Friday, February 27, 2009

Another Chapter

I got a nice surprise the other day. My daughter, Traci, called me. We don't get many chances to talk. Anyone with three kids knows how that is. We caught up on a lot of things and we also talked about the unraveling of my marriage. Before I realized it we had talked for nearly two hours.

In the ongoing soap opera of our family a new story line is emerging. I've been weighing my options. Do I try to go it alone and try to get my own place here in Houston? I have looked at the details of what I would need to get into an apartment. Not exactly cheap, for sure. Deposits and other things would mean a struggle. I kept thinking of different things that I would have to buy. That is if I was able to get a job.No easy task there.

I had already talked with Annie about what I should do. She helped me get some new ideas. Then when I talked to Traci I got even more ideas. They both made me feel so much better. Now I am to the point of looking at what I can take and how much I will need to discard and what to pack. I have a few boxes here left from when we moved in. Now it occurs to me I don't have any old newspapers to wrap stuff. Aw, nuts.

I still can't get a straight answers out of Jimmy. The only real response I get is when I ask if he really plans to go through with this and he says yes. As to why he made this decision, I still get the run around. Funny how some people will hold onto clothes they can no longer wear, but not the spouse. Oh well.

At least I have wonderful children whom I greatly appreciate and see their value. Since I'm getting older by the minute, seeing is beliving. Then I saw this:
God, grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway, the good fortune to run into the ones that I do like, and the eyesight to tell the difference.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Another Ain't Life Grand Day

Jimmy's truck is broken again (maybe it's bad karma?). So yesterday he had to take the Trans Am to work. Of course it was good to put it on the highway occasionally. But that meant that I had to wait to run to WalMart until he got home after 4 pm. So as soon as he came in I ran (or drove) to WalMart to get a money order for a bill and hit the ATM. So I pull into the parking lot and see a shopping cart smack in the middle of the parking isle. I have to drive around it to get to a parking spot. And sitting in a parking slot facing this wayward cart is the little security car with the "security guard" inside. I guess he figured it was not his job to move that cart. After all they have a cart crew to take care of that, right.

So I go in to the ATM. Crap, it's not working, so now I have to use the other one at the bank. That would cost me more. Nuts. Oh well. Then I get in line at the customer service area to pay for the money order. As usual, eight people in line and one clerk. Great. But I did get a big laugh out of the lady behind the man behind me. She was on her phone talking to someone. I hate it when I can hear someone talking on the phone. I always feel I'm intruding, but when a person talks in public, oh well. In the middle of her conversation she says to the person on the other end, "Step away from the computer!" The guy behind me and I looked at each other and started to laugh. I remember seeing car alarms at a car show that said "Step away from the vehicle" if you got too close. I could not help but think of that.

Finally done with my business, I leave the store. Out to the parking lot I go. As I drive down the isle a guy nearly backed out of his spot into me. I'm proud to say that not a single expletive left my mouth. I did manage "Dude!". Luckily I avoided him and moved on down the isle to again negotiate that stupid shopping cart! Hey, where are those guys in the bright orange t-shirts! Come get this cart!

After that the drive home was easy. It is the parking lots of the world that cause all the problems. On the other hand I have seen some highways that look like parking lots. Ain't life grand!

Friday, February 20, 2009

A Reading Marathon

There is something a bit unusual going on starting at 9:00 today and lasting all week-end. A group of volunteers will be reading the Bible out loud all weekend. It will be streamed live on one of our tv station's website, Reading aloud, I think can help some people get a real feel for a story. I know that , for example, Shakespeare seems to come alive more when we hear the words rather than try to read it. Maybe the same will be said for people who read the Bible. Personally, I think even non-readers would find interesting.

The University of St. Thomas will host, "Word of God: The Bible Unites," an ecumenical event where people of all faiths will continuously read the Bible aloud from Genesis to Revelation around the clock for the duration of the three-day event.

WHO: Various Catholic and non-Catholic religious leaders, civil leaders, Catholic high school and grade school principals, UST faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends will read the Bible aloud for 15-minute intervals

WHEN: This three day event begins 9am on Friday, Feb. 20, 2009 and ends at approximately 9:30am on Sunday, Feb. 22 at the Chapel of St. Basil on the University of St. Thomas campus.

