Saturday, January 31, 2009

Good Advice

Mickey Rourke gave the following advice on how to survive and come back in hard times in a Time magazine interview:

"Get a lot sleep, a lot of exercise. Eat real good. Say your prayers. And be good to your dogs."

Sounds good to me.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I Am Shocked

Because I am self-employed, I have private health insurance. Each year about this time, the monthly premium is "adjusted", which usually means increased. Given the meteoric rise in health care costs and given that I have had some minor heart issues the past couple of years, I have been expecting the worst, but hoping for something better than the worst. The worst - health insurance canceled. Better than the worst - health insurance not canceled.

Today I got the letter from the insurance company. First of all, my insurance was not canceled. {Doing a little dance} Second of all, and this is why I am shocked, my monthly premium actually went down. Yes, DOWN. Not by much, but down by about 6%.

Holy shit! (Excuse me!) There may be help for us yet. And then again, tomorrow may bring another letter saying "oops, we made a mistake."

Time will tell, but right now I am happy!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Bad Doggie, No, Good Doggie

As I wrote a while ago, we recarpeted the house last year. With two dogs, there is always the possibility of a "doggy" accident. In fact, we had a problem with one of the dogs, I don't know which one, and the old carpet. About twice a year, one of them would pee in the living room, in approximately the same spot. When we pulled up the old carpeting, we cleaned the concrete beneath it with bleach hoping to get rid of any residual odor. My wife has been threatening to exile the dogs to the backyard if either of them pee on the new carpet.

I knew it would just be a matter of time. That time came yesterday. Sure enough, in the afternoon I noticed a new "spot" on the carpet in the living room. A close check revealed that it was dried dog pee, probably 3 or 4 days old.

Bad Doggie! Very upset wife!

A short time later, she spotted a rather large insect on the living room wall. The only thing worse than dog pee on the carpet is a large insect on the wall. She yelled. I went to get the bug off the wall and knocked it behind the piano. The piano weighs a ton and with my back, I was not about to move it.

A couple of hours later, I notice our German Shepherd is very interested in something against the wall below the living room windows. She is very intent on one spot. I go over to the wall, and there is our friendly large insect - trying to get away from the dog. I push the dog out of the way and grab the bug. Bye bye bug! The first words out of my wife's mouth

Good Doggie! I forgive both of you.

So, it looks like the dogs will not be banished to the backyard, not that they really would have been anyway. She is too much of a softie when it comes to the dogs.

I am the one that get banished to the backyard for being bad.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Bite On This

I have been blessed with poor teeth. As a child, I went to the dentist a lot. It wasn't unusual for me to have 6 or 8 filling at each yearly check-up. The dentist didn't give me a bad time about it. He just went ahead and filled them. My mother didn't give me a bad time about it. She just blamed it on genetics. I brushed my teeth in the morning and evening, but still had lots of problems.

As I became an adult, the fillings were removed and replaced with crowns. I had as much gold in my mouth as is in Fort Knox. Still, dentists didn't give me a hard time about it. They blamed my smoking.

About 25 years ago I gave up the smoking and started going to a periodontist. He gave me a hard time, trimmed my gums (not a pleasant experience at all!), and taught me some new techniques for keeping my teeth and gums healthy.

Up until the last year, everything was fine. Now I am starting to pay for my earlier abuses. That's what happens when you get old. Over the last year I have lost three molars from my upper jaw -- two on the right and one on the left side. Next week, I will get the second one on the left removed.

This is making chewing stuff more difficult. I have to chew with teeth closer to the front of my mouth. And I think I look kind of funny chewing. I also have a tendency to bite my tongue.

The next step may be implants. They are ungodly expensive, but I think I will prefer them to some sort of partial plate. Either that or I will have to eat my dinner through a straw.

For those of you out there that are young, take care of your teeth or they will bite you when you get old.

Take it from the voice of experience.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Future Is Here

Things have calmed down around here. The dog is on the mend. Stitches come out later this week. The granddaughter's MRI came out well; no complications. Next, she will be fitted for a brace. We only babysit one day this week, so things should be quiet around here and I can get some work done.

Our weather has been crazy for the last few days. While most of the country is freezing with unusually low temperatures, we have been have daily highs in the 80's. It seems like spring or a cool summer day. Things are cooling down a little this week, but they are still predicting temperatures in the 70's. Such is life in Southern California. Please do hate me!

