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Rantings of a Crazed Soccer Mom
Monday, 20 July 2009
Remember Where You Were 40 Years Ago Today?

Assuming that you were around and cognizant on this day in 1969, you know exactly what you were doing. Watching Walter Cronkite giving updates on the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. 

I was 13 and my father was painting my bedroom (a dazzling shade of green which I loved and my parents hated, painting over it with a tasteful Federal blue once I moved out of the house). I ran back and forth between the television in the family room to my bedroom with the latest news on the Apollo astronauts. Looking back, I'm not sure if there was much to say. "They're getting closer." "They think the landing will be in two hours." "They've postponed it until this evening."

As it turned out, it was past midnight when the lunar module landed. We went up to my grandparents' house to watch it on their color television, not realizing that the broadcast would be in black and white. Still, it seems fitting that I was watching this historical moment with three generations of my family, including my grandparents who were both born before the Wright Brothers flew the first airplane at Kitty Hawk.

My younger sister saw it too, but she was at 4-H camp and watched on a counselor's tiny black and white portable set, along with everyone else at camp. Four years later, history would again be made while she was at camp, and she would watch a president's resignation speech on another counselor's tiny black and white portable set.

These days, if something historic happens at camp, I expect the kids will just whip out their Blackberries which they'd clevelry smuggled in. 

Anyway, it was an experience I shared with the world. Everyone over 50 knows what they were doing when Armstrong and Aldrin walked on the moon. Everyone went out that night, looked at the moon and marvelled at the fact that people had actually been there, walked on it and left a flag and their footprints in the dust.

And then we all began sentences with "If we can put a man on the moon., why can't we....."

Why can't we indeed?

Posted by judy5cents at 11:28 AM EDT
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Saturday, 11 July 2009
And I Got A Prize Just For Showing Up

This morning I dragged my family out of bed at 6:30 to drive downtown so I could run in the annual Wilmington Family YMCA Tri Span 5K.  I appreciate their sacrifice of their Saturday morning. I'm glad they were there to see me cross the finish line having run 3.2 miles in 34:03 (nearly four minutes less than my time last year).

And just like last year, I came in second in my age group (50-54). Even though I ran faster than the previous year, apparently the other 50 to 54 year olds are running faster as well. And that' s good.

I love running. It's fun. It's exciting.  And I got a nice blue aluminum water bottle and a round of applause. If I can do it, you can do it.



Posted by judy5cents at 11:51 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 11 July 2009 11:55 AM EDT
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Monday, 6 July 2009
Say What?

I'm going through Sarah Palin withdrawal.  She was the politician I just loved to hate and her misguided antics and rambling attacks on various bloggers and talk show hosts provided a constant source of amusement.

Now she's up and quit on me.  Last Friday, she announced her resignation (I think that's what she did, I'll probably have to play the CNN clip again to be sure) offering lots of reasons why she's leaving the post to which she was elected, although none of them sound particularly reasonable.

Somewhere in there, among the references to girl's basketball and refrigerator magnets, she mentioned there was a problem with too many ethics investigations, that people in the press were really mean, that her family wanted her to leave and it was all for the good of Alaska. 

There were ethics probes last year. People in the press have always been really mean. And this is the same family that said "Go for it, Mom!" when the McCain campaign offered her the vice presidential spot on the GOP ticket. I would think being the governor of Alaska with its total population of around 627,000 would be a much easier job than being vice president of the country. Especially if the president were to drop dead of a stroke, which men in the 70s have been known to do.

Anyway, as with all things Palin, there has to be a back story. Something she's not telling us, something she has up her sleeve. Like a lucrative talk show deal. Or a plan to run for the senate.

Then again, maybe she's had enough of politics and wants to spend more time with her family.

Like Governor John Sanford, who spent the weekend with his in-laws in Florida.

Couldn't resist posting this photo of me as Sarah Palin. I felt like $150,000 bucks but I kept wanting to shoot a moose.


Posted by judy5cents at 12:59 PM EDT
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Friday, 26 June 2009
Iconic Death

In case you've been under a rock for the last 24 hours, Michael Jackson dropped dead of heart failure.

A sudden unexpected death can do wonders for your image. Yesterday morning, Miichael Jackson was a long faded star, his glory days decades behind him.  Beset by financial woes and accusations of child molesting, he was the object of much derision due to his creepy appearance and often bizzare behavior.

