Sunday, November 30, 2008


This is the conversation that happened last week.

DD: Mommy, Karen (not real name) came to my school today!
Me: Which Karen, sweetie? The one that used to go playgroup with you?
DD: No... Karen speaks Russian!
Me: (Realizing that DD could only know one Karen who speaks Russian, and that girl is a daughter of a friend. So I am becoming curious to know whether they are considering our school for next year.) DD, are you sure Karen never came to your playgroup?
DD: She is not in a playgroup. She came to my school.
Me: Ok, but when Karen was a baby, did she go to your playgroup?
DD: (looks at me as if I have two heads) Karen was never a baby!
Me: Uh-huh...

FYI, we did eventually agree that Karen did go to DD's playgroup, but it took a while. I am not sure I was believed that Karen was ever a baby.

It took me 30 years to figure this out

How come no plates/cards/balloons say "Go wise at 30?"

I just looked over my top ten confessions, and realized that at least one is outdated. Since October, I am no longer fast approaching thirty, I am quickly moving away from it toward even a greater number. Oh well. One day I will spruce up the blog, update some quotes, etc, insert new links for favorite posts, but not today. Today I will dedicate this post to turning thirty, becoming wiser (oh, shut up, miracles do happen) and things I have learned between turning 20 and now. No matter how much I tried to make this post funny, I couldn't. For some reasons most findings were either sad or depressing. I am either in a bad mood or was a hopeless optimist in my teens. Or maybe a bit of both...

So this is what I learned/discovered in the past 10 years, in no particular order:

About People
1. People who are very sensitive are usually the ones who are rather oblivious to sensitivities and needs of others. On the one hand, as my friend had put this when I shared my "discovery" - duh, on the other hand, not so obvious.

2. People can change. Whether they do or whether they change for the better is something that will require another ten years to figure out.

3. Not everyone possesses conscience. This one was a biggie and still scares me to no end.

4. Many people don't give the meaning of life, their values or anything else not pertaining to their daily life any or a lot of thought. This was another shocker.

About Myself
1. It's not as easy to be brave or speak up after becoming a parent. What seemed like a cowardly behavior in pre-parenting days starts looking more and more like a responsible thing to do.

2. I am not as smart/funny/a lot of other things as I thought.

3. I have learned to be more forgiving of myself. I also never had as many moments filled with self-loathing. It somehow is not contradictory.

4. Must learn to trust my intuition.

5. I must learn to shut up. Before I say too much.

6. I have an obsession with number 10. No matter how hard I try, most of my lists end up containing 10 points or a number divisible by 10. Even if I don't pre-number the points. What's up with that?

7. I would still prefer to trust people and get disappointed once in a while than trust no one to avoid heart break. Only now I say this with less conviction.

About Life in General
1. Achievement of any kind takes a lot of hard work. I know, we've been told that on many occasions in schools, colleges, books... But it really takes a LOT of HARD WORK. Like a LOT.

2. Not every fight is worth fighting. Not every picked fight is worth finishing.

3. Being right is pleasant, but overrated.

4. Life will never be fair to women. (On a purely superficial level only. I am not talking big scale fair - like is G-d fair, or something like this.)

5. Accounting doesn't have to be, but most often is boring.

6. This one is probably a cliche, but I will say it any way. The more I think I understand the world around me, the faster I am proven that I understood nothing... So the longer I live, the less things make sense to me. Not very encouraging.

Maybe the next decade will make me wiser.

P.S. If you don't mind sharing, what were the big discoveries of your 20s?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My Fellow Americans - SubReview

Expectations: I have seen this movie several times. So I knew exactly what to expect.

Plot: Two former Presidents learn too much about a kick-back deal with a contractor. Even though they hate each other, they must find a way to work together to save their lives and stop the evil President from returning to the office for the second term. It's the Odd Couple, White House style.

My take: The first time I watched it I was not greatly impressed - a slightly above average comedy. But the more I watch this, the more this movie grows on me. The jokes don't get old, the plot is still fresh even 12 years later, and the acting is excellent. This movie has now joined my short list of reliable mood picker- uppers. I also think that it is particularly funny in light of recent elections and would be a good choice for anyone, conservative or liberal. When I watched it yesterday, I enjoyed it even more than the last time.

