Sunday, June 28, 2009


I know; this is the eightieth time I have used that title, or something like that, but I am so frustrated! So frustrated that, even though I have the time, I don't feel like organizing the stuff that's meant to be posted- right here in stead of my gripe. Besides, I don't have all the info I need to support me in being a) more frustrated or b) less frustrated or c) no longer frustrated at all, so I will just hold off.

This is another little hiatus. So, don't expect much from me for a little bit.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Economic Rebellion: New Orleans Speaks

From Brian,The New Orleans Dixieland Trumpet Player

I have done the Adv. Method #1 but it just adds to the agony of shopping and waiting so I suffer as much as the suckers behind me. Nothing will improve the shopping nightmare in the big box places because it is all self-service but you are right about not being able to find any help at peak hours. 100 years ago, more or less, Henry Ford offered his employees $5 per day which would be over $100/day now. With this, he got employee stability and kept the smartest workers, one of more of whom came up with the ideas leading to his assembly line. Ford considered his employees an investment, even though he resisted the UAW until 1940? In our newly built big box, Wallyworld, I would venture to say that at least! half the employees are retirement age or above. Some of these oldtimers can barely walk but they are schlepping the carts back to the store in the desert heat and doing other chores that should be done by a career-minded 20 year old, if there is such a thing. No matter what generation you're from, life is a big waste of time with no creativity, no chance for success, no profit-sharing, no emotional support, no medical care. Everything is built on Wally's model. Maybe Ford made some mistakes and maybe Hitler liked him a little too much but his ideas made his company successful along with his employees on 5-6 continents. How can you compare Wallyworld to that?. We are regressing, de-volving. We are in the big box and can't get out! And if we do get out we'll fall off the edge of the Earth, because it's flat, y'know?

K, everyone, Edison Rathbane is chomping at the bit to get his next installment out here, and I am deep in the throes of building up a website so we can keep the dinos in Laramie, and a report on philanthropy in natural resources (you all know that as individuals in this country, we contribute more to causes annually than corporations and foundations combined, right?) So, anyway, I will get a couple guesties in for a few days- and the FFM and I are going on hiatus this weekend- then I'll be back sometime next week with Service American Style Pt. III: How to Get Stellar Service at a Restaurant: Always Bring Some Reading Material in Case the Waitstaff Are too Busy Flirting and Making Party Plans to Do The Job for Which They Are Paid.

Well, crap, I guess I just covered that one, right?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Canisters are for blowing up.

Zowie zapping crappo, there are e-mails just a'piling up in my box for posting, so I had better get on my own stick with the next installment of Service American Style, so I will have space and time for the Economic Rebellion.

Where are we now? Torrey, UT, a small town near Capitol Reef National Park. I realize we may be running out of fuel for my camp stove, so late one morning we head on into the local gear shop. At least, it purports to be a gear shop from outside, and sho'nuf, inside there is gear, with price tags attached. The girl behind the counter asks if she can help us. (Let me stop here for a moment to assuage the ire of those of you who are saying, "girl? girl? why 'girl?'" why not WOMAN?" Look, I like to be called a "girl" way more than "ma'am." So, it's not a slight. Don't get me going on misplaced feminist righteous anger.)

I spy the fuel canisters immediately so say, "No thanks, got what I need." I bring a can to the counter, where I place it for scanning and payment. The girl remains seated behind the counter, extends the scanner in her hand, and guess what? It barely reaches the canister of fuel, so she is having one hell of a time scanning. Well, peeps, what is the answer to this dilemma? She could stand up, right? And look like a store clerk who gives at least one crap about her customers and her job. Nope. She stretches, in a slow, put-out way, across the counter until her pudgy hand can touch the can enough to pull it lamely toward where the scanner can do its job, scans the item, and then proceeds to howl about how Gentle Tommy isn't likely to find the memory stick he seeks for his camera at the store next-door where he plans to look, and that the only place that might possibly carry one is...

Well, he's gone by now, so I listen enough to gather the information I need to make myself even more annoyed with this employee than I was at her lazy attention to my attempt to purchase a can of stove fuel.

