Mar 31, 2017

A View on Commenting on Blogs or Are You a Troll?

I don't know if children today even know about trolls that live under bridges and grow warts on their noses and chins. When I was a child I actually did not like going over bridges because I feared those creatures.

As it turns out, even at my age I find trolls lurking between the lines of blogs and in the comments and I am still afraid of those creatures. They are very frightening because 1) they are mean spirited and hateful and 2) they usually post anonymously because they are cowards. So there you have it.

No, I have not had a troll comment on this blog for quite a while. The Frugal Traveler for the New York Time called me amateurish a long time ago but that really doesn't count. He didn't do it here on my blog anyway...he did it in the NYT's so I don't know if that counts.

It was on a fellow blogger's comment section when I saw something that made me a little sick. RJ over at RJs Corner wrote a blog post called Inside The Loony Bin – The Beltway Baiters about the tactics cable news used the involves baiting politicians during interviews to start a discussion that draws people in and sells airtime. He suggested that we be very careful to keep our view of the world balanced. The suggestion was that we avoid both the extremely conservative channel as well as the liberal news networks. Here is what Jan Bo (no link available so anonymous) said in her comment and my response:

Personally, I think the only thing on your list we should pay attention to is ISIS (and maybe North Korea). If we are willing to let our soldiers (someone else’s son or daughter) be killed for the “good of the country” we should be very aware. To me those are the things we should be discussing- how to disengage from war.
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  • Jan, I really don’t know how you arrived at this point of view but I will tell you that RJ gives the most balanced and rational view of anyone I know. If you don’t agree, move on or add to the discussion in a civil tone. Don’t “troll” a blogger that is stating what they believe in their own space. It is unbecoming and mean spirited…period.

I don't think I misread the tone of her comment at all although I suppose that is possible. Whether or not, I had to let RJ know that her attitude is not one shared by his readers.

Any thoughts? I would love it hear what you think.

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Please go over and read this article. I especially found information about the FCC rule involving equal time in political discussions that was repealed under the Reagan administration. It was called the "Fairness Doctrine."

Mar 30, 2017

I Have to Say This For Insurance Companies...they make me suspicious!

One of the many frustration that everyone faces if they are lucky enough to have insurance, is dealing with that insurance company. It turns out they are playing games with us and that is not right. And it makes me very suspicious.

I was a classroom teacher and the wife of an administrator. That occupation had me rubbing shoulders with people that were not classroom teachers. Even by default I knew about how the group insurance companies worked.

For example, my teaching partner was on the committee from our teacher's union that chose what company and plan those of the rest of us would have to pay for. At that time a plan that my husband had set up many years before was the one being used.

With the old plan if there were teachers that were married, both of those people did not have to buy insurance. One insurance policy covered them both so the money that the union negotiated with the board to pay for insurance was put into a separate account to be saved for the teacher when they retired. It drove the insurance company nuts. All that money not being paid to them for insurance that no one needed did not work for them.

A very good insurance salesman convinced the committee to relinquish the perk. But here was the kicker. The policy the insurance company gave the teachers in that district was totally different from the policy given a school district only a few miles away. I don't know who was the winner and who was the loser. I think the insurance company representative saw it as a game or it may have been that they were rewarded for selling one policy over another. I do not know that for sure and never will.

So on another subject about insurance...have you ever been turned down for a claim, called the insurance company and been told that the claim would be paid because you called, that the company did that sort of thing as a policy? I imagine most people don't call and challenge the refusal to pay so it is a financial gain for the company. This company was MODA, one of the insurance providers used by our public retirement system in Oregon.

That leads me to pharmaceutical companies. I have taken drugs for high cholesterol for many years. I was simply amazed at how cheap generic drugs were compared to those that are not yet able to be labeled as generic. My insurance company paid thousands of dollars to those companies and I paid the co-pay. It is almost sinful.

I realize that a drug company invests a lot in research but why do I think that they take advantage of that mark up long after the research is paid for? I would love to be privy to that type of information!

I know that everyone has a story to tell and we all bring our own slant to those stories. I just want someone with an unbiased eye to tell me why?. 

