remember when the words were new

I've been awful about getting back into blogging. The photo blog - where I don't really have to say anything - is much easier. I used to be so vocal. MIT changed all that, and even though it's been five years I don't seem to have gotten my groove back.

So my days are pretty ordered; I check the email, read the news - these days watching the Left's subtle branding of the Tea Party as domestic terrorists with interest and slight alarm - network online, read books, and nap. I'm working as a contractor and have pretty much resolved myself to it, though how we'll live on that income in the long run is a mystery to me. Too many jobs have been practically handed to me and then unceremoniously yanked with impersonal form letters from people I never even interviewed with. I give up. We have laws in place so you can't be discriminated against in hiring, but they're completely useless so long as human resources knows how to type "we have decided to seek a candidate whose background a professional interests more closely match the position," which is a cop-out piece of crap.

I do enjoy the flexible schedule, though. Sometimes I need to handle a customer support issue at 1am and, well, I can do that and the customer is always appreciative for the quick response. Or, if I'm feeling creative at 9pm, I can work on a new template or do some editing, and it doesn't matter what time it is. If I'm exhausted at 3pm and want to lie down for an hours, I can. It's pretty liberating, actually.

The nail salon I blast for poor writing in the previous post? Well, I'm sure they're website is still a mess and a grammatical nightmare, but I do love the salon. I've become a regular there and have hands I am no longer ashamed of - anyone can paint a nail, I suppose, but their compliments on my hands built my self confidence, and I broke the habit of 25 or more years (I didn't bite my nails, but I did pick at them!) It's made a very noticeable difference in how I view myself, actually. That might seem silly.

So visit the photo blog; it's easier on the eyes anyway, much less typing to deal with :-)


...we can't comprehend this sad state that we're in

A couple of years ago I was given a gift certificate for a manicure at a local nail salon by a well-to-do woman in my prayer group; I thanked her and the thing has proceeded to sit in my house for over 2 1/2 years. Why? Because I'm a nail-ripper. I don't bite my nails, but I rip at them and always have done. I hide my hands a lot. But lately I've been getting better about it and wondered if a manicure might help me even further (heck, I'm even wearing polish on my toes now, for heaven's sake, and I have major foot embarrassment for some reason.) So I tried to look the place up to see what services they offered, etc. I found a few reviews and, interestingly, two of them made a point of saying that everyone working at the salon spoke English. I guess this is sometimes a problem. A few pages into Google, I discovered that speaking English and being able to put together a few decently-written sentences is, alas, still beyond even English-speakers. Here is what I found for the salon (whose name I will not mention):

We are located in wonderful downtown Andover MA, have over 13 years of experience, and have great pride in our cleanliness. our impliments are fully sanitized after each client, our top of the line, brand new pedi bowls have no jets and are individualized for each client. our manicures and pedicures have been known to last longer than other nail salons. we do not do acrylic nail, as we are firm believers that they truely damage your natural nail. we offer an artificial nail that is alot more natural looking than acrylic, which is silk nails. The silk overlays last roughly 10 to 14 days, and do not damage your natural nail as the acrylics do.

We often do private partys in our salon for bridal, batchlorette, and birthday parties. ladies nights are also very popular and lots of fun, get a group of girls together and come get a manicure and pedicure together! Ladies nights can be booked for teusday and wednesday nights, starting at 6pm.

We hope to see you soon!

Wow. That must be some manicure/pedicure, to last longer than a nail salon... Go on; tell me how many errors are in there. Oh, the shame...


voices from the past

Local radio personality Howie Carr "talks" to Dutch about the proposed health care bill and Amercian freedom in general.

Listen to this at WRKO

/yes, obviously these are words clipped from Reagan's many fine speeches and put together.


don't ask me what I want it for

Ah, Taxachusetts. Beginning yesterday, August 1st, sales tax rose from 5% (I think it's been that all my life) to 6.25%. Great timing, when we have a record unemployment rate and recession going.

Fortunately for me, I live very close to the NH border. There is no sales tax in NH. On anything. In MA, food and clothing are exempt, but everything else is fair game. Also starting yesterday, sales tax was imposed on alcohol sales, which already have an excise tax. So that's double-taxed.

It's a sad time for my local businesses. I've been laid off and haven't managed to score a single interview, so I'm pinching pennies. I'm driving to NH to buy all my taxable items, and - to save gas - I may end up doing the grocery and clothing shopping there since, well, I'm already there. In the right-hand column of this blog you will see a running total kept: of tax money I saved by purchasing tax-free in NH, of the total of non-taxable items I bought there because it was easier (I was, after all, already there) and the sum total of money taken away from MA businesses because I went up north.

