Monday, November 30, 2009


Boy didn't that "couple" that crashed the White House State dinner look like a couple of grifters? She played the whole visit strictly to the cameras. SHe had that big smile and the Standard Blonde American Glamor Look. Frankly I can't tell one Standard American Glamor Blonde from another. They all look alike to me, and I am a white guy married to a blonde. Shakira looks exactly like Britney Spears. He looked like he was 25 years older than his "wife." They didn't look like a "couple" to me. He looked like someone playing at being her husband. Did you notice the video where they were walking past the press holding hands and she stopped, causing him to halt in mid-stride, so the photogs could get a good shot?

I just had a big contentious discussion with 21st Century Insurance. First of all, it annoys me very much that they charge a fee for paying them online. Hardly anyone, even the greedy money-grubbing credit card companies don't charge a fee for paying them online. Now I want to cancel 21st and go with Farmers (because I will get a 15% discount on auto and homeowners) and 21st Century wants to charge me a $50 cancellation fee. When I asked what that was about the 21st Century rep said it was because it was their policy. I replied that her answer was like saying a brown bear is brown because it is brown. Really, what service am I getting for the $50? The answer is: they do it because they can do it. Because they're the Insurance Company and to hell with you. Typical corporate arrogant behavior.

Saturn of Cerritos wanted to charge me over $200 to replace that left side mirror on my old four door sedan. I called a car mirror place down on Mission, where all the junkyard businesses are located and got the part and labor for $75.00. I guess it pays to be careful and call around.

We're eating a lot of turkey sandwiches around here. And everybody has a bad cough. Except the Inca Prince. (The Inca Prince is our son, adopted almost 18 years ago in Peru.)

Obama is going to send more troops to Afghanistan. This is a country where there is no law covering rape. Rape is a huge problem in Afghanistan. It happens everywhere in that backward country. And the government is seriously corrupt.

And this is the country our troops are fighting and dying for.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday

Don't you hate those Robot Voices that you get way too often these days whenever you call any Big Corporation?

Our Sears washing machine just got cranky and refuses to do its job. Something's wrong with the cycle. It takes in water for hours if you let it, and the motor runs but it doesn't swoosh the clothes. So I called Sears. Got a Robot. Stupid Robot doesn't understand clear, perfect English. Asked for Sales. Robot says, "Sorry, I didn't understand your request." I end up yelling at the stupid Robot, and it retaliates by sending me to a dead end phone number, one that rings and rings with no answer and finally ends up with another Robot that instructs, "If you'd like to make a call..." ARRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!

You know, this stupid Robot at Sears replaces a Real Human Being. One they don't have to pay or provide health insurance. Sears is such a cheapass organization they replace real people with a machine. Now I can understand it to some extend in the auto industry. where they use robots to make cars. I don't like it; the Robots there replace real people, union workers. but those Robots are not in contact with the public. You would think that your initial contact with a company should be friendly and pleasant. It is anything but friendly and pleasant when you are talking to a stupid Robot. I would just about bet that the ill-will a stupid Robot generates far outweighs the savings Sears gets by choosing not to hire a real person at the switchboard.

Henry Ford had it right. He hired people and paid them a wage decent enough to allow his workers to buy the cars they produced. Today's short-sighted mean spirited corporate managers don't think that way. They look to how they can save a buck here or there and the public be damned. If possible they ship the job to India or
Sri Lanka where they can pay a worker twenty five cents an hour.

No wonder the economy is in the trash bin. Corporations displaying contempt for their customers. Cutting back on service to save a few bucks. Dropping health insurance for their workers. Union busting. It's all part of the bottom line, make as much money as possible as fast as possible to make the shareholders happy. And screw the customer. What are they going to do, stop shopping?

And it works. Look at the mobs of screaming consumers busting down doors today to get those Black Friday bargains. Lots of American Consumers don't care how they're treated as long as they can get a great deal on that brand new forty inch flat screen TV at a great price.

Of course the thing is made in China. Where they pay the workers a dollar a day.

Happy Black Friday.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Eve

Had a real Thanksagiving class today. We did Turkey Word Puzzles, colored a picture of a Pilgrim Lady handing something on a tray to a Native American sitting on a blanket. The kids loved it. Third grade. They were all hyper. ONe little girl said she was going down to the Midnight Mission to help feed the homeless people. Most of the kids reported they were going to gramma's house or having their cousins over for a big feast. All kinds of family gatherings.

I am thankful that we haven't lost our house. I am thankful for my family. I am thankful that we are not going hungry like so many people in the U.S. and in the rest of the world. We're not doing all that well, especially with the school district cutting back so much and our goddamn union did a secret deal to give our substitute teacher jobs to teachers right out of college.

But we are surviving. Things are getting back to normal, I think. We fought the union and got the secret agreement rescinded. I'm thankful for that. And thankful for the fact that I have been working pretty steadily. I expect things to stabilize now that we officially have our jobs back.

