Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Glaring guilt repeated all over again.

The bank executives appeared before the Senate today. There were several of them sitting at the same table facing the Senators. They stood together with their hands raised for the oath to tell the truth. That scene reminded me of the big tobacco executives who did the same in front of a Congressional committee April 14, 1994, and then lied when all five were asked to state their take on nicotine being addictive. Each repeated "I believe that nicotine is not addictive." Later their own corporate documents stated it was addictive and all the men swearing it was not knew it was. Today the investment executives' testimony was broadcast on CNN. I watched it on my office computer, primarily just listened to the testimony as I did other things.

Most of these men were no longer working for Goldman Sachs, and spoke of what they recalled about the two deals that were investigated by the SEC. In particular the Senators were interested in e.mail published this week end by the New York Times, where their salesmen described the investment they sold to unsuspecting investors, as a "shit deal". Senators Carl Levine and Claire McCaskill said "shit" in their questions. I liked it that they said those words. I would have liked it if a Senator had said, "You are fucking thieves."

All the executives were asked if they felt they had any culpability in the crash of the markets and the losses investors had from buying these investments which they knew were "shit deals" from the beginning and while they sold them. Each said in a flurry of carefully crafted words they had no feelings of guilt for what they did. Their answers were basically what a 5 year old child says when their mom chastises them for lying, "Everybody else does it."

I wonder of these men have children. Are they raising those children to follow in their footsteps? How do they justify their actions to those they respect?

Current and former employees within Goldman Sachs' mortgage and derivatives divisions testify in front of a Senate committee - Daniel Sparks, Josh Birnbaum, Michael Swenson and Fabrice Tourre (from left to right).

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Littering in the dark.

In the dark, outside my apartment, cars circle and stop to park in the lot. I have watched them from the first floor before. They will sometimes park in pairs, one facing the road and one away from the road, so that the driver side windows are close. I see the burn of a cigarette in the dark and have heard the drivers of the cars talk to each other. Who these cars belong to is not known. If they are the private security police, as I suspect, a balloon full or water or maybe a firecracker would be appropriate. Wherever the cars park on the lot, the tell tale signs of a meal eaten remains in the morning; fast food packages and bags litter the space.

Less than a block away the paper reported an assault last week. A woman walking from the Kroger store with a bag of groceries pushed down and her purse stolen. It was at night about this time. Were the police cars circling down there that night too?

I think I will go sit on a bench and wait for them to come tomorrow night. Then stepping from the darkness I'll approach and inquire as to what exactly they are doing parking here on the lot instead of patrolling. I have no fear they will shoot me. The private security police aren't allowed to carry guns.

Saturday morning I got to see some friends and meet a new one at breakfast. There was a time when every Sunday I'd have breakfast with a constant though changing group of friends. We did that for at least six years and then stopped. That was a time when after Dennis died and I had finally gotten free of Roger, I could count on being in the company of people who meant me no harm and helped me function in the world. I had been a wife for over twenty years and though we had friends, they were couple friends. When I started seeing Roger I walked into his room and closed the door. I don't lay blame in this for I know I was a willing victim. The fact still remains, my breakfast friends saved me.

It took a long time for me to feel good in my own skin. I've often told people I could write a book about all the things not to do when you are widowed. I think I broke every rule and made every mistake. There isn't a way to warn someone though. I made mistakes and I forgive myself for them.

Today was a beautiful morning. Having gone to mass yesterday afternoon, I was able to relax reading the paper and listening to the CBS Sunday program playing as background music. Lenny came over and we read the paper together, eating bagels and drinking coffee. It was a lovely day. His daughter is having her first cook-out at her new home this evening. He said he was going to like her hamburgers and hot dogs, even if they were inedible. I told him that was expected of Dad if he was a gentleman. He is, so it won't be a problem!

My friends are such a blessing to me.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Coupons and other crazyness.

The week before, the week before Derby is the last chance anyone living in Louisville Kentucky can do real work. To some extent this also includes the entire state and the southern half of Indiana. After Thursday of this week anyone living within the area will be totally useless for anything but hosting out of town friends, celebrating, talking about and watching events set up for The Kentucky Derby Festival. This also means that a large number will be inebriated for two weeks. A girl I used to work with would take one week of her vacation Derby Week every year. She said she got more free drinking and sex than she got the remaining fifty-one weeks. A friend who reads Craig's List regularly, said this past Monday that the out of town working girls are already set up and advertising for men who want that special hospitality only money will get you.
Poll worker training was scheduled this week. I went this morning. Others are going tomorrow. This is a well rehearsed, well organized necessary class for all people who are working at the polls for the Primary Election, May18th. We gathered like polite strangers, sat and completed forms, answered questions in pencil, stood and swore we had not fought or facilitated a duel in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. More words of the oath were about the possible duel than the honest fiduciary responsibility we accepted with it. A video played for thirty minutes and we were out of there.

