Category Archives: Problems

WYFP?

Parallel Planets: right wing’s grip on reality

[A repost from 2009. The GOP is still out there in lala land.]

Parallel: adj. extending in the same direction, everywhere equidistant, and not meeting

Planet: n. one of the large bodies that revolve around the sun in the solar system

This was quite a week in la-la land, where hate crimes are a reflection of one’s faith, a decrease in one’s taxes is a cause for a taxpayer revolt, and patriotic disgust at the duly elected Obama administration is sufficient reason for Texas to secede.

The unhappy rightmost fringe of the GOP exists not only on a different planet from everyone else on earth, they also run arguments that directly contradict other of their pet arguments.

We’ll take Tony Perkins first (of the Christian group – Family Research Council). He has created a website “fighthatecrimes.org” to OPPOSE a bill currently in Congress that says people who harm other people because they’re different (gay) will be prosecuted.  Isn’t the first rule of Christianity, “Love Your Neighbor as yourself?”

Then we have the TeaBaggers, who are protesting Anything and Everything Obama – currently “taxation without representation” – even though American voters went resoundingly for Obama last November and 69% support him today. And even though almost all of the protesters’ taxes will be lower, thanks to his tax cuts.

Gail Collins at the NY Times notes:

Have you ever noticed that the states where anti-tax sentiment is strongest are frequently the same states that get way more back from the federal government than they send in? Alaska gets $1.84 for every tax dollar it sends to Washington, which is a rate of return even Bernard Madoff never pretended to achieve. Yet there they were in Ketchikan waving “Taxed Enough Already!” signs and demanding an end to federal spending.

Then we go to Texas, where Governor Rick Perry (whose hair is almost as perfect as Senator John Boehner’s or Ex-Gov Blagojevich) thinks Texas should secede from the United States.  (And wasn’t Todd Palin into that as well, up in Alaska??)

Collins continues:

Have you noticed how places that pride themselves on being superpatriotic seem to have the most people who want to abandon the country entirely and set up shop on their own?

“What a great crowd,” Perry twittered, referring to the protesters he addressed in Austin, some of whom were waving American flags and yelling “Secede!”

Back when we protested the Iraq war, we were called unpatriotic and much worse; we were called traitors. “You’re either with us or you’re with the enemy…”

What makes this tax season so different from a couple hundred tax seasons that preceded it?  Last week’s protests were almost exclusively populated by white folks… Could it have anything to do with racism??

Need I mention that Obama is black?

Angry people need scapegoats – it’s the Mexicans taking our jobs and raking in welfare; it’s the black guys taking over the government.  But no one wants to admit being racist so instead they protest taxes, regulations, religious “persecution”.

Piano paralysis

Piano:  n. a musical instrument having steel wire strings that sound when struck by felt-covered hammers operated from a keyboard

Paralysis: n. loss of the ability to move a state of powerlessness or incapacity to act

Our piano

Our piano

[Cross-posted from Getting to Less…]

The piano is a dying fixture in the American home.  So claims a recent story in the Los Angeles Times.

105,000 acoustic pianos (upright and grand) were sold in the US in 2000. By 2007 sales had plunged to 54,000.  Given today’s economy, we could be chopping them for firewood in a few years.

People are buying electronic keyboards instead – keyboards that are light, portable, and include attachments that control the furnace, shampoo the carpet,  and flip pancakes.

This is very bad news for me.

I am the keeper of a 1936 Steinway baby grand – a gift from my mother to my son, who is a talented pianist. Maybe I should say was a talented pianist. We refurbished it at great expense and he played the heck out of it from age 11 till he left for college in 2001.

A few months later I bought a too-big home  because it had a living room spacious enough to accommodate his precious piano which he would return to claim any minute.

Right.

First issue: he’s scarcely touched it in eight years, even when he was living at home the last few months.

Second issue: he’s globe-trotting for the forseeable future. A baby grand will not fit in his backpack. And when he returns it will probably not fit in some shoebox bachelor apartment either.

Third issue: my own future cottage/condo/shoebox won’t have space for a piano unless I put a mattress on top of  it and call it my bed.

There’s so much history with this piano. My grandparents bought it for my mom as a college graduation present  ($990 for the piano, $10 for the bench = $1,000 total).  She taught singing for 70 years with it,  playing it so much the brass sustain pedal was worn to a nub.  My two sisters and I  shed tears of frustration on its (real) ivory keys at our daily practice sessions.

After being refurbished and refinished the piano was appraised at $40k.

