May 30, 2014

When you work your butt need a break...and then you can write some more.

For a living, I work with a team to evaluate children for various issues affecting their education.  Then we write reports about what we have found out about their functioning and what it means for their education.  And sometimes what it means for their lives.  What we find out is that sometimes it's the environment or the educational approach that is exacerbating an underlying learning difference resulting in poor progress on academics or poor behavior.  But often we discover they have a condition that is more complex and had not been fully identified, if at all.  That is when we, mostly I, kick into the next gear to further assess, research related issues, and write up the result summary tying all the information together for the benefit of the child.

To do this work more effectively, and because childrens' education depends on this, I had to get some new learning in order to better identify what's going on so that our team can better recommend solutions.  That has taken up most of my spare time in the past two years.  First, I was learning intensively while still working and then I was applying skills intensively in my work while still learning and gaining new experiences.  This past school year has been the most intensive and time consuming of my life.  I haven't had the cognitive energy left over in the past 18 months or so to write much more than the random social media posts on the usual suspect websites.

Also, because I work in the public school world, I am paid about half what I would be paid for the amount and quality of work I did this year.  I did get my best ever evaluation (using a supremely bad evaluation system) and a decent raise (doesn't make up for 5 years of pay freezes though) but even with that raise, I will still make far less than my peers in clinics and even in other school districts.  So, some of my very little free time has been in servicing clients for by side financial business for extra cash.  I haven't seriously added clients in over five years, but I am dutiful in providing service when my current ones ask.  I'm very responsive, just not that proactive in anticipating their needs anymore.  And I'm just pooped.  Now I'm going to surf the net for mindless entertainment.  Please feel free to comment on what is new with you, my one remaining reader...heh

November 7, 2012

And Also...Rational Minds Prevailed

Obama was re-elected.  Love won out in three states and hate was defeated in a fourth state.  Women won and white male right wing nuts lost.  Pot won, too.  I'm predicting job growth just based on the last maybe addiction centers will open across the street from Pot Shops.  So, in that respect, some states won economically...especially since regulations will also provide tax revenue.  I suppose though, it's a mixed bag...dime bag?  Heh.

But seriously, I told my mom on Sunday that I thought Obama would still win even if it was a close race.  Am I his biggest fan? No.  I was a delegate for Hillary the first time around.  I would love to see her run again in 2016, but frankly that's four years away and I'm not so sure she'd want to by then.  In the meantime, I do believe that now we will see some decent improvement in Congress.  The Republican agenda will shift in order to be more relevant to the younger generation.  Will they continue to be very conservative fiscally? Yes. Is that all bad?  No.  Will they get their way and cut important social programs.  Maybe some will get cut back, but I doubt all of them will.

I think we'll see the Republicans move in a more Libertarian direction.  Ultimately, they will still want small federal government and more control at the state level.  But perhaps they will come to realize that smaller government means in all ways, not just fiscally.  They can not ask for less intrusion by the federal government except when they decide that government needs to intrude on the private lives of their constituency.  Really, Republicans, you can not have it both ways because you want to bully others who do not look like you, act like you, or think like you.  Democrats do still need a stronger backbone, but at least Democrats have proven that caring about the needs of the many counts as much as caring for the needs for the few.  Thankfully, they have enough of what it took to win.  And also...rational minds prevailed.

August 13, 2012

The Unholy Alliance of Right Wing Corporatists and Religious Wing Nuts

ARI EZRA WALDMAN posted on Towleroad a blog post suggesting that a small amount of progress is being made in the Republican party as they appear to be taking their anti-gay rhetoric underground.  I responded in the comments that I almost wish the Republican party would hang on to it's overt anti-gay was just starting to work to our advantage.  But yes, the shift is now towards anti-union as the new state by state strategy (which is really an anti-education message in the sheep's clothing of an anti-tax message).  Imagine the US of A as a third world country with really nice resort locations for the rich and powerful.  The working poor in what will become affordable domestic corporate factories and the very rich living their golden years basking in the sun on resorts that no one else can afford to use.  That is what the corporate loving politicians want.  Because they will be the last ones in the US of A with pensions and free healthcare (THEY would never vote against their own best interests).  So they, too, will bask in the sun on resorts with the very rich in their waning years.  These politicians have tied their personal interests so tightly to the corporate purse strings that even I am left wondering if most of those on the Democratic side of the aisle aren't also so similarly tied.  I do believe some of our elected officials start out with the good of the people in least the non-republican sorts.  But the seduction of money and power leads to political blindness and ultimately corruption.

