Sunday, June 28, 2009

There should be an IQ test in addition to an Age Requirement to buy alcohol...

I realized not enough is happening to me these days for blog fodder and I didn't want this just to be a political blog (sometimes I read the news and I just can't help it though)

Anyway, lately I don't have full stories to write but just one or two observations that I feel the need to share...

Man buying beer from beer cart on golf course from VP, Beverage Operations (er, beer cart girl):

"Is the beer cold?"

Me: "Yes"

Captain Obvious: "That's because of the ice"

Me: " "

It causes me mental anguish ,and even slight physical pain, sometimes to not be able to answer how I really want to but I can usually peg people who don't like sarcasm and he was one of them. I think reading people well is one of my best talents - so just went away, banged my head against a tree a couple times to level the IQ playing field and moved on.

Actually, maybe I was a little too wound up because later that day I put my foot through a glass door at pro shop. I was carrying a case of beer and used my foot to open the door when I heard it pop. Luckily it was safety glass and my foot didn't go through but the good people of Fairfax County had to pay for some overtime for the guys to fix it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

64 years of Government Run Health Care

Article excerpt FROM MAY 1945

VETERANS CRITICAL OF THEIR HOSPITALS; Thousands of Complaints on Treatment, Food and Other Conditions Are Received SEVERAL INQUIRIES BEGUN Some Objections Viewed as Justified, Others as Partly or Wholly Unfounded Senate Inquiry Begun

May 17, 1945, Thursday

Within the last few months thousands of complaints about the treatment of veterans in hospitals under the jurisdiction of the Veterans Administration have been received by members of Congress, the Veterans Administration itself...

Article excerpt from June 2009

VA Medical System in Shambles, Veterans Groups Say
With Veterans Affairs hospitals giving botched radiation treatments to nearly 100 vets and exposing 10,000 to HIV and hepatitis viruses, veterans advocates and lawmakers say the VA health system is in dire need of proper oversight and funding.


And that is what happens when government gets invovled in health care...64 years later and they haven't quite figured it out.

Let's throw a trillion dolars at it and see if that helps.

Is anyone else scared? I am.

- Average age of a VA government run hospital is 49 years
- Average age of a private hospital is 12 years

Which hospital do you want the ambulance to take you to?

Obama wants a government solution by year end. This issue needs real debate and shouldn't be shoved through Congress so the President can cross it off his to-do list. Oh but he promised he would if you voted for him? He also promised you he would not raise taxes.

Isn't a tax on a benefit a tax?

Hmm, see below.

Fall 2008
"For the first time in American history, he wants to tax your health benefits," Obama said on the campaign trail last fall. "Apparently, Senator McCain doesn't think it's enough that your health premiums have doubled. He thinks you should have to pay taxes on them, too."

You all just loved that in the debates - "McCain is so evil. Obama is so awesome - he is such a good speaker too."

You all fell for his overly melodramatic campaign rhetoric and pandering "...for the first time in American History...". Cue the ominous banging drum...Sheesh.

March 14, 2009
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is signaling to Congress that the president could support taxing some employee health benefits...


Is anyone paying attention here? End the love fest soon before it's too late.

Let's do some real analysis of what is being proposed, how much it costs, what the alternatives are, who is affected and how its going to be paid for before we let Congress spend $1 trillion.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Seeking a Title

I'm stuck on an unhappy theme tonight.

Observation #1.
You know the recession is bad when...
I heard a radio ad for a cemetery yesterday. YES, a cemetery. I know advertising is struggling but how cheap are radio ads now that cemetery's are buying up 30 second spots? And is business down enough that they need to advertise? This recession is more far reaching than we all thought apparently...

Observation #2.
From the Washington PO-Bama...My favorite newspaper. To use as kindling.
I will admit The Post does one thing very well - The Sunday obituaries.

They usually spotlight one person and write a long article abut their life. Its always something very cool like someone who escaped a concentration camp, swam to America and has been running a shoe shop on Capitol Hill where every President since Kennedy sent their shoes to get shined. Or something like that...

One thing that has always bugged me though is the Post will always put the person's job title under their name:

Jane Smith
Office Clerk

John Doe
Auto Mechanic

Joe Smith

DC more than any other city, I think, is very title driven. In NY people are money driven. You could be an "investment associate" but you're making 6 figures. In DC people love their titles. So you might be an "Second Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Commerce" making $24,000 a year but you proudly hand out your business card at every opportunity and also mention you have a security clearance.

Note: You better address people the right way in this city or Senator Boxer will yell at you. Even if you served just one term of Congress (2 years) you are to be addressed as "Congressman" for life.

Typically the rest of the obit read as follows "Joe Smith passed away Friday. He was a lawyer with Smith, Johnson, Brucker, Johnson, Hippopotamus & Frank firm in DC and retired in 1972. He is survived by..."

