Saturday, December 25, 2010

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Tax compromise

Did anybody watch President Obama's speech regarding the tax-cut "compromise"? He clearly looked anguished and unhappy about it, but I don't think he had much choice. Not only because the Republicans vowed to block passage of the bill unless/until they got their way, but because they also vowed to block ALL other legislation until this issue was settled (in their favor, of course).

And there are very important bills that need to be voted on and passed. The START treaty, Medicare payments to doctors (due to be cut by 25% in January), DADT, and more.

So, it was important to get the tax-cut issue settled so that this other important work could get done, instead of everyone just sitting around while the Republicans stomped their feet like children.

I feel bad that people are saying that President Obama "caved" or that he "has no backbone". I think that he was backed into a corner and he did the best with what he had. To stupidly hold out for something that is never going to happen just for political reasons would have been worse. When all the people who are criticizing him for compromising saw their taxes go up in January, they would have been complaining about him at that time instead, for breaking his campaign promise not to raise taxes on the middle class. He couldn't win either way, so he agreed to extend the cuts only for two years and he at least got a 13 month extension of unemployment benefits added to the bill, among other things. I believe he tried to do what he thought was best, given the circumstances.

For the record, I am part of the 14% of Americans who think all of the tax cuts should just expire. The only reason we even had the tax-cuts is because Bush entered office with a massive surplus, and instead of paying down some of our debt, decided to give the money back to the people via tax-cuts. They were so unpopular with Congress at the time that they were passed via **GASP** reconciliation and were given a set expiration date for that reason. Now that we have a huge deficit, taxes should go back up again. But, that's just my opinion. Obviously the majority of Americans don't agree with me. Oh, well. It isn't the first time I've held an unpopular opinion.

Now let's hope that the Republicans keep their promise, and vote to pass the compromise that they agreed on.


Thursday, December 02, 2010

You Fix The Budget

Think you can do a better job than our lawmakers at reducing our federal budget deficit? The NY Times offers you a chance to try. It's not as easy as it would seem.

I was able to bring us back in balance by 2015, with a mix of 33% spending cuts and 67% tax increases (I brought back a hefty estate tax and taxes on capital gains), but I was unable to keep that balance through 2030.

I'm sure there are many other choices than this exercise gives, but it's still a fun way to see how your choices would affect the budget. I tried to think of unintended consequences as well. Would reducing federal aid to states by 5% force the states to work more efficiently, or would it cause them to lay off workers or cut social entitlement programs? I chose to think it would force them to work more efficiently.

Try it yourself, here. Let us know how you did!


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

How many people have your name?

I found this kind-of cool website, where you can put in your name and it tells you how many people in the U.S. have the same name as you. I tried my current name and my maiden name, and here are the results.

My current name:
LogoThere are
people with my name in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

My maiden name:
LogoThere are
or fewer people with my name in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

I'm the only one!!!

Try it, it's fun!


Wednesday, November 03, 2010

One eye down, one to go

I had the cataract surgery on my left eye this morning. I was so nervous, but they gave me some stuff to help me relax, and the surgery went really quick and easy. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.

Now I have a patch over my left eye, They told me I can take it off at 2:30. I'm typing using my other eye and a pair of drugstore reading glasses so that I can see the computer. They said when I take the patch off I'll be able to see, but it will be blurry, and then get clearer and clearer over the days.

I wonder if it will hurt when the anesthetic wears off the left eye? I forgot to ask them that. I have three different eye drops that I have to start using on varying schedules.

I go back for a checkup tomorrow. Still have to decide if I want to do the right eye to see distance vision like I did the left, or do it for near vision so that I can see both close and near at the same time. I have always worn my contacts "mono", one for near and one for far, but I am leaning towards just getting both eyes surgically corrected for distance and then wearing glasses for close-up (reading, computer, beadwork). It seems like that would give me the least problems going forward. I wouldn't have to explain to every eye doctor I see for the rest of my life about the mono-vision, whenever I need glasses. Also the beadwork is so detailed, I think I would rather have both eyes the same.

I'll let you know how it all continues to work out.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Old? B-b-but...

I found out I have cataracts. I thought only old people get cataracts. I can't have them! Boo-hoo-hoo!

