My Spam Rubber

Akismet has protected my site from 284,202 spam posts already. They roll themselves out to protect me from spam venereal disease. Oh, I’m so popular with the algorithm machines. They tell me I’m writing “most great best post” and I can “learn sell many item on special marketing plan.” For some reason, it’s not enough to tempt me. I don’t even see them anymore. Years and years ago when this started, I’d get them in my inbox. This was back in the day when people actually read blogs and wrote real comments on them and you could actually meet people in faraway places and become friends with them. Nowadays, people “like” blogs so you’ll go read theirs and “like” them back so they get followers because having followers and being liked in this way is more important than reality and in fact some people kill themselves because they don’t have enough of them. Tragic. It’s all fucking marketing and I fucking hate it. I’d rather have spam than that shit. I can’t stand the commodification of everything–EVERYTHING. It’s all facebookified. Gag, spit, puke, blurbppprtth. NO.

When I get comments now, they are to tell me to go look at someone’s blog on how to “market” myself. Hard as it is to believe, I have no desire to market myself, and if I did, it wouldn’t be through my blog. So the blog goes unused, but the spams keep coming, only I don’t have to look at them.

I wrote to wordpress and asked about taking back my domain. I claimed and bought it years ago and they “kindly” set it up to pay them for it each year. Well, they sold it on to the domain monopoly. They didn’t ask me. They didn’t make it clear what they were doing. I didn’t sign anything. They just took it. Now if I want it the domain monopoly wants thousands of dollars. For my own fucking name. That I bought and didn’t say anyone could have. This is the world we live in. Creaky, greasy, greedy end of empire.

Have you noticed that internet searching has changed? Type in anything (into startpage because I don’t want my searches monopolized either) and good ol’ greedy Amazon will be at the top. I’ve taken to typing in a minus amazon when I want something. Or type in something you just want to know about and the first sites are those selling something. Just want information? Good luck with that. I often put in site:edu so I get education sites.

I’m PROTECTED. Akismet as prophylactic. “Do you want a condom with that?” We are getting to the point where existing in culture requires we sheathe ourselves in rubber. I don’t want spam, likes, marketing, electronic billboards, being tracked to sell me stuff, any of it, so I wrap myself in a metaphorical rubber to keep it all out by staying off the blog I used to enjoy, never searching on the google, refusing to enter “contests” for a “chance” to win, having no television, never turning on a radio, going into the settings buried deep in my phone and turning off location services and tracking and following and notifying and bugging and bothering. It’s like being followed by a pack of blood-sucking gnats all the time, a little cloud of them surrounding us trying to suck out our blood and marrow and life. No wonder everyone is so exhausted. Late stage capitalism is a fucking vampire.

How did I get here? Not where I intended to go. I just thought it was funny that I’ve had 284,202 spam messages, and “115 are still in my inbox.”

This culture…

…makes me want to blow something up.

Link to ban pig cages. Click this link if you want to sign an online petition that will do nothing and go nowhere, but will make you feel better for having done “something.”

I have spent the last 3 days nursing a baby chicken that will probably die. She is in my bra right now, keeping warm against my breast, peeping when I move. She is weak and I’m not sure what is wrong with her. I prize her little beak open with a toothpick and pop in pieces of chick feed. I dip her beak in water laced with probiotics and electrolytes. She was born in an incubator, fed some gel with vitamins in it, and mailed in a box with 24 other babies the day she was born. Her mother lays eggs. Constantly. She will never know this baby and her baby will never know her mother. These eggs are placed in the incubator that makes the babies that get shipped around the world. It takes too much time for Mama to brood those babies. Better to get them in an assembly line and send them out. Oh, and before they’re mailed out, someone who is trained to run their thumb along their vent, essentially their anus and egg tube, ascertains whether they are male or female. If the person isn’t careful they can kill the chick by destroying its internal organs. This sometimes happens, but you know. Collateral damage and all that. So they separate the girls and the boys. The males, no one talks about what happens to those chicks, though in death culture, it’s a pretty good bet that it’s nothing pretty. Those who pass the test are mailed out. They usually toss in a couple of extra because it’s a given that some won’t make it. The weak ones. The weak ones, who if they get as far as the farm store or the home of the well meaning buyer, will likely die soon and get picked on in the process. Nature, you know. She’s a bitch. Except this isn’t fucking nature. It’s fucking insane and I’ve been just grieving it because to me, this entire way of doing things is a perfect metaphor for just how fucked up this culture is. Taking these babies BABIES! and fucking MAILING them. We have no soul.

In any case, I went to the farm store to buy some food for my horses. I peeked in the chicken cage to see the babies and I saw her sitting there, not doing well. A couple of the strong ones went and pecked her, and yeah, if it really were nature and she were out in the wild and were weak, that would be the best place to leave her. But this wasn’t fucking nature. This was a steel cage with red light bulbs and people staring in at these babies, so I opened the door and I scooped her out and I have kept her on me ever since. She has slept two nights sleeping in a bandana around my neck because it keeps her warm. Then tonight I turned on the facebook—a foolish thing to do, because there was this damn online petition to stop the caging of pigs and the photo accompanying it was so awful and so TYPICAL and so like the situation with these baby birds. Right. Sign an online petition and maybe someone will give a shit and ban these cages? Somehow, I doubt it. But the people “signing” it can feel like they did their duty and then get on with their lives. Fuck. Part of me doesn’t begrudge them trying to survive. But part of me does. Part of me begrudges them a damn lot. I’ll say something on the facebook and be that person again who turns the mirror at people and they’ll remove me from their notification list so their posts of online petitions don’t show up in my feed  and then I’ll tell them how useless this is. So turn me off because they don’t want to fucking know and this MAKES ME CRAZY. I post a happy picture of the baby chicks who were healthy frolicking on my desk and everyone gives me a thumbs up. I post all the bullshit that is wrong with this world and it’s crickets. My posts are a veritable field of crickets. Lonely crickets chirping through the night. No one likes the naysayers.

Ack. Why am I writing this? So I might feel a tenuous connection to someone, anyone who might get it. Might understand this frustration and grief. I HATE this culture with my entire being and soul. Saying it doesn’t make it better. I only hope I can save this one baby chick from this fucked up messed up WRONG world that hurts so much I can barely take it. It really and truly makes me want to blow something up.

Addendum the next day: I realized this morning that getting stuck in being angry just keeps the ugly going. Rather, I am going to continue to focus on being decent and loving. This doesn’t mean I’m not angry; just that if I think about blowing things up it just makes me feel worse. Doesn’t the anger come from the deepest love? It’s the manifestation of the anger that can be soul sucking. This culture likes to suck our soul through helplessness and frustration. I will instead put all my focus into loving this little darling right here. She made it through another night. Her breakfast this morning was cottage cheese, which was way easier to feed than chick crumbles. She perked right up then got super sleepy. Her little eyes closed, then her head gradually fell forward onto her little beak. Snore… Oh my goodness, she is the most precious little dear. I am in love with her sweetness. My poodle Oliver is lying on my lap snoring too. The sleepy family. They are wonderful.

Addendum later the next day: She died. I’m lucky I got to spend the time with her that I did. She was a blessing.

Identify with Truth

We live in an alternate reality, a reality where if we say up is down and down is up then it must be so, and anyone who dares question this better run for the hills because they will come for you. In today’s reality, the child who pointed out that the emperor was naked would have been stoned for pointing out the obvious because pointing out the obvious and stating the truth means that the child is infringing on the rights of the emperor to identify as wearing fancy clothes.

Yesterday I stumbled into one of these modern “conversations” (if you could call it that) that was stepping into a rabbit hole of this modern insanity. I honestly don’t even know what got things going. I did not read through the entire thread. I just saw that someone had posted that The Midwives Alliance of North America was saying that if someone claimed men cannot give birth, then that person was “transphobic” and their words were “hate speech.”

Genuinely baffled, I asked the question, “How is it that stating the obvious is transphobic? What does phobia have to do with any of it?” I do know that the use of the word phobic has been attached to any kind of group hatred, when it really isn’t a phobia, but the label can suit. However here, I could not see how the label suited. How is saying men can’t give birth hatred of trans people?

I also pointed out that in claiming that men can give birth, it is  a complete dismissal of my experience as a female who has carried a child in my body and has given birth, and all of the attendant experiences of being a female outside of birthing and mothering. I said, “Please tell me how it is “transphobic” to point out something that is simply true? Where is the phobia in this? I don’t think it’s fair that a man can compare his body to mine. He has not and will never give birth. He has not and will never experience carrying a child in his womb; indeed he has no womb. He has not and will never experience what it is to be female, even if he cloaks himself in all that a female would experience. He will never experience menstruation and everything associated with it. Why is it considered “transphobic” to state this very obvious fact? It dismisses and diminishes my pregnancy and birth experience. It dismisses and diminishes the legacy of being a woman. It is thievery to try and take this away.

In response, I was called a TERF and some other acronyms. I was called a transphobe. I was told my words were “hate speech,” and told by one person that they “knew several men who had wombs and had given birth.”

I sat and stared at my computer screen in complete and utter bafflement. WTF? Had some scientific calamity worse than cloning happened whereby humans decided they wanted men to have wombs and give birth so now it is so? Seriously? Are they transplanting them? How are they doing the hormones? Again, WTF?

Then it dawned on me. Oh! I get it. It’s a labeling thing, a language problem. The person who gave birth was actually a biological female. She just called herself a man and lived as a man so she is a man–or rather he is a man–so therefore men gave birth. What a fucking clusterfuck.

So I said so. I said, This is a label thing. You’re labeling biological females as men, so then men can give birth. I get it. Then I got online screamed at for stating this, telling me that it isn’t a “label” thing, but an “identity” thing, said very sarcastically because I’m clearly not in the know and I’m infringing on someone else’s rights by failing to label the identity thing the identity thing by calling it a labeling thing.

Honestly, before this, I thought I got it. I figured someone wants to identify as something else, more power to them, but it doesn’t change their biology. I also knew that there are some very rabid and abusive biological men who call themselves transwomen who verbally abuse and threaten violence on anyone who dares to question this identity, regardless of biology. Apparently there are also those who know “transmen” and who are “transmen” (biological females calling themselves men) who will also verbally assault and threaten violence on anyone who dares question their reality, too. This is a rabbit hole, and a scary one at that. On college campuses across the US, this “reality” is taught as reality called “Queer Theory,” and anyone who questions it is shut down, often viciously, including losing their livelihoods. This is insane. What is more insane is that the Midwives Alliance of North America, a group that purportedly exists to help females give birth, a group specifically by and for mothers, is filled with those who buy into this nonsense.

The people “yelling” at me for daring to question their identity reality asked me why I thought it was offensive that men could step in and take over my female experience. They asked how in the world does this impact me?

My response was that first, it is intellectually dishonest to on the one hand claim that individuals who want to identify as something biologically impossible can’t be questioned about this, but when I claim as an individual that I find it offensive for a man to co-opt my experience as a woman and as a mother, I am being abusive. At every avenue they shut down any discourse. Because many people who identify as something other than their biology have often been the victims of horrible abuse, those who support them see any questioning of their choices as abusive, too. They can’t see their own abusive behavior however, quickly jumping to the offensive while believing themselves on the defensive in protection of these victims who identify.

My second response was to say that I have decided that I am going to identify as a black woman. I have kinky hair; I’ll just dye it black. I will go and tan until I’m dark brown and wear brown contact lenses. I will change my name to Lakeisha and hang out with my homies. I’ll listen to Beyoncé and Rihanna because they are my sistahs. I’ll wear a lot of bling. I can share in the black experience of exploitation and slavery. I can fight to ride on the front of the bus, holding the deaths of Hayes and Mary Turner in my heart because their experience is my experience because I want it to be and therefore it is so.

All of this identity bullshit, and yes, I’m beginning to consider it all bullshit, is just co opting stereotypes. It is fully buying into the culture that creates the stereotype. If you aren’t a part of the dominant culture that creates the stereotype then you wouldn’t have a stereotype to co-opt because the stereotypes come from the dominant culture.

If I want to identify as a black woman, I’ll take the stereotypes of what it means to be a black woman and appropriate them, tell everyone that this is how I identify, and then it is true. If anyone questions me, then they are being hateful and infringing on my rights. I am changing my identity in response to abuse by the patriarchal system and the dominant culture, so as a victim of this system, I have a right to do so.

How is this in any way different than co-opting the stereotypes of the biology of male and females and then abusing anyone who questions it? It isn’t. A biological male who wants to claim my experience as a female who has carried children in my womb and given birth and is a mother and has experienced all there is to experience as a female is offensive. My saying so isn’t hate speech, it’s truth. Those who call truth hate speech are just the same as abusers in every other situation: they are projecting onto their victims what they are and what they do. Threatening me, verbally abusing me, trying to shut down these words is abuse.  Considering the dominant culture is completely abusive and well, domineering, none of this is surprising. It is the product of the people of the lie, where lies are truth and the truth is a lie. Keep everyone guessing so no one knows what is real anymore.

I used to work in an office with a sociopath. For the first six months, I thought everything was hunky dory. Gradually however, I started to question what was right in front of my face. Am I insane? I wondered. Wait, did I just experience that, or am I losing my mind? Over and over, I questioned reality and my sanity. When I finally reached out and asked a women who was becoming my friend if the insane reality I was experiencing was indeed reality, she confirmed it. No, you are not insane. Yes, what you are experiencing is true. Yes, the person causing all of this is an abusive sociopath.

This is how it is in this culture. It is a sociopathic, insane system where up is down and down is up and if you question it then you are the bad guy. Little children may not point out that the emperor is naked.

We must all resist this. We must all continue to speak the truth even if those who would co-opt and change and act like the sociopaths that they are would try to shut us down and threaten us with violence. Identify with truth, even if it kills you. It is only in refusing to participate in the house of mirrors madness they would have us believe is reality can we have any hope of shutting it down.

Round Peg in a Square Hole

In 2008 I sold a house. I had remodeled the house back to its original character, pulling out 70s carpet and mobile home wallboard, and installing built-ins and woodworking true to the house’s 1920’s charm. After the sale, I realized I had forgotten a little ceramic sun, a smiling cherub made by a local artist. I went to the house and asked the buyers if they had the sun. They told me they had thrown it away. Shocked and hurt, I said goodbye and left. Over the next several months, I heard from neighbors I remained in touch with that they had ripped out the built-in bookshelves, torn out all the shrubs in the back yard, and cut down the giant tree in the front yard. After hearing this I vowed never to return to this place into which I had poured literally years of my life making beautiful. I did not want to see how it had been ruined.

Five years ago I bought another bungalow, my first after the sale of the house in 2008. Built in 1941, it had been a rental for over 20 years. The seller chose mine from several offers based on the letter I wrote to her telling her about my two daughters and my desire to make a home for them. I loved this little house. It was darling and sweet, with an arch between the dining and living room, and tiny arches over the door bell on the wall and the phone nook. This little place was simply lovely.

The seller had installed new windows and had some plumbing done before the sale. She installed a new sewer line, which tore up the front yard. She covered the wound with sod to spruce things up. Upon move in, I set out to create a habitat for birds and bees. I covered the sod with native plants in varying sizes. I installed a watering system to keep everyone happy in the summer. I nurtured and watered and pulled the grass out by hand. No poisons touched this place. I planted small trees that grew tall, fluffy medium bushes, and flowers–so many flowers! Every spring and summer the yard hummed with the life of pollinators and birds, flitting among the plant life, which grew prolifically.

In spite of my love for this adorable house, I gradually grew to despise the city in which it was located. Thousands upon thousands of people were moving into Portland, and it was changing, and not in a good way. It stopped being friendly. Traffic became unbearable. Costs skyrocketed. I decided I needed to live somewhere less obnoxious, plus our whole family wanted to be closer to the land and away from cement and fuel exhaust and noise. After nearly two years of consideration I put my little house on the market, vowing that this time I would find a buyer who loved the house as much as I had. Someone who would care for the plants and gardens. Someone who cared about the character of the place and would not rip out the built-ins in the kitchen to replace with ugly granite counters and steel appliances.

Immediately after listing, someone stole four blueberry bushes out of the backyard. They dug them up, filled in the holes, and covered them with mulch. This broke my heart. I cried and cried, hoping that whomever had taken them would care for them as much as I had. I could only hope that they would show as much care for these plants as they had for hiding the evidence of their thievery.

I received a couple of offers, but both were much below asking price. Two weeks after listing, I received an offer that was below what I was asking, but not by much. As part of the offer, the prospective buyers wrote me a letter telling me how lovely the plants and landscaping were, and how they had seen the yard grow and change over the years, and how this made the house special to them. Oh wonderful! I thought. These are the kind of people I’m talking about. These people will take care of my house. I counter offered to a higher price and they accepted.

I have often in my life discovered that I can be quite naive when it comes to treachery. I don’t see it coming and when it happens, I am shocked and angered at my own naivete. In spite of my efforts to try and make this house sale different, I stupidly did not ask the right questions and made assumptions based on this letter that the people actually wanted to live there and leave the plants alone.

Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. They have been gutting it and have a for rent sign out front and are planning to “thin” the trees and plants. Even worse, the neighbors discovered they are turning my darling bungalow into a duplex! (Although I guess I can’t call it mine anymore, now can I?) And unfortunately, since I let the guy know I was upset about this, he isn’t letting me come and remove the plants he is planning to kill at the end of the week. When I told the guy that I felt like I had been misled, he told me that he should never have talked to me because I am “too emotional.” Basically, Mr. Lack of Empathy turned his being a lying asshole into my problem because I had an emotional reaction to his destruction and dishonesty. What is really remarkable to me is that I had not really expressed much when he said this.

I’ve spoken to the neighbor, begged him to get in there and rescue things before they are killed. I don’t know if he will do it. He is one of the few people I know who loves plants as much as I do, but his yard is full and his husband has told him no more plants. I asked him just to take them out and I’ll come get them. The most frustrating part of this is the powerlessness that I feel. If I lived just a little bit closer, I would be there now with buckets and a shovel bringing those plants here with me. Getting further away from that city makes it that much harder to get there if I have some need to. I am going to complain about the realtor who brokered this deal, the realtor who allowed these people to lie to me and lead me to believe they were going to live in this house and take care of the plants when they were planning otherwise. I had many conversations with him about my desires. He knew what I wanted. He may have represented them and had a duty to them, but he also had a duty to be honest, and giving me a letter that implied other than their intentions was dishonest. At the very least, I am going to post reviews of him everywhere I can.

I don’t fit in this death culture. Most people, when they hear this story, ask me, “What’s the big deal? They’re just plants.” But why should it matter less because they are plants? Why are their lives worth less? Plus even more than that, what about the fact that habitat I created that was teeming with life? Why don’t those lives matter? For whatever reason, these liars want to destroy this mini ecosystem. No reason they could offer is justification for misleading me or for doing any of it. They want to gut the house and remodel? Fine, whatever. I’ve lived that. But to take out the plant life and destroy it, too is simply wrong. And telling me that this was what made the house so beautiful and special, just so that I would accept their offer is just plain evil.

This is the review I wrote on  the agent who represented the buyers: Mr. Michalowski represented the buyers when I sold my house. As part of their offer, the buyers wrote me a nice letter stating how much they loved the landscaping and beauty of my charming little home, and how they had enjoyed watching in change during the years that I owned it. In the course of negotiations, I explained to Mr. Michalowski that I was excited to have someone interested who wanted to live in and take care of my house. I told him that I didn’t want someone who was just going to rent it out. He never once insinuated that the buyer’s letter was a complete lie and that they intended to gut the house, kill the plants I had spent years nurturing, and turn the thing into a duplex. He did well by his clients, letting them lie to me so that the sale would go through. Now the sale is done, his pockets are lined, and the neighbors I promised would have a family next door will be subject to living with renters who don’t give a damn about the house or anything associated with it. I offered to take any plants the buyers wouldn’t want, but Mr. Michalowski said the sellers could make these arrangements once the sale was done. Landscapers are coming this week to “thin” including taking out trees I spent a fortune on and spent years nurturing to ensure they would grow. Devious and void of any integrity, that is how I would describe both these buyers and Mr. Michalowski. If you want an agent who will do the devil’s bidding, if you want a smooth operator who will skillfully lie and evade, he’s your man. If you want honesty and above-board negotiations and information, run.

