Monday, January 25, 2016

What If? Politics.

I have a friend who has considered running for a political position but he is worried that some of his "secrets" from the past will be raised and he'd rather not face them.  Personally, I think he would be great for the job and having known him since our school days, his past should be his past and left alone.

Now, if he had been part of some subversive group back in his college years, I'd question that, but, then again, that was forty years ago and if he hasn't been "actively" involved in the last forty years, I'm pretty sure he's clean.

Did he smoke pot?  Take drugs?  I don't know and I don't really care.  Is he or has he been taking them in the last 10 years? 10 weeks? 10 days? 10 minutes?  Even 10 seconds ago? That would be my question.

What I think is his basic problem is a little unknown secret of exploration during the sixties. [I know he hasn't smoked pot or been involved with a subversive group, so I'm guessing this.] Everyone slept around.  So what if you woke up in a stranger's bed and the person happen to be the same sex as you.  You're not sleeping around now and have been true to your wife of the last almost fifty years.

For some strange reason we feel that a person in politics should be squeaky clean and when placed on that pedestal, they shine.


Only one man could ... no, even Jesus couldn't stand up to that type of scrutiny.  Think about it, Jesus had "hoes" and men of questionable reputations, such as a tax collector, as his buddies.  Today, over 2.2 billion people claim this same man, Jesus, as their Savior. Nobody would have voted him "Man to Succeed" back then!

So, the bottom line is simple.  Can the person do the job?  Is the fact that he took a "toke" on a joint back in 1968 or woke up with another guy who claims it was one of the best nights or paid $20 for a quickie at some dive while attending college - is that critical to his position?

Now, if this person has been in a political position and has been pocketing money from special interest groups for votes and/or taking drugs and/or sleeping around - yeah, time to evaluate your choice.

My buddy seems to me to be a good choice from what I know of him.

At the present time, as I see it, most of Congress should consider themselves eligible for deployment elsewhere.  Being a Senator or House Rep is a position of honor, it is NOT a career opportunity.  Too many of them are there, and been there, way too long.

I would love to see a bill passed that had the following articles of conditions for members of Congress:

  1. Service not to exceed 2 terms, once filled, cannot serve again
  2. Salary will be voted by the public, and only the public - you are a servant of the public
  3. Must have served a minimum of 2 years military, applied to both male and female
  4. If a bill is passed applying to the public, applies also to Congress - you are not exempt
  5. Money will be set aside, just like the rest of the public, for retirement - it will NOT be your salary amount - your current salary and retirement fund is our (the public's) taxes.
  6. Any monies taken from special interest groups will result in swift termination. Period.
  7. Any involvement in sex or drugs brought to attention will be handled swiftly - termination.
I was a little leery about the "sex and drugs" but I figure, if you're in Congress or any political office, you can keep your zipper up and your nose clean for those few years.  If it happened before and/or after - I don't care. Of course, if a political member is questioned about monies taken, sex, or drugs, I still see justice will be served with a proper hearing.  BUT, the idea of spending $50 million dollars to decide is ridiculous. A reasonable hearing is all that is needed, not a production.

Also, all these so-called "junkets" to foreign countries or elsewhere to validate some obscure aspect is a waste of our money. Does the First Lady really need to shop in Paris? Or does the town mayor really need to spend five days at a convention where the rooms cost $250 or more per day? Or have an alcohol tab of an excessive amount? If the political person wants to drink, pay for it yourself! I have to, why not you?

What people seem to forget is one simple fact: Any money the government spends is YOUR money paid in taxes.  The U. S. government, state government, county government, even city government, is not a company making money - they aren't selling anything... well, they sell us a lot of BS, but that's another story. Any money they have is OUR money we've paid in taxes. It is not PROFIT like a corporation.

Back to the problem at hand - If a person wants to run for a political office, it should be about that person's ability to handle the position and if there are certain "terms" of that position, the person should be able to meet them or not run.  What I am saying, if you need to be 35 and a U.S. citizen, show them your birth certificate.  The fact that you got arrested for stealing a watch from WalMart when you were 19 years old has nothing to do with your ability, at age 55, to be a County Commissioner or Senator.

Some skeletons should be left in the closet - that's why they're there!!

So what are your thoughts?  Am I wrong?

Until next I ramble on...

Monday, January 18, 2016

Scammed and Resolutions

Let's start with the "up" side first.  My resolutions for the new year.  Last year I mentioned how I had to get my diabetes under control.  I told some drastic measures and in thirty (30) days I took my A1C from 10.4 to 7.2 and my average blood-sugar was down from 246 to 91.

