Monday, September 9, 2013

Run For the Wall 2013

Run For the Wall 2013

Central Route

"We Ride for Those Who Cannot"

Remembering those Vietnam veterans yet unaccounted for, whether

 prisoners of war or missing in action. 


Every year hundreds of Vietnam era veterans gather in California to "ride for those who can't".  My brother is one of them.  In recent years more veterans have joined the RFTW ride to Washington DC, veterans of Bosnia, Desert Storm, the Gulf War (Iraq) and lately young vets from the on-going conflict in Afghanistan.

This year RFTW noted that the Vietnam War ended 37 years ago.  This was the 25th year that vets rode in remembrance of war losses.  The POWs and MIAs were their fellow service members, soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen who remain unaccounted for.

I'd listen to my brother's stories about the ride and one year I went up to Westminster Colorado to see him off for his ride.  It wasn't his first year, but it was early enough in his participation that he was joining the ride at their overnight stop in Limon Colorado.

 He now has a long strip of annual participation ribbons on his leather vest to go with his reversed FNG button.  For several years it has been his honor to ride from Rancho Cucamonga California in service to the run as a staging crew member, fuel guy, tail gunner, and this year assistant platoon leader.

I figured it was time to see the Run for the Wall in action. American Legion Post 37 in Holbrook Arizona hosts the Run for lunch on their second day. 

Friend Jim G and I traveled to Holbrook the day before so we would be rested up for the rolling thunder of arriving riders. We bought a burger, fries and a coke (supersized) for my brother and invited ourselves to sit with a family right across from the post in the shade of their tree.  
This was the first time for Jim and really the first time mid-run for me.  We had read up on the RFTW website to get an idea of the whole picture.

David Klemme, USMC (Ret), aka Papa Smurf, shows me his Honda Gold Wing after eating his BK lunch, and we looked through the mass of bikes parked neatly along the curbs, then double parked, then triple parked for TWO blocks.  At this point, Day 2, there are already over 400 participants.
They are waiting in line for chow or already chowing down lunch. Most bikes sport American and POW/MIA flags.  This lead  

bike in the foreground has two flag masts for larger flags.  They are deployed for arrivals, but are not left up when they are unattended.  

Participants are of all ages.
Below are several more pictures that remind me of the feelings of this trip.  I felt proud.  I felt the power of reconciliation.  I felt forgiven and blessed. Riders gave me several gifts, a beaded flag key chain, an RFTW 2013 pin, and a copper penny with a cross stamped from it.


Bikes are of all types.
Many thanks to American Legion Post 37 for their Hospitality!
  










Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Coach Sweetie

"Get down here and Just Do It!!"


x

Monday, April 29, 2013

"Less Salt and More Exercise"

That's what my Nurse Practitioner advised me at my last visit.   What a witch.  Or would that be Nurse Wactitioner?


She's right of course.  But the Ex- word, while not four letter, is indeed an unwelcome word in my vocabulary.

Exer....exerci....exercise.  Yeah, that's the ticket.  

Last Wednesday night a friend and I were talking about health related issues and I spoke my new truth.  I really need to exercise.  I've been urging her to complete a regimen involving 90 reps in 90 days.  (Nothing anonymous here.)  It occurred to me that I could stand 90 reps of exercise in 90 days myself.

Thursday, April 25, I began and so far, so good.  Oh yeah.  Less salt.  I'm sure if I don't improve in 90 days, Nature will gladly refund my misery.  

Creator of all that is good, including me, help me to keep my commitment and resolve.  Thank you!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Pittosporum In Bloom

Yes, Virginia, there is Pittosporum.  And here it is blooming in my garden:


Said to be a pretty boring plant, I choose to keep it anyway.  This was the only 'growing' thing carried forward from before I owned this home.  Sometimes boring can be beautiful.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Let's Hear It for Bisbee Arizona!

Today's Arizona Republic announced that the city council of Bisbee, Arizona has voted to recognize same sex civil unions.  Good for Bisbee in more ways than one!

