Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Paging Miss Manners...


People of America,

I shouldn’t have to do this, what with it being Christmas season and Santa watching and all that jazz, but apparently, all y’all need a refresher course on courtesy, good manners and how not to act like spoiled 5 year olds.

And by the way, race, ethnicity, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, place of birth and/or sports team preference matter diddly squat in this exercise. Every group has its offenders.
1) Let’s start with courtesy to fellow patrons in line, shall we? I was just at Walgreens. Nobody near the cashier; only person in line. As I was completing the transaction, another customer came up and stood right over my shoulder. I was using a card to complete the purchase, so the attention was definitely not welcome. I asked, “Ma’am, may I have some personal space, please?” This was a woman in her late twenties/early thirties (best guess). She gave me a snotty, “Sor-ree!” backed off a step, then came back in. I said, “Excuse me. Please wait your turn. I’m not done here.” She darted around the other side of me and still tried to push in. I got exasperated, “Please back off and wait your turn!” She said, “I was in line ahead of you.” “No, you weren’t unless you were invisible when I walked up. You lost your turn, back off.” (And yes, I did say this)

Crowding someone else conducting business is unacceptable behavior. In the age of identity theft; it makes you a suspect. And you never know when someone’s carrying  and not in the mood for your shit. This also applies to cutting the line.

It was bad form in kindergarten and it’s even worse when you’re an adult. Mike Barnicle, former columnist for the Boston Globe (I’m not sure what he’s doing these days) once wrote a story about a long line of people waiting to be served in Dunkin Donuts somewhere in the Boston area. A woman bustles into the store, heads to the counter and places her order, saying to everyone on line, “I’m sorry, but I’m double parked and I can’t wait.” She got her order (one of those little tray dealies), but as she was walking out and still saying “I’m sorry, but…”, one of the guys who had been waiting leaned over and pushed over the tray in her hands, spilling all the coffee. She deserved it.

2) You are to treat the employees of the store who are DOING THEIR JOB and HELPING YOU TO GET WHAT YOU WANT with courtesy and respect* (*until and unless they prove otherwise). A couple of months ago, I was at Nordstrom’s, my favorite department store (Macys lost the title when they absorbed and killed Filene’s, Jordan Marsh, Robinson’s May, Marshall Fields and Burdines). I was beginning my transaction when a woman somewhat older than I pushed in next to me at the counter and thrust a package at the clerk saying, “This keeps going off.” She had a cellphone up to her ear and in between talking to whoever, she told the clerk that it was something from the baby department and the security tag must still be attached, remove it. And she was in a hurry. She then walked a few steps away to continue her phone conversation, but came back to make sure the clerk didn’t tear the tissue paper; it was a gift. The woman looked at me and said, “I’m sorry, but…” And I said, “No you aren’t.”

Why did I say she wasn’t? 1) She stayed on the damned phone the whole time, 2) she didn’t ask me if I minded whether she went ahead, 3) this wasn’t the department that had left the tag on that caused the alarm to go off,  but they were the poor unfortunates she found first, 4) she kept walking away for her stupid, fucking phone conversation (and I heard it. It was a stupid, fucking non-urgent conversation) and 5) (the kicker) she had the chutzpah (gall, nerve for those unfamiliar with the Yiddish. Yiddish is a good language for frustration) to try to dictate how they proceeded with finding the tag WHILE STILL ON THE FUCKING PHONE CALL.

Look, I worked customer service for a financial services company for 12 years, okay. If you don’t think people lose their shit when money’s involved, think again. I had people demand to speak to fund managers because their multi-thousand dollar dividend was short $4.95 by their calculation (really). On the flip side of the coin, there were the people who would call up with, “Um, hi. I wired $100,000 to my bank account 3 days ago and it’s not there. Can you check that for me, please?” Who do you think I busted my ass for, used my influence and well-placed contacts to help out? Curiously, the dividing line of behavior was nouveau riche v. old money (and I’m not naming names because you’d recognize them). The “missing” $4.95 guy had just discovered grocery bags of  stock certificates in recently deceased Uncle Morty’s condo in Century Village and opened an account with a “Dig me, I’m rich” attitude (I know. I had to help the shithead open the account. Karma is a beautiful thing: his wife cleaned it out completely during the divorce 6 months later).

The old money was the guy with the missing $100,000. He was always courteous, friendly and respectful (and sent a nice letter to my boss and a 5 lb. box of chocolates for ME at Christmas. I was forced to share. With people who would poke holes in them and put them back in the box if they didn’t like what they saw. That’s a different set of BAD manners).

3) “Gimme” and “I’ll take” are not acceptable substitutes for “May I have…” or “May I please have...”.  This is basic courtesy 101; unless your mama is a spoiled, self-entitled bitch with head jammed in ass herself (and I know a few of those), she should have taught you “please”, ”thank you” and “May I.”  By the way, “can I” is asking about the ability to do something, “may I” is seeking permission. So “Can I get a caramel macchiato” means “I question my ability to procure a caramel macchiato. Do you know if I have the ability?” “May I get a caramel macchiato?” means “I’d like to have a caramel macchiato. Please help me.”

I think 3 is all you can handle now. Behave yourselves or this WILL continue.


Monday, November 26, 2012

I Feel Lucky Today...


“You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.”
- Sir Mick Jagger and Mr. Keith Richards

 What does good luck look like? A winning lottery ticket? Getting a parking space up front on Black Friday (a day on which I won’t go near any store)? Finding a folded $20 bill in your jeans pocket (always a major score)?

Thursday night, after a really great Thanksgiving dinner, I was headed home and notice the battery warning light was lit on my car’s dashboard. I’m not completely ignorant about cars, but I thought I just needed to restart the car and it would stop. I didn’t associate with the belt squealing that had become just so much background noise (I still need to get the AC and the heater fixed).
My car saw fit to educate me while I was on the 101 (It’s a California thing: ALL of our major highways are “The (fill in the blank),” “The 110.” “The 5 (Seriously, the ugliest, most frustrating stretch of highway in Southern California. It is FUGLY).” “The 101.”  Now, I know there is a perfectly good 101 running through New Hampshire. But, since it’s not in L.A., it’s not THE 101.) The lights dimmed (and it’s night), the radio died and the fuel injectors started choking and coughing like 5 pack a day smokers. Yeah, this is bad.

Now, you would think that good luck would have been that nothing had happened. No. That would have been nothing extraordinary.

This is why I say I am LUCKY:

1) Rather than dying on the main highway and becoming a hazard, there was enough momentum and slope that I was able to coast off at the Lankershim exit. Not enough to  get down to Cahuenga and turn into the Arco station next to the exit, but I was able to guide the car off the shoulder.

2) I have AAA (and I’m irritated that I won’t be able to upgrade back to my old Premium status because of this. Shoot) and a cell phone. Help was a phone call away. (If you don’t have AAA, GET IT)

3) As I was on the phone with AAA, a California Highway Patrol car pulled up behind me. While I was telling him what was going on, a second CHiP (Not Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox) pulled up behind him. And they stayed to make sure I was okay.

4) The first AAA guy tested the battery and his gizmos said it was probably the alternator. Alternators are expensive. Wicked expensive. Luck? My paycheck had hit my account Thanksgiving morning. I had the means to deal with the problem. His portable charger gave my car enough juice to get to the Arco station.

5) The second AAA guy, the one with the flatbed, put his head together with the first guy and they found an AAA approved garage within the 7 miles allowed for a  free tow (to bring the car back down to where I live now…$234).

6) One of my friends from Thanksgiving dinner lived within 6 blocks of the garage and gave me a place to sleep for the night. Complete with kitties (including a kitten).

7) It wasn’t the alternator (beaucoup mega big bucks). It was the serpentine alternator BELT. And I got a discount because it was an approved garage. I had enough cash in my wallet to cover the bill.

8) I didn’t get to work on Friday; my job is “you don’t work, you don’t get paid”. But while I was waiting for the car to be finished, I got to see Ken Burns’ “The Dust Bowl” which I couldn’t find on the PBS stations down here. (It’s excellent and eye opening about one of the major factors of the Great Depression).

9) And finally, I was able to go in on Saturday and make up the 8 hours I’d missed the day before. AND, due to all the hours I’ve been putting in, I qualified for holiday pay on Thanksgiving. I didn’t miss any base hours.