I feel sorry for businesses along the NH border, I really do. And I will try to do food shopping here for sure, but if I'm out and it's easier, I'll do it in NH. Save some gas money.

This should be interesting. I'll send the figures along to Governor Patrick after a few months, and also to my local newspaper. It won't be devastatingly high; I'm a single mom with one ten year-old son, and I'm frugal at that - but I'll bet MA businesses will wish they had my money. I'm just a representative; I'm hardly the only one along the border doing this.



if there's a plan then tell me

A little blurb about one of Earth Day's co-founders...

"Ira Einhorn was arrested for murder March 28, 1979, the day the Three Mile Island nuclear plant accident occurred. Ira Einhorn, environmentalist, was charged with murder during the same period as one of the greatest environmental accidents in United States history.

But the real irony is that more people died in the apartment of Ira Einhorn, co-founder of Earth Day than at Three Mile Island. The environmentalist killed more people than the so-called environmental disaster.

Happy Earth Day."

-from The Bulletin, "Earth Day Philly Style" by
Michael P. Tremoglie (Wednesday, April 22, 2009)

Just found that...well, pretty ironic! Maybe if he'd stuffed his girlfriends body in a compost pile instead of a suitcase...?


where have all the flowers gone?

I was just thinking about the love affair Massachusetts voters had with Deval Patrick when he was running for Governor, so I thought I'd check out press from his Inauguration Day. Here's how the Boston Globe led off the article:


Patrick vows inclusion in inaugural address

Deval Patrick took the oath of office yesterday as the state's 71st governor, and the first African-American, presenting himself as a symbol of optimism and change who will restore faith in government after 16 years of Republican rule.


And, from Patrick's speech:

"For a very long time now, we have been told that government is bad, that it exists only to serve the powerful and well-connected, that its job is not important enough to be done by anyone competent, let alone committed, and that all of us are on our own," he said. "Today, we join together in common cause to lay that fallacy to rest, and to extend a great movement based on shared responsibility from the corner office to the corner of your block and back again."


Sigh. I know I won't hit it all, but what have we gotten in the past couple of years? First there was the Cadillac/helicopter/drapes scandal. His wife's $72,000 "personal assistant" who also happened to be a campaign supporter. The BFD is being investigated by the FBI for disability fraud. Sen. Dianne Wilkerson is caught on tape taking a bribe and stuffing it into her bra. Sen. James Marzilli is charged with groping women in Lowell. Patrick appoints Sen. Marian Walsh to a post vacant for 12 years with a salary of $175,000 (oh, she's accepted $120,000 to quell public fury.) Toll takers are caught robbing the Commonwealth in various ways. The Aloisi siblings. Hacks collecting pensions and working second taxpayer-funded lip service jobs. $23,000 raises for County Sheriff in counties where pretty much nothing ever happens (one of which doesn't even have any prisoners.) Discgraced councilman Chuck Turner, also caught taking bribes. That dude from the Somerville - Register of Probate? something like that - who was caught on tape stealing money from the copy machines. The list just goes on and on and on.

Has there been any good progress? I'm sure there has. I just don't know what it is. I'm sure I'll think of something. Maybe the police details thing? But the police are still at every detail I've seen in my hometown. And my property value has plummeted but - ha! - I'm still paying the same real estate taxes on the property!


bleeding money

Hm. Since January 1:

PT costs for my frozen shoulder for this year: $250 in co-pays and $300 lost wages.
Prescription drugs: $176.80
Pneumonia-related office co-pays: $50
Other office co-pays, thus far: $150
Co-pays for the next two week's worth of appointments: $150

Total: more than I can really afford.

But what if I didn't have health insurance? What if we had socialized medicine? I'd probably still have pneumonia, and I'd have to wait until next summer to see the specialists I need instead of next week. And I probably wouldn't have been able to choose which specialists I see. I'm probably costing more than I'm paying to the insurance company; but dang, that's not gonna help me come up with the money for summer camp.

I hope the tax refund is good! And I sure miss MIT Medical.


what do you hear in these sounds?

So I finally caved, or went insane enough, that I decided to start seeing a counselor. Going to therapy.

And I did, today.

I think there a lot of issues. After laying out all I could think of, one issue stood out - although it's tied in to other things from the past and the present - and really, what it boiled down to was one thing.


heal the wound

Well, I tried. I thought it might work...even be momentous. But, alas. Life was just...life.

