Saturday, August 30, 2008

Stop the melodrama!

Melodrama. Ideally, given how it sounds, it should be a moderate or 'mellow' type of drama. Of course even more ideally, it would be nice if there was no drama at all. But alas, melodrama disappoints. Again. And again.

In my family, I am proud to announce that we are very good at melodrama. Molehills become mountains, mice become elephants, and a stain on a shirt becomes a ruined life (there is oxiclean).
Generally, most of us in my family are pretty chill. I would even say 'mellow'. And some of our coping strategies, like mine are: "I'm not dead, I'm moderately healthy, I have friends and family, and I'm doing the best I can right now with what I've got." Then there are other strategies like this one: "I need everything in my life to run like clockwork; because I have absolutely perfectionist standards nothing ever goes right and I will take my self-induced stress out on everyone." It is very difficult to choose which is more healthy. I prefer the latter. Why? Because I can compare it to my life and breathe easy. 

I don't like to see people stressed out, and I don't like to see people suffer (especially close family), but it is nice to see that I have developed successful life-coping skills. Armageddon is not upon us because we are 6 minutes late to lunch, or if we get stuck in traffic. Life happens (while we are making other plans). Now, that does not mean we all should be lazy and unproductive, but it means we need to have balance. When some load of crap gets piled on our plate, instead of whining about it, pouting, and throwing a hissy fit, we can grin resourcefully and dump it on our garden, using it as fertilizer. As cliche as it sounds, when life gives you lemons, squeeze them in the eyes of someone who is stressing out for no reason, and laugh at them. Then maybe you'll start a fight with them - win or lose - they will probably forget about what was stressing them out in the first place.

Friday, August 29, 2008

McCain picks Palin as VP!

This is a great pick for McCain. Palin, the newly elected governor of Alaska is a mother of five, a hockey mom, with strong conservative credentials. She is very reform minded, and, like McCain is herself considered a 'maverick'. She is the first woman to run on a republican ticket, and I think that by picking her, McCain has sealed the deal. I am now sure to be voting for McCain. Obama picked Biden, which in my mind was a terrible pick, given his penchance for saying ridiculous things off the cuff, and because Biden's an insider. Palin was the mayor of the small town of Wasilla, AK, home to just under 7,000 residents prior to being elected governor. She's not just an outsider. She's way outside. Good job John!

Cat Lovers vs. Dog Lovers

Most people like animals. And, as pets, we treat them sometimes even better than people. Part of that is because they often times treat us with more love an affection than other humans. The other part is because we're crazy. But regardless of our addiction with furry, scaly, winged and/or shelled creatures, the easiest breakdown between mentalities is between those who prefer dogs, and those who prefer cats.

My family has a cat. Her name is Sophie. She is psychotic. But, before I tell you about how weird and skiddish she is, let me tell you why she's nice. She has fur. Soft fur. And, she can be affectionate, and can kill pests. Now let me tell you why she's not so cool. She vomits on the porch. She is paranoid and starved for attention. She only wants attention from you on her terms. She sheds fur everywhere. So, cats are not on the top of my list when I think of a new pet.
I have never had a dog. The reason for that is because my mom is allergic to them. So, growing up she let me have every other kind of pet known to man (She is also allergic to cats, but likes them better, and lets the cat have her own room in the house, and claims that cats don't need as much social contact as dogs, which may be true). So growing up I had a menagerie of animals. I had turtles, a tortoise, hamsters, mice, lizards, fish, frogs, ferrets, quails, parakeets, guinea pigs, crayfish, etc. It was pretty cool growing up. But as cool as all those pets were, they were never dogs. I always tried to goad my mom into letting us get one with comments like, "Well bulldogs are hypo-allergenic because they have short hair and don't shed as much." To which she would reply, "If we ever do get a dog it will be a poodle, but for now it's either a dog or me. Take your pick." It wasn't very fair, but that was life. And, to make me feel even more guilty, when I said, "Well when I move out, I'm getting a dog!" She would say: "So you're saying I won't be able to come visit to see my grandchildren? You'd pick a dog over me?" Those kind of tactics were obviously manipulative. 