Needless to say it’s one of the biggest and most emotionally loaded THINGS that must be dealt with in this downsizing process. Not to mention  the deep pain in my heart that my son’s connection to the piano seems to be over.

He and I need to have a little talk about the piano’s future…

Meanwhile here’s more from the LA Times story…

The piano has been the center of many American homes for generations, not only a proclamation of a love of music but also often a statement about striving for success.

“In a very traditional sense, the piano did stand for something. It was a symbol of mobility, moving up,” especially among immigrant families, said Joe Lamond, president of the International Music Products Assn., based in Carlsbad and known as NAMM. Some real estate agents still will move a piano into a house that’s for sale to class it up, he said.

In many homes these days, a piano isn’t so much a musical instrument as it is just another piece of furniture.  ….

In the 21st century, the acoustic piano seems to be a relic of another era. Jeffrey Lavner, a piano teacher at the Colburn School in downtown L.A., puts it this way: “I think piano playing is a little like black-and-white movies.”   [ouch!]

…   Many forces have contributed to the acoustic piano’s troubles. Start with electronic keyboards and digital instruments, with their improving quality and alluring gadgets such as metronomes, USB ports, headphones and recording devices. Not to mention their generally lower price.

“We live in a digital age,” said Brian Majeski, editor of Music Trades magazine. “You have to redefine the instrument.”

And in a time of foreclosures and downsizing, the expense of a traditional piano — which can run from a few thousand dollars to $100,000 or more — may seem untenable, especially for a child who may be eager to play but has no track record in the rigors of daily practice. What’s more, for students, there is ferocious competition for the hours between school and sleep: Homework or video games? Soccer or ballet? Facebook or TV?

In a survey of piano teachers conducted in 2005 for the Piano Manufacturers Assn. International, 89% said that the primary reason a child drops lessons is “too many other activities.” …

Pew on pew-sitters’ support of torture

Pew: n. Pew Research Center, a non-partisan center that looks at American values, religion, and the public life.

Pew-sitter: n. a person who goes to church regularly (the bench is called a pew).

Churchgoers more likely to back torture, survey finds

WASHINGTON (CNN) — The more often Americans go to church, the more likely they are to support the torture of suspected terrorists, according to a new analysis.

More than half of people who attend services at least once a week — 54 percent — said the use of torture against suspected terrorists is “often” or “sometimes” justified. Only 42 percent of people who “seldom or never” go to services agreed, according the analysis released Wednesday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

White evangelical Protestants were the religious group most likely to say torture is often or sometimes justified — more than 6 in 10 supported it. People unaffiliated with any religious organization were least likely to back it. Only 4 in 10 of them did.

Honestly this doesn’t surprise me one whit. Jack Cafferty at CNN asked viewers for comments and here are some choice ones:

–Pastors need to address the paradox and say, “You can’t be pro-life and at the same time be pro-death penalty, pro-guns, and pro-torture.”

–I’m not sure that the ‘faithful’ finding torture acceptable should surprise us. Isn’t that what Islamic fundamentalists do? All radicalized forms of thinking lack innate tolerance — that’s what radicalism does, whether it’s based on religion, politics, culture, money or anything else.

–Why? Why?! Really? Jack, c’mon… Can you say, “Crusades?” Can you say, “Holy War?” Can you say, “Jihad?” Nobody loves man’s inhumanity to man more than those who have God on their side.

–Having been tortured sitting through all of those sermons, I think it’s no wonder churchgoers want to share the misery.

Perspective: it could be worse!

Perspective: n. a mental view or outlook

I need to lighten up. I’m trying to let go of enough possessions that I can sell this place and move into something more manageable. The current boat anchor I’m trying to offload for a decent price is a humongous executive desk – so far no luck.

mcguire-desk

Speaking of boat anchors…

boat-anchor

A friend read my post about the humongous desk I’m still trying to sell and commiserated over the stunning rate at which the value of material possessions declines.  Here’s her sad story:

I bought a Split Cal King Adjustable Tempurpedic bed four years ago for over $6600 because I was having a LOT of back issues and didn’t want to wake Larry when I got up and down in the middle of the night. Hated it from the get-go but the company would not take it back because the very expensive bases were special ordered. This despite my having a witness who was with me when I bought it and heard the guy say we could return it.

Last month I took pix, put it on Craig’s list, got a couple of nibbles, but more questions than I cared to deal with. The bottom line was either have Macy’s take it away when they delivered the new mattress we just bought or give it away.

I gave it to my cleaning lady who split it, one for each child’s room.