I went to see my former Professor/MIT supervisor, his new wife and their 51 week-old daughter a couple of weeks ago. I had visions of some kind of release or epiphany, but I was hoping for too much. I'm the only one still haunted by my past. I'm sure Ms. M. never thinks of me at all, or all she cost me. MIT as an institution had no problem lying to me and I dropped off their radar the day they blackmailed me into resigning.

Heal the wound and leave the scar? I'm still bleeding, and it seems it's never going to stop.

It will be four years next month.


isn't it ironic?

I was drinking a SlimFast today at work - offered by a coworker - in an attempt to put some weight back ON.




Last night I did a good deed.

As I was making my son's dinner, I noticed some commotion in our parking lot - two cars in odd places, two guys milling around - and I thought there may have been a love tap between the two cars. In about ten minutes I see they are still there, and now it seems as if they are looking for something. So I get my son his dinner and head outside. I asked if something had been lost and if I could help.

Wedding ring.

A neighbor had slipped in the parking lot, gotten up to shake off the new snow (it was snowing, btw) and his ring had flown off. So sure, I'll help! The other neighbor helping brought out a rake and I took that, hoping to snag the ring on a tine, or sift through the snow and catch it that way. How far could it have gone?

The ring owner had to leave to bring his kid to swim practice, so neighbor C and I kept looking. I remembered my son's metal detector and got that out. We looked, stooped over and getting snowed on, lugging implements around, for over an hour. Nada. Ring owner comes home and we're sorry but we've got to pack it in. My son's inside our home, alone. I give the owner my metal detector and wish him the best.

Less than 15 minutes after I got home the doorbell rang. It was the ring owner, with the metal detector - and his ring!

I'm glad he found it. But my good deed was rewarded - by fate (or, more likely, my own stupidity) not the owner - by ending up having to make my first 911 call. I've been sick for the past few weeks, starting with pneumonia on New Year's, and have lost over 10 pounds since, etc. I overdid it out there. After I got home I began shaking, couldn't get my heart rate down, legs were freezing, stomach upset...my body went nuts from that. I tried water and orange juice, in case I was dehydrated or needed sugar, and some carbs...nothing. Everything getting worse. My anti-anxiety meds not working on it either, and I'd taken three of them in a half hour period (safe, but my "max" dose.) If I'd been alone I'd have taken another pill and toughed it out. But my son was with me, and I needed to be sure I was OK so I called 911. Ended up with a firetruck first because all the close ambulances were out, and that was fine. Then the ambulance came and I had four EMT firefighters in my house, by which time I was starting to feel better. In the end I opted not to go to the hospital but to chalk it up to a panic attack (which I'm sure was a large part of it) and promised to call my doctor.

I think this may be a cue that I need to exercise moderately and eat sensibly. Or, at the moment, at least eat!!!


stop, in the name of love

Peeve alert.

Every place I've ever worked has had employees who stick their crap in the microwave and then are too impatient to wait for it to cook for whatever amount of time they've keyed in. They will leave three seconds on the damn thing and walk away. The next person has to hit the "clear" button in order to heat up their own crap.

Either key in three seconds less or hit the farking CLEAR key already, you idiots!


school daze

My son brought home his "Friday folder," which contains all the work he's done that week and a couple of things I have to sign and send back. Included in the pile of papers was a writing sheet titled "Time For Kids: The Bully Battle." Although only one section had anything to do with bullying.

The first question was on the "Nation: The Next First Family" - "What is one of the first things that Obama needs to do to prepare for his presidency?"

Hm. Maybe everyone is just used to saying "Obama," but it's not right. For schoolchildren, I'd like to see "President-elect Obama," and hope that, in the future, they ask about "President Obama." On a different note, I've never seen one other paper that talks about Bush - probably because they can't think of a non-threatening or "positive" question about him. Don't get me wrong - Bush has done a lot of thing I feel were wrong for this country - but the teachers are swooning over Obama. I am still awaiting the announcement that January 20th is going to be "Obama Day" and the whole school will be decorated with dancing in the hallways.

The next question was about the Treasury Secretary, and what he announced as a new goal for our economy. Apparently the Obama team is going to make sure consumers can borrow more money, because if there is anything your average American needs, it's more debt. Anyway, I'm not sure on this issue but my son got this one right.