This is a historic week - a new president. He is facing immense problems. In order to be a great president, you have to be willing to face the big problems. I think Obama is up to the challenge, but only time will tell. I wish him luck. He has to dig us out of a big hole. Thanks George! A failed economy, two ongoing wars (really one occupation and I am not sure what to call Afghanistan), the disgrace of torture, a justice department politicized, an intelligence department in disarray, ... The list goes on and on.

I read the following quote on Alecto's Ophela:

"Don’t tell people what they want to hear. Tell them what they need to hear. Tell the truth."

Truth is important in our daily lives. Truth holds relationships together. Let's hope the new administration uses truth to hold the country together. Without it, we are truly lost.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Bush Legacy

Thanks to Keith Olbermann, here is a summary of the last 8 years -- the Bush Legacy.

Bush Legacy

What a national disgrace.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Sometimes Garry Trudeau gets it right. I don't think McCain would have every selected Sarah Palin if we had not elected George Bush two times.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Child and Dog

My granddaughter E is over today. E is 3 years old and takes a nap in the afternoon. Naps are good. They give me a break and I am able to get some work done.

My German shepherd loves E. She follows her everywhere around the house. If E is in the living room, so is GS. If E is in the dining room, so is GS. The only place that GS does not follow E is into the bedroom for nap time. GS knows she is not allowed in the bedroom at nap time.

So, she does the next best thing. She lays at the bottom of the stairs going up to the bedroom. She lays there all through the nap, with an occasional bathroom break outside. She lays there until she hears E wake up. E calls down to me. "Grandpa, I wake up!" Then GS bounds up the stairs, as only an excited German shepherd can bound, and into the room. She sits next to the crib and starts whining until I get E out of it.

It is fun watching the friendship between child and dog.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Grind

Some things never seem to end. Another plumbing adventure reared its ugly head over the last few days. My last experience did not go well, although the issues were finally resolved. The garbage disposal decided not to run any more. When you are use to dumping everything from dirty pots, pans, bowls, and dishes into the sink, it puts a serious cramp in your dishwashing style when the disposal is not working

It acted like it was stuck. I would turn it on and the motor would hum, but it would not turn. I could turn it manually, but it was difficult. I felt around inside and didn't feel anything. This exhausted my plumbing/garbage disposal experience. I figured that something was messed up inside of it, so I did what seemed like the next best thing -- bought a new garbage disposal and called a plumber.

Even though my last plumbing experience was resolved more or less satisfactory, I decided it was time to try someone local. The previous plumbers I called were from a large multi-state company. This time I went to a list of members of our local city chamber of commerce and selected a plumber from there. There were two listed. I called the one that was closest to the house. He said that he would be over later that afternoon between 5 and 6. 5 and 6 came and went. I never heard from him again.

The next day I called plumber number 2. He said that he could come the following day between 12 and 1. Sure enough, he showed up between 12 and 1. Took a quick look at the garbage disposal. Reached in with a pair of pliers and pulled out a fairly hefty chuck of wire. Turn on the water. Turned on the garbage disposal. Everything worked prefect.

I said thanks. He said you're welcome. He was in and out in less than 10 minutes. That's what I call a great visit from a plumber.

That is also the plumber I will call next time -- and I know there will be a next time.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Life Is Not Fair But...

Some people seem more prone to problems than others. Sometimes it just does not seem fair. But then I guess that life does not have to be fair.

One of my granddaughters was born with a heart defect. Actually two heart problems. She underwent open heart surgery shortly after her first birthday for those problems. We, along with her parents, essentially lived at the hospital for six days after the operation while she was in intensive care. It was amazing that they could put so many tubes in and out of such a tiny body. She had a nurse assigned to only her full time. The nurse was continually adjusting medications. It seemed like the bad side effects of one drug had to be counteracted by a second drug. The second drug's bad side effects had to be counteracted with a third drug, and so on.

Now, she is 9 and recently was diagnosed with scoliosis. It is fairly severe, particularly for a 9 year old. The maximum curvature is 40 degrees. At 45 degrees, they do surgery. It looks like she will have to wear a brace for the next 5 years or so. But the next step is an MRI first, to rule out some even worse problems and more invasive corrective action. The poor little girl is scared to death of the MRI, but is feeling a little better now that she knows that her grandmother and favorite uncle have both had MRIs.

