Laying Down on the Job

Laying Down on the Job
The Santa Monica Easy

Monday, September 28, 2009

Mr.BoJindo Thinks He's Invisible

My daughter's dog -- who I may have now photographed more than her -- is Mr. BoJindo and I've entered him in a Cutest Dog Contest.  Please vote early and often (really -- you can vote at least once a day).

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


       Ponytail shadow swings

To the beat of cushioned feet

         On the way back home.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

And Now For Something Completely Feline...

Credit and a sincere thank you to Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese and his indispensable, informative and fascinating blog

Twisted by Twizzlers

Okay, I have to admit I was astonished when a good friend of mine with whom I'd been roommates for several years, ask me, "What's a Twizzler?". I thought she remembered my love/hate battle with "The Twizzler."   For those dear readers who have the same question, here's a photo:

(thank you < archives/2008/04/> for the photo)

This hunk of red, chewy, snake-like sweetness is vegan but so full of high-fructose-corn-syrup (HFCS) that I'm embarrassed to admit it I find them so yummy and almost impossible to resist. If you haven't heard or read or heard about the health concerns related to HFCS, it's probably a good idea to look into it.  I'm a former marathoner, horseback rider, champion bowler, golfer (including the miniature variety), sailor, swimmer, ping-pong player, power walker and I'm vegan so one would think I only eat the kind of healthy stuff that honors my body-as-temple life style.  Well, I do eat healthy (no sodas, no animal products, fresh veggies, fruit, nuts), but The Twizzler is my nemesis. For me, it's like the sun to a vampire -- like donuts to Homer Simpson -- it's my most dangerous high-fructose-corn-syrup (HFCS) guilty pleasure weakness to which "resistance is futile".  

Ok, I exaggerate.  I can resist Twizzlers if: 
  • There aren't any in my residence or 
  • I they're not on 2-for1 sale at a nearby local store or 
  • I read the ingredients on the package
I recently read an article about a general behavior modification technique that utilizes a 3-tap sequence over 9 body locations. It might just help me on the battlefield, face-to-face with The Twizzler.  

The idea is that you repeatedly verbalize what behavior you want to embrace while tapping 3 times on each of the following body parts:
  1. Outside edge of the hand (where a karate chop is centered)
  2. Inside eyebrow
  3. Outside the eyebrow edge
  4. Under eye (center)
  5. Center of the dip between the end of the nose and upper lip
  6. Center of the chin
  7. Collar bone
  8. Under arm
  9. Top of the head   
I figure it's worth a try even if I look like a loon during the confrontation.  

Wealth Insurance vs. "Promote the General Welfare"

The public would find it edifying if the media always included the amount of health insurance campaign contributions any member of Congress received, every time they talk about the health care reform -- especially when it comes time for a vote. It could be right next to their political party and state -- so the American voters can connect the dots.  

Some time ago Congress turned over the health care of its citizens to for-profit corporations with the mistaken belief that "free market" would provide low cost/high quality health care. It's been decades now and every year those with health insurance have turned over an increasingly larger percentage of their hard-earned income to profit-driven health insurance corporations only to get less coverage, more claim denial and pay more out of pocket. Congress knows this yet every year neglects to provide more than lip service to their constituents while the health insurance companies thrive, deliver higher investor returns and astronomical CEO salaries. This is not free market, it's criminal. The free-market theory hasn't worked for health insurance just as cutting taxes and the "trickle-down" theories haven't helped the economy. Medicare needs to be opened to anyone in order to create a level playing field for the American people.  

The concept of triggers is a ruse. Health insurance companies will wriggle out of legal constraints or mandates by dragging the whole concept through the courts, further delaying health care reform. The health insurance industry has had more than 15 years to fix their punitive policies and practices since the Clinton administration tried to pass universal health care. The health insurance industry knew they'd dodged a bullet then and had the opportunity to self-regulate and reform knowing this issue would not go away. Nevertheless, they chose to conduct business as usual. The insurance industry is no more willing or able to regulate itself than the banks or any profit-driven corporation. Expecting corporations to deliver affordable health care over profits is like accepting a ride across a flooding river on the back of a crocodile and expecting it not to eat you. Health insurers are corporations are and will always be driven by profits.  

Medicare must be opened to the public or a non-profit public option created that will provide affordable health insurance coverage and real competition to corporations. Nothing less can, to quote the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution, "promote the general welfare" of American citizens and nothing else is worthy of the American people.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Costal Cleanup Adventure

Saturday, September 19, 2009 was annual Coastal Cleanup Day (as mentioned my 8/26/09 post "Human Scrubbee Bubbles!").  My camera ran out of battery juice right after the first unintended photo taken of my thumb and my iPhone was very low on battery too so I only used it for a single Tweet -- so no photos of the day.   

