July 2011


Why is Social Security the program being mentioned for cuts with the federal budget fiasco? Oh, they are old people. Of course.

From the Voice of America:

If there is no plan to let the federal government keep borrowing funds by August 2, the country risks defaulting on its debt. The Treasury could not pay its investors, and interest rates would rise for anyone seeking loans from U.S. banks. The government also would not be able to meet such obligations as Social Security checks to retirees and to fulfill corporate contracts. (emphasis added)

Monies have been extorted from me since I was 16 and started being a working member of society. I was making $1.35 per hour and even though it was long ago, it didn’t buy much. It didn’t buy nearly as much as it might have because Uncle Sam decided that as a young teenager, I needed to contribute to the Ponzi scheme instituted by Franklin D. Roosevelt.

When my own older son got his first paycheck, he was stunned. He knew about taxes. He knew that federal, state, and city taxes would be withheld. He even knew about Social Security. But he wanted to know, “Who is this FICA guy?”

After contributing for over forty years, Social Security is in a mess. The Ponzi scheme isn’t working out the way it was envisioned. FDR didn’t even see far enough into the future to know that the baby boom would create this huge bubble of economic woe. Well, it is woe now that we boomers would like to accrue the benefits we have been paying into for so long. While we were paying into the pot, we were keeping all the other people afloat.

We wouldn’t have needed our benefits if we could have had the money we earned and invested it ourselves. But we weren’t permitted this luxury of keeping the money we worked so hard to gain.

So now, when things are bad, Social Security is mentioned as a cut. Not Welfare payments of any type, but the money that someone worked for will be withheld. Why is this?

Oh, I know. Old people won’t riot. If we withhold money from people who have not paid into the pot, they will get all righteous and nasty and riot. If we say, well a year is enough time to look for a job and cut back on unemployment benefits (another program that is actually paid into by employers), those young sturdy but somehow unemployable people will riot.

But if we keep money from old people, they will write letters to AARP or whine to each other. But they won’t riot. So, it’s the old people, the people who have been paying into a system – often against their better judgment and certainly against their wills – whose money will not be paid to them.

Perfect.

The very first cut to the federal budget should be the salaries paid to Congress, the White House, and the Supreme Court. Surely the money they make from special interest lobbyists is enough to get by during this time of hardship.

I am proud of my children. My sons turned out to be wonderful men. I hope I had some hand in that, but who knows?

I know some really great parents who have children who made really bad choices and got lost in a life of misery. I know some really ineffectual parents who were at least “poor” parents if not outright failures at the task, and yet they have offspring who turn out well.

Perhaps, children have a lot more input into how they eventually turn out than we give them credit for at this point in time.

Regardless of how it happened, my sons often amaze me. They do things that I wonder at, thinking to myself “Where in the world did they learn that?”

I can only assume that much of that stuff comes from their father. I know I’m far more vindictive, far less generous, and far more scathing than Dick or our boys. So, apparently this whole takes-two-people-to-make-a-baby thing might have some benefits to it.

Each of my sons has been a joy to me in my grandmother years. They have each become wonderful fathers themselves. They have each found a way to be lovely human beings in an over-pressured world. They are just great guys.

Craig has made his TV debut. How cool is that?

Congratulations, my son.

The air felt soft as I walked out the door. I felt like I was wrapped in a cozy, fluffy, warm blanket fresh from the dryer. This is a delicious feeling on a cold winter evening as one reaches for a book and bowl of freshly popped corn. It isn’t so good when one is contemplating a brisk walk.

It was not yet 6 AM and I had to make a decision before I was really awake. What sort of walk did I want to take today? Did I want to go for speed or for stamina? Did I want to do a regular 30-40 minute walk or did I want to remember this was my day off work and I could walk for an hour? What would this soft, fuzzy, warm air feel like later?

I opted for stamina. I made that choice before I even was down the driveway. I chose my path – the huge block. I would walk at a pace set for distance, not for getting done fast. I set out telling myself to walk quickly but don’t push it.

My pedometer with my stats for this morning's walk.

