I’m Thankful For….

Right about now, across America, women, and perhaps some men, are racing around a kitchen full of in-process projects – perhaps with an apron covering ‘dress-up clothes’ or with hot rollers in hair, or in a sweatshirt with their favorite college football team’s logo on it – –

In some time zones, there are those already grinding their teeth over comments from the in-laws and for the umpteenth time, wondering if being in Aunt Agatha’s will is really worth putting up with the old bat for the whole day.

In other homes, a take-out bag of Chinese food lies on the tv tray, or the cardboard pizza is cooking in the oven, while someone wonders how they let all the friends and family slip away and really, what is there to be thankful for?

And in some places, one might be invited over to another’s tent, to share in the mother lode of dented cans of food found that can easily be heated up over a small fire…

And here I sit, grateful that someone else is spending their Thanksgiving away from their family, so my Mom and I can go out to eat…  the first time neither of us have slaved over a hot stove all week for years.

Thank you, working America!   Your paycheck may not put you in the top 1%, but in my eyes, and my recent-illness world – the service you provide is absolute tops!

Saving Resources

Nope, I’m not talking about oil, gold or the whales.

But I do hope you will join me in donating whatever you can to support Wikipedia in their quest to remain advertisement free.

An ever-updated, free, online resource  is  my saving grace when I can’t remember where I read something or who, exactly said what, or what year such and such happened – my posts are peppered with links to Wikipedia pages and homework time in my house is so much easier because Wikipedia exists.

Click below to donate whatever amount you can: (I had to tell them my paltry donation was in relation to my recent illness/unemployment, not the regard in which I held their work – you can use the same line, if you’re feeling the crunch of the season!)

Support Wikipedia

This is the end of this Public Service Announcement.   Thank you for listening – we will now continue with our regularly scheduled programming.

 

Listening…

Even though I’m under strict Doctor’s orders of no stress, no over-exertion, etc., to recover from my recent stroke, I seem incapable of not talking or writing about serious issues.

Hard to truly discuss anything of importance in 5-10 minute increments, which is the medical directive.

Shall I let that deter me from discussing current events?  Heck No!

I’m guilty of not listening, too.

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Note* –  I believe the ‘bubble burst’ of 2008 was the predictable end of an economic game that has been played in a large continuous cycle  since sometime in the 14th century, and in smaller more local scales since we became civilized.

You may disagree and rightly so, as each cycle ends looking slightly or vastly different due to the details, but if you research the history of money, credit and high finance, I think you will find I’m not making this up.

Some knowledge of history floating around in the file cabinets of my grey matter (apparently undamaged by the stroke, as I can still instantly retrieve this info), means I simply cannot let casual comments regarding where the blame lies for our current situation pass by without commenting.

I’ve discovered it’s  impossible for me to state in 5-minutes or less all the pieces that form our current economic puzzle.   I try, but when I do, brains that have been well-schooled in the current social tactics of “Divide and Conquer” quickly jump to conclusions – meaning,  I spend 3 minutes sharing historical or mathematical facts and 30 minutes retrieving the listener’s brain back from pastures I never intended them to graze.

(Scratch motivational speaking or running for political office off my ‘Possible Career Choices’ list…)

Here’s an example:

Me: “Capitalism in it’s current form requires at least 3% growth every year in order to remain stable.   Translated, that means unlimited growth in a reality that is awash with evidence we are over-consuming natural resources to our detriment.  When you cannot sustain 3% growth in desired goods and services, then System Stability Needs dictate creation of growth out of thin air  – over-valuation of goods or  inserting fee-based paper-pushing activities between production or service steps are just two examples of how growth can be realized.”

John Doe: “What!?!   How can you even suggest we get rid of Capitalism?  Why it’s the best system on earth.   Are you a Socialist?  Marxist?  Communist?   Our country is the greatest on earth!  Now you tell me this – if we are so bad why does everyone want to immigrate here?  Huh?!?   Tell Me!” (envision Marvin the Martian’s chest huffing in and out due to angry breathing)

Me: “When did I say I wished to get rid of Capitalism?”

