Sunday, February 28, 2010

Not political, but...

Just found this photo in personal archives. Taken on 9/21/2008. In case any of the Obama-blamers in town (or out-of town) can't recall, that's prior to the 2008 election. Sometimes it is really important for everyone to remember what the world was like during the eight years that the Repos were in office...just so we don't do it again. Yeah, it would help if the Demos weren't so spineless...however- does anyone with a brain want to go back to a Republican majority? We should never, ever forget what it was like, so we don't do it again- and we don't allow a frightened, uneducated, lazy minority of voters from the bible belt to decide for us

You can say whatever you want about me being a crazy,ranting, middle aged white woman... but while you're here, look! Here's a picture of my cat!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Make Congressional Republicans give up their government-run health care...

One of the things I really appreciate about this little town is the way that people tend to get along well, despite their differences. Some of the nicest folks I've met have political statements emblazoned across the sides of their quad-cab, 4WD pick-up trucks that make me want to vomit through the open window on to the generous front seat of the aforementioned vehicle. Except that the person driving the truck, advertising the ignorant, homophobic, xenophobic, selfish, disingenuous attitude seems like a really decent human being. I don't get it.
I didn't get it yesterday, watching the Health Care Summit from Blair House. I mostly listened, without actually looking at the CNN screen; and without looking at the captions, it was ever-so-easy to tell the Repos. They sounded smirky, smarmy, and supremely selfish and dishonest.(claiming the American people are wholly against the health care proposal...but failing to mention that when read the provisions it covers, the majority of Americans support it!) But then, with the exception of President Obama, a whole bunch of Demos sounded like wienies. I'm so sick of the whole mess I wish we could find some kind of Constitutional provision that would allow for taking health coverage away from every member of the House and Senate (and their families, to add some real pressure) until they can sit down and work this out. It's difficult and complicated. So is being an American. Those tea-bagging idiots who march around with misspelled signage should be strongly encouraged to spend as much time actually reading the Constitution and attempting to understand it as they do flapping their lips and scrawling angry messages on pieces of cardboard. I understand their anger- but what I don't understand, and find intolerable is where they direct their anger. Where was this anger during the eight years that the Bush administration worked quietly to weaken regulations? Dick Cheney, who can't seem to keep his mouth shut now, certainly found it necessary to keep energy policy mum...nary a word escaped his loose lips when he actually had an opportunity to serve the American people. Digression...back to health care; I keep hearing this anger about 'government run health care' and fear about the 'government' making health care decisions. What I want is for one of these opposition Repo brain trusts to explain to me like I'm a six year old..."How is government-run health care going to be worse for me than a for-profit company that makes decisions for me? Here's my reality: Both my husband and I receive our health care through government run entities. It wasn't always this way. I used to have private health insurance, provided from a major for-profit company. It went from a cost of $700.00 per month to $1657.00 per month for a family of four- over the course of five years. In addition, they placed increasing restrictions on what procedures I could receive, the deductible I would pay, when I could have procedures done, and where I could have treatment. It was impossible to speak with a human being, unless, of course it was about a payment that was due. When they dropped my coverage, (because I actually needed it) they didn't bother to send a notification. I found out when I went to pick up a prescription and it wasn't covered. Fast forward to 2010. Since we moved, since I signed up for the dreaded 'government run' health coverage, my costs have been reasonable, the care I receive has been superior, and the system has been amazingly efficient. (FYI: Medicare runs with administrative costs of approx. 2-3%. The last report I read, Aetna came in at 22%) My husband gets his medical through the VA- another example of personal experience running counter to public opinion. We'd always heard that care through the VA would be inferior to what we would receive privately. The reality we've experienced is the exact opposite. The VA facility in Grand Junction CO could be held as an example of how to do things- if you want a system that runs efficiently, treats patients kindly, with respect, and most of all, addresses their needs.
Over the past 15 years, all the time we had private insurance (that we paid dearly for) it became glaringly apparent that the quality of the medical care we'd been receiving was slipping badly. Through no fault of their own, our doctors were spending less time gathering information, being less attentive, prescribing more medication, rushing through office visits. At the same time the costs to patients are rising out of control, insurance company profits and pharmaceutical company profits continue to rise. No reasonable person is against profits- but this is so out of proportion it's insanity. The Repos would have you believe that most people who have no health insurance have chosen not to be covered. Seriously? How stupid to they think we are? Wait, let me read some of those protest signs about offing Grandma again. Yeah, pretty stupid. If the tea-baggers want to be pissed at the government, they should be pissed at the past administrations (both Demos & Repos) who refused to regulate, hold people accountable, and make some tough decisions. We see what happens when you leave corporations to their own devices. It's why we are where we are. But right now, I just want the Demos to grow a pair, stand up to the old white men who only know no, and start acting like Demos. I want the Republicans to remove the insurance lobbyist's lips from their big white asses, and put their money where their big fat negative self-serving mouths are. If they are so against government run health care, they should give theirs up. Shut up, stop being hypocrites, and stop using government run health care if you are going to bad mouth it. And if you're that nice guy in town with all the anti Obama crap all over your truck, I'm the one who yakked on your front seat.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Uh-oh, it's stupid calling...