Objectionable materials: some brief nudity and usage of f-word. Overall, pretty clean.

Bottom line: Watch it with someone who is still dear to you, but voted for a different candidate. Even if you don't mend your broken relationship, there will be plenty of laughs to make this a worthy endeavor.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Kosher lunch in 30 easy steps

I keep kosher and work in Manhattan, so getting lunch presents certain challenges. I do realize that the following post is a confession of a spoiled brat since people in other parts of the country/world/Manhattan have a much harder time finding kosher food or any food at all. But then again, it's my blog and my whining. Whoever wants to remind me about starving children in Africa is free to leave a comment, Mom .

So this is lunch, a-la SubWife, in 30 easy steps.

1. Promise yourself the day before that you will bring lunch from home. It's too expensive and too much trouble to buy.

2. Don't pack lunch the night before and run out of time in the morning. Alternatively, pack lunch and leave it in the fridge. Either option is acceptable since the result is the same.

3. The minute you get into the office, email you lunch buddy, who swore, bli neder, yesterday to finally start bringing lunch from home and find out whether she made good on her promise.

4. Tear up at getting her response. She didn't. Now you don't need to worry about making a minimum for delivery. IF you choose to get it delivered.

5. Start thinking about what it is that you want for lunch around 11. Narrow down your choices: meat or dairy? Make a little list of pros and cons of each, and arrive to conclusion that you want dairy because 1 - meat is too expensive, 2 - food is unimpressive, 3 - your lunch buddy will probably not be in the mood for meat any way, 4 - meat lunch is really, really expensive. Find the list of pros and cons from yesterday and realize that it is exactly the same as today's. And you ALWAYS go with dairy. Promise yourself to never consider meat again.

6. Email your lunch buddy again and casually ask if she gave lunch any thought, knowing perfectly well that she was hard at work on this since 11.

7. Convene at 11.30 for a quick meeting re: what to order for lunch and from where. Be a generous spirit and offer her to make a choice of place. She will try to make you choose, but don't fall for her niceness - it's a trap. For a few minutes try to make each other decide on the place since neither of you wants to be responsible for the disaster that will inevitably come.

8. Once one of you is worn out or tricked into making the decision, choose what you want - salad or something cheesy. Agonize over this decision for another 10-15 minutes, but make up your mind before 12. Whatever unappetizing thing you are getting, you would want to order it before lunch rush or you will get it for dinner.

9. Toy with the idea of actually going out to buy lunch instead of having it delivered.

10. Decide on delivery, just like you did 100 times before. Remind yourself that the added cost of delivery saves you from having to pass by 7 adult DVD stores and 3 strip bars.

11. Finally place an order and feel the weight of decision-making lifted off your shoulders. Take a coffee break because you have exhausted yourself making all these choices.

12. Call the food place back in half hour asking where your order is.

13. Call again in another half hour.

14. Get your order. Carefully examine it. Wonder whether it is your imagination or the salad is actually smaller than the last time. Find beets instead of tomatoes with croutons and grated cheese missing from it. Curse under your breath.

15. Call the place and complain. Graciously accept their apologies and refusal to make you whole or threaten to never do business with them again. Don't worry, no one will take your threat seriously any way; they know that your lunch options are limited.

16. Decide that tomatoes are too important a source of anti-oxidants to forgo and run out in search of a fruit stand. Find that due to bitter cold there are no fruit stands anywhere in sight. Start walking along 8th Ave in hopes of finding a grocery store.

17. Walk three blocks before you find a business, any business, that doesn't sell booze or human flesh, in digital or natural form. Enter the so-called grocery store only to find out that they don't sell tomatoes.

18. Keep walking.

19. Keep walking.

20. In the process of walking ask yourself why you paid extra for delivery since the point of delivery is to avoid walking in the bitter cold.

21. Finally find the store and buy the stupid tomato. Realize that by now you have spent on your lunch more than the average monthly income of an average African family.