I've been having decreasing vision and seeing glare around lights at night for a while, so I figured I may as well get my eyes checked out and get new prescription. I got kind of a surprise when the eye doctor(optometrist) sent me to another eye doctor(opthamologist) and he sent me to yet another eye doctor(surgeon).

So the verdict is I have cataracts and need to have my eye lenses replaced surgically with implants. They can only do one eye at a time (in case you go blind???), so I have two surgery dates scheduled, Nov. 3 and Nov. 17. And of course, two co-pays to go along with two surgeries. By the way, my co-pays and deductibles went way up this year, did yours?

For over 5 years I have been wearing "mono-vision contacts", which means one eye corrects for near-sightedness and the other eye corrects for far-sightedness, instead of wearing bi-focals. (yeah, I know, I should have realized I was old then.) Little did I anticipate, but cataract surgery also corrects all of your vision problems, no more contacts, YAY, so I am having the lens implants done the same way, as mono-vision. My other choice would be to correct both eyes for far-sightedness, and wear glasses for reading, computer work, seeing the dashboard when I drive, and other stuff like that. Or correct both eyes for far-sightedness, but then wear a contact in one eye to turn myself back into mono-vision. Or get bi-focal lens implants, but that costs $3000 more, so you see why I couldn't go that way.

I'm very nervous about going with the "mono". I really don't know why, I've been correcting my vision like this way for 5 years and it's worked fine, but now it just seems so permanent. I mean, once I do the surgery, there is no going back and changing it if I'm not happy. The surgeon said her mom did it as mono and is very glad. I guess that is meant to reassure me that I'm making the right decision.

Do any of you wear mono contact lenses? What would you do for the surgery? I'm sooo confused, I keep changing my mind. As if I weren't already nervous enough about the prospect of somebody operating on my eye, while I'm awake! They said they'll give me something to relax, but that never really works that well on me. And of course I get local anesthesia on my eye.

At least the first eye is the one being corrected for the far-sightedness, so I'll still have time to change my mind about the second eye before Nov. 17, depending on the results. What to do, what to do????

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Want to be my penpal?

All I ever get in the mail is bills, bills, and more bills. Also lots of junk mail.

I had a penpal when I was a kid, and I was always so excited to go to the mailbox and find a letter from my penpal. I'd like to be able to have a reason to look forward to checking the mail, instead of dreading it every day.

So, if anyone would like to exchange real letters with me, not e-mails, real handwritten letters mailed through the post office, please either leave a comment or email me at catnpr (@) (leave out the parentheses, of course. I just put them in there so that I won't get lots of spam.)

I hope I hear from someone!


Sunday, October 03, 2010

I don't intend to turn this into a political blog, honestly. But I just have to make some comments on the Health Care Reform Law. It needs some serious amendments.

At first I was happy we were finally getting any kind of HCR law, but the more I read about it, the less it seems like it will actually do anything to help me. Except for the pre-existing condition clause (which doesn't go into effect until 2014). But even with that, there are no price controls, so it appears to me that I will be paying out the butt to any insurance company willing to write a plan that covers all my conditions. Speaking of the butt, it also appears that I will be able to get a free colonoscopy now. Yay.

We should have had a Public Option, at least it would have helped keep insurance costs competitive. Even better, we should have gone with Single Payer, like most other developed countries. Yeah, I know, that makes me some kind of left-wing socialist. But at least I would be a left-wing socialist with free health care.

Here is a chart that shows which provisions go into into effect each year. I don't really see anything that great. I don't know what this bill looked like before, but what we ended up with after trying to compromise with the Republicans just doesn't seem to have enough of anything in it for the average American.

And those are my thoughts for the day.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

UGH. Returned to the back surgeon today, two months after my surgery (to fuse my facet bones together at L4-5 and L5/S1). It wasn't good news. Since I'm still in considerable pain, he took more x-rays.

Then he said that my L5/S1 vertabrae are "collapsed". He says I could have a complete fusion, with hardware and also some cutting away of the bone to make some space between the vertabrae. However, he also said there is no guarantee that this would stop my back pain, and there is a possibility that it could make it worse. Not good news.

