Tuesday, September 30, 2008

What Does “Bailout” Really Mean?

I think a lot of what has gotten Americans so upset over the idea of a “bailout” is the rhetoric. But what does it all really mean? Wayne Fields, an expert on political rhetoric at Washington University in St. Louis, said "talking about it as a bailout has hurt" the plan's chances. That's because most Americans don't understand the intricacies of what's involved but can relate to seeing their tax dollars used to reward those who helped create the mess in the first place.
"I don't think you can change the language now," he said.

Well, I don’t think you can change the language now either, but obviously something needs to be done. And everyone seems to have their own take on how to sell the idea to the American people.

"Let's not call it a bailout. Let's call it a rescue," said Republican John McCain.

Democratic rival Barack Obama said, "This is no longer just a Wall Street crisis — it's an American crisis, and it's the American economy that needs this rescue plan."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's take: It’s not a bailout but "a buy in, so that we can turn our economy around."

Bush, McCain, Obama and top congressional leaders agree the plan — which would nationalize large numbers of bad mortgages and securities tied to them — is needed to unclog the nation's financial arteries.

According to Bob Herbert, NYT Op-Ed columnist, “for years now the leaders of the right have carried the day and whatever restraints were still intact when George Bush took office in 2000 were quickly removed. And these are the people who led us into the multitrillion-dollar debacle in Iraq, crafted tax policies that benefited millionaires and billionaires while at the same time ran up staggering amounts of government debt. This is the crowd that contributed mightily to the greatest disparities in wealth in the U.S. since the gilded age. They cut the cords of corporate and financial regulations and in many other way hacked away at the best interests of the United States.”

Bush and his cronies have put the entire economy in danger. And many of these people, such as Phil Gramm and Carly Fiorina are snuggled in tight with McCain and we’re supposed to trust these people to act in the interest of Americans today?

I surely am not nearly smart enough to know what the answers to all these questions are, answers that we need and soon. White House spokesman Tony Fratto agreed the administration's initial efforts to explain the legislation to Congress and the public left something to be desired. Duh!!

"We need to be able to better demonstrate that there are impacts for American families, for retirees, for small businesses for larger businesses who are hiring, for our banking system, for the ability to get home loans, for businesses to be able to make their payrolls, their small-business accounts," Fratto said.

He said "it's a hard thing to do" because of the complexity of both the problem and the solution. "There are four or five steps involved ... before you get to the kitchen table of the average American family and how it affects them."

Bush was trying on Tuesday.

Well, guess what? They all need to try harder.


For the VP debate you might want to try this:
http://www.mercurynews.com/presidentelect/ci_10600503

Check out this website. I believe you can watch the VP debate here and do live blogging and read other bloggers comments as the debate goes on.

Anyone Want to Go to the Market?

This is a collection of photos from Pike's Market in Seattle
and it is one of the most fun places to shop for just about
any and everything. I love the way they display their food!
You may not go there hungry, but you will be by the time
you've walked around for a bit. And the food is just as
delicious as it looks!
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Monday, September 29, 2008

Archives are Wonderful!

How about this for amazing foresight!! Nine years ago—this one is priceless and worth the read - right out of New York Times - 1999 September 30, 1999.

Fannie Mae Eases Credit To Aid Mortgage Lending

By STEVEN A. HOLMES

In a move that could help increase home ownership rates among minorities and low-income consumers, the Fannie Mae Corporation is easing the credit requirements on loans that it will
purchase from banks and other lenders. The action, which will begin as a pilot program involving 24 banks in 15 markets -- including the New York metropolitan region -- will encourage those banks to extend home mortgages to individuals whose credit is generally not good enough to qualify for conventional loans. Fannie Mae officials say they hope to make it a nationwide program by next spring.

Fannie Mae, the nation's biggest underwriter of home mortgages, has been under increasing pressure from the Clinton Administration to expand mortgage loans among low and moderate income people and felt pressure from stock holders to maintain its phenomenal growth in profits. In addition, banks, thrift institutions and mortgage companies have been pressing Fannie Mae to help them make more loans to so-called subprime borrowers. These borrowers whose incomes, credit ratings and savings are not good enough to qualify for conventional loans, can only get loans from finance companies that charge much higher interest rates -- anywhere from three to four percentage points higher than conventional loans. ''Fannie Mae has expanded home ownership for millions of families in the 1990's by reducing down payment requirements,'' said *_Franklin D. Raines_*, Fannie Mae's chairman and chief executive officer. ''Yet there remain too many borrowers whose credit is just a notch below what our underwriting has required who have been relegated to paying significantly higher mortgage rates in the so-called subprime market.''

Demographic information on these borrowers is sketchy. But at least one study indicates that 18 percent of the loans in the subprime market went to black borrowers, compared to 5 per cent of loans in the conventional loan market. In moving, even tentatively, into this new area of lending, Fannie Mae is taking on significantly more risk, which may not pose any difficulties during flush economic times.

But the government-subsidized corporation may run into trouble in an economic downturn, prompting a government rescue similar to that of the savings and loan industry in the 1980's. ''From the perspective of many people, including me, this is another thrift industry growing up around us,'' said Peter Wallison a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. ''If they fail, the government will have to step up and bail them out the way it stepped up and bailed out the thrift industry.''

Under Fannie Mae's pilot program, consumers who qualify can secure a mortgage with an interest rate one percentage point above that of a conventional, 30-year fixed rate mortgage of less than $240,000 -- a rate that currently averages about 7.76 per cent. If the borrower makes his or her monthly payments on time for two years, the one percentage point premium is dropped.

Fannie Mae, the nation's biggest underwriter of home mortgages, does not lend money directly to consumers. Instead, it purchases loans that banks make on what is called the secondary market. By expanding the type of loans that it will buy, Fannie Mae is hoping to spur banks to make more loans to people with less-than-stellar credit ratings

The Evening Pictures


Seattle, it takes my breath away!

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What Are the Answers? And Who Has Them?

And here I go with the questions again. Like I’m sure nearly everyone else, I’ve been following the downhill tumble of the Dow Jones, the defeat of the bailout and asking, ‘what’s next’?

I don’t think that there is any doubt that the next president is going to have to deal with more than one major financial crisis. Who’s ready to do that? I do agree with Paul Krugman, NYT Op-Ed Columnist, who says that Obama seems well informed and sensible about matters economic and financial. I also agree with him when he says John McCain scares him -- he scares me, too.

Maybe Obama could have shown more leadership in regards to the bailout during the debate over the bailout bill, but that pales in comparison to McCain who was frightening before and is even more so now. We know he doesn’t know much, if anything really useful, about economics – he said so himself. Of course, he denied later that he had said it, but even that wouldn’t matter if he had surrounded himself with capable, knowledgeable advisors, but he didn’t. Gramm is still around even if it’s in the shadows after his “nation of whiners” statement. How do you feel about him as Secretary of the Treasury? I don’t think so!

McCain’s views have gotten progressively erratic. He’ll have a very strong opinion one day and a short time later he will go off in an entirely different direction. He’s still declaring that “the fundamentals of our economy are strong”, and this when the financial crisis had entered a new and even more dangerous stage. He was threatening to fire the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, which isn’t in the president’s power.

Then there was the rant about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and claiming that Obama was under their influence, when as it turned out, the firm owned by his own campaign manager was being paid by them until last month.