I think insurance companies and pharmaceutical firms need to be held accountable for their price increases, we need to be able to go across county (not even possible in our state) and state lines to shop for insurance coverage. If we knew more, we would not suspect that they all took advantage of Obama Care for their own gain.

There is something that stinks...all we need to do is figure out where that smell is coming from and clean it up. It could be as simple as using a little common sense.

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Note: I am one person that thinks everyone should be insured, much like our laws that require car insurance. We do it with Medicare. It comes with a cost but a healthy nation is a financially successful nation. It all just follows.



Mar 26, 2017

In the Next Booth

As you have all suspected, I am a bit of an eavesdropper. If you are sitting in the next booth I will know what you are talking about, whether I am interested or agree with you and will even sneak a peek to see what you look like and how old you are. I am interested in you even when I shouldn't be.



So today (Sunday) my husband and I headed to downtown Tucson for breakfast at The Cup cafe located inside the old Congress Hotel. The Cup is a local favorite. We were told we would have a 50 minute wait so we just wandered around and I took more pictures of the interior. I have been doing that very thing for many years.

The old Congress Hotel was the place where
John Dillinger was found and captured in 1934
I always wonder how our next booth experience is going to work out no matter who is sitting beside me. This was one of those Sunday morning experiences that make me smile.

We were seated very quickly inside near a window next to a family of four. Mom and dad and two boys aged around 9 and 5. The older boy was inching over away from his mom very near to my husband because that is what 9 year old boys do.
Isn't he a cutie?
As most parents will do, the mother apologized for the little boy's behavior and we struck up a conversation. I like children and find myself talking to them without even realizing what I am doing. We told them how we missed our grandchildren when we came to Tucson to stay...all 12 of them and plus one great-grandchild. It was not long before the parents offered to lend us their children (jokingly) adding that while we may be wanting to go back to Oregon soon, a few minutes with a 5 and 9 year old would bring us to our senses and we would not go home to our grandchildren at all. That made me laugh.

The littlest boy offered me his coloring page. It was such a sweet gesture He had heard me say I missed my grandchildren like him.

He had written "pretend" words across the top of his coloring and I "pretend" read them back to him. His amazement at what he had written showed on his face as did the pleasure at being affirmed in his efforts.
"The cactus is on the mountain and the sun is coming up!" I read to him.
[Squint your eyes and you can "pretend" see the sentence. :)]

Have a wonderful Sunday!

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Mar 24, 2017

The Game's Afoot

The Game's Afoot Dear Watson
I have been a fan of the Sherlock series both the one on BBC and the one here in the United States. The idea that when good is fighting evil, the satisfaction comes not only from getting to the finish line but also from running as fast as is possible. The thrill of the quest is sometimes all that is required. As Sherlock would say "the game's afoot."

So, here in the USA, we are in the midst of our college basketball championship season so game seem to be on everyone's minds. Even here on the world of bloggers. It may turn out that the "game" is becoming a meme of sorts.

Michelle Poston over at Rubber Shoes in Hell talked about the game of martyrdom...you know that one where a person's story of their life is so much worse than anyone else's. I was playing this game when the man I was talking to reminded me that he flew in Vietnam and lost his friends in that war. I lost one. Recently, when it was pointed out to me that women loves to stay home with babies, so men worked much harder than women did. Actually, I gave up on that one because I felt a little bit of pity for the guy.

Another post by Carla Birnberg on Unapologetically Herself talked about being average. She embraced her "averageness" pointing out that being average is not a bad thing. In fact, being successful does not necessarily mean being above average. I liked her post a lot because it reminded me that games are not necessarily about winning
but are also about life choices.

I am not a game player in anyway. The fact that I play golf as a game surprises me as much as it does anyone else. I like to be good at whatever I do but that does not mean that I need to win to feel good about myself. That is just me. But...sometimes I will say that I do know that "the game's afoot!" and I know that I do want to win...a lot. Generally that feeling results from the need to prove a point even with myself.

So the game is on. It doesn't matter what game I am playing or why I want to make my point. What matters is that as the game is played, I do my best. Because in the end, I am only competing with myself.

