Sunday, November 28, 2010
Thanksgiving is the new pre-Christmas. Wipe that gravy off your chin and grab the newspaper circular; you've got real shopping to do! Leave the warm bed and the family and drop some coin at your nearest Starbucks or Dunkin' and get goin', baby! You are "bad" at Black Friday if you are not out by 5am; you are not saving $$ for the family like you could, and really should. (By the way, a lot of "self-gifting" going on this year in a tepid sign of "possible economic recovery" - yeah, ok, MSNBC.) And before the turkey is turned into turkey soup, you have checked many things off the list. Funny thing about that, though; the list then grows a little more right there in your gloved hands, in a shades-of-Twilight-Zone chase to be ahead of the shopping 8-ball.
I walked into a decorating superstore the other day to get a lamp, and was hit by never-ending, cascading layers of decorative fake Santas of all sizes and shapes, glittering and twinkling at me, and giant light-up reindeer and elves, and wise men and donkeys carrying empty gifts and giant Christmas-tree decorations (are all our decorations being super-sized at he factory because we are slowly super-sizing as a nation? Do small ornaments make us feel bad in our now-meaty hands?)
The Santas in particular got to me; maybe it was the three-bean salad I had for lunch, but the rows and rows of Santas seemed to be looking at me in particular, and some seemed not to be smiling, but grimacing a me. Like, "I dare you to not get in the spirit here, lady! I dare you to name us grotesque, or excessive, or even over-the-top. Accept it; this is what makes you people feel good now! And a lot of us are hollow, so we're easier to carry and less expensive, too! Now Merry Christmas!!"
I turned around and left - left the lines of frazzle-faced shoppers, left the lights and the music, and left those Santas. Not because I was better than anyone else in that moment, or more enlightened, but because I felt so tired.
Bah, humbug. I am no better than anyone else - I went out and got two light-up reindeer for my lawn the next day, and the Santas looked not threatening, but merry. I will carry that day in the superstore in my memory, however, and put it in the plus column that I felt that way. When you turn your mind (and your shopping cart) away from the commercialism, there is more room to let real Christmas in.
Does the congregation say Amen? Amen! Get thee to a quiet place for some meditation, or prayer, or just solitude - stat! And then your Christmas begins.
Friday, November 26, 2010
Monday, November 22, 2010
Monday, November 15, 2010
2010 - Another trip, another realization that sometimes I feel the pull of travel, and that that's okay. This trip was a jaunt to see vacationing family in Virginia. Not everyone can always go, so I used to feel guilty when I pulled out of the driveway every year or so to take off for a three to four days. And I am not talking luxury travel; these are not trips that involve massages or candlelit dinners. These are trips that are framed by my windshield, that involve rest stops and toll booths and favorite CD's. They are trips to get out and see how my slice of America is doing - to talk to people, take photographs, and to watch my odometer roll. I find fulfillment in the scratchy, wavery sound of an AM radio station at night, and the lurch of sadness I feel at the sight of a mangled deer by the side of the highway reminds me that I have the capacity for sadness over a deer, and it feels more real than anything, in that moment. The content of these days on the road can be wildly varied, as unscripted things often are. One morning I tried to talk a homeless pregnant woman begging outside a WalMart into going to a shelter, and the day before my sister and I had been pulled over in Quantico, Virginia, talking to a Marine who helped us find the freeway. I watch the cloudy sky above me and marvel at the V formation that sustains the geese in their own journey south, and wonder why these soul-expanding experiences don't happen in the suburbs. There are geese there, too; and women in crisis, and service members that I could talk to. Why does the road give them this sheen that I can't get enough of?
Maybe the best part of the travel comes when I am on the phone with my now eleven-year-old, and my trip has lasted long enough for us both. More than I need to be away, I need to be back, and in the chaotic middle of the people who need me. They love me, so they let me go away, certain of my return and not needing to understand my trips, but accepting them all the same. That is real freedom; to be loved for just who you are. And no one can resist the pull of an eleven year old. :-)
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Looking forward to heading south next Thursday for a little family R&R...driving myself down to Maryland, then will hook up with my folks and my sister to drive down to Williamsburg, Virginia. Going Colonial and I'm likin' it! Soon I will be learning to make candles and wearin' a colonial hat to lunch, yo! I haven't been to Williamsburg since I was a kid.
It's always funny/interesting when your "original" family - the family you grew up with - gets together in it's original form. You fall right back into the patterns, habits and memories of a younger time. Pretty neat to time-travel backwards, and live in the land of memory.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Thursday, October 7, 2010
In terms of November, I am hoping Christine O"Donnell will win. She is inexperienced, but so is the President, and I feel like his election opened the door to newcomers stepping into politics. She needs to fight back against people who are painting her as crazy, or witchy, and show what exactly she is made of. I do think she has a good sense of humor.
Delaware's a crazy little state, and Christine would be good for them. I'm just sayin'...
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
My concern wth the Tea Party is that you get a lot of politically naive, largely un-vetted, sometimes radical candidates who are coasting a wave in reaction to the governed's fear of all the changes Obama is proposing - not to mention the current economy, which is hurting most people in some way, large or small. (Another casualty of Obama's ambitious, tunnel-visioned agenda - we are going to get a reactive government in the short-term, if Tea Party candidates are successful.) You must have a fundamental understanding of government to participate in it effectively, or before you know it your term is over and you have gotten nothing done. That's the harsh reality of the way it works.
That said, it is exciting to live in a country that is bigger than it's leader. The Tea Party is made up of Amercans who are brave enough to step forward, inexperience and all, and be counted. They are willing to suffer the scrutiny (mostly cruel) of current mainstream media, and they are willing to put their own lives on hold. And love her or hate her, Sarah Palin has proven what a quick study an interested person can be. She may not be presidential material, but boy has she learned the ropes.
