Sunday, August 28, 2011

A little macabre

Earlier this summer, we started our vacation driving toward Florida on a Saturday afternoon. I can't remember exactly why, except that it was my fault, we left nearly an hour after our intended departure time. It probably had something to do with my waiting until nearly lunch time to start packing.

We were only a couple of hours east when traffic slowed quickly to a halt. We inched along, some cars jumping the line or u-turning to avoid the wait and then there it was - cars flipped over, people standing around, a county hearse on the access road. Sobering. Sad.

Taking in the scene, it could have been us, the wreck was likely about an hour old. Those scenes repeat themselves throughout our lives, usually in smaller ways. It could have been my daugher skidding on the ice, there could have been an explosion if I hadn't been in the right spot to smell the gas filling the house......

In 1994 we lived in a three story Victorian style home. I turned the corner toward home one afternoon,  and there was a fire truck on our street, at my house. I'd run out on a quick errand, leaving the kids at home. Ricky should have already left with one of them for practice. But as he was loading the car he heard something, maybe, and checked out the sound. The garage roof, sheltered from view by the house, was on fire. He yelled at the kids to get out of the house, called 9-1-1 and put a hose on it. About $50,000 later the fire department completed the job. If he had not been in that part of the garage at that particular time, I would have come home, been in the house with my children, and wouldn't have known our house was on fire until much later. With a wood shingle roof, the whole house would have been gone. (Turns out there was a roofing nail touching electric lines and it finally torched.)

The bottom line is that we are all fortunate any day we make it through intact. Who knows what might have been if .....?

Today the news has been all Hurricane Irene and its aftermath. While the storm fizzled somewhat, the news agencies are reporting fifteen deaths attributable to the storm. Keep in mind this death toll marks the eastern United States from North Carolina to New York. I am saddened for those families, but part of me can't help wondering how many other lives were saved this weekend with all the bars closed, the parties canceled and trips postponed.

I've decided that the best thing to do when things don't go according to plan is trust that there was another plan I just didn't have the details for.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Change of season

I wish I could say fall was on its way, but we continue to have daily high temperatures around 105 and daily low temperatures around 85. Even today's ten day forecast doesn't show much break. We will probably set the record for most number of days over 100 degrees in a year.

This has been the summer of my discontent.

I have looked forward eagerly to the start of school and the restoration of familiar rhythms - everyone else leaves the house in the morning and comes home in the evening. Summer vacations are over and no one is working swing shifts. The animals and I have the daytime to ourselves.

School started on Monday. I'm almost back to myself.

Even better, the first football game of the season is tonight. Wiley's already left, rehearsing one more time at school before the band loads up on six yellow dogs (aka school buses) and heads to the stadium. Ricky and I will travel in our comfortable SUV, eat some hot dogs, visit with friends, admire their children as they perform and pay attention to which of Ricky's students have notable achievements during the evening. The kids love receiving compliments in class from a teacher who notices what they do. And of course we watch our son.

In honor of making it to another school year, of appreciating what I have, I'm linking to one of my very first's Friday night in Texas, y'all!

UPDATE: The evening was a success, I've added some pictures. Notice the score at halftime - we ended the game 62-7, with only one score in the 4th quarter. The band put Part 1 of their competition show on the field, without a gaffe or a fall. It's a little different watching from the back side. It's a little different when the band is not in full uniform. But the temperature was 104 when the game started and still 98 when it ended. As the visitors, we got to enjoy a new stadium in the southern part of our metro area - a school district that had one high school ten years ago and now has five. Want a job? Come to Texas, it's sizzling!

Band warming up in the end zone before half-time

Taking the field to start the 2011 season

Opening set

End of Part 1

Starting the Spirit Show (traditional old style spelling out Blue, Raiders, LD Bell)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Out of character

I don't usually post on Facebook. But my BFF (since 7th grade) got me all hot and bothered, starting a post about rich people, taxes, jobs, etc. She has a friend (turns out he's a lawyer, go figure) joining in as a whiner and I just couldn't stand it.

Here's an example of what fifty-something people are talking about.....