 I didn’t hit the lottery (I did find 10 bucks in my pants pocket, though), but I hit the motherlode on luck. And I will be adding jumper cables to my trunk.

So, in the words of Mick and Keith, I didn’t get what I wanted (winning lottery ticket and George Clooney nibbling my earlobes). But, by God, I got what I needed and when I needed it.

Now that’s something to be thankful for.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

New Election Law


Okay, last post about politics.

Listen up, Gang; Mama’s got some new rules (probably should be Constitutional Amendments but Congress is too busy trying to cockblock each other to get the ball rolling, so it’s up to us…)

RULE NUMBER 1:
IF YOU ARE RUNNING FOR ANOTHER OFFICE, YOU MUST, MUST, MUST GIVE UP THE OFFICE YOU CURRENTLY OCCUPY.
Paul Ryan: lost the Vice Presidency, but don’t cry for him Waukegin: he won his House  seat, so he’s still sucking on the public teat. Look: this isn’t sneaking around behind Lundberg  to interview for another job (Lundberg. “Office Space reference).




 You want to change public office, you resign from your Senate seat/House seat/Governor’s chair. We KNOW  that you don’t give fuck one about your constituents while you’re advancing your career, so let someone willing to ACTUALLY FUCKING DO THE JOB actually have the job. If you’re going to run, you’re going balls in. No safety net. Call it built-in motivation.

RULE NUMBER 2:

TERM LIMITS.
If the President of the United States is limited to two terms (or 8 years), the House and Senate should be, too. Over in the zoo called the House, you can go 4 terms (8 years) max. Same as the Pres. It’s a little trickier in the Senate because a term over there is 6 years (Note: if this piece of information comes as a surprise and shock to you a) I hope to God you didn’t vote and b) remedial Civics class for you immediately). 2 terms and out. Now, you can go from 8 years in the House to 12 years (yes, 6 x 2 is 12) and then, if you’re really good (and what a steelcage match the primaries would become), 8 years in the Presidency. That’s 28 years and a full career by anyone’s standard. Oh yes: mandatory retirement at 80. No more Strom Thurmond “Walking Dead” Senators (they’d die all over again from the lack of brains). Oh: NOBODY is grandfathered in. Time for fresh blood and despite the boast of Archimedes (this is what public education used to be, Folks), there isn’t a lever big enough to pry your dead asses out of the job. I think we can rummage up enough boxes for you to move your shit. And if you return as lobbyists, armed citizens are allowed to shoot you on site and turn your ears in for a bounty. You may be undead and we can’t take chances.

RULE NUMBER 3:


MONEY LIMITS.
You are only allowed to accept $------ (amount TBD) from REGISTERED voters in the district you are running to represent. No more of this SUPERPAC bullshit. You’ll have to get creative about getting your message out. This will have the added benefit of unclogging airwaves, answering machines and mailboxes. Those billions of dollars that went to plastering the airwaves, answering machines and mailboxes? America just made you pay for interrupting Jeaopardy with bullshit.


Proceed accordingly.





Saturday, October 27, 2012

She's Alive! Alive, I Tell You!


The hibernation is over.

Instead of working today (not my choice. Lousy system upgrade), I worked out. Gathered up my now dusty gym bag and a bottle of water and woke up my slumbering muscles.

They’re resenting it.

Leg presses, pull-ups, incline pushups (because I can’t do a floor up push up, but by the end of the year? Oh, hell yeah), lat pulldowns. Not a muscle group escaped unscathed.

Granted, I went with lighter weights than I had been pushing in August (some kind of icky respiratory infection derailed me. I still have easily irritated throat and chest. One of these days, I’m going to laugh and yack up a lung). I’ll get back up to speed soon enough (It’s like getting to Carnegie Hall. Practice, practice)

It felt good to get back in the groove. I have missed the “yeah, I can do this” feeling and the sense of achievement when I go up in weights. I have not cared for the disappearance of muscles due to neglect, but then, in the immortal words of Jimmy Buffett, “It’s my own damned fault.” (Margaritaville. The Parrothead national anthem).

Sugar? Out. From two different doctors, I’ll give you two different reasons:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM

http://www.perriconemd.com/display.do?ruleID=102161&itemID=5&itemType=LANDING&sc_cid=pmd_dom_em_nwltr_dsugar_na_eml_12_na_na&utm_content=Dr.+Perricone+Discusses%3A+The+Surprising+Effects+of+Sugar&utm_campaign=DPD+Sugar+-+20121025&utm_source=eMail&utm_medium=eMail

Fruits and veggies? Bring ‘em on. Meats including bacon? Yeah, Baby, yeah!
Starch? Dairy? No and nyet, dammit. The furthest I will venture into starch territory is sweet potatoes. No more bacon cheese tots, even once a week.
I have been, for the past week, observing a sharp reduction in dairy (and I am one of cheese’s biggest fans. I am convinced that if dietary laws dreamed up in the Iron and Bronze Ages were set aside, we’d have peace in the Middle East within 2 weeks. Just sit everyone down with a bacon cheeseburger. Beer optional). And I am seeing the benefit already, slight though it is. No exercise, but the slacks and skirt . Not that had been getting a little snug aren’t biting my middle as hard. No sugar, either, has been helping. Before anyone starts screaming about Atkins (which works), I eat fruit. Not fruit juice, whole fruit because whole fruit has fiber which helps your body properly metabolize the sugar contained in the fruit. However, if you watched the video by Dr. Lustig, you already know this.
Water, tea, coffee without cream or sugar (stevia, sugar-free hazelnut syrup at Starbucks, no sugar).
Nerd Fitness (www.nerdfitness.com) is chock full of success stories. Dammit, I am going to be one of them. Look at that picture of Steve Kamb.


He’s cute as hell! Do you think I want a cute as hell guy (who could pass for Chris Evans aka Captain America) saying nice things about me? Did the Red Sox suck swampwater this year? Hell, yeah.
I’m feeling achy, no big surprise. Water will fix that (flush out the lactic acid). Unless something comes up, I’ll get in some cardio tomorrow (I need to vary things because I don’t want my muscles getting into a rut. Parkour is out. I am not jumping from rooftop to rooftop). I haven’t been in yoga or Pilates in months. Need to get back to those classes; they were doing me a lot of good.


And finally, to my muscles: Wakey, wakey. I’m back, Bitches.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

T.B.W.E


The first clue that this was not going to be your typical wedding was the groom and groomsmen entered to “The Muppet Show” theme. I am not making this up. We also had Led Zeppelin, Star Wars, Winnie the Pooh and  “The Princess Bride” references.


Fabulous but unforgiving shoes?  Doesn’t matter.  A few necessities left at home? Meh. Target was up the street. Confusing  street/highway layout in Houston that makes all the concrete spaghetti (my term for layers upon layers of on ramps and highway interchanges) be damned. Forget the royal weddings, celebrity weddings, THIS was the wedding of the century.

Everyone in that church was in the presence of love and joy. And we were grateful to be reminded that it still exists. One of the great things about joy is how utterly contagious it is.

Understand, as long as I’ve known this couple (not the individuals, the couple), you could feel the strong bond. Mutual respect, understanding, both being naturally kind people (the bride’s email signature is “Choose joy.” And she means it), these two are the porch light to a big gang of moths (Just about the only costume that hasn’t made an appearance at either Halloween or Oscar costume parties). Quite a few of us flapped our wings and flew into Texas to share the moment. (A big thank you to my past as a traveling mortgage underwriter: frequent flyer miles and car rental status made this weekend possible).

Not for just anyone would I layer up in as much Lycra as your basic superhero. My super power? Not bursting into tears at certain points in the evening (“The Dance” by Garth Brooks reminds me of beloved friends now gone. My napkin got twisted like I was going to suck Scotch out of it, BUT I DIDN’T CRY).
And I wore my Little Black Dress!

Compare and contrast the ease and joy of this party (and everything ran smoothly) with the Mecha-Bridezilla of this recently infamous meme (swiped from “People I Want to Punch in the Throat.” ):
http://gawker.com/5948725/reasons-why-you-cannot-be-a-bridesmaid

OUR bride moved her bachelorette from Vegas to LA and rented the big party bus herself so that more friends could participate. This is a generous spirit.