He recommended that I just stay on medication management unless (until?) it gets so bad that it pinches a nerve and I start having pain in my legs. This is really a pain (no pun intended). It makes it very hard to look for a job when you have to take pain medication every day. I asked the doctor if he could reduce my medications. He had me on a fentanyl patch, which you wear all the time and change every three days, meaning you are medicated 24 hours a day. Now he reduced it to pain pills, so at least I can take them only when I am actually in more pain than I can handle. Though it sucks not having the patches, which helped a lot, I feel more in control of my medication, and if need be (like an upcoming drug test), I can choose not to take them and just be in agony for a week. I think. I've tried it before, and it's not easy being in agonizing pain when you know there's an easy solution right in your medicine cabinet. And then I didn't get the job anyway, after all that suffering. Bummer.

Oh, well. It is what it is, and I'll just have to learn to live with it for now. I'm still considering trying out the surgery, but he didn't sound very optimistic about it working, so I'm not considering it that hard, but still thinking about it.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

License renewal time

I had to renew my driver's license yesterday. UGH! Besides the 5 hour wait in the office (I'm not kidding), there is now a whole new set of rules about what documents you need to bring with you. Thanks to Homeland Security. And all the prices doubled on the first of September.

They probably could have put more people behind the empty windows to speed things up, but that would have taken a job away from the guy whose whole purpose was to walk around with a stamp in his hand, or the lady whose job it was to check the fax machine every ten minutes. I really want a job there. I even tried to find one online today, but it seems there is no place to find a list of jobs at the DMV. I guess they don't need any more people walking around holding stamps.

I had to bring my original birth certificate or passport, and my original social security card, and two pieces of mail addressed to me at my house. No post office box address allowed on your license. If my name had changed, I would need my original marriage/divorce decree/court order. Luckily I had everything, though it took me a long time to find my social security card. I mean, who uses that thing anymore?

Supposedly this paperwork requirement is supposed to keep illegal aliens from getting driver's licenses, so now I guess more of them will just drive around without licenses or insurance. So that solved that problem.

Oh, well, at least I got my license (yes, the picture is crappy) and I don't have to deal with it for another eight years.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Civil Rights

What is wrong with gay marriage? Why are so many people opposed to it?

The first question is easy to answer. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it. As a matter of fact, I feel that trying to oppose gay marriage is unconstitutional. According to the constitution, ALL persons are created equal and we all have the same rights. It seems inconceivable, especially to those members of society who are too young to remember now, that only 40 years ago an inter-racial couple was forbidden to marry by law. This was changed, and rightfully so, because it is a civil rights violation to treat people unequally. I believe that the laws against gay marriage should be struck down according to the same civil rights violation. And I don't want see any silly compromise, such as, "well, you can have a civil union, but you can't have the rights accorded to heterosexual couples" (i.e., spousal health insurance benefits, right to inheritance, ability to adopt children as a couple, right to file taxes together, social security benefits, right to make medical decisions for your spouse, etc.). I want to see married gay couples given all of the same civil rights as are given to any other married couple. It's just the right thing to do. It is time for our legislators to 'come out of the closet' (so to speak) and stand up for their constituents.

The second question is much more difficult to answer. I understand that some people may be opposed on religious grounds, but one group's religious beliefs do not make another group's civil rights just disappear into thin air. Even aside from religious beliefs, just how does a gay couple getting married hurt anyone else? I really can't figure out the answer to this question. I mean, I would think that even conservatives would value the commitment and stability of marriage, no matter if that marriage is heterosexual or homosexual.

I just look forward to the day when this country's citizens will look back and wonder how we could ever have denied civil rights to a group of us who are deemed equal to everyone else under the constitution. And to the day when it seems so unbelievable that my grandchildren will ask me if this was ever really true.


Monday, September 06, 2010

School? At my age?

Thanks to giving almost 25 years of my life to a company where I thought I'd work until I retired, and then being laid off due to outsourcing to India, I have nothing but a high school education and lots of job experience that only means I'm either "over-qualified" or "under-qualified" for the few jobs that are even out there. So.......

