Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

Welcome 2009

The True Meaning of Life

We are visitors on this planet. 
We are here for ninety
or one hundred years
at the very most. 
During that period,
we must try to do
something good,
something useful
with our lives. 
If you contribute
to other people's happiness,
you will find the true goal,
the true meaning of life.

~His Holiness the XIVth Dalai Lama

Before the Deluge~ Jackson Browne & Joan Baez

Life is change

If the year 2008 taught me anything, it reminded me that life is change. 
No one could accuse the US of having a boring election process, if not outright chaos! Thankfully cool heads prevailed and soon we will have a change of administration that will turn things around, in a meaningful and positive way. 

On a personal level, there are changes swirling about my life that are making my head spin right now. Dear Grandpa Mac is immersed in Chemo therapy for Non Hodgkins lymphoma. His is a very aggressive cancer, and he will do chemo & radiation therapy in hopes to stop the disease. My son recently went to spend time with Grandpa, and had a severe bout of altitude sickness on the flight home. They grounded him in Portland, while the medics treated him with anti nausea injections, and I worried from a distance. An ice/snowstorm was looming, and we wondered if he was going to become grounded due to weather. He made it home OK. 
Mr. Ramblings flew to his Dad's the day after Christmas, to spend a week visiting. A few days into the visit, Grandma was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance, thinking she was having a heart attack. They have kept her there now for 3 days, and today we await the news of the test results. * This just in: Grandma is being released today, don't have many details because she
told everyone to back off & leave her alone. 

Mr. Ramblings is currently on a "temporary lay off" from his job of 9 years.  He is scheduled to return on the 5th, but just got word today, the January 5th start date just got bumped to FEBRUARY 2nd. Damn!

Last week, the son lost his job, but the company has notified him of a new position available. 
Much less pay, and no health insurance. Something is better than nothing, but the loss of health insurance is a big hit. Oh! and his girlfriend broke up with him!

He had planned to move out, and had to decide if he would go ahead with the plan, even though he'd lost his job.  He had been living @ home rent free & working & saving & has the rent saved, so he decided to go ahead with the move after all. His Dad helped him move his stuff on X mas eve, but he stayed here at home another week while all the housemates are out of town for winter break. Today I help him take the remainder of his things & his bike to his place, where he will start the new year @ the new place. 

I feel somewhat like Dorothy in Oz, where she declares "People come and go so quickly here", 
and also that "Toto, We are not in Kansas anymore". 

Today I help the son with the final batch of things to move. He is 20, and I know I should be thankful that he has a desire and motivation to be independent, but I'm going to miss him, and after 20 years of raising a person & living with him , it is a major adjustment to have him move out. 
Because the husband is out of town  ~ the empty nest feeling will hit especially hard. 

We part on good terms, he still is in town, just 7 miles away,  and he knows we are here for him & a safety net, if need be. I'll take him out for a nice Thai dinner tonight, and wish him well on his new journey.  2008~ the year of change!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Hold her in the light

Holding Grandma Naida in the light. She had some kind of heart episode, that resulted in an ambulance ride to the hospital. They think it was Atrial Fibrillation, but keeping here there for observation & more tests tomorrow.
Mr. Ramblings is there to visit his Dad, and helping with this situation. 

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Screw Wall Street

Foreclosures and the economic downturn are taking a new twist, as the CEO of a local chain of assisted living centers just put 14 of them into Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

This is a particularly difficult issue for those in Alzheimer's or Dementia  Memory Care units, because, familiarity and routine are very important. It could be potentially quite traumatic for a person to have to move to a different facility, and meet new staff, and learn new layouts.
Who will take over these bankrupt facilities? Sunwest Management CEO sought an injunction to stop nine big investment banks from seizing the most profitable of the company's nearly 270 assisted living centers across the country. Sunwest owes over $2.6 billion in debt.16,800 seniors in Sunwest's centers around the country, including about 5000 in Oregon, wait to see how it will affect their housing. One local facility is already part of a foreclosure proceeding. That facility is now in a position they do not have the authority to pay it;s 46 employees a total of $43,400 for work done in the last two weeks of December.
No one can expect employees to continue to report to work and not be able to pay for their living expenses.