Friends participated in the wedding as more than attendants. See these cakes? Both made by friends of the bride (yeah, the flash wasn’t great on my camera. It’s a pretty basic model). Another friend sang. At the end of the night at the reception, there was a jam session. Did my pictures of the bride in white dress and electric blue electric guitar come out? NO! (Should have put new batteries in the damn camera).
Our groom is a video director. And this is a genuine Mandicake. She does mail order.


Yes, those ARE penguins. Did we mention she likes penguins? A lot?

Here’s the way joy works, if you let it: what was radiating from the bride and groom spread and widened like the rings from a pebble dropped in still water (See “Ripple”, Grateful Dead. American Beauty). It took in all of the guests and we took it forward to our weeks and homes. We’ve been refreshing it by sharing pictures on Facebook and commenting on them. Our friends who weren’t there (not necessarily friends of the whole group, just other parts of the Venn diagram that makes up our lives/relationships. What’s a Venn diagram? Didn’t your graduate fourth grade? Look it up; we’ll wait) are commenting on what a great time we seemed to have.


I will get back to writing about losing weight, working out, working, working, working (It’s what I do), but right now, let me just say: I have seen joy.








Monday, October 8, 2012

Soapbox


And today’s Narcissist du Jour is the woman in the Volkswagen who  blocked access to Starbucks and the rest of the parking lot by parking in front of the store, not in a space and blocking a fairly narrow while her friend was at the back of an extended line inside of Starbucks. Yes, there WERE open spaces. Cherry on the top? She started laying on the horn. 
Honey, this one’s for you (and that middle finger you were spreading around):


Sorry, guys, we’re back to politics. Until the Republican party comes back to the middle, I will not vote for any of them. As for the Democrats: none too fond of them either, but I think the President has a better plan for those not in the Millionaire’s Club (which I would very much like to join. No bones about it) than Gov. Romney. If anyone cared, I’d say, “Even David Stockman, the architect of Trickle Down Economics, admits that it doesn’t work. It took less than 9 years from the repeal of Glass-Steagall’s regulations for the Wall Street boys to crash the worldwide economy.  Can’t we reinstate Glass-Steagall and the Clinton-era tax setup? They seemed to work.”  Lowering tax rates on capital gains and dividends only benefits people who have enough money to invest. And those tax cuts have to be made up somewhere. Call me a flaming liberal (and many Tea Party loving wingnuts do), but I think it should cost less to get a paycheck than it does a dividend check. And Mitt Romney at Bain? Real life Gordon Gekko.




They even kind of look alike. 

(My opinion)  Understand: the guys proposing, defending and voting on tax cuts for the top of the American financial heap are there or pretty fucking close to it themselves. Slight conflict of interest. The 1% can afford to hire lawyers and politicians (Thanks American United for exposing the hypocrisy of American elections being free and fair. We may need UN monitors come November) to protect their wealth, increase their wealth and provide a barrier between themselves and  the lower classes (middle, working and the poor). Not only the communities are gated: access to the courts is getting limited,  try actually getting your Senator or Congressman on the phone  and these “voucher”programs  (Medicare, education a few years back) : I seriously doubt they’d keep up with increases to private insurance premiums or private school tuition. Meanwhile, the public institutions are slowly being abandoned by those who are supposed to run and fund them, so if your voucher can’t buy you health insurance (and if you’re on Medicare, chances are you have one or two pre-existing conditions) or cover private school tuition, you’re fucked. This is the aspect of vouchers that their proponents don’t discuss. Think about this for a second: Mitt Romney has never needed Medicare or tuition assistance. Neither has Paul Ryan. Hey, if the 1% are going to maintain their stranglehold on American power, they need a docile, ignorant working class to exploit in the name of cheap labor because…Americans love cheap goods. News flash: Americans love getting paychecks better. With a decent paycheck, you can afford better quality merchandise. (Don’t get me started on my China “Rope A Dope” economic parasitic black hole strategy). Quite frankly, Governor Romney shows a lot of contempt for the American people. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like being dismissed out of hand by someone who’s supposed to be serving my interests. 
As for the Tea Party rank and file? Guys, read “Animal Farm.” You aren’t the pigs: you’re Boxer. And you’re being sent to the slaughter house. 



But what do I know? I’m not a pundit, political scientist or strategist. I’ve just been paying taxes since 1978, voting since 1979 and living with the consequences since 1961. 


 Or, given my usual language: Tiny Soprano


Monday, September 24, 2012

Vote Platypus!




We are less than 2 months from the 2012 US (I have an international audience. Shout out to Iceland and Greenland! I want to come visit) Presidential election. Every day, we are inundated with election news: ridiculous super PAC spending, candidates with foot in mouth disease, polls that check the American voter more often than an obsessed dieter weighs him/herself (which can be hourly. That’s when someone gently suggests a good therapist and a prescription). I listen to people around me complaining about all the flyers from parties and candidates stuffing their mailboxes, complaints about robo-calls that disrupt life. And the relentless political ads on TV and radio (and the negative ones seem to hire the same two or three voices every election cycle. I can picture the resumes of  the voice actors and actress. Yes, actress singular).
I listen to the complaints because, as a registered independent voter, I don’t get the robo-calls and mailbox crap. I’m under the radar. It’s peaceful there.

Remember Todd Akin? (A woman who is “legitimately” raped can just shut down conception? Right! THAT asshat. I hope his wife punches him in the junk while he sleeps.) Among the chorus of voices telling him to step aside, some of the Republicans said he should step aside “for the good of the Party.”

Tom DeLay, former House Majority Leader and more recent convict and failed “Dancing With The Stars” contestant (People of America? If they’re going to put Tom DeLay and Bristol Palin on, DON’T FUCKING WATCH THE SHOW. Have some discretion here!) worked with convicted lobbyist and influence buyer Jack Abramoff to build “a permanent Republican majority” in the House and Senate. This should have made any American who had stayed awake in high school civics class REALLY uncomfortable. See: one party systems are  totalitarian systems (Communists in China, Baath Party in Iraq, the Kim family in North Korea). That’s not democracy.

I am sure there are examples on the Democratic side as well, but these are the two that come to my addled mind, so we’ll work from there.

Any time a group of people form an entity (political party, union or corporation as examples) to achieve a goal, a shift takes place. At first, the entity works for the benefit of the members. Gradually, the entity takes on a life of its own and it’s slow enough that the rank and file members don’t see it happen, the members of the organization start to work for ITS benefit rather than the other way around. Usually, this shift comes about when there’s money involved. A lot of money and a few people at the top of the organization want to control it, so the agenda begins to be about benefitting the organization.

Our two main political parties have reached this evolutionary point: they have become bloated monsters that are served by their members for the benefit of a few at the top rather than the party serving the members. Think of a televangelist with a Rolex and a website that takes credit cards. Who’s serving whom?
I’d like to propose a bold two-part experiment in democracy.

Part 1: Campaign contributions are limited to $xxx (pick a number) from REGISTERED VOTERS in the if district the candidate wants to represent and that’s it. Someone running for city council can only accept donations from registered voters in that ward, statewide candidates only money from the state, etc.  If you the registered voter want to donate to Robbie Republican, Donna Democrat, Lonny the Libertararian and that New York guy with “The Rent Is Too Damned High” party (he was real),

 God bless, have at it and deduct away. You can only give x amount to each candidate, but you can give to as many people who want to represent you as you want.

This will eliminate the PACs and Super PACs, “soft money”, which was part of the problem in the Nixon White House (have we solved that problem? Hell, no).  Without  the conveyor belt pouring money into campaigns, the candidates will be forced to actually get to know their potential constituents, won’t be able to afford the negative ads, the flyers, the robo-calls, the bumper stickers and the ads, ads, ads. Necessity may be the mother of invention, but working within limits like these will surely spark creativity. And anyone whining about not being able to buy TV time? There’s this thing called the “Internet” and it’s FREE. With Facebook, Twitter, etc., the message gets out. Look at the Arab Spring? That was Twitter.

Lincoln didn’t use robo-calls. Nuff said.

The only exceptions to the $xxx from registered voters rule would be bake sales and car washes performed by the candidates themselves. I’d love to see Paul Ryan shirtless and Simonizing a Prius with an “I’m Pro Choice and I Vote” bumper sticker. And no selling brownies for $50,000 a pop, either (Karl Rove).

