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Sunday, December 05, 2010

Some may dream of a White Christmas, but I. . .

With my heart pounding so hard it scared me, mouth dry as cotton, and feeling totally disoriented in the dark, I reached for the clock: 3:24 AM. I had just awakened from another dream. You know the kind of dream -- or maybe you’re lucky enough not to know. The kind of dream where you find yourself in such a dire situation that if you don’t wake up right now, you’ll never wake up to life as you now know it.

This particular dream had to do with my trying to photograph a mother tiger and her cubs. I had sneaked up close enough to get a good shot of the mother, but couldn’t see her cubs. I began to ease closer when the ground under me began to shake. There, in the woods just beyond where the mother tiger stood, was the biggest elephant I had ever seen! It was not a happy elephant. I thought maybe it planned to charge the tiger, but the tiger suddenly disappeared. The elephant caught sight of me. As it charged straight for me, I took off running. I could feel him gaining on me. Heart  pounding, I could hardly breathe. I saw a hill ahead and wondered if I could make it to the top. As I started up the hill, my legs felt like lead; an awful dread enveloped me and I knew I was a goner. Then I woke up.

Was it the ice cream and gingersnaps I’d eaten just before going to bed? Why tigers and elephants? Was it a delayed reaction to the Auburn-Alabama game last week-end? All I know is, it’s a good thing I woke up when I did or that elephant would have trampled me to death in the woods, or chased me right through the gates of hell. I’m still mad that the elephant ran off the mother tiger before I could find and photograph the cubs, though. And what did I do with my camera? Seems I can’t keep from losing stuff, even in my dreams.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Roosterhens are political animals

I just got into a debate with a friend of a different political persuasion, who was taunting me about the “shellacking" the Democrats and Obama  and his anti-business policies  took at the polls on Tuesday. I know the press, pundits, politicians and President Obama himself are calling it a shellacking, but I'm not sure that's what it was. We did lose some good people in the House, but we also lost a lot of Blue Dog Democrats, who were actually more Dixiecrats than Democrats anyway, and who voted mostly with the Republicans, so that's more a loss for the Republicans than for the Democrats.  And there's no guarantee that the Tea Party candidates will fall into lock-step with the Republican leadership at this point. I think both parties and the country at large may be in for a rocky ride.
As for Obama being anti-business, that's a really popular charge with  the conservative radio and TV personalities, the conservative blogs, etc. but if this administration is SO anti-business, how do you explain 1st quarter corporate profits of 1.37 trillion, and companies sitting on over 2 trillion in cash reserves. Google "3rd quarter corporate profits" and you'll find business after business reporting pretty decent profits. They’d have a hard time making all that profit if the administration was as anti-business as it made out to be. And on the other hand, the administration is charged with bailing out banks and business at the expense of the American taxpayer. So which is it? Are they  anti-business or are they  so pro business they're bailing them out? You can’t have it both ways.

What is unfortunate is that while the corporations are turning a profit, they aren't hiring, they're sitting on their cash reserves. So the average American isn't seeing him or herself as part of any economic recovery. Still struggling, often having a mortgage that's underwater, faced with increased costs, no job or no job security, decreasing wages, worrying how they're going to pay their bills or educate their children and having little money to spend, they're seeing CEOs awarded big salaries and big bonuses on Wall Street and in Corporate headquarters around the country. Meanwhile, the economy on Main Street in their neighborhood is at a stand-still, and people are angry. The Republicans and conservatives are extremely adept at exploiting that anger so that it is directed at the other side. And since far too many Americans today have slipped into a state of intellectual laziness, perhaps brought about by the constant stress they're under, they are only too willing to accept whatever cheap tale is sold to them by the slickest salesman. They seem unable or unwilling to question the information with which they are constantly bombarded, and unable or unwilling to filter out the wheat from the chaff. The widespread acceptance of the India Trip Costs are a prime example- the figures were broadcast as true far and wide before anybody felt the need to question information from a single anonymous source. That attitude is what swept a lot of seemingly unqualified candidates to power this week. It saddens, maddens and worries me greatly. I am confident that the American people are resilient enough and smart enough to pull out of this mess with little lasting damage, if they wake up soon enough. And if that sounded like intellectual elitism, so be it. Intellectualism and intelligence,  like  liberalism,  have been given a bad name lately, but they are a threat only to those who seek to confuse and subjugate people to their own ends.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Redistibution of Wealth- I'm confused

