Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Spoiled Brat

(Picture and quotes courtesy of the White House website.)

Our President was cranky yesterday. He appeared on the North Portico steps of the White House after meeting with the House Republican Conference, in order to whine about the performance of Congress.

After mentioning what a "constructive" discussion he'd had with Republican members of Congress, he went on to complain:

"Congress is not getting its work done. We're near the end of the year, and there really isn't much to show for it. The House of Representatives has wasted valuable time on a constant stream of investigations, and the Senate has wasted valuable time on an endless series of failed votes to pull our troops out of Iraq."

Hmmm, wasting time on investigations...let's see, does anyone remember Monica Lewinsky? Whitewater? Talk about a waste of time. And Congress wouldn't have to be trying to vote our troops out of Iraq if he hadn't put them there in the first place.

He then went on to whine some more.

"They've also passed an endless series of tax increases. You know, they proposed tax increases in the farm bill, the energy bill, the small business bill, and of course, the SCHIP bill. They haven't seen a bill they could not solve without shoving a tax hike into it. In other words, they believe in raising taxes, and we don't.

Spending is skyrocketing under their leadership -- at least proposed spending is skyrocketing under their leadership."

My, he has a short memory. It wasn't so bad when the Republicans were doing it, was it? What about back in 2003? According to this article, originally published by the LA Times,

"Before they took control of Congress nearly nine years ago, Republicans often mocked the Democratic practice of larding government spending bills with provisions that earmarked funds for pet projects in particular lawmakers' districts and states.

But a $328.1-billion bill that the Republican-led House expects to pass today, funding a grab bag of government agencies, takes earmarking to greater heights and uses it for what Democrats claim are new, partisan purposes.

The bill includes an eye-popping number of earmarks — around 7,000 by one estimate, at a cost of several billion dollars. Other spending bills bring the grand total for the year to more than 10,000. In that long list are items big and small, from $100,000 for street furniture and sidewalks in Laverne, Ala., to $44 million for a bridge to Treasure Island in Florida — a plum for the Tampa Bay district of House Appropriations Chairman C.W. "Bill" Young.

But more than that, to a degree unseen since their 1995 takeover, the majority Republicans are publicly flaunting their power to use pork for explicitly partisan purposes."

But that's not all. Oh no. In 2005, yet more earmarks and pork made it through the Republican controlled Congress: According to this Boston Globe article,

"At $286.4 BILLION, the highway bill just passed by Congress is the most expensive public works legislation in US history. In addition to funding the interstate highway system and other federal transportation programs, it sets a new record for pork-barrel spending, earmarking $24 billion for a staggering 6,376 pet projects."

This was the bill with the infamous "bridge to nowhere" in Alaska, among other perks benefiting that state. John McCain voted against the bill at the time:

"Arizona Senator John McCain, who voted no, called the bill a 'monstrosity' and wondered whether it will ever be possible to restore fiscal sanity to Congress. If 'the combination of war, record deficits, and the largest public debt in the country's history' can't break lawmakers' addiction to spending, he asked, 'what can?'"

What indeed?

And now Bush is moaning and groaning because the current spending bill has pork in it. The difference is, it is Democratic pork. So he's whining:

"We want to sit down in good faith and come up with a bill that is responsible, because Congress has been unable or unwilling to get its basic job done of passing spending bills...It's hard to imagine a more cynical political strategy than trying to hold hostage funding for our troops in combat and our wounded warriors in order to extract $11 billion in additional social spending. I hope media reports about such a strategy are wrong, I really do. If they're not, if the reports of this strategy are true, I will veto such a three-bill pileup. Congress should pass each bill one at a time in a fiscally responsible manner that reflects agreement between the legislative branch and the executive branch."

Why is it the Democrats are expected to forge an agreement between the legislative branch and the executive branch? Did the executive branch ever try to forge any agreements with them when they were in the minority? I didn't think so.

He complained one more time about Congress "not getting their job done" before closing his remarks by thanking the members who were supporting him.

"It would be irresponsible to not give our troops the resources they need to get their job done because Congress was unable to get its job done."

So, I call him a spoiled brat. When he gets his way, everything's fine. He doesn't mind when his own Republican Congress passes barrels full of pork, or if they investigate Democrats.