I am hopeful that before I am too old to work the polls we will be able to complete this process in some non-congregating way. Perhaps we can use Skype as we assemble in our homes to take a computer class in our jammies? Really though, it wasn't a bad way to spend a beautiful Tuesday morning. I got to see a part of town I used to live in and notice all the businesses that had changed in the past twenty years.

The coupon thing involved using a $1 off coupon for a hamburger at Steak'n Shake. The coupon said Chipotle hamburger, but it wasn't listed on the board. I asked for it and said I had a coupon. They said we'll get right on that. No mention of the price. When I asked for a small salad instead of French the waiter said that wasn't allowed without extra cost. So although we are promised in ads that Steak'n Shake makes the food after you've ordered, they are inflexible on what they will allow to be paired when using a coupon. It's a shame the cat doesn't like French fries!

I am convinced that marketing companies who set up the coupon offers for retailers are former idea people for credit card and free checking account companies. There are restrictions and limitations printed in print only a person using a laser light under a magnifying glass could read. We will give you $1 off that package of egg noodles, but you must also buy a package of cheese from a company you've never seen on the shelves of your local market.

It seems that "special" offers and coupon discounts are all bait and switch in the new tradition of the phrase.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Plane nearly does not land safely, then does.

Wednesday this week, I'd had a full day of real work and worry about taxes. I had finally got home and was enjoying a sit down in the comfortable chair with a glass of ice water. Really, when it's 86 degrees in April, a glass of ice water is wonderful. Anyway, I was watching the last of the local news. It was moments before the national news was to come on.

A local news head announces with their personal version of hysteria, "Breaking news developing now! A UPS plane has notified the air traffic controllers of a possible emergency. The airport is preparing for a crash landing!"

The next fifteen minutes were spent with live action watching a 767 UPS plane approach the runway and land. This meant the CBS national news up to the first commercial break wasn't shown. Reggie said he was watching the NBC affiliate and the national news was broadcasting two sides to a political question and every time they were showing his preferred side, they broke away to the plane landing.

Since then the local stations have been running ads patting themselves on the back for showing the plane land safely. An airplane safely landing happens thousands of times. It is not news. If that plane crashed and all the online purchased packages burned, I'd want to see that.

We here in Louisville need about an hour and a half of local news a day. More than that is an extended commercial.

Another blogger I read had a post this week about all the live stand up reports on travel delays at European airports due to an Icelandic volcano's belch. She said that every small airport in Briton had a segment where a live stand up reporter said, "Same here. No one is leaving the airport!" That's as funny as the breaking news of a safe airplane landing in Louisville!

All the Tax Day drama is over here. My friend the CPA filed extensions for me. The government has my money so I'll hopefully not suffer any penalties. I have a pretty boring life regarding money matters, but somehow it becomes drama every year.

My other CPA friend from a northern state, called Friday. I don't talk to him often but every year the day after Tax Day we seem to talk. He told me his cat died. He said she was 14 and was ill. They'd been working with her trying to save her and the vet wanted them to leave her over night so the could give her another therapy. They got a call late to come get her as she was wigging out in the cat cage. So they went to get her and she was riding in his wife's lap in the car on the way home. She was talking to the kitty and it seemed content. Two blocks from the house the cat died. Now he's all broke up about it. His daughter who's away at college says they killed the cat by leaving it at the veg hospital and now she can't stand coming home this summer and has gotten a job in her college town on the east coast. I could hear tears in his voice. I told him his daughter was 22 and was looking for a way to stay away. It was normal and not to sweat it.

I said, "You know what you got to do now, don't you?" He said they were getting two new cats. I told him to get mutts. They'd always had Siamese and this was the second one to die of the same ailment. I told him all my cat owner stories and he got to laughing at me. I think they will be ok with the new cats and hopefully his daughter will come back home when she runs out of money or gets pregnant.

This week end kicks off The Kentucky Derby Festival. This is about three weeks of uncountable events leading up to the Kentucky Derby. I like thoroughbred horse racing; watching, betting and even loosing on small horse race bets. I do not care for all the festival stuff. Maybe, if it involved nudity on a grand scale or some other truly spring fertility event. But, this is Louisville Kentucky, which exists under the cinch of the Bible belt, so our nude worship of Baucus is done either behind closed doors or accidentally on a river bank and within the oval infield at Churchill Downs.