You have to think these fragile seniors are not on the bailout "A" list ~ if at all. 
Often times hotel chains run such facilities.   The problem is, you don't just check in to a care facility. Often times the better facilities can have a one to two year waitlist. They may require a $500 deposit just to be to be on the waitlist, as well as full financial disclosure. A lot of so called care facilities only care while you still have $. 
They don't accept medicare, so when your money runs out, and Memory care may run $7000 or more PER MONTH-- the $ will run out, and then they quit caring. The facilities that accept medicare are back in the waitlist mode & charge a hefty fee to even get in line for a potential opening, a year or more, later.

I'm not sure it is related to the residents also having problems selling their houses. My Mom's house is paid in full, but it is on the market flooded with rock bottom reduced price homes in foreclosure. It feels like we are stuck in a vortex that is spinning out of control.

Speaking of foreclosures, another innocent victim of this problem is pets.  People who have pets when they go through whatever economic trauma that gets them to the place of foreclosure, find themselves in a place of being unable to afford to care for or give space to the care of a pet. In the online animal shelter website, I noticed they have a column that lists where the animal is found. Several animals have "LCAS FRONT DOOR", (county animal shelter) people are doing drop and run pet check in, because they probably don't have the $ to pay the fee to put them up for adoption. Others are just leaving pets behind in the foreclosed home, or turning them loose. This has led to overcrowded shelters, and 50% of incoming animals are being put to death. 

Locally, our shelter almost closed it's doors entirely, because of budget cuts. I see lots of animals in Foster care, volunteers picking up the slack by taking care of some of the overflow of animals, but they are full to the max, and as more people lose jobs or are laid off, they are reluctant to take on another mouth to feed, and all the expenses to properly care for a pet. The article I read said people should check yards of foreclosed homes, to make sure owners did not just abandon animals.

Screw Wall Street! The more billions we give them, the less they learn about the consequences of their actions.  Bailout people going into foreclosure, including Eldercare facilities, and animals that are innocent victims of foreclosure. 

Musical Interlude

form a Peace sign

I am in a final stretch of a little work marathon, but will then have four glorious days off. Won't have to go to work till *next year*.  Just have to make it through Sunday. Yay!!!!!!!
Mr. Ramblings is visiting his Dad/family in Ohio.
The baby bird is poised to fly from the nest (20 year old "kid"), so we know there will be lots of changes in 2009.
Anyway here are a few different versions of that great Mason Williams tune~

Mason Williams~ Classical Gas

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A wish for you

And so this is Christmas. So many folks having a hard time relating to this holiday season. It has been a rough go with a bad president. Everyone has had some kind of effect of this regime. I am not going to wax poetic about the holiday. I see so many troublesome things happening, I find myself struggling to keep it upbeat. So hang in there. Happy Holidays. Even if you are having hard times, just remember there are still good folks doing good works. Get your inspiration from them. You can still do random acts of kindness, even if you are struggling, or overwhelmed.

Yesterday's paper was chock full of depressing news- a wheelchair stolen. phone lines cut to steal copper wiring, corporate skankiness.

Today's headline read anonymous donor gives $600,000 to the local food bank. Wow! There are people who care, and I encourage us all, myself included to catch those positive sparks, and keep the flames burning. Enough said- be good each other & yourself.

Here is some music to enjoy..... Namaste

Celtic Christmas

Forever Young~ Dylan

Walking in the Air~ From "The Snowman" A dreamy, beautifully animated film.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Chanukkah Song

Adam Sandler~ Chanukkah Song

Realty Check: Bleak!

Sorry to post such a list of downers, but this may be why so many folks I know are saying they can't get into the holiday spirit.
I promise to write something more upbeat for X Mas.



