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Monthly Archives: November 2011

Hang up and fly right: More evidence of in-flight interference

 

By Rob Lovitt, msnbc.com contributor

Maybe you really should turn off your cell phone when the flight attendant tells you to. No, really.

According to a confidential report obtained by ABC News, interference from cell phones and other personal electronic devices (PEDs) may, in fact, present serious safety concerns for aircraft.

The report from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the global industry trade group, surveyed commercial pilots and crewmembers and cited 75 incidents in which the respondents believed PEDs may have created electronic interference that impacted flight systems.

Twenty-six incidents affected flight controls, while 17 affected navigation systems and 15 affected communication systems. Thirteen, says ABC, produced “engine indications” and other warnings. According to respondents, activated electronic devices caused GPS and altitude-control readings to read incorrectly and change rapidly.

Live Poll

Do you think cell phones and other PEDs interfere with flight controls?

“It could be that you were to the right of the runway when in fact, you were to the left of the runway,” Dave Carson of Boeing told ABC.

Although the report doesn’t confirm that the incidents were caused by PEDs, it does note that in several instances, instrument readings returned to normal after crewmembers made passengers turn off their devices.

“We can’t say categorically that these devices cause interference,” IATA spokesman Chris Goater told msnbc.com, “but there are enough anecdotal reports from pilots to raise the question.”

Finding that direct link may only get more difficult, especially as the number and variety of PEDs increase and airplanes rely more heavily on “fly-by-wire,” or electric systems that may be more susceptible to interference than the mechanical systems found in older planes.

“The upshot is that those PEDs emit energy that could interfere with the signals from the control column to the control surfaces,” said aviation safety consultant Steve Cowell of SRC Aviation LLC. “There’s quite a bit of shielding, but it’s also possible that it may not be enough.”

 

A Sure Fix for the Economy – Revolution

Why Iceland Should Be in the News, But Is Not

by: Deena Stryker, The South Africa Civil Society Information Service | News Analysis

An Italian radio program’s story about Iceland’s on-going revolution is a stunning example of how little our media tells us about the rest of the world. Americans may remember that at the start of the 2008 financial crisis, Iceland literally went bankrupt.  The reasons were mentioned only in passing, and since then, this little-known member of the European Union fell back into oblivion.

As one European country after another fails or risks failing, imperiling the Euro, with repercussions for the entire world, the last thing the powers that be want is for Iceland to become an example. Here’s why:

Five years of a pure neo-liberal regime had made Iceland, (population 320 thousand, no army), one of the richest countries in the world. In 2003 all the country’s banks were privatized, and in an effort to attract foreign investors, they offered on-line banking whose minimal costs allowed them to offer relatively high rates of return. The accounts, called IceSave, attracted many English and Dutch small investors.  But as investments grew, so did the banks’ foreign debt.  In 2003 Iceland’s debt was equal to 200 times its GNP, but in 2007, it was 900 percent.  The 2008 world financial crisis was the coup de grace. The three main Icelandic banks, Landbanki, Kapthing and Glitnir, went belly up and were nationalized, while the Kroner lost 85% of its value with respect to the Euro.  At the end of the year Iceland declared bankruptcy.

Contrary to what could be expected, the crisis resulted in Icelanders recovering their sovereign rights, through a process of direct participatory democracy that eventually led to a new Constitution.  But only after much pain.

Geir Haarde, the Prime Minister of a Social Democratic coalition government, negotiated a two million one hundred thousand dollar loan, to which the Nordic countries added another two and a half million. But the foreign financial community pressured Iceland to impose drastic measures.  The FMI and the European Union wanted to take over its debt, claiming this was the only way for the country to pay back Holland and Great Britain, who had promised to reimburse their citizens.

Protests and riots continued, eventually forcing the government to resign. Elections were brought forward to April 2009, resulting in a left-wing coalition which condemned the neoliberal economic system, but immediately gave in to its demands that Iceland pay off a total of three and a half million Euros.  This required each Icelandic citizen to pay 100 Euros a month (or about $130) for fifteen years, at 5.5% interest, to pay off a debt incurred by private parties vis a vis other private parties. It was the straw that broke the reindeer’s back.

