On the Firing of Carrie Prejean. And World Peace.

Thee California Miss USA pageant has officially fired Carrie Prejean and appointed her runner-up to take over as Miss California for the remainder of her reign.  The official reason for the dismissal is failure to meet contractual obligations.  Not the furor resulting from her controversial answer to Perez Hilton’s gay marriage question during the Miss USA telecast.

I have several thoughts on this subject.

1.  Carrie Prejean was asked her views on same-sex marriage as part of the Miss USA competition.  An unfair and inappropriate competition question.  As were several of the other questions.  Unless you understand that the only appropriate way to respond to these questions is to bring out your best Stepford-wife smile and give the vaguest, simpiest, most politically correct response – and understand that your real views don’t matter.  At all.  World peace!

2.  Carrie Prejean needs to understand that adding, “no offense to anyone…” to her comments does not magically make them inoffensive to those that are, um, offended.  It’s tap-tap-no-erasies.    “I think all Jews should be exterminated because that’s the way I was raised…no offense to anyone!”  Get it now, Carrie?  World Peace!

3.  There is not a doubt in my mind that Carrie Prejean did not fulfill every single of of her contractual obligations.  There’s  also not a doubt in my mind that she really got fired for her comments, her adherence to those comments, and her new association with organizations that feel the same.  Pageant officials were gunning for her, period.  World Peace!

4.  The head of the California Miss USA pageant might get  more people to believe that the contractual obligations WERE the real reason for her ousting if he didn’t – in the same interview – derisively point out that Carrie’s attorney is also the attorney for a group that works to prevent the passage of laws allowing gay marriage.  Um, so what?  We know how she feels on the subject.  Why should she not have an attorney with similar beliefs?  Would Perez Hilton hire an attorney who was against gay marriage?  And while we’re on the subject…

5.  Perez Hilton is an asshat.  You don’t agree with Carrie?  Fine.  Don’t call her the C word.  Don’t make fun of her (and millions of others’) belief in G-d.   I could write pages on his asshatity, but he’s just not worth my time.

6.  Tami Farrell, the pageant 1st runner-up who takes over as Miss California, cannot keep from smiling.  She’s been rubbing her hands together and licking her chops for weeks.   Better mind her p’s and q’s, that one.  World Peace!

Politically correct“.  Dangerous words, those.   People are starting to be afraid to speak their minds in fear of retribution – political, financial, social.  Methinks that’s happened a time or twelve in the history of the world.  Anyone remember The Crusades?  The Inquisition?  The Holocaust?  Tiananman Square?

I think we need to proceed with caution.  And lots of it.

World Peace!

Red Flags and FedEx and Are You Sure That Check’s Not Going to Bounce?

Sometimes I just know things are going to go wrong. My internal red flags go up, and they keep waving, trying to get my attention.

They’re usually right, and they were this time too. Just not in the way I thought. In much weirder ways.

Last month I wrote about the freelance job Husband secured, and that we were waiting for a check to arrive before we fronted money from our pockets for a photo shoot. The check, for 50% of the contracted amount, arrived just in the nick of time and was deposited to our business account within fifteen minutes of the postal worker placing it into my slightly dewy (hey, it’s Florida) palm.

I was still nervous that the check wouldn’t clear. Just because a bank makes it available doesn’t mean the other party’s bank can’t refuse the check. Banking regulations require banks to make the money available to depositors within a few days, but if the maker puts a stop payment on it, or if it’s written on a closed account, or if the wrong person signed the check, or if for any other reason the bank decides not to honor the check it could take a week or more before my bank is notified, and then another 3-4 days for them to notify me via a bounced check notice.

Oddly, no one at the bank – not the teller, the head teller or even the bank manager – could tell me how long to wait before I was sure to be safe, though the manager did keep saying, “I wish more people cared so much about making sure they were writing good checks!” That’s disturbing on more than one level, isn’t it?

So, fast forward to yesterday. The first check has cleared and the project is over. They tell us they’ve overnighted a check to us (and faxed Husband a copy), then asked us to overnight the completed product back to them that day. It does not include an expense reimbursement for the photo shoot, which they agreed to pay and we invoiced them for separately but at the same time we invoiced the final payment.

Red flag alert!