Two years previous, Mark and Mark and I spent a night in a motel in Torrey. There were bedbugs.

p.s. I swear I found this pic on the web, and I swear it is the tree my brother and I sat next to in the car in a downpour for lunch, eating olive loaf boloney sandwiches and drinking the PBR. I swear.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Service American Style- take one

I've told some people about my experience at Jax trying to exchange a jacknife the other day, and the whole episode reminds me I told you all ages ago- or at least a couple weeks- that I'd be raving in the near future about the service I have received at various retail and food service establishments in the past month or so.

Let's start with Grand Junction, CO. My brother, Gentle Tommy as RobRohrTM called him not long ago right here on this blog, and I were on our road trip, that rainy one. to southern Utah. We stopped at a motel for the night and went next door to the gas station to pick up beer and snacks. I approached the counter with the beer, a bag of chips, and a small container of dip, which sits now, still unopened, in the fridge. I set the small number of items on the counter, and the young female clerk proceeded to show me the ultimate in multi-tasking. Thank gawd for America and our tightly woven relationship with technology! She was texting and ringing me up at the same time, and she got the amount correct!

"Do you want a sack?" she asked as her fingers deftly navigated the tiny keyboard of her mobile phone.

"No thanks," I replied, handing her my credit card, which she ran without dropping the phone. Nice! Then, she handed me the receipt and asked, without even looking at me, "Do you want a sack?" again.
"No." I took the goods and left the store. Wow. It hardly took any time at all, and I never had to deal, really, directly, with the person behind the counter because she was only half there! That experience was worth a patriotic bust into the giant bag of Lay's I'd purchased because, as the ads will tell you, you can't eat just one. So don't. Because the ads say so. Feeling a little hypnotized now, like you want to run out and buy a bag of your own?

I have stuff to do before heading out to my five little jobs today. (Remember, these are hard economic times, and only apparently the most skilled of us can get "real jobs," like Convenience Store Clerk.) So, I will wait on the other stories, but just to whet your appetite, there is more, from Torrey, UT to Billings, MT, and then, the Jax episode will conclude my foray into the world of the skilled retail employee. Thank gawd there are still jobs out there for these people, and they aren't withering their intellect- and supreme people skills- away!

Monday, June 22, 2009

It's Hard Like Ireland

Here's that comment in response to Edison's bog box trickery, from Jacqueline in Ireland. I see I have correspondence from someone else, so I'll check it out and post as appropriate. Meanwhile, I'm working on bringing you all that little piece on the superb American service I have recently received at retail and food establishments in my travels. I believe everyone should be enlightened so you can all be more aware of how well you're treated when outside your home spending your hard-earned cash- or playing with your credit card.

I do that all the time. Just bring a certain amount and put the necessary items up front and then if it is too much (more than I anticipated) i ask her to take the remaining groceries back.

Whilst i find in this current economic climate one must be price conscious, so I do find that I am more loyal to my purse than I am to the "soul traders", whose prices can be exorborant. Nevertheless, I will only buy my meat, fish, and poultry from one specific craft butchers. I am loyal to my meat lol.

All over europe a recent addition of more generic brand shopping stores have been added. These are called Lidl and Aldi - just generic core brands, not the augmented variations of such consumer brands. The box of stuff is cheaper than the plastic smaller container. perhaps 2 euro different in price and the same core product in the box - their tricking device lol. It took a long time for people to embrace these methods. What was perceived by the customer of mass produced products for the mass market wasn't tha actual reality. Soon the snobbery went out the window when they realised that for same basket of goods, they could make a saving of 50% rather than spend their money in the more long established super-market chains. People of all walks of life now shop in these standardised stores to save the extra buck so to speak. Nevertheless, the shopping with "no trills no frills" has come with somewhat of a disadvantage to some, if one does not drive, which is common in the United Kingdom. I am lucky as there are two of these stores in town. Nevertheless, I think the concept is excellent in terms of managing a change in consumer behaviour. These stores on a weekly basis introduce new limited products to attract retained and potential customers. I personally think their fruit and vegetable selection is great - much better than the giant supermarkets.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Fight Back! (without your jacknife)

And now, the final installment on the big boxes. We have commentary from Jacqueline in Dublin, Ireland, coming our way next.

Thanks again to Guest Editor and Rabble Rouser Edison Rathbane, affectionately known as Diz.

