Archive for December, 2010

Mr. Hyman Titled: Happy New Year!

December 31, 2010

I do not have Wifi where I am: in the rolling hills of California about an hour north of San Diego.  As a result, no photos today as I only know how to do that technology stuff on my own computer.  Nevertheless, I just had to log on to wish you all a happy and heathy New Year.  The pictures will follow next week.

I have had a great week in SoCal with my oldest and dearest friends.  You know the sort: it doesn’t much matter how many years it has been since you last saw each other because as soon as you are together again, it is like you had never been separated.

So with good times, old memories and new experiences to add to the overall picture, let me tell you a funny story for the New Year.  My in-laws, during the course of their lives, lived, loved and went out to dinner, just like any other American family.  My father-in-law ran a clothing factory and it could be stressful at times.  So from time to time, after work, when he and my mother-in-law would head out to dinner, my father-in-law would first order a nice, big drink, followed by a nice big steak or Italian dish.  My mother-in-law would look at him across the table, and he would announce, “What?  I worked hard.  I’m entitled.”  So my mother-in-law, in all of her fantastic humor, dubbed him “Mr. Hyman Titled.”

May the New Year find you working very hard and playing  just as strenuously.   May fulfillment and happiness be your shadow this year.  And may Mr. Hyman Titled be your guiding light.

“F” is for “Fucked”; “P” is For “Palin”

December 28, 2010

And the Sarah Palin Carnival continues.  Today she tried her very best to explain her “refudiate” gaffe.  The explanation was worse than the actual mistake.

Dumb is dumb, stupid is stupid and a liar is a liar.  It is not acceptable for her to have “accidentally” pressed the “F” button instead of the “P” button on her keyboard.  You know why?  Pull out your keyboards and have a look: the “F” key is nowhere near the “P” key.  It is six spaces to the left and one row down.  Those two letters are not anywhere in the vicinity of each other.

Our Sarah is just a dumb ass.  However, her lame comments followed by even more pathetic corrective explanations does serve her first and foremost objective: to remain in the media’s limelight.  Has she no pride?  No.  As long as that public attention translates into money in her pocket, she would eat shit.  She has shown no effort to expand her mind and her knowledge of relevant policy.  Yet, she is very attentive to defending her many gaffes.  After all, she is just a hockey mom.  Well, honey, I do not want a hockey mom running my country.  The principal element that I object to is not the hockey mom status; it is the fact that she is a stupid, greedy hockey mom.  And while we are at it, I am very doubtful of the term “mom” when applied to our Sarah.

That “F” key is NOWHERE near that “P” key.

From the City of Angels

December 27, 2010

We are in southern Cali for the week.  Here’s my latest installment from Los Angeles.  I am remembering from my days living in the Sunshine State 35 years ago how strange it is to experience Christmas in such a mild climate, with palm trees all around, lush foliage and great vistas.  Enjoy the shots and I will have more for you as the week progresses.

The City of Angels sunrise.

Los Angeles awakening.

The Getty Museum: a marvel of architecture and materials.

The landscaping (my Achilles Heel) is to die for.

The views go on forever.

Even the peek-a-boo views are breath-taking.

The succulents are well, succulent!

Vivid, seasonal plants add to the festivity.

Passion power.

Begonia and donkey-tails. Great combo.

Dale Chihuly light fixtures in the portico of our hotel.

"Forever Marilyn" sculpted by J. Seward Johnson.

And a good time was had by all.  More good times, more pretty pictures to come.  Check back soon.

And a Cockamamie Merry to You!

December 24, 2010

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and send along some funny gaffes, ironies and bits of entertainment.

That modern model of a statesman in action, Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, spoke against the START treaty with wisdom so deep that his words went beyond ironic:

Senator Jeff Sessions said Obama’s goal of a nuclear-free world was “cockamamie” and called for a rejection of the treaty.

“I think the whole world would see the Senate action (rejection of the treaty) as a resurgence of America’s historical policy of peace through strength and a rejection of a leftist vision of a world without nuclear weapons,” Sessions said.