Snark

Is it possible for people to admire someone for work they have done without being obsequious about it? Especially someone who has done work that is more famous than is common? It’s as if in an attempt to show respect, they become groveling fools.

I watched a video put out by an author/speaker whose work I admire. He is doing a series of them. I really enjoyed the video. It made me think about some heavy concepts in a new way. Good stuff, I thought. I thought to perhaps write a comment and express my gratitude to the author/speaker in the video. Then I read the other comments at the top of the thread and couldn’t do it. They were all so belly-baring submissive and unctuous, I couldn’t add my words to the list; I could not be so ingratiating and servile. Ick.

Another in the long line of perfect videos, FIRST NAME OF AUTHOR/SPEAKER! You just can’t say anything wrong! Your words are truly powerful! It’s too bad more people don’t agree with you and spread the word! The world would be a better place if everyone did! This is just awesome! Here’s a little anecdote from my own life to show how similar we are. Oh, and I hope you had a wonderful birthday back on December 8 (See? I know your birthday!). What would we do without you?

Find another victim?

The other part of these is the use of the first name of the author/speaker, as if the person is part of a first name relationship with them, and also to add a little story of their own to try and find such a connection. There is also the punctuating of every! single! sentence! with an EXCLAMATION POINT!! Because we are so EXCITED TOO!! A bouncing servility! That’s it.

I went back to the video that led to this diatribe and read through some of the comments for examples. I felt bad for the people writing them. For whatever reason they need to be this way. Who I am to rain on their parade? I realized I’m being snarky. I am. I’ll stop.

All of this is a Tragedy

This essay can also be found here on Huffington Post.

I woke up too early and made the mistake of looking at Facebook. I had disabled the account for years, but reinstated it because it was how the boarders at my barn communicated, and I needed to be able to communicate with them. The timing couldn’t be worse. The election was right around the corner and everyone was doing that dance. I figured out pretty quickly that I could “hide” a post, so that made it more tolerable when I would go online. The thing about Facebook is that it can be easy to turn to it in times of boredom or whatever. I went for years without doing that, but picked it right back up again when I turned the thing back on. What a mistake.

Since the election is over, most of my feed is filled with people literally freaking out and losing their minds over this election. They are so upset that Trump won, and they’re so fearful of the outcome, they are ruining every moment they are in being upset. Yet some of the people in my feed were posting stuff I agree with, describing just how wretched things would have been with Clinton, too. Scrolling through my feed, I came upon one of these posts and read through it. In this post I discovered something I had not known. I knew the US murdered Gaddafi. I knew the politics surrounding this murder. I knew about Clinton laughing about it.

What I didn’t know was that the man had been sodomized and tortured before he was murdered.

Seriously. This human being. This person. He was SODOMIZED and murdered, and then Clinton laughed about it!! This person took pleasure in the torture and murder of another person. And these people, my “friends,” are all upset about this person not being the president? How could any of these people want this person to be their leader? What is wrong with people? She is just as bad as he is. They are BOTH evil! Why can’t people get this?

I can hear the arguments in support of this murder. He was a dictator! He killed people! He tortured too! My response to them? So what? It doesn’t matter. It DOESN’T matter! He could have been as evil as her, but does this justify and make what was done to him okay? It does not. It simply does not. What he did does not justify doing what was done to him. Just because someone was horrible does not give you a free pass to be horrible, too. To do so is pure hypocrisy.

After sharing the post on Facebook I tried to go back to sleep, but couldn’t. I kept thinking about this sodomization of Gaddafi and it made me horribly, horribly sad. I finally called my night owl friend, Debbie. I knew she would be awake. I said to her, “I read that they did something to Gaddafi’s anus. Is this true?” She told me that it was, that he was sodomized and murdered.

Gaddafi was a human being. Clinton was a huge part of this. She laughed about it, and my friends are upset she didn’t win? She is just as bad as Trump. In fact, she is worse. If she were the President-elect, all my friends would be celebrating and back to business as usual, and more murder would go on in our names.

Trump winning isn’t something to mourn. It’s an opportunity. It’s a chance to look in the mirror and see what responsibility we bear in creating this mess, because we all bear some responsibility. Turning our backs on the actions of our so-called leaders is our responsibility. Ignoring the actions of those who murder in our name is our responsibility. Everything that this country does that we make no effort to know about, the way that the poor are stigmatized and ignored, or kicked to the curb because their tents are in our way is our responsibility. The way this planet is being raped and pillaged and destroyed for the gains of a few is our responsibility. So much and more is our responsibility.

Feeling sad about the “pretty” Obama family leaving the White House? Feeling sentimental and worrying that your new President isn’t “Presidential” enough? Here is a snapshot of what was done in your name by the pretty President while you were busy choosing what car to buy or where to send your kid to preschool:

* Put boots on the ground in Syria , despite 16 times saying “no boots on the ground.”
* Despite campaign pledges, planned a $1 trillion program to add more nuclear weapons to the US arsenal in the next 30 years.
* Started a new war on terror – this one on ISIS.
* Dropped bombs in 7 Muslim countries; and then bragged about it.
* Said, “I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being.”
* Bragged about his use of drones: I’m “really good at killing people.”
* Deported a modern-record 2 million immigrants.
* Signed the Monsanto Protection Act into law.
* Started a new war in Iraq.
* Initiated, and personally oversees a ‘Secret Kill List’.
* Pushed for war on Syria while siding with al-Qaeda .
* Backed neo-Nazis in Ukraine.
* Supported Israel’s wars and occupation of Palestine.
* Deployed Special Ops to 134 countries, compared to 60 under Bush.
* Did a TV commercial promoting “clean coal.”
* Drastically escalated the NSA spying program.
* Signed the NDAA into law, making it legal to assassinate Americans without charge or trial.
* Given Bush absolute immunity for everything.
* Pushed for a TPP Trade Pact.
* Signed more executive memorandums than any other president in history.
* Sold $30 billion of weapons to the dictatorship in Saudi Arabia.
* Signed an agreement for 7 military bases in Colombia.
* Opened a military base in Chile.
* Touted nuclear power, even after the disaster in Japan.
* Opened up deepwater oil drilling, even after the BP disaster.
* Mandated the Insider Threat Program which orders federal employees to report suspicious actions of their colleagues.
* Defended body scans and pat-downs at airports.
* Signed the Patriot Act extension into law.
* Launched 20,000 Airstrikes in his first term.
* Continued Bush’s rendition program.
* Said the U.S. is the “one indispensable nation” in the world.
* Waged war on Libya without congressional approval.
* Started a covert, drone war in Yemen.
* Escalated the proxy war in Somalia.
* Escalated the CIA drone war in Pakistan.
* Sharply escalated the war in Afghanistan.
* Repealed the Propaganda ban, making it legal to spread government propaganda via news outlets.
* Assassinated 4 US citizens with drone strikes.

Source:-
https://www.stpete4peace.org/obama-fact-sheet

One they missed was failing to close Guantanamo.

Cry and whine and go lick your perceived wounds, or try to do something different. There is the challenge. Good luck with it.

Happy Hamster Computers Sucks

I bought a computer from Happy Hamster after struggling to maintain an old laptop I use for work years past its sell-by date. When it finally crashed, they managed to scrape some material from the hard drive for me. Windows 10 had recently reared its ugly head and, upon hearing my complaint that I did not want a computer with Windows 10 on it, sold me a business-class laptop with Windows 7. I paid more than I would have for something at Costco or the like, but figured with the warranty from HH and Windows 7, what could go wrong?

Plenty, as it turned out. The thing started crashing nearly immediately. I took it into HH. They blamed my anti-virus software, highly rated anti-virus software a close friend has used without issue for years. I removed the anti-virus software. The issues persisted. Blue screen 2-3 times a day. Crashing constantly. I took it in again. And again. And again. Each time, they blamed something in the software, everything BUT the computer (which turned out to be refurbished, not new, but whatever). They tried to sell me their service to seek out dangerous viruses, because that had to be the problem. It couldn’t possibly be that the computer they sold me was a lemon. They finally said they could send it back to the manufacturer, which would take at least a week. Now, maybe all of this wouldn’t be such a problem for some people. Doubtful, but it’s possible. However, I used this computer for work. My livelihood depended on it. In addition, I was in a master’s program and using it for school too. In no way was it possible to be without it for a week. I didn’t have another computer to use as a backup. I didn’t have $800 to throw at another computer. Never once did they offer a loaner or offer an exchange. They just kept shaking their heads and doing really nothing at all.

Finally I took it to another shop who set up another user and charged me $250 to do so, something HH had done during one of my many visits and had not worked. It didn’t work this time either. They also wanted to reinstall Windows, something I would have done, too. However, since the install disks weren’t given to me by HH, neither of us were able to do so without, you guessed it, sending it back to the manufacturer. One thing they did confirm and determine was that none of this was being caused by some big, bad virus, HH’s go-to answer for all I was experiencing. I finally determined I was going to have to suffer through until I really had a week to send it back to the manufacturer.

Nearly a year later, and close to the year warranty deadline, after dutifully backing everything up 20 different ways, I was able to leave the computer for a week while I went on vacation. I took it into HH, gave them the mile-long list of trouble I had been documenting since minute one. (Every time the thing blue screened on me, I would save the report Windows gave of the problem.) When I returned from vacation, it turned out they had not sent it off to the manufacturer, but had reinstalled Windows. I brought the computer home and the blue screen issues had resolved. Yet immediately upon return, any time I booted up the computer, I was shown yet another warning, that my battery capacity was “dangerously low” and that I needed to do something about it. The one day I took the thing off electric power and ran it on the battery, it died within ten minutes. I dashed off an email to HH asking why the battery suddenly had no capacity. I was told that batteries are notoriously iffy that way and I could get a new one for about 40 bucks. This for a battery I had been using less than a year, and mostly plugged in.

I have no faith in Happy Hamster. They might be able to recover lost data for people, but don’t buy their computers. If the computer you buy from them does not work, they will not fix it or replace it. They will give you the runaround and expect you to figure it out alone. If I were reviewing them, I would give them 2 stars instead of 1 only because the one fellow with whom I mostly interacted was extremely sweet and polite. I really liked him. Happy Hamster I don’t like. Not one bit. Today I spent 35 minutes getting into my computer after another, yet ANOTHER blue screen. What a joke.

How Not to React?

Modern civilization’s poisons do not agree with me. They make my skin itch, my nose and lungs snort and sneeze, my toenails crumble, my brain refuse to sleep, my body react in rashes and aches and all assortment of physiological responses. My body says, No! to the way things are.

I do the dances necessary to avoid these things. I turn up my nose at edible food-like substances pretending they are something I would want to ingest. I do not use lotions and potions and other chemicals in an effort to avoid one of those dratted physiological responses. I don’t drink alcohol because it makes my stomach ill and my head hurt. I don’t take drugs (including “legal” ones) because my body yells at me when I do. I don’t eat meat, or vegetables with chemicals on them. I don’t wear metal because it makes me itch.

I do ALL OF THESE THINGS and AVOID ALL THE BAD THINGS, yet I still, still! have reactions to the world around me because in spite of my controlling all the things I can control, there is still oh, so much that is outside of my control and damn it if my body doesn’t react to that crap, too. What the hell is a person supposed to do? How do we get away when the dominant culture doesn’t give a shit if your body reacts to the garbage they are dumping into the atmosphere and onto the surface of the earth and into its waters? They have even co-opted the attempts to avoid by making “detoxification” something one can pay for as well. Here, let’s poison you, and we’ll charge you to do it, and then, Here, let’s detoxify you, and we’ll charge you for that as well. (This ensures you stay on the treadmill this system has created to keep you a slave and take your life. (We’ll let you pretend that your life is your own, but we know better.))

I suppose the only thing that I can do is to keep avoiding as much as I can and be like the rest of the non-human world that has to contend with us and our ways, hiding under my rock or in my nest. Outer space simply isn’t an option.

Portland is so Friendly

Portland is so friendly. There is a show about how hip and nice everyone is. Lots of people are moving here. But shhh, don’t mention that the livability everyone raves about is virtually gone. Rents are sky high. Traffic is abominable. Food prices remain stagnantly high even though the price of gas has been consistently low for years. Jobs are scarce and wages are below national averages, but hey! We have a great t.v. show named after us and that’s just swell, right? If we told the truth about how Portland really is, all the people who think it is so wonderful might not make the move and the city “leaders” would lose all that commerce kickback and that would be bad. Other Americans watch the special show and see the Subarus at the stop signs waving one another through, and the friendly restaurant customers making sure they know the chicken’s history before they will eat it, and think Oh! I want to be in a place like this!

Let me you in on a little secret: It’s all an act. Portlanders aren’t really so friendly; they just want you to think they are friendly. It’s friendliness for an audience: I’ll speak really loudly in the grocery store offering you the cantaloupe we both reached for so everyone knows how friendly I really am; I’ll wave through the car in front of me so all the cars at the stop sign can see I’m friendly while ignoring the 18 cars stuck behind me; I’ll drive really slowly behind the bike in the middle of the road going 4 miles per hour because Hey! I’m chill with with it. Nevermind that the biker isn’t friendly at all and will chase you down and flip your ass off if you dare go around him because “sharing the road” means people driving cars are all assholes who deserve to die while bikers are revered Gods who can do whatever they want. They get a pass from the courtesy rules of Portland because they are riding bikes and that is better for the planet, right?

If I seem sarcastic (and how could I not, because I am being incredibly sarcastic), it is because I have lived in Oregon my entire life and Portland off and on since 1988 and I know that the marketing campaign that paints Portland as it is is complete bullshit. I’ve known this for years. Anyone who has lived here most of their adult life knows it is bullshit. We talk about it being bullshit. So why now am I suddenly discussing the bullshit on my blog?

I live in the Overlook neighborhood of north Portland. I don’t live in the Overlook neighborhood proper overlooking the ridge for which the neighborhood gets its name. I live over toward Arbor Lodge. It is less ostentatious, more racially diverse, and less economically advantaged over here, but that is changing rapidly.

Mine is currently a BadAss neighborhood. A few years ago, some guys made a Portland Badassness Map. They put together all the little things they thought made the different neighborhoods in Portland cool and hip, that is Badass. See it here. My neighborhood is moving up that list. I think their criteria included the ability to walk to bars, beers, food carts, strip bars, and coffee, but really it comes down to the most gentrified and expensive. (They could have sorted it by which neighborhood had cast out the most poor and colored people and replaced them with white educated people and it would have kept the same parameters. The Pearl (and these italics are so that the name is stated with a hint of sarcasm) is a “Hella Badass” neighborhood, the Pearl being the most stolen-from-the-poor-and-given-to-the-rich-neighborhood of all and one of the reasons all those people keep flooding in.)

I realize that in my neighborhood I am one of the gentrifiers. I didn’t know I was doing it when I did it. I just wanted a house I could afford and when I bought my tiny little house that had been a rental for 20 years I had no idea that my neighborhood would soon be a hotbed of coolness and that the value of my house would nearly double within three years, but such is the nature of gentrification. One of the things I valued about the neighborhood when I bought it was the fact that there were many brown faces walking by. Lately, the brownness is disappearing. I also valued the fact that all of the children in my daughter’s school weren’t wealthy. I’ll bet that will disappear too as the prices continue to climb.

But I digress. I was on a rampage about the Overlook Neighborhood Association. I never did go there, did I?

So I live in the Overlook neighborhood and there is an Overlook Neighborhood Association. They hold meetings and print a paper that is favorable to building ugly cement monstrosities along Interstate Avenue that don’t fit with the character of the city or the neighborhood. Basically, I think they may be a bunch of rich assholes who moved here from somewhere else. All of the meetings have been when I have either had to work or could not find a babysitter so I haven’t gone, though it is my goal to attend one, especially since they have decided to vehemently oppose the homeless camp at the bottom of the overlook ridge. They claim they would like the camp to be “managed responsibly,” but really that just means they want to move them out. Here is a quote from one of the emails I get from the association:

The Overlook Neighborhood Association Board at its monthly meeting on Tuesday discussed the homeless camps at N Greeley Avenue near N Interstate Avenue. Board members expressed particular concern that the city has neither communicated with the neighborhood nor followed through on its promises to manage the camp responsibly.

Therefore, the Board today sent the following letter to Mayor Charlie Hales and members of City Council asking that the city immediately close the camp, exercise emergency authority to open humane shelters throughout the city, and help campers relocate into them or other more suitable places.

Yes. Get them out of here. We don’t like the way they are, all homeless and whatnot, because homeless people don’t act like we do. They live in tents and are dirty and all that. They pee outside! So we want you to shut them away somewhere else. If you can’t do that, then we will just have to do this:

About 75 people attended the Overlook Neighborhood Association special meeting on Wednesday to discuss the homeless camps on N Greeley Avenue near N Interstate Avenue. The OKNA Board heard from a couple of representatives of Hazelnut Grove and about two dozen neighborhood residents. They provided thoughtful, compassionate ideas about how the neighborhood association should respond to the current city plans for the homeless campers.

After the neighborhood testimony, the board discussed the options and voted to take two steps in parallel:

First, we will send a letter to the city reiterating our opposition to allowing the camp to exist on a site that is unhealthy and unsafe. If, over the neighborhood’s objection, the city chooses to issue a permit for the camp, we request that it include provisions that will address concerns raised by neighbors and will improve health and safety for all. Among them, we will ask:

That campers be required to register under their legal name as residents so that the city and neighbors know who is living there. That there be a cap on the number of campers allowed. That a firm deadline be established by which the camp will shut down no later than the expiration of the city’s emergency declaration in October 2016. The mayor’s office has repeatedly stated that this is a temporary, short-term solution. It’s time to define what that means. The full letter and list of requests is in the works. It should be available early next week. The Board will post it to the OKNA website and send it out to our email list.

Second, we will consult with an attorney regarding our legal options to address the city’s plans through litigation if necessary. We remain deeply disappointed that the city has refused to engage with us in any meaningful way and regret that legal action seems to be the only course forward to have our concerns addressed by the city.

Essentially, this is the thoughtful and compassionate view of my neighbors who care: that we get to know everyones’ names (even though we don’t know all of our own neighbors’ names, but hey, homeless people are all criminals), they have to leave by next year (because money and jobs are plentiful in beautiful Portland and they block our view), and since you haven’t done what we want all along, we are hiring a lawyer to sue your asses and send those skanky homeless people packing. They ruin our view of the industrial wasteland along the river! But if we say we are compassionate, we are, and that’s what counts, right?

The City of Portland gave Hyatt Hotels something millions of city dollars to build an ugly hotel by the convention center so more people could come and stay here before moving here and making the city ever less livable by the second and so that the NBA would hold an all star game here, because THAT is important (more traffic, more people, more homeless hidden away in outer Gresham or somewhere). The City cares about its rich friends who build hotels. They are busy! They are important! They invest! The City is too busy being busy and important to be spending the money of its gentrified citizens making sure that people without money have a warm and dry place to live or food in their bellies. Most of those gross homeless people are probably mentally ill too, so the truly compassionate thing to do would be to just kill them because they aren’t able to fully participate in the capitalist dream anyway. Although I did discover in attempting to find links to back up this claim that there are lawsuits trying to block the payment to Hyatt. I am heartened that some people can see that it is fully insane, but my cynical self supposes it has less to do with any real compassion and more to do with hubris.

Meanwhile, in Iran, part of the Axis of Evil, residents have created spaces where those in need can take the excess from those who have too much. See the BBC article here. These spontaneous charity drives were created to help those in need. Interestingly, as these charity walls increased in number, the citizens saw them as evidence that their government wasn’t doing enough to help people in need. Imagine that, expecting those who govern us to take care of everyone rather than making sure their views aren’t sullied or that hoteliers have a free rein to build.

I can see such walls popping up in Portland. However, here citizens would not see such charity as proof of lack by their government, but as proof of how good we are. We could make a Portlandia episode out of it. Portland, the do-gooder city, gets rid of its old clothes and helps out the poor! Aren’t we wonderful? Why don’t you move here and join us? When you get here, make sure to kick out the homeless people you probably displaced when you drove up the costs of living because such an eyesore would ruin the image you have created of yourself as friendly and compassionate. Welcome!