Now we have the right wing corporatists continuing their assault on the general public by systematically feeding them messages of how horrible not only taxes are, but how horrible unions are for demanding "high" pay and pensions for public sector workers, which then, of course, results in "high" taxes.  It's a message that is becoming so well ingrained in the public psyche that people will literally vote against their own best interests because they are either too easily led astray or too lazy to do their own research.  What are their own best interests?  Well, a free quality public education so that their kids and grand kids can also find work and maintain a decent healthy standard of living and contribute to the standard of living of our FREE society.  Not interested?  How about having a well maintained system of streets and highways (don't let the chuck holes fool you, our roads need work but they are far superior to those in a third world country).  Don't care about that either?  How about when you're old and need assistance?  No more social security or medicare, even though you've paid into them your entire working lifetime?  Still don't care?  Then, probably no one will care about you or your comfort in your last years on this earth.  The privatizing of all of these and other "public services" will result in third world living conditions.  There will be the HAVES and the HAVE NOTS.  There will NOT be a middle class.  This will happen because people are generally VERY short sighted (of course there are exceptions, duh, but not enough of a voting block).  It's a known fact that people generally tend to focus on the here and now and have much difficulty thinking about or planning for the future.  Having worked in finance for over 20 years, the most common issue I see is buy now on credit because I want it now and I don't have the ready cash.  Even when put on a plan, people don't save easily, especially in the last 30 years.  Couple that way of thinking with the indoctrination of "NO" or low taxes, which is so insidious, that the remaining members of the middle class are willing to vote against their long term best interests to "save" a few bucks now on taxes.  They do this not knowing or somehow not believing that they're giving away their future security to line the pockets of corporate thieves.

So why do these money grubbing corporatists align themselves with the religious right wing nuts?  Don't the churches minister to the people after all? Well religious institutions are the best way to get the biggest cache of resources, of course!  Corporatists think in terms of resources and, in particular, how to exploit resources to line their own pockets.  Religious institutions are a very, very, very large source of voters in a captive audience.  For one thing, they congregate weekly to hear messages (purportedly from God, but that's another rant for another day).  Why not plant a message of corporate interest in the minds of so many voters all at once.  Just start giving donations to churches, etc. and tell them how much you agree with their "holier than thou" messages and while scratching their backs plant the message of how many more sheep will flock to them if they scratch the corporates' backs.  And so the unholy alliance of money grubbing corporatists and religious wing nuts was born.  Then when the younger generation grew up and began to question the validity of anti-gay stances, the corporatists moved on to their main agenda.  Anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-women, etc. messages were just the BAIT to hook a huge voting block.  The main goal is and always has been accumulation of money and thus power.  The religious right wing nuts are just a means to an end.  It's the corporatists and their politician puppets that will attempt to undermine society as we know it, knew it, and hoped it would become.  My hope is that the general public will get their collective heads out of the sand and come together to say no to being brainwashed by these messages.  Pay attention to the history of mankind.  It's always been about power (money being the symbol).  Those who threaten the power base are the enemy...especially if they are "different" than those who see themselves as the ones in power.  In the US of A, being a person of color, a woman, a homosexual, a financially poor person, an old person, a disabled person, a person of not the predominant faith (or similar in faith)etc. is a threat to the power base if allowed to combine their numbers.  So divide and conquer.  Pit one against the other and ALWAYS keep your eye on the power (i.e. the money).

May 28, 2012

The War on Women...and Education

Yeah, I haven't been posting in a long while.  I've been terribly busy with my education and the education of others.  But my employer (a conservatively run school district with a very conservative right wing nut BOE and their hand picked superintendent) has been waging an insidious war on teachers and related educators this year, so I feel the need to say something.  They're out to destroy the district by destroying the union and chasing away great experienced teachers.  They're doing this all in the name of "reform."  But really it's the corporate greed monster that feeds them.  The board of education for this district is almost all right wing nuts whose campaigns were funded directly and indirectly by organizations like ALEC.