Yesterday was Thunder over Louisville. That means seven hundred thousand people went downtown and onto the bank of the Ohio River to watch a wide variety of civilian and military planes fly around all day. At about 9:30 p.m. fireworks were launched for about thirty minutes in a technological marvel of music and explosion. Then for the next four hours, all those people tried to get home.

In the past Dennis and I watched from roof tops or in the offices of friends in buildings a couple of blocks from the river. Then I began watching from my apartment high up in a building in the Highlands. Now, I don't even do that. I keep saying I'll have a watch party, but everyone I know likes to be out near the event. Maybe the watch party will work when my friends are old.

What I did was cross the river early Friday evening, head north and spend the night and some of Saturday with Lenny. He had some work to do for a friend whose dad died, so I just tagged along and read my book, kept him from getting sleep. We went out to eat for dinner and then breakfast.

Sunday in Louisville is a beautiful thing in April. The excitement of the Derby hovers in the air like a pink mist along with tree pollen and butterflies. Yes! I saw my first butterfly this morning. It was small, yellow and fascinated with a wild grapevine growing at the side of a building.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Republicans making suggestions for our own good.

Today Hillary Clinton was suggested as a Justice on the Supreme Court. Let that settle in a bit.

Secretary Clinton is a smart woman. She got her education, including advanced degrees, worked as a lawyer, and held for eight years a rare yet important and uncompensated job as First Lady of the United States. She was NY Senator for eight years, ran for president with all the boys and now serves as our Secretary of State.

Sen. Orin Hatch says he would vote for her. He's the one who suggested Hillary.

Mrs. Clinton is doing an excellent job as Secretary of State. She is out on planes visiting heads of states and diplomatic hot spots all over the world. She even shook the hand of Sen. Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader last week. She was in Louisville to give a speech at the McConnell Center at the University of Louisville. Hillary and Mitch traded compliments with each other on the podium. When I saw that photo I was afraid I'd fallen asleep and woke up in Oz.

All this Republican glad handing and smiling comments to prominent Democrats makes me uneasy. Luckily Hillary is doing a good job. She's always done a good job for the country. She is needed too badly to be nominated to fill a seat on the Supreme Court.

I've been working with my CPA friend on my taxes. He always runs late. My husband was an accountant and for the first twenty plus years of my tax paying life, he did the taxes and all I had to do was sign them. In addition to owning and co-running our business he did taxes for lots of people. It was always a stressful time with he talking to the clients, filling out the forms on a typewriter, with me making copies and collating, etc. Things have sure changed in two decades. The only constant is the stress of the last few days toward the deadline.

Ya'all may not see much of me as the fifteenth approaches.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Saturday alone on the bench.

A very nice day was had by all, today; especially for me.

I got up early and did the usual shower, dress, descend for the paper. I started a load of whites and went outside with a cup of coffee. It was cool enough to wear a sweatshirt but I had on shorts and flip flops.

Coffee in the morning outside sitting on my bench is one of the things I enjoy. I live in a secluded place in the city. Sometimes I don't see anyone at all if I don't go out.

Saturday I spend the morning cruising the yard sales. I maintain an $8 limit on yard sale expenditures. Like today I often don't find a single thing I "need" and if I do it's unusual. Once I bought a blank page book that was beaded like what I imagine the Wizard of Oz Ruby Slippers were. I got it for $5 and sold it on Ebay for $10. Another time it was a silver heart shaped picture frame.

About 8:30 a.m. I went to the post office for the mail and by the bank to make a deposit. I got biscuits and gravy at the Dairy Queen. This week they are on sale for $2 with tax. A $1 big coffee from McDonalds with lots of cream and then back home for the beginning of my radio programs on NPR.

Reggie called on his way to the local Coffee Party meet up. He said he felt the whole thing was going to stop soon. I teased him by saying if he got arrested to let me know and I'd bring bail. That's a joke between us. We talked a few minutes about how either of us could possibly get arrested and need bail. He ended the conversation with, "I'll talk to you later."

Today Lenny came by, as he does several times a week and we got to spend time together talking about us and him and me. It's a blessing to have an old friend I can trust and make love to.

We went out to lunch. With Lenny I never run out of anything to say and it seems, neither does he. We are politically on opposite sides, but he doesn't preach to me and I don't preach to him.

He said today, "I love it that you have such strong opinions on things."

I said, "You have strong opinions yourself, but for some reason they're not mine."

I tell him some day I'm going to write all his stories in a book. He laughs and that pleases him. I do write stories he tells me and put them in my journal.

There was a time I worried about a lot of things with him and me. I don't worry any more. I'm content to live alone. Most people who get into living with one another are not as happy.