My path took me out the driveway and onto Law. It was still soft air but I was sure that wouldn’t last for long. Sure enough, by the time I was around the shortcut and back on my own street, it was no longer soft air. It was hot air and not the kind I’m used to getting from politicians.

I wanted to finish this task and I kept finding myself speeding up. By the time I got to Wescott, not only was the air hot, I wasn’t doing so well, either. I told myself I was doing the huge block and when I got to the turnoff to the big block, I just resolutely kept going straight.

I could hear them mowing over on the golf course. Motorized anything was sounding good. I kept walking. I kept telling myself to stop pushing the pace but just to keep walking. I would slow back down. And then I would notice I was once again moving faster and faster.

I looked at my pedometer at what I thought was the halfway point. I had gone 3337 steps so far. So I started doing math in my head. I also decided I should measure how many steps per minute I take on my walks. Just another statistic to fool with. I thought about that for a while and then noticed I was walking faster again. Slow down!

By the time I was over the bridge at the golf course, I was dripping again. I had wanted to just glow today, but apparently I couldn’t keep my pace slow enough for that. And so I started thinking about all my bandanas purchased as sweat rags when I was playing racquetball. I always wanted to match. I had lots and lots in every color. I gave them all to the grandkids.

I was in the same spot I was in last week when it started pouring on me. Last week, I noticed that rain water is not the right salinity for eyes and it burns as it drips into them. Today, I noticed that sweat is not the same salinity as eyes and it, too, burns.

All I wanted to do was get home. But if I walked faster, I was going to get even hotter. Since I’ve been walking in this neighborhood for a while now, I knew about how far from home I was at all times. When I got to the corner to turn back onto my own street, I knew I had six more minutes to home. I sped up.

I had to slow down.

I had filled my water bottle before leaving. On the beginning part of my walk, I sipped at it occasionally. By the second half of my walk, I was taking nice long gulps of water. As I came closer to home, I looked to see how much was left and how much I could allow myself to guzzle.

As the “glow” dripped from me, running down my arms, tickling the backs of my knees, getting into my eyes, I decided I could not get home and just plop in my brand new chair and get it all sweaty and stinky. I needed a different plan.

I got to the community center and the pool looked so inviting. Water. Right now, it was all about water. I had a new plan. In three minute, when I got home, I would march straight to the shower and just stand there. I would cool off, I would have water, I would then be able to sit calmly in my chair when I was all clean and I could start my regular day.

I walked in, face beet red, panting like a lizard on a hot rock, and Dick told me he had coffee ready for me. Of all the liquids in the world, hot coffee was not even on my short list.

I jumped into a cold shower and delighted in that. I then knocked it back to a cool shower, and finally took a nice warm shower and washed my hair.

And now, here I am, sitting in my new chair, sipping coffee and glad I got my 6,745 steps in early this morning.

Walking is healthy. At least that’s the message I’ve received. “They” told me that. Regardless of whether or not it is true, walking is cheap and it is easy. No extra equipment needed. No need to drive off someplace to be able to walk. I can just crawl out of bed and be out the door within ten minutes.

I started this nonsense almost a year ago. I got really lazy during the winter. I’m not a devoted athlete. I’m just a fat, old lady who doesn’t want to be this fat.

I’m not really fat. I know I’m not really fat. I also know I’m not skinny. I used to be skinny. I used to be really skinny regardless of how many French fries or potato chips I ate. I also used to be an athlete. But now, I’m just an old lady who has eaten more French fries and potato chips than she has burned up as energy. So I weigh more than I want to weigh.

Therefore I walk. This really has nothing to do with being healthy. I really only want to be thinner, so I get myself out most mornings and walk.

But if I’m going to walk, I’m going to be a bit anal-retentive or possibly a tad obsessive-compulsive about it. Last year I rode my bike around on my paths and figured out how far they were. I have lost that list. Really, I have just misplaced that list, but I’m too lazy to go and find it.

I do have a watch that measures my time and I would see how long it took me to walk each of my measured paths and figure out how fast I was walking. The list is gone and I have added new paths. So this method is outdated.

