Monday, January 27, 2014


I am suffering from an acute case of sniffleous. Although I have improved since last Friday when I went to work despite feeling 40 feet below sea level.  I slept through most of the weekend which helped, but I'm going through handkerchiefs at an alarming rate. My nose is red, it hurts, and I'm crabby. 

Hankies by Grandma Sarah
About handkerchiefs. This is something you not only don't see every day, it's getting really hard to find pure cotton or linen ones unless you want to pay a fortune. As I kid, I remember going to the 5 and 10¢ store to pick up a ten pack. You could get ladies' linen hankies with scalloped edges all ready for crocheting for 50¢ a piece...and those were the good ones. I still have the ones my grandmother edged for me, and even a couple that I did myself, although not nearly as nicely. Steve always had big white ones that I always ironed ...and still do. There are so many that I've been surreptitiously replacing my father-in-law's poly-blends with Steve's much nicer ones...and he's yet to comment so I suppose he hasn't noticed. And I've got the rest for my miserably sore nose. What I don't have is a certain person handing me a fresh one in the middle of the night. Sigh. 

Anyway, I was talking about handkerchiefs. These tidy squares were once part of our everyday existence. Our kindergarten report card listed "Knows proper use of handkerchief"  right below "Works and plays well with others." No where did it mention "Knows proper use of sleeve." These days, I dare you to hand a kid a handkerchief and expect him/her to know what to do with it. Yes, I know there are people who think keeping a piece of cloth into which you blow your nose is gross, but it's no grosser than a wadded up pile of used Kleenex sitting on a desk. Besides, a handkerchief can be bleached clean. It's soft on your nose. It can be folded... and refolded. it smells good. And quiet frankly, it's thicker than a tissue and muffles the sound better. The last for years and years, they never go out of style, and when one gets ratty, it's the best dust cloth ever. Bonus: it's ecologically friendly! Get with the program, people; get out there and get handkerchiefs!

I warned you I was crabby.

Meanwhile, out in the real world, the 2016 election cycle has kicked off with a raft of stupid the likes of which I'm afraid we're gonna see a whole lot more of in the months to come. Some of this week's highlights:

Our party stands for the recognition of the equality of women and the capacity of women. That’s not a war on them; it’s war for them. And if the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control, because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it. Let us take that discussion all across America, because women are far more than the Democrats have played them to be. 
Mike Huckabee at the RNC National Winter Meeting 
When liberals claim social conservatives don’t have any policy ideas for marriage promotion, then, they’re somewhat self-deceived. A sustained conservative shift on abortion policy and marriage law probably would, over the long term, increase the rate at which couples take vows and stay together, and improve the life prospects of their children. 
So one hypothetical middle ground on marriage promotion might involve wage subsidies and modest limits on unilateral divorce, or a jobs program and a second-trimester abortion ban. 
 Ross Douthat, conservative columnist, 
NY Times - January 25, 2014
"One of the things I like to do on Twitter is I'll tweet something inflammatory, kind of borderline crazy-sounding just for fun. And I enjoy watching people go nuts," Kinkannon said. "One of the best things about it is if you say something that's borderline offensive or if it is offensive, the people that attack you and say just the awfulest [sic] things about you, they do the very thing that they accuse you of."  
Todd Kinkannon
former executive director-South Carolina GOP
Today, I feel like the canary in the coal mine; I'm just sounding the first warning. It's gonna be ugly. From both sides. Forget truth. This is a sound bit buzz war. Draw your own conclusions, folks.

Gird up your loins and steel yourselves; the next two years are going to be miserable. Kinda like having a long running, never ending case of sniffleous.   

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Got parents? No need to wait for a birthday to give 'em a call....or  hug.

Happy 93rd birthday to the Keeper of the Commas

Monday, January 20, 2014

Net Neutrality and Other Strangers

I spent a pretty hefty part of the weekend reading about net neutrality. Being that... contrary to popular belief in segments of this family... I am not a raving left wing nut ball, I figured it wasn't a black and white as some folks were attempting to present. It's not black and white...and it's not even all that grey. It's a frickin' symphony of color and I'm pretty well convinced no one has a handle on the meaning of the court’s rejection of the FCC's ability to regulate internet service. 