Usually these people have been retired for 20 or 30 years but the job is what is in bold under your name if you happen to kick the bucket in DC.

It used to make me wonder what I would want under my name? At this point, it would say "Sales Representative". Ick.

But what about Good friend? Charity Fundraiser? Ornery Blog Writer? Helped an Old Lady Across the Street Once? World Traveller? I like the last one.

First question usually asked of a stranger in DC "Soooo, where do you work?"

People focus on work too much here. And then they spend two hours a day getting to and from work. I don't think I have ever been right for this city and its title driven ways. Or maybe I was in my early 20's and have mellowed. Or getting canned from my job put things in perspective. Or maybe it was reading the news last night and realizing that sometimes people don't make it home from work.

All day, my thoughts have been with the families of the 9 people who died on the Metro yesterday.

But even when writing about this tragedy the Post did something to support my point about where this city's priorities seem to be...It wrote a nice tribute to the 9 victims. Well, 8 of them anyway...Each victim got a little bio/tribute. General Wherley got a nice bio but his wife who died with him on the train got no bio. She was referred to as the wife of the general.

I made a comment to the Post on their website about this. "Hey, where is Mrs. Wherley's tribute? She deserves something too" My comment got deleted. I wrote a comment about my comment getting deleted and they put my original comment back up.

I noticed a few hours later that the story had been updated:
"Wherley's wife, Ann Wherley, 62, a mortgage banker, was also killed."

All they added was her title...

(PS: I pray that the families of the 9 victims, with time, can find peace again)

(PPS: I am bipartisan in my media criticism. did something dumb today too. See anything wrong with this picture below?)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Papa's Day

Someday, I will hit the road as a one-women show with funny stories about being thre first American Alvaro and growing up in my Italian immigrant home. My problem is I have a bad memory as I can't usually remember where I put my keys much less being 9 years old. But today I reflect on little on my dad, Giuseppe.

When I was a pain in the neck teenager I didn't appreciate the uniqueness of my family.

I mean no one else had homemade sausages curing and hanging from the ceiling of their garage? And most kid's dads come home with chocolate Easter bunnies on Easter whereas my dad came home from a farm with a butchered baby lamb in a garbage bag (hey, its a tradition...)

My dad grew up in in a small town in Southern Italy in the 40's and 50's. He was only a toddler when American and German soldiers marched thru his town. He was the oldest of 4 boys when his mother died. Nonno remarried making him the oldest of 5 boys bestowing a lot of responsibility to help support the family on him. He was 29 when he packed up mom and and two little kids onto a boat and moved to this country.

I only found out in recent years that before he came to the US - my quiet, law abiding father, who consistently drives BELOW the speed limit as a general practice, was quite the hell raiser. Maybe he is trying to stay under the radar of the law...

First, he spent a few years in Germany working in factories with my uncles in the 60's as their were no jobs in the village. Then he stowed away on a ship for Australia! He hid on the ship but fortunately for me, my brother, sister and 5 nieces and nephews he was caught and spent 7 days locked up before getting a one way ticket back to Italy and subsequently married my mother.

When he moved to the US (also by boat) he brought as many traditions as he could with him.

If you are in Liverpool and drive by the house where my parents live and look around back you will see his "farm". He manages, in his tiny backyard to take up almost every square inch with a huge vegetable garden - basil, garlic, tomatoes, a small grape vine, zucchini, various types of lettuces, pole beans, rosemary, a pear tree, a fig tree and I am sure I am missing a few others. My parents eat from this garden for most of the year.

Of course, in my older and wiser years I appreciate and admire this sustainable and homemade way of eating...I didn't quite get it when I was growing up (Why cant I go to MacDonald's?!).

A few stories...
Dad would grudgingly drop me off at soccer practice after he finally conceded to his hard headed American-born daughter that she be allowed to play sports in high school. One day, someone tapped me on the shoulder and asked "Um, what's your dad doing?". To my 14 year old horror - there was dad - bucket and knife in hand on a little hill behind the soccer field at Liverpool High School harvesting dandelion leaves for dinner. At the time, I was mortified as I vaguely recall someone asking "Can't your family afford to eat?" (teenagers are cruel). Of course, now Whole Foods sells this delicacy for $5.00 a pound. So there.

Every October fruit flies would buzz in my ear. In my house. It used to be, back when I was growing up and there were a lot more Italian immigrants of dad's generation in Syracuse, you knew where all the Italians lived because every fall there would be a pile of purple stained grape crates on the curb for the garbage men to take. All the Italians would ship in cases of Zinfandel grapes from California to make their own wine.