The Tea Party may siphon off votes from the GOP candidates, and hand the Democrats their retention of the house and senate. In the balance, though, is it worth it? I am going to say yes, because even the Democrats are learning to respect the voice of the people. All you hear is crickets when it comes to national (socialized) healthcare on the stump - just months ago their prizefight. As long as the people are heard and represented, America churns on.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Okay, so first the political stuff. I am actually starting to feel bad for Obama. Why did no one close to him advise him about just how hard this job was going to be? He clearly did not know. He's a nice man with many, many talents - but this is not the job for him. No one told him to start with the economy, which everyone needs, and not socialized medicine, which only a handful wanted? The man is just ill-prepared, not evil. He's young, and had the Democrats left him to season for a few terms, instead of putting all their hopes on him, who knows how good he could have been in the future. What was so wrong with Hillary, for Heaven's sake?
Speaking of Hillary, she had a great idea today: the press should not go near the Quran-burning Gainesville fool on 9-11. Before 24-hour media, this man would have been an idiot in front of a fire, with about 10 people watching, feeling guilty like they should. Because of the media, he has a bully pulpit and is possibly threatening our troops with his insanity. Hills has it all goin' on in the idea department, (although I didn't care for her rehearsal dinner dress, to be honest.)
We are America; it's our job to be better.
Talk to you soon!
Friday, July 2, 2010
Thursday, July 1, 2010
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
When I was growing up in Maryland, there was the story of two missing siblings, abducted from a mall and never found. Now, I am following the case of the little boy from Oregon, whose father, looking tirelessly for his son and cooperating fully with investigators, just separated from his step-mother, and has taken his eigtheen-month old sibling with him. Sad. Where are you, little boy?
It serves as a harsh reminder that when I am at the amusement park, at a mall, anywhere with my youngest son (the older two are grown) you can never be too watchful. Restrooms ar potentially unsafe, and so is that stranger pulling over to ask for directions.
Please God, let this family know, finally, what has happened to this little boy and if possible, bring him home.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Some thoughts about the Prez's decision on the loose-lipped General and his firing: I think he did the right thing, and I loved the statement post-meeting yesterday. However, the reasons I agree with it are less than encouraging; Obama has so much that is going poorly right now, if he doesn't show some leadership, he could be doomed. This, with McChyrstal, was his chance, and he pulled the trigger. He has the oil spill, doctors dropping out of Medicare, the economy, and world-wide tensions on his plate, and nothing seems to be going right. His speeches are more and more hollow, and that is his strongest skill - soaring rhetoric.
So, he did the right thing. Now, on to un-packing another box.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Why has the President, as a man and a human being, not had that reaction? Why does it take polls and public outrage to get him to care? This troubles me almost more than anything else about him - just as many were troubled by Bush not going directly to aftermath of Katrina. Obama, however, has the advantage of learning from his predecessor's mistakes, and still it takes pressure and polls to get him out there. I'm sure he thinks back to the healthcare debates as the good ol' days.
Mr. President, get a hotel room at the gulf and stay awhile. Pull an over-nighter. And change the pressed white shirt for a workshirt, for Pete's sake.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Even though I am packing up the house to move, and today winding up a book club at our senior center, and also guiding three young men daily through the peaks and valleys of modern life, and additionally installing carbon monoxide detectors in the house we're leaving with my husband, I have still been obsessing over just one thing, and it is this: the Standard Model of particle physics still does not explain how our matter-dominated existence came about. Darn the conundrum! If there in no difference between muons and antimuons that arise from the decay of B mesons...well, what are we to think, what are we to assume? Finally, there's this. Thank you Yahoo!, for bringing me the answer to why we exist!!!
With the provocative title of the article from the awesome site http://www.space.com/, Yahoo! brings us ths fascinating look at matter and anti-matter, which is only understandable if you have a PhD in Physics, but is still interesting and applicable for all of us (as we wipe the drool off our laptops froom the level of concentration needed to parse the article.)
I love the study of space and space travel. Many see these things as proof that there are rational, non-spiritual reasons for the existence of the Universe, and for the existence of us, but I see it as proof of the artistry and infinite mind of the One who made us, who gifted us not only with a limitless universe, but with the curiosity and capability to be absolutely fascinated by his creation. Science and religion are natural partners - it is Man who mucks it up by getting in the mix with the rational mind.
Ok, that's the mind-blurt for today. Back to packing!
Monday, May 17, 2010
As I was sifting through the latest pile of stuff up in the attic, I stumbled on the old, original toybox belonging to Matt and his brother Fred back when they were babies, then toddlers, then little boys, and I hadn't seen it or thought of it in years. It has been covered by what we shall term "attic funk" for some years; air conditioners, Christmas decorations, cast-off furniture. I ran down to get Matt, excited for him to see it. "Matt, Matt, wake up," I said, urgently shaking him, as if I had discovered a nest of exotic baby bats up there, or a clump of diamonds that we had forgotten about. "You have to see this." Matt finally rolled over and woke up. I felt a small flicker of embarrassment as he struggled to a sitting position; he is 20, and maybe 20 year olds aren't that interested in the toybox they had when they were 2...
We went upstairs together, Matt expecting, by this time, to see something really great. I looked around furiously as we emerged at the top of the stairs; could I somehow, in the next seconds, see something else that I could pretend was that great - great enough to wake the guy up on his first morning home from college? Nope...even the toybox is better than the other items we were looking at: an old Thigh Master, an old weight bench, a crumpled-up poster of dogs playing poker. "Okay...here it is." I might as well go for it; really build it up. "Can you believe I found this? I mean, can you believe it? It's like an antique! Your old toybox...WOW!" It was as if an antiques auctioneer was going to stop by the attic at any moment and offer us thousands of dollars for it. I pointed down at it enthusiastically.
Matt sat down heavily if unsteadily on a three-legged chair and put his chin in his hands, staring at the toybox and saying nothing. (He really was quite tired!) He looked up a me. "You need to get out more, Mom," he said gently, as if to a toddler. We both laughed, and together we went through the old toybox. His 20 year old hands touched the toys that used to be the gems of his heart when he was 3 and 4 years old; the old dump truck, the little book about the rabbit, the scarred wood blocks. His expression turned softer as traces of memories came back, of a simpler time when he and his brother had no worries and nothing but time. Before the world got so complicated.