22. On the way back to the office consider moving to Africa.

23. Call your significant other and inform that you and him are moving to Africa. Soon. Patiently explain that you are neither drunk nor joking.

24. Learn something new about your genetic makeup from your significant other. Find his findings amateurish and dismiss as a vicious rumor.

25. To preserve peace in the family, decide not to move to Africa. Besides, kosher food is hard to come by there too.

26. Cut the tomato with plastic knife.

27. Eat your salad.

28. Get hungry again in an hour because salad is not very filling.

29. Complain to your lunch buddy about how ridiculous it is to pay so much for bad service and blah food.

30. Swear, bli neder, to bring lunch from home tomorrow.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Baby you were born to run

I think I am missing something. I started feeling this ever since I have come into contact with education system for little kids here, and I am just not getting it. Not getting it at all. Both of my children attend/attended the same playgroup run by a very dedicated and I would say somewhat ambitious woman. She is set to make the kids in her playgroup completely ready for school, both emotionally and educationally. I have nothing against that philosophy and appreciate her dedication, but on several occasions our views and goals clashed. Because the most important thing for me in the playgroup – concerns for physical well being aside - is PLAY. Yes, educational element is nice, but we are talking about 2 and 3 year olds here. How much do they NEED to learn in that age?

So the biggest thing over which we clashed was my children’s ability to sit through a class. I got complaints about both of them. First about DD, three and a half at the time, that she couldn’t sit for a long time. DD was able to concentrate, that was not a problem, but she simply couldn’t physically sit as long as was expected of her. That was supposed to be a big problem later when she started school.

Then there was DS, at the time of complaint only a few weeks over two. This one couldn’t sit at all and had trouble concentrating on the material. While I was diplomatic listening about DD’s shortcomings and actually welcomed suggestions (after all, she was starting school in a few months and would have to comply with their expectations), I refused to accept any criticism when it came to DS. I told the woman, “Mrs. X, your concern is greatly appreciated, but as a parent I do not see a problem with a healthy and active 2 year old boy unable to sit for more than 10 minutes.” Her argument was that those were the expectations and all the other kids his age could. I muttered under my breath that those kids’ parents should be concerned, not me (and having experience with both personalities, I can honestly say I wasn’t facetious and, hands down, prefer active over placid), but out loud suggested revisiting this conversation in a few months.

I haven’t heard complaints yet, though I wouldn’t be surprised if DS is still unable to sit through some of the classes. For goodness sake, when I get his weekly learning updates, I have a hard time reading through them in one sitting. And this is coming from a person who has no problem reading through the pages and pages of the proper treatment and presentation of unconditional promises to give on the financial statements of not for profit organizations. WAKE UP! Are you asleep? Well, I am not, but I do fall asleep reading what those 2 and a few month olds are expected to learn and know.

And here’s what I really want to know: is there a value in teaching them alphabet, primary vs. secondary colors, numbers etc this early? I am not suggesting holding a curious and gifted child back, right now I am only addressing those average kids who normally do not have interest or ability to fully comprehend these things this early. Would it make them smarter? Better learners down the road? Improve their memories? Or would it stifle their imagination? Or make normal active children into couch potatoes?

From personal experience, I can say that early exposure does not guarantee lasting success. I was taught addition, subtraction and multiplication tables much earlier than my peers. Despite my early success in math, by the age of 12 all of a sudden I started failing miserably once the geometry was introduced to our curriculum. All the other “smart kids” were getting it, and I wasn’t, despite my teacher’s, friends’ and my own efforts. That’s when my love affair with math ended. However, that initial spark was rekindled when geometry was revisited in American high school, where this subject is introduced much later than in Russia. I seemed to be more ready somehow to get it, and what once before seemed like an insurmountable obstacle, all of a sudden turned into a fun brainteaser. I was in my element again, just later than 50% of my Russian peers.

