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Sunday, November 25, 2007

I Forget How Beautiful

I forget how beautiful San Francisco can be.

Yes, the buildings are the same ticky tacky houses, little boxes all in a row that I remember. We were awash in a sea of beige, tan, cream and brown buildings. With the exception of a few mavericks in the Haight all homes seemed to be from the same palette.

But, the parks, the ocean and sky with its ranges of blues and whites spanned by, what I think is the most beautiful bridge in the world...The Golden Gate.

Whenever the City gets too claustrophobic, there is always Golden Gate Park or the endless vistas of the Pacific Ocean to stare at and get grounded again. I would never be able to live there again. Visit yes..... live there no. I'm now accustomed to the peace and quiet of the countryside. The loudest thing at night is the hoo hoo hooing of Great Horned Owls and the howls of distant Coyotes, instead of the steady stream of traffic and sirens.

We saw the beauty of the City and some of the ugliness too. Homeless and obviously mentally ill people. We also saw the generosity of the City with the Thanksgiving food events for those less fortunate.

The City is a young person's playground and I enjoyed my times there. Now it is my daughter's turn.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Into the Belly of the Beast

Come this Thanksgiving, my hubby and I are going to venture into the Belly of the Beast. Yes....we are going into the bluest of blue cities, the looniest of loonieville towns, the city that can boast the biggest swinginest BDS, the city with the best restaurants in the world and some of the most beautiful buildings. Yep... San Francisco. Yummmmmm ...Dim Sum.

Fortunately, we don't have any political stickers on our car so other than being a SUV (yes, I really do need a 4x4 vehicle to get out of my driveway in the winter) we should be pretty incognito as dreaded conservate, rural, knuckle dragging, slobbering rednecks.

Don't get me wrong. I like San Francisco. I lived there for quite a few years, with flowers in my la la. Those were the days my friend...we thought they'd never end. It was a great city to live in. You didn't need to drive a car, everything you needed was within walking distance in neighborhood shops. The mom and pop grocery, variety store, hardware store, cute craft shops, the local pub, the head shoppe...oops I digress.

If you wanted to get anywhere in The City, public transportation was a great way to get to work......well, except for the winos in the early morning trying to hit up us commuters for some money. I could never figure out if they were just getting up early or if they were just finishing up their night or if they were like the living dead who never went to bed. It was for sure, they never washed or changed their underwear. At 5am, we commuters would huddle close together in a tight little band of brothers and try to not observe the guy barfing in the doorway.

Want to see a show? No problem. There was always something going on somewhere. Want to eat Chinese, Russian, French, Japanese, Mexican food? You betcha.. any time of the day or night a fine restaurant was open for my dining pleasure. When I had limited money, a not so fine restaurant was available. Have no money at all? Spend the day at the beach flying kites, lounge in Golden Gate Park.

Now, however, the City has changed. Oh I know, I've changed too. I'm no longer a young long haired idealistic hippie chick. I'm now a middle aged Republican stock broker. Seriously if someone told me then what I would be doing now, I would have laughed my ass off at them.

BUT the City has changed. It isn't as friendly. The pan handlers are aggressive professionals who set up work schedules and partition off territories. The gay community, which was full of interesting characters exploring the new freedom to be publicly gay when I lived in the embryonic Castro district, is strident and humorless. The gay community in the City is sick and angry with most of the moderate and productive Gays moving out of the city into suburbs to have families and a more normal life. This is a good thing for them... acceptance.. but has left the community in the city a hollow shell.

The protesters aren't idealistic and bright eyed as I remember. We were going to persuade people to see the light, change the world, and make it a better place. Now, they are mean, bigoted, violent and intolerant. They will make you see their light by force. There is no grey area or room for disagreement now. You are with them or against them and never mind trying to reason. They will destroy you, your career and your property if you dare express another viewpoint, be it a disagreement on the commandments of the God Gore on Global Warming, or that we might actually be doing something positive in Iraq, or that Bush isn't really Hilter/Satan reincarnated or that sustainable forestry with select logging isn't going to make all life on earth become extinct.

Maybe the City was always as dirty with garbage and papers blowing in the streets outside of the tourist areas. Maybe there were just as many obviously mentally ill people talking to themselves on street corners. Maybe I just don't remember or more likely I have a rosy memory of the City.

Why are we going to the Belly of the Beast. My daughter lives there and we are meeting her significant other (in the olden days I would've said boyfriend but that seems silly today). We are also going to meet his family, so I suppose this is a serious meeting. I have the sinking feeling that everyone besides us will be left, lefter and leftist liberals.

Here's to talking about food, wine, art and no politics and no religion. Ah well, for love of my child, I can put up with it for an afternoon. I plan to take some bandages to apply to my husband's tongue from biting it all afternoon and duct tape to wrap his head in so it doesn't explode.

Wish us luck.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Missing 5 Minutes.

