Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Pass The Damn Bill.

So what is to be done with health care reform?

Nothing could be done. Health care costs will continue to escalate, more and more Americans will become uninsured, thousands more will die for lack of insurance, the federal deficit will spiral upward. It will soon get so bad, that citizens may revolt and demand the government take over health care. Oh yeah, this is a great idea. The Republicans like it, because it increases their chances in this year's elections - which is far more important to them than the American people. They think correctly that voters will blame the Democrats because they were in control but did nothing.

Democrats and Republicans could work together to craft a bipartisan bill. This is what the American people want us to do. This is NOT going to happen. The wimpy Democrats wasted months trying to work with Republicans - they really wanted a bipartisan bill. However, as has been shown over and over again, the Republican political strategy was always to kill health care reform so as to defeat Obama. Now that they can smell Obama's defeat, do you really think they are going to play nice? No way in hell! If you still believe in Santa Clause and the tooth fairy, then you can think the Republicans are going to work with Democrats on health care reform. Everyone else knows better.

We can pass a bill with the parts everyone agrees on. The only people who say that simply don't understand health care. To make any changes at all, health care reform must be broad and comprehensive. For example, suppose the bill just eliminates all discrimination against pre existing conditions - everyone agrees on that. Know what would happen? Healthy people wouldn't buy insurance - they would wait until they got sick and then buy it. So the only people with insurance would be the sick - which would drive up the cost of insurance so astronomically that no one could afford it. Not only that but insurance companies probably would just get out of the individual market - as they say "we don't insure burning buildings" - and we can't make them sell it. The only way that we can eliminate pre existing conditions is if we require everyone to get insurance - healthy and sick. Then you've got to add subsidies for people who can't afford it. Then you have to pay for the subsidies. Then, guess what - you've got the bill passed by the Senate. No significant change can be passed all by itself. All the easy changes have already been made and haven't really changed anything.

Pass the damn Senate bill. This is the only viable option. There are definitely some bad parts to that bill - probably the worst of which is the sweetheart deal Senator Nelson was able to extort out of the Senate in return for his vote. After the vote in Massachusetts, it is abundantly clear that the Senate is not going to vote for a health reform bill of any sort. The House already passed a health care bill - which in many ways is better than the Senate bill. Those same House members are just going to have to hold their noses and vote for the Senate bill as it is and send it to the President. It is the ONLY option that doesn't go back to the Senate to be killed. It will then be much easier to pass legislation to clean up the bad parts.

What has to happen to accomplish this? Obama has to look through those boxes he brought to the White House and find his balls. It will require his very strong leadership and courage. I'm not worried about the Speaker of the House. Pelosi has shown she has plenty of guts and leadership (which is why the Republicans hate her so much). But she can't do it alone. Everything depends on the President. If he can't pull this off, then I guess he'll be a one term President - and deservedly so.

The only thing that can save Obama and the Democrats is to pass the damn bill. Even though voters are ambiguous about it now, they will love it when it happens. How do I know that? Simple. Massachusetts already has a system almost identical to the one in the Senate Bill - and it's wildly popular. In fact, the new Senator from Massachusetts who is coming to Washington to kill national health care, is a big supporter of the Massachusetts plan. (Republicans aren't known for their consistency.) Plus, if you read the bill, you'll see that it is basically a very good plan. Here is an article listing the individual components of the bill, showing each component's favorability ratings (high) and awareness ratings (low).

Most Americans have not read the bill nor have they tried to learn what's really in it. They just listen to what someone else tells them. Unfortunately, that person may also be ignorant - or even a liar. But once they experience it, then they'll know for themselves how good it is. I keep seeing claims that members of Congress have not read the bill because it's so long. Most Republicans probably have not, because if you know you're going to vote against it, you don't have to understand it. But I guarantee you that most Democrats who are voting for it have read it. Their careers are on the line, and they want to make absolutely certain what is really in it. There are parts in it that they hate, but they've decided the overall good of the bill is worth putting up with the bad.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Why I Wear Black and White

People who know me will notice that I wear only black and some white - and they eventually ask me why. From experience, I have developed several quick answers - but the truth is a little longer.