The Opening Ceremony will begin with Bishop Rizzotto, Pastor Lawson, and Rabbi Weiss speaking briefly about the Word of God and then following the reading of the Bible will begin in this following order:

Order of readers of Bible for opening ceremony (also listed in front of name is the chapter from Genesis they will be reading):

1. Rabbi Kenneth Weiss, Executive Director of Houston Hillel
2. Most Reverend Vincent Rizzotto, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus, Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston
3. Rev. Dr. William A. Lawson, Senior Pastor, Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church
4. Bishop Janice Riggle Huie, Bishop of the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church
5. Adrian Garcia, Harris County Sheriff
6. The Right Rev. C. Andrew Doyle, Bishop Adjutor of Texas, Episcopal Diocese of Texas
7. Todd Smith, UST Director of Athletics
8. Gwen James, Coordinator of UST Student Affairs
9. Deacon Joe Rubio, Vice President of Community Relations and Development for Catholic Charities
10. Sister Mary Roberta Connors, FSE, Franciscan Sister of the Eucharist
11. Thomas Mendez, UST Senior
12. George Strake, President and CEO of Strake Energy Inc.
13. Dr. Robert Ivany, President, University of St. Thomas
14. Father Patrick Braden, CSB, President Emeritus of the University of St. Thomas
15. Bernard Hebinck, UST Alumnus
16. Tom Horan, UST Alumnus
17. Larry Payne, UST Alumnus
18. David Wood, Director, Office of Worship, Archdiocese of Galveston Houston

I have never seen this happen in a large city like Houston. Maybe it has been done in some churches but to have so many people of different faiths do this in public is inspiring.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Which Way Did He Go?

Houston we have a problem. Yesterday I had the tv on our local ABC channel as they broke in with the news that Federal Marshalls had raided offices of yet another investment cheat. R. Allen Stanford was no where to be found. He had apparently bilked possibly 50,000 investors of $8 billion. Oops! Inquiring minds want to know.

U.S. Marshals seized control of the offices yesterday, and SEC investigators are claiming Stanford and his close associates defrauded tens of thousands of investors out of billions of dollars, persuading them to invest in seemingly safe CDs -- certificates of deposits -- but faking double-digit returns.

In December, two former employees of the Houston-based firm left Stanford and filed a lawsuit, saying they were forced to resign once they discovered the financial impropriety.

The civil lawsuit, filed by former employees D. Mark Tidwell and Charles Rawl, alleges, "Rawl and Tidwell repeatedly asked Stanford management to change Stanford's business practices. Stanford refused to cease its illegal activity." The two left the financial firm.

Stanford also operates out of the Caribbean island of Antigua. No doubt authorities are also searching for him there.

The Houston offices remain closed today. The SEC plans on an update in the next 24 hours as to the operations there.

The Prime Minister of Antigua has said the Stanford situation could be "catastrophic" for his nation.

Of course now he has disappeared. Come out, come out where ever you are... Of course this brings up questions about why people would invest with him. One man invested $10 million. One woman invested half her inheritance there. Now the SEC and the FBI are looking for him. I thought the SEC was supposed to watch out for stuff like this?

Of course these days it should remind us all that we need to check and double check our plans for investments. It could all be gone in a flash.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Just One Day

How many times have we heard someone say they don't have enough time for themselves? We are all stressed out because of the way we live our lives. We work long hours, sometimes at jobs we don't like. Of course that job pays the bills. Family obligations keep us moving too. We schedule our lives and those of our kids so we and they will be "well rounded". Each day we drive for hours either to and from work or doing other things. We are constantly on the phone talking or texting or on the computer doing things. If we are not doing that we have earphones plugged into our ears to "relax" with music. We sit in front of the tv for hours escaping into various programs.

What if, for one day, there was nothing. No tv programs to watch, no music to hear. What would happen if we could not text, e-mail or call anyone? What if for that one day, there was literally nothing to do? What if for just one day you were totally alone with your thoughts? Nothing else available. Nothing to do. Nothing to read, nothing to eat or cook, nothing important that had to be done and no way to do it.

Just imagine that one day without everything "routine" in daily life. No sounds to interrupt thoughts. No-one to talk to. No place to go. What would you do with all this time? Would you be frustrated because you have no contact with the outside world? Would you miss your gadgets? Would you be bored? Would you re-discover you? You, alone with your thoughts and nothing else. For just one day, alone, what would happen?

Monday, February 16, 2009

What Was That?