I'm thinking about going back to school. Seriously. Even the most menial jobs out there now are requiring a college degree, apparently because there are so many applicants for every job that employers feel they can get whittle down the stack of resumes on their desk by requiring degrees. I've even seen ads for receptionist jobs asking for college degrees. What??!!??

I'm sure I could receive financial assistance, so I'm not too worried about cost. But I am worried if it would be worth the time, at my age.

I thought becoming a substitute teacher would be rewarding, but after checking I found that it requires a bachelors degree. Well, forget that. By the time I got out of school, I'd be 57 years old, and then who would hire me? Plus, I don't have 4 years to spare before I can begin earning an income.

Then I thought about technical schools. Being a pharmacy technician really interests me, and can be be completed in just one year. (It does involve LOTS of math, though.) Then I started looking at the job-search sites for pharmacy techs. Oops, not much demand for employees. I might just go to Borders and buy the textbook, start studying, and check to see if job opportunities open up a bit before plunking down money at a technical school.

Think, think, think, what kind of job would I enjoy doing that would only take one to two years of training? Looks like I need to do a lot of research and soul-searching.

Or am I just crazy?


Saturday, August 28, 2010

A controversial view?

I know that my view on the Park51 Mosque in NYC is very unpopular, but it shouldn't be. I believe in the Constitution, and I believe that "freedom of religion" means freedom of religion for ALL, not just those religions you approve of. We cannot accuse all Muslims of being members of Al-Queda (an evil and radical group), just as we cannot accuse all whites of being members of the KKK (an evil and radical group). Yet some of us persist in doing so. Why? In my view, that is painting Americans, in the rest of the world's eyes, as being intolerant. That is unacceptable. Our nation is built on diversity and tolerance, that is why it was written into the Constitution in the first place.

One of the most well thought-out opinions I have read yet on this topic was written by Mark Green at The Huffington Post, and you can read it here. He says it much better than I ever could.

Americans have worked too hard and too long to make this a country that believes in civil rights for everyone. Please, let's not take a step backwards.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

ID theft warning

It really makes me feel sad how a few bad people can take something that's meant to be fun and turn it into someting that can help perpetuate a crime.

I recently started filling out my family tree on (a legitimate site), thinking it would be fun to see how far I could go back, or that maybe sometime in the future other members of my family could use it to look up their family history.

Then tonight I was watching a Dateline show about identity thieves. They said that after someone steals your credit card number, they sometimes go to the Ancestry site and see if you are listed on it. Then they look up your mother's maiden name so that they can answer the ID questions from your credit card company. Not that anybody would want to steal my crappy credit history, but I immediately went to Ancestry and took that piece of information off my family tree, just in case.

I had never even thought about that. Just another reminder, I guess, in this "information age" to be very careful about what information you are putting out there about yourself.

Stupid criminals. They ruin things for everybody.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Kitchen anger

I was in one of those moods today where I was depressed and angry (at I don't know what, or everything, or nothing). I happened to be in the kitchen at the time, and I got to a point where I just sunk to the floor and sobbed. Well, by the time I had enough of a handle on myself to look around, I realized that there was a LOT of built-up dirt/grease in my kitchen that a cat may see on a regular basis, but I sure don't see it when I'm standing around in there.

In my despair, I grabbed a rag from under the sink and started attacking one of the more offending spots. Although I was still angry and sobbing, one thing led to another and before I knew it, I was 'attacking' parts of my kitchen that hadn't been seen by a rag in a long, long time. It was some kind of a weird release. I felt like I was hurting something, but I could see the dirt just dissapearing as I worked, almost as if I were washing my anger and sadness away.

I can't say that I felt "better" in any real sense of the word, but by the time I couldn't find anything else to attack in the immediate area, I was spent and tired. I didn't have enough energy left to feel like hurting myself or anyone else. I just went upstairs and laid down, albeit still feeling sorry for myself, but I eventually did fall asleep.

I know that I haven't found some miracle cure for depression, but at least I have found a safer outlet for the ways that I feel sometimes. It's certainly better than some of the other crazy thoughts that I could have come up with. Maybe I'll try it again sometime when I'm feeling like crap. One little bit at a time, depending on my moods, and my house just may become the cleanest house in America. Now THAT would be a miracle.