The second part of the bold experiment is much simpler, more personal and requires a small leap of faith:

Re-register as an independent voter. No official party affiliation. Don’t get me wrong: you are free to vote a straight party ticket if you want, write in Bullwinkle J. Moose for Attorney General, you can vote any way you want. However, your name isn’t on a mailing list, so you aren’t buried in campaign flyers every time you open the mailbox. You don’t get robo-calls (and if you’re on the Do Not Call list, you can report those mothers).

What would the American political process look like if no voters declared a party preference?

1. For starters, our reps in Washington would become damned nervous. To them, this would be a rebellion, essentially being told to take their partisan politics and stick ‘em where the sun don’t shine.
2. We’d see an end to the abstract art form that is Congressional redistricting. Every 10 years, whatever party is in power in the state legislature tries to redraw the lines to favor itself (people working for the benefit of parties, not the other way around. Evolution: it’s a platypus. Maybe that should be the symbol for the independent voters). Take a look at a Congressional district map sometime.

http://www.govtrack.us/congress/members
It’s insane.

Constituents not registered to a political party? We’re talking a grid system.

3. Between the limited contributions and the lack of party affiliation, candidates would actually have to get to know their constituents.  (By the way, the third part of the plan will be to severely limit their expense accounts, cut their pay and pensions. We have to get through 1 and 2 first). You know those photos and TV ads you see of national candidates sitting with someone on a porch looking concerned? That should become the reality. Instead of big corporate donors getting the ear of your Congressman, he’s going to have to answer to you: what is the biggest priority we have now? Do you have ideas to achieve a particular goal? Does this area have a pressing need?


The Preamble to the Constitution starts with “We the People of the United States,” not “We the Bundlers of Big Donations.”  Lincoln, in the Gettysburg Address, spoke of government “Of the people, by the people, for the people.”  We’re getting ass-raped on that deal (Fuck you, Todd Akin).  We the people, the actual voters, are pretty much ignored until the Powers That Want to Be want our votes. We the people should stop enabling  this playground level partisan brawling that has rendered our Federal legislature (That’s the US House of Representatives and Senate) vapor-locked, frozen like they’d seen Medusa (Greek mythology reference) and about as useful as a screen door in a submarine.  Let’s take away their money and their smug sense of security. Let’s make them work FOR US, not for the parties.


Vote Platypus!


Monday, September 10, 2012

But VOTE!


All right, Gang, get your pens and paper to take notes. There WILL be a quiz the first Tuesday in November, November 6, 2012.

For starters, if you are (or will be) 18 at the time of the election and there is no legal impediment (lack of citizenship, for instance or having a felony record. Robert Downey, Jr. cannot vote), there is no good, valid or acceptable reason for you to not participate at this most basic level of democracy. Here’s the hard news, Kids: if we don’t get off our asses and vote, we lose this here democracy.  Those who DO exert themselves will have unchallenged authority to shape this country to suit themselves, whether you like it or not. If you don’t vote, you forfeit your right to bitch. I repeat myself from a Facebook status: there are people in Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt and various other parts of the world who have to walk for days to cast a vote (and they do it), who are threatened with mutilation or death for exercising this right and they still go cast their ballots. We Americans, who talk big about democracy and freedom cannot be bothered to say who we want for the Leader of the Free World if it’s raining or the poodle has impacted anal glands again or we think that since the neighbor’s view are the opposite of ours, the votes will cancel each other out so why bother (this is the dumbest fucking piece of faux logic. If you actually believe this, maybe you shouldn’t have the right). The ONLY wasted votes are the ones not cast. Remember 2000? Do you think maybe, just maybe, if more franchised Americans had gone to the polls, the Supreme Court wouldn’t have had the opportunity to choose our President for us? Just a thought and yes, the Supreme Court decided the election. Frankly, I don’t think we should let it happen again.  It’s September. If you think you’re going to have trouble getting to the polls on November 6, GET AN ABSENTEE BALLOT. SIGN UP NOW. NOW, NOW, NOW.

You need to do some homework. Judging by the popularity of shows like “Jersey Shore” and “Honey You Gotta Be Fucking Kidding Me Child”,  our brains are on hold so often, you’d think the entire nation was calling Customer Service at the cable company at all hours. Here are some simple rules:

1) What a politician looks like doesn’t make a damn bit of difference. Chris Christie, the Governor of New Jersey, is a hardline conservative Republican who stopped work on a tunnel that would have connected New York City and New Jersey because he believed it was a boondoggle (look it up, People. If you were my 7th graders at Shelburne Middle School, you’d be reaching for the dictionary by now or asking if we could include it next time we played Spelling Baseball). Yet, the first thing and only thing you hear is about him being fat. Mitt Romney’s looks have nothing to do with his ability to govern effectively. Neither do Barack Obama’s. These men have records as politicians. THAT’S what matters.  By the way, William Howard Taft, the fattest President, was also the first to throw out the first baseball at a game. And after his Presidency, he was appointed to the Supreme Court.

2) Figure out what YOU believe. Seriously.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything."
-Alexander Hamilton

That guy.

What do you think about taxes? The healthcare reform? Would the economy benefit from taxes being cut or money being spent? How important is the question of marriage equality? On abortion, do you believe that a woman should be free to determine what happens with her body or is abortion something to be outlawed? You need to know where YOU stand on these issues so that you can accurately hear what the candidates are saying.

3) California is big on ballot propositions: everything from legalizing growing marijuana for personal use to same sex marriage to cigarette taxes. When you see the TV ads telling you to vote this way or that, you MUST MUST MUST MUST read the fine print at the end that tells you who paid for it. Like Deep Throat told Woodward and Bernstein (Watergate. 40 years ago. How old are you?) to “follow the money.” Yeah. A couple of years ago, there was a ballot initiative to raise the cigarette tax to fund cancer research.  The airwaves were plastered with ads telling people to vote no. Want to take a wild guess who the biggest sponsors of those ads were? RJ Reynolds and Phillip Morris aka BIG TOBACCO. The phrase we learned in law school is “Whose ox is gored?” In this case, had the initiative passed (it didn’t), it was likely that tobacco sales in Cali would have taken a big hit. Oh and eating Oreos puts money into RJ Reynolds’ pocket (they own Nabisco. And Kraft. So that blue box of mac n cheese? Same as buying a pack of Camels. RJR isn’t big on health).

4) Anybody who promises you ANYTHING during a campaign should be prepared to provide details and plans to back it up WITHOUT being asked. Promises without details and how-to? Fuck ‘em: that’s an empty suit talking. Oh, and if someone claims to be running on his record, familiarize yourself with it. Make sure it’s something worth bragging about.

I have never voted a straight ticket in my life. In Vermont, for a while, we had a Republican Governor in Dick Snelling (voted for him) and Democratic Lt. Governor in Madeline Kunin (voted for her). People from outside the state would be flabbergasted and ask, “How does that work?” Quite well. We were more concerned with the individuals who would hold the office rather than party affiliation (my theories on party evolution are a whole other windy blog post). I have also voted third party, written in candidates and exercised my right to vote as I see fit. But I exercised my right.

By the way, I earned Mitt Romney’s irritation way back in 1994 when I refused to let him and his campaign workers put a bumper sticker on my car. True story. That space is reserved  for the Red Sox and an “I’m Straight But Not Narrow” bumper sticker when I can find one. And AAA. No politicians.

Okay. That’s enough homework for now. We’re into the “official” Presidential campaign now, so you have a deadline. Let’s review: 1) Vote (register if necessary), 2) Figure out what’s important to you, 3) Research the candidates and 4) proceed accordingly.










Sunday, September 9, 2012

Why Don't I Feel Pretty?


No, I haven’t been on the scale.

No, I haven’t been to the gym. Lingering cough that makes people move away from me or threaten to haul me to a doctor. And I’ve been working my butt off (I wish literally, but hey).

I have blonde hair, blue eyes and great legs (I speak the truth. Not a brag. The rest of me can look like a sack of fertilizer with potatoes in it, but the legs are always good).

I’ve been taking supplements (maca root, biotin and prenatal vitamins) to thicken my hair and strengthen my nails. I use Revitalash to lengthen and thicken my eyelashes and it’s working. I’m using Aveda Invati shampoo, conditioner and scalp serum for my hair. It’s working (my hair stylist told me so and she IS truthful. And highly skilled).