Maybe my expectations are low, but what I want the most for my children is to be happy and healthy. And have love for learning new things. I wouldn’t mind if on most days their playgroup teacher would just bundle them up, lead them into the backyard and close the door behind until lunchtime. Because pretty soon those little munchkins will go to school and be tied to their desks for hours on end. So why start so early? Now is the time for them to play and be active. And with children’s obesity rates rising every year, could it be that maybe I am onto something and not that wrong?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

An Orthodox Woman Found Carrying Cold Weapons on the NY Subway

Today we had the multi-cultural Thanksgiving luncheon at work, which was at the danger of being turkey-less. Turns out our CFO rose to the occasion and paid for the turkey out of his own pocket. Thank you! The overachiever in me made two things, not just one, kabatchki and cranberry pie. And no, I did not bring down the oven while baking the pie, imagine that. There's a story with kabatchki, but it still does not involve any sort of sabotage or destructive activities on my part. You see, the recipe starts out as ratatouille and calls for eggplant and zucchini, among other things. Then it offers variations, one of them a Russian-style stewed veggie dish called kabatchki. The most ironic thing is that zucchini, “kabatchki” in Russian, is the first thing that is eliminated in the modified recipe. So it’s really kabatchki without kabatchki.

(Not our turkey, courtesy of Google Images, but close enough to the real one)

Traditionally we order turkey with some other stuff such as sweet potatoes, etc from Mendy's, so that kosher people like myself will have turkey along with the rest of the population. I somehow became the official turkey cutter of our department, and I am not quite sure how it happened. Because at home SubHub would not let me cut anything that was once alive, saying that killing a poor bird or animal twice is simply inhumane.

Well, I think the first time I became a carver, Mendy's either forgot to carve the turkey or didn't cut it thoroughly enough. Citing my vast experience with plastic cutlery, I volunteered to cut the bird with the plastic knife. I do not recommend. The second year I took it upon myself to bring in the real knife, just in case, and have been doing it ever since. So by default - your knife, you carve - I am the official carver. To my great relief Mendy's have been doing an excellent job, so I am mostly serving.

I am usually profusely thanked for my services and many people are kind enough to ask me whether with all the serving I had a chance to grab some food myself. However, even they probably don't realize the danger, into which I put myself every year, to ensure the semi-proper cutting of the bird. See, I have to take subway to work, and I am always petrified that I will be stopped by a police officer on the day of our luncheon and asked to show the contents of my bag, which would inevitably result in him finding my huge knife. If that ever happened, I most likely wouldn't taste turkey that day or maybe even that year. Once I decided just to keep the knife in my desk drawer and not transport it annually, but then I couldn't decide how I would explain the cold weapon among my work files come spring time, when Thanksgiving is that last thing on people's minds. It did occur to me that this finding might bring unexpected benefits, such as people trying their earnest not to upset me, etc. On the other hand, HR might get involved, and I would rather take my chances with the New York finest. So I took the knife home.

With all the dangers, knives, and carving, the party was a good one, as always. So happy it wasn't fouled up by the economic downfall, etc.

At the end of the day... Again, not really ours, but close enough, courtesy of Google images, for those of you expecting some sort of wreckage in my post...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bringing down the house

I had computer training all day today. I was actually looking forward to it because it was something that could make certain boring tasks easier, and that's to easy feat, we are talking accounting here, folks.

So the first half of the day was one class, which went just fine. Then we had another one. It was an intermediary query building class. During the first half hour we went over some theory, and then there was an exercise. That's when our testing environment got really slow and no one could accomplish anything. Everybody's queries were processing, and processing, and processing. Our instructor, a really nice IS guy, started getting nervous. The class was not going the way he had planned at all. We took a short break, and half of the queries were still processing. It was impossible to accomplish anything. IS guy finally called up someone from the system administration team and asked them if they were doing anything behind the scenes. They said yes, but nothing that would cause such a slow down. Finally the instructor decided to abandon any practical exercises, spent 15 minutes going over the theory and dismissed the class two hours early, visibly upset. Around that time my query finally processed resulting in zero results. I couldn't understand why because I had followed all the instructions in building it.

I had my neighbor look into it and lo and behold, I was applying the right criteria to the wrong field. In plain English, I was asking the system to count the number of oranges on the apple tree. Instead of returning the answer, "Dummy, oranges don't grow on apple trees" the system used up all the resources to try to find one darn orange in what seemed to be like every apple tree in the state of New York. As my neighbor and I had discovered this, the instructor received a call from the systems administrator. Later I found out that in this call they had identified why the test environment was so slow: because Student01 was hogging up all the resources with a dumb-*** query.