What happened next was extraordinary. The belief that citizens had to pay for the mistakes of a financial monopoly, that an entire nation must be taxed to pay off private debts was shattered, transforming the relationship between citizens and their political institutions and eventually driving Iceland’s leaders to the side of their constituents. The Head of State, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, refused to ratify the law that would have made Iceland’s citizens responsible for its bankers’ debts, and accepted calls for a referendum.

Of course the international community only increased the pressure on Iceland. Great Britain and Holland threatened dire reprisals that would isolate the country.  As Icelanders went to vote, foreign bankers threatened to block any aid from the IMF.  The British government threatened to freeze Icelander savings and checking accounts. As Grimsson said: “We were told that if we refused the international community’s conditions, we would become the Cuba of the North.  But if we had accepted, we would have become the Haiti of the North.” (How many times have I written that when Cubans see the dire state of their neighbor, Haiti, they count themselves lucky.)

In the March 2010 referendum, 93% voted against repayment of the debt.  The IMF immediately froze its loan.  But the revolution (though not televised in the United States), would not be intimidated. With the support of a furious citizenry, the government launched civil and penal investigations into those responsible for the financial crisis.  Interpol put out an international arrest warrant for the ex-president of Kaupthing, Sigurdur Einarsson, as the other bankers implicated in the crash fled the country.

But Icelanders didn’t stop there: they decided to draft a new constitution that would free the country from the exaggerated power of international finance and virtual money.  (The one in use had been written when Iceland gained its independence from Denmark, in 1918, the only difference with the Danish constitution being that the word ‘president’ replaced the word ‘king’.)

To write the new constitution, the people of Iceland elected twenty-five citizens from among 522 adults not belonging to any political party but recommended by at least thirty citizens. This document was not the work of a handful of politicians, but was written on the internet. The constituent’s meetings are streamed on-line, and citizens can send their comments and suggestions, witnessing the document as it takes shape. The constitution that eventually emerges from this participatory democratic process will be submitted to parliament for approval after the next elections.

Some readers will remember that Iceland’s ninth century agrarian collapse was featured in Jared Diamond’s book by the same name. Today, that country is recovering from its financial collapse in ways just the opposite of those generally considered unavoidable, as confirmed yesterday by the new head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde to Fareed Zakaria. The people of Greece have been told that the privatization of their public sector is the only solution.  And those of Italy, Spain and Portugal are facing the same threat.

They should look to Iceland. Refusing to bow to foreign interests, that small country stated loud and clear that the people are sovereign.

That’s why it is not in the news anymore.

 

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The Who of Public Relations: Your Public

It’s easy to become focused on the tactics in public relations. It can be sort of fun to plan big PR events, prepare new brochures, and write press releases. They say that speaking without thinking is like shooting without aiming: I would assert that running a PR campaign is the same. Running a stellar PR campaign will be about as useful as driving a car with out wheels if you don’t know who you are talking to.

A school district public affairs director could have many audiences he or she needs to target. They may want to target parents to encourage them to be more involved in their students lives. High school students are another audience if you wish to encourage them to avoid drugs and violence. If your district is hiring, you may want to target graduate students from a local college. Where do each of these groups receive information? Would it be effective to use Facebook to target parents? Would you want to use a televised news clip to target high school students? Do potential teachers read the paper?

Here are a few things you need to find out about an audience:

Who are they: What demographic group are you targeting? Simply targeting teenagers isn’t enough. Teenagers in San Francisco, California are likely going to be much different from teenagers in Rexburg, Idaho. Teenagers at the public Seaside High School will likely be different from students at the private St. Peter‘s Holy Cross High School (both names I invented, just FYI).

Where do they turn for information: Do they attend town hall meetings? Are they likely to attend an event with a pop star DJ? Do they have a Facebook account? Do they watch the evening news? Or do they watch Jay Leno? If you mis-target your ad campaign, your audience will never get it.

What are their key interests: What drives your audience in life? What do they want? It is important to know what your audience’s key interests are. What are their needs? How can your company, service, product, or message satisfy that need? If you misinterpret your audience’s key interests, even if they get the message they probably won’t care.

Give them a name: An excellent public relations professor taught our class to even give your key audience a name. For example, if you were planning a PR campaign to promote a new online job search tool, you might target someone like Joe. Joe is a 40-year-old man from Atlanta, Georgia. He works for a power plant and makes $35,000 a year. He watches Stephen Colbert every night and checks the Internet frequently looking for a new job.