Tom Horne, our state attorney general, has his ultraconservative panties in a wad along with many other state officials whose places in office seems to hinge on discrimination and bigotry for anyone who isn't white, christian, male, and straight.

I love Bisbee.  As E. J. Montini says, Bisbee is on the right side of history.  I could not pass up my opportunity to comment in a letter to the editor:

Bisbee Arizona, a place where all people are respected equally, has given our state a shining example of good will. Bisbee's choice to to allow same sex civil unions is in sharp contrast to discriminatory state laws and policies. When my out-of-state friends mock Arizona's bigotry in the name of conservatism, I'll recommend they come to visit Bisbee. And I'll visit, too!

Patricia Klemme
Phoenix AZ

 



Monday, February 18, 2013

Calling It Like It Is

In today's Arizona Republic, Doug MacEachern writes:

Obama is Whistling Past the Terrorism Graveyard


"The national media are profoundly incurious about President Barack Obama's lack of ardor for rescuing Americans under siege at Benghazi, Libya.  So we may never know what he did on their behalf. Or didn't do. Three years ago, a Muslim Army officer attacked fellow soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas. The administration insists it was 'workplace violence.'  Not an attack by an al-Qaida ally; certainly not 'terrorism.' Obama wants to ignore terrorism into oblivion."

Here's my take:  

Maybe we should make *less* fuss about small acts of terrorism.  Congress' howling about lack of information about Benghazi shines a spotlight on terrorist action that must be very gratifying to the perpetrators.  

While we are at it, I wish we would develop policies that treat terrorist actions as crime rather than war.  Wars are nationalistic activities usually between nations or ethnicities within nations.  Terrorism is random small group or individual action far more suited for criminal investigation and prosecution.   

For what it's worth....
Pat

Friday, November 16, 2012

Thursday, November 15, 2012

College Humor: Gay Men Will Marry Your Girlfriends


Sent to me by several people whose senses of humor I respect:



Sometimes the humor exceeds the political incorrectness. Thanks go out to Maine and Maryland, who out-and-out voted for marriage equality.  More thanks to Minnesota and Washington, who voted against marriage as a privilege for a protected class.  Enjoy!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Monday, October 15, 2012

Economics Made Simple for the 2012 Election

This should be required watching for the entire American electorate.  Hat tip to Rev. Susan Russell for this concise and entertaining lesson:




Remember we must have the congress and local polls who understand this lesson, too.
'Long live the middle class!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Refrigerator Door of the World

I am coming to think of the internet as the world's refrigerator door.

Remember when we were kids and Mom would slap our latest and greatest piece of school art on the door for all to see?  Sure we were only stars in our own kitchen, but we felt good about it.  We wanted to do even better next time.

This blog is like that.  I slap something up occasionally, knowing that practically no one will see it.  But someone might walk by this post and see it.  

I joined a jigsaw puzzle website a few days ago.  It is adaptable to meet my time constraints.  If I have lots of time I can choose to work a puzzle with the maximum number of pieces with the rotations of the pieces randomized.  If I don't have much time I can do the puzzle with fewer pieces and/or the positions randomized, but in their correct rotation.

Then I noticed we players were invited to submit pictures to add to their library.  Ah ha!  Another refrigerator door.  They had a food category with only two pictures in it.  Now if you know me, you know I love good food.  A significant number of my cruise ship photos involve food.  So I chose one and submitted it:


And now it is out there for other puzzlers to solve, named Lido Breakfast.

If you like e-jigsaw puzzles, give it a try at Jigsaw Jam.

And feel free to add your writing, art and photos to the Refrigerator Door of the World. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

You'll Lika Hobaica!


Today is Energize Phoenix Day at Casa Klemme-Goodwine.

Arizona State University and City of Phoenix Neighborhood Services and Arizona Public Service were given a $25 million dollar grant to encourage homeowners and small business to convert inefficient energy systems to higher SEER rated systems.  The grant is available in a limited area of Phoenix roughly bordering the light rail, and my home is in the qualifying area. 