Dear Mr. Outside Magazine Editor

Dear Mr. Outside Editor,

Here’s a concept: Don’t put some teaser on the front of your magazine and then Oops! forget to put a table of contents into your magazine so the person reading the front of the magazine can’t find the article. Even going page by page, which was annoying and made me not want to read your magazine because it was so controlling, I still could not find the article teased on the front cover. Since the issue in question was an “Encyclopedia” I thought perhaps that I missed the point and that I was supposed to go to the “Encyclopedia” to find the article (this in spite of the fact that the article in question could not really have been about gear). Nope. Not there. The teaser in question was “Why Aren’t Millenials Buying Trail Mix.” Trail mix is not in the index to the encyclopedia. Millenials? Nope. (I suppose Millenials really aren’t gear, now are they? (Although I am pretty sure I could make the case that they are or that some of them could be.)) in any case, I still haven’t found it. Still annoyed.

As a reader, it is annoying to:

1. Read a magazine where the table of contents is 30 pages into the magazine, thereby requiring we page through 30 pages of ads and nonsense to get to the content;
2. Read a magazine that hides page numbers when they do bother to publish tables of contents so that again, we have to page through stupid ads to get to the content in the table of contents;
3. Read a teaser on the front of the magazine that is either a) not really there (which appears to be the case in this issue), or b) isn’t really what the teaser led us to believe it was (really annoying).

Since I am ranting about this and rather on a roll, I thought I would include all of these annoyances for you to consider when being a big shot editor. When these annoyances occur, I throw the magazine away (well, recycle it). I am not wasting my time paging through ads that thwart my effort to get to the content for which I bought the magazine. I will not let the advertisers win in this manner. You might have gotten me to purchase the magazine, but since the primary driver of budgets at magazines is ad content, and since advertisers choose magazines because those ads cause the readers to go buy their stuff, it follows that if I don’t read the ads and I don’t buy the stuff that eventually it will all trickle down and you won’t get any ad revenue when I throw my magazine away. SO…may I kindly suggest you make your magazine palatable to readers who actually like to READ your magazine (I happen to be one of those people who reads nearly every single article in a magazine when I am not so irritated by getting to the article that I can’t access it) and stop making your magazine mostly palatable to advertisers? Hmm? Do you think you can do this?

I’m going to give this issue one more chance. I’ll thumb through it one more time in search of the elusive article on why Millenials do not eat trail mix, and if I am not able to find it on this perusal I shall dump this issue in the trash (recycling). Too bad for me, I won’t get to find out what gear you got paid the most to say is the greatest…er, what gear you think I should go buy.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Lara Gardner

Post Script: After sending this letter to Outside Magazine, I received a response back from the editors asking if they could use a line or two from my letter in their online letters. (I gave them permission, but I have no control over whether they will make me look like an ass in their choice of words from my letter.)

In any case, I asked where in the magazine I could find why Millenials don’t buy trail mix, because I had not been able to find it. The editor responded that it was in the encyclopedia under “Y – Youth: The Young and the Tentless” (Outside Magazine, Aug 2015, p. 92). As a commenter to this blog post noted, “the entry explains that very few people under 35 are participating in outdoor sports, beyond a day hike or pitching a tent in the backyard. There is, however, no mention of trail mix whatsoever, nor is there mention of food of any type in the entry.”

Yep. The teaser on the front of the magazine is just that, a teaser, and it is therefore even more annoying.

The Customer is Always Replaceable

This is a repost from a blog posting I wrote in 2008. I don’t go to Taco Hell now either, but I like the rant so I’m reposting.

The Customer is Always Right. I used to see this sign in businesses. The theory behind it is a pleasant one, although I usually only saw it invoked as a means for bullies to treat customer service representatives like crap. But today, it seems the idea has gone completely out the window. It’s like stores don’t give a shit anymore if we don’t patronize their businesses; 800 people will be standing in line behind us if we don’t like the service that we get. It’s this way with stores, restaurants, customer call centers, you name it. I don’t eat out much. For one thing, it’s expensive as hell. For another, I heard Portland has had an outbreak of Hepatitis A and that it is often spread by restaurants. Since I had to get a shot in the butt in 1990 for an e-coli outbreak, and the thought of eating someone else’s poo is just more than I can manage, I avoid restaurants.

But sometimes you’re across town and starving as hell and ready to run people over your blood sugar is so low and you’re willing to eat all the things you wouldn’t normally touch from a mile away because you’re that hungry. That was me today. I recognized intellectually that I felt like a wretch and I didn’t care because I needed food.  So I went to Taco Hell. Yeah, I know it’s gross. But it’s cheap and they have this burrito with rice in it and I don’t get cheese so I went. The service was horrendous. The charming “customer service” representative who took my order informed me that the burrito I like “cannot be grilled.”

Huh? I told her when I’ve patronized the Taco Hell by my house they always grill it for me. Well, she sneered, that’s another franchise. Uh, okay. Small problem. When I’m hungry, I don’t care how big a bitch I am, at least when I’m that hungry. And I was that hungry. But I’m working hard on living in the moment and I did not want to be the bully customer who makes a worker feel like shit. I sat there in my car waiting to pull up to the window and thinking how irrelevant all this is and what a waste of my energy, but I was still getting annoyed. So I decided to be calm, but I still wanted to know why can’t they just grill my fucking burrito?

I pulled up and asked the kind lady how come they couldn’t grill my burrito. She said it is just a store policy. I said that isn’t an answer, it doesn’t tell me why the policy is in place. She said she didn’t know. Across the way a man who was probably a higher up manager because he wasn’t wearing the fancy Taco Hell outfit but instead had on a cheap shirt and tie came over and asked the problem. I started to say there wasn’t a problem, I just wanted to know why my burrito couldn’t be grilled. He said they are not allowed to grill them, company policy. I said that I get them grilled at the Taco Hell by my house. He said they aren’t supposed to. Then the girl helping said something to him and he turned to me and said it was a health issue. Huh? I said how in the world is it a health issue? He said it’s like giving them a cup and asking them to fill it. It has my germs on it. I was VERY confused at this point. My lack of blood sugar addled brain couldn’t quite muster what was going on. I said how in the world can it be a health issue to grill a freaking burrito? It’s in the restaurant, you put on all the ingredients. I never touch it. He just walked away.

At this point, I didn’t give a shit if my burrito was grilled or not. I just wanted to eat. I sat and waited until the girl handed me the bag. I asked for my water and drove off. I pulled to the side of the parking lot to eat it and it was grilled. Weird.

The main thing I kept thinking about after all this was that had I threatened to take my business elsewhere, they would have said fine, go ahead. We don’t need your two dollars. Companies have gotten so big that the customer isn’t right anymore. Everyone puts up and shuts up about crappy customer service because there is nowhere else to go where it will be any better. This is another byproduct of our one-size-fits-all one dimensional corporate society. Hate waiting on the phone on hold for 20 minutes when you call the phone company? Fine, go somewhere else. And while you’re at it we’ll charge you $200 because you’re in a lopsided bullshit contract.  Hate the piece of crap you bought at the Dollar Store? Too bad for you. No refunds.  Who cares if the state law allows you to return a defective item to a store with no refunds. You planning to sue us over a dollar? Don’t want to wait in line at a store with no employees? Fine, leave. Better yet, stand in line for 10 minutes, then leave. See if we care. Want your burrito grilled and we won’t do it?  Go fuck yourself. We don’t pay our workers enough to care. We don’t hire enough workers so they’re all pissed off all the time. Go somewhere else. Again, see if we care. That’s capitalism. It leaves no one alive.

I know this is a cynical bitchy rant. I shouldn’t complain without offering some solution. But I don’t know what the solution is. I go out of my way to avoid patronizing monster corporations, but sometimes it’s inevitable.  Sometimes it’s just being so damn hungry I’ll eat a rat in the gutter or Taco Hell. Those are the times those places get my business. I never go to Walmart or McDonald’s ever, and I mean never. They could be the last businesses on earth and I wouldn’t go there. Maybe there isn’t a solution unless enough people say enough, and judging by the lines in SkankDonald’s and Taco Hell or the mass of cars in the SkankMart parking lot, that isn’t going to happen anytime soon. In the meantime I guess I’ll rant on my blog.

I Don’t Know How People Bear it

I just have to wonder whether the constant noise and barrage of images everywhere one goes doesn’t serve as a giant iron blanket covering the consciousness of everyone subjected to its invasive and overwhelming pervasiveness. I can barely stand to shop in stores blaring music and advertising and televisions, all beaming down on us under cold fluorescent lights. My body reacts just sitting here thinking of it. Most corporate chain restaurants seem hell bent on ensuring their patrons cannot converse with the person across from them. Maybe they’re worried these patrons will be discussing the wretchedness of the edible food-like substances on their menus.

I rarely, rarely venture into these establishments, but the other day I was in a long outdoor strip mall waiting for my dog to finish getting his hair cut. I was with my 5 year old. When she lay on the floor and kicked her feet at a toy store because I wouldn’t buy some trinket or other, I knew she was hungry. She only acts like that when she’s hungry. I had fed her lunch, but she seems to be going through a growth spurt because she’s been needing to eat every two hours lately. Shame on me for forgetting snacks.

Unfortunately the only options were corporate chains, and not many of them. An IHOP sat across the street. On our side of the road was a Red Robin. Egads. I couldn’t very well feed us dog treats from the pet store. I didn’t think I would want to eat anything in either of them, and I knew Red Robin blared music so loud, one couldn’t think. The last time I was in one of these places was several years ago. My daughter’s grandparents wanted to treat us to lunch and took us to a Red Robin. We could not converse, it was so loud. I vowed then and there never to return, but desperate circumstances require desperate acts.

The onslaught of noise upon entering was instantaneous and complete. There could be no thoughts beyond those being imposed by the bland, repetitive sound in the place. It was like walking into a block of it. I tried drifting over toward the hallway toward the restrooms while we waited for the hostess to notice us. No relief. I moved back toward the door, hoping as other patrons entered I could grasp some of the quiet outside. I turned to my daughter in order to tell her we were going to have to find somewhere else to go, but just at that moment the hostess came to seat us. I thought perhaps once we entered the cavernous expanse of the place the sound would dissipate somewhat, and it seemed to.

Unfortunately, relief was short-lived. The lull was caused by a change in songs, the second as bad as the first. A busser stopped by our table to ask us something. What? What? DO YOU WANT ANYTHING TO DRINK? Yes. Silence, please. Do you have that? She looked at me blankly.

It didn’t help that the music was bloody awful. I don’t imagine there is anyone in the world who purposely chooses to listen to the noises they were playing. I considered whether I could have stood its volume had it been something I enjoyed. I doubted it. It was simply too loud.

How is it people stand this? The place was pretty full for a Sunday afternoon. I don’t get it. Not only is the food terrible, one cannot hear oneself think, let alone carry on a conversation with another person. I had to yell for my daughter to hear me. The waiter had to bend over near my face to hear our order. It seems like a work hazard on some level.

I finally got to the place where I couldn’t take it anymore. When our waiter brought over our food, I asked him if the music was always so deafening. He said sometimes, and then asked if I wanted it turned down. Do I breathe? Yes. A few minutes later it was still loud but I didn’t have to yell for my daughter to hear me.

What is it with businesses that create an atmosphere that is intolerable? Am I the only one who can hear? Do most people want their senses obliterated with too much input? I don’t get it, I really don’t. It’s like people don’t want to participate in life or something. I don’t know how they can think clearly. Maybe I’m overly sensitive, or maybe a significant segment of the population is shut down. Maybe both? I do know that I was right when I remembered that Red Robin isn’t a place I want to frequent. The food is terrible and the atmosphere is worse. Why go there? I’d rather eat dog treats at the pet store.

Toilet Needs a New Home

I posted this ad on Craigslist a few years ago. A friend of mine asked me to repost it on the blog, so here it is:

It is time that Toilet parted ways with our family. It has been in this house for longer than we’ve been here. When we arrived, the home inspector informed us that this toilet was “top of the line” in Europe and ordered by all the best home designers in the US. “Pozzi Gnorri,” he said. “Go look them up on the internet. They’re one of the best companies in the world for bathroom fixtures.” So I did and was duly impressed. However, I had to wonder what a toilet of this caliber was doing in my little bungalow in Portland. But hey, some of us get riches to rags instead of the other way around, so who was I to question things or to remind Toilet of its brilliant beginnings? I could make Toilet sad thinking that way.

Toilet was lovely; a deep, thoughtful blue, with a white lid. And the flusher was in its top! My 8 year old loved that. Look Mom, you pull this button on top rather than pushing down on a handle! Fancy! Toilet matched the deep blue sink base.

To keep reading, click HERE.

This Punitive Society

I want to be on the stand and say to them: What did she do? What did she do wrong? She chose the wrong men, and for this you want to punish her, as our society punishes women who let men abuse them, as if it was a choice. We forgive the wrongdoer and attack the victim, because we hate victims, even as we are victims. You should have known better! You should have made a better choice! Your choice was wrong, and we as judges, juries, and executioners know this! You should not have made these mistakes and for this, we judge you. For this, we sentence you and punish you for your sins, for your flaws. You were a good mother, but that is not good enough because you never would have been a mother if you had not chosen men who would abuse you. Of course, this line of reasoning falls apart because she could very well have been a mother if she had not chosen these men. But of course she would not have these children. These children will be harmed because of her choices. These children will be harmed too because of their abusive fathers, but we don’t hold the fathers accountable, only the mothers. These abusive men didn’t know any better, but she did. She knew and she chose wrong and for this, she shall pay with their loss. Their pains are her pains. She will suffer for her sins and so will they.

This society is so fucking fucked and fucked up. I can hardly bear it. We are so punitive, so judgmental, so holier-than-thou, such critics.  Critics. We all sit and judge. Our whole culture. We love to annihilate victims for having been victims. In doing so we can ignore the victims in ourselves. We get to be the rescuer in our judiciousness. I will save you from your victimhood, you fool.

It all just makes me want to scream.

Century Link is Still Qwest and Still Shit

A little over a week before moving into my new house, I called the power company to set up service with them.  They offered to help me “explore my options” with different internet companies.  Because I am not thrilled with Comcast as a company, I decided to explore these options.  The person who helped me claimed I could get a better deal with Century Link.  I was skeptical.

Several years ago, over a series of months, I wasted more hours than I care to count on the phone with Qwest discussing the multiple issues I had with their DSL service.  Ultimately an electrician from their company got me a huge refund for several months’ worth of service I did not receive because the wiring to my house had been so old it wasn’t capable of managing the service I was supposed to have.

When Mr. Power Company Helper Guy urged me to switch, I was more than reluctant.  However, he assured me that more had changed than the name, and that I could get blazing fast internet for about $20 less a month than I was paying Telecommunication Monopoly, I mean Comcast.  I went ahead and signed up. However, Mr. Helper then transferred me to someone at Century Link to set up my account who read a disclaimer about the speeds, and I began to have buyer’s remorse nearly immediately.  The speeds quoted were apparently only the fastest possible, and not likely what I would get.  Oh great.  Here we go again.

After I got off the phone I called Comcast and without explaining why I wondered, asked what speeds my price was supposed to be getting me. They were over double the Century Link speeds.  The guy then set me up with a better plan and even faster speeds. The Century Link deal didn’t even come close.  I then called back the power company and explained I wanted to cancel the order.  They said it was too new and to call in the next day.  The next day I called back and was assured the order was cancelled, but the person said I should call Century Link to confirm, which I did. They said the order wasn’t even there yet, but the guy made a note for my address.  I called again a couple of days later just to make sure.  The person who answered said there was no account and that it must never have been set up.  He assured me that there was no chance I would get the service I did not want.  Still skeptical, but okay, if you say so.

The following weekend we moved into the house.  On Monday I went to work.  When I arrived home in the late afternoon, there was a package on my stoop.  Curious, I ran up to grab it before pulling into the garage.  What do you think it was?  Surprise!  A modem from Century Link.  Damn.  Not only do I already have a modem that is just great thanks, but there wasn’t supposed to be any Century Link anything in my life.

Back to the phone.  Back to holds and voice activated services that couldn’t figure out where I needed to be.  Finally a person who was able to give me a return authorization number and his assurances that the account was closed, there would be no residual expense, and that my time with Qwest, aka Century Link was over.  Satisfied, I believed him.  Fool I be.

A week and a half later, a thin envelope arrived bearing a bill for $34.95.  I didn’t even bother calling the louts at Century Link.  I wrote a short note on the bill stating that I had cancelled my service prior to installation and that there should be no charges.  I mostly believed that the bill issuance had crossed paths with the modem return.

Wrong again.  Today’s mail bore an even thinner, more demanding insistence that I pay Century Link, this time $19.99.  I put on my boxing gloves and called in.  I could not explain to the telephone computer person my reasons for calling in a manner that satisfied.  It finally transferred me to the wrong person, for whom I had to wait ten minutes, and that person had to transfer me to the right person. They may not have programmed in “Your fucking stupid company keeps billing me for shit I don’t want, you lousy corporate, monopolistic bastards.” but that was the line that finally did result in a human, so I suppose it worked.

Once I reached a human who could assist, I explained my situation.  He asked the usual litany of questions designed to prove I am me, then wanted to take a few minutes and “review the account.” Sure, I’ve been on hold for 20 minutes, what’s a few more?  He said the bill was for installation, then let me know he would do what he could to see about getting me a credit.  A credit?  No, sir. A credit will not do.  I cancelled your service before it was ever installed.  I don’t want a credit.  I want the charges gone, understand?  He said I needed to be patient.  I explained that I was thoroughly out of patience.  That I lost patience the day I came home to a modem and hours of holds and transfers.  That his employer had stolen time I could be spending with my children, walking the dog, doing my job, washing the dishes, anything except wasting hours on the phone with a bunch of incompetent hacks who couldn’t seem to get this right.  And that I would never pay them one penny of my money ever, especially considering all of the experiences I had suffered at the hands of their incompetence.  He was silent, then he said I needed to trust him.  I said I would try, but his coworkers had not instilled much trust.  He said the difference was that when he said he did something, he really did it.  I hope so.

I did not mail back the second bill. I’m hoping the phone calls suffice. We will see. In the meantime, I thought I would use this opportunity to warn every and all that Century Link is still Qwest, albeit with a brand new name, and that like Ally nee’ GMAC, and Springleaf nee’ American General Finance (see my observations about this here), they are still they same crappy monopolistic corporation, the same customer no-service, the same mess up even the most simple of requests, the same stay-on-hold-for-800-years, the same transfer to 13 departments before getting someone who may or may not fix your issue piece of shit company they have always been. Changing the name didn’t change anything except a few letters.

Rant over.

The only time I will use staples will be in a stapler.

I have been very busy lately. I have to use a PC for work because the software I use in my job is only windows-based. As is the case with PCs, the damn thing started running really sluggy and slow. I knew it needed a cleanup and defrag and all that crap, but I just didn’t have time to sit around and stare at it while it wound its way through all that stuff.

One day while in Staples purchasing my latest round of toner and paper, I saw a circular advertising PC tuneup services for $9.99. Ah, I thought. Good deal. I’ll let them stare at the stupid thing for two hours. It would be worth it not to have to. I called and was told that if I dropped it off on Wednesday I could pick it up on Thursday morning. Even better. Wednesday after work I headed on over to leave my non-trusty-computer at the store.

It should have been clue one to me that there would be problems when, contrary to the information I had been given over the phone, I was informed nearly immediately that it would be three days to get the computer back. Oh no, that won’t work, I told them. If it was going to take three days, I was going to have to do this another time.  The salesman hemmed for a moment then said it could be done the next day.

Clue one, Lara.  Clue one.  You weren’t paying attention…

I then said I had to get going because I had an appointment.

Clue two, Lara. Clue two.  Mr. Computer Fixit guy kind of sauntered over to look at something else another Computer Fixit guy was doing, then went behind the counter and got a little widget to insert into my computer. He inserted it and stood there talking to me, telling me how my computer was the nicest he had seen come through the tune-up station in a while. He looked like Napoleon Dynamite, only without glasses. He kind of sounded like him too. In the end I spent a half an hour in there, in spite of my constant assertions that I needed to get going.

