Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

And for those who don't celebrate Christmas, have a wonderful, stress-free and relaxing day!

And here is Diva in the obligatory "dog wearing antlers in front of the Christmas tree" photograph, wishing you all a great day. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Cat's Eye View

Baxter here. Please, make it STOP! This has been a Very Bad Week and I am Cranky.

I'm Sick of those Republicans being so Obstructionist about Health Care Reform.

My Male Human just doesn't understand how they can be against giving Unfortunate Uninsured Humans health insurance. In My Personal Opinion, what it really comes down to (other than their being on the Payroll of Big Pharma and Big Insurance) is that they will oppose ANTHING that President Obama is for. For instance, if President Obama said he was Against Killing Innocent Kittens, the Republicans would be totally in FAVOR of Killing Kittens, and would probably say that NOT Killing Kittens would be what the Nazis would do, and if we don't Kill Kittens then we will Lose Our Country. (Doesn't matter if it Makes Sense, you understand).

Despite the Watered-Down nature of whatever the Final Bill may be, though, the Senate should go ahead and pass SOMETHING. As a Cat, I am one of the Uninsured, since my Humans never bought that Pet Insurance stuff. So I am a Little Worried about what will happen after my Humans retire and are not rolling in that Money stuff they rely on. Will they still be able to Afford to take Me to the Vet? I have Great Sympathy for the Uninsured Humans. It must be Scary to have to choose between Health Care and, say, Food.

If you Disagree that the Bill should be passed, please go read Paul Krugman's op-ed piece in the NY Times, entitled "Pass the Bill." He points out that, when Everything is Said and Done, the Bill does at least do a couple of Good Things:

It would "prohibit discrimination by insurance companies on the basis of medical condition or history: Americans could no longer be denied health insurance because of a pre-existing condition, or have their insurance canceled when they get sick. Second, the bill would provide substantial financial aid to those who don’t get insurance through their employers, as well as tax breaks for small employers that do provide insurance.

All of this would be paid for in large part with the first serious effort ever to rein in rising health care costs."

Perfect? Certainly NOT. But better than before? This Cat thinks so. As Paul Krugman puts it:

"Whereas flawed social insurance programs have tended to get better over time, the story of health reform suggests that rejecting an imperfect deal in the hope of eventually getting something better is a recipe for getting nothing at all."

I also liked this line in his Column:

"...some of those senators seem motivated largely by a desire to protect the interests of insurance companies — with the possible exception of Mr. Lieberman, who seems motivated by sheer spite."

That Lieberman Human is a real Piece of Work. I don't understand him One Bit. So Spite seems like about the only reason he could have for acting the way he does.

Let's see, what else has my Fur in a Knot? Oh yes, General Motors. What a Bunch of Incompetent, Selfish Boobs. Once again they can't come to an Agreement to sell my Humans' favorite Car Company, Saab, so it looks as if they're going to close it down. Now, as a Cat, I don't care about Cars. But I know my Humans are going to be Very Sad about this, so I am Sad too. We Cats also Frown upon Inefficiency and Stupidity. And the way G.M. handled the whole Saab brand was Reprehensible. They never Understood who the Saab buyer was and they came out with Cars that didn't appeal to them, nor could they compete for the Mainstream Person. Stupid G.M. They deserve to go Bankrupt but unfortunately, as Usual, they've been Saved, while poor old Saab, and over 3000 jobs in Sweden, go down the Tubes.

Then there's this Climate Summit thing going on in Copenhagen. Apparently they came to some kind of Watered Down Agreement but these countries couldn't even manage to put in a Deadline to Finalize a Treaty by Next Year. That's Finalize a Treaty, not Solve Global Warming.

"The accord drops the expected goal of concluding a binding international treaty by the end of 2010, which leaves the implementation of its provisions uncertain. It is likely to undergo many months, perhaps years, of additional negotiation before it emerges in any internationally enforceable form."