John Doe: “(Blank look)…well, you didn’t… not in so many words….but that’s what you meant….”

And the 30 minute retrieval process starts.

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The example given is one of many.   I used to think it was because people didn’t listen.

I don’t think so anymore.

I think it happens because of Fear.

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I propose our current problems are not close to being solved because there is a large majority of the population that does not have the time (or perhaps the inclination) to become well-versed in understanding the System in which they live and labor.

Not understanding, they secretly hope it continues to truck along in a  hunky-dorey manner.

When it doesn’t, deep down, individuals realize they don’t understand, don’t know how to fix it and feel powerless to do anything about it.

Feeling powerless means our “Fight or Flight” mechanisms are more easily triggered and we will fight with each other even when we don’t  know what, exactly, we are fighting about.

Not knowing  and in need of some kind of comfort, we easily move from Fear to Scapegoating.

Scapegoating makes it possible for us to feel in control again.   If we can identify who/what is to blame, we can destroy it and things will return to normal.

Who wouldn’t like to have that easy solution?

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I’ve observed with interest how the public outrage towards Systems (aka banks/insurance/mortgage industry)  in 2008 has slowly been turned towards Individuals (aka the Ubber Rich or The Stupid Middle-to-Lower Class people who bought more house than they could afford, or the rotten politicians or the greedy corporations – take your pick and you’ll soon find a group with which to align yourself).

In fact, these past few months, when the subject comes up, I rarely hear about the Systems in place that create the fertile ground for untold fortunes to be made and total collapse to occur.

I had hope the Occupy Wall Street movement was going to help educate the nation in the pitfalls of our current Systems and come up with some solutions on fixing them.

To my mind, media coverage indicates the movement has disintegrated into yet another example of blaming Individuals instead of examining all the pieces parts of the System in which we live.

Sigh…

Seems like everyone has been well schooled by their chosen group on Who Is to Blame.

If history is any indication, eventually, heads will roll in one or more sectors (figuratively, of course.  We are civilized, are we not?), more regulations put in place in a superficial attempt to once again fix the System and the game will start over.

Just like it did in France after the Mississippi Bubble … Which I direct you to, if you’d like to see how the 2008 version of the game was played in 1720…

An example of having more money than available goods or services dictate can be found in

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So now I’ve written in excess of 5 minutes – and will take my arse-chewing by the doctor next week with meekness.  And promise to listen and do better…

If you would like to spend your 5-10 minutes of exertion in better understanding money, financial systems and discovering how you can make a difference without waiting for some entity or ‘ism’ to save you – here’s the link:  New Money for Healthy Communities.

(And in case your brain jumped to “She’s endorsing Counterfeiting” here’s the retrieval speech:

“Read it first, then decide.”)

(Other Free or low-cost Resources include: The Ascent of Money, documentary series produced by PBS, The History of Money book by Jack Weatherford, or Wikipedia – List of Recessions in US, List of Stock Market Crashes)

Note – I love Wikipedia and use it frequently – this morning I found they are in need of funding to continue operation Advertisement Free.  I add my voice in requesting you to please consider lending your financial support in whatever capacity you can to Wikipedia.   I donated my paltry sum this morning and hope you will give whatever you can to keep Wikipedia advertisement free.     Just think, what a million people donating $1 each could do to keep this wonderful tool free to use and free of the demands (often unreasonable) of advertisers who wish to skew published information to their benefit!

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Black Friday turned Thursday?

I’m given to understand retailers, in relentless competition with one another, are considering starting Black Friday sales at midnight or even earlier this year.  Which results in missing out on watching the game or taking a nap on Turkey Day afternoon (if you wish to be near the front of the line).

Hmmm….

There are several protests – from those who want to stay home with their families and those who think this policy is cruel to employees of said stores.

In my mind, if everyone just stayed home and slept in on Friday morning all could be put aright.

If all employees chose to drive to work right at the time the store was to open, and realized no customer lines meant they could return home to a good nights sleep, well, that would be ‘fixed’ too.