In spite of the fact that Paulson’s plan was only three pages long, McCain finally admitted that he hadn’t actually read it!

You can talk tough, stomp your feet, shake your fists at the evildoers all you want, but that isn’t what is needed in the office of President of the United States!

Again, my thanks to Paul Krugman! To read his complete article http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/29/opinion/29krugman.html?ref=opinion

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Colorful Collage to End the Day

In spite of all the political frustrations, worries and concerns
about our country, as night falls I want to remember
the beauty that is always there.
May you all have a lovely evening.Posted by Picasa

When is Enough, Enough?

I realize that I’m always asking questions in my posts and maybe it’s because I never seem to be able to find the answers I’m looking for – maybe no one else knows the answers either. But when do we start looking at the bigger picture? When do we finally get the picture that McCain cares more about trying to win this election than he does about the good of our country. And when do people in this country recognize that his idiotic behavior has nothing to do with the actual problems, but only what he sees as a way to show himself in whatever light will make him look good and help him win the presidency. It’s all about McCain not about the future of this country. Frank Rich’s Op-Ed piece in the NYT discusses this and it’s well worth the read
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/28/opinion/28rich.html?th&emc=th

But that’s only one of the major problems we have to deal with. The other things that scare me are the things I see and hear about that are happening in different places around the country where people are lambasting Muslims and they are cheap, not so subtle tricks to try and undermine Obama. In Portland, Oregon a DVD doing just that was included in the delivered copies of the newspaper paper, The Oregonian. In a town in New Mexico at a local golf course, the secretary of the organization used the membership mailing list to send out a message about "Why Muslims Can't Be Americans." What are people thinking? Or is that the problem? Fear and ignorance is beginning to overwhelm this country right now and when that happens we can say goodbye to all the hopes and dreams of so many. It is terrifying to think just where our country is going to wind up if these sorts of things continue. For more on this see http://texastooregon.blogspot.com/ and http://zeesgowest.blogspot.com/

Surely, we are better citizens than this! The world has become too small for us to just consider ourselves as citizens of the United States, whether we like the idea or not we are citizens of the world and that’s as it should be, particularly now. If we can extend our view to a new conception of “we are the world” what a difference we could make, not just here in this country, but everywhere.

It’s not just this election, it’s not just McCain’s tactics, it’s not just the totally unprepared for office, Sarah Palin, it’s our future, our country’s future, the future of our children and grandchildren that is at stake here. So, I ask again, when is enough, enough?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Collage of Beauty, Color and Variety

Enjoy! Smile! Be thankful for all we have!
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And You Thought History Was Boring!

The next time you are washing your hands and complain because the water temperature isn't just how you like it, think about how things used to be. Here are some facts about the1500s:

Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and still smelled pretty good by June. However, they were starting to smell, so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor, hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all, the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it. Hence the saying, don't throw the baby out with the bath
water.

Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all of the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof. Hence the saying, it's raining cats and dogs. There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That's how canopy beds came into existence.

The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt. Hence the saying, Dirt poor.

The wealthy had slate floors that wouldget slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all startslipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entranceway. Hence the saying a thresh hold.
(Getting quite an education, aren't you?)

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while. Hence the rhyme, Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old.

Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man could, bring home the bacon. They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and chew the fat..

Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing leadpoisoning death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for thenext 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous. Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or the upper crust. Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence the custom of holding a wake. England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the graveyard shift) to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be, saved by the bell or was considered a -- dead ringer!And that's the truth...

Now, whoever said History was boring ! ! !

Another Look at “Unqualified”!

Just what is it about the word "unqualified" that so many people in this country just don’t seem to understand these days? You know, unqualified as in SARAH PALIN???

We’re all so focused on the financial mess that the Bushies have helped get us into that we’re really not paying enough attention to the cloud of disaster waiting to happen if John McCain wins the election with “moose meat” as his VP. And I say “helped”, because we have turned a blind eye to so much of what has been happening in this country since Bush shoved his way into the White House. And now we need to wake up, stand up, and take our country back.

We have all seen in the past that a vice president must be ready to step into the oval office on a moment’s notice. There is no indication whatsoever that Palin is anywhere near ready to assume the monumental challenge of the highest office in our country.

No matter how much the Republicans may try to shield her from the media, she is, has been and will be a total embarrassment in interviews and that’s the least of their worries and should be the least of ours as well. To quote an article by Bob Herbert in a New York Times Op-Ed article, “The idea that the voters of the United States might install someone in the vice president’s office who is too unprepared or too intellectually insecure to appear on, say, “Meet the Press” or “Face the Nation” is mindboggling.” And I couldn’t agree more “that this could actually be funny if it were part of a Monty Python sketch.”

Palin’s interview with Katie Couric was a total disaster as she continued to tout her being able to see Russia from Alaska as all the experience she needs to fill the role of vice president. The press does indeed have an obligation to hammer away at Palin’s qualifications – to be sure not enough Americans seem to be questioning them.

I most certainly do not want to see John McCain win this election, but if, as in my nightmares, he does, he’d truly better find a replacement for Sarah Palin on his ticket.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Dahlias in Canby, Oregon

And another weekend is here, time to pause and take a deep breath, and enjoy, although that's not as necessary as it was years ago when I was still working and the weekends were sometimes divided between enjoying some down time as well as in preparation for another week.

Politics are the big thing tonight and probably through the weekend, but I don't want to talk politics tonight -- I'll do that tomorrow. Right now I just want to look at some lovely pictures, beautiful clouds and flowers. Listen to some beautiful music -- Gustav Mahler tonight, one of my favorites. A good friend of mine once said, if God could speak, he'd sound like Mahler. I think he was right.

It is beautiful here in Seattle with clear skies and the promise of lots of sun and warm temps for the weekend, probably the last kiss of summer. I had dinner out on the deck and watched the clouds gather over Puget Sound -- not storm clouds, just big, puffy marshmallow clouds. The sun was warm on my face and it was easy to push all the ugliness of this campaign to a remote corner of the yard -- the one the dogs use as a bathroom -- seemed appropriate all things considered.

To all of you out there in blogland, I wish you a beautiful, refreshing and peaceful weekend -- a time to renew our energy and our enthusiasm -- for what is life without those? Stick your frazzled nerves, the anger, the frustrations and fears into a closet somewhere and smell the roses, that other stuff will find us again soon enough so take a trip here through the fields of flowers.

I wish you pleasant dreams.

Lots of flowers.

Lots of sunshine.

Lots of laughter.
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A Fascinating Distraction

I have a good friend in Dallas, Texas who works at Fossil where my son, David, is also employed. She is a supervisor in the photography department. She’s very interested in photojournalism and sent me these websites. They are fascinating and I thought some of you who are interested in photography might enjoy them. At least, I know I did. They’re truly interesting and beautiful regardless.

Henri Cartier-Bresson, is touted as the father of modern photojournalism. Paula has just discovered his work. These shots are terrific http://www.npg.si.edu/exh/cb/index.htm, but I would never have recognized Truman Capote!

The documentary about Cartier-Bresson is called, “The Impassioned Eye” and is excellent!http://www.palmpictures.com/film/-henri-cartier-bresson-the-impassioned-eye.php. He led a fascinating life and had such an analytical/mathematical perspective on shooting photography.