People around Texas are wondering what was falling from the sky. Nobody seems to have an answer. Police around Austin got 911 calls about something that looked like it was on fire as it streaked through the sky. Williamson County even had a helicopter try to find evidence. So far there are still more questions than answers. Video of this is all over the news and the net.

The event occurred in skies north of Austin about 11 a.m., according to e-mails from citizens to the Austin American-Statesman.

The Associated Press reported late Sunday afternoon that the Federal Aviation Administration had received numerous reports of falling debris across Texas, which could be related to a recent satellite collision. FAA spokesman Roland Herwig said officials suspect the debris could be related to the collision, but he said that had not been confirmed.

AP reported that the FAA notified pilots on Saturday to be aware of possible debris after the collision Tuesday between the U.S. and Russian communications satellites.

Foster said officials at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport told them they were unaware of any aircraft in the portion of the sky where the burning debris was spotted.

Foster said a helicopter flew over northern Williamson County Sunday morning to survey the area at the request of law officers but pilots saw nothing unusual.

“We are pretty sure it was not an airplane, which was our first concern,” Foster said. He said Federal Aviation Administration officials conjectured that people may have seen debris from satellites.

The Waco Tribune-Herald newspaper reported on its web site Sunday afternoon that Randy Plemons, chief deputy with the McLennan County Sheriff’s Department said a sheriff’s office pilot flew the county’s helicopter searching for debris about 100 miles north of Austin but found nothing, despite reports from Waco residents who saw the fireball and heard explosions.

The chief deputy said citizens who find what they believe might be satellite remains should not touch it and should contact the sheriff’s office.

There does not seem to be any real information from any government agency. Either nobody knows what it is or they do know and are not talking. Citizens, don't touch it if you find it. Ok, afterall, we might accidently open the door of it and little green men may come out and say "Take me to your leader." Then again there is a new movie with "the Rock" in it and he's worried about aliens. Interesting timing.Hum...

Friday, February 13, 2009

Let's Hear It for Us (elderly people)

I don't often think about age, well actually I do, sort of. When I think of my parents and uncles and aunts, I often think they died too young, or they lived a long life. Sometimes I think about my genes. Will I get the long life gene or not, or do I want it? The women on my mother's side all died of ovarian cancer. My father died three days short of his 73rd birthday. His father died a lot younger than that. It seems that almost all my other relatives lived into their 80's. Do I really want to do that?

Like I said, my age is not something I dwell on a lot. Unless I think about how much time I may have left or when I hear of people being called old or elderly. Recently I saw a news report about a women who was the victim of a home invasion. She fought them off but did suffer some minor injuries. What surprised me was the reporter's description of her as "an elderly woman." She's my age! I could soon qualify for early retirement, but I don't think of myself as "elderly." Then last night I was watching the new "Survivor" show. One of the team's members is a bus driver who refers to herself as "old" and her teammates also call her an "old lady" who probably would not be an asset to the tribe. She is only 53, younger than I am! Jeez...Maybe youth really is wasted on the young.

Then I found this little story:
An elderly woman had just returned to her home from an evening of church services when she was startled by an intruder. She caught the man in the act of robbing her home of its valuables and yelled, "Stop! Acts 2:38!" (Repent and be baptized, in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven.)

The burglar stopped in his tracks. The woman calmly called the police and explained what she had done.

As the officer cuffed the man to take him in, he asked the burglar, "Why did you just stand there? All the old lady did was yell a scripture to you."

"Scripture?" replied the burglar. "She said she had an ax and two 38's!"

Score one for the old folks!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Space, The Final Frontier or Garbage Dump

Well, I haven't found much to laugh at lately but for some reason the news that a Russian and an American satellite collided caught my attention. The US commercial communications satellite, Iridium, collided with a defunct Russian satellite. Nasa sources said they knew this would probably happen at some point. Since the Russians launched Sputnik in 1957 some 6000 satellites have been put into orbit. Getting a little crowded up there, right?

Apparently they collided over Siberia and the Americans are now following the debris path to see if the ISS or the shuttle launch could be in the path. An orbital debris expert at the Johnson Space Center in Houston ( there's a job for you) said that the Hubble Space Telescope and other earth observing satellites at hight altitudes could be at higher risk.

