Blog Tools
Edit your Blog
Build a Blog
RSS Feed
View Profile
« October 2005 »
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31
Entries by Topic
All topics  «
Add to Technorati Favorites
Rantings of a Crazed Soccer Mom
Thursday, 27 October 2005

What is the deal with delivering ice to hurricane victims?

Last night the news networks showed footage of the long lines of people in South Florida, waiting not so patiently for bags of ice. They had been without electricity for two days and were desperate for it.

I can see the need for ice if you're on medication that requires refrigeration, but most of those people standing in line looked pretty healthy to me.

So what do they use all that ice for?

To keep food from spoiling? To cool their drinks? To rub on their foreheads because there's no air conditioning?

OK residents of South Florida. You live in an area prone to hurricanes. You need to be prepared. That means you understand the fact that you could be without electricity and water for a few days and you plan accordingly. You have enough non-perishable food on hand to last at least three days. It's not what you're used to, but you can live just fine on Spam, crackers and peanut butter sandwiches.

You can't say you don't have any warning. I live in North Carolina and I knew Wilma was heading your way at least three days before it hit. Plenty of time to get to a grocery store for food and water. And if you don't want to spend the money, before the hurricane hits, you fill up bottles with water and then you go fill up the bathtub.

Personally, I think all those FEMA ice trucks are a waste of money.

Warm water hydrates just as well as cold water. So what if you have to drink your Coca-Cola at room temperature? Deal with it.

Posted by judy5cents at 6:23 AM EDT
Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink
Monday, 24 October 2005
The Bridge To Nowhere

I have not done a scientific poll on this issue, but I’m reasonably sure that an overwhelming majority of U.S. voters are opposed to spending $230 million of their tax dollars to build a bridge from Ketchikan, Alaska (pop. 8,900) to Gravin Island, (pop. 50). And not just opposed, either. We’re outraged, we’re appalled, we are hopping mad about it. Especially when Congress is cutting funds on Medicare and Medicaid to cover the costs of damage from Hurricane Katrina.

So when Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) proposed a bill to withdraw the funding for the Alaksa project and use it to rebuild the bridge across Lake Ponchatrain in Louisiana, you’d think that every senator would vote the will of their constituents and the tally would be 98 to 2 in favor of the change.

Guess again.

Apparently the Senate is far more concerned about placating Ted Stevens (R-AK) than they are about the will of the people in their own states. A huge majority of senators (82) voted to let Stevens keep the money for the bridge, which, as Senator Coburn pointed out, is enough to buy everyone on the island their own Lear jet.

Senator Stevens argued that it was unfair to take money away from Alaska and only Alaska. He threw a hissy fit on the Senate floor, saying he wasn’t going to let his state be singled out like this and he’d quit if the bill passed. And he got his way.

Obviously, the real motivation behind the vote was that the senators from the other 49 states were afraid for their own pork projects. If Alaska loses its bridge, you might lose your highway bypass in your state and we might lose our traffic control study money in our state. We can’t allow that to happen.

Yes, you can. In fact, you could even do the right thing and volunteer to give up all the bridges and the highway bypasses and the traffic control studies approved in that monstrous transportation bill.

I’m proud to say that one of the 15 senators who voted against the bil was Senator Robert Burr who represents my state of North Carolina. He’s a conservative Republican and I didn’t vote for him, but I’m with him on this issue and I sent him an e-mail telling him so. To see how your senator voted, click here.

And wihle you're at it, send your senator an e-mail telling him/her what you think about his/her vote.

Posted by judy5cents at 7:53 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 24 October 2005 8:08 AM EDT
Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink
Tuesday, 18 October 2005
Credit Counseling--Don't Get Sick
Yesterday, the bankruptcy “reform” law went into effect. Now it’s more difficult to have debts wiped clean and start over again. Individuals declaring bankruptcy will be required to pay back at least some of their debts, depending on their income.

The law also requires that people filing for bankruptcy get credit counseling.

Having worked as a customer representative in the credit industry, I spoke to more than a few callers with poor money management skills. These are the people who don’t realize that if they only make minimum payments while continuing to buy items on credit, their balances get bigger and bigger. I would definitely agree that these people could use some help in getting out of debt and some guidance on how to stay out of debt.

However, the number one reason for declaring bankruptcy is the inability to pay medical bills. I have to ask, what good is credit counseling in these cases?