I found them to be an interesting and refreshing break from politics – at least for a bit, and thought I’d share them with you.

All is Well in Seattle

It was a long and nightmarish day, but all is well now. My old email account is shut down, I have a new one.

Wanted to share a bit of humor from my old and good friend, Mako. Believe me, after a day like yesterday, I can use a good laugh. Hope you can, too.


The Right Grandma

The doctor that had been seeing an 80-year-old woman for most of her life finally retired. At her next checkup, the new doctor told her to bring a list of all the medicines that had been prescribed for her.

As the young doctor was looking through these, his eyes grew wide as he realized she had a prescription for birth control pills.

'Mrs. Smith, do you realize these are BIRTH CONTROL pills?'

''Yes, they help me sleep at night.''

'Mrs. Smith, I assure you there is absolutely NOTHING in these that could possibly help you sleep!'

She reached out and patted the young Doctor's knee.

"Yes, dear, I know that. But every morning, I grind one up and mix it in the glass of orange juice that my 16-year-old-granddaughter drinks. And, believe me, it helps me sleep at night.

Hmmmm! Too bad that the daughter of you-know-who didn't have nice grandma like this one.

Realism Not Rage

This hasn't been one of my better weeks as most of you know after yesterday's battle with hackers. But before all that began I had read this article by Roger Cohen and thought it made so much sense. I understand all the anger we're feeling right now, I feel it too, but we must not let our anger blind us to what our country needs -- leaders with cool heads, who look at and explore all the options before taking action, who realize the world has shrunk and that, like it or not, we are citizens of the world as well as of the United States. We all need to work together to bring about a new day, not only in our country, but contribute to helping bring a new day of cooperation with and respect for the rest of the world. We're all in this together -- like it or not.

September 25, 2008
Op-Ed Columnist
Palin’s American Exception
By ROGER COHEN

Sarah Palin loves the word “exceptional.” At a rally in Nevada the other day, the Republican vice-presidential candidate said: “We are an exceptional nation.” Then she declared: “America is an exceptional country.” In case anyone missed that, she added: “You are all exceptional Americans.”

I have to hand it to Palin, she may be onto something in her batty way: the election is very much about American exceptionalism.

This is the idea, around since the founding fathers, and elaborated on by Alexis de Toqueville, that the United States is a nation unlike any other with a special mission to build the “city upon a hill” that will serve as liberty’s beacon for mankind.

But exceptionalism has taken an ugly twist of late. It’s become the angry refuge of the America that wants to deny the real state of the world.

From an inspirational notion, however flawed in execution, that has buttressed the global spread of liberty, American exceptionalism has morphed into the fortress of those who see themselves threatened by “one-worlders” (read Barack Obama) and who believe it’s more important to know how to dress moose than find Mumbai.

That’s Palinism, a philosophy delivered without a passport and with a view (on a clear day) of Russia.

Behind Palinism lies anger. It’s been growing as America’s relative decline has become more manifest in falling incomes, imploding markets, massive debt and rising new centers of wealth and power from Shanghai to Dubai.

The damn-the-world, God-chose-us rage of that America has sharpened as U.S. exceptionalism has become harder to square with the 21st-century world’s interconnectedness. How exceptional can you be when every major problem you face, from terrorism to nuclear proliferation to gas prices, requires joint action?

Very exceptional, insists Palin, and so does John McCain by choosing her. (He has said: “I do believe in American exceptionalism. We are the only nation I know that really is deeply concerned about adhering to the principle that all of us are created equal.”)

America is distinct. Its habits and attitudes with respect to religion, patriotism, voting and the death penalty, for example, differ from much of the rest of the developed world. It is more ideological than other countries, believing still in its manifest destiny. At its noblest, it inspires still.

But, let’s face it, from Baghdad to Bear Stearns the last eight years have been a lesson in the price of exceptionalism run amok.

To persist with a philosophy grounded in America’s separateness, rather than its connectedness, would be devastating at a time when the country faces two wars, a financial collapse unseen since 1929, commodity inflation, a huge transfer of resources to the Middle East, and the imperative to develop new sources of energy.

Enough is enough.

The basic shift from the cold war to the new world is from MAD (mutual assured destruction) to MAC (mutual assured connectedness). Technology trumps politics. Still, Bush and Cheney have demonstrated that politics still matter.

Which brings us to the first debate — still scheduled for Friday — between Obama and McCain on foreign policy. It will pit the former’s universalism against the latter’s exceptionalism.
I’m going to try to make this simple. On the Democratic side you have a guy whose campaign has been based on the Internet, who believes America may have something to learn from other countries (like universal health care) and who’s unafraid in 2008 to say he’s a “proud citizen of the United States and a fellow citizen of the world.”

On the Republican side, you have a guy who, in 2008, is just discovering the Net and Google and whose No. 2 is a woman who got a passport last year and believes she understands Russia because Alaska is closer to Siberia than Alabama.

If I were Obama, I’d put it this way: “Senator McCain, the world you claim to understand is the world of yesterday. A new century demands new thinking. Our country cannot be made fundamentally secure by a man who thought our economy was fundamentally sound.”
American exceptionalism, taken to extremes, leaves you without the allies you need (Iraq), without the influence you want (Iran) and without any notion of risk (Wall Street). The only exceptionalism that resonates, as Obama put it to me last year, is one “based on our Constitution, our principles, our values and our ideals.”

In a superb recent piece on the declining global influence of the Supreme Court, my colleague Adam Liptak quoted an article by Steven Calabresi, a law professor at Northwestern: “Like it or not, Americans really are a special people with a special ideology that sets us apart from all other peoples.”

Palinism has its intellectual roots. But it’s dangerous for a country in need of realism not rage. I’m sure Henry Kissinger tried to instill Realpolitik in the governor of Alaska this week, but the angry exceptionalism that is Palinism is not in the reason game.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sky Watch!


Storm clouds over Dallas, Texas
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The Bail Out

I am joining Bobbi, Almost There in urging you to make your voice heard. It's not enough to just piss and moan, you have to make sure that people in Washington hear you!

You can join thousands of others protesting.

Click on this link:http://www.avaaz.org/en/wall_street_bailout Let your Congressman know how you feel.As of yesterday, over 100,000 letters of protest had been delivered...........................................................

Here's another choice, thanks to Dianne of Forks Off the Moment. She has suggested this means of communicating your feelings to Washington. It isa form you can use, from Barack Obama's site. You may prefer this one.Obama sponsored petition

Old Age Is a Gift

I am now, probably for the first time in my life, the person I have always wanted to be. Oh, not my body! I sometime despair over my body, the wrinkles, the baggy eyes, and the sagging rear. And often I am taken aback by that old person that lives in my mirror (who looks like my mother!), but I don't agonize over those things for long.

I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful life, my loving family for less gray hair or a flatter belly.

As I've aged, I've become more kind to myself, and less critical of myself. I've become my own friend.

I don't chide myself for eating that extra cookie, or for not making my bed, or for buying that silly cement gecko that I didn't need, but looks so avante garde on my patio. I am entitled to a treat, to be messy, to be extravagant.

I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon; before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging.

Whose business is it if I choose to read or play on the computer until 4 AM and sleep until noon ?

I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 50's,60's & 70's. If I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love .... I will.