Lenny left in the late afternoon. He had to be back to take care of his granddaughter tonight. Her mom and the husband had plans to go out on a date night and the scheduled baby sitter had canceled. I told him this gave him a chance to let her know how wonderful her grandpa is. He said, "Oh yeah." He doesn't do much baby sitting and I could see he was happy to do it today.

After he left I listened to the radio again as I got a shower and changed for church.

I almost always go to Saturday mass. Being able to go to church on Saturday is one of the perks of Catholicism. By the way, don't get me going on this religion. I enjoy going to mass alone and sitting quietly during the time others are getting there late. Religion has a ritual and abiding by the rules and ritual, as well as going to church, calms me.

After church I was back in time to listen most of Garrison Keeler. Lenny texted me to remind me to listen!

I ate a bowl of beef stew and now I'm settling in to watch a DVD from Netflix.

The eventual result of living alone for almost two decades is the ability to handle it without insanity.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Morning News

This morning early, while rubbing on deodorant, combing my hair, putting on my clothes and trying to tie my shoes, a well known morning guy interviewed members of coal miner's families. Their loved ones were still in the mine. Twenty-five of their co-workers were dead. The news guy wanted to get their thoughts.

I don't get why anyone in a stressful personal situation would ever want to or agree to go on camera for a national television broadcast. Doing that less than 24 hours after the disaster borders on insanity.

I've seen parents of children who have been abducted sit there crying while choking out words about their feelings.

I've seen parents of a child who was just found dead and dismembered in the woods after a week of searching, talking about their grief.

I've seen child of 15 who had been sexually molested by a trusted family member sitting with the brother of the molester, speaking of their abhorrence.

This is nuts.

Maybe it's a good thing to have a "spokesperson" or further removed family member speak in order to draw attention to the need to watch our children or improve mine safety, but for me at least, it's too much. I turn the TV off when this is shown. I may be a life voyeur and perhaps I will slow down a little driving by a wreck, but I do not need to see and hear that with my morning coffee.

Alright, I'm stepping back down off the soap box!

One thing I do enjoy in the morning is reading the daily paper. I grew up in a small country town and there was a weekly paper. It used to be a good paper. I still subscribe and now it's basically a weekly paper of record; births, deaths, marriage licenses, court reports, arrest records. The news is meth busts and people arrested for smoking marijuana or hitting their girlfriend. When I moved to Louisville there were two daily papers; one in the morning and one in the evening. When I married we got both papers. We both loved reading the paper. Dennis had a daily paper in the town where he grew up and still subscribed to it.

Now days I read the remaining daily paper and enjoy it immensely. While doing so today, on TV an entertainment talking head was trying to use the iPad. The device looks sleek and cute and modern. I'm not convinced. Let me keep my daily paper. Even if they raise the price of it to the price of the New York Times, I want my daily paper.

This morning in the Courier-Journal Clay Bennett's cartoon made me laugh out loud.


Weather is hot as West Texas here today; 88 degrees.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Simple occurence results in obsession

A frequent pastime is pressing the "next blog" button at the top of the page. It's a voyeuristic thing I do, for there is no telling what I will see.

I found a blog of obsession. It seems to be a woman who met a man at a business meeting a long time ago. He has become the only thing she thinks about or writes about or evidently talks about? After reading her posts for a month I've figured out she has never had a one on one conversation with him; phone, e.mail, text message or in person.

She seems to have an entire friendship genealogy laid out along the lines of who "Sam" knows, went to school with, rides the same train as, eats lunch with, plays racquetball with, etc.

From her posts she dreams of the man. She spends time between business appointments thinking of him. She wonders what he thinks about her, or if he thinks about her. He is a ghost in her story; when we are married we will, etc.

I couldn't stand reading more posts. They go back years. Her fascination seems to have started because after the meeting he took her left hand in his two hands and said, "It was really good to make your acquaintance Gertrude." [All names changed to protect the crazy people.]

I try to think if I've ever been this obsessed with someone I only met once and never saw again. I don't think so. I was insane that first year with Roger but I forgive myself. He was the first man I met and dated after my husband died. I was the crazy person that year and he was just the man to take advantage of the situation the next four.

Have you ever been an obsession or obsessed with someone? You can tell me privately.

The week has been lovely. There is nothing like a week of early spring in Kentucky. Keeneland opened its short spring meet today. Reggie got a bet down on the first horse in the first race, and although it went off at 8/5 it did not win. That's an old tradition of horse players; bet the first horse in the first race on the beginning day and the last horse of the last race on the last day of the meet. I know people who went to the track today. They sure had a beautiful day; 80 degree temperature and sunshine.

To answer that nagging question for you, no the bluegrass in Kentucky is not blue.

Furthermore it is true that Kentucky is known for beautiful horses and fast women.