But if the Democrats try to do the same thing, "They don't play fair! They aren't getting the job done!" Amazing how he didn't veto one bill the whole time the Republican controlled Congress. But hey, their pork was OK.

Don't get me wrong; I am not a fan of pork and I would like to see reforms that would address this issue for both sides of the aisle.

But for this President to sanctimoniously complain about Congress "not getting its job done" and loading up bills with earmarks, when he is spending unconscionable amounts of money on his war in Iraq and refusing to sign bills to insure uninsured children, is more than I can stand. The hypocrisy is just amazing.

Moving on....

Tomorrow is the beginning of NaBloPoMo and I am going to participate. I don't think I've ever gone more than two days in a row of posting on this blog, so the idea of posting every single day of November is daunting.

Therefore, I will try to follow a theme. Political Poetry is my theme of choice. I am not a poet, as I've said before, but I am going to follow set forms, such as haiku, so I can't really go wrong. I've always wanted to learn how to write a haiku but could never remember how many syllables they have. So I found a nice definition online on this site.

I learned the form of haiku is not set in stone:

"What then is the form of a haiku? Some of the critical aspects of haiku form that have been mentioned are:

-brevity [one to three lines totaling 17 syllables or less]
-three lines -- some would insist of 5-7-5 syllable structure, some suggest a structure of three lines with 5 or less, 7 or less, 5 or less syllables.
-when read aloud, can be completed in one breath
-avoidance of traditional English poetic forms, such as rhyming and metaphor.
-juxtaposition … two elements or lines of the haiku indirectly relate to a third.
-descriptiveness ... haiku describe, they don't prescribe or tell."

So how about this as a start?

Dubya is cranky
As the Dems pile on the pork
Earmarks go both ways

Monday, October 29, 2007

What Kind of Liberal Are You?

I am proud to report I'm a "Social Justice Crusader" type liberal. Thanks to Makanani for posting this helpful quiz! Also! I am moving her blog to my "Politically Oriented" list, as she is a strong proponent of the Draft Gore movement and obviously belongs in that link list!

How to Win a Fight With a Conservative is the ultimate survival guide for political arguments

My Liberal Identity:

You are a Social Justice Crusader, also known as a rights activist. You believe in equality, fairness, and preventing neo-Confederate conservative troglodytes from rolling back fifty years of civil rights gains.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Some Housekeeping

Today we got really ambitious and managed to go through a huge pile of assorted detritus that was sitting for weeks in our upstairs hallway, throw away a lot of stuff, and put away the rest. It was a combination of books, CDs, magazines, old birthday cards, newsletters, newspapers, and souvenir programs from various plays and musical performances that had managed to gather in the room DH uses as his office. A few weeks ago we had decided to use our brand new Bissell rug shampooing machine in that room, so DH put all the offending debris out into the hallway, and there it had sat.

Once we got through that pile we were truly inspired and then went through the bookcases in the office and put all the books we didn't want to keep into two big boxes, the contents of which can be donated or sold at a yard sale.

DH then got really ambitious and cleaned the windows in the room we fondly, and truthfully, refer to as "The Cat's Room," and we even put back up the clean curtains we had washed two weeks ago!

And if that wasn't enough housekeeping for one day, I spent this evening playing around with my blog's sidebar, cleaning out a few things I didn't think I needed to keep there, and adding my shiny new blog bling from the recent awards.

While I was at it I added a couple of new blog links and moved my two other blogs to their own section called "My Other Blogs." (Real original, aren't I?)

This sudden fall weather must have inspired the old Fall Housecleaning gene to kick in. It's strange to think that when I was growing up, my mother did Spring and Fall Housecleaning, and it involved major housework. Taking down all the curtains and washing them (she had different ones for summer and winter, too!) all the windows....I remember my dad (who happened to be afraid of heights, so I'm amazed he did this) sitting on the windowsill with the top half of his body OUTSIDE the house, cleaning the outside of the windows.

We're lucky if we do that stuff every two or three years! And we're also lucky if we have one decent set of curtains for each window, let alone different ones for different seasons.

