Monday, July 21, 2014

The Retirement Busy Bee


by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
I have been thinking about what to do in my retirement. 
I am trying to envision what my retirement will be like.  I am many years away but my last blog on retirement, The American Dream has Retired, has put the thought into my mind.

The first thing is what to do with myself.  I will have all this time and nothing to do.  Sure, my first thing will be to enjoy not having to get up and go to work.  That will be a three-month long vacation, like getting the summer off.  I never did that when I was working.  Just did not get enough vacation time to do it.  

After the vacation passes, I suppose I will start to do repairs to my house.  I know how to do lots of repairs but I never had the time when working.  But you know, that’s not enough to cover all my years in retirement.  Guess I will have to repair all my neighbors’ houses too.

I thought that some volunteer work with my Church might be rewarding.  I could travel the country saving many heathen Christians.  It is quite rewarding to be doing God’s work converting other Christians worshipers from their wrong version of Christianity to my right version of Christianity. 

Thinking outside-the-box, this blogging thing could be my new career.  Imagine that, I retire from work so that I can go back to work.  Crazy huh.  Wonder if I can make money at blogging.  Do people make money from blogging?  Something to explore.  I can spend lots of time working on my blogs, time that I will have when I am retired.  I could write a book.  I have no imagination so fiction is out.  I can write these little ditties but are they interesting enough for a book?  How's this for a cheeky title, "My Deep Thoughts and Other Mistakes."  Please leave me your opinion on a book of all my blog posts.

Money in retirement worries me.  I have not yet figured out what my pension will be.  I have to get an estimate.  People say that your expenses goes down in retirement.  I don't see how.  My property taxes and utilities bills will still be there.  I still need food so the grocery bill will still be there.  So what does change?  Only my commuting cost goes away and that is hardly my biggest expense.  No, I don’t see where my expenses will go down.  

When I get my pension estimate, I will have to experiment to see if the monies will be enough.  I will pretend that my current salary is the same as my pension income and I will find out if I can live on that money.  I hope it is enough because I would like to retire before I die.  Retirement is on my Bucket List.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The American Dream has retired

                     


by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
 The American dream, a house, 2.5 kids, and a dog, has retired but can you retire too?  Too many of us cannot afford to retire anymore.

Corporations, that is, your employers, have terminated the traditional corporate pension plans and moved their employees into 401Ks.  The corporations did this because they wanted to increase their profits and they saw that ending their pension plans as a way to accomplish this.  The corporations did this knowing that there would not be enough money in those 401Ks for their employees to afford retirement.  They did not care since the CEOs who made this decision would be long gone before the problem became large enough to be noticed by their employees.  So, you now have a 401k and you cannot afford to retire.  Ironically, those CEOs are now comfortably retired on their corporate pensions.

We are now faced with having 401Ks that do not have enough money for us to retire.  What can we do about this?  Irritatingly, the same corporations that forced us into underfunded 401Ks are now trying to make a business of advising us what to do about our lack of retirement money.  Perhaps you have seen the commercials on TV asking, "Will you outlive your retirement money?"  They may indeed have a solution, but now you have to pay them to tell you what to do or buy whatever product they have that will solve your retirement money troubles. 

Let me guess what their advice is: YOU MUST PUT MORE MONEY INTO YOUR 401K AND THEN PAY US TO INVEST IT FOR YOU.  This from the same corporations who caused the problem in the first place.  How self serving.  Instead, their advice should be that your employer must contribute more to your 401K and that your employer should pay us to give you investment advice as part of your benefits package.

Historically, people worked until the day they died.  Then, we were able to get pension plans and to retire at a reasonable age.  We may be back to working until we die.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The American Dream

                         

by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
Many want to have the American Dream of a house, 2.5 kids and a dog, but I think that they misunderstand the American Dream.  They see the house, kids and dog and think that is it.  No!  The American Dream is about accumulating wealth.  It is only after you have wealth do you get the house, the kids and the dog.

Wealth is simply the difference between how much you own and how much you owe.  Sound like the definition of profits, corporate income less corporate expenses.  That is exactly what it is. Corporations accumulate wealth and so should you.

There has been lots on television news about inequality in America.  Maybe so, but just maybe, we are not helping ourselves and we are contributing to the inequality.  Most of us do not accumulate wealth, we accumulate debts.  Any time, you borrow money, you pay exorbitant interest on the money and that interest goes to the lenders who use it to add to their wealth. 

We give up savings for spending and we overspend.  Take a look in your closet.  If you did not buy another piece of clothing for the next two years, you still would not run out of clothes to wear every day.  Some buy expensive cars, Lexus, BMW  and so on, when they should get something less costly and save the difference.

A simple way to begin to accumulate wealth, and it's the one that I use, is to have a small amount deducted from your check and sent to your savings account.  It's does not have to be much and you will be surprised at the balance after five years.

Wealth is not just savings.  Saving is cash in the  bank.  Wealth includes other things like your house.  Your house is your biggest asset, to use more corporate lingo. The difference between the price that you can sell your house and your mortgage is wealth to you.  If your mortgage is paid off, then the house sale price is all yours.  You do have to subtract out the yearly property taxes and house maintenance costs from the sale price, but you will still have lots of wealth left over.  Remember, your house, while valuable, is not so easy to change into spending cash because you do have to live somewhere.