Qualified homes and businesses can get several types of upgrades free or at a discounted rate based on income.  After application and evaluation we could benefit from a new air conditioner (replacing a 1978 one), a new gas hot water heater and duct repair or replacement as needed.  The grant paid for 60% of the cost in our case, leaving a 40% balance for us.  

To learn more go to Energize Phoenix.  

We chose Hobaica Services, a longtime Phoenix family owned business as our Energize Phoenix contractor. From start to finish, the Hobaica family and employees were professional and skilled and a joy to work with.

I'd like to acknowledge Mike Hobaica for all the hoops he had to jump to qualify as contractor, Raud Hamilton for explaining and simplifying the education I needed to make good decisions, and our installation team of Raul Mori, Armando Carrera, and Phillip Byrd.  They just left a few minutes ago, and here they are:


Above:  Raul puts the finishing touches on our new gas water heater.

Left:  Armando and Phil wrestle with the air conditioner change out, replacing a 1978 Carrier forced air unit for a brand new Trane unit.

Above:  Out with the old....

Left:  In with the new!

(Just a little scary, but done to perfection!)
Below:  Nick from Smiley Crane loves his work!


Below are Phillip Byrd, Armando Carrera and Raul Mori.  These gentlemen love their work and take pride in the quality of their skills.

We could not have asked for a better team!







Thank you Hobaica and Energize Phoenix team!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Something Sad Surprises

Louise Emerson Brooks, a woman whom I've never met, died September 2, 2012.  It was a few days later that I learned this from her wife's tireless blog An Inch At A Time by Rev. Susan Russell.  And I have felt an uncommon sadness for the loss of Louise.  Louise seemed to be the quiet one, but when she spoke through her work she communicated love, understanding, and compassion with accurate information.

It is sad to lose people we love.  But it surprises me how deeply the loss of someone I know only through a blog touches me.  I know her also through three of her most important and influential productions from IntegrityUSA.org.  The latest one is:

Voices of Witness: Out of the Box  courtesy of YouTube  2012
Voices of Witness: Africa 2009
Voices of Witness 2006 

Louise was an activist member of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena California.  (I am not sure there is any other kind.)  This is what the Rev. Ed Bacon, rector of All Saints had to say at Louise's memorial service:  Louise Emerson Brooks   Thank you to Rev. Elizabeth Kaeton for publishing the text of Louise's "Stay on Message."


Rest in peace, you inspiring soul, and rise in glory!



Wednesday, August 29, 2012

GOP Weather Report

The Grand Old (Republican) Party is meeting this week in Tampa, Florida, to officially nominate Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan as their 2012 presidential ticket.  They are also promulgating their platform of promises with planks to please everyone.

I would so love this ticket and this platform if they were both fiscally conservative and socially compassionate. I cannot support a political party that fails to support women, people of color, people with health problems, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, and most of all--children in need of superior education.

So let me share with you this hurricane Isaac weather report that gives me comfort while they babble on.  (And don't miss the caption below!)


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Bio for a Wannabe Writer

Phoenix Writers' Club invites its member/authors to post a writer's biography or writing exemplar or both on its website.  I've spent some time today putting together a page to be posted.  That I actually have some references to offer amazes me.

Let it also inspire me to get busy to write more. 


*     *     *
August 24th Update

My artful effort has been posted on PWC's website (link above).  It lost something in the formatting; I will have to learn the ins and outs of prepping material for website publication.

As for inspiration, yesterday I passed the 10,000 word mark on my newest and most enjoyable project.  No bragging though; I took today off. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Butt in Chair with Fun

Author Julie Smith, creator of San Francisco attorney Rebecca Schwartz and New Orleans PI Talba Wallis, also offers teaching tools and even coaching for budding authors.  I bought a set of Julie Smith's teaching CDs about three years ago and got busy with writing lessons from a pro. They were worth every penny by the way.  

Up front Julie points out that a writer must keep his or her butt in the chair to succeed.  I've written this before in Diverse Mind.  It may be the kiss of death to mention it again, but keeping my butt in the chair seems to be my biggest challenge.