 I got the hair cut and colored yesterday (and I pay top dollar for it. Worth every cent). The nails are manicured (the feet pedicured) and I have new clothes, including my very first ever LITTLE BLACK DRESS.

Okay, it’s not so little (XL) and I’ll need torso Spanx, but you get the point.

I am told that I have good skin (it’s called “No sun, no smokes, plenty of water, limit alcohol and eat your veggies”).

This may make me sound high maintenance, but I’m the one who pays for it and gets it done, so I’m not a burden.  I earn a good living and don’t expect someone to support me.

I’m educated, stay up on current events (and satirize them at www.dognewsteam.com and on its Facebook page. I write some of the one-liners they post) and can carry on a conversation about a lot of stuff. What I don’t know, I generally want to learn about (unless it’s how Jee-zusss is going to come back to Earth to punish us for supporting gays and Jews and Muslims and gay Jews and Muslims who don’t give a crap about gay Jews) or how I should really have a universal life insurance policy (I used to have a life insurance/annuity license. If you can get universal insurance, do it. It’s a good investment vehicle).


So why don’t I feel like an attractive, vibrant woman, which according to all of the above, I am?
The guys my age (which is 51. Why lie? There is a birth certificate out there. I  am 2 months and 3 days older than the President) want the 25 year old arm candy. I DID once date a guy who had voted for Roosevelt (Teddy). He would have preferred the chippy in her twenties, too.

When my hair color (they call it a “weave” out here in Cali.  As I have African American friends, this caused me some confusion. Regionalisms) was complete yesterday, I loved the color, but saw a tired, middle-aged, worn face beneath it. And fat. I think I could be 98 lbs. and still see myself as fat.

I work hard at it, but I do not feel beautiful and do not really believe anyone who tells me I am (and it’s always women). Those who do are generally the lovely, generous souls who see all people as beautiful.
I have only been asked out on two dates: one guy turned out to be a perv and the other, I never heard from again. Not exactly the kind of thing that boosts one’s self-esteem or confidence.

It’s like the sum of the parts don’t equal the whole. I pay attention to my grooming, dressing, health. Doesn’t matter: no man (not a member of the Sapphic Sisterhood) has liked it well enough to put a ring on it. Or even ask it on a date.
WTF?



Monday, September 3, 2012

Motivation...


(Yeah, I’ve been silent for a while. And sick. And out of the gym. BUT I’VE STUCK TO EATING MY VEGETABLES AND IGNORING GRAINS, SUGAR AND PROCESSED FOODS).
You are about to listen in on an internal pep talk.

“Hey, Blondie, you need to get that ass of yours back to the gym.”
“No foolin’.”
“Why haven’t you gone?”
“Sickness, working overtime, working a LOT of overtime.”
“Well, Soldier, we need to realign our priorities a bit. You’re getting soft again and you NEED to be in tip top shape when it hits.”
“When what hits?”
“Zombie apocalypse.”

“That’s bullshit. Zombies? Really?”
“All those earthquakes out of Yorba Linda? It’s Nixon trying to break out. ”

“Oh, please, really?”
“Just go with it.”
“Fine. Zombie apocalypse. What do I need to do?”
“Resistance training. Get those upper body muscles REALLY strong.”
“Why?”
“Because you’re going to be swinging a shovel or a baseball bat to knock the block off of those ugly undead brain munchers. You’re going to be making like Mark McGwire or…”

“Could you please reference someone who WASN’T on steroids?”

“Ted Williams. And you’re going to need to get those legs good and strong, wonky right knee or not.”

“And that’s for…?”

“Climbing up on top of stuff. Zombies can’t climb. Their arms and legs fall off.”

“I’m in no position to argue. Stonger legs for climbing. Check. How come we’re not focusing on preventing it or curing them?”

“Because that won’t get your ass to the gym. You’re going back on 6 days a week of cardio. You’ll need endurance. You’re going to be on the move. Ever seen ‘Walking Dead?’” 

“No, and I don’t intend to. I’ll have nightmares. Zombie Girl Scouts and all – one even showed up at a Halloween party.”

“See? Ass. Gym. Tomorrow.”
“What about vampires?”
“What about them? Ever see ‘Buffy, the Vampire Slayer’?”

“No. I’m not up on pop culture, I admit it. I’m not part of the Whedon-verse. I am a dweeb. But ask me about baseball, jazz, history or Star Wars.”

“Well, Buffy kicked vampire ass. Literally. You can’t do it with tapioca tush or Christmas hams where your upper arms are supposed to be. Now, get going.”


Sunday, August 19, 2012

25 Things to Love About Being American

A Bunch of  Things to Love About Being American (in  no particular order):

1) It’s hot here in Southern California today (not as bad as some parts of the country have been, to be sure. Hey, global warming doubters? Suck it): I’m not required to wear head to toe covering. I CAN if I want to, but it’s also acceptable to be in public in shorts, tank top and flip flops (Yes, Mom, I showered, did my hair and applied mascara first).
2) Hot dogs
3) I’m relieving the heat with a Dark & Stormy (DARK rum and ginger beer). Well, sort of. I don’t have Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, which is the quill for Dark & Stormies.
4) I can say “Fuck the Yankees” without censorship. I could also say the same thing about the IRS, Republican ticket and the Dallas Cowboys, if I so choose. 
5) The tire store was open today. Technically, if the business was hardcore “Christian” , it would have been closed today.(seriously, if you’re going to shut down for the Christian Sabbath – Sunday – but give money to organizations that promote intolerance, your “Christianity” deserves to be questionable. Christ didn’t have limits). I got some necessities for the home, my lunch for the week and  accomplished some stuff because of the still putative secular nature of our society.
6) Immigrants who have brought their food, God bless them: burritos (although I don’t eat them), avgolemono soup, bubble tea, kappa maki sushi with avocado (it’s cucumber and avocado. I like it.  A lot). Ropa viejai. It’s all good.
7) Shark Week on Discovery Channel.
8) “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart”
9) www.dognewsteam.com. Dog News. It parodies Fox News and in America, nobody gets locked up. They have an ongoing series called “Stump” that parodies the Presidential election process. Pussy Riot just got locked up in Russia for mocking Putin. How long do you think Dog News would have lasted?
10) I’m 51, unmarried and it’s okay.  Actually, I’m renting from a great, laid-back lady and her dog and cat love me. Life is good.
11) I can get a drink of clean water just by turning on the faucet.
12) My most involved discussion today was divided into the relative merits of Tide Boost v. Oxi-Clean and the Tide Pen v. Shout Wipes (Shout Wipes rule).
13) My neighborhood isn’t  getting shelled by government forces. It’s not getting shelled by rebel forces. It’s not getting shelled, period.
14) Bacon. No limits (and yes, according to Steve Kamb, www.nerdfitness.com , it’s on the Paleo Diet). 
15) I can live anywhere I want in the USA. I chose Southern Cal. 
16) We get to choose what newspapers to read, TV channels to watch, food to eat and teams to support. Suck it, Yankees, Giants (football), Rays, Cowboys, Lakers, Jets (NY or Winnipeg) Canadiens (Habs), Heat and especially the fuckin’ Yankees.
17) Even if the tax rate goes back up to 39.6 (Clinton-era rates. They worked, by the  way), I can afford to support myself. 
18) Classic rock radio stations. And if I get sick of listening to them, there are about 10,000 other different things I can listen to FOR FREE on the radio  (not including Sirius).
19) I’m free to eat barbecued ribs/chops/pig.
20) If I get sick of  being a Congregational Protestant, I can choose to follow another faith without government interference.
21) If I decided to drive to Disney World in Orlando, FL (Disneyland being about 2 miles down the road), I can do it without having to get approval from any government or even have papers other than a driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance (if the state requires it). It’s A Small World. We are free to move about the country (except for the unintended consequences of SB 1070 in Arizona. Hey, Jan Brewer, Governor of Arizona, to enforce your stupid fucking law without racial profiling, I’LL have to carry my passport in case I’m stopped in Sedona. You fucking stupid bitch, you. And that’s another thing I love about America. I can call the Governor of a sovereign state  a fucking stupid bitch without official consequence). I could leave the country if I so chose. Hey, Rush Limbaugh: you SAID you’d move to Costa Rica if Affordable Health Care was upheld. Need help packing”
22) State fairs that experiment with the limits of deep frying, even if I don’t indulge. What[‘s his name, Abel _____ in Texas who deep fries damned near everything for the Texas State Fair?  Go for it, Dude.  You’re earning a damned fine living.
23) We got a fucking SUV on Mars. Yeah, Bitch, MARS.
24) It is written into the Constitution that the sins of the father will not be held against the offspring (Madoffs, Mansons, Bushes). It’s also written into the Constitution that nobody foreign born will be President (and that was specifically to screw over Alexander Hamilton, the guy on the $10 bill, born in Jamaica). Hey birthers: He proved it. Shut the fuck up.
25) I can write a list like this without interference. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Viral Post


The first clue that I was coming down with something should have been the iced tea craving.

