Monday, January 28, 2013

Mirror, Mirror On The Wall.....

I have to admit, I'm making progress. I still can't bend the wrist too well, but I can easily turn my hand over. The splint hurts more than the hand, so I must confess I'm typing without it. For the moment, anyway.

So Saturday night, I went out to dinner with my friend Andy. To make a long story rather short, we ended up at Dixie’s on Grand….one of my favorite places. Andy decided I needed a Hendrick's martini. I'm not martini person...but this could change my mind. It was cucumber...and refreshing...and really good. But the really fun event of the night was the girl (like the junior son's age) and her boyfriend on the other side of Andy.

Fireman Andy
When the boyfriend went off to find out about the shuttle bus to Crashed Ice, she turned her attention to Andy. This girl-child is hitting on Andy and she is attempting to make me disappear.  She was working so hard at getting him to focus on her that I just had to lean back to watch. It was a total out of body experience. Now, Andy and I are about the same age. We graduated high school the same year...1970, okay? Andy is silver-haired and one very good-looking guy. Wonderfully oblivious to her "charms" (which I thought were sorely lacking) Andy had the befuddled look down pat. He was diligently trying to continue the rather interesting conversation we were having... but it was kinda hard. Finally, thankfully, the boyfriend came back and removed her.  

Laughing about it later, Andy said, “I saw you drop into observer-mode.” He was right. That’s exactly what I did. I aided and abetted this child by leaning back on the bar stool and functionally disappearing from view.

Why would I do something like that? I rail against the invisibility of widows all the time. It’s one aspect of my relatively new status that drives me completely nutty. 

That said, this invisibility stuff isn’t exactly an unusual expectation. Take the GOP for example. They would be happy if all women of intellect just disappeared. Just this past week, Cathrynn Brown, a state representative in New Mexico, a shining light of neo-feminist thought, called us all potential crime scenes. She actually wrote a bill stating anyone who got an abortion after rape or incest was guilty of tampering with a crime scene and could be prosecuted. Excuse me? We can now be objectified as locations?

Chugging along the same track, an op-ed piece in the NY Times (29JAN2013: The Rise of the Permanent Temp Economy) discusses the “Kelly Girl” temp worker as not a disappearing phenomenon, but rather as a model thriving today. This stuff is scary. In 1958, a Kelly Girl exec told the NYT:

Instead of seeking to replace “breadwinning” union jobs with low-wage temp work, temp agencies went the culturally safer route: selling temp work for housewives who were (allegedly) only working for pin money. As a Kelly executive told The New York Times in 1958, “The typical Kelly Girl… doesn’t want full-time work, but she’s bored with strictly keeping house. Or maybe she just wants to take a job until she pays for a davenport or a new fur coat.” 

That temp model has become the staple of a whole lotta business today where the worker, even with benefits, is invisible, disposable, and otherwise marginalized. And usually women. The attitude just hasn’t kept up with the slogans and the rhetoric. And the reality hasn't either. Contract workers are not all well paid. Many work with little or no benefits and certainly no safety net. 

On the other hand, maybe being a widow is a bit like being a canary in a coal mine. We are too often invisible to our own communities and painfully aware of the atmosphere that surrounds us. Other women often turn away, as if they could catch what we have. But we’re still here and we refuse to throw ourselves on the funeral pyre. That said, many of us are still not comfortable enough to stand on a chair and yell, “HEY! I’M STILL FUNCTIONAL EVEN IF I DON’T HAVE A SPOUSE.”

I have no words of wisdom, suggestions, or anything else to say about how to fix it. Once upon a time, I was probably one of the guilty ones. What I can do, however, is spend my capital making sure women in general aren’t reduced to invisibility. We have the right to self-determination. We have the right to equal pay for equal work. We have the right to apply for any job for which we are physically, mentally, or intellectually capable of performing. We will not be defined by possession of a uterus. And we will not be shoved aside because we are capable of bearing children.

And little girl at the bar….I will not disappear because I have grey hair and years of experience. You think I’m outré? Guess again, sweetie. You just dream about knowing what I already know.

Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
When feeling invisible, steal a glance in a mirror.
If you can see yourself, you're still here. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Back In The Saddle Again

Well, the surgery was a screaming success....especially the part when coming out of anesthesia I kept telling the nurses, "I don't like this. I don't like this one bit," in a deep, ominous tone. What I didn't like was the nerve block in my arm and the dead arm thing was freaking me out. A scant week later, Dr. Tigger pronounced me in great shape, and Scott the Cast Man assured me I would play the violin again...although anyone who ever heard me play the violin back in elementary school knows this is not a desirable thing. I can run scales on the piano and I'm working up to chords, but the hand-spread on The Moonlight Sonata may be a bit off in the future. 

First things first: hats off, kudos, hugs from the tundra, and other assorted accolades go to the reader who took up the challenge to write the blog that I should've written last week. Luke posted a three part comment delineating how gun control should go down in a sentient nation. I happen to know Luke - he is the son of a friend - but he is no kid. He has his bona fides in law and he grew up in a frontier state so he knows guns. Let's just say if he decides to run for president, I will be at the head of the line for a lawn sign and a volunteer shift. If you've not read the comments...go back a week; it's worth the read.

And while we're on the subject of gun control, Minnesota is once again leading the nutball parade. We got ourselves a rogue sheriff up in Pine County. Sheriff Robin Cole has announced that if he thinks the new gun regulations and laws are too restrictive, he will not enforce them. In a letter, New King Cole opined that state trumps federal  when it comes to curbing gun rights:

The Federal Government has a constitutional role in the governance of our republic but the United States of America is a democratic republic of individual sovereign states. Each state has the absolute right to establish laws, within the confines of the constitution which is the supreme law of this republic, to regulate behavior.

As Sheriff, I swore an oath to follow the Constitution of the United States and to enforce the laws of the State of Minnesota. I believe current state law is sufficient to protect the public safety while providing individuals the right to keep and bear arms.

©2009-Steven G. Artley - Artley Toons Online
State law is sufficient? This guy must be very young not to have ever heard of Jim Crow and civil wrongs. Some states they thought they could bypass the Federal government and ignore desegregation orders. Excuse me for being naïve, but seems to me the courts and Congress get to trump states on guns. Now, if he decides to disregard the marching orders from Washington, perhaps we could request he post signs at all entries into Pine County: 

Now, on to new business.

More than enough is being written about President Obama's second inaugural address which I missed live but listened to in replay. I thought it was a terrific speech. I particularly like how he used "We, the People,"  not just "we". It was inclusive. And I mean ALL inclusive.

I would draw everyone's attention to one section of the President's speech:

We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truth that all of us are created equal -- is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.

Most people will recognize Seneca Falls as the birthplace of the suffragette movement and  by extension, feminism in the United States, and Selma as the place where the March to Montgomery started, a seminal event in the Civil Rights movement, but you might not recognize the name Stonewall as the birthplace of the Gay Rights movement. The Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village was raided by the cops on June 28th, 1969 and riots ensued. The gay community came together for the first time and organizations were formed to combat sexual orientation discrimination. A year later, on June 28th, 1970, the first Gay Pride marches took place in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. By mentioning Stonewall by name, he has raised the consciousness of America. 

GLBT civil rights came outta the last closet today, right there on the steps of the Capitol. 

It’s about time.

Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Unhappy with the behavior of your congressional representatives?
Do let them know you're planning on firing them at the next election. 
And then tell two friends....and they'll tell two friends....and they'll tell two friends....
and you'll all work together to get someone who actually wants the job.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Busted wrist.

No blog today…or at least not much of one. Had surgery on my wrist on Friday and I’m just not up to a lot of typing yet. 

I will tell you I still like Dr. Tigger, but Scott the CastMan has stolen my heart. A sweeter guy doesn't exist in the medical world and if he weren't young enough to be my kid...or if I weren't old enough to be his mom....I would be a lost cause. He gave me glam band for my arm. It sparkles. It looks like I'm supposed to have a life. He's so optimistic! You gotta love that!

For those of you who know me and have expressed concern, I am taking the rest of the week off.  I have come to realize that 60 is not the new 40 when it comes to bone knitting and bouncing back. Big thanks go to Cousin Laurie, Handy Andler, my local kiddies, and my friends Elaine and Leslie for pitching in to help...and making me feel less awful about this whole thing. Even my father-in-law has taken up the cause acting as my scissor hand and potato slicer...he's I place the blade and he does the hard stuff.

