photo by Sheri Dixon

Sunday, October 27, 2013

And Another Thing...

...right after Rush was Sean Hannity.

I hate Sean Hannity. He is, if possible, even slimier and smugger and all-around ickier than Rush.

And that takes some doing.

But I listened, because we were still in traffic and I was still tired and needed the hatred-fueled adrenalin that having Sean Hannnity yammering in my ear would provide me.

Apparently, Sean had called the Obamacare phone number to see if he could get through last week. He did get through, pretty quickly, and he chatted with a woman who he said was "charming, patient and gracious" in answering all his questions. His words. Really.

The day after that show, the woman was fired from the private firm that takes the calls for Obamacare. They said they didn't want people talking to the media. So she called Hannity, who was interviewing her as I listened. Sean asked her if she'd signed anything to that effect and she said she didn't think so- that training was a one day affair and there were hundreds of people there.

Hannity apologized and said that it was never his intent to cause her any trouble and that he was going to write her a check for the amount that job would've paid her if she'd stayed at it a year. Came out to about $25,000.

I thought, "DAMN- Hannity is doing something NICE for someone?" and was suspicious.

He then asked her if she'd enjoyed that job and she said she had- that it was different from what she'd been used to doing and he asked what that was. Restaurant work, specifically fast food.

"Well, I'm going to do all I can to help you get back to work" and he appealed to all the affiliate stations in North Florida where she lives to let him know if they had an opening for her- even provided an email address to send replies to.

I thought, "DAMN- Hannity is doing something HELPFUL?" and was still leery.

But he was drifting dangerously close to being, I dunno...almost human.

Then someone called in from her local station and said they'd been looking for a phone answerer for one of the local talk shows- someone to be a sidekick of sorts, and she would fit right in there since she was absolutely at home and likable on air. Sean asked if it paid well. It does. If there were benefits. There are. If the hours would fit with her kids' schedules. They do.

I thought, "DAMN- there you go, baby! Your new start in life!" and was hopeful.

Then Hannity thanked the man and hung up. He reiterated to the rest of the world that what we were looking for is a RESTAURANT JOB for this woman- the stuff she'd been doing...

...even though she herself said she liked the phone work much better.

What the hell???

So if he gives the woman a pile of cash (which was generous) he then gets to define where she goes from this point?

Because the radio job sounds about 800% more upwardly mobile (and interesting) than another fast food job.

But, no. Hannity had it in his head that fast food is where she needed to be.

I give him credit for giving her the money. The rest of it? close. He missed being human by THAT much...

Thursday, October 24, 2013

What the Hell is Wrong With People?

So I was driving home today.

We'd just spent 4 of the last 5 days at MD Anderson for tests and appointments and whatnot. Not consecutively- because of how the appointments had to fall we had a few on Monday, and one on Thursday, so we drove down Sunday and came home late Monday and drove down again yesterday and home today. Because it was cheaper to drive it twice than pay for an additional 2 nights in the hotel.

Fiscally sensible, emotionally and physically suicidal.

Therefore, I was fucking exhausted really tired when we left the hospital about 1pm today, so I turned on talk radio to keep me awake till we were halfway home and Ward and I would switch driving.

Now, we don't have any of that new-fangled satellite radio in the car, so we have to depend on AM stations.

There is no such thing as a liberal radio show on the AM stations. None. You gotcher Rush and yer Sean and yer Dr. Laura's and yer bible thumpers. That's the whole show.

Must be that Liberal-controlled media we're always hearing about...

Rush was on.

Now, I admit I listened to Rush years ago when I was a Republican, and even then Rush was ridiculous. My best friend and I would listen every day at work and it was basically a drinking game using whatever 'button-pushing' word he was into that week.

It was a very casual workplace.

Rush is still using 'button-pushing' words- today's was "Regime". As in "the Obama Regime". He used it a minimum of every five minutes. Just darling.

But that wasn't the highlight of the show.

The highlight was a caller who suggested that all the Dittoheads inundate the healthcare website and phone lines...just to mess them up even farther. Because it would be a complete hoot to make sure that no one who is really looking for health insurance options to get prove that Obamacare is a clusterfuck that can't even get beyond the initial phase.

Well, Rush admitted that as fun as that would be, it was unnecessary because it's probably being messed up on purpose to deceive the American people about how awful Obamacare will really be, so that it'll be too late by the time we all realize it, blah blah blah de blah.

But I wasn't really listening to that part.

Oh, ya- because it was all bullshit and smoke and mirrors and the ever-dependable Rush et al ploy of stating the exact opposite of the truth and then saying "Trust me!" But that's not what really upset me- I'm used to all that crap.

Maybe it was because we'd just spent days in the bowels of the cancer hospital...again.

Maybe it was because we've had over a decade of American Healthcare dictating our family life.