I will walk the beach in a swim suit that is stretched over a bulging body, and will dive into the waves with abandon if I choose, despite the pitying glances from the jet set. They, too, will get old.

I know I am sometimes forgetful. But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten. And I eventually remember the important things...

Sure, over the years my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers, or even when somebody's beloved pet gets hit by a car? But broken hearts are what give us strength and understanding and compassion. A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect.

I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turning gray, and to have my youthful laughs be forever etched into deep grooves on my face. So many have never laughed, and so many have died before their hair could turn silver.

As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think. I don't question myself anymore. I've even earned the right to be wrong.

So, to answer your question, I like being old. It has set me free. I like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever, but while I am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be.

And I shall eat dessert every single day. (If I feel like it)

Now For A Couple of Laughs!

For all of us who are---seniors---for all of you who know seniors---and for all of you who will be seniors. It pays to be able to laugh about it when you are!
Speaking of Senior Moments:

WHERE Is My SUNDAY Paper? The irate customer calling the newspaper office loudly demanded, wanting to know where her Sunday edition was. Ma'am, said the newspaper employee, today is Saturday .... The Sunday paper is not delivered until tomorrow, on Sunday. There was quite a long pause on the other end of the phone, followed by a ray of recognition.... As she was heard to mutter 'Well shit .. So that's why no one was at church today.'

A stunning senior moment
Apparently, a self-important college freshman attending a recent football
game took it upon himself to explain to a senior citizen sitting next to him
why it was impossible for the older generation to understand his generation.

'You grew up in a different world, actually an almost primitive one',
the student said, loud enough for man of those nearby to hear.
'The young people of today grew up with television, jet planes,
space travel, man walking on the moon. Our space probes have
visited Mars. We have nuclear energy, ships and electric and
hydrogen cars, cell phones , computerswith light-speed processing
...and more.'

After a brief silence, the senior citizen responded as follows:
'You're right, son. We didn't have those things when we were young......
so we invented them. Now, you arrogant little shit, what are you doing
for the next generation?'

The applause was amazing.......

Remember Sky Watch on Friday!

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

America In Crisis - What Can We Do?

Bobbi, of Almost There, posted a piece about how we all must continue to work together to push for the things this country needs – and right now there is a long list of those. But sinking into despair over the place our country finds itself today is not the answer. I’m guilty of that as I feel many of you are. We do need to, however, recognize the problems and do all we can to help solve them, in whatever way, large or small, with a big mouth like mine or in the gentle but persistent reminders of others. We have too much to lose by just sitting back and whining and to not stand up and fight back. We do have a voice, but we have to make certain that it is heard and for many of us, our blog is our voice. USE IT!

Here is an excerpt from today’s NYT Op-Ed piece by Thomas Friedman in the form of a letter from George Bush to the leaders of Iraq. Now wouldn’t it be great if Bush actually was this aware of all the aspects of our current situation? If he is I haven't seen much evidence so far.

“It’s hard for me to express to you how deep the economic crisis in America is today. We are discussing a $1 trillion bailout for our troubled banking system. This is a financial 9/11. As Americans lose their homes and sink into debt, they no longer understand why we are spending $1 billion a day to make Iraqis feel more secure in their homes.

For the past two years, there has been a debate in this country over whether to set a deadline for a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. It seemed as if the resolution of that debate depended on who won the coming election. That is no longer the case. A deadline is coming. American taxpayers who would not let their money be used to subsidize their own companies — Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns and Merrill Lynch — will not have their tax dollars used to subsidize your endless dithering over which Iraqi community dominates Kirkuk”.

Maureen Dowd also has a great satirical piece, Park Avenue Diplomacy, about Palin’s meeting with Henry Kissinger that is well worth the read.

So, again, let me encourage each of you -- urge each of you, to take a stand, use your resources, know all the facts, make your voice heard!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Want a Breather?

This has been a really difficult day for me as it seems everywhere I look,
everything I read, everything I hear is angry and negative and hopeless, in some cases. It's hard to see that brighter day coming; the one all politicians are so fond of talking about.

When I stop for a moment and make a real effort to look beyond the gloom and doom, when I try to find something beautiful to read, to look at, to listen to, I can always find it. But sometimes it seems harder and harder to let go of the negative and I'm not sure why that is. So, it was time to open up my web albums where I keep all of my photographs.

Today I found these in another bunch from my friends Dale and Nancy who travel a great deal and are kind enough to share their adventures with me through photos. These were taken in Alberta, Canada. The first one is the Moraine Dock, the second is the log bench at Moraine and the view is so awesome, so inspiring, so magnificent that it suddenly became easier to see how small and unimportant so much of what we hear day in and day out really is in the wider and longer view.

We'll get through this. And if everyone could stop for just a bit and take a look around, take a deep breath, see the beauty in nature, in a loved one's face, in the faces of our children and grandchildren, I believe we can find the courage to do what has to be done to reclaim our country, our government, our personal lives.

So, I leave you with that thought and these photos!

Peace!
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Think of It This Way

This is from Chuck Todd of MSNBC and I've included the website.

Pretty scary, huh? Certainly hung a dark cloud over my afternoon.


With Paulson and Bernanke testifying before the Senate Banking Committee today on the proposed bailout, here's a bit of perspective on the size of the $700 billion proposal. If it were a country, it'd be the 21st largest in the world. It's more than the cost of the Iraq war. It's larger than the Pentagon budget and more than 11 times the U.S. education budget. It basically adds up to about three Ohios.

http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2008/09/23/1436850.aspx

What Does It All Mean -- Really?

I'm not sure there's a way for me to fully comprehend the finanacial crisis this country faces today. I was born at the beginning of the Great Depression, have rallied through the smaller ones over the years. But today it seems we are being threatened with a situation, that if not handled well, could indeed doom us to another "great depression" that just may make the original look like a kiddie version.

Bob Herbert, Op-Ed writer for the New York Times, had an insightful article this morning, so instead of trying to explain what I feel I'm not really capable of explaining, or at least, anywhere close to the reality of the situation, I thought I would share his thoughts with you today.

September 23, 2008
Op-Ed Columnist
A Second Opinion?
By BOB HERBERT

Does anyone think it’s just a little weird to be stampeded into a $700 billion solution to the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression by the very people who brought us the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression?

How about a second opinion?

Everything needs much closer scrutiny in these troubled times because no one even knows who is in charge, much less what is going on. Have you ever seen a president who was more irrelevant than George W. Bush is right now?

The treasury secretary, Henry Paulson — heralded as King Henry on the cover of Newsweek — has been handed the reins of government, and he’s galloping through the taxpayers’ money like a hard-charging driver in a runaway chariot race.

“We need this legislation in a week,” he said on Sunday, referring to the authorization from Congress to implement his hastily assembled plan to bail out the wildly profligate U.S. financial industry. The plan stands at $700 billion as proposed, but could go to a trillion dollars or more.
Mr. Paulson spoke on the Sunday morning talk shows about “bad lending practices” and “irresponsible borrowing” and “irresponsible lending” and “illiquid assets.”

The sky was falling, he seemed to be saying, and if the taxpayers didn’t pony up $700 billion in the next few days, all would be lost. No time to look at the fine print. Hurry, hurry, said the treasury secretary.

His eyes, as he hopped from one network camera to another, said, as salesmen have been saying since the dawn of time: “Trust me.”