The rich get richer because they accumulate wealth.  You would do well to follow their example.  Those of us of a certain older age already know all this, learned the hard way, from life's experience.  We need to teach our kids so that they can make wise financial decision right from the start of their lives.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Marriage in Black and White

                  

by The Urban Blabbermouth
~

I saw a remark on Twitter, "10 years from now same sex marriage and pot smoking will be normal and legal but America will still be anti-black." The author missed a point about the power of white men to get their way.   Let's take a look at how white men influenced gays, pot, and then how they will influence Black America.

Gay people are now permitted to marry in many states.  They accomplished this by first coming out of the closet.  Then many white men, especially conservatives, realized that their loved and close family members turned out to be gay.  Many members of Congress learned that their children are gay.  Former Vice President Chaney's daughter turns out to be a lesbian.  White men wanted to help and protect their family members so they began to change the laws.

This principle of protecting family members also applies to pot smoking.  Many parents, that is the white fathers, do not want their kids arrested by the police, and certainly not for pot smoking.  Parents may view pot as less of an issue as the parents have smoked pot too.  There is now a whole generation of parents who smoked pot and they managed to have a decent life so they see no reason that their kids should be arrested for pot smoking.  Hence, changes in the law.

Ten years from now, Anti-Black America will be different.  Things will get better for the same reason that gays got marriage: White men want to protect their family members.    As more white men start marrying black women, America will change.  The white men will want to protect their wives.  End result — black women will have more equality, less discrimination and more social acceptance. 

On the other hand, ten years from now, Black men will still be going to jail.  White men still will not like black men marrying white women.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Joys of Selfishness

                             

by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
On my way home, I saw a woman offer to pay the train fare of a young lady standing by the turnstile.  The young lady declined the offer and thanked the woman.  Seems like there are some kind, generous, and charitable people still around our city.  Well, that is wrong.  The woman who made the offer was just being totally selfish.

The woman, lets call her Generous Jeanie or Genny for short, was quite selfish.  Genny wanted to help because she thinks of herself as a generous, kind and charitable person. She acts this way so that she can feel good about herself.  She was only thinking of her own feelings and was using the other person to achieve her pleasure.  This is the virtue of selfishness.

Don't abhor selfishness, our society is built on it.   Adam Smith, considered by some to be the father of modern economics and the father of capitalism, said that it is good to be selfish.  Capitalism runs on selfishness.  Businesses are started by people who want to make lots of money, to be rich, and they sell you stuff to get rich.  Adam Smith says that their selfish desire to get rich forces them to sell you great products or you would not buy from them.  If you do not buy from them, they will not get rich and will go out of business.  So it does pay to be selfish.

The Rockefellers gave money to many communities and in turn the communities named buildings, parks, and streets after them.  There is a  Rockefeller University funded by, guess who...  Rockefeller was not alone.  Vanderbilt and Kennedy, to name two other well known people, gave money to communities and all have buildings, parks and streets named after them.  We all think of Rockefeller, Vanderbilt and Kennedy as kind, generous, and charitable when what they really wanted was to see their names on buildings, parks, and streets.  The great and enduring virtue of selfishness.

We are not immune to the virtues of selfishness.   You give to the Red Cross and you feel good that you have helped someone in distress.  You also give because you worry that when you are in distress, when you need the Red Cross, will someone give to help you?  You give to ease your guilt because you have so much and others have less.  The more in need is the person you are helping, the greater the virtue.

Gordon Gekko was wrong. The true saying is, "Selfishness is Good.  Go forth and be selfish."

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Great White Hunter wears Air Jordans

                            

by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
I was walking in the downtown area when I saw a line of young black men in front of Foot Locker. Foot Locker is an athletic shoe store. Apparently one of the shoe companies was re-issuing Air Jordan Retro sneakers for $300. 


As I passed the line, I overheard another passer-by in a conversation something like, “Huh, they are willing to stand on line for days to get sneakers. I wonder how many of them are willing to stand on line for days to get a book?” The implication of this conversation is that young black men are wasting their time waiting for shoes and could be doing more useful things for themselves, like reading a book.
 

That person missed the point completely. No one stands on line for days unless they see a benefit to themselves for doing so. And what are those benefits? Well just think, you are now the proud owner of a rare, hard to get, and expensive pair of Air Jordan Retros. People will see you in the shoes and make judgments on you. Exalted status is conferred upon you. Respect and admiration of your peers is conferred upon you. Knowledge from a book, as valuable as that is, is invisible and as such, is not seen by anyone, so no exalted status can be conferred upon you.

This is the same exalted status conferred on those who wear a huge diamond necklace or drive a Mercedes automobile. Those who have the diamonds and the Mercedes had to spend more than days, years really, working to afford these coveted items. Days waiting on line or years working in a cubicle, where's the difference? 