Really inspires confidence doesn't it. Let's see we have space junk, dead satellites, a lost tool bag from the shuttle and a lot of other stuff floating around up there. So what do we need first, a traffic cop or a garbage collector? Some of the traffic cops I have seen are intertaining in their quest to move traffic smoothly. But with all that stuff up there, maybe some garbage company would like an out of this world contract. Of course the way my garbage collectors are, I would love to kick them into outer space.

I guess, in time, we will all see what shakes out and falls to earth. Remember Area 51? 6000 satellites and counting. What would Captain Kirk say? Spock would probably look for a logical solution and Scotty would probably say bag all that debris and send it to the Klingons where, like the tribbles, it will be no tribble at all.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Didn't See That one Coming, Did She?

Have you ever seen those movies or tv shows where a husband and wife have been married a long time and then the husband starts to have a mid-life crisis? Maybe he buys a sports car to make him feel younger. Maybe he thinks life has past him by. He can't explain his feelings, but something is not going the way he'd hoped.The wife sees that something is different but he refuses to talk about it. After all he is depressed, who wants to discuss that. I remember watching the "The Starter Wife" with Debra Messing.It's plot was along the same lines. Husband works hard, has nice wife who helped and supported him, say for 20 years. Then "poof!" He decides he no longer wants his wife. He dumps her. "It's not you, it's me" he tells her. The "Starter Wife" is stunned, dumbfounded. She wonders what she did wrong. "Nothing", he says. Still, she feels blind-sided, hurt and angry.

So what is next in this show? Of course in tv soaps, the heroine always rises to the occasion. In real life, there are many questions and no clear answers. Most of the time the soon to be ex wife finds that there are a lot of roadblocks to her trip toward life alone. Her needs are many, her options are few. Better check with the writers...

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The Art of Vetting and Paying Taxes

Oops, and another one bites the dust. So now Tom Daschle has had to withdraw from his nomination to the Health and Human Services head position. He is the third nominee who has erred on his income taxes. To me, this brings up two questions about people who work in the Washington arena. Is the vetting process poorly designed? Why are so many of these people having trouble with income taxes?

Most of us have been "vetted" when we apply for jobs. Some of us have been quizzed and investigated extensively in order to get some jobs. When I went to work years ago at NHIC (Texas Medicaid), I was interviewed by several different people and had references checked. Later I worked at an independent medical lab. Again I was screened. When my ex-husband and I were married, he had to go through an extensive background and job check. To this day, I don't know how the screening board found out some of their information. What is wrong with the vetting process for top government posts. I know they have to answer a long list of questions regarding background, finances and information on their spouses and family do. To accept an offer from the President of the United States and not know things like tax issues, to me, just nuts. Anyone who fills out tax forms knows how hard it is. Many of these people make a lot of money, but "forget" to report things.With the amount of money they make, do they not have access to accountants or CPAs? This is not just a Democratic or Republican issue, it is an embarrassment to the Office of the President of the United States. It could be said, President Obama made bad choices. To his credit, he said "I screwed up". To me, maybe someone should take a hard look at the vetting process. Maybe it needs to be changed.

Tim Geithner, Obama's choice to head the Treasury Department brings the tax issue to the front. He didn't pay his taxes right but has since corrected that. Most of the powers of Washington are willing to forgive and forget. According to them he is smart and well qualified for the job of Secretary of the Treasury. If he can make mistakes on his taxes who are we to think ours are right? Maybe we should all write Mr.Geithner and suggest that, once again, we think the tax system stinks and needs to be changed.

It does seem a little funny that the guy in charge of the Treasury did not pay his taxes right. Now I don't feel so bad when I complain about paying mine. Then again, I'm not in Washington.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Irony of It

Two men are waiting at the gates of heaven and strike up a conversation.

"How'd you die?" the first man asks the second.

"I froze to death," says the second.

"That's awful," says the first man. "How does it feel to freeze to death?"

"It's very uncomfortable at first," says the second man. "You get the shakes, and you get pains in all your fingers and toes. But eventually, it's a very calm way to go. You get numb and you kind of drift off, as if you're sleeping. How about you, how did you die?"

"I had a heart attack," says the first man. "You see, I knew my wife was cheating on me, so one day I showed up at home unexpectedly but found her alone watching television. I ran around the house looking for her lover but could find no one. As I ran up the stairs to the attic, I had a massive heart attack and died."

The second man shakes his head. "That's so ironic," he says.

"What do you mean?" asks the first man.

"If you had only stopped to look in the freezer, we'd both still be alive."