Months? YEARS? I'll be Long Dead by then. And my Humans' house will probably be Waterfront Property by then - and New York City will be the new Atlantis! What is wrong with Humans anyway? Why can't they just Agree on Anything? We Cats don't always Like each other, but if we have to Live Together, we can Manage to develop an Understanding and not Fight all the time.

Well, I'm Sorry to have Vented so much today. There are a Few Good Things happening in My Life, so I should be a Little Grateful for them.

For One Thing, my Humans are Back for Good it seems. They aren't going Away every weekend anymore. I don't quite understand it, but from what I can Tell, that Cabin they go to can't be used in the Winter. They're kind of Grumpy, but it's Good for Me, anyway. Now I finally have some Company on Weekends, which is a Nice Change. I make sure to get up in front of the Computer every chance I get to make sure they have plenty of Time to Pay Attention to Me.

Of course, on the Negative Side, That Dog is here All the Time now. Day and Night, Weekends and Weekdays. She just doesn't Go Away. But I'm getting Tougher. I don't let her take advantage of Me.

I'll end This Week's News Roundup with a little Good News.

Let's see. Here's a good story. This Guy is getting a Kidney Transplant because his Son posted the request on Facebook. How Cool is That? I guess Facebook does have its Uses. A lot of people, including my Female Human, spend most of their Time playing Games, posting Useless Information about Which Movie they would be if they were a Movie, and telling people what they had for Lunch, but now and then it Serves a Purpose!

More Good News: Scientists in the UK have decoded the entire DNA of two deadly cancers: Malignant Melanoma and Lung Cancer. This should lead to a Cure at some Point. Interesting Factoid: For every 15 cigarettes you smoke, One Error occurs in your DNA. Glad I, as a Cat, have not had the Opportunity or Temptation to Smoke. However, my Female Human smoked for several years and had WAY more than 15 cigarettes. I'm Keeping my Toes crossed that she Escapes any Dire Consequences.

So that's it for This Week. I hope you Enjoy your Weekends and have Lots of Catnip stored up. I hear it's supposed to Snow on the East Coast over the Weekend so we may be Stuck Indoors a lot!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Changing of the Seasons in the Adirondacks

I finally got around to downloading the last two batches of pictures from the cabin so I thought I'd share them here.

The first bunch is from the weekend in October when my mom came up to spend the weekend. The foliage was still pretty good then so she got to see some of the beautiful leaves, although it had started to go by a bit.

The next several are from last weekend when we got our first real snowfall and we realized our weekends in the cabin had to finally come to an end until spring returns.

Below are two views of the pond, one from the other side looking across at the cabin, and the other looking away from the cabin.

Me and Mom on the deck of the cabin - first close, then farther away. And no, she doesn't always wear that hat. Ironically the pictures I posted from the Cape also had her in that hat!

Diva and me, ready to go for a walk, with me in my Red Hat Society hat. Since I dropped out of the Society after the first few meetings, I'm glad to have a new use for it - to show up in the woods so that hunters won't shoot me thinking I'm a deer. Knew it would come in handy some day.

Sunset at Hulett's Landing on Lake George.
A view of the snow-covered pine tree in front of the cabin during last weekend's nighttime snowstorm, and the snow-covered Adirondack chairs on the deck.

Dawn over the pond the next morning, followed by more views of the winter wonderland. Note the frozen pond.

Wouldn't that last picture be a good ad for Jeep?

So, we are now back to spending our weekends in New Jersey until, perhaps, mid-April. We'll see how the weather goes. We may spend a weekend or two over the winter at Starry Night Cabins in Schroon Lake, and take a drive over to check on the cabin, but until spring it is unlikely that we'll spend a night at our own place.

While I will be missing our weekends away from it all, at least we have something to look forward to in the spring. And in the meantime, it will be nice to finish putting away the summer clothes that are still lying around in the laundry baskets, hang out with our friends on weekends, and be able to have my family over for Sunday dinner again!