Now he's much beloved. An icon who will be greatly missed. Millions of people are gathering to mourn his loss and profess their undying love.

Watching the news footage, I can't help noticing that a lot of these mourners were born long after Michael Jackson topped the charts with albums like "Thriller" and "Bad."  I suppose they heard his songs once in a a while on their parents' Mellow Rock stations, but for them, Michael Jackson had always been a "has-been," they have no memory of turning on the radio and hearing "Don't Stop" or "Beat It" for the umpteempth time that day. What is exactly do they miss? He was never there when he was there.

And of course, he had the gall to die on the same day that  Farrah Fawcett lost her long publicized battle with cancer. Poor Farrah. After all those death watch specials, she had to share the obituary spotlight with the King of Pop.  And every single story about her death featured ancient footage of her one year on "Charlie's Angels," a show that they don't even show on cable.  Her whole life comes down to just a poster, a cheesey television show and a hair style. All from thirty years ago.

I still think Michael Jackson is weird and creepy, and his life was a cautionary tale about the perils of too much fame and wealth too soon. And Farrah Fawcett was more than a swimsuit model. 

But, they are now both dead, and beyond all of the hype. And eventually we will be too.

Posted by judy5cents at 3:16 PM EDT
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Thursday, 25 June 2009
And She Was Endorsed By Andy Griffith!

Back in the early months of 2008, I didn't think all that much of Bev Perdue, who is now the governor of my home state of North Carolina.  The Democratic primaries here were pretty nasty, and I voted for the one guy on the ballot who'd run no commercials at all. But I voted for her in the general election.

Now, Jeez Louise, am I ever glad we've got her.  If you do a quick Google news search of Bev Perdue, you'll only find stories that pertain to her job as governor. "Perdue Wants Tax Hikes,"  "Perdue Expected To Attend K-12 Funding Rally In Greensboro," "Perdue Job Approval Plummets."  

There's nothing about her gallivanting around the country attending events she wasn't invited to--events that would be a long, long way from Raleigh, by the way.  She doesn't get into feuds with late night talk show hosts. 

And unlike the governor just across the state line to the south, Ms. Perdue has the sense not to go off to Argentina for five days and advise her aides to tell everyone she's hiking the Appalachian Trail.

Since last year's Republican convention, I've had a great deal of sympathy for the people of Alaska. when the outspoken, inept, and blatantly ambitious Gov. Sarah Palin burst on to the scene. How embarassing is it to see your head of state on the Today Show insinuating that David Letterman is a pedophile?

Now my heart goes out to my fellow Carolininians to the south.  Gov. Mark Sanford seemed smart enough, even though he also showed himself to be blatantly ambitious when he drew national attention for his desire to use Federal Stimulus money to pay down state debt. But who knew that all the time he was talking about fiscal responsibility, he was also sneaking off to write steamy e-mails to his Argentinian girlfriend about the curve of her hips and the gentleness of her kisses?

We've all  said it before. What the hell was he thinking? And flying down to Argentina for God's sake! What if the plane crashed? What if he was kidnapped by drug dealers or war lords or whatever is they've got down there in Argentina these days? What if there were a coup? He's the governor, for crying out loud! Didn't he think someone would notice he was gone?

The answer is always "Well, I wasn't thinking." No, there had to be some sort of thought process going on when he made the plane reservations and found his passport and drove to the airport.  Plenty of time to say "maybe this isn't such a good idea..."

Anyway, if you live in a state other than Alaska or South Carolina, take some time out to appreciate the fact that your governor is busy doing gubnatorial things, like fighting tax cuts, or supporting casinos or releasing stimulus spending reports.

North Carolina may not approve of the job Bev Perdue is doing. But we're proud of the fact that she's doing her job and not some boy toy in Argentina.





Posted by judy5cents at 1:37 PM EDT
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Monday, 22 June 2009
What's Wrong With England's System?

My husband grew up with socialized medicine. He misses it. Although he has excellent insurance through his employer and he has no issues with the quality of medical care he's received here in the states, he does have one huge problem with our market driven health care system.

Here it is: if he loses his job, we join the ranks of the uninsured. If one of us gets sick with something serious like diabetes or cancer or heart disease (we're both in our fifties, so that's entirely possible), he could lose everything he's worked so hard for all these years. 

That doesn't happen in England.

