Monday, May 30, 2011

You Might Be a Republic:

I just entered a raffle to win a new Honda Civic & other prizes. But if I win the first prize includes a trip for 2 to Vegas where we will be subjected to a most boring few hours watching idiots race around a closed track going fast in vehicles wasting gas and polluting the environment, or as Republics know it - NASCAR.
How many drivers carried guns?
It made me think of the typical Republic voter and I decided to copy and paste a list showing those people's values. (Okay I stole it from the, "You might be redneck if" list but aren't they the same?)

You might be a Republic Party voter if:
1.You take your dog for a walk and you both use the same tree.
2.You can entertain yourself for more than an hour with a fly swatter.
3.Your property has been mistaken for a recycling center.
4.Your boat has not left the driveway in 15 years.
5.You burn your yard rather than mow it.
6.You think the Nutcracker is something you did off the high dive.
7.The Salvation Army declines your mattress.
8.You offer to give someone the shirt off your back and they don't want it.
9.You come back from the dump with more than you took.
10.You keep a can of Raid on the kitchen table.
11.Your wife can climb a tree faster than your cat.
12.Your grandmother has "Ammo" on her Christmas list.
13.You've been kicked out of the zoo for heckling the monkeys.
14.You think a sub-division is part of a math problem.
15.You've ever bathed with flea and tick soap.
16.You've been involved in a custody battle over a hunting dog.
17.Your kids take a siphon hose to show and tell.
18.You think a hot tub is a stolen indoor plumbing fixture.
19.You took a fishing pole to Sea World.
20.You go to the stock car races and don't need a program.
21.You know how many bales of hay your car will hold.
22.You have a rag for a gas cap.
23.Your father executes the "Pull my finger" trick during Christmas dinner.
24.Your house doesn't have curtains but your truck does.
25.You wonder how service stations keep their restrooms so clean.
26.You can spit without opening your mouth.
27.You consider your license plate personalized because your Dad made it.
28.Your lifetime goal is to own a fireworks stand ( . . . or a bait shop).
29.You sit on your roof at Christmas time hoping to fill your deer quota.
30.You have a complete set of salad bowls and they all say Cool Whip on them.
31.The biggest city you've ever been to is Wal-Mart.
32.Your working TV sits on top of your non-working TV.
33.You thought the Unabomber was a wrestler.
34.You've used your ironing board as a buffet table.
35.You think a quarter horse is that ride in front of K-Mart.
36.Your neighbors think you're a detective because a cop always brings you home.
37.A tornado hits your neighborhood and does $10,000 worth of improvement.
38.You've used a toilet brush as a back scratcher.
39.You've asked the preacher, "Hey, how's they hangin'?"
40.You missed 5th grade graduation because you had jury duty.
41.You think fast food is hitting a deer at 65 mph

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Open Letter to LIRR

The Long Island Rail Road is having trouble figuring out why their ridership is down.
What with oil and gas prices in the stratosphere they wonder why more people are getting in their cars and driving to work rather than use their mass transit rail service.
They scratch their empty heads as they search for ways to fill the ever increasing revenue gap.
And speaking of gaps notice how management fixed the physical gap problem.  For those of you lucky enough to not use the LIRR the gap between the trains doors and the platform is terribly wide at many stations.  Management now has recorded announcements telling riders to step over the gap.  (Much cheaper than actually fixing the problem.)
So let me see if I can help these ostrich types of our Metropolitan Transit Authority with a few suggestions.
First and foremost we must examine their ability to run a reliable and trustworthy business.
When people tell their mortgage company they will pay on time they are expected to do so.  The bank will not accept 5 or 6 days late as on time and will charge dearly for the tardy behavior!
The LIRR seems to consider anything up to 6 minutes late AS ON TIME!
They even have the nerve to boast on-time service based on this faulty premise.
As for overall service, when it rains somewhere in the tri-state area riders are hit with immediate delays, cancellations and disruptions.
Again the LIRR takes no blame claiming rather that the weather is an act of God.
One wonders if they have ever hear of contingency plans?
They constantly ask riders to keep the trains clean and keep their feet off the seats.  Frankly most trains are so filthy to begin with riders don’t even like putting their butts on the seat.
Enter at own risk
Now I agree that some of the blame for the filthy condition of railroad cars must go to the ridership but people sense conditions when they enter the cars and tend to act accordingly.
But the final nail in what should be managements coffin is their constant indifferent stupidity.
They act as though customers are mindless sheep and will do whatever they are told to do.
It’s not bad enough that their mentality forces them to raise rates when ridership is down in order to continue making money but they have made it impossible for riders to exist!
Long Island is comprised mainly of large middle class working communities.  The people in these communities who still have jobs are making less money than before as business owners see the high unemployment rate as an excuse to pay lower wages.
So with less cash in their pockets workers are faced with the new LIRR policies that force them to rethink their commutation plans.
Many of the new regulations for LIRR tickets is not only bad business but it borders on absolute insanity!
Tickets now have very short expiration dates from time of purchase.  If you buy it today in anticipation of travelling in two weeks you lose out completely as the ticket will no longer be accepted.
The opposite to that way of thinking may be seen at the US Postal Service.
The Post Office sells stamps they hope people will collect and keep and never use. But those stamps are good forever at face value so if a collector decides to use them he will pay the difference and move on. The Postal Service makes a nice profit with that strategy and keeps its customers happy.
Back at the 'caveat emptor' LIRR refunds for accidentally purchased wrong tickets now cost more than the tickets themselves.
In other words if you plan ahead you are screwed.  But if you do not plan ahead and must purchase your ticket on the train you had better be carrying enough cash to make a mugger’s eyes light up!
The bottom line is simply this, for some reason the LIRR management feels that the best way to maintain the railroad is to treat the customer like dirt and continue to charge them more for it!
Take responsibility and seek out ways to actually make the railroad better.
Fight FOR ridership not against.
Unfortunately my voice is not important to these well to do anti-social types and rates will most assuredly rise in the coming years as those leaders continue to scratch their aforementioned collective empty heads over lost revenue.
Should they keep on their current course I foresee a time in the not so distant future when the seven remaining customers are paying $50,000 each for one way off-peak tickets purchased three minutes in advance at a ticket machine that only accepts cash.
Oh, and they needn’t rush – because the train will be on-time.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Mom ain't Mom anymore