The missing 5 minutes... and no I don't mean the Nixon tapes. I mean the last 5 minutes of a show that I've recorded on the Dish DVR. You get to the end of the show, the climax, the revelation of all that has come before, the reason for being.... and .......brrrzzztttt .... the end. Five minutes short. Program interuputs. Even less satisfactory than sex interuptus, because at least with sex you were having some interaction and fun until ...brrrrrpppp .... the end.

What are the networks thinking when they start a show at 9:05 and end it at 10:05 and my DVR ends the show at 10:00 ...effectively cutting off the last 5 mintues of the program?

Well, I know that the big issue with TiVo and other types of recording devices is that it allows us skip the commercials. Oh Yeah!!! I can understand that the companies who support the shows want to have their ads viewed. But, as a consumer I LOVE the ability to skip over the anoying advertising. The reality is that a one hour show actually consists of less than 40 minutes of actual entertainment (and that is stretching the definition a bit) and 20 minutes of mindless repetetive drivel. I've timed it.

Why do I record shows to watch later? The main reason is the sad fact that I'm old and too tired to stay up at night past dark thirty. I might want to read in bed or do something else in bed, if you get my drift. So if I want to watch Shark or Greys Anatomy, and it comes on too late, I would like to see the show at my convenience. It IS all about me, you know.

The other reason, was to watch one show on the East Coast feed in real time at 6 or 7 pm.... and then record the competing show ..after bed time of course at 9 or 10 pm. Two for one. It was perfect until the satellite and cable companies took away that ability because they wanted to force us to look at local advertising on our local stations. As if I'm interested in Joe Bob's hog feed chow or the Cowboy's Mattress Outlet. An actual store ... imagine the commercials for that one!

So, what are they thinking? They are thinking that if they make it impossible to record the shows we will be forced to watch them in real time and forced to view the ads.

I'm thinking the shows aren't all that great anyway. I'll read a book.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

It's Hit and Miss

Nothing like taking a veeery long hiatius from my blog (as if anyone is listening anyway) , but what's the point of blogging if you don't do it. Oh sure, I can make excuses. Lots of them.

I've been busy with my career.

I've been playing way too much World of Warcraft.

It's been a beautiful summer and fall and I have been outside.

The political scene is just to depressing to think about.

The never ending campaigning for President is like a slow drip Chinese water torture and I just don't want to think about it for now.

The never ending arguing between the right and left ends of the political spectrum just goes on and on with no resolution.

The trains are in the tunnel and I feel helpless about being able to do anything positive to prevent it.

I've been working on my personal cookbook and organizing my recipes on a new computer program. (True!!)

I'm lazy (actually the most accurate excuse)

So for those one or two people who may actually be looking at my blog, I'll try to come up something more frequent than once a quarter.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

My Greek Mythology Personality

Yet another personality test. Some how I alway end up basically the same no matter what test. Shrug

Your Score: Hermes

0% Extroversion, 33% Intuition, 0% Emotiveness, 23% Perceptiveness

You have a very keen intellect, are interested in the facts and the truth, but you don't have the antiauthoritarian streak of The Oracle or Prometheus. You are most like Hermes. You are dependable to a fault, and you can develop feirce institutional loyalties. You can seem outwardly cold, and very calculating, and any display of emotion is extremely taxing for you. You are, above all else, dutiful, punctual, and reliable.

More rebellious types will see you as a toadie and a stiff, but they're unreliable iconoclasts anyway. You are very pragmatic, and you aren't easily distracted from the task at hand. You can be counted on to do your job without being hampered by personal interests. You are extremely traditional, and are most likely to use "We've always done it this way" and "Those are the rules" as justifications for hanging on to the status quo. Most of the other personality types will have a difficult time relating to you, but will work something out. Prometheus and The Oracle freaking hate your uncritical position regarding established rules and procedures, and they'll let you know it. You'll get along well with Atlas and Apollo if they're your boss. You'll probably get along with Icarus, too.

Famous people like you: Judge Judy, Andrew Johnson, Herbert Hoover, Harry Truman, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan
Stay clear of: The Oracle, Prometheus, Dionysus, Pan, Orpheus, Aphrodite
Similar Personality Types: Atlas, Icarus, Apollo, Nemesis

Link: The Greek Mythology Personality Test written by Aleph_Nine on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Am I Speaking in Tongues???

Do I speaking a foreign language, speak in tongues or was I born on another planet. Sometimes it is so freaking frustrating to try to talk to people at corporate "help" desks. I think I'm being pretty clear but I get the feeling that I must be from another planet.

Trying to set up bill pay through my bank so I can pay on line. My concern is: when will the company I'm paying get my payment. Are they going to send a check through snail mail? Sheesh...I can do that! or is it going to be an electronic transfer from my bank account to the company I am paying the bill to.

