Monday, December 27, 2010

White Christmas

Record-breaking snowfall here on the east coast of VA today.  It's like a late Christmas present.  Last night, we started getting the white stuff and all day today it has fallen.  I went outside at lunchtime and took a yardstick for checking the accumulation in my back yard.  At that time, we had about a foot and it continues to fall.  Fortunately, the schools are closed for winter break this coming week, but the roads are going to be a mess around here for days to come.  This is very unusual for this area and I heard that we're breaking a 100-year record this year. 

I filled up my bird feeders and also put out a suet block for them to feed on.  With weather like this, I feel bad for any wildlife trying to survive outside right now.

Lord, have mercy on the poor and homeless and people who may have lost power during this storm. 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Winter Solstice

I just found out today that tomorrow night's total Lunar eclipse will also coincide with the Winter Solstice and it's the first time in 456 years.  That's kind of neat, isn't it?  I plan on going outside and viewing for a while if the sky is clear around here.  For those of us on the east coast of the US, it will take place starting at 1:33 am.  Another thing is that the moon will appear as a coppery red color instead of being totally obliterated by the shadow of the earth.  This is because, according to NASA, the only sunlight visible is refracted through the Earth's atmosphere.
Things like this really fascinate me.  I remember getting up in the middle of the night and going outside with my daughter to watch a meteor shower back in 2001 and being totally awestruck. 
Personally, I believe that we should look up to the heavens more often to get some perspective on things in our lives.  
Further reading about the Winter Solstice reminded me that this is the time when the Earth is tilted the farthest away from the Sun.  Actually, we are just about at the closest distance to the Sun around this time of year, but God is smart enough to shield us by having the axis slanted so we get indirect sunlight instead of the excess of solar radiation.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

First Snow

Last night, we got a spattering of snow here in Southeast VA.  I was coming out of the grocery store at about 7:00 pm and it was really coming down.  Later, as I got ready for bed, I looked out and the cars parked in the street were lightly covered and I could hear the sound of sleet falling.  We owe this unusual, early winter blast to the La Niña effect in the Pacific Ocean, so I've heard.  This is more like January weather for around here, not the first week of December.  Having grown up around here, I can count on one hand the number of white Christmases that I have seen in my lifetime.  I believe that the number is two and that may be being generous.  I can remember my wish when I was blowing out my birthday cake candles year after year was for snow at Christmastime.

While it may put me in more of a 'Christmassy' mood to be all bundled up, needing gloves and scarves outside, extra blankets on my bed and craving a mug of hot chocolate, I still don't look forward to the higher electric bills during the winter.

Today, I am getting my Christmas tree and house all decorated for the season and listening to appropriate music on the radio.  Wish you all were here to enjoy it all. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Gone Too Soon

Just like the month of November, my seasonal job ends tonight.  It was a bittersweet time with goodbyes and also a certain amount of relief because this has been coming for weeks now.  The not-knowing who would be next has gotten really old.  We got to leave early and a couple of us went out together to get something to eat for supper on the way home. 
There's still going to a Christmas bonus that will go out next week and we'll reconvene for a banquet on the 16th of December.

I'm really looking forward to Christmas and, maybe tomorrow, I'll start working on getting my house decorated for the holidays.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Higher Consumer Prices

When I went to the grocery store on Saturday, Nov 13th, I was surprised to find that my food cost has gone up significantly.  I don't know if it will be news to you or not, but it was certainly an eye-opener to me.  So, I sat down with some saved receipts and a calculator and here's what I found:

Purina Indoor Cat Formula cat food (3.5 lb bag)  $4.99 now, was $3.49 in September
Granulated Cane Sugar (5 lb bag)  $3.19, was $2.54 in Sept.
Sunchips brand multi-grain chips* $3.79, was $3.49
Mrs. Smith's frozen pie* $4.99, was $3.98
Baked Ruffles brand chips $3.99, was $3.38
Tombstone brand frozen pizza* $4.49, was $3.58
Crest Total Care brand toothpaste $4.19, was $3.73
Spaghetti sauce (store brand) $1.79, was $1.59
(*) didn't actually buy, but made note of the price.

While some prices only went up by twenty cents or so, others jumped over a dollar making my total bill about $5 more than it was a couple of months ago.  By my estimate, this increase is 10-11%.

When citizens in the US are going without pay raises or cost of living adjustments, having their health insurance rates increase by as much as 12% this month, lay-offs still happening, gasoline prices increasing, etc... having to shell out even more to buy food leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Funny Words

I was reading some news articles this morning and came upon a phrase in an article about a recent copyright infringement that made me laugh. 
Here it is: "I have to say my flabber has never been so gasted." by blogger Sally

The word, of course, is Flabbergast and I had to find out more about it.

It turns up first in print in 1772, in an article on new words in the Annual Register.  Presumably some unsung genius had put together flabber and aghast to make one word...  The source of the first part is obscure.  It might be linked to flabby, suggesting that somebody is so astonished that they shake like a jelly.  It can’t be connected with flapper, in the sense of a person who fusses or panics, as some have suggested, as that sense only emerged at the end of the nineteenth century.  But flabbergasted could have been an existing dialect word, as one early nineteenth-century writer claimed to have found it in Suffolk dialect and another — in the form flabrigast — in Perthshire.  Further than this, nobody can go with any certainty.
*excerpted from World Wide, Michael Quinion

Flab`ber*gas*ta"tion\, n. The state of being flabbergasted.
–verb (used with object) to overcome with surprise and bewilderment; astound; amaze.
Related Wordsdumbfounded, dumfounded, stupefied, thunderstruck 


Sunday, October 31, 2010

Election Eve

It's not only Halloween tonight, but it's the eve of some very important mid-term elections in this country.  I'll wager that Nancy Pelosi rode her broomstick all the way back to California to try and scare up some votes for Tuesday.  (Not bad, huh?)
Also, we have such a divisive man sitting in the Oval Office and he now tells the Whites and Conservatives that we can 'sit in the backseat'.  Basically, he's putting us at the 'back of the bus' as it were, but maybe it's better than being thrown 'under the bus' like he seems to do to most everyone else.

It's not too much to ask that our elected officials represent the people that elected them instead of the almighty dollar and the lobbyists that buy them off.  I pray that this coming Tuesday some order will be restored to the US. 

God have mercy on us. 