Whenever anyone thinks of the glory days of this country the phrase ‘as American as mom and apple pie’ comes to mind.
Mom has always brought thoughts of a protected youth and unbridled love.
We use different forms of the word to symbolize protection and nurturing as when we speak of Mother Earth or Mother Nature.
I even use M-O-M when I grill on the barbecue. (Medium heat - Off - Medium for those of you in apartments.)
And what child hasn’t heard about the history and folklore surrounding Johnny Appleseed and his exploits as he made sure America would never be without apple trees?
Personally as a child I loved my mom and she knew I could never get enough apple pie. I especially enjoyed it slightly warmed with a touch of cinnamon and of course vanilla ice cream on top. That could be why I was so overweight back then but that’s another story.
However I grew up and so did America.
Neither of us is as young or carefree as we were back then.
Mainly because there are more things to worry about and more complexity in every problem.
The world may be flat but we seem to always be going uphill, at least those of us who were not born with silver spoons in any of our orifices.
Maybe that’s because too many people have forgotten what made this country great in the first place.
We were a Union of States.
We were a nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all.
We had principles and ideals.
We succeeded in the success of our people and failed when they failed.
We protected our citizens to the best of our abilities and tried not to do harm to others unless they harmed us first.  And even then we made sure we had the right culprit or 'unsub' for you "Criminal Minds" lovers.
Now much of that has changed!
One of our States feels the urge to secede.
Wars against wrong countries continue and escalate draining our coffers of cash we could use elsewhere and lives we will never get back.
Anti social, anti human individuals play the system for personal gain without thought as to how it will affect others. For these individuals a guilty conscience is considered bad form.
What would mom say?
The government that used to be of by and for the people doesn’t even place roadblocks in front of these egoists.
It’s as though the greediest among us who seem to be able to control Congress and all who enter never had moms.
But they did have moms even if they were test tubes!
But to these people the word mom doesn't mean the same thing as for you and I!
That’s because their mom now stands for My Own Money.
There’s an old joke about marriage where the wife would say, “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine.”
Well somewhere along the line the wealthy became all of our spouses and the ‘what’s mine’ in the relationship is thought to be theirs!
Can we turn things around?
It’s doubtful.
We’ve loosed the Pandora’s padlock of personal profit and those who have reaped the rewards will not allow things to return to the way they were in the old days.
Can Congress and our current President build up enough nerve to buck the trend?
Can they survive without the funding and power these wealthy anti-social deviates wield?
Time will tell but I don't hold out much hope.
There is another well known phrase - Money talks, nobody walks.
The money is talking quite loudly these days and DC-ites seem to be listening very closely.
Well I can still heat up a slice of apple pie and hopefully afford a scoop of vanilla on top.
They can’t take that away from me, can they?  Please?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Apologies to Sinatra

Having just slogged through a soggy morning Manhattan rush I sit here with soaked socks sadly looking forward to intermittent showers & sloppy shoes all day.
Luckily I do not have to travel too far from train to desk but it was long enough to pen this poem.
Sinatra might have sung it to the tune of "Strangers in the Night" - or not.  (For those of you who may not know or remember it here's the original song.)