At least if I send the snail mail check myself I will have a copy for my business records and KNOW that it was sent off. Electronic would be great, since I am currently going into each site and making a payment. This means I have a zillion passwords and user names for multiple websites. In fact I have an entire Rolodex of passwords for personal and business purposes.

So I call and ask........ How can I tell on these accounts that I'm setting up if they are going to be paid electronically or if you are going to be sending a check?

Sounds like a simple question....right? Evidently not.

So I ask the help desk:

Help Desk (HD): you should allow 4 business days for your payment.

ME: Ok... but how do I know which are being sent electronically and which are being sent by mail.

HD: When you click on the payment, the little calender will have a blue date which is the first date the payment will be sent out.

ME: OK. But how can I tell if you are sending it by mail or by electronic transfer?

HD: you should allow 4 business days.

ME: RIGHT....but is there any way to know which way you are sending the payment? For example if I have a bill due on the 20th and today is the 13th and the calender says it will take the money from my account on the 14th. How do I know if the payment is going to be received by the 20th or of it is going to go by mail which can take up to 7 business days??

HD: You need to allow 4 business days.

ME: So you are telling me there is no way to know how the payment is being sent out?

HD: You can ask the company recieving the payment after the payment has been sent.

ME: So in other words if my payment is sent electronically I will be on time but if it is sent by mail I should send it earlier, but I have to take a chance because until I make a payment and it is past due there is no way to know HOW YOU ARE GOING TO SEND IT OUT??

HD: You should allow 4 business days.

ME: AAAAAAAGGGGGHHHHH. Forget it. I'll just send a check

HD: Thank you for calling have a nice day.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Misheard Lyrics........wut?

On a lighter note from the doom and gloom of my last few posts.

I've been afflicted with blocked eustachian tubes due to seasonal allergies for the past few days and my hearing is muffled. As Joni Mitchell says "You don't know what you've got till its gone" Or in my case just impaired for a while

This video of misheard lyrics fits in perfectly with my current and thankfully temporary condition. Muffled and mumbled lyrics.

Potato Wave... LOL

Paris Hilton and Illegal Immigrants: two sides to a coin

What do Paris Hilton and an illegal immigrant have in common? .............Neither one of them has to obey the law. da dump rim shot.

Too bad this isn't really a bad joke. The reality is that the rich are privileged. They are different from you and me. They don't have to play by the same rules and get special treatment. Apparently that privilege now extends to the people who are here illegally in the United States. They are two sides of the same coin.

You don't think that people (the ordinary tax paying, hard working middle class people) are not paying attention to this? Think again. Everyday we see the inequities and start steaming a little bit more. Like a pressure cooker with a worn out seal, don't be surprised when the top comes off.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

WSJ Sees the Light on Immigration....Sort of.

After their editorial about immigration that drew my ire and evidently the ire of many more who wrote in to them, the WSJ Opinion page re-opines with this editorial.

"The word "citizen" is everywhere in the immigrant discussion, but it blows by as if its full meaning were obvious. But it is not obvious because it's a lot more than just an idea. For many people, being born in the United States is just the beginning of citizenship. Genuine American citizenship is about a lot more than that. It's doing what's required to maintain all the communities, large and small, that constitute the 50 states.
This is what former House Speaker Tip O'Neill really meant when he said "all politics is local." It's about being willing to put in the time to deal with local tax issues, zoning fights, school-board controversies, battles over utility rights of way, traffic lights--all the stuff that runs beneath the Big Media radar but is what really constitutes the bedrock of American politics for most people. This is what citizens do. The problem for many people with the illegal workers, no matter how hard they work, is that they exist entirely outside the complications of civic life for an American citizen. And they appear to do so more or less permanently. For many, this makes the illegal-worker status quo a rebuke to the idea of dutiful citizenship."

It is also about fairness in enforcing the laws. If we can pick and choose which laws we feel like enforcing. And if we can select a group of people who are exempt from enforcement, the public (rightly so) sees the inherint unfairness.

There are many laws that I would rather not obey. From the small to the large. Seat belts, helmets on bikes, transfat ban, mandatory car insurance, registering my vehicle, drinking and driving (kidding on that one).....PAYING TAXES.

If it is OK for immigration laws to be flouted because the numbers of illegals makes it hard to enforce, then I suggest we all cease obeying the laws that we don't like. Our numbers are more than the illegals and if sheer numbers makes flouting the law acceptable........let's go for it.

The laws are for everyone or the laws are for no one. The Government needs to make up its mind or we will make the decision for them. Anarchy is become a more interesting proposition all the time.

The Bitter Immigration Pill and a Spoonful of Sugar

I have been participating and reading the discussion at The Anchoress on the topic of immigration. It is good to see that there remains a section of the blogosphere that can rationally discuss issues without devolving into name calling and hysteria.

As I have posted before; I'm not so much concerned with the actual people who are illegally immigrating as I am with the effect on Society as a whole. Having a background in College, studying Anthropology and Sociology, I see no good in the future for our Country unless we soon get a handle on this problem.

