My Onion Pi

If you can figure out the name, you'll know what it's about. Fortunately, I'm literate. I'm also funny on occasion. Just beware of the flying PMS.

Friday, August 18, 2006

A Hammy's work is never done...

Man, time flies when yer working yer butt off. This has ta be the busiest summer I have ever had. I can't believe it's August 18th already.... I have been working on my absurdly overambitious summer project of painting my entire household interior. I did get Ham Jr #2's room done and aside from the bronchospasm I had from spray painting the hardware on her dressers everything went really well. Nothing that a breathing treatment and a little steroids wouldn't fix. (Those meth heads don't know what they are doing....they ought to try Prednisone - talk about a buzz! Holy shit...) The room looks fabulous. In fact if it was any cuter it would explode. I painted her walls and trim 1950's pink, sanded her dressers and headboard and painted those white with black hardware, and put in little shadowbox shelves and a new rug. That was last week, this week I painted the living room and hallway, and ripped out the last of the wall-to-wall carpet. I decided to let Ham Jr #1 help me. I figured I was being a bit of a hypocrite because if she was a 9 year old boy I would be teaching him how to do that stuff. Actually, she was a lot of help....couldn't have done it without her.

I wish I had a digital camera I would take pictures. It's just that I have to be dragged into tech stuff kicking and screaming..... I think microwaves were out for 10 years before I finally got one, and that was only because Edith and Archie bought it for me.

So guess what? Queen Snarfetta is moving to California. She was going to stay with Rockdog, but he dodged that bullet (LOL). So anyway, while I was talking to her new prospective landlord (to give a reference) we discovered that we're both disgruntled old hippie chicks!!! How great is that?? Snarfetta's new landlord is an old California radical flower child (LOL) and we've decided to team up and make the world a better place. I'm not sure what we're going to do just yet....but I'll keep ya posted.

So Kimmy is going back to school! YEAH!! You go girl! (Hang in may suck a bit but you can do it.) I'm proud of you. And she got to meet Coffeedog live and in person. So nice.
Speaking of Coffee..I discovered after painting a wall or two that my new livingroom color is very coffee and cream like. Needless to say I like it...

So, I have a tech question (FS5, Nukie, etc...) I keep getting a notice from Microsoft that support for Service Pack 1 ends October 10th, but when I downloaded Service Pack 2 it made a mess of my e-mail (among other things) so I took it out and instead ordered the CD but do I need to install it and what will happen if I don't??

And what's with this blogger beta edition??? Do I hafta sign up for that?? What is it and why does it exist??

Anyway, if I haven't been around that's the reason why. I'm gonna cruise a little and see what blogs I can read.


Monday, August 14, 2006

The world according to Hammy

Nukie had posted a comment on Onion Dribbles that has me thinking. I guess blogs mean different things to different people. Maybe I'm being reactionary but I feel compelled to explain myself somewhat.

I went out to breakfast Friday with an old high school friend. She told me how much she likes reading "the blog", although she doesn't leave comments. It's funny because there aren't too many people in the "real world" who know about it. So I guess that it leaves me a little room to wander.

I told her that the nice thing about having a blog (with relative anonymity, if I don't count my brothers) is that it lets you become a caricature of yourself (an exaggeration if you will).
Part of what makes me, me is that I care about the world around me. I don't like injustice, corporate greed or a government run by billionaires who pretend to give a crap about anyone who isn't. I don't like the use of other peoples kids for cannon fodder, or using tax dollars for personal political agendas. I don't like not being able to buy a decent made item stamped "Made in USA" and I don't like the outsourcing of white collar jobs to India. I don't like conveniently porous borders to slave stock the so-called "unskilled labor" jobs with illegal aliens and I really don't like the shafting of the middle class American by business and government alike.
I don't like capitalism "gone wild" that makes money without any conscience or accountability, I don't like successive generations inheriting "crumbs from the table" if anything useable on this planet at all, and I don't like the state of health care in this country and the growing number of uninsured (or underinsured) people.

The problem is I'm not rich, I'm not powerful and I'm not in politics. But I still care.

So I have a place to talk about all of that.

As far as personal stories, writing has always been a way for me to take the things I'm thinking about out of my head (or heart) and put them on something relatively innocuous, like paper or in this case e-paper, so that I can view them from a different perspective. Turn them all around and look at them from all angles I guess. There is an art technique called chiaroscuro. It is the arrangement of light and dark. The light parts are viewed as important and necessary as the dark parts in forming a picture. I don't write things to make people feel bad, or make someone look bad (unless it's that asshole Bush and crew). I write about things to learn about myself. How am I connected to these people? How do I feel about things that happen or have happened and what it means to me now, if anything at all. And sometimes stark realities just make a good story. That's not to say the story will always be a happy one per say. But sometimes it's not an unhappy one either. It's just irony. Irony is one of my favorite happenings in life. Even when it doesn't turn out well. There's just something about irony that I find appealing. I don't know what to say. I do write some funny stuff. Actually, I write a lot of funny stuff, I think...

