Friday, August 18, 2017

The Firehose of Crazy Never Stops

So, this was a week, wasn't it? We're all still wrapping our heads around the Bogus POTUS siding with white supremacists and neo-Nazis and whatever the hell they call themselves (is there a difference, besides their self-labeling and wardrobe?). For the sake of my carpal tunnel, I'm going to call them all Nazis going forward, but please understand my use of the word encompasses every flavor of racist asshole.

This is some scary shit we're living through, for sure. But pressure and phone calls and public outrage are getting a few of the spineless quisling GOP to stand up, tentatively, like wee prairie dogs poking out of their burrows, and squeak mild protests. Here's hoping that eventually they'll realize their own futures are on the line and at least fake being patriots? Maybe??

Meanwhile, we can all chuckle at the stories of the Citronella Nazis getting fired by their employers, and the whining that has ensued. One headline described it as "outing." Um, you marched in broad daylight, or carrying a torch that illuminated your face, into hundreds of cameras, sweeties. That's not being "outed," and you didn't show up at this by accident, and if your employer has some crazy HR rule about, yanno, not employing Nazis, that is highly unfortunate for you, but something anyone with half a brain might have anticipated.

And that leads me to another personal story of Deplorables I Know IRL.

A co-worker got fired this week. I won't go into too many details, but it was a really basic, every employee is expected to adhere to certain expectations kind of thing, and she had violated it egregiously for a long, long time, and got many, many warnings, and finally pushed the envelope past breaking, and was told not to come back. (Just to be clear: this had absolutely nothing to do with anything political; it was a very basic, everyone over the age of five knows they have to get up and do what they have to do issue.)

And she who had been warned many, many times, would "be good" for a while then backslide into taking advantage again, and if I described the extent of the recent taking advantage you wouldn't even believe me. Picture the most over-the-top sitcom bad employee you've ever seen, now take it past that, and you might get close. She finally pushed management beyond their breaking point. And of course, when she was let go said, I swear to GOD: "I was stunned," and texted one of our other co-workers that she'd spent the day in bed, all sad and victimized. So today when I read all the stories of the Nazis all freaked out that they lost their jobs after being photographed at a white supremacist rally, I thought of my former co-worker. Like the Nazis, she was truly gobsmacked that the rules everyone else lives by actually applied to her.

But as a practical matter, our small team is now down TWO people, and I have no idea how that's going to work.

As far as looking in the mirror and thinking I look 10 years older goes, that's what Clairol is for. And Disney. And books. I do try to take the weekend off this shit and escape. Because breaking the country down, until batshit is normal and everyone is focused on the shiny things and missing the ways our democracy is being dismantled is exactly the purpose of this administration.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Threatening Nuclear War, Empowering Nazis...and he's barely halfway through the first year.

So, can I be angry at Trump voters YET?

This country has gone so batshit crazy, I cannot even. I'm at the point where I see my downstairs neighbor sitting outside and can barely grit my teeth to say good morning. She hasn't worn her "I'm a Deplorable," t-shirt in months, but that cannot be unseen, just like I can't un-witness her going off on and cussing out the condo board lady who politely told her she was breaking (flagrantly flouting) a common sense rule about common area use. The Deplorable cussed her out, screaming and raving and insisting she'd do any goddamn thing she wanted, and who's going to stop her? And then she quit breaking the rule.

These are, quite simply, really shitty people. I think the thing that hurt most, the day after this disaster happened, was the realization that we had 62 million people willing to go along with this. Granted, some probably were just, to put it gently, low-information voters who honestly didn't know what they were doing, but a fair number did this on purpose. And now an American citizen has been assassinated by a fascist terrorist while peacefully protesting fascism, in an American city, on American soil. Over a dozen others were injured in the attack, some seriously. And the "president" does some mealy-mouthed bullshit "all sides" platitude thing and refuses to denounce white nationalism. He can't. Those are his people. They are on the fucking White House staff.

Meanwhile, the investigation into this bizarre, corrupt banana republic administration and the money laundering and corruption at its core is closing in, and unfortunately I wouldn't put it past him to think he can distract by launching a nuke. Because it's all that crazy.

And yet, life goes on somewhat normally, if "somewhat normally" includes dark jokes with co-workers about whether we were going to get nuked this weekend. Delaney started kindergarten on Thursday. Due to her parents' work locations and hours, Grandma is getting back into the getting a kid to school groove. Her mom tosses her onto my driveway around 7, I'll feed her and make sure she's organized for the day, and drop her around 7:45. It'll work. It's good for me, too, because it's forcing me to be more organized, pack my lunch the night before, etc. Last Thursday and Friday were the shakedown cruise, tomorrow the week begins early, and it will be a good one. Because this is still America and these assholes are NOT THE MAJORITY AND ARE NOT WHO WE ARE.

And because I know most of you just come here to hear about the cat, I regret to inform you that she recently lost her title of Best Cat Ever.