Fighting Back
If you want to send a message to the big box stores, you need to tell them in terms that they will understand. Hit them where it will foil their profit plans, and tell them that you know their game. This also covers you financially. It’s a blast once you get over what some would at first blush seem embarrassing. I have been using this technique to much advantage for about a year. Want to get a message through to BigBoxezRUs? Here’s how. Put a fixed amount of cash in your pocket, and go shopping. The internally calculated rate of inflation is set by the national office and local store managers. The price increases at the big box store are set to see how far the average shopper is going to stretch their spending to get what they want on any shopping trip. (I won't go into the concept of "Elasticity of Price" right now, but can) If a shopper does their thing one week and spends say $200, the next week it may cost them $210 for the same set items. Wages are not going up weekly to match these increases. Yep, I DO realize that is 5% inflation in a week, but we have all seen it the last couple of years.

Shop as you did last week, and don’t worry about the costs. Don’t even change the time and day of the week that you normally shop. When you go to the register, place the items on the register table or belt based upon your prioritized order of need. That is, put the stuff you really need on the belt first. About three quarters of the way though check-out, ask the sales clerk for a running total of your purchases. When you hit or go over the amount of cash you have in your pocket, stop the clerk and say “I’m sorry, that’s all I can afford this week.” “The rest will need to be restocked.” It’s honest. The clerk will be a little frustrated, but it won’t hold you up at the register. You can go right back in and get the missing items later if you wish, but the store will have to pay employees to have the items restocked. This is actually generally done by lower management who cost the store more per hour than the general stocking clerks. The store will start monitoring this fairly quickly if more than a couple of people do it.

Advanced Method 1
This is for the less faint hearted. Follow the steps mentioned above with one change. Don’t ask the clerk for the running total, and wait until the final total is reached. You are generally going to find that you don’t have enough in your pocket to pay for all this stuff. No problem. Just tell the clerk that you didn’t bring enough money, and have them take things off the bill. They will reverse ring the items until the preferred expenditure balance is reached. Meltdown. The sales associate will probably not be trained to reverse charge the items on your receipt. If you shop at a busy time, you will probably be “Checked-Out” by an assistant department manager or department manager, who has been called-in to cover register duty. They will often need to call-in one of the more senior register people who know how to back-ring. This will slow down the line, and will not please the folks in back of you. The costs associated with restocking these items still apply.

The Value of this Process
In a recessionary period, stores are gambling that you will stretch your budget to meet your wants. This is good for them, and bad for you. You should be sticking to your budget. They should be trying to keep their costs competitive. You are just looking out for your budget by using these methods. You are also sending BigBox management a strong message, and giving them very powerful economic tools. They will be learning the things that folks are not willing to purchase in an inflationary period. See… you are helping to fight inflation… pat yourself on the back...YOU are an Economic Warrior… go treat yourself to an item from the “BigBurgersRUs” dollar menu on the way home.
More fun and games next week,

Of course, I have a comment on all this: We Americans are dumb. We allow ourselves to be led by advertising media to think we "need" things that really we only "want." Not to say it's not OK to want things and to get those things we want, but I believe this is a dangerous track that perpetuates the rift between rich and poor, chain and local. Tha's all- unless later on I find time to put the rant I gave the poor FFM last evening on the privileged chumps who get pissed because they have the time and money to go rafting down the Arkansas River and when they do, they find their "wild" view marred by graffiti-covered UP freight cars that are sitting all over the place because the economy is a mess and people aren't shipping as much right now. Rahr!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Thirsty Koala

So cute, aww!

Big Box Mentality

Our second of three installments by the infamous Guest Editor Diz, AKA Edison Rathbane:

The big box stores have money making figured out. They maximize profitability, and hack-back their costs when they can. There are some strategies you can use if you know their game. Let’s take Wallyworld, and Homeboydepot for example. Both tend to have their greatest numerosity of employees on duty when the least number of customers are present. They have this charted, and know their timetables. This allows them to maximize their employee effectiveness in stocking, and working their stock. When the greatest number of shoppers are present, the fewest employees are present. This maximizes profit because fewer employees need to take the time to assist shoppers. This doesn’t hurt sales for either company to the extent that it positively affects profitability. Here’s your chance. Figure out when the greatest number of employees is there, and shop then. You won’t be fighting the crowds, and you will be able to get assistance. Most often you will find that this is when the store first opens for the day. Contrary to popular belief, employees like to do a good job, and be helpful. If they seem a little on the dumb side… please realize that they are just probably tired. Management wants to get as much out of them as possible... it effects their profit sharing.