President Skroob
This is an interesting issue all by itself, harkening back to the point, when in 2005, the FCC issued the Broadband Policy Statement the internet was not deemed to be a public utility like telephone service. In other places, like most of Europe and Asia. In 2009, the FCC went further and announced it would be established a protocol for net neutrality. [See Wiki's article on net neutrality for a detailed description the process.]

When I think about this stuff. I think of SPACEBALLS and Perri-Aire. Sorry. I can't help myself. 

Because the FCC declined to declare the internet a public utility, the Federal Court of Appeals has declared the FCC to be overstepping its bounds in attempting to preserve net neutrality. People are sharpening their pitchforks and soaking their torches getting ready to march on Washington. The problem is most folks, as well intentioned as they are, don't understand what they're protesting. It’s not solely about content; it's as much about access and transfer speeds.

The courts are literal. They will look at the law and the law suit to determine if the government even has the right to make up rules for this internet. By not declaring the net a public utility, regulation of the info-bahn is really set to be at the discretion of the providers. As such, they should be the ones with the right to regulate who gets to drive down that road and how fast. Guys like Verizon are maintaining the road, so why shouldn't they be allowed to cut deals for their loyal customers to get better/faster the EZ-Pass getting you into the fast lane. 

But is it as easy as that? 

The real answer is no. The internet has turned out to be far adaptive than we might have thought even five years ago. We have seen a world explode with smart phones, WI-FI, variable access, public access, and streaming. Bandwidth is a central part of how things flow. You end up asking questions like, 
  • Should NetFlix pay the same amount for access as some other data-transfer company or should there be limits?
  • Should massive amounts of data be 'fast tracked' to move them along and is there a value that can be set on how much it costs to do that?
  • Should there be a class or tier structure for big v. small companies, individual users v. household users, streaming households v. non-streaming households?
  • Should a company who owns the access rights be able to determine who is allowed travel down the internet? 
Think of the net as a the US highway system. There are throughways, freeways, parkways, turnpikes, tolls roads, county roads, boulevards, streets, gravel roads, and dirt tracks. You can drive on ‘em all. How fast you go depends on a number of factors….like road condition, speed limit (theoretically) and density of traffic. Unless it’s a toll road, you just get on it and drive. Some areas have rush hour rules, diamond lanes, EZ Pass and stuff like that  to help manage traffic flow. But if you don’t want to pay a toll, you can usually go a different route. But the point is you can get there. Just like most roads, net neutrality ensures people can get on the net and move information around. Yes, you can pay for better, faster speeds…like the EZPass…but the network itself is free and available.

The FCC is attempting to protect general access. By declaring the net a public utility, it cannot be shut off at corporate whim. The Court of Appeals, by overturning the FCC’s right to make that determination, opens the door to corporate strangulation of net access. Why the net wasn’t declared a public utility in 2005 or 2009 when the issue first came under scrutiny is a mystery….and grotesquely short-sighted on the part of the FCC. If you’re thinking that would never happen, take a look at a not so dissimilar issue with CBS and Time Warner. The losers there were the viewers. Big time.

The fight, then is about general access to the net as well as the ability to move information around without censorship. The dimwits who think the FCC is overstepping its bounds are the same ones who think the US has the best delivery system in the world for health care. The FCC ultimately has the august responsibility of maintaining equal access. By preventing the establishment of net neutrality, we open the door to ISP providers being able to censor as well as rank information. The net nanny you had at work now can be applied by your ISP provider. Whose job is it to censor? Should there be censorship at all?

Right now, roads are government things. The USPS, while technically its own company now, is still a government agency obliged to follow privacy protocols. Everyone gets to use ‘em. You can pay for an EZPass or Priority Mail, but there’s some level of service for everyone and no one company controls access. You pay for water and sewer, but everyone gets public access. For contrast, look how the power companies are run. Wanna talk about stranglehold monopolies?

The internet should be like roads or the USPS, not like the Xcel or ConEd. Frankly, I'm not sure how this is going to play out. I suspect this will go all the way to the Supreme Court, and then the whole concept of the FCC will be the subject of intense scrutiny. This will play out in the same way "corporations are people" played out in the last fund raising cycle. Clearly, the paradigm is shifting. Are we still a nation with a social contract, or are we a corporate entity. These are not easy or easily answered questions but they are beginning to address the very nature of who we are as a nation and as a people. 