And the managers, bereft of customers or helping hands, could inform corporate they’d best push back their sales until the next morning, else lose out on their share of the shopping frenzy.

And corporate, wanting to end the season with record sales, would agree.

Problem solved.

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I’ve often been accused of being naive and simplistic…and idealistic.

But in actuality, it is that simple.

The reason it doesn’t work is there will always be those who wish to have the benefits of some set-up and figure, what’s the harm if I do?   Those few who think, “Aha!   A boycott of the early openings!  I can stroll in, shop in a nearly deserted store and snag the greatest deals for myself.”

(In the interest of full disclosure, shopping great deals in an empty store with no lines at the register and no over-zealous selling by associates is my idea of heavenly shopping and I must confess to being tempted, as well.)

Hence, the knowledge of the few who won’t boycott lures those who object into betraying their stated beliefs and heading for the lines early, for fear they will somehow miss out.

(I’ve purposefully left out the added complication of Black Friday shopping as a family tradition – my take on that requires a complete other blog post…)

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My grandmother often told me true stories to reflect both her idea of Christian values and the ever present reality of human nature.   She obviously was a good storyteller, as I remember the following being told to me when I was 9 or so:

One Sunday, her fellow church ladies were up in arms at the sacrilegious behavior of the local grocer.   Seems he was keeping his store open on Sunday!   Many a genteel lady was incensed to unladylike ire and loudly proclaimed the need for prayer, intervention, etc., for the sake of this man’s soul.

Passing by the offending store later on her way home, Grandma observed many of those same outraged souls, entering that same store or exiting with purchases.  Apparently because the store was open anyways.  And most likely saved them a trip to town later in the week.

She was pretty certain those good folks felt no twinge of guilt in their participation and the support of sacrilege, though she admitted she did not ask them outright.

For her part, she continued to not shop on Sundays – hopeful others would join.  Not out of any fear of hell’s fire, but simply because she believed every one deserved at least one day of rest a week, for their physical, mental and emotional health – which, in her mind, was the true reason the Sabbath law was put in place to begin with.  And if there were no customers, it was not in the shop owner’s best interest to be open.

To her mind, a simple solution.

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Years later, I discovered the truck stop where I worked as a waitress had decided to open for Christmas day.   A trial to see if being open would increase the bottom line.   Since I was single, with no children, I had always volunteered to work holidays (we were open every holiday except for Christmas – truckers deserve a turkey meal too…)

I worked a double shift that day and ran my ever-lovin’ arse off.   From tales told by the travelers, I discovered that at least on I-70, we were the only place open between Hayes, Kansas and Denver, Colorado.   Grateful and hungry travelers made corporate very happy they had decided to open.

And I made a tidy sum almost quadruple in the amount of my usual tips, from those same grateful travelers.

Hard to find valid arguments for returning to closed status on Christmas – -until the following year, when most other places had figured out they were missing out and decided to open too.  The bottom line was negatively impacted, but corporate simply couldn’t close now, when everyone else is open.

I didn’t make as much money either, partly because having several options to choose from made the travelers less grateful and more likely to gripe about the prices or wait times when we were busy.

But also because my fellow workers had been envious of my take the previous year and many volunteered to work the holiday in order to get their share.   Which resulted in the mandate that all employees would work 4-5 hour shifts – touted as the ‘fair way’ of sharing the burden of being open, but in actuality, done in order to quell the greedy fighting over shifts/sections.

By the following year, my fellow co-workers were griping about having to deal with grumbling travelers, low tips and working 4 hours in the middle of a day they would have rather been home with their family.

Sigh…

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History often shows me the part of human nature I’m well familiar with.  Over the years, I’ve hesitated in action in order to try to see the long term effects of a decision.  I secretly believe I’ve missed out on opportunities beneficial to my own well-being because of pondering the long-term ramifications for too long.

On the other hand, I’ve been pretty happy to discover some of my procrastination has actually turned out to be what saved me from misfortune.