I have two novels in progress at this time, and the second one was started yesterday due to boredom with the first.  Yesterday's beginning was auspicious by comparison.  I was able to rattle my way through 3,000 words of text that practically wrote itself.  Novel 1 is the one I have to get out of my gut.  It's been nagging at me for years.  It also writes itself at times but candidly it is not much fun.  Novel 2 started with a few key words and a brief plot note.  I started writing and (ta da!) it is fun! I can't imagine it getting dull.  

So, once again, butt is in chair.  Here's to another 3,000 words today.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Google+ Dilemma

I've had this blog for quite a while. Sometimes I'm more faithful at blogging; sometimes it lies fallow.  I admire  Google's ability to help people create and interact through (mostly) user friendly applications, and I try to Google up with new technology.  I have an Android phone for instance, and this blog, and--okay here it comes--a Google+ account.

  
Here's my problem.  I can't figure out how to connect them up.  My Google+ account can't see my Blogger account and my phone can't connect with either of them.

  
Help.  I need a tech savvy teenager.  Any volunteers?  Of any age?   

Friday, August 10, 2012

Outing the B in LGBT

Society has just about got it about lesbians and gays: normal people with the same goods and bads as the rest of the human race.  They are just attracted to the same sex rather than the opposite sex.  Most know right from wrong.  Many make good life choices and others get themselves into trouble with poor choices.  Society is recognizing the L and G of LGBT as people deserving of recognition and respect as well as comparable rights and responsibilities. 

Now society is beginning to wrestle with acceptance of transgender people, the T in LGBT.  We are learning that some children are born with the physical attributes of one gender, but the internal sensation of being the opposite gender.  Children are now sometimes recognized as transgender rather than 'gender confused'.  Social workers, psychologists, teachers, clergy and parents are learning how to help such a child navigate childhood as the self-identified gender.  Physical sexual reassignment is now available and is a valid choice for transgender adults.  

But the scary one is the B for bisexual.  We aren't quite there yet, but we need to be getting there.  Actress Gillian Anderson has almost accidentally outed herself as bisexual.  In an AZCentral.com article,  Ms. Anderson explains her comments to Out Magazine about prior relationships with women.  She further makes it clear that she doesn't consider herself gay [sic].

She said: ''I was talking to Out about gays and choice, and the view that you can just choose not to be gay in some way. I decided to talk about it now because someone with whom I was in a relationship a couple of decades ago - a woman - passed away about a year ago.


''I was talking about her and, in the context of the gentle conversation we were having, I thought I would say that I have had a couple of relationships with women, but that wasn't my experience because I did have a choice. I always knew I still liked boys.

''Being gay was never something that I identified with 100 per cent, because I knew that for me it wasn't the only way.''

And this is B for bisexual, the last of the sexual minorities to be dealt with, and possibly the hardest.  

We don't want to acknowledge B because to some extent or another many straights and many gays are on the B spectrum.  Rather than to acknowledge sexual attraction to both men and women, bisexuals tend to pick the end of the spectrum they feel closest to and identify as gay or straight.  There is a sadness about being coerced by society to choose one end or the other, but that's the way it has been for millennia.  Ya gotta be 'normal'.  LGB and T are sexual minorities, but they are not abnormal.

Here's hoping the world can recognize and respect all minorities.  We live in a magnificent creation with boundless diversity.  The more we can open our minds to human diversity, the richer we can grow in spirit.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Warren Buffet and I

Last year I paid no federal income tax.  Let me repeat that.  NO FEDERAL INCOME TAX.  None, nada, zip, zero, no federal income tax.


Should I be complaining?  Probably not; I am quite thankful for the relief.  Yet I continue to benefit from my federal government.  I don't think it should be for free.


Warren Buffett is a vocal one-percenter (hugely rich guy) who believes that he and his fellow top income folks should be willing to cough up more taxes than they are presently contributing.  Some of his fellows agree with him.  Many do not--understandably.

  
So Mr. Buffett and I have this in common.  I felt very strange not paying one cent of income tax.  I felt I should pay at least a token amount, as if doing so would dignify my participation in America.  Some of you will agree; others will not--understandably!