Monday, December 07, 2009

The Fight for Marriage Equality Moves to New Jersey

Today is the first day of deliberations of the gay marriage bill by the Senate Judicial Committee in New Jersey. If the bill clears the committee, it goes to the State Senate for a vote. If it is approved there, it would need to be approved by the Assembly so that Governor Jon Corzine can sign it before he leaves office. His successor, Republican Chris Christie, is an opponent of gay marriage, so time is short.

Demonstrators flocked to Trenton to support or protest the bill.

In an op-ed piece last week in the New Jersey Star Ledger, Assemblyman Reed Gusciora of the 15th legislative district, spelled out in definitive terms all of the reasons it makes complete sense to legalize gay marriage. Of course, something making complete sense never appeals to the GOP, not even in "blue" New Jersey.

Assemblyman Gusciora stated:

"At its core, the ability to get married is a civil act governed by state law. Everyone must first meet the qualifications set forth by state law to receive a marriage license. Because marriage is a right conferred by the government, it should be done on an equitable basis, including the recognition of same-gender unions.

Civil marriages also have a longstanding tradition in this country. The first wedding in the Plymouth Colony was a civil marriage performed by Governor Bradford, not a religious ceremony."

He points out that legalizing gay marriage certainly does no harm to heterosexual marriages. As he put it, "I have a suggestion for those wanting to preserve their wedding vows: Stay married!"

I could quote the whole column because there are so many well-reasoned arguments in favor of same-sex marriage in it but you can go read the rest yourselves.

He concludes with the following:

"As long as we are a nation of laws dedicated to the principle of separation of church and state, the Legislature is the proper place to define our marriage laws on equitable terms. Now is the time for New Jersey to update the civil marriage laws so they are truly equal and reflect our ever changing society."

The Star Ledger editorial board supports gay marriage. In this editorial, they point out the generational divide on this issue. Two prominent politicians in New Jersey, U.S. Senator Menendez and State Senator Ronald Rice, both oppose gay marriage, while their sons support it. The editorial goes on to say:

"A national CNN poll this year showed that 58 percent of those under 30 back gay marriage, while only 24 percent of those over 65 do. This generational divide is the size of the Grand Canyon.

It means that history is on the side of marriage equality. Younger people are simply not as rattled by homosexuality, perhaps because they have lived among more openly gay people. They don’t consider it a personality defect, or a moral wrong. And they don’t want [to] treat their gay friends and relatives as something less.

So gay marriage will happen. The only question is when."

Let's hope it happens in New Jersey this month.

Saturday, December 05, 2009


Many of you have probably noticed I haven’t been posting as much as I used to and my blog visiting has died down a lot. Part of it is the distraction of Facebook, but there has been another reason I haven’t been able to concentrate on blogging, and I thought I’d share it with you.

I am about to make a major change in my life. As a mutual decision between my company and me, as of January 29, 2010, I will be leaving the Big Corporation’s latest incarnation, and will be going forward into the unknown land of Not Working for a Living.

This is a direction I’ve actually been considering since the beginning of the summer, when my aunt needed a serious operation for colon cancer, and on the same day that she went in for her operation, my mother had to be hospitalized for heart failure. With all this going on, I considered retiring or at least taking Family Leave to get through this period. I didn’t get around to looking into Family Leave, and somehow got through the whole summer using personal time to go to hospitals and doctors.

But dealing with my mother and aunt’s situation made me realize my day job really wasn’t the most important thing in my life; my family was more important. And their frailty reminded me that life is short, and at some point, I too would be in their position.

Now that my mother and aunt are both doing well again, I had hoped I’d be able to regain my focus at work, but it wasn’t happening. The continued concern for my mother and aunt, who still need me to take them to appointments, shop for them, and more, as well as the weekends at the cabin in the Adirondacks, both served to reshape my thinking.

As I walked through the woods this summer and fall, I found great peace in listening and watching for birds, examining trees and wildflowers and trying to identify them, and just breathing the clean mountain air. I realized that what I do every day at work had very little to do with what I really enjoyed doing. It made me do a lot of thinking, and all of it added up to not wanting to work at a corporation anymore.