One of my biggest reservations with this humongous everything and the kitchen sink bill is that it is trying to be all things to all people all at once. Any sane person knows it will be impossible to implement because of the current Government inadequacies. Background checks in 24 hours??? Please. Everyone knows that is not going to happen and all who apply will be rubber stamped. The criminals along with the regular folks. What’s the rush?

I believe that if we had TWO separate bills the immigration pill would go down easier with the public.

1. FIRST a bill to address the border security and to fix the INS immigration system. Set up an integrated data base system interfacing INS, FBI, Police records etc in a system that will be able to efficiently track, locate and identify who is entering the country, for what purpose and how long. Create a system that will deport the proven criminal element. Eliminate the illegal practice of "Sanctuary Cities".

If Wal Mart can keep track of its inventory world wide and know to a penny what their profit is, why can't we take a page from their technology book. I know....inventory doesn't have legs. BUT, maybe we should outsource this project to Wal Mart.

2. Once the first bill has been implemented and is showing signs of real progress, THEN a second bill to address the "path to citizenship". Included in this path must be measures to encourage assimilation of the immigrant population into society as a whole. Having isolated ghettoized populations of foreigners who can't speak the language, can't function fully in society and who live by separate cultural rules is a recipe for a fragmented and disintegrating society. Burkean Reflections has a good post on this with many links to ponder.

Those details should include provisions for English proficiency and education. Paying back taxes would be nice, but probably an unrealistic goal. We want to bring the illegals out of the underground economy (that is eroding the economic chances of our own Middle Class) into the mainstream. Punitive measures will only drive people further underground.

The goal is to have productive, legal, participating citizens and not a permanent underclass of un-educated workers who can watch our children, mow our lawns, lay the patio bricks for less money than legal citizens are willing to accept.

If we don't take this problem head on, without the weakness of political correctness we are doomed as a Country and as a society. I have a friend who says: "The trains are in the tunnel. The question is how fast and how soon the train wreck is going to be."

I am afraid that there is no way to stop the trains.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Weapons of Mass Destruction and Porous Borders

This recent hysterical and breathless 24/7 reporting by the media of a man being quarantined for having a rare but drug resistant form of Tuberculosis, makes me wonder why the media can't connect the dots or add two and two to equal four. While they are hyperventilating about the risks to the population of an infectious and incurable disease, and while the ACLU is attempting to get another man with this disease released from quarantine before he is no longer contagious, I consider the real risk of a terrorist organization using diseases as weapons of mass destruction.

Am I the only one?

Consider that 10 dedicated jihadists, who are more than willing to become martyrs to Allah, infect themselves with Smallpox or Bubonic Plague We know that reservoirs of these germs along with Bubonic Plague, Anthrax, and the 1918 Flu which for some reason we have kept in research facilities world wide, have disappeared. Is no one worried about this in the media?

How to wipe out 80% of the world's population in 5 easy steps
1. Become infected with Smallpox......praise Allah
2. Send your infected smurfs out on 10 different international flights with many connecting flights in large well populated airports. No one is checking this very well, as we know our borders internationally and in the US are meaningless.
3. Be sure to cough on people and touch as many things as you can so the laws of geometric progression in infection can take place. Use an aerosol spritzer if at all possible for mass effect.
4. Rent a hotel room at your final destination. New York, London, Singapore, Tokyo get it.
Touch and meet as many people as you can who will then pass the infection on to multiple other people and so on.
5. Die in obscurity or commit suicide before your symptons become obvious. That way no one can track the contagion back to you or your group.

Before long the the doctors and hospitals are swarming with sick people with a disease that many have never seen and to which we have no defenses. Millions upon millions of people will be infected and die. If you don't die in incredible pain, you will be horribly disfigured for the rest of your life.

Given the anemic and ineffectual response of the government to just one person with TB, can you imagine the incompetence when dealing with millions of people. We must dither and waste time deciding if we are violating civil rights by imposing quarantine or forcing medical treatment on those who have religious objections. Never mind that while the Governments, the ACLU, religious fanatics are fiddling, the world is dying. Link to a CDC scenario detailing the chaos and ineptitude it expects, just so you don't think I'm over reacting.

Global warming is a danger? Piffle!!! A tiny vial of smallpox or other disease germs cleverly hidden in a country the size of California......There is danger.

Just because we haven't found this tiny vial doesn't mean it doesn't exist. We know that they existed in laboratories and are now missing. I assure you that if I wanted to hide a weapon of mass destruction the size of a tube of lipstick in the Trinity Alps of California, no one would ever find it.