We, the People are about to be taken on a less-than-joy ride with the internet. Fasten your seat belts…it’s gonna be a bumpy night.

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
The St. Paul Winter Carnival Medallion is not hidden on a golf course.


Monday, January 13, 2014

Just When You Thought......

5 of the 7 Dombrow sibs
Johnny....not my dog.
Well, it seems I cannot manage to live in Minnesota without commenting further of the state of our weather for the last couple of weeks. Yes, it was very cold. No, we did not leave the witches nor the brass monkeys outside. Yes, dogs wear boots, too...although not my dog who refuses to wear boots and then whines about her cold feet. That said, we Minnesnowtans are a hearty breed, and this picture, taken last Monday speaks to that point. The air temperature was about -18°F with the windchill at about -35°F when Dombrow kids decided to play outside: Their mom was better prepared ...she was wearing a sweatshirt when she took the picture.

The last couple of days, however, were a wee bit was 41°F above on Sunday and I, along with every other person in the state, lined up at the local gas station car wash. I made good use of the time, though; I called my brother and laughed a lot. That made the interminable wait go much faster. 

And speaking of being stuck in your car on line that isn't really moving, back in the Garden State, Governor Christie seems to be having a bit wee bit o'trouble. Did he order the George Washington Bridge lane closures? I have no idea, nor do I really care. It was worthy of an elementary school playground and such an incredibly stupid thing to do, that it's hard to believe the clowns who thought this up thought they wouldn't get caught. "Hey, guys, we'll send it out to everyone via email and call it a lane study, but that'll be secret code and they'll never ever be able to trace it back to us." 

The day of the study

So here's the thing: Governor Christie might not have ordered the hit, but his cohorts did. There are some real interesting messages to the electorate in there. Hidden in secret code, of course. That only they'll get. Right?

  • First secret message: Our boss lets us do whatever we want. Loosely translated, this is the "he don't ask, we don't tell" method of staff management. The clowns running the office have carte blanche to take whatever they deem necessary to support their pol. The Governor really doesn't know because he don't wanna know.
  • Second secret message: I have no control over my staff. I'm too busy to manage them myself. If Governor Christie thinks he's busy now, what's he gonna do when he gets to the White House? Can America really elect a guy who says he takes responsibility for what his staff did with one side of his face, while admitting he had no idea what they were doing with the other side? Oh, okay, we've elected guys like that before, but you'd think with instant media and all, the Gov would get that he really does need eyes that work in the front AND the back of his head. 
  • Third secret message: You scratch my back and I'll make sure my staff scratches yours. Everyone knows every government runs on some form of baksheesh. Some of it is token, other forms are egregious. Governor Christie...or his staff...have left a big, giant electronic trail on this one. It's one thimg to sidle up to a mayor and whisper, "Get behind the Gov's plan to build a new stadium in East Bum, and he'll make sure West Bum gets a new park down by the old mill stream." Lavishing political access on a mayor by setting up meetings and full contact days...then cancelling without explanation the day after he says he cannot support the Gov's next bid for office is begging for an inquiry. Did Bridget Kelly actually think no one would put 2 and 2 together and get four? 
No matter what you think of Chris Christie and his bombastic get-it-done government, you have to wonder about the people with whom he surrounds himself. Folks, this is the same root group that will go to Washington with him. Do you really want to let them loose on an unsuspecting world? Consider what they might do to Angela Merkel. 

When We, the People, elect a president, we don't just elect the president, we sign on for the stuff that comes with him. We elect the staff he's gonna pick, the cabinet he's gonna pick, and in a sense, even his family. If Governor Christie can surround himself with a coterie of morally and ethically bankrupts kiddies running his office, then We, the People can just as easily say, "Thanks, but no thanks."

The bridge lane closures were amateur and stupid. On the other hand, some of the other stuff that's now surfacing is just plain devious in the worst sense of the word, and more Tammany Hall than anyone would ever want again. 

  • Fourth secret message: This is what the GOP at the grass root level really thinks of the rest of America.  Governor Romney's GOP had an image problem. No matter what anyone said about move that party to the center, that is not where it's going. It's going to be another four years of grease-my-palm-and-I'll-grease-yours kind of slick, back alley bazaar where everything is for sale and nothing is sacred.
Governor Christie's staff just confirmed it wasn't just the image. It was the real thing and it's here to stay. In other words, Governor Christie is probably toast.

Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Get ready to rumble! 
Here's your sneak peek of the puppletes for Puppy Bowl 2014!

    Monday, January 6, 2014

    We're Having A Vortex

    Monday night, January 6th, 2014  10:30 pm

    I am frozing. 

    Frozing is a word created by the junior son during the winter of 1988 when he was three and and we still lived in the old house where there were old fashioned storm windows that rattled all winter long. Frozing was that moment when you figure out you're too cold to stay outside any longer and when you get inside, you don't want to take off your mittens.

    I am frozing. 

    I was frozing all day at work. It started when I took the dog out this morning. It was a brisk -24°F. I think the piddle froze on the way out. It was -21°F when I to to work. I thought the office was a little chilly.....turns out we really didn't have heat, we had air conditioning. The day just degenerated from there. The rest of the state was pretty much closed, but not us. Not ever with AC running full blast in the office. People were sitting there wrapped in blankets and coats. About the blankets...our office isn't warm to begin with and people actually keep blankets under their desks. I am giving serious consideration to becoming one of them.

    It was only -14°F when I walked the dog at 5:30 this evening. My father-in-law, who flatly refuses to go out in this at all, gave me his fleecy ear-lap cap. I took it. It's not pretty but I still have ears. I am already using the big giant deerskin mittens that go over my knitted gloves. Day...or rather this make me really wonder about the sanity of living on this permafrost tundra we call home.

    There are, however, some upsides. You can't fry an egg on the sidewalk in summer and then freeze it solid in the exact same spot in winter in too many places. I saw someone do the banana trick today...that's when you hammer a nail into a board with a banana that's been left outside for 15 minutes. And there's always the frozen t-shirt routine...when you take a wet t-shirt outside and hold it up for a couple of minutes and it totally freezes. But the ol' hot water in a cup trick is the best...especially when done with a super soaker.

    There are also some less amusing aspects of the Polar Vortex deep freeze we're having. 

    Back when I first came to Minnesota, someone told me the reason I didn't see too many "bums" around was because the weather kept the "riffraff" outta Minnesota. My first winter, 1974-75, the winter of the Super Bowl Blizzard, was a deep freeze winter...yet I saw people living under the Lake Street Bridge that year. Homelessness in winter is a terrible problem here and this year, it's worse than ever. The economy has rendered an entire new class of not just homeless people, but people with homes who cannot afford to heat them. This time, extra shelters have been opened and the requests for blankets, gloves, scarves, and mittens has reached critical mass. (Apparently, hats are plentiful.) It not so old guys with bourbon bottles...there is a cross section of We, the People seeking warmth and shelter. 

    We send aid all over the world to develop farming and industry so that those living in squalor in the worst places in the world can feed and shelter themselves and their families, yet we are unable to support an economy where someone working 40 hours a week takes home enough in the pay envelop to cover those basic needs here. I won't even mention medicine. 

    Congress reconvenes this week after taking their winter holiday break. How many of our Congressclowns spent that time living under a bridge or in a shelter? As more than a few GOP and TP Congressclowns prepare to cut off unemployment benefits to millions of Americans, have any of them ever had to choose between heat and food? Have they ever asked their constituents the same question?

    The GOP and TP is once again proposing the elimination of corporate taxes. Make it a condition that the money saved must be divided between research & development to be done on-shore...and new entry level jobs at a living wage. But corporations want to be considered the same as citizens with the right to participate in politics. Sure, so long you pay income taxes just like everyone else. Somewhere there is a balance to be had. You can't just get the benefits without paying for the privilege of living and working in this nation.

    And today Fellujah  and Ramadi fell in Iraq. Kinda makes one wonder about the dollars and the blood capital spent there. Would we not have been better off spending some of the money that went fixing Iraqi roads on fixing American roads? Or bridges? Or schools?

    I am not advocating isolationism here. I’m just wondering why our own marginalized population segments are thought to be so disposable that some members of Congress don't see aid to them as a priority.

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch, it’s already -15°F and Miss Ribble behind me has to go pish on my lawn. A mother's work is never done.

    Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
    Air really is the best insulator. It's all about layers.