Putting a face and a name to your audience helps you to humanize them. It connects you with what they need in life. Faceless masses usually won’t be very helpful to your cause. Public relations isn’t just about serving the needs of your employer (although that is paramount). PR is about creating value for your publics so that they can act in their own self interest.

About the Author

Derek Gurr is a public relations student at BYU and a writer for MyCollegesandCareers.com. My Colleges and Careers can be of great assistance to those that are trying to locate and register to go to the best online universities.

 

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Get Big by Being Small

When dentists take on the responsibility of managing their own practice, they always aspire for one thing and that is to see their practice expand. Every big corporation we know of right now have humble beginnings. For instance, the multinational company which sells sporting goods which we know of as Nike sold its first product from the trunk of a car. The first custom-built computer that Dell ever sold was shipped from a college dorm room. And the well-loved Starbucks evolved from a mom and pop coffee shop.

It’s ironic to think now that being big isn’t all that there is. In order for your practice to get big, you need to act small. There are a lot of advantages to being a “small” practice which patients find endearing. Here are a number of ways for you to get big by acting small.

Strive to be the best.

Although you need to keep an eye on your profits, you also need to understand that it’s not all about sales. You will become impersonal and lose beloved patients when you start thinking of them as nothing but moneybags. You should instead strive to deliver excellent service instead of just focusing your sole attention on expansion. When you are just as dedicated to your patients as you are to your own goals, then you are rewarded not just through your patients’ loyalty but also through word-of-mouth referral.

When you have already built a reputation of being the best in your craft, you will then be afforded the means to expand. You’ll know that you have the ability to capture a bigger market because of your dedication and the credibility which you have solidly built through the years and that is one of the most important requisites to expanding your practice.

Love your practice.

Practices which flourish are those which were founded not just because of the desire to make money but out of genuine love and passion. When you are passionate towards helping your patients have topnotch dental health, they’ll be able to spot that and will not only appreciate your genuine concern but they may also realize the imperative need to take care of their teeth which again helps your practice. And your passion should be shared by your employees as well. This is why you should select the members of your staff properly and not just settle for live bodies.

Elliot likes writing and is interested in Dental Marketing and Dental Practice SEO. Please take care of your teeth.

 

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American Entrepreneurs Can Succeed Without Speaking English

 

 

The international census is that spoken and written English is needed in order to financially succeed as an immigrant in an English speaking country. However America has recently produced a series of entrepreneurs who have built multi-million dollar Empires from nothing, speaking little or no English. These new American Entrepreneurs used technology and clever marketing within the immigrant diasporas to attain considerable wealth.

Felix Sanchez de la Vega has been living and working in the United States for 40 years but still his English hasn’t progressed and remains very basic. When he arrived from Puebla, Mexico to New York City, he was uneducated and poor. He moved from various low paying jobs and eventually started his American entrepreneurship by opening up his own small business as a street vendor, selling authentic Mexican tortillas. Back in the 1970s the Mexican population in New York was still relatively small, but as it grew so did the demand for authentic Mexican products.

Using nothing more than his ingenuity and dedication, Sanchez’s small business eventually turned into a $19 million food manufacturing and distribution empire that weaves through the various Mexican communities from coast to coast and even back down into Mexico itself. This successful American entrepreneur achieved all this despite his lack of English. His success is rooted in the fact that in general, large cities have big enough immigrant populations to insulate business owners from everyday transactions that require English. After gaining footage in a local area, modern technology makes it possible and easy for immigrant American entrepreneurs to expand their business and tap new immigrant markets across the country or even the world. Furthermore, professional translation is readily available if English is eventually required.

Other examples of successful American entrepreneurs include Zhang Yulong from China. After emigrating in 1994 he now owns a $30 million a year earning company that deals with cell phone accessories, also in New York, that employs 45 people. Kim Ki Chol is another Asian American entrepreneur who arrived from South Korea in 1981. He started a clothing accessories store in Brooklyn and is now a highly successful retailer and real estate investor.