Can you imagine a world without nuclear weapons?  Isn’t that a ridiculous proposition?  Imagine: lessening the numbers of earth-destroying weapons instead of using them and maintaining their efficacy (at great cost, not to mention the tension) as a means of attaining peace?  We need those weapons.  Nuclear determent is so much better than not having these weapons on hand.  Silly, cockamamie idea.  Wait: isn’t the best way to have ultimate determent to destroy these arms?  Forgive me: what do I know anyway?  I am no marvel of a senator, just a mama.  Who the hell wants world peace anyway?  It is much more beneficial to live on the edge of nuclear disaster, all the while stressing over whether or not a terrorist will be able to get his hands on one of these weapons.  Oh yeah: that Senator Sessions is some kind of visionary.

Talking about self-styled visionaries, we need to check in with our Sarah.  It appears her numbers pointing to a credible run for the Presidency in 2012 are not looking so hot.  Who would have thunk it?  Even our national treasure, Oprah, has chimed in that she “believes in the intelligence of the American people.”  I wonder how Oprah would explain Palin’s election as Governor of Alaska or her swift rise to fame in the last two years?  Better safe than sorry.  But let’s keep on laughing to ease the possible pain:

Sarah Palin gets on the horn.

“Hi.  This is Sarah Palin.  Is Senator Lieberman in?”

“No, Governor.  This is Yom Kippur.”

“Well, hello Yom.  Can I leave a message?”

So a tres merry day to you tomorrow.  Lavish love on those dearest to you.  Above all, laugh!


2010: The Great Adjustment

December 21, 2010

With the end of 2010 here, let me wish you all very happy holidays and an excellent new year.  My lesson of the old year is simply this: politics, happiness and life are a matter of outlook.  Reality is reality, and how we choose to view and interpret events colors our ability to suffer or succeed, to appreciate partial validation versus total failure.  Like it or not, this is America, where diversity and dissension rule.  What did you expect?

President Obama has had an historic two years in office.  The stimulus package prevented a national and international financial collapse.  The automobile industry was rescued through government loans and is now showing significant signs of life.  There are two new Supreme Court Justices on the bench who have great intellects and compassion.  Our nation finally has the framework for health care for all of its citizens.  The military will no longer require that gay soldiers hide their sexual orientation.  We now have new programs in place that will offer consumer protection against unsavory financial practices, such as credit card usury.  There has been significant student loan reform.  Within the next few days, the START treaty between the U.S. and Russia just might pass, another major piece of legislation, thereby substantially reducing the world’s nuclear weapon caches.  President Obama’s accomplishments go on and on.

However, all these landmark acts must be judged in degrees, not in absolutes.  Just like life.  The United States is just about evenly split down the middle in terms of national ideology and political loyalty; half of our people are Republicans and half are Democrats.  Given that reality, no one is going to be totally thrilled with all of the legislation because compromise and pragmatism must occur for any new measures to pass at all.  My gripe is the negativity expressed at what did not pass as opposed to the gratitude for that which did pass.  As I said, it is all perspective.

Take health care reform, for example.  Much was left out of the bill and the public option had to be sacrificed to get the bill through Congress.  Now, a federal judge in Virginia has ruled (contrary to two other state’s federal judges’ rulings) against the bill’s statute requiring every citizen to carry health insurance or be subject to a penalty.  Judge Henry Hudson used our interstate commerce laws as the foundation for his decision.  I am not a legal scholar or constitutional expert, so you will see links to many articles cited on the merits of the constitutionality and other facets of HCR.  You can make up your own minds.  I think the idea has some legal merit, although ideologically I hate it.

Within the scope of American law, the conservatives may win this one.  It obviously is headed to the Supreme Court with Justice Kennedy probably being the deciding hand.  The more progressive faction might want to fight fire with fire on this issue.  The ultimate precedent for making citizens pay for certain things as legislated by our Congress is the IRS code.  Americans are mandated to pay their taxes or face penalties and punishment.  The same scenario holds true for mandatory car insurance.  Sure, people do not have to be insured.  However, should they choose not to be insured, there is a hefty fee attached to their driver licenses that is comparable to the amount they would have paid for the insurance in the first place.  What if a tax credit was given to offset the mandatory nature of health insurance?  Wouldn’t that obviate the supposed violation of the interstate commerce provision?  So let’s see what will happen with this new rebellion against health care reform.  Should the courts declare mandatory insurance unconstitutional, will that be a ruling also on our obligation to pay taxes and have car insurance?  Should that happen, things could get pretty messy here in our country that is fueled by our taxes.