Now what can you do with this exalted status? If you are a young male, it shows to young girls that you are a cool guy, that you are capable of getting resources that no other guy can get, that you will be going places, that you have good prospects for your future, and that you will be an excellent husband and provider. In short, you are the Great Hunter and are excellent genetic material for her babies. 

So you see, there are benefits to waiting on line for days to get the Air Jordan Retros.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Used Marriages for Sale

                     

by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
I heard a commentator on TV say that the divorce rate is falling.  Here are his reasons:
  • Fewer people are marrying so less people to divorce. 
  • People are marrying at the end of their twenties rather than the start of their twenties.  The result is that a more mature person makes better decision in choice of a partner. 
  • People are living together as couples then marrying later.   This trial period does eliminate lots of bad choices of partners.
I have a simple solution to the divorce problem.  Are are you ready for it? Have marriages expire every five years.  You will be able to trade in your spouse every five years.  Sounds more like a Used Car commercial. "Marriage turned into a lemon? TRADE UP, not down!  Trade in and GET the latest model!  Great new  features to choose from:  wisdom, maturity, compatibility, same interests, more sex, better looking, and... you can even pick the color and the gender of your new spouse!"

If it sounds absurd to you,  think about it.  How different is that from today, where we marry, divorce, marry, divorce again, marry again.  Throw in a pre-nup agreement and we already have a predetermined end to the marriage.  All that is missing is an expiration date. Your state issues driver's licenses which have to be renewed.  Well, your state also issues marriage licenses.  I have no idea why the state is in the middle of marriages but as they are, they can expire it if they want.  BTW, your state does issue divorces, too should you want one. See my note on Divorce Equality for All.

I can hear you saying, "What happens to the children?" True, if there are children, there are problems.  There are already problems with children in divorces.  No change here.  I will yield and throw in a caveat to satisfy those worried about children -- the marriage will expire ten years from the birth of the youngest child.  I do not like this caveat because it will lead one person in the marriage to keep having babies to extend the marriage.

A five-year marriage expiration date takes the guesswork out of your marital bliss.  Since you know when your marriage will expire, you can plan for the change by hiding assets, or by starting a new relationship so you have a new spouse ready on expiration.  If you like your spouse, you can always renew. Think how much nicer you would have be to your spouse if you wanted to keep them.  Your spouse would have to be nicer to you too. Good benefits all around.

To renew or not to renew, that's the question.



Saturday, May 24, 2014

Time Flies

                           

by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
Galileo said (at least I think it was him), that there is no such thing as time, only the intersection of planetary movement and aging, and what man perceives time passing is nature changing, aging, sunrise and sunsets, and the like.  In short, what we perceive as time is the changes in the world around us. I suppose that Galileo said this when he discovered that the earth revolves around the sun.

The Science
Planetary movement comes in two parts: earth rotation on its axis and solar orbit around the sun.  The earth rotates on its axis and we get day time and night time.  The earth rotation on its axis plus the movement around the sun, the solar orbit, gives us our four seasons. 
When the seasons repeat, we call that a year.

So, if we start counting the earth moving round and round in space, we end up with days and years.  Two days is two earth rotations on its axis and so on.  It takes the earth 365 rotations on the axis to get around the sun and for the seasons to start again. Two years becomes two earth rotations around the sun. 

Aging, in some scientific view, is our old cells continuously replaced with new cells, except that the new cells are not as good as the previous old cells.  The new cells are weaker.  Replace our cells enough times with weaker cells and our bodies will get weaker and weaker, older and older, until we die.

Our brains combines these two things -- our bodies getting weaker and the movement of the earth --
as one, and we see time.  At the intersection of planetary movement and aging, we say that time is passing when it's really our bodies changing and the earth changing position in space.  

Time, then, is just some man-made fantasy.  

The New Theory of Time
I am still getting old.  

Note: The illustration is by Lou Beach
and originally appeared in the New York
Times in 2010.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Solidarity or Bust

                                   

Note: I know that manufacturers, market-researchers and ad agencies the world over are sleeping uneasily as they await my next installment of "Analyze This." But, they'll have to wait a few more days.  Perhaps a couple of Tylenol PM would help?   ...As a relatively normal human being, I also have a life that includes activities other than shopping and purchasing, so here's a brief departure into that other realm...
~
I haven't had much to say about church lately -- things are just as wacky there as they've ever been, with people departing almost as soon as they arrive, and other people deciding to stay, only to create new controversies and dramas. I stay because so many friends are there, but increasingly, my attitude has become a bit cynical. This is especially true of "experiences" that people in our denomination often rave about. We have an annual assembly that takes place in late June. I attended nearly six years ago and remember how utterly thrilled I was to festoon myself with buttons and badges, attend workshops, purchase overpriced keepsakes, and meet like-minded folks from elsewhere in the country. I won't be attending this year, and should I do so in the future, now wonder if it would be as much of a feel-good experience as it was back then. It makes me sad to think, probably not. "Been-there, done-that" basically sums it up. 

