Monday, September 30, 2013

Shutting It Down? Really?

As I write this, the US Government is on the verge of a shut down because Congress is playing games with our money and our lives and would rather engage in pointless fighting than pass legislation that would continue to fund the US Government.  They’d rather shut it down than work out a compromise.

And I am pissed!!

Some random rants and observations:

A shutdown means ‘Non-essential’ personnel don’t work till this is resolved, many/most Government offices and facilities will close, including National Parks and the Smithsonian Museums.  Military personnel will continue to work but they might not get a pay check for awhile.  Are you kidding me?

Here is a slightly better explanation of what could happen at midnight, quoted from CNN … Without congressional approval of new spending legislation, parts of the federal government will begin shutting down when the current fiscal year ends at midnight, forcing agencies to furlough thousands of workers and curtail some services until there is a resolution.

The non-essential employees don’t get paid while this is going on BUT CONGRESS AND THE PRESIDENT DO GET PAID.  So they have nothing to lose by playing this dangerous game.

The Cowards of Congress are busy bending to the extremes.  Spineless!  Republican leaders are scared of the completely misguided extremist Tea Party idiots.  The Tea Party people do not represent Republican ideals of normal, majority moderate Republicans.  Stubborn Liberals on the other end are also extreme and do not represent moderate Democrats like me.  Most Americans are in the middle.  Most UNbiased surveys verify that.

Conservative Republicans whine about ‘big government’ yet Repub Senator What’s-his-name from Texas held the floor for 21 hours one day last week. He rambled for TWENTY ONE FREAKIN’ HOURS, wasting time reading Dr. Seuss and other nonsense that had nothing to do with making his points.  And We the People PAY FOR THAT CRAP?!?!  Aren’t we HIS BOSS?  Why aren’t we firing him and anyone else who violates the serious mission we elect Senators and Representatives to do? 

It’s time for term limits!  Congress should not be a career.  We elect those people to serve US.  Our Presidents serve a maximum of eight years; why should law-makers serve longer?  Or till death?

Hey, Tea Party people … the Affordable Care Act was passed two years ago and is already law.  Deal with it.  Quit playing games with our lives and our money by throwing up mindless obstacles, risking the negative impact of a shut-down government to accomplish a misguided goal.  The law will continue.  It will be funded.  Quite wasting our time and money and sanity.  Work on something else like tax reform.

Republicans keep adding amendments to the funding bill, amendments that would defund the affordable healthcare act, better known as Obamacare.  Hey, like I said, the law is already law.  Stop playing games.

I had a great conversation with a former Republican Representative from Virginia recently at an awards ceremony.  He said Congress is broken and that is why he chose to not run again.  During his years in Congress he was known for realistic compromise.  He listened to his constituents more than to the extremes of his party.  That is how it should work.

There were two shutdowns in 1995.  It cost taxpayers an estimate $1.2 BILLION.

If the government shuts down at Midnight, more than a million Federal worker will be affected, with no promise of back pay.  Social Security and veteran benefit checks will still go out but might be delayed because there will be fewer people processing them; people who depend on those checks are the ones who can least afford that kind of delay.

Yet Congress continues to get paid, as I said before.  Democratic Representative Gary Peters from Michigan says he will not take his pay if the government shuts down and if he gets back pay he’ll donate it to local charities.  A good example.  ALL Senators and Representatives AND the President and VP should follow that example.

Our democratic system is built on compromise.  That is at the heart of our success as a country and as a society.  We don’t always agree but we do find a way to make it all work.  Usually.  But tonight there are loud extremists who don’t give a shit about any of that.  All they want is to position themselves as candidates for future office.  No Tea Party jerk will ever become President.  We the People are not that stupid.

Work together Congress!!  Do what we are paying you to do.

I am an angry 50-plus American citizen, a registered voter and I vote in EVERY election!  I am not alone. Senate, Congress, what you do in the next two hours will make a lot of difference to me.  And I have a long memory.  Do the right thing.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

What Happens In Vegas Randomness

I spent last weekend in Sin City, Las Vegas.  This is my third annual visit there for the iHeart Radio Music Festival and my overall impression is the same … it is a great place to escape reality.  Here are some random thoughts and observations:

- Money, decadence, rich people, poor people, Gucci tourists, Walmart tourists.

- Crowds in the afternoon and night, not so bad in the morning when they’re all sleeping off their day of decadence.

- There is a hotel/attraction built to look like New York, another is Paris, another is Egypt.  Paris has a simulated Eiffel Tower.  Yes, I had to go to the top.  The picture shows a view from there.

- Most men dressed in flowered Hawaiian style shirts appear to be my age or older.  I am rethinking that part of my wardrobe.

- With that thought in mind, I walked into a couple of clothing places.  The Ross store clothes were way too cheap for my taste.  The $14 shirts just looked cheap.  The two stores in the Mandalay Bay shops looked great and unique in a one-of-a-kind way.  Shirts cost $265.  That’s not a typo.  The half-price sale rack?  Do the math … still insanely expensive.  Most shirts I own cost less than $50, so even if I want to pay more for ‘unique’ I can’t make a $135 shirt make sense.  Who spends that kind of money on a shirt?  So I bought a House of Blues t-shirt for $25.

