Saturday, June 13, 2009

Scorched Earth

There are some programs I enjoy watching again and again, finding something new among the old. Babylon 5 is one of those shows.

While watchingAnd the Sky Full of Stars this morning, the show seemed suddenly so timely despite having been off the air for years. Commander Sinclair is captured, drugged, hooked up to a cybernet and forced to remember what happened during the 24 hours he was missing at the Battle of the Line, the last battle between Earth and the Minbari during a war that would ultimately end with the genocide of the entire human race. Suddenly, with the destruction of Earth and the entire human race within their grasp, the Minbari surrendered. The war was over. Why did a superior force on the eve of victory surrender to a beaten enemy?

During the cyber-torture, the torturer tells Sinclair that many influential people back on Earth believe that Sinclair and others were recruited for a fifth column to destroy Earth and humanity from within, that Sinclair agreed to collaborate with the enemy to bring his own race down. The torturer points to aliens buying up land, investing in businesses and immigrating in ever larger numbers, pushing out humanity and taking over. Sound familiar? Like I said, old shows touched on the hot issues during their initial run and are seemingly prophetic. Or are they?

Do shows like Babylon 5 predict the future or do we just not learn the first time around and continue to repeat history? There is another possibility, that some shows act like barometers to point to the first hint of trouble, shining a light on a problem that, if unchecked, will continue to grow and get worse.

Near the end of the Shadow War when the Earth President (the VP who killed the President in order to take over) is trapped and Earth is being bombarded by the rebel forces gathered by the crew of Babylon 5, the President is in his office and he pushes a button that begins the process of what he calls Scorched Earth, turning the Shadow technology on Earth and its people. He knows he's trapped. He has weakened the planet and its people from within, but since he can no longer rule he is going to destroy the planet rather than face justice. Scorched Earth.

The men who vowed to protect Earth against all enemies, foreign and domestic, had been corrupted, not by the Minbari, but by the dark forces of the Shadow, wooed by power and control and dark technology that counted human life as a commodity and the truth as malleable and elastic. They were co-opted by greed and the need to be seen as saviors, messiahs of truth and justice and everything that humanity held dear. It was a small concession at first to protect themselves against the covert invasion by the Minbari who helped to fund and build Babylon 5 and the four Babylon stations that were sabotaged, destroyed and went missing before the final Babylon 5 project successfully came on line to give form to the idea that alien races could all live and work together for the common good. While the powers that be were focused on the Minbari, they made a devil's pact with the Shadows and sealed their doom, sealed the doom of Earth and of all peoples living on the planet.

Beware those that work in the shadows and wear pleasant faces calling for peace and spouting peaceful platitudes and bromides, laying the blame on their opponents. That way lies danger and scorched earth.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity. Surely so
revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in the sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

— WB Yeats's "Second Coming"as first printed in 1920

Friday, June 12, 2009

Gifting, regifting and land mines

I'm awake. Breakfast has been eaten and now I'm relaxed with my cup of Jasmine green and black tea with a little honey. Life is good. Sort of.

Jimmy, the Mushroom, emailed me this morning to ask for my address. My niece, Alisha, is getting married in August and wants to send me a wedding invitation. Okay. What I don't get are her plans for marriage.

Until she graduates from college, which may take a while, she will live at home with her poor mom who has no one to take care of her. I guess JC and Alex don't count, and JC is the eldest of the three children. Bobbie has never needed anyone to take care of her -- or like her for that matter. She is a rock, an island, an often contentious one. At any rate, Alisha's new husband will live wherever he's living for the duration, presumably with conjugal visits. I never did understand my brother's wife and now I must extend that to my niece who has not spoken to or contacted me in about 10+ years. I didn't even seen her two years ago when I was there for a week before my father died and she never came to the hospital to see Dad. I was there almost the whole time. Jimmy was there, but his wife and none of his children visited and no explanation or excuse was given. After all, it wasn't a big deal. Dad only had terminal metastatic bone cancer. So the Mushroom's request for my address, something he could just as easily have obtained from Mom, Carol, Beanie or his daughter Alex, he requests of me.