Last month I signed on to drive four of our teens to a weekend retreat in a spectacularly scenic section of the Southeast. We had perfect weather and few, if any, real problems. But I was trying to recover from some interpersonal drama that took place the week before, and while it was really nice to just "get outa Dodge," I was unable to summon the innocent wonder that mountains, birds, trees, lovely silence, and a total change of scenery would normally have elicited. It was too easy to notice the shabby and cramped condition of our cabin, the chronic muscle aches in my leg, the somewhat disorganized scheduling of events, and the cliched quality of the activities. I mean, "kumalata-kumalata-kumalata-veesta" was vintage back in my camp days, back when Lyndon Johnson was president, and it felt more hackneyed than nostalgic to sit uncomfortably cross-legged on the ground, clapping and swaying to guitar and bongo music. It also pissed me off that I couldn't get decent cell reception the whole weekend - the kids were too busy to notice that inconvenience, but I wasn't.

This past weekend, I was encouraged to attend an event in Nashville - it was a one-day affair, so there was no need to worry about overnight accommodations. Two other people went along with me, and one of them did the driving. All in all, it was significantly more fun and less hassle than the weekend retreat. But again, there was that "We're-such-a special-buncha-people-let's-celebrate-ourselves" attitude on the part of the organizers that set all of our teeth on edge. Toward the end of the event, it started to feel like one of those "team-building" things that corporations do to squeeze a few months' worth of enthusiasm out of their sales staff. 

The three of us, thankfully, were of like mind, so in two areas, we made a decision that didn't really line up with what the leaders were hoping for. We refused to volunteer for their "steering committee" -- a notion that made all of us want to throw up a little. We even remarked as to how we like applause as much as anyone else (much "hootin' and hollerin" ensued anytime someone from a congregation agreed to be on the committee), but would forgo it in exchange for a bit of autonomy. They applauded anyway. Oh, well...

It was at the very end that the most memorable and significant moment occurred. There's a particular religious-type word that one of our trio does not like and has consistently refused to use. It shows up in a lot of group agreements, and it really, truly is not necessary. There are many other words that work just as well, but our denomination has just fallen in love with this word and uses it whenever the opportunity arises. It was mentioned in the agenda, and TK, the member who objected, told us on the way there that he wondered what kind of pushback he'd be getting when he argued against the use of the word. My friend J and I were well aware of this issue with him, and didn't have any particular opinion about it, or any plans in mind at the beginning. But by the time we got to the conclusion of things, when we already felt there was a little too much peer pressure in the air to be healthy, we were not too surprised when the leader of the event basically blew off TK and his objections. This, after she had introduced this pre-written group agreement and invited us to change any wording we didn't like. TK was civilized and quiet and didn't make a big fuss; he simply stated his opinions.  The leader condescended, showed a distinct lack of respect for his views, and proceeded to ignore him as she continued reading the document, and then invited everyone who had participated to come up and sign our names to it. 

Normally, I'm sure J and I would have been perfectly willing to sign, but in solidarity with TK, we decided in the space of a second to stay in our seats and decline to sign. And oh, boy, did we get the pressure from others when they realized what we were doing. 

It's been about three days now, and I still have that indescribable feeling of having made the right decision, to go against the herd, on principle. I keep thinking about how much peer pressure there was at the meeting. I love my denomination, but this is an example of the streak of dysfunction that exists within it.

I guess resisting peer pressure is one of those actions that inform the life of a true adult. 
It beats the hell out of singin' around the campfire with a phony smile pasted on your face.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Revolution was televised

by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
 Note -- The series, Analyze This, mentioning all the consumer products, brought Gil Scott-Heron's spoken word poem The Revolution will not be televised to my mind and as you can easily imagine,  the poem, in turn, brought thoughts about revolutions we see on TV.

 
This year, I have been watching awards shows on TV and I have seen some new behavior amongst the young ladies.  Miley Cyrus and her Wrecking Ball displaying for public view an open and aggressive female sexual behavior, and Queen Beyonce throwing in her parts too (pun intended) with her latest music video.  I have seen apparently hetero young women "tongue touching", the new high five, as they greet each other on stage on TV.  Here is my view of this behavior.

It's been ten years since the famous Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction at the Super Bowl Football Championship on national TV.  There certainly was a lot of fuss about Janet's nip slip.  The FCC did an investigation, assessed fines on the TV network, and Congress held hearings.  I am guessing here but the phrase "slip-a-nip" arose out of that incident and became mainstream slang.  "Wardrobe malfunction" also arose out of that incident.  Now, we look back on Janet's slip-a-nip incident and wonder why the fuss? 

The fuss was another step in the sexual revolution.  The sexual revolution for men was about less work to get more sex.  For women, it was liberating.  Since the beginning of humanity, women have been tied to their reproductive cycles.  To state the obvious, women have monthly cycles and they get pregnant.  Their bodily functions caused women to develop a certain set of behaviors that is protective in nature.

Along comes science and medicine where women can now take a pill and stop their monthly cycles and prevent pregnancy.  Ironically, women now find themselves in the same situation as men, i.e., can indulge in all the sex they want without biological worries other than STDs.  Science had opened the door to a new set of sexual behaviors by women and women are still deciding on what their new behavior should be.

