Friday, February 26, 2010

Logic + Partisan Politics = ZILCH

President Obama continues to impress me. What he did yesterday was incredibly brave and immeasurably frustrating. [Welcome to strange world of Capitol Hill, Mr. President] His ambition in calling the summit of both parties from both Congressional Houses was utterly logical. Too bad politics got in the way. Perhaps it's time to revisit the idea of term limits for members of Congress. Give 'em all six years to do their damage then replace them. Seems like they're all in constant campaign mode which clearly colors their decision-making. Prolonging the debate with political posturing is not going to make the need for health care reform go away. Both parties have ideological points that deserve the consideration that they have received for the past Y E A R. It's time to get off the pot! Since D.C. residents, like me, have no representation in Congress, I can only hope that other Americans vote for intelligent, caring people to take their case to the top. ALL of us are frustrated that it is so hard for them to reach consensus or at least a modicum of agreement. Every American is feeling the sting of the economic squeeze and losses of employment. We're all in favor of job retention and creation. The connection between lowering health care costs for employers and individuals alike is obvious. Everybody needs health care. Every able bodied American needs employment. Right now, one seems to be dependant on the other -- no employment/no health insurance. This is unconscionable. No, socialized medicine is not the answer as some would have us think is being plugged by one side. Rather, the expectation of enormous profits must be tamed. Profit is the reason businesses exist -- BUT -- the goals for attaining them have become skewed. Must I say it? Greed is such an ugly word. We Americans have come to believe we are entitled to whatever we can get our hands on, whether or not we can afford it. I find it terrifying that so many are living on credit! Spouse and I rest easy at night knowing we owe no one anything. We also recycle, walk rather than drive and curb our use of electricity. But I digress. . . Just because the U.S. controls huge amounts of natural resources and world wealth does NOT entitle us to use them wrecklessly. I wouldn't dream of denying assistance to the Haitian earthquake survivors. In that same vein, how 'bout aiding American victims of the economic crisis? Extending unemployment benefits adds to the defeated and shameful feelings of people who once proudly earned their own keep. Instead of corporations paying multi-billions in bonuses to executives [already being paid far more than any human being is worth] re-hire thousands of laid-off workers, retrain those who need it, and put American workers back on the train to self-sufficiency. Without the benefit of tax shelters granted to the most affluent among us, these workers would increase tax revenues and the need for financial rescue would decrease. Restricting, by law if necessary, the most egregious health care provider profits and those of other corporations could go a long way to allowing every American to benefit from a basic level of health care. Surcharges on our phone bill annoy me, but I know what they're for [I think]. How 'bout surcharging corporations to help cover the costs of health care? It wouldn't have to be a huge percentage. It just seems right that the rest of us who can afford health care [right now, anyway] should be able to count on our insurers, pharmaceutical companies [to which we pay big bucks for prescriptions] and other for-profit providers to help our less fortunate neighbors. Bottom line: We All benefit from living in a healthier environment -- less illness, increased productivity, happier society.
-- Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness --

Monday, February 22, 2010

Hibernation

This winter routine sounds more and more appealing the older I get. As my patience with inconvenience wanes and my body develops more aches and pains, winter no longer holds the charm it once did. When I was younger, snow was FUN. Without fail, I looked forward to winter and snow storms. Maybe it's my Norwegian heritage, or maybe I'm just a moron. Either way, when snow was forecast I'd get so psyched. My attitude was the more the merrier! I didn't own a car then which probably accounted for my cavalier attitude. I walked wherever I needed or wanted to go. During the blizzard of '79, I walked a mile and a half to the Capital Hilton Hotel in search of a newspaper. I wasn't annoyed that it hadn't made it to my front door as usual. I simply decided I'd go out to get my own. No big deal. Taking a "short-cut" across the Ellipse turned out to be misguided. There was one set of footprints made by someone much taller than me. Following them took more effort than it was worth. My boots were almost knee-high and the snow as over knee-high. Did I care? Heck no! Shuffling down the middle of freshly plowed Constitution Avenue, with a brilliant, cerulean blue sky overhead put a big grin on my face. Flushed by exhilaration and the cold wind, I walked past a pair of somber looking, fur-hatted Russians, speaking in hushed tones. Of course, my imagination kicked-in -- they were spies plotting their next covert operation. More likely, they were discussing why the red-cheeked girl walking toward them had a big, goofy grin on her face. People on skis shooshed by, dodging bare spots where the pavement showed through. The closer I got to 16th and K Streets, the more people I saw. Unlike recent history, I don't recall any organized snowball fights, but then email and Twitter didn't yet exist. Cabin fever, fear of falling and breaking my aging butt are causing my downer of a mood. Today, looking at the dirty-snow-mounded lawns across the street, I noticed dozens of small, round bare spots. Watching for a while, I discovered that they were made by the resident squirrels when they dig up acorns they buried months ago. Then it hit me -- what did I have to complain about? I live in a warm, comfortable home with food at my fingertips, not in a shaggy nest high up in an oak tree. It's amazing how those little critters can remember where they buried their food supplies! The first, official day of Spring is less than a month away. Despite my misery, daylight hours are slowly increasing, warmth will return, flowers will blossom and life will go on! Phew. . .

Friday, February 12, 2010

just cuz I needed it. . .

I'm sorry, but winter has worn out its welcome. Hallucinations about Spring flowers are creeping into my waking hours and brightening my dreams. I'm tired of living in a gray-scale world with enough static electricity to keep a light burning for a week, parched skin, limp hair, and cabin fever. My limit has been reached! If you should happen to read about a woman wearing only a bathing suit, gaily leaping bare-footed across huge piles of snow, laughing maniacally -- that will be me. If the men in white coats smile nicely and speak softly, I might let them strap me onto the gurney for the ride to the "happy farm."

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

"UNCLE!!"

This winter has lost it's charm! Snow blew into our bedroom window through a tiny opening and filled the space between the window and the screen. I always leave a window open a nearly imperceptible amount, so this is ridiculous!
White-out just isn't fun -- wish I could have captured it on camera, but this is the best I could do.
Mother Nature: you win once again!

Monday, February 8, 2010

The '09/'10 Blitzsnow

With apologies to those for whom the Blitzkrieg is still a fresh memory, I propose the above name for the current winter storm cycle. The historical Blitzkrieg was an unrelenting bombardment of England by the Nazis during WWII. The cycle of snow events we've had this season is similar in some ways. Storms have been repetitive and crippling. Structures have collapsed under the weight of the snow. Food stores have been nearly stripped of the basics. Governments and school systems have been shutdown for days. Extended power outages are adding to the distress. Emergency vehicles are hindered by abandoned vehicles and unplowed roads. Business owners keep a wary eye on forecasts. Expenses for snow removal long ago blew budgets. Sidewalks are barricaded by plowed snow and ice. As the stalwart, courageous Brits did, our region will weather these barrages from Mother Nature. Thank goodness it's only snow . . . but it's not over yet!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Another Morning

Don't walk.
A drip here and a drip there . . . it'll all end up in the Chesapeake.
"Why did I listen to that guy who sold me this worthless SUV.
Can't go anywhere in this durn thing!"

Saturday, February 6, 2010

. . . biblical proportions . . .

This is the view from my favorite indoor chair
of my favorite
outdoor chair and beyond.
last night
minutes ago
And it's still coming down in sheets.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Happy Birthday Zach!