I'm not going to wake him anymore when I find something great - unless I come across the hula-hoop he used to be (and still might be!) so good at.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
I was in my happy place, Target, this morning, and was sharing the aisles with moms and their loud, demanding kids. Now, you would hope to hear loud-er moms in response, threatening the old time-out "when we get home, Buster," or removing just-acquired treats from the little monsters' grips. Instead, here is an accounting of what I heard/saw:
A young mom, seemingly oblivious to the fact that she was in public, happily shrieking a strange lullaby that anyone who had not yet had enough coffee just would not appreciate hearing. The lullaby had to do with a worm, an apple, and a hill of some sort. The kid in the cart was beyond bored, and rolling his eyes directly at her (you couldn't blame him - everyone knows worms hate climbing hills; they have no feet.) I tried to harmonize when she went by, as by this time I knew all the words, but the kid stuck his tongue out at me, rendering me speechless. I should have done us all a favor and issued a Citizen's Time-Out (similar to a Citizen's Arrest).
The next issue was a mom with a child who was asking her mother over and over again if they could get a pink daisy backpack of some sort before they left the store. Now, the deferential, sort-of-pleading mom, oblivious to anything but her child's needs (even though, as she patiently explained, a backpack was not in the budget,) rolled over my actual toe with her cart as they went by. That's right, rolled right over my toe. Grunting in pain, I backed away, deftly manoevering my cart as I retreated, and they both turned to look at me. "I'm okay," I mumbled, limping over to grasp on to a rack of bland canvas artwork behind me. They both stared for a moment, seemingly dazed, and then proceeded on. Remember the last scene from The Stepford Wives, where the robot-women are out shopping? Well, in 2010, it's teams of robots - parent-child robots who are taking over my Target before I've had coffee.
Don't mess with my Target, kids. I'm begging here.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Speaking of being able to handle boredom...check this rain delay out! Awesome!
Since when is boredom so bad? It's really a valuable skill, being able to handle boredom as an adult. Hey, a lot of life is boring: work is often boring, marriage can having boring times, and those little moments that magazines wwere created to combat are especially boring. Kids today, with their in-car DVD's, their brick-breaker games and ipods, their hand-held so-and-so's and their cell phones - can't understand or handle boredom at all. I am great at handling boredom because I was raised in the "go outside and play; I'll see you at dinner" era. Thank you Lord for that.
My son wants a television in his bedroom, and he is onl 11. Now, my older sons referred to their bedrooms as the "jail cells" because there was noting fun to do there. Why would I put fun things there, when that is where they were sent to be punished? My 11 year old has almost given up, almost; he sees it's futile. (Not only can I handle boredom, but I'm pretty good at sticking to my guns, too. :-)
Back to politics soon, unless I find it boring.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Monday, April 12, 2010
Imagine, if you will... you are at work, and everyone suddenly gathers around the television in the conference room. You grab your coffee and head in to join them, disturbed by the piercing warning sound coming from the television. An anchor person comes on - the same anchor person who just yesterday was laughing about the weather - and in a tearful voice says, "We are about to be the victims of a nuclear attack, launched by ________. We are launching a missile in a counterstrike, but the world is about to change forever. It is every man, woman and child for themselves. God bless and keep you all...oh my God; it's really happening."
The President is now taking on nuclear war, and I applaud him for this. Too often his most ardent opponents are so blinded by this weird combination of distrust, fear, and often hate, that they cannot mention any single thing this man does right. Make no mistake - I am not a fan, and I sincerely hope he is voted out come next Presidential election. I do, however, applaud his tackling nuclear arms and trying to get a substantive treaty on the table. He has been criticized by conservative radio for the Adminisration's recent wording - in effect putting conditions on when we would - or more to the point, would NOT - strike back - and this is frightening to many. They see him as too soft, too ready to apologize, too ready to back down first, in trust and a fatal naivete. I agree.
But the President is putting a long-overdue spotlight on nuclear arms, in a summit here at home with 46 participating countries. (Iran and North Korea - not there. Surprise! ) Although it is quite possible that nothing substantive will happen, this is meant to highlight the President's concern over loose nuclear material and the devastation to the world if it gets into the hands of terrorists.
Study the picture above for a moment. Is anything that the President does to spotlight the dangers of , say, Al Queda, getting their hands on nuclar material, a waste of time? I think not, and I support this summit, even if it is a baby step.
Friday, April 9, 2010
So - do I respect him? No. Do I respect what he's been able to do with a golf club and an open fareway or a putting green? Yes. And how do I feel about the women who are making money by selling the stories of their affairs with Tiger? Well, it's a family blog so I won't say. But two things do remain true: hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and if you have taken money for stripping or sex, it's probably a good bet that a family and their survival won't drag on your conscience too much.
Alert: a Supreme Court Justice is retiring, so this will be a good bellweather as to how liberal Obama will continue to be - will he pick someone very far left, or go for a moderate? Judging by what he did with healthcare, I'd say far-left is a safe bet. Also: I am reading John Adams, and it is very interesting when it is juxtaposed against our current government and Congress. John Adams warned early and often about one individual having too much power.
Happy week-end! We sold our house in 2 days, so things are looking bright!
Saturday, April 3, 2010
There are many images of Easter, but here is mine for 2010. I was in CVS with all the other moms, looking a the Easer baskets - the ones that are pre-made and shrink-wrapped (and always kind of sorry-looking) and also the rows of baskets, empty and waiting to be filled with colored straw, chocolate, and candy.
I am in the bittersweet phase of Easter baskets - no one believes in the big bunny anymore, but I can't give up the tradition. So, as I stood in the aisle with the other moms, I noticed a young guy, about 19 or 20, staring at the bagged candy. He was pale and thin, and covered with tattoos, but no parent alive could have been more intent on selecting the right candy to go in the small basket he held in one hand. It was beautiful, this young father determined to make the right choice. That, for me, was Easter. Showing love any way we can, and to the best of our ability. God bless him.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
When you are moving, you need to make the house look as if no one actually resides there. When you eat something, you must immediately wash your dish, or throw it away. When you are undressing at night, you must not only toss your clothes in the hamper...they must also land there. Halfway isn't good enough anymore.