But the idea that anyone would think it would be 'a hoot' and justifiable; nay- patriotic behavior to willfully gum up the lines when there are literally millions of Americans who NEED medical care in a very real life or death way?

That's incomprehensible and reprehensible to me.

This sort of thing proves that conservatives are absolutely becoming callous and heartless bastards.

If this were a one-time deal, it would be bad enough but something that could be excused as 'an isolated incident'.

But it's not. It's rampant and pervasive and horrifying.

When discussing healthcare in this country with conservatives over the last decade, the not-so-subtle and important difference is this- if anyone in their families were to need medical care, I'd be right there demanding that they get it- offering to pay for it through higher taxes if necessary. Because it's a human right.

But reverse the scenario? They are very sorry, but will regretfully stand by while my family dies.

That's not an America I'll settle for.

I guess I'm just a shitty patriot.

To read more about my family's decade-plus in the healthcare system- with insurance, without insurance and on Medicare- please read my journal, "Cancerdance- a love story", available signed from me, or on Kindle or Nook. Full of my sunny disposition and colorful language, it's got the best real-life hero ever born as the main character- my knight in shining armor, my strength, my anchor- my husband.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

I Guess I'm Just Not Cut Out for Management

I get a little worked up sometimes. I'll be the first to admit it.

Most things I've learned to just let roll off my back, but some things get caught right under my shoulder blades- that spot that's impossible to scratch.

We had to read a little missive called "Who Moved My Cheese?" for one of the management courses I'm taking and the assignment was given to us like this would be a good book to read if you were a manager. Yea verily, the first quarter of the book is accolades from CEO's all over the world singing the praises of this little gem.

Except it's awful.

Not just the message and supposed lesson itself; I mean it's written like a 3rd grader crayoned down instructions on not eating paste for a bunch of kindergarteners. Wait- that would've been more instructional and interesting.

Anyhoo, the assignment after reading the book was to answer the following questions about it. I'll be getting my graded paper back tonight. My guess is that there will be no grade on it at all, just a little note saying I should expect Homeland Security's "Socialist Wagon" to come pick me up any minute.

1. “Analyze why organizations around the world would buy millions of these books for their employees”- I honestly didn’t like the book and agree with every bad review on Amazon (I purchased the Kindle version). There are as many bad reviews as good reviews but I tried to read it with an open mind. The story is not a bad thing, but the pre-story chapter and the after-story chapter were actually offensive to me- very poorly written and just blatantly pounded the message home in every angle possible, like the reader would never figure it out for themselves even though the book is touted as a ‘something to ponder and learn from’ fable.
The pre-story chapter was a pre-emptive statement that said, “If you don’t get anything out of this story- you need it the most”. The story itself is only 20 pages out of the 94 pages of the book, and while it’s mostly benign, I found the following passage truly awful-

“Why should we change?” Hem asked. “We’re Littlepeople. We’re special. This sort of thing should not happen to us. Or if it does, we should at least get some benefits”.
“Why should we get benefits?” Haw asked.
“Because we’re entitled,” Hem claimed.
“Entitled to what?” Haw wanted to know.
“We’re entitled to our Cheese”.
“Why?” Haw asked.
“Because, we didn’t cause this problem, “Hem said, “Somebody else did and we should get something out of it”.
Haw suggested, “Maybe we should simply stop analyzing the situation so much and go find some New Cheese”?
“Oh no”, Hem argued. “I’m going to get to the bottom of this”.

The words ‘entitled’ and ‘benefits’ are there for a reason. That’s not accidental.

In the given context- that of Enron and other corporations that went bankrupt- the workers ARE ‘entitled’ to their benefits. No other business relationship would allow such a breach of contract other than the employer/employee one. Will their suppliers get paid? Sure- they’ll sue to lay claim to the owners’ assets. Will the taxes still be collected? Yes, of course they will or the owners will (or should) be jailed.

Example- in 2008/2009 the clinic I manage was extremely strapped for cash due to the miscalculations of the owners regarding the stock market. There were multiple times I held back my own paycheck till the following weekend (our busiest times) to be sure everyone else’s paychecks cleared the bank. I had made a compact with the owners that I could and would run their clinic without asking them for additional out-of-pocket funds, and as a clinic we had made a compact with the employees to pay them for their work on a certain day of the month. Both of these promises needed to be kept. It was my job to make it work- not to ask the owners for more money, or the employees to go without pay.

Honestly, I believe the reason so many corporations buy millions of these is to ‘gently ‘ inform their employees, “Too bad, so sad- don’t ‘overanalyze’ this- just make other arrangements for your health care, retirement, or even your employment- nothing personal…change is exciting!”. It’s a pass for them to behave badly without taking responsibility for actions they’re causing in direct opposition to their compact with their employees.

That’s probably not what I’m supposed to get out of this, right?