The same donor gave $300,00 in October to the food bank. 
How absolutely cool is that??? The attorney representing the donor would only say the donor resides in Oregon. 

No name plaque, no fanfare as to whom is making the donations, no fame, and a total generous give away. Oh! After reading all the following really depressing news, this was one welcomed headline.  There still is hope and kindness and light in the world. 

Ok on to the other stuff....
This is a part of the Recession Journal I am writing, documenting current events under the Bush Regime.

• The county I live in reports an 8.4% unemployment rate. The highest rate since 1985.

• A local woman with MS had her wheelchair stolen from the front of her car.
When they aired the story on the news, an outpouring from the community resulted in offers to give her a wheelchair, money to purchase one, and an offer to buy her a new wheelchair. My faith in humanity is restored, but stealing a wheelchair during X Mas week seems like some pretty heavy karma to me.

• An article about the company Mr. Ramblings works for said an out of state hedge fund is buying up company stock for a possible takeover. Apparently not new news to the top dogs--they were negotiating exit severance packages, they taker has a pre approved arrangement that yields 200% of the CEO & company President base salaries- before they took massive pay cuts & an average of their past 3 years bonus $- somewhere between $3 & $5 million. this does not sound like a random takeover to me.. it sounds like an arranged sale. Once again, the CEO's get golden parachutes, for soft landings.

• A local decorated Veteran, froze to death in last week;s cold snap. Major Thomas Egan was retired, but did nt draw veteran's benefits. He was homeless, and an alcoholic. He collected Social Security, but not Ntl. Guard. He was entitled to $909 per month, and could have applied for additional unemployability monies. He had a masters degree, and served 20 years in the military. A scholar and decorated soldier, his body was found covered in snow, near the railroad tracks, a bottle of liquor by his side. Local veterans are working to get him a proper funeral and burial at the Veterans cemetery in Roseburg.

• 800 residents, west of Junction City, lost phone service because thieves stole 470 feet of phone line, worth $18,000, probably stolen for the copper content of the wires. This is a felony crime because it involved a disruption of a public utility- namely lack of the ability to call 9-11 for emergencies.

If that happy local news were not enough-- the bigger picture is not looking rosier....

• Banks won't say where bailout money went. Billions of taxpayer dollars are being given out, with no exact accounting being disclosed to the public. Sounds like fuzzy math to me.

• For the first time in seven decades **70 years**, Toyota projects an operating loss of $1.66 billion.
They had forecast a $6.65 billion profit.

• California's cheif CEO warned the state would run out of money in about 2 months.

• Several States are running out of Unemployment funds.

Merry Christmas- Dick Cheney

"Cheney claims power to make decision on his public records"

Yes, Vice President Cheney still maintains the delusion that he can change the rules and laws of his position. Old Dick once declared the Vice Presidency to not be a part of the Executive Branch of government, therefore did not have to abide by those rules.

Now sure-shot Dick has lawyers arguing that he alone has the authority to determine which records, if any, will be given to the National Archives, when he slithers from his undisclosed location, in January.

Christmas may have come early, because Cheney is being sued in Federal Court, by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

The 1978 Presidential records act requires all presidential and vice presidential records to be transferred to the National Archives immediately upon the end of the term of office. It gives the archivist responsibility to preserve and control access to presidential records. Exceptions are made for personal or purely partisan records.

*Reported by the Register Guard.

Of course Cheney does not want to have to turn over his records. He felt so safe and secure in his undisclosed location, cutting behind the scenes deals. Cheney has been the most unseen or heard from VP in history. The only time we hear from Cheney, is when he comes out to do the occasional fund raiser. The Bush/Cheney administration has been so awful, most republican politicians did not want to be associated with them. Neither Bush or Cheney made an appearance at their own party convention! Bush claimed to have been busy overseeing the hurricane in the Gulf, and arrogant Cheney did not even make an excuse. Not only are they unpopular, but I think those 10,000 protesters in the streets near the Republican Convention might have had an effect on Bush being advised of the throngs of non-supporters, and to stay away for his own safety.