Gee, I wonder if the NY Times has noticed one regular commenter has fallen by the wayside. Hmmmm. 

Please feel free to leave you own blog entries in the comment section. I could use some good reading. I am definitely not used to all this inactivity!

I promise to use my adventures in health care for my pithy comeback.

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Don't FOOSH.....fall on outstretched hand. Seriously dumb.

Monday, January 7, 2013


Well, typing is tougher than I’d like it to be. I’m not even commenting in the NY Times too often, so let’s make this short, sweet, and to the point.

There are no ethics in Congress.

Oh, you think that’s a little harsh? Ha. Read the pork attached to both the “fiscal cliff” and the Hurricane Sandy relief bill. Even if you don’t keep kosher, it’ll make you barf.  Matt Stoller, on NAKED CAPITALISM, lists 8 items worth repeating here:

1) Help out NASCAR - Sec 312 extends the “seven year recovery period for motorsports entertainment complex property”, which is to say it allows anyone who builds a racetrack and associated facilities to get tax breaks on it. This one was projected to cost $43 million over two years.

2) A hundred million or so for Railroads - Sec. 306 provides tax credits to certain railroads for maintaining their tracks. It’s unclear why private businesses should be compensated for their costs of doing business. This is worth roughly $165 million a year.

3) Disney’s Gotta Eat - Sec. 317 is “Extension of special expensing rules for certain film and television productions”. It’s a relatively straightforward subsidy to Hollywood studios, and according to the Joint Tax Committee, was projected to cost $150m for 2010 and 2011.

4) Help a brother mining company out – Sec. 307 and Sec. 316 offer tax incentives for miners to buy safety equipment and train their employees on mine safety. Taxpayers shouldn’t have to bribe mining companies to not kill their workers.

5) Subsidies for Goldman Sachs Headquarters – Sec. 328 extends “tax exempt financing for  York Liberty Zone,” which was a program to provide post-9/11 recovery funds. Rather than going to small businesses affected, however, this was, according to Bloomberg, “little more than a subsidy for fancy Manhattan apartments and office towers for Goldman Sachs and Bank of America Corp.” Michael Bloomberg himself actually thought the program was excessive, so that’s saying something. According to David Cay Johnston’s The Fine Print, Goldman got $1.6 billion in tax free financing for its new massive headquarters through Liberty Bonds.

6) $9B Off-shore financing loophole for banks – Sec. 322 is an “Extension of the Active Financing Exception to Subpart F.” Very few tax loopholes have a trade association, but this one does. This strangely worded provision basically allows American corporations such as banks and manufactures to engage in certain lending practices and not pay taxes on income earned from it. According to this Washington Post piece, supporters of the bill include GE, Caterpillar, and JP Morgan. Steve Elmendorf, super-lobbyist, has been paid $80,000 in 2012 alone to lobby on the “Active Financing Working Group.”

7) Tax credits for foreign subsidiaries –  Sec. 323 is an extension of the “Look-through treatment of payments between related CFCs under foreign personal holding company income rules.” This gibberish sounding provision cost $1.5 billion from 2010 and 2011, and the US Chamber loves it. It’s a provision that allows US multinationals to not pay taxes on income earned by companies they own abroad.

8) Bonus Depreciation, R&D Tax Credit – These are well-known corporate boondoggles. The research tax credit was projected to cost $8B for 2010 and 2011, and the depreciation provisions were projected to cost about $110B for those two years, with some of that made up in later years.

# 6 just about pushed me over the edge. That’s the addendum that rewards companies sending jobs overseas with tax breaks. Really? We’re supposed to not notice?

The pork in this bill pretty much wipes out increased revenue with increased spending. The Sandy bill had $200 million for an unrelated Amtrak project as well as unrelated HUD projects. These may be necessary projects but attaching them to the relief bill makes them as appealing as 5-day old unrefrigerated dead fish.

Both the fiscal cliff bill and the Sandy bill should’ve  been passed naked, unadorned, as a testament to the willingness of Congress to put the needs of the nation ahead of its fundraising pocketbook. It just all looks bad.

There is no reason on the planet for any one of us to trust Congress to do the right thing…not even in an emergency. They have proven themselves unequal to the job of running our country. Fire them all and start over.

The Wifely Person’s Tip o’the Week
Don’t break your wrist. Trust me on this one.