And the last (again, note lack of "bully" relationship): "Why do people want to retire the use of American-Indian mascots? Use evidence from the story to support your answer." Now, my son put a thoughtful answer to this and it was right along with the party line. How many people really care about American-Indian mascots? Who really wants to make this into a big moral issue? Well, teachers, for one. I also get a lot of papers home that make their global warming and environmental positions very clear. There is never a counterpoint to whatever they have these kids read. And my son is brainwashed on the environmental issue. I can't seem to have an intelligent, balanced discussion with him.

We have a good school with dedicated teachers. But I get so tired of this. Now when I drop him off early for a before-school meeting there are kids outside telling me to not let my car idle more than 30 seconds. I want to tell them all to shut up. Of course I don't, because you're an idiot if you don't buy into the party line, even if you only want to question it and explore the other side of the issue. This is only the stuff he brings home; I'm sure if I saw all they're doing I'd have a heart attack.


when i'm president

OK, I'm not really laughing on this one but I say "well, there ya have it, Obama - did you really think it would be different for you, o savior?"

CAIRO, Egypt "Al-Qaida's No. 2 leader lashed out at President-elect Barack Obama in a new audio message Tuesday, accusing him of not doing anything to stop Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip, according to an intelligence monitoring center.

The recording purportedly by Ayman al-Zawahiri was al-Qaida's first comments on the Gaza crisis since Israel launched its offensive against the Islamic militants of Hamas on Dec. 27.

In the comments, which were posted on a militant Web site and obtained by the SITE Monitoring Service, al-Zawahiri described Israel's actions in Gaza as a "crusade against Islam and Muslims" and called it "Obama's gift to Israel" before he takes office later this month.

"This is Obama whom the American machine of lies tried to portray as the rescuer who will change the policy of America," al-Zawahiri said, according to SITE. "He kills your brothers and sisters in Gaza mercilessly and without affection." -by HADEEL AL-SHALCHI, Associated Press Writer Hadeel Al-shalchi, Associated Press Writer Tue Jan 6, 8:23 pm ET

It's ridiculous, obviously - it's so ridiculous it should make you wonder about all the similar, automatic rhetoric aimed at Bush from the same factions. They can't even wait until he's out of office before attacking the next guy - who is, technically, powerless at the moment. I think this is a mistake, because it reiterates strongly what people like al-Zawahiri truly are: selfish, egomaniacal, bloody, radical zealots who are willing to blame anyone for their disgusting ideologies except for themselves.


i'm so tired of being here

It really shouldn't be possible, how much anger I still have. But every single day there is something to remind me of you and what you've done to my life. I wish you could look in the mirror every once in a while and feel guilt, and I'm angry and ashamed I have such ignoble feelings. If you've said to yourself "it wasn't so bad - I didn't really mean it and she's probably getting along fine" I want you to know you're dead wrong.

Dead wrong.


there's straw for the donkeys

But not for me.

Listen, Employer:

I know legalese can be hard to understand at times. But the Federal and State laws regarding overtime for non-exempt employees is really very clear. A child could understand them. Here it is:

"no employer in the commonwealth shall employ any of his employees in an occupation, as defined in section two, for a work week longer than forty hours, unless such employee receives compensation for his employment in excess of forty hours at a rate not less than one and one half times the regular rate at which he is employed"

Easy, right? For each 40-hour workweek, if I work more than 40 hours, I am paid overtime for those hours in excess of FORTY.

Here is what my Employer did for a year:

All employees are salaried and there is no overtime - meaning not only is there no 1.5 time compensation, but you are not paid AT ALL for hours in excess of 40. OK. BUT this was only true when they benefited. If you did NOT work forty hours - let's say you had to go to the doctor's and it took two hours - you were docked pay for every hour you were out of the office. If you had no sick time left (out of the five days a year you were given) then you were out of luck and not paid.

So: salaried employee when it works to their benefit, hourly employee when it works to their benefit.

Finally an attorney straightened them out on the exempt/non-exempt thing. The attorney also attempted to explain overtime. But since the Employer pays every two weeks, they decided that if you worked 39 hours in one week and 41 hours the next week, that canceled the overtime out.


And no, I'm not just griping. I have been actively seeking another job for some time. I continue to do so. But this is frustrating. After a year I still have not received the promised raise (no explanation at all on that one) and am still not being paid correctly. Just grrr.


a little place in Aspen

Well, we made it through the high-pressure sales pitch. I only went because I wanted my $20 back...they made me give them $20 when I checked in, and I had to attend and listen to them drone on and on to get it back. There was breakfast, of course, but on my swing through the line there were no eggs or home-fried potatoes, and the eggs were long in ever showing up. Still, we were fed.