According to a recent story in Reuters, more than 60 percent of bankruptcy cases are due to the inability to pay medical bills.  That number is staggering, if you consider the fact that most of these people were contributing members of society, working hard, paying their taxes and building a life until a disastrous illness took it all away.

Medical care and medicine should not be subject to the same economic rules as automobiles and cereal. If you can't afford a box of Rice Krispies you buy the store brand. Or you have toast and peanut butter. Or you skip breakfast all together (although I don't recommend it).  We can shop around for cereal, but who shops around for a cheap doctor?   And there are generic drugs out there, but how are we to know if we really need this drug or our doctor was persuaded by the drug company rep to prescribe it even when the expensive brand is not needed?

Who's going to pay for this kind of system? We will, with higher taxes. Isn't it worth paying five or ten percent of your current income so you can keep your house if your wife is diagnosed with cancer two weeks after you're laid off from your job? And we're paying for medical care now. We pay for it in higher costs for hospitals that absorb the expense of caring for the indigent. We pay for it with higher insurance premiums. Rising healthcare costs was one of the issues that brought down GM.

If your employer doesn't have to shell out so much to the insurance company, he'll pay you more. Everyone wins.

Of course, I don't expect a single payer system to get past any of the "Fiscally Responsible" Republicans in Congress. (Trillions for defense, not one penny for socialized medicine).  I'm resigned to the fact that whatever reforms they come up with will be everyone's third choice, hugely complicated and in the end, will make things worse.

That's what America is all about.

Posted by judy5cents at 4:45 PM EDT
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Sunday, 14 June 2009
Taking The Brown Acid

In 1999, the newspaper in Albuquerque, New Mexico commemorated the 30th anniversary of the Woodstock Music Festival by writing a story about the experiences of local residents who were there, including my older sister Betsy.

She said she talked at length to the reporter about what those three days of peace and music were like--the rain, the camaraderie, the performances, being there when Jimi Hendrix played The Star Spangled Banner, etc. When the story came out, the reporter only used one quote, an offhand remark she'd made about having taken the infamous "brown acid."  For all of Albuquerque, my sister was perceived as an aging acid freak.

That's what happens when you talk to a reporter.  Out of a twenty minute conversation, only one or two sentences appear in print and not always the ones you'd like. 

A couple of weeks ago, I spoke to a reporter doing a story on lapsed bloggers for the New York Times Style Section.  On Sunday, June  7, it appeared on the section's front page, and damned if I wasn't taking the brown acid myself.  Not much I can do about it, other than sound Palinesque and try to convince you all that my remarks were twisted and taken out of context.

That's why politicians stick to the talking points, as my sister Nancy pointed out.

So I'm taking my obscure little platform here in cyberspace to set the record straight.

I sepnt most of 2005 and 2006 blogging because it was fun. I have a background in journalism and it was like getting to write the op ed piece every day.  Did I want lots of followers and comments? Yes, I would have liked them, but it wasn't something I wanted to actively persue. Why did I stop? It got old. It got pointless. With so many people online writing blogs, who has time to read them?

Blogging became a tremendous time sucker.  I'd spend an entire morning researching, writing and editing a blog, while the dogs weren't walked, the carpets weren't vacuumed, and the laundry piled up. 

As I told NY Times Guy, I am not so full of myself as to believe that there were people out there whose day would be ruined if they couldn't read my blog.  

The internet is an immensely huge attic full of boxes. Some contain priceless treasure and some are just full of junk. My blog is just one of those boxes stashed away up there, gathering dust.  If you find it, it's up to you to decide which category it falls into.

Something I did notice, the article generated a lot of snarky comments on a lot of blogs. Not mine, of course.  I wouldn't have known it if I hadn't gone looking (dumb thing to do, by the way). Which brings up the fact that the blogosphere has its own Gossip Girl mentality, You'll rip a person to shreds on your public forum,  but you wouldn't dream of saying it directly to them.

Looking back over the posts here, I know I've been guilty of that myself. I have given up on blogging, but I still make comments on other blogs. I hope I'll keep in mind that the person we're all calling an idiot may have had his remarks taken out of context, or miscontsrued or out-and-out fabricated. 

Of course, Sarah Palin is always fair game.

Posted by judy5cents at 1:07 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 15 June 2009 12:15 PM EDT
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Monday, 8 June 2009

Keep scrolling down. There actually are some pretty good posts on this page.