I don't know if his request is a warning or just a simple request because the Mushroom didn't think of asking anyone else and I certainly do not know why I'm being included since they never bothered to invite me to birthday parties, family dinners and barely tolerated me when we spent Xmas Eve together. I couldn't tell you when my nephew and nieces birthdays are because I've never been a part of their celebrations or present during the births even though I lived in Columbus at the time, hence the questions.

The only reason I can think of is that since I will receive a wedding invitation I will be expected to respond with a wedding gift for the happy, if strange, couple. I received no such invitation to either JC's or Alisha's high school graduations and they received no gift. I give great gifts, thoughtful and personal gifts. However, I don't know Alisha all that well, except for a brief period on All Poetry when she was in her dark, cutting and suicidal phase and I keeping out a weather eye to warn the Mushroom of impending trouble. That was over five years ago. I find it difficult to buy a present for anyone I don't know well and really dislike generic presents. I like presents to mean something, to express a common bond and show my affection and regard (or disregard) for the person as in the poem I wrote about the first Xmas the Mushroom's wife shared with our family. It was a very memorable occasion, if I do say so myself.

Gifts have been a subject of a few discussions this week and it's one on which I have but a single opinion and it's similar to tipping for services rendered. If I can afford it, or conversely have the material to make it, gifts will be given that are commensurate with the service and my regard for the person.

I'm a spontaneous person, although my spontaneity can result in Machiavellian plans and schemes on the manner of delivering and sometimes purchasing the materials or gift in question. For instance, I took a very special book, one given to me by Andre Norton that she had signed, one of my favorites, and sent it to my grandson, Jordan, my youngest son's oldest child for his seventh birthday. I had previously been informed by AJ's wife, Jacque, that I was expected to make amends to Jordan, and presumably to AJ and her, for having slighted him for the first six years of his life with a very good gift. I also bought a book by Ray Bradbury beautifully illustrated and put it together with the Norton book. Then I designed and sent seven birthday cards.

The day it arrived I got a long, rambling and foully written email from my ex-husband's wife, AJ's stepmother, Brenda, blasting me for ruining Jordan's birthday by sending him such trash and including a book I autographed myself. She railed at me for several email pages for believing myself a writer when it was only the sycophantic fans of my blog who considered me a writer and for being a whore who had sleep with the entire seventh fleet and probably every marine, pilot and soldier in the western world despite being an ugly and ignorant whore. (I paraphrase of course. It would take far too long to list all my offenses.) How dare I ruin her grandson's birthday when he was expecting all the Harry Potter books. A few hours later I received another foul email from Jacque, my daughter-in-law, also blasting me for ruining Jordan's birthday. Where was my son in all this? And why did no one seem to remember that in their wandering they had never seen fit to even inform me of Jordan's birth until he was three years old and then to keep forgetting to send me a picture or their address? How could I have confused and upset Jordan so much as to send SEVEN birthday cards? What was I trying to do -- traumatize him?

Okay, I admit I felt a certain mischievous glee when I made each of the cards for all the missed birthdays, but I have never known a child to be confused or upset by getting birthday cards in the mail. They are usually delighted because it is such a new and exciting experience for them. Mail addressed to them and delivered by the mailman to them personally.

Where was my son in all this. I wanted to know and, not being a shy or retiring sort of person, I asked. Was he hiding behind his stepmother and wife, expecting them to do the dirty work? He finally responded via his wife's email to say he knew what was going on and he was also appalled and shocked that I would have deliberately hurt his son that way.

After several more foul emails from the female quarter and a phone call directly to my son, bypassing my daughter-in-law, the truth came out. Jordan's party was not until the following Saturday and he knew nothing of the gift. Brenda had been there when my son and his wife opened the package and flew immediately into a rage at me and my paltry gift when her grandson had expected all the Harry Potter books, including the one that was released on his birthday, something I had never promised since the gift would not arrive in time for Jordan's birthday.

