Thursday, July 2, 2009

From the "What is Wrong with People?" File

I'm in pain today and my train of thought is short and slow so I've spent time reading the AP wires on Salon in addition to reading and responding to emails at work. I have also managed to meet with two vendors, three of the managers here that I support and train my site supervisor on some new-to-her software. Hey! I have been productive. Here I was feeling like a worthless schmoo but I actually did stuff today! :)

Anyhow... Back on the topic of What's Wrong With People?

On the AP Wire in Salon, I came across this story where a Mom posted a suggestive ad with contact info for a 9yr old girl who was her daughter's rival. Really? She's 9yrs old! Any idea how traumatized a 9yr old girl can be from sexual come ons from grown ment? I have an idea! How can a mom do this to a kid? I really get the need to protect your child and make a perfect little world for them, but to purposefully target the child's rival is crazy. My mom never got involved in the relationships that I had with other kids -- except to tell me that I wasn't allowed to date this boy or that boy or that she didn't care if my friends got to wear makeup at 14.

I was lucky in that I never had to deal with a bully or anything like that. I never had a personal relationship that I needed my mom to interfere in for me. I didn't have a rival in school and certainly not at 9yrs old. My stepson has had some issues with bullies. We did not target them with any sort of retaliatory schemes. We talked to the teachers and the principal and our boy about what to do, how to handle the bully, how to deal with the aftermath of emotions. What is wrong with these parents that kill their child's rival (TX cheerleader) or create fake MySpace personas and false relationships or suggestive Craigslist ads? I just don't get it.

Politics of Deficits

Yesterday, I received an email newsletter from my state representative about the new fiscal year starting. As you may have heard on the news, in my great state of MN, our governor Tim Pawlenty has used the 'unallottment' option to balance the budget. This annoys me to no end. The unallottment option was intended to be used to balance the budget in our off years. In MN, they produce a two-year budget. In the off years, if things are working out as expected and revenues are falling, the Governor has the power to unallot spending to different programs as needed since it isn't on the Legislature's agenda. It is an emergency power to prevent budget shortfalls when the Leg isn't available to fix it.

Pawlenty just decided that he did not like any of the incarnations of the budget that were submitted to him. He adamantly refused to raise taxes. What happens though is that as he cuts funding to our cities and towns our property taxes will go up, way up. His "No New Taxes" B.S. is just that BS. We are all going to pay more taxes, just not in a way that he can be blamed for it. BS. I call that bluff right now and will go on to blame him for all my property tax increases because they are a direct result of his No New Taxes Policies. Also, I will continue to blame him for our "fees" going up. Yep, they aren't taxes but they are fees which are considered regressive taxes.

So what did Pawlenty cut? IMO, the programs that the DFL holds close to their hearts. They are nearly all Health & Human Services. You know, those people that are already feeling the pinch the most from the economy. They are going to get hit even harder.

Here's the list:


K-12 Education $1.8 billion in delayed payments to K-12 schools
University of Minnesota $50 million in cuts
State Colleges and Universities $50 million in cuts
Renters’ Refund $51 million in cuts
*Increases taxes on renters by $150+ per year (more than one-third who receive credit are senior citizens and the disabled)
LGA/Market Value Credit $300 million in cuts
*property taxes projected to increase by $650 million next year
County Mental Health Grants $8.1 million in cuts
Chemical Dependency Grants $1.4 million in cuts
Chemical Dependency Payments $7.2 million in cuts
Child Support Enforcement Grants $5 million in cuts
American Indian Child Welfare $800 thousand in cuts
Children & Community Service Grants $39.2 million in cuts
Emergency Grants for Disabled $15 million in cuts
Medically Prescribed Diets for Disabled $5.3 million in cuts
Nursing Home Construction Grants $7.2 million in cuts
Nursing Home Rebasing $5.9 million in cuts
Disabled Housing $900 thousand in cuts
Disabled Personal Care Attendants $7.5 million in cuts
Critical Access Dental $6.2 million in cuts
Eliminate General Assistance Medical Care earlier $15 million in cuts
*30,000 low-income Minnesotans including senior citizens, the disabled, and people with mental illness will lose basic health care
Outreach Incentives $3.4 million in cuts
Aligning Asset Limits $6.1 million in cuts
*eliminated health care for up to 6000 Minnesotans
Transitional Minnesota Care $37.5 million in cuts
Minnesota Disability Health Options $2 million in cuts
Hospital Provider Payments $9.1 million in cuts
Inpatient Hospital Payments $5.5 million in delayed payments
Non-inpatient Hospital Payments $23.4 million in delayed payments
Managed Care $12.2 million in cuts
State Agencies $33 million in cuts
*Expected to eliminate 3,400 jobs
Political Contribution Refund Program $10.1 million in cuts

Some of these cuts are ones that I am all for. Yes, I think the Political Contribution Refund Program is a fine candidate for the axe in these times. But cutting health care for the low income families? Delaying payments to hospitals that are barely making it now? Taking away aides for the disabled? Really? Maybe all the potholes on my road don't need to be filled as soon as possible. Maybe we can delay payment on the Twins Stadium or maybe we should have negotiated a better deal to get more of the profits from the stadium in the future. There is no easy way to do this. But I would be willing to pay higher taxes so that children can have healthcare, the elderly and disable can have someone come help them with their daily needs, and addicts can stay/get help rather than gun me down for my cell phone.

Then this morning I hear that CA is handing out IOUs today. Apparently they couldn't agree on how to deal with their deficit either. It got me to thinking two things -- What is the Per Capita income compared to the % Deficit in these states? What party affiliation does the governor have in each of these states?