Friday, October 29, 2010

Voters called 'Stupid' by POTUS

From the UK Telegraph 10/25/2010  Toby Harnden

Barack Obama sounds like a snooty anti-American Eurocrat when he calls US voters stupid 

My “American Way” column this week is about closing argument of President Barack Obama and his Democratic party that their opponents, and anyone thinking of voting for them, are stupid. Quite apart from making them sound sound like members of the anti-American elites of Europe, this seems to me to be a rather, er, stupid, strategy for Democrats.
Here’s the column:
So what is the closing argument of Barack Obama’s Democrats before next Tuesday’s midterm elections? The President is no longer the self-proclaimed “hope-monger” of 2008, who vaingloriously declared that his vanquishing Hillary Clinton marked “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal”.
He has stopped patting voters on the back for choosing, by voting for him, to listen not to their doubts or fears but to their “greatest hopes and highest aspirations”. Instead, he is berating Americans (most of whom now do not believe he deserves a second term) for not being able to “think clearly” because they’re “scared”.
Having failed to change Washington or, as he promised that night in St Paul, Minnesota in June 2008, to provide "good jobs to the jobless" (unemployment was 7.7 per cent when he took office and is 9.6 per cent now), Obama is changing tack.
Boiled down, the new Obama message to Americans is: you're too stupid to overcome your fears. To be fair, it's not entirely new. During the 2008 campaign, Obama was caught on tape at a San Francisco fund-raiser saying it was not surprising that voters facing economic hardship "get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them".
At a fund-raiser in Massachusetts this month, Obama spoke of Democrats having "facts and science and argument" on their side. As opposed, presumably, to the lies, superstition and prejudice that Republicans rely on.
This year, Democrats have embraced with gusto the notion that Republicans, and by extension anyone thinking of voting for them, are dimwits. Their mirth over the likes of Tea Party figures like Christine O'Donnell, who said once she had "dabbled" in witchcraft and is now a no-hoper Senate candidate in Delaware, seems to know no bounds.
The most chortling of all about the populist Tea Party and its anti-tax, anti-government uprising against the Republican establishment can be found on the shows of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, the edgy liberal satirists on Comedy Central. Mocking Republican candidates last week, Stewart declared the midterm elections as "the best chance ever for a bowl of fresh fruit" to be elected.
Three days before the elections, Stewart will hold a "Rally to Restore Sanity" in Washington on the same day as Colbert, who adopts the character of a Right-wing talk show host, leads a "March to Keep Fear Alive". The thinly-disguised message: Republicans are crazies who trade on fear.
In choosing California and Massachusetts, two of the most liberal states in the union, to demean ordinary Americans during election campaigns, Obama did not display a whole lot of his much-vaunted intelligence. But Obama's decision to plug Stewart's rally approvingly and appear on his show three days beforehand is even more foolish.
In the 1990s, Democrats managed to get away from their image as "eggheads" in the 1950s or "pointy-headed liberals" in the 1970s. Bill Clinton spoke like a Good Ol' Boy from the Deep South, ate junk food and enjoyed trashy women. He was clever, but he did not look down on people.
Obama, by contrast, has become a parody of the Ivy League liberal smugly content with his own intellectual superiority and pitying the poor idiots who disagree with him. It is an approach that shares much with the default anti-Americanism of British and European elites, who love to mock the United States as a country full of gun-toting, bible-clutching morons.
David Cameron has made nods to this sniffy condescension, speaking of the Sarah Palin phenomenon as being "hard for us to understand" (how about giving it a go, Dave?) and describing American conservatism, inaccurately, as moving in a "very culture war direction". This might be part of the reason why he seems to have hit it off with Obama.
The problem for Obama and the Democrats is that belittling the Tea Party movement, which is taking hold of much of Middle America, merely fuels the popular sense that the party in power is out of touch. It also highlights the reluctance of Obama and the Democrats to discuss the Wall Street bail-out, economic stimulus and health care bills because they know they are not vote winners.
Joining the Europeans in mocking ordinary Americans for their supposed idiocy may play well at big-dollar fund-raisers. In adopting this as a political strategy, however, the Democrats could be the ones who end up looking stupid.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

A President for 'His People' not 'We the People'

** I am passing this along from fellow blogger Thesec on EP and I agree with most of it. **

In the year 2008, 232 years after our Founding Fathers declared their independence from the British crown, Barack Hussein Obama, a politician far to the left of mainstream America, was elected as President of the United States.  Because of their minority numerical status, it was not black people who elected Obama, but whites who were fed up with the Bush years. While I did not vote for Obama – and disagreed strongly with his political ideology – I was nevertheless proud that America could elect a black president and overcome centuries of racial prejudice. In fact, I joked with friends that the Germans, French and other Western Europeans were also initially elated with the choice, since "they were just happy that they did not now have a black head of state." Europe could have never elected a black man, given its much deeper ingrained prejudice against the race. So with Obama's ascendancy to the throne, we American whites felt good about ourselves, if nothing else.

But in the last two years, this pride has turned to deep-seated resentment and horror – as we have witnessed Obama seemingly favoring his own race and true religious allegiance over whites, Christians and Jews. On the eve of the congressional elections of 2010, when most polls are predicting that Obama's Democrats will lose control of at least the U.S. House of Representatives and possibly the Senate, it has become increasingly clear to not only tea partiers, but also most of the white Judeo-Christian electorate, that President Obama is not a ruler for all of the people, but rather "his people."

And, how did we arrive at this sad and frightening conclusion?
First, there were the trillion-dollar bailouts, much of which were earmarked for black minority contractors. These bailouts were not only economically stupid, but the money was dolled out in a discriminatory way.

Second, there was Obamacare, an unpopular piece of legislation to say the least, designed to provide health insurance mostly for the president's black constituency. Obamacare was enacted over the will of the majority of Americans.

Third, President Obama publicly sided with a black Boston college professor who had claimed that he was harassed by a white police officer. Without any evidence, Obama stuck his foot into the controversy and stepped in "it," when it was revealed that the white officer had done nothing wrong. And, regardless of who was right, it was not the president's role to get involved in the first place.

Fourth, the Obama Justice Department, lead by black Attorney General Eric Holder, refused to prosecute Black Panthers who illegally disrupted an election polling place in Philadelphia. To tell you who the Black Panthers are, they recently attended a private meeting with Iranian President Ahmadinejad, the neo-Nazi Jew and Christian hater of the Islamic Republic of Iran, during Ahmadinejad's visit to New York City for the annual General Assembly meeting of the United Nations. The Black Panthers are of the same ilk as Iran's radical Islamic president – that is, they are anti-white, anti-Semitic Jew and Christian haters. Indeed, the infamous Jew hater, so called Rev. Louis Farrakhan, was also, not coincidentally, present at this meeting with Ahmadinejad.

Fifth, Obama's kinship with Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Farrakhan and other black Muslim leaders, whom he has never denounced for their anti-white, anti-Judeo-Christian and anti-American ideologies, has not gone unnoticed by the general electorate. Indeed, in case of Rev. Wright, Obama had been his long-time "parishioner" and supporter. These associations by Obama emit a stench hard for most Americans not to smell.

Sixth, Obama canceled the White House commemoration of the National Day of Prayer, but instead hosted a White House feast for the Muslim Holy Day of Ramadan. To make matters worse, the president then endorsed the building of a mosque at Ground Zero, despite its opposition by nearly 80 percent of the American people and even 58 percent of all American Muslims. This one act, above all, sent a message that Obama not only favors his own race, but "his" religion, which Americans have increasingly come to believe is Muslim. Coupled with his belligerent and harmful attitude and approach toward Israel and its prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, Obama has reinforced the belief among American Jews in particular that he is an anti-Semite along the lines of his black Muslim friends, only more subtle and slick in his approach.

Suffice it to say that the majority of white Christians and Jews no longer see Obama as the president of "We the People" but instead "his" people. And, while the Republican Party may rejoice at this given its prospects in the upcoming congressional elections, there is no reason to be pleased for the country. For President Obama has not united the races and religions, but instead divided and pitted them against each other. The level of hostility one sees "in the streets," with a reverse backlash against blacks and Muslims, is frightening and potentially explosive.