 
Who'd have thought Warren Buffet and I would have something this momentous in common?


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Arpaio's Trials

From Doug MacEachern of the Arizona Republic in his 7/28/2012 "Quick Hit":


"No one expects a lot of magnanimity out of a protest group. They gotta do what they gotta do. Sometimes that means annoying innocent bystanders. But does the group planning to protest Sheriff Joe Arpaio on Sunday at his church services really need to? Short answer: No. Morally speaking, the right to worship undisturbed trumps any self-assigned duty to preen before cameras."

Here is my Quick Hit back to Mr. MacEachern:


I am remembering a Sunday several years ago when MCSO blocked access to St. Paul's (now Iglesia San Pablo) Episcopal Church on 31st Street in downtown Phoenix.  This church with a predominantly Spanish language congregation was targeted by Sheriff Arpaio to snare possible undocumented worshipers. 

I cannot be bothered to picket a church where Child-of-God Joseph Arpaio might worship, but at least he doesn't have to worry about being arrested and jailed.  

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Episcopal Church Welcomes You

The triennial convention of The Episcopal Church closed in Indianapolis.  Clergy and lay deputies and bishops are home again, home again.  And they are beginning to report their reflections by diocesan websites, blogs and social networking.  As I said earlier this month  I am drawn to observe this convention like a moth to a flame, but from a safe distance.


Over the past nine years TEC has struggled painfully to address ways of bringing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender children of God into the church's mainstream.  This struggle began in the 1970's as a very tentative movement.  I remember the (then) bishop of the Diocese of Nebraska reporting to members of St. Matthew's Episcopal Church that this very controversial topic had been brought up and that a resolution had called for committees to study the issues and make recommendations to the next convention three years hence.  He stumbled and stuttered in search of appropriate words for 'homosexuals'.  He spoke of sexual preference rather than orientation.  He did the best he could and when he asked if we had any questions or comments we remained still as church mice.


I remained silent although I could have said many things.  I was barely out to myself and my immediate family, and not at all to people at church.  As much as I claimed to be proud (or at least not ashamed), I could not bring myself to say, "I am one you will be studying for the next three years.  What would you like to ask me?"  Had every one of us in every church hearing this report had been able to speak up, the struggle might have been shorter.  Hard to say whether it would be less painful.  It was painful to be psychically silenced; it would have been painful to be attacked even verbally.  And that's the way it was in the early 1970's.


In the first decade of the twenty-first century, much had been accomplished in homes and businesses and schools.  Even much had been accomplished within some church denominations, most notably in the United Church of Christ.  TEC had moved forward at a grindingly slow pace at first, but in 2003 gay clergy were beginning to be accepted and V. Gene Robinson was elected and confirmed Bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire.  Bp. Gene was the first openly gay man to be consecrated in TEC.  He was required to wear a Kevlar vest at his consecration.  As you can see many bishops came to celebrate this 'first' for the Episcopal Church.

  

One enormous barrier down; one to go. The other shoe dropped with far less angst and drama at this year's convention.  From the Arizona Diocesan Delegation Rev. John Kitagawa reports:


While controversial, there was a strong majority supporting the decision to issue a liturgical rite for the blessing of same-sex relationships. That makes it possible for us to say with greater integrity, “The Episcopal Church Welcomes You.” I am pleased our Deputation was unanimous in our support. I believe new pastoral and evangelical possibilities are now open to our Church.

--The Rev. John E. Kitagawa, D. Min., Clergy Deputy

   

So after three years of more study, a committee will produce drafts of same-sex relationship blessings for consideration.  So it takes a long time to go from, "Oh, homosexuals?" to "The Episcopal Church welcomes you."


But it's been fascinating to watch the journey.  And the journey will continue.


For the Arizona Delegates' full report, click here.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Phoenix Writers Club

Bluewater Grill hosted the July 2012 meeting of the Phoenix Writers Club, and I had the pleasure of attending and catching up with members I knew six to seven years ago.  It surprises me that so many members have remained.  In addition to current president Cindi Reiss and treasurer Eileen Birin, BetteLou Tobin, Marge, Elaine, and Diane were there.  Missing were Mabel Leo, Patricia Brooks, Rita Ackerman and probably some others I've met before.  