With all due respect to Mr. Paulson, who is widely regarded as a smart and fine man, we need to slow this process down. We got into this mess by handing out mortgages like lollipops to people who paid too little attention to the fine print, who in many cases didn’t understand it or didn’t care about it.

And the people who always pretended to know better, who should have known better, the mortgage hucksters and the gilt-edged, high-rolling, helicopter-flying Wall Street financiers, kept pushing this bad paper higher and higher up the pyramid without looking at the fine print themselves, not bothering to understand it, until all the crap came raining down on the rest of us.
Yes, the system came perilously close to collapse last week and needs to be stabilized as quickly as possible. But we don’t know yet that King Henry’s fiat, his $700 billion solution, is the best solution. Like the complex mortgage-based instruments at the heart of this debacle, nobody has a real grasp yet of the vast implications of Mr. Paulson’s remedy.

Experts need some reasonable amount of time — I’m talking about days, not weeks — to home in on the weak points, the loopholes, the potential unintended consequences of a bailout of this magnitude.

The patchwork modifications being offered by Democrats in Congress are insufficient. Reasonable estimates need to be made of the toll to be taken on taxpayers. Reasonable alternatives need to be heard.

I agree with the economist Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, that while the government needs to move with dispatch, there is also a need to make sure that taxpayers’ money is used only where “absolutely necessary.”
Lobbyists, bankers and Wall Street types are already hopping up and down like over-excited children, ready to burst into the government’s $700 billion piƱata. This widespread eagerness is itself an indication that there is something too sweet about the Paulson plan.

This is not supposed to be a good deal for business. “The idea is that you’re coming here because you would be going bankrupt otherwise,” said Mr. Baker. “You’re coming here because you have no alternative. You’re getting a bad deal, but it’s better than going out of business. That’s how it should be structured.”

The markets tanked again on Monday as oil prices skyrocketed. Time is indeed short, but alternative voices desperately need to be heard because the people who have been running the economy for so long — who have ruined it — cannot be expected to make things right again in 48 or 96 hours.

Mr. Paulson himself was telling us during the summer that the economy was sound, that its long-term fundamentals were “strong,” that growth would rebound by the end of the year, when most of the slump in housing prices would be over.

He has been wrong every step of the way, right up until early last week, about the severity of the economic crisis. As for President Bush, the less said the better.

The free-market madmen who treated the American economy like a giant casino have had their day. It’s time to drag them away from the tables and into the sunlight of reality.

Monday, September 22, 2008

A Peaceful Place


A quiet cove, calm water and blue sky and just what I'm
ready for this evening. It's been a busy day -- too much
politics, time to put it aside and look at what really matters.

But before I turn out the lights I want to thank Bobbi of Almost There

for giving me an award, and for the intent with which it is given: building solidarity among left-of-center bloggers. Thank you, Bobbi, let's all Blog On!

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For Those of You Living in Washington State

If any of you are interested in casting a "NO" vote on the "Bailout" here are a some local numbers to call.

Maria Cantwell 206-220-6400

Jim McDermott 206-553-7170

Patty Murray 206-553-5545

One of my neighbors figured out that with the cost of this it would cost every citizen in the U.S. $5,000.00. Just multiply that times every member of a household.

Did Someone Say “Clarity”?

This "season" presents each political party with so many opportunities for providing "clarity". So here are some examples.

Now I have to admit that I'm a little confused. Let me see if I have this straight.....

If you grow up in Hawaii, raised by your grandparents, you're "exotic, different."

Grow up in Alaska eating mooseburgers, a quintessential American story.

If your name is Barack you're a radical, unpatriotic Muslim.

Name your kids Willow, Trig and Track, you're a maverick.

Graduate from Harvard law School and you are unstable.

Attend 5 different small colleges before graduating, you're well-grounded.

If you spend 3 years as a brilliant community organizer, become the first black President of the Harvard Law Review, create a voter registration drive that registers 150,000 new voters, spend 12 years as a Constitutional Law professor, spend 8 years as a State Senator representing a district with over 750,000 people, become chairman of the state Senate's Health and Human Services committee, spend 4 years in the United States Senate representing a state of 13 million people while sponsoring 131 bills and serving on the Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works and Veteran's Affairs committees, you don't have any real leadership experience.

If your total resume is: local weather girl, 4 years on the city council and 6 years as the mayor of a town with less than 7,000 people, 20 months as the governor of a state with only 650,000 people, then you're qualified to become the country's second highest ranking executive.

If you have been married to the same woman for 19 years while raising 2 beautiful daughters, all within Protestant churches, you're not a real Christian.

If you cheated on your first wife with a rich heiress, and left your disfigured wife and married the heiress the next month, you're a Christian.

If you teach responsible, age appropriate sex education, including the proper use of birth control, you are eroding the fiber of society.

If, while governor, you staunchly advocate abstinence only, with no other option in sex education in your state's school system while your unwed teen daughter ends up pregnant , you're very responsible.

If your wife is a Harvard graduate lawyer who gave up a position in a prestigious law firm to work for the betterment of her inner city community, then gave that up to raise a family, your family's values don't represent America's.

If you're husband is nicknamed "First Dude", with at least one DWI conviction and no college education, who didn't register to vote until age 25 and once was a member of a group that advocated the secession of Alaska from the USA, your family is extremely admirable.

Oh yeah, much clearer now.

Don't forget to vote in the PBS poll -- see my earlier post. And you might want to check this one out, too. http://www.blogger.com/

This interview with Drew Westen on NOW, Obama's people should watch and learn.

This is a late addition! Take heed.
A new Lifetime TV poll -- conducted at the tail end of the Palin bubble and before last week's economic seachange -- indicates a major post-pick swing towards McCain-Palin from women who say that the GOP ticket offers a "better understanding of women and what is important to women." http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2008/09/22/1433515.aspx

PBS Poll - Is Palin Ready to be VP?

All of you know what my vote was, but here is the website where you can vote. Please take a moment to make your voice heard. The results so far are scary! What on earth are people thinking? Or is that the problem? They're not --as usual!


http://www.pbs.org/now/polls/poll-435.html

Pink Flowers and Late Night Thoughts

It's been a lovely weekend -- well, as long as I stayed away from the TV, which just got easier as we cancelled our service. I can keep abreast of all that I need to know on my computer without having to listen to the media talk and talk and say very little. My trip to the Black Diamond Coal Museum was really fascinating, great lunch at the local bakery.

Now that summer is definitely on it's way out, I've enjoyed again all the photos from the dahlia festival and thought that I'd share a couple more. There is such a variety of dahlias that I never knew about and that discovery has made the pictures all the more special. I guess during times like these it is so important to be able to focus on the small and beautiful and rewarding things in our lives rather than the nightmare of politics and finances. I don't mean we shouldn't face the problems and deal with them in the most effective way that we can, but it's important for our own sense of serenity and peace that we be able to find, to see, to touch the precious things in our lives and not just focus on bad things -- many of which are beyond our reach as far as being able to solve them -- at least for the whole country. But it is so important for our own peace of mind to be able to move our focus from those things, back to the beauty that is always there for us if we can take the time to look for it. And those are the things that can nourish us during the bad times. Hopefully, we will see a new day begin to dawn in our country and soon. And that new day is what I am focusing on tonight.