Then came the sales pitch, this time given by a poor gal with a heavy Latin accent - I had to constantly say "what?" because that, combined with the background music and general sound of sales clamor (and my deaf ear) made it nearly impossible for me to understand anything she said. Then the tour, to see the great FIVE-bedroom unit. Me, and my son. I've already made it clear that this is my entire vacationing family, and I'm not planning to add to it. Plus, I don't even have the salary requirement to even be considered a time-share owner. Yet they are determined to find a way.

After the tour, the real sales guy shows up and he and our Latina start their thing. It really is a "thing," I'm quite sure it's scripted, as the tour-guide-level gal/guy looks baffled that the big sales guy/gal is able to give us SUCH A DEAL. Looking at the numbers, however, it really kind of IS a deal...gah! run! they've put something in the foooooooooood!!!

I escaped, as I have every other year, without surrendering a cent to the sales guy. This year, I actually was given $60 in cash for listening (plus my original $20), which pretty much made it worth it (in my opinion; I don't think the Boy feels quite the same...yet: I'll split it with him...well, $40-$20 anyway...I should get more because they weren't pressuring HIM and, after all, he didn't start pitching a fit when I asked him to so we could bust out early.)


some fruity little drink

There is only one answer to dealing with fourth-grade homework and a fourth-grader whining about it, and that answer rhymes with "frisky."



massachusetts: determined to tax you one way or another

So...my good friend Steve gave me a car. Yes, gave - as in free, gratis, no cost, not a sale. Thus, according to every law regarding sales tax, the value of this car is not taxable because I did not buy it. My good friend wanted to give me this car.

In case you're not aware of how sales tax works here in Massachusetts, you can "buy" a car for $1.00 and have to pay 5% sales tax on whatever the Commonwealth declares the car is actually worth. So, if you buy a 1988 p.o.s. that smells like old liverwurst and has rust through the floor and if MA says that car is worth $1,000 you're gonna pay $50 in sales tax.

Even rabid tax-drooling lawmakers know that a gift is a gift and you can't assess sales tax on the value of the item given; if they could do that, Massachusetts would soon be taxing those wonderful art projects your kid brings home from school on Mother's and Father's Day (oh wait; they are! Let's see, little Johnny's coffee-can pencil holder is worth...$200! Please fork over $10 in taxes immediately, payable to your school.) Anyway, they know they can't tax a gift, and it drives them insane. How, oh how, to feel better and get something for nothing???

I know! A fee! We'll institute a fee on every car given as a gift - but only if they register it! That way, we're not actually taxing the gift, but just adding a fee at registration. If you don't register the car, you'll never pay it! Sure, that makes us feel better!

It's true. In order to register this gift car, I have to pay a $25 - and this is verbatim - "Sales Tax Exemption Fee for Gift."

In order to NOT have to pay sales tax, I have to pay a "fee."

This can also be stated as: because Massachusetts can't find a legal way to tax me for this car, they're going to assess me a fee that will replace the sales tax. True, the fee is less than the sales tax would be (I think - the gift car is a 1994 Ford Escort with 109K+ miles on it) but it is, essentially, JUST ANOTHER TAX.

I hate Massachusetts sometimes. I really do. I cannot wait to leave, which will happen when my son leaves home. Until that time, I have to stay here because of custody issues. Or I would be planning my escape right now, instead of just dreaming about it nine years down the road.


california smarts

"California courts have held that under provisions in the Education Code, parents do not have a constitutional right to home school their children."

Read the stories? Here it is in a nutshell: stemming from a single case where a child was possibly being abused (one of eight siblings filed a complaint), California DCFS tried to get a judge to rule that all eight kids had to go to public school so that teachers might be able to spot signs of abuse. A juvenile court ruled, however, that the parents had a constitutional right to home school their children. The DCFS appealed and the case landed in appellate court...where the above ruling was handed down. Basically, the parents of 200,000 homeschooled children in CA face penalty and criminal action, unless they obtain teaching degrees (and, if their child is in middle or high school, teaching credentials in EVERY subject.)

Are we still living in America? Of course, public school teachers are applauding this decision, and we're hearing things like "whether home schooled children are receiving a quality education at home is not the issue; these children need to be socialized with their peers" and similar nonsense. Or, shall I say, CRAP. Is school the only place children are socialized? I think not. Libraries, playgrounds, sports, arts and crafts activities, camps, FRIENDS...all these provide socialization.

Get out of my house, Government. Unless I'm neglecting or abusing my child, stay out. Stay out of my bedroom too. Stay out of my church. Stay out of my car, for heaven's sake!