I explained that my computer had been running slowly. I explained that on vacation, my colleague had used the computer and claimed it had been infected with malware, but our office computer guy and she had removed this malware with some program from the web.  I explained that in spite of this, the thing seemed to be running slowly.

Do you use Norton?  No, I don’t like Norton. I have BitDefender. Bit Defender? Never heard of it.  Well, it was top-rated on PC Magazine’s choice for virus protection, and I bought it based on that review, and I haven’t had any problems with it. (Incidentally, since all this went down, I perused the web and saw that PC Magazine had again rated it in their top three.)

Well, I have never heard of it.  Okay, so that makes you a superstar.  Can you just take my computer and let me go now?

They told me they would call me when my computer was done and sent me on my way.  I wasn’t kidding that I needed the thing the next day for work.  It is all I have for work and all my work is on it.  Without it, I can’t do 99% of my job.  Well, more like 85%, but you get the idea.

The next day, Staples had not called me by 7:30 p.m.  I was beginning to worry, because I had a big response due on a file in less than five days and could not afford to be without my computer.

I called Staples and was patched to the computer center. The guy on the phone informed me that he hadn’t been able to get it to update. He had tried two times and it failed at the end each time. Okay, yeah well, I need my computer. I don’t care about the updates. I’ll get to them later. I need my machine. He said I could come pick it up.  It was late and baby was going to bed, so I said it would likely be in the morning. Okay, fine.

The next day I got busy with a bunch of other things and since I didn’t have the computer, I waited to pick it up until after picking Milla up for school. When I went in, I was told it had three viruses, and that if I wanted them removed, I would have to pay $200.  I asked what the viruses were and was told that they didn’t know, but it would cost $200 to have them fixed. The guy told me that the Staples tuneup hadn’t even detected BitDefender (See?  It’s such a horrible program!) He said I should have gotten the Norton antivirus software, and was told that Norton had picked up the three viruses on my computer.

At this point I began to believe this was all a scam to get me to pay Staples 200 more dollars. Whatever, I said to the guy.  I needed my computer yesterday so can I have it now? It was frozen in update land because, in spite of the fact I told them the night before that I was going to come and get it and to forget about the updates, apparently they had tried again multiple times anyway.
That evening I sat down to work. The computer had seemingly passed through its updates, although this proved false. Later when I had to shut down because of the other issues that arose, it turned out the thing still wanted to keep updating. I finally had to go in and manually choose updates, leaving off the last one. It’s still screwed up and every time the thing shuts down, it tries to install the last update and fails, freezing and requiring a hard reboot.
The machine ran slower than it ever had before I took it to Staples. Frustrated and worried I wasn’t going to be able to finish my work, I did something I should have done this in the first place, and called Costco support. Remember though, I was up against a deadline and out of time, so it did not occur to me to call them sooner. In this, please cut me slack for my lack of foresight.
After 45 minutes on the phone, the computer was running speedily again. However, there was one problem that the tech could not figure out.  I now have to log into my wireless by going through the control panel, going into network preferences, and re-entering my security key every single time I log on. I used to be able to right click on the now disabled icon on my taskbar, click my network, and voila!  Logged on. Not any more.

The worst thing though, did not appear until I sat down to finish drafting the response due in five days. My Adobe Acrobat did not work. Every time I opened it I received an error message letting me know the registration had been corrupted and I needed to uninstall and reinstall. I ran an uninstall repair, but this did not fix the problem.

Frantic, I called my office to see if they had a serial number.  The only serial number they had for me was one for Adobe Standard. I had Pro and needed Pro. The Standard would not work. I kept trying to do my job around the error, but it wouldn’t work. I optimize scanned text. I insert and delete pages. I enter in text boxes and rectangles. I used Acrobat. A lot. No more. Finally today, up against the deadline and sobbing in frustration, I uninstalled and reinstalled a trial version. Unfortunately it doesn’t allow the user to do any of the functions I use. In tears, I called my friend Debbie. She took my documents, made them into PDFs, stuck in the Exhibit words, and bundled them all together, then emailed it back to me to file.  I wasted so much time on this problem, the response wasn’t nearly as tight and good as it could have been, and I filed it near 4 in the afternoon.

During this, I called Staples. I have a salesperson online who helps me with purchases. I had written him an email on Sunday after wasting two hours slogging through computer problems. He called me Monday. We played phone tag until today. He said the store had told him I said the computer had viruses. No, I never said that. He wanted to three-way call with the store to get this straightened out, so we made an appointment for tomorrow, after the big monster response was turned in.

Today, during my frustration, I called the store and asked to speak to the manager. He knew my case. He said the techs told him I said the computer had a virus. I never said that. He said my computer was “riddled with viruses.” That’s funny, because that’s not what they said and if their “tune-up” was supposed to clean viruses, why didn’t they do it? Why did they say it would be $200 to do that or give me any information at all? He said the “tune-up” had failed. That’s interesting, because my receipt says it worked just fine, that only one update failed. Well, your computer is riddled with viruses. So you’re telling me that my computer, which worked just fine and dandy until the day I got my computer back from Staples, magically developed viruses that only affected Adobe after I got it back from you? No answer? And are the viruses the reason the internet hookup icon on my taskbar is disabled and that no amount of tech support with Costco will bring it back? Yes, it must be. No apology, only an offer to bring the computer back and let the trolls get their hands on it again. Not on your life. Kick me once, shame on you. Kick me twice, shame on me. I’m not G.W.

What a load of horse pucky. Seriously. These yahoos want me to believe that my computer was riddled with viruses and that these viruses worked their magic only after my computer was left in their store. That, my friends, is a pile of steaming poo, a lie, a foulness, a thing most unclean.

I decided then and there to tell my story. My hope is that even one other person will read my words and decide that staples are for staplers, not a place to shop in. Take your business elsewhere. I’m going to. Office Depot is right across the parking lot.

Rick Santelli is an Idiot…Still

I posted this a while back.  See it here.  I was responding to this moron the first time he opened his idiot face and let venom spew.   Of course, since he’s still slithering around out there, the post continues to garner hits, over two years later.  I reread what I wrote, and I can’t really improve on it.  All I said is still true.  So I’m posting it again.

Rick Santelli is an Idiot

I can’t believe this guy.  I heard him spouting off about how Americans shouldn’t pay for their neighbor to have one more bathroom.  I wanted to reach into the screen and slap his ugly head.  What an idiot.

Here’s a clue, Mr. Smarty Pants:  People who are in foreclosure are in foreclosure because the system is a mess, not because they are “deadbeats” and want a free ride from the government or their neighbors.  Want to point fingers, idiot?  Point them at the banks that overvalued properties in the first place to get people into questionable loans so brokers could collect bigger fees.  Point those fingers at the lenders for telling consumers that their ARM loan wouldn’t be a problem because they would be able to refinance in three years when the rates change (and hey, rates have been going down forever, so  why shouldn’t this continue? Your payment will be lower!) while simultaneously neglecting to point out there would be no way in hell any traditional lender would refinance property that is mortgaged for more than it is worth.  And oh, be sure to keep it a secret from the borrower that refinancing will not be an option if you lose your job.  How about pointing the fingers at lenders who convinced people to take out that second mortgage or a HELOC to “consolidate their debt” without pointing out that trading unsecured debt for secured debt would make bankruptcy pointless should the need arise?  How about pointing fingers at the pathetic and useless Bush administration who drove us into an economic crisis and higher unemployment than we have seen in decades?  Let’s just blame the victim for losing their job.  They should have known to move to China or India ten years ago so they would be there when their jobs were shipped overseas.

I heard the jerk in an interview claim that buyers should have hired lawyers.  Guess what?  Lawyers aren’t free.  And assuming someone could afford $225 an hour to hire one, a lawyer wouldn’t hire an appraiser to know that the bank overvalued the property.  Plus hiring an attorney when you buy a house is theoretically unnecessary anyway.  Mortgage brokers and lenders have a fiduciary duty of care to their clients.  This means they are held to a higher standard of care in dealing with the public.  They are expected to act EXTRA honest because it is expected that they have greater knowledge about the mortgage industry than consumers.  How does this work, Mr. Santelli?  Are the consumers supposed to suddenly educate themselves so they can catch dishonest bankers and brokers?  Would you hold a patient to the same duty before going to a doctor?  Am I supposed to go get an MBA before I go to a financial expert to ensure they are upholding their fiduciary duty?  Should I get an MD before going to the doctor?

I can’t stand the mentality that we are not obligated to help one another.  Guess what?  We are all in this together.  We can sit in our foreclosed bunkers with our guns aimed at our neighbors and barbed wire wrapped around our hearts to protect us from the enemy, ensuring we keep that property because, hell, it belongs to us, right?  We don’t need to share.  Or we can grow up and realize that society at its heart means social.  It means taking responsibility for one another.  It means what we do for each other we do for ourselves. It means we care for and protect one another and when someone is down, we offer them a hand up.  Taking care of one another is the stuff life is made of.  The alternate choice is to live like Rick Santelli, cold and alone with his gun pointed at everyone, dragging his loot into the afterlife.  Good luck with that, Buddy.

P.S. Being a stock-broker might be a high risk financially, but it is not hard work.

Oh for Cryin’ Out Loud

I’m a bankruptcy attorney so I am often in contact with collection agencies and whatnot.  I have been doing it long enough that I have also seen a bunch of financial institutions come and go.  It is amazing how many bottom-feeder, rotten-ass lenders turn around and change their name because they are such scum, even people with the worst credit ratings won’t touch them.

One of these is GMAC.  They are now Ally!  They announce it with an exclamation point on their envelopes and return addresses.  Guess what?  We changed our name so now you can pretend we aren’t the same law-breaking, loan sharks we have always been!  Sorry GMAC, or Ally, or whatever.  You still suck.

Another is American General Finance.  Total loan sharks.  Total bottom-feeder scumbags.  Now they are Springleaf!  Ah, how fresh!  How springlike!  How green and new!  No.  The only thing green about them is their diarrhea color. When I saw that they had become Springleaf, I actually exclaimed, “Oh, for cryin’ out loud!”  Hence the name of this post.

People out there in America, if you happen to read this, don’t borrow money.  If you do borrow money, only do it for a home loan.  If you do that, don’t borrow it from a bottom-feeder loan shark. If you are borrowing from a bottom-feeder loan shark, you can’t afford what you are getting the loan for.   Leave them all alone.  They’re horrible and they don’t deserve your business.

Softening the Edges of My Rage

Have you ever wished for someone’s demise?  Have you ever hated with such intensity that if the object of your derision were to meet with an untimely accident you would have to hope there would be for you an alibi, because such an accident would draw suspicion upon you?  I have been there twice.  It is not a comforting place to be.

The first was the sociopathic girlfriend of my ex.  She wanted to destroy me and in her attempts, I would imagine my revenge to help me cope.  There were moments where I would fantasize her death, giving myself the satisfaction of picturing a silvery knife so sharp, its blade razor thin slipping along the surface of her neck, aligning with skin and veins, blood seeping and pooling around her nape.  At other moments I divined her foot, uselessly pressing a brake line that had been cut, her car careening helplessly over a guardrail and smashing into a tree.

Eventually I learned to circle the wagons against this woman and she turned her attentions elsewhere, but not before making my life a living hell.  After a time the revenge fantasies ceased and life continued not quite as before; I carried a little cloud about me for a while.  I needed redemption.  I’m not sure it ever came, but I did move to a new place where I could remove her from my head. She took up too much space there for a time.

In recent months I move in and out of hatred again.  This one certainly takes more space than is deserved or warranted.  For every moment it is in my head, I leave no space for love or creativity.  It doesn’t come often, but when it does, it fills me with the intensity of a raging conflagration, burning and spitting and roiling.  No wonder hell is described as fire; hating someone is a sort of hell and it blisters and scalds.  I know enough pop psychology to know that such intense hatred only harms the one who is feeling it.  On an intellectual level I understand its ramifications, and so I bend my body into yogi poses, pound my feet in Nike sneakers, force my mind away from conversations that can have no solution, breathe down into the soles of my feet.  It works–most of the time.  But then it doesn’t and with it I must contend again.

Into this hatred happened a very young, very naive and stupid girl.  She was like some desperate and obsequious puppy, hoping to be liked, having no idea what the hell she had stumbled into.  I wanted to kick her.  I had no desire to befriend this naive creature trying so hard to be nice.  I wanted to fold her in half, destroy her hopefulness, rub her face in the anguish and rage she could not know or understand.  She tripped along, coy and carefree, like a puppy with her tongue lolling, tail wagging between her legs, hoping I would be friendly. Because she came from the one I so despised, I hated who she was and what she represented before she ever said a word.  I wanted her to back away, to get out, to leave what she had found.  She was not welcome.  She had no business.  I wanted her to go and to take her syrup with her.  After I aimed several poison darts in her direction, she started to get the idea.  For a moment I felt sorry for her and tried to warn her against where she was headed, but she wanted none of that, and nipped at me.  For this nip, I bit.  Hard.

I have been advised to write, to rend this vitriol from my veins.  Write she says.  Write.  It doesn’t matter what you say, just write.  If you can place this things that are in your head in a place outside of you then you will come to a place where they no longer matter.  Write.  Remove them from you.  Link them to someplace else.  And so I do.  I have for today for this moment softened the edges of the rage.

I Just Can’t Stand It

I’m so frustrated with this country.  I wish I had never heard the results of the Massachusetts election.  I can’t stand the stupid, short-sightedness in this country.  If anyone thinks Republicans are going to do anything to fix anything, they are fucking crazy.  This country would not be in this mess if it weren’t for decades of conservative thinking.  It never works.  People think the middle of the road Democrats need to fix things immediately or they will just vote in the bastards who created the mess in the first place, and things only get worse.  Problems take years to accumulate and they want changes to happen in minutes.

Conservative thinking has made a concerted effort to make Americans believe government is the problem, then they set out to gut government in order to back up their goals, getting people to believe that laissez-faire, market-driven capitalism is in their interests.  After their jobs have been sent overseas, their homes taken from them, no healthcare, no food, gutted schools, and no social programs to speak of, Americans blame government for the problem, rather than blaming the tiny elite who manipulated them in the first place using issues like abortion and same-sex marriage to get people to vote against their economic interests.  It’s terrifying.  In reality, governments work well in many countries, countries that let governments run effectively and don’t let big money run loose to do as it pleases.

I find it ironic that the same people who lament the giant banks and their big bonuses and corrupt business practices vote in the same people who ensure these policies stay in place and their actions will become even more blatant.  It makes me crazy.  People listen to uneducated fools like Sarah Palin, think she’s “like them,” in spite of the fact her bank account is nothing like theirs and she makes our nation look like a country of fools.  They get caught up in the hateful ire of Glenn Beck or Bill O’Reilly, without considering the motivations of these very wealthy, very hateful men.  They blame Obama for the bailouts, and he wasn’t even president when it happened!  I’m so sick of the ignorance, I can barely manage to follow politics in this country anymore.

I know the people I admire urge me to continue to try and make the world a better place, that in giving up hope, those hateful bastards win.  But seriously, how is one supposed to cope knowing things are only going to get worse and knowing I have two children for whom I want the world to be a better place, and for whom I want a planet for them to live on and prosper?  It almost makes me ashamed for having brought them into this place.  I love them more than life itself.  I only hope there is a planet for them to live on that isn’t as bleak and horrible as it seems doomed to be.

Mini Healthcare Rant

Any republican, talk show idiot, or anyone else for that matter, who suggests that public health care will result in euthanasia should be ashamed.  Abominable, sickening, horrible fools.  People DIE DAILY in this country because we do not have health care and they have the nerve to try and scare people off with this shit?  So some scumbag insurance company can make more money?  Fuck I am sick of this stupid country and everything that is wrong with it.  Someone should just take these lying assholes out and shove them off a cliff.

Mini Rant Against Retailers

Headline on Yahoo! today:  Retailers Report Weak June Sales.

Well, duh.  Has anyone been to retail stores lately?  Especially clothing stores?  It’s like retailers think we are all rolling in dough or something.  And even if we were rolling in dough, the prices on shitty crap made in China are obscene, especially at stores that like to capitalize on brand names.  Most of the stuff is piteously and poorly made, but it has a label in it, so the store charges a small fortune.  T-shirts that are so thin they are see-through.  Clothes have seams where the threads are already coming out before the clothes have even been sold.  Then the retailers want $50 or $60 for them.  And it isn’t just clothes.  Bottles of plain lotion are $15.  Razor blades–razor blades! those little pieces of metal that cost about .20 cents–are 20 bucks a pack, just so people can have four in a row.  Cereal is $6 a box, when the cost to make cereal is lower than it has ever been. It’s insane.

Here’s a clue stores:  Want to sell more stuff?  Lower prices to an affordable and reasonable level.  Forty bucks for a t-shirt is too much, especially a crappy, see-through t-shirt.  Seventy bucks for pants is ridiculous, especially since you can’t seem to vary your sizes so that people can buy things that fit.  $100 or more for a purse is stupid, especially since, in my experience, the straps or buckles break within a couple of months.  Marking things as “on sale” with a higher MSRP is for fools.  You may have been able to sell your crap for ridiculous prices a couple of years ago, but times have changed (and people were probably buying all your crap on credit then anyway.  Now the bills are due and the job is gone and there isn’t anything left to spend with.).

A special note to Goodwill:  Your stuff is USED.  Trying to sell a suitcase with a hole in it for forty bucks is never going to make you a penny. I can go buy a NEW one for that price, without the hole!  Used clothes for $10 or $15 is too much.  And an old, ratty, smelly couch for $150 is TOO MUCH!  Your racks are FILLED with crap you will never sell because, guess what?  Your prices are too high for used junk.  There was a bunch of flack a couple of years ago about your CEO making too much money.  Stop charging too much and giving the money you do make to the CEO.  Start helping the people you put on your trucks and in your ads in your pitiful attempts to look like d0-gooders and actually charge prices these people could afford.

Word

Microsoft Word is the stupidest, most non-intuitive, poorly designed, piece of crap, word-processing program ever designed.  The morons who created it should all be taken out and whacked in the knees with bats and have needles poked into their nipples.

Here’s a concept, WORDPERFECT.  Want a well-designed document, WordPerfect can do the job.  Want a fucked up disaster mess of a document?  Use Word.

Piece of shit.  I hate it.

Letters to Annoying People

Dear Hairdresser,
Here is a clue: Just because you think my hair might look “cool” with that fancy cut you propose does not mean that I want you to cut it that way. You are not me. You do not live with me and you are not someone I spend a lot of time with. This means that if you suggest a fab new do and I turn you down, you don’t cut it anyway. It also means you don’t cut it like you want to without saying anything at all. It means you do what I want, whether you like it or not.

Dear Person Who Leaves Dog Shit on the Sidewalk,
The reasons you should pick up your dog’s shit are so inherent and numerous, it honestly blows my mind that you don’t know any better. Perhaps you are simply stupid. If this is the case, you are really too stupid to own a dog. If it isn’t that you are stupid, but rather that you are careless or insensitive, then you are too careless and insensitive to own a dog. You would likely accidentally kill it or starve it to death or something. Whatever the reason, if you leave your dog’s shit on the sidewalk, find the dog a better home and go rub some dog shit on your face.

Dear Woman Who Won’t Step Aside on the Sidewalk,
Yes, you know who you are. You are the bitch who has to prove to everyone she encounters just how ALPHA she is, and in doing so, refuses to step even slightly to the side when encountering others. If someone is approaching you and there is a building or some other obstruction on the sidewalk on their side, and things are open on yours, common courtesy dictates that you step slightly to the side to allow the other person passage. You don’t prove your superiority when you refuse; rather you prove your insecurity, your pettiness, and just how pathetic you truly are. And watch out…one morning when I’ve gone without just enough sleep and my hormones are all over the map, I might actually turn around and whack you in the head with my purse. Hag.

Dear Man from blog Watt’s Up With That?,
You are a fucking moron. I realize from your consistent position near the top of the WordPress Dashboard that you must have a lot of readers. I can only hope these readers actually disagree with you, they just have a stronger stomach than I do. I can’t read your drivel or your claims that the planet’s climate isn’t changing. It doesn’t take a geoscientist to walk outside and figure out that things are drastically different. You can try to claim these are “natural” trends, in spite of the fact that nothing natural on the massive scale we are experiencing occurs in under a decade. You can try to turn people off to buying an environmental car because it’s ugly. You can do all your damage. Just know this: Any success you have in convincing people of your stupidity will only harm your children. There will be no frogs for them to play with, or polar bears or bats or numerous other creatures for them to share the planet with (although maybe that is what you want). Your offspring will fry in the sun and drown in the ocean, and just think, you did it to them! Kudos, asshole.