I was at Santa Monica Beach about 9 AM with gloves, trash bags, hat, sea breeze in my face, sand in my shoes and a determination to leave the beach a little cleaner than I'd found it.  The day was a combination of fun, exercise, exhilaration followed by a sinking feeling that all the effort was a mere drop in the ocean (no pun intended). I was assigned to a group of 5 others, all of whom were family members.  I was so impressed that a mother and father brought their children (ages 8, 9 and 11) all the way from East Los Angeles, to take part in this effort. I asked what inspired them to volunteer.  Marco, the father, told me once a month they pack a meal and spend most of the day at the beach just to get a break from the heat and congestion of their neighborhood.  Besides, it gave them an extra opportunity to visit the beach and a chance to say thank you to the beach and ocean. Talk about your better angels!  I mentioned that I live less than a mile from the beach, the 3 children said I was lucky.  I told them I remind myself every morning how lucky I am and I thought to myself that I never travel inland for a "break" from the ocean.  Indeed I am lucky.  

I was less astonished by the mountains of bagged trash we ended up with than what kind of trash it was.  There were pieces of clothing, especially socks, various tubes of sunscreen, pieces of jewelry (hoop earrings, toe ring, ankle bracelet), tubes of lip balm, butane lighters, cigarette butts, yogurt containers, plastic bottles, bundles of matted fishing line, bottle caps, tampons and thousands of plastic grocery bags, etc (what ever is in your garbage today is an example of what we found on the beach). What was distressing to me were the huge number of plastic six pack rings.  Long ago I learned those six pack rings are lethal to birds, fish, turtles, all marine life in general.  The ring hole is just big enough to get caught around a creature's body part and cut into flesh.  When ever I see one on the ground, I pick it up and rip it so they become a single large, less lethal trap for wildlife. There were so many, though not as many as the number of plastic bags, that I felt a sense of finger-in-the-dike-pessimism. Some of this trash was left by accident, some flew on the breeze from an open garbage bin, down an alley and onto the beach.  Most of it washed up on the beach like an undelivered gift returned to sender for disposal.  

Nevertheless, the noble and worthwhile effort to clean up the trash around beaches, rivers and waterways should not be tinged with anything but enthusiasm and should expand even further.  It's a well organized national effort and one in which I felt privileged to participate.  One that should, perhaps, be expanded to more than once a year.  There will always be those who don't care about what their trash does to their own environment and there will be those who do.  I choose to be one who cares.  Cleaning up garbage bags and six pack rings when you're by yourself declares a kind of unwillingness to abandon hope. When you're part of a larger group like yesterday, focused on the same effort, that single ray of hope opens up to tidal wave. 

I know there are regular mechanical sweeps of our streets and the beach to collect trash but I also know there are numerous trash barrels on the beach into which many people will not bother to deposit their trash.  I learned a great deal yesterday up-front-and-personal about how much trash litters our beaches and I also learned how much damage our collective trash can cause. It's one thing to read about it or imagine it -- it's a whole different matter to repeatedly pick it up, smell it, hold it in your hands, be disgusted by it and defiantly stuff it into a garbage bag and take it away like a convicted criminal.  Just because we bag, bury or burn our trash does not minimize the damage caused to people, wildlife and ecosystems.  It occurs to me that bigger solutions are needed.  Recycling is wonderful but it's at the mercy of the economy.  When the economy is bad, fewer manufacturers purchase it,  the price for recyclable paper, plastic, glass and aluminum trash goes down and becomes less attractive for those who collect and turn it in. The effort to ban plastic grocery bags seems worth while. I bring my cloth bags with me when I grocery shop now, but from what I've seen. most people still use plastic bags.  If most shoppers don't bring cloth bags with them, how many return their plastic bags to those collection bins in front of grocery stores?  I suspect they just end up in garbage bins and easily fly out when the bin is turned upside down and dumped into the trash collection truck.  

This is no news to environmentalists but my participation yesterday personalized the experience.  As a child, Rachel Carson was the first writer who opened my eyes to the philosophy of human responsibility toward our  planet. A quote of hers comes to mind:  

We stand now where two roads diverge. But unlike the roads in Robert Frost's familiar poem, they are not equally fair. The road we have long been traveling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress with great speed, but at its end lies disaster. The other fork of the road-the one less traveled by-offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of the earth.

Bagging trash beside three delightful, thoughtful, well-mannered children (Joe Wilson could have learned from these youngsters) and their loving parents was the best thing I could have done with my time yesterday.  I may have left the beach a little cleaner yesterday, but more importantly I came home a better person. 

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Will Fins Ever Return?

I love classic cars.  Actually, I love cars even before they become classic or antique.  If I could figure out how to do it, I'd drive a different car ever week. I'd love to be involved in designing cars inside out.  Of course I rarely drive now because I can walk almost everywhere I need to go because I was so lucky to live where I live in Santa Monica -- less than a mile from the Santa Monica Pier, the Santa Monica Promenade, Santa Monica College, blocks from the city library, Farmer's Market, dry cleaners, art galleries, delicious restaurants, movies, groceries, dry cleaners, wine market -- but I digress.

I saw this car in an alley off Wilshire Blvd. and 11th (thereabouts) and had to stop to look at it.
The car was in the shadows so the photos aren't very good, but as I got closer to the car and my smile got wider and wider, I just had to whip out my iPhone to take pics.  The owner was just returning to the car as I took the second of a series of photos.  I told him I write a blog about (other things) things I see in Santa Monica and asked if it was okay to include photos of his car.  He sweetly agreed even though I was delaying his departure he patiently waited for me to finish taking photos.  I should have taken a photo of him in the car.  Dang.  Next time. Then he thanked ME for admiring his car!  Isn't that sweet?  I thanked him for maintaining this beauty so meticulously for others to admire and ogle.  It's history on wheels.