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Sunday, September 21, 2008

If You Ever Feel a Little Bit Stupid -- Take Heart!

THESE PEOPLE SHOULD RUN FOR POLITICAL OFFICE....THEY CAN TALK AND SAY ABSOLUTLY NOTHING!

Question: If you could live forever, would you and why?
Answer: 'I would not live forever, because we should not live forever, because if we were supposed to live forever, then we would live forever, but we cannot live forever, which is why I would not live forever,'
--Miss Alabama in the 1994 Miss USA contest.

'Whenever I watch TV and see those poor starving kids all over the world, I can't help but cry. I mean I'd love to be skinny like that, but not with all those flies and death and stuff.'
--Mariah Carey

'Smoking kills. If you're killed, you've lost a very important part of your life,'
-- Brooke Shields, during an interview to become spokesperson for federal anti-smoking campaign

'I've never had major knee surgery on any other part of my body,'
--Winston Bennett, University of Kentucky basketball forward

'Outside of the killings, Washington has one of the lowest crime rates in the country,'
--Mayor Marion Barry, Washington, DC.

'That lowdown scoundrel deserves to be kicked to death by a jackass, and I'm just the one to do it,'
--A congressional candidate in Texas

'Half this game is ninety percent mental.'
--Philadelphia Phillies manager, Danny Ozark

'It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it.'
--Al Gore, Vice President

'I love California. I practically grew up in Phoenix.'
-- Dan Quayle

'We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need ?'
--Lee Iacocca

'The word 'genius' isn't applicable in football. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein.'
--Joe Theisman, NFL football quarterback & sports analyst.

'We don't necessarily discriminate. We simply exclude certain types of people.'
-- Colonel Gerald Wellman, ROTC Instrutor. ,

'Your food stamps will be stopped effective March 1992 because we received notice that you passed away. May God bless you. You may reapply if there is a change in your circumstances.'
--Department of Social Services, Greenville, South Carolina

'Traditionally, most of Australia's imports come from overseas.'
--Keppel Enderbery

'If somebody has a bad heart, they can plug this jack in at night as they go to bed and it will monitor their heart throughout the night. And the next morning, when they wake up dead, there'll be a record.'
--Mark S. Fowler, FCC Chairman

Now, don't you feel brilliant?

Worth Checking Out

These Op-Ed pieces are well worth reading. One is Frank Rich's column and the other is Nicholas Kristof's column. There is also his blog address and his Facebook address.

I've followed these writer's for years and appreciate their knowledge and their outlook. I don't always agree 100%, but then I probably don't agree with anyone 100% -- including myself.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/21/opinion/21rich.html?th&emc=th

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/21/opinion/21kristof.html?th&emc=th
I invite you to comment on this column on my blog, www.nytimes.com/ontheground, and to join me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/kristof.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Wake Up Call Maybe?

You really think it could be that? Well, if not read it and weep -- if you aren’t already weeping as a result of the past few days. How about this headline for today?

Bush seeks $700 billion for bailout

The Bush administration is asking Congress to let the government buy $700 billion in bad mortgages as part of the largest financial bailout since the Great Depression.”

What more does it take to get those “Hoosiers for a hot chick” Republicans, “skin color” skeptics and just plain “head in the sand” numb skulls to wake up? No, there are no roses or coffee to smell, just the sound of our country on the skids.

We so desperately need new leadership, not more of the same or maybe even worse. We need a new outlook, a new approach, new plans to get us out of the hole we’ve dug ourselves into – I say we because in spite of all the warnings over the past eight years, we have let this happen. We need to bring jobs back to our country, we need to rebuild our infrastructure, mend our roads and bridges, upgrade our schools and our hospitals and health care.

I’m certainly not smart enough to have any answers, but I do believe Obama has many of those answers and he’s also smart enough to find the right people who have the answers when he doesn’t and the courage to admit when he needs help.

No more of this delusional notion of McCain’s that the “fundamentals of the economy are strong”. Hello! does he even know what the fundametals are? If the economy isn’t his forte, do you really believe that it’s Palin’s forte? Wake up, people! Wake up before it’s too late!

An add on to "A Giggle"

After my trip yesterday I had one question to add to my earlier post of Giggles.

Where but on a senior trip would they take you on a tour of the cemetery?

That's what they did yesterday on our return trip from the Black Diamond Coal Mine Museum and everyone of those old gals (47 - not counting me and my friend) were all but hanging out the window and even asked if we could stop and look around! But our guide told us we didn't have time, thank goodness! I figured most of them will be there soon enough anyway.

I like to browse them on my own looking for the really old gravestones and the stories they tell. I visited one in Savannah, GA that was fascinating.

As for me, I've told my kids to cremate me and scatter my ashes somewhere that I can grow something besides trouble.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Historic Black Diamond, Washington

In the early 1880's, The Black Diamond Coal Company (BDCC) of Nortonville, CA was facing a monumental task.











As the coal supply they
were mining was beginning
to deplete, they faced moving
their entire operation -- miners,
their families, equipment and
all -- 1,000 miles north to a
remote area in Washington
Territory where a rich and
plentiful seam of high grade
coal promised to keep miners
busy for the next hundred years.
The area also provide all the timber
they needed to brace mine tunnels and build a town.

By 1885, the Company had completely
settled in the new town they named "Black Diamond."

The pictures here show the train station, which also housed a doctor's office, one of the old cars, the city jail and the what served as the fire department -- a great length of hose, wound on onto a wheeled cart that could be easily drug to the location of a fire.

The Black Diamond Bakery is not shown here, it was just down the street and has been operating since the late 1890s -- and food is delicious, great list of choices, each one more than you can eat in one meal.

It was a fun trip back in history in a hilly, heavily forested, beautiful area. I've been so fortunate to be able to take these free day trips sponsored by the Greenwood Senior Center. One member, when she died, left a substantial fund to provide free trips to members of the Center and they are great!

Next month I'll be going to Snoqualmie Falls and a Halloween train trip! I'm sure to get some good pictures there.

So, there are some advantages to growing old and these trips are certainly one of those.





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A Happy Bee! And a Mystery Trip!

Happy Friday!


I'm headed out early this morning on a trip to the Black Diamond Coal Mine Museum which is supposed to be
very interesting, but never having heard of it before, I can't guarantee it. But it's a free day-trip sponsored by the senior center where I take my Tai Chi classes. So I couldn't pass it up. The thing people talk about the most is the Black Diamond Bakery and Restaurant where we will be having lunch. It's supposed to be awesome and I'm hoping to bring home a
treat or two for my son -- and me.
So, I'm looking forward to the trip, I'm taking my camera -- excuse me, my son's camera, and I hope to bring back some interesting pictures and perhaps a story or two as well.

So, see if you can find my bee friend, chowing down on the daisies, have a great Friday and a great weekend! See! I managed to write the entire blog without once referring to politics! And this has to be one of the few times I've done that since I began writing this blog nearly three months ago. Don't count on the political break lasting much past today, however, I'm sure there will be plenty to get me riled up before Monday.
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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Clouds for Sky Watch

Posted by Picasa Peyto Lake in Alberta, Canada
See Seattle Sunset below

Sunset for Sky Watch



Sunset on Puget Sound
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Time for a Giggle or Two

Ramblings of a Retired Mind

I was thinking about how a status symbol of today is those cell phones that everyone has clipped onto their belt or purse. I can't afford one. So, I'm wearing my garage door opener.