Saturday's party came and went and I got a much different email from AJ that said Jordan was delighted with my gift and began reading the books before he even ate his cake. He loved the cards, too.

I find it difficult to believe in the innocence of anyone who, upon first contacting me, sends me a list of my grandchildren's birthdays and includes my own son's birthday and hers with a long list of what kind of gifts they want to receive from me. I can understand it for the grandchildren, but not for a daughter-in-law who has had nothing but contempt for me and had never contacted me in the past.

The gift road has been very rocky indeed over the past two years. Gifts sent to the children have been returned because the family moved and left no forwarding address, more than once. I have also been approached to send money instead of gifts to help them pay for something they wanted after being quite explicit about such a move. AJ has not contacted me in the past except to get money or information, so I have told them that I am not their personal ATM and I will not give them any money. If they want a relationship with me, it must be a two-way street. Have I mentioned that none of them has remembered my birthday, sent me a Xmas gift or card and have never sent me so much as a card on Mother's Day? They always claim, several weeks later that they sent an e-card and cannot understand why they didn't get it. And thank you notes for the gifts they have received? I have yet to see those either, although they have done better this last few months and the thank you emails arrive within a couple weeks.

Oh, there are a thousand gift stories in this naked city, and some of them are actually good ones. Please forgive me for mentioning the horror stories first. One should be aware there are always flies in the ointment.

I was brought up to believe that a gift received meant a thank you note or call or one personally given should follow and that you don't give gifts to people you don't really know. I believe gifts should be special and individual and should have meaning and take thought. That doesn't mean it has to be new, just not something you received you didn't like and couldn't wait to give someone else to get it out of the house. It also does not mean giving someone a gift they gave you that you didn't like and have forgotten the person gave to you. My ex-mother-in-law was good for that one. A gift should be memorable not make you shudder with disgust or shake with confusion. Most of all, it should be personal. Cost isn't an issue if it's someone you like or care about. And anonymous gifts are often the best, especially if the person would feel they should reciprocate. A simple thank you to whomever is sufficient. The message will be received and appreciated.

Gift giving can be a land mine with some people and with others a simple and honest joy. I prefer the latter to being expected to send a gift to someone I barely know simply because we are related. As far as I am concerned, gifts imply a relationship. Where there is no relationship, a simple card without a gift or money is sufficient. I'll bet you can guess what I'll be sending if and when I receive the wedding invitation. I feel neither the need nor the desire to impress my niece who has not taken the time to get to know me or see me when I lived in the same area. I'm past the age of caring what others think of me, especially when they do not know me. I'm sure there will be anger and venom headed in my direction, but my give a damn's busted.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Unexpected gifts

I love being a reviewer. Having access to some of the best writers and books in the world is a huge perk and keeps my book buying budget down. The only bad thing about that is that I end up buying more food and that means I have a harder time losing weight. It's so much easier on a starvation diet in a house full of books.

The mailman dropped a package on my deck this morning, a white quilted package full of book. A nice heavy and thick book that wouldn't fit in the mailbox. The sender's address on the label was a dead giveaway and I'm sure people heard my Yahoo! all the way to Trinidad. Inside the plastic wrapped package was a first edition copy of Tarot for Writers and it is going to take a lot of self discipline to go back to work and do my job instead of reading every single solitary page and absorbing all that knowledge. But here I go again, back to work again, so I can finish and dive into the well of tarot and writing and my idea of heaven.

That is all. Disperse.

Flying monkeys and Barnabas Collins

Beanie and I were talking about the news that Johnny Depp is going to resurrect Barnabas Collins in a new movie directed by Tim Burton predictably called Dark Shadows. She had been reading MSN and came across a news item about the True Blood leads carrying their on screen relationship off screen and Depp and Barnabas jumped out at her. She had to tell me about it. I had to check it out.

