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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Full of Myself!

Hah!  My letter to the editor appeared in today's Post.  That's two for two -- I'm pretty full of myself. 

The funny thing (not funny ha ha, but, you know . . .) is that I didn't used to be against the death penalty.  There was a great essay I used to teach deduction (The Penalty of Death by H.L. Mencken) about how execution eases grief for victim's relatives and serves the collective catharsis.  Since that time, I have changed my mind.  First, far too many times, innocent people are put to death.  Well, two times would be way too many, and, let's face it, we're waaay over that statistic.  Second, it is SO expensive, appeal after appeal, delay after delay, trial after trial.  Third, really, wouldn't perpetrators suffer more with life imprisonment?  I mean, I know that's a subjective call, but prisons aren't nice places no matter what exercise facilities or libraries they house.  Fourth, isn't time we tried to join the coalition of civilized nations?  Can't we leave the identity of that barbarous, young upstart country?  Other industrialized nations simply shake their heads at a penal code that not only allows execution of criminals but execution of minors. 

Even when I felt all right about the death penalty, however, I would not have thought justice was served by executing  poor, stupid Theresa Lewis [an almost retarded woman convicted with two others in the murder of her husband for (a low amount of) insurance money.  The man who pulled the trigger was sentenced to life imprisonment].  My letter follows to the editor follows. 

I read with great interest about Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell’s “error of haste and not of heart,” which resulted in changing Confederate History Month to Civil War in Virginia Month. I believe that was a good remedy for a poor decision.
If, in a few months, he regrets allowing Teresa Lewis to be executed, I wonder how he will remedy that poor decision.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Political Love Post

It's happened again. I've fallen in love. Since I've been married to the same man for 40 years, you know that this declaration of love is saying a lot for me. My last great crush lasted for about 20 years and was on that wonderful, sexy intellectual Alistair Cooke. He was on TV once a week narrating the BBC's Masterpiece Theater. It was a sad, sad day when he left the show. He was quite a bit older than me, and I was heartbroken when he died. That won't happen again. Eugene Robinson is a younger man.
I have a crush on him because he is smart, writes beautifully, has the same last name as my cousins (okay, I don't really love him for this, but it's cool anyway) and is cute. Robinson doesn't quite have Cooke's amazing level of sexinessss, but, well, he's alive, and that counts for something, you know. While Robinson does guest on television talk shows, he won my heart through his rational and humorous analysis in his editorial in September 21sts Washington Post.
The editorial reported that a well known figure in the GOP (I refuse to give publicicty to any rabble-rousing individuals – even to my limited readership) "issued a thunderous call against . . . American judges trying [sic] to impose harsh Islamic sharia law." *slaps forehead* There have been exactly no (zero, zip) instances of this ever happening, but if it rouses fear to put and keep the far right in power, then that is their only requirement. Facts have never been a gun in the far right's arsenal.
Another fear-mongering tool is the cry I for State's Rights, but it isn't really a call for States' rights. It is a call for the federal government to control individuals. . These do not include medical rights (right to a peaceful death, right to reproductive choice) or personal rights (equal right to marriage).  Oh, no, those rights cannot be trusted to the states.  For example, a current candidate from Delaware who shall, for the reasons stated above, remain nameless is not only against premarital sex or homosexual activity but is against masturbation. This twit not only wants the federal government in the bedrooms of consenting adults but wants to be in your bedroom when you are BY YOURSELF!

Anyway, Eugene Robinson seems to see the same absurdity in the situations – like instilling a national fear of sharia law -- that I shake my head over. What's more, he has the insight and researches the facts that show them for what they are. And for this, I just love him.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Wedded Bliss?