Today’s newspaper contained a column written by Tom Scarritt, editor of the very conservative Birmingham News. He was commenting on a recent debate  between the candidates running for governor of Alabama, Robert Bentley and Ron Sparks. Sparks is in favor of a lottery to fund scholarships in the state; Bentley is opposed.

Here’s an excerpt for that column: “…remember government has no resources except what it takes from us. There is no such thing as government funding; there is only the redistribution of your money and mine.”

Statements like that irritate me. Terms like “takes from us” and “redistribution of your money and mine” have become catch-phrases of the right, implying that we, the taxpayers derive no personal benefit from government: that our money is spent solely to take from the rich and give to the poor. Such statements don’t seem to take into account that often when we leave our homes (many of which were bought with insurance backing from the federal government) to drive our children on roads funded in part by the federal government, to schools that receive federal funds, we do so without thought to the services our taxes are providing to US and our families. We have roads, schools, libraries, hospitals, small business loans, insured bank accounts, police and fire protection and a number of other benefits paid for by our taxes. So when it comes to taxes why do we continue to hear people using terms like “redistribution of wealth” as though the only people to benefit are people other than ourselves? We are paying for valuable services for us and our fellow citizens so that we all benefit.

On the other hand, in the marketplace, when we pay money for a product and/or service, the price has been marked up to cover not only the cost of the product or service, but the costs associated with the sale and marketing of that product/service, plus a salary for the owners and a return to the shareholders who invested in that product or service. We are paying more than the actual cost of what we’re  receiving. I don’t have a problem with that, as long as the mark-up and profit margin are reasonable. For years businesses told us they weren’t able to make a profit because labor costs were too high, so they laid off their labor force, moved their operations elsewhere and boasted how much less their production costs were now. But for some reason, prices didn’t go down- we ended up paying even more for many products (unless we shopped at WalMart, which is the subject of another blog, later). So it turns out we were paying to cover not only the necessary and reasonable costs of providing the product, but also to pay large dividends to stockholders and obscenely large salaries to corporate executives. But to Mr. Scarritt and those with similar views, that is NOT considered a redistribution of our wealth. I just don’t understand.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

The Rooster Song

It's hard to believe that I haven't blogged since Sept. 2008. A lot has happened in the interim, some good, some bad, some happy some sad. One of the sad things is that Sam died last December. A possum got in the coop, and Sam saw this as a big threat. Evidently the two got into it, and decided to fight to the death. The possum was the victor, but Sam got in some blows, too, judging from the blood in the coop. So now, Monique, the Plymouth barred rock is the lone and lonely survivor. Here's a picture tribute to Sam:
Sam, when he was a roosterhen- before he crowed. We named him/her Sam- short for Samantha or Samuel Pepys- whichever turned out to be correct :)

Hitchhiking on my boot
As Sam grew up, he was joined by Emily, Henrietta and Monique, affectionately known as Sam's "girls. He was most protective of them, but would have no part in their squabbles.

Sam grew into quite a handsome fellow. He loved to hop into my lap for an evening treat of couscous.

I really do miss Sam and his antics, although Mr. G says it's kind of nice to be able to go in the back yard without having to fear an attack by an irate rooster. But just to remind me of Sam, I have set the ringtone on my cell phone to a rooster crowing. Sam would get a kick out of it, and it's always cool to see how folks react when they hear it!
So, I won't be blogging about Sam's antics anymore, but I'll be back blogging about other goings on, including gardening, an occasional political rant and my new addiction to kitchen gadgetry and cooking a la Julia Child, so check back.