Never mind that I had felt like there was a golf ball under my jaw. In the past, I have been the queen of over-reaction (I have a zit. LEPROSY!!!!!!AAAAAUUUUUGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!). However, I like to think I’m much cooler now. Okay. Swollen lymph node. No sweat. It’ll pass. A couple of friends that I’d talked to ON THE PHONE were ill with some kind of upper respiratory infection  and  I had just seen the tail end of “Mr. Skeffington” (Bette Davis. Claude Rains. ‘Nuff said) and Fanny Skeffington is “ravaged” by diphtheria.



Fanny Skeffington before
Fanny Skeffington After. Ew.



Not knowing the effects, I had looked it up on Wikipedia and the golf ball in the jaw materialized hours later. I told my brain not to be such an idiotic wuss and knock it off, for God’s sake. I ain’t catchin’ nuthin’ from nobody. Because I said so.

Okay, so the iced tea was the second clue. Denial is powerful.

I found myself waking up in the middle of the night covered in sweat (not unusual: it’s in the mid-90s here and not cooling off at night, I’m in menopause) with a raw throat and a uvula that felt like Muhammed Ali had used it for a speed bag. Okay, I was probably snoring. Again. And the golf ball was gone, but every lymph node I owned was screaming “Red Alert.”

Nah. I’m not sick. I haven’t been exposed. I don’t think. It’s just from the way I’ve been sleeping.

Still craving the iced tea…and water…it's HOT out, I am NOT sick...and avgolemono soup (Greek chicken soup).

I can’t get sick, I thought. I’m protected by a flu shot. They always boost my immunity. Colds? Flu? Pshaw. I am mighty.

The germs are mightier. Little fuckers.

I rummaged in my purse and found Advil Cold and Sinus. Apparently, I needed Advil Cold, Sinus and Black Death. No good: I heard teeny tiny laughter (think Horton hearing a Who. A nasty, vicious cheerleading bitch Who)

Time for the heavy artillery. Time for NyQuil.

Denis Leary referred to NyQuil’s flavor as “Green Death.” Mucinex has an equal number that while it’s not green, it tastes every bit as filthy as NyQuil. And it is a shade of blue not found in Nature (Merry Berry, my ass). However, they work.  I don’t want to know how.

As previously mentioned,  we have a heat wave here in Southern California (go ahead and gloat, rest of US. We got ours. We also had 2 moderate earthquakes within 12 hours of each other. Shake N Bake! Oh shut up: you’re jealous because I got there first). I found myself lying in bed the other night, after downing the Blue Death (sorry, Denis) and thinking, “I have a fever and the land has a fever. When I am ill, the land is ill…I AM MOTHER EARTH!”

New theory: Jim Morrison thought he was the Lizard King. I don’t think he was into mushrooms, LCD, heroin or anything like that. Mr. Mojo Rising must been into the NyQuil. Did anyone check the Lizard King for a green tongue?

Of course, there is always the Overprotective Parent at work. One sneeze and he/she is demanding that your desk be moved so that your bourgeois germs are not carried home to Versailles to infect precious little Disney, his/her daughter (Conceived in vitro with twin brother Walter. Couldn’t you just vomit?) After all, little Disney is just getting over the sniffles herself.

I’ve got news: little Disney is a biological warfare weapon, as is her runny-nosed brother. They’re in daycare, a veritable critical mass of microbes. You, OP, are immune because you are a carrier monkey.  You are Typhoid Douchebag.

And just to make it official, we have the “productive cough.” Bronchial phlegm, thick and salty. My favorite.
And Tiggers the Cat has been hanging close. Buffett, Vicki, Samba, Cookie, George and Toulouse (not all at once) would stay with me when I was sick. If I was in bed, there would always be at least one furry body with me (they took turns). If I was just being lazy, there were sunbeams to absorb and birds to watch; I was on my own.

I admit it. I’ve been invaded and occupied. Call me Afghanistan.

This shall pass. I’m not going to the gym and that’s making me antsy (good sign). I made my soup, but it’s too hot to temper eggs, so rather than a traditional avgolemono, it was a think chicken stock, breast meat, rice (yes, it’s acceptable Primal. Ask Mark Sisson. www.marksdailyapple.com) and lemon. I juiced two lemons into the pot and another one into my bowl (I like lemon flavor that punches you in the nose). Protein, Vitamin C…that’s a combo that would fuck up any germ.

And  I give you Ogden Nash’s whimsical, “The Germ”

A mighty creature is the germ,
Though smaller than the pachyderm.
His customary dwelling place
Is deep within the human race.
His childish pride he often pleases
By giving people strange diseases.
Do you, my poppet, feel infirm?
You probably contain a germ.


You little fuckers don't scare me: I've beaten your kind before; the minuscule bodies of your ancestors and cousins rot at my feet. I laugh at your fevers, your nausea, your...

God, it's time for more Blue Death.






Sunday, August 5, 2012

What is Joy?

The scale is still in its box. However, I have been eating a helluva lot better than I was 2 years ago. Back off.

What is joy?

Yes, I know it’s a dish washing detergent. Or one of my favorite perfumes (expensive stuff, but it loves me and I love it). But those things got their name from the emotion. I think we have a severe shortage of it right now, so I’m asking the question:

What is joy? How often do you feel it? Do you things to generate it? Do you postpone it? What is your relationship to joy?

Think about it for a minute. Can you answer  those questions?

Joy is necessary, really. It’s like sleep or a nutritious meal. It recharges the batteries, refuels the tank. I ask again: what’s your relationship to joy?


I am blessed/lucky enough to live in a nice house (now) with an easy-going roommate, an adorable little dog and a cat who knows a sucker when he sees one. The backyard is a source of joy and enjoyment:
  Lavender that I added. It's a great landscaping plant.

  A mix including something called "super bells." The lady in the Home Depot Garden Center told me it was a   hummingbird candy store. I didn't get a picture, but the local buzz bombs are already checking it out.


Plumeria. When the breeze swirls around the backyard, you can get a whiff of the lavender or the plumeria.

It's peaceful back there. It's a great way to downshift from a hard day.
This is joy. And Tiggers. If a cat feels at ease enough to sleep, it's a peaceful spot, indeed.

Joy can be a quiet, meditative thing.

Or, it can be as Douglas Adams defined it:
'... on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much—the wheel, New York, wars and so on—whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man—for precisely the same reasons."

 I don't have the best camera, but yes that is a BABY dolphin swimming with Mom. And they're surfing on the bow wake of the whale watching boat. For them, it's fun. For the people watching them play in the water, that's fun, too.
 And again. What you don't see is the 8 year old girl going out of her mind because this is the first time she's ever seen real live dolphins and we were in a pod of about 200 common dolphins with lots and lots of dolphin calves.
 Unfortunately, I couldn't get pictures of the two blue whales  Of course, I was too busy WATCHING the biggest animals that have EVER existed on Earth? T Rex can suck it.
Now, if animals, whose lives are spent hunting and eating (and sleeping and making little dolphins,(EXTREMELY CUTE little dolphins) can find the time to just play, that says something about the importance of joy and play.

I'm still smiling over 3 hours spent on a boat over a week ago. And I sat in the backyard watching the hummingbird snack at a feeder. Picture? No. I lifted the camera and she took off. However, I understand there's a whole family hanging out back there. I get joy from spoiling hummingbirds.

What's your joy?




Sunday, July 29, 2012

Drop and give me 12


WHAT’S YOUR DAMAGE, MAGGOT? 

Sir?

I WORK FOR A LIVING, NUMBNUTS. WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR WEIGHT LOSS AND BLOGGING PROGRAM?

Nothing. 