I was knitting on Delaney's Endless Fucking Blanket the other evening, when I became aware of a soft, slurping sound from down around my feet. I looked down to see that Ellie had part of the blanket in her mouth, and was sucking on it. I screamed profanities and got it away from her. She didn't actually bite through the yarn, but she somehow sucked a loose spot in the garter stitch, like she'd been forcing her tongue between the stitches, probably mimicking the motions of a nursing kitten. (This is the Mason-Dixon Log Cabin pattern, colors selected by Delaney, rendered in purple, orange, sky blue and hot pink.) I lost my shit, and cursed at her like my downstairs neighbor cussed out the board lady. I threatened her with such violent bodily harm and a return trip to the shelter that she avoided me for the rest of the evening. I woke up to find her stretched across the foot of the bed, and I held out my hand, and we made up. She now keeps her distance from my knitting, because clearly mommy's a bit crazy when it comes to those yarn things.

I am about 3/4 through Delaney's Endless Fucking Blanket, or WAS, because to fix the sucked spot, I had to rip back TWO very long stripes, then rip out the sucked-on purple stripe. That was a week ago, and I'm finally finishing replacing that purple stripe, because I do have other things to do and can't knit every evening. So the BCE has been demoted to Merely Okay Cat for now. She'll have to work to regain her title.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Everything is Splendid!!

OMG, our national shitshow is exhausting. I'm not even going to try to recap the last couple of weeks, but it's definitely a downward spiral. We've left the Apprentice and may be spiraling down past Jersey Shore, and I'm not sure what shitty reality show is below that, but we may all be there by the end of the month. The lies upon lies, desperate, pathetic lies, the "Look over there!" shit is just too much. Yeah, the ENTIRE intelligence community, not just ours, but our allies have been on this all along, and it's hard to believe it's only been six months. The good news is he's going down fast. The bad news is, we now have to hope that his new Chief of Staff is patriotic enough to punch him out when he's tempted to launch nukes. You'd be saving the world, sir.

And still, the GOP remains uneasily silent. Oh, they rumble now and then, write "brave" op-eds, and I do give them credit for rising up on their hind legs and pushing through a veto-proof bill to not let him lift the Russian sanctions. John McCain finally did the right thing, after he set up a dramatic attention grabbing finale, because he is that kind of person. Health care as it currently stands was saved by women. Two brave female Republican Senators, and a Democratic Senator from Hawaii named Mazie Hirono, who has Stage 4 kidney cancer, the same evil thing that killed my husband. She had just had surgery, and she's as sick as John McCain (brain is automatically Stage 4, unless they rewrote the score cards since I had to play). Her surgery was more extensive than his. She was there. She's the true heroine of this shitshow.

So, just to give my readers from places with universal health care a quick real life example of how our "system" "works":

My daughter starts her new dream job with a county school system tomorrow. She wanted my advice on how to pick an insurance plan. I'd just had to pick a new plan because my own employer just switched to a different carrier. The same carrier she will have. And yet, the plans are totally freaking different. I couldn't just pick up my enrollment info from my enrollment of two weeks ago to figure out what I did. Her choices weren't like mine, yet we have the same carrier. It's all based on deals with employers. You can have the same insurance company and get great or okay choices, and pay whatever the employer negotiated. We make basically comparable incomes,I work for a multi-state employer and she'll be working for a county school system. The same insurance carrier offered our employers plans that have different ID codes and different benefit structures.

I have a BA and 30 years of big corporate working experience. She has a MS and more than a decade of working experience. We both puzzled over the plan comparisons. I didn't think to ask the question I should have asked first: "What are you paying now? Look at that plan." She figured that out on her own, and is going with that. It looks pretty good. But seriously? Is this sane or reasonable that two people with coverage from the same insurance company aren't offered plans with the same options and benefits, readily identified by the same code numbers? If we can't figure this shit out without a half hour phone conference, it's hardly a surprise that people are confused and unhappy with their insurance. This shit is HARD.

This is a stark example of why the GOP bullshit about how repealing the ACA will bring "freedom" is a big, fat, fucking LIE. We get what our employers offer. The ACA simply forced the insurance companies to do some basic, civilized things, very few, very limited, humanitarian things, like wellness visits should be no cost, and kids should stay on their parents' plans until they are reasonably into their 20s if they need it. That's optional; they can always get their own insurance if they can. And lifetime caps were removed. I've written several times about how my husband blew through his million dollars a few months before he died, and if I hadn't still had comparable high quality coverage through my own employer, I really have no idea how we'd have come out of that. That lifetime cap thing and the pre-existing condition thing? Those are HUGE.

The ACA didn't do nearly enough to entirely fix the system. It was the first step toward truly reforming this madness, and that's why it was, in the immortal words of Joe Biden, "a big fucking deal." Nobody thinks it's all fine now, but it did curb cost increases, get millions more people covered, and remove the pre-existing condition exclusion that would have kept me from ever affording health insurance again.