It makes me wonder how important any of that is, or ever was. I don't know many people who still do that kind of cleaning. Most women I know work, and who has time to do all that when you have only two days a week to get all the errands and other chores done?

Are we any worse off now that we don't do two major housecleaning events each year? Are our families any less healthy? Our houses that much the worse for wear? I don't think so.

Maybe when the tradition started it was truly necessary, because they didn't have the kind of modern conveniences we have today, such as washing machines and vacuum cleaners, or Bissell rug shampooers. I suppose it made sense back then to take up the rugs and beat them in the back yard. Or wash all the curtains a lot because you couldn't use a vacuum attachment to clean them. But times have changed, and I don't think anyone will be going back to that type of housecleaning any time soon.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Worshiping Work

While we were away I caught up on reading my newspapers, which had been piling up last week. In the Thursday New York Times, Roger Cohen had an Op-Ed piece about the new French finance minister, Christine Lagarde, who is a proponent of moving France to a more "American" way of life.

Nicknamed "The American" by her countrymen, Ms. Lagarde is making an effort to get the French to, basically, work more: “We are trying to change the psyche of the French people in relation to work.”

Her attitude was nurtured by 20+ years in America:

"In an interview, Lagarde says that more than two decades at a U.S. corporation taught her: 'The more hours you worked, the more hours you billed, the more profit you could generate for yourself and your firm. That was the mantra.'" (Ms. Lagarde was the first chairwoman of the Chicago- based law firm Baker & McKenzie).

Ms. Lagarde feels the passing of the legislation for the 35-hour work week in France had "disastrous" effects in her home country. She said the result was that “People did not really talk about their work. They talked about their long weekends.”

(Quelle horreur! Heaven forbid that people should prefer to talk about their real lives instead of work! How dare they? This must stop!)

Ms. Lagarde wants to lower the unemployment rate from 8% to 5%, and raise the percentage of the population that is gainfully employed from 63% to 70%, by the year 2012. How does she plan to accomplish this?

"Tax cuts, the termination of unemployment benefits for those refusing two valid job offers, later retirement, incentives for those working more than 35 hours, a slashing of the bureaucracy associated with job-seeking and improved professional training are among measures enacted or envisaged. Legislation to reverse the 35-hour week is possible."

Hmmm, tax cuts. Terminating unemployment benefits. Longer working hours. Sounds familiar. Sounds very...American.

Cohen supports Lagarde's goals: "Without a dynamic France, Europe cannot be revitalized, and a Europe in a Gallic funk is bad for everyone. If an overbearing America has been a problem, an underperforming Europe has been its complement."

I disagree with the idea that every country and every culture has to center its efforts on "performance." Why is the American model always held up as the "right" way to live? Why do so many people believe in hard work as some kind of moral imperative? That the correct way to conduct one's life is to work long hours, make more money, provide more profit for the corporations, take as few vacations as possible and live in constant stress?

At one time, there were good reasons to work hard. The purpose of work was to provide food and shelter for one's family. Now it is to hoard money, more money than anyone needs to live. Work, and its goal, profit, have been elevated to a type of religion here in the United States.

And now this sickness is spreading to countries that used to be more sensible about work, who believed life was to be enjoyed and to be lived to the fullest.

The French are not giving up their more leisurely way of life without a fight. Unions protesting reforms in the pension plans paralyzed Paris starting on Thursday and the unrest may continue into November.

But I fear that as time goes by, gradually more and more countries will start to adopt our ways. And if they do, the cafe' life, the intellectual discussions over a glass of wine, the long vacations that other cultures enjoy, will become a thing of the past and eventually every country will be just like us. And that would be a sad day in the world.

Soon to be a thing of the past?
-A scene at La Palette, our favorite cafe' in Paris
(picture courtesy of

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Catching up!

While we were rusticating in the lovely Adirondacks, Beverly of Makanani presented me with not one, but three awards! As I told her, I am blushing! First are the "Best Kept Secret Award" and the "Breakout Blogger Award" - and the other is the "Totally Fabulous Award." See below - clicking on them will bring you to the original sites that started them.