The new developments in sexual behavior is best seen among young celebrity women.  They have the invincibility of youth to go where they want and to worry less about society's acceptance.  As the young women create new patterns of sexual behavior, they try it out in very public places, like the award shows on TV,  to see if it works for them or maybe to push the public closer to accepting new modes of womanly behavior.

Watch the female entertainers at the awards show.  They, as entertainers, have a social license to stretch womanly behaviors and if they succeed, they become role models and proxies for the behavior of other women.  Eventually, accepted womanly sexual behavior will shift.   Keep an eye on your TV.  Who knows what else will show up on a red carpet interview at one of the awards show.

Yes siree, the sexual revolution was certainly televised.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Analyze This, Part 6B-1: One purse on a strap, the other on 4 wheels

                                 

Note: Surely you're not new to this blog...you know I'm breaking down my consumer purchase habits. Right? No? Well, welcome to my world. Enjoy...

~
Now that we've established that people often let a lot of stuff accumulate in their purses and other bags, let's see what's accumulated in mine.

I've had the purse a long time. No brand name, or even a recollection of where it came from. It's medium small, a "slouch" style, in green faux leather, and it's usually roomy enough.

The wallet was acquired via Ebay; it's a Rolf's. A huge brown leather clutch with a checkbook, calculator, a pen loop, card slots and pockets galore. It's the kind of wallet your mom carried, and I love it.

I flirted with the Getting Things Done system for awhile, but found it too cumbersome. The only concept I adopted from it was something called a Ubiquitous Capture Tool. You're supposed to write down every thought or idea or to-do in your life and have them all in one place before you go on to the next phase of sorting them out to eventually act upon. I do use one small pocket weekly calendar for all my appointments and things to remember. It was a freebie from my company, made by Myron Manufacturing, which specializes in promotional items like this one. It has a notepad, a bookmark, maps and plenty of room for scribbles. It's just the right size and it will be great if I can get one every year.

I have a wide-tooth comb that I occasionally remember to use -- this will come as a shock to many who know me, and have become used to me looking like somebody shot me out of a cannon. I've had it for nearly eight years; it came from Avon and has a matching round brush that I still have ... somewhere.

Another freebie from my company, via the National Pen Company, is a clip-on strap. I attach it to one of the rings at the base of the purse strap, and to that is fastened both my door badge for work and a 1GB retractable flash drive from SanDisk. It comes in handy every so often.

My cellphone is about 4 years old. It's an LG Rumor 2 -- serviceable, though I'm really beginning to crave a smartphone -- and my carrier is Sprint.

Two makeup items: A tube of Cover Girl Wet Slicks gloss, not much color, but it tastes like peppermint, which comes in handy when I run out of breath mints. Feels tingly.  A tube of Maybelline Great Lash mascara. It's okay, but so far I have not been able to find a brand of mascara that doesn't end up smearing and making me look like the Raccoon from Hell by the end of the day. There's a small bottle of Walgreen's Lubricating Eye Drops, which I should use 2-3 times a day but it's more like 2-3 times a month. I wear eyeglasses but the frames are not designer. The case says Vision Source on it, and there's a TM after that, so I guess that's a brand name.

Pens! Ah, now we're getting to a subject I care about. There are two in my purse at the moment. Both retractable. One is a Foray, and the other is a Papermate Ink Joy. I really like the Ink Joy. It's the right length and writes very smoothly without skipping. I recommend it.

And that's all that's in my purse for now. I got rid of the receipts already.

I don't have any particular place where my purse always stays. Sometimes the kitchen counter, sometimes on a chair near a table near a window (usually with a jacket thrown over it in case a burglar is looking in the window, and they apparently do that a lot); sometimes on the couch.

[The living room! Forgot that part of the house. We have a Sharp CRT TV from 2002 and a Coby DVD player, and a coffee table we got from Rooms to Go from when we first got married. Oh, and a rocking chair from Lane and a Bissell bagless vacuum cleaner. That's it for brand names. Everything else is beat-up stuff from yard sales and relatives.]

OK, purse zipped,keys in hand, time to head out to the car.

Next time! Stay tuned.




Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Divorce Equality for All!

                                   
by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
The same-sex marriage people have missed a crucial point in their quest to get married.  They should have looked at same-sex divorce. At some point, their marriages will fail and, just like rest rest of us, they will want a divorce.

It is really easy to get married.  You just have to show up at City Hall, pay a tax for a license, say some vows and done, you are married.  No one asks questions like: Do you have a job?  Are you compatible?  How many times have you been married?  Do you have any children?  Do you love this person?  Incredibly,  no one asks if you are gay.  Guess that explains why gay people sometimes mistakenly marry the opposite sex.

Now, getting a divorce is not so easy.  Questions will be asked by a judge who gets to decide if you are worthy of a divorce.  The judge gets to poke around in your life just to figure out if you can divorce.  Imagine that, you do not have to qualify to get married but you have to qualify to get divorced.  Judge: "What do  you mean you don't like each other? What kind of an excuse is that? Lots of married people don't like each other and they don't file for divorce. Go away!"  