I am a union guy all the way. I belong to three unions. AFTRA, SAG and UTLA. American Federation of Radio and Television Artists, Screen Actors Guild and United Teachers of Los Angeles. I helped unionize a newsroom in Cincinnati years ago, and that is why I am such a long term AFTRA member. But UTLA did screw us. We had to fight to finally get justice for those of us who have seniority over the newbie teachers. We all went to college. We all got our California sub credentials.

If California wasn't such a freakin' Banana Republic we wouldn't be in such a mess. The state is billions of dollars in debt, and all because it takes such a huge majority in the Legislature to pass any progressive reform, the Democrats can't do anything at all. The Republicans block everything with their minority vote.

The California education system which used to be # 1, is now equivalent to Mississipi, nomething like number 48. It's embarrassing.

We don't have much, but we have a house in California that would probably buy two or three houses in Montana. and if the hammer ever came down, I guess we could move to Montana or someplace like it, and be thankful for that.

I am not so thankful that some big fat SUV Roadhog on steroids sideswiped me on an L.A. street tonight as I was driving home and busted my drivers side mirror. No big deal, I'll just replace it myself with a mirror I can get custom cut at a local glass shop. That will be a lot cheaper than taking it to the Subaru shop. Nobody was killed. Thankful for that.

I hope I put a big scratch in his paint.

I am thankful we no longer have a Cowboy Idiot in the White House, although I have some doubts about the current occupant.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My Day

I had a third grade today. Yesterday it was a second grade at another school. This is what a substitute teacher does. And tonight I have to do lesson plans for my wife the Art Teacher. I have a couple hours ahead of me, she does five classes a day.

We got a turkey, and my 17 year old son, soon to be 18 is fixing the Thanksgiving dinner. This kid has all of a sudden become interested in cooking. It's a passion with him. He mourned the death of Gourmet Magazine.

And then I heard the news about Obama's trial balloon, that he is going to send another 32,000 to 35,000 troops to Afghanistan. This is insane. We have millions of people unemployed here in the United States of America and Obama is thinking of sending troops at a million dollars apiece (this is what I hear it really costs to deploy one trooper overseas for a year) to Afghanistan. This is truly nuts. Has Obama learned nothing from Lyndon Johnson and Vietnam? Has he learned nothing from the disasters that came to British and Russian adventures in Afghanistan? Why is Obama doing this? Did the CIA or the Pentagon tell him he'd better go with the program or maybe something bad would happen to Michelle, some kind of accident maybe to her or one of the kids? I can think of no other reason Obama would send troops to Afghanistan.

And the only reason he can get away with this is because most people don't have a clue what it is going to cost to send more troops or how we are going to pay for more war over there. The war isn't in the budget. It is kind of a side thing that Bush created to hide the true costs of Iran and Afghanistan. This country has burned at least a trillion dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan so far. And we've lost over 5,000 mostly young men. And we've killed, according to at least one study, a million Iraqis. And now Obama wants MORE of this, an expansion of the war in Afghanistan.

With so many people out of work, this kind of decision, to widen the war instead of stopping it, makes my head spin. During Vietnam, with the body bags coming home by the dozen, I felt the insanity of it on a personal level. I am a vet myself, did some peacetime patrolling in Korea. Was lucky not to see war during the Vietnam era.

Here is what we need to do. It is something no politician in Washington has the guts to do. Or if there is one or two with the guts, the rest of them would think him nuts to propose it. We need Congress to pass a War Tax, a special progressive tax on everyone in the country to pay for the two wars we currently have going. And we need one more thing, a proposal I am personally against, but at the same time I think it would be good public policy. We need to reinstitute the draft. Of course none of this is going to happen, becuase all the Washington Warmongers realize that a War Tax and a Draft would instantly turn most Americans into pacifists demanding we get out of Iraq and Afghanistan. Now. I am personally against a draft because I have a teenaage son. Still, it's a good idea.

People love the war. They love the idea of us kicking ass somewhere in the world. But if they have to pay for it, well that would be a different story. Only they are paying for it. They are paying for it with a lousy economy and a few million Americans out of work. Somehow, our wars have not been connected to our 21st Century Great Depression.

And speaking of Obama, I am so disappointed in Obama. Not just because he has cozied up to Wall Street. Not just because he has offered little or nothing to those of us whose taxes bailed out Wall Street while they give us the middle finger and a kick to the curb. Not just because Obama hs done little to really create jobs the way FDR did. Not just because he is continuing Bush's insane wars. Not just because it looks like we are about to get Health Care Reform that is going to mostly benefit the insurance companies and do little for the rest of us.

No I am disappointed because I voted for the guy. And It thought he was a lot smarter than he turned out to be.

Tomorrow, another third grade class.

Happy Thanksgiving.