These stories of success although unusual are not isolated. According to the Census Bureau, in 2010, 4.5 million who were the heads of household in the United States spoke English ‘not well’ or ‘not at all’. Of these households, about 35, 500 had household incomes of more than $200,000 per year, indicating a longer list of American entrepreneurs from non-English backgrounds. These unique stories of great American entrepreneurs as well as the statistics prove that in today’s global world it is not impossible for an entrepreneur to succeed without English. With the amount of international companies now offering certified translation via the Internet as well as the continued development and accuracy of Google translations, the opportunities for success as an American entrepreneur are endless.

Sally Roberts is an experienced writer in technology-related news from around the world.

 

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The Rise of the Serviced Offices Market

The serviced offices market may be in full strength in many of the economic capitals of the world, but there is still a huge potential for this type of business lease. While London serviced offices are at the top end of the market, comprising more in serviced office workstations than the other top 5 cities from around the world, there is still a mass of areas in the capital and the UK which can offer growth to this emerging office market trend. So what are the benefits of serviced offices in comparison to others, and why will this market continue to grow around the world? The benefits are all in the flexibility and low risk associated with the Serviced office market, as businesses can tailor their premises needs in short periods of times and have choices that normal leases cannot offer.

Serviced offices are the perfect option for international corporations planning on making headway into new territories and this is why huge amounts of international growth are expected over the next decade, especially in Asian, American and African economic capitals. Corporations can make a low capital investment for starters and expand the size of their offices as they expand their influence in the local market. Should they require more space immediately, the flexible lease terms allow for almost immediate changes, and cancellations can be made without bankrupting an organisation. Due to these factors, Africa and certain Asian markets, such as India, are seeing new centre being opened almost monthly to ensure that businesses looking to invest have access to A-grade office space when entering a new market. These offerings also include everything that a company needs for start up, including desks, communications equipment and maintenance staff to ensure that as soon as employees move into the location they are ready for business from day one, without having to source furniture and equipment. Serviced offices can also be an interim solution for many companies sending advance teams into regions to solidify presence before making the full commitment to a region for business.

While serviced offices may seem to be an expensive package, the benefits and costs associated with them are very reasonable for the benefits received. Although rates in emerging markets may be slightly more expensive than in developed economic capitals, new centres will drop prices as markets flourish, benefitting the end consumer. New York has the second highest number of serviced offices, but only occupies a small percentage of the property market, so the area for expansion is available and the percentages are set to increase. Even in London, Office space Wimbledon is set to increase, as West End and Central London properties become saturated. With the ample benefits and the rise of business expansion, the serviced offices market internationally is set to increase dramatically over the next decade. For more information on the growth of the serviced offices market, read the full report online.

Sarah Mancini is a Freelance writer who specialises on articles regarding the corporate property market. She hopes to educate readers on the varirty of Office solutions available.

 

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How To Organize A Seamless Office Refit

While office space design may seem inconsequential, studies have shown that office space layout and colors will affect productivity in an office. Businesses need to ensure that the lighting is adequate, the area is open and the desks and chairs are ergonomic. New office design considers each of these elements. An office re-fit may be just the answer to improving your employees’ morale and productivity.

• Stage 1: Consultation

Schedule an appointment to show the design team your office space and determine how an office refit can benefit your company. During the consultation address all of the major issues, such as lighting, color schemes, storage solutions, partitioning systems, ergonomic furniture, as well as, voice and data cabling solutions. Clearly define the objectives for this project and describe them in depth to the re-fit designer. Study the positioning of the columns and any other obstructions that may stand in the way of designing an ideal office solution. Dimensions must be taken, along with determining ceiling heights and regulations. Window positions, door positions and other elements are also of major concern. Design consultants will consider each of these elements before concluding the conversation to render a three dimensional layout of the potential design.

• Stage 2: Two and Three Dimensional Layouts

During the next phase of the project, the designer will render a two or three dimensional floor plan based upon the initial consultation. From the designer’s product library, a number of innovative design solutions will be selected. Furniture layout and color schemes are not typically included at this stage of the project. The client will mainly focus on the general layout of the office. A company representative will view the office from all angles to determine if there will be any obstacles in terms of accommodating employees, office furniture, office equipment or any other limitations. Once the representative signs off on this stage, designers may move into the final stages to produce the fully rendered three dimensional drawing.

• Stage 3: Fully Rendered Visuals

During this stage, fully rendered three dimensional visuals will be produced with office furniture, partitioning, colour schemes and flooring finishings. Clients can fully visualize the product. When the rendering is shown to the client, he or she may make requests for changes in the design. Some design companies will offer clients multiple options to choose from so that the client receives the most desirable finished product.