I hear that some states have no-fault divorce laws.  I do not understand that.  Your marriage is broken, you are getting a divorce, so somebody is at fault.  Maybe your spouse has more blame than you but as Dr. Phil likes to say, "...and what did you do to contribute to this mess?"  If nothing else, you picked the wrong person to marry and that is your fault.

Judges get lots of discretion to decide divorces.  A favorite of judges is marriage therapy.  What ridiculousness.  Some Ph.D. who probably has a divorce hiding in their past to counsel you.  No, a better way is to go to the experts, Indian Parents.

I hear that Indians, that is the Indians from India not the Native Americans, have arranged marriages.  The bride's and the groom's parents pick your spouse and your marriage lasts forever.  You know, these are the same folks who came up with the Kama Sutra, so those parents know something.  The Indian Parents should open an Ashram where judges can send divorcing couples to learn about marriages.

Since a marriage begins with the groom asking the bride's father for her hand in marriage, a rather sexist business, then a divorce should begin with the bride asking the groom's mother for the groom's hand in divorce. That is certainly a very effective way of balancing the sexist scale.  If the groom's mother agrees, then the judge should grant the divorce, no questions asked.  [Insert favorite mother-in-law joke here]

I have heard that divorcing couples have been known to refer to each other as "ball and chain", a prison term.  Prisons use a heavy ball with a chain tied to prisoners' legs to prevent escape.  Well, judges can take a hint from this statement and send the divorcing couple to prison for thirty days.  After some time in a real prison, the divorcing couple may see life in their marriage in a more beautiful light.

The Supreme Court and Justice Department have handed down numerous decisions that will eventually pave the way for same-sex marriage in all states. But the Supreme Court did not say anything about divorce, did they?  Typical short-sightedness of bureaucrats.  So a state that does not like same sex marriage can say they don't like same sex divorces either.  "We refuse to permit same-sex divorce.  Eh, just give us a minute to find the right verse in The Bible somewhere."


 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Analyze This, Part 6A: It's in the Bag

                   

As part of my ongoing series, in which I talk about my daily routine and associated consumption habits, the all-important contents of my purse is the next topic. But first, a few general thoughts...

There are people out there who make a living crawling around in caves, collecting samples of bat guano and dinosaur poop. Not to take anything away from them, but the real Medal of Courage is reserved for anyone who dares to plumb the depths of such collection bottomless-pits as closets, junk drawers and bags. The latter includes suitcases, backpacks, duffels, and purses. Yeah, I saved that one for last, because as a woman, I've heard my share of derisive comments regarding purses in general and how they somehow illustrate how women's basic nature is somehow different from men's.

I doubt it has anything to do with “basic nature.” I think it's deeply ingrained, culturally. I have a couple of Australian friends* (technically, we're talking Facebook friends) and one of these days I'm going to query them on whether women in Australia are quite as prone to dragging bagsful of stuff around with them wherever they go.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Analyze This, Part 5: Mirror, Mirror

                                       

[For anyone who may have unwittingly stumbled onto this blog and is wondering what this vanity-run-amok is about, I'm responding to a book called The Numerati, by Stephen Baker, who claims that market researchers have found a way to comb through every blog there is in a matter of seconds, to cull out any references to products and determine consumer preferences. Like Dr. Emmett Brown putting on his bullet-proof vest, I figured, what the hell. In the last few posts, I've gotten out of bed, made breakfast, picked out my clothes and showered. Onward...]
~
OK, I'm reasonably clean, so time to get out of the tub. My hairdryer is a ConAir 1875 watt, with a retractable cord and a fold-up handle. It replaced a Revlon dryer that exploded on me in January and left a scar. That one was ionic, and I miss how fast it worked. However, this new one is acceptable. As I finish drying, I apply some Garnier Fructis Style “Sleek & shine Blow Dry Perfector Straightening Balm with argan oil," which claims to provide three days of “frizz resistance.” Maybe sí, maybe no, but I feel almost compelled to put something in my hair for styling. I ran out of mousse and gel; one of these days I'll splurge and get some more, but this will do for now. I also have a new can of Vidal Sassoon hairspray. Extra firm hold, level 4.

There's no order to my morning routine. Sometimes I reach for the hairdryer right away; other days it's the last thing I take care of. More often than not, though, my first after-shower product is deodorant. I'm currently using something called Crystal Essence roll-on, containing none of that pesky aluminum. It's a light lavender scent; it will do. I also have a years-old container of Lady Speed Stick, which I use during the summer, if I should wear sandals over bare feet. I never do that at work. I'm a little too much in need of a pedicure.

I use scent occasionally. There's a spray bottle of Chantilly, and a smaller bottle of 4711 cologne. Both are fragrances that people either love or loathe. Nowadays, a lot of people have allergy issues, so I'm very conservative with perfumes. Typically, spray goes into the air and I walk through it, or I'll dab it behind the knees, since scent rises. This way I don't have to worry about perspiring or anything. For special occasions I have a leftover bottle of body lotion from Yves Rocher, in a now-defunct scent called Neonatura. It blended chocolate, vanilla and patchouli and I really liked it.