The big boxers also push the edge with cash register employees who work the “Front End”. Register employees generally get a little extra in their pay checks because out of the new hires, they have the most skills that need to come to bear immediately. They are handling the money. To maximize profit they cross train most employees that work shifts when the most customers are there to also be able to work the registers that are very frequently short of position employees. This virtually assures greatly reduced assistants/associates on the floor when it’s busy. The same wisdom is true here. If you want assistance… shop when there are fewest shoppers.

Tomorrow: Fighting Back

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I just could not shut up on this one.

I'm sorry; I'd planned to let Diz's spiel take the spot for a few days, but before I can let that happen, I just want to ask:

What the hell were these old men doing in the Young Adult Section at the library, huh? (Story link below):

Christian group sues for right to burn gay teen novel

I Love Guest Editors!

If you have not read the recent issue of Newsweek in which Stephen Colbert selflessly serves as Guest Editor, acquiring nothing except more fame, a crapload of laughs, and probably some cash, then you should see it. The FFM kindly liberated a copy from the blerdletters' and brought it to me, as he is so often wont to do.

Imagine the thrill I received this morning when I woke to an e-mail from my Old Debate Coach ("old" meaning "back-in-the-day") and Older Pal ("older" meaning that our friendship has survived the test of time, whereas the Plymouth State College Debate Team, sadly, was axed, sort of like the Geological Museum was axed here at University of Wyoming, except that I trust the Academic Powers That Be are embroiled in a far larger outcry at the loss of the dinos than that of the passing of the Debate Team.)

Anyway, Diz gave me permission to place a lengthy Just-for-Fun he has compiled here on my blog, so what the hell? Why not? Yesterday I shamelessly copied and pasted a funny I got from Kathy first thing. Now, since I haven't figured out how to use that cool "Read more..." feature in which I can hide text and you can click the little "Read more..." and get the rest, and since this is at least as long as anything I've written recently, I will let Mr. Edison Rathbane be our Guest Editor for a few days. Thanks, Diz.

Today, an Introduction and the Numbers Thing. Tomorrow: Big Box Mentality
Here we go:

The world today seems absolutely crackers, with nuclear bombs to blow us all sky-high. There's fools and idiots sitting on the triggers. It's depressing, and it's senseless, and that's why...

I didn't write that... It's from old Monty Python stuff. I believe the album was called "Contractual Obligation". It's always good to start from a basis of political incorrectness.

For those who know me, I'm sorry. For those who don't know me, you'll figure me out soon, but I'll still try to charm you with my personal allure. I have been known to use my personality as a contraceptive. I am many things by trade, but a Lawyer/Economist by training. I know that sounds terrible, but some still sing vespers for my soul. "We're the darlings of angels, demons, and saints, and the whole broken hearted host..." I didn't write that either...Leonard Cohen did... but I digress.....

The current economic nightmare is a quandary. On one hand, folks are taking pay-cuts and lay-offs, the other gives us screaming inflation. The worst inflation is on products that carry high multipliers like fossil fuel. If I had to design an economy totally predestined for self destruction I'd have a nearly perfect model. Welcome to America... I didn't write that one either. I still read, research, and do forecasting. I watch the trends. I scratch my head a lot. It seems that the average consumer is just plain outgunned by the big box stores, and nearly all the venders out there. "The price of gold is rising out of sight, and the dollar is in sorry shape tonight." umm.. that's not me again... it's Tom Paxton... OK... so that's the Arlo Guthrie version (he does an extra verse about slime that makes my day)... so sue me... I could use the money from the countersuit... or call me anything, but late for dinner. So what did we see at the bottom of the rabbit hole on our trip there and back again? Some intellectual pain, to be certain, but also some amusements were found within the process. Read on, ye of simple mirth. Ye Sons (and chicks too) of Anacreon Arise!