The instructor was gentleman enough not to share this info with anyone, myself included. But then I confessed to him about my wrongdoing and figured out from his questions that I was the perp who sabotaged his class. I double checked with the systems guy just to make sure no one was pulling my leg. Nope, that was me, all me, who made one student's trip from the Bronx to Manhattan totally worthless, wasted an hour of everyone else's time and made the IS guy's days and days of class prep all in vain.

Made me feel very accomplished and reminded me of an old Ukrainian TV program, which became an idiom "Thy Talents, Ukraine." Something like America's Got Talent.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Naked ambition

Ever notice that kids rarely just walk? If they get an idea or want something, they don't sit and contemplate, they run for it. When they wake up, they must get out of bed ASAP because there are so many things to do and so little time. It's as if they treasure every moment and delaying is not an option. There are times when this drives me nuts (Mommy, I want this, I want this, I want this, NOW!!!!), but mostly I envy that. I am sure I was the same when their age, but somewhere down the line I lost this ability to "Just do it!"

Take today, for example. Even though I knew that getting out of bed just 10-15 minutes earlier would save me lots and lots of frustration later, I still delayed getting up until almost literally dragged out of bed by hubby. (Yes, I am tired, but isn't everyone?) As I got the kids' clothes and finally left the bedroom, I was met by my laughing kidlets, sitting on the couch stark naked and playfully tagging at DD's blanket while waiting for me to bring their stuff. (Let me emphasize that this does NOT, I repeat does NOT usually happen and our kids do NOT routinely parade naked around the house. So hold off on calling children's services, ok?)

At the same time their father walked in and mentioned that someone spilled a bit of water on the floor, which needed to be mopped by the wrongdoers, but right after they put on their underwear. Of course the underwear part was ignored immediately, and they both ran for our new mop.

(Our new mop)

After a brief argument about who is going to hold the mop, they compromised and both ended up holding it and wiping the floor as a team (I was duly impressed with this newly developed diplomacy despite the fog in my under-caffeinated brain.) I got to tell you, this was the cutest thing: two kiddies in their birthday suits mopping the floor and giggling all the while.

Of course this nudist mopping party couldn't last because they had to get dressed for a million of reasons. And I found myself jealous. Goodness, if it were me, I would sit there for some time contemplating when, how or whether to mop at all. And they just got up and did it. Why couldn't I approach at least some of the tasks on my ever-growing to do list just like them? Well, not necessarily while naked, but quickly, efficiently and with a giggle?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Mother's wish

Since I have come across a post about giving up seats on a public bus, I decided to post this story. I have done my fare share of whining about rudeness of people on NY subway and how getting a seat while pregnant is not as easy as it should be on my old blog, dedicated mostly to my second pregnancy. However, I never shared this story, and I think it beats all of my previous posts on this topic.

I was blessed with severe morning sickness during one of my pregnancies and on a few occasions had to go to the labor and delivery ER for hydration. During one of those visits, I became quite ill and barely noticed anything around me. When we got to the ER, after a quick glance in my direction,the woman in the registration office waved us to go straight in, asking SubHub to come back at an opportune time and properly register. So we came in and immediately realized that that day was a very busy one for the ER staff. All six seats in the waiting area were taken, and there were several other preggies and their relatives walking around and expecting to be called in. I was lucky enough to get a seat as one woman was taken into the examination room as soon as I walked in, and SubHub left to take care of paper work. Next to me sat a woman in her fifties (I labeled her "mother") with a pregnant "daughter". Neither of them seemed particularly distressed, physically or emotionally, and were chatting away, waiting for their husbands.