Is this what's known as a land shark?  I found myself wondering we'll ever see fins on cars again.  I'm not sure what they did -- other than look sleek and scary -- and I'll bet there are tons of reasons they'll never return because most cars today are about functionality and fuel consumption (nothing wrong with that).  This car, which I think is a 1960ish Plymouth Fury just delighted me.  It came from an era of cars with fins and I remember when they were new on the road.  In my pre-teen mind there seemed like a relationship between fin size and pocket book.  Nevertheless,  I love the gender bending design elements of pointy fins and curvy bits (especially the steering wheel) all in one car.  

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the steering wheel. I know, no air bags, no padded dash, no cd or cassette player, no GPS and no iPod connector. Still, there's a wonderful quality of elegant lines, angles.

The gauge display is awesome. When this car was new it must have felt like driving in a "Star Trek" episode. Note the absence of seat belts. I wonder how the engine does on unleaded gas.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Pervasiveness of TiVo

I'm not ashamed to admit, I love TiVo.  I wasn't the first in my immediate circle of friends to get TiVo because -- as usual -- I didn't "get" it.  I read about what it did and how it worked  but I didn't get excited about it and I couldn't wrap my head around why TiVo was so much more than a super-charged VCR. If TiVo had rolled out its product the way Apple rolled out the first iPod or iPhone, I'd have been much closer to the front of the TiVo line, but I digress. 

I learned that a TiVo DVR would need to be purchased and a relatively modest monthly subscription fee assessed. The first person I knew to get TiVo was a family member who, the day after getting it said, "Trust me, you need TiVo -- you'll never regret it and your life will never be the same."  I should have gotten TiVo'd up right then and there because this person had never been wrong in the past -- so you'd think I'd learn.  After all this was the same family member who's dragged me, through generosity and love, kicking, screaming, moaning, huffing, puffing and otherwise whining into a pteradactyl-free life.  I should have simply opened my wallet and made the plunge with that one enthusiastic, unqualified, endorsement.  I was, however, pig-headedly unmoved. I just couldn't justify the expense, especially since I didn't see the need.  I admit it's fun and cool to be the first person to get the next new gizmo but I was uninspired. My VCR recorded any program I didn't want to miss.  I heard Jon Stewart of "The Daily Show" talk about TiVo in terms that were nearly incandescent and I have to admit his reverent endorsement pushed me a teensy bit closer to TiVo enlightenment.  Even then, I didn't act.  

It took a Mother's Day to get me to TiVo.  On Mother's Day 200-I-forget-what-year, I got a TiVo DVR and a year's pre-paid subscription as a present from my wonderful, generous, thoughtful child.  As promised -- ever since then my life has not been the same.  Skipping past advertisements is the least of TiVo thrills.  I can watch an already recorded program while yet another one is recording.  I love that I can create a wish list of titles/actors/directors/topics that interest me and have them record automatically.  I can pause what's on TV for up to 30 minutes, go do something else, come back and pick up where I left off.  I can run a slide show of the photo collection from my hard drive to my TV.  I can play iTunes music on my TV.  I can transfer my podcast videos to TiVo and watch them on my TV instead of the computer.  I can schedule a show to record using my iPhone or over the internet.  I won't list everything but suffice to say, I love my TiVo and I'm always astonished when I meet someone who doesn't have it.  

Here's the thing though.  I'm so used to multi-tasking as I "watch" TV, that I often miss what was said and immediately pick up the remote to replay it.  I've become so reliant on the replay feature that today I found myself reaching for the car radio to replay something I'd just missed on the news.  Frequently I'll rewind to hear something I missed, only to get distracted by my computer or the newspaper or my homework so that  I' have to replay the same segment multiple times.  Kind of defeats the whole multi-tasking thing.  I've even found myself looking for the replay button in the immediate aftermath of a face-to-face-conversation. I think TiVo has eroded my ability to stay focused and "present".  It's the creeping pervasiveness of TiVo replay.  

Nevertheless, my life has never been the same now that I have TiVo and its remote will be the last thing pried from my cold, dead hands.  

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Craig Ferguson Said it So Much Better...

I wrote a gagillion verbose and yet pithy words about the rudeness of Joe Wilson and Eric Cantor during the President's speech to a joint session of Congress on September 9, 2009.  Yesterday the comedy division of Huffington Post (bet you didn't know they have a whole department devoted to comedy) posted Craig Ferguson's monologue from 9/10/09 in which he mused about the rudeness of Joe Wilson during the President's speech.  While he mentioned a few of the same things I raged about in my blog, his monologue about the shout out said in a few minutes what I tried to say only he conveyed it more succinctly and brilliantly.  It's an example of the power of well crafted comedy.  YouTube only has half of the monologue and CBS has commercials.  Click on the photos below and watch the whole 6:49 minutes.  It's well worth it.
Craig Ferguson on Joe Wilson