You have to always worry about curb appeal, so no junk left on the porch anymore; I have seriously flipped out over a forgotten water bottle innocently left on our porch. "Someone might see this!" I shrieked, to a bunch of surprised eleven year olds who were playing basketball (and dirtying up the street with their scuffmarks, no doubt). My husband heard a half-hour lecture on the woes of my world when he lost his mind and put his briefcase by the door instead of jamming it in a closet the way I showed him to do.
And, the less tangible things Soon, the walls will be bare, the windows without drapes, and just hooks and nails will remain; along with all the memories you have made here.
Change is good; right? Right?
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
How has this happened? President Obama was prepared to drop healthcare after the Scott Brown victory, until Pelosi urged him on. A bill no one has read fully, rammed through for people who don't want it, spear-headed by a woman whose approval rating is now just slightly higher than unemployment.
Come on sweet November - the people will have their say. I hope people never skip a trip to the polls again - this is what we get when we stay home; a country we don't recognize. As VP Joe Biden would say to Americans: "It's F---in' nuts!"
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
After launching my fledgling blog, I took som time off following the death of my beloved grandmother. I spoke at her memorial, laughed and cried with family and friends, and reflected about this whole crazy life, as a death makes you do. And I didn't want to communicate, but instead felt like it was a time to pull back. Sometimes a good blogger works not on quantity of posts, I believe, but quality of posts, and makes sure that they do indeed have something relevant or interesting to say.
That said...what the heck s going on with healthcare? This country will never truly be the same if this bill is rammed through. Why is the President willing to be just a one-term President in order to see this through? What is in this bill?
Justifying healthcare by saying that the "Cornhusker Kickback" and other shady deals ae no longer in the bill shows you just want a bad/dangerous bill this is. The insurance industry may never come back if this happens. And how many people does this industry employ?
Call, call, call your representatives, or drop an email. At this point I think that all of them are crazy - at least the ones who support this bill. Dennis Kuchinich - what are you doing? The President used the office (as many have done) to bamboozle you and your wife, who is now going to try to make the world vegan in a pwer-teaming with Michelle Obama. Lordy.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
This has gained enough traction n some major press outlets (Washington Post, for example) that it is starting to be a distraction for the White House. I have to give Emanuel kudos for trying to get through to the Prez - he sees the disaster in the making if Obama does not right his ship and listen to the will of the people and focus on jobs. Also a tireless worker, he apparently has the gifts of foresight and is looking out for the President, altough the President probably doesn't see it as such.
You have to keep the peace at home, even - and especially - if home is the White House. Listen to Rahm, Mr. President - or are you that far gone inside the hubris-filled healthcare bubble that you have created? I hope not.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Well, a little politics, then. The President is going to offer a scaled back version (how many drafts is this, now?) of his health plan, and is supposedly going to add some Republican ideas. I am still wondering, at the root of it all - why? Why is he still pressing forward with any type of plan? He really doesn't care if he is a one-term president, so it seems to be either 1) an obsession, or 2) such pride that it (the pride) is unmanageable now. If he would just pass one thing - make sure people are covered regardless of existing illness - he would steal our hearts. Really, he would. That would be huge.
Also, he needs to give up the ciggys and the desserts so he can stay healthy and learn how to lead us.
Friday, February 26, 2010
Because this whale has been in captivity for 20+ years, humans have destroyed a lot of his natural instincts, so they may have to destroy him.
Sounds like there's a parallel in D.C. The President is going to push this healthcare through (put us in a man-made tank) if the Republicans don't play ball (do un-natural tricks) and work on this nationalized healthcare (feed us fish that looks fresh but is in fact, old.) Maybe we should all go live in the ocean; become mer-people. And if whales eat us; then so be it.
P.S. on this: I do feel terrible that this trainer was killed, and in such a brutal fashion. But I have the feeling that she, of all people, would be sad at the thought of this mammal's possible euthanasia. I'm sure she was aware of the risks every day, and it was worth it because she loved these mammals. We need to show our love differently - by letting them go.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
You are without your family, coffee is just a dream now, and it turns out that you are living here - forever. The huge water creatures teach you tricks, feed you when you perform, and name you Goober or Popcorn. At night you can hear the free humans, above the surface and back on land, calling your name. They sound sad, and distant, but you can hear them. Always.
One day, you decide that you have had it. One of the huge sea creatures wants you to stand on your head and rub your belly, and he is laughing. You are never getting out of here, you see that now, and your nature is to fight back. You didn't ask for this. So, without even realizing it, you charge the sea mammal, and you hurt him; bad. He might even be dead.
You were kidnapped, put in a small cage to live, and your loved ones and your natural habitat are tantalizingly close. But because you did what humans do...you might be killed. Shame on you for getting caught.
WHALES BELONG IN THE OCEAN AND PEOPLE BELONG ON THE LAND!! IF GOD HAD WANTED WHALES TO BE PETS, HE WOULD HAVE MADE THEM SMALLER, TAMER, AND ABLE TO WEAR DESIGNER CLOTHES AND FIT INTO A PURSE. WHAT ARE WE DOING TO THE ANIMALS?
Okay, all done with that. :-) In other news, I may read a column I wrote about Grammy years ago at her memorial, and I just hope I can get through it. Sh will help me out, I know. She would have sided with the whale, by the way...all the way.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
In my sadness and respect, I picture MH alone, atop a horse, at the foot of a mountain that is part of the Tennessee mountains. There is a valley of purple wildflowers below, and they catch her roving, alert eyes as she scans the woods around her and the mountains above her. She is not 90 anymore, but 19 or so, and in my daydream has not yet married or had children - those are to come. She gazes out over the valley, and shifts her shotgun slightly on her lap as she urges her horse to start walking forward, away from the steep mountain before her. The sun is filtering through the trees, and she is wondering how she will capture the scene - and the feeling that it gives her - later, on canvas. She has a sense that the Lord is quite close here in the woods leading out to the purple valley, but has had this feeling so often here that it is like greeting her dearest friend in the place they are accustomed to meeting. She decides to just take off, and with a quick kick to her willing mountain horse, off they plunge into the valley. They ride as fast as they can, for the pure joy of doing it, yet with a feeling of purpose neither the horse nor Mary Helen quite yet understands. They disappear; only Mary Helen's happy shout of discovery and joy echoes through the valley as the purple flowers part to mark her passing.