A few minutes later a severely pregnant woman came in. There was no seat for her, so she had nothing left to do but to walk around the waiting area. I was a bit peeved that it didn't occur to my neighbor to give up her seat to that patient. But then I thought that I didn't have the full picture, and the middle aged woman might have a bad back or something else preventing her from getting up. At some point an ER nurse came and asked everybody who was not a patient or a "required" help to go wait in another waiting area, right outside of the ER and across from the registration office since space IN the ER was limited and people were blocking the way for gurneys and equipment. Not only the mother didn't leave, she was shortly joined by her husband and son-in-law. They discussed for about 10-15 minutes about who was doing what, and at the end it was decided that the older couple would leave and come back later. I threw a quick glance at a severe preggie who by now was just leaning against the wall right across from me and my neighbors and looking to be in quite a bit of discomfort. I thought to myself, oh great, now she will get a seat.

Not so fast. As the "mother" got up, the "daughter's" hubby promptly occupied her seat and proceeded talking to his wife as if nothing happened. If I weren't borderline fainting, I would have gotten up myself or given the "daughters" husband a piece of my mind. 1) The preggie was standing right across from him 2) I knew that he noticed her 3) For Goodness sake, this was a labor and delivery ER/Admissions, every pregnant woman there was by default either in distress or in labor and WAS TO BE GIVEN PRIORITY IN SEATING. THAT ENTIRE HOSPITAL WING WAS BUILT FOR PREGNANT WOMEN, and those seats weren't for twenty-something year old healthy jerks. Soon afterwards, SubHub came back and I even asked him to intervene and he agreed to. But then both I and the severe preggie were called in, so that was the end of this story.

It happened some time ago, but remembering this episode inevitably makes my blood boil. What is wrong with people? One of my most sincerest wishes and prayers is that I raise my children well enough so that nothing like this would be ever said about them.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Penny wise

It seems that the economy is going down and down and down. The bigwigs in our company decided that they need to show swift action, and for the last two week we keep on hearing about cutting the costs, tightening budgets and other pleasant things of that sort. I would not be surprised if our bonuses this year were canceled and raises were significantly cut (from the standard whopping 3%). I know, I know, in this economy one should be happy to even have a job, but with the cost of living going up significantly, even a 3% raise seems like a joke, so if it gets cut... To add to it the consulting firm that is currently looking into every aspect of our org. to see were costs could be cut and "efficiency" added, and it's no wonder that many people feel on edge. (The consultants are getting paid several hundred thousand dollars in the meantime - maybe we could start by cutting THAT expense?)

Then this week there was a rumor that our fancy Holiday Party was canceled, and the memo went out to the heads of the departments that 1) budget for Holiday party was to be cut by more than half, 2) no inter-departmental invites to avoid people attending more than one party, 3) when offenring alternatives to fancy restaurants, words like "bowling" and "pizza" were mentioned. Ok, so that is hardly a surprise, but going from Tavern on the Green with free drinks to a pizzeria is a bit too much, so some people felt the party should be canceled altogether. But I think it's being saved by tireless efforts of one or two people in the department, and thankfully it will not have pizza on the menu.

Then came another blow today. We have a long standing tradition in our department to make a multi cultural lunch before Thanksgiving, where everyone brings their own national dish and the company provides the turkey. For many people this lunch means a lot more than any Holiday Party because it is actually a lot of fun and completely unofficial. Guess where another cut is made? In buying a turkey. That makes absolutely no sense to me and to many people. The benefit is tiny, but the blow to people's morale is going to be huge because if the company is cutting a $100 turkey from the budget, imagine what will be cut next...

As my son would have put it, "Bye bye birdie!"

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

This is not funny, but it is!

You know what I haven't posted in a long time? My kids’ antics. So here's a post dedicated to DS. After a long relative silence, a few months ago DS started happily talking and commenting, and now we can understand almost everything he says. And that kid is funny, but I am most definitely prejudiced! Here are a few episodes of what we are being treated to on an almost daily basis. Let me warn you that not everything here is 100% tasteful, but he's my kid and that's my blog.

After having his first (and for now last) successful attempt of doing number 2 in the toilet, DS insisted on flushing himself. No surprises here, the kid could be entertained almost indefinitely by toilet flushing. This time, however, he decided to add a personal touch and said, "Bye bye, kaki." And then flushed, twice of course.

DS also says bye bye to birds in the park, to dogs on the street, to choo choo trains passing by and to anything else that catches his attention.