Husband talks to them, and they balk about paying the expense (they didn’t use most of the footage from the shoot). Husband made a deal with their local representative that he would pay us for the photo shoot (next week some time, hopefully) and release the final product once we get a tracking number for the check. I’m not holding my breath on that expense payment. The dang red flags are blinding me at this point.

Fine. Whatever. I’m not happy about it, but it’s Husband’s call.

So, we’re waiting for the check, and it’s not arriving by the 3pm FedEx promise deadline. Or 4pm. Or 5 pm.

Red flags waving faster than a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest.

We find out that there’s a weather delay in Memphis and we will not get delivery until today. Husband decides to go ahead and FedEx them the final product. I have visions of a FedEx envelope empty but for the “April Fools!” scribbled on a used tissue.

Breathe…

Now, you’d think FedEx would have us as one of the earliest deliveries, since it was already a day late. Customer service and all. But nooooooooo. I’d set it up to get e-mailed status updates, and at 3:06 pm I get an e-mail that the check was delivered at 2:59 pm. Yahooooooooo……….???????????????????!!!

Um, it was?

Red flags a-wavin’.

I didn’t hear the truck. Contrary to what some people think, I don’t nap the afternoon away (well, not every day). I was pretty sure I hadn’t been napping seven minutes ago, unless I’d suddenly been afflicted with narcolepsy.

I walk to the front door and open it. Nope. No package. I go to the tracking site and it says that the envelope was left at the door. Hmmm. My dog didn’t hear anyone approach…

So now I go outside and look around my front patio. I think perhaps the driver went to the wrong house, so I check my neighbors’ patios. Nope.

I go back inside and call FedEx. And as I’m making my way through the FedEx automated phone maze I hear a truck pull up.

Gotcha, sucka!

I rush to open the front door, and it’s obvious that he was not going to knock; he was just going to leave it.

“I know what you did, ” I say. He looks stricken. “I know that you said you delivered it at 2:59 when you weren’t anywhere near here. It’s now 3:14. That’s fraud, dude. ” FedEx has a policy that they will refund you if they’re late, and at this point they were 24 hours and fourteen minutes late. FedEx guy would get in trouble for delivering late, so he fudged it.

I told him I was going to call FedEx, that he better make this right; I’m pretty steamed. I’m irate. I’m offended.
The guy gives me a million mea culpas, and takes full responsibility. Tells me he’s totally wrong, it’s on him. Tells me he’s going to call his supervisor. He’s shaking.

The wind so totally went out of my sails. I’m a sucker for a guy who takes responsibility.

I realized that our client was getting their money refunded anyway. I realized that this guy could get fired. I realized that my next package could get accidentally “lost” if I made an enemy.

And he took responsibility.

So I told him I wasn’t going to turn him in. And I warned him that the next time the person could very well be even more of a bitch than I am, and he could very easily get busted. Seriously. And I sent him on his way.

Sigh.

Part of me wishes that I’d turned him in. What he did was just so wrong.

Ah, well.

At least we got the check. And in 3-6 months if it doesn’t bounce I’ll even write checks against it.

I Just Figured Out Who Priscilla Presley Now Resembles

I’m glad I’m not a traditionally beautiful woman. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I thought it would be horrifying to be that pretty, to get that kind of attention. Especially in high school. I’ve even had my attractive moments (I thought I rocked it pretty well in college).

But I have an actual memory of being twelve years old and thinking to myself, “Well, I may not be gorgeous, but at least I’ll know my husband truly loves me. And I won’t be destroyed by getting wrinkles and stuff.”

Because I’ve never been a drop-dead gorgeous woman, I can’t ever know what that’s like, or how it feels to age, to “lose your looks” when your looks are so much a part of your sense of self.

Take Priscilla Presley. I’ve always thought she was a really, really beautiful woman. She’d aged gracefully, still looking very youthful into her forties and fifties.

She’s on Dancing With the Stars this season, and I’m having a difficult time looking at her. In an effort to stave off aging she’s obviously had a great deal of plastic surgery. I always have a hard time looking at people who’ve done extensive work like hers. Instead of looking younger they look mis-shapen. I don’t think that’s better.

Priscilla, sweetheart, there’s nothing wrong with being sixty-two. No one expects you to look twenty-one, or even thirty. I hope you’re happy with the work you’ve gotten done, but it just makes me sad.