To God we entrust this dear soul; as He is the One who truly understands it.
Monday, February 22, 2010
"The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over)
continued to trend up in January, reaching 6.3 million. Since the start of
the recession in December 2007, the number of long-term unemployed has risen
by 5.0 million. (See table A-12.)
In January, the civilian labor force participation rate was little changed at
64.7 percent. The employment-population ratio rose from 58.2 to 58.4 percent.
(See table A-1.)
The number of persons who worked part time for economic reasons (sometimes
referred to as involuntary part-time workers) fell from 9.2 to 8.3 million
in January. These individuals were working part time because their hours had
been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job."
And we have idiotic, potentially illegal shenanigans going on like the Nebraska deal? Why is the President pushing forward on this, and why wouldn't Harry Reid move forward the more modest-gains healthcare proposal that some Republicans were actually on board with? Think of it this way: if we passed one bill that established that it is illegal to deny coverage to persons with an existing health problem, that would be HUGE for healthcare in 2010. Can't we look at this one piece at a time, and turn our public focus (what leaders talk about on TV, C-SPAN) to jobs? That would sure make people sitting around unemployed feel better, to see that on tv. (That and the Americans beating the Canadians again at hockey in the Olympics.) Please drop the hubris and concentrate on jobs, Mr. President.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
I disagree with the author's tax cut assertion, however; tax credits are not tax cuts, so the claim by Romney re: Dems and taxes is valid. But check it out; great article.
What's the deal with airplanes lately, in an unrelated brain sneeze from me, your faithful correspondent: Kevin Smith gets booted off a flight for being too fat, and Romney gets in a fight with one-row-forward dude on a flight? You need to be in shape to fly; a lot is going on up there. Keep your wits about you when flying the "friendly" skies!
Today I am doing homework for two courses I am taking, and cleaning out a closet. Ahhh, suburbia. I just watched a documentary on Shaun White travelling the globe snowboarding, and wanted to reach through the screen and say, "Don't slow down and don't ease up." What a life! I bet he doesn't have organized closets, though. :-)
Friday, February 19, 2010
Both a Washington Post editorial writer and a New York magazine blogger asserted this in different ways.
Umm-umm; too bad, and worthy of some professional reflection and self-reflection on the part of these writers. Two people died, Americans were sadly reminded of 9/11...and it's equated to the Tea Party folk.
Well, he seems sorry. He veered off-course a little talking about his foundations, but seems contrite enough. Tears well in red-rimmed eyes, especially when he talks of wife Elin. I do feel he's been coached in delivering this speech, but is that wrong?
He just said that he has never done performance-enhancing drugs, which is good. Puzzling that he is so private, according to his words, when he flew women all over the world. His mom looks distressed, angry, hurt. Elin is not by his side, nor should she be. He is a Buddhist, which brings to mind the Fox commentator saying that Tiger needed Christ. I believe so, but believe Tiger has the right to his own faith, and I hope he does explore his faith more fully. "Needs to regain balance, and become more centered..."
Sports dudes, we are so tired of this. Please, enjoy your wealth, share it with others as you see fit, and every day wake up and say, "I am so flippin' lucky to have this gift, this talent." Most of us are average Joes, and will never know what it feels like to fly through the air on our way to a slam dunk, watch a golf swing turn into magic on a Scottish course perched on the ocean, or hit a baseball into the twilight evening while an adoring crowd roars. We live through you, so when you go down in flames, so do we, in a sense.
"With the money and the fame, I thought I was entitled." That says it all.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
The plane crash today in Texas is a reminder of the isolation that fighting the machine can cause...but is that only part of the story? How many pieces go into the fractured puzzle of one man's despair?
My grandfather was audited for years by the IRS. They finally ended up owing him money, which always makes me smile. Not a wealthy man ever, he endured this intrusion into his personal finaces and professional pay history with grace, and somehow compartmentalized this IRS mess so that he could get on with the business of living. I never heard an IRS rant, or a rant of any kind; it was only after his death that I found out about it. At his funeral, a speaker related that my grandfather once said, "I never succeeded at anything;" which caused gasps, as he was such a success where it matters - loving family, devoted friends, faith, and a passion in life. Perhaps the IRS and it's hounding made him feel this way?
I just hope that no one tries to insert politics into this sad event; this man was disturbed and if it wasn't the IRS, it most probably would have been something else. People are so isolated, which is ironic considering the ways we have to communicate with each other. But a Twitter account or a Facebook post cannot feed the hungering and hurting soul.
Monday, February 15, 2010
I am back in Boston, and have to just wait to hear of Mary Helen's passing. (Or could there be a miraculous recovery?)
I haven't paid much attention to politics - other than the nine hours I listened to on talk radio driving down the edge of the country - but did hear the comment by a pundit that there could indeed be a third party in our near future.
The Tea Party is intriguing as a national movement; the fact that there is no leader is pretty cool. So much of the fighting is really about power in Washington, paticularly within the parties themselves. A third party - what do you think? Would it eventually become jaded and unproductive, too?
I dread the phone ringing; the world will be lighter when Mary Helen goes.
Friday, February 12, 2010
Mary Helen is blind now, and almost deaf, but is still at her essence a country girl from Tennessee. When I once asked her what the biggest changes in her life were after getting married, (at age 14) she said, "I had to get rid of my horse and my gun." That is Mary Helen.
I can't tell you what a privilege this has all been, to participate and rise to Mary Helen's weakness, need, and childlike trust throughout these days. It pierces the heart, but at the end of the day, and at the end of a life, all we have is "I love you" to offer and to receive. And if this is not so at the end of a life, then what a shame that is. Chasing other things is pointless in and of themselves; money is just paper, and prestige just a fiction.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
I have already veered off-topic for this "politics and humor" blog, putting both topics in the backseat, but that is the appropriate place for politics in all our lives, I feel; immediately secondary, when need be. The problem is, we've become so polarized that sometimes we forget that real life is all around us, and much of the time has nothing to do with politics.
My grandmother holds on. She is speaking in a whisper, and what she is saying is garbled. She is at times convinced that there is a baby that needs her help, there in her room, and we now play along, and pretend to rescue him, and we have given her a teddy bear to hold, to stand in as this phantom boy.