Meanwhile, there has also been a War on Women being waged by generally the same right wing nuts.  Dorothy Snarker put it well today in her blog.  As I hope my 3 remaining readers know, there is a concerted effort by the republican party to take away women's rights over their own bodies that has become much more focused and actually has gained some traction even though a majority of people probably think these ideas will fade away if they just ignore them.  I'm sorry, but I'm pretty sure at this point the right wing nuts are HOPING people will ignore them long enough for them to revoke our freedoms.  So below is my response to Dorothy Snarker's blog post:

Might I add that concurrently there is also a War on Education! I think there is a HUGE correlation between these two "planks" of the right wing nuts. There is a lot of money behind these so called movements...or as I like to call them "bowel movements." Ignorance begets more ignorance which begets a serious loss of freedom! I do not think the middle of the road average American is really aware of this because the right wing nuts have them focused on the almighty tax dollar and how many they could be losing. Of course, if they REALLY understood money they'd realize that the lack of a good free education leads to LESS income and LESS freedom. And it appears that the right wing nuts see women's rights as the biggest roadblock to the dumbing down of the American society...hmmmm. Come to think of it, education is one the largest employers of women. After all, if you keep women uneducated and pregnant you'll end up with a huge source of cheap dumb labor...and much larger profits. But seriously you stupid right wing nuts, who really wants to live in a country with no creativity, no arts, no intellectual advances, and no real freedom? I mean, do you really want the USA to become a rather large third world country?

December 30, 2009

Wednesday's Wine - Another Reader's Recommendation

So, I've been unable to find time to blog. Or maybe, just too busy or too tired...or too brain dead. Anyway, I've been taking some time off over the holidays (btw...Merry Merry and Happy Happy everyone!) to rest, relax, and relativize (hanging with the family). And speaking of family, I recruited my sister in law to assist with the following wine reviews. A person, of indeterminate gender, named jackson popped by my blog a few weeks ago and recommended that I try Oak Leaf Cabernet Sauvignon which can be had for $2.97 at the local Walmart. Alas, in Colorado that actually isn't the case as all adult beverages must be purchased in a liquor store or bar type establishments. So, since I'm in Texas, I bought it and the Oak Leaf Shiraz. And yes, they were both available for $2.97.

First we tried the recommended Oak Leaf Cabernet Sauvignon. We both found it a bit thin and more like a Merlot than a Cabernet. It didn't have the boldness, or at least the heft, one expects of even the cheapest of Cabernet's. But if one PRETENDS it's a Merlot, then it was okay to poor. My sister in law suggested that it might be good for making Sangria. We also thought, it would be acceptable as a table wine served with an equally inexpensive dinner. But not with guests who are savvy wine drinkers...heh.

Next, next we tried the Oak Leaf Shiraz. Initially, I found it had a musty oak scent, but the flavor was definitely an improvement over the Cabernet. However, my sister in law pointed out that it didn't really taste like a Shiraz, but rather it tasted like a Pinot Noir due to the spicy notes. It did seem a bit strong in flavor, and not in an especially great way. However, I left it to sit and breathe for awhile and it improved quite a bit, although it had a bit too much alcohol on the finish. Still doesn't taste like a Shiraz though...heh. I think after leaving this out to breathe for about 30 minutes, it would also make a good table wine or an excellent Sangria. And better than the Cabernet.

So, for around $3.00, if you live in a state that allows alcohol sales in the local Walmart, you too can experiment with ultra cheap wines. Me personally, I'll stick to the $5.00 to $10.00 wines...heh

December 29, 2009

Tuesday's Time Waster - How Addicted to Blogging Are You?

Courtesy of Jannie Funster I found out awhile back that I'm 48% addicted:

48%How Addicted to Blogging Are You?

Created by OnePlusYou

Go to Jannie Funster's Blog to find out your level of addiction...hehehehehe

October 28, 2009

Wednesday's WineSSSSSSS

So I know I've been away for awhile (see previous post for I still don't have a replacement for my personal laptop. Today being a snow day at school, but having the work laptop at home, I decided to catch up on wine reviews! Lucky you, my three remaining readers, I have seven wines to cover. Yeah, just because my laptop died didn't mean I stopped drinking wine. Though, I must admit I've rediscovered my liking for vodka tonics and beer...heh. A reminder before the reviews. All of these wines can be had for about $10.00 or less and generally (though not always) have very high ratings (mid 80's and higher) than would be expected at those price points. I get great deals on wine at both 3S Liquors and at Applejack Wine and Liquors.

Starting in my own state of Colorado, I bring you a Rose (yes, it's PINK), but Rose's are still better than White Zinfandels which are still PINK, not white. And actually, I found this Plum Creek Palisade Rose, 2008 quite tasty. For those of you trying to imagine where in Colorado any vineyards might exist, the Palisades are on the western slopes of the Rocky Mountains and known for their peach trees. In other words, the Palisades are on the western edge of the state. Warm summers and cool nights make for pretty decent wine. Here's what the winemaker's at Plum Creek say about their rose in 2004 and I think it still applies to their 2008 vintage:

"Palisade Rosé is a light, semi-sweet Colorado wine made in the traditional style of great Rosé. The grapes are pressed as soon as they arrive in the cellar. The juice is left a very short time in contact with the grape skins in order to give the wine a delicate color.