The Security of Illusion

As I drove home today from Trader Joe's, I happened to listen to Krista Tippett, the host of NPR's "Speaking of Faith", interview Mary Doria Russell about how she discerns God. I always enjoy this show when I happen to hear it even though I no longer attend church, having long ago made the conscious choice to carry my church "on my back" -- so to speak -- to live a life that follows the Golden Rule 24/7 instead of just on Sunday. Regardless, I often carry on existential explorations in my head about God. I found today's broadcast provocative and thought I would expand on it for today's post. However, before I got started with my own, I read my friend's blog (as I do most every day), "The Gurly Life", and discovered she already blogged about the same broadcast and topic! The author of "The Gurly Life" and I are dear friends but we live on the opposite sides of an incomprehensibly humongous, traffic-challenged metropolis and we both lead very different life styles so it's a succulent serendipity that we were both driving our Priuses (I in my dark green 2001 model and she in her red 2009), at the same hour, listening to the same radio channel. What is not surprising is that our respective reactions to the broadcast would be the same ("must blog about this..."). Is this evidence that great minds do indeed think alike or have thousands of bloggers across the planet blogged about this topic in the aftermath of today's broadcast? Of course, I'm not really blogging about it because after reading her blog, I have nothing more to add. I do recommend listening to the broadcast and then, for dessert, reading "The Gurly Life"'s equally provocative and witty observations, "Some god thoughts".

Instead, I'll yap about the illusion of security. I am of two minds regarding gated communities, barred windows and electronic security in general. My first reaction is, "what a good way to protect one's self and belongings from the dangers of the world." My second reaction is that these precautions and safety measures create a false sense of safety, a false sense of the world and reinforce fear. I'm not critical of those who choose to live in gated enclosures, use Lo Jack or ADT, I'm just torn.

In late 1990 the rear passenger window of my lovely 1975 Honda Civic was smashed by some creep who wanted my stuff, and he stole about $200 worth of newly dry cleaned clothes along with some love letters from a boy friend, my prescription sunglasses and a pair of jumper cables. I'd locked the car but it had no alarm. If I'd left the car unlocked, it's quite likely the window would not have been obliterated. As it turned out, the damage was less than my insurance deductible (isn't that always the case?) but costly enough to put a huge crimp in my budget. For six months I drove around with a duct-taped garbage bag for a passenger window -- and I'm sure it's illegal to drive a car with a garbage bag window -- before I could afford to have it replaced. I think the specific saint who protects driver's from being ticketed must have been my guardian angel for those months. Every car I've owned since that sweet little Honda -- a `94 Saturn station wagon, my 2001 Prius and a 2004 Mercedes Benz -- all had alarm systems. Nevertheless, some creep broke into my Prius and stole the TomTom GPS on the same rare night I left the car unlocked and unarmed.

In April of 1992, while at work, my bungalow apartment was burgled by a duo of creeps who wanted my stuff. As is usual for B and E, the windows were the entry-point of choice. One member of the duo hoisted himself (assuming it was a he-type) through the unscreened kitchen window, easily pushed open from the outside, and into my apartment where upon he passed the microwave, sewing machine, 19 inch TV, answering machine, VHS player and two gold bracelets from my grandmother, to the other thief waiting outside the other kitchen window easily opened by the first thief. I had no renter's insurance in those days so it was a total financial loss for me. The hardest part though was everything stolen had been given to me by someone I loved and who loved me. I slept at a friend's for a week before I felt safe enough to sleep in the apartment again. The landlord replaced the window screens, I got renter's insurance and I installed a battery-operated motion detector. The motion detector didn't do more than make an obnoxiously loud noise when activated, but it was all I could afford at the time and gave me a sense of security.

The motion detector became more of a nuisance to the neighbors than a deterrent. In the summer, when the bungalow gets beastly hot, I leave the side windows open during the day. The alarm would blast if one of the drapes even slightly billowed from an occasional passing breeze. No one called the police when it tripped. I just found post-it notes on my back door informing me that the alarm blasted for 30 minutes. Sometime in the sumer of 2000 I just stopped using the motion detector.

In the aftermath of my property loss, two of the four other apartments were also burgled. In 2005 the landlord, who lives in the "Big House" on the property, bought a dog. While the terms of my lease won't permit a pet, two other newer tenants now also have dogs. There are six dogs living in three of the 5 apartments. One tenant has two chihuahuas and a Jack Russell, another tenant has a chihuahua-terrier mix and the landlord now has two dogs, a Vizsla and a German Shepherd. Personally, I couldn't be happier to be surrounded by dogs. They're balanced, well-trained dogs cared for by responsible, considerate owners. Amazingly, the dogs only bark when someone's at their respective doors.

Yet, 3 weeks ago one of the dog-owning tenants had a near home invasion. The tenant was taking a shower. Meanwhile, the intruder-creep began to pull himself through the relatively small bathroom window from the outside. As he was nearly half-way through the window, the tenant (a petite young woman) stepped out of the shower and startled the would-be invader enough for him to lose his balance and he quickly withdrew from the window into the night. Her dog only barked when she blurted out some kind of exclamation upon seeing the guy balanced on his arms in the window. The most unnerving detail of this story is that the invader chose to break into an apartment where it was obvious someone was at home and in the shower. It was 9 PM and her apartment had a light on in every room. The attached apartment was dark as was the "Big House" and the "Little House" at the front of property. However, the bathroom windows face the back of the property where there's no light at night. None of these buildings have any insulation and it's easy to hear a TV or running shower, especially when standing right outside the window. There was only one dim light lit in my apartment, although I was home, on the phone with my cousin. My apartment was probably less attractive because it's easier to see someone climb in a window from the courtyard or the alley and my bathroom window has a nice bright light hanging right above it. This guy selected the most attractive target for his purposes. That's why the police categorized this event as an attempted home invasion not attempted robbery or attempted B & E.