It's like when I used to work in the OR and they'd hand off some body part or another and you'd stare at it, sitting in the bowl. You'd stare at it with this kind of strange mix of revulsion and fascination and think things like "Boy, we sure do look a lot like chicken sometimes." or "I'm never going to eat steak again." or "Holy shit, is that what that looks like." or "How the hell am I supposed to fit this in that container?" or a whole lotta other weird thoughts.

Sometimes ya just need to say things. If nothing else, just to see if there's anyone out there
who feels the same way.

-Ham for a Day

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The latest "good idea" from the government

The newest idea in welfare reform:

"...under new federal rules, studying for a bachelor's degree no longer counts by itself as an acceptable way for people on welfare to spend their time.

A decade after the government set out to transform the nation's welfare system, the limits on college are part of a controversial second phase of welfare reform that is beginning to ripple across the country. The new rules, written by Congress and the Bush administration, require states to focus intensely on making more poor people work, while discouraging other activities that might help untangle their lives.

By Oct. 1, state and local welfare offices must figure out how to steer hundreds of thousands of low-income adults into jobs or longer work hours. They also must adjust to limits on the length of time people on welfare can devote to trying to shed drug addictions, recover from mental illnesses or get an education.

This second generation of change reverses a central idea behind the 1996 law that ended six decades of welfare as an unlimited federal entitlement to cash assistance. The law decentralized welfare, handing states a lump sum of money and the freedom to design their own programs of temporary help for poor families. Ten years later, the government is tightening the federal reins.

Many state officials and advocates are furious. "You had fixed block grants in exchange for state flexibility," said Elaine M. Ryan, deputy executive director of the American Public Human Services Association, which represents welfare directors around the country. "Now you have fixed block grants in exchange for federal micromanagement. . . . That was not the deal."

Aside from government micromanagement, I really don't think this is a good idea. I'm not saying send them to Medical School, but shit...obtaining education that will help get not only that one person off welfare, but their family as well. And create a role model of a working parent instead of a welfare parent, not to mention a parent who went to college.

I've paid for my own education, and still I'm not a fan of handing out college degrees to welfare recipients (or prisoners for that matter) but it makes more sense than paying them to sit around on their asses, or work jobs that still qualify them for welfare...

Once upon a time I taught (adult learners) the Certified Nurses Aide classes at a job I once had. They gave me a group of about 17 or 18 people of varying ages and races. I took the job seriously, and worked to make these kids and older adults successful.
I had a girl in my class who looked like a typical trailer trash dumb ass blonde. When I graded the first exam I was shocked to see she had gotten one of the highest grades in the class. When the class was over I started to talk to her about her exam. What struck me so much about this girl was how insistant she was that she was stupid. It took me months to convince her she was not only smart, but that she had the ability to go on with her education and become a nurse.

I had the highest passing percentage of CNA's in the entire history of that facilities classes. That class and I turned more than a few peoples lives in a better direction. A couple years later, after I had left that job, I got a phone call from that girl's boyfriend telling me she had just graduated from Nursing School. He told me she wanted me to be at her graduation, instead of her Mother, because her Mother was an abusive alcoholic loser who couldn't care less for her daughters accomplishments. He told me that throughout her entire time at Nursing School when things got tough, she talked about the nurse who had encouraged her, and told her she had the ability to be a great nurse, and was the first person in her life to tell her she was smart and capable and deserved a better life than the shit she was handed... He wanted to thank me...but he already had...

Some people are lazy, manipulative losers who earn the shitty lives they lead. But some people aren't. I guess I would rather take the chance on paying to make sure that one of the deserving ones aren't overlooked... Maybe that's liberal, maybe its bleeding heart and maybe it's stupid. But it's how I see it. Some people have just had so much shit poured on their head that they can't overcome it all. Not everyone has the same chances in life. I'm a fighter for the underdog and I guess I always will be. But that girl showed me something. Even a white trailer trash loser may really be a smart capable nurse in disguise...


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Quote of the Day

"Love is an exploding Cigar we willingly smoke." -Lynda Barry

Beans, that's what I like about you. When you disagree at least you do it intelligently.
You make a lot of good points, and I have to say I agree in theory with everything you say. I do however, have a problem with the way the whole "free market" thing has evolved.

The problem, the way I see it is this:

In the beginning was man and man needed stuff. Man needed so much stuff that he couldn't make it all himself. So man hooked up with others and formed big groups to make stuff. Now it was easy to divide the stuff making by whomever was the best at making it, because their were more people. So people became makers and traders of stuff and people began to specialize. Some things were more valuable than others, but overall, since so much stuff was needed and nothing was easy to obtain everyone managed to do OK.

As time went by people began to invent ways to make making stuff easier. Initially that was great because their was still a lot less stuff than people. But now it became evident that some stuff was much more desirable than other stuff and some makers of stuff managed to do much, much better than others. As these people started to acquire and keep the limited resources like land, materials and access, other people were getting shut out and subsequently couldn't make that stuff. Now those particular stuff makers were doing much, much, much better than the others. But that was still OK because those people that were shut out from making the stuff, could now lend their labor to help the makers of stuff make more. So they were compensated with money. So some people became makers of stuff and others became users of stuff but since the users of stuff were compensated by helping the makers make stuff it all worked out OK.