The liberal media is all athither about the mean evil bigots who want to have border security. They are also hyping the TB scare. They deny that there could be any danger from chemical and biological weapons known to exist and which may have fallen into the hands of jihadists. They just can't put the dots together, because the left leaning media is blinded by Bush hatred and blinded to anything else.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Contents of the Armegddon Pantry

As long as I'm on a doom and gloom kick, here are the contents of my Armageddon Pantry. When all hell breaks loose, at least I will have enough supplies to enjoy the ride to oblivion. This assumes that if all hell does break loose, it will do so fairly far from our rural location, leaving us stranded from supply lines for a while, or possibly a pandemic where we must stay isolated.

If all hell doesn't break loose, I don't have to go to the store for items that I need. Just trundle on out to the pump house and grab the ingredient I need. When I take something out of the pump house to use, I replace it with new. It is a good idea to keep rotating this stuff as food doesn't keep forever.


Can Goods:

The quantities are in case lots of most canned goods= 12 large cans or 24 small cans
2 canned tomatoes = 24 cans
2 tomato sauce
1 tomato paste
2 black olives
3 corn
1 creamed corn
2 green beans
1 kidney beans
1 garbanzo beans
1 pinto beans
1 peaches
1 pears
1 grapefruit sections
1 home canned pie cherries

In individual can amounts from at least 8 to 20 (I'm too busy to go take accurate inventory)

Albacore tuna
Chicken meat
Beef in cans
Beef stew
Chili with beans and meat
Vienna Sausages
Spam (lol)

MSC Food

Dried fruit (about 4 pounds of dried apricots, apples, pears, prunes.)
Craisins (2 large packages)
Wild Rice in retort cooked packages
Rice, brown, wild and white
Pinto Beans
Navy Beans
Split Peas
Soy Sauce
Peanut Butter (3 large)
Apricot Jam (2 large)
Brown Sugar
White Sugar
Vinegar (cider and balsamic)
Olive oil
Peanut oil
Hot chocolate mix
Chocolate chips
Coffee!!!! very important ....ground coffee 3 large cans
Dehydrated Buttermilk mix
Marie Callander Cornbread mix
Dried milk
Dehydrated onions
Case of Top Ramen
Lots of pasta
3 really large containers of Parmesan Cheese
4 pounds of kosher salt
Iodized salt
Barbeque sauces
Marinara and Alfredo Sauces in bottles
Lop Cheong sausages (Chinese dried sausages)
Dried Mushrooms
Nori (seaweed sheets)

Case of wine, several bottles of champagne, Scotch, Rum, Vodka and other spirits
Several cases of Snapple drinks
Grapefruit Juice
Orange Juice
Cranberry Juice
Bottled Green Tea
Lots of bottled water

Cat Food

More misc food things I can't recall right now.

Flour, Polenta, Cornmeal, Bisquick, Walnuts, Pecans and other nuts...I keep in my freezer to avoid weevils. The freezer contents are another story. Plus I have a kitchen full of spices, salt, pepper and other food stuffs. My husband says we can eat for a month out of the crap (his term) I have in the kitchen.


Rubbing Alcohol
Lots of Lamp Oil and extra wicks
Matches and Butane Lighters
Clothes Pins
Laundry Soap
Liquid hand soap and baby wipes
Twine and light rope
Paraffin blocks
Canning Jars with Lids
Paper plates, plastic utensils, paper napkins and plastic drinking glasses
Toilet paper and paper towels
Plastic drop cloths and table covers
Garbage bags
Plastic wrap and waxed paper
Amunition.... yes for the guns. If push came to shove, I would not be adverse to knocking off a deer, pheasant, goose or even one of the local cows of which there are hundreds.

Medical kit for grab and go. In addition to the extensive medical kit I have in my bathroom.
Batteries, Flashlight, Blanket, Plastic Tarp also for the grab and go. Hopefully we get to sit and stay put.

Decks of cards and poker chips (to go with the alcohol)
Scrabble and other games. Hey... If we are going to be stranded in our home, might as well have some fun.

Plus my husband has an entire shop filled with tools of all kinds, generator, gas cans, nails.... you name it..... he's got it.

It may sound like an excessive amount of pantry preparedness (probably it is), but it isn't at all unusual for my area which is quite rural and has bad winters. People tend to be more self sufficient and stock up than the people in cities. So when the crap hits the oscillating mechanism, if I don't have something, my neighbors down the road will. People also tend to share and help each other in rural areas. We hear the horrible stories of the Great Depression. What we don't hear is that the people who lived in the sticks, didn't have nearly the hardships that those in urban areas did. I pity the people in the cities who live from week to week, have nothing stored up and have no close friends or neighbors to lean on.