I’m my own cleaning lady, so that donation strategy won’t work, but I’m going to give selling it another go this weekend on Craigslist. Wish me luck.  It’s become my boat anchor – a symbol of all that holds me down.

[A version of this is cross-posted over at my new blog, Getting to Less.]

Pitchforks, pistols and “going postal”

Pitchfork: n. a long-handled fork that has two or three long somewhat curved prongs and is used especially in tossing (pitching) hay

Pistol: n. a handgun whose chamber is integral with the barrel

“Going postal”: v. To become extremely angry or deranged, especially in an outburst of violence. The term derives from a series of incidents from 1983 onward in which United States Postal Service  workers shot and killed managers, fellow workers, and members of the police or general public. Between 1986 and 1997, more than 40 people were killed in at least 20 incidents of workplace rage.

Used to be when the rabble got roused, they’d go after the bad guy with their pitchforks pointed at his butt, thus running him out of town.

No more. We’ve got guns, and we’re gonna use ’em.

Pistol, by Christoph Niemann

Pistol, by Christoph Niemann

How many mass murders are we going to allow before we stand up to the gun lobby???  47 just in the past month!

An article by AP writer Ted Anthony asks, “What is happening in the American psyche that prevents people from defusing their own anguish and rage before they end the lives of others? Why are we killing each other?”

I can answer that:   Because.We.Have.Guns.   Without guns we’d have to resort to fisticuffs, maybe a knife, maybe lots of screaming and yelling.

The other issue, raised by Charles Blow in the NY Times: Are certain susceptible people taking as gospel the call of right-wing crazies like Glenn Beck, Chuck Norris, Michelle Bachmann, Rush Limbaugh to be red-blooded patriots and take up arms if necessary to prevent SOCIALISTS and ATHIESTS and LIBERALS from taking over the country?

What are we becoming?

Proxy post: PMS

Proxy: n. a person authorized to act for another
Post: n. a blog entry, like this.

My computer is on the fritz again, causing me shit fits – it’s a Windows boot issue, and though most of my data is backed up, the two files I’m presently working on are NOT and one I have to reconstruct by tomorrow. So….

I’m resorting to using a post sent to me by fengshuibyfishgirl
, a fellow WordPress blogger and feng shui practitioner. She is my proxy today while I hyperventilate and hurl dog turds and bad language at my computer.

She sends these definitions of PMS:

10  Things PMS Stands For:

1.  Pass My Shotgun
2.  Psychotic Mood Shift
3.  Perpetual Munching Spree
4.  Puffy Mid-Section
5.  People Make me Sick
6.  Provide Me Sweets
7.  Pardon My Sobbing
8.  Pimples May Surface
9.  Pass My Sweatpants
10.  Pitiful Mood Syndrome

I’ll take 2 aspirin and feel better in the morning. Grrrrrrr.

Peregrine peddler: a job for hard times?

Peregrine: adj. wandering, roving

Peddler: n. one who travels about selling wares

I think these terms are redundant, but heck, they both begin with P and describe a business opportunity for this economic downturn.

Running a bricks and mortar store is expensive. You have to keep an inventory and pay for rent, utilities, insurance, and a sales staff. Because sales are down, many people have closed their shops and are attempting to conduct their business online – some successfully, some not so much (yet, anyway).

An acquaintance of mine, a jeweler, was one of those who shut his shop. This was unfortunate because at a charity auction some months earlier I had  bid on a $50 gift certificate towards a piece of jewelry or a repair at his store.

I consoled myself that at least the charity had gotten the $50.

But then last week he called to say he’d be in my neighborhood and could swing by and take a look at  repair work. From his old-fashioned doctor’s bag emerged all sorts of tools and spare parts. On the spot he fixed a broken earring, measured my finger for the ring that needed to be bigger, dated, appraised and gave me some history on my grandmother’s watch, and helped me decide how best to convert an old pin into a pendant.  He put all my bits that needed bench work  into those carefully labeled little envelopes jewelers use for repair orders.

My jeweler is forging a new life as a mobile craftsman. (He already had a loyal clientele who trusted him – he’s also bonded – and he’s listed his service on the web.) Now twice a week  he makes the rounds of our county picking up and delivering jewelry from people’s homes.  On the weekends he completes the work in his studio.

Until he gets his mobile business more established he’s gone back to work for a major jewelry chain.  Meanwhile, I sure appreciated the convenience and undivided attention of the house call. And he says he likes getting out too.

Is this the wave of the future?