When the leader of the United States ceases to be the ruler of all the people, but only a select few, the nation stands even more – particularly during a severe continuing economic depression – on the precipice of chaos, rebellion and ultimately revolution.

President Obama, even though you – given your dismal record of governance – may be our president for only another two and one half years, I implore you, as a white Christian and Jew, to be the leader of all of us.

We were proud that the nation had put aside its historic racial divide to have elected a black man even if many, like me, did not vote for you. But if, Mr. President, you do not reverse course, ironically you will have set back "your people" decades in its just cause for racial and religious understanding and equality.

Sign of the Times?

My seasonal job - which I began working six weeks ago - is starting to wind down, unexpectedly.  This is work with a national company that has (4) locations in the US and (1) in Canada and the last two weeks of October have been [traditionally] the busiest of the year for them.  Well, two weeks ago, we stopped getting any overtime and now they are beginning to furlough workers in different departments as the work dries up.  The people that I have asked, people that have been working there for many years, tell me that they've never seen things like this -- sales orders drop off dramatically after only one busy month.

Evidently, the US economy has not recovered enough for families to have any extra money to be able to buy the school portraits for their children this fall.  That's the business that I am working in.


On another note, our local school system can't seem to get any dependable bus drivers.  I had to drive my son to school this morning and have had to many mornings so that he wouldn't be an hour late getting there.  They have had one substitute driver after another and the kids never know when or if a bus is going to show up.  Well, after a heated discussion this morning at the school and with the transportation office, I was assured that they will have the problem taken care of by tomorrow.  
I'll believe it when I see it.      

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Full Moon Friday

I meant to write this last night, but I was just too tired to stay up. 

When I was coming home from work late last night, the moon was so bright that there were shadows everywhere almost like daytime.  It was a sight to behold.  It made me think about a news story that I heard this week that a NASA mission last year which crashed a probe on the dark side of the moon had resulted in the discovery of water on the moon.  I have heard that fresh drinking water will someday be a very precious commodity for us as populations increase.  I wonder if we could someday mine water from the moon or would it be the potential for disaster if we somehow decreased the moon's mass and changed our own gravitational attraction?  It's something to think about.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Not much left to say?

Say it isn't so....
When I first started writing here a couple of months ago, I was all fired up with things I wanted to say.  Now, it seems that I'm not expressing myself the way I was hoping.  I ask myself: Do I want this space to just be the repository of all the minutiae of the previous day?

I love to gather facts and trivia each day and I don't know what I'd do without the internet and high speed connection.  I like to read news sources from all over to get a balanced approach to what's going on in the world around me.  Earlier today, I heard some facts and I recall that, historically, it took the U.S. all the time from 1776 until approximately 1990 to reach $3 Trillion in debt.  However, in less than two years, the country has borrowed another $3 Trillion.

Here is an illustration of what One Trillion looks like.  (Note the man in the bottom left.  Those pallets are double-stacked to about six feet in height.)
 That's a lot of money!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Full of Promise

Today, as I sit here writing, I'm reminded how nice a day it is outside by all of the delicious sunlight streaming in and I consider all of the things that I might try to get accomplished today before the sun sets.  I don't know about you, but I am motivated to be productive while there is daylight and [once it gets dark] I seem to lose that motivation.

Last night at work, we got the official announcement that we'd done such a good job all week that we didn't have to go in to work today.  I'll miss the extra $75 overtime pay for six hours, but the extra day to get some things done that need to be done is very welcomed.  This afternoon, I will be taking my car in for routine service that I've been putting off.  Also, I really need to get out and cut the grass for one last time for this season and then I can put away the mower in the garage until spring.


I have a problem with clutter.  I look at the boxes stacked in the corner of my bedroom and I don't like the way it looks.  I am trying to live with less stuff, but over the years, you end up with things that you just don't want to throw away.  It would really help if I had a linen closet, but I don't.  I have gotten a few Rubbermaid totes that I am putting all of my linens in and stacking.  I have designated different colors for different things: green = towels, blue = sheets and pillowcases, orange = seasonal things, etc....
I guess I need to be more disciplined to deal with little loose things before they get piled into a mess.
Like I was saying to my son this week: it's easier to deal with several small tasks than trying to tackle a mountain of a task that you know is going to defeat you.  I need to put that into action - starting today.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Out of Gas

Last night, as I was driving home (or should I say this morning) at 2:00 am, my gas gauge was on Empty the whole trip for about 24 miles.  There was a Racetrack gas station open that I drove by just three miles from home, but I was too tired to stop and I just prayed that my car would have enough fuel to get me all the way.  Prayer answered.  This afternoon, I went to fill up and it cost me over $40 for a full tank of regular.  The prices in my area have increased over 12 cents per gallon in the last week to an average of around $2.62 /gal.  As I look back in Quicken at my monthly expenses, it's been two years since gas prices were this high.

Well rested and full, I'm now getting ready to go back to work. 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

What's in a Date?

I just realized that today's date is: 10.10.10.  Pretty weird, right? 
"The 10th day of the 10th month of the 10th year of the millennium.   And 10 is no ordinary number. In ancient Greece, the Pythagoreans valued 10 as a symbol of knowledge and of the universe. And it’s still important today: The first thing our parents did when we emerged into the world was count our fingers and toes, seeking sets of 10.   Later, we learned to rate the finer things in life on a scale of – what else? – 1 to 10".*

Here are some other notable 10s to ponder:

1)  10 amendments to the Bill of Rights
2)  A Basketball hoop is 10 feet above the floor with ten players.
3)  God unleashed 10 plagues on the Egyptians in Old Testament history.
4)  The 10 Commandments
5)  The weather this weekend was a perfect 10.
6)  Number 10 Downing Street -- home to the British Prime Minister
7)  Ten is one of the perfect numbers (1+2+3+4), and signifies the perfection of Divine Order.
8)  Counting from one to ten before speaking is often done in order to cool one's temper.
9)  The traditional Eye chart uses 10 different letters.
10) The number of Canadian provinces

* Pilotonline

Also, oddly enough, my car's odometer reading was 101010 recently and I made a comment to my friends when I got to work that I was feeling very binary. 

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Didn't have to work

Yesterday, when I went to work, we were told that we'd done such a good job at putting out the work for the week, that we didn't need to come in on Saturday (today).  I have a long list of things to try and get accomplished with the prospect of a "free" day. 

1)   Sleep until I feel like getting up.  Done.
2)   Go to bank and deposit paycheck.  Done.
3)   Take clothes and unused items to Goodwill.  Working on it.
4)   Wash car and vacuum interior.
5)   Cut grass, maybe for the last time of the season.
6)   Wash laundry
7)   Check out movie listings and possibly go to see one tonight.
8)   Hang towel rack in bathroom
9)   Put away clean laundry
10) Clean bathroom

The weather has been so glorious for a couple of days that it feels like a nice reward for all of the yucky, steamy days of summer we had and all of the rain that we got recently.  The cooler nights are a welcomed relief and I like opening up my windows and getting a nice breeze.  We can hear church bells ringing on the hour from nearby and it seems like all is right in the world.  

