Thursday, April 24, 2008

Postal Service

In case you didn't know, I learned the following from a talkative postal employee at the counter in Laramie today when I went in to mail a package and buy postcard stamps:

-- On May 12, postal rates will rise again, to 42 cents for a first class stamp and 27 cents for a postcard stamp. (I remember when first class stamps were less than half the price of a postcard stamp.) Not only will rates increase on May 12, but this will be an annual occurrence, so expect it and be prepared.

-- The government is selling off the postal service in bits and pieces, privatizing the institution. Did you know that the US Postal Service does more business in a day than UPS and FedEx do in a year? And that there is no way that any one business can take on and carry out the logistics that the USPS does on a daily basis? So, what will happen is that many smaller private businesses will take on various aspects of postal service. What this means, in part, is that we will no longer receive our mail at home; we will have to "go to a store to pick it up."

-- You can contact your Congresspeople and tell them you don't want this privatization to take place. The employee who instructed me today does not believe this will happen because he thinks the American public are basically lazy. I told him I think people are mostly uninformed; he agreed and suggested that someone should do a blog to get the word out. I told him I would put the news on mine.

I have done my civic duty. Now you can do yours.

Monday, April 21, 2008

HIatus: Take II

I am going away again for another week: to Joshua Tree National Park and points in between. I have never been and am excited to go. It will be a much-needed hiatus for all of us, since all I seem to do these days is yipe about politics. At least I'm still thinking. If you don't hear from me before I leave or while I'm on the road, I will be back... when I get back.

Maybe I will shake some hands and kiss some babies along the way, or vice versa. We'll see. I'm sure there will be tales to be told. I know how fortunate I am to be able to take off again like this, when some people can't, and am grateful.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Food and Mood

Sometimes it's painfully easy to bitch. But what is wrong with me when people in Haiti and Egypt and Mozambique are in an uproar because they can't afford to eat, period, and my complaints are about the fact that the meaning of "expanding" to the Safeway supermarket in this town referred to prices, not selection. You can now shop along a larger price range; for instance, I bought a box of Cinnamon Crunch for $2 a few months ago (and am still eating from it; don't puke), and I can also spend $3.50 on one bag of frozen vegetables that will last about a meal, organic or not. But you can no longer (I swear I used to be able to do this) buy fresh mozarrella and calamata olives from buckets in the deli. Maybe it really was that long ago I shopped there that I am confusing the pathetic establishment for Hannaford's in Burlington or something.

Enough of this. See, it is really pointless for me to yipe about not being able to get a fresh olive when there are people starving in the world because we consume too much engine fuel. That's only one reason, but we all may as well squirm a little bit instead of pointing at China this evening. China has received far more attention recently with that torch thing than is really warranted. I mean really, so what if there are more people in that country than in a whole passel of starving nations? We are still here in the US the most energy-consumptive country at this time on this earth. And as my Dad says, in his enchantingly corny way, "When the old mother is done with us, she'll just toss us off." Or something akin.

Really enough. What I want to talk about, apparently aside from what I just mentioned, is the list of stories that came to me this afternoon by way, as usual, of my sweet little NYT News and Politics updates. (BTW, speaking of politics, I got mail from Anthony Pollina the other day. You have to love him. Vote for him for Governor if you live in Vermont. You know, that is a small but generally sensible state. After all, you sent Bernie Sanders into the wilds of Washington; and Pat Leahy, who knows how to not shut up; and Jim Jeffords, Republican turncoat for a painfully obvious reason, and a good man. Hi, Sophie. Where are you these days? At least in Vermont politics makes sense. I even like Howard Dean, even though I campaigned against him. We were in the black there when he was Governor. Whatever problem this country still in its Puritan Aftermath has against being a little excited, a little emotional: UGH!)

So, let's go down the list before I kick myself off here and go back to prepping for my Wednesday interview (or just go to bed and whimper. I learned today, BTW, that not only must I pay $200 for teacher certification in Wyoming if I wish to grace the public schools with my presence and be paid for it, but I also must spend upwards of another hundred bucks to take a test saying I am qualified to teach Social Studies. I will go no further on this topic at this time.)

Here it is, from this afternoon's NYT updates:

Zimbabwe Court Refuses to Release Vote Results ,

=== There's a "democracy" for you. Solution: Go, George, Go. Send some troops in quick to show them how it's really done.