Edison Rathbane
Relationship of Numbers
I tend to teach Law and Economics on a temporary basis. "Temporary" meaning I just don't have the stomach for dealing with academic administrators (please note lower case here... and that Arlo Guthrie verse...since the first amphibians crawled out of the slime). I tend to do pretty well until some department chair, dean, or president presses enough buttons to convince me that they really want to know my opinion... ohh well... C'est la vie de madamme et messeures. During these Black Robe periods I have a little fun along the way. My generation is the last to have learned Higher Math without the aid of calculators and personal computers. Yes, I am also enough of a geek to still carry a slide rule in my briefcase. I still prefer pencils (Dixon Ticonderoga #2 Please!) over pens and those silly expensive hand held electronic thing-a-ma-bobz. I still prefer to play music on wooden instruments to television and the other electronic distracters. I had learned to use (and still do use) the electronic tools of the trade, but they did something terrible to my brain. By the early 1990's I was losing my relationship with numbers. Instead of carrying the weight of a clipboard, legal pad, and pencil... I was toting around this Honeywell-Bull thing with a 24 pound battery and was endlessly searching for electrical outlets and modular telephone ports. What a frikkin boat anchor. Sure, I reckon it impressed some folks, and frightened some of the Cuba Libre's, but it seemed to make me more tired by the end of the day, and dumber. I couldn't sling numbers around my head anymore. So.. I took some action.

I had remembered my high school math teacher Mr. Moulton. He made us do some crazy math things in our heads… sort of like a speed drill. One was.. fast... what's 3x 27? He taught us how to think stuff like that through in our heads. He also taught us to play the game of adding things up in your head as you put them in a shopping cart... so I went back to that... just to see if I could get the number relationship back. It didn't take long to come back. Numbers may not be passionate exotic lovers, but they are faithful. Since that time I have gone back to the paper, pencil, thinking thing, and I remembered my relationship with numbers again. Still when I go shopping, I add up the whole cart in my head as I go shopping.. it’s a skill nearly anyone can do with practice. Dick Moulton was one sharp cookie.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Simple Home Remedies

If all goes well, my braces come off today. It has to be a good day!


Monday, June 15, 2009

I hate money.

I have been a depressed and completely stressed little girl the past several days. Before I go any further, I would like to say that the FFM is way cool; he has been very supportive during this trial and will be an excellent First Man in Aubergine House when we get there. Supporting the Prez has got to be serious business.

So, you know that I have been struggling with the meanness and greed and all that of the American Way specifically, and we humans in general. Then, several days ago I received a credit card bill in which I was charged an over-the-limit fee and my rate had been raised from a reasonable 4.2% to an exhorbitant 28.99%. On top of that, my monthly minimum payment, because of all this, was figured at $572! I freaked.

Having grown up in a blue collar working class household with parents who had never learned to handle money- or seemed much to care about the repercussions of screwing up- I have mostly been pretty diligent all my life with the ole cash. We have a hate-hate relationship, money and me. I recognize that the barter system is barely alive any more and that debt is the common course of action for those who prefer to survive in these times.

I admit, I have had my troubles. I've always wanted to have more money so I could do things like travel and take classes and- well, that's about it, really. But, I have been unwilling to even touch the corporate ladder, much less play the game and climb it. Thus, my hate-hate relationship with money. However, I do take my debt to others who extend credit very seriously. So, you can imagine that I pretty much lost it when I got that bill the other day.

And it, along with our injustice system, academic political power plays and the like have basically worn me down over the past several days so that I actually slept in past 7 this morning. I ached all over; not much was fun; that kind of thing. And I dreaded having to deal with that bill this morning when doing my weekly budget magic. I felt pretty confident that my magic wand wasn't going to work very well on this one.

So, I began by calling in to get my balance and all that, to see if the extra payment I'd mailed on return from the rainy camping trip I took with my brother had cleared. And was I surprised! The little automated voice (not nearly as interesting as that on the FFM's new dollar mobile phone toy he picked up yesterday) told me that I had available credit and that my payment had been received and that I only owed $13 this month! Then, as soon as the voice stopped talking, a real live guy got on the other end of the phone to ask if he could help me! I explained why I had called and said it sounded like everything had been fixed from that end, and he assured me that was the case, that all those charges had been rescinded and that I am in the clear.

Gawd, it's like a big redemption scenario at the end of some film noire!