You know, I spent a fortune on deodorant before I realized that people didn't like me anyway.

I was thinking that women should put pictures of missing husbands on beer cans!

I was thinking about old age and decided that old age is 'when you still have something on the ball, but you are just too tired to bounce it.'

I thought about making a fitness movie, for folks my age, and call it "Pumping Rust."

I have gotten that dreaded furniture disease. That's when your chest is falling into your drawers!

I know, when people see a cat's litter box, they always say, "Oh, have you got a cat?"
Just once I want to say, "No, it's for company!"

Employment application blanks always ask who is to be notified in case of an emergency.'
I think you should write, "A Good Doctor!"

Why do they put pictures of criminals up in the Post Office? What are we supposed to do... write to these men? Why don't they just put their pictures on the postage stamps so the mailmen could look for them while they deliver the mail? Or better yet, arrest them while they are taking their pictures!

I was thinking about how people seem to read the Bible a whole lot more as they get older. Then, it dawned on me, they were cramming for their finals.

As for me, I'm just hoping God grades on the curve.

Check it Out!

I just received this blog address in my email box with the note to pass it on. I read it and couldn't agree more. I have been to her site before, read her posts and she's worth reading, she has something to tell all of us. Somethings we should already know or be aware of, but it never hurts to be reminded again, particularly in the political climate of today.

I urge you to take a look and a read.


Time to stand up for intelligence

www.1womansvu.com

Never Too Late For a Great Opportunity

In the early 90’s I was living in Dallas, Texas – where I was born and had spent a good part of my life. I had moved back there in 1983 when my husband and I separated, but even after nearly ten years in Dallas I still missed the northwest and wanted to go back before I got too old to move at all, let alone across the country. I loved Montana where we had lived, where our children had grown up, but I knew the chances of finding a job that would do more than keep me off food stamps was probably next to impossible. So, I moved to Oregon, to Portland and fell in love with the city and with the state, with its incredible coast line and magnificent mountains. Now, the only question was, would I be able to find a job? I was just about to turn sixty. It was the early 90s and the economy in Portland wasn’t the best.

I did find a job – finally, as office manager for a landscape architect’s two man business. Not the most promising employment for an old broad, but I had some money put back, I finally found an inexpensive little apartment belonging to one our contractors and I settled in to see where the fates would take me next.

After two years it became painfully obvious that I was not going to be able to prepare for my elder – more elderly years where I was, so I took another one of those deep breaths, handed in my resignation and I began searching for something with a little more future – even short termed future. I decided to work as a temp which would give me a better chance to check out the work environment before accepting a position. The economy was in much better shape by then with numerous high tech companies moving into the area.

Things just felt right the first day of my first temp assignment. It was with a Japanese silicon wafer manufacturing company – an old company in Japan, a new venture in the US. They had been selling silicon wafers to computer companies for years and had finally decided that the time had come to build a plant in the US, manufacture the wafers, as well as have a sales office, engineering department – the works.

I was hired to handle the phones and the front desk of the small, crowded office space they were using while the new $450 million dollar plant was being constructed. But my time on the front desk was short. My boss came to me one day and told me he wanted the company to take part in a job fair and he needed someone to take it on as a project and would I be willing to do that. I was thrilled at the opportunity, one to get out from behind the front desk and the phones, two, to be able make the most of my several years of experience in the Public Relations department of GTE to work for me at my new job with Komatsu. They had me hire a replacement for myself on the front desk and I went to work having a brochure designed, organizing space at the job fair and pulling it all together.

It was exciting and fulfilling because they left it totally in my hands, signed off on everything I requested and it was soon organized. The Fair was very successful and so were we and two months later the CEO called me in and offered me a permanent position as assistant to the new President.

Looking back I have to say that other than the job with the Independent Living Project, my job with Komatsu was the best, the most exciting, fun job I’ve ever had. I studied Japanese so I could at least be able to exchange greetings with the many executives and officers from the home office in Japan when they came for business trips and it was my job to help entertain them. We had many Japanese engineers that arrived to help get the plant up and operating and I arranged housing for them all. I helped get their families settled in, find doctors, schools for the children. I planned the parties, meetings, conferences and handled much of the publicity.

One of the lovely things about the company was the fact they hired young and old – I wasn’t the only sixties person, they hired people from many other countries – Russia, China, the US as well as Japan. And everyone seemed to feel the same excitement and enthusiasm at being involved with this new company. I was able to travel, to take classes in various aspects of the business that took me to San Francisco, Atlanta and always a chance to learn, to be involved.

We moved into the new building and it was magnificent! But isn’t it strange how things happen? Three years into this new project there was a big downturn in the Japanese economy and it soon became obvious that we would have to cut back and numerous jobs were eliminated. I managed to survive the first cut, but a little over three years after the exciting beginning, the plant was shut down. A $450 million dollar white elephant!

By that time I was sixty-seven and it was obvious even to me that my working days were about over. It was one of the most difficult times in my life. I wasn’t ready to stop or even slow down, but it was soon apparent that there was – is such a thing as age discrimination whether anyone wants to admit it or not.

But I took a deep breath, rented an apartment in San Miguel de Allende in Mexico and spent a fabulous year nursing my hurts and disappointments in the high desert county south of the border. Two of my kids came down for Christmas that year and we had a fabulous time. I slipped into the 21st century that December 31 and watched the world celebrate the beginning of the year 2000.

I returned to Oregon and settled down to try and make the most of retirement and I have to admit that life is still good – different, but good. It’s all in how you choose to see it.

Where Do We Go From Here and How Do We Get Started?

I have heard from so many people who are upset, scared, uncertain as to where our country's financial mess is going to end up and where is it going to leave us? I'm certainly not wise enough to have any answers -- I'm looking for my own, but Thomas Friedmans Op-Ed column in the NYT yesterday did have, what seemed to me to be some very valid thoughts. I didn't want to pick and choose statements to post, so I'm posting the whole article and hope it will be of some benefit as we think through where we find ourselves these days.

September 17, 2008
Op-Ed Columnist
Keep It in Vegas
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

Watching some financial stocks just get wiped out in recent months, I often hear a voice in the back of my head, and it is the same voice as one of those dealers in Las Vegas who coolly tells you as he sweeps up your chips after you’ve busted in blackjack: “Thank you for playing, ladies and gentlemen.”

That’s what happens when bubbles burst. You feel wiped out, and the coolness with which the dealers — in this case the markets — sweep away all your chips is unnerving. It’s easy to over-react, and it is important that we don’t. Now is the time for coolly sorting out what markets can do best and what governments need to do better.

Let’s understand what happened here. Wall Street — the financial industry — became a bubble in recent years thanks to an excess of liquidity and the oldest bubble maker in history: greed. Some of the smartest people forgot one of the oldest rules of investing: There is no such thing as a risk-free return. When you reach too far for yield, sooner or later you get burned.
In the ’90s, the no-lose, risk-free, high-yield return was supposed to be dot-com stocks. This decade’s version are subprime mortgages and financial stocks. Just like the dot-comers in the 1990s, the financial stocks got inflated to ridiculous levels and salaries for Wall Street executives reached ridiculous heights. You are now watching live and in color that bubble burst: “Thank you for playing, Lehman Brothers.” That’s really sad for a 158-year-old company.
The market is now consolidating this industry, with the strong eating the weak, which will impose its own fiscal discipline. Good. Maybe then more of our next generation of math geniuses will think about going into engineering the next great global industry — energy technology — rather engineering derivatives.