Additionally, private and public hospitals are basically forced to treat sick people who show up at their doors, a nod to universal  humane principles.  The costs of treating these uninsured people are huge, the consequences dire.  The GOP believes that the private sector should be responsible for this laissez-faire inequity, while the Democrats believe that government should step in and cover much of the costs.  Either way, the patient will not receive cohesive, integrated care over and above the emergency treatment granted, and the institutions delivering that care face the prospect of financial ruin.  Is this the basis for decent and fair health care?  I very much doubt it.  Everyone is screaming for comprehensive, affordable health care, but nobody wants to pay for it.

Thus, should mandatory health insurance be outlawed in this country, the end result will be what we wanted in the first place: universal, publicly-funded health care. We will have our single payer system.  Once again, I emphasize the blatant reality that Obamacare is a work in progress, an initial framework that over decades, will flower into a viable program that is much-needed.  Social security and Medicare started out in this way also, and over the many years since their inception, have been tweaked and re-designed to suit the needs as times and requirements change.  That is called governing, which requires ongoing adjustments in thinking and policy formation.

President Obama has had a phenomenal two-year tenure.  Half the country will like this fact and half will not.  He has stuck to his guns on higher principles; whether ruled by his great intellect or ice in his veins, he has dedicated himself to rising above the partisan fray to do what he thinks is best for all Americans.  Call it political game playing or call it altruism.  Call it whatever you like.  The fact remains that much headway has been made for the sake of the American people.  Those on the right hate these successes because it bodes well for another Obama administration.  The left hates these same successes because they deviate from the purist progressive philosophy.

In a purely nasty vein, one might say that the “hopey-changey thing” is really working, slowly but surely.  No refudiation there.

I am proud of our President and think that he has outdone even his own promises.  Who would have ever thought that the hateful DADT would be repealed, that (possibly) the START treaty to wean the U.S.’s and Russia’s nuclear arsenals would be enacted, and that the middle class would enjoy an extension of tax cuts, all under the auspices of a lame duck Congress and occurring in the last month of the year?

Mind you, there is always room for the “good fight.”  Without the purists on both sides, we would not have any satisfactory legislation.  We are still faced with a huge deficit, an unacceptably high unemployment rate, the top 2% of earners are not paying enough taxes, a corrupt financial industry and the ongoing battle for gender and sexual rights.  Remember though, in a land as divided as ours, it is the baby steps, the incremental degrees of change, that begin to transform the larger process.  However, this President, along with this dysfunctional 111th Congress, has succeeded beyond our wildest dreams in securing substantial and relevant laws during the last two years.  All of this taking place while we are in the depths of a fierce recession is even more astonishing.  Given any economic crisis, it is common for incumbent politicians to face harsh criticism.  Yet, read their accomplishments and weep ….. or better yet, rejoice!  Yes, allow yourselves a day or two to savor the victories.

The repeal of DADT was the most heartfelt act to affect me.  It is another huge step for equal rights for all Americans.  The repeal hit me in the core of my being, which was never under attack like the personhood of a gay individual.  Yet, sure enough, there were those progressive people who, in under twelve hours of the repeal of DADT, were on the warpath against the President once again.  Chill out.  It is perfectly okay to delight in the successes, to avoid minimizing those issues that still need work.  Just for a day or two.

2010 was a year of great adjustments.  Most likely, that scenario will continue.  Andrew Sullivan nailed our split nation perfectly.  Can we revel in the good things that have come to fruition so far, or shall we wallow in what did not come to pass?  Must the necessary adjustments always include misery?  I think not.  Remember: the Paul Krugmans, the Frank Riches and the Rachel Maddows of this world, while satisfying a great need for political balance in the media, are driven by newspaper and television sales.  For each and every American, it really is acceptable to recognize and appreciate that which has come to pass benefits us all.  Not perfect by a long shot, but nevertheless, momentous.  Not the nth degree of fulfillment, but a great start —– no, much better than just a “start” —- a true effort at rebuilding and redesigning a nation that is screaming for worthy change.  So my fellow Americans, on the right and on the left, suck it up, grow up, respect the slow hand of time in political decisions, forfeit a little of your overwhelming need for immediate gratification and be very grateful for what we have.  Definitely continue to work for that which we do not yet have, but honestly, it is okay to celebrate a bit.