It just doesn't seem fair that after having to go through open heart surgery and continuing cardiac care for the rest of her life, to now be faced with spinal problems as well. The curvature cannot be corrected, or at least not very much. The brace only keeps it from getting worse.

Fortunately, her parents have excellent health care. The open heart surgery was completely covered and so will be the scoliosis. Her mother checked with the insurance company today. The $6000 MRI is completely covered. No co-pay.

But what do people do who don't have health care or are under insured? It is a national disgrace that I even have to ask that question.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The New Year

Well, I think things have finally settled down around here after our Christmas activities. The golden retriever is back home and recovering. The tree is down and the grandchildren are back in school. I signed a contract for some new work that should keep me busy throughout most of the year. That's really a good thing given these economic times. I feel lucky.

Today we have our youngest granddaughter while Mom and Dad are both working. It will be a long day since both M & D have things to do after work. But that's okay. We can handle one child without much trouble. We double-team her. It gets a little more hectic when we have her older sister also, but that only occurs when school is not in session. By the end of the day with two kids here, I am ready for them to go home. Raising children is definitely for the young.

I hope everyone's new year is starting off well.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

War Or Terrorism

When someone is lobbing rockets at you, it is understandable that you want to strike back. Unfortunately in this day and age, it doesn't work. It use to, but not any longer. Countries can no longer act as individuals would.

If someone hits me, I will hit them back. That's pretty much human nature. You protect yourself. Countries use to be able to do that also. You attack me, I will attack you back and if I am stronger, I will probably, but not always, win. Warfare was like personal conflict -- one person striking another person, one gun shooting at another gun.

Warfare is no longer like that. Technology has advanced to the point where one person can inflict a lot of damage on a whole lot of other people. It is no longer one-on-one. It is often one-on-many. That is what has happened in Iraq and that is what is happening in the Gaza-Israel conflict. One person, or a small group of people are inflicting harm on a large group of other people. It is called terrorism.

Terrorism is not war. War is between governments. You win a war by toppling the other government and usually, but not always, occupying the offending country. Terrorism is a tactic. It's purpose is to change your behavior, not defeat your government and take over your country -- irrespective of what they say.

You don't defeat terrorism with war. Look at Iraq and earlier, Vietnam. The Iraq war was over in a couple of weeks. The government fell and we occupied the country -- and we created a terrorist condition. Terrorism has thrived in Iraq because we continued to treat it as a war.

To me, it looks like Israel is doing the same thing in Gaza. Countries need to react to terrorism differently than individuals do to attacks on themselves. They have got to get to the root cause of the terrorism. A war-type attack may buy some time, but it does not solve the problem and, in fact, probably will fuel the terrorism even more.

So what is the solution, you ask? That's the million dollar question. Hopefully there are bigger minds than mine working on it. Current actions are not working. It will take more international cooperation, more intelligence sharing, more police work.

More war and bigger weapons are not the solution.

Saturday, January 3, 2009


The Associated Press has just published a list of Bush's misstatements over the years. You can read them here.

Unfortunately, at least one of them is true -- he did not misspeak. It is

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we." - Aug. 5, 2004, at the signing ceremony for a defense spending bill.

All you have to do is look at his record. Just the last year was disastrous as I documented yesterday.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Bush 2008

Thanks to Think Progress for this list of Bush Accomplishments in 2008

Number Of U.S. Troops Killed in Iraq: 322.
Number Of U.S. Troops Killed in Afghanistan: 151.
Number Of Jobs Lost: 1.9 million.
Number Of Banks Federal Government Now Owns Stock In: 206.
Number Of Uninsured Americans: 47.5 million.

Change In Housing Prices: declined 18 percent.
Change In Health Insurance Premiums: increased 5 percent.
Change In Number Of Delinquent Mortgages: increased 75 percent.
Change In Use Of Food Stamps: increased 17 percent.
Change In Dow Jones Industrial Average: declined 35 percent.
Change In Bush Approval Rating: declined 9 percent to 29 percent.

I think these numbers speak for themselves.