Years ago, I did a brief stint working for a cosmetic company. I won't mention any names, but they wear white lab coats and promote a fresh, well-groomed, flawless appearance. (at that time, they never allowed us to wear fragrance, except for the one and only that they manufactured, which drove me crazy and had me in perpetual hot water with my district manager) I digress... It was 1989, after the 7.1 Loma Prieta quake in CA that made me question my priorities; my job, my judgement in general. I decided to quit a full-time job at an advertising agency where, like everyone else who does the heavy lifting at an ad agency, I was overworked and underpaid- so I could spend more time with my kids. Never mind that they weren't wild about the idea of spending more time with me...that's a story for another day. I still needed to work, but I wanted to do something 'fun'. I wanted to work a few hours a day instead spending 60 hour weeks bitching at vendors and putting up with anal retentive art directors. I wanted to be home to prepare a decent meal. I wanted to have time to pee more than once a day. The day after the earthquake, when the agency principal thought he'd still be traveling from the East Bay to SF for a client meeting, in spite of the fact that the Bay Bridge had collapsed (how do you even function when you're so disconnected from reality?)
I realized that I could have died in that confining office, as the windows were breaking and things were flying off the shelves, so I quietly gave notice. Following a whim, I took a position as a part time rep for a well-known cosmetic company, and became the shallowest human being on planet earth. I liked it. It was fun, except that the other women who worked there were mercilessly critical when it came to each other's appearance. Standard greetings sounded something like this... "Hey, you need lips! Jesus Christ, who did your eyebrows, the dog? What the hell is going on with your upper lip? It's wax time. Wax time. Wax time!" It was relentless. And to add to my misery, a lot of my coworkers were incapable of carrying on a conversation that didn't center around whose husband they had just done, what dress they'd just charged, or what drug they were about to consume. Mention a current event and be rewarded with a look you'd expect from someone just out of electroshock treatment. Bring up a topic other than fashion, and you'd get the cold shoulder, then a harsh reminder that your eyeliner needed refreshing.
But, the products were cool, most of the customers were delightful, and it was absolutely the type of work where no one would ever call you at home with problems. (Oh, you have to come in right away, I can't seem to get the shade right on this eyeshadow...the budget and deadline are completely going to shit, and the client is going to pull everything if I don't get my eye make up corrected... not going to happen.) So, I cruised on happily for a few months, until one day, when in a hurry to get to the BART Station, I slipped on an icy patch (yes, there is ice in California...sometimes) and went down; face-first on the sidewalk. My friends will tell you I am not the most coordinated person. They'll be gracious and find other nice things to say about me, but they'll tell you I'm mostly a klutz. I have permanent scars on both knees from years of repeated tripping and falling over nothing more than suggestions. So, when I landed hard on my FACE, it wasn't pretty. I skinned my face, which wouldn't have been such an awful thing, except that my job was promoting make-up, and the marvelous things it could do for a person. I ended up with big ugly scrapes; but soldiering on, showed up at the better department store where I'd been assigned, only to be told that I couldn't work until my face healed up. So...for a week and a half, I didn't call in sick, I called in 'ugly'. (Their words, not mine)I should explain that I'm not exactly a great beauty to begin with... OK-looking, on good days, attractive, but this job was at a time in my life when I was much younger, and hell, who doesn't look great when they're in their 30's? The bandages I sported on one cheek and across my chin did not enhance my features. I totally understand why I was sent home. In a world where all energy focuses on achieving perfection, facial wounds are not a look to strive for.
Even going to the grocery store or riding BART, I was aware of averted eyes. It was pretty awful, and to make things worse, it really hurt. At least all the other times I'd fallen down and scraped the skin off various body parts, I could cover up the disaster with clothing. I'd pretty much forgotten about this, until last week. We had a couple of snow storms, which made everything look fresh, and flawless, and every one's yards look sort of well-groomed.
My world was covered in a pristine sparkling white as clean as my 1989 lab coat. I like that part of snow. The part I don't like is the sneaky part. The part that fools you.(and talks about you behind your back) The part that looks all dry and fluffy on top, but is thinly masking icy nastiness underneath. I discovered that part when I literally stepped in it. Carrying an open can of Friskies Sea Captains Choice (why is it the favorite of stray cats everywhere is the one with the most horrific aroma?) I sunk through the snow to the slick ice below, my feet slipped out from under me, and I ended up on my face. Once again. This time my socks were full of snow (no, I didn't bother to put my boots on, thank you) and my hair was full of cat food. I have to admit, this face-landing wasn't as traumatic as my California face-landing, as that one was on concrete. This was on snow. Also, the face I landed on is 21 years older, and I am no longer relying on it to help me earn a living. Plus, the folks around here are hardly a superficial lot- I'll bet I could walk into City Market or the Post Office, or even Ace Hardware with Band-Aids all over my face and people wouldn't look twice. They'd probably just think it was an unfortunate incident with a horse. Or cow. Or maybe a goat. But this time, I'll be calling in 'Stupid' for going out without my boots.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The stuff that gets stolen...