J.K. Rowling, in Court, Assails Potter Lexicon ,

=== I changed my mind on this one. Ask me in person for details. Changing my mind, by the way, does not make me "wishy-washy" or "waffley" or that kind of thing; it does make my mind not a steel trap like George Bush's, who thinks not backing down when one makes a mistake equals integrity, even if it leads to a lot of people dying, or some similar Bad Situation. (VOTE FOR ME.)

Warring Over Small-Town Credentials,

=== Obama was born in Honolulu; Hillary was born in Chicago. "Say no more." (To appease JK Rowling, a poor girl who got rich writing books with ridiculous names in them, I have placed quotation marks around the text of my comment, which was ripped off directly from Monty Python.) The best part of this headline, and dastardly new "competition"? "Debates over shots of whiskey, gutter balls and costly ham on the campaign trail." How much more American can it get? Sadly, my bet, since my MLB fantasy winning streak bid isn't winning, is that neither one of these yahoos- yes, I just called Barack one, too- knows what it is really like to be a smalltown working class schmuck. I know plenty of people who currently are smalltown schmucks, and are working class, but they don't have jobs. Quit putting on airs, you two, ignore each other, and speak to the people directly, please. Then follow through if you are elected. (John McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone; pretty cool, but Istill feel bad for military kids.)

First Question for Clinton: Be Aggressive or Lay Off?

=== Answer: Just shut up. I can't decide if hearing Bush's or Hillary's voice makes me more nauseuos anymore. And it is not just the cadence; the subject matter and manner in which it is presented could improve immensely.

Views on Money for Iraq War, and What Else Could Be Done With It,

=== Do we really need journalists to inform us on what else could be done with it?

Democrats Wrangle Over Words and Beliefs.

=== If they would get together and present a unified front... where is Lech Walesa and solidarity when needed?... maybe this country would stand a chance. As it is, they will not.

I realize I have made a rather aggressive campaign pitch this evening. Oh, and offended people if they were reading what I'd written about them? I only wish.

Next meal you eat, ask yourself what's worth it.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Mysterious Missing Torches and Modems in the USA

I cannot say better than the Jim Christie and Amanda Beck of Reuters today (, what happened to the Olympic torch in San Francisco: "The Olympic torch's only stop in North America turned into the mystery of the missing flame on Wednesday, as San Francisco abruptly changed the route, angering both China supporters and protesters.

"Thousands of people converged along the announced scenic Embarcadero waterfront route. But after the opening ceremony, the first runner was flanked by blue-clad Chinese security officials and carried the torch into a warehouse. The torch eventually turned up miles away, leaving crowds baffled...

(Aside: Come on, people, you were really baffled by this?)

"San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom told Reuters that the route had to be radically changed at the last minute or the event canceled to ensure public safety.

"The bewildering changes united supporters and protesters who had been divided by politics. Both sides were angered by the sudden changes to the only North American leg of the torch's journey to the Beijing Olympic Games in August.

"'I think it's cowardly. If they can't run the torch through the city, it means that no one is supporting the games,' said Matt Helmenstine, 30, a California high school teacher who carried a Tibetan flag."

No one is supporting the games, Matt. These thousands of people are supporting a political struggle, one side or the other, choosing to become incited and impassioned by a cause without knowing the historical or political or social or ethnic or religious background or implications of the issue entirely, just like when Bush and his guys took us into Iraq on a quick jaunt to liberate the people and disseminate democracy. (So, why isn't he more popular? We seem to understand the mentality, en masse.)

Meanwhile, back in Laramie, I have chosen to become incited and impassioned by an event that offends my notion of human decency, no matter the culture, the politics, the time or the place. So, the Future First Man (just because April is hard, like Mexico, on me, and I took a really short hiatus from this blog, doesn't mean I'm not still campaigning. And just because neither Obama nor Hillary is expected to appear on Stephen Colbert's Philadelphia road show doesn't mean that he won't invite me along at the last minute)... anyway, the FFM ordered a modem so he could connect his new laptop for superfast internet. It did not arrive as scheduled on Monday. On Tuesday when he called Qwest to find out why, he was told the modem had been delivered via UPS and signed for. No, he had not signed; he had been at work. The woman at Qwest actually argued with him about whether or not he had been at work. This is enough to get a person all het up. At least me. Eventually, he learned that the modem actually had been delivered to Apartment 2 in his building, not to his apartment, and had been signed for there.

He went downstairs to Apartment 2 and found the occupant with the package opened (a package that had been addressed to him, the Future First Man.) The occupant claimed to have called Qwest to ask why the company had delivered him a modem, but had been put on hold and didn't want to wait for the answer. (Well, this is America, after all.)