Merlot grapes from our Somerset Vineyard give a fruity and lively character to this handcrafted wine. A rich viscosity enhances the wine’s silky smoothness. Luscious strawberry and cherry tones abound in the nose and on the palate."

I don't remember what I had for dinner with this wine, but I'm pretty sure I had some really spicy green chile one evening. And a rose with it's fruit forward flavors is a nice counter point to the spicy heat of green chile.

Speaking of white zinfandel's. I did manage to force one down. The label on this La Famiglia Guadagni White Zinfandel, 2007 from California might look familiar (and as Syd would say...looks like...well you know...heh) because I reviewed another wine from this vineyard awhile back. Anyway, I admit that I bought it for the label and because I liked that other wine too. While I was looking for a picture of the bottle I found this short description on the Western Importers' website:

"This bright and lively White Zinfandel comes from Lodi California, the heart of the California Zinfandel region. The nose is bright and inviting with aromas of berries, citrus blossoms, and strawberries. On the palate it is more of the same with a crisp refreshing style of wine that finishes with the heart of a Zinfandel."

I actually liked this white zinfandel, though not enough to make me like ALL white zinfandels...heh. In the past, I've found that white zinfandels go well with ham, pork and spicy dishes.

Moving on to the white wines. I actually got talked into trying this
Louis Latour Ardeche Chardonnay, 2006 when I was looking for a wine from France that was under $10.00. Just as with white zinfandel, I'm not a big fan of chardonnays. However, instead of an overly buttery feel, this one was a bit more crisp. It still had notes of oak and vanilla as with many chardonnays, but I liked it much better than most. I recommend pairing chardonnays with poultry dishes, especially a Thanksgiving turkey dinner. This will go well with any poultry dish I think. I might even be likely to buy it for this coming Thanksgiving now that I think about it...heh!

More along the lines of white wines I like is this Angeline Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc, 2008. Nice and crisp with mellow fruit flavors. Wine Enthusiast rated it a 90. That's a big value for the price and style! This is what the winery said about their wine:

"Fresh floral, honeydew melon and bright tropical aromatics lead to crisp and lively green melon flavors. This wine finishes soft and light with a lingering touch of citrus."

They recommend pairing with shrimp or a spicy halibut. I think it went well with salmon too.

I know this is a tiny picture but, yes, that is a leopard on the label...I think. I pick this Herding Cats Merlot/Pinotage from South Africa at 3S Liquors at the suggestion of a fellow patron. She left the store with several different Herding Cats wines, so I figured, "What the heck!" I also pick up another one of their wines for a later review. In the meantime, I found this red blend pretty good for the price and you seriously can't beat the name. Also, bonus, a wine from South Africa (home to Charlize Theron I might add). Internet provided this description:

"This wine is smooth and supple with aromas of cherry, vanilla and mocha tones. The palate is soft and velvety with a lingering aftertaste following though."

They also recommended serving this wine with spicy beef dishes. I would agree, but then I love pretty much anything spicy...heh.

Of course these days I'm rather preoccupied with many things Italian...okay a specific Italian... Anyway, why not have an Italian wine too!?! This Falesco Vitiano Cabernet Sauvignon Sangiovese Merlot, 2007 blend from Umbria, Italy seems vaguely familar. Oh that's right, I reviewed the 2006 vintage...heh. This red blend was dark with a mix of fruit flavors including some notable plummy flavors. I enjoyed it quite a bit...which is why I've had it two years in a row to review. Of course, I had it with spaghetti and, later, with a great steak.

The last wine for today's review is another of the Gallo Twin Valley line: Pinot Noir. I last had their Hearth Burgundy which was surprisingly really good, but apparently I forgot to post it here. Anyway, their Pinot Noir is pretty good too. I've had better and I have had worse when it comes to pinot noirs. But for under $10.00 for a 1.5 liter bottle it's a great value to have around as an everyday table wine. If you like pinot noirs and are having a big party, a few bottles of this will definitely fill the bill! Serve it with heavy o'dourves or a nice steak dinner.

Enjoy! And check back in this location in a few weeks for pictures and a review of my cruise with Sweet.