- Vegas is loud and bright 24/7.

- Music, ads, vendors, random people on the street handing out ‘free show’ tickets.  Last year I saw Elvis on the street, this year I saw Batman.  And an incredible Michael Jackson.

- The festival was incredible.  Twenty or more acts, most well-known, representing all genres of music.  If I’m starting to sound like a commercial it might be because I make commercials for the festival as part of my job.  But I was truly impressed with the variety of music … Elton John, Paul McCartney, Maroon 5, Tim McGraw, Bruno Mars, Katy Perry, Keith Urban, Fun, Muse, Justin Timberlake, what’s left of Queen with plenty of other festival stars sitting in.  Wow!

- It is very dry there.  Humidity was sometimes less than 10%.  Sort of like breathing cardboard.  I’m sure I drank several gallons of water.

- I also drank quite a bit of rum, some of it free because of some concert VIP pre-parties.

- I did not gamble.  I usually plan to lose some money playing slot machines, maybe around $40.  High roller, ey?  But this time I watched a friend lose money.  I left a couple hundred of my dollars in Vegas in the form of paying for some meals and drinks.

Like I said, I love visiting Vegas for a few days at a time.  It is a great escape from reality.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


What’s that old saying … something like ‘a long journey begins with one step’ … something like that.  Well, I have rediscovered the first step toward improved health … walking.  The health and psychological benefits of walking begin with one step.

On most mornings for the past two weeks I have jumped out of bed around 6 or 6:30 … OK, jump isn’t exactly accurate … I woke up, sat at the edge of my bed silently cursing my alarm, stepped slowly into my bathroom, brushed my teeth, put some clothes on and stepped out of my apartment into the morning air and walked.

These walks are now fairly brisk walks and my stride is longer.  The round trip walk to Starbucks and back is a mile.  Hey, I’m not giving up my morning coffee.  Call these walks ‘multitasking’ … I quickly walk to my caffeine-infused destination, buy my coffee and return home to drink it.

I love the morning, love watching the world wake up, love stepping through my neighborhood when few cars are moving.  I love the people-watching opportunities, even at daybreak … joggers, walkers, people at bus stops, neighbors walking dogs, an informal prayer group under the town pavilion.  The line at Starbucks is rarely more than two deep that early.  The quirky staff there provides early morning entertainment.  I walk past a fitness place and watch early risers doing group cardio routines (and I might join them soon).

By the way, during this same two weeks I have been sleeping much better, my recurring back pains are mostly gone and I’ve lost a little weight (measured in a belt notch rather than pounds).

One small step.  Then another, then another.  It works.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Interesting Thoughts

I see and hear 'religious' commentary claiming one path or the other is the only way a person should believe (or not believe).  I disagree with most of it.  Religion and spirituality are personal matters for each of us and not something to be dictated to us by other people.  This graphic sums it up nicely, in my opinion.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Read This Because You Need This

I recently found an incredible nugget of self-help.  Basically it’s a list of 21 things to let go to become happy.  Click Here for the whole article.  Although it is written for men, the advice is not really gender-specific.  I do not agree with all of it, but there are plenty of suggestions that I believe are helpful and I had already adopted some of this advice before finding this article.

Here are a few of my takeaways, quoted directly from the article:

Know that you can’t control much in life, but you can always control your reaction. Flow through the world smoothly. When there is resistance, flow around it. When there is opportunity, flow right through it.

Remember, we have no control over the things that happen to us and the changes that occur around us, but we always have control over how we respond.

Let go of thinking you are not enough. You are enough and you deserve to have everything that you want. You’re also your worst enemy and your hardest life critic

When you tell yourself you can’t do it, you’re always right. You can or you can’t. The decision is yours.
For many people, what’s called Automatic Negative Thinking can be crippling—throughout their day, constantly, hundreds of times, negative thoughts buzz through their head.

It’s hard to get good things done when your head’s full of negative emotions.

Likewise, automatic positive thoughts can help propel you to new levels of happiness and productivity. You set the tone and control your mind fully. Take control of it, make a habit of positive thinking, and watch the results follow. Start now.

So, focus on being the best version of yourself you can be, focus on the people you care about, and focus on the activities and goals you’re passionate about. When you follow your truest desires, that drive and optimism will translate into all the money you need to live the life you want.

Speaking of quotes, here are a few from well-known people.  These are also noted in the article.

It’s being here now that’s important. There’s no past and there’s no future. Time is a very misleading thing. All there is ever, is the now. We can gain experience from the past, but we can’t relive it; and we can hope for the future, but we don’t know if there is one.
– George Harrison

Building up your resume is like saving up sex for old age
 – Warren Buffet
Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.
– Jim Morrison

If the relationship can’t survive the long term, why on earth would it be worth my time and energy for the short term?
– Nicholas Sparks