Besides reading classified ads, my other favorite pass time is the 'police blotter' sections of small-town papers. Back in the suburbs in NoCal, it rarely made for interesting reading. When we lived in Walnut Creek, it was all about 'stuff' that was stolen; when we moved to Pittsburg, there were the all-too-frequent reports of violence. This part is nothing to joke about. There was some bad stuff happening- shooting, stabbing, people beating the crap out of each other with furniture. (I'm not making this up, a while back there was an incident where two family members got into a disagreement during dinner, which escalated into a brawl in the street, where, before they could be pulled apart, they beat each other senseless with dining room chairs.) Although I was never personally affected more than having to drive around a detour of what we used to affectionately call 'police activity'. (we would run into 5 or 6 patrol cars parked in a chevron pattern in the middle of the street to block traffic while they chased the bad guys on foot) This would always set me to whining because it meant waiting an extra 15 minutes just to get to the freeway entrance, (sometimes just 100 yards ahead) where once on the freeway, I could sit for an extra hour waiting for more police vehicles to get by, when I just wanted to get to a destination a mere 9 miles away. Other people's violent behavior = more sitting in traffic. So insensitive! See, that's the kind of attitude that will keep me from ever being allowed back in California. Having been removed from this for a little over a year, I feel - well, removed from it. I decided to do a completely nonscientific survey and compare the police notes from my old newspaper to some I'd gleaned from the Delta County Independent. Just looking at the stuff that gets stolen, in Walnut Creek, CA in one week there were reports of: a camera stolen from a vehicle, a purse stolen from an unlocked vehicle, 2 laptops stolen from 2 different vehicles overnight, another purse stolen from a locked vehicle overnight, a wallet, an iPod, and a navigation system - all taken from different vehicles in different locations, at different times of the day. There was also a business theft; the report of some perfume products being stolen from a downtown retail establishment.

Let's take a look at Delta County... there were reports of a bottle containing some pills being stolen from an unlocked vehicle, some firewood being stolen from the back of a truck; a woman reported that a mirror, a television and her father's ashes had been stolen from her home (but the rest of the story is that they had been stolen by her sister.) Dipsticks were stolen from 2 tractors; and a trailer axle and a sluice box were also reported stolen. The business theft reported here involved a gas station reporting counterfeit five dollar bills. (Seriously...fives?)

What kind of self-respecting counterfeiter risks a trip to ClubFed for fives?

Back in CA...the really awful news that made national headlines earlier this week was from Richmond, CA- where 2 men opened fire during a church service Sunday, injuring two worshippers. Thankfully, no one was killed. I'm not sure if they caught the guys or not.

Sadly, I think there's a whole contingent of locals who just aren't that shocked by this one- the area has averaged about one murder per week of 2010, drive-by shootings are all too common; which is what happens when residents live by the 'no snitching' rule.