Now many of you probably have visited a winery. Well, those giant warehouses with gleaming stainless steel tanks is not how you make home brew. Imagine a barrel that has come apart at its planks. Now put a screw like mechanism on top that when turned slowly by pushing a pole around it in a circle over and over tightens the barrel together squishing the juice out of the grapes. That's an old fashioned wine press. My dad has a little 10 x 10 foot room in the basement and he would make a red and white barrel of wine each year. Before every lunch and dinner dad would go down to the basement and bring up a bottle of wine. It tastes great though sometimes I have to mix it with ginger ale as its a little strong! It will also fuel a car in an emergency if you run out of gas. Once I was old enough, Dad would supply me my wine rations in empty vodka or soda bottles for me to take to Colgate or DC.

One time, while making said sausages mentioned above - my dad decided he wanted to smoke them for more flavor. So he brought down the gas grill to the 10 x 10 room with one tiny 1 foot by 1 foot window and fired up the grill to smoke the sausages...One visit to the hospital for carbon monoxide poisoning later he decided not to smoke the homemade sausages anymore.

All these memories have to do with food. Well, we are Italian.

My parents are the typical American immigrant success story. My dad mowed a rich guy's giant lawn (it took days to mow the whole thing) as one of his jobs for a few years. Said rich guy found himself on the wrong end of his mistresses gun and took a bullet in the head. That job went away. Then in the mid-80's, he got the coveted factory job at GM. Then that factory closed. So he commuted from Syracuse to Rochester in the dark for years to work the night shift. Then that plant closed. So he got a bachelor pad in Buffalo and commuted each week from Syracuse to Buffalo to work at the GM plant in Tonawanda. Needless to say I didn't see Dad much when I was growing up because he was either sleeping during the day to work the night shift or driving all over NY to work.

A few years go, he retired. And since he packed about 5 lifetimes of work into his life to support us all, I hope he gets 5 more lifetimes to enjoy his retirement and continue to bring a little piece of Sinopoli, Italy to Upstate NY - making his wine every fall, and making his homemade sausages (unsmoked), and tending to his beloved garden out back.

Happy Father's Day, Dad.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Political Rant

This picture is what led to this rant. ugh. THIS is our leadership? UGH.

Dear Rush/Newt and all the other white haired men who think they speak for the GOP-

I want small government too. That's why I am a Republican - difficult as you make it these days.

I want the government out of private business and my wallet.

Individual freedoms aren't just economic. They are personal.

You can either have big government or not have big government - But you can't have it both ways .

And by not having big government that means you stay out of people's bodies, churches and closets in addition to their wallets.

Its simple. Small means unobtrusive so stop obtruding (is that a word?).

We can't be led by a bunch of old men who believe that life begins the moment the man unhooks a women's bra.

We can't be led by a bunch of people who believe religion should have a place in government as long as its their religion.

We should celebrate and respect that if two people pledge to love each other and support each other and build a life together than it doesn't matter if their parts don't fit like the Bible says they should. Let them get married.

"Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves" Abe

Will anyone have the guts to stand up and take this party back and swing it away from divisive social issues?

Remember the GOP stands for the Grand Old Party? Lets take the emphasis of of old and put it back on Grand. Remember - the party of Lincoln and all that? The party that stood up to slavery?

Where is a leader when we need one?

Maybe I should run this party? But I need my AARP card apparently.

And just to make sure I get to keep my GOP card:

Dear Obama and Nancy (3rd in line, help us all),

Entitlement is a dirty word. Stop it. Its "Life, Liberty and the PURSUIT of happiness". Pursuit does not equal guaranteed happiness. The government at its best needs to make sure everyone has equal access to the starting line but it shouldn't decide who gets to win the race.

The answers are not in Washington - they are in the individual innovators and the private sector if the government doesn't choke it to death before it has time to save us all. At its worst, government stifles innovation and progress - why innovate and take risks if we all end up with the same in the end anyway?

Handshakes and hugs aren't viable national defense strategies.

Making money isn't wrong, bad or evil. People with money aren't wrong bad or evil.

And to both sides - two things:

1. One can be Pro Life and Pro Choice. This one issue shouldn't define every single political candidate in every single election in this country. There are other important issues in this world. There are ways to protect both life AND individual freedoms. Not everyone will be happy with compromise but not everyone is happy now watching the two extremes define the issue. So do the jobs you spent millions trying to get. And LEAD, don't follow (the money).

2. Can we disagree without being disagreeable and avoid the personal attacks? Our problems are serious so do your jobs...or your pink slip comes in the next election then you'll know how it feels. The VA max unemployment benefit is $378 a week. How's that sound? Can you live on that? That will barely pay for your Viagra, GOP "leadership".

(Note, I know I didn't mention Michale Steele above as a GOP leader? Who the hell is that most of you ask? Exactly - He is a follower who got voted in as the puppet chairman of the RNC. He does useless things like boycott Letterman and apologize to Rush. When he acts like a leader I will call him one.)

Rant over. But that picture was too good not to have fun with....