Anal? Yes. Being prepared? Priceless.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Serf City, Here We Come (Apologies to the Beach Boys)

With the stunningly bad immigration bill before us and the past decades of uninforced illegal immigration, it occurs to me that the American Dream if not dead is certainly in its death throes. The dream that a middle class citizen can improve their economic lot in life, advance, create a legacy to leave to their children and that their children will have a better life. Well..... unchecked illegal immigration has put the final nail into that coffin. As time goes by the middle class will slip further into poverty and marginal living circumstances. We are encouraging and creating a permanent class of have-not's. Serfs, if you will, who will provide the menial, low cost jobs for a small class of lucky "haves." A fuedal system of wealthy and a support group of undereducated peons who have little to no chance to rise above their circumstances.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this out, but let me bring the macrocosmic train wreck that is occuring in our society and economy down to a one person example.

We have Joe Carpenter. He has built himself a nice middle class American Dream life in a mid sized city. Let's suppose Joe lives in Albequerque. Joe owns his own handyman business, maybe a small commercial shop from which to operate, has a ranch house in a modest subdivision, wife, couple of kids whom he hopes to send to college, several vehicles: one for work, one for his wife to ferry the kids to their after school activities. They like to take a vacation once a year for the family, Disneyland or camping in Yosimite. Something affordable that will create memories for his children.

Joe doesn't have any permanent employees but occasionally will contract a helper when his job is too big for one person to handle. Joe pays his quarterly IRS taxes, property taxes and sales taxes on his supplies. Makes sure his vehicles and home are insured and properly registered. As a self employed person, Joe buys a catastrophic health insurance policy to cover himself and family. He also carries liability and property insurance on his workshop and business. To protect his family, he also has a substantial life insurance policy. In addition to saving for college for his children, Joe tries to put some extra money aside for his well deserved retirement and hopes some day to have his son take over the business.

Joe is an upstanding citizen. Belongs to the Rotary, Chamber of Commerce, coaches Little League and does charity work to improve the local park where his children like to play. Joe's wife is an active member of the PTA and the Library Guild in addition to helping with school fund raising activites.

He charges a fair hourly rate in his geographic area of $35.00. Joe is making progress with a small overhead and also hopes to expand his business in the near future; get his license and employ a few full time construction workers.

We have Jose the illegal allien. Here is where we begin to destroy Joe's life and dreams. Joe is forced to compete for jobs with Jose, the illegal alien. (Before I am accused of racism, it could just as well be Pierre the illegal Canadian or Stefan the illegal Romanian or Muhammad the illegal Somalian. But let's use Jose because it equals Joe.)

Jose doesn't have to pay taxes, he works for cash. He doesn't buy insurance......for anything. Jose can apply for Medi-caid and other social welfare benefits. If Jose is injured on his job, he goes to the emergency room and recieves free medical care and prescriptions. Since his cars are not registered, they are also not insured. If Jose has a driver's license, he most likely bought it on the black market. Jose lives in a place where there are many other men like him who are sharing the costs. His family might still be back in the "home country" or (less frequently) if his family is here it consists of a larger extended family where everyone is working. Now there is nothing at all wrong with this. In fact this is how the Irish, the Italians and other immigrants of the past were able to work and integrate themselves into the society. While Jose might be active in his church, he isn't a contributing member to the local community as Joe and his wife are with their Rotary and civic commitments.

Because Jose, has none of the taxes, insurance or expenses that his competitor has, he can charge much less for the same jobs that Joe would charge. Instead of $35.00 per hour, Jose asks for $20....CASH. Joe loses out on many jobs because people are just cheap. Eventually, Joe cannot afford his shop and has to let that go and tells his part time people he can't hire them any more. He hopes they can find jobs, but knows it won't be at the pay scale that he has been able to give to them. Joe's family won't be able to afford a new car for several more years and he ceases contributions to his retirement and college funds.

You see where I'm going here, I hope.

Joe has to reduce his hourly rate in order to get jobs. He decided to charge $28.00 and work harder to make up the lost revenue. Futher paring down his lifestyle, Joe has to eliminate his health insurance and hope that nothing happens. Of course, when he does this, his insurance agent who also has a small business, loses the income from the premiums that Joe isn't paying any more. The two employees he was hoping to bring on permanently have vanished, up in smoke, just like the American Dream.

Skipping ahead, Joe is now working for cash "under the table", has cashed in his retirement plan, cashed in his life insurance, lost his home....oh and you can forget the kids' going to college. Mrs. Joe can no longer stay at home with the children and works for minimum wage at McDonalds. Soon Joe Jr. will be sixteen and will get a job after school to help out. Of course, he will have go give up his sports program. The youngest daughter at 12 is too young to work, so she just goes home after school and hangs out.

I suppose the good news is that Joe and his family now qualifies for food stamps and welfare.

As more and more 'Joe's' are sucked down, they give up. Why work and beat your head against the wall, when all you have to do is some menial jobs for cash and take the freebies that are paid for by.......who? If the middle class has disappeared into the permanent SERF class, where is the money going to come from. Where are the future builders, inventors, entrepeneurs, skilled labor classes going to come from? Since Jose and his family don't really plan to become part of the American culture because they are illegal aliens, they don't learn the language and who needs anything more than an elementary school education anyway.