My doctor was pleased with my results and wants me to continue whatever regime I am doing.  BUT he changed my prescription meds from Janumet to Januvia for my diabetes.

So far, I've been on it a total of 5 days.  I do not like the results I am seeing.  My morning reading is normally in the 90s or very low 100s - like 91 or 102.  The best I've had with the new pills is 130.  My readings during the day aren't better, either.  I'm seeing numbers like 276, 218.  Sometimes I get a "low" reading like 165 and that is 3 hours after eating.  I will continue these pills but will be discussing this with the doctor.

The reason for the change in pills was due to my kidney readings.  My renal was like 1.92 and should be closer to 0 - that's a ZERO.  He wants to check things out so I'll be getting an ultrasound later this week and seeing a specialist the first of March.  More on that as it comes up.

So, for my New Year's Resolutions.  I'm sort of hanging onto what I had last year.  I'd love to publish at least two books this year.  I really want to get "The New York Voice" out to complete the 2nd book in my "The Amish Singer" series.  Plus there are a few other books I'd like to see out there.  And, of course, I'd like to lose another 20-25 pounds this year which would get me closer to my 200 lb goal.  My wife and I have already decided we'll do more traveling this year but I'll still have my garden.  I don't want to make the list too long so it basically is simple - Get my diabetes under control, get at least two books published and lose more weight.  Seems simple enough and over eleven months to get it all accomplished.  Yeah, right!

Now for the "down" part of this blog.

I got scammed.  On my credit card. We're not exactly sure how it was done but fortunately, my credit card company caught it early on, plus I just happen to be checking out my electronic bill.  When we attempted to purchase flowers for my MIL's funeral, the credit card was declined and we just used another card even though we knew there was no issue with the card.  After the funeral I finally remembered and decided to check out the bill and see what might have been the cause.

WOW!  I had a $200 charge made in another very large town approximately 4.5 hours away from me to the south.  I knew I hadn't spent that money and called the 24/7 hotline to see what was going on.  As we talked, I noticed the date - 12/14.  That's my wife's birthday.  In fact, we were almost an hour north of our home.  So where the purchase had been made was now over 6 hours away.  We even used that same credit card for the meal and just a few minutes between the purchases.

I was passed to Fraud Department.  As they checked out the transactions and attempted transactions on my card, it appeared that somebody was "swiping" my card at these businesses.  Yes, plural. The one transaction got through but the card was flagged when they attempted to use it at a business that reads the "chip" on the card.  The card was "tried" at no less than four other businesses but because of the chip on my credit card, when it got flagged, my card was disabled and marked.

As we talked I showed the Fraud Dept where I was and used my card that day and they realized that there was no way I could be at the two locations that fast... if even using a jet.  They cancelled my $200 purchase, removing it from my bill.  And we had new cards issued for my wife and I.

What I found interesting, these scammers were actually using a real card to "swipe" through the machines for the purchases.  I had to make sure both my wife and I had our cards.  Because of the chip in my card and the new scanners using them, they caught and disabled my card.  Sure, it was inconvenient when we attempted to purchase flowers for the funeral, but the other possibility, for us, could have been devastating.  Scammers can duplicate the card, they can't duplicate the chip.  WHY? Because, as I was told, the chip is updated each time the card is used, reading a number and changing it. Each time it is a unique number to your card.  If a scammer were to get that chip number and duplicate it, even if I used it just once before they got their new scam card made, the chip numbers wouldn't match and therefore, voila! Void.

So, here's the caveat.  If you have one of the new "chip" credit cards, don't think it can't be duplicated. The catch is - the store reader must be the new one to force the chip to be read.  Our local WalMart uses the chip with their new readers but many restaurants and stores haven't upgraded to the new machines and thereby just do the generic swipe.  In fact, a local grocery we shop at has the new machines but hasn't "bought and installed" the new software. Using the new card is a waste of time - there is no protection, customers have to swipe their cards.

My wife and I are keeping track of which stores read the chip and which stores don't.  If they don't, we are reluctant to go back to the store unless it is absolutely necessary.

Also, we don't let our card be taken away from us to be used, like at restaurants UNLESS we can see the transaction being done from our table.  Yes, we use cash in those instances.

We have our ideas of where the number got scammed and I notified the Fraud Dept people.  We were at a restaurant and the waitress took almost 20 mins to get our bill and card back to us.  If the place had been busy and I hadn't needed to be someplace at a certain time, I probably wouldn't have noticed the length of time.  We only had 2 incidents where our card has been away from our sight.  Fraud is aware of when and where.