2. “How does this reflect on workers losing their pension funds?” It very nicely blames the victims. Even IF they could’ve seen ‘the writing on the wall’ regarding the companies’ financial health, they had a compact with their employers to give X number of hours for X amount of pay and benefits. The ones who needed to change were the employers- every course I’ve been taking regarding management tells us to take care of the employees- without them the company cannot operate. Employees who are empowered to do their jobs and who feel valued will care for the business. To have your entire workforce always looking for other opportunities in case this one turns out to be lying and/or temporary does not make for a secure and productive workforce. Why should they behave with ethics and morals when those in charge tell them flat-out, “Don’t put all your eggs in our basket”?

The main problem is the entire premise of the book is based on the Littlepeople just stumbling upon the cheese. They claim it, use it and eat it without actually working for it. This has zero to do with anyone losing their pension funds. It is in effect saying, “You all just show up to work and we pay you for that- what you’ve done for the company means exactly nothing- there is no value to your labor.”

3. “What would I do if I were not afraid?” I guess I’m doing it. In the big picture, I’m bettering myself and positioning myself in case of a change- yes: In case my husband dies of his health problems and I need to support our son on my own. That’s an unavoidable change and I would surely be angry about it and never emotionally recover, but on the outside I would roll with it like I have many lesser health-related changes. Change caused by mismanagement accidental or on purpose should NOT be tolerated, no matter how Little the People.

So, I read the book on the way home from Missouri last night in the car and am typing this with 3.5 hours of sleep in me. It may come across as pointier than normal, but the feeling and intent are 100% sincere.

On the upside- she's loved all my PowerPoint presentations. I am a PowerPoint Ninja.

A Socialist PowerPoint Ninja.

Friday, October 18, 2013

So It's Come To This

In between work and home and family and school I'm writing a new story.

It's a little different from my other stories.

Not the main character- still a woman.

Not the theme- still individuals having to deal with whatever Life hands out whether that's cancer, homelessness, financial collapse of society or solar storm (you now know the themes of my other stories).

This one is a little more survivalist, a little more dark and a lot more...carnal.

Completely tasteful. Of course. Trust me. Working title of this one is "Hammered- Pounding it Home for Liberty".

See? Totally tasteful.

Please enjoy the Prologue. Hope it leaves you breathless for more.


Fumbling in the darkened smoke-filled guts of what used to be civilization, Butch instinctively found what he was looking for; years of familiarity, use and muscle memory served him well and his hand closed gently yet urgently around what he needed most.

Closing his eyes and focusing inward, Butch let his fingers play along the rock-hard smoothness, hesitating just a moment before his fingertips stroked over the head and he sighed; excitement an electrical current from his fingers to his brain and pulsing back down through his torso.

In his mind’s eye he could see her, hear her, feel her, smell her. The scent of leather and sunshine and Black Orchid filled his head intoxicatingly.

He knew then that he would survive.

His eyes opened and he smiled, gazing lovingly down at the source of his pleasure and his assurance in his skills- seeming to glow with an almost living quality lay his ticket out of here- his beloved Wilton 20.

When he had purchased it, it had seemed like overkill. Thirty six inches long, well over twenty pounds, it boasted a vulcanized rubber and tempered steel rod handle and an enormous seven inch head.

That baby would bust through anything without hesitation and keep going all day long- and all night if necessary.

Grinning in testosterone-filled anticipation in spite of the long odds facing him, Butch grabbed ahold of his perfect tool in both hands tightly and commenced to pounding.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Hey, Look! A Scary Obamacare Article!

There's an article that's going viral out there- it's right here. It's called "100 Unintended Consequences of Obamacare" and it's pretty scary...all the horrible things that will be happening once the ACA (also known as Obamacare...because that's a lot more threatening-sounding, especially if you're still tweaked out because our president is, yanno, black)takes effect.

Let's look at some of these and try to ascertain who is REALLY pulling the rug out from under the common folks.

1. IBM
Earlier this month, the computer giant, once famed for its paternalism, announced it would remove 110,000 of its Medicare-eligible retirees from the company’s health insurance and give them subsidies to purchase coverage through the Obamacare exchanges. Retirees fear that they will not get the level of coverage they are used to, and that the options will be bewildering.

Wow. That's really confusing for those employees. Virginia "Ginny" Raffity is the CEO of IBM. Her salary alone was $16 Million last year. Think she's worried? Think they could've afforded to KEEP THE DAMN INSURANCE THEY HAD???

3. UPS
Fifteen thousand employees’ spouses will no longer be able to use UPS’s health-care plan because they have access to coverage elsewhere. The “costs associated with the Affordable Care Act have made it increasingly difficult to continue providing the same level of health care benefits to our employees at an affordable cost,” the delivery giant said in a company memo. The move is expected to save the company $60 million next year.