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Been a long time

Well, it's been a long time since I had a few minutes to sit down and write something. . .

It has gotten kind of chilly this first week of October and I wasn't willing to be turning on my heat so soon.  I always look forward to this time of the year for some savings on cooling and heating costs for a month or so when as seasons change.  It's also nice to be able to sleep with a window open to get a cool breeze.  But, a couple of nights ago, I relented and turned up the thermostat to 68 degrees because it was 65 inside.  I think that it's strange that we (humans) feel comfortable in a cooler environment when it's really hot outside, but when it's cool outside, we want to be warmer. 
Somewhere, I heard that humans are most happy temperature-wise to be at or around 72 degrees Fahrenheit and I agree.

In other news, the seasonal job is going well with lots of overtime each week.  Today's paycheck is going to be really nice.  Having to sit for extended periods is still bothering me, but I've ordered a gel seat cushion from that I believe will help with that.  More and more new workers keep arriving each week and we're still entering the busiest time of the season.  I have to get to work in plenty of time to secure a good chair and there is a lot of switching all around from shift to shift. 

Time to jump in the shower so I can be on schedule for getting to work on time.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Too Tired

Well, a week ago, I began working as a seasonal employee.  We're told that it may last until Christmas, but more than likely, we'll be done by around Thanksgiving.  I am having some trouble adjusting to the different hours -- 4:15 pm to 12:45 am, and now (tonight) adding an extra hour ('til 1:45am) to keep from being behind schedule.  (Saturdays, 12:15-6:15 pm.)  I am not all that happy with being just One of the "collective" at work...  We all go on our breaks together, all come back and work diligently, we all go to lunch break as a group and leave as a group.  There is really not much of any place for any independent actions.  We have our task and we're all working to meet the goals that have been set for us.

I keep telling myself that I am doing this for the money and it's just temporary.  Having to live off of my savings for most of this year and having no income, I need to be replenishing my bank account rather than depleting it. 

Finding enough time to get enough sleep is still a challenge for me.

Friday, September 17, 2010


Today, I had an interview at 9:00 am and I managed to get there on time after only 4-5 hours of sleep.  Well, when I arrived, I was told that they had changed their mind and weren't hiring anyone -- they were going to use the personnel that they already had instead of adding a new employee.  Imagine my disappointment when I heard this.  For a week, I have been hoping that this job would be the one for me.

Well, I need to go back to bed so I can get a nap before going to a seasonal job this afternoon.

I'm feeling very dejected and depressed. 


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

New Job

Finally, I begin working at a new job today.  After many, many months of looking and calling and going to interviews and mailing out copies of my resume, I can begin to feel productive again.  Hopefully, our local economy is getting better because it seems that there are more new job listings coming out every few days.  This certainly wasn't the case a year ago.

When I was first laid off, I spent (wasted) a lot of time wallowing in depression and self-doubt.  I am from a family with a good work ethic that strongly believes in pulling yourself up by your bootstraps and getting your act together.  "... but with God, all things are possible." ~Matthew 19:26

I am admitting that I couldn't have gotten through the last year if it hadn't been for all of the continuing and faithful prayers for me by family and friends.  I feel stronger and a bit wiser now after having gone through this trial.  There may be a few more bumps in the road ahead, but I'm not going this alone.   

Monday, September 13, 2010

I Hate Waiting

I don't know about you, but I have been doing a lot of waiting.  I think that I am a pretty patient person, but lately, it seems like I am always having to wait for something important to be determined.  As a job-seeker, I have many applications and copies of my resume out for consideration for many job openings that I have been interested in. 
Right now,
I am waiting for a answer about a new health insurance policy that is being underwritten.  I started the application process three weeks ago and didn't know it would go on for this long.
I am also waiting for the vet to call and say that they have a prescription ready to be picked up.
I am waiting to get a call for a start date and schedule beginning a new job that I have accepted as of last Wednesday.  (They were waiting on results from a drug test as far as I know.)
I am waiting to hear about results from an interview last Friday for an even better job offering better hours and better salary than the one that I accepted, but haven't yet started.
I am waiting for a favorable decision to an appeal of 3-4 months of unemployment compensation that I haven't been paid for and which I feel that I am due benefits.
I am waiting for the mailman to come by and can pick up my outgoing mail.  (He used to always get here before noon each day, but now I never can predict his appearance.)  I have to keep my inside door locked until the mail is pushed through the mail slot.  Then, I can open my door to let some light come into the foyer from outside. 
Lastly, I am waiting for a call from my doctor's office about rescheduling an appointment that I canceled because of the health insurance not being in force yet.
It's not too much to ask that I get some answers today.

Friday, September 10, 2010


I woke this morning confused about what day it was.  Since Monday was a holiday, my days have been all mixed up.

After deciding that today was Friday, I made myself presentable and went to a really good job interview at 9:45.  It was with a staffing agency for a job with a local health care provider and I believe that things look very favorable for me at this point.  I was the first person to respond to the ad and, as far as I know, no one else has applied for it.  This job opening comes on the heels of an offer that I have just about committed myself to this week.  (I haven't heard the results of a drug screening done Wednesday afternoon.)  However, the newer one pays better and has better hours and has more potential.  On my way out of the interview, I got a voice mail message on my cell phone for another interview with another company.  After job-hunting for 15 months with little or no response, this is a bit overwhelming for me.


My Siamese cat had a seizure early this morning and it freaked me out.  I have seen this happen to him two other times in the last year and a half.  He acts as if he's having a stroke and seems helpless and disoriented.  I held him for a few minutes and stroked him reassuringly, but he wanted to be let down.
After I returned home this afternoon, he has seemed quieter than usual and he didn't come to the door and greet me.  I've done some research on the internet and I called the vet and asked them and it seems that it isn't that uncommon.  One thing I read was that an "episode" like this is usually preceded by a period of increased activity.  And, come to think of it, he's been running around like a banshee for the past couple of days.       

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What a Wednesday!

Boy, I got a lot done today.  I'll admit that I've gotten really lazy since losing my job a year ago.

It might not seem like much to you, but here's what I got done today:
1)   garbage can out to the street before 7:00 am.  (Stinky refrigerator leftovers were thrown out.)
2)   vacuumed carpet all over - swept kitchen - put away clean dishes 
3)   cleaned bathroom and toilet
4)   retrieved (6) empty garbage cans from street for myself and my elderly neighbors
5)   put away clean laundry after taking a shower
6)   had nice lunch with my sister at Chik-Fil-A
7)   went to job callback and signed papers to begin working soon (30-minute drive)
8)   did drug test at NowCare place (They made me feel like I was a criminal.)
9)   dropped off application and resume across town before they closed at 6:00 pm.
10) shopped at Office Max for school supplies and resume paper and inkjet printer ink
11) shopped at Target - looked for some bargains, but only got a few necessary items
12) drove 30 minutes home - stopping at Food Lion grocery store to get dinner
13) cooked dinner (heated up a Stoffer's meal in microwave) and ate with my son
14) watched a couple of TV show reruns to relax and unwind
15) signed and filled out a pile of papers sent home from school
16) logged in and added this little entry into my Blog
17) logged out and went to bed

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

First Day of School

For many students, today was the first day back in class this fall.  My son has a new school, new bus route and a new chance to do better this year than he did last year.  I could have made things a little less stressful, but I made the mistake of not going to the orientation last week and getting a floor plan or map so he'd know the layout of the unfamiliar school.  My Bad.