Now looking at you I feel the same way I feel when looking at your good friend Michael Jackson.

As long as you’re happy…

What I Like About Wal-Mart

I ran across a post over at Single Guy Money called What I Hate About Wal-Mart, and it inspired me to write a post, but not the one I thought I was going to write when I wrote the first part of this first sentence.

I don’t really have a problem with Wal-Mart. I do agree with Single Guy Money that they sometimes have long lines, rude employees and bad drivers in the parking lot. And sometimes their shoppers seem to be making poor financial choices.

I think, though, that all of those things can be found in most stores. I’ve been in very high end boutiques that employed rude employees. I’ve seen customers complain about long lines at a single register, which was backed up because the woman purchasing about $3000 worth of items had to try seven (seven!) credit cards before she found one that wasn’t maxed out (methinks it’s possible she makes some poor financial choices!). And it’s been my experience that some people who shop at high end stores think the rest of traffic should part to let them pass when they deign to bless us with their presence.

Still, I am one of the few people I know who actually enjoys shopping at Wal-Mart. I always buy toiletries there, as the prices are consistently at least 25% less than the grocery or drug store. Their equate brand toiletry and pharmacy products are terrific, and I was sorely disappointed when they stopped making an equate version of Husband’s Right Guard Sport deodorant.

When it enters my mind that I need to go to the dollar store for something, I’ll look for it at Wal-Mart first and often find it for 88 cents (think party favors, straws, kitchen gadgets). Spray paint and other craft items are less than I can buy them at Michael’s, even with a 40% off coupon.

Their children’s clothes are inexpensive and pretty well made. They now carry the Garanimals line (didn’t Sears used to?), and they wear very well. My son can’t wear Target’s shorts, but Wal-Mart’s fit him well. My sister-in-law just bought a bunch of very adorable outfits for our cousin’s 1-year-old twin girls without taxing her budget.

Their food prices aren’t always the lowest you can find. I will buy cereal there, but their soda is overpriced. I won’t go near their meats or most of their produce.

But they also had brand name cake mixes yesterday for 82 cents apiece, which makes two of theirs fifteen cents cheaper than the one-item price in the Buy One Get One deal I got the other day at Publix. Their frosting was $1 cheaper than Publix, too.

As far as the atmosphere, well, I don’t shop there on the weekends. I’m not one who minds busy stores, though. The aisles are on the small side, but still much better than our local K-Mart, where the checkout aisles are about an inch wider than the carts, and I’m not exaggerating. I see surly employees and surly shoppers, but I’ve also struck up conversations with other Moms in the baby department, and gotten good assistance from harried but helpful electronics and fabric department employees – the only two departments where I’ve ever needed assistance. The Wal-Mart I shop at is pretty clean, so I don’t have to contend with a dirty store.

I understand and respect people’s objections to Wal-Mart’s business and employment practices. As far as I’m concerned vendors wouldn’t do business with Wal-Mart if they weren’t making money, and if Wal-Mart can get it for a better price so I can pay less, well, fine with me.

I can’t speak to how Wal-Mart treats all their employees, but I do know that they hire many disabled people, including my bi-polar Mom. They bent over backwards to help her get through their online employee training (I would almost rather eat poop than try to teach my mother anything computer related), and treated her with dignity and respect during her tenure there.

When I was reading Single Guy Money’s post I was thinking, “You think Wal-Mart is bad? You should see my K-Mart!”, and so when I started writing this post it was going to be called What I Hate About K-Mart, but as I started writing it became this. I’m not trying to talk anyone into liking Wal-Mart if they don’t, after all I don’t even disagree with many of the reasons not to like it.

I do think, though, that it’s politically correct these days to not like Wal-Mart, and I’m just letting those closet Wal-Mart likers know that they aren’t alone.

If Fat People Can’t Eat at Restaurants then Stupid People Can’t Vote

That way the lines at restaurants and voting booths will be shorter. It makes sense, right?

Well, apparently it makes sense in Mississipi.

You heard about the Mississippi politician who introduced a bill that would ban obese people from eating at restaurants, have you not?

I’m not even going to go into the ridiculousness of the bill, or his reason for introducing it. At 5’11” and 230 lbs, it’s obvious that he’s aiming to make the all-you-can-eat buffet lines at Sizzler as short as possible.

