Wednesday, April 29, 2009


I love having my own car. I love the fact that it's paid off and still in relatively good condition. I hate the fact that I have to get work done on it. I went in this morning for the 50,000 mile service. Grrrr! An oil change, tire rotation, brake job and fluids replacement later, I'd spent 3 1/2 hours and almost $600!! Yikes! Why can't my car just take care of itself? And to think I was planning to spend even more on it to get the windows tinted! I'm so poor now I'll be eating ramen for dinner for the next month. Sigh.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Silly hysteria!

Swine flu. Open the newspaper, watch the nightly (or morningly, or noonly, or afternoonly) news, check the news sites, and that's all you'll hear about lately. Swine flu. Oh, no! We have 50 cases here in the US!! Oh, no!! What they seem to bury in the story, if they tell you at all, is that the swine flu has exactly the same symptoms and effects as the seasonal flu. Therefore, if you don't fall into the category of people who might die from the seasonal flu (elderly, people with compromised immune systems, etc.), you'll be fine. The worst you'll have is a bug for a few days. What's with all the hysteria?? Yes, take precautions. Yes, wash your hands and don't cough on people. Yes, stay home from work if you feel sick. But stop freaking out!!!!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Say NO! to more Taxes and False "Reform"

Taxes bug me. Of course, taxes bug most people. What bugs me much, much more is sneakiness. Take note, Californians! On May 19, 2009, you will be asked to vote on six propositions that affect the State budget. These propositions were created as a "compromise" to get the budget passed in California this year.

First, because few writers (and definitely none in the mainstream media) can write without infusing their text with their own biases, let me lay mine out. Fiscally, I'm conservative, and believe in smaller, more streamlined government. I'm not opposed to helping people when they are down (which is why I donate to charities), but I don't believe that training the populace to rely on handouts from the government will improve our nation. In fact, just the opposite. Moreover, I believe that, just like you and me, governments (fed, state and local) should have to live within their means. When I run out of money, I don't demand more from my employer. I decrease my expenditures. Why shouldn't the legislature? When I plan my monthly budget, I put the most important items first (mortgage, utilities, food, etc.) and when tough times arise I cut back on luxuries and non-essential items (movie tickets, dinners out, alcohol, etc.). Why then, should we permit our legislatures to plan for their pet projects first, second and third, and then when money ends up short, why do we allow them to scare us with their "we'll have to lay off teachers, we'll have to fire policemen, we will have to pink-slip firefighters!" No, no, no!! If those are critical assets, you plan for them first, not last!!

Let's get back to the California Props. Most voters will get their information on props from the State's ballot Voter Information Guides mailed out prior to the election. However, in a super-sneaky trick on the voters, the State failed to point out in the VIG the negative aspects of the Props. The only way to get the full picture of what these propositions do is to slog through the legislative text of the proposals. You can get that here: Read it. Read it again. Keep reading it until you understand what they are trying to do to us.

Prop 1A is being touted as a "spending cap" to prevent the legislature from spending more money than it has. There are constant radio ads lately bemoaning the "thousands" of pink slips received by teachers (by the way, those "pink slips" are required by union contract, and are not layoff notices -- they simply say that a teacher is "eligible" for a layoff -- past experience in California shows that only a tiny fraction of the teachers who receive these pink slips will be actually laid off), and how horrible it is, and how "budget reform" is needed. What the commercials don't tell you is the following:

1) Prop 1A will INCREASE YOUR TAXES for AN ADDITIONAL TWO YEARS! An analysis by the State Legislative Analysts Office confirms this. (, see pages 5, 6) As part of its budget "compromise," the California Legislature initiated the largest tax hike in the history of the US. It raised state Personal Income Taxes for 2009 and 2010 by 0.25% (and reduced the tax credits for dependents), doubled the Vehicle License Fee, and increased California sales tax to 9% (in addition to whatever county and local sales tax is imposed on you). These tax increases are currently slated to end after 2010, but if you vote yes on Prop 1A, they will not end until after 2012. Even the Voter Information Guide fails to point this out. Californians already pay the highest income tax in the nation, yet it's still not enough! Californians already pay the highest sales tax in the nation, but it's still not enough! Well I say ENOUGH! This is a $16 billion dollar tax increase that is being deliberately hidden by the State. The Voter Information Guide, which is supposed to provide all relevant information about the propositions, deliberately omits this fact! This is sneakiness taken to new levels!

2) If the legislature hits the spending "cap" and wants to spend more money, they CAN do it. "How is that?" you ask. "After all, it's a spending cap!" The text of Prop 1A allows them to do it, as long as they simultaneously raise taxes. So if they want to spend more of your money, they have to tax you to do it. Wow, what an amazing "reform" in our process!!