Next, I decided I wanted to know how many steps I walked on each jaunt. So I got a cheap pedometer and it clicked with each step I took, marking off step by miserable step.

But NOW, I have some new technology. I have a fancy silent pedometer. I can wear it all day without clicking and driving me, and all those around me, nuts. My fancy pedometer tells me now many steps I take each day. It resets itself to zero at midnight and begins the count again. This is a nice feature.

A picture of my pedometer, but not with my data on it. I have topped 10,000 steps a couple times, though.

It also measures out my aerobic steps separate from my normal steps. It counts aerobic steps as those taken at a pace of more than 60 steps per minute for a sustained period of time ten minutes or more.

Because I really did measure the length of my stride, it will also measure how far I’ve walked each day. Ah, there is the conundrum. Did you see what it did there? It measures how far I walked each day.

Since I’m out the door within ten minutes of waking, there aren’t really too many steps in there being measured that isn’t part of my aerobic mileage. But, when it gets colder , I will begin walking after work again and then it will mess me all up.

The other thing I was interested in was comparing the time I take to walk each of my many different routes. I can either walk the big block, the huge block, out to Westcott, up to Dorchester , around The Farm, out to the fountain, and at least four other paths. And then I have been known to walk on the golf course, especially on garbage day so I don’t have to trip over the garbage cans these morons set directly, square in the middle of the sidewalk.

I would like to see if my time for various paths changes and I would like to see if my miles on the golf course change, since I usually walk so many minutes out and then just turn around and come back.

I made a spreadsheet to track this. The fancy pedometer will download to my computer and it tracks both my aerobic and total steps for each day along with mileage. That’s nice, but I wanted more specific information.

Creating my spreadsheet did involve math. Oh, the horrors! I had to actually look up how many inches are in a mile. In case you need to know, there are 63,360 of them. Since I have my spreadsheet, I will be able to track all my information as well as what the pedometer does for me.

I won’t be any healthier and I probably won’t be any thinner. But my OCD will be tamed. For now. Just for this second. I hope.

When a doctor is put into a position to make a life or death decision, he or she is said to be playing God. I disagree. I think every time a doctor goes to work, he or she is playing God.

God created the universe, so they say. That universe includes parasites, viruses, bacteria, and a hostile environment hell bent on grinding down all living things.

God gave us pneumococcus which causes pneumonia. Science gave us penicillin and the doctors prescribe it in the proper dosage in order to cure what God started. They are trumping God’s will with their antibiotics.

God created free radicals and humans as well as other creatures suffer from a host of cancers. Surgeons excise these wild growths and other doctors then prescribe the proper therapies to destroy the rest of the rogue cells, chemotherapy or radiation therapy. They play God.

God created humans with warped DNA causing all manner of system malfunctions. Pancreases fail and doctors pass out insulin like it’s candy. Um, well, you get the picture there.

Essentially, the medical world is thumbing its collective nose at God and saying, “Not thy will, but ours be done.”

If we left God in charge of health care, no one would be worrying about the cost because it would be free. Of course, our lives would be much shorter. Just like long ago and far away, before science intervened.

Even those who are deeply religious and believe in an all-powerful God end up at the hospital. One of my friends’ friends said this about a hospitalized family member. “God is in control – He alone is the great Healer, the Great Physician.”

Well, if that is true, why go to the doctor? Aren’t we all expecting physicians to play God on a rather routine basis?  If God is the Great Physician, do we need to do anything about health care?

This type of devotion always puzzles me. It is like thanking God when someone survived, albeit totally mangled, some horrific car accident. I would prefer an all-powerful God to have prevented the accident in the first place. And if He couldn’t do that, then why thank Him for the survival aspect. He apparently didn’t have anything to do with the issue.

I used to watch people as they were getting ready for surgery, pray for God’s intervention. Really? You are 15 minutes from surgery. If God was going to intervene, shouldn’t that have happened prior to this? The next intervention is going to come from science and a well run staff in the OR suite.

I personally would prefer a technically gifted surgeon over one who was looking for God’s guidance during the procedure.