The next day, while on the phone with my Dad, I was humorously relating about the illusion of security we all felt with six dogs and yet, an uninvited visitor had nearly made it through my neighbor's bathroom window while she was in the shower. I joked that I'd decided to buy a few "beware of the rottweiler " signs for my windows as deterrent. As soon as I finished relating the story I was sorry I did. Dad's response was, "I'm calling ADT today and getting it installed for you." I felt bad. I shouldn't have told him. Dad's never expressed worry about my safety before -- except when I first learned to fly (but that's another blog) -- so I felt a bit embarrassed by his reaction. After all, it wasn't my apartment -- it was the young woman across the courtyard. Regardless, I couldn't put that squirt of toothpaste back in its tube no matter how I tried to backtrack and downplay the whole thing. The truth is, if a similar incident had happened to my daughter, I'd have done the same thing as my Dad. I'm not overly concerned about my safety although, I have no idea if six break-ins over 18 years on a single property is average, excessive or lucky in this city. I feel safe when I'm out and about although I am careful to take precautions. I scan my surroundings, have my keys out when I approach my car or home, I lock my car while I fuel it and I never park next to a van or SUV if it's dark or will be dark when I return to it.

Yesterday the ADT installer came and now, I'm all ADT-ed up. My doors beep every time they open and there's an extra glowing light amid the panorama of LEDs that litter my computer-laden space. I feel like a princess in her castle or a celebrity living in a gated community or a trustee in a minimum security facility. I need to get used to "signing in and out" with the security system. I left the house for a few hours today and forgot to set the alarm. If, when it's set, there's a break-in I will be called -- like on the TV ads -- then the police will be called if I don't answer or if I report a break-in. I feel kind of embarrassed that mine is the only apartment on the property with ADT signs out front and on the windows but I'm also very lucky. Thank you, Dad! I'm fortunate to have such a generous father who obviously worries about my safety more than I realized. I wish my neighbor's father had done for her what mine has done for me but she probably was considerate enough not to tell him what happened.

So am I really safe and secure? Is my stuff safe and secure from ne'er-do-wells of the world or the immediate vicinity? Am I in an illusion of safety? What do I lose in the bargain for security? In my observation, criminals build these security systems -- indirectly -- because everyone else is busy with the demands of day-to-day life. I appreciate the options for security but I resent having to live in a bubble of security because a relatively few criminals and dangerous thugs use their brains and energy to devise ways to circumvent the law. I particularly resent that airline passengers are wanded, x-rayed, patted, unzipped, unpacked, searched, de-shoed and have to arrive two hours early every time they fly because a relatively few but exceptionally deadly criminals shattered the illusion that we all want to arrive at our destinations alive. I have a metal hip joint so I always set off alarms and get pulled aside by the TSA agents for an extra dose of touchy-feely wanding when I fly. I'm reminded, as I stand, arms-out like a criminal on a cross with some TSA agent slowly concentrating her ultra-mega sensitive metal detector over my body outline, that even with each new precaution or procedure, our security systems will not guarantee safety. It's like a Mobius strip. The rules, the actions, the efforts create the illusion of being more secure and some sense of security is born of that illusion.

I Should Not Be Allowed Outside!

Last Saturday, I walked around Santa Monica -- about 4 miles worth along the streets of Santa Monica. That's impressive if you know Santa Monica is all of 8 square miles in size (4 miles by 2 miles). It was a stupendously gorgeous day. Blue sky with fluffy laugh-inducing,"Simpsons" inspired clouds in the west hovered above the Santa Monica Pier and along the sea shore. To the east, pyrocumulous clouds rose ominously, formed by murderous wildfires. I was yanked back into reality. I was dressed in black stretchy walk-don't-run capri-length tights, yellow L. A. Legger's cap and yellow L. A. Leggers running shirt. Basically, I looked like a veritable gargantuan bi-pedal bumble bee -- except for the fact that I'd pulled the shirt over my head so that it was backwards. The entire bumble bee population was shamed. I wish I could find a good excuse for the occasional dressing faux-pas but there's a big blue L. A. Leggers logo on the side of the shirt that's supposed to face in the same direction as my face. I realized I was 2 miles into my 4 mile walk so I hadn't bothered to even look down at my shirt until half way through the walk -- or I looked down and it didn't occur to me that the logo was missing.  When I realized something was wrong, I stopped -- right in the middle of the sidewalk -- to figure out who stole the logo off my shirt. A second later I realized the logo hadn't been stolen, it had moved to my left shoulder blade.