But, fortunately her tune has changed, and she thinks she could deal with a dog for short visits, and even longer visits if she took an allergy shot. Given the fact that she visits my Great-grandmother in Indiana all the time, and she has a dog, I don't think it was ever really a problem. So, that being said, I'm a dog person.
The anti-dog people will say they smell, make messes, are easily disobedient, drool, etc. But they are still better than cats in my mind. They are loyal, affectionate, always like attention (and aren't fickle about it like cats), they can be very obedient, and can do more things than cats. How many people go on walks with cats? How many cats catch frisbees? How many cats will play tug-of-war or do judo with you? I think you see my point. But, let me remind you that I do not condemn cat lovers. Any pet is better than no pet. Even if it does hack up hair balls in the middle of the night.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Girlfriends Cost too Much!

Time to lay down the secret that will answer all the questions that women all over the world are asking. Why did he not call me back? Why are men so seemingly "shallow?" Why can't I find Mr. Right? The answer is a simple word. Money.

It's the money, honey. For guys it takes a lot of cash to have the same amount of fun you ladies are having. If you finding dating fun that is. If you don't, just be careful not to be spoiled, because "51% of American men spend over $100 monthly on dates, and 29% spend over $150, while nearly 2/3 of U.S. women spend less than $50 a month." That means that one out of every three guys is spending over $1800 a year in hopes of finding that special someone.
That in mind, ladies, I realize that it may be difficult for you to find a good guy, but if he doesn't call you back, don't be offended. He's without a doubt weighing and calculating the prospect of future romantic endeavors against the estimated market costs, and for any number of reasons the social return may not meet the monetary investment. Or simply put, he's gotta lay down the dead presidents and you may not be worth the killing. It's no wonder that an estmated "68% of men in the U.S. would not waste their time and wouldn't go on a second date if there was no chemistry the first date. Women, on the other hand, will give it a second chance. 56% of U.S. women would go on a second date and hope chemistry develops." Of course women would and should after all a significantly less oppotunity cost is involved.

That being said, place yourselves in the average Joe's shoes. He fits the mold of one who spends a $1200 a year on his dates. Now considering the fact that the average American Male marries at 27, (For women it is around 25) lets say he started seriously dating only out of high school. That means he will spend over $10,000 dollars to find Mrs. Right. Every man considers this situation upon every date. I know you may not believe me, but it's true. Maybe not all men deeply consider their 10 year plan when they ask you for your number, but they definitely reach for the wallet to check their situation, before reaching for the telephone to call you.

Some wonder why in Utah marriages pop up more ferociously than zombies in a cheap horror flick. Well, perhaps the fact that Mormons are encouraged to avoid dept and encouraged to marry, if they can find a girl with enough market return quickly, they feel it expedient to close the deal. Outside of Mormondom, while I'm not one to say save your money and buy an escort, you can maybe even see why some men of less self-esteem may indeed benefit on such a cost effective endeavor.

Universal Garbage

I've been getting so used to not writing, that I was almost reluctant to do so today. I hear laziness is, however, somewhat unbecoming. So I'm writing. Clearly. But, of course, by the time you see this post I will have already written it. With that said let's jump into the ridiculousness of the Democratic National Convention in Denver. 
The press is billing the event like its the Super Bowl. And, to make things right, it's happening in a football stadium (so at least they got the location right). The event however, is not nearly as thrilling or as captivating. Obama's wife has spoken, Hillary has spoken, and even the brain tumor-plagued Ted Kennedy has spoken.
Initially Kennedy's speech was interesting and even a little inspiring, but then he got on his soap box about universal health care. I left the room disgusted.

Universal healthcare is a bad idea. What it means is that the government once again takes over an industry, taking it out of the hands of competent, well-trained, well-paid professionals, and puts it in the hands of the giant federal bureaucracy. Yay! TSA is a joke. Homeland security is not that great. The FCC is a joke. And so is the FAA. Friends, putting the government in charge of our hospitals and medical care will only exacerbate our problems here. 