If the movie is successful, and why wouldn't it be with Depp as Barnabas Collins, then Burton will resurrect the rest of the werewolves, monsters and demons at Collinwood in a new franchise. I wonder if Depp will like being in a successful movie franchise as much as he liked being in a successful TV show. Should be interesting.

Beanie said she didn't think either Sookie or Bill were attractive and Anna Paquin certainly can't act, but that she enjoys True Blood anyway and Ants loves it. The Code Monster is not so easily impressed. Beanie and Ants thank me for introducing them to the show, which means I'll have to find some way to thank John for introducing me to the show last year.

When you get right down to it, Jonathan Frid wasn't at all handsome, but he was compelling as Barnabas Collins. It was something about the penetrating eyes, onyx ring on the forefinger, cape and cane with the curving silver wolf's head that kindled the urge to be enthralled and bitten in the most unusually strait-laced and unlikely of victims, like Mom. She worked at a dry cleaner's in North Olmsted, Ohio when the show was on and rushed home every afternoon to watch the show. We kids were forbidden to interrupt, which wasn't hard because Carol and I were glued to the screen right beside her and Jimmy and Beanie were outside playing quietly. No noise was allowed anywhere within a 50 mile radius during Dark Shadows, and I doubt there was anywhere among the female population of North Olmsted or the northern Ohio region. Men knew they'd get short shrift, lousy meals and freezing accommodations if they ignored the ban and ventured to so much as whisper. All distractions were forbidden. Mom still has a thing for Quentin Collins after all these years so she'll be first in line at the theater -- as long as there is no "language" in the movie. I know what we'll get her for Xmas or her birthday as soon as it is out on DVD.

From Barnabas to movies, the conversation moved and Beanie and I reminisced about some of our favorites, telling me some surprising stories about Ants, like not ever watching The Wizard of Oz, because he was terrified of the flying monkeys as a child. Beanie loves the movie -- so do I -- and she watches it every year. When she was little I'd sing Over the Rainbow to help her sleep most nights and I sang to her boys when they were little. Ants loved the song, but still won't watch the movie. He says he's too old, but I'll bet he still gets the shivers when the evil flying monkeys take off after Dorothy and her companions.

Movies have such a powerful affect on all of us, although not the same movies. Ants loves The Monster Squad but he still gets a little nervous when Frankenstein's monster comes on the screen. To Ants, he's terrifying. When the boys were little, every time that movie came on the world had to stop so Ants could watch it, even when they were at my house during the summer. I've seen that movie so many times I could doubtless still recite all the dialogue. It's a cute movie and I like it. Beanie mentioned another movie, but I seem to have forgotten what it was. Oh, well, no big deal since the point is that when the movies came out on VHS Beanie bought them for Ants. Unfortunately, he loaned one of them to Jimmy. Big mistake. When Jimmy and his wife split, Ants worried he'd never get his movie back. He was right to worry. Jimmy was too lazy to look for it and didn't want to brave his now ex-wife to spend the time looking for it, and there was no question that she would take time out of her busy schedule to find it. It was lost and Ants was furious. Beanie went out and bought the movie on DVD and Ants was happy once again. I still think since Jimmy was such a coward he should have replaced the movie, but it's difficult get The Mushroom to do anything. He is proof of the first law of thermodynamics: a body at rest tends to stay at rest and a body in motion tends to stay in motion -- at least until it runs out of fuel. Jimmy at rest is like a barnacle on the hull of a ship, nearly impossible to remove without sharp tools and lots of elbow grease.

I can't say that I have even one or two movies I cannot live without. I have lots of favorites spanning a variety of genres. I'm more pragmatic about things like that. I can always get another copy or do without. Nothing is so special that I'll lose sleep over it. A few people maybe, one or two in particular, but not things. Things can always be replaced and what can't be replaced can be lived without. Then again...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The whirling dervish of spin

The Washington Times posted an interesting op-ed piece on the B.O.'s record and asks, if he is the first Muslim president.