• Stage 4: Implementation of the Design

During the implementation phase, the client may be invited to view the office re-fit and make any last minute changes before the job is completed. After the implantation is complete, employees will enjoy the benefits of their new office space.

Summary

Many designers have very modern and advanced partitions and designs with bright colors. Gone are the days of the drab gray partition walls. Most of the new designs are modern and art deco style. Glass partitions are also available. The benefits of office refits are apparent. Just follow the steps, and you are on your way to organising a seamless office re-fit.

Will writes for Principal Corp a leader in the consumer electronics and managed services industry, Principal specialises in Office Systems and fax machines amongst other practical IT based solutions.

 

How to Recruit New Staff

Recruitment of new staff in an organization plays a very important role as the success of the organization depends on the newly recruited staff those are new to the environment.

The staff is the most important part of a company.  They will be the driving force behind every decision, every shipment, and every contact with customers.  Bad staff choices can bring a company down, and it is imperative that only the best people are employed every time there is a new position opening up in the company.

New staff can bring new ideas to your company.  This is only achievable if the best of the best are employed. Before the recruitment of any new employee in the organization the human resources team should be trained enough to recognize the best talent among people. It can be done through suggestions from current staff that are already experienced in the business, recruiting at vocational schools and universities, and advertising in classified sections of newspapers and trade and professional publications.

The first step is to weed out those applicants who are unqualified for the positions and those who do not have the necessary skill-set. This can be done by reading resumes and CVs.

The mindset is to attract qualified, talented and experienced people whose skills match the job position you are trying to fill. Once you get qualified people into your shortlist, you can use interviewing and references to screen for other desirable qualities. While recruiting it’s very important that you look to the long term goal of that employee because he’s the one who will be the future of the organization. Always keep in mind that the person you’re recruiting should be with the company for the long run.

Recruiters also need to ensure that they have the right number of people in the right jobs at the right time. The most important thing is to give prospective employees a good idea of how he can progress through the company, and in turn listen to his opinions and views about the company. Once the employee is recruited, the recruiters should orient the new employee, explaining what is required in the company, and the overall company ethos.  Also we should inform them of their potential their growth and future with the company. At the same time, we should expect a candidate to give their 100% for the company and be a big part of its continuing growth.

Mark Gregory is writing on behalf of Ashley Associates, who offer a range of services including; recruitment to recruitment agencies and Recruitment to Recruitment

 

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An Easy Life – Jennie Rasmussen

I almost like to think that I remember being born.  I like to think lots of things.  Mostly I get bothered by people who think they know everything, its irritatin’ to those of us who actually do.  My earliest real memories are of those cold mornings on the farm in Iowa.  The stove would go almost entirely out during the night, til paw got up and stoked the little pot belly in our sleepin’ room.  The flannel nighty pulled up around my neck as far as it would go barely made up for the fact that we was indoors and I could still see my breath.  By the time that sun come up we was thawed out enough to get dressed and start chores.  Only thing got me through the winter was the thoughts of summer and all them damned bugs.  Ain’t nuthin’ worse than sweating like a horse an havin’ a face full of skeeters and gnats.  An that was at night.  Harvest was the worst.  Pickin’ that damn corn till I swore that when I got out of there, there would, “never be an ear of corn in the same room with me again.” At least after the crops was in we got to go to school some.  Reverend Uhlig’s wife set up some desks and chairs in the basement of the church, and when the weather wasn’t too bad my little brother Bobby and I would borrow one of the good horses and go spend hours listening to stories, readin’s from the bible, and doin’ ‘rithmatic on the chalkboard.  Seemed like those years went by like decades.  Nothin’ much changed. There were the irrigation canals in the summer, but the water always melted right off ya and you was dry by the time you started to walk home.  Then you would be sweaty again. No, winter was better that way.  We could always find something to do to get warm, like milkin’ the cows, but there weren’t a damn thing to do in August and September to get cooled down.