3) The budget each year will be based on the revenues from the previous 10 years. Thus, in a recession year that follows flush years, the budget will be much higher than the revenues the State will collect. What does that mean? More tax increases (because the State won't deny itself the pleasure of spending all the money the budget allows for!). In a flush year following several recession years, the budget will be much smaller. This makes no sense. The budget should be based on a reasonable forecast of tax revenue.

4) Finally, while Prop 1A purports to create a "rainy day fund" to provide for years when need exceeds tax dollars (kind of like your personal "emergency" savings account), Prop 1B, if passed, would require schools to be paid $9.3 billion out of the "rainy day fund," regardless of the state's financial situation. (, see page 4)

We all know these are difficult times. We all know people who have been laid off, are unemployed or underemployed, or are just struggling to get by. This affects all of us, yet the State couldn't even be honest about it. They (and the special interest groups who benefit from the props) are spending millions of dollars on advertising to get you to vote yes on Props 1A-1F. We cannot let them do this. Vote NO on Props 1A through 1F. Encourage your family, friends, and coworkers to vote NO! Let people know what the legislature is trying to pull over on us. Enough is enough.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Susan Boyle

From the moment I saw Susan Boyle on YouTube, I loved her. She has a sharp wit and shy nature at the same time, a rare combo. There can be no dispute that her voice and singing ability are amazing.

Why is it, then, that every single news report about her has to point out that she's not lovely? I've never heard the words "homely" and "dowdy" so many times in my life! How rude! What kind of society are we (the US and the UK) that someone who is not stunningly attractive is not expected to have any talent?

Her performance should have been no shock at all, other than in comparison to the less-talented performers who went before her. Yet the judges, the audience, and the media all implied that her exterior (which is by no means ugly) should dictate her worth, but ... shock!... it doesn't in this rare case! What a backhanded compliment. If I were her, I'd let them know where they can shove their discussions of a "make-over" and all that. She's an enormously talented woman, and her appearance -- good, bad, or mediocre -- shouldn't matter an iota. After all, there are tons of people considered "attractive" who have no talent at all (Jonas Brothers, Playboy bunnies, etc.). And yet we aren't "shocked" when they suck at anything but looking good.

Monday, April 20, 2009


It was almost a hundred degrees in the part of Los Angeles where Widget Co. is located. What's up with that??? It's APRIL!!!!!!!!!!!!! You midwesterners (Cathy, Kelly H., Go Bucks!, Diane, etc) complaining about the cold get NO sympathy from me!!!


Driving along the Los Angeles freeways over the weekend, I must have passed about 10 shoes of all different sorts abandoned along the side of the road. How do these shoes get here? Does anyone miss them? Why is it always just a single shoe? Is someone walking around with the matching shoe somewhere? They look sad and lonely.

Friday, April 17, 2009


Much as I like to complain about things here at Widget Co., I have to say that we have it pretty good. Take our restrooms for example. Always clean and they even provide air freshener spray. My only complaints would be these: 1) why is the air freshener always "food" scented? Ewww! I can't enjoy dutch apple pie anymore. 2) why do we get automatic toilets, but not automatic sinks and doors? You touch the (presumably dirty) toilet flusher BEFORE you wash your hands, but you have to use your now clean hands to shut off the water and to open the door. But really, they're pretty good here.

Other places don't do such a good job with the restrooms. My favorite (read: least favorite) restrooms are in airports. Blech! There's always at least one toilet that's overflowing, and there's paper (toilet and towel) everywhere.

Once I've found a relatively clean stall, I get in, struggling to bring my luggage in with me. Would it really be so hard to make the stalls 2 feet deeper so we don't have to put our roller-bags on our laps while peeing? Once I'm in, I start looking for the seat covers. Apparently, this is more a California thing than a national trend. Here in California, they're ubiquitous -- you never find a stall without them, unless it just hasn't been refilled. More commonly, though, it's so overfilled that you waste two or three covers trying to get one out of the holder intact! But when I travel to other cities, there's no seat covers, so I have to use the old trick my mom taught me, where you put strips of toilet paper on the seat for protection (and then hover over the seat anyway -- the paper is just there in case you fall).

Then I try to use the toilet. I'm sitting there all relaxed for a second (because I can't be bothered to hover), and suddenly the toilet flushes. And it doesn't just flush downward like a good little toilet, it flushes so hard that it sprays water (clean? I dunno!) upward. Great. Now my whole butt is wet.