DS had to accompany his maniacally coughing sister to the doctor. The doctor decided to use this opportunity to catch up on DS' shots while he was there because who knows how long it would take us to reappear in her office. This was a huge blow to DS who fully expected his sis to cry and suffer, but not himself. While in the car, he complained to me a few hours later (I didn't go with them, SubHub did), "Doctor made DS boo boo. Doctor gave DS shots. It hoits (hurts). Mommy, doctor puniss' (punish)? Yeah, Mommy, doctor time out!" (If I ever had the chutzpah to suggest punishing my doctor or any other adult, my mom would definitely fall off her chair. Different times, different children...)

My Dad pretended to steal DS's nose. DS's reaction? "This is not funny!" Good thing he can’t read yet because apparently he has the necessary vocabulary to give my blog a meaningful review.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A bunch of updates in lieu of real post.

All of your looking for a good post-election laugh and - sigh - not finding it here, head over to Derfwad Manor for a rerun of Bigger Love and its sequel, Bigger Love, Episode 41. You are guaranteed a good non-partisan laugh with nice visuals.

Saw Get Smart yesterday. It was really funny. Haven't laughed so hard watching a movie in a long time. If you've been traumatized by Steve Carrell's previous movies, this one is really different, spoken by someone who turned 40-year Old Virgin off only after five minutes or so.

Read some comments in my Dear Doc post and realized that some people thought I might be talking about one particular doctor. I might be strange, but I am not a masochist. If any doctor inflicted this much crap bad doctoring and bedside manner on me, I would've dropped him like a hot potato long time ago. Rather, these are some fond memories and things that have happened over the years in my dealings with doctors, some of whom were forgiven or put on probation, while others have been mercilessly dumped. I actually remembered a few more episodes worthy of posting, so maybe I'll write a sequel.

Hate, absolutely hate all these time changes. Even though we supposedly gained an hour of sleep, I have been walking around yawning all week long, and found my friends, family and colleagues doing the same. Maybe, this time switch is sponsored by Starbucks? I fully expect to feel this way for at least another week. Hence, even though I have three viable ideas for posts, I am writing this. Waiting for my brain to unmush... Might take a while... Please stay tuned...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

This isn't over

I have been waiting for November 5. I was tired of all the political talk and desperately wanted it to be over. So today, two days after the elections, I was lulled into the false sense of security by my own desire to move on. So I came out and admitted to a couple of co-workers that I voted for McCain. After all, the guy didn't win, no hard feelings, right? To my surprise, one of the co-workers, a young guy, also admitted to voting for McCain. So I jokingly said to him that the third member of this conversation, a huge Obama supporter, will now hate us. She said, "No. I don't hate you. I just think you were brain washed."

In all honesty, I would have preferred if she said she hated me, or that my decision or reasoning was stupid or faulty. Pretty much anything would be less insulting to me than what she had actually said. Because what she said precludes any kind of meaningful discussion and reduces it to trying to prove that "No, I am not a drone but actually a thinking individual who happens to disagree with you". Because what she said, even though it might not have been meant that way, implies that her reasoning powers are superior to mine or to put it bluntly that I am naive and dumb. Because it was so patronizing and dismissing, after all why would anyone give value to my opinion if it's not even mine, but the guys' who brainwashed me?

There are reasons why I avoid talking politics at work. I reminded myself what those were, that I should stick to that policy ALL the time and went back to my cube without saying anything else. If I could say something to her, I would ask her when and how exactly I got brainwashed because only 8 years ago I was accused by my conservative friend of being brainwashed for refusing to vote for Bush. (As I mentioned, I tend to be in the middle, so I get it from both sides. Actually, I couldn't even vote in those elections b/c I wasn't a citizen yet.) So between now and then those conservatives did a very good job, I guess. Only I am not a conservative. And I don't read newspapers or watch TV. I don't go to rallies (like she does) and generally avoid political talk. So exactly how did this brainwashing happen?