Kudos, Mr. President.  Thank you for taking on the job.  I am looking forward to your next two years with optimism, tempered by a large dose of realism.  It is all a matter of outlook, and my outlook is upbeat.

I offer my utmost thanks to you, my friends, for your loyal readership.  This website was founded to promote a greater good for the children.  If we do not work toward making this world a better place for the kids, what the hell are we working for?  To you and them, I wish a New Year filled with health, happiness and solvency.

Much love,

Yo Mama

Victory

December 18, 2010

DADT has been repealed in the United States of America.  In this year, 2010, it is amazing to me how hard and long we still have to fight to assert our human rights and our civil rights, which were granted over 200 years ago by our Constitution.

I am dragging a bit today, so I will let Andrew Sullivan speak for me.  He has felt this battle in the very core of his being and his heartfelt response, though editorially understated, makes us sense the depth of this historic legislation:

http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2010/12/obamas-long-game.html

Then, for more on the people who (surprisingly) helped pass this act and the political maneuverings that were used, read further down on Sullivan’s website:

http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/

Who would have ever thought that Senator Joseph Lieberman would rise to the occasion of justice and fairness?  Certainly his good buddy Senator John McCain crapped out on those basic issues of life in America.  It was Lieberman who got this vote as a stand-alone issue (since the military bill was voted on already), back on the Senate floor.  He had a lot of help from Senators Harry Reid and Susan Collins.

Long time coming.  If you think putting a man on the moon was a “giant step for mankind”, consider this legislation as another effort to validate the word “mankind”.

 

 

Plumbing and Life

December 18, 2010

I learned three important things yesterday.  At midnight last night and within five minutes of returning home from a business trip, my husband diagnosed and fixed our plumbing problem.  No burst or frozen pipes.  Apparently, earlier in the week when our electrician was installing our new generator (yes, we finally caved), he had to identify those circuits that the generator would operate.  We have two hot water tanks and he needed to “test” both so that he could include one on the list of circuits to be covered by emergency power.  Anyway, when he switched the on/off lever to the smaller water heater, guess what?  He forgot to switch it back to the “on” position.  Problem solved.

The following are the three things I have learned from this incident:

1.  Marry smart.  Good looks, kindness, earning power, parenting ability are all important.  However, those traits will usually fall into place if you just marry SMART: book-smart and common sense smart.

2.  Regarding plumbing fixtures, especially those with water pipes going in and out of them, the on/off valve is ON when the valve is parallel to the pipe and OFF when perpendicular (or at a 90 degree angle) to it.  This should be the eleventh commandment.

3.  That recipe for Kentucky butter cake that I included at the end of my last post is even better than I imagined.  It has so much butter and sugar in it that is pure, delicious poison.  Unbelievably, it doesn’t even have an iota of chocolate in it and it is still so yummy.  I first thought that this should be a once-a-year cake.  I stand corrected.  It is so outrageous and thus, toxic for your body, that it is a once-in-a-lifetime cake.  This cake is to die for and clearly, we will if we partake too often.

As for today, just keep everything crossed that the Senate votes to repeal DADT.  I am going to be hell on wheels if it fails.

Please Pipe, Don’t Burst!

December 17, 2010

So what about our Congress letting any and all legislation siphon down to the last two weeks before a recess?  What the F*#@ do they do during the rest of the session?  As if our stress level isn’t high enough with the trials and tribulations of daily living, they have to bring any new bills down to the wire.  I have everything crossed, i.e. my fingers, my legs and my eyes, that the vote in the Senate to repeal DADT passes.  Ditto for the START bill.  But damn, it’s that DADT repeal that just hits me in my gut.

Politics aside, I have bigger problems much closer to home.  This afternoon, I discovered that the sinks in the laundry room area and those in the bathroom directly a floor above, were not producing hot water, and the flow was a mere trickle.  Got on the horn and the diagnosis is a frozen pipe.  Mind you, NOT a burst pipe ….. yet.  The plumber is coming tomorrow morning.  In the meantime, I have verified the main turnoff for the water (just in case) and I have the faucets in the culprit sinks running with the cabinet doors open to let in heat.  I would readily trade a burst pipe, a flooded house, for the repeal of DADT.  The House already voted for the repeal, and the affirmation comes up for the vote tomorrow in the Senate.