Now, I would like to clarify that doctors will still have jobs, and will not be replaced by US Postal workers, but because all of our medical bills will be subsidized by the government, the doctors will receive less for their services, we pay more in taxes, and we get to wait in line more as doctors are mandated by the government to see the most inane cases. 

In the UK, with their 'amazingly good system' as it is touted by Michael Moore, people wait for months or even years for cancer treatments and important urgent care because the system is inefficient. The doctors working there are expected to treat any and all people on a 'first come, first served' basis, and do it for almost nothing. Not a good deal for them, and not a good deal for their patients.
It is true that our system could use an overhaul. Our system is inefficient in the US. But, when it comes to getting urgent care, it is more likely to happen here than in a socialized system. When Michael Moore showed in his documentary how easy it was for firefighters from 9/11 to get treatment in Cuba, and how hard it was in America he forgot to include the fact that he went to one of the nicest hospitals in Cuba, and he went with his documentary crew, and he and those with him were not impoverished Cubans, but rather well-to-do North Americans. In most hospitals in Cuba, the government provides the bare minimum in care. For instance, if you need a kidney removed, they'll take it out, but you will be left on a gurney with an ice pack in a dirty room, and if your family doesn't come to bring you towels, blankets, food, water, soap, or anything else you might just die right there due to neglect and infection. So perhaps that's the kind of efficiency we need in this country. Bare minimum get 'r' done mentality.

That is my piece on universal healthcare. If that were the only issue, it would be easy to see why I do not favor Obama, but there are many others that irk me just as much. I'm not going to say I like McCain, but I at least believe our government's size and scope would be kept in a more real check with him in the Oval Office.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Delta Swindlers

Well we're going to have to get a little more regular again on this blog. I can make the excuse that I've been traveling, but that's pretty lame because you can usually use the internet just about anywhere. It comes down to priorities. And this blog was just not one of them as I was in Brazil, and as I am now up in my hometown of Duxbury, Massachusetts. 

I got back friday afternoon and left the airport shortly after noon. It wasn't supposed to happen like that. I had a flight that was supposed to get to DC just after 10am. In Sao Paulo I got into a Delta line that I thought was destined for my connection in New York. After waiting about 10 minutes I asked one of the airline people if it was the line for New York. To that my response was, "No that line closed already." So I said, "What are you saying? I'm still here before the flight has taken off, I was misled to think this line, which is apparently for Atlanta, was for New York, and now you're telling me I can't get on my flight?" Then she said, "Well you can either leave the airport, or go to the Delta desk and see if you can still get on your flight." So I went to the Delta desk. The guy there informed me that I had to be there an hour before take off to check in, and that I missed the plane. Then I said, "First off, I was here prior to the hour, I was misled into thinking I was in the right line, and...the plane that you say I cannot board is still here." Well, that got me nowhere. He said he could re-route me through Atlanta, putting me on stand-by for a $250 flight change fee. Whoopee! Out $250 because of their stupid system and mistakes (All these conversations took place in portuguese - angry, ill-tempered portuguese).

Turns out Delta is pretty sleazy. What they do with this 'lock the flight an hour prior' allows them to have extra space on their plane so they can swindle more people who show up late for an earlier flight into paying more to get to their destination. For instance, I was quote on quote "late" for my flight to NYC, so for another $250 they could put me on standby for Atlanta. Those who missed some other flight prior to NYC, who were on standby got my seat. Those who foolishly didn't know about the hour before lock down with Atlanta lost their seat to me and others like me - for a hefty price.

So I had to do some things before I left DC, and didn't end up leaving until 3:30pm to drive up to Boston. On a friday, that is probably the worst possible time to leave. I got stuck in between DC and Baltimore for 3 1/2 hours. A trip that should take 8 hours took me close to 11 hours. But, two Dr. Peppers, singing along to my new Brazilian CDs, and talking to myself for an hour and a half kept me from driving off the road. Mind you, the flight from Brazil was 9+ hours and then another 2 from Atlanta to DC. I was running on dregs. But, all in all good times. I went to my buddy's wedding on Saturday, and I've been visiting old friends around Massachusetts this weekend.  Good times.