We had us some good times tho.  Dad was the best fiddle player in all of Des Moines county; State of Iowa said so at the fair darn near every year (there was that one year that some Yahoo come up from Nashville and took it, but he weren’t no local boy).  There was foot stompin’ and dancing and an occasional sip of that corn whisky the Rasmussens used to brew up every payday.  Us kids never got involved in that much, specially after what we saw it did to the Eckhardt twins.  Mark got skunk drunk once he hitched up his plow and drove smack over the levee into the canal, damn near drowned the horse.  Took all the neighbors, three horses, and half a day to get it out, and the rest of the day to get it straightened out and set up again.

That weren’t the only excitement in Ames, tho.  On Friday nights me an the girls would sneak off with the Rasmussen’s and Eckhardt’s boys and go down to the stock yards to watch the pigs hump.  On a good night we could count ten or twelve of the lucky ones havin’ themselves a time. We left the whisky home, but there was usually a bottle of cider around, and we got just tipsy enough to laugh and joke and somehow pass the time.

I don’t remember those times ending, but damn if I didn’t find myself married to Art Rasmussen, all moved in an fixen’ to have us a family.  That was 1916.  God don’t always play fair.  In 1917, three years after Henry Ford started building cars in Highland Park, the US declared war on Germany.  To most Americans this was a very patriotic time, and the men of Iowa were no exception.  The only  hitch  was that Art and his family came over from Hamburg, and my parents still had kin in Frankfurt.  Actually lots of our friends and neighbors were of German descent. Sometimes these people were singled out for harsh treatment. Some were made to take a loyalty oath or to salute or even kiss the flag.  Schools did not allow their students to study no German. Things with German names got new names. “German measles” became “liberty measles” and “sauerkraut” became “liberty cabbage.”

It was war time, and the nation needed soldiers. Some Iowa men volunteered for patriotic reasons. Because the Army still needed more men, the government required all men between the ages of 18 and 45 to register at the county courthouse.  There would be 115,000 to go over and fight with the British and French, and Art was one of them.  He was shipped out with the 116th infantry division, but he had left behind a present.  I was pregnant.

Iowa was called on to provide corn, and hogs, and cattle for the war effort.  It was all I could do to tend our little “victory garden” and fend for ourselves.  Our first, a son Donald, was born the day after Christmas 1917.  In the fall of 1918, the Spanish Flu took Donald, along with 675,000 other Americans (ten times as many as died in the world war).  It wasn’t long after we buried Donald that Art came home from the war.  He had been one of the lucky ones and still had all his pieces.  That was good ‘cause we figured he’d need them all if we was to try again to start a family.

Judy was born nine months, three days, and two hours later.  We was hoping for another boy, but at this point we take what the good lord gives us; a healthy baby is good.  Gladys was born just about a year later, December 12th 1920.  The girls are bright and active, pretty as a picture, and we are so proud of them.  They play basket ball in high school, and both end up marryin soon after.  Gladys found herself a nice soldier, although when he came back from WWII things weren’t the same and they split up.  Judy married a real smart man, got to be the vice president of a big paper company.  Things was fine for several years, but the thing was, he was also a drunk.  They lived in Chicago, and Texas, had a nice little girl named Jody.  Dick took off after he found out that Judy had MS. There wasn’t much to treat it with back then, and being a drunk, I guess he just figured it was too much bother to watch his wife take 30 years to die.  Jody kep’ in touch with her mom best she could, but they lived in Chicago and she had started a new family of her own.

Gladys found herself a job and moved out to California.  She ended up findin’ herself a good man too, he drank some, but not like Dick.  His name was Francis, but he never did like that and went by the nickname “Buss.”  After they got established good, they sent for us and Art and I took the train out from Iowa.  That was the first time I saw little Stevie, Gladys’s son.

We had some real good years out there.  Art would spend hours and hours tellin’ stories and teachin’ little Stevie about carpentry.  We moved into an apartment complex in the city where Gladys lived, and was the managers in exchange for rent.  Art did all the fixin’, and Stevie helped.  It was a good time, and as pleasant as I can remember.  I wasn’t always happy, and when I was with the girls (Judy had moved out there to be with us) we mostly fought.  It was always little things, but I guess we was just too much alike.  Cats and dogs when we was together, then miss each other when we wasn’t.  We still managed to have some great camping trips and family times until Art had his stroke.  Glady’s husband was real good to us and bought us a house near to theirs.  We lasted there for a few years until it became too much for Art to maintain, and a real miracle had happened.