Whatever. I am moving on. I think the country is starting to move on too, just not as fast as I would have liked it. My evidence? The story on about Obamas' choice of family dog. Who needs to discuss issues when Obama girls are a getting a new puppy? I think we will be back to normal programming very, very soon. Paris Hilton, where are you?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Being sick of the system

I have written and rewritten this post several times. This is the topic that has been on my mind for a very long time, and sometimes overabundance of feelings on the subject makes it harder to express them. Do I go with pure numbers and logic? Do I bring in personal experiences? Do I just say how I feel on the subject? Or all of the above? And at some point, one needs to rid herself of the post, no matter how badly it's written. So here it comes, just in time for elections, very imperfect, but all mine.

I don't like talking about politics,especially during the presidential elections year. Political talk rarely makes you friends, but very often causes rifts and sour feelings. And most of the time this talk is pointless. I haven't been able to persuade anyone with the opposite view in their wrongness. Most people are very stubborn in their views and wouldn't change them even when presented with all the facts and logic in the world. The most you can do is to plant the seed of doubt in their minds, and even for that you have to be a very persuasive speaker and the person you are talking to has to possess enough integrity to admit that he might have been wrong. And even when everyone agrees on all the issues, political talk rarely makes for a pleasant conversation. So these are the main reasons for my refusal to talk about politics - futility of discussions and desire not to alienate people. Often my attitude is mistaken for not caring about issues. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Yes, I rarely get overly excited and lather up at the mouth because of politics (though I did that a lot in my very early youth), but I deeply care about many problems our country is facing. And political process, in which I am very disappointed, is just one of those problems.

That being said, one of the main problems that boggles my mind is this country's health care system. That actually is one of the few topics that invariably raises my blood pressure when mentioned or discussed. The more I discover, the more appalled I get. It is unthinkable to me that the country this great and wealthy cannot guarantee its citizens some basic medical coverage. The laws instituted today are moving into somewhat of a more humane direction, but are still very far from anything I would find acceptable. And the fact that most medical coverage is provided by employers is making some of the issues even worse (there are advantages to this also). With the rising costs, many employers opt out of offering health insurance to their employees or offer cheaper plans with higher deductibles and co-pays. What I find even scarier is that in this system one risks losing health coverage when one needs it the most: when losing a job, getting seriously sick or during life changing events, such as birth of a child, divorce or death of the spouse through whom one gets insurance. When an employee is no longer able to work, his employer feels no obligation to provide coverage. But what about Cobra? Yes, this wonderful COBRA, which of course was the step in the right direction since it is still better than losing insurance altogether, costs oodles of money during the time when one is either receiving no paycheck or only a fraction of it (because again, employers are not obligated to provide paid sick days, maternity leaves or even keep sick employees in their employment if they can't perform their duties due to sickness. And those disability and unemployment checks are often not enough to cover the rent, let alone anything else.) The number of people forced to declare bankruptcy due to their inability to pay medical bills is simply astonishing. And those are not only irresponsible punks thinking that they are immune to accidents and diseases. Very often these are people with serious illnesses well in their forties and fifties who for various reasons lost their insurance or didn't have proper coverage for a life-saving procedure.

Ok, I guess enough griping. I don't want to make this too long. If you would ask me for suggestions, I don't have any. I certainly wouldn't recommend destroying the system that works only half the time in favor of no system at all. And I also don't think that putting all the blame or the burden on the employers is fair. That could result in more trouble than it's worth. One thing I am sure about is that there must be a solution. Not everyone will be happy because it is impossible to make everyone happy, but all those experts can and should find a solution acceptable to the majority of Americans. After all, many civilized countries somehow achieved it, why can't we?

And before you read this as an endorsement of Obama's candidacy, let me put you at ease or disappoint you. It isn't. I have read his plan for health care reform, and I had read McCain's suggestions on the matter. Neither candidate, in my opinion, provides a solution. McCain's plan provides a patch for a deteriorating system, but I am not persuaded that it would help for much and for long. Obama's plan, on the other hand, is close to non-existent. It sounds more like a slogan to me, very, very vague, without any specifics. And again, the burden is shifted to the employers. Oh, but he believes in the universal health coverage. Well, so do I, but it doesn't seem to help anyone. Give me the details!

That's it. Please vote! It's important that you do regardless of how you vote!