In all the excitement and anticipation of the blizzard that is currently dumping up to 3 FEET of snow on D.C., I nearly missed my nephew's birthday.
Seventeen years ago today, my sister Janet and her husband Bill welcomed Zach into their lives. He inspired much joy, not the least of which was for Janet who finally could see her feet, no longer hugely swollen, again. He's a neat kid and lovely human being. We are all so proud of him!
a delighted Auntie Peg wearing her newest nephew
with his best friend, his Mom

like father like son

meeting his new brother for the first time -- love at first sight

teaching the art of shoe tying

Alex couldn't grasp the idea of blowing, so they played the penny whistle together

in his man cave doing his thing with computers

Love you, Zach! Hope you've had a memorable birthday. Sorry we couldn't be with you for your special day. This birthday will be one none of us will forget any time soon. It came with the Blizzard of '10!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

It Staggers the Mind

As medical science deciphers more and more mysteries of the human brain, some horrifying truths are being revealed. The latest is that some people who have been labeled as existing in a vegetative state are actually aware of their surroundings and capable of thought. Sophisticated machines are making it possible to actually see brain activity; even responses to yes and no questions. Persons who have no control over their bodies or movement of any kind can mentally respond to suggestions to picture their homes or to react to other inquiries. I'm horrified by the thought of how many hundreds of thousands of people throughout history have been conscious when those around them believed the opposite. It wasn't that long ago that scientists discovered that comatose patients can be aware. With so much debate over end of life decisions, could this new technology make it possible for someone like the late Terry Schiavo to have decided her own fate? I was appalled that total strangers were insisting on one course of action over another. Naturally her loved ones are loath to remove life support and allow nature to take it's course. So Terry lay there month after month, year after year, everyone hoping she would eventually wake up. Is it possible that prolonging her life was pure and utter torture for her? If my body could no longer support my life I would choose death, whether or not my mind was still active. Even if science were to come up with a way to transplant brains into robotic bodies, I'd say no thanks. It's a matter of quality over quantity. Am I crazy to think this way?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

On My Soap Box

During the Vietnam war era, guys pretended to be gay to avoid the draft. It was a sure-fire way to be booted out if they ended up being drafted anyway. Ironically, genuine gays may soon be treated as equals and -- eventually -- welcomed into the military. It's about time. Gay men and lesbians have served in the military for generations, even though they were forced to deny their quintessence to serve their country. I would be willing to bet that many confirmed bachelors and spinsters were forced to accept those positions in society in order to protect their positions in business or the military. I know some veterans I'm sure accepted those roles and faithfully maintained them to avoid losing their careers or embarrassing their employers. The sacrifices made by gays in the name of military principles have been staggering. They could not love openly, marry, have families or enjoy other, common life experiences that their straight counterparts could and did. The stress of maintaining such a false lifestyle must have been dreadful. I don't know why we Americans are so slow to embrace the realities of life. We should be ashamed by how long it has taken us to recognize the equal worth of all persons. Illiteracy and insecurities will continue to influence the thoughts and actions of some segregationists and cretins, but thinking Americans can and will defeat them. There must be thousands of veterans -- gay and straight -- privately cheering the anticipated demise of Don't Ask Don't Tell. I hope they will openly voice their support of full recruitment and engagement of willing, able-bodied men and women into our military. Having said all that, I do not support armed conflict to solve problems. I do, however, recognize the need to protect ourselves from those who want to harm us. Maybe with broader philosophical thinking among our leadership we can come up with better, more peaceful ways to protect our interests. Too many lives have been lost in the pursuit of peace and prosperity.

Such a Lovely Snow Event

Early, early this morning, as I wandered around the apartment, anxious for the percocet to kick-in, I focused on the amber colored glory across the street. D.C. is considered the "amber city" by airline pilots because [until recently] outdoor lighting had a golden hue. Now its going to more of a glaring-bright-white-freak-out-the-criminal-element shade. Still, there was an amber glow across the street that gave the enveloping snow a warmth as it embraced every horizontal surface. Sorry -- my attempts to capture it digitally failed. Try to imagine these pics in shades of gold, at night. Smallish globe lights highlighted the falling snow. All together, it reminded me of a Currier and Ives illustration.