Like most women, I wore colors that I liked the look of and that I thought looked good on me - and over the years developed some favorites that would vary over time. However, black and white were always there.

Almost 30 years ago, it was all the rage to "get your colors done" - using a program that was called Color Me Beautiful. What this meant was that you went to someone supposedly trained to do this - usually found in a beauty salon. This consultant spent about an hour or more testing and analyzing - and then gave you a final written report. You also received a book of fabric color swatches that you were to carry with you at all times, since you were never to buy any clothing not in your color scheme. You also had to wear certain colors of makeup - of which your consultant usually just happened to have a supply. If you followed all the suggestions, you would be beautiful.

I am a very compulsive person, so I followed this program religiously. What I found out was that it actually worked. Not that it made everyone "beautiful" but anyone who followed it would definitely look their best. But there was an unexpected bonus - it made shopping and dressing easier. Looking at a selection of new dresses, for example, I could immediately eliminate about three quarters because they were the wrong color. I didn't need nearly as many different colored shoes/purses/scarfs/etc. I immediately started wearing only one color lipstick, nail polish, eyeshadow - because they went with all my colors. I gave all my yellow gold jewelry to my daughter, since I was to wear only silver and white gold. The only fur coat I ever owned also went to my daughter because it was the wrong color. (My daughter really liked this new regime!)

After I moved to Mississippi and began to dress more casually and as I got older, I found the convenience of this system far more attractive than its appearance benefits. But from the time of my consultation to this day, I have never deviated from the premises of the system.

So how did I get from there to just black and white? I love to read history and biographies - especially about women - and I am always on the lookout for them. About ten years ago, I read a biography of Georgia O'Keeffe, the undisputed doyenne of American painting in her time and who raised the awareness of the American public to the fact that a woman could be the equal of any man in her field. I found her fascinating.

Somewhere in that biography, I read where O'Keeffe decided to only wear black and white. (I forget why she decided that, and I'm going to read the book again to find out.) That got me thinking about how cool this would be. This is the ultimate in simplifying dressing and shopping for clothes. No matter what clothes I pull out of my closet, they will go together. Only having one color of shoes would save a fortune all by itself. I decided to give it a try. Fortunately, I had enough black clothes for a trial run. Well, I loved it. It saves a whole lot of time and a ton of money. It took me a while to change over my entire wardrobe, but it's been complete for quite a while.

I will never go back to multicolors - even though my fashion conscious eldest granddaughter is always trying to sweet talk me into wearing colors. If I can resist her, I can resist anyone.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sarah Weddington - A Heroine

On the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision Roe v Wade, I wanted to give honor to the 26 year old attorney who argued the case and won - Sarah Weddington.

She was born in Abilene TX after the end of World War II. Her father was a chaplain and religion professor. Her mother was a teacher and basketball coach. Due to the example set by her parents, she grew to love reading and studying, which allowed her to graduate from high school at 16, college at 19, and law school at 21. There were very few female lawyers in those days, but one of them in her class at the University of Texas was current US Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison.

Sarah learned communication through plays, speech events, and choral groups. She learned leadership through involvement in various organizations. She was elected secretary of the student body at college and secretary of her class in law school. (By the way, being secretary was one of the few leadership roles available to women in those days.)

Sarah stayed in Austin after law school and practiced law. In 1970 in US District Court, she represented a woman known by the alias of Jane Roe, who wanted the right to have a legal abortion. The Court ruled in her favor. But the decision was appealed and ended up in the US Supreme Court.

In early 1972 at the age of 26, Sarah Weddington argued Roe v Wade before the Supreme Court, with yours truly in the audience. She was incredible! However, by the time the Supreme Court got around to deciding the case, the Court had two new members, so the Chief Judge decided it should be argued again during the Court's next term.

So on October 11, 1972 at the age of 27, she argued the case again before the Supreme Court, but I was not able to be there. As we all know, on January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court announced that Sarah had won one of the most famous court cases in history. The Court sent her a collect telegram announcing the decision!