The other sufferers here, besides Joe and his family, are the community. No more Rotary or Library Guild participation. The schools, Jose and his wife don't speak as much English so don't participate in the PTA. The insurance agent with the cancelled policies, the investment advisor who has no more business, the hardware store where Joe can't shop anymore, the auto dealer and manufacturer where Joe will not be buying new cars, the vaction spot where Joe used to go, the taxes that Joe used to pay....... so on and so on...... like a giant snowball going down hill, destroying the economy faster and faster, the American Dream is dead for the middle class.

Of course, there will still be people of means. The wealthy will still be with us, as will the poor. There will be fewer wealthy with much more concentrated wealth per capita, employing the Serf class at very affordable wages. The nanny, the gardener, the brick layer, Joe (our carpenter) all vying to see who can get the job at the lowest cash bid.

What will be missing is the vibrant middle class represented by Joe's extinct and enviable lifestyle. What will also be missing are all of the people Joe could have employed, the industries and businesses he contributed to which also employed others. What will be missing is the hope of a better today for ourselves and a brighter future for our children.

Serf city, here we come........

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Armageddon Pantry

Since the disasters of Katrina and recently the tornadoes in Kansas added to the worries about pandemics or terrorists attacks on major population areas, I have gotten serious about stocking up supplies for an emergency. The Dumbplumber calls it my Armageddon pantry. Actually this is something I have been serious about for some time and it gives me a really good excuse for my hoarding behavior. I must have learned this when I was a child: this need to have not one, not two but a dozen cans of corn, soup etc.

Well, a while back, we got a small preview of what the effects of a "disaster" would be. Ok, a very, very small preview. Our house wasn't destroyed, my cat can still come in and whine for her "TREAT" (a tablespoon of canned food), we still had running water and the natural gas to the Wolf Range was still functional. What happened was that for some inexplicable reason the electricity went off on a Sunday afternoon about 1:00. I was in the middle of a load of laundry, in the middle of typing up recipes into my Master Cook program and whamo......power outage. Fortunately I have a power back up on the computer so I shut it down. The Dumbplumber was taking a nap. No need to disturb him. I had full confidence that the power would be back on shortly, after all it was a beautiful sunny afternoon. So, what to do now? Grab a beer, a bowl of potato chips and my latest paperback and go sit on the deck in the sun and read…. naturally.

As the day wore on, DP woke up and there seemed to be no progress from PG&E. I decided to get some of the supplies from the Armageddon Pantry. Out come the oil lamps....hmmm I only have one more bottle of oil, better make a note. Out come the candles and candle holders....better buy some more candles, all I have are two green decorative candles. I had already made most of dinner so that wasn't too bad. But after about 8 hours of no power, I am beginning to worry about the food in the fridge getting hot and my half done laundry getting moldy. Wow, I think I'd better get some old fashioned clothes pins for the future disaster room.

So, the evening wore on. We had roasted chicken, macaroni salad, green salad and rhubarb crisp. Fortunately I had purchased an antique (OK only 1950's) rotary egg beater, so I was able to make whipped cream without electricity. Whew! averted that disaster. No television! Actually that was the best part of the whole experience. Whipping out the matches, which didn't work because they were too old....hmmm more notes to self, and then getting the butane lighter from the bbq, we lit the oil lanterns. Feeling like Abe Lincoln, we read our books by oil lamps sipping on a glass of wine. I said, "No wonder women did so much needlework, they were bored." The Dumbplumber said, "No wonder people had such large families."...So we went to bed. Suddenly, twelve hours after the outage, everything comes back on with a vengeance. Lights, washer, stereo and all electronic devices begin beeping. Life is back to normal.

In all seriousness, our little inconvenience was’t much, but it has reinforced the need to be prepared. What if this was not just an annoying 12 hour event, but a situation that would last for days or weeks? We are in a somewhat remote rural area. If anything happened (earthquake, terrorist attack, bird flu epidemic) it is highly likely that we would be cut off from supplies of food and other necessities. I am determined to beef up the disaster pantry. Plus it is pretty convenient to grab that extra jar of mayonnaise from the pump house instead of trundling off to the store.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


Boy am I dense. I just realized that comments need to be moderated before they post. Sorry to everyone who tried to post.

Well, I didn't pass the test. To be frank I really didn't feel good about it after taking the test. It was two days of testing 4 hours Friday and 6 hours on Saturday. I try to comfort myself with the knowledge that only 53% of the people who took the test actually passed. Ok...that's lame comfort but I'll take what I can get. Even though I didn't pass this time, the information gleaned from the 2 1/2 years of study for the CFP and the review course has been invaluable in being able to do good overall financial advising.