(Really, some posts just write themselves.)

As a decidely un-svelte person, I can assure you that Republican Rep. John Read is the only fat person on the planet who apparently doesn’t know that he is, indeed, fat.

I’m sure there are a great number of highly intelligent people living in Mississippi. Their influence, though, is apparently undermined by the number of stupid people who voted for this pleasingly plump politician.

Because, really, if we’re going to start legislating the bad choices people make, I could suggest a few other laws. Who wants to introduce a bill banning mullets? How about landing strip beards? Camel toes? Public displays of gastro-intestinal ability (Oh, wait. Camden schools are taking care of that one)?

What new laws would you like to see passed? Let’s make a huge list and see what other social ills we can annihilate!

Then contact your own local pleasingly plump politician, preferably one with the very social ill you are seeking to abolish, and have him/her take it to the people.

I love the democratic process!

The Most Disgusting Post Ever

I don’t mind bugs. Spiders, beetles, grasshoppers – none send me running from the room, or puts me in that classic female position of calling for the nearest man to rescue me.

Except for roaches. Specifically those of the Palmetto Bug (no link, if you want to see you’ll have to look it up yourself!) variety. I grew up in New Jersey, where roaches are of normal size, about 3/4 of an inch to an inch long. Disgusting and gross, sure, but they don’t elicit the same visceral response that Palmetto Bugs do.

Then I moved to Florida, where G-d apparently decided to cater to all of the senior citizens and make the roaches Large Print. Seriously, they’re huge. Between 2 and 4 inches. Not only that, they can fly.

Yes. Like the creepy flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz. And nearly as big.

Imagine sitting at a table and a three inch cockroach alights onto the table next to you.

They seriously send me into a state that nothing else I’ve ever seen can. My heart races, I get nauseous, and feel the need to immediately flee from the room. The house. The state.

You think you’re disgusted reading about this? Imagine having to see one, live and in person. And if you try to kill them you need a hammer, or at least hammer strength. G-d decided he should give them body armor, apparently.

Did I mention they’re not afraid of the light? You don’t even get the opportunity to pretend you didn’t see it because if you walk into a room and turn on the light you find yourself in the middle of a staredown.

When I’m alone and encounter one, I manage to get ahold of myself and do what needs to be done. I have been known to chip paint I’ve hit them so hard, because the only thing that freaks me out more than encountering one is letting one escape. I’ll let your own imaginations take you where I dare not let mine… I shudder in disgusted aftershocks for at least an hour afterwards.

Thankfully in the six years I’ve been in my home I’ve only encountered four. Husband sprays occasionally, and that seems to keep them at bay.

Tonight my son and I encountered one in our kitchen. It was huge. At least three inches. It’s the second one this week, and it’s likely due to all of the rain we’ve been getting. When I saw the first one I freaked, then handled it. I certainly couldn’t ask my son to (though I really, really look forward to the day when I can).

So, when I saw tonight’s roach I immediately let out a yelp and then yelled to Husband, “There’s a roach in the kitchen! That’s the second one this week!!!” He replied, “So? Kill it.”

Before the words were even completely out of his mouth I yelled, “You’re home! YOU do it!”

Doesn’t he understand that killing bugs is his job when he’s home? To me there are many benefits to being married, and this is one of them. I’ll handle certain things when you’re not home, but when you are, dear Husband, you do it.

Do it he did.

It was thirty minutes ago, and I’m still having aftershocks.

Blech.

I love being married.

Hey Legislators! Let’s make a Minimum 24-hour Jail Stay Mandatory

Eighty-four minutes. That’s how long Lindsay Lohan “served” in jail as part of her plea deal related to her guilty plea on drunken driving charges last year.

Eighty-four minutes. I’ve had longer prison terms in line at the DMV. And, really, how is that any different? We both sat in government offices, both of us subject to the whim of government workers, and we both got our pictures taken (though I’m sure hers came out better).

I just think these in-and-out terms are ridiculous. I understand that there are programs to reduce overcrowding, and that they give time off for good behavior. I don’t like but accept that there are these teeny-tiny itty-bitty sentences, which are more statement than punishment.