So, now the depression is practically gone, and that just makes me mad at myself too, for being so emotionally tied to the evil dollar bill. But I'll just coast on this day with lighter footing and more energy and be thankful. Whew. The world remains a mysterious and not that bad place to be for a while.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Mean People

I have an ex-BF who used to say, pretty frequently, that the US is a "mean" country. Mostly in reference to our correctionals system, which in my mind has the punishment down pat, but forgets the "correct"ing part. And today I would like to provide one more tangent example from my own life- well, more accurately, the life of someone very close and therefore affecting me as well- that proves my ex was right- even though, ironically, he is a mean American. Only in his case, I think he really doesn't get that.

"You are correct, **(name witheld because I don't want this person to get some further punishment) is back in his regular cell, but then the infirmary did not send his medical chart back down, so he didn't get his heart medicine or blood sugar medicine again yesterday. I am so frustrated with the jail system. When he moved back to his cell block his old bed (read: slab) was taken, and people were sleeping on the floor, but a few people were released, and an empty bed became available. So he asked the guard, "Could I please move to bed 17? It's empty.' and the guard just looked him in the face and said 'FUCK YOU'. Can you believe that? **(Yes, actually, I can.) So he waited a little while and politely asked again, and the same guard slammed the door in his face. What an asshole, huh? I told him to wait to the 11:00 shift change and just ask someone else.

"I guess I never realized how flagrantly human rights were violated in a correctional system. I know that people who commit crimes have to have consequences, but to treat a non-violent small-time offender so poorly and in a manner which is inherently life-threatening (by refusing necessary medication) just sickens me. In my mind, keeping a human being confined against their will and refusing them the medication they need to live is nothing short of ATTEMPTED MURDER on the part of the Sheriff's Office, and they should be prosecuted as such. If funding does not allow for proper medical care for NONVIOLENT inmates as the Head Nurse explained to me, then they should be sentenced to HOUSE arrest with an electronic monitering anklet. He has a whole basket of medication sitting here that he bought and paid for. He has had three heart surgeries, has 2 stents in his heart, high blood pressure, depression/anxiety, and diabetes. He works out every day, eats properly, and does everything he can to maintain good health. He should have to pay for his crime with his time, not his physical health.

"In fact, I am so angry that I would like to address this issue on a political level, as I wonder how many people have died as a result of receiving inadequate medical care in jail. I think that if it is determined by medical proof that a NONVIOLENT offender cannot receive adequate medical care in jail, and that it could result in serious bodily injury or death to the individual, that they should be sentenced to house arrest with electronic monitering. In my mind the same would not apply to violent offenders, as this would pose a threat to the general public. Maybe you could give me some advice as to how I could go about trying to pass a bill like this. "

Well, babe, welcome to America. Sorry to say, but I don't feel terribly patriotic right now, on top of the fact that I don't feel particularly like returning as a grad student again to a university that is not in keeping with its proposed mission.

But, this jail incident gave me an opportunity to divert my attention to some other infraction of humanity, and I replied to this intimate with yet another rant, but it's someone who takes my words seriously, so I felt better, in the sense that I am now raving mad about something else, but at least know I'm being heard on some level.

"Wow, **(person I love), that has me all pissed off, and finally something to take my mind off the museum closing. **(hurtful ex) used to say that this is such a mean country. Ironically, he is a mean person and doesn't even realize it. But, anyway, that's beside the point. It's true. Look at a major case like Abu Ghraib or Gitmo, the way we treat other people we think maybe might have done something that offends us but we aren't sure but that's OK because even if we suspect it we can act with such hubris as to think those people are not human and can be held in horrible tortuous and neglectful and abusive circumstances as we like, just to get revenge- just in case- and to prove how **(for the faint of heart and the religiously and morally horrified by swear words- when in fact there are far huger misappropriations of behavior out there) f*ing great we are. Because we are just a bunch of great f*ing people who can ruin the entire economic system of the world and then insist that we still know best and the people who ruined it for the rest of us know more than the rest of us so should get a whole bunch of money from us that doesn't technically exist so they can 'fix it.'

"I want to puke. Actually, all of what's going on in the big world (GM) and the state world (the museum) was enough on my soul that I've been struggling really bad with my own depression and having anxiety attacks, which I had finally been able to get under control after having been with **(hurtful ex). So, anyway, this whole thing about **(name witheld to avoid further punishment) is just one more instance of people in power abusing it.