BFF: Scott Rasmussen just said that polls indicate that many people have figured out that in regard to the economic crisis"somebody changed the rules" and it has been bad for the country. I think Dan would agree. Sadly for me as a lifelong Republican, I am experiencing the creeping growth of a feeling that it might have begun with the Gipper himself ;(

Whiny Lawyer: In fact it did, he was put in office by the rich and powerful. Immediately lowered tax rates for the rich from 72% down into the 30's We were lambs going to slaughter with not a clue what was happening

Me: So how much should the "rich" pay? The most recent statistics say that the top 5% pay almost 60% of all individual income taxes.​2010/11/04/what-percentage​-of-federal-income-taxes-d​o-rich-people-really-pay/ This is a current link.
According to the IRS, the top one percent of all income earners in the United States in 2008 paid over 38 percent of the taxes.
For historical myth busting, check this article as well. When tax rates are lower, GDP rises and more taxes are paid.

The Truth About Tax Rates and The Politics of Class Warfare

Whiny Lawyer: The tax code is primarily to allow the rich to shelter income and avoid taxation which is fine. I would be pleased to see any statistics showing the 1% pays 60 % of taxes because it seems high. Our country is in trouble everyone should pay taxes to help reduce debt until it is retired. Across the board on a scale dependent on income. A consumption tax instead of income tax would work also. It is the Megarich or billionaires who are the problem not wealthy people who have success.

BFF: I love this discussion between my lawyer friend and my tax acccountant/BFF Kerry McCarley Balthrop! I am going to read these articles! But Dan, seriously, 72%??? I would never do anything if I understood that the government was going to get three quarters out of every dollar I made. And, do you really mean "everyone" should pay taxes? Even the "poor" in this country? You mean they might have to give up cigarettes, beer, and cable tv and not get there UN Earned Income Credit? And how do we tax the megarich when they have armies of lawyers and accountants (sorry guys) to defend their riches--betters than having the knights, castles and moats that defended the medieval lords.

Me: Why should I mind if other people have millions as long as I have the opportunity to succeed? Again, a rising tide floats all the boats. I do have millionaire clients. They pay plenty of tax. They worked hard to be successful. Why should I resent that? My millionaire clients provide jobs and support private charities (which are far more efficient than government "largesse.") And there aren't that many "millionaires" anyway. A 100 % tax on the people you think are millionaires would be a drop in the bucket. History says that taxes stay about 19% of GDP, doesn't matter the tax rate. So the goal should be to enact policies that increase GDP (jobs.) These policies include lower tax RATES (not lower taxes) and less regulation. For example, the government now wants all farmers to have commercial drivers' licenses, with all the fees and reporting that ensues. And look at the "deprived" poor and middle classes in our country compared to others. Our poor have cell phones, television and air conditioning. Check out India with a billion people living at real poverty levels. Check out Ricky's blog at http://rickysplace.wordpre​ for discussions on economics and true poverty. There is so much information available. Instead of just saying "I would be pleased to see any statistics......" go look at the statistics for yourself. It takes a few clicks on the computer. And the statistics say that the top 5% (not 1%) pay almost 60 % of the taxes.​011/07/jet-owners-ogres-an​d-other-millionaire-myths/
Just another site

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Starting the countdown

Tomorrow morning I will have my second ever colonoscopy, after having eleven inches of my colon removed a little over a year ago. There's more annoyance than dread. I should have had that first proceedure done a few years earlier, but you know how it goes - there was a wedding or too much work or vacation plans. Whatever. I would get it done eventually.

Eventually I was diagnosed with late Stage 1 colon cancer, after surgery and a four day hospital stay.

A colonoscopy is not that bad, folks. Everyone gripes about the "prep," but take away the theatrical exaggeration and it's just a few hours of being tethered to the house. Of course, if you really like to eat, you might disagree.

Yesterday was lunch at Applebee's and dinner at Outback. Today I've had a couple of cups of coffee and the ever popular Route 44 Coke at Sonic's Happy Hour prices. I've taken my first pill, then will drink the first round of magic potion an hour from now, followed by a second round later in the evening.

This summer's magic potion is different from what my doctor used in 2010 and is different again from what Ricky will be drinking on Sunday before his colonoscopy which is different again from what he had to drink four years ago. Last summer, my surgeon prescribed the easiest method - a LOT of powdered laxative dissolved in gatorade - cheap, relatively tasty, effective. How interesting that there are at least five different ways to clean out the pipes.

Have you had your first colonoscopy? If your answer is "yes," and it's been in the last five years, this post is done. If the answer is "no," go ahead and read the next paragraph.

Are you over fifty? Has it been more than five years? (The medical community is in the process of revising guidelines down to five rather than ten years between colonoscopies.) Are you over thirty-five with a family history of polyps or colon cancer? If you have a "yes" answer, then just go ahead and do it. Having some polyps removed now is so much better than surgery and possibly chemotherapy later!