But really, no one should ever be allowed to serve less than twenty-four hours. People convicted of crimes that have jail sentences should have the  experience of the  bars closing behind them. They should have to sit in a cell and reflect, even if only for one full day, on what actions they took that landed them there. They should have to poop in jail. They should have to at least attempt to sleep on a too-small, too-hard cot. They should have to hear noises in the night that they didn’t make, and wake up disoriented. They should have to experience a day in jail so they can, hopefully, decide never again to make the choices that got them there.

Eighty-four minutes isn’t going to do that for anyone.

It seems perfectly reasonable and logical to me.  Legislators, are you listening?  At least, those of you who aren’t in trouble yourselves?

Politics is a Big Pile of Moose Poopy

I’m pretty disgusted with politics. But that’s nothing new.

Let me put in a little disclaimer that I am about as far from an expert on political science as it is possible to be. Someone starts talking politics and my most frequent reaction is to leave the immediate area as soon as possible. I’m politically naive. I don’t watch Meet the Press, I don’t read The New York Times, and I’m not a Young (or old) Republican or Democrat. The following words are purely my opinions, a large dose of speculation and probably some misinterpretations. I’m okay with that.

Growing up in one of the most liberal Jewish households on the face of the earth, I proudly registered as a Democrat as soon as I turned eighteen. A scant 10 months later, amidst the nausea-inducing rigmarole surrounding the 1984 primaries, I saved my sanity by completely abandoning party politics and changing my preference to NPA – No Party Affiliation. I just didn’t want to be associated with any of the bozos that were running, or the political machines that were running them.

Not much has changed.

In the years since I’ve voted every which way, usually for the lesser of the presented evils, and have never regretted my decision to keep as far away from any political party as possible. I have most certainly gotten more conservative as I’ve gotten older, which was quite surprising to me. Perhaps I was more idealistic in my youth, perhaps I’ve gotten more fearful in the face of the world’s problems. Perhaps it’s that I see now the prices we are paying for some of the choices we made years ago. But I digress…

Living in Florida (Home of the Hanging Chad), I don’t get to vote in the primaries. Florida isn’t like New Hampshire, where they let you choose a party for the primary and then immediately (before you even leave the polling location) switch back to NPA. I’m not sure which way is sillier.

So.

There are a few politically-related things that have been swimming around my brain that I want to put down on virtual paper.

The Electoral College

There are many arguments for and against the Electoral College. I don’t even really understand the complexities of this system. I’m sure there were good reasons for it at the time, but in our modern world I just don’t see the necessity.

Besides, I just can’t understand why the popular vote doesn’t decide the election winner. Even given the fact that many people really have no clue about the positions of the candidates (casting their vote based upon the candidate’s race, gender, the color of their eyes, what a pundit says, the order on the ballot or because Oprah or some other celebrity says so) it seems to me that it’s only fair if every American gets a vote, and majority rules.

But what do I know?

Anything to Get Elected

There are debates. There are public appearances. There are hundred-page-long platform papers. There are interviews. There are written question-and-answer articles. There are websites. There are phone calls and commercials. There are millions of words written by, for, and about the candidates.

The only problem is that it means little. The Washington Post profiled each of the major candidates (another topic I’ll cover), and asked each the same questions on the topics of Health Care, Social Security, Iraq, National Security, Energy, Immigration, Affirmative Action, Economy, Budget, Education, Gay Marriage, Abortion, Poverty, Gun Control, Stem Cell Research, and their Top Priorities. Terrific questions. Important questions.

After reading the profiles, Kate, in a post over at One More Thing, commented that the candidates don’t differ much, and she’s right. They don’t. The answers are snazzily produced and heavily edited. They say what they, and their political machines, think they need to say to get elected. My cynical self can’t help but wonder how far their actions if elected would differ from what’s coming out of their mouths on the campaign trail. How much they will compromise their own beliefs (if they even recall what they are) in the name of progress. And you and I know that they surely will.

Sigh.

The Candidates, The Debates and Media Coverage in General

Mike Gravel. Dennis Kucinich. Alan Keyes. Ron Paul. Rory Frank. Heather Johnson.

Did you know they were running for President? They’re Democrats and Republicans, and even if you’ve heard of them most don’t know they’re running this year.