But it's still a mess, because the GOP negotiated out every real reform the Democrats wanted, so here we are. We (at least for now) still have reasonably affordable insurance, but we still have complicated stupid shit like how two people living a mile apart in the same state don't get offered the same options from the same insurance company. Just pause for a minute to think of the massive infrastructure behind that insurance company, sorting out all these options, selling all these plans, to keep this deranged casino system functioning. Multiply that by hundreds of brands of insurance carriers (keeping it down to just the big brand names here). This is INSANE.

As bad as things are now, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the GOP will be backed against the wall and forced to face reality, and start working on bipartisan fixes to the current issues with the ACA, and start thinking about that Medicare buy-in. That would be the next practical baby step, as far as I can tell. But while I will cross my fingers I will not hold my breath.

In other, happier things: Miss D starts kindergarten next Thursday! Her mother and father are back to their respective schools tomorrow. Yay, Nana for stepping in to cover those gap days before extended day at school kicks in. It's a crazy gap week between musical theater/dance camp (which she ADORED and wants to do forever) and the start of school for her. Her parents work in two different county school systems, they start work tomorrow. For some entirely inexplicable reason our county decided to do "Meet the Teacher" in the middle of the day on Wednesday next week. See the problem?

I live down the street from her school. I have bravely volunteered to take the day off and take her to Meet the Teacher. Then we can do lunch and have a lovely day to celebrate her launch into big kid school. I'm also going to be on school drop off duty for the foreseeable future. Her parents are both staff in two different counties and have to be there early. So starting next week, Delaney will tossed onto the driveway, backpack in hand, at 6:30 a.m. I will drop her at school around 7:30, then head on to work. I am actually down the street from the school and can drop her in ten minutes or less. Fingers crossed that this juggling act works out. It works out just fine on paper.

Also keep fingers crossed that she gets the most fabulous of the fabulous teachers in this A+ rated school. I needed a break at work and browsed their website, and holy crap, it really does sound amazing, and like they will be able to serve her ridiculously over the top little self.

She'e been drafted for the JV version of performance dance team at her dance school. She'll be doing 3 classes a week this year. My daughter is NOT a stage mom. They'll do this as long as Delaney loves it, and if/when she says she's tired of it and wants to do something else, it'll end. But for now, it's 3 classes a week, and God knows how many performances. Oh, and she's been invited to audition for the Episcopal Church annual play.

It's going to be a crazy, busy year.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Operation Slideshow: Failed to Launch.

So I told her about this cool project, described what a 35mm slide was, said how old they were, etc., and she looked at me impassively for a couple of beats and said, "Can we watch E.T.??" So we did. It was a spaghetti and movies and baking cookies evening.

I haven't given up on the idea, but she'll have to be in the mood to do it. Considering that I haven't been in the mood for a year and a half, I can't expect more from her!! We'll try again another time. Meanwhile, I will do a tray or two now and then. The small stack of trays in the corner of the dining room will not go back to oblivion on the bottom shelf.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Operation Slideshow

After my parents passed away and I sold their home, I took custody of a very large, very old moving box containing tray after tray of 35mm slides. My uncle was the family photographer, and...doing the math here...he's been gone over 40 years. So nearly everything in the box is at least 50-60 years old, and there's well over 1,000 slides. I was very happy to have this enormous box of family history, and had this bright idea that I would sort them all and transfer them to digital format. I actually bought one of those little slide viewer thingies and a gadget to transfer them, and reviewed about half a dozen trays before giving it up in frustration.

The first trays I reviewed were a hot mess - random pictures of scenery from one of my uncle's many fishing trips were mixed with family photos, the timeline was scrambled, the content was scrambled. I suspected my parents had at one point thrown all the slides on the floor and picked them up at random. My uncle the avid photographer was also an avid fisherman who took fishing trips to Canada quite often, and apparently took pictures of every freaking tree in every forest. I threw away at least a hundred slides of anonymous trees, saved the photos of humans, tagged about six trays as reviewed, and put the project aside for another day. That was about a year and a half ago. The trays have occupied the bottom shelf of the bookcase in my office ever since. Every time I see them I think I really need to do something with them one of these days.

I saw them the other day and suddenly had an inspiration! I happen to know a young girlchild who LOVES looking at old family photos! I suspect she would also enjoy using that nifty little slide viewer gadget! So when she asked me if she could sleep over this weekend, I said "YES, my darling child! Of COURSE you may! In fact, WE are going to start working on a Special Project together!"

We'll see how this goes. She may feel the same way I did about this Special Project after a tray or two and put the viewer down in favor of Harry Potter and baking cookies, BUT, if she enjoys it, I have a plan: She will make the first cut reviewing the slides: Is it just a bunch of trees? Trash. Are there people or pets or houses in it? Pass it to Grandma for identifying, labeling and sorting. I pulled out a modest couple of hundred slides to start. We'll see how it goes.