It is a thought!

Have a wonderful day.

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We are playing a golf tournament tomorrow that we won last year. We were accused of "cheating" to win...so let me tell you The Game's Afoot! We do not cheat ever.







Mar 22, 2017

Mom and the Symphony

As I age I realize what a remarkable person my mother was. It seemed she was everywhere at once...and maybe still is.

She would have loved my garden...I learned
everything I know from her.
You need to remember that she never had a driver's license. She did learn to drive but my father in his infinite wisdom just never found the time to take her to town so she could take her test. There was only one car so I don't suppose it would have made any difference.

Still up until the time she could not live alone, she managed to get around one way or the other. She had a very active social life and her calendar was filled with lunch dates and church functions.

We were from a very small town so our exposure to the fine arts was limited. It wasn't until she was nearing 80 that she discovered the symphony. The orchestra would travel from more than 100 miles away to play on our local college campus. And my mother was always in the front row.

I suppose that was how she knew about the romances, marriages and divorces of the playing members. It seems the conductor and the lead violinist were married and then divorced. The new lead violinist became the second Mrs. Conductor after a whirlwind romance. (There may have been a baby involved but I don't know that for sure.)

I have always wondered how she knew this kind of thing. Her ear was to the ground always and nothing happened in her front yard that she didn't know about.

Her neighbor was a drug dealer but she got along with him just fine and called him David. I think she figured this out by watching. I never heard about a police raid or anything so I never did know for sure. She would have turned him in I think but she knew his mother so I suppose that made a difference. The only thing she didn't like was the stink that came from his house once in awhile.

I suppose I have inherited her curiosity about people. But I don't think I will ever be as perceptive as she was. Thinking about her makes me smile!

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Mar 17, 2017

Alexander Hamilton on "Exil[ing] an entire category of people without hearing or trials." Was That A Good Idea?

I was reading a blog post the other day on the emotional response we have to words and how reading expands our perception of other people's take on the world around us. The ideas that the post started flying around in my head was amazing.

The Hamilton book is at my bedside now. Yesterday was a day of rest for me so I sat up in bed with a pencil reading the book and underlining passages. It was amazing how looking at life through a periscope makes things so much clearer. The right and wrong of things is easier to see when we are talking about what has happened and then have the privilege of actually seeing the outcome.

The passage that caught my interest yesterday was related to the emotional response of the rabble and radicals of NYC to those people that hung back during the war failing to decide to join the cause. In a law passed by New York, Tory's were evacuated from the city and sent back to the place they came from. In fact New York City celebrated Evacuation Day on November 25 for over 100 years beginning in 1783.

Alexander Hamilton opposed that law and defended those British sympathizers courts of law. Here was his thinking as stated by Ron Chernow, the author of Alexander Hamilton:
He railed against the baleful precedent that would be set if the legislature exiled an entire category of people without hearing or trials. If that happened, "no man can be safe nor know when he may be the innocent victim of a prevailing faction. The name of liberty applied to such a government would be a mockery of common sense."
Hamilton disputed the rhetoric of Tory baiters and said categorically that they are motivated by "little vindictive selfish mean passions". 
I might add here that Hamilton saw that those people being evacuated were taking the new country's monetary wealth with them. "-seven thousand had sailed for Nova Scotia in April" of that year and he "feared for the economic wreckage that might ensue from the large-scale exodus." so the very rich left with the money before the evacuation order because they saw the handwriting on the wall. It took many years for the new nation to catch back up again.

Change a very few words in this passage and we could talking about today's news. We could insert Muslim, Mexican, Black, Canadian etc. History is repeating itself. As history does that very thing, those of us that sit watching have the right and obligation to reference that happened in the past. We can and should learn from the past because it is being played out once again.

Now, you have to know that Hamilton was the man that actually came up with the concept that is now our constitution, the one that Jefference so elegantly put into words. He wrote and submitted a resolution to the Continental Congress setting out a plan for amending the Articles of Confederation in in 1783 or there abouts. Our constitution was not passed until 1787.