Next to where Gladys and Buss lived was an English Commodore.  Sir William Barton had just lost his wife, and was very close to Gladys and Buss. He had a nice old house with an extra bedroom and was kinda lonely. We talked a few times and ended up moving in with him right next to my daughter.  We had cut a gate through the back fence, and it was just like we all lived on the farm together for a while.  There were a few years there that were trouble free.  That will be what I remember later in my life as a period of Shangri-la.  We had BBQ’s in the summer time, gin and tonics on the porch, playing croquet on the fancy dichondra lawn Buss put in… the best of times.

It was a couple of years, but all good things came to a quick end. ‘Bout the same time Commodore Barton dropped dead of an aneurysm, Art went into the VA hospital and lasted a few months before he died, and Judy finally had to be put in a rest home for her MS.  I took an apartment downtown San Carlos and a job at a local clothing shop.  Things went on for a few years like that, then the next round.

Gladys’ husband got Alzheimer’s, she got cancer, and Judy got worse with her MS. Stevie graduated from college and came back home to help. Buss died then, and Gladys died a couple of years after that. I was left with one granddaughter in Chicago, a dying daughter in a rest home, and my grandson to take care of me.  He did the best he could, but had his own life and family.  They helped me with my apartment; I think he gave me $500 a month (from the inheritance from his mother) and we all just got by – somehow.  We wasn’t hurting, but we wasn’t rich.  Just minding our own business, getting by.  Stevie and that girl he married would come by and pick me up for dinner once a week. We’d spend holidays together, sometimes at their house (he got a big one when his parents died) and sometimes at my apartment, but always together.

Them people at the social security call me in and give me a “case” worker.  I aint no dam cow, need a “case” worker, but she asks all sort of questions:  how much is my rent, what do I spend on electricity, where is the other money coming from?  I tell her that Stevie helps me some, and we get by.  She tells me that it’s not legal for me to take any money from anybody else while the governments helping me, so to save money she’s gonna have me move out of my apartment into a government subsidized assisted living place that costs them twice as much.  Government nothin’ but a bunch ignert arseholes.

Hell, I don’t know a soul at this big ugly place, and its three cities away from the only kin I got left.  Stevie comes by and takes me out to dinner once a week. ‘Side from that I’m surrounded by dead people. Don’t know why I need to put up with this crap.  All them bossy old ladies playin’ cards and yackin’ away at themselves not saying a damn thing, bunch of dam old men sittin’ around in wheel chairs farting and drooling.  They can’t keep nuthin’ clean.  My back is so bent I’m leaning over like an ant-eater.  I guess it makes it easier to see all the shit all over on the ground.  They call it osteoporoses, but all I know is that my back is crookeder than a dogs hind leg, and this place smells like a big ol lye tank full of horse shit.

I guess I got a bit worked up, and had what they call a minor infarction, whatever the hell that is.  Now I got to go to Stanford and they want to cut me up and put a pig valve in my heart.  For God’s sake why?  I’m 87 years old and getting tired of all this shit anyway.  Just take me out and shoot me like some old dog!

When I wake up my chest is yellow and the room is fuzzy and spinning. There’s sheets on big metal poles around me, and all sort of machines buzzing and clicking.  They have tubes running out my nose and my arms and about everywhere but up my backside.  They tell me they’s taken me to another place to rest up after my surgery, a better place down closer to Stevie and that girl he married and their baby.  We  pull up in a place they call Los Altos, and it’s kind of nice.  They have trees, and grass, and real nurses to help you too.  Ain’t a soul sitting yapping at each other playin’ no cards, or those sick old men in jammies lining the halls.  I get to kind of settle into my own room, and it’s quiet and peaceful.

Days turn into weeks, and week’s months.  Most of the time I sit out by the old oak tree, soak in the sun, and remember.  The people here are good, and kind, and I like it here.  Most of my old friends have long since passed on, Eva Mitchell, Gladys, Buss, Art, Commodore Barton, but there are a few nice nurses, a couple of friendly orderlies, and the old geezer that reminds me of Lawrence Welk.