This morning when the clock radio came on at 6:12, things were a bit blurry as I got up to make sure that my son was able to meet the bus a couple of blocks away.  I remember that queasy feeling in the pit of your stomach on the first day -- so much unknown and so much dread of the day ahead.

As it turns out, things weren't so bad after all.  Around 3:00pm, my son came in the front door and walked past with a grin on his face instead of a scowl.  By the way, there's a nice guy (looks like he's an American Indian) that waits at the same bus stop.  He made me think of the character: Joseph Gribble, John Redcorn's illegitimate son from the TV show "King of the Hill". 
(I guess, that makes my son the character: Bobby Hill.)

Do you remember certain smells that bring back a rush of memories from childhood?
1) PBJ in wax paper conjures up memories of elementary school for me.
2) A certain vinyl or plastic smell will make me think of new school supplies.
3) Crayons, Elmers glue, chalk -- school
Whew!  I'm too tired to think of more.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Rain, rain, rain

As I sit here today, we're getting the benefits from rain associated with hurricane Earl skirting past the VA coastline.  I could hear the dripping on the outside of the windows and from the gutters even before I got out of bed this morning and it was such a pleasant sound.  We surely could have used this rainfall back in July.  I think that I got away with not having to cut my grass for a month because it was so dry outside.
And, of all the things this week that I recall being cancelled due to the impending storm, I thought that the most ridiculous thing was Amtrak suspending service to our region two days ago.

Here's why hurricanes are easier to deal with than other natural disasters:  We have the storms tracked and examined in excruciating detail for days and days before they get here.  In other parts of the country, the events of tornadoes, wild fires, earth quakes, flash floods, etc... come with little or no warning.   There's really no excuse for not being able to get out of the way of a hurricane these days.


I have been having some neck and shoulder pain this week and started taking the generic form of Aleve (Naproxen) about two days ago.  Almost at once, I started feeling like I had swollen ankles, so now, I've done some research on the side effects and find that fluid retention is listed.  Well, I guess I won't be taking anymore of that pain reliever.  Also, it didn't really seem to offer me much pain relief.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Small Beginnings

I had a very favorable interview today for a seasonal job that may last until Thanksgiving.  So, why is it that it didn't give me a sense of relief or make me feel any happier?  Even though I really need a full-time income again to try and recover from the financial losses that I've been through in the past year, I will look at this as a small "step of faith" that things are beginning to move in the right direction.

A dear friend of mine emailed me tonight with some words of encouragement.  He has been out of work longer than I have and, I believe, everyone should be so fortunate to have such a friend.  I have been able to rely on him as a ear to listen to my woes and as a shoulder to lean on and as a voice on the other end of the phone when I don't know who else to call.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

September at last!

This summer seems like it will never end.  And, the older that I get, the more I hate the heat and humidity that come with the summer months.  When you get in your car and it just takes your breath away because it's so darned Hot inside.  When you open the front door in the morning and it feels like someone just threw a wet washcloth in your face.  Yes, I long for the cooler months that are coming... when you can put on a jacket when you go out, when you can turn off the A/C and save on the electric bill, when you can actually spend some time sitting out in the backyard listening to the birds.

The big News item today here in VA is the impending hurricane.  The current forecast has Earl right off of our coast by Friday at 8:00 am.  When I used to live in Va. Beach, the things that would fly off of the shelves of the stores in the wake of a hurricane were: bottled water, bread, beer, chips, batteries and potted meat.  Almost the same menu at Superbowl time, minus the water and batteries.  They used to tell us to tape up the insides of windows, like making a big "X" with duct tape.  This was probably just a campaign to try and sell more duct tape.  It doesn't offer any true protection and it's hard to get cleaned off if you let it stay on for too long.  The theory was, that if a tree came crashing through the window, the duct tape would minimize the shattering of the glass. 

Hopefully, we won't have any damage from this storm. 

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


I woke up today with a headache.

Throughout the day, I still managed to have some level of headache and that is unusual for me.  I even ended up at Walgreen's staring at the expansive shelf of 100's of pain medications and wondering why we have so many choices for trying to eliminate Pain.   It's good to have choices, but I was really kind of overwhelmed at the task of choosing something.  You know the commercial for the Dr. Scholls brand orthotics?  Well, the customer steps up onto the platform and the correct fit for his particular foot problem is immediately selected for him.  That was what I wanted today - for someone or something to listen to my list of complaints and then present me with the ideal pharmaceutical.  I guess that's too much to ask.

On another note, I can't seem to find a shampoo right now that doesn't leave my scalp feeling itchy later on.  I've tried an expensive shampoo, cheap shampoo, herbal, medicated... too many.  I make sure that I  thoroughly rinse with cool water, but still seem to end up scratching later.   Maybe, I should have asked the pharmacist for his/her opinion.


I met one of my neighbors this afternoon.  Her name is Nellie and she is about 85 y.o.  I was coming home with groceries and saw her bringing out her garbage can to the curb.  I saw that she walked with a cane, so I asked if I could take the garbage can from her all the way down to the street.  She was very thankful and I introduced myself and we talked for a few minutes.  She's been living there for 21 years she said.  I've only been on this street for six months.  She seemed to enjoy doling out some gossip on a few of the others on our street.  She pointed with her cane and told me that the painted brick house across the street was owned by a gynecologist and he had a young girlfriend living with him.  I got the distinct impression that this is a sordid affair - the girl being half his age.  Then, some mention of a slumlord owning the house next to hers.  Another story for another day.  I suddenly realized that I had melting ice cream and perishables needing to get inside into refrigeration so I made my excuse to leave.
I do like this neighborhood.  Everyone that I have met so far seems very friendly.  We can hear train whistles as they come through the city and that is something new to me.  There is a church close by that tolls the hours from 7:00 am until, maybe, 8:00 pm and it adds a certain charm.  I look forward to the cool nights this fall when we can have some windows open and listen to the night noises.

Monday, August 30, 2010


Well, tomorrow's the last day of August.  I can't believe that Labor Day is just one week away.

I got a call back today from a job application that I made over a month ago.  I'm pretty excited that this may be something with promise.  I made an appointment to go in for an interview on Thursday morning.  At this point, I have been out of work for 60 weeks, have applied for approximately 193 jobs so far and mailed out untold numbers of resumes.  It's too bad that postage and supplies are not tax deductible as a job hunting expense.  They're not, are they?

It's really hard to remain positive about any job prospects when you keep hearing the dismal news of the Economy and the stock market.  Oddly, people are still able to buy new cars and July has showed strong sales figures in that sector.  Practically everyone that I know is too afraid of taking on any new car payments, which would also mean much higher insurance premiums and higher personal property taxes.