It is July in Phoenix after all.  Anybody with a dime to spare and any sense flees the Valley.  So over the next few months I'll have the opportunity to get reacquainted with others.

Phoenix Writers Club has been active for over 80 years, one of the longest continuous groups in Arizona.  Though members like me may come and go, many are core stalwarts who carry forward PWC's goals.  The same welcome and encouragement was offered at today's meeting as was offered to me years ago.  Members encourage one another, share experiences with publishing as well as writing, and reach out to aspiring writers of all ages.

PWC's website has a tab labeled "Be A Writer".  What's the first piece of advice?  It tells me to say out loud, "I am a writer."  Thanks, Eileen; thanks PWC!

So here I am to say, 

"I am a writer."  

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Doctors! What Are They Thinking?

Doctors don't seem to have the sense God gave a goose.


I am benefiting greatly from medical science thanks to having finally arrived at Medicare.  (And Medicare is a whole other *good* topic!)  Yet I cannot figure out some of my doctors' reasoning.  Even if I specifically ask for something I need, my wishes may as well be fishes.

I have a PA-C for my PCP (Primary Care Provider).  She has boundless common sense, listens to my wishes and actually does what I ask (unless it would be bad for me in which case she explains).  Need a referral to a specialist within bicycling distance?  No problem. Our neighborhood is full of all kind of specialists.  Want 90 day prescriptions?  No problem!
My previous MD doc's office interpreted 90 days as some drugs 30 days, some others 60 days and..oh yeah, some 90 days.  I was running to the pharmacy every month even though I'd have much preferred quarterly.  

Now I have a new specialist, a cardiologist, who needs to go in search of a brain.  First visit:  I give him a detailed list of my existing prescriptions.  He glances through it and sees I am on one cholesterol med and one ACE inhibitor-type blood pressure med.  Out loud he tells me he may want me to take a beta blocker-type bp med, but he won't know for sure until after my echo-cardiogram.  Sounds right to me, so I don't give him any static or advice about meds.

The next day, my pharmacy notifies me my two new prescriptions are ready for me.

What????

He had ordered an increased dosage of the ACE inhibitor and the same dosage of my cholesterol med.  No mention of this to me during the appointment at all.  I refused the cholesterol drug and declined to take the bp drug until my other prescription ran out.

I have advised this doc to not order any meds without discussing it with me first.  I won't know until next time whether this went through one ear and out the other or if the advice stuck.  I am not optimistic.  Not pessimistic either.  Just skeptical.

So now we have the echo results and I'm being prescribed the promised beta-blocker.  No problem.  He explains that I have a big aortic root, that the blood vessel that comes out of the heart to supply the rest of my body with oxygenated blood, is 4.0 cm in diameter.  This is, he tells me, the upper limit of normal.  Then he says I should be seen by a heart surgeon for evaluation.  I am skeptical and say so.  If it is the upper limit of normal, isn't that normal or close enough to normal?  He says, he couldn't sleep at night if he doesn't refer this case to a cardiovascular surgeon.  I reluctantly agree to accept an appointment, and remind his staff that I need a referral to a neighborhood doctor.  

A couple of days later I get a call from the office of a cardiovascular surgeon in *Goodyear*.

 What????

I did some simple research through the Arizona board of medical examiners (azmed.gov). I learned that there is a group practice of CV surgeons two floors downstairs from the cardiologist's office, one mile from my house.

Okay.  Call me peeved.

I'm not amused at the notion of CV surgery anyway.  I'll keep you posted. 



      

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sunday Night

I'm tired tonight, both physically and emotionally.


Many times in my life I've lived with other people, family, friends, lovers, and just visitors.  I'm pretty good at it.  But I've also lived alone quite a bit and that has advantages, too. I'm very happy with Jim living with me at this time.  I am finding that I have less tolerance for other social activities, no matter how much I expect to enjoy them.  