This is yet another act of lawlessness and disregard of playing by the rules by Cheney.
I hope the justice system does it's job. And don't leave a shredder in the undisclosed location.... it might overheat & catch fire.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Oh what a relief it is

Beatles ~ Rain

I have a new appreciation for rain, now that the temps have warmed & no ice on the roads.
Hope your holiday season is going well

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Western Oregon

Some people go all out for X mas decorating- my friend Lisa wanted to outdo her neighbors display with lighted deer replicas, Lisa took it up a notch and went with actual live deer! Yes we had a dose of snow....
I took pictures here, but the unique to the camera cable to download got left in Ohio. .... my pics will have to wait.
After dealing with ice & slippery driving, it was nice to hear the rain today.

Michael Harrison ~ In Flight

Friday, December 19, 2008

Shoe Thrower update

The BBC is reporting today that the shoe thrower has allegedly been beaten while in custody. Al-Zaidi’s brother Dargham has reported that he has suffered a broken arm, broken ribs, and internal bleeding. “The only thing that will hopefully keep al-Zaidi from being swept up into an anonymous prison for an indefinite period, and even tortured, is the huge outpouring of support he has received the world over,” said Medea Benjamin of CODEPINK.
Al-Zaidi has received widespread attention and support both across the Middle East and the U.S. From protests across Iraq to widespread coverage in U.S. news to spontaneous groups on Facebook.
CODEPINK has begun a PETITION for people who agree with the anti-war sentiment behind al-Zaidi’s shoe-throwing action and call for his release without charge. The group will also visit the Iraqi Embassy in D.C. this afternoon to demand al-Zaidi’s release. On Wednesday, CodePink and other antiwar groups will gather outside the White House to display shoes representing the Iraqis and U.S. soldiers who have died since the Bush Administration’s invasion of Iraq.

The Ambassador says "What Mr. al-Zaidi did was reprehensible"
The lady in the audience replies...."What about what Mr. Bush did?"

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

If the shoe fits.....

You've probably seen and or heard about it by now. The incident of the Iraqi reporter throwing a shoe, no-- BOTH his shoes directly towards George W. Bush's head. It is a high insult in Middle Eastern culture, and it was said to be for the Widows, Orphans and those who have died.
Later, United States president, George W. Bush, asked," What's his beef?"

We the People of the United States have a long list of "beefs"- more accurately, list of High Crimes and Misdemeanors, that are by U. S. law considered to be Impeachable offenses. A very long list, of very serious offenses.

So I'll cut to the chase--

How about a shoe, I mean show- of solidarity?

What better way to have a Nationwide action that involves a symbolic throwing of shoes?
Grab a pair of shoes & send them to George, as a kind of departure from the Presidency legacy gift.

Think about it....

Hundreds of thousands of shoes arriving as a nationwide farewell.

George W. Bush
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW,
Washington, DC, 20500

Yes there are a number of throw shoes at Bush games on the net.

Game !

Game 2

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Memo to Santa

Time magazine named Barack Obama Person of the Year. They said Obama really does not want accolades, truth be known his first 100 days started November 5th, when he spent 5 hours in meetings to begin the work as President.

"For having the confidence to sketch an ambitious future in a gloomy hour, and for showing the competence that makes Americans hopeful he might pull it off, the president-elect is TIME's Person of the Year," the newsweekly said.

Asked about the state of the economy, Obama said "I think we should anticipate that 2009 is going to be a tough year.
"And if we make some good choices, I'm confident that we can limit some of the damage in 2009 and that in 2010 we can start seeing an upward trajectory on the economy. "But this is a difficult hole that we've dug ourselves into."

Unbelievably, Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson was the next runner up- maybe for Bush lackey screw up of the year award.... but certainly not person of the year!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Music for weather in the teens BRRRR

Sorry to subject you to these... my kids loved this vintage cartoon & had to laugh at the bear cub.
The Suzy Snowflake song was a seasonal cartoon they played every year (apparently, it was a Chicago area item).
Anyway enjoy ! What can I say?? It is snowing & freezing here.