I realized I had to make a choice. Either find a restroom in which I could make the appropriate clothing adjustments or just walk home as if I was oblivious to my backwards-facing shirt. I calculated that if I'd put the shirt on inside out AND backwards (which I've done before) I would take the time and make the effort to find a bathroom -- if I could find one closer than my own bungalow. I casually looked down at the shoulder seams, which would inform me of the level of stupid-dressing I'd done. "Ahhh" I thought, "I only pulled it on backwards. I'm only half-stupid." That, then, led me to conclude I could leave the shirt as it was and comfortably walk the last 2 miles in my "Scarlet-letter" backwards-facing attire.  At an earlier time in my life I'd have been mortified by my clothing carelessness, but it's happened so many times now, it's more funny than humiliating. My mother would have been mortified.
I took a different route home and about a block into my return, I saw a homeless man sitting on the sidewalk between the post office and a bakery, wearing a pair of dingy briefs on his head, party-hat style, jauntily tilted to the left. I wondered if he was the "Ghost of Future Saturday Walk-Abouts" come to show me the evils of careless dressing? "No", I thought, "If this is a vision of my future, he'd be wearing pantyhose on his head, `cause I may not wear clothes the right way out but I don't wear dingy underwear. That I recall.
Putting things into proportion, I forgave myself for the episode of clown-dressing. I comforted myself (others may call it "justifying") even congratulated myself for only making a mistake with one piece of clothing. Counting all my clothing items, I had successfully adorned myself with 8 separate items. That's, a B+ . or 87.5%, right? Yes, I can do better, but if I were perfect, I would have so much less to laugh at in the world - `cause the stuff I do makes me laugh a lot. I could have done much worse -- and I have in the past.  

One could argue that a woman with a solid 60 years of living experience behind her should be able to guarantee herself and the world that she'll step outside dressed like someone older than a two-year old. Apparently not. Facing the last two-mile walk home, I made the conscious choice to cherish the occasional two-year old who shows up to dress me too quickly and with total abandon, as only two-year olds can, and just proudly strut my backwards-facing shirt home. I looked like a dork but who cares? Only the folks behind me would know my secret and I couldn't see them. I giggled all the way home. 

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Big Red "Ruh-Rho"

This is when you do NOT want to hear anyone say, "Have a nice day..."

Here's the story from LAFD News & Information email:

Water Main Causes an Engine to Sink Into Large Hole

Firefighters were in route to an unknown flood problem in the vicinity of West Hartsook St. in the Valley Village Community of North Hollywood. As the Crew arrived during the early morning hour, they encountered large amounts of water on the roadway.

With no asphalt visible, the Captain on the engine made a judgment call to begin backing out of the area. As they initiated backing procedures, two firefighters stepped out of the engine to stand as lookouts, while two additional firefighters remained aboard the rig. Suddenly, the front of engine began to sink into a large hole created by a water main that broke several yards away. The two firefighters escaped, one through a side window and one was able to ajar a door on the opposite side. The sink hole consumed most of the front of the apparatus, leaving a good portion of the back exposed.  An intense  recovery operation was initiated consisting of heavy rescue equipment, dozers, a good amount heavy duty Cables as well as personnel. It took firefighters and allied agencies all morning to devise a plan to retrieve the engine from the large sink hole. There where no other vehicles or individuals involved. Happily the firefighters escaped this incident without any Injury.

Shout Out to Wilson and Cantor: Your Mothers Didn't Teach You Manners!

In another day and antebellum time, Representatives Joe Wilson (R-SC) and Eric Cantor (R-VA) would have been horse whipped by fellow members of the South Carolina or Virginia legislatures for their blatant lack of respect and good manners displayed in front of the world last night during President Obama's address to Congress.  Granted it's 2009, not 1859, and good manners have fallen by the wayside for many in today's society, but they should not be abandoned by our elected members of Congress.  

Wilson's outburst and Cantor's disinterested texting disrespected the President, Congress, their tax-payer-paid-for seats in Congress and all the people in their districts regardless of party.  They also  brought shame to their respective mothers, who, despite the title of my rant, I'm quite sure DID teach them good manners.  Both are supposed to be gentlemen from the South, and as such, expected to set an example of educated civility, respect and refined dignity -- none of which was displayed by either by Cantor's juvenile texting or Wilson's grade-school, cowardly  shout out.  Is that the example you want to set or do you just revile THIS president because of his skin color?   And if your mothers aren't ashamed of your behavior, as an American citizen, I am ashamed of you both -- particularly Joe Wilson for being the first member of Congress to heckle the President of the United States during an address to Congress.  Congratulations pin head -- that's a legacy worthy of an ignorant petulant child.  What WAS a lie was when you claimed afterwards that your utterance was "spontaneous."  Who do you think you're kidding? The Republican strategy memo was leaked.  It was planned like an ambush and it only made YOU look unworthy to be a member of Congress. 

When addressing a formal letter to a member of the House, the correct greeting is, "The Honorable Representative...."  That's the way we non-elected officials are expected to address a member of Congress.  It's a token of respect for the office, not the man or woman.  It's a way to respectfully acknowledge the voters that office represents. It's a unique way to recognize the significant law-making powers of the office.  Wilson's outburst and Cantor's texting clearly signal to the world that both have: 
  • zero respect for the office of President of the United States, 
  • zero respect for the importance of the seat either of them fill and 
  • zero respect for those who made the effort to vote them into office let alone the rest of the citizens  in their respective districts.  
Respect is not shown for the elected official or the political party.  Respect is shown to the office and the importance of the work done for the American people.  Last night they both demonstrated themselves to be hooligans unworthy of the office and unworthy of respect. 

