Sunday, September 30, 2007

Oh if only...

For a few years now I've listened to co-workers and friends complain about the high cost of getting a teenage girl ready for prom or homecoming or some other fancy occasion. "You're so lucky" they'd say, "you've got a boy."

I actually figured they were correct. I mean, getting a boy ready for a big dance couldn't be nearly as expensive and time consuming as getting a girl ready, right?

Oh if only.

Back in the day when my granddad painted the art for this ad, elegant shirts were a dollar. Last week, in preparation for Homecoming, we spent $20 at Penney's for a shirt that was on sale.

There was the new suit, which thanks to John's Suit Shop, was "only" $109.00. Add in the $10 tie to match his date's dress. Since he's grown about 5 inches and three sizes since we last bought dress shoes, we gave Payless $23 for a pair that after two trips to exchange them for bigger sizes, looked pretty spiffy with the charcoal grey suit. Dress shoes mean dress socks, so toss another $5 into the till.

Of course he had to get his date a corsage. For $15 Dillons made a beautiful wrist corsage with white and red lilies which matched his date's dress. Too bad the Date managed to leave it in my car when I drove them between the dance and the after-party at her huge home overlooking a golf course. Easy come easy go, as my dad used to say.

Tickets to the dance were $13, and photos added $14. (Well worth it, though, since Mike Wingo did the photography.)

All complaining aside, the Young One looked like a million bucks--that's a pretty good return on the investment.

The idea that teenage boys are cheaper and/or easier than teenage girls is nothing more than a myth, though, and Homecoming 2007 is my proof!

How Do Others Perceive You?

Ask Dr. Phil:

Dr. Phil's Personality Test

The 25 question non-scientific quiz purports to answer the age-old curiosity: what do other people think about me?

According to the good doctor, I'm perceived as:

Others see you as sensible, cautious, careful, practical. They see you as clever, gifted, or talented, but modest. Not a person who makes friends too quickly or easily, but someone who's extremely loyal to friends you do make and who expects the same loyalty in return. Those who really get to know you realize it takes a lot to shake your trust in your friends, but equally that it takes you a long time to get over if that trust is ever broken.

In the end, though, I think my "bff" (oh wise one of green hair and polyester) had it right when she reminded me that most folks are too busy worrying about what other people think to think about any other people.

She the one that's thinking things.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Nine trillion, nine billion, nine hundred ninety-two million, five hundred eighty-eight thousand, eight hundred nineteen dollars and 30 cents.

That's the amount of the United States federal deficit as of September 18, 2007. (You can go to Treasury Direct and check the balance on any given day or time period.)

When Clinton left office, we had a budget surplus. Seven years later, our government has racked up over 9 trillion dollars of debt.

This is the same government, the same group of mostly rich white men, who have the audacity to disparage Americans who have run into serious financial trouble because of personal debt and over-spending.

They degrade middle class Americans who, while trying for a bit of the American Dream, have obtained mortgages that may bankrupt them. They act as though they are above such behavior, that they would never make such risky personal financial decisions, but these are the same people who rubber stamp billions of dollars worth of government expenditures without blinking an eye.

Albert Bandura's research on social learning theory shows that modeling is a very powerful teaching tool. Our representatives are modeling unrestricted spending without consequences. Cognitive dissonance theory teaches that conflicting messages, especially when given by an authority figure, can be crazy-making. Which then begs the question: When our government falls into a level of debt that is mind boggling, yet talks about how irresponsible middle class citizens are when they have trouble paying their debts, isn't it likely the collective consciousness will become even more chaotic?

Each citizen's share of the federal debt is $29,738.26. While most of us would never think about leaving our personal credit mistakes for our children or grandchildren to pay, it is obvious that they will bear the burden of the unbridled governmental spending we've allowed.

The youth of the 1960's -- the men and women who now run our government -- were going to change the world. I used to think that meant they'd make it better.

I was wrong.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Click this link.

Lovely Leah has written two posts about the attacks which occurred in America on September 11th, 2001.

Both posts provide moving and enlightening tributes to America and the victims of the attacks, particularly when you understand that Leah is an Irish Jew living in Israel. This young woman's maturity and intelligence are obvious when you read her blog, and these particular posts.

Take a moment and look at them both. The tributes are beautiful and thought-provoking.

I'm not that into you.

I recently started reading, and occasionally posting on a blog that is related to an advisory board I joined. It seems most of the folks on this board are unabashedly conservative, and as I have experienced with other blogs that are mostly about conservative issues, if someone disagrees with what they write, they assume it is a personal attack.

One woman with whom a couple of posters disagreed, insinuated she was waiting for "hate mail." Twice people have misinterpreted what I thought was a pretty straight-forward argument against their opinions on health care and the mortgage crisis, and assumed I was making some statement about them, not the issue.

I am not particularly conservative in most of my political and social philosophies, but dig this: Just because I disagree with what someone else says (whether it is conservative, libertarian, liberal, or martian), it doesn't mean I'm attacking the other person.

I just disagree with the opinion.

Frankly I don't have the energy for the rest of the "hater" stuff.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Til Death Do Us Part

At 92 years old, the wizened old lady was anything but frail. Mrs. Andrews been caring for her 90-something husband for years and although she appreciated her grandchildren trying to get her some help, she could not understand why Robyn and I were there.

Fresh out of college and full of do-gooder naivete, we drove to the woman's home in what old time Springfieldians call "Little Italy." Some houses in this area still had dirt floors, but Mrs. Andrews's thick plank floor was worn smooth from generations of bare feet and heavy work boots. She invited us into her kitchen, where she was taking a pan of biscuits out of a big black wood stove. Cast iron skillets sat on the burners, and battered old aluminum pans hung on pegboard. The kitchen was warm, hot really, since it was July and she had no air conditioning.

After we'd taken seats on the wooden benches at her kitchen table, she stood in her faded flannel nightgown, fists on her bony hips and looked fiercely at us. Her mouth tightened into a thin line as we explained that we worked for the Division of Aging and had some in-home services that might help her take better care of her bed-bound husband.

"You come with me," she snarled, walking briskly into the next room. There, under a mound of cotton blankets, lay a long, thin old man whose bald head barely made a dent in his feather pillow. She wiped a string of saliva from his chin, and gently patted his head. Then she whirled around, surprisingly fast for her age, and in a hoarse whisper said, "I've been with this old man my whole life. He's old and he's sick and I'm not about to let you young things come in here and take him away from me. Ain't no nursing home going to get my husband!"

We protested, trying to explain that we weren't there to take him to a nursing home, but she wasn't having any of it. As we continued to sputter, she reached into a dark corner by the old man's bed and pulled out a long shotgun, pointing it right at us.

Shouting "you ain't going to take him" and telling us to "get the hell off my property," she shooed us out the front door. We could hear her cock the weapon as she stood on the porch until we were in the car, spewing gravel as we sped down the driveway to safety.

Later that day her 50 year old granddaughter phoned to apologize, saying that her grandmother and grandfather would no doubt die together in that hot old house.

They'd been together for more than seventy years and to be together until the day they died was all they wanted.