Will credit counseling teach people how to avoid becoming castrophically ill? Will they learn where they can go for low cost health insurance when their employers don't offer it? And what about the unemployed, self-employed, or those unable to get insurance because of a pre-existing condition? Can counseling help if you've racked up a pile of hospital bills because your health insurance turned out to be one of many scam policies which cover the small claims, but disappear when it comes to covering the expenses of a serious illness?

Even people who have insurance coverage can be caught up in mounting debt. Many policies pay 80 percent of medical costs, requiring their customers to pay the other 20 percent. If you need something extreme, like a kidney transplant, it can cost up to a million dollars or more. That means you have to come up with $200,000. Right now.

Requiring people in this situation to sign up for credit counseling is not only a waste of everyone’s time, it’s literally adding insult to injury. Yes, I’m sorry, next time I have children, I’ll make sure they don’t have cystic fibrosis or congenital heart disease. Next time I’ll marry someone who won’t get cancer.

The obvious solution, is of course, universal health care. But Congress has never been very good at recognizing the obvious.

Posted by judy5cents at 8:25 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 18 October 2005 8:32 AM EDT
Post Comment | Permalink
Friday, 14 October 2005
Low Ranking Author Blues

I never thought much about my standings on Until recently, Amazon charged a whopping $20.00 for Caviar Dreams and it took forever for them to ship it.

Then I read somewhere that your standings don't depend on sales, but how often people click on your book, as well as reviews given. Of course actual sales don't hurt. In an effort to boost my authors' rank, I've been clicking on Caviar Dreams every day.

And it's not working at all.

When I started the project I was at 1,750,000 or thereabouts. Today I am at 1,801,113, right below The Other David, a novel of suspense by Carol Coker (out of print) and above Contracting on a Capitated Basis: Managing Risk for Your Practice (Apa Practitioner's Toolbox Series) by Lybrand, et al. A few days ago, I was right below the Sarasota/Bradenton, Fl Atlas by Inc. Trakker Maps, now it's seven spaces above me at 1,801,106.

I expect by the end of the year, I'll hit 2,000,000. But I'm in good company. Along with Ms. Coker and Lybrand, et al, there's The Cook It and Freeze It Book by Margaret Deeds Murphy at 1,801,104, Two Novels: The Natural and the Assistant by Bernard Malamud at 1,801,121, The Wit and Wisdom of Wall Street at 1,801,115, and my favorite Guns N'roses In Person - Biography by Guns N' Roses at 1,801,122.

I should add that all of these books are out of print with limited availablility. Which I believe gives me a slight advantage. You can buy my book.

Anyway, if you'd like to help me catch up with Mort Walker's Beetle Bailey: Dog Gone (1,801,101), click here. Leave a review. And (dare I ask?) buy the book from Amazon

Posted by judy5cents at 10:08 AM EDT
Post Comment | Permalink
Tuesday, 11 October 2005
Singing The Baby Blues
There is new hope for childless couples living in Connecticut. The state legislature passed a law requiring insurance companies to cover fertility treatments for residents of the state.

But there’s a catch. It’s only for women under 40.

NPR aired a tearful protest from a 42 year old woman decrying the unfairness of the decision, She felt that if her doctors believed she was able to have children, she should be entitled to the coverage as well. Of course, this woman and her husband had already spent $100,000 on fertility treatments without success, so there had been plenty of unfairness in her life already.

I can sympathize with her. I know what it’s like to want a child but not be able to get pregnant. However, I knew very well I was not infertile. Just too old.

At the age of 38 I got pregnant so quickly with my daughter, it was frightening. If I’d gotten an early enough start on it, I’m sure I could have given birth to five or six children, assuming there was a willing father in the picture and enough money to support them all. But at age 40, my childbearing years were over and I just had to deal with it.

These days, women are able to have careers and put off having children, but there’s no guarantee that their ovaries will cooperate when they finally do find the right guy and want to start a family.

The reality is that we live in a modern world of choices and opportunities, but our reproductive systems are still back in the dark ages. They’re geared for a time when survival of the species depended on young girls having six or seven babies by the time they were 23, before they died of infection or small pox or just shear exhaustion. Even though we’re nowhere near ready to have children then, we still hit our peak of fertility in our teens and gradually lose it over the years. By the time we reach the age of 35, it’s doubtful we can get pregnant at all.

Sure Madonna had a baby when she was 42. So did my great aunt Margarite. And Tony Blair’s wife had one when she was 45. The end of fertility is different for everybody. But the fact remains that a majority of women (60%) will not be able to conceive after the age of 40.