So the big question is: do I want to put myself through this meat grinder again? Time, money, stress. Or should I refocus on obtaining the next license which isn't predicated on having the CFP designation? I was planning to do that as well. That one allows me to do financial planning and hourly or flat fee based business. The reality is that I am within sight of retirement and in doing a cost benefit analysis of obtaining the CFP with the time left and my clientele and how many people I would or would not do business without the designation....... I've decided.....refocus. Whew. That decision is made.

I'll post my next test results.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Big Nanny Is Watching You

Over the years there has been a gradual erosion of our right to make our own decisions about even the most mundane aspects of our lives. The State, has crept its way into almost every corner of our day to day living. For our own good of course. Spare us from the do gooders.... they do more harm in their zeal to help.

"The do-gooder leftist in all the various ideological incarnations--the antiwar crowd, the environmental crowd, the communists, socialists, and assorted collectivists--offers the rationale that he does what he does for the "common good" and for "social justice", "peace" and "brotherhood". His high-minded, self-righteous rhetoric justifies (to him anyway) imposing his will and beliefs on others for their own good; and he will not hesitate to use whatever coercive capablity he has at hand to get others to do what he wants and what he says."

In trying to be the Big Nanny and protect us all from harm, the government is smothering us with love. A parent who knows absolutely, with no reservations, they know best and who controls every tiny detail of the child's life, is creating a future adult who can't make decisions and is unable to take responsibility for their own actions. Some parents even permanently cripple the emotional growth of their children in order to become needed and indispensable. These needy parents are not doing their child or society any favors by creating adults who have never grown up.

The same can be said for a government that takes away the ability to chose and creates a dependent and infantile population. Maybe that is the intended effect, make the government needed and indispensable to a society who is functioning at a lower and lower level each generation. Like Mother knows best....the Nanny Government thinks it knows what is best for us...and we'd better behave the way they want us to or else.

The government controls what we wear... helmets when riding a bike, fire retardants in children's sleepwear whether you want it or not. They control what we eat....remember the mandate that we shouldn't eat eggs sunny side up? They control how we move about.... speed limits, seat belts, child seats until the child is the size of a small adult. What toys we can give our children..... small weeble wobbles and legos are too dangerous. We have ridiculous warning labels on products that warn us about using things in the way no one in their right mind would consider.

In the attempt to legislate away stupidity and personal responsibility New York wants to ban the use of cell phones and Ipods while walking. I say we let Darwin's laws do their fine work. We will all be better for it.

California wants to tell me, for my own good of course, what kind of light bulbs I can use in my home. What are they going to do? Set up a new bureaucracy to come to my home driving gas guzzling Chevy Tahoes and demand to inspect my closet to make sure I have the "correct" light bulbs?? I hope they give me some advance warning so I can at least pick up my dirty underwear! I don't need a lecture from the government on that topic. I heard enough about that from my real mother. I wouldn't put it past them.

They want to tell us how to discipline our children. A bill in proposed in California: " any striking of a child, any corporal punishment, smacking, hitting, punching, any of that.'' Lieber (who has no children of her own by the way) said it would be a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail or a fine up to $1,000, although a legal expert advising her on the proposal said first-time offenders would probably only have to attend parenting classes." So, if I decide to swat my temper tantrum throwing 3 year old on the bottom in the grocery store. I get to go attend classes held by someone who probably never had children (they heard about them though) to tell me how to be a better parent. Better yet, I go to jail and let a total stranger rear my child in our wonderful foster care system. There are already laws that punish child abuse and I applaud the enforcement of these laws. A swat on the behind and a 'time out' is not child abuse. Big Nanny doesn't always know best.

Now the final straw in the government's interference!!. Crisco is going to change their formula after 95 years to comply with the war against trans fats. The food police are now going to be rummaging through my pantry for contraband shortening. They are getting up and personal with me now. No more Crisco in chocolate chip cookies. No more Crisco in pie crusts. Don't MAKE me use lard. I will use lard..but don't MAKE ME.

I've had it with the food police, the fashionistas, the eco-nazis and Big Nanny government. I'm buying light bulbs, Crisco and gonna swat a three year old on the behind..... come and get me...I dare you.

And in that vein I hereby publish the very best coffee cake recipe I have ever had. Full of fat, calories and sugar....nyaa nyaaa to Big Nanny.

Italian Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

2 1/2 cups Flour
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda

12 oz cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1. Mix together the first six ingredients until crumbly. Reserve 3/4 cup of this mixture and to that add cinnamon and walnuts. Set the 3/4 cup topping aside for topping.

2. In a mixing bowl combine the filling ingredients until smooth. Set aside.

3.In another bowl mix together eggs buttermilk, baking powder, baking soda. Combine with the crumbly mixture. Pour half into a greased 9 x 13 pan. Don't worry if it looks like your first layer of batter seems skimpy. It will rise up just fine. Pour or spoon the cream cheese filling over the batter. Then pour or spoon the rest of the cake mixture over the cream cheese layer and top with the crumbly walnut mixture.

4.Bake at 350 for 40 to 50 minutes