Dick Morris has quite a bit to say about the mortgage rescue plan, health care rationing and Obamanomics.

That is all. Disperse.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Obsessive compulsion

Pronunciation: \äb-se-shən, əb-\
Function: noun
Date: 1680

1: a persistent disturbing preoccupation with an often unreasonable idea or feeling ; broadly : compelling motivation
2: something that causes an obsession
— ob·ses·sion·al adjective
— ob·ses·sion·al·ly adverb

I don't understand about obsessions. Fetishes, leanings, cravings, yearnings and desires, I get, but not obsession, especially when it comes to an obsession with people. Maybe that makes me shallow or just more interested in living than in focusing all my energy and attention on one object or person. I wouldn't say I have ADD, but rather that I have a short attention span for minutiae and people.

I've always said I have a magpie mind, attracted to bright and shiny new information and knowledge, and I do have interests in several subjects, like the history and mythology of Atlantis and Egypt and Stonehenge and the world in general. I hear those words or see them on a book and I want to know more. For instance, I know a lot about Jack the Ripper, especially the facts of the case and all the data gathered during and after the murders. It's always fascinated me. One book I didn't read was Patricia Cornwell's book about who she thinks The Ripper is, treads too heavily in obsessive territory. That is one writer who has too much money and far too much time on her hands, and is obviously bored with writing for her character, according to the most recent reviews of her books. She's lost her momentum, but then that happens when writing turns into a chore. It's the reason Stephen King's writer killed off Misery. That put him in touch with his fan base, a Misery-obsessed ex-nurse with a god complex, but, hey, that's life.

I've always wondered why some people get obsessed with other people. I wasn't even obsessed with my husbands when I was married and I've walked away from my share of lovers along the way. When I'm done; I'm done. No sense going back like a dog revisiting it's vomit or feline excreta. It's not worth it. That does not mean, however, that there aren't times I had a fleeting thought of "what if?" slip through my mind once in a while. I do. I just prefer to let it keep on passing. Can't change what was, only what will be and can be.

I told someone once I understand obsession, but as I find myself the object of someone's obsession, I can't say I do. I had a glimmer of a glimpse of what it's like, but no real grasp on it. What turns a seemingly intelligent person into a raving lunatic who can't get through a week or a day without checking up on their obsession? I guess if they could, they wouldn't be obsessed. If it's love or desire or a really bad case of "what if?" why does it end up turning to violence?

Once upon a time when I was a little girl in the sixth grade, I liked a very popular boy, Rob Stokes. He did all the things boys at that age do to show me he liked me. He taunted and teased me, embarrassed and found ways to get close to me. He caught flak from some of the other boys who thought he should look at more profitable (easier) territory. Then one of the boys in class, a good friend named Byron, told me that Rob didn't really want me, but he didn't want anyone else to have me either. It took me a long time to figure that one out. How could Rob want me and why would he care if someone else did? Simple. He was obsessed with me. I don't know why, but I do know when he stopped wanting me. That would be when I tried out for his singing part in Jack and the Beanstalk as the money bag and beat him. And that's when he became obsessed with me, not wanting me but wanting to make sure no one else got near me or wanted me either.

Rob was Mr. Steffens' pet. Even when Rob was tossing paper balls at the trash can and missing and Mr. Steffens made Rob get down on his hands and knees and push the paper around the room with his nose while he swatted Rob with Excalibur, the wooden paddle in the shape of a sword, Rob was still Mr. Steffens' pet. Mr. Steffens knew where the line was drawn. That's what I think is missing in people prone to obsession; they don't know where the line is drawn. They cannot get over a perceived slight or someone being better than they are at something they consider themselves to be expert or extremely talented and turn their disappointment and anger outward on the person that makes them doubt themselves and their abilities.