During those dreadful months when I wanted so much to get pregnant, I checked into fertility treatments. What I found was not encouraging. As you grow older, your eggs grow old too. After age 40, they are no longer viable, making in vitro fertilization with your own eggs virtually impossible. All those movie stars you see having babies at 46 and 47 are giving birth to someone else’s biological children. There’s a whole new industry springing up in recruiting young women to be egg donors. Kind of creepy, if you ask me.

So the Connecticut legislature is just following the rules nature has already set up. And until modern science finds a way to change those rules, we have to learn to live with them.

Posted by judy5cents at 10:41 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 16 November 2005 3:15 PM EST
Post Comment | Permalink
Tuesday, 4 October 2005
For the last few weeks I've been getting in my car and driving downtown to answer the phone in a real estate office, among other things. It's a temp job while the person who usually does these tasks is on vacation so I won't be getting comfortable here.

I've forgotten what it was like to work. I love feeling useful. Stay at home moms do not often get to feel that way. At my house, no one notices what I do until I don't do it. And there aren't those little kudos from the boss like "Great job on changing that last diaper," or "You handled that sibling rivalry situation so well. Way to go!"

Every day when I leave, the desk is neat and cleared of clutter, and it will be that way when I come back the next day. When I leave work, I know that everything that was supposed to get done got done. And I don't have to vacuum.

The downside is that all the things I did at home still have to get done. My husband is helping but the house is pretty grungy by Saturday.

It's exciting to have life out in the real world. I think I'll stay in it for a while. And I can tell you where you can stick that vacuum cleaner.

Posted by judy5cents at 12:14 PM EDT
Post Comment | Permalink
Friday, 23 September 2005
Send Rita To New Orleans
Okay, I'll say it. I believe that the best possible outcome for Hurricane Rita would be if it makes a direct hit on New Orleans.

Think about it. There's no one there, 90 percent of it's been destroyed. Would it be such a tragedy if whatever was left was gone as well?

Everytime I turn on the news, the talking heads are lamenting the fact that New Orleans would be even further devasted.

So what?

In the words of Bob Dylan, when you got nothing, you got nothing to lose.

The people who lived there are already homeless. They've already lost everything. Would anyone really care if the rubble that Katrina left behind was re-arranged?

I realize that whatever I say makes no difference in the direction Hurricane Rita takes. But I find it hard to imagine that we'd prefer that the hurricane destroy thousands of homes in Houston and Galveston instead of rearranging the ruins in New Orleans.

Posted by judy5cents at 8:58 PM EDT
Post Comment | Permalink
Thursday, 15 September 2005
Similar to An Unwanted Houseguest

Hurricane Ophelia took her time getting here, and took even longer to leave. Like a dull-witted relative who just won't go away, she stayed and stayed, boring us to tears.

One of the radio stations said she should have had a man's name, as she couldn't commit and she wouldn't ask for directions.

We managed to make it through the day without power, but we hated it. I tried to get my husband to tell me stories of his childhood and sing songs, but he claimed sickness (really bad cold) and spent the day sleeping. My daughter and I played a couple games of chess, then I forced her to write thank you notes for her recent birthday presents.

All that time and nothing to fill it with. Except for eating. Everyone eats a lot during a hurricane. It's the only fun thing to do.

But I can't complain. Ophelia was a cake walk. Aside from the loss of power, which is really just an inconvenice, we came out just fine. No damage or downed trees to take care of, just a yard for of leaves and branches. And so did most everyone in the Wilmington area. To the south of us there was flooding, but it's nothing compared to the devastation caused by Katrina.

We count ourselves lucky, although I'm not all that keen on getting the storm debris out of the pool. Want to help?

Posted by judy5cents at 10:51 PM EDT
Post Comment | Permalink
Tuesday, 13 September 2005
Jobless Republican Will Sort of Work For Big Bucks

“You’re doin’ a heck of a job, Brownie.”

We all heard the president complimenting Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) director Michael Brown. Of course the rest of the country saw it differently.

Especially when he said in an interview with Brian Williams of NBC that his office wasn’t actually aware of the devastation in New Orleans until three days later. Apparently FEMA offices have no radios or televisions.

Which brings us to the question of how he got this job in the first place.

In the real world, employers look at an applicant’s relevant job experience. You know, things like what position you held, your specific job responsibilities, the number of people answering to you, that kind of thing. In hiring the director of a federal agency like FEMA, experience dealing with disasters and managing lots of employees would be at the top of the list of “must haves,” right?