Eventually, I start trying to get some toilet paper. It seems inevitable that I need to start a new roll. You know, that roll that is the size of a car tire? First I try to find the end. That's not easy to do, since it takes an hour to go around the whole tire. Once I find it, I have to unglue it. Why does it need to be glued? Is this a safety feature? Maybe it's a choking hazard? So eventually I get the edge unglued and pull. I get a strip, not a whole square. The strip then goes around and around until I have a streamer fit for a high school homecoming decoration in my hand. Lovely. Once I finally free the whole width of the roll, I pull to get some paper. I get a square. Then the roll jams and I get nothing else. I push on the roll a few more times, get another square, and keep going. And men wonder why women take too long in the bathroom.

Then it's time to dry my hands after washing them. I try to do the environmentally friendly thing by using the blow dryer (pushing the button with my elbow to keep my newly washed hands clean). I get three seconds of hot air and it shuts off. The instructions on these things need to be updated to ensure people know how to use them properly. They should read as follows: 1) push button; 2) rub hands under air stream; 3) wipe hands on pants. That's what we all end up doing, right?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

New heights of selfishness

This morning I witnessed a hit and run accident, where a young driver blew through a red light and hit an elderly lady walking across the street. He paused for a second, and then took off. I pulled over to help her and call the police. Only one other car pulled over, out of a full 4 way intersection of people. If I give them the benefit of the doubt, I could assume that some of them figured that a crowd wouldn't be more helpful than two people. I think it's more likely that they thought "hey, I'm late for work. Someone else will help." Shockingly selfish.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Selfishness Soapbox

I just got back from Widget Co.'s quarterly Red Cross Blood Drive. Widget Co. makes it very easy to sign up for a time slot, and it generally takes an hour from start to finish. Or longer if you eat a lot of cookies.

I was talking with the vampire who was bleeding me, and she told me that, according to American Red Cross statistics, less than 5% of eligible donors actually donate blood. Ever.

There are certainly some legitimate reasons for not donating. Many people are ineligible for various reasons. Obviously, that's legit. Others have a pathological fear of needles. I'm not talking about "not liking" needles; no one likes them! I'm talking about an actual psychological condition that makes donations impossible. I have a coworker (RacerDude) who wanted to donate blood and get on the National Bone Marrow Registry when another coworker's friend was dying of leukemia. RacerDude is pathologically afraid of needles. Nevertheless, he went down, did all the screening, and sat down for the needle. Unfortunately, every time they came near him with the needle, his blood pressure shot up to the point where they couldn't take blood. But he tried. I respect him more than I can say for that. People who suffer from this type of issue have a legit excuse. On the other side of the spectrum, I once dated a big, strong, thinks-he's-so-tough, Harley-riding, knife-wielding guy who also claimed he was afraid of needles when I invited him to go donate with me. I urged him to go, but he said he just couldn't bear it. Two months later, he started getting tattooed, spending tens of hours under a needle. So let me get this straight, if it benefits you, you're not afraid, but if it benefits someone else, you're afraid...?

Have you ever been to the hospital? Ever had non-elective surgery? Ever had a family member in an auto accident? Then you should recognize the need for blood. Every single person who is eligible to donate should make it a priority to go at least once a year. Widget Co. employees don't even have the excuse that it's hard to find time to go. The company sets it up and lets you go on work time!

If we all do this, then there would be no danger that, when your loved one is in desperate need, they could get turned away. Stop being selfish. It costs you nothing to share it. And you get cookies.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

They don't answer, so please stop talking to them.

I'm a woman who, unfortunately, physically takes after her mother. Not too tall, high-arched feet, more than ample hips, and unnecessarily large breasts. It's this last feature that prompted this post, although I'm sure many less-overly-endowed women have the exact same complaint. It's been bugging me for years now. Am I complaining about the bra-strap trenches on my shoulders, the headaches caused by carrying the weight of young children on my chest, the second mortgage I had to take out on my house to afford a really good bra, or the fact that most blouse designers figure anyone who would buy their clothing must be an A cup? No. I'm talking about Boobtalkers.

What is a "Boobtalker" you ask? A Boobtalker is a man who, while holding a conversation with a woman, talks half to her face and half to her boobs. Does the Boobtalker think we can't tell the difference? Does he think we can't see his eyes repeatedly drop the 10-12 inches from our eyes? Does he think this is flattering? Does he think the boobs are fascinated by his conversation skills? Does he expect them to answer? AAAAAUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!

Seriously, guys. Women hate this. Hate. It. I really don't really care if you sneak a glance -- that's human nature. Maybe you're just checking out my necklace or something. Fine. But after that glance, leave it alone. Stop looking. I don't wear low-cut blouses or shirts two sizes too small to highlight the girls. I'm not seeking any attention for them, so leave them alone.