Naturally the next step is to pass along the compliments to other bloggers. I don't know how much of a secret any of these bloggers are, but they are certainly award-worthy. Here goes:

Best Kept Secret/Breakout Bloggers:

Elizabeth of Inside Betty's Head. Always very well-written, thoughtful posts.

M of m's blog. M writes very interesting posts about various subjects, ranging from her daily life to finances and beyond.

Odessa of Freefalling Me. Odessa's blog is a great mix of wonderful photographs and poetry.

And for the Totally Fabulous Awards:

It's always hard to pick blogs for these awards because ALL the blogs I read are absolutely fabulous! So here are just a few:

PunditMom - informative and enjoyable, always writes about interesting topics.

Rhea of The Boomer Chronicles posts generally Baby-Boomer-related stories, facts and information on her blog, but her subject matter is of interest to everyone.

Lisa of O My Word!. Her blog is addictive and she also has another great blog, Politics After 50, which you should check out as well!

Last but definitely not least, Evil Spock over at The Needs of the Few. This blog is unique and if you haven't experienced it yet, head on over! Evil Spock's subject matter ranges from politics to various and sundry other subjects as the mood strikes.

That's it for now. I love all of the blogs I read so it's always hard to have to pick a few out, and it takes a lot out of me!

Moving right along, I'd like to summarize what I learned about the Adirondacks in our trip there, which was our first time in this lovely region.

What the Adirondacks have:

-Gorgeous scenery - everywhere. Leaves that are every shade of orange, red, gold, brown, and yes, some that are still green, contrasting with sparkling blue lakes everywhere you look.

-Friendly, down-to-earth people who greet you with a smile.

-Lots of beautiful old houses, ranging from ornate Victorians to colonial homes that must be 200+ years old. Some may be a little down on their luck but it is amazing to see the wonderful housing stock that exists in this area.

-Quaint, unspoiled towns, each with its steepled church and its historical society (surprisingly, even the smallest towns all seemed to have a historical society - maybe that's why the old houses haven't been torn down). Many towns have gas stations and motels that look as if they haven't changed since the 1950's.

What the Adirondacks don't have:

-Surly waiters/waitresses or cashiers
-Ethnic restaurants (one drawback!)

We did eat at a pretty good Italian restaurant a couple of times, but I have to say the pizza didn't measure up to that of Star Tavern in my native New Jersey. But that is a sacrifice I am willing to make for relaxation and lack of stress! We will definitely be back again next year. It was a very successful first trip to the region.

On our way back from the Adirondacks we took the long way home, through the park, and then down Route 87. When we hit the Garden State Parkway, that is when I returned to reality, as the traffic built up to rush hour proportions. I could feel my blood pressure rise 10 points.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Weekend Getaway

We are going to the wilderness for four days - no internet access! I am not sure I will survive the withdrawal symptoms, but will try. I'm bringing plenty of books.

We are staying at a place called Sheltered Lakes, which is in the lower/central Adirondacks about four hours from our house. Miss Diva is coming with us and I'm sure will find it very exciting.

We've never been up there before so it should be a nice respite from our hectic lives. It looks like this:

Very peaceful. With a lake for Diva to chase her ball and swim around in. So a good time should be had by all, especially her. Hopefully it will cheer DH and me up a bit to be away, after all that has happened this week.

If I can't get ahold of a faint scrap of wi fi or find a cyber cafe' somewhere, I will be out of touch for a few days. Enjoy your weekends and I'll catch up when I return.

To a Friend Who Died Too Young

I recently lost a friend, too young. We had been out of touch for awhile, had a falling out - a long story - and had never really dealt with it. And now it's too late.

Things like this make you realize how important it is not to let things fester. If there is a problem, talk it out; if there is anger, try to understand. If there is silence, speak. Otherwise you may find, like me, that you missed your chance.

I wanted to post a poem in memory of my friend, but nothing seemed quite suitable to make the point that I wanted to make. So I wrote my own. I'm no poet and this is probably a monumentally bad poem, but I thought I'd post it anyway since it expressed what I feel.

Many times I thought of you
And almost picked up the phone
I composed letters in my mind
But they were never sent.

I often wondered how you were
But never dared to ask.
Afraid of your rejection,
It was so easy not to try.