What they did was worse than the journalist who threw his shoes at Bush!  Yah.  Bush was the Republican's guy and the whole party got all "uppity" about that insult. The Dixie Chicks said what they thought about Bush and they got blacklisted by folks in the GOP.  Only Republicans have the right to Freedom of Speech, right? Got it.  Lord knows, if I had been an elected member of Congress during the Bush administration, I'd have had a damn hard time restraining myself from shouting, "You lie" during his speech about the reasons to invade Iraq -- and had I done that, I'd have been called a "Traitor!"  Calling Bush a liar during his speech to Congress would have been inexcusable -- just as Cantor's texting and Wilson's outburst were.   

To Joe and Eric -- I feel justified in addressing you so disrespectfully since you have dishonored your respective offices -- you both are a disgrace to your respective districts.  The rest of the world, except those people in your districts, will think all residents of South Carolina and Virginia are the same ignorant, boorish street-thugs you demonstrated yourselves to be last night.  As an American, I'm damned ashamed and angry with both of you.  You lost any credibility and entitlement to respect last night.  Wilson had to be "instructed" to apologize to the President by members of his party.  Imagine that!  He had to be told by his peers to apologize and the President accepted the insincere apology.  Well, I haven't accepted his apology.  Wilson and Cantor owe the people they represent an apology for how they shamed them, for how they shamed Congress and for how they shamed the United States.  

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

It's About People Not Politics

This is a short video from real people who need the kind of help with health care that only politicians have the power to fix.  It's not about the politicians, it's about the people.  Are the politicians listening to the people or looking at the polls and their campaign contributions? 

For the Firefox Friends: nyahhhh

funny pictures of cats with captions

(Thank you "I Can Has Cheeseburgers?" aka LOL Cats web site)
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Sunday Afternoon Radio

Apparently I make a practice of driving somewhere on Sunday afternoons just when "Speaking of Faith" is broadcast on NPR.  I was in my car today and the radio was tuned to NPR, as it always is (because I don't listen to music anymore when I drive). Once again I forgot about this program, how interesting it is and once again I was astonished at what I heard and how I found another area of self-discovery.  Today's episode was originally broadcast in 2008.  It was an interview with Seane Corn (about whom I know nothing), a highly regarded contemporary yoga teacher. During the interview Seane explained the real physical and/or mental health benefits of yoga.  But here's what stopped my breath for a beat: She offers her yoga moves as a gift, as intention of energy that becomes an expression of an emotion (for example intention to heal, to forgive, to love).  She often offers her yoga movement as healing energy to her father, who is dying of cancer.  The idea sent me into waves of memory and recognition.  I do yoga -- not at a studio and not everyday -- but I do it at home several days a week to keep my spine flexible and release tension.  I do it with the expectation that the results will benefit my body -- and that's pretty much it.  The idea of doing yoga as a conduit to transform fear, disappointment, helplessness into a source of energy that issues outward to benefit others is profound and powerful.  

I remember the first time I took a yoga class.  During one of the difficult (for me) poses, I began to weep.  I didn't make a sound but tears began to roll from my eyes like a faucet not tightly closed.  I didn't know why it was happening but it was as if something was trying to seep out of me like sweat.  It was startling and I felt embarrassed until the teacher told me it almost always happens the first time someone does yoga.  "Oh." I thought.  "I must be doing it right."  What I realized from listening to this less-than one hour was how healing yoga is.  I suspect that no one listening to this episode will ever look at prostitutes the same way.  I know.  Non sequitur, right?   It's not.  I could write so much more but listen for yourself, generous reader, at the Speaking of Faith web site.  There are videos of Seane demonstrating body prayer yoga, plus a longer version of the interview than was broadcast today, and other links to this work.

Those who are into yoga will undoubtedly know much more about this person than I. I found her philosophy and the work she's done introducing yoga to many disenfranchised people, particularly to "Children of the Night" in Los Angeles and to prostitutes in Thailand be inspirational.  

Friday, September 4, 2009

California Fires - How You Can Help the Animal Victims

I just got this and want to pass it along as quickly as possible.  If you're interested in helping care for animals in the aftermath of the Southern California wildfires there's a web site just for you:  To quote from the web site: "To discuss how you can help please contact Jessica at 415-448-0048 or email her at"

Sickening, Isn't It?

Friday, August 29, 2009, I saw a documentary except based on a book titled "Money-Driven Medicine"  on PBS's "Bill Moyers Journal".   What's unique about the information is its point of view.  Most of those interviewed were physicians who spoke about the intrusive, ineffective, harmful damage caused by the for-profit health insurance industry on the relationship between doctor and patient and health care.  They also talked about the unholy alliance between health insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industries.  The documentary will soon be available as a download from Amazon digital. The web site for Money-Driven Medicine suggests in-home screenings of this documentary be shared so groups of people can discuss the information.  We've heard from elected politicians, health insurance lobbyists and the easily frightened.  This documentary lets us hear what practicing physicians have to say, one of whom had a crushing experience of his own when his very young daughter was diagnosed with leukemia. You cannot imagine what happened.  To say the least,  I was shocked by what the physicians had to say.  I thought they'd be universally against Medicare or any form of public option or single-payer health care.