Anyway, the quote above puzzled me. God does not seem to be the great healer at all. Science intervenes and trumps the virus, bacteria, or trauma. Or not. But in all my years in hospitals, working in CCU, ICU, and OR, I don’t recall ever feeling, seeing, hearing, sensing some other worldly interference during a Code or surgical procedure.

Instead, the doctors, nurses, and technicians all played God and fought like Hell on Earth to save lives and conquer disease.

At 4 AM, God decided to put on a show for us mere mortals and outdo our own measly attempts at pyrotechnics. While God’s fireworks were monochromatic, they were still awe inspiring. The dog did not like this light show any more than she liked the show the night before.

After watching the flickering for a while, I fell back to sleep, much to the dog’s dismay. However, God was not finished with the light show and started it all back up again at about 4:45 only this time, just to prove the power and might, He threw in a downpour as well.

LC was not amused. In fact, she was so distraught, she began to pace. If she lived with some decent humans, her nails would be kept short enough to not click on the flooring. We have no carpet downstairs – only the FROG is carpeted. So, she clicked as she paced. She clicked on the fake hardwood floor. She clicked as she followed me into the bathroom. She would have clicked on the ceramic tiles, but she wasn’t getting that far from me, her protector against all ills except too long nails.

I may have dozed off again, or maybe not. I do know the next time I looked at the clock it was 5:55 and it was not raining out there.

I didn’t walk yesterday. I needed extra primping time before going to work for what I can only assume was a very good reason because I usually need a very good reason. Well, we are making our own company birthday cards and we were part of the picture for the cards. This meant, to me, that I needed to actually do something with my hair other than wash it. I also might want to do the entire warpaint thing rather than just lipstick and blush, my usual makeup – enough so I don’t look like a walking corpse.

All that extra primping took time and I learned that it is has been a very long time since I did something with my hair. Probably four or five inches of length and it was really a lot harder to fix than I had remembered. But I did remember how to apply all the makeup and looked like something more akin to photographic.

Since I didn’t walk yesterday, however, I really needed to walk today. And it had quit raining. So I really should walk. So I dragged myself out of bed, tripped over the dog who was lying right there in my way, and made it to the bathroom to cast off the jammies and don the walking outfit.

Dick was already up and warned me I was going to get wet out there. I informed it was not raining at the moment and took off.

It was miserable out there. I thought the rains would have cooled things off. It was 77⁰ out there. And steamy. I don’t know if the fog stuff near the ground was low cloud cover hovering at an altitude of two inches or if it was steam rising from the baked earth. Either way, it was damp. The humidity is 95% and there are gusts of winds up to .0000001 mph.

All that and there is not very good drainage here in the Low Country. It is called that because we are about 10 feet above sea level. There really isn’t any place for the water to drain to and so it sits in any slight indentation in the ground.

We also have lawn service people who care for the community property. Here in South Carolina these are usually Mexicans and these people are not exactly basketball candidates. I don’t know if they never look up, if they do and they trim as far as they can reach, or they just want to aggravate the taller Caucasian and African-American citizenship. Anyway, even on a good day, I get hit in the head with low lying branches since I’m the statuesque height of 5’6” and all.

Crepe myrtles are beautiful trees. They grow upright until they begin to bloom and since the blooms are huge and heavy, the boughs begin to droop. Whenever it rains, everything droops more. Today, where there are trees near the sidewalks, even the Mexicans could not have passed without getting drenched.

All the crickets and bugs and frogs and woodland noisemakers love it when it rains and so I was traveling with wood song. I love that type of noise and I lost myself in the serenade.

But the best part of the walk, even better than the soundtrack provided by Mother Nature, was near the pin at Black Robin hole 4. I took the golf path this morning to stay closer to the bug song. And there, near the pin, I startled a woodland creature. I had been on the lookout for gators and had missed something taller. But there was a sound like horse snorting and I looked to see the tail of a deer taking off into the woods. The deer was about the size of Trip or Harley.

All in all, I’m glad I walked. I didn’t go as far as usual. I managed 3902 steps for 1.89 miles. I did reset my stride length and so this is now probably an accurate, or at least more accurate, accounting of distance.

It was sure nice to get back in to the air conditioning.