Not so with the Bush Administration. Mr. Brown worked as the assistant to Bill Dashner, the city manager of Edmond OK (population 70,000), although he listed the position on his resume as “assistant city manager,” giving the impression that he was in charge of the actual managing of Edmond, Oklahoma instead of the usual menial chores done by the average administrative assistant.

To be fair, Dashner gave him a glowing reccommendation.

"Mike used to handle a lot of details. Every now and again I'd ask him to write me a speech. He was very loyal. He was always on time. He always had on a suit and a starched white shirt," Dashner said in a recent Time Magazine interview.

Loyalty, punctuality and starched white shirts.

Obviously, very important qualities for disaster management.

From there, Mr. Brown went on to serve as the commissioner of judges and stewards for the International Arabian Horse Association. He was asked to resign after several lawsuits over alleged supervision failures.

Hey Federal Government! Ever thought about checking references?

How did he get the FEMA job? It helped that the former director of FEMA Joseph Albaugh was his college room-mate. Also that he’d worked very hard on Bush’s campaign. He needed a job and his friends in the Bush administration were more than happy to help him out by hiring him on as deputy director at FEMA.

There’s nothing new about this practice. Patronage jobs have been around since the first bureaucracies set up shop back in the Bronze Age. But we used to have places to put these guys where they wouldn’t cause any trouble. Like an ambassador to some small friendly country like Luxembourg. Or Postmaster General.

In the most humiliating administration announcement ever broadcast, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said that Michael Brown was “needed in Washington” and that Coast Guard admiral Thad Allen would take over coordinating relief efforts on the Gulf Coast.

At the time Mr. Brown was still in charge of FEMA, but he has since resigned. He may have not have been able to see the suffering in New Orleans, but he sure as hell could see the writing on the wall.

Anybody out there need a loyal, punctual guy in a starched white shirt?

I understand WalMart is hiring.

Posted by judy5cents at 12:29 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 13 September 2005 12:37 AM EDT
Post Comment | Permalink
Friday, 9 September 2005
If Not For The Courage of The Fearless Crew...

May you die on a slow news day.

That is my wish for all aging sitcom stars.

Had it not been for Hurricane Katrina, all the networks would have had glowing obituaries of the late actor Bob Denver, best known for his portrayal of Gilligan on the 1960s television show “Gilligan’s Island.” There would have been clips form the show and comments from the actors who played The Professor and Mary Ann and Ginger. And famous people would have reminisced about their favorite episodes.

All across the country, people from all walks of life would join hands and sing "Sit right back and you'll hear a tale.."

As it was, all we got was this terse announcement:

“Actor Bob Denver, who played the title role in the television sitcom “Gilligan’s Island” died due to complications from cancer. He was 70 years old.”

He was a cultural icon and all he rates is two sentences?

Of course, Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rhenquist didn’t that get much air time either. And that’s real history in the making.

I’m not faulting the networks. The hurricane brought an American city to its knees and for the first time in forever, reporters are asking hard questions and making politicians squirm. This is a good thing.

But when you die, you deserve a good send-off and poor Bob Denver got cheated.

So I will pay tribute here.

I loved Bob Denver since I first saw him as Maynard G. Krebs on the old Dobie Gillis show. I don’t know why. I was only four years old and didn’t understand half of what the show was about, but something about Maynard appealed to me. Here was a grown up acting like a kid. He played the bongos and squeaked “Work!” in a panic whenever the word was mentioned. My kind of guy.

Gilligan appeared when I was a more sophisticated nine years old. I was smart enough to know they’d never get off the island and I also questioned why Ginger and the Howells had brought along such an extensive wardrobe for a three hour tour. It was a stupid show but it was fun.

It’s also a show I’d let my daughter watch, and there aren’t too many of those out there these days.

I even watched a show he did in the late sixties called “The Good Guys” in which he co-starred with Herb Edelman. As I recall, it was about two buddies running a diner. The diner wasn’t the island and Edleman wasn’t the Skipper. Needless to say, it was cancelled after a short run.

Bob Denver was married for 28 years and had four children. He lived here in North Carolina. He devoted much of his time to helping the handicapped. His former co-stars have said quite sincerely that he was a really nice guy. And I'm sure he was.

So long little buddy. We'll miss you.

Posted by judy5cents at 9:48 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 13 September 2005 12:38 AM EDT
Post Comment | Permalink

Newer | Latest | Older