Who is this baby - my dad, or his brother, or perhaps her little nephew, that died during the Depression of starvation? Where is Grammy now, in this land where I can't reach her, so close and yet so far away?
Life is sometimes measured in breaths, in moments, in heartbeats. Right now it is measured in fading hope and a dawning realization that she is moving on. But I remember her love and care, on those Florida visits long ago.
P.S. I mistakenly deleted several of your comments from my mailbox; please re-comment if you'd like. Thanks!
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
I am in Maryland to help my folks with the snow, but also to help with my Grandmother, who is dying. She is 91, and receiving hospice care at my parents' home, and took a turn for the worse yesterday, with a small stroke. Another small stroke (we think) followed today. She is frail, and pale, and seems tied to this earth by the slenderest of threads; her breath comes out in little wisps. I think back to all the moments, as if in a slideshow, that we have had together; her teaching me to do ceramics, her explaining how to survive on swamp cabbage if you have to (she's an ol' country girl at heart), her holding up a turtle for my inspection. She brought me to church when my family didn't attend, on summer vacations, and planted in my mind the idea of heaven, and what waited there.
The tables are turned, as I, whispering and holding her little hand, remind her what waits for her there. It is so hard to let her go, but how lucky I have been. How very, very lucky. The valley between life and death is the lonliest place on earth for the watchers. I can only hope that the valley that Mary Helen is in is anything but.
Monday, February 8, 2010
I am still here visiting my family and helping out with my 90 year old Grandma, and I have been shovelling for hours a day - and I am sick of the color white. I exercise an additional two hours a day just to be able to be in shape to shovel. It's an enigma inside a riddle, dealing with 30 inches of snow.
So, I have to go to sleep now so I can be up bright and early to shovel again. There's no time for political commentary; I wish there was, but again, all my energy must be saved to...well, you know.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
I say the ride gives me time to think, but does it? I am going to return phone calls, listen to a whole book on tape for a book club I am in, and of course listen to talk radio. I am also taking my little dog Neeley, so he'll have to get out for a few minutes, etc.
Forget it; no time to think. But I will celebrate the fact that Scott Brown will be certified by Governor Patrick today as our U.S. Senator, and if all goes well he will be sworn in this afternoon by Vice President Joe Biden. So glad I volunteered on this campaign; I really feel like a part of the process. Next...Republican Governor for MA? Look at Charle Baker.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Anyhoo, the revelation was this: just how low my viewing standards have gotten. Growing up as a kid, I liked watching National Geographic, where nature was displayed in all it's glory. A little later I enjoyed watching The Partridge Family and The Brady Bunch, where suburban family dramas (or family-band dramas) were played out in just half an hour. As a teen I liked Dallas, a show where oil tycoons waged corporate war while ther wives had affairs and sported extremely big hair. A little older, in my late twenties, I liked the show Thirtysomething, a hip yet complex look at work, marriage, and raising kids. Then on to Kevin James' show The King of Queens, where an Average Joe life of a delivery driver was celebrated in all it's hilarity and realness.
Now, I like to watch people weight themselves. That passes for enertainment now in my life.
What the heck?? I mean, it is a great show, and can be inspiring, but it basically is a lot of people weighing themselves; that's a good bit of the show right there. Stepping on a scale. And I am as fascinated by it as if it were complex brain surgery or a travelogue of someone's trip to China. How much will they weigh? Did their weight go up, heaven forbid? Did they take full advantage of the Last-Chance Work-out? Will they feel discouraged, or will they battle on?
Oh brother. Welcome to America and reality tv; we just can't get enough of watching other people triumph - and fail.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
When things get tough, you hunker down. You work it, then meet with people, then work it, then meet with people, then work it again...it is not glamorous. No one knows what you're doing; there are no cameras there. You have to believe in your ablility to create a workable plan, and then...create a workable plan.
Mr. President, please stay home and work on behalf of America. If you are out on the road you can't be at your desk. There are opportunities coming up to hit the road, I promise - the next 2010 elections. Go home and get busy; we need you at home doing the work of the people.
Monday, February 1, 2010
"...New York Times editorial writer Adam Cohen recently considered the possibility that reproductive technology will eventually allow “three or more people . . . to combine their DNA to create a baby.” Cohen’s response ultimately boils down to: “So what?” The “law should move toward a greater recognition that the intent of the people involved is more important than the genes,” he wrote. The concept of “fractional parents,” a phrase coined by a professor at the University of San Diego law school, causes no obvious disquiet in Cohen, and the legal conundrums that the reality of “fractional parents” would generate — “Could a baby one day have 100 parents? Could anyone who contributes DNA claim visitation rights? How much DNA is enough?” — apparently are to him (and undoubtedly to many others) merely interesting intellectual challenges, not potential sources of heartbreak and chaos for children. (It is just possible that the centrality of tradition-exploding fertility technology to gay conception drives the cheerful acceptance of that technology’s complicated and destabilizing results by members of the enlightened intellectual elite.)"
Wow. You know that'ol slippery slope? Three or more people involved in creating a baby? In today's moral challenges surrounding babies and children, whether it is abortion or genetic engineering or fertility, it is always the baby that is left out in the cold (or worse, in the case of abortion); the baby that pays. What kind of society can exist when it targets the young for adult pleasure and fulfillment? The author also notes in this interesting piece that it was heterosexual couples who began the popularity - and through demand caused the advancements of - infertility procedures in our culture; not gay couples. So, our need to have what (or who) we want, when we want it, or what (or who) we DON'T want, when we DON'T want it, results in chaos or physical death for the child. Why are we called grown-ups? I forget.
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Happy week-end! I have four loads of laundry waiting, and I suppose I should continue to take down Christmas (okay, and Thanksgiving, and maybe even Halloween) decorations, but first have to let you know that if you want to thank CBS for their recent Superbowl advertising decisions*, you can send an email to:
Senior VP, Communications, CBS Television
People who are against these decisions will certainly be contacting him, so let's let him know that CBS has support for these recent decisions.
