps all.)

10. I am very very tired of the fact that this Presidential election has taken the focus off of our Congressional and State elections. This is where much important work will be done in this economy. Thus, I am all for shorter campaign trails with more restricted spending on them. (Disclosure: Since I have recently moved to this local part of the state I need to get my game on in this area.)

Now I will go take a nap and not rant about this election anymore because whomever inherits this mess deserves a medal, it is a promise!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Who is to Blame?

The media seems to be ignoring the statistics and facts on the demographics of the subprime crises perhaps because they are not sexy. But, by paying attention to these demographics we can perhaps craft a better fix so that it does not happen again.

"The problem with portraying the foreclosure crisis as a minority and low-income problem is that it affects how solutions will be approached. If, on one hand, it is believed that subprime rate loans were predominately made to marginal segments of society (Black, Hispanic or low-income) housing policymakers may approach solutions with bias assumptions about minorities and minority qualifications (low education, bad credit, and low-paying jobs, etc.). Thus, there may a tendency to write-off the subprime lending debacle as a type of affirmative action gone bad. On the other hand, if it is believed that the foreclosure crisis affects broader and more
demographically diverse segments of society then a more politically responsible approach is likely, thereby changing the tone, climate and context of how solutions are crafted.

Not enough research and media attention has been devoted to other causes of the subprime crisis that may have race and gender effects. Issues of steering, weak underwriting, fraud, and discrimination have not been aggressively investigated. Despite the presence of federal regulation and periodic examinations for safety and soundness, Community Reinvestment Act compliance and fair lending compliance, efforts to uncover whether subprime rate loans can be explained by legitimate business justifications will be impaired based on erroneous assumptions about the
demographic distribution of subprime rate loans.

Last, if it is believed that subprime rate lending is predominately an urban minority problem, officials will fail to see that in 2006 non-Hispanic Whites had 1,108,676 subprime rate loans of which 868,806 or 78.36% were in census tracts <30% minority. The subprime lending meltdown is better described as a mainstream white suburbia problem with aspects that affect minorities and urban communities. Erroneous assumptions about the demographics of subprime rate lending will only lead to poor decisions that result in ineffective solutions." The whole report is here:

In addition, note that the primary areas for defaults on subprimes are in the states of Florida, California, Arizona and Nevada and a substantial number of these defaults are for NON_OWNER occupied homes.

We can't fix this if we don't fully understand the details and try to determine the causes.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Where I Fit In.

My husband was able to take some time off during his business trip to visit South Point on the Big Island of Hawaii. This point is the southernmost point of the United States and from what I remember during the two times I have visited there, it is a windy and vast and humbling place. If you walk toward the water you will see the green sand beaches where polished olivine mineral colors the sand with lime green. I love places like these. I love the desolate parts of the desert in the mid-west where the sound of human civilization is not heard. You are all alone and you can almost feel as if you are the only person on the planet. South Point also gives this isolated and breathtaking feeling. My inner spirit does not shrink with loneliness or fear or loss in places like these. I do not feel alone, but instead, feel as if I am part of something so big and so wonderful that I also have a place on the vast green beach just like the grains of sand. These isolated places are restorative for me. They give me some perspective on my daily problems and concerns.

While visting South Point, my husband encountered a Canadian couple on their honey-moon trying to take their own picture. He volunteered assistance and that lead to a conversation about the U.S. election. The Canadians asked my husband where he stood in this time in our history. My husband is an ardent supporter of Barrack Obama as he feels his ideas reflect global views and reasonable approaches. He explained that having a President of color would also improve the skewed view that the world currently has of us. It would show that we have moved beyond prejudice and finally grown up as a country. As they talked, the Canadians could not believe that there was still prejudice in the United States to the extent it would affect an election.

Well, it appears from a recent poll that the evidence (and I caution my readers that I do not place much weight in political polls nor do I think the connection of the dots in this particular poll is necessarily supported) does not bode well for our evolution as a country. If you are still afraid of something different, big changes or concerned with something you do not understand about human behavior that bothers you, I strongly recommend you take a course in Critical Thinking.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Do Some Research!

I am trying to stay out of blogging about this election because I am so passionately opinionated and concerned...but Bill has a good blog referral here for everyone who is confused and/or thinks everyone is a crook and wonders why they should vote!!