It is as if I have a threshold for the number of people contacts I can cope with in a given span of time without blowing a fatigue fuse.  And this weekend I passed over that threshold.  Tomorrow is likely to be a quiet day.  I have a meeting in the late morning with a friend after which we may go to a meeting with other friends of Bill W.  Other than that the day is unscheduled. 

And I am looking forward to that.  I may write.  I may exercise.  I may nap.  I will certainly enjoy a good meal or two.

And then again, God may have other plans.  Altogether now, hahahahahahahaa!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Independence Day 2012

Jim and I seated ourselves on our 'front porch' tonight to watch the City of Phoenix fireworks display at Steele Indian School Park, just less than a mile from us.  We armed ourselves with the 1812 Overture on my MP3 player and by some miracle firework crescendos sometimes matched the musical crescendos!  This was Sweetie's first year at 4112 and I wasn't sure how she would react to the noise and smoke and people.  Jim and I talked strategies in case fireworks made her crazy, but she was as serene as can be through the whole evening.


Before the official and fun fireworks we have neighborhood chaos from people looking for parking somewhat near the park.  Our side of the street is marked no parking for other reasons, and early birds correctly figure the police have more to do than ticket for parking.  What stuns us as we watch the parade of cars coming and going after the street is 100% parked up.  At the entrance to our street is a sign that most people just don't see:


This sign is small compared to the real one, but no one sees it or heeds it.


It is beyond my comprehension how many cars blithely ignore the obvious and return to try again even after they've tried it.  Done. Full.  People, we have no more room for you.  Fortunately this is the only occasion that causes this phenomenon.


To add to our pre-show chaos, a motor patrol officer stopped an offending vehicle right in front of our driveway.  There was the usual conversation,  exchange of paper and radio calls all while the motorbike's red and blue flashers were nearly blinding us.  Ticket or warning was given to the driver about five minutes into the fireworks, and we were cleared for a good view from then on.  This show runs about 30 minutes so we finally had an enjoyable time.  This could have been an image from ours.  Hat tip to the Cloverdale Lions Club for a better pic than I could get:



 Happy Independence Day, America.  We are doing better than we think we are.  As long as we learn the facts and turn up to vote, America will survive quite nicely.    


Monday, July 2, 2012

Like a Moth to the Flame

Every three years the Episcopal Church meets in national session for about 10 days, beginning this year on July 4th.  As a cradle member of this denomination I have a great affection for what the church can be for all people.  Yet I've come and gone and come and gone several times in my adult live.


TEC is one of the ideal churches in my thinking.  One can worship at a Eucharist nearly identical to the post Vatican II Roman Catholic Church, or one can worship at a simple 30-40 minute communion service not unlike other protestant churches.  I grew up singing a song that would now be labeled politically incorrect, but it said a lot about the breadth and depth of Episcopal beliefs (tune is God Bless America):

I am an Anglican; I am PE (Protestant Episcopal),
neither high church nor low church, 
I am protestant and catholic and free.
Not a Presby, nor a Lutheran, nor a Baptist
white with foam.....!*
I am an Anglican, via media, boom boom.

* with apologies to my friends of other denominations and religions

I love my church and a lot of folks in my church love me, but I don't seem to be able to deal with even this generous pastoral church.  That's about me, not about the Episcopal Church.

July 4th is day after tomorrow.  Like a moth drawn inexorably to the flame, I'll be watching the triennial struggles.  And praying for all who mean to do well for the work of our Creator, Redeemer, Teacher and Guide.  Prayers ascend!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

I'm Just Full of It!

Full of vim, vigor, and vitality yesterday and today!


Yesterday I enjoyed the endorphin glow following a good session of physical therapy warm ups, stretches and exercises at the   YMCA...all together now...Y M C A...da dah, dah.  Today I am enjoying the sense of well-being I get from just visiting with a friend over good coffee.



It seems I am coming alive in a number of ways, in ways that I've needed but not accepted in the past couple of years.  I think it has to do with allowing other people into my life in more than an abstract way.  I'm happy to have Jim at home today.  I'm happy I'm taking better care of my health.  I'm happy that I'm meeting new people.  