Sunday, August 08, 2010

My political views?

I don't normally take online quizzes, but this one at had me curious. I didn't have to sign up for the site or even give them any information such as my name or email address to take it. According to the (very short) quiz, I am a:

Social Liberal (63% permissive)
Economic Liberal (28% permissive)
"You exhibit a very well-developed sense of Right and Wrong and believe in economic fairness"



Saturday, August 07, 2010

I've been putting off writing this post, because every time I start it I just can't finish. But I just wanted any of you who still might read this blog to know that I lost my best friend, my mom, on July 26, 2010 at 2:10 pm.

She had been ill and in the hospital for almost two months, in hospice for the last two weeks. Hospice was kind, and they did not let her suffer. She made her own decision to go to hospice rather than continue suffering. She was a brave woman.

My heart still breaks every time I think about it, and the shock comes again. It is even very hard to write this post.

I love you mom. I will always remember the good times we had together and the way you taught me to live my life. Rest in peace.


Thursday, July 01, 2010

My July 1st day

This is the story of my horrible, no good, very bad day.

I got a call early in the morning from this guy who wanted to buy some of my Dancing Cactus stuff that is still sitting around and he had to have it today, so I had to unpack everything and take pictures of the things I thought he might like and email them to him. My camera "broke" halfway through the photo session, but after a short temper tantrum, it magically fixed itself and I continued taking pics. They're a pain because you have to get the lighting just right or the product doesn't look good. I send him the email with pics and talk with him again so that I know exactly what types of things he's looking for.

Then I drive 45 minutes (with no AC in the car) to my stepsister's house to pick up some Dancing Cactus stuff she has stored for me, so I sort through all the stuff with her husband, take what I need and go to leave (Meanwhile, the customer-guy keeps calling me to see when he can come over because he really needs the stuff today and he lives pretty far away) and guess what? My car battery is dead. I get the car going and of course I have to drive it straight to Sears Automotive because I can't turn the car off or else it won't start again. They say it'll take an hour. OK, I'll wait. The one-hour job hasn't even been started yet after I've already been patiently sitting there for an hour, so I have to call the customer-guy and ask him if he can pick me up at Sears and take me home so we can do our transaction. He says OK (he must have thought I was such a flake) and I give him the directions, and right after that my cellphone battery dies. *sigh* The customer-guy gets to Sears and we go to my house and yippee! he buys $150 worth of stuff.

He brings me back to Sears and Tara comes along for the ride so that I can drive her to work, because surely by now they've had plenty of time to install a battery. But my car is still not ready, so Tara has to walk to work from Sears (about a half mile, but it's 90 degrees out there) and in addition she is very late for work after all this. Meantime my back is killing me from all the stooping and squatting and crawling around and driving, and I can barely walk. So I take a pain pill, but it didn't help much because I took it when I was already in too much pain.

Three hours after bringing my car in simply to change a battery Sears finally tells me it's ready (there goes $41 of the $150 that I made) and then they don't have change when I give them three twenties so the cashier has to go get change. I think he went to Iceland because he never comes back and the other cashier at the register just gives me one of my twenties back, very pleased to tell me that he is saving me a whole dollar. But what about the three hours of time you stole from me?

All I want to do is go home and lay in bed for awhile, but I stop at CVS to get a can of iced tea with that dollar I saved, and the lady in front of me is having a 20 minute fit with the cashier and the manager because her freakin' toilet paper is TOO THIN! Then don't buy the one-ply store brand, idiot. The lady behind me was laughing hysterically. I didn't find it quite that funny. I just wanted to pay for my tea and go home. Be alone for a few hours. In my bed.

I finally get home, and when I open up AOL the top news on the page says "Sagittarius, July is going to be a rocky month for you". Oh, yeah, ya think?!?!??? And today is only July 1st, I really can't wait to see what the rest of the month holds for me. Not that I really believe in horoscopes or anything, but it was just ironic.

I left a few things out (I mean, how much more rambling/ranting can I do?), but that was basically how my day went. How was YOUR day?