After all, we weren’t that old,
There was always time.
Another day, another month,
Perhaps sometime next year.

But suddenly it’s all too late;
The days, the months, the years
Slipped by without a trace
Leaving all the words unsaid.

No time left to start anew
No time left to make amends
Only time to feel the pain
Of wishing you were here again.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Importance of the Manmade Environment - Blog Action Day

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day

I was going to write about the George W. Bush's administration's record on the environment. I did a quick search and found that there are dozens of websites devoted to showing the heinous record Bush has on the environment. Under Bush, the EPA has weakened many laws pertaining to clean air and water, and of course there is always the threat of drilling for oil in sensitive areas like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

However, there were so many sites that listed out all of the actions Bush and his government have taken to denigrate the environment that I just felt as if it was too easy - like shooting fish in a barrel. And a lot of the sites were only updated at the time of the most recent elections so finding more recent information would have been more time-consuming. If you want a summary of actions by the Bush Administration that hurt our environment, please see this site.

So, instead of that topic, I'm going to write about the importance of parkland in our country and in our lives. So often when we talk of "the evironment," we think only of the wild natural environment, and not the manmade environment. But parks are an important part of the green areas of our country; both the National Parks, and the local parks.

Many people don't realize the planning that went into the creation of the National Park System. They may believe that great tracts of wild land were just set aside and that was the end of it. However, although it is true that a lot of these parks were wilderness, the idea behind the parks was to open them up for people to enjoy.

According to the National Park Service website,

"The artist George Catlin first articulated the idea of large western national parks in 1832, the same year Congress set aside the Hot Springs Reservation in central Arkansas, now known as Hot Springs National Park. On a trip to the Dakotas Catlin worried about the impact of America's westward expansion on Indian civilization, wildlife and wilderness. They might be preserved, he wrote, "by some great protecting policy of government . . . in a magnificent park . . . A nation's park, containing man and beast, in all the wild and freshness of their nature's beauty!"

Then in 1864, Abraham Lincoln authorized the transfer of the Yosemite Valley to the state of California for "public use, resort and recreation." He appointed Frederick Law Olmsted, creator of Central Park, as chairman of the board of commissioners established to oversee the administration of the land.

Olmsted had a philosophy of leisure based on the need for ordinary citizens to be exposed to the rhythms of the natural world in order to give them perspective in their busy, rapidly urbanizing, lives. For him this meant that parks had to have restaurants and hotels and carriage paths and trails, so that a leisurely appreciation of nature was possible. His thought was to preserve the wilderness as much as possible while still allowing people to enjoy the parks.

However, Yosemite did not officially become a National Park until naturalist John Muir and Robert Underwood Johnson, the editor of Century magazine, lobbied for its designation as a park after seeing that flocks of domestic sheep were destroying the natural environment in 1889. As a result, on October 1, 1890, the U.S. Congress set aside more than 1,500 square miles of land to be preserved, which became Yosemite National Park. It included the area surrounding Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove were ceded from the state of California's control and included with Yosemite National Park in 1906.

Yellowstone was actually the first official National Park, designated in 1872 by President Ulysses S. Grant.

Many more areas were set aside as national parks after these two. You can find a full list of them on the National Park Service website.

The Olmsted vision for the national parks was similar to his vision for the urban parks he designed, but on a larger scale.

Along with Calvert Vaux, Olmsted had designed Central Park in 1858. He envisioned the park as a place of respite for people of all different backgrounds and ethnicities. His vision of parkland included wide open spaces, curving pathways, and separation of traffic from footpaths. He objected to including too many types of active recreation or buildings, as his art was done with nature itself.

Frederick Law Olmsted and his firm went on to design many other famous parks and landscapes, including Prospect Park in Brooklyn, the grounds of the U.S. Capitol, the "Emerald Necklace" park system in Boston and the Arnold Arboretum, the grounds of Stanford University, the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina, and more.

The Olmsted firm designed the Essex County Park System, the first county park system in the country. By this point Olmsted was at the end of his career and his sons had taken over the business, still carrying on his philosophy of landscape design. Branch Brook Park was the first park designed for the system, in 1898. A new book on Branch Brook Park has recently been published as part of Images of America series if you would like more information.