I live in VA and here's a couple of added expenses for buying a new car:  $25,000 car - add $750 for (3%) sales tax and $1,062 for personal property taxes. (4.25% per each $100 assessed value)  The city that I live in also has the personal property tax due date of December 5th, making it just one more thing to check off on your Christmas list.  (Isn't that helpful?)

But, I digress...

I hear we're heading into the peak of the hurricane season here along the Mid-Atlantic coast.  Earl is expected to be here by Thursday night and Fiona is right behind him.  We could, actually, use the rain that usually accompanies a hurricane since it's been such a dry summer.  What we don't need, however, is the damaging winds and flooding.  The last severe hurricane for this area was Isabel in 2003.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Dad's Birthday

Today is my dad's birthday.  He is 74.  Actually, yesterday was the real birth date, but we're celebrating it today because everyone call assemble today.  I am baking some oven-barbecued chicken (that smells delicious) and some butter beans.  My son and I are transporting our offering to my hometown where my older sister is preparing a big lunch and my younger sister is bringing a birthday cake.  It's about a 45-minute drive west from where I live now.  I sent my daughter a reminder text message last night before I went to bed, but I haven't gotten a reply yet.

I always have grand plans in my head, but they almost never get realized.  There's usually some time constraint or it's a money issue or just the simple logistics of getting everything to come together just doesn't meet my expectations.

My dad is a Railway Enthusiast (he loves trains) and I found a new 2011 calendar that just came off of the press this week for The Virginian Railway.  I got him a copy and I know that's going to be a good surprise.  I also bought a picture frame and printed out a train picture that I found and edited in Adobe Photoshop to bring out some extra details and I framed it last night before I went to bed.  You know, it's hard to get people gifts that have real meaning and not just to satisfy the requirement of getting them something.   

Well, I'd better jump in the shower and get shaved and dressed so we can get this show on the road.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


You know, bacon makes almost everything taste better.  I just had a chicken salad sandwich and I put a slice of bacon on it and it was perfect.   

I watched Paula Deen on some cooking show once and she took two Krispy Kreme doughnuts, used them as buns and put a fried egg and bacon over a hamburger patty.  It sounds like an invitation to a heart bypass, but I am tempted to try it some day.  I'm not a fan of fried eggs, but I could improvise a bit.

Can't really think of anything else to top that. 

Frustrating Friday

I tried to get some things accomplished today and wasn't so successful.

My son had to be un-enrolled from one high school so that he can be enrolled in another one on the other side of town.  We actually live closer to the old one, but moved into town back in February and crossed the line into another district.  (We got a waiver to finish last year's term at the old school.)  Any rate -- in an era of wire transfers, emails, paying bills online, e-commerce, even fax machines and the good ole school system still requires you to come in person to conduct business.  And, they like leaving early on Fridays during the summer!  The lights were being turned off at 3:00 pm and I had to make my way through a dark office to get back to the main hallway from the guidance office.  Well, half of the task is done and I'll have to go to the new school on Monday to enroll my son.

My other un-accomplishment today was to go to the Unemployment Office and resolve the matter of benefits that haven't been paid for the last three months.  After seeing two different people and waiting in two different waiting rooms, I was finally told that I had to call Richmond to have it resolved.  I was finally given a sticky note with a "direct-line" 800 number to the appeals department, but when I came home and called the number, I was told I had to submit a letter requesting an appeal with my SS# and signature on it.

Oh, by the way...
Shopping for health insurance is almost as much fun as getting a root canal.

When I do business online, I want to be contacted by email.  I think that is only fair, don't you?  Well, when you are shopping for insurance quotes and you put your information into the "required" fields and submit it, you almost instantaneously begin to get a flurry of phone calls from all over the country from brokers trying to get you to buy their insurance package.  The commissions must be really something because these folks are like sharks around a chum bucket. 
I called my current health insurance provider (Optima) this week to ask how much my current policy would cost me without the COBRA benefits that expires in a few days.  I've been paying $130 per month for the last year since getting laid off.  Well, Shana informed me it would cost me $700 per month  and I almost had to laugh I was so shocked.  I've had this same HMO plan for 13 years and never knew it was such a "Cadillac" plan as I was to find out.  After some shopping around, I think that I can get something affordable that is enough for what I need. 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thank God it's Thursday

I'll try and be a little more upbeat for the rest of the week. 

Only four months until Christmas!  Last year, I didn't even have Christmas (at my house) because I was packing everything up to move out of a house for which I could not longer afford to make payments.  It wasn't until February that we got it all moved, but everything was turned upside-down and I was very depressed about my state of affairs.  This year will be different.  It has to be.  It may not be as grand as it was in previous years, but I think we can pull something together that will be enjoyable.

Everywhere in the news lately, I read and hear about people learning to do with less.  One new statistic is that credit card balances have been cut dramatically and Americans are putting away more savings.  Not good for retailers, but it seems that the majority of everyday people are much more careful with their spending right now.  Even though I feel that I am living with a "bare-bones" budget of my own, I could find ways to cut out a little more.   High speed internet is my only luxury right now.

Did anyone read about the huge traffic jam in China this week?  On Monday, I read that it was 60 miles ling and people had been stuck for over a week on this particular stretch of highway.  Residents nearby were helping to feed motorists and probably provide restroom facilities, I imagine.  Authorities were saying that it was going to take several more days to get everyone moving again and then, late last night, I find out that some reporters went looking for the jam and it mysteriously has gone.  The traffic was moving along with out any major incidents.  Pretty strange, Huh? 

Also, in the news, there's this mammoth iceberg coming from the Arctic that's four times the size of Manhattan and its thickness spot is estimated to be more than half the height of the Empire State Building.  It's the largest single piece recorded in 50 years.  Some comment was made that if all of that frozen water melts quickly we'll see the ocean level rise noticeably.  Anyone ever left a glass of ice water full of ice cubes sitting out as an experiment?  Well, that glass of water doesn't overflow the glass as the ice cubes melt in the glass, does it?  

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


I can't believe that I missed checking in yesterday.  I had a eye appointment about 20 miles away and was running late getting there.  I had never been to this particular office, having been referred to an opthamologist  by my regular doctor a few weeks ago.  Nearly there, I got stuck behind some car that was creeping along in the same direction I was.   Try as I may, I could not get past that car in traffic.  By the time I found a parking space and got into the building and found the office suite inside, who should I see in the waiting room but the slow-poking woman from the Toyota Camry.  I couldn't believe that she had gotten there before me.
I was there for over two-hours and got a very thorough exam and everything's fine.  Fortunately, it was rainy and overcast outside at 5:00 pm driving home, because my pupils were dilated and I had to squint all the way home.  I usually have a pair of sunglasses in my car and the nurse asked me on the way out if I had some.  Turns out, they weren't with me, but it didn't matter due to the clouds.   Even by bedtime, my pupils were still like saucers and it had been 6-7 hours since those drops.