One medical insurance enrollment season when we were in Russia, we got an ultimatum from Fairfax County. If I wanted to take advantage of their retired teacher's insurance, I had to sign up THAT SEASON. When I had retired, the rule was that you could sign up any open enrollment season, but now that had changed. I called (yes, FROM MOSCOW – sometimes ya just gotta), and the new rule was that you had to join now or never. The only exception was that if you were under a spouse's insurance and later GOT DIVORCED, you could sign up the following open enrollment season. I was astounded, almost speechless: almost but not quite. How, I asked, could divorce be a requirement for insurance? The person with whom I spoke did not know how; she only knew the rules.
As a result, I moved off Steve's more highly supplemented insurance and paid a much higher rate to ensure that – his job being on a limited contract – we would never be without insurance. Were he to lose insurance, he could join during the following season. As anticipated, a year later, his job ended, and we both went on my medical insurance. Its rate is high, but it is excellent insurance, and, needless to say we are happy to have it despite the fact that it cost us an appreciable and unnecessary expenditure that first year.
Now we approach a new insurance season, and the County, in its wisdom, has added a new rule. In January, we will have to produce our marriage certificate to prove we are married.  Because, the past FORTY years notwithstanding, the listing of him on my school papers for the eight years I worked in Fairfax, and the joint tax returns are not good enough. (Actually I believe they are just trying to thin the ranks and so reduce their costs.  I could easily segue into a discussion, nay a yearning, for a one payer medical system, but I will show great discipline and stay on track here.) 

Now here's what I want to know regarding this new rule.  What percentage of people covered hve defrauded the County by falsely claiming marriage ?  And what has that cost the County COMPARED to the estimated cost of collecting and verifying every marriage cedrtificate from emplyees claiming the wedded state?  What's more, I want to know if they're going to check each and every present and past employee claiming to be married to see if the marriage certificate was at any time followed by a divorce degree.  Otherwise, isn't the entire mandate an exercise in futility? 

I have looked for the certificate. It's not as though I haven't. It wasn't among my parents' papers, and there's no way to ask them now. Or, at least, as my sister says, you can call, but the long distance rates are REALLY HIGH. The wedding album has long ago fallen apart. My Mom was never one to "waste money" on such things, so it was simply a rather cheap photo album. Anyway, there wasn't a place for it in the 3 x 5 photo slots in there. I had a memory album, but after 38 years I couldn't remember who that person was who gave me the blender, so it went to the dump many moons ago. I certainly can't remember the certificate's ever being in there among the cards and ribbons and invitations. I looked in our lock box. We have birth certificates and passports, but no wedding certificate. My have my social security card is in there from when I changed my name, but no, not the scrap of paper that's required. What's more, NO ONE has wanted to look at it until now.
Honestly, I don't think we ever had a marriage certificate in our possession. I can't recall seeing it after I signed the license application. The State filed it, or my Mom or Dad took it or something. It was 40 years ago, folks, gimme a break. Oh, oops, the Bureaucracy of Stupid Rules never gives anyone a break.

Wait -- do you think maybe we're not married after all? Perhaps the children are illegitimate! Dare I tell them? Maybe all our joint property isn't. AEIIIiiii (sound fades away as Ann falls down a well of non-reality.)

(Much noise of climbing and grumbling. Her head peaks out over lip of well.) We can only hope that the great State of New Jersey, in its organized and knowledgeable wisdom will be happy to produce a certificate for us (at least, after we give them $30). Organized? Knowledgeable? Oh, drat, I'm doomed.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I Shouldn't Have, but I Did

An inexpensive travel clock, an ironing board cover, a not outrageously expensive, small tea kettle. I looked for these products; I really did. I guess I've gotten cheap the way the elderly in my stereotypical vision always did, but I just can't stand to spend the big bucks for these simple items.
I got a really nice ironing board cover at a good discount at Home Goods. It was supposed to fit up to a 54" ironing board, but it didn't, and I had to return it. The ones sold at JoAnn Fabrics had pads at the end that allowed you to sit a hot iron face down on them, and they had zippered compartments that hung over the side although I don't know what those were for. They cost over $20.00! To iron on! I mean, I quilt and do rudimentary sewing, but I still don't need a technologically advanced ironing board cover. I just prop my iron up on its end and move on.