Eventually those materials and access to resources were held and kept in fewer and fewer hands and then those hands started to look around and say, "Why do we need to have all of these users of stuff helping us when we could take our stuff and go make it over there where people are willing to make our stuff for less." and so they did. But that left the people who had originally been making the stuff out in the cold, because there was no stuff to make where they were. So now they didn't have anything they could make or do and had no compensation because now there was a lot more users of stuff than makers of stuff. So the makers of stuff had a lot of options and the users of stuff did not. So then the makers of stuff told the users of stuff that they didn't have any skills worth paying any meaningful compensation for. (Meaning any of the skills the makers of stuff couldn't eliminate) And since the makers of stuff owned most of the stuff and the resources used to make the stuff the users of stuff had very little choices.

(Hm-mm-mm. this is starting to sound a lot like Player Piano to me....) But I'm no Vonnegut.
Still, this is the problem as I see it. The glittery marvels and sweet promises of Capitalism aside, the truth of the matter is we have come full circle back to the Middle Ages. Only instead of Lords of the Manor and Serfs, we have Corporations and Consumers. Same difference.

I always say "isms" are "isms" and they all look good on paper. But the actual practice of all these "isms" usually have one major flaw, and that's the "Human Factor". Everything changes when you add in the human factor. Humans are greedy. We have just traded a person, a recognizable face for a faceless corporation...dare I say, a Beast. But the result is the same and we are all bowing down to the Beast and the only cost is the sacrifice of human beings.

I know that much of what happens to people is a result of choice. Believe me, I see it every day in the ER...(shudder) you wouldn't believe the things I see. And I could easily be a hard hearted people hater. (Sometimes I am a little too calloused) but I try to cut people some slack. I too decided to go to college (and then more and more college) to seek out a better wage and position in the "market place" but I know that some people can't do that for whatever reason. I'm lucky that I have the support and assistance I need to undertake this whole Master's Program. I can easily envision being stuck and not able to change my circumstances if just a few things in my life were different. Some people really have to follow their heart when it comes to the work they do, some people choose to give up compensation to be of what they consider to be helping others. Paramedics are a good example of this. Woefully underpaid for what they do.... The sin in this is that we NEED these people, but act like we don't. Where would we be without Nurses Aides or Paramedics? Both of who usually make less than $10 an hour.

Other people just don't have the same kind of opportunities and support. It's easy when you're walking a clear straight path to arrive at your destination. It isn't so easy when the path is strewn with obstacles or the path is all uphill, or riddled with peaks and valleys.
Some people just can't overcome to the same degree. And we don't have the right to take advantage of that.

I NEED garbage men, waitresses, latte makers, store clerks, cab drivers, bell hops, bartenders, night watchmen, ticket takers, car washers, valet parkers, shampoo girls, receptionists, delivery boys, lawn trimmer guys and all of those other people that don't need a degree to do their jobs. How would my life function without them? I appreciate and need them. I know they work their asses off for the money and I think they deserve some measure of fair compensation. They don't deserve to be nickled and dimed.

Where would we be if everyone was a rocket scientist? Screwed...with no coffee no less.
The point is, Starbucks benefits mightily from the latte makers, restaurants benefit mightily from the wait staff and theaters need ticket takers and the guy handing you the bucket of popcorn. I'm not saying don't make a profit, I'm just saying SHARE THE WEALTH for crying out loud. The shareholders don't need to make millions a years, CEO's don't need to take home $25 million a year, and for christ sakes corporations don't need to profit billions of dollars a quarter. Share the fucking wealth.

As for healthcare? Yes. It is a right. It is just as much a right as a national military and homeland security is. Is is as much a right as having the police force, the fire department, the parks department, the highway department, the FDA, CIA, FBI, public schools, hospitals and anything else you can think of that the government provides.

The sin of it is that politics and greed (Can you say American Medical Association and its lobbyists?) are the reasons we don't have a national plan in place. Is it spelled out in the constitution? No, but what is implied is the obligation to take care of the well being of the people in this country in whatever form that takes. The founding fathers were smart enough not spell everything out in detail....probably because they saw how people dance around the Ten Commandments...and that's only 10 statements. Instead they provided a living document that has expanded over the years to cover many areas by amendments. This is another one of those areas that needs to be added. And soon. Healthcare should not be a burden that companies have to carry. If they want to ADD to it - so much the better, then people can receive enhanced plans as a benefit, but we need a comprehensive BASIC plan that covers every CITZEN of this country and allows basic medical and dental care to be access for the cost of the taxes we pay. Cut the PORK and spend the money AT HOME.

I like you Beans, yer alright with me. I think we are alike in the heart...we just have a different perspective at times. I'm sure Sam Walton was a great man. He sure had some good ideas. Too bad his heirs don't see it the same way. (Greedy slobs).

As for the flat tax...Hm-mm-mm...I'm still tossing that one around. I kind of favor it in some respects but the across the board percentage tax is very appealing too. I can tell you one thing I am squarely against is the elimination of the Estate Tax. Paris Hilton be damned...