We have a issue with my daughter's college financial aid this semester.  She graduated with an A.S. from community college in May and six weeks ago began at The Art Institute of Va. Beach.  It took several trips to visit with the admissions office, but agreed with a financial plan and we both signed.  She will have her Bachelor's degree in 35 months if she keeps to this schedule.  There was a little remaining balance each month after grants and a guaranteed student loan and other extras that left about $198 due, which my daughter thought she could handle.  Unfortunately, the school has sent an email informing us that they corrected our FAFSA and now her payment will be $248 per month.
First of all, they shouldn't have the authority to change my FAFSA.  That's something that is dependent on my 2009 tax return and is password protected.  Parents and students have their own password.
Secondly, this is a "for-profit" institution and I feel that they just gave themselves an extra $1,750 over the 35-month period.  You do the math: 50 x 35. 
Here's my analogy:  If I agreed to terms to by a car for 35 payments and signed the papers and drove off the lot and six weeks later the dealership called or emailed me and said: "You now owe an extra $50 per month on your car payment."  I would say: "Here are the keys, I'm returning the car ... No deal."  We wouldn't have signed the papers with $248 because she can't afford that much.

Am I wrong in feeling like there has been a breach of contract here or a voiding of the contract?
I left a message this morning and called again this afternoon and got no reply.
Next step may be to talk with an attorney and see what rights we might have.

I'd like to hear some response.

Monday, August 23, 2010


I have to go to a doctor's appointment tomorrow with an ophthalmologist because when I went to my regular eye exam a couple of weeks ago, the doctor wanted me to get a second opinion.  When I was supposed to look at a piece of graph paper and describe the vertical and horizontal lines, I saw double lines with my right eye on the vertical lines.  Hopefully, everything's all right.  I've always had many "floaters" in my eyes and, other than that, I see fine.  My health insurance runs out at the end of this month and I need to decide soon what I'm going to do to replace it with.  I hear a lot about Health Savings Accounts (HSA) and I'm looking into something like that to see if it's more cost effective.


My mailman just came by and dropped off today's mail.  This is the first place that I have ever lived that has a mail slot in the front door instead of having a mailbox.  I wonder: Is it too much to ask that the letter carrier get the mail inside the door without it being all balled up?  Two items today and they are both all crumpled up.  I know that it's a thankless job, but they're certainly paid well enough for it. Sometimes, the flap stays open and hot, humid air comes in from outside.  In the winter, cold air comes in and makes the foyer chilly.  When I first moved here, back in February, the mail always got here by noon, almost like clockwork.  Now, I can never predict when he'll get here and he has come by sometimes as late as 6:00 pm.


Oh, by the way.  In the current events/US news today, we hear about the recreation over the weekend of the Vacationer-In-Chief and his family and their expansive entourage to Martha's Vineyard.  This is number 6 for his vacations this year in a climate where most Americans are too worried about other more pressing things like: How can I keep from losing my home, How can I secure a new job, How can I afford to send my kids to college this fall, etc... than where they can go to have fun while on the government's payroll.  I can't help but think of the French Revolution: "Years of feudal oppression and fiscal mismanagement led to a revolt."  Well, we've had about 18 months of feudal-type oppression so far from the Supreme Leader and the Left and the fiscal mismanagement by the Congress is such that my great-grandchildren will still be trying to pay off the Trillions that we currently owe to the Chinese.  

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sunday Musings

I am sitting here listening to music by Jim Brickman, one of my favorite contemporary artists.  In my opinion, most of his works are very extemporaneous -- almost like he sits down at the piano and just lets his emotions come out through his fingers on the keyboard.  There's not very much that's technically challenging about it, but it resonates with me.
I first came upon his works years ago, after my marriage's separation and I was feeling very alone and adrift.  Well, twelve years or so later, I can still count on being dragged out of the dumps when I listen to one of his cds.   I believe I have everything that he's recorded.


I talked with my daughter on the telephone this morning.  She called to ask me how I used to make my famous biscuits that she loves.  Not only did I begin with the printed recipe on the box of Bisquik mix, but I usually added some wheat germ, maybe some applesauce, a dash of salt, some plain yogurt if I had any and a lot of Love.  This is about the only thing my kids have ever asked me to make for them.  Usually, on a Sunday I'd get: "Dad, can you make us some biscuits?"  My signature is to use the last bit of dough left over after cutting out the circles and making a unique twisted thing to put in the middle of the circle.  I hope that her's today are as good as she remembers them being.


My son was eligible to get his learner's permit to drive back in March and now it's almost six months later and he still doesn't seem interested.  It's really hard for me to understand -- I got my license on my sixteenth birthday and a lot of friends I knew did also.  Having your driver's license means "freedom" doesn't it?  It's a rite of passage of sorts and in an area that doesn't have dependable mass transit, it's a necessity to have a car.  (We live almost 30 miles from the nearest mall or movie theatre.)
What's different about this generation that mine, I wonder.  When I was sixteen, I wanted to be able to ask permission to take the family car to run errands and I proved myself to be a responsible driver.

Is it, perhaps, that young people today have already experienced so much more "grown-up" type things by the time they get to be teenagers that they are less likely to want the responsibility of being a driver.
There's also the fact that my son has been riding around with his sister for four years and complains about her bad driving habits.  They were in a pretty bad accident about 18 months ago that was her fault.  (No injuries, just property damage.)  It totaled my beautiful Mercury Sable and caused my insurance rates to double.  I'll have to ask my son if he has worries because of being afraid -- a kind of PTSD.  If he was still going to see his counselor, we could ask her to delve into that area.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Slept Late

Man.  I couldn't believe that I slept so late this morning.  It was almost 10:00 am when I finally got up.  I had been up earlier to feed my cat and take BP medicine and go use the bathroom.  Lately, I've been staying up till midnight and I used to go to bed by 10:00 pm. 

I recently got a 4" thick memory foam mattress topper for my bed and it has made it more comfortable, but not perfect.  What I really need is a new mattress set with a real box spring unit and not the cheap foundation that doesn't have any give to it.  When I finally get a new job, the first thing I'm going to buy is a new mattress set.  I've been looking at The Original Mattress Company.

I have about 8-9 pillows on my bed and each one has it's purpose.  There's one for between my knees to support my lower back, there's neck pillow, one for my cat to sleep on, one for my feet to keep them separated, a few behind my back as I sleep on my left side.  I clutch a "huggie" pillow, but I have to make sure that my right shoulder is relaxed to keep from waking up with a sore shoulder.  Also, I sometimes wake up in the night with a sweaty pillow from my neck and head sweat and I rotate to a dry cooler one so I can fall back asleep.

I have been using an air mattress for several years and loved it, but little pricks from my cat's claws have been causing me to have air leaks.  Repair and re-inflate as I tried, but I was waking up all flat after being just fine when I fell asleep.  I couldn't find all of the holes.  If I had the money, I'd like to try a Sleep Number bed to see if it's all it's advertised to be.   

Friday, August 20, 2010

Benefits of Drinking H2O

Drinking water at the correct time maximizes its effectiveness on the Human body:

2 glasses of water after waking up helps activate your internal organs.

1 glass of water 30 minutes before a meal - helps digestion (and makes you feel fuller)

1 glass of water before taking a bath - helps lower blood pressure

1 glass of water before going to bed - helps avoid stroke or heart attack


I made myself a Sloppy Joe for lunch today.  I can't remember the last time I'd had one, but it was good.  What I do remember is the first time I ever had one. 