UPS's net profit for 2012 was $829 Million. That's net. After all the bills are paid. Net. So, ya. Seriously?

4. Caterpillar Inc.
In the law’s first year, the machinery manufacturer estimated before its passage, Obamacare would add more than $100 million in health-care costs. “We can ill afford cost increases that place us at a disadvantage versus our global competitors,” a Caterpillar executive wrote lawmakers, saying that the law would not meet the goal of providing good, inexpensive health care for all Americans.

I don't know where to start with this- the fact that none of the ACA will affect big businesses till 2015 so they have plenty of time to adjust to it, or the fact that the reason it may 'place them at a disadvantage versus our global competitors' is that most of those other countries HAVE SOCIALIZED NATIONAL HEALTH CARE.

6. Stryker Corp.
Stryker Corp., a Michigan medical-device manufacturer, laid off about 1,000 employees earlier this year due to the Affordable Care Act’s 2.3 percent excise tax on medical devices. The company estimated that the tax would cost it approximately $100 million next year. “Stryker remains significantly concerned with the upcoming medical device excise tax and its negative impact on jobs and innovation and will continue to work with Congress to try to repeal the tax,” said the company’s CEO.

Poor little Stryker. Their net income was only $1.27 BILLION. There are a thousand millions in a billion, so 10% of their NET profits will be eat up by the tax. Boo-fucking-hoo. Especially since just last week Stryker bought one of their competitors- Mako Surgical Devices for $1.65 Billion.

9. Cleveland Clinic, Ohio
One of the world’s best-known hospitals announced in September that it would slash jobs and up to 6 percent of its annual $6 billion budget in anticipation of costs associated with Obamacare’s implementation. A spokeswoman for the clinic announced that approximately $330 million would be cut, but she did not say how many of the 44,000 employees the clinic would let go. The Cleveland Clinic is Cleveland’s largest employer and the second-largest employer in Ohio.

SLASH jobs! CUT the budget! Oh, details? We don't have any details. We were just told to say OBAMACARE BAD. And please don't notice that according to Billian's Health Data, "Cleveland Clinic (Ohio) is the highest grossing U.S. hospital by net patient revenue, according to the latest CMS cost report data analyzed." Yep. They're really hurting, ya'll.

16. Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, New Hampshire
The state’s only insurer approved to offer plans on the health-insurance exchanges in New Hampshire has cut the number of hospitals that will participate in the plan from 26 to 14 in order to reach “affordable premium levels,” according to the New Hampshire Union Leader.

Really. So they're only letting the residents of New Hampshire go to the cheap hospitals. They must be a very small company that needs to watch costs. Oh, wait-they are part of Wellpoint Group, whose net profits were $2.84 Billion last year. Think they could let the people of New Hampshire go to any damn hospital they want to?

(Insert a lot of other health care companies and schools here- all vowing to cut hours down to less than considered 'full-time' in order to skate by the new mandate...the mandate to actually provide benefits for the people who work for you for (especially in these cases) little pay and who are trusted with the care of the most vulnerable citizens. So what this is really about is not "OH NOES- we are going to be broke if we have to provide for people who give us (in most cases) more than 40 hours of their lives every week taking care of others!" Actually- that is exactly what it's about- trying to work the system to get around doing the right thing for your employees and still protect their own cushy salaries and bonuses bottom line. Which is a total dick move.)

Now look at the restaurants, who are doing the exact same thing. Big chain restaurants, too- not mom and pop places. We're talking Applebees, Starbucks, Burger King- these are NOT small businesses. McDonald's opines that they HAVE to cut hours and avoid supplying health care because the ACA would otherwise cost them $420 Million per year. Yanno, they sell over 550 million Big Macs every year. Raise the cost of a Big Mac 75 cents and do the right thing, you assholes.

And finally, lets look at 'small businesses' this one (and it's actually listed under the 'Small Local Business' category- go look)-

88. AAA Parking, Georgia
Next year, AAA Parking will move half of its 500 full-time hourly employees (out of a work force of 1,600) to part-time employment. “Our executive team has spent extensive time evaluating the impact of this mandate, and the financial impact for AAA Parking is dramatic,” a company memo explained.

Truly? A company with *1,600 employees* is a small business? Puh-leeze.

The truth is that a business with less than 50 employees will not be affected...AT ALL.

What's my point, other than showing that Google is your friend and all you have to do is LOOK SOMETHING UP if it sounds suspect? That even an old lady with bifocals and a barely-finished-high-school diploma can find answers and shit in under a minute with very little effort?

Well, ya. That is the point.

Don't take anything at face value. Look shit up. Don't take numbers out of context- there are some big numbers up there that look really prohibitive till you set them beside the ones that matter- the net incomes and CEO salaries and sheer amount of sales per business.

Perspective. Get some, ya'll.