So often the  awesome power of “Strength in Numbers” meets its end when asked to perform in our “Every man (or woman) for themselves” culture.

Which results in simple solutions becoming complex issues. 9 times out of 10.

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So I expect to hear news reports of a successful Black Friday (a necessity for our struggling economy) and tales from friends of the great deals they snagged at midnight.

I predict next year, Black Friday will actually start as soon as football ends on Turkey Thursday and there, it will stay.

Why?

Because I have more faith in the resolve of the football lover’s heart than I do in basic human nature.

Where was I?

Though I’m behind in commenting, I see the Occupy Wall Street movement did get a spokesman – Michael Moore – who eloquently explained what the group was about.  Or at least what he thought it was trying to accomplish – and there were four or five protestors standing around him nodding their heads, so they thought he was explaining it well, too.   What the million others thought, I do not know.

I’m sad to see there has been violence and destruction flaring here and there.  Not too unexpected…

Even Ghandi called for his followers to take it down a notch or two when he saw  peaceful protests  turning into bloodbaths – –

No, I didn’t pick that example at random – Imperialism is a never ending cycle and happens in many forms….

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Why am I so out of date on reporting?  Well, surprise, surprise, I had a stroke a couple of weeks back.

The usual suspects have been ruled out: High cholesterol, hole in the heart, blocked arteries.  There’s a chance no one will ever know.

Which is rather hard to swallow, seeing as how I was able to glow in the dark for Halloween, thanks to all the CTs done on me.

I was lucky enough to get care in time to avoid much permanent damage.  T-pa (affectionately known as “Clot-buster” by the medical community) has an effective window of 2-3 hours from the start of the stroke and a risk of internal massive hemorrhaging.   I was there in time and managed to not bleed to death, which made the ER team really happy.   I was touched by how sincere they were in expressing their joy at my recovery.   After the first few congratulations, I started to see my outcome was, apparently, the exception, rather than the rule.

Yes, I sent the Universe a thank you note.

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Nearly two weeks out and I no longer talk like Porky Pig – I’ve advanced enough to sound like Elmer Fudd now.

(I’m personally fond of Taz and Yosemite Sam, but my healthcare team has mandated, “No stress, No strong emotions”, so I guess those two are out and shallow, superficial Daffy Duck at his most oblivious will appear next.)

I can walk just fine, unless I overdo and get tired, then my right foot sort of drags along for the ride.

But all in all, feeling pretty lucky and, once again, am glad modern medicine is available to keep me alive long enough for fixer-upper projects to commence.

Course, all this means I’m unemployed again – with strict orders for lots of rest and no over-exertion.   As impatient as always, I sometimes wonder if I’ll ever work again, as there seems to be no 100% guarantee I’ll return to my previous fast walking, Chatty-Kathy personage that answers phones, greets customers and efficiently multitasks.

(I’ve been told, often, I talk too much…In the flurry of the ER, I managed to stutter out with a smile, “This is my punishment for talking too much”.  Everyone either smiled bravely through tears or looked concerned…I thought it was funny, but guess my timing was off.)

Since a career in stand-up comedy seems to be out, perhaps it’s time to return to my original dream of being an author.   What the heck?  I write because I love to and have several manuscripts collecting dust in my writing file.  No one cares how I talk or walk when I’m making up stories in front of my computer.  And apparently the part of my brain that goes off on wild-goose chases was not harmed in the least.  In fact, my ability to make up wildly impossible stories seems to have increased these past months.

With e-age making it possible for me to self-publish utilizing a low-budget and lots of free time (both of which I’m currently blessed with) I figure why not take the plunge?

In the back of my storytelling mind, I hear the Universe saying, “Jeez – kept trying to get her to follow her dream and it took a stroke to do it.”

Who knows if it’s true or not?

But for now,  it’s a story I can cling to.

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P.S. In researching self-published marketing tips, I was informed three key things are needed: A blog, Twitter account and….yes, you guessed it…a Facebook account.   Time will tell if I decide to trade in my ideals to earn a living…