Back, when I was in college, I went with three friends up to New Jersey for a weekend in the snow.  (It was the first time I'd ever been to NJ as well.)  My friend René drove us in her Ford Mustang up the Eastern Shore (Delmarva peninsula) and we stayed at her parents house in Burlington County, NJ.  The next day, her sister had the four of us over for lunch with her family and served us Sloppy Joe sandwiches.  I was hooked.  Who knows why I'd never eaten one before.  Later that day, we went tobogganing down some hill that was close by. 

On the trip back to Norfolk, we unfortunately experienced car trouble and had to spend the night in a flea-bag motel in Salisbury, Md. and missed classes that Monday while the car was being repaired.

My second-only visit to New Jersey was a business trip in 1996.  I was working for a printing company and we got a new scanner so I was sent to Patterson, NJ for a week of training.  (Unheard of these days with video conferencing and online tutorials.)  I stayed at the Fairfield Ramada Inn and enjoyed taking in some nearby sights when I had some spare time.  I went shopping at the big mall in Paramus.  Back then they claimed it was the largest shopping mall on the East Coast.  I drove into NYC one afternoon through the Lincoln Tunnel and came back late that night.  That was quite an experience for me.  I went to the top of the Empire State Bldg and, looking back now, wish I'd gone to visit the WTC.  I tried a lot of good food like at Harold's New York Deli where the corned beef sandwiches were piled so high they could feed two people.  (Wendy F. knows what I'm tawkin about.)

Enough about food.  I'm so full just thinking about it.

TV shows

Here's my current list of TV shows I like to watch:
Fox -- Glee, House, Bones, Family Guy
NBC -- The Office, Parks & Recreation, Community, 30 Rock
ABC -- The Middle, Modern Family, Wipeout, Cougar Town
CBS -- The Good Wife, The Mentalist, Big BANG Theory
PBS -- History Detectives, Antiques Roadshow, This Old House and Masterpiece Mystery

Wal Mart Check-out

I went to Wal Mart for a few things this afternoon and today's trip reinforces my dislike for the place.
It's really not too much to ask that there be enough check-out lines open when you want to leave the store.  They have more than 24 check-out spaces, but only about 4-6 are open at any given time.  Farm Fresh used to have a guarantee that if there were more than two customers waiting ahead of you in a particular line, they'd open up another one.  (I think that was how it went.)  I wish that WM would get the hint and keep their customers from having to wait for so long to be able to leave. 

Is it a plan to forcibly keep people in the store?

Where I currently live, we don't have all that much of a choice when it comes to shopping.  There's Food Lion (3 different locations), Farm Fresh, and Wal Mart.  Also, there are lesser stores like: Dollar General, Family Dollar, Dollar Tree and Fresh Pride.  If you want to drive 20 miles or so, there's Harris Teeter and Chesapeake Square Mall.  Also, the people that come up from N.C. call the shopping carts "buggies" and I absolutely hate that.

This concept of not having enough check-out registers open must be common WM practice.  I remember back a few years ago when I lived in Kempsville, I had gone to shop at the WM at the intersection of Princess Anne Rd at Lynnhaven Parkway.  It was late at night and I was tired.  If I recall, it was close to the Christmas holidays.  Anyway, I was in the check-out line with a cart full of things and it was taking forever.  After waiting, by my estimate to have been over 40 minutes, I just couldn't take it anymore and walked out and left the full cart sitting there. 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Cat throw up

I was in the shower earlier today when I heard the sound of my cat, Leo, throwing up.  For some reason, Siamese cats are predisposed to up-chucking, I believe, more than some other breeds of cats.  I've read about it, but I can't remember right now.  It's like Dachshunds and back problems.  I look at it as having a child with Special Needs.
Well, as I stood there showering and wondering what was going on with Leo, I thought: Is it too much to ask that he doesn't make a big mess on the carpet?  As it turns out, he got it all on an area rug just inside the bathroom door and I can just throw that in the washer.  (After all the chunks were disposed of.)
I'll do some more research on the cat symptoms and share them later.

State Bird

Where have all of the Cardinals gone?  In looking at the state birds of the US, I see that 7 states out of 50 chose the Cardinal, but you don't see them very often, do you?


We've had a lot of rain and thunder storms in the past two days.  After months of near-drought conditions, it's almost foreign to us to have rain running down the gutters and down the streets.  It's a very welcomed sight, but for the local farmers, it may be too late for their crops.

I watched a couple of squirrels in the Ginko tree outside and they seemed to be really enjoying themselves as they played in the rain.  Just a dew weeks ago, I found a young squirrel lying on the front porch, prostrate in the heat.  I almost thought he was dead when I opened the door.  I put out some cool water in a little dish and I saw him on two occasions drinking something.  I'm glad that I was able to quench at least one little thirst.

Well, I didn't get any grass mowed yesterday due to the rain.

I've heard that this summer is breaking heat records everywhere and is going to be in the record books.
According to the facts I've found: Virginia record 1954 - 110 degrees F.  I don't think we got that high this year.  Looking at the US records, 1934-1936 had the most high-temp recordings. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


I found out last night that my toilet is leaking.  I was thinking that I was having higher than average water bills -- higher than I had anticipated.  Guess I'll be going to Lowe's today to get a repair kit.  Rather than call the landlord, I can just do it for about $10.

Also, I just got a replacement lawnmower this week to replace the one stolen from my backyard this summer.  I bought this one Monday after answering an ad on craigslist.  I tried it out before I paid for it and it looks almost like new.  If it doesn't rain today, I'll give it a try.  You know, it's been so dry this year that I got away with not trimming for the entire month of July.

It really bugged me that someone would come right up to my back door and take the other lawnmower while I was away at jury duty that Monday.  I opened the door to go out with a bag of garbage and there was this empty place and I just stood there and stared at it for a few minutes.   
Is it too much to ask: Do I have to chain everything down out there to keep it safe from robbers.

In my old neighborhood, I never thought twice about anything being stolen from my property.  My storage shed was never locked for over 5 years and nothing was ever taken.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Political Rant

With the up-coming elections only 78 days away --
Is it too much to ask that our elected officials be required to both Read and Understand what is in a Bill [before Congress] before they cast their vote on it?  I think Not.
I would like to propose some kind of enforceable accountability as part of the oath that these politicians swear to when they take office.  What about transparency in government.  What's up with that? 
I say: No earmarks, no vote-buying, and no voting for something in order to find out what's in it.

Also, we need term limits.  If our president can only serve two terms, then law-makers should only get two terms, in my opinion.  Our founding fathers had no earthy concept of anyone wanting to or willing to sit in Washington for 40 to 50 years on the government payroll. 

Don't get me started on Lobbyists and that whole debacle.

Everyone needs to Vote on November 2nd. 


When you send someone you know an email, a friendly letter, or a greeting card, or even a message on a social networking site -- is it too much to ask that they respond to you in some way?
I keep asking myself and I still don't have a good answer.

I've been told by some that most people are really busy with work, family, hobbies, et al.  Well, just because I have some time on my hands during the day, does that mean that I am not entitled to some reciprocity from my contacts?  Do I need to lower my expectations?

Hopefully, as I try to put some feelings into words here, I can achieve a better understanding of how I can be a better friend and fellow citizen.