The reason this is all so interesting is that Hamilton wrote everything down. His words were there for everyone to read and understand. We are learning how permanent words are even online on sites like Twitter and Facebook even today. They NEVER go away.

I am beginning to see that the way the American people feel now about so many issues are the same emotions our founders felt. Fear, bigotry and the knee jerk reaction are not new things. We are smart if we take heed and take a look at history and decide if we want out place in history to be remembered one way or the other.

It is all about words and books and learning. I liked that blog post a lot. I wish I could remember where I saw it.

What do you think? Is that a good idea?

It is just a thought.

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Note: I am beginning to understand now how the cast of Hamilton felt so emotionally attached to this issue that they addressed Mike Pence during a performance back in November. The past has become very real for that cast in ways we cannot even fathom. I thank them for that!

Mar 14, 2017

What Do Your Keys Tell About You?

My husband bought a new diesel truck many years ago. It was one of the few of that model around at that time and people...mostly men...were very interested in how a "power stroke" diesel truck worked. I am not a truck expert so I have no idea what that means but evidently it was pretty impressive.

The truck was a salmon color and had all the upgrades so it seemed very luxurious to me. It did whistle a little around the windows when you drove over 70 but that was a minor issue. I didn't like going over 70 anyway,

My husband was in heaven. My grandsons thought grandpas truck was very cool and owning the truck meant we could buy a fifth wheel RV. Life was a lot of fun.

But what impressed me more than anything about owning that truck was how many keys guys that do "truck talk" in front of the hardware store have. I stayed inside the cab of the truck as they emerged from the store and asked my husband about his new truck. We watched as they kicked the tires and asked to see under the hood. Their keys jingled as they inspected the underside and dropped the tailgate to get a better look. Having that many keys gives a person a aura of importance I think.

My husband was a high school principal for many years. He carried a key for every door in his school. Students figured out right away that there was nowhere to hide inside that school when he would show up unlocking closets and janitor rooms. No one had ever done that before. Those keys carried a lot of power. The jig was up and they headed back to class.

It turns out that you can tell a lot about a person based on how many keys they carry on their belt. My friend met a couple the other day. They both worked in the hospital. One worked in personnel but she wasn't sure about the other. However, the fact that he had a lot of keys on his belt led her to believe that he wasn't a nurse. Nurses didn't get to have that many keys she told me.

See what I mean.

We have carried keys around for years not knowing what they unlocked but remaining hopeful that a forgotten lock would be found for every mystery key. Right now I don't have a set of keys at all. Ours were stolen from our car and it turns out that it will cost several hundred dollars to replace the car keys so I just do without. We share what keys we do have. Someone out there has a set of keys with no car and a whole bunch of mystery keys. I hope that works out for them!

When my parents died, there were keys to important locks that I never found. I suspect that everyone has a junk drawer where spare keys to forgotten padlocks are stored. The mystery of all those keys will never be solved.

So, how many keys do you carry? I am just curious.

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Mar 9, 2017

I Could Do That But Why Would I??

When was the last time you sat down to write a letter or a short note? Have you become as dependent on that smartphone and texting as I have? the wonderful devices suggest the next word and do a spell check as I am writing. 

I was at the golf course yesterday and I needed to leave a written note for a friend. I found a piece of paper and a pencil so I could do the task. Do you know how hard it is to even find a piece of paper and a pencil?

Then I began writing the note:
I lave...no have
New piece of paper:
 the clothes....no cloths for the table. 
New piece of paper:
Their...no there...are plenty. 
Barbara
I wanted to add more but I had torn up three note pad sheets and just gave up. Now you might think that I would worry about that sort of thing but I don't. It is a bit like that bicycle I used to ride. I COULD ride it if I wanted but what is the point.

It is just a thought.

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Mar 5, 2017

I Needed a Little Laughter in My Life

I live in 55+ resort in the winter. The park is large but not so large that we don't know each other and a lot about each other. If you want have a secret you cannot leave your house.

So once a year we get together and put on a show. A group of friends get up on the stage and sing, lip sync, tell jokes etc. so the rest of us can laugh at them. It is one occasion during the year when our auditorium fills up with standing room only. My husband and I bought two of the last three tickets. We were very lucky.