Posted by judy5cents at 12:41 PM EDT
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Thursday, 11 December 2008
Give The Gift That Gives Back

Books make great gifts. Autographed books are even better, especially an autographed book by someone really famous. But the absolute best gift would be an autographed book by someone really famous with all the proceeds going to a worthy cause.

Well it's here. Just go to ebay and bid on a signed copy of The Seventeen Traditions by activist and perennial presidential candidate Ralph Nader. The entire price you pay for the book will go directly to Phoenix Emplyoment Ministries, a non-profit organization in Wilmington NC which helps the homeless and nearly homeless find work. I'm a volunteer there and I can attest to the huge difference this group has made in the lives of our clients. With the economy in freefall, the list of people needing our services has grown while our donations have dropped. What we do works and we can use your help

Posted by judy5cents at 7:50 AM EST
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Thursday, 20 November 2008
We Knew That When We Elected The Guy

Well, it's been two weeks since the election and I'm still amazed about the outcome. Not only have we elected the first African American president, but President-Elect Obama (oooh, I just love saying that, "President-Elect Obama") is conducting his transition just as expertly as he did his grueling two year campaign--calmly, deliberately and with the help of some very highly qualified policy advisers.

One good thing about these arduous campaigns, we really do get to know the candidate we've elected. Whatever flaws they have, we know them all at the start. There's no way of telling how those flaws will hurt their presidency, but looking back at the major presidential disasters over the years, you have to say "Well, it isn't like we didn't know."

When we elected Ronald Reagan, we knew he was an actor. So what did he do for eight years? He "played" the part of the president while other people ran the country. Hence, the Iran-Contra scandal. While he busy answering letters from ten year old boys wanting their bedrooms declared federal disaster areas, (just like fan mail from his old Hollywood days) Ollie North and company were selling arms to moderate Iranians to fund the anti-Sandinistas in Nicaragu, against the rule of Congress.

We all knew that Bill Clinton was a womanizer. Or to be blunt about it, this was a guy who just couldn't keep it in his pants. Remember the flap about Genifer Flowers?  He also had a huge ego and we knew that too. I can't say I was exactly surprised by the Monica Lewinsky fiasco, but I was disappointed. I'd hoped he'd have been smart enough not to get blow jobs from a White House intern in the Oval Office.

We also were well aware of George Bush's problems, although they were presented as strengths. He was a charming ne'er-do-well, the rebellious son of a wealthy, respected politician. He'd spent his whole life dependent on his family name, using it to get out of going to Viet Nam, to get into Harvard, to buy a baseball team.  But he was never very good at anything besides drinking too much and being charming, until he found Jesus and gave up drinking.  Bush came into his presidency determined to show his dad he really could be Somebody, and he did that by refighting the Gulf War with the intention of winning it.  Look how that turned out.

So at this point, what do we know about Barack Obama? He's a great speaker, he's intelligent, he's willing to ask for help, he's always worked hard for whatever he wanted. Here's a list of the bad stuff: 

To buy his house, he made a deal with shady Chicago developer Tony Rezko, recently convicted for fraud and bribery.

He attended a church where the minister, Rev. Jeramiah Wright said "God damn America," although it's not known if Mr. Obama was sitting in the pews during that particular sermon.

He is loosely acquainted with a former 1960s radical named William Ayers, head of the infamous Weathermen, who believed they could end the war by blowing things up like the Pentagon and the Haymarket Riot Memorial statue in Chicago.  (By the way, the only people the Weathermen ever killed were three of their own members who died putting together a nail bomb). Mr. Obama was a guest in Mr. Ayers' home at a "Meet The Candidate" night and they served together on an anti-poverty foundation called the Woods Fund.

That's pretty much it. There have been no stories of exessive partying or DUIs. There have been none of the Bimbo alerts that plagued Bill Clinton. Unlike the Actor-In-Chief Ronald Reagan, he's not snoozing while others do the real work.  His problems have been the things said and done by people he's known, not the things that he's said and done. Okay, he did say that poor people are clinging to guns and religion and he did make that remark about the price of arugula, hardly a scandal in the making.

If President Obama can run his administration in the same disciplined, focused manner he ran his campaign, I really believe he can turn the country around.

Posted by judy5cents at 9:18 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 20 November 2008 9:20 AM EST
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