I ask you, why would you sign for a package that was addressed to someone else? That had someone else's name on it? And then bring it into your apartment, in the same building, even, and open it and keep it as though you had purchased it your own self and possessed it outright?

A) Because some idiot put the wrong apartment number on the package, so it's mine. It came to my apartment. Who cares what the name says?

B) Because I am a starving college student, and no one has brought me to a free steak dinner in ages, so I need to sell it and use the money for a steak- and beer- and cigarettes if I have any leftover.

C) Because I am a straight-up thief.

If you answered A, I am at your door right now with my jacknife. B, you will wash the Future First Man's dishes until we move to Aubergine House, and I will think about throwing you a steak once in a while. Or at least some bones. Once we get in the house, your duty will expire, and so will the steak opportunity. You will not be allowed through the doors of such a hallowed establishment. If you answered C, a harmless looking young man from Antwerp with black hair and dark framed glasses, wearing a sweater from the 80s and arse kicking tight red pants, who likes to strike The Thinker pose while sitting in the frames of large windows, will be at your door soon to kick your arse.

This is a true story.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

M Doughty Dought

Some people's jobs (Uncy, when you are in my Cabinet, you can still do this) allow them to find and listen to this stuff at work.

M Doughty Dought's favorite book is "Go, Dog. Go!" Plus, he's singing like only he sings, and you gotta listen.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Why Some People Run Screaming from Public Schools

I'm so proud of myself. I completed an 8 page bureaucratic piece of bully caca application for a job, a teaching job. It makes my skin crawl to do such things. Applications like this are generally so redundant. Send along your resume with the paper on which you were just required to list every single job you have held since you first rode your bike down to the plastic plant where your dad was working and said, "I just got a job." (Selling vegetables at a farm stand.) I am pleased to report that while this application took me an hour or so to complete, it wasn't as mercilessly repetitive (read: wasting of my time as well as that of the people who have to read it, and how do I get a job making that kind of stuff go away?) as some, and was in fact pretty streamlined and straightforward.

Now, the real problem: This application is for a teaching position. A certified teaching position. This requires certification. I don't have that any more. I let my teaching certificates expire years ago, except for the Substitute Teacher certificate I got here in Wyoming just-in-case. That one lapsed in December. The problem with all this is that not only does it cost $200 these days to get a piece of paper letting people know I am still capable and qualified to teach, after having done so for several years, but this particular application is properly bureaucratic: not streamlined at all and not especially clear in its description of the specific hoops that people of certain stripes must jump through in order to be deemed OK with the system.

My skin is crawling now, and I feel like I want to punch someone in the head with my jacknife. I just don't know who. (Cloud Lurker today, a fine upstanding veteran substitute teacher in the Casper, WY, schools, warned me , "You do know an anarchist doesn't do very well in the closest thing to communism the 'west' has ever devised.. that being a public school system...")

Now that I have a calming bowl of Cinnamon Crunch in front of me, let me deliberate on why it burns me, this system. And you can commiserate... or not.

Is there not a shortage of teachers in many places these days? Specifically a shortage of Special Education, Math and Science teachers, but in some places, very urban and very rural, shortages of teachers in general? So, why would it cost several arms and legs for someone who is qualified and ready to go into the field, to get a certificate? (I will not even go further than mentioning what I believe to be the heinous practice of requiring paying for fingerprints.) Are teachers not paid quite a bit less than other working people, to educate the nation's future civic and workforce participants and leaders? Quite a bit less than people who don't have to pay to be told they are OK to do their jobs? (Go ahead, parents, throw it at me. But see, I don't have a problem with proving I'm worthy to spend time with your kids; I just don't think I should have to pay a lot of money to prove it. Or if I do, then I should be guaranteed a job, and a well-paying one, before I fork over the cash.)

---And really, anyway, maybe we should make the kids start being fingerprinted and paying for certification as students so we can be assured-- mm-hmm-- that they won't be shooting other kids with guns then killing themselves, or plotting to murder their third-grade teachers.

This only leads to another discussion, of our thriving letigious society, or whose responsible for whose behavior, both of which I am not prepared to go on about right now. I'm on my second bowl of cereal and not feeling better. I've spewd about all this enough today that I finally feel like I'm done.

Where are our priorities?

I'm going to make a hotel reservation for Denver and read and forget about it for now.