Yikes, I didn't mean to go there...but can't help but wonder if the same outraged churchgoers are the ones who are raising their kids not to 'snitch' to the cops...

Meanwhile, out on the Mesa...

A Hotchkiss man reported an incident of road rage. He reported the other driver stopped his car, got out, waved his arms and made threats. Another resident called 911 to report he was being harassed by telemarketers. OK, who hasn't been tempted to do that, especially when we just sat down to dinner or a new episode of NCIS just started?

Is there a take-away from this? Thieves get better stuff in California suburbs? People in rural areas call 911 for silly reasons? Delta County is no place for low-budget counterfeiters?
I think it's all relative-
One's thief's perfume is an other's sluice box...

Sunday, February 14, 2010

What's that pole with the three lights for?

I don't think I'll ever be allowed back in the state of California again. It's not like there is anything felonious involved...but it's time to face the music. I no longer possess the driving skills and knowledge necessary to survive in the Golden State. I used to be a 'professional' driver. Most Californians are. We have to be; we spend most of our waking hours sitting in traffic. Seriously; if this wasn't the case, I'd never, ever get to speak to any of my good friends who still reside in CA. They call me while they are spending the obligatory hours behind the wheel each day...and I am happy to get the calls. Sometimes it makes me a little homesick. I hear traffic noise; horns honking, sirens, the occasional shout-out. If it's a long conversation, I can almost smell the exhaust. Now for my reality.
We drove to 'Junction' the other day, and it had been so long since I had to deal with a stoplight, I momentarily forgot what to do. I have also become a stupid pedestrian as well. (push the button...wait for the picture to change) How quickly we forget.

In my defense, I was distracted by the abundance of ridiculous street names in Grand Junction.

What were people thinking when they named F1/2 , D 5/8 , or E 1/4 Road? Come on- you guys couldn't come up with some cowboy sounding names? How about more crap named after rock formations- there's an abundance of inspiration for that. OK, how about just doing what every other city in the US does, and name stuff after old white guys?

Does anyone have any idea how dull and unimaginative this seems to a newcomer? Letters and Numbers...and fractions? Why? It would be easier to remember streets named after body parts, or diseases for that matter. We've kind of gone crazy for pharmaceuticals- why don't we name streets after our favorite medications? Imagine Lyrica Lane, Zetia Circle, Chantix Drive. If you think this is nuts...may I remind of you that we're just trying to do better than Highway 6 and 50. The bar isn't that high. I submit for approval, the Ambien Expressway. For anyone who doesn't think it's feasible, check out this photo.

This is from a traffic cam in Grand Junction. Note the heavy traffic; which someone believed necessitating the need for a traffic cam.
I'm a jaded California driver. (read: Asshat) I know. I'm also not complaining about the lack of traffic, I'm just saying I could totally sleep on this highway.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Let's all go to the drive-thru...

I know, I know...all my incessant whining about the lack of convenient food and alcohol is about to come back to bite me in the ass. First off; a clarification...I am not nearly as obsessed with the procurement of alcohol as I am with the procurement of butter (and desserts in general). That said; I've been complaining to anyone who will listen (the folks at the Post Office, the Credit Union, the local Ace Hardware, and a pretty cool apparel store called Farmer Franks) about the fact that we can't buy alcohol in the grocery store here in Colorado. I guess that isn't that unusual for many states- but in California, it's just weird. You get used to a really good wine selection and specialty liquor, all in one stop. You can pick it up while you're shopping for other necessities; like-butter. Seriously, going to a real liquor store where I come from can be kind of a nasty experience, but it's only because so many people buy their liquor in the grocery store, Costco, or BevMo. If you go to a liquor store in some areas, it's possible you'll run into the unsavory element of panhandlers and juveniles engaged in getting someone over 21 to buy them cheap booze. That's just crap I'd rather avoid. I know folks here in Colorado are all about protecting small businesses, and contend that if grocery stores could sell liquor then it would mean the end of independent liquor stores. I don't know what I think about that, but I can tell you even though a girl can buy Bombay Sapphire at Safeway along with eggs and organic apples, there is still no shortage of liquor stores in California. I'm just sayin'.
I'm not really emotionally invested in the debate- except that I was just told that's why there are no Trader Joe's in the entire state of Colorado. Colorado won't allow the alcohol license; and it's a deal breaker for TJ's. I think that part sucks. I just Google-mapped the closest TJ's and it's in Santa Fe New Mexico. 7 hours and 38 minutes one way. For any Californians out there; this would be like driving from SF to LA for groceries. I really want my Joe's Oh's, and their selection of cheeses, and that canned tuna packed in olive oil- oh yeah, and those soft liquorice bits- and about 108,000 other items, but not enough to drive 7 -1/2 hours to get them. Grrrrr.
The only bright spot in this whole liquor store vs. grocery store debate is a concession the liquor store owners have provided to make up for the fact that you have no choice in patronizing their establishments. Even if you have to make a special trip to an additional store, you don't have to remove your lazy ass from the front seat of your car. Just go to the drive-through. Drive-through liquor stores. Is is just me, or does this seem weird? Maybe it's the whole drinking and driving thing. Maybe it's the "I'm too unmotivated to get out of the car," thing- but something about this rubs me the wrong way. I'm not saying I don't use it...because hey- YOU DON'T HAVE TO GET OUT OF THE CAR! and I'm nothing if not a hypocrite. I'd just like it a lot more if they sold butter & coconut cake at the liquor store, too.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Do only boring people get bored?