I did not realize how much I needed a really good laugh. We have some very big talent in the park but it is not that so much as the willingness of people to put their dignity on the line for our pleasure that brings everyone back.

The queen of the lip sync turns 80 today. She can bring any vocal to life. I don't know how she does it. We love her performance a lot. We also loved the guy in the background lip syncing with her song, I am a Natural Woman. I know...you needed to be there but still....

As we were leaving the auditorium I stood talking to a younger woman. She smiled at me and said It is so good to have a really good laugh isn't it?

That was when it hit me that we have stopped laughing as much as we used to. That is not good. So, I challenge you to find a story or picture that is funny to post on Facebook or Twitter. We all need a really good laugh and you can make a difference. Post them to me @retireNstyleblog on Facebook or @barbblogtwits on twitter.

Have a wonderful day!

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Mar 1, 2017

UberTaxis: I needed a little excitement in my life!

Ok, those of you that live in the world of mass transit and taxis and rap and continuous texting may think I am old fashioned. I suppose you might be right. I take pride in the fact that I drive myself (thank you) and listen to jazz. I try to keep an open mind though. I am sure there are other better things out there in the world.

Even though I generally drive myself, like Miss Daisy I do need a lift once in awhile. Take last week for example. I was having day surgery on my hand for trigger finger and my husband had signed up for a golf tournament with a friend for that day. I needed ride to the clinic so an Uber ride seemed a good choice.

I left our one car with my husband. He was coming to get me because surgery clinics will not turn a person that has had even small surgery loose with a Uber driver. I know, that just didn't make sense to me! What is the worst that could happen? Right?

So the appointed hour arrived and I call Uber. My husband had me put the Uber app on my iphone and set me up with a credit card account. The app worked like a dream and I booked a driver. I could see where he was and I could even watch his progress towards the gate of our community. It doesn't take much to entertain me I admit.

I had put on a clean pair of socks and blouse to coordinate with my skirt and set out to walk to the gate to meet the driver. Everyone on my street wanted to know where I was going all dressed up in socks and a skirt so I felt very special.

When I arrived at the gate, the person that is usually in our little guard house was gone so no one was there to open the gate for me. I knew there had to be a secret button somewhere but could not spot it. Leaving is a lot harder than getting in I have discovered.

Once I escaped through the gate that an incoming car had just opened I waited by the curb. Sure enough, there he was. James, my driver. Life was good.

We set out for the clinic at a reasonable rate of speed and I was feeling pretty fine. Then I noticed that James had began texting. I looked out the window assessing if I could jump if things got out of control but that didn't seem to be a good idea. I hear that texting and driving is very dangerous. As I turned to look back the phone was gone and rap began playing quite loudly (for me) and again I looked out the window thinking about jumping when the music stopped...you guessed it...the phone reappeared.

My own private Uber driver
works in Portland...my son-in-law driving
in Mexico.
The ride was punctuated by rap, text, rap, text and I began to bob my head like one of the bobbly head things on the dashboard. Actually, I kind of liked the music and the driver seemed to be in pretty good control. I could tell because his seat was reclined almost totally and his head was nearly even with mine.

As we approached the clinic, traffic picked up and there was a little zooming and weaving but I was bobbing and so I just went with the flow.

I didn't find any money for a tip in my purse. Like Miss Daisy, I get a little forgetful at times. That was when I told the young man that there would be no tip. He turned toward me and his beautiful college age face smiled at me. He said not to worry. It was just fine.

That was when I knew that I was in very good hands. James was a really nice guy. He didn't even blink when I told him that I even liked his "funky" music (no he didn't laugh at me) but he needed to keep in mind that most old people can be cranky about things like that.

His parting comment was, "Oh I know...I try to keep the cussing down too."

I admitted that that was a very good idea.

So, for all you city people that get to ride around in taxis and zoom from here to there, I want you to know that I am a little envious. That really was a lot of fun and a little exciting. I need more of that sort of thing in my life.

Have a wonderful day.

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