"Here is where I would start, and all of the research can be done online:"

In fact, this could be a difficult thing to do. I mean, in my own research for a photo of abuse in American jails, I have found mostly extremely lenthy lists of Iraqi mention. We're so stuck over there we don't have any idea, or care, it seems, about what we do to our own people in our own country. I am so checking out, right after I give you this link to a relevant report, which I did find:

(Hooray for technology, right? At least I'm not howling about my laptop these days.)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Educational Institution?

A few weeks ago, there was a big stink in the local news about whether or not state officials, like the Governor, were using state vehicles for their own private transportation? Truth was, they were, and still are, as far as I know, and the Governor himself said that was OK in his book, that he personally allowed something like 13% of miles he would be reimbursed for, he considers as his own use and therefore does not take the money. How sweet. The fact that these state modes of transport are 4WD Yukons that get... how many...? 14 to 21 mpg depending on city or highway driving... Forget even about that extreme waste of a precious natural resource. Especially forget about that because Wyoming is a fossil fuel producing state.

Then, last week not only was the UWYo Geological Museum axed because of state budget cuts, but 45 jobs were sliced out, too, for development offices and the graduate school... you know, the parts of the institution that help bring funding and students in?

Now, let's put two and two together, and you wonder why I am almost ashamed- except that I like the people in my department and am learning there- to return to this university in August for another semester? I wake up in the night feeling like puking.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

She said "yes!" She said "yes!"

I woke up this morning, and several times during the night, with all kinds of thoughts in my head, some of which I thought I'd flesh out here. Then, I read my weekly MegaVote update and saw that Cynthia Lummis finally voted "yes" on some bill! This one:

Transportation Security Administration Authorization Act -
Vote Passed (397-25, 11 Not Voting)
This bill would authorize programs, advisory groups and spending to improve security at U.S. airports and rail systems. It also prohibits the TSA from using whole-body imaging machines at primary security checkpoints of airports.
Rep. Cynthia Lummis voted YES

Now, I personally am a little disappointed about that last part because I like to dance for the whole-body imaging machine, especially in the busiest of airports. I feel pretty strongly that it's my civic duty to entertain fellow travelers who have to endure the hold-ups while little old white ladies are hauled aside and checked more thoroughly than the rest of us.

But, no matter! She said "yes" to something! The woman is not incorrigible.

Speaking of such things, this will be my last comment before I go feed the dogs and clean a house and work in a garden (I am thinking of writing a best-seller called, "Jilted GM Employees, Come to the Successful Side: a Primer on Being Resourceful in What's Left of the Marketplace." What do you think?)...

... Anyway, the other day at lunch Nanners mentioned how refreshing it is to have President who is willing to compromise for a change, to look for common ground, rather than the hard-headed precedent. I found that even though I am in supreme disagreement with several of Mr. Obama's recent moves, I agree with her comment- though I prefer the term "collaborate" to "compromise."

More to come. Crap, I haven't even touched on the subject most dear to my heart during my recent travels: service by service employees; or any number of other topics that are stewing in my nog.

Monday, June 8, 2009

This is nice and all, but...

I'm sitting here listening to the news on NPR because I have the time, being underemployed this summer. I'm not complaining about that; I'm resourceful and am putting together work, unlike people who are married to their jobs and if and when they lose them (GM) are completely down and out, apparently.

Anyway, the news contains yet another story about how so many jobs will be produced this summer by this federal government stimulus money. Now don't get me wrong: I'm glad our tax dollars- or future debt to China, or whatever the source may be- will provide employment for some of us. However, there are strings attached to a lot of this money that have people in the position of receiving and using the cash to scratch their heads and in some cases tear what hair they have out of their skulls.

What I am talking about is the timeline attached to a lot of this money- millions of dollars, at least- requiring recipients to put all the money to work in a very short span of time. People, I am not going to bust on the bureaucracy here, but if you have had any level of civics education from a decent instructor, you know a fundamental rule of government: Productive activity works incrementally and takes time, especially when there is mandatory monitoring and reporting- a good thing- attached to public funds.