Dear Rush Limbaugh,
You know, I can’t say it any better than Al Franken. You are a big, fat idiot.

Dear Building Managers Everywhere,
It is not necessary to turn air conditioning up so high that buildings inside are 30 degrees in the summer just because it is 90 degrees outside. Buildings need only maintain a consistent temperature all year round, regardless of what the temperature is outside. And actually, your logic in turning the AC up in the summer is flawed. If you are going to adjust the temp inside according to the temp outside, buildings should be colder in the winter and warmer in the summer because people are wearing more clothes in the winter and fewer in the summer. Maybe if you actually turned the AC down your brains would thaw and this would be obvious.

Dear New York City,
Here’s a concept: Recycling. In a city this size, the fact that recycling isn’t required of buildings and is basically non-existent everywhere else is a deadly sin. You are a ginormous city, the biggest in the US. You have an obligation to the rest of the country and the rest of the world to recycle as much as possible. Do you do it? Not enough. You should be ashamed and get with the goddamned program already. Too much of your shit can be recycled and too much of your shit isn’t. Fix it.

Here’s another concept: Not every damn thing needs to be wrapped in plastic. Guess what? Zucchinis last longer outside of plastic and styrofoam. So do bananas. And guess what else? When a customer at a store doesn’t bring a bag, you don’t have to double-bag in plastic, one is more than enough. Or when a customer buys something like a pop or something else obviously intended to be consumed immediately, you don’t need to bag it at all. Plastic is nasty stuff. There are limited circumstances when it should be used, such as in the medical profession. Otherwise it is a non-biodegradable, environmental disaster and your overuse of the stuff, especially considering your enormous size, constitutes a criminal act. Fix it.

Dear Constant Facebook Posters,
Guess what? I don’t give a shit if you’re off to take a run or a shower or grab a cup of coffee. That isn’t the kind of information I think anyone cares about unless you are a celebrity (And people who care what celebrities do are idiots, so why would you want to please them?). It is nice to have a place where you can find that long lost high school friend and see how they are doing and what is going on in their lives. It is annoying to have to hear how so-and-so had to clean up their kid’s vomit last night or every trivial piece of crap they do every minute of every day. Oh, and guess what else? Pieces of flair are stupid. Throwing virtual water balloons proves you have no life and should consider getting one. Ditto with virtual hugs, “L’il Blue Cove” and all the other crap Facebook flunkies dream up to fuck with you. I have an idea, instead of wasting time on Facebook, how about taking all that extra time you have to waste and heading down to the library or the bookstore and getting a book and reading it. Try it, you might learn something.

Dear Self,
Time to stop bitching and pretend to work. Enough said.

Watch Out for the Big, Bad Pig

So a week ago I published a blurb about the swine flu thinking everyone was freaking out for nothing.  For a few days after, I wondered if maybe I got it wrong.  Now however, I’m back to my original premise.  I was also right about the foolish overreacting that would take place.  Some ountries have banned travel to Mexico.  Others have killed off a bunch of pigs.  Everyone is still all freaked out.  Yet the numbers of deaths have remained quite small and very contained even though the flu itself has shown up in many places.  Craziness.

The killing of the pigs really bugs me.  In spite of assertions by doctors and other scientists that this flu isn’t caught from eating pork, nor can it be transmitted from pigs to humans, Egypt killed over 300,000 pigs.  In response, the WHO came out with a statement that the name needs to be changed because killing pigs is unnecessary.

All the news organizations went nuts when a toddler died from the flu outside of Mexico, the first case outside that country.  EGADS!  It’s spreading!  Someone outside Mexico died!  We’re all going to get it!  It’s pandemic! We’re all dead!  Um, yeah.  Lost in the uproar was the fact the child was Mexican and had just been in Mexico.  It wasn’t like the flu came crawling across the border, snaking its way north in ever increasing tentacles.  Yet that is what the media worldwide seemed to want people to believe.

The actual truth is that most of the people who died had not gotten treatment when they should have.  For everyone else who has contracted the flu, their illnesses have been sh0rt-lived and they have recovered.  The trick was early detection and intervention.  It would be nice if the news media could find a nice balance between letting people know they should do something and acting like lunatics.  Unfortunately they usually lean towards lunacy.

The nasty right-winger radio hosts have used the swine flu as an opportunity to spread their hate mongering, lies, and racism.  They blatantly lie, claiming that we’re all going to get sick from Mexicans and we better close our borders further.  It’s disgusting.  Maybe any idiots who believe their bullshit will lock themselves in their homes with a gun and stop wandering the streets. If this happens, I guess in a twisted way the hate mongerers have performed a public service.

Rick Santelli is an Idiot

I can’t believe this guy.  I heard him spouting off here about how Americans shouldn’t pay for their neighbor to have one more bathroom.  I wanted to reach into the screen and slap his ugly head.  What an idiot.

Here’s a clue, Mr. Smarty Pants:  People who are in foreclosure are in foreclosure because the system is a mess, not because they are “deadbeats” and want a free ride from the government or their neighbors.  Want to point fingers, idiot?  Point them at the banks that overvalued properties in the first place to get people into questionable loans so brokers could collect bigger fees.  Point those fingers at the lenders for telling consumers that their ARM loan wouldn’t be a problem because they would be able to refinance in three years when the rates change (and hey, rates have been going down forever, so  why shouldn’t this continue? Your payment will be lower!) while simultaneously neglecting to point out there would be no way in hell any traditional lender would refinance property that is mortgaged for more than it is worth.  And oh, be sure to keep it a secret from the borrower that refinancing will not be an option if you lose your job.  How about pointing the fingers at lenders who convinced people to take out that second mortgage or a HELOC to “consolidate their debt” without pointing out that trading unsecured debt for secured debt would make bankruptcy pointless should the need arise?  How about pointing fingers at the pathetic and useless Bush administration who drove us into an economic crisis and higher unemployment than we have seen in decades?  Let’s just blame the victim for losing their job.  They should have known to move to China or India ten years ago so they would be there when there jobs were shipped overseas.

I heard the jerk in an interview claim that buyers should have hired lawyers.  Guess what?  Lawyers aren’t free.  And assuming someone could afford $225 an hour to hire one, a lawyer wouldn’t hire an appraiser to know that the bank overvalued the property.  Plus hiring an attorney when you buy a house is theoretically unnecessary anyway.  Mortgage brokers and lenders have a fiduciary duty of care to their clients.  This means they are held to a higher standard of care in dealing with the public.  They are expected to act EXTRA honest because it is expected that they have greater knowledge about the mortgage industry than consumers.  How does this work, Mr. Santelli?  Are the consumers supposed to suddenly educate themselves so they can catch dishonest bankers and brokers?  Would you hold a patient to the same duty before going to a doctor?  Am I supposed to go get an MBA before I go to a financial expert to ensure they are upholding their fiduciary duty?  Should I get an MD before going to the doctor?

I can’t stand the mentality that we are not obligated to help one another.  Guess what?  We are all in this together.  We can sit in our foreclosed bunkers with our guns aimed at our neighbors and barbed wire wrapped around our hearts to protect us from the enemy, ensuring we keep that property because, hell, it belongs to us, right?  We don’t need to share.  Or we can grow up and realize that society at its heart means social.  It means taking responsibility for one another.  It means what we do for each other we do for ourselves. It means we care for and protect one another and when someone is down, we offer them a hand up.  Taking care of one another is the stuff life is made of.  The alternate choice is to live like Rick Santelli, cold and alone with his gun pointed at everyone, dragging his loot into the afterlife.  Good luck with that, Buddy.

P.S. Being a stock-broker might be a high risk financially, but it is not hard work.

Violence, Murder, and Hatred of Homosexuals

Homophobia needs a new name, a good and ugly name to describe what is really going on when someone hates a gay person.  Homophobia is too sanitized.  It’s just a phobia, like arachnophobia (fear of spiders) and claustrophobia (fear of enclosed spaces).  No.  Hatred of gays needs to speak for what it really is–hate, intolerance, cruelty, VIOLENCE.  It needs a word that encompasses the fear, but also everything gays have suffered because of who they are.

Too many people think homosexuality is a lifestyle choice, like a person would volunteer for exclusion, violence, and pain, as if they could become heterosexual if they really wanted to.  Such “reasoning” is taken a step further to conclude that if a person chose their “lifestyle,” everyone’s hating them for it is okay.  What a load of crap.  Even if it were true that a homosexual made this “choice,” why does that make it okay to beat, kill, exclude, or otherwise bring them harm?  It doesn’t.  No matter how you cut it, homophobia is simple hatred.

So let’s make a new word, one that encompasses what is really going on.  Homo-abhorrence, homo-detestation, homo-disgust, homo-hatred, homo-malevolence, homo-repulsion, homo-revulsion, homo-animus, or homo-repugnance all come to mind.  I’m sure there are others.   Maybe if people who don’t give the issue much thought would consider what is really going on if we called a spade a spade and stopped using an easy, sanitized word like homophobia.  Maybe they would realize it means violence and hatred.  Maybe then they would understand why it has to end.

AAAAAACCCCCCKKKKKK!!!!!

Okay.  So I am going to spend a few minutes bitching and complaining even though I know that I am the person responsible for everything I am bitching and complaining about.  I get it.  This does not undermine my desire to bitch and complain, however.  I took it upon myself to pack all my shit in a moving truck and hike 3500 miles across the country with my boyfriend.  I get it.  I knew such an undertaking would result in chaos and disorder for a period of my life.  I get that too.  I underestimated how difficult it would be to reorganize having packed nearly all of my belongings over six months ago.  I also underestimated how long it would take to get things organized and situated within the tiny apartment in order to unpack.  I guess I really had no idea until I actually did these things.  I do know myself.  I do know that disorder and chaos for extended periods of time drive me batty.  I have been doing breathing exercises and working to relax through this transition.  As the chaos gradually turns to order, I have been moderately successful in these exercises.

Yet in the one area where disorder drives me the most insane is paperwork.  I cannot stand out of order paperwork.  I cannot stand not knowing how much I owe exactly, how much I have exactly, where proper tax documents are, etc.  I have taken to keeping all tax documents online in an effort to streamline this process and have been successful.  But this year is a mess.  All my stuff is spread between four boxes.  There isn’t anywhere to put anything.  I don’t know what I need, and I need to apply for scholarships and financial aid to two extremely expensive institutions.  On top of everything, both of these institutions require applications completed ONLINE.  Small problem.  No ONLINE.  No INTERNETS until next Friday.  One school’s papers are due that Saturday.  One’s are already overdue.  I cannot wait until Friday to work on these applications.  This necessitates running down to Starbucks to use the internets.  However the paperwork required for these give us all your information including the date of last intercourse applications is back at the apartment.  I get through a step.  I figure out what I need.  I go back to the apartment.  I look for the shit.  I find the shit.  I come back to Starbucks.  I discover another step not previously accessible.  I discover new paperwork requirements.  I have to go back home.  I’m losing my mind with this.

Today I discovered two MORE essays I have to write for the scholarship application to Columbia.  I have already written four admission essays and one scholarship essay.  The scholarship essays nearly mirror the application essays in some regard, at least two of them do.  For Christ’s sake, can’t they all read the same ones?  Apparently not.

So apartment chaos, financial applications, and lack of internets are all making me crazy as a nutjob.  I’m having batty stress dreams.  I also need to find a job and try to get the publisher I have been editing for to send me more work.  It’s enough to make me jump off a bridge.  If the water weren’t so frigid, that might be an appealing option.

No Wonder People Go Postal on the Post Office

And I don’t even care if I sound like a lunatic.  A more incompetent bunch of losers never occupied the earth (oh wait, there was the last US administration).  Useless useless useless.  You might think I would be sympathetic since my mom works there.  I’m not.  They steal every second the possibly can from her.  She is a rural carrier.  This means they do “mail counts” to determine how long a route should take and pay accordingly.  Every year during this count, all the bulk mail magically disappears!  Isn’t that amazing?!  During most mail days, she has between eight and twelve feet of bulk mail.  During count it is only one foot tall or less!  Unbelievable.  The net result is they claim her route should take seven hours when it takes over ten, and she is fast.  She’s been doing it for twenty years.  It’s been this way the last several years; every count the amount paid for each route goes down.  Now they are making those with the most seniority work six days a week.  Ever wonder why workers go postal?  This may contain the clue.

As for me personally?  I think someone somewhere is just fucking stupid.  I sent three packages parcel post from Honolulu, Hawaii, on 10/28/2008.  I have a receipt for these three packages.  Two of the packages arrived a week and a half ago.  One did not arrive.  I went in and asked about it and was told it could not be tracked because it was parcel post, even with the receipt.

Today, DECEMBER 1, I receive a postage due, FINAL notice that if I do not come pick up the package by DECEMBER 1, the package will be returned.  I received this notice AFTER the post office closed December 1.  This is the ONLY notice I have received, EVER.  I called the post office to attempt to ascertain what was going on.  I was informed after an extended hold that the package was still there and they would hold it (good thing because the wrath they would have incurred had they sent it back would have been that of the devil).

And the cherry on this little sugar cake?  I was informed the package had NO POSTAGE on it and I would have to pay AGAIN to get my package even with the receipt.  I paid over forty-five dollars to send this package.

I have had so many problems with the post office, and now it wants to STEAL forty-five more dollars from me.  It is the WORST organization ever created (next to Enron and Walmart).  No wonder people go postal–the morons who can’t figure out how to deliver a package or affix postage really ought to be removed from “service.”

Assholes.

America the Ugly

Milla’s dad informed me that a store I was looking for was in Longmont, Colorado.  Considering I have explored the south and the east of Boulder fairly well, and also considering Milla was spending the day with her dad, I decided to traipse on over to see if I could find the store and check out the town.

No offense to Longmontites, but what a disappointment.  Longmont is covered in ugly, bland, spread-out big box stores and their smaller corporate cousins.  The houses were modern bland equivalencies, the sort preferred by developers who buy their blueprints from Plans-R-Us.  Maybe I turned around to leave too soon, but I did not discover a prettier town center.  I had to get out.  The place sucked the life out of me.  Like so many truly homogenized American towns, the place had no aesthetics, no character, nothing.  No wonder so many Americans are depressed.

Going to Longmont, Colorado was exactly the same as going to Redding, California, which was exactly the same as going to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, which was exactly the same as going to Beaverton, Oregon, only flatter.  With few exceptions, American towns have zero character.  It is impossible to tell you are in another city in another state other than the fact that the license plates are different.  People lament the lack of community in America today; perhaps part of the problem is that we can’t tell one community from the other any more.

Longmont resembled the tri-cities area of eastern Washington nearly identically.  One thing Oregon has that seems to be sorely lacking in both Washington and Colorado is an urban growth boundary.  In both Colorado and Washington, buildings sprout seemingly out of nowhere, randomly placed wherever the landowner had a whim, regardless how well it fits with the landscape or where a town ends.  Lots of developers in Oregon bitch about the growth boundary, but I’m all for it.  It forces people to be creative with the space they do have.  In towns in Oregon where the boundary has been extended, the decimated orchards and fields are replaced with cloned McMansions, cloned townhomes, and hideous utilitarian corporate chains.  In the coming weeks, yards will be filled with hideous, plastic, walmart holiday atrocities.  Wretched.

While I’m not a huge fan of overly ornate, clean has translated into purely utlitarian, which basically means completely ugly.  Who knows, maybe clean wasn’t the culprit.  Perhaps it has more to do with rape and pillage development, make as much money as possible and get out.  Whatever happened to wanting to make something look nice?  Whatever happened to originality?  It was all sacrificed at the alter of the almighty dollar.

There is that Cree proverb that states, “Only when the last tree has withered, the last fish has been caught, and the last river has been poisoned, will you realize you cannot eat money.”  It seems when money is the only consideration or the highest consideration, not only are life and nature sacrificed, so too is beauty.  What a shame.

We should change the name of the song “America the Beautiful.”  It does not hold true any longer.  We are now America the Boring, America the Utilitarian, America the Ugly.  We don’t need some futuristic, sci-fi warning of a world in a plastic bubble to worry about.  We’re already there.

Possessive S’s

Improper use of the apostrophe for plurals bugs the hell out of me.  Except in narrow circumstances, one places an apostrophe before an s to denote possession.  If one is discussing more than one of something, the apostrophe goes after the s.  One does not place an apostrophe before the s to simply denote plurals.

No apostrophe is used in the following possessive pronouns and adjectives: yours, his, hers, ours, its, theirs, and whose. (Many people wrongly use it’s for the possessive of it, but authorities are unanimous that it’s can only be a contraction of it is or it has.)  Except for one’s, no possessive determiner has an apostrophe.  A number of them, like its, are homophonous with pronoun-auxiliary contractions.  As was previously noted, the pronoun its is very commonly misspelled; not only is there the homophone it’s (it is or it has), but ‘s is a genitive clitic.

For cryin’ out loud people, get it right.

Let’s Eliminate Pure Med Spa

See my post on the Pure Med Spa bankruptcy here.

I am writing an article on Pure Med Spa.  For info, please click here.

Because I have received so many messages in response to this post, and since it seems not many of these commentators have read my later piece on the Pure Med Spa bankruptcy filing, I have included this paragraph to inform any readers of that filing.  Effectively, if you received your treatment or they stole money from you BEFORE they filed their bankruptcy case in 2009, this means you may NOT file a lawsuit against Pure Med Spa, except through the bankruptcy court, and there only for certain causes of action.  You may NOT contact the company in any way about the money they owe you.  You may NOT call the CEO and harass him.  In short, you may not do anything to them.  That is the point of the bankruptcy stay, to protect the company from creditors, and I absolutely support this, even when the filer is as abominable as Pure Med Spa.  The same laws that protect Pure Med Spa protect you if you ever had to file, and speaking from experience as a bankruptcy attorney, that relief means a lot to people who are being harassed night and day by creditors.  Don’t think this means you don’t have options, just follow the rules to ensure you don’t violate federal law.

Original Post Let’s Eliminate Pure Med Spa:

I admit it, I do make my title statement without actual and personal knowledge of how well they perform their spa services. I have only my customer-no-service experience with them stealing my money to go on (I am planning to sue here in a couple of weeks once I get the paperwork together). However, Pure Med Spa needs to be run out of town on a rail.

In spite of my lack of spa services, I can glean from the feedback I get here that Pure Med Spa has a lot of people really upset. See my previous post on them here. By far, I get more hits on my blog because of Pure Med Spa than any other. WordPress has a feature where we can see the searches people use to find us. Every single day, without fail, someone connects to my post on Pure Med Spa because they searched for it with some derogatory descriptor like Pure Med Spa complaints or Pure Med Spa sucks or Pure Med Spa steals money or Pure Med Spa ripoff. These are all actual searches and the list is by no means complete. I received a comment from a woman asking me to contact her about her horrible experience. I received others describing their horrible experiences.

Here is a quote:

I paid Pure Med Spa thousands of dollars, in return received cancelled appointments, broken equipment, refusal to honor the packages I purchased, and overbooking, in addition to extreme difficulty and delay in even getting an appointment due to overselling and short staffing…. hat really bothers me is the company’s indifference and arrogance. It seems to just be an effort to take money from clientele without accountablity to perform the services people pay for. Michelle

Here is another:

I’ll kick Pure Med Spa’s ass too. They are liers (sic). They sold me a treatment which they had known that the machine will burn my skin because of my skin type. But they still talked me into buying it. Then later, they told me the machine would burn my skin, and they are trying to give me some other more expensive treatment which I do not need at all. They have a stupid ‘no-refund’ policy, they would not give my money back, that is for sure. Lucy

Considering the number of people who are searching for Pure Med Spa because of problems with the place, I would suspect there may be enough people out there who could file a class action lawsuit against them. That said, even though I’m an attorney, I know very little about class actions, especially since the feds made them harder to file. I do think though, that someone ought to look into it. That place needs to have its ass kicked straight out of business.