My fingernails are nothing to brag about, either. I'm a veteran biter of nails and cuticles and have never, ever, been able to stop. All it takes is 15 absent-minded seconds between my teeth (usually while reading), and it's bye-bye salon look, hello Godzilla. I have a big bottle of Salon Formula 100% Acetone nail polish remover from Family Dollar; it's easy on & off with Rite Aid Renewal Cotton Balls (regular size).

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Analyze This, Part 4: The Shower

                                

Now that I’ve decided what to wear, I head to the shower, where I hang my sleepwear over a PVC bar affixed to the door after being purchased from Walmart in 2006, and retrieve the oversized bath towel that I bought at Big Lots in 2010. Slippers off, to be guarded by the cat. The bath mat, purchased at Walmart in 2006 when we first moved here, is very much in need of replacement, and when that occasion comes, I’ll also splurge on one of those little rugs you put at the base of the toilet for cold-floor mornings. I will try to avoid buying one of those fuzzy things that you put over the lid of the toilet – I’ve always found those to be beyond frivolous.

The shower curtain is a “hookless” type from Walmart, also purchased in 2006. Over the shower pipe is a mesh organizer from Dollar General (don’t remember the price, but they were so cheap in the fall of 2011, I bought two, one for each of our two bathrooms). In the organizer are: a wide-tooth pink plastic comb I bought so long ago I remember nothing about it; a Bic Soleil razor (more about this in awhile); matching purple bottles of Back to Basics shampoo and conditioner. These were bought at Ollie’s and are nearly empty. I don’t like them that much; I bought them because they were cheap. I keep them around for spares and chances are they contain some other old stuff that I poured in to consolidate. Infusium 23 shampoo, most likely: I had a big bottle, also mostly empty, stashed in the other bathroom.

I think this is classic consumer behavior and certainly hope someone is making note of it.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Analyze This, Part 3: What to Wear

                           
After breakfast in the kitchen (where I tidied up the sink with a sheet of Kirkland Signature pick-a-size paper towel from Costco), and on my way to the bed- and bathrooms, I stop to love on my cat, who is lounging atop a printer cabinet, purchased at Walmart for about $30 and self-assembled. To make her sleeping area soft, I’ve given her a bath towel and one of my son’s old crib blankets, with a Disney Babies motif, purchased at Toys "R" Us in 1989. At 25 years of age, it qualifies (I think) as a genuine antique. When the cat wakes up from her nap, maybe I’ll steal her blankie and get it appraised on Antiques Road Show.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Analyze This, Part 2: Outa Bed, Sleepyhead

                        
...Giving the number-crunchers of the world something to do in their spare time...

5:00 a.m., East South Central U.S.

My LG Rumor2 cell phone awakens me, and after “snoozing” it 2-3 times, I reluctantly drag myself upright. If the morning is chilly, I make sure I’m wearing a robe and pajamas from K-mart and fuzzy leopard-print bedroom slippers from Walmart.

First stop, the bathroom, where I make use of Charmin Ultra-soft mega-roll and check the status of my cat’s litterbox, which is periodically replenished with Special Kitty clumping litter from Walmart. This is a good time to brush my teeth with an Oral-B toothbrush and Sensitive formula toothpaste from Rite-Aid. The antiseptic mouthwash is Equate brand from Walmart, but the bottle is so huge, I transfer an ounce or two into a sample-size Listerine bottle. Both have very stubborn child-proof caps.

Analyze This, Part 1: Inquiring Minds Want to Know, So I'll Tell 'em

                                               

I’m reading Stephen Baker’s The Numerati (2008). Slightly out of date by now, but interesting nonetheless.  The one thing I’ve gleaned from it so far is that blogging is a very powerful tool, and I have not been making use of it.

According to Mr. Baker, computers worldwide are very hard at work reading all the blogs (yes, all of them) to dig out information about which products we use, how we feel about them, and what all of this says about us. It’s about how marketers figure out which "bucket" to put us in.  It is part of the system that includes monitoring our supermarket loyalty cards to parse out our buying patterns and use psychological tricks to nudge us toward higher-priced items.

I read several paragraphs about different kinds of shoppers and noticed that Baker was describing me. It gave me a brief thrill of gratification, but that was very brief indeed. The paragraph finished up by defining me and my ilk as “barnacles.”

            Barnacles, from a retailer’s perspective, are detestable creatures. They’re the folks…buying discounted goods, and practically nothing else. Like the mollusks clinging to a ship, they hitch free rides and contribute nothing of value.

Sometimes I detach my clammy little suction-cup hands from the hull of the Ship of Commerce, spread my wings, and briefly become a "Butterfly":

            …customers who drop in at the store on occasion, spend good money and then flit away, sometimes for months or years on end. They’re unreliable, and retailers are warned to avoid lavishing attention on them.

It would be nice to “spend good money” more than once every 5-10 years, really it would. I’m much more inclined to gripe about a lack of legal tender than to rhapsodize about my latest purchases.