* CBS is airing a pro-life ad during the Superbowl featuring Tim Tebow, a college QB with a great story about his mom choosing against abortion when pregnant with him. CBS then turned down an ad request from a gay dating service, who wanted to run a Superbowl ad as well.
Let CBS know you appreciate them with a nice email!
Got to go; I see a wreath I forgot to take down. Maybe I'll just make some paper hearts and slap them on it, and it will be a "Valentine's wreath"!
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Some things stood out for me - namely, criticizing the Supremes (Supreme Court justices, that is), bringing up healthcare at all except in a "what I've learned" context, and President Obama's tone - HE IS STILL CAMPaiGNING!!! I CAN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE!! WHAT THE HECK???
Okay, whew, that's over with. Let's talk respect, when we talk about the first item. In the same way that I was horrified (although not as horrified as Nancy Pelosi; her neck was on a spring for that one!) when Republican Joe Wilson yelled out "Liar!" during the President's last big speech in that great room, I was horrified that the President took the Supremes to task, with them right in front of him. I agreed with one Supreme, Justice Alito, who shook his head and looked disgusted; he clearly disagreed with the President, and I was wondering if that was in part because he was disrespecting them on the national stage. However, I do agree with the President on this one; I think that corporate and union money should stay out of elections. But to diss the Supremes - not cool.
Next, the President seemed defiant on healthcare, vowing to push forward on items even if they are unpopular. Massachusetts had the honor of speaking for the nation with a resounding referendum on healthcare when we voted Republican Scott Brown in. The President needs to hear his people - not now on healthcare, Or, slowly. Very slowly.
The last item on my correspondant's list: the President's soaring rhetoric is wearing thin, and not just with me. Look at the poll numbers. I am actually getting nervous that he cannot lead us; that he just doesn't have the stuff. That is a terrible thought. Hopefully, this talented young man will listen to "we, the People," take a humble pill, and call us in the morning with a changed agenda and a changed focus...or we are in BIG trouble.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
One thing on the ol' noggin this morning, as I worked out at the gym and tried to stay in a positive frame of mind, considering what the blogging would be about today. I think it's important to think about the blog when I'm also doing something else - that way, you don't go dry in your topic choice, but write about what hoepfully the bulk of people might be thinking about. So, what's on my mind:
Haiti. Cruise ships are pulling up to the shores of Haiti, about 200 miles from Port-au-Prince, where more than 150,000 people (maybe more) have lost their lives; many still crushed under buildings. People from these ships are sun-bathing and relaxing, having a break from their normal lives. They have paid good money for their vacation. Many Haitians say "Let them come; without them, we don't eat tonight." What is right? It seems appalling to sunbathe near such tragedy. So, I think what I would do is: get off the ship and decide to get to Port-au-Prince and help out. Hold a baby, move some rubble, whatever. A working vacation - maybe the most meaningful "break" I've ever had. But would I judge someone who didn't choose this? No. Perhaps many of those sunbathers have suffered a hard year themselves - divorce, death, marginalization in it's many hurtful shapes - who knows. Life is strange and tragedy takes many forms - some brutal, like an earthquake, and some very subtle, like heartbreak. Who is to judge. What would you do? And would you judge someone who was relaxing that close to horrific tragedy?
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
So, I promise to offer posts that have been carefully thought through, or links that I think will edify, enlighten, entertain, or amuse. I am going to keep the format and the blog itself simple, so that hopefully it will be a relaxing place to visit. What can you do, and what else could you get in return?
Here's the deal:
Leave five comments on five seperate posts of mine here at the Blend, wthin two weeks time. If you do (and you don't have to agee with me, either, in your comments!) I will send you a free autographed copy of my first book, Exhausted Rapunzel - Tales of Modern Castle Life, a collection of funny family essays on raising a family - perfect for a new baby gift, or any gift at all.
So, go to it! Bookmark the site, and start commenting!
Initially talking about the attack, his terrorism training, and the involvement of Al Queda in the failed attack, this terrorist realized that it was "his right" not to give anything away, and after being read his rights, said no more. He had just been given proper medical treatment for his wounds, and now, as you read this, has three squares a day in jail and a bed to sleep in. His victims, should he have been successful, would not have as much right now, as they would be...dead. How in the heck are we going to stay safe in this dangerous world treating those that would harm us in this way?
Senator Lieberman (Connecticut - Independent) and Senator Collins (Maine - Repubublican) have called on the administration, which, incidentally, now admits that we are at war, to act as if we are at war and transfer this enemy combatant to the military courts for his trial. There is enough eyewitness testimony to convict him, and the administration can certainly make this transfer freely and with just cause, and send the signal that this is what will happen to you should you try to harm one hair on an American citizen's head.
The Obama administration should set this in motion immediately, so that President Obama can report that he has done so at tomorrow evening's "State of the Union" address. At this address if he were to 1)acknowledge the Massachusetts victory of Scott Brown in the U.S. Senate race and what it has taught him (signalling that he is open to being taught), 2)report that terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmultallab is being transferred to military custody and 3) show a real outline for a plan to stimulate job growth, then we might all feel empowered enough to believe that real change can come about in this Adminstration. The rhetoric has go to go; we need jobs and security, and we need them now. We're looking to you, Mr. President!
Monday, January 25, 2010
Saturday, January 23, 2010
The President has every right to hit the streets and try to pump up his agenda - and his image. But if you really believe in something, do you just keep at it, pushing forward and working quietly, or do you...keep talking? The President had his open-collared, jocular persona on display as he visited hard-hit Elyria, Ohio yesterday, and he was doing what he does best: campaigning. He is a born speaker. Why the Democratic Party did not simmer down and groom Barack Obama - give him more time in the senate, and let him be a sort of spokesperson for every Democratic bill, plan, idea, etc., is beyond me. We all jump too fast when we feel hope or feel that spark, and the President as a speaker that can make you feel that and more It's his gift.
I'm sure that the President is convinced to his core that every American needs healthcare. And you have to admire the spirit with which he pursues this thing. But he is our leader, and we have expressed that we have bigger things on our plate - we need jobs, we need to be able to get on a plane without worrying that we will have to dive on another passenger to put his pants out, and we need elected officials and leaders in Washington that we can trust. (Related note: Ben Bernanke is going to have a harder time than we thought getting confirmed for another term as Chairman of the Fed. He may be too cozy with Wall Street. Stay tuned.)