Ignorance Remains Sublime

As a response to the profound and distributed ignorance in this country on the basic definitions of forms of government and common economic systems, as well as the widespread interchangeable use of terms describing aspects of each, I have decided to post a mini civics lesson.  I am so fed up with the way words are tossed around by politicians, pundits, and citizens, with no respect for their actual meaning.  Frankly, I’m sick to death of it.  Apparently in America, ignorance remains sublime.

Forms of government describe the ways societies govern themselves. Economic systems describe the ways societies produce, distribute, and consume goods and services. Of course, it would be too simplistic to say that these two are not intimately intertwined, but they are different things.

Herein lies the problem.  Because political leaders and pundits use the terms interchangeably, most citizens haven’t a clue that the two are not the same.  For instance, the US claims it wants to “bring democracy” to a certain country.  However, the US has helped to topple democratically elected governments that were not capitalist.  The truth wasn’t that the US wanted democracy, but that the US wanted capitalism.  Two different things, but to most people, democracy equals capitalism, and that is okay.

Another word that is bandied about with little regard for what it really means is socialism.  This is the bad buzzword today, along with terrorist.  People use this word with no knowledge whatsoever of its meaning.  This one particularly irritates me, along with the misuse of communist.  Socialist and communist are used pretty interchangeably by people who don’t know what they are talking about.  They just heard on television that socialism and communism are bad things, so they go along with it.

I wonder if any of these people who think socialism is so bad realize that public education is a form of socialism.  Public roads?  Socialism.  Want the government to help you with health care?  Socialism.  All socialism means is that we, as society and through our government, pay for certain things so that all of us benefit.  Each society gets to decide which of the things it pays for.  In the US we have decided to let the government manage road systems and public education.  We haven’t yet figured out it might be better to get profit out of health care, but that is because everyone is so afraid they might have to pay taxes, and the capitalists in our country do their damndest to make sure citizens stay afraid so they can continue to profit.  The irony is that people will scream and yell and have a fit about spending .25c of each dollar on taxes, yet these same people fork over .65c of the same dollar to a private company who skims .40c off the top before applying the other .25c to the actual cost of the good or service received.  It’s inane.

Do you hate it that your HMO makes a profit off your heart attack?  Does it bug you that insurance companies make a profit off your illnesses, or that children go without basic health care because their parents can’t afford it?  Can you stand it that energy companies, phone companies, airlines, and banks can all mostly govern themselves and profit off of you, regardless how fundamental some of their services are to your survival?  Well, you can thank capitalism, the economic system based on supply and demand, for all that profit.  Capitalism is not democracy.  It is not a form of government.  It is an economic system, as is socialism.  It describes the exchange of goods and services.  It is not the way a government runs (although a government may partake in a capitalist system).  Governments are intrinsically linked to economic systems, but the two are not synonymous.

Forms of government are the institutions societies, as states, use to govern themselves.  Democracies and dictatorships are forms of government.  A dictatorship is an autocratic form of government where the leader enjoys absolute rule, free of laws or other political factors within the state.  Democracies are forms of government in which citizens govern themselves.  There is no hard and fast definition of the term, but democracies invariably include two principles.  First, all members of the society have equal access to power.  Second, all members enjoy universally recognized freedoms and liberties.

It would be nice if Americans were educated as to the real meanings behind all these words they so carelessly spew, democracy, socialism, communism, et al.  Sound bites are easy; they can make you sound like you have a clue when you really don’t know what you are talking about.  Dictatorships (a form of government, not an economic system) are easy too.  The dictator tells you what to do and you do it.  No thought required.

Democracy, on the other hand, is a bit more difficult.  It requires citizens educate themselves on things in order to make wise choices.  The problem is that many Americans don’t actually partake in the education process, they partake in the sound-bite process.  They hear a word and react to it without any idea what the hell it is they are talking about.  Because of this, I fear we are headed for disaster.

You be Sorry You Mess with Me Pure Med Spa!

See my post on the Pure Med Spa bankruptcy here.

I am writing an article on Pure Med Spa.  For info, please click here.

Because I have received so many messages in response to this and my other Pure Med Spa post, and since it seems not many of these commentators have read my later piece on the Pure Med Spa bankruptcy filing, I have included this paragraph to inform any readers of that filing.  Effectively, if you received your treatment or they took your money BEFORE they filed for bankruptcy in 2009, this means you may NOT file a lawsuit against Pure Med Spa, except through the bankruptcy court, and there only for certain causes of action (which include fraud).  You may NOT contact the company in any way about the money they owe you.  You may NOT call the CEO and harass him.  In short, you may not do anything to them.  That is the point of the bankruptcy stay, to protect the company from creditors, and I absolutely support this, even when the filer is as abominable as Pure Med Spa.  The same laws that protect Pure Med Spa protect you if you ever had to file, and speaking from experience as a bankruptcy attorney, that relief means a lot to people who are being harassed night and day by creditors.  Don’t think this means you don’t have options, just follow the rules to ensure you don’t violate federal law.

Original Post You be Sorry You Mess with Me Pure Med Spa:

I kick your ass little med spa stupid place.

I have lots of lawyer girlfriends.  Because I am a lawyer, of course I have lots of lawyer friends.  It goes with the territory, you know?  What I find amusing is how often my lawyer girlfriends have to pull out the lawyer card as part of their ass-kicking when some stupid company fucks them over.  My lawyer boyfriends do not seem to have this problem, and I mean friends who are boys, not actual boyfriends.  I only have one boyfriend and he is not a lawyer, thank GOD…anyway, I digress.  I think sometimes us girls get hassled by companies who would not hassle boys just because they think us girls are pushovers.  Small problem.  We are not all pushovers, especially lawyer girls.  Lawyer girls in my experience have a little extra something that likes to kick asses, if you know what I mean.  Something of that ass-kicking mentality pushes us to do things like go to law school and become lawyers.  I am sure there are other professions like this as well, but as a group, my lawyer girlfriends are ass kickers.

ANYWAY.  So my friend Kathleen has had many instances where she has had to kick company ass.  It’s fun to listen to her because you can tell by her story that she is always right and the company is always wrong and I am not being facetious here, she really is.  Like the time the bank told her she could have her deposit in 7 business days so she deposited a rather large sum based on that assertion, then the receipt the bank gave her after the deposit said she could not have that money for like two or three weeks or something.  Um.  NO.   Bank wrong.  Kathleen kick ass.  Or another time, I don’t remember the details, but she was bidding at a furniture auction and bid on a piece of furniture and the auction people gave the furniture to someone else who bid earlier.  Kathleen kick ass again.  I think she lost on that one but the company was sorry they had crossed her and her husband looked sheepish.  The company was wrong, no doubt in my mind. Fuckers.  I would have kicked ass too.  Kind of like when the bank in Hawaii thought I was a terrorist and would not give me an account even with a very large sum of money, a valid driver’s license, a social security card, and a passport.  Very large ass kicking there. I ended up at another bank.  Upset Lara.  Oh, and then there was the time the air filter company tried to mess with my lawyer friend Sara.  Their ad said Free In Home Estimates.  So they came and did their estimate and it was too high so of course Sara used another company.  Then they tried to charge Sara.  Um.  No.  Sara pointed out the various laws their attempts to collect violated.  Needless to say, they didn’t get the money they did not deserve.  Jerks.

ANYWAY.  So the point of this rambling diatribe is that I gave this med spa fifty bucks to hold my appointment back in July.  They said We need a fifty dollar deposit to hold your appointment.  If you don’t show or cancel within 24 hours of the appointment, we keep the fifty bucks. Okay.  I can deal with that.  Well, I called to cancel the same day I made the appointment.

Oh, we don’t do refunds.  This isn’t a refund.  I didn’t get anything.  It is outside the 24 hour period, I want my money.  Well we won’t give it to you.  Okay then.  Have you heard of the Oregon Health Spa Act, ORS 646A.030?  It allows the right of rescission of any spa service within 72 hours of requesting or paying for service.  Um, let me get my manager. Yeah, you do that.  So the next several conversations were not pleasant.  I described all the things I would do to them, including writing about their spa on my blog (doing that now), calling the Oregon Attorney General’s office, and telling Clackamas Town Center, the mall where they are located.  During all this, I also promptly sent off the written notice requesting the rescission, as required by statute.  Finally the manager spoke to someone who would allow a refund.  She told me the money would be in my account by the end of the day.  Nope, not there.  I called again.  Within three days.  Nope, not there.  It is now three and a half months later and still, no refund.

So I’m going postal on their asses.  I filed my complaint with the Oregon AG.  I am going to call the mall where they are located.  And I’m writing about them here.  I did some research and discovered MANY forums lamenting the many problems with Pure Med Spa.  They are a terrible company.  They have huge problems giving refunds or returning deposits.  They also use technicians who are not properly licensed and forget to follow health regulations when performing spa services (this information comes from the forums, not my personal experience).  Too bad I did not know this when I walked by them in the mall.  They are counting on people not knowing this when they walk by in the mall.  This is part of why I’m going to tell the mall.  I don’t know if the mall will care, but there should be some public service message to let patrons know the company they might deal with is a giant crook who will steal their money and could possibly perform some atrocious health violation on them or something.

The problem with stupid companies assuming customers are stupid is that their assumptions are often WRONG.  Guess what? I know where to look for the statutes about stupid asses like you.  I am happy to let others know there are statutes out there to protect consumers from shitty companies.  Oregon and many other states have rights of rescission statutes in many areas (though not in car sales, as is often believed).  Anyway, in Oregon anyway, there are statutes to allow you to change your mind about gym contracts, time share contracts, things sold door to door, certain home sale contracts, and other consumer contracts.  Usually you just have to send them a letter.  It’s not difficult, people just don’t know this is their right.  It would be better if the statutes required these jackasses to post something prominently stating as much, but for now, at least the laws are there so if some crappy company like Pure Med Spa tries to rip you off, you can fight them if necessary.  Fees to sue them and damages for causing you the trouble are often included in the remedies, so all you are out is your time.  The next time a company gives you trouble, go look through your state’s consumer statutes, you might find you have certain rights.  It is so empowering when some ginormous company who couldn’t give a shit about you tries to steal from you and you kick them in the ass.

Mad Dog Palin

The brilliance in the article I’m going to share below is its truth.  I have been screaming for years now that democracy requires a level of personal responsibility that certain individuals are not willing to accept.  The Bush administration has upped the ante over and over and over, becoming more audacious and arrogant at every turn.  No one should be surprised that Sarah Palin is the choice as running mate for John McCain.  She is their cherry on the icing on the top of the giant ram shoved up all our asses.  Those of us who wish to debate the issues intelligently, think about our choices, and make our political choices from an informed standpoint are not thinking like the people who consider Palin a fabulous choice.  They aren’t thinking at all.  This is the crux of the problem and the point of divergence.  I just hope someone figures it out before it is too late.

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/23318320/mad_dog_palin

Mad Dog Palin
by Matt Taibbi

I’m standing outside the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. Sarah Palin has just finished her speech to the Republican National Convention, accepting the party’s nomination for vice president. If I hadn’t quit my two-packs-a-day habit earlier this year, I’d be chain-smoking now. So the only thing left is to stand mute against th fit-for-a-cheap-dog-kennel crowd-control fencing you see everywhere at these idiotic conventions and gnaw on weird new feelings of shock and anarchist rage as one would a rawhide chew toy.

All around me, a million cops in their absurd post-9/11 space-combat get-ups stand guard as assholes in papier-mâché puppet heads scramble around for one last moment of network face time before the coverage goes dark. Four-chinned delegates from places like Arkansas and Georgia are pouring joyously out the gates in search of bars where they can load up on Zombies and Scorpion Bowls and other “wild” drinks and extramaritally grope their turkey-necked female companions in bathroom stalls as part of the “unbelievable time” they will inevitably report to their pals back home. Only 21st-century Americans can pass through a metal detector six times in an hour and still think they’re at a party.

The defining moment for me came shortly after Palin and her family stepped down from the stage to uproarious applause, looking happy enough to throw a whole library full of books into a sewer. In the crush to exit the stadium, a middle-aged woman wearing a cowboy hat, a red-white-and-blue shirt and an obvious eye job gushed to a male colleague — they were both wearing badges identifying them as members of the Colorado delegation — at the Xcel gates.

“She totally reminds me of my cousin!” the delegate screeched. “She’s a real woman! The real thing!”

I stared at her open-mouthed. In that moment, the rank cynicism of the whole sorry deal was laid bare. Here’s the thing about Americans. You can send their kids off by the thousands to get their balls blown off in foreign lands for no reason at all, saddle them with billions in debt year after congressional year while they spend their winters cheerfully watching game shows and football, pull the rug out from under their mortgages, and leave them living off their credit cards and their Wal-Mart salaries while you move their jobs to China and Bangalore.

And none of it matters, so long as you remember a few months before Election Day to offer them a two-bit caricature culled from some cutting-room-floor episode of Roseanne as part of your presidential ticket. And if she’s a good enough likeness of a loudmouthed Middle American archetype, as Sarah Palin is, John Q. Public will drop his giant-size bag of Doritos in gratitude, wipe the Sizzlin’ Picante dust from his lips and rush to the booth to vote for her. Not because it makes sense, or because it has a chance of improving his life or anyone else’s, but simply because it appeals to the low-humming narcissism that substitutes for his personality, because the image on TV reminds him of the mean, brainless slob he sees in the mirror every morning.

Sarah Palin is a symbol of everything that is wrong with the modern United States. As a representative of our political system, she’s a new low in reptilian villainy, the ultimate cynical masterwork of puppeteers like Karl Rove. But more than that, she is a horrifying symbol of how little we ask for in return for the total surrender of our political power. Not only is Sarah Palin a fraud, she’s the tawdriest, most half-assed fraud imaginable, 20 floors below the lowest common denominator, a character too dumb even for daytime TV — and this country is going to eat her up, cheering her every step of the way. All because most Americans no longer have the energy to do anything but lie back and allow ourselves to be jacked off by the calculating thieves who run this grasping consumer paradise we call a nation.

The Palin speech was a political masterpiece, one of the most ingenious pieces of electoral theater this country has ever seen. Never before has a single televised image turned a party’s fortunes around faster.

Until the Alaska governor actually ascended to the podium that night, I was convinced that John McCain had made one of the all-time campaign-season blunders, that he had acted impulsively and out of utter desperation in choosing a cross-eyed political neophyte just two years removed from running a town smaller than the bleacher section at Fenway Park. It even crossed my mind that there was an element of weirdly self-destructive pique in McCain’s decision to cave in to his party’s right-wing base in this fashion, that perhaps he was responding to being ordered by party elders away from a tepid, ideologically promiscuous hack like Joe Lieberman — reportedly his real preference — by picking the most obviously unqualified, doomed-to-fail joke of a Bible-thumping buffoon. As in: You want me to rally the base? Fine, I’ll rally the base. Here, I’ll choose this rifle-toting, serially pregnant moose killer who thinks God lobbies for oil pipelines. Happy now?

But watching Palin’s speech, I had no doubt that I was witnessing a historic, iconic performance. The candidate sauntered to the lectern with the assurance of a sleepwalker — and immediately launched into a symphony of snorting and sneering remarks, taking time out in between the superior invective to present herself as just a humble gal with a beefcake husband and a brood of healthy, combat-ready spawn who just happened to be the innocent targets of a communist and probably also homosexual media conspiracy. She appeared to be completely without shame and utterly full of shit, awing a room full of hardened reporters with her sickly-sweet line about the high-school-flame-turned-hubby who, “five children later,” is “still my guy.” It was like watching Gidget address the Reichstag.

Within minutes, Palin had given TV audiences a character infinitely recognizable to virtually every American: the small-town girl with just enough looks and a defiantly incurious mind who thinks the PTA minutes are Holy Writ, and to whom injustice means the woman next door owning a slightly nicer set of drapes or flatware. Or the governorship, as it were.

Right-wingers of the Bush-Rove ilk have had a tough time finding a human face to put on their failed, inhuman, mean-as-hell policies. But it was hard not to recognize the genius of wedding that faltering brand of institutionalized greed to the image of the suburban-American supermom. It’s the perfect cover, for there is almost nothing in the world meaner than this species of provincial tyrant.

Palin herself burned this political symbiosis into the pages of history with her seminal crack about the “difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull: lipstick,” blurring once and for all the lines between meanness on the grand political scale as understood by the Roves and Bushes of the world, and meanness of the small-town variety as understood by pretty much anyone who has ever sat around in his ranch-house den dreaming of a fourth plasma-screen TV or an extra set of KC HiLites for his truck, while some ghetto family a few miles away shares a husk of government cheese.

In her speech, Palin presented herself as a raging baby-making furnace of middle-class ambition next to whom the yuppies of the Obama set — who never want anything all that badly except maybe a few afternoons with someone else’s wife, or a few kind words in The New York Times Book Review — seem like weak, self-doubting celibates, the kind of people who certainly cannot be trusted to believe in the right God or to defend a nation. We’re used to seeing such blatant cultural caricaturing in our politicians. But Sarah Palin is something new. She’s all caricature. As the candidate of a party whose positions on individual issues are poll losers almost across the board, her shtick is not even designed to sell a line of policies. It’s just designed to sell her. The thing was as much as admitted in the on-air gaffe by former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan, who was inadvertently caught saying on MSNBC that Palin wasn’t the most qualified candidate, that the party “went for this, excuse me, political bullshit about narratives.”

The great insight of the Palin VP choice is that huge chunks of American voters no longer even demand that their candidates actually have policy positions; they simply consume them as media entertainment, rooting for or against them according to the reflexive prejudices of their demographic, as they would for reality-show contestants or sitcom characters. Hicks root for hicks, moms for moms, born-agains for born-agains. Sure, there was politics in the Palin speech, but it was all either silly lies or merely incidental fluffery buttressing the theatrical performance. A classic example of what was at work here came when Palin proudly introduced her Down-syndrome baby, Trig, then stared into the camera and somberly promised parents of special-needs kids that they would “have a friend and advocate in the White House.” This was about a half-hour before she raised her hands in triumph with McCain, a man who voted against increasing funding for special-needs education.

Palin’s charge that “government is too big” and that Obama “wants to grow it” was similarly preposterous. Not only did her party just preside over the largest government expansion since LBJ, but Palin herself has been a typical Bush-era Republican, borrowing and spending beyond her means. Her great legacy as mayor of Wasilla was the construction of a $15 million hockey arena in a city with an annual budget of $20 million; Palin OK’d a bond issue for the project before the land had been secured, leading to a protracted legal mess that ultimately forced taxpayers to pay more than six times the original market price for property the city ended up having to seize from a private citizen using eminent domain. Better yet, Palin ended up paying for the fucking thing with a 25 percent increase in the city sales tax. But in her speech, of course, Palin presented herself as the enemy of tax increases, righteously bemoaning that “taxes are too high” and Obama “wants to raise them.”

Palin hasn’t been too worried about federal taxes as governor of a state that ranks number one in the nation in federal spending per resident ($13,950), even as it sits just 18th in federal taxes paid per resident ($5,434). That means all us taxpaying non-Alaskans spend $8,500 a year on each and every resident of Palin’s paradise of rugged self-sufficiency. Not that this sworn enemy of taxes doesn’t collect from her own: Alaska currently collects the most taxes per resident of any state in the nation.

The rest of Palin’s speech was the same dog-whistle crap Republicans have been railing about for decades. Palin’s crack about a mayor being “like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities” testified to the Republicans’ apparent belief that they can win elections till the end of time running against the Sixties. (They’re probably right.) The incessant grousing about the media was likewise par for the course, red meat for those tens of millions of patriotic flag-waving Americans whose first instinct when things get rough is to whine like bitches and blame other people — reporters, the French, those ungrateful blacks soaking up tax money eating big prison meals, whomever — for their failures.

Add to this the usual lies about Democrats wanting to “forfeit” to our enemies abroad and coddle terrorists, and you had a very run-of-the-mill, almost boring Republican speech from a substance standpoint. What made it exceptional was its utter hypocrisy, its total disregard for reality, its absolute unrelation to the facts of our current political situation. After eight years of unprecedented corruption, incompetence, waste and greed, the party of Karl Rove understood that 50 million Americans would not demand solutions to any of these problems so long as they were given a new, new thing to beat their meat over.