But we also need to understand the uniqueness of this bubble in order to identify where smart government needs to step in. One reason this financial bubble got so big is now well known: you and your neighbor went out and got subprime mortgages, which enabled many more people to become homeowners — a real blessing. Your local finance company or bank, which extended those mortgages, later resold them to an aggregator who put them into big packages with thousands of other subprime mortgages. Then those loan packages were chopped up and sold in small pieces as corporate bonds to all kinds of institutions, who were reaching for extra yield. Your subprime mortgage payments went to pay the interest on those bonds.
But as the housing market collapsed, and people couldn’t cover their mortgages or sell their houses, the bonds lost value and, therefore, the banks that held them lost capital, and the whole pyramid started to crumble. This infected the entire housing market, so banks no longer knew the value of their mortgage-backed assets. The result? They stopped lending. Hence, the current credit crunch. This credit crunch is what makes this crisis so lethal. We can’t tolerate a prolonged situation where banks won’t lend to good companies.

That’s why Congress needs to create another Resolution Trust Corporation like we used to get out of the savings-and-loan crisis of the 1980s. As then, so now, we need a government agency to buy the toxic mortgages off the banks’ balance sheets, hold them and sell them in an orderly way later. That would prevent a fire sale of homes and mortgages now and restore confidence to banks so they start lending again.

In the long run, though, regulators need to find ways to limit the amount of leverage investment banks or insurance companies can take on at any one time, because given how intertwined they all are in today’s global economy, one bank blowing up can now take down many.
“We are at the end of an era — the end of ‘leave it to the markets’ and of the great cop-out that less government is always better government,” argues David Rothkopf, a former Commerce Department official in the Clinton administration and author of a book about the world’s financial leaders who brought about this crisis: “Superclass: The Global Power Elite and the World They Are Making.” “I think, however, it is important to stress the difference between smart government and simply more government.

“We do not need a regulatory ‘surge’ on Wall Street,” he added. “We need a complete rethinking of how we make global financial markets more transparent and how we ensure that the risks within those markets — .many of which are new and many of which are not well understood even by the experts — are managed and monitored properly.”

In sum, government’s job is to police that fine line between the necessary risk-taking that drives an innovation economy and crazy gambling with other people’s savings in ways that threaten us all. We need to make sure that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas — and doesn’t come to Main Street. We need to get back to investing in our future and not just betting on it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Happy Puppy!

Sweet dreams!
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Surf Gulls


Surf gulls enjoying the beauty of a day off the Oregon coast
at Lincoln City. How grand to be so free! We should all be
so lucky! So I wind down the day with a beautiful image.
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Books: Before, Now and Later

I was browsing The Wanderer's blog and found this list of books. Even though I wasn't tagged either, I grabbed the list like she did. Here are the details:) Look at the list and bold those you have read. (I colored mine). I really loved all the ones I've read, can't say I really hated any of them, just liked some better than others -- I'll have to wait and see which ones I'm going to read, but these instructions were on the original site.
It's been a fun exercise in literature and brought back a lot of memories.

2) Italicize those you intend to read.

3) Underline the books you really love (and strikethrough the ones you hate!).

4) Reprint this list in your own blog.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling ( read just first one)
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible -parts of it
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens (read parts of it)
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (some of them)
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen (read parts of it)
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez (read half)
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker (saw the movie)
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte's Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Of course this is just one list and covers only some of what I have read, but it would be fun to see what others have read and what they recommend out of this list.

P.S. Forgot to mention earlier - just copy this on your blog and let me know so that I can find out what you have read :)

Address Update

This is the updated blog address for the woman who had the horrible experience at a hospital.

http://www.but-first.blogspot.com/2008/09/how-i-spent-my-summer-vacation.html

Hopefully, changes will be made in the system as a result of all that's being done.

Don't I Wish I Could Have Said It This Good?

GOP: it's just like high school
By Garrison Keillor In print: Wednesday, September 10, 2008


So the Republicans have decided to run against themselves. The bums have tiptoed out the back door and circled around to the front and started yelling, "Throw the bums out!" They've been running Washington like a well-oiled machine to the point of inviting lobbyists into the back rooms to write the legislation, and now they are anti-establishment reformers dedicated to delivering us from themselves.

They are coming out for Small Efficient Government the very week that the feds are taking over Fannie and Freddie, those old cash cows, and in the course of a weekend 20 or 50 or (pick a number) billion go floating out the Treasury door. Hello? We didn't just fall off the coal truck.
It is a bold move on the Republicans' part — forget about the past, it's only history, so write a new narrative and be who you want to be — and if they succeed, I think I might declare myself a 24-year-old virgin named Lance and see what that might lead to.

John McCain has decided to run as a former POW and a maverick, a maverick's maverick, rather than George W. Bush's best friend, and that's understandable, but how can he not address the $3-trillion that got burned up in Iraq so far? It's real money, it could've paid for a lot of windmills, a high-speed rail line in Ohio, some serious R&D. The Chinese, who have avoided foreign wars for 50 years, are taking enormous leaps forward, investing in their economy, and we are falling behind. We're wasting our chances. The Republican culture of corruption in Washington hasn't helped.

And a former mayor of a town of 7,000 who hired a lobbyist to get $26-million in federal earmarks is now running against the old-boy network in Washington who gave her that money to build the teen rec center and other good things so she could keep taxes low in Wasilla. Stunning. And if you question her qualifications to be the leader of the free world, you are an elitist. This is a beautiful maneuver. I wish I had thought of it back in school when I was forced to subject myself to a final exam in higher algebra. I could have told Miss Mortenson, "I am a Christian and when you gave me a D, you only showed your contempt for the Lord and for the godly hard-working people from whom I have sprung, you elitist battleaxe you."

In school, you couldn't get away with that garbage because the taxpayers know that if we don't uphold scholastic standards, we will wind up driving on badly designed bridges and go in for a tonsillectomy and come out missing our left lung, so we flunk the losers lest they gain power and hurt us, but in politics we bring forth phonies and love them to death.

I must say, it was fun having the Republicans in St. Paul and to see it all up close and firsthand. Security was, as one might expect, thin-lipped and gimlet-eyed, but once you got through it, you found the folks you went to high school with — farm kids, jocks, the townies who ran the student council, the cheerleaders, some of the bullies — and they are as cohesive now as they were back then, dedicated to school spirit, intolerant of outsiders, able to jump up and down and holler for something they don't actually believe. But oh, Lord, what they brought forth this year. When you check the actuarial tables on a 72-year-old guy who's had three bouts with cancer, you guess you may be looking at the first woman president, a hustling evangelical with ethics issues and a chip on her shoulder who, not counting Canada, has set foot outside the country once — a trip to Germany, Iraq and Kuwait in 2007 to visit Alaskans in the armed service. And who listed a refueling stop in Ireland as a fourth country visited. She's like the Current Occupant but with big hair. If you want inexperience, there were better choices.
© Garrison Keillor. All rights reserved.