While Rob obviously found me attractive, he wasn't ready to give up the spotlight, or the part of the singing money bag, to me, to someone who was perceived as being able to sing and act better than he did, especially since the judge was the teacher he thought he had wrapped around his little finger. It didn't matter to Rob that I had practiced for hours or that I had to hold onto the legs of my desk with sweaty hands while I sang so my voice didn't quiver and I didn't faint from embarrassment. All that mattered to him was that someone chose me over him, someone declared me better. And thus an obsession was born, an obsession that included him doing his best to publicly humiliate me every chance he got and to say nasty things behind my back. Rob didn't know with whom he was dealing. I was used to people calling me names, especially in my own family, and his lame attempts fell on my deaf ears. I moved on. He didn't seem quite so cute any more. I always knew he was just a passing fancy; the boy I really liked was too shy to speak up and tell me so.

Rob Stokes is a fading memory. I moved on. Writing about him this morning makes me wonder if he has. If he hasn't, it's too bad. I have better things to do with my time than feed his obsession. It's called living.

That shy boy, the one who wouldn't speak up? He spoke up. Now that's a compulsion I can understand.

The Emperor's Newly Clothed Stimulus Plan

I went to bed early, which is why I'm up before the sun -- again. Imagine my surprise when I turn on the computer and the first thing that hits me is B.O.'s usual spiel about things getting better while announcing his new stimulus plan in the wake of a 42% disapproval rating. My favorite part of the report was B.O. pointing to the 150,000 jobs his plan has saved while point to his new plan, which seems amazingly like the same plan, forgetting of course that since February 2009 1.6 million jobs have ended. With the highest unemployment rate in 25 years (which does not include the unemployed who have slipped through the cracks and no longer get checks) rising to 9.4% and headed rapidly for double digits, I wonder how 150,000 jobs saved match up against 1.6 million jobs lost. With my old math skills, that works out to less than 10%, and somehow doesn't come nearly close to the 600,000 jobs created that the old stimulus bill, now the new revised amazingly similar to the old stimulus bill, predicted. What is wrong with this picture?

Money is being spent like the Fed is printing it night and day and yet less than ten percent of the jobs lost have been saved. How is this good news? Seems to me more like the ceiling is leaking and the floor is flooded, but it's okay because the bucket caught some of it, so we're going to be just fine. Uh, no.

My brother-in-law and my nephew both work for the same company and they were laid off a couple months ago. Randy got back to work within a couple weeks, but with reduced hours; he had every Monday off. Ants didn't get called back to work for weeks and once he did he had the same mandatory Monday off. Beanie works for the state of Ohio at the Bureau of Employment Services and she belongs to the Union. It's not like she had a choice. It's part of the state of Ohio's policy. She's been told that after 22 years working for the state she must take mandatory leave without pay to help balance the budget. Did I mention that this is in the wake of the stimulus package?

Let's see. The unemployment figures are rising. Beanie works for a state agency that processes claims and she, and everyone across the board, are being forced to take time off without leave. Something's wrong with this picture, too. Am I the only one who sees it or does pointing it out make me a Right Wing Wacko? From where I'm sitting, B.O.'s deficits are showing.

No matter how he and his economic advisers spin this, no matter how fast they print and get the money out and no matter how they package the new improved same old tired stimulus plan they keep touting, it didn't work. You can't run an engine that's made to burn gas on water -- or air. Maybe if B.O. spent more time working on the economy and less time on his apology tour, photo ops and wheedling Ahmadinejad he'd still come up short. It's one thing to get the 3 a.m. phone call and quite another to not only answer the phone but give the right response. So far, all the responses have been wrong.

It's a good thing my job is recession proof. As long as people get sick and die, I'll be here typing up the reports.

Monday, June 08, 2009

American Crude

I've been playing phone tag with Carol's voice mail when I make my bi-weekly call to my mother to let her know I'm still alive and check to see if I can drink the champagne in the fridge or if she is still alive and the champagne has to wait. I don't know how long champagne stays good in the fridge, but I guess I'll find out. It may outlast me. After more than a week of voice mail tag and no return phone calls, I finally got hold of Mom.