Sarah Palin is that new, new thing, and in the end it won’t matter that she’s got an unmarried teenage kid with a bun in the oven. Of course, if the daughter of a black candidate like Barack Obama showed up at his convention with a five-month bump and some sideways-cap-wearing, junior-grade Curtis Jackson holding her hand, the defenders of Traditional Morality would be up in arms. But the thing about being in the reality-making business is that you don’t need to worry much about vetting; there are no facts in your candidate’s bio that cannot be ignored or overcome.

One of the most amusing things about the Palin nomination has been the reaction of horrified progressives. The Internet has been buzzing at full volume as would-be defenders of sanity and reason pore over the governor’s record in search of the Damning Facts. My own telephone began ringing off the hook with calls from ex-Alaskans and friends of Alaskans determined to help get the “truth” about Sarah Palin into the major media. Pretty much anyone with an Internet connection knows by now that Palin was originally for the “Bridge to Nowhere” before she opposed it (she actually endorsed the plan in her 2006 gubernatorial campaign), that even after the project was defeated she kept the money, that she didn’t actually sell the Alaska governor’s state luxury jet on eBay but instead sold it at a $600,000 loss to a campaign contributor (who is reportedly now seeking $50,000 in taxpayer money to pay maintenance costs).

Then there are the salacious tales of Palin’s swinging-meat-cleaver management style, many of which seem to have a common thread: In addition to being ensconced in a messy ethics investigation over her firing of the chief of the Alaska state troopers (dismissed after refusing to sack her sister’s ex-husband), Palin also fired a key campaign aide who had an affair with a friend’s wife. More ominously, as mayor of Wasilla, Palin tried to fire the town librarian, Mary Ellen Emmons, who had resisted pressure to censor books Palin found objectionable.

Then there’s the God stuff: Palin belongs to a church whose pastor, Ed Kalnins, believes that all criticisms of George Bush “come from hell,” and wondered aloud if people who voted for John Kerry could be saved. Kalnins, looming as the answer to Obama’s Jeremiah Wright, claims that Alaska is going to be a “refuge state” for Christians in the last days, last days which he sometimes speaks of in the present tense. Palin herself has been captured on video mouthing the inevitable born-again idiocies, such as the idea that a recent oil-pipeline deal was “God’s will.” She also described the Iraq War as a “task that is from God” and part of a heavenly “plan.” She supports teaching creationism and “abstinence only” in public schools, opposes abortion even for victims of rape, has denied the science behind global warming and attends a church that seeks to convert Jews and cure homosexuals.

All of which tells you about what you’d expect from a raise-the-base choice like Palin: She’s a puffed-up dimwit with primitive religious beliefs who had to be educated as to the fact that the Constitution did not exactly envision government executives firing librarians. Judging from the importance progressive critics seem to attach to these revelations, you’d think that these were actually negatives in modern American politics. But Americans like politicians who hate books and see the face of Jesus in every tree stump. They like them stupid and mean and ignorant of the rules. Which is why Palin has only seemed to grow in popularity as more and more of these revelations have come out.

The same goes for the most damning aspect of her biography, her total lack of big-game experience. As governor of Alaska, Palin presides over a state whose entire population is barely the size of Memphis. This kind of thing might matter in a country that actually worried about whether its leader was prepared for his job — but not in America. In America, it takes about two weeks in the limelight for the whole country to think you’ve been around for years. To a certain extent, this is why Obama is getting a pass on the same issue. He’s been on TV every day for two years, and according to the standards of our instant-ramen culture, that’s a lifetime of hands-on experience.

It is worth noting that the same criticisms of Palin also hold true for two other candidates in this race, John McCain and Barack Obama. As politicians, both men are more narrative than substance, with McCain rising to prominence on the back of his bio as a suffering war hero and Obama mostly playing the part of the long-lost, future-embracing liberal dreamboat not seen on the national stage since Bobby Kennedy died. If your stomach turns to read how Palin’s Kawasaki 704 glasses are flying off the shelves in Middle America, you have to accept that Middle America probably feels the same way when it hears that Donatella Versace dedicated her collection to Obama during Milan Fashion Week. Or sees the throwing-panties-onstage-“I love you, Obama!” ritual at the Democratic nominee’s town-hall appearances.

So, sure, Barack Obama might be every bit as much a slick piece of imageering as Sarah Palin. The difference is in what the image represents. The Obama image represents tolerance, intelligence, education, patience with the notion of compromise and negotiation, and a willingness to stare ugly facts right in the face, all qualities we’re actually going to need in government if we’re going to get out of this huge mess we’re in.

Here’s what Sarah Palin represents: being a fat fucking pig who pins “Country First” buttons on his man titties and chants “U-S-A! U-S-A!” at the top of his lungs while his kids live off credit cards and Saudis buy up all the mortgages in Kansas.

The truly disgusting thing about Sarah Palin isn’t that she’s totally unqualified, or a religious zealot, or married to a secessionist, or unable to educate her own daughter about sex, or a fake conservative who raised taxes and horked up earmark millions every chance she got. No, the most disgusting thing about her is what she says about us: that you can ram us in the ass for eight solid years, and we’ll not only thank you for your trouble, we’ll sign you up for eight more years, if only you promise to stroke us in the right spot for a few hours around election time.

Democracy doesn’t require a whole lot of work of its citizens, but it requires some: It requires taking a good look outside once in a while, and considering the bad news and what it might mean, and making the occasional tough choice, and soberly taking stock of what your real interests are.

This is a very different thing from shopping, which involves passively letting sitcoms melt your brain all day long and then jumping straight into the TV screen to buy a Southern Style Chicken Sandwich because the slob singing “I’m Lovin’ It!” during the commercial break looks just like you. The joy of being a consumer is that it doesn’t require thought, responsibility, self-awareness or shame: All you have to do is obey the first urge that gurgles up from your stomach. And then obey the next. And the next. And the next.

And when it comes time to vote, all you have to do is put your Country First — just like that lady on TV who reminds you of your cousin. U-S-A, baby. U-S-A! U-S-A!

Pitiful

It just makes me sick, those poor babies made ill by milk powder in China.  It reminds me of Nestle going into third world countries, telling the women to stop breastfeeding and to “use formula like western women,” all the while ignoring the fact that the water is unsafe to drink.  The result is a 50% infant mortality rate in these countries because the babies die from dysentery.  Now we have over 59,000 babies sickened and killed in China from drinking poisoned milk powder.

Fifty percent infant mortality rate.  59,000 sick and dying children.  All these giant numbers, all these sanitized words used to cover one salient fact:  some parent’s baby got really sick or died.  Each of those hurt or killed had a mom and dad who either had to sit up worrying about a sick baby or they lost a little baby they loved, not to mention the fact that these little kids had to suffer through sick stomachs, diarrhea, and vomiting.  Use sanitized words and it becomes so easy to forget that.

The other piece of this that strikes me is how truly sad it is that formula is fed to children instead of breastmilk.  I wrote a law review article calling for laws requiring employer accommodation of breastfeeding women.  For that article, I did extensive economic and medical research to back up my arguments.  The conclusion I drew was that breastfeeding saves lives and money.  We never should have switched to a system where it was not the norm.  Of course, money drove the trend on many levels.  Money, money, money.  Everyone wants it.  Everyone wants everyone else to think they have it.  Stupid decisions are made because of it, from the decision to make our babies sleep in other rooms to the decision to feed our children milk made from powder to prove we can afford it.  Later these decisions became the norm to the point where children who want to sleep with their parents are considered problems and babies drinking from mothers’ breasts is considered obscene.  No one questions why it started and what was normal for thousands of years becomes disgusting and unnatural.

I continue to marvel at the ridiculousness of human beings. We’re too smart for our own good.  Unfortunately, we aren’t smart enough to make milk that is as good as our own and the result is that it makes babies sick and kills them.  Pitiful.  Truly pitiful.

Deregulate Insurance Like We Deregulated Wall Street

Good one, McCain.  You’re on top of things.  You obviously know your stuff.  I cannot believe there are people out there who would make this man president…

http://thinkprogress.org/2008/09/20/mccain-deregulate-insurance/

Paul Krugman notes that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) published an article on his health care plan in the current issue of Contingencies — the magazine of the American Academy of Actuaries. In his article, McCain attempts to make his case for deregulating the health insurance industry by extolling the benefits of the last decade of deregulation in the banking sector. He writes:

Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation.

As Yglesias writes, McCain is “such an enthusiast about financial market deregulation that he was bragging about his plan to make the health care system as awesome as the financial system.”

It’s the Cold War with a Terrorist Twist!

I’ll bet you anything the administration is frothing at the mouth to bring back the cold war, only this time with the terrorist twist.  Then they can really use fear to their advantage.  Terrorists!  Communists!  War!  Oh my!  I’ll bet they are wishing this Russian situation had come along earlier so they could exploit it further before they get their asses kicked out of office, but hey, there are still a few months left.  I’m sure they can wring something out of it before they leave.  They’ll use it to McCain’s advantage.  And Fox news will join in to fight the good fight.  Obama? You better be on your toes, Guy.  These guys are going to exploit this situation like no one’s business.  I can guarantee it.  Americans have been putting up with the fear card for Iraq and Afghanistan for some time now, but Russia, we haven’t heard about them for a while.  It is quite possible to exploit fear using a different monster.

Pay attention!  Pay attention!  If we want to stop the fear machine before it really takes hold, we better pay attention and jump in now to start thwarting the bullshit attacks that are going to begin.  They are going to do it, it’s a guarantee.  The only question is how.  Just watch.  McCain will say something to the effect that Russians are the new terrorist threat and if we don’t watch out, Russia will come and invade the US like they invaded Georgia and we can’t have that now, can we?  We had better take offensive action to stop their bad behavior!

This might not be the exact scenario, but something like this will come from their mouths.  I’d bet on it.

Hypocrisy and Audacity: Welcome to the USA

Am I an American?  Is our country for real? I am appalled at our audacity.  Condoleeza stands up and tells the Russians that it is not 1968, that countries do not invade other countries, take over their capitals, and overthrow their governments?  I heard a recording of these words coming out of this woman’s mouth.  Does the word HYPOCRISY mean anything to anyone anymore?  The radio reported this like it’s just news.  No one gasped in shock at the irony.  No one commented.  On what planet do we all live on that her statement makes the news but not the meaning behind her words?

The radio announcer went on to say the US is dismayed at reported human rights abuses.  Again, are we joking?  The USA, the progenitor of modern torture techniques, is dismayed the Russia may be perpetrating human rights abuses?  The USA, who has done NOTHING in Darfur and other places where masses of human rights abuses are committed on a daily basis, is dismayed?  Are we joking?

The arrogance of our government is astounding.  I am utterly appalled.  Why do we continue to put up with this? Why is the mass of our population so blinded to the realities of this administration?  When will we stop putting up with the lies, the hypocrisy, the violence, all of it?  I can see it now:  it is a few years hence.  We all have chips implanted into our necks.  We are all being herded hither and thither among various shopping centers.  We can’t buy what we want because we don’t have jobs or money or homes.  The government, angered that we aren’t buying, turns off our chips, making it impossible to go anywhere or do anything because the chips are required to operate a car, ride a bus, fly on a plane, do anything.  Then we start to cry we cannot believe this is happening to us.

Welcome to the future people.  It’s happening now.  You can believe it and try to change things or poke your head back into your bible, blind yourself in front of the advertising machine, or numb your brain with substances.  We are responsible for the state we are in.  This is supposedly a democracy (though I think valid arguments could be made against this assumption).  If it is a democracy, then we are responsible for the people running the show.  We decide whether we will allow this to continue, indeed that it has happened at all.  Americans are responsible for what we have become.  Ultimately, Americans are responsible for where we end up.  Do we want to be arrogant monsters who are hypocritical in everything they say or do?  Because that is where we are.  The question is whether we are going to stand up, grow up, and take responsibility to change things before we destroy ourselves and our planet.

A Pox on Advantage Rent A Car and First Hawaiian Bank

Oh we are so small and insignificant.  Oh the corporations in this world are so large and monopolistic.  They are all the same.  There are too many willing to put up with their business practices, too many willing to put up and shut up, that telling them we will not do business with them is meaningless.  All I have is this damn blog and any articles I ever manage to publish.  I am using this blog and this opportunity to tell anyone who cares or has a choice about my experience with Advantage RentaCar and First Hawaiian Bank.

I have nothing good to say about Advantage RentaCar.  I rented a car from them.  I paid them for a full tank of gas. They have this deal where you pay them like .30c a gallon less than what is on the street, then you can bring the car back empty and they don’t care.  Well, I start out on the road after a LONG flight, made longer by the fact the airplane was broken and we had to sit on it for 2 hours before it went anywhere.  Halfway down the freeway to where we were staying I realized the car had less than half a tank.  Nice.  I rented this car for a week.  I brought it back a day early because I purchased a car that gets much better gas mileage.  Upon arrival at Advantage, I was informed that the car would cost twice as much because I was returning it early.  Excuse me?  They have the car available to rent to someone else and they want me to pay them twice as much?  They would not make it right.  I had to take the car and I will have to bring it back tomorrow if I want to keep the additional $170.  The airport is not near my house.  The rental company is not easily accessible.  I wasted almost two hours there and back today.  I will have to waste more time tomorrow.  I will never rent an Advantage RentaCar again, even if it costs me ten or twenty or even a hundred dollars more to rent somewhere else.  If they wanted to charge me more to bring the car back early, they should have mentioned this would be the case, thereby eliminating my wasting my time going there today.  Again, I will never do business with Advantage RentaCar again.

First Hawaiian Bank.  Not only do they think I’m a lying terrorist who forged my driver’s license and social security card, not only will they not tell me what is on my credit report that makes them think I’m a lying terrorist (claiming it is a violation of privacy–HAH), now they will not return my forty thousand dollars until it has cleared my bank. Rather than just giving me my check back and returning all documents with my signatures, the greedy bastards took my money and are holding it until my bank clears the check.  This could take up to ten days.  I will never do business with First Hawaiian Bank.  I urge others not to do business with them either.

Citizens, we have to stop putting up with this.  The only way we will ever change anything is if enough of us say no.  A few here and there will never make a dent.  We have to fight for change. Every day our rights are eroded further.  Every day we have fewer freedoms.  The movement is miniscule on a day by day basis, so we do not notice that over time, we are so far away from anything resembling freedom in any sense of the word.  This will only change if we stop putting up with all of the bureaucratic chaos we are forced to endure every day.  We will only change corporations if enough of us hit their bottom line.  This is important.  I urge you to resist requirements pushed on you by businesses who are not interested in customer service.  I urge you to stop doing business with companies who treat you poorly and then let them know why.  Only then will we ever create real change.

Just Say No

Welcome to the USA, where citizens are assumed to be out of “compliance” in their own country, where their own identification no longer satisfies officials they are who they say they are, where those born here are considered to be running afoul of the law and forging their identities unless and until they can get a computer to agree they are who they say they are.  Social security card, driver’s license, passport?  Nahhhh…those aren’t proof you are who you say you are.  If some computer somewhere says you don’t exist as you’ve proven, then you don’t exist, and it becomes your job to prove it by calling some stranger and providing the same information you have already provided in the forms of documentation.  Then somehow, maybe, you’ll become a citizen.

What a load of fucking crap.  When are people going to stop putting up with this terrorist crap?  When are people going to realize that having to endure shit like this is a worse threat than the highly unlikely possibility someone will bomb us?  It’s all about control on the part of a very few.  We need to stop allowing them to take control.  We need to stop complying simply to prove our innocence, to prove our citizenship. Too many people say I will comply because not complying makes me look guilty.  Fuck that!  If you aren’t guilty, you aren’t guilty.  Not complying does not make you MORE guilty!

Today the bank I chose here to start new accounts called me to tell me their “compliance department” claims my social security number has too many names on it. The “compliance department” in charge of making sure terrorists don’t open bank accounts.  Guess what, fuckers?  Timothy McVeigh had a social security card.  Being a US citizen does not keep one from becoming a terrorist.  Want to know why my social security number has more than one name?  It is because some minimum wage flunky fuck at the credit reporting agency imput the information incorrectly.  It is also because I was married in a patriarchal culture and changed my name then because I was too ignorant at the time to know better.  It doesn’t mean I forged my social security card, driver’s license, and passport.  It certainly does not mean I’m a terrorist.

I told the bank I did not appreciate being called a liar.  I said that being told I need to prove further who I am, that telling me my proof was not good enough was akin to saying my proof was a lie.  I told them that if my proof of identity was not good enough, I would take my money elsewhere.  I explained that I was not going to comply to prove my innocence, that they needed to prove my guilt.  I told her I knew most people would go along with this charade as evidence of their good faith, but that I needed no such evidence.  I said I was not going to waste my time proving further I am who I am, that they could spend the time disproving I am who I am.  The kind lady who had to put up with me told me she would do some research and get back to me.

The irony in this is that I was told this was somehow for my own good, proving someone else wasn’t using my number.  How many people stop and believe that bullshit?  I’m trying to put money in their bank, I say I am Lara Gardner, I give documents I am Lara Gardner, their computer says my social security number has other names on it, so now I’m not safe?  What a load of fucking crap.  This has nothing to do with anything for my own good and everything to do with control.

There are fourteen characteristics common to fascism.  One of these is an obsession with national security, using fear as a motivational tool to control the masses.  I will not be a pawn in the government’s tool chest of fear in order to create the illusion of control.  If we are truly free, we should be free to open a bank account with money from another US bank without being accused of being a terrorist.

I Have a Burr in My Ass

I think anyone who reads this will wish I kept not having an internet connection for a few more days. I’m in one of those moods where I’m not mad at anything specifically, just generally irritated. I want to slap something. Too bad Boyfriend isn’t here. I would tell him some of the things I don’t usually say to avoid an argument, but which probably should be said. Of course, because I have a burr in my ass we might fight and fights with him tend to be demoralizing affairs. The air doesn’t get cleared, it gets filled–with shit, and I just couldn’t handle that right now. It’s probably a good thing he’s off playing the piano at musical theater he claims is crap and not here acting nice to me one minute and cranky the next. Did I mention I’m slightly irritable?

Annoying Number One: I can’t even spell out the whole story because it annoys the crap out of me, but Qwest needs its rectum cleaned with a giant bottle brush. I will be posting the entire story here sometime soon because the world needs to know what a filthy toilet germ Qwest Communications is. I just can’t do it now. I’d get all mad and shit and being irritable is annoying enough.

Irritating Number Two: This woman I’ll call Pita because she’s a pain in the ass stopped bugging me for a few days after she made me royally angry. She was one of the things that inspired the rage spoken of in my post from a couple of days ago. It has been so pleasant not seeing her number on my phone EIGHT THOUSAND TIMES a day. It has been so wonderful not having FORTY MINUTE voicemails left on my telephone. Well, she called today. I was on the phone with Annoying Number One. I saw her number on the phone. I hit ignore. A few minutes later, I’m shooting the breeze with the rep at Annoying Number One when I hear a message beep in. Huh? I didn’t even hear that ring. Uh, yes I did. It was Pita SEVERAL MINUTES prior. Pita is constitutionally unable to just call and either a) leave no message, or b) leave me a short message. Every message is like a call to the therapist or an instruction manual. The calls to the therapist are long, drawn-out affairs whereby I end up hitting 3 every few seconds to fast-forward through her self-analysis. Instruction manuals are her telling me what to do and how to do it. These inspire hits on button 3 as well. All of it irritates the fuck out of me. I have decided never to answer her calls again and delete all messages before I ever hear her voice. Perhaps she’ll figure out the plan soon and stop calling me.

Grumpy Number Three: Part of the I is Pore and Dum concert series, back today by popular demand, we have the Lara can’t get medsin agin cuz shes on Orgun Helth Plan an cant do nuthin but make up fake pill papers an sellum fer muny. Dang me! I was hopin I cud get sum muny for them fake pill papers but that there Walgreen place stopped me.   Nunna my kids daddies sent any muny agin.  Men.  Shit. Mebbe all jes hafta go an watch that telly agin an keep on wippin them 7 kids amine cuz they is blockin my soaps. Hell fire! Wish one a thems daddies wud come on over here and takes one of em cuz theyz makin me tired. Mebbe him an I can roll in the hay also for old time sakes.