The press totally ignored her - probably thinking she was too young to possibly win the case. So the only picture she has was taken by the staff of her Congressman.The photo shows her with her husband, her Congressman, and her proud mother.

While all this was going on, Sarah was also running for the State Legislature - Primary in May 1972, Runoff in July 1972, and General in November 1972. Talk about multitasking!  Her campaign was run by a bunch of women volunteers who knew nothing about campaigning. One of her volunteers was future Texas Governor Ann Richards.The story of that campaign is hilarious, but it worked. She was elected and took Richards with her as her Administrative Assistant. She was reelected twice before resigning to go to work for President Jimmy Carter. While there, she was instrumental in getting Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg appointed to a federal judgeship.

After leaving Washington, she founded the Weddington Center, which focuses on developing leadership skills and civic involvement, especially with women. Surviving cancer led her to add resiliance and renewal training to the Center. She is a speaker and writer and teaches at the University of Texas.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

RIP: Health Care Reform

I am grieving tonight, because something near and dear to my heart is terminally ill. The Republican just elected in Massachusetts vowed to be the Senate's 41st vote to kill my loved one, and I'm sure he will succeed. It will be an ugly death, and I will not want to watch. There is one treatment that could save that life. The US House of Representatives could vote to accept the Senate's version of the bill, but they will not have the courage to do this - because it might kill them (or their careers). Courage is a medicine in very short supply in the Capitol Building. The inhabitants are mostly concerned with protecting themselves, and they do not seem to care that more citizens of this country are dying every day because they do not act.

Some of my friends try to comfort me. "Don't worry, dear. That treatment was really terrible, and we're going to come back and treat your friend the right way." But they don't know my friend like I do. When the treatment fails, my friend goes into a coma that lasts for decades. Truman tried to do it and failed. Thirty years later, even Nixon tried and failed. More than twenty years later, Clinton tried and failed. And now almost twenty years later, Obama tried. He came very close, but he also failed. I doubt I'll be around in twenty years to see the next attempt, especially without my friend to help me.

There are a lot of people to blame for the death. I'll start with the Republicans. They could have negotiated in good faith with the President and the Democrats, but they decided instead that the health care of Americans was not important. Much more important was destroying Obama. No Republican voted for my friend to live. (When the Republicans controlled Congress, there were always Democrats who voted with them.) But I also blame the Democrats. Some of them were so concerned with "winning" some issue that they were willing to let my friend die. Some of them sold out for money, not for themselves, but for their states. I give credit to Pelosi and Reid for doing what had to be done despite the incredible abuse they endured - especially Reid, because he probably killed his career in the process.

But most of all, I blame the American people. They say we get the representation we deserve. So my friend will die, and Americans will continue to die in greater and greater numbers. Eventually, when enough people have no health insurance, the American voters will wake up and demand a change - but by then it will be too late.

Monday, January 18, 2010

What the Hell Is Going On?

Tomorrow, Tuesday, the most liberal state in the union is going to elect to the US Senate a teabagger created empty suit, Scott Brown, whose only claim to fame is posing nude for Cosmopolitan several years ago. Why is this happening?

People will try to blame the Democratic candidate, Martha Coakley. Don't you believe it! Women always get blamed when men make a mess. But we're not going to let them get away with it this time. She is the State's Attorney General, for goodness sake. She's smart, credible, and experienced. What more could you want? She's not perfect, but she's pretty damned close. And a hell of a lot more perfect than her opponent!

Something is happening in this country, and it is not pretty. I don't blame the teabaggers. They're ignorant and illiterate - you can tell by reading their signs. They believe every thing Rush Limbaugh tells them. I can even understand the Wall Street Republicans. They just want their money and the hell with the rest of us.

No, the real problem is with the moderates/liberals - be they Democrats or independents - and MA is full of them. They're mad at Obama and the Democrats they elected to Congress. They've been there a year. Why haven't they gotten out of Iraq and Afghanistan? Why haven't they passed a perfect health care bill?  Why haven't they punished/tortured Wall Street? Why haven't they cured the economy?  And on and on, ad nauseum.