For those who think the public option isn't necessary and all that's needed is a few tweaks and regulations to the health insurance offered by for-profit corporations, consider this: the so-called health insurance industry has had more than 15 years to fix their rotting policies and practices ever since the failure of the Clinton administration to pass single payer insurance.  Have your premiums gone down?  Has your coverage increased for the premium you pay?  Has your co-pay gone down? Have you been able to switch health insurers without penalty for a pre-existing condition?  Is your health insurance portable (you keep your insurance if you move to a different state or change your employment)?  If your answer is a resounding "Yes!" then I know something about you.  You have Medicare or maybe health insurance through the V.A. (veteran's Administration).  Of course you have to be 65 to qualify for Medicare and a military veteran to qualify for V.A. health care benefits -- so many Americans don't qualify.  The rest of the insured know that all the standard expectations of "free market" and competition have not shown up in health insurance premiums, services, benefits or co-pays. Based on history, the health insurance industry has not and will not do ANY thing not required by law except take your money -- and if they are required by law, have historically spent millions of dollars a day lobbying to block or reverse the regulations.  The health insurance industry is no more willing to regulate themselves than the banks.  They are corporations so they cannot be driven by efficient delivery of health care, they must be driven by profits.  I'm not being cynical -- it is the number one priority for any publicly traded corporation.  How in the world could our Congress entrust something as important as the health care of their constituents to administrative entities driven by profit?  Oh yeah.  I remember  With the exception of Senator Ted Kennedy,  campaign contributions trump public advocacy any day.

Given how much almost all Republicans like to badmouth Medicare -- to the extent that some Republicans  (CongresswomanMichele Bachmann, Sen. Judson Hill, Sen. Chip Rogers) recently claimed that Medicare is "unconstitutional" under the 10th Amendment -- I wondered recently, what would happen if the Republicans successfully managed to eliminate Medicare?   Now, I don't think this is a good idea and I'm not trained in this kind of risk assessment so anything I project is only based on watching my relatives reach the age of 65.  The first thing that would surly happen is to leave millions of good folks 65 and older without health insurance.  Hope they have rich family members who can pay for health insurance from the "free market" sector because between pre-existing conditions and life-saving prescription drugs, the newly uninsured will not be able to afford the $1200 or more per month per person they will be charged for health insurance,  medications and co-pays (and that's based on an an extremely healthy 65 year old with no pre-existing condition). Oh, and I hope those relatives can provide a place for their "un-Medicared" relatives to live because there won't be enough money left in their Social Security check to pay for even a tiny place to live, utilities, food and all the medical expenses their new for-profit health insurance will not cover. There goes the Social Security check!  In the first 6 months after the huge number of formerly independent seniors who become dependent on the love and largess of their children, siblings or friends, many of the older elders will be dropped from health insurance altogether. `Cuz that's what health insurance companies do to protect profits.  Then, to paraphrase former President George W. Bush on health care, "There's the emergency room."  

For the untold remaining millions who don't have a family or social network to fall back on after the repeal of Medicare, there will be homelessness and living on the streets to look forward to in their sunset years.  What's to fear?  This is the way the aged elders in many cultures are treated. Some cultures deposit them on an ice floe and shove them off to sea with a one way ticket. Some nomadic cultures sneak away in the night and abandon their sleeping elders as the younger tribe members move on to the next location. We can all devolve back to a Neanderthal existence.  Lovely! It's all very dramatic.  That won't tarnish America's "Shining Light"  beacon image we like to think we have in the world. Except, there's serious money to be made in providing health care for the aging members of our society.  The other thing I suspect will happen is a serious fight by the pharmaceutical companies, health care providers and ancillary insurance companies to prevent Medicare's demise. In the cold light of day, Medicare helps pay the salaries of a lot of physical therapists, doctors, nurses, receptionists, hospice workers, pharmacists and drug company employees, let alone all the other ancillary assistance products like canes, walkers, artificial knees, Titanium hips, incontinence pads and procedures like cataract removal surgery that's   required to assure the best health care is provided to our dearly beloved parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. 

Frankly, I don't see what's so hard to figure out.  Open up Medicare to anyone who can pay the premiums.  Those who want to sign up can, the rest can keep paying for the free-market plans. Oh, the "free market" health insurance providers won't be able to compete?  Too bad.  They've had since Nixon's administration to figure out how to offer affordable health care.  My heart bleeds big flat bed trucks worth of my life savings for you, you blood sucking leeches.  

More About Free Kibble

I gave a brief mention in an earlier blog about the wonderful website: where one can answer a daily trivia question about dogs and/or cats, and regardless whether you select the right answer, a homeless dog and/or cat gets some food.  It's brilliant and it's a way to do an unconditional daily good deed.  Well!  This fabulous effort has generated over 1.5 million meals to homeless dogs and cats in shelters desperately in need around the U.S.  Isn't that wondrously fantastic?  But wait, there's more!  You can follow FreeKibble on Twitter and Halo pet food (co-owned by Ellen Degeneres) will donate a meal to FreeKibble to feed shelter dogs and cats and an additional meal for each follower of Halo on Twitter. The full story is on their blog.