PS....and now I'm having trouble publishing this post. For some reason, when I look at it on the blog, the letters are teeny tiny. So, I set the font size to "large". Now I have two different size fonts in one post, even though all of it is set to the same size. I'm not messing with it anymore, that's the way it'll stay. I hope that I didn't make it look wierd on your computer. Oh, well, I'm going to sleep now. G'nite!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

This is pretty interesting. You can add a forum, called (cute!) into your blog post (or any web page) in seconds. And it's free. I'm not sure how it would really be different than commenting on a blog, but the developers are working on a way to integrate a forum into your Facebook page. Now, that would really be something interesting! Check it out, HERE.


Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Pre-Employment Drug Testing

What do you think about pre-employment drug testing? Now that I'm looking for a job, it's become an issue. I don't do anything illegal, but I have a valid prescription that I can't take in case I have to go for a drug test.

Do you think it's an invasion of privacy? Does your prospective employer have a right to know all of your medical conditions and make a hiring decision based on that? Since Florida is a "right to work" state (I never understood the phrasing of that), an employer can make a hiring or firing decision based on anything, even the color of your hair. What if they are afraid their insurance rates will go up, so won't hire me due to my illness?

Besides, every kid doing illegal drugs knows how to scam the tests. I have heard of everything from cleansing kits to fake urine (!) that these kids buy before they take a test. So what good do the tests do anyway?


Thursday, February 11, 2010

I thought I figured it out

I had to go to the HTML for my blog page set-up and hope that I deleted only the right HTML to get rid of the ads without ruining the rest of my blog. I did it wrong, and it made my profile disappear. I am not a happy camper. I WILL get this figured out though.

I think I did it! Do not ever click the monetize tab on your blog. I just wanted to see what it meant. Now I know, and I will never do that again.


Sorry guys!

I somehow clicked on the wrong thing and now I have ads showing on my blog. But I can't for the life of me find out what to click to get them off of here. So, please be patient with me while I work and try to figure out how to get these stupid ads off. Sorry again. I am sooooo pissed!


Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Didn't even know I was famous

I do quite a bit of beading in my free time. It relaxes me, I love to play with the beads, and I end up with lots of jewelry.

Sometimes, after I work up a pattern, I'll send a picture to the designer just in case they want to see how it came out. I don't always do everything exactly as they recommend in the pattern, so I feel they might want to see how my version turned out. This is what I did after I worked up City Lights, a bracelet by a designer named Juanita, who does business under the name Jaycee Patterns.

I was just wandering around the net the other day and I went to her blog to see some of her new designs, and what do you know? There was my bracelet! Even has my name on it. If you want to see it, you can click here... Her entry was posted a while ago, but what can I say, it takes me a while to catch up. ;)

If you like jewelry or beads, you should look around at the rest of her blog. She makes some really nice designs.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Health Care

Health care reform is on everybody's mind now that we are so close to actually having some kind of reform passed. But does anyone actually understand what the provisions are in the two bills (House and Senate), and how they will affect each of us? I found a website that compares the two bills side by side, and is actually written in plain english language that most of us can understand. The site is the Kaiser Family Foundation and has lots of other information on health care reform as well. If you would like to read the page with the side by side comparison, here is the link to it.

It seems that the provisions in the bills are really not that far apart at all, so I can't understand why our elected representatives can't agree on something and get health care reform passed.

I just spent three months with no health insurance at all. It turned out to be due to an administrative error, so luckily my Cobra was reinstated, but I learned a lot during those three months. For one thing, no middle class American can afford health care. A regular doctor visit with the family care physician who I have been seeing for over 20 years costs $120. He certainly doesn't receive that amount when he gets paid by Cobra (doctors only receive a "maximum allowable amount"), so why can't he just charge me that amount instead of bankrupting me? I don't even want to know what one of my specialists charges.

And forget about prescriptions. Just one of my prescriptions cost me $101.42, and I take eight prescriptions, so add it up. Needless to say, I haven't been taking any of my prescriptions.

Buying health insurance is not so easy either. Even though I had a certificate of creditable coverage (something which certifies that you have had continuous health care), I wasn't eligible to buy any insurance because of my pre-existing conditions. So what good is the dang certificate?

I sure hope a health care reform bill is passed before my Cobra runs out. I hope so for me and for anyone else out there who doesn't have health insurance.