So what are they going to do about this? They're so brilliant. They're going to send the Republicans their 41st vote, so that Obama and the Democratic Congress will not be able to do anything at all. That'll teach them!

I would say that MA deserves everything that will happen to them after their vote - except for the fact that they've screwed the rest of us, too. They're going to regret what they've done - just like Connecticut regrets voting for Joe Lieberman. But in the meantime, they may have succeeded in destroying the country. Fortunately, I have an up to date passport.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Freeze of 2010 - Part II

On Sunday morning, I woke up and headed straight for the coffee pot. Oops! Nothing is coming out of the faucet. As I wander around caffeine deprived, I spot my neighbor Marc outside. I ask if he has water, and he says he does. He runs home and brings me a big container of water - it never occurred to me to save water. He is inquiring about my water problems and discovered that I haven't checked all my faucets. I find out all my other faucets are working - and I even have hot water. I give Marc his water back and thank him profusely for thinking for me. How could I not have thought to try all faucets? Maybe it's lack of caffeine.

I'm able to make coffee and brush my teeth, so I'm fine. I haven't had a bath since Friday morning and don't plan another one until Monday morning, when I have to go to work. Of course, without a bath I can't go anywhere else over the weekend, but no one is going anywhere in this weather anyway.

My other neighbor Bob, who is always taking care of things for me, comes to check on me. He instructs me to put a space heater under my sink to help defrost those pipes. He checks my outside faucets and wraps them all and puts some towels in a gaping hole leading to my cellar where the pipes are.

I did decide that the dirty dishes in my kitchen are just too disgusting, and I must wash them - but I keep putting it off. At some point in the afternoon, while the sun is still shining in my bathroom, I rig up this system to wash my dishes in my bathtub. I have a dishpan full of hot soapy water and dirty dishes. I've left the water running to rinse off the dishes - and a dish drain is sitting on my bathroom rug. I am kneeling on another rug, and it's not too bad. Then I notice my rinse water is getting cold and the gushing water is slowing to a trickle. I finish the dishes - even though the rinse water is cold - just to get them out of my tub.

After I have dried the dishes and put them away, hoping no diseases are lingering on them, I decide to call my neighbor Bob, aka Mr Fixit, to see if he knows what's wrong with my hot water. When I describe the symptoms, he says he's coming over right away. I know by the tone of his voice that this is not good.

He sends me in search of old towels, while's he's running all around my house. Then he calls to me to come right away. He's standing next to my washing machine, which is in the kitchen and had no water. He tells me to listen. Suddenly I hear gushing water. He runs outside and then calls me again. I look under my back porch and see water gushing out of a busted pipe. He runs home to get tools and a flashlight - because by now, it's dark. I show him the hole in the ground where my water meter is, and after digging in the dirt, he miraculously finds the turn off valve.

Well, I can't stay home now. I call my friend Gwen who has offered several times for me to come stay with her. She was about to call and invite me to dinner - and others are coming. OMG! When are the others coming? I must get there first and bath. So I throw stuff together and take off.

While luxurating in the best bath I have ever had - and in a toasty warm bathroom - I hear the other guests arrive. As I start to dress, I realize I only brought one set of clothes - to wear to work the next day. So I put on my pajamas, and with my wet hair, go out to the dinner party. Fortunately, I know the guests well and they just laugh at me. They do, however, appreciate that I am clean.

I call my neighbor Sissy, because I know her husband Marc is out of town, to let her know where I am in case she needs me. She says she knows a plumber, if I need one. Sissy knows everyone!

The next day I go to work at the Library, and call the person I thought would know a good plumber, but he's out of town. So I call Sissy and get the name of her plumber. Unfortunately, I am in the midst of a crisis at the Library and don't have a chance to call him. Right around noon, they call me from downstairs and tell me my plumber is here. My plumber? I don't have one - I haven't called anyone. I go down having no idea who it was. It turns out that Sissy had to call him to do some work in her store. She asked if he had heard from me, and he said no. She told him that I worked in the Library and why didn't he just go see me. And he did! Can you believe that?