I’d tell you to forget about William Hale, Albert Hamburg, Dennis Hanaghan, David Hollist, and Todd Clayton, but you can’t forget about people you’ve never heard of before. For all you know they could be porn stars. They are Presidential candidates. Really.

We know nothing about Independents, Green Party candidates and those with No Party Affiliation. The media completely ignores them. Except for Ralph Nader, of course.

Did you know that 252 people have formed or announced a Presidential exploratory or campaign committee with the Federal Election Commission or filed a statement of candidacy? Two hundred fifty-two. Yowza.

I’ll bet 90 percent of the country doesn’t. That’s due, in large part, to the media almost completely ignoring anyone who isn’t Red or Blue, or has enough money to buy their way into coverage like Ross Perot and Michael Bloomberg.

Televised debates are only for the top candidates. Last week Ron Paul was not permitted to take part in Fox News’ Republican candidate debate, and he’s not the first. Fox isn’t the only news organization choosing who can participate, who can get the type of media exposure necessary to contend. Where do you draw the line – and who should draw it?

Don’t even get me started on the liberal slant the major networks have steadily moved towards over the past twenty years. Media executives broadcast and story decisions are slanted based on their own truths, their own political views, and what will bring in the most money. Liberal? NBC is for you. Conservative? Fox News or AM radio will be your source. Conspiracy theorist? There’s a zillion websites for you, my husband’s brethren.

Whatever happened to objective journalism? Is it even possible for it to exist? Did it ever?

Responsible voters will learn as much as possible and make the most informed choice they can. It’s our responsibility to do so. Words cannot describe my frustration with people who…don’t. I’m not saying you must spend three hundred hours researching, I’m just saying please don’t choose based on whim.

Sigh. I’ll stop talking. For now.

No, the blog has not been abandoned.

I have just been nursing several infections who decided to be especially cruel and invade my body the week before Christmas, including the first ear infection I’ve had since I was twelve.  Yes, InfectionsRUs.

Really, G-d, was it necessary to foist this upon me when I wasn’t done with Christmas shopping, baking, or with preparations to go out of town?

Was it then necessary to give me a rip-roaring case of bronchitis, despite having taken a Z-pack, which has allowed me to fully cough up one lung?  And give me my period at the same time (TMI, but have YOU coughed with a tampon in???)? I must thank You, though, for not giving me diarrhea,  as sharting is even less fun…

Just a request for next time – can You please wait until my son is fully recovered from his cold/asthma attack, as it’s not fun going to his doctor every other day and listening to his doctor tell me that I’m an undiagnosed asthmatic, and should really get to my own doctor?

So, my friends, I hope Santa or Hanukkah Harry or your spouse has given you everything you wanted for the holidays.

Around here we’re just praying for a return to good health.  Please, G-d.

Perhaps Jewish girls shouldn’t have Christmas trees

I think He is trying to tell me something.

We put up our Christmas tree last Thursday, and all was well.

Then, yesterday, I attempted to put water in the base of our new tree stand, which I had bought on sale after Christmas last year. It’s a really cool stand – supposed to be one-person workable, easy as pie, make your Christmas even better. We were impressed.

And the tree looked beautiful. It was a perfect tree. The One. We’d had The Moment. You know, that moment when you just look at each other and know you’ve found the perfect tree.

We decorated it, and it looked lovely. Then, yesterday, I tried to put water in it. It did not go well.

The tree fell over. Yes, it really did.

The stand had broken, in a way that my post-tragedy online research has revealed is all too common with this type of stand.

Okay. We lost a few ornaments, nothing too tragic. We put the tree in a bucket so it wouldn’t dry out, cleaned up the mess and planned to go out in search of another stand today.

Which I did. I had to break my promise not to purchase any more Christmas stuff this year. I bought a very plain, regular stand. No muss, no fuss.

So, tonight we tried to put up the tree again. Tried being the operative word.

Seems the tree’s trunk is too narrow for the stand I bought.

Yes, it really is.

My husband now insists that he’s done, and this is the last real tree we’ll ever have. We’re supposed to immediately purchase a faux tree, complete with lights for next year.

As if.

So, tomorrow I have to go out and buy yet another tree stand. And if this doesn’t work, I don’t have to worry about what He is trying to tell me because the other “he” in my life, my dear husband, will throw the tree out the window.

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