I DON’T SEE YOU LOSING ANY WEIGHT. AND I’VE NOTICED THAT YOU’RE NOT AT THE GYM AS OFTEN. WHATSA MATTER, GONE SOFT?

No, Sarge. Been working my ass off. 

NOT FROM WHERE I SIT, PRIVATE. 

Hey, I’ve maintained my healthy eating habits, Sarge.

WELL, LA DI DAH! LET’S JUST DANCE AROUND THE FRIGGIN’ MAYPOLE. WHAT HAPPENED TO THE MUSCLE DEFINITION?

Well…

KEEP TALKIN’ LIKE THAT, MAGGOT AND DIG YOURSELF IN.  

You going to throw a box of tissues at me, Sarge?

NO MAGGOT, YOU’RE NOT WORTH THE SNOT THAT WOULD END UP IN THE RAG!!! NOW DROP AND GIVE ME 12!!!! YOU DON’T NEED YOUR FANCY PANTS GYM FOR THAT!!!

(For the record, I really did just complete 12 incline push-ups. Used a bureau because the available items that are lower – meaning more effort required – are too unstable and fragile to withstand the forces of a push-up. And yes, there are forces in a push-up. I didn’t even take Physics and I know that). 


ALL RIGHT, MAGGOT!! WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO TO GET BACK ON THE PROGRAM?

Sacrifices, Sarge.

LIKE WHAT?
TV.  

AND WHAT ELSE?

Find a yoga class after work hours?

ARE YOU ASKING ME OR TELLING ME?

Uh, telling, I guess. Sarge.

AND IF YOU CAN’T FIND A CLASS COMPATIBLE WITH YOUR SCHEDULE?

Cardio. That has definitely gone by the wayside. 

YOU NEED TO CHANGE UP YOUR ROUTINE, TOO OR YOUR BODY GETS INTO A RUT.

Really?

YES!! GIVE ME ANOTHER 12!

(I did).

YOU SAW “THE DARK KNIGHT RISES”, MAGGOT! DO YOU NEED A FANCY PANTS GYM FOR PULL-UPS, PUSH-UPS OR CRUNCHES???

No, Sarge, but…

DON’T YOU SASS ME!

Well, we both know I can’t do a pull-up unassisted.

AND WHOSE FAULT IS THAT??

Mine, Sarge.

AND WHOSE JOB IS IT TO FIX THAT?

Mine, Sarge.

WHAT DID YOUR COUSIN MARGARET THATCHER SAY?

Disciplining yourself to do what you know is right and important, although difficult, is the highroad to pride, self-esteem, and personal satisfaction.

WELL, THAT'S A GOOD ONE, BUT NOT THE ONE I HAD IN MIND...

You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it?

YOU'RE GODDAMN RIGHT, RECRUIT!

KEEP POUNDING THAT WATER, RECRUIT. NO MORE GODDAMN MANDICAKES! NO MORE SUGAR! I SEE ECZEMA ON YOUR HANDS! NO MORE GRAIN! PALEO, GODDAMMIT! YOU HAD DISCIPLINE ONCE, GODDAMIT, GET IT BACK!

Yes, Drill Sergeant.

I CAN’T HEAR YOU!!!

YES, DRILL SERGEANT! IT IS UP TO ME GET FIND MY DISCIPLINE AGAIN! 

Excellent, Recruit.  Carry on.



Saturday, July 14, 2012

Oh, Honey...


I have worked in various aspects of the financial services industry for nearly 30 years, from customer service and mutual fund accounting to, lately, mortgage banking. My law degree has come in handy, not because anyone has asked me to draft pleadings or research a law, but because one learns analysis in law school and this has applications beyond a courtroom.

Surprise, surprise, my undergraduate degree as a middle-school teacher is also coming in handy.
I started a new job at the end of May which I like very much, particularly since we’ve gotten a handle on what we’re doing, the pay is good, the bosses are kind, appreciative and knowledgeable. For the most part, my co-workers are professional adults who understand and practice appropriate workplace behavior.

For the most part.

It seems, in the giant square dance that is the constant shifting of desks, working groups and frontline supervision, that my group was absorbed into one that included a pair of young females who were great friends with the previous supervisor and spent their workdays socializing (when not bitching about increased productivity goals coming soon). Due to the ongoing disruption and distraction they created, last week, their desks were moved apart with much pouting, whining and sullen behavior.

 Has quiet been restored? Not really. This has not even slowed them down, really. The sidekick will look around furtively for anyone with authority, run over to her ex-desk and the ongoing live version of the Gossip Girls will be in session.

We also have ongoing texting during meetings and training (with the giggles and whispers). And the following scenario:

Music coming off through headphones (cheap ones) from 3 BIG desks over that I could hear it pretty clearly.
I sent the following email subject line:

Turn down the music, please. I can hear it down here.

I GOT the following response:

Susan,
I would be happy to do so, however if you ask me to turn down rather than telling me to turn down it would work a lil more effectively and would be taken a lil more appropriately. (this is a copy and paste of the message, by the way)


“lil”?
That’s right, Folks, we got us a Queen Bee here. An over-aged teenaged one at that.  Attitude straight out of the 7th grade  ruling clique on someone who should know better.

This broad (No. I’m a broad and I’m not going to include her in with Bette Davis, Elaine Stritch and me)…This spoiled brat seems to be channeling Snooki in appearance and work ethic, as in not having one. For instance, last week, we had a couple of new hires join the team and she was asked to let one sit with her and “shadow” as she worked. She refused in front of the guy, saying she “had numbers to hit.” Full disclosure: I tried to refuse myself because I didn’t feel confident enough in what I was doing. I got overruled and it turned out okay. SHE got a verbal smackdown (no names but everyone knew who the boss meant)  in a team meeting in the afternoon and this led to hours of sulking.

 When I got the job, I was told it was a professional dress and work environment. Professional dress: no tight clothing (well, there’s Salmonella, who wears her clothing 2 sizes too small and can barely move. It’s amusing. Her career path is the Lewinsky Method), no spaghetti straps or flip flops except on OT days on Saturday (even when it’s Casual Friday, there are standards to be observed). Let’s just say she got the same advice and chooses to ignore it.

There are rules about taking phone calls: you do it “off the floor”, meaning you go outside or into the hall because you’re not supposed to be disrupting the people around you. You also do your texting outside and on your break because when the company is paying you, they expect your time and attention to be geared towards THEIR goals. Yup, we’ve got that shit going on, too.


This job involves analysis of timelines and actions by a mortgage servicer (the people who collect your payment and apply it to your balance. Or, as happened a little too often, don’t). There is a lot of input to various computer systems that use the dates input to determine if harm was done to the borrowers.  I’ve been hearing a lot of bitching about being “input monkeys” and sadly, not just from her, but from others of her age group (late 20s, early 30s).  When we’re told that the daily goal for productivity will be increasing, that’s always good 10 minutes of bitching and whining from her and her dumbass sidekick (neither one is particularly smart, by the way, either in raw intelligence or the use/application of common sense).  By the way, I’m already consistently hitting that upcoming daily goal plus extra, so it’s not as if Pharaoh just told us we have to move an additional 10 blocks per day to the top of the pyramid.

And this brings me to another point: Involuntary servitude in this country was abolished by the 13th Amendment in 1865. If you hate the job so much, you have two choices: shut the fuck up or get the fuck out.

You aren’t Terrell Owens or Barbra Streisand, okay? You’re not bringing anything special to the table that would make employers and co-workers put up with your shit. You're not even  at the level of one of those useless "celebrities" from reality TV.


And a former middle school teacher, who has dealt with her share of teenaged tart tyrants isn't about to be bullied by someone who should have grown out of that crap by now.

After the email exchange over the music, the rest of the day was filled with sniper-shot comments about “blasting music” and pointed questions to other team members with headphones. Yeah, I’m working with a mental 13 year old.

Oh, Honey.

First of all, you Dumb Shit Diva, “lil”? Really? You’re in no position in terms of authority, intelligence or any other measure of status to be condescending to me. You’re just another co-worker and one whose dead ass I am already carrying. And your dumb fuck sidekick’s, too.  Considering how much time the two of you waste in socializing  and extending your lunch half-hour and breaks (this has been noticed by management), I resent it and the fact that you feel entitled to bitch about how much is expected of you.  In the words of Peter Venkman, when his secretary, Janine, complained about her workload, “I’m sure someone with your qualifications would have no trouble finding work in the food service industry.”