Pray for me.  I do not react sanely to catastrophes that entail water.

 

POSTSCRIPT:

When scared, cook a poison delicious cake:

http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/kentucky-butter-cake/Detail.aspx

Undeniable Adult Truths

December 16, 2010

1. I think part of a best friend’s job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.

2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you’re wrong.

3. I totally take back all those times I didn’t want to nap when I was younger.

4. There is great need for a sarcasm font.

5. How are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?

6. Was learning cursive really necessary?

7. Map Quest really needs to start their directions on # 5. I’m pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.

8. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don’t want to have to restart my collection…..again.

9. I’m always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page technical report that I swear I did not make any changes to.

10. I keep some people’s phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.

11. I think the freezer deserves a light as well.

12. I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers and sisters! prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers and sisters!

13. Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever.

14. The first testicular guard, the “Cup,” was used in Hockey in 1874 and the first helmet was used in 1974. That means that it took only
100 years for men to realize that their brain is also important.

15. I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Lite than Kay.

Richard Holbrooke: A Quest For Balance

December 15, 2010

Ambassador and champion diplomat Richard Holbrooke passed away on Monday.  A good number of decades ago, for some unknown reason, I was drawn to reading about him.  Sometimes, someone just flashes across your radar screen, and the follow-up events become integrated into your reading life.  Holbrooke had an ongoing presence in current affairs due to our persistent engagement in wars.  His skills and talents were indispensable to such an aggressive  nation as ours in such a combative world.  I liked what I read about his ability to build cooperation, I liked him and so, I am saddened by his death.

In all of his professional endeavors, he tried to create and maintain the delicate balance between security and peace.   Above all, he believed in negotiated settlements rather than armed conflicts.  Although a tough arbiter with a direct focus on the matter on the table, Holbrooke’s ultimate goal was to end the wars.  Although far from being a hippie, Holbrooke was decidedly an envoy for peace.  While security and peace should work hand in hand and complement each other, too often they work against each other.  It is not surprising then, that his last words were “You’ve got to stop this war in Afghanistan.”  It is immaterial whether or not this comment was just pre-surgical banter or heartfelt thoughts; Holbrooke’s job weighed heavily on him.

What also is not surprising is that he attended Brown University as an undergraduate.  I have a large group of friends who likewise, are alumni of that school.  I refer to them as “the Brownies”.  Certainly that institution of higher learning attracts smart, interesting, caring individuals.  Yet it must also foster their altruism and dedication to a just humanity.  I have written about them frequently, especially during the last Presidential campaign, as their efforts in working for Barack Obama were heroic.  President Obama would have never gotten elected had it not been for the efforts of young adults like the Brownies.  To a man (or woman), each and every one of these people is brighter than the North Star.  Their intellectual capacity is boundless.  More notable though, their concern for the greater good, whether it be for their own small community, their country or the entire world, is worthy of my utmost admiration.  They do not simply talk a good line; they live it, working in jobs and careers that reflect their dedication to making our world a better place.  One of the highlights of my life so far is having the opportunity and honor of knowing these Brownies.

So I will miss Richard Holbrooke and his sense of obligation to mastering a world peace.  The negotiations he led, the agreements he delivered and the general wear and tear he took personally in order to do his best professionally, speak to and benefit all of us.  One may call his record the “sanity approach” to international relations.  One may call it pure humanitarianism.  One may call it a true desire for peace.  I call it a gargantuan, valiant effort to strike the balance between national security and world peace.

The United States government can sure take a lesson from Richard Holbrooke’s dedication to and fulfillment of the mission at hand.  It is a crying shame that Holbrooke was taken from us and the world so prematurely.  Of course, for a man of his caliber, with his principles, capabilities and work ethic, any time for his leavetaking would have been too soon.

Thank you, Richard Holbrooke.  RIP Mr. Ambassador.

ADDITIONAL READING:

For a lengthy, seminal article on Richard Holbrooke, “The Last Mission”, written by George Packer for the 9/28/09 New Yorker magazine, click on the link below:

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/09/28/090928fa_fact_packer