The President should listen to Massachusetts, and step away from sweeping reform on healthcare right now. We could actively chip away at Healthcare - attack those "pre-existing conditions" that are the essence of unfair practices - while you keep us secure from terrorism, and fling - yes fling - yourself into getting Americans jobs.
I'm going to go have some coffee. I dont think that fling was the right word; it's too flimsy. Have a great week-end!
Thursday, January 21, 2010
This awareness of being given the honor to serve, and the realization that from humble beginnings this has grown, is heartening to see. This was, to me, the best part of the press conference, and we wish the Senator well here in Massachusetts as he begins to process all the change in his life. He is going to D.C. today - the back ehre for his daughter's basketball game. Nice.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
I worked at the Danvers office and earned my "200 calls made" Scott Brown for Senate tee shirt - they are not kidding, the energy is amazing here in Massachusetts. I talked to about 3 people out of 200 who were going to vote 4 Coakley. On to victory...
It is beyond ironic that all of this is happening here in Massachusetts, the most liberal of states. We may block Obama's healthcare, and we may fill the late senator Kennedy's seat with a Republican! Maybe it's not irony at all but the truest barometer of how this country feels about all the change Obama is trying to bring about.
The parallels between Obama and our own Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick are amazing. They are both wonderful orators, able to take you to idealized heights with both their words and their affect - their gaze, mainly, focused on a spot none of us can see - when speaking. They both had too little experience for their current position. They are both African-Americans that many were dying to get behind partially as an affirmation of how far we've come as a nation when it comes to equality. I would have loved to get behind each of them, if they made any sense at all to me. And both have plummeting poll numbers as they try to turn that golden rhetoric into action.
I respect each one of them for their elected position as they are the expression of the will of the people. I wonder how it is for each of them as they try to govern in this polarized, complex society where people look for you to fail. And I respectfully disagree with them on most things.
Massachusetts, the spotlight is on you today, the 19th of January in the year 2010.
Turn it into a light of hope and change (ever heard that before?)
Monday, January 18, 2010
I stared at the sign and thought of the costs of this election. Last week I took a stand over a column I wrote supporting Brown and lost my syndication venue, and here in MA it looks like we may be losing a fine state Senator to the national stage, where he belongs. Across the aisle in my state this election could cost the Democrats the Kennedy seat, and cost an already- low-polling Obama the healthcare bill. Last week I went to Scott Brown's fundraiser in Salem, Massachusetts after a day working the phones on his behalf, and could feel not just energy, but relief. It was about sudden gains, not losses. and I cherish the memory of that happy time in a downtown restaurant. At the Scott Brown fundraiser you could happily raise your voice while talking about our Republican candidate, or about being a Republican, or just talking about America, for that matter, as quaint as that may sound in the age of the flip-camera. (I want one of those!) We forget it's our country we're talking about - the people whose homes sit exposed on the brown plains, the families who live snug and sheltered up in the purple mountains, the folks who seperate the wheat from the chaff within our borders out west. The geography that we realized was so dear on 9/11; you know; the country. The U S of A. And I am wondering, as I think about the election - where are the feminists?
Martha Coakley - a female candidate that should have had them coming in droves. Not somebody's widow running for the seat, not a female Governor with good hair and a grasp of both the issues and the party line, but a former prosecutor and Attorney General in a liberal state that probably supports a feminist platform to begin with. (As you'll see, I think there in only one plank in the platform these days.) A woman whose margin was so wide that your support could be ticked off the list over drinks with a few texts and a promise to hold a sign down at the high school come election day. A woman to stand up for women and their various and sundry rights everywhere, all day long, and twice on Sunday. What happened here, ladies?
They were scared away by the Coakley campaign's now-infamous and ugly blast that Scott Brown wants females turned away at emergency rooms after being raped. If they did want to stick up for choice vocally in this race, they would be tied to the Coakley campaign's radicalized, should-be-libelous position of twisting Brown's state senate vote (he did not want Catholic and faith-based hospitals to have to perform abortions) into an evil cold shoulder to women in pain as a result of a violent act. He is also against partial-birth abortions, as every woman - and human - should be. The crime of Coakley's ads is not as much against Scott Brown, but against rape victims - anyone with a law degree and a pulse - or, forget the law degree; just a pulse will do - knows that you need to tread lightly because of real victims who will always, in a sense, suffer(a violent crime prosecutor would well know this), and suffer more each time this ad is played. Many of us just could not do this to rape victims, no matter what the pay-off. As my Uncle Bud used to say: what the Sam Hill is going on?
Feminism used to be about wages and opportunities, and about women being equal in all aspects that the law and society was interested in. We had Billie Jean King, man! It was real, and needed, and a giant step for womankind. Now, the issue is abortion, or "reproductive freedom," mainly, when we're talking feminism, abortion being an umbrella which also covers emergency contraception or "morning-after contraception" when you are talking social issues. And the Coakley campaign has twisted Scott Brown's votes in the state senate to make "emergency contraception" a graphic central theme: an ad playing now features a young girl alone and cowering on a stairstep, all alone with her rape and possibly a pregnancy. Her head is in her hands, her thin body curving in on itself in fear and uncertainty and shame. Rape is a crime, and as a crime is an issue for all of us. And the Coakley campaign has turned that real crime - and the pain that comes with it for both men and women - into a caricature by an actress for campaign purposes. Feminists, stay away from this one if you are smart!
My mom used to be fascinated with Gloria Steinem, although I don't think she agreed with her (I should call and ask) except on pay and opportunity issues. We commented on her glasses, her streaked hair, her often-bra-less physique. We took her seriously, too; why everyone had a copy of Ms. magazine. Feminists then were like suffragettes; their work meant something, and they left a trail of interest and questions and change in their wake. Now, feminists seem to be fighting so hard against babies being born and fetuses developing that they have invalidated the message with their bitter and rote rhetoric. Would they have liked to come out in force for Coakley? Yes! Could they ever, now, after the rape ads? Never.
As my Uncle Bud also used to say, Mash that light button over yonder, and let's call it a night.
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