This scene is a band concert at Branch Brook Park in 1907 (from the Essex County website).

Today parks are more important than ever, providing green space for children and adults to enjoy during hot summer days, being used for both active and passive recreation. Parks are green oases in the heart of our cities, and even beyond the pleasure they give the residents, they also serve a useful purpose in helping keep the air clean, and providing a pervious surface so water can be absorbed during heavy rains or flooding.

But funding for all of our parks is dwindling, and unless more money is continually allocated to parks, these precious resources deteriorate. Ten years ago our local park was run down, full of litter, with broken benches, deteriorating buildings and graffiti-ridden bridges.

Now, as a result of efforts of our local neighborhood group, in conjunction with new leadership at the county level, the park has returned to its former glory and once again is the jewel in the middle of our semi-urban neighborhood.

But it was only through state grant money that this was able to be accomplished. And government cutbacks continue to threaten the availability of this source of funding. We must remain alert to ensure that the manmade landscapes in our midst continue to be maintained and improved.

Friday, October 12, 2007

I Finally Know What's Wrong With Me!

I have learned that I have Transition Anxiety and am a Polychrone!

"What the heck is that?" you may say.

Well, I get this electronic newsletter thing from WebMD on my work e-mail - it's part of the Big Corporation's employee wellness program. WebMD sends useful little tidbits of information about diet, nutrition, stress, and various other health-related subjects. Yesterday I got one of these messages and, being between meetings and wishing to procrastinate further on a project I was trying to avoid doing, I read it.

The lead article was all about Transition Anxiety, or Failure to Transition. Apparently, this is an affliction that causes people like me to personify Newton's first law of motion. Once I'm doing something, I don't want to stop doing it and move on to the next thing. I started reading this article and recognized myself in every description.

The article started off with a mythical person named Emma, who could easily have been me:

"Each day when Emma's alarm clock rings, she drowsily hits the snooze button several times. The shower, when she finally gets there, is so steamy and fragrant, she lingers twice as long as strictly necessary. She dresses hurriedly, only to check the mirror and change. And so it goes: Coffee savoring takes 15 minutes; lipstick experimentation, five minutes; car key searching, another 10. Emma often arrives at the office late—but that's okay, because once there, she works into the night, until an external force in the form of her frustrated husband calls to see if she's alive. Emma stays up late to offer compensatory companionship, ensuring that in the morning, when the alarm clock rings, she'll be too tired to get up.

People either think Emma is an inconsiderate laggard or they shrug off her chronic difficulty making transitions, give her lavish time cushions, and judge her based on anything but punctuality."

But, the article goes on to explain why Emma is the way she is. She is a "polychrone." Apparently people are either polychrones or monochrones. The polychrones of the world are the people who see time as "loose and elastic," not rigid, as a monochrome sees it.


-Do many things at once and are highly distractible.
-View time commitments as objectives.
-Are committed to people and relationships.
-Change plans often.
-Base promptness on the significance of the relationship.
-Have a strong tendency to build lifelong relationships.


-Do one thing at a time.
-View time commitments as critical.
-Are committed to jobs (projects and tasks).
-Adhere religiously to plans.
-Emphasize promptness, always.
-Are accustomed to short-term relationships."

When I read this, I finally understood why I am the way I am. I've been late to everything in my life starting with kindergarten. I can't get out of the house in the morning. Even when I'm at work, I'm late for every meeting because I get involved in whatever I'm doing and lose track of the time. No amount of reminders popping up on my computer screen can do the job. I start one task and get distracted by another, and end up not finishing the first one. Many a boss has despaired of getting me to show up on time, and after all the years I've been at the Big Corporation I think they've finally given up.

But my problem is progressing. Whereas once I wandered in to work between 9 and 9:30 a.m., I have now drifted to 10:00 and sometimes beyond. And life seems to have gotten more and more hectic in the standards have been declining in terms of what I need to do to get to work.

My clothing requirements have gone down a continuum of acceptability in my mind. They've moved from:

- Well put-together "business casual" outfit with perhaps a nice pair of pants and matching jacket with attractive pumps; down to...
- OK looking pants with a nice sweater and any shoes that fit and aren't too scuffed; to...
- Anything that's clean and not TOO wrinkled; to...
- Not naked.