What he said.

As for the “ask me pretty please with sugar on it” attitude: Yeah. Begging’s not my long suit. For this post, I tried to find a Far Side cartoon of a family sitting down to dinner with the dog pointing a gun at them and saying, “Hey, Bucko! I’m done begging!”

What he said.

I am not going to wheedle, cajole, plead or otherwise tap dance to get adults to behave in an adult, responsible manner.  If you’re going to be disruptive, discourteous and disrespectful, you will bring out the middle school teacher in me and be treated accordingly.

And if you’re enough of a dumbass to put it in an email that takes about .5 seconds to forward to management…that’s the kicker right there. Not only arrogant, but dumber than mud.

Maybe I’m the one who will get moved (not out the door. They like me, they like my work). But I’m not the one about to get an international reputation  as the Dumbass Diva.

P.S. "Lil" Girl? You don't know me. You don't know where my influence lies. You don't know who my friends are. You don't know who owes me what big favors. And you sure as shit don't know how far I'll go to protect my income and peace of mind when pushed. Keep that in mind next time you want to play  Queen Bee of the Middle School.


Monday, July 9, 2012

Pictures!


(We’ll get into the numbers another time. Honest. The scale is up on a closet shelf where it can’t do any damage).

Housekeeping: My “troll” cherry has been broken with the following comment:
“LOL just take the stick out of your ass, and stop trying to pretend there is any kind of discrimination in this ad. BTW, why did the joke backfire? Because YOU didn't like it? You are so pretensious on Follow Up to "I'm Not Laughing"”

I published it because I’m not afraid of criticism, even if it comes from a spineless wonder. Anonymous? The definition of P-R-E-N-T-E-N-T-I-O-U-S is people who attempt to impress by using words they have not mastered (being able to spell it demonstrate mastery). Like Sarah Palin. The “LOL” and “BTW” are indications of a lazy intellect as well. I may be pretentious, but by the grace of God, I’m not a spineless ignoramus (would you like a definition for that?). Of course, if I had your piss poor spelling skills (and insufficient good sense to use Spellcheck when it may count), I don’t think I’d use my real name, either.

 And since Newcastle immediately yanked the ad in question, I doubt I’m the only one who had a problem with it.

This is a pictorial demonstration of progress. Not only mine: clearly, my good friend, Sandy, has eclipsed me in a year. Look at that smile! Yea, Sandy! AND, I have another friend who has started hitting the gym before work, telling me I’m a good influence. PLUS, I’ve noticed more people bringing fruits, vegetables and nuts to work for snacks instead of the sugary stuff.
You’re doing it for yourselves, Guys . Keep it going.

Okay, this is me (and my good, lovely friend Marie) in 2010 (July 4):


(My shirt is from Boston’s on the Beach in Delray Beach, FL. I love the design. Fantastic use of the Red Sox logos. And I do love my Red Sox).

And the two of us July 2, 2011:

(I am smaller. Really)
And this year, July 7:

Yeah, see, not much progress, but Marie looks great.

Now, check out my friend Sandy. June 2, 2011 (my 50th birthday celebration):


And June 1, 2012:

Wow. Just wow.

Cousin Margaret Thatcher once said, “Sometimes you have to fight a battle more than once to win it.”
How right she was. I haven’t reached my goal. Yet), but I haven’t given up or gone back to the old ways. I’m still hitting the gym and I’ve adapted my eating to Paleo style. I keep slipping there. By the way, Scrabble, affogato is NOT Paleo. The bacon-wrapped dates and the grilled asparagus, yes. Affogato, no. Next time: fruit and grass-fed cheese, maybe some nuts.
And Anonymous? Suck on it.



Sunday, July 1, 2012

What Makes a Man?





In light of recent developments among my friends (and some soon to be ex-friends), I feel compelled to ask and answer: What makes a man?

It’s not what’s between the legs or the ability to impregnate or the Y chromosome. That’s just what makes a male.

A man is a grown-up version of a human male.

“Well, duh,” you may be saying. “We all know that.”

My friends, let me explicate.

The difference between an adult male and a man is that a man does not run from responsibilities. A man is not a coward. he also does not create confrontations just to prove to himself that he's a man, because that proves exactly the opposite.

An adult male will taunt the fans of sports teams that rival his favorite and be particularly offensive about it. A MAN will suffer those taunts becasue he knows that except for joy or sorrow at a game's outcome, a team's actions have no real impact on his life. Sports is exercise and entertainment. If he's counting on the outcome of a game to make the month's rent/mortgage, he is an adult male, not a MAN.

An adult male will cry victim and use it as an excuse to indulge himself (alcohol, food, women, drugs)  and shirk his obligations to the detriment of those around him/counting on him. A MAN will acknowledge pain and focus his energy on completing his duties.


A male may create a child or children, but a MAN sticks around to raise that child with its mother. And a MAN shows respect to that child’s mother. A man knows that he is always teaching and children are always learning. How a child will treat others is learned from observing the MEN and WOMEN around him. If the household only has children and adult males and females, that child will never learn ways of respect and consideration.

 A male is usually stronger than a woman or child, but a MAN uses that strength to provide for and guard his family. A MAN does not use his superior strength to beat his children or their mother to maintain control.

A male may be tempted by  other women (or men), but a MAN will not let that temptation take control of his actions.  This is real strength.

A MAN takes pride in what he creates and nurtures. An adult male takes pride in childish things because he doesn't understand the rewards of actual achievement.

If you don’t want the responsibilities of properly raising a family, don’t create one. Wear two condoms and get a vasectomy. Have gay sex; humans haven’t evolved to the point where same-sex activity leads to conception. Yet. You never know.

There’s a lot of American political talk going on about “nanny states” and “socialism” and since the Supreme Court just upheld Romneycare (for that is the root), states are already screaming over increasing their Medicaid coverage to accommodate more people. Where’s the personal responsibility? We’re all rugged individuals and we should take care of ourselves and our own.

Yeah? How about you members of the Tea Party who, by walking out on a wife and two kids (including an infant)  just put their families in danger of needing food stamps, subsidized housing and Medicaid? Hypocrite much?

And while I’m thinking of it, even though the kids are still pretty young, one of their first lessons is going to be this: you matter less than whatever piece of ass Daddy is chasing. Proceed accordingly.

Girls have a hard enough time keeping and building their self-esteem. Add to that seeing Daddy treat Mommy like something disposable and she’s going to have a bitch of a time learning about healthy relationships. In the ads for “Ted” right now, there’s a scene with the bear sitting with 6 hookers and the bear says something like, “I’d like to thank the 6 bad fathers who made this night possible.”


Congratulations, Pal: you just joined their ranks. And you're about as good as John Edwards, whom you said you despise.

Your son will grow up learning the same lesson: women are disposable and there’s no need to honor your commitments. So much for that much-vaunted personal responsibility. Nobody’s going to be there to show him the way.

Maybe, if your family’s lucky, they’ll be like shelter dogs: adopted by a responsible parent who WILL love them and care for them the rest of their days.

Hey, I don’t think my father was completely happy with his life, but he stayed married for 55 years, came home every night and made sure the family he created was sheltered, fed, educated  and learned self-reliance (okay, well some of us bobbled the financial part of the lesson, but we’re learning).   When it came to “for better or worse”, he stuck it out (he created some of it, but the stuff he didn’t, he stuck it out) Dad was a MAN; according to a friend of mine, a family man, “Men handle their shit.” They don’t play with it, they deal with it.

MEN understand that freedom isn’t free; yeah, you can follow a path of your choosing, but you WILL be accountable for your actions. Life isn’t consequence-free; adult males try to weasel out of situations they create (or pay lawyers to help them). MEN step up. If you hit another car in a parking lot when nobody’s there to witness, how you respond is the difference between a MAN and adult male: the adult male will quickly move away to park somewhere else. The MAN will leave a note on the other car with contact and insurance info (and if you’re driving without license or insurance, you’re not only not a man, you’re also a damned  fool. You put me and everyone else on the road at risk, you had fucking well better be prepared to handle all consequences).

Like I said, MEN know that they are always “on” and their kids are watching. MEN know they are role models, whether they want to be or not. Adult males will deny the responsibility.

There was a movie in the 1980s titled “Men Don’t Leave.”

Real men don’t.