I had to look in a few different places and found out some interesting facts. The % Deficit comes from the Hubert H Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs published 04/09. The Institute is a prominent school here in MN. The Governor to Party Affiliation info comes from Wiki. And the Per Capita Income comes from the Census Bureau as of 03/08.

The top 10 % Deficit States are:
Washington (D)
Wisconsin (D)
Kansas (D)

And 7 out of 10 have GOP governors. Of those, only CA is in the Top 10 for Per Capita Income.

So income does not seem to correlate to the deficit but I find it interesting that there is such a majority of the states have Republican governors.

My thought: Perhaps No New Taxes doesn't work. A balanced budget comes from a balanced approach. Sometimes taxes need to be raised and spending needs to be cut. When there is a little extra money, save it. When there is a lot of extra money, give it back to the people.

Monday, June 15, 2009


A friend pointed me to a new blog about advice for a baby daughter. Neat blog.

A different friend came to my office this morning to talk about life and the weekend happenings. I really like that I get to do this with my people each Monday. I am honored that they like and respect me enough to come sit in my office each Monday, on their own accord, and share their lives with me. Anyhow, I gave the friend a piece of advice that an old boyfriend gave me that I have applied throughout my life. This is the advice, in my recollection of it from nearly 20 years ago.

Most guys don't get it. They don't understand. I need a 3x5 card with all capitals telling me exactly what it is you want or need.

Pretty simple, huh? No one is a mind reader. If you don't say what you want or need, 1) you cannot expect to receive it and 2) you cannot get angry at anyone who doesn't know what you want or need. You have to tell them and you have to say it clearly in words that they will understand. That is a big part of it! You have to say it in words that THEY will understand.

That is the best piece of advice that I've ever received and I continue to apply it and give it out all these years later.

So when you are all pissy and walk out in a huff, or locked behind a bathroom door, or quietly seething inside because things are not the way you want them; stop and ask yourself, "Did I tell them, on a 3x5 card in all caps, exactly what I wanted or needed?" If the answer is no, then you have to assume that they did not know. Take a few deep breaths, wash your face, and go have a conversation with the person. Most people don't want to purposefully ignore your needs or act in a way to hurt you.

Thank you to the one who gave me that advice. I hope others reap the same benefits from it that I did... and continue to reap.

Weekend Update

We got a fair amount accomplished this weekend and seemed to indulge everyone's whims. Saturday morning we went to the great neighborhood garage sale. Over 175 sales this year! We hit about 2 dozen or so of them. Itty Bitty found a Cinderella Vanity for $5. Cinderella actually appears in the mirror and they get ready for the Ball together. The boy found an action figure he wanted for $0.25, if even that, and some free chocolate covered sunflower seeds. I found some clothes for IttyBitty for $0.50 a piece. My honey found a potatoe masher. We gave up when we realized that 1) we didn't really need anything and 2) we were just going to come home with more toys for the kids, especially the girl, that we really didn't need.

The boy had a baseball game that afternoon. They won and he actually scored a home run. I stayed home and cleaned the dining room. Then they all came home. I filled them with pizza and sent my honey on his way. I folded laundry. The kids played.

Sunday, we were out again in the morning and did some cleaning at a very grassroots neighborhood clean-up. We headed out to Lake Hiawatha where most of our kids like to go play and there is a little beach and a rec center. We worked mostly in the grass while a larger group worked the beach area. It got hot and several of us got very allergic within about 30 to 45 minutes. The kids helped a bit and then went off to play on the playground.

IttyBitty wasn't feeling very well. She actually did not play at all. We got home and worked on things around the house a bit. Then she came and snuggled with me until we both ended up taking a long nap -- 3hrs for me, 5hrs for her.

In other news though, my honey finished building a compost bin for me. It is a barrel with a spoke and a stand. He dumped our kitchen compost in (suddenly the bugs in the kitchen disappeared!) and it stank to high heaven. Thankfully, we both had done a little online research about this and the family shredded up the paper from last Sunday and added that plus some store bought compost that we used in the garden earlier. No stink! No bugs! Yay!

The garden has lots of green things growing in it. Lots of them. The beets don't look like they are producing very well yet though. Maybe they just need more time. I don't know. I'm not exactly a gardener.

Overall a good and productive weekend, time spent outside, time spent cleaning and doing laundry and time spent resting. And nearly all of it was family time.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

WHO Conference Call

Being tuned in and being the Subject Matter Expert (SME) on pandemic at this time in our history is turning out to be an amazing experience for me. Anyone can/could have attended the conference call from the World Health Organization (WHO) but I don't know how many people are tuned in enough to know that nor who would have bothered.

Like most people I am on hundreds of conference calls every year. This was really neat because you could hear the people in the room moving around and whispering in hushed tones. I knew that they were getting ready to start the call because you could hear the clicking of the cameras as the VIPs entered the room. The other minor thing that made it clear that we were on an international call because we had to enter the PIN followed by the 'hash' sign, not the pound sign.

They are now in the Q&A portion of the call. It is interesting to hear all the different accents.

"Should the average person be losing any sleep over this?" Good question! Hmmm... She is pushing it back to the individual countries rather than answering the question directly. Thankfully, I am going to dial in to the CDC call for the US in about 10 minutes too! :)

Some of the slightly scary facts on this are:

While only 2% of the cases are severe, within that 2% about half of those people are young (30 to 50) and previously healthy. This is not how the seasonal flu behaves. Seasonal flu typically is hardest on the elderly, the very young (children), and the frail.

This flu is being considered a Moderate Severity, for now.

Off to CDC call...