Saturday, September 27, 2008

Secrets of the Universe (and other nonsense)

Secret #1
Evidently much of the financial meltdown has been brought about by believers that for a mere $20,000 investment, they can have revealed the secrets to making millions in real estate. Dave Ramsey frequently rails against the late night television hucksters selling tape sets on how to do this and the family FBI agent tells me that it is rampant. It is very hard for me to understand how someone could really believe that with no money, bad credit, and no real possibility of paying off loans, there is a “secret” way that they can buy a home or several rental houses and make millions of dollars. I guess it takes more belief/gullibility/stupidity than I have.

Secret #2
One of my co-workers tells me that there is a secret society that really runs the Federal Reserve and actually extends its reach to run the world economy. Much past this and I tell him that I have too much work to do to listen to his conspiracy theories.

Secret #3
The book The Secret and many others like it tell us that the secret is to believe and it will happen. The universe smiles on those who believe. But what if different people believe opposite things—does the universe get confused??

Secret #4
When I was a child, the church said that if I believed, my legs would be made strong. Obviously I didn’t believe enough to cure my genetic CMT. The good thing about this was that I learned early to be skeptical about the powers of belief.

Now I am all for having a generally positive attitude but reality really needs to be given some consideration. The old saying that "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn't." is still sound advice.

Thought for the day:
Almost anything is easier to get into than to get out of." ~ A. Allen

Friday, September 26, 2008

Riot On!!

Call me crazy but I am delighted with the uproar over the Wall Street bailout. It seems that Americans are waking up from the stuporous state we have been in these past years. Riot On!! Whether or not the bailout goes through, I am overjoyed that massive numbers of people are slapping their representatives around and giving them an earful of just how fed up they are.

Now maybe, just maybe, people will be awake enough to notice the cost of what is going on in Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Pakistan. One of the few times I’ve really agreed with Charlie Rangel was when he proposed a military draft. As soon as all the mamas and pappas see that their little Gap clad darling may be sent to get his arms or legs blown off, there would be massive resistance to it.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Stock Market Turmoil

The stock market is in major turmoil. It’s like Enron on a global scale. It may get better or it may not. There may be some temporary fixes which will come from the taxpayers but where the end of it is, no one knows. On a personal level, I have stopped all my 403b contributions and will use that money to finish getting the house paid off. Half of my retirement funds are in a fixed rate annuity but who know when that company will go under. But rather than living in fear of the future, I am enjoying today. Good job, good family, good health, good food, water, and electricity. Life is good.

Thought for the day:

To live content with what you have;

To seek elegance rather than luxury,

And refinement rather than fashion;

To be worthy, not reputable,

and wealthy, not rich;

To listen to stars and birds,

babes and sages with open heart;

To study hard;

To think quietly,

act frankly,

talk gently,

await occasions,

Hurry never;

In a word to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common

–This is my symphony.

William Henry Channing

Thursday, September 18, 2008

After Ike

I haven't abandonded Ruminations; I didn't have power until Monday and today is the first day that internet service is up.

We are exceedingly busy at work with so many hospitals down everything funnels to the ones that are open. Dialysis patients are in critical need and so many centers still have no power so we are getting some very sick HD patients. Everything from burns from generators to wounds from downed fences to heart attacks and the emotionally traumatized.

I'll get a post up about Ike later.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Waiting for Ike

Hurricane Ike is slowly making its way to Galveston. Those who were wise have left the island and the other coastal areas. It has been over 40 years since the Galveston area has taken such a big storm. In that time, many houses have been built where none should have been allowed. There will be much loss of property.

We are as prepared as we can be. Food and water, windows boarded, gasoline for the vehicles and generator, water in the big tub. Now we wait--for the wind & rain and for the electricity to go off.

Quote for the Day:
Character may be manifested in the great moments, but it is made in the small ones.
--Phillips Brooks

Monday, September 8, 2008

In the Twilight Zone

The old television show from the 1960’s bears a remarkable resemblance to this year in politics. The conventions, the ads, the talking heads all full of sound and fury but only about the inane, the absurd, and the inconsequential. Somewhere in another universe someone must be discussing our need for a rational energy policy to get us past our imported oil addiction, or about how we can fund Medicare much less provide adequate healthcare for all our citizens, or about if we are going to be in a perpetual state of war with one country right after (or even simultaneously with) another, or about how many digits are in the national debt—10? 20?. But these are not the topics of discussion—we are bogged down in sex and religion. As the old into music to the show went da da da da …

Another TZ moment this morning: A taxpayer funded bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with a $9.4 and $14 severance package to their respective former CEOs. da da da da

I really feel like I'm just not in the same universe with these people.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

My Mother's Business

My Mother’s Business

My mother grew up during the Great Depression. Her family was poor before the depression but truly destitute during the years just before the war. She left school after the eighth grade to work wherever she could find work. During World War II she worked in a shipyard as a welder and always said it was the best job she ever had. She ate in the shipyard cafeteria the best food she had ever eaten and had any needed medical attention. She met my father who was a merchant seaman; they married right after the war and I was born in 1947. During the 1950’s it was the norm for married women to be homemakers and not work outside the home. Even though my father earned a good living as a seaman, the years of poverty had left her wanting to be able to bring in her own income. She decided that she could become a beautician and open her own shop. No one in the family supported her aspiration. She was told that she couldn’t do it and that it would never be profitable and to forget about it. My father’s work often took him to ports on the other side of the world and he would be gone for 3-4 months at a time. So while he was gone, she enrolled in beauty school and by the time he came back, she was a licensed beautician. He decided to humor her and built a small addition to our house where she opened her little shop. While doing the practical hours of beauty school, she concentrated on those women who were older and worked outside their homes too. The little shop was successful and profitable from the very beginning because many of her beauty school clients came with her to her new business. I grew up with a steady stream of regular customers in my mother’s shop who were more like extended family than customers. You could tell which day of the week it was by who was sitting under the hairdryer—If it was Mrs. McCleese, it was Wednesday, no doubt about it. I asked her once why she was so determined to have her own business. She told me that my Grandmother had kept the family from starvation by starting her own business sewing men’s shirts in the logging camps of East Texas. I think my father was surprised at just how profitable the business was and was rather proud of her. About 10 years after she opened the shop, my father had a stroke and was unable to work for the rest of his life. That little shop in the back of the house made all the difference in the world in how they were able to live their lives comfortably. I was very fortunate to have a mother who was determined to have her own business.