To my knowledge, I mention such things very rarely. This is for two reasons:
  1. I’m afraid someone will tell me “You use Smith brand? Anybody who’s anybody uses Jones. You are soooooooooo uncool.” Yes, it’s true: I never recovered from high school.
  2. Just as bad, I don’t buy new, cutting-edge stuff. Nearly everything I ever bought new is now very old, and everything else since that time is second-hand or bargain-basement. It’s just the way I roll, peeps.
 But who knows? Maybe I’d be doing the world an untold service by detailing my life as a consumer.


With that noble goal in mind, I’ll try my hand at writing the sort of blog that computers like to read. (To be continued)

/V

Sunday, March 9, 2014

I've always wanted people to call me "Iron Woman."

                                                     

Even us trailing-edge Baby Boomers can't elude our age forever. For the past 9 years I've received a series of annoying (if not alarming) medical diagnoses. I'm not any more mortal than anyone else, so far as I know, but it is still not a happy occasion to have to factor in the annual cost of maintenance prescriptions when planning one's fiscal year. Phooey on that, say I.

Having done my due diligence, research shows that pretty much everything I've been prescribed is fairly new. No one in Big Pharma is experimenting on me -- those unproven meds are pricey. In other words, if it doesn't kill you with side effects, it will make you poor.

No, most of the stuff I'm having to take has been on the market long enough to bring the cost down and avoid any nasty surprises. It's ho-hum stuff, for the most part.

Still, I get nostalgic thinking about all the conventional wisdom that dominated my childhood. My mother's favorite remedy for almost everything was milk (or "milt" as she liked to say when she lapsed into baby-talk for my sake). I really didn't like milk, and that seemed to doubly convince her that she was on the right track in prescribing it for me. I guess there's some logic there: Kool-Aid and Coca-Cola never cured anything, and I liked those just fine.

I'm glad no one ever told my mother about cod-liver oil.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Being a friend without being a friend

                                         

by The Urban Blabbermouth

I have joined social media.  I have set up a Tumblr account, The Urban Blabbermouth, for the past two weeks now.   Join me in social media and go visit my site.

The top three interests in Tumblr seem to be fashion and cosmetics, naked people, and twenty-somethings with teen angst.  I have no interest in fashion other than in dressing myself, and I am certainly not a twenty-    something.  The only angst I have is what to do with myself when I eventually retire.  Thanks to Tumblr, I learned a new word, selfie, where you take cell phone pictures of yourself.  If I want to build a following there in Tumblr, I will have to start posting naked selfies.  Nearest as I can tell, Tumblr is going to be a dud for me from a social perspective.  However, it has been quite a social learning experience.

Its the naked selfies that first caught my interest the most.  I am just amazed that people will stand in front of a mirror and take naked pictures of themselves, then post it in their Tumblr blog.  The nakedness ranges from exposed underwear to nothing on. These folks are trying to send a message and I do not know what it is.  It does not appear to be to be really about porn, so I don't know what they are trying to say.  What I have noticed, and it may be because I am a male, is that most of the naked selfies are young girls exposing their boobs.  The young boys are there but I just seem to stumble across more young girls than young boys.  I do not see older people, male or female, posting naked selfies.  Seems to be a young girl phenomenon.  BTW (By-the-way in text speak), I use the word boobs because that is how the young girls in Tumblr are referring to their parts.

I cannot help but think that in some way the naked young girl selfies are related to the way young girls are portrayed in music videos. The young girls are not there in music videos for their musical talents, the ability to sing, to dance, or to play an instrument.  The young girls are there solely for their sexy bodily gyrations.  They have no value other than sex.  So then, these young girls are posting naked selfies to try to establish their value in society.  Maybe it is more subtle, they are posting naked selfies as a rebellion to the social mores that says that they are only valuable for their boobs or a rebellion to the social mores that say you, as an owner of boobs, cannot expose your boobs as you please.  Jeez, I am spouting lots of psycho-babble today.

Back to social media.  I started Tumblr to see what all the fuss about social media is about.  So far, this aspect is overrated.  I suspect that Tumblr is somewhat self-selecting.  Only certain types of persons end up on Tumblr and when they grow tired of that, they move on.  I have to think on this a bit more. 

What I also find interesting about Tumblr is the anonymity of it all.  On Facebook, those are people you know, your family and friends.  On Tumblr, they are all strangers.  You can post whatever you like and no one will know who you are.  That may account for all the angst and naked pictures.  You can reveal your hidden side to strangers who don't care who you are but do care about what you have posted while, at the same time, hiding that same side from your friends and family.   As evidence to back up this thought, Tumblr lets you send anonymous messages, known as Anons.  Another new word to me.

There is no such thing as too much information (TMI in text speak) in Tumblr.  I have seen very highly personal information that I just cannot bring myself to mention here.  Some really surprising things go on in people's heads and you would never know it from looking at them.  It makes me wonder if I would ever want to read people's minds.

While it is sociable to interact with other people, how sociable can you be if these are strangers and not your friends?  It could well be that they are really your friends as you have revealed the hidden side of yourself that your in-person friends and family have never seen.  What kind of friend relationship can you have with someone who knows too much about you and yet you have never met them, much less know their name?  Maybe there is a very good reason that we cannot read each other's minds.  Wonder if any of these Tumblr friends ever meet each other?