Eddie Bauer had a cool travel clock. At $20 it was a tad expensive, but, I rationalized, it doubled as a flashlight. When I got home, I was disappointed to discover that you need to hold the button down to keep the flashlight on. No setting it on the pillow to read in the hotel room. Its clock could be dialed to every time zone around the world, though. That was really cool! And it had a press light to show illuminate the time in the middle of the night which is a necessity if you're an insomniac (and who over 50 isn't?) and an alarm, too. But when I unpacked it at the shore, the clock didn't work  I returned it to the Delaware outlet, although I won't disclose how many T shirts I bought at the same time. Let's just say I more than offset the cost.

The top to my tea kettle has been broken for years. In point of fact, I haven't used it since we got our single cup coffee maker. That and the microwave take care of all my needs, but my daughter and my sister like to make tea the real way at the proper temperature, with the water truly boiling, so I like to keep one on hand.  I was resigned to being disappointed on obtaining the desired size, design and color all in one kettle, but I tried.  I looked in Home Goods; I looked in T.J. Maxx; I looked in Bed, Bath and Beyond.  No luck.

And that brought me to Target. I know, I know. I vowed, after they gave money to that gubernatorial campaign where the candidate was anti-gay, that I would never darken their doors again. My heart softened when I read their response to the boycotts and complaints. They stated that they had contributed on the basis of the candidate's business stance and had no idea he held anti-gay sentiments. I had to believe them, too, because for them to have done otherwise would have been plain stupid. Of course, I already deemed them pretty stupid for not having done due diligence before making the contribution, but I think I hold them innocent of the greater charge. Still, I never shopped there a lot and thought I would try to hold out.

I can't. I tried to stay away. I really did, but it's the small, everyday items that Target does so well at. A travel alarm, an ironing board cover, a tea kettle. All in one stop, all attractive and reasonably priced, and all at the same strip mall where I had other errands. I blush; I am ashamed; I shouldn't have, but I did it. And guess what? Every one of those items works perfectly. I'm hiding my face, but I am so happy.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Sun, Sand and the Irresistable at the Seashore

We have a good friend who owns a condo at Sea Colony at the Delaware Shore. We know he's a good friend, because he invites us to use it off season whenever we'd like. We are here now, alternating between resting poolside and meditating seaside.  Anywhere we go, we fall under (or more accurately throw ourselves under) the hypnosis of the sea.  The waves pound in and grab your grievances, sorrows and annoyances and pull them out to be purified in the salty depths.  The mind becomes tranquil.  This naturally leaves you exhausted, and you have to go up and nap on a loungecahir on the balcony.
Our mornings as begin as they do anywhere. We arise and shake out the kinks, stumble to the kitchen and make coffee. You have you have to have coffee, not so much for the caffein as for the opportunity to sit quietly, stare into space and think deep thoughts.  But now that there are no longer toys and diapers to clean up, no teens to stay up late and worry about, no good examples to set, we practice a seashore ritual that we're never involved in at home. 

After a few sips of that familiar blend of murky sweetness and milk, we look at each other wistfully, cajole and plead, and one of us (reserving to call in a return favor later)sets down the cup and walks over to the little bakery to get donuts. Donuts, those magical, little fried cakes of sugar and fat. Cakelike sprinkled with sugar, custard filled or chocolate frosted?  The decisions get difficult, especially when one has an eye to pleasing a spouse.  "May I help you?" is answered on my part with, "I'm thinking."  The decision is made more difficult as one chooses a donut or two for breakfast with plans for keeping a third in reserve for dessert after dinner.  Mmmmm.

The call of the waves, the lure of the lard:  I try to mitigate the donut damage by slicing a juicy white peach to eat with breakfast and ordering a salad for lunch.  This makes me less culpable, don't you think?  But the donut itself?  Who could resist?   We don't.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Ego of Glenn Beck

And this weeks contest is to answer this question:  How Big Is Glenn Beck's Ego? 
The winning answer will gain the great satisfaction of knowing that it won.