Wow.  Life sure rocks when one lets people in!  

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Ma Bell and Me

When Jim moved in I asked him to transfer his cable service here since I've lived a TV free life for quite a few years now.  The only service I was using was broadband for my internet connection.  He added broadband to his package, and I cancelled my broadband access with the competing business.  Or thought I did.  Turned out I failed in my mission because I refused to answer personal questions about why I wanted to cancel.


When you call Phone-Co-Name-of-the-Year and ask to disconnect a service, a 'customer service' person transfers you to what they call the Disconnection Department.  Internally I suspect they call it "Customer Retention."  The purpose of the "disconnection" department is to talk you into keeping your service--whether you need it or not; whether you want it or not.  To learn why a customer wishes to cancel they ask, "Why?"

  

Apparently it is not okay to say, "Just because."  I personally didn't think it was the Phone Co's business why I wished to cancel.  But Mr. Customer Retention persisted in his questioning.  I felt like I was being interrogated and in a way, belittled.  I was certainly not feeling like a respected customer.  I finally said, "Cancel my service and we are finished now," and I hung up.


Darned if I didn't receive next month's bill as if nothing had happened.  Because nothing had happened.  I said a prayer for sanity and serenity and called again.  I spoke with a representative named Carmen who was willing to listen to my belief that interrogation should not be a corporate response to a cancelling customer.  She kindly cancelled my account and credited the billed (but unused) month.


Now that's the way to treat a customer!  Way to go, Carmen.


(As is often the case, I was too befuddled to ask Mr. CR what his name was.  I'm sure he answered with it in the beginning, but who wants to remember a jerk anyway.)    

Friday, June 29, 2012

Corporate Greed and Me

Businesses who know that they have us by the delicate parts can't refrain from upping their prices.  This isn't because they need to improve infrastructure or defray research and development costs.  This is because they feel the need to advertise massively.


Few days go by without a communications company advert in my mailbox; few go by without an advert in the newspaper; and few hours go by without an avert on TV, computer or radio.  Every time I pay a cable bill for my mega-communications provider a huge chunk of the change pays for the company's advertising.  Any time I am prescribed a brand name drug instead of a generic equivalent its high cost will help pay for its R and D, but much will also pay for advertising.  As much as I enjoy our Aussie Gecko character, I don't buy that company's insurance because I need to be paying a fair premium rather than helping them buy advertising.


The only way to fight back is to buy the generic or the service from a company that doesn't advertise wildly.  It means I have to do the footwork to find the reputable company that prices fairly but advertises little.  It's not easy, but in the long run it saves money and helps the company with greater integrity. 
   

So that's today's rant and I'm sticking to it!  (Not wildly exciting, is it?) Tune in tomorrow to learn how to cancel a service from the Phone-Company-Name-of-the-Year.  At least the current incarnation knows how to spell.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Congratulations to Vernon Parker

Vernon Parker, Republican candidate for Congress, is the first candidate to notice me on the Republican voter registration list.

Today I received a hyper vitrolic email assuring me that if I help put him in Congress, he will REPEAL "Obamacare".  It must have been ready for instantaneous release upon the Supreme Court's ruling to allow the Affordable Healthcare Act to go forward without substantive changes.  I'm sure candidate Parker had one ready to release in celebration had the Supremes ruled against "Obamacare."  And yes, he said Obamacare, not Affordable Healthcare Act.  It's time for that to stop.

I found it necessary to communicate with candidate Parker and express my view that the Affordable Healthcare Act is a step forward for America.  It will actually improve access to healthcare on a fair basis.  Now we need to stop congressional squabbling and start to improve accessibility to education and jobs.  We need congressmen and women who can work together for the good of America and make improvements.

I promised him my vote if he promises to work for IMPROVING the Affordable Healthcare Act.  

I'll let you know if I hear from him.

Someday Sasha and Malia Obama are going to be very proud of the nickname "Obamacare " for the Affordable Healthcare Act.