I've moved from:

- Contact lenses, foundation, lipstick and eye makeup; to...
- Glasses, foundation, lipstick and eye makeup; to...
- Glasses, maybe foundation and maybe not, no eye makeup, just lipstick.

Someday I may not even wear lipstick.

Clearly, something needs to change before I am unable to ever leave the house again. Luckily the article provides several good tips to control these polychronistic tendencies of mine. And I told my boss about the article and asked for her help in moving me along! So we'll see what happens.

But in the meantime I started thinking about this issue in larger terms. It feels as if life is getting so hectic that no one can really stop and "smell the roses," let alone manage all the tasks that are piling up in our lives. And it got me on earth did our parents manage to do this? My father worked until he was 68 years old! I'm not even 55 and I can't imagine continuing in this same situation for another 13 years.

Then it dawned on me, my parents didn't do this. My father did. My mother didn't work. So every night my father came home and my mother had his drink ready for him and dinner ready to put on the table. She was home all day to do the errands, go to the grocery store and buy the food for dinner, be there if a repairman came to the house, clean the house, do the dishes, make the phone calls that needed to be made, and generally keep the household under control. So when my father got home, he didn't need to do much at all - just take the garbage out a couple of times a week and mow the lawn.

I realize now, the reason DH and I feel so stressed all the time is that we need a wife.

But in the meantime, trying to be a little more monochronistic might help me deal with the tasks a little better. So I will be printing out the article's advice and putting it up on my wall to remind me of what I need to do to keep my head above water. It's the least I can do.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Leader Who Feels He Must Explain Why He's Here

I'm having a very busy week so haven't had much time to write a cogent, succinct yet thoroughly researched, intelligent or even witty commentary on anything our fearless leader or any of his cronies have done or said recently.

Luckily, Jon Stewart is on the job to save me. Last night on The Daily Show, he had a great bit about Dubya and I was laughing out loud watching it. In case you missed it, here it is:

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Blog Action Day - October 15

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day

I just became aware of Blog Action Day, which has been created to bring attention to the environment.

Here is what it's all about:

Bloggers can participate on Blog Action Day in one of two ways:

"1. Publish a post on their blog which relates to an issue of their own choice pertaining to the environment.

For example: A blog about money might write about how to save around the home by using environmentally friendly ideas. Similarly a blog about politics might examine what weight environmental policy holds in the political arena.

Posts do not need to have any specific agenda, they simply need to relate to the larger issue in whatever way suits the blogger and readership. Our aim is not to promote one particular viewpoint, only to push the issue to the table for discussion.

2. Commit to donating their day’s advertising earnings to an environmental charity of their choice. There is a list of "official" Blog Action Day charities on the site, however bloggers are also free to choose an alternate environmental charity to donate to if they wish. "

So far I haven't posted much about the environment, which happens to be something I feel very strongly about. When I came across this on BlogCatalog I thought it would be a good opportunity to write about this important issue and raise awareness about the environment. Naturally the Bush Administration will provide me with much fodder for my upcoming post. I just need to look into all the many, many things he and his cronies have done to gut our environmental laws, denigrate our national parks, and more.

As I sit here on October 7 with the outdoor temperature in the 80's, global warming also comes to mind as a good subject.

Hope you will join me and others in bringing this issue to the forefront.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Good News on the Pit Bulls from the Michael Vick Case

The ASPCA has been working with BAD RAP (Bay Area Doglovers Responsible About Pitbulls), a San Francisco-based pit bull rescue organization, to evaluate the 49 pit bulls rescued from Michael Vick’s dog fighting ring.

According to the ASPCA, 48 out of the 49 dogs have passed initial evaluations and will not be euthanized.

“Recommended placement options include possible re-homing into appropriate foster homes, rehabilitation as law enforcement dogs, or placement in sanctuaries (which will need to meet U.S.D.A. facility standards). Only one of the 49 dogs was deemed unfit for rehabilitation and recommended for euthanasia, which order was entered yesterday by Judge Henry E. Hudson.”