Its been a while since I’ve seen Stevie; he’s all busy with his new baby and family and I know he does the best he can.  He came over with that girl he married, their baby, a bottle of Peppermint Schnapps, and his buddy Paul.  I remember feeling peaceful, like everything is gonna be OK now.  Stevie even says something about kind of an “aura” around me, like it’s a halo. I’m wonderin how much of that Schnapps he and Paul have been into.  Its Christmas time now and the rest home is all lit up and decorated.  There’s the smell of cinnamon candles, and cookies in the air.  We had just had a good big dinner, turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy – my favorites.  It reminds me of the old farm in Ames.

Stevie has always been a good piano player (got the genes from my pa) and they sit down and play all sorts of Christmas songs in the lobby.  They play Silent Night, What Child is This, Away in a Manger, all my favorites.  We all sing along together, though I forget most of the words. A few of the other inmates straggle in one by one and join us.   They put the baby in my lap and I laugh a little and hold it up over my head.  It makes me feel kinda peaceful that I have a great-granddaughter, and that life will go on.  Paul gives me a little snort of the peppermint schnapps – then another.  It reminds me of my daddy, of Frankfurt, and of what a life I have had.  It feels warm, and good, and I’m getting kinda tired now. I think it might be time for me to go home.

And she passed that night in her sleep.

 

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Have you ever wondered what is in a “chicken tender?”

Have you ever wondered what is in a “chicken tender?”  There is nothing in the name or any other documentation to suggest anything other than it contains parts from a chicken, and that it is tender.  Is there anywhere it says that there is a speck of un-ground breast or that it doesn’t contain every part of the chicken ground up and covered with bread because we are all too dumb to tell the difference?  Pour on the ketchup, or whatever is really in the red bottle, and were all fine.

I don’t mean to sound cynical, but alas that is my fate.  I hear words on the news that after the Greeks were supposedly bailed out financially by (essentially Germany) that they were concerned that they might be losing some of their sovereignty.  Well, gosh.  That is amazing.   To think that someone who has to pay for your financial mistakes might actually have something to say about your actions in the future seems fairly reasonable to me.  When I have to bail out a friend and pay their rent, I think it might occur to me to suggest that they don’t indulge in fine dining for a week or two and that seems to be a violation of ones sovereignty.   The deal is apparently far from done anyhow.  Germany’s highest court ruled that the Bundestag must be given a greater say in euro bailout decisions given the degree to which the common currency rescue could impose on parliament’s right to create Germany’s budget. In response, the Bundestag on Wednesday moved to include provisions for parliamentary co-determination of positions taken by Germany on the euro bailout at European Union summits in Brussels. Under the multilevel process, depending on the importance, the urgency and confidentiality, decisions can either be approved by the entire 620-member Bundestag, by the 41-person budget committee or by the nine-member special panel. ‘The Bundestag Cannot Be Replaced’.”

Warren Buffett has challenged Rupert Murdochto tax return disclosure-off.

The Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journalran an editorial asking Buffet, the namesake of a proposed guideline that would ensure that those who make more than $1 million pay proportional tax rates, to make public his tax returns. “No doubt the millions of Americans who could end up paying more because of this claim would love to see the details,” they wrote, urging the Berkshire Hathaway CEO to consider the disclosure an “opportunity to educate the public” on “his secret of tax avoidance.”

When asked during Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women Summit whether or not he would be willing to do so, Buffett said he would be happy to — so long as News Corp’s most superior might join him.

China holds about $1.2 trillion in U.S. government debt, according to the Treasury Department’s latest figures. That’s about 30 percent higher than the previous estimate.

Then there is Obama health care.  What started out as an honest effort has turned into a joke.

A new Kaiser Family Foundation poll finds the support for ObamaCare has dipped yet again, with just 34 percent of Americans favoring the president’s signature health care overhaul.

What’s more, just 52 percent of Democrats support the law, a troubling sign for President Obama a year before Election Day. Thirty-one percent of Democrats view the law either “somewhat” or “very” unfavorably.

The budget debates are enough to give a teenage boy a Boehner.

Have you ever wondered about a “Peppery Zinfandel?”  What does that mean exactly? What is to stop the winemaker from taking a bunch of very average Zin grapes and dumping a pound of ground pepper in the barrel? Who would know?

Life without metrics and accountability is like that.  What we post on the internet is largely without measure or control.  Eventually our Karma will be affected by the crap that we put out if we do that, but really, there are no “thought police” out there.  We all have to be responsible to our audience, and true to our purpose.  There is enough deception out there as it is.

 
 
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