However, I'm still in the midst of the Library crisis and cannot possibly leave to go with him to my house - even though it's half a block away. I quickly think of Bob and call and ask him if he could meet my plumber. Of couse he says yes - even though, as I found out later, he had just sat down to lunch. I told the plumber just to do whatever he needed to do and spend whatever was necessary - that he didn't need to ask my approval. Just fix it, I tell him. I give him my house key and off he goes.

About three hours later, he comes back. In great detail, he tells me what he has done and what I need to do when I get home. I ask if he'll take a check or if he prefers cash. Of course, he prefers cash. I still cannot leave the Library and I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to get cash. I'm thinking maybe I can scrounge up enough from my coworkers. Then I ask how much I owed him. He told me $43.50! I made him repeat it because I thought I had missed how many hundreds were in front of it. I actually asked him if he was kidding me, and he said no. I almost kissed and hugged him right there, but I restrained myself. I told him to have a seat, and I would be right back with his money. I had exactly $43 plus change in my wallet, so I was able to pay him. At that point, I got his name and number for future reference. Later, Bob told me the plumber was unbelievably good. He tightened up some faucets that were loose, and he went and got a bunch of cardboard to put all around my back porch to protect my pipes from the wind.

When I was finally able to leave the Library, I went straight to Bob's house. I told him that I was taking all my friends who helped me out to dinner, starting with Bob and his wife Sherri. They, of course, objected, but I told them I saved a lot of money today, and I was sharing my savings with them. Then I went to Gwen's to pick up my suitcase and invite her to dinner. Then I called Sissy to invite her. Bob and Sherri and I got in their car and began a search for a restaurant that was open - many were closed because of broken pipes. I forget how many we drove to before we finally found one - and it was only two blocks from our houses. Then we called the others and told them where we were.

It was a great dinner. We told all the stories of my saga, and talked about the painter we had all used, and laughed so hard. We saw lots of friends at the restaurant - since it was probably the only one open.

There is one final event in this saga. The next morning, I turned on my hot water in my tub and proceed to brush my teeth, wash my face, etc that I always do while I wait for the tub to fill. Then I turn around - and the water is brown - not unusual when your water has been off for a while. My hot water heater holds enough for one bathtub and then you have to wait awhile. I couldn't wait for the hot water to heat up, since I was already running late waiting for my clothes to dry. (Remember I hadn't been able to wash clothes.) So I had three choices: 1. Not take a bath. 2. Bathe in the brown water. or 3. Take a cold bath. Which would you choose? Most people I asked chose number 1, and nobody chose number 3. I chose number 2 and was quick about it.

The moral of this story is that it's great to have friends - and it's great to live in a small town like Natchez where everyone is friendly and everyone knows everyone else.

PS - Here's a picture of my house that someone asked for yesterday, but you can't see the side of the house where all the storm windows are missing. I'll try to remember to take one tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Freeze of 2010 - Part I

My sad tale of the freeze starts with my painter. Being financially challenged, I paint one side of my house at a time. For the front I hired an excellent painter, and he did a fantastic job. However, he was expensive. I was having trouble saving up for the second side, which is almost totally windows - my house is brick. I finally talked myself into hiring a cheap painter - figuring he can surely do windows.

There is a cheap painter who has been used by several of my neighbors. Anyone who has used him always recommends against him. What wrong with him? He is sloppy and careless. He is really stupid and can't understand what you tell him. He is stubborn and does what he wants to. He comes and goes as he pleases and leaves his equipment scattered all over your yard. So why did they hire him? He's honest and he works hard when he's there - but mostly because he's cheap. So I hired him.

One day, I come home from work, and all my storm windows have been removed, and all my crepe myrtles have been trimmed totally back - on the sidewalk side only - apparently they got in the way of his ladders. But no sign of the painter. Two months later, my storm windows are still down, my trees are still lopsided, and the painting still isn't finished.