None of the dogs will be placed in permanent homes at this time; but further evaluation in appropriate, experienced foster homes may eventually result in some dogs being placed in permanent "forever" homes as pets.

I am personally very heartened to hear of this outcome. It speaks to the resilient nature of the pit bull dog, that even after horrific abuse, their temperaments are such that they have passed an expert evaluation and will be given the chance to live out their lives in a comfortable, caring environment.

Many pit bulls make excellent law enforcement dogs, particularly in the narcotics and explosives detection field. Please see this link for more information about pit bulls and why they make great detection dogs.

Placing those that are not suitable for police work into experienced foster homes should result in some of them becoming great pets. Naturally these dogs will not be used to living in a household after being in such a terrible environment, so they will need to be taught some manners, be housebroken, and well-trained before they could hope to be in a real home.

It sounds as if some may still not be suitable for either law enforcement nor a home environment, but at least they will be allowed to live our their lives in comfort and serenity, without being subjected to constant fights with other dogs and mistreatment or worse at the hands of their tormentors.

Thanks go to the ASPCA and BAD RAP for standing up for the dogs, who were the victims in this terrible case!

Katie Jane (below) is a former fighting dog rescued by BAD RAP. Please see this link for her story.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Slippery Slope

The other morning on the Curtis & Kuby show there was a discussion about new rules and health-related restrictions that were being imposed on employees or would-be employees. Today I found a link to a Chicago Tribune article which concerns this very subject, and may have been the reason for their discussion.

According to the article,

"Indianapolis-based Clarian Health has told its 13,000 employees that, starting in 2009, it will charge them $5 per pay period if they use tobacco or exceed specified levels of cholesterol, blood pressure and other measurements. Penalties could reach $30 per paycheck.

The Cleveland Clinic, on Sept. 1, started nicotine testing in pre-employment physicals. If nicotine is found, applicants will not be hired.

And Weyco Inc., the suburban Lansing [Michigan]-based firm that drew national attention in 2005 when it fired four employees who used tobacco, has expanded the health-insurance requirement, penalizing employees whose spouses smoke or chew tobacco. Penalties are $50 per employee paycheck."

In the past, employers tried the carrot approach to improving employees' health: they would put incentives in place to get the workers to live healthier lifestyles, such as discounts on health club memberships, on-site gyms, or smoking cessation assistance. Now they're bringing in the stick instead.

Weyco, which is a health-benefits administration company, performs random testing for tobacco use every three months. If an employee tests positive for tobacco twice they will be dismissed.

The Clarian policy of charging employees $5 per condition per pay period could be the beginning of a nasty slide down the slippery slope. It's not a big step from charging an employee up to $30 a paycheck for their poor health scores, to actually firing the person. After all, companies are doing it for tobacco use, why not high cholesterol? Where do they draw the line?

I find this kind of information very chilling, especially since I am a cancer survivor and probably would not be top on any list of desirable candidates for a health care provider.

Many of the health conditions being monitored are not necessarily the result of the person's lifestyle habits to begin with: many are genetic in nature. For instance, high blood pressure can occur in people who are in shape and slender. Cholesterol levels are controlled by the liver; often diet does not help.

Rules such as these undermine the very idea of health insurance, which is that risk is spread out over a large group to mitigate the costs incurred by any single person. If those people at higher risk of illnesses are not able to be insured, and can't find employment in more and more companies, what are they supposed to do?

And what about people whose health conditions ARE caused by their own behavior? Will we no longer be allowed to eat at MacDonalds? Will they start searching our cars for Twinkie wrappers? Knocking on our doors at night to see if we're having a cocktail before dinner? How much privacy do we have to give up to our companies or our health insurance providers in order to get basic health care? Why should our personal habits affect our employment unless they impinge on our work performance?

Where do we draw the line and say "enough"?

The last paragraph of the article is a quote by Candace Gorman, a Chicago attorney specializing in labor law:

" 'They will cut as many people for whatever reasons they can get away with. Until Congress steps to the plate and joins the rest of the Western world in mandating universal coverage, the employers and insurance companies will whittle away the coverage, hoping that only the healthy will be covered.' "

I couldn't have said it better myself.