Demoralizing Number Four: One minute Boyfriend acts like I’m the greatest thing since sliced bread. He has a way of making me feel pretty special. Unfortunately, the next minute Boyfriend acts like he thinks I’m the stupidest fuck to walk the planet and he’s going to make sure I am apprised of this fact. My friends wonder whether he’s just using me for sex. I asked him once. I may as well have asked him whether he had murdered someone because he was so offended I would even ask. That’s how it is with him: you can’t ask because asking comes with the implication that by asking you imply he could do such a thing and how dare one imply he would do such a thing? I don’t know, the fact he seems not to give a shit about me half the time makes me kind of wonder. However, there seems to be no correlation between sex and his desire for me because occasionally even during sex he’ll suddenly turn from really cool to really shitty in about 30 seconds. I can’t figure it. Yesterday it seemed to come after a meal. Eating made him stop being talkative and friendly. To that point, he was the best boyfriend in the world. I actually was thinking I love him again (yes, my love waxes and wanes, like the moon. And don’t give me a lecture about real love not waxing and waning. Whatever. Maybe for you. For me, it fluctuates.) Anyway, he gradually became less talkative and more sullen towards me. He pointed out some error I had made in an observation. By the time we got to the place we were going for dessert, he barely spoke 10 words to me. I almost told him to go home and leave me alone. Demoralizing. I don’t know if he realizes all of a sudden he’d rather be picking his ass or cleaning his sock drawer than be with me, but it’s disconcerting and yes, very demoralizing. I don’t know how much more of it I can put up with. I keep asking myself if the half time wonderful is worth the half time feeling like shit. On top of it, I think he still might read me. I’m not sure. But if he does, he’ll think this is some broadcast message about him and he’ll probably punish me for it. Good times.

Pissy Number Five: Why did WordPress change the layout of this design to include the list of tags? I hate that. It’s ugly. Now I’m going to have to go through and find another design and blah blah blah so I don’t have all those words at the top. If something isn’t broken, DON’T FUCKING FIX IT people, for Christ’s fucking sake. Fuck.

Whipped Number Six: I can’t fucking sleep. I can’t fucking sleep. I can’t fucking sleep. Did I mention I can’t fucking sleep? The days I’ve been able to sleep in, I can’t. It used to be Boyfriend snuggling me at night helped me sleep. Lately that doesn’t even work. Part of it is the demoralizing issue, but the BIG thorn in my backside is STRESS.  Too much stress, too little outlets for it.  I have to be out of my old house a week from today and still haven’t sold enough crap. I don’t want to give it all to charity yet; there is still a lot of nice stuff there. On top of it, I’m required to pick up the dog poo in the dog yard and paint some spots the size of silver dollars and clean the place up after getting the things out of it and I work and I’m a bit overwhelmed. I also can’t find a home for my dog and do not want to give her back to the organization that gave her to me. Also I’m kind of frightened by all the changes I’m instigating and want but which still scare the shit out of me. And basically, I simply tired tired tired tired tired. I just need a good massage and a cuddle. I think those two things would go a LONG way to improving my outlook on life in general.

So there you have it. Don’t you wish you had stopped reading after about, oh, sentence two? I would. Perhaps being able to write again will help. Getting through major life changes would help as well. All I can say now is that my bed is beckoning and I’m going to go try and sleep.

Dribbling Sanity

I don’t know if the fact I feel like I’m going crazy is because I have not had this outlet or because of all the other shit going on in my life or both.  Last night, I totally and completely lost it.  I went out into my car and screamed FUCK at the top of my lungs.  It did not help.  I had to sit there and stew in my juices until I calmed down.  I was so angry.  Actually angry.  The kind of angry where if the wrong person had been in front of me, I probably would have smashed them in the face.  That would not have been good.  It was just one thing after another after another after another, all damn day long.  I finally blew a fuse.  It kept me twitching for hours, like some fucking meth freak or something.

This morning when I came to work and was able to get on the internet, there was an email from someone who reads this blog checking in on me.  He was worried about me because my posts of late have been a bit angsty, then I disappear for 6 days.  I thought this was so sweet and somewhat ironic.  Some person I do not know wants to make sure I’m okay, but the people who do know me could give a shit.  It’s fucking insane.  This is the life I’ve created for myself?  Indeed.

I do not have internet access at home.  It will be a miracle if I do tonight after the shit and hell I’ve been through with stupid Qwest.  Their bullshit contributed to my fuse blowing.  I have a lot of work to do at work, not to mention the fact I’m being paid by someone to work for him, not write on my blog.  But today, I had to write something, even if it’s trivial nonsense like this.  I can’t stand the angsty, twitchy way I feel.  I can’t stand waking up in the middle of the night, then falling asleep before dawn, then waking up feeling like a train wreck.  If writing these few paragraphs will help, I’m willing to try it.  It’s worked in the past.

One kind of cool thing happened.  I won these tickets to a live performance at a radio station this afternoon.  I think I’ve heard the band.  I had one of their songs on my computer downloaded from when I used to have an ipod.  Other than that, I don’t know if I know their music since I’m great at knowing a song but pretty lousy at knowing who did it.  I don’t have a guest to bring to the performance, even though I’m allowed, but I’m not going to dwell on that.  I’ll pretend one of my internet friends is with me since it seems that’s what I’ve created for myself these days, a world where internet friends give more of a shit than live ones.  But that’s a big pity party and I hate that shit, so I won’t go there.  Still, all this makes me wonder where I went wrong.  Was it one thing or a series of less than decisions leading to this conclusion?  Probably the latter.

Sometimes I feel like my sanity is slowly dribbling away.  I try and regain it.  I try and exist in a life I want to be in.  I try not to focus on being lonely.  I try to enjoy each moment.  But sometimes, it just doesn’t work.  When shit is piled on one thing after another, when I realize I’ve drifted down a path I thought I took on purpose but it isn’t where I want to be, when my heart aches with the love that is no longer there, I feel like whatever semblance I had of who I am is escaping from a valve in the back of my head and this person I do not know is taking over my body.  And I’m not sure this is the person I want to be.  However since I can’t seem to figure out who that is anymore and no one else seems to give a shit, I wonder if it is worth bothering.  So I’ll keep on keeping on and hope in the meantime I don’t kill something when I lose my mind.

Reading back through this, it sure seems like a big pity party.  Ah well, such is life.  It’s one of those extra lonely days after a really bad day.  Guess I can’t be perfect.

You Know It

Okay, gag and gross. The nasty sores on my elbow and chin/lip are staph infections. How disgusting is that? What is really weird is that one of the elbows began spontaneously healing. The other one turned gooey like the chin/lip. Yuck. I’m a mess. I got some more antibiotics though, different from the ones for my bladder, so we’ll knock out these bacteria too, and all the good bacteria in my colon, and then I’ll get another yeast infection and that will cause another bladder infection and on and on ad nauseum until time immemorial. I love it.

On a separate note, McCain calls himself an agent of change. I laughed out loud when I saw the headline. An agent of change? Yep, back to 1943, or hell, even 1929. We don’t need no dang new deal! We’ll all pretend we’re in the roaring twenties. Women will still be in the home making dozens of babies (high falutin hussies). Black people will still be in their place and segregated as God meant things to be. Mexicans will hopefully be in Mexico. Poor people will be out of sight where they belong. White men will rule. Corporations will be allowed the unfettered ability to polute as they see fit. It will be AWESOME! You go, McCain; change things back! We love ya!

I is Pore an Dum

Hi, I is Lara. I is kina dum. Why? I is pore. If you is pore, you is dum. I went to the docter today. That there docter gamme sum paper for them pills people. Them pills people woonent gimme them pills cuz I is on that Oregun Helth Plan. Itsa plan for people tah pay fer them pills and stuff. So I went to the pills place and gavem my paper frum the docter tellin me I cud get sum pills. So they sed no. They sed my paper can get changed, and cuz I is pore, I’m gonna messen with the paper so theys gonna ax the docter if I rally gotta have pills cuz they thank I made up the pills paper. Kin you balave that? So they woonent gimme any pills for my bladder. Dang me. An the Oregun Helth Plan also wants to no why tis I want eleven dollar pills. They gotta call the docter and ax why I gotta get antibodies. Why I take antibodies? Cuz, I is pore and I muss be a druggie who makes up the pill paper. Itsa shame fer me cuz the docter was close up wen the pills people callem up.  Them pills people coonent ax the docter if I made up the paper and coonent ax the docter if I is a druggie tryin tah get sum antibodies.  Sheesh.

I’m Here, Aren’t I?

Showing up. Showing up. Showing up. As a writer, it is necessary for me to show up. I don’t have any desire whatsoever to work on the important things tonight. I have no desire whatsoever to work on unimportant things tonight. I have nothing spectacular or funny to say. I am boring. I recognize this. I also know why. I have not slept well recently. Over time, the lack of sleep draining causes sustained retardation in my brain. About the only thing I am capable of doing well (and well is the key word here) is watching South Park videos. Small problem. South Park Zone won’t let me watch South Park videos. I tried reading a book. I realized I had read a page with zero comprehension of the words in front of me. This means I have reached a state of brainlessness rarely achieved, even for me.

So here I sit, starting paragraphs with the word so. This is not a good thing. Oh, guess what I saw today? The back of a street sign had a foot tall green penis and balls drawn on it. There were little squirties coming out the top. Isn’t that original? I thought it was. Particularly the choice of green as a color for the penis. Perhaps that helped to make the penis stand out.

One of my bank accounts is a big, old mess. I have this account I use for Milla’s money. Well, I thought there was a deposit made that wasn’t, so a bunch of crap went overdraft. Here’s the thing, the crap that went overdraft was from point of sale purchases. What does this mean? It means that I used a debit card. I asked the bank to explain to me why they would approve the point of sale charge if there was no money in the account. Why not simply say no, this card is useless? Well, they could not answer this. Instead, they charged me $25 for the first two $7.75 purchases, then $28 for additional purchases, one for about $37, another for about $60, and a third for $20. There were a couple of others. Here’s the other thing. I had one big charge for $200, this was the one that caused the problem. It put the account overdrawn, then all these piddly ones came after. So I said to the bank, if that hadn’t gone through, none of the other stuff would have gone overdrawn. The bank person told me they put through the big charges first. At this point I noticed that indeed, the charges began with the largest and proceeded down in denominations. What does this mean? It means a big purchase makes you overdraw, then all the little nickel and dimey crap comes through and runs up BIG money for the bank. Isn’t that a great money-making scheme? The guy on the phone said it was because big purchases were more important. Oh really, you think so? I think it’s a scheme for your bank to make more money. Add to that the fact you allowed point of sale purchases to go through when there was no money in the account. He said my pointing that out was being abusive. Since I was speaking in a calm, normally volumed, well modulated tone of voice, I found this confusing. Abusive? I asked. How in the world is my pointing out that your bank is ripping me off abusive? I would say that your bank is abusive. He then asked if there was anything further he could do for me. I told him he could go and take a hike. Yes, perhaps that last line was abusive. I’m a bad person. I admit it. I guess paying $156 in fees for purchases totaling less than that makes me this way. Yes, I know there are those out there who would get all judgmental on my ass for not knowing about the deposit in the first place, but there are extenuating circumstances. Another person puts money in that account and I thought he did it. The judgmental people can now be original and say see what you get for doing your own thinking? Yes, I do. I get abusive, that’s what I get.

Well imagine that. I managed to eke out more than one paragraph. Wonders never cease. I didn’t even think while I did it. I suppose it is not necessary for me to point that out, my not thinking. It’s probably quite evident from what I’ve written. I know this. In my altered, brain dead state, I am able to fathom that my writing is pitiful. But I’m showing up, that’s what I’m doing. I’m having impure thoughts too. Isn’t that nice to know? You don’t know what they are. I could be thinking about sewage in the Willamette River. That would be an impure thought. You probably thought I meant sex, especially since I mentioned seeing the giant green penis drawing. But there are other things out there I could be thinking about that are impure. I’ll never tell.

Get a Grip

I have been hearing all the pundits and dj’s on the radio talking about the “explicit” Miley Cyrus photos in Vanity Fair.  On and on and on.  One woman on NPR just would not shut up about how horrible it was, how sexualized she was, how taken advantage of, what a wretched human Annie Lebowitz was, how Miley was being exploited, how her parents were to blame for this travesty.  Just listening to her was enough to make me want to punch the radio.

I get Vanity Fair.  It arrived in the mail.  Curious what all the fuss was about, I opened to the photos.  What the fuck? I heard from one radio commentator how the photos with her dad were incestuous.  What a load of crap.  What kind of culture do we live in that a father sitting as this man is with his daughter is considered incestuous?  It says more about the people who automatically assume sexuality between two people of opposite sex than it does about the objects of this photo.  There is nothing incestuous about it.  It is intimate, yes, but that does not make it sexual. And why shouldn’t a father and daughter be intimate?  It is healthy; it doesn’t mean they are going to fuck.

Regarding the photo of Miley’s back, it depicts her as the woman she is becoming.  There is nothing pornographic about it.  Again it says so much more about the people who find a photo like that disturbing and their own twisted views on sexuality than it does about Miley.  The photo is sensual.  Her back is beautiful.  She is lovely and growing into a woman.  Why is it Americans find it so disturbing that a young woman of 15 could possibly have a sensuous body?  Why does sensuality automatically equal sex?  And why is it wrong for someone to view this photo and want sex with this woman just because of her age?  Our sexuality doesn’t magically turn on at age 16 or 18 when we can suddenly legally “consent” to certain activities.  We are born sexual beings.  The fact that our culture finds sexuality abhorrent is a problem with our culture, not the peoples’ bodies in the culture.

This country is so puritanical, I can hardly stand it.  Grow up people.  Humans are sexual beings.  How do you think we procreate?  I believe so much of the sexual vioence in this country comes from repressed rage at unexpressed and disallowed sexuality.  There is also the assumption that anything without clothes is automatically ready to fuck.  Put a male and female together, even a parent and child, and if they are touching or in any way intimate, they are automatically ready to fuck.  Take a sensual photo of a young woman’s body and she is being exploited to fuck.  It’s crazy.

I don’t expect to change anyone’s mind.  America is such a mess, any voice of reason is lost in the din.  I can say this though, Miley Cyrus’s photos were beautiful, intimate, sensual, and in no way incestuous or pornographic.  Anyone who thinks otherwise is the one with the problem.  Those people should head into therapy and try to figure out what that problem is.

Rebate Rant and Personal Update

I hate to break it to the government, but sending people their tax refunds for next year early does not constitute a “rebate.”  Rather it is a loan on money taxpayers would receive back next year.  It makes next year’s tax refund smaller.  Excusing the stock rebate or bill of exchange definitions, a rebate is a refund on something already paid for; it is not money you get on something before you’ve even paid for it, like taxes.  I’m sure there are those who love getting their money now, nothing like immediate gratification.  And actually I think it is best for people to calculate their withholding in a manner that helps them to break even at tax time because overpaid taxes are interest-free loans to the government.  But I just can’t stand it that this early refund tax money is called a “rebate” when that is not what it is.  Have fun next year when you fill out your forms and discover your refund has been reduced by whatever amount you receive now.  It’s also annoying to think a bunch of people spending this money is going to stimulate the economy.  The economy needs more than consumer spending to pull it out of the toilet.  Get used to it, the economy is shit for lots of deep-seated and difficult to fix reasons.  A bunch of Americans going shopping or buying gas isn’t going to stimulate anything.

Enough of that soapbox.  I spent the day preparing for my trip to San Diego.  I am soooo excited to be heading down there.  I need the break.  I need the sun.  I’m looking forward to the conference I’m going to, as well as the people I’ll meet.  I can’t wait!  However, the trip necessitated several activities on the home front to prepare for a) Milla going to her dad’s, b) Milla’s birthday, c) leaving a house that is for sale for four days, and d) digging out clothes from the far-reaches of the closet that will be comfortable in warmer weather.  Plus I needed to pay bills and balance the checkbook and do all that regular-living stuff that bugs the crap out of me.  Overall, it’s been a very busy day.

I don’t leave until Wednesday, but because tomorrow I don’t get to spend much time at home at all, I had to finish most of the preparatory stuff today.  I also have a job interview tomorrow!  Woo hoo!  I’m excited.  It seems like a really good opportunity.  It’s part-time, but would bring in enough income to keep me comfortable until the house sells.  Also it is working with an attorney who seems to be pretty down to earth and practical.  I like that.

After the job interview, I’m getting my hair done.  I love having my hair done.  I love the girl time at the hairdresser’s.  I love the conversations with the women in the salon.  I love the way my hair looks.  I love the way my hairdresser is also a masseuse so she rubs my head and shoulders.  I love the jazz they play on the salon station.  Basically, I love going to get my hair done!  I don’t love paying for it, but that’s okay.  It’s a nice trade-off.  And if I were earning money, paying for it would not bug me in the least.

So I had busy day today and I will have busy day tomorrow, then I fly off on a plane at 10 am on Wednesday to sun and fun.  Yummy!  I will not have access to a computer so I’m not going to be able to write.  Well, that’s not true.  I’ll be able to write in longhand and I do that when I can’t write on the computer.  It probably looks to anyone who reads this blog like I haven’t been writing anyway, but that is not the case.  I have another blog I have been writing on.  I also have two articles I’m writing and I worked on those as well.  So even though it looks like I’m not writing because I’m not keeping up here, that is not the case.

I’m going to bed soon.  I am vibrating.  I’ve been keeping late hours and it’s starting to make me a little groggy, especially when I have to get up.  It’s one thing to keep late hours when you can sleep in.  It is quite another when you have to get up and pretend to be a functioning member of society.  So off I go to pretend to be a functioning member of society.  I know it’s all an illusion, but I can pretend, can’t I?

Just Gotta Love It

It is unbelievable the content of questions on ABC’s debate between Obama and Clinton. It was an hour into the debate before the moderator asked any questions of substance on issues that affect anyone. Until that point, the content was pure nonsense, sound-bite, reality television, tabloid fodder ridiculousness. Of course the entire thing was lampooned on Jon Stewart, as it should have been. After seeing the Jon Stewart piece I found and watched the actual debate, but had to turn it off after ten minutes because it was too painful to view. Utterly remarkable.

As it is, those of us with brains will lament this state of affairs through emails and the sending of this video to others who share our views. Obama sent out a bulletin on myspace complaining. I’m sure liberal bloggers everywhere are writing all about it. Editorialists will provide their opinions. And you know what? Nothing will change. None of it. We’ve gotten so overloaded with information and crap and constant noise in the background and tabloid television and reality everything and commercials in the grocery stores and never silence anywhere that this too will pass. Tomorrow something equally shameful will occur, we’ll all cry a river, and in the noise and constancy it will continue. It’s depressing. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone is an expert. Everyone is talking. No one is listening. The only thing that is changing is that it is all getting a bit worse every day. I know this is a bit of a pessimistic response to the reality of today’s world, at least in these United States, but it’s an honest response. I think anything else would be foolishness.

In my personal life, I continue to live and learn or live and not learn. It is what it is I guess. I don’t know. Lately I’ve been thinking maybe I should just chuck this brain and its efforts at enlightenment and go live on a beach somewhere with my daughter and my dogs and ignore the rest of the planet. It is very easy to want to bury my head in the sand. I know, I know. I’ve heard it before. You’re intelligent and educated. Use that to help change things. But I don’t think I can do anything outside the scope of my little world. Hell, I can’t change things inside the scope of my little world, why would I ever have the audacity to think I can do more than what I already do?

Yeah, I’m pessimistic tonight. I am what I am. I have this negative streak that runs through me. I can’t escape it. C’est la vie.

True Insight

Insight is shit with an ‘ing.

Random rant of the morning:  Today I got a parking ticket for staying in the bathroom too long (this was unplanned, by the way).  I was late 8 minutes.  It cost me $3 a minute.  The Oregon Supreme Court recently adopted a standard in punitive damage awards similar to that of the federal Supreme Court whereby punitive damage awards are limited to four times the original loss.  Since it normally costs .02 cents per minute to park, why is it okay to charge me 150 times that?  And how many times have I driven off before I used up my time?  Are they going to pay me back 150 times the time I didn’t use?  It’s bullshit is what it is.