New York in the rain
Dodging umbrellas
Hoping yet in vain
Not to bump fellas
As they run to catch
Their always late packed train

Speeding cabs all splash
And try to wet us
Smiles the cabbies flash
Always upset us
But that's city life
So we don't make a fuss

New York in the rain
There's really no place like it
We've been called insane
But we don't know the word quit
How can I explain
In this short refrain
New York is the place to be
In snow or sun or even rain - see

New York in the rain
Tons of umbrellas
I will not complain
To gals or fellas
'Cause we're all the same
We're New York in the rain

Scooby dooby doo
Get me a towel now
Doobie doobie doo
I'll wipe my brow now
But I still will love
My New York in the rain.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Choose Your Bully

Bullies exist and always will.
One way to insulate yourself from being the target of a bully is to join in and point your finger elsewhere.
Clearly this is not right nor a nice thing to do but self preservation does have its own needs and desires.
Bullies themselves use their own set of tactics to deflect away from their behavior.
They may point to other bullies or quietly slink into the shadows while others are being berated for wrongdoing.
Such is the case these days with our beloved insurance industry.
While the nation is focused on big oil, and don’t get me wrong they deserve tremendous scrutiny, our insurance industry is quietly laughing all the way to the bank.
These bastions of bastardly behavior are quietly raking in the dough while raping every single American citizen every single day of the year.
Sitting high up in their plush corporate lairs we the people must look like ants to them as we crawl and claw our way through the work days of our lives.
But unlike the tiny productive ubiquitous insect we are not to be stepped on or squashed by the big foot of big insurance but rather cultivated and sucked dry of every penny we’re worth.
Perhaps you feel the above is a bit harsh after all insurance companies do offer peace of mind in the event of an accident or disaster, right?
If you feel that way then obviously you have never tried to collect on a claim.
In 1988 my daughter fell from a jungle gym while in a local day camp and broke her wrist.
We had Blue Cross insurance back then and our out of pocket cost was a mere $135.
I attempted to collect the out of pocket expense from the day camp’s insurance company only to be put through the most absurd run around imaginable. I was asked for form after form including duplicate copies of x-rays as well as affidavits from doctors and camp officials from the time of the accident in early July through August without any success.
Then in late August the camp switched insurance directors and the entire process reverted to square one.
I gave up and hired an attorney to sue the camp.  I found a wonderfully sleazy 'ambulance chaser type and my daughter was awarded $15,000.
Remember that in the beginning I had only requested $135.
Nowadays I would probably end up in jail for causing a nuisance and found guilty of committing insurance fraud!
Here’s a simple exercise for you to perform before passing judgment on my rant. Make the following chart using your actual income and expenses:
Gross Pay – Net Pay – Insurance Outlays (Include at least the following, Health, Life, Home, Auto, Long Tern Care, Disability, and any other you may pay.) After each insurance column you may wish to note its percentage cost of your so-called take home pay.
At the far right of your chart add all your insurance costs and then note the total percentage they take out of your net pay.
Use that percentage to see the day of the year when you will finally be working for yourself and not big insurance.
This year my freedom date is August 12th but I am one of the lucky ones because my wife works!
And by the way if you want to get a clear picture of just how bad off you are vs. the billionaires who own this country don’t forget to also deduct your local town and school taxes and by definition your necessary utility costs such as gas, electric and phone.
So what is the solution to America’s bully problem?
How can we really take back our country?
Well I don’t mean to point fingers but if I had to I guess I could name 50 Senators, 435 Congressmen & women and 1 President.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Skinning the Cat

The phrase, 'there’s more than one way to skin a cat' is hardly ever used these days and that’s unfortunate. You see it should be resurrected as a subtitle for the wonderfully wacky world of politics.
Simply put it means you can find many ways to do or say anything. And of course each of those ways will mean different things to different people.
Even placing the emphasis on different words in the same sentence will convey an altered meaning to the subject at hand.
Prove it to yourself by saying the following sentence six times emphasizing a different word each time.
“You want me to do that?” (My favorite is the third utterance.)
The above was a simple example. Now imagine a far longer sentence or better yet a complicated issue such as Medicare.