Here at Widget Co, most of my clients are men. Young, old, married, etc, they run the gamut. I would estimate that 20% of my clients and male coworkers are Boobtalkers. Some to a greater extent than others. With some, it's just a quick glance every 15 seconds; maybe this type of guy is just worried that something happened to them while he took a break to look at my eyes. With others, it's half a conversation directed at them. This is so utterly disrespectful and creepy that I actually find myself crossing my arms to protect them from further looks. I shouldn't have to do this!!

From now on, I'm going to call the Boobtalkers on it. I've done it before, just not here at work, but I've had enough. Stop the Boobtalkers ladies!! Fight back. Either call them on it or direct your conversation to their chests. Maybe they'll get the idea. Probably not....

Friday, April 10, 2009

Happy Easter. Happy Passover.

I hope everyone has a truly blessed Easter and/or Passover this year.

For your (secular) enjoyment, my very favorite easter-time cartoon:

Thursday, April 9, 2009

What IS that???

I work in a fairly large department here at Widget Co. There are about 90 attorneys and maybe another 90 to 100 non-attorneys who are staff at varying levels, from my super-awesome assistant down to the guy who orders pens (who thinks he is a critical asset to the department and works harder than we could ever imagine, and, oh, yeah, he reports to the Big Cheese, but actually he just orders us pens -- more about him in a future post).

I have two attorney colleagues who have a habit that is so unprofessional and annoying that I feel I must vent about it or my head will explode and coat my wall with a new Jackson Pollack-esque painting (and I hate Jackson Pollack's work, so I can't let that happen). I'll give one of these individuals a free pass because he is part of a much earlier generation ... and he could fire me if he wanted to. The other, though, must be called out. Yes, BDub, I'm talking about you.

What does BDub do that's so repulsive? While he's sitting there talking to you, just holding a regular old conversation -- either work-related or snarking on coworkers -- and when you're completely unprepared, he "adjusts" himself. WTF? Seriously? Yes. Seriously. He grabs hold of the crotch of his pants and moves his anatomy over to what is, presumably, a more comfortable position. In front of people. In front of women. In meetings. At lunch. In the hallway. Multiple times. Who thinks this is ok???

We already live in a society that is so biased that it permits men to scratch themselves openly like they're trying to remove a tick from matted fur and still be "manly." As women, we cannot even sneak a scratch without losing our "lady"-ness (assuming we had it to begin with). We must hide in the ladies' room, or an office, or a dark corner, to relieve an itch, no matter how innocent. Very, very unfair. But now we must put up with men re-racking in public??

Women are supposed to have equal rights in our society, and Widget Co. tries very hard to make sure there is parity in the workplace. So does that mean when my bra is cutting into my ribs I can lift up my boobs and move everything around to a more comfortable position? Can I pull a nipple that got off-center back to where it should be? Or can I separate the girls if they start smooshing together? No. It doesn't. Why? Because I'm a lady. And because society says I can't.

But BDub can. Or he thinks he can. I say ENOUGH. If you know BDub, or have your own BDub where you work, start calling him on it. From this day forward, every time BDub touches himself in front of me, I'm going to return the favor. Every. Single. Time.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Los Angeles Traffic

I've lived in LA for a decade now, so I'm pretty used to bad traffic. Some days, it's worse than bad. The other day, there were accidents all over the freeways for some reason. No, it wasn't raining, or windy, or even overcast, and there hadn't been a series of truck accidents spilling vaseline all over the roads, but you'd think there had. I had a roommate years ago who firmly believed that it was just rude to have an accident on the freeway. (Of course, he also firmly believed it was normal to be in his late 20s, having never held a job in his life, being supported by his parents, and spending all night at strip clubs "trying to understand why the women choose this life.")

What is it about the sight of an accident that turns the brains of other drivers to pancake batter? Why is it necessary to slow to the speed of a squashed slug, craning one's neck to see the crushed cars? If you just drive normally, you would get home and get a better view on the news tonight, and I wouldn't be sitting behind you hoping your red blood cells spontaneously combust, causing your car to burst into flames, shooting you up and over the divider barricade into oncoming traffic, just so you're out of my way. Seriously, people! Even worse when it's on the other side of the freeway. You're not going to get to see a body -- just car blood. It's not that interesting. But people even do it when it's just a car on the shoulder with legs sticking out under it, presumably with a guy trying to fix his car on the fly. (Ok, if he had really been run over by his own car, and was trapped by the tired treads that had plastered his rib cage to the asphalt, I might think you have a reason to look -- but he hasn't, and he's not, so you don't!) Drive, already!!