Jack Frost circa 1934

Suzy Snowflake

The Rosemary Clooney Version

The animation of Suzy Snowflake (watched this as a kid-- in black & white!!!)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Old Man Winter is here...

I live in a fairly low elevation valley that rarely gets snow.... but we are having a dose of the white stuff falling tonight. It's pretty!

"It was amusing"???

Oh. my. god.
The shrub has become some kind of robot.
An Iraqi reporter hurls both his shoes @ Bush, yelling this is a farewell kiss you dog.
This is from the Widows, Orphans & those killed.

Bush later says "it doesn't bother me, it's like people yelling at a political rally, it's like people not gesturing with all 5 fingers".
Yea, George, is it at all a mystery why those things are SOOO very familiar to you?

DK of Redheaded Wisdom posted this link to C SPAN footage.... shows blood on the floor where the reporter was knocked down & a disgusting shot of Bush laughing that creepy laugh afterwards.

As she pointed out, Bush was supposed to be crafting some kind of relief plan for Automakers.
What a lasting image befitting W's legacy.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The axe falls

We always said we'd cross that bridge if and when we get to it.
The news came in the form of an e mail, from the employer to the employees. "Due to the general economic climate, the decline in consumer confidence and extremely tight credit markets, we have made the very difficult decision to temporarily layoff much of our workforce."
The layoff starts Monday Dec 15, currently scheduled to end Monday Jan 12.
Mr. Ramblings is instructed to return on Jan 5th.... so that is a sign they will resume working.....
Mr. Ramblings is the main wage earner in the household, so this is a big deal.

Earlier in the year, there was a large wave of "temporary layoffs", that later turned permanent. Those workers were never called back in to work.

Yes, unemployment compensation can be had in the meantime, but there is this uneasy wondering if this temporary layoff will become permanent.

The good news is I am still employed and we are heading into our peak season in the new year.

How is Bush-o-nomics working for you?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Zen Friday

Just something to relax with. Take a few deep breaths....

Friday, December 5, 2008

Annual Xmas Display Mockery

So now let's move on to a little something that has become an annual tradition here at Ramblings... the salute to Tacky & Ugly Christmas light displays.

They pop up everywhere, and beg to be mocked. I'll share a few examples....

A classic example of someone clearly paying homage to the Chinese light/decoration industry.

If you look closely, you can see that they missed an inch here & there. Tisk tisk

Then you have unfortunate hostage situations, the inflatables took over here- Nobody goes anywhere till we get the figgy pudding!

Hand me my sunglasses please, this one is hurting my eyes......

Pink Flamingos pulling a sleigh? Just pathetic

I know there is a theme here, but I fail to discern....

Attack of the killer plastic snow zombies....

The Big 3 are doing everything they can to try to sell vehicles....

Divorced Santa gets the trailer, and no elves....

Global Warming? We don't believe in it.... Merry Christmas Utility Company!

(Is there actually a house there??)

We considered Cedar or Aluminum siding, but in the end, decided to go with lights...

See, some people know how to do a tasteful display!

Maybe you will post some winner displays from your neck of the woods?

So remember to have fun & laugh, life's short & laughter is good.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Recession journal

This is turning into a periodic "recession journal", but I was seeing so much change happening at a local level, thought it would be important to post some observations.

* Yet another bank robbery. The 26th in the county since September. Averaging 1 to 2 bank robberies per week.

* Two more local businesses close- A 20 year old health food manufacturer, the parent company is moving it to an out of state industrial production facility. 25 people will lose jobs. A packaging company shudders it's facility 100 more jobs gone.

* Top level CEO's at local motor coach company slash salaries. Salaries are cut up to 50% for highest management employees.

* The county unemployment rate hit 7.5% in October, well above the state and national rates. Nearly 14-thousand people out of work.

Things are still progressing in a downward spiral.