I began to feel distant from my job and from politics and other parts of daily life. More and more I just wanted to hibernate, escape from it all, and withdraw. Like a caterpillar spinning its cocoon, I wrapped myself up and waited until the next step became clear to me.

That next step is retirement. I’ve been at the same company for over 30 years. During that time, the jobs I held changed, the company was bought, merged, spun off and reorganized several times, and I’ve had many different bosses and co-workers. Throughout most of my career, I stayed in one division and just rolled with it all, until the most recent change when I was moved to another division which was then sold off. But to me it still was all the same company, and I traveled this path with many of the same people I’d known off and on for decades, so it was very comfortable.

But after awhile it all seemed the same. One year’s crisis is very similar to the crises of two years ago or ten years ago. How can I be alarmed when the business goes down, when I know it will go up again as it has before? How can I get excited about repositioning a brand when it’s the third time we’re repositioning it just since I’ve been working on it? It seems as if it’s all been done before and will all be done again. I am not saying my job is not important, I just know it is not the right job for me anymore.

A couple of weekends ago, DH and I were up in the Adirondacks and stopped at a Hannaford’s supermarket to pick up some groceries. The woman who checked us out was highly efficient – she scanned our groceries and tossed them with alacrity into the plastic bags, smiled at us and was obviously trying to do the best job possible.

I remembered having that kind of enthusiasm for my job. And I remembered earlier jobs where I’d had that feeling of wanting to be the best at whatever I did.

I worked on a farm in the summers during my college years. I remember picking tomatoes and trying to prove I could pick as many tomatoes as the farmer’s son and daughter, and being proud of the number of baskets of tomatoes lined up behind me.

I remember being a typist and striving to type faster and more accurately than everyone else.

Somewhere along the line I lost that desire to be best. And that means it’s time to leave. It’s not fair to the company I work for, and I’m sure they will do better with someone else in my position. I’ve had a great run at this company; I’ve been treated very well, and have known a lot of wonderful, intelligent people. But it is coming to an end.

It’s kind of scary to be leaving a job that pays well and has good benefits. But let’s face it; no one ever has enough money. If I waited to retire until we had “enough” money I’d never retire at all. And I’m lucky that my husband can continue to work for awhile yet, and works at home 2 days a week. So we’ll be able to enjoy many long weekends at the cabin.

What next? I have lots of ambitious plans; lose weight...go back to taking yoga classes...spend more time with my mother and aunt...visit my mother-in-law more often in the nursing more...perhaps start a writing career...clean up the house and sort through all the old clothes and piles of paperwork that are lying all over the house...volunteer at the local animal shelter...(not necessarily in that order or all at once, of course). Maybe I’ll even work somewhere part-time doing something really different from what I’ve been doing.

I have a memory, perhaps apocryphal, of being four years old and riding my tricycle down the street in my old hometown, shortly before I was due to start kindergarten. I seem to recall thinking at the time, "This is the last time I'll ever really be free." I know it sounds strange to think a four-year-old would think that, but I swear I remember thinking it. And now, for the first time since then, I'll be free, free to do whatever I want. It is exhilarating.

But I am also afraid. What if I don't accomplish anything? What if I just get lazy? (OK, lazier than I already am). What if I sleep till noon and sit on my butt all day watching CNN? What if I get lonely? What if I miss the camaraderie of work, the feeling of purpose that it once gave me? What if I find myself really becoming a hermit more than I have already?

I guess I should think positively about this change, as it is a great opportunity. I hope I will be fortunate enough to start a new “second act” that is as successful and joyous as Fran’s new life has been.

Time will tell. I just know it’s time to move on. And today as we walked in the woods in the chill December air, and the first snowflakes started to fall, I looked at the barren forest and knew that although winter is here, spring will be coming again and these same bare branches will be full of green leaves. And by then my cocoon will have opened and I’ll have emerged, either a moth or a butterfly. We shall see which one I become.