More on the painter in another post. The important thing is I have no storm windows on one side of my house. This house was built over 100 years ago, and the windows allow major drafts to come in. I was doing okay by basically closing off the cold side and living on the warm side.

Then came the Freeze of 2010. I don't know the statistics, but we have had temperatures below freezing for days on end. This is Mississippi, and we don't do freezes. We (and our houses) are totally unprepared. There is only one warm room in my house - the bedroom - but I can only stay there so long. The worse part is my bathroom. It's on the cold side of the house. I have a little heater in there - but it can't begin to fight the freeze. I can run in for quick trips, but going in for a bath takes major courage. Bourbon helps - but not before work in the morning. Washing my hair is like impossible.

I am getting more and more miserable in my little cold piece of hell - but I keep thinking it will be better the next day. This is Mississippi, after all, and freezes don't happen here. But it goes on and on and on. I keep checking my location on Google Earth to see if we've been moved north.

Then the worse happens. It gets even colder. We all think we are prepared: we opened our faucets and covered up our plants. But pipes freeze and then break all over town. I'm quite sure that won't happen to me. After all, when we first moved into this house, my Yankee ex husband went under our house and wrapped all of our pipes and put insulation all over the place, while I laughed at him. (I'm not laughing now.) But it was not enough.

This is getting too long. I'll have to finish this tale in another post.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

The Internet Makes This a Small World

This is a followup of sorts to my post about being an online ambassador for Natchez. Today I ran across an alert for someone visiting Natchez. When I clicked on it, I was taken to Southern Lagniappe - a blog by an unbelievable photographer from Vicksburg. She also has another site with nothing but photographs, which are the most beautiful photographs of Mississippi I have ever seen. I emailed her to tell her how impressed I was. I also posted a link to her photographs on my facebook page. They were a big hit - several of my friends posted them to their pages. Interestingly, while I was singing her praises, she was here in Natchez visiting for the day.

While I was checking out her blog, I noticed that one of her favorite blogs was Merisi's Vienna for Beginners. Those who know me know that my daughter and her family live in Vienna. I have visited that city a few times, and now I love all things Vienna. So of course, I had to go to this blog. More awesome photographs - with poetic snippets of text. They've been appropriately described as "virtual postcards from Vienna". The text for this picture is
Falling in Love
with lavender
in the midst
of a winter storm

In the gardens of
Palais Liechtenstein
8 January 2010
I've emailed and "talked" with this artist as well. Of course, I'm putting my family in touch with her, since she's obviously a fascinating person.

The photographs for both of these sites are copyrighted, and I have copied them with the artists' permissions.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Christmas Angel by Gwen

Once again I put that Angel on my tree, sweetly out of character, on my rather formal-looking tree which is easy, simple and quick to put up, easy to dismantle. And as each year passes I opt for easy: a smaller tree, fewer ornaments and lights. This year I ignored the slight tilt of the top ornament while in years past I have climbed the ladder again and again until it was perfect. However, I will forever insist on a fresh tree!

The Angel is a small bear dressed in remnants of fabric, which my mother used to make a dress for me for a school Valentine's banquet. My mother often sewed for us but when we needed something for a really special occasion we drove for hours to Amarillo, Texas. I hope that when she dressed that bear she knew how special the memory of the red dress was and would become.

So yesterday as I deconstructed Christmas I thought of my mom and how much she loved everything Christmas. I thought about her sweet spirit and her appreciation for the little things in life. Near the end of her life she once told me that she needed nothing more that what she had. I suppose I wanted buy something for her. New towels and bed linens sat on a shelf in the linen closet unused. She was a collector of Depression glass and anything that reminded her of her childhood on the Kansas prairie.

She grew up on the plains of Kansas during the Great Depression of the 1930's in the middle of the Dust Bowl. She was the fourth of five children. Her father was a handsome man whose pride was diminished when welfare workers drove out into the countryside to check on isolated farm families. On one occasion, on a rare visit to town, each of