At just one conference alone last week, the American Society for Mining and Reclamation and Billings Land Symposium in Billings, MT, I heard from numerous agency sources in both technical sessions and social happy hour conversations, a common theme: We are being offered millions of dollars, but we have to spend it in X amount of time on projects that take more than X amount of time just to plan properly. And if we don't use that money in that X amount of time, we will lose it.

Oooops. Look; these economic hard times took a long time- years- to manifest, and trying to fix it all in a few short months is like trying to apply a Flinstones bandaid to skin cancer. That's all I have to say today. Back to the news, and out to some gardens to make a living, now that the sun's broken through the clouds.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

I'm glad to be an American

where at least I know I'm free... to speak up about what a moran I am...

Friday, June 5, 2009

In hard economic times

there are so many decisions to be made, and I know it's tough, and I can either agree, or not (GM!) But when it gets to the local level, and I can actually potentially make a difference, this is where I feel the urge to act.

The University of Wyoming Geological Museum has been slated for closure under state budget cuts. I am going to copy my letter to the editors of various newspapers around the state (as well as President Buchanan and Governor Dave Freudenthal), and I encourage all of you out there who understand the importance of such a unique resource to the education of people of all ages and the contribution to the local economy to voice your disapproval of this decision.
Please consider a letter to the editors of the Laramie Boomerang, Casper Star Tribune and Cheyenne Eagle Tribune, as well as to UWYo President Tom Buchanan and Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal. All these people can be reached easily via the web. THANKS!

June 5, 2009
Dear President Buchanan, Governor Freudenthal , Editor and Wyoming public:
Making budget cuts in tough economic times is a difficult decision to make. While I respect the energy and deliberation spent in making this decision , I am compelled to write that closing the UWYo Geological Museum is a mistake.

Having worked at the museum for two years in the prep lab, I have seen the impact the institution has on visitors from Laramie, the State, and as far away as Chicago, Texas, even Boston. In summer, parents plan vacations around bringing their children to see Big Al. They go to Yellowstone, Cody, Thermopolis and other Wyoming venues along the way. School groups from all over the state attend tours of the museum. Instructors on campus and at LCCC bring classes for instructional and art exercises. Local families visit regularly with their kids. Grandparents bring their grandchildren. Highway travelers stop for an interesting break. The Geological Museum serves as an important educational tool and brings money to the local economy.

Geological resources available in our area are unique and are on display for the public at large through the Museum. It strikes me that closing such an important institution in our region, which employs one full-time director (who has been on board for decades) and one part-time (this used to be a full-time position) office associate could not amount to much in terms of the entire budget, but would be a significant loss to the Laramie community and to those who travel hundreds and sometimes thousands of miles to experience this little gem.

Leaders, please reconsider your choice. It was not a good one.
Thank you.
Lisa Cox
University of Wyoming graduate student, resident and contributor to community

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Now, this is dedication to the sport:

You're Out:
The national pastime's shocking death toll.
By Jon Mooallem
I caught a foul ball once. Sort of. It was in the fall of 1998, at Coors Field in Denver, and I was sitting on the third-base side. The ball blazed over my head, then thudded into a woman's left breast a few rows back. A second later, it shot out from under my seat and rolled into my foot, as though it had just finished a trip through the interior of a miniature golf course obstacle. I reached down and picked it up.
I did the whole ecstatic exercise. I held the ball over my head. I turned right, then left, showing off my trophy. Then I caught sight of the woman behind me. A small crowd of loved ones and wincing strangers had huddled around her. I decided the only gentlemanly thing to do was to toss her the ball. But I had to wait a moment, until she straightened up and stopped moaning.
More at:

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Sorry, guys. I have all sorts of stuff on my mind somewhere about this ridiculous GM bankruptcy; that it's beyond me how people who give piss-poor service in service jobs can keep their jobs as they apparently do when there are plenty of people looking for work; and so on and so forth, but I'm too freaking sad to drag it out and put it somewhere. And this weather is dragging me down. And it drives me crazy how when I am in one of these bad moods, how I can't seem to think of or talk about anything but myself. I suppose it's a good thing I can't stand to be around people when it happens; otherwise, undoubtedly I'd dig an even deeper hole to crawl into.

What the hell?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Pictures for Sad Me

Thanks to the FFM- and "Pictures for Sad Children," of course- for today's contribution, since I don't have the time to ramble about the GM bankruptcy. A clear case of the invincibility of those "too big to fail."