Until next I ramble on...

Monday, January 4, 2016

Looking At Life

Today is all about rush, rush, rush. We don't have time to wait.  In fact, I heard my one granddaughter complain because it was taking so long for the microwave to zap her food.

We are a world of "instant."

I once heard somebody say "Take time to smell the roses" to which the reply was "I did. They didn't smell all that great."  Hmm?  Maybe this person was smelling roses raised for one of those $200 bouquets - you know, maybe 4 to 6 red roses and a bunch of carnations and baby's breath and ferns.

Yes, we do live in a world where we can't take the time to sit back and just let the scents of the day assault us while we rock.

Imagine a warm day, not too hot, but definitely a mint julep or lemonade day, sitting in the shade, rocking gently in a white wicker rocker. The summer breeze caresses your face with a whispering hint of roses and you stare off into the baby blue azure tinted sky.

No, you can't.  Why?  Because you're sitting in a sterile 10 x 10 foot cubicle (if that big) slaving over a job that needed to be finished at least 20 minutes before you got it.  The boss is chewing your butt for a lousy job because his boss is chewing him for a lousy job.  As my buddy once stated - It doesn't matter where on the hill you live, you're always in the valley and everything flows downhill.

I retired in 2006 on the very last day of that year.  Due to the holidays and weather, my departure was barely a blip on the screen.  Okay, it was more like a dot too much ink on the line... like a hesitation of the pen as it draws a line.

In the years since, I have tried to find some semblance of my former lifestyle but can't.  I mean, I still do things but there isn't that urgency.  There isn't somebody over my shoulder screaming it should have been done yesterday or last week.

In fact, the last few years have seen a new vision in my sight.  Sure, I've had cataract eye surgery, but it isn't that kind of new sight.  It is more insight.  I realize now that what doesn't get done today will get done tomorrow - maybe.

I think my first trip in 2007 can sum it up.  We, my wife and I, were traveling to California with her brother and his wife (they'd retired about 10 years earlier) in the RV.  I was tooling down the highway, clipping along at the speed of traffic.  Dare I say, nearing 80mph?  The gas in the RV was being sucked out but that wasn't of consequence.  My BIL noted my speed and informed me that we had plenty of time.  We didn't need to go from Ohio to California in an afternoon.  The minimum speed on the interstate is 55.  He said we could probably enjoy the trip more at about 60-65 mph.  I put it on cruise but found my foot easing the gas pedal down to keep up with traffic.  We made California in three days.  I just couldn't get the hang of "easy does it" and "we got time" to slow myself down.  I guess I was in one of those comedy routines: 7 Days, 6 Nights, 9 Countries, 15 Cities type vacations.

We need to learn to slow down.

It is now almost 10 years later.  I've learned to slow down.  I did some mulching around the yard.  In fact, the one area, about 12 ft by 35 ft took me nearly a week to do.  I'd go out, put down the newspaper, weight it and finally get the mulch spread over it.  It was a slow process.  But, then again, I had the time.  It wasn't like there was something pressing that had to be done.  The world continued to spin each day even though I hadn't finished my project that day.  When done, it looked good.

The same has happened in my driving.  I still tend to drive my car at interstate speeds... or better, but when I have the RV and we're traveling.  Okay, I sit in the driver's seat of the RV and relax. Yes, I'm that damned idiot in front of you going maybe 50 on a back road or 60 on an interstate.  You see?  I have the time to enjoy the roses.  By roses, I mean, the scenery of the highway.  Just look at the homes and fields and wild flowers and gorgeous woods.  There is so much to enjoy.  Don't just figure the cliche is about roses - roses are the scent of life.  Enjoy them.

Maybe, just maybe, I am seeing all this beauty because I can now see some stars starting to shine in the twilight of my years.  Yes, the sun is beginning to set.  I realize this.  I know my body can't continue to hustle and bustle.  It takes more time to do things but they do get done - in time.  Maybe not in what you consider a timely fashion, but it is timely in my lifestyle.

I just celebrated my 69th birthday on 12/31.  Yes, that means, this year I will be 70.  No, I'm not old but I am no longer in the summer of my life. Those sky blue azure tinted summer skies are long gone.  I would like to say I'm in the autumn of my life. I hope that my winter will be a good one and to be honest, I'm hoping and praying winter is a long, long way off. LOL.

Until my eyes close for the very last time, I want to be able to say - I stopped and smelled the roses.

Until next I ramble on...