In the current fight between the two major political parties and one minor party the emphasis is on the cost and how it affects our deficit. But the cost should not only be a monetary one.
It’s easy to say that increased membership in Medicare caused by the aging of our society will increase our nation’s deficit but we should also note that drastically changing the system could increase our Nation’s death rate!
Unfortunately some of the people arguing the case sublimate that fact. They understand that the fewer people utilizing Medicare, be it from lack of need or death the less money will be spent. And the less money spent the more money to use elsewhere.
Do I hear the defense lobbyists lining up?
An issue as far reaching and multi-faceted such as Medicare cannot be explained in one line. There will never be a quick fix worthy of a satisfactory sound bite for us to hear on cable network news shows, at least not a real one.
But I herewith offer a streamlined view of one of the main points of contention between politicians from all sides of every aisle.
If a senior needs medical care they currently see their doctor and most of the costs involved come out of the government coffers. The coffers have that money as a result of contributions made by those seniors in the form of deductions taken from their lifetime of wages.
One could say the seniors are entitled to that money or at least the peace of mind coverage for which the money was paid all those years. Naturally the word ‘entitlement’ has been given a bad connotation by the same people who wish to rid the country of such ‘socialistic programs, but that’s another issue.
The ‘right’ wishes to privatize Medicare. They propose issuing seniors vouchers with which they may to go out and buy insurance on their own. This would remove the worry and expense of covering these elderly people should they get sick, and of course there is no disputing the fact that they will!
In order for the ‘right’ to save the government money in this scheme the amount of the vouchers must be less than the expected payment to cover the elderly in their hours of need.
Again there is no dispute on that fact.
So the ‘right’ will spin the issue and state that they are covering seniors and saving the government money. Who could argue against such a win-win conclusion?
But one need not delve too far into the facts to realize that if the government is saving money then less money is being spent and less money means less coverage.
Also the ‘for profit’ insurance companies will not be all that willing to actually cover the seniors to the full extent of their needs since they are after all for profit!
So the end result of the proposal by the Republicans on the ‘right’ higher profits for private insurance companies, possibly a slightly lower deficit assuming the small amount of money saved is not funneled into other non socialistic programs immediately, and a lower life expectancy for middle class Americans.
Doesn't this sound a bit like what the 'Conservatives' were chanting about a couple of years ago? 
There will be no easy solution to this problem as the majority of Americans enter into their supposed Golden Years. One might argue that a higher tax rate on the wealthiest among us must be considered and corporations, who have been given near citizenship rights by our Supreme Court, should therefore be included in that group. Certainly that would be a start but more is needed. And we need our leaders to stop posturing and, for lack of a better term, lying to our faces about the issues.
Remember that while it is only a euphemism, skinning the cat will result in the death of the cat. The problem is ‘we the people’ are the cat!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Pent up Thoughts

Great news!  I have a job
Terrible News!  I have a job!
Okay, it's great news for me but if anyone out there wants to read my rants they have to sign up for Twitter and follow me there.  You see with a job comes responsibility.  And with responsibility comes time management.  And I have far less time to put my thoughts down on paper, uh, make that E-Paper.
As a result I think in 140 character sound-bites fit for the world of Twitter.
There is some good in writing only 140 character 'tweets' since that is around the attention span of many people these days, certainly that is the far end of attention span of Fox news viewers!
Seriously, can you ever believe that anyone who watches Fox or listens to that incredibly evil moron Limp Balls on the radio has an attention span long enough to figure out they are lying???
But for now I would like to offer a few views - Headline-like only as to what has been going on in our world these days.
Osama is dead!  Obama did it but Bushies are trying to spin it their way.  Condoleeeeeeeeza says he deserves a great deal of credit.
Because if that most inept of Presidents and his gang of asinine idiots AKA the gang who couldn't shoot straight had gotten the evil bastard then Obama wouldn't have had to!

Our friends in the Pakistani government were so surprised that Osama was living in luxury right under their noses!
They were only surprised that we finally figured it out!

Oil prices have risen and then fallen but gas prices have only gone up!
Is anyone surprised?
If you are then you haven't been paying attention so let me tell you in quick terms:
If Exxon wants to make billions and not pay taxes how else would they get away with it?

The Republic Party wants to create jobs - BULLSHIT!
They want to create more wealth for their owners in big business and themselves.
If they were really interested in the American middle class, AKA humans then they might not have targeted the health care reform bill for repeal and Planned Parenthood and National Public Radio and many other issues that concern women's health as their first priorities after taking control of the House!!!  Obviously if they had told the electorate that was their first order of business they would not have gotten a majority!
In fact they might not have gotten ANY VOTES and they knew it!!!!!
I hope all those idiots out there who were fooled into voting for the Republic Party are ready for health care menus because:
I love non sequitur!
The first and main item on these hypocrites' agenda was to basically take out any group that might lean toward supporting the Democratic Party!
Don't believe it?
Google the utterly evil idiot Scott Walker and the rest of the evil bastards in the Republic Party and see what they have been up to since last November.
But I'm not bitter - I have a job!
I am one of the lucky ones.  I am not making nearly as much as I used to but in today's world of corporate owned government that's to be expected.
Still I want to see 15,000,000 other wonderful and deserving Americans get lucky as well.
If we as a nation can understand that all people must have gainful employment in order for society to work, not just the CEOs and their $9,000,000 average yearly salary (That's right, it's up to that now - look it up!) then perhaps we can reclaim our status as the greatest nation in the world.  But for now we are just treading water slightly ahead of third world status.
I am not advocating class warfare because frankly I cannot figure out who to fight!  You see, the Republic Party HAS NO CLASS!