During the conversation, Carol's boyfriend, Clark, someone she talks to or sees nearly every day, called and Mom put me on hold and cut me off. I didn't call back. Instead, I called her this morning to tell her how I felt about being cut off. It isn't the cut off part that bothers me so much as being put on hold on my dime so she can answer the phone to talk to someone she talks to or sees every day simply because he's calling long distance. Uh, Clark is a multi-millionaire and stands to inherit several more millions and it's more important to save his dime than to save mine? What is wrong with this picture?

For someone who chastises me for using words she doesn't understand and not calling twice a week when there's nothing to report or say, I consider it very rude to put me on hold or hang up on me to talk to someone who will call back or leave a message if no one answers. Mom is more concerned with other people being rude than in how rude she often is. It's becoming an epidemic. That isn't to say there aren't exceptions, but it seems that people are getting ruder and ruder all the time and technology gives them an excuse to increase their rudeness. People have lost touch with manners and taste and simple courtesy.

People who should know better don't. Today, and every day, I get proof of that. Every day I listen to doctors dictate operative reports, most of them barely intelligible or talking so fast slowing things down only makes them more garbled, but the worst offenders are those doctors who waste my time looking through files they should have checked before they began to dictate or take phone calls and carry on conversations with colleagues and leave me hanging for long periods of time for a one-page report, out of which I had to waste 30+ minutes listening to their conversations or sitting on hold while insipid Muzak or recorded advertisements on endless loops play in my ear. And I have to listen to the whole tape, for which I do not get paid because there are no words making it onto the page. One of these days I'm going to type what I hear whether it's their conversation or ads on continuous loop and let them pay me for it. Of course, I'll be penalized because it's not part of the report, but maybe, just maybe, someone will get the message and they'll stop being rude and wasting my valuable time. I cannot afford to waste 30 minutes in which I could have typed 10-15 pages to get one page of dictation at $1.70 a page, but doctors don't care because it doesn't affect their salary, just mine and I'm nobody important, just a wage slave who is there for their convenience. Just when I thought people couldn't get any lower, I found out I was wrong.

In San Francisco, politicians have reached a new low with a homeless man who has decided to work his way back into the mainstream. Moore, an enterprising fellow, decided to buy some brushes and shoe polish, picked out a street corner and offered to shine shoes for $7 ($5 for the unemployed). An enterprising reporter did a feature story on Moore and the city of San Francisco repaid Moore's get-up-and-go by taking most of the money he had earned towards getting an apartment and out from under the bridge where he's been living for a few years to pay for a sidewalk vendor permit. Out of the $573 he earned towards the $600 he needed, the city demanded $491.

When the people of San Francisco found out what had happened to Moore, they responded by inundating the city with emails and phone calls and finding Moore to give him $100 tips for their $7 shoe shines. People went out of their way to patronize Moore's corner and added $1000 to his coffers.

I guess you could say that for every rude person there are at least a dozen decent people who don't waste your long distance charges to talk to someone they see every day or allow the politicians to beat down a man who is doing his best to climb back up on the ladder of society. It gives me hope. However, I don't think I'll make any more bi-weekly calls to my mother. She more interested in talking to people she sees all the time and who live in the same area than in finishing a short conversation with me. Maybe if I don't talk to her she'll forget about me and not start calling the police and neighbors in the area to find out if I'm still alive or, worse yet, hop on a plane and make a surprise 2-week visit. I can always hope.

Oh, did I mention that I called Mom again today and got right through. I asked her one question. How often do you and Carol see and talk to Clark? She said, "Every day." Then I told her what I thought of her cutting me off to answer his call when he made a lot more money than I do and they saw and talked to him every day. She said, "Okay, I get your point." Too bad I can't do that with the doctors.

That is all. Disperse.