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, there just isn't a lot going on. This mostly applies if you don't want to hang out at one of the local watering holes here in Hotchkiss... (BIKERS WELCOME!) (HUNTERS WELCOME!...WE-DON'T-CARE-IF-HUNTING-SEASON-IS-OVER WE'RE-STILL-PUTTING-OUT-THE-BANNER!) Surely one can understand; if a girl doesn't identify with either group, hanging out at a hunter-or-biker bar can be a little disconcerting. Just for the record, the biker bar is a couple of doors down from a quilting shop. I would be just as intimidated if the bar posted a bright orange banner outside reading "QUILTERS WELCOME!" Because honestly, those crafty ladies that always know what to ask for in a fabric store really scare the crap out of me.

I digress...the point I'm trying to make is that when there is nothing I want to do, I fall back on one of my favorite hobbies. Reading classified ads from the local papers. Before you scoff, remember that Letterman has a whole segment dedicated to small town news. People from all over the country send in clippings from their local papers that they find humorous. I'm far too lazy to do that- I just rip the page out of the paper and stuff it into the same file folder as the bills I'm supposed to pay each month. (that could explain some problems I've been having lately...)

Since I didn't want to go a-quilting, or drinking with people who really like to shoot stuff, I thought I'd clean out some files. I found a bunch of newspaper clippings that I can't remember why I saved, but these ads might be the reason...

"WHO TOLD RITA THEY HAD CASINO STUFF? SHE IS 50 AND CAN'T REMEMBER!! CALL SUZI AT 555-0921. THANKS. (isn't it cool that I used a 555 number just like on TV?)

OK, if you didn't think that was funny, how about this one...I'm not making this up....


(you don't think it's that ATF, do you?)

There were also some 'freebie' ads that gave me pause. The best one was a listing for a big ball of string and a disposable cat box- free to the first caller.

I think I figured it out...the folks that post these ads have simply spent way too much time hanging out in bars with those crafty quilting ladies or guys who like to shoot things. While they're on their bikes.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Mama said there would be days like this....

This is going to be brief, because I've got a kind of incapacitated by environmental elements (yea, right) I have little control over, and need to go take a nap.

I just learned 3 things I need to share immediately.

1. If someone warns you about ice on the road, and hazardous conditions...they are not being dramatic- they are trying to warn you about the elements. Pay attention!

2. When you run into a neighbor who wants to chat, and you're standing in the parking lot outside City Market, and it's 28 degrees outside ( this part is important) even if your neighbor is standing there in a sweatshirt with no jacket; stop the conversation, and get the gloves out of your purse, put your hood up or hat on, or walk directly to your car and go home. Seriously, go home! If you stand there in temperatures below freezing, with your nose running and your fingers numb while you're catching up on neighborhood gossip-trust me, NO GOOD WILL COME OF IT!

3. Don't for a moment think that you can drink a couple of shots of Colorado's Own Corn Whiskey and go on to perform any kitchen tasks that involve high heat, or sharp knives. I'm here to tell you, unless you're used to it- like other things I've mentioned, will not have a good outcome.

This is a rather short post...because I have to go warm up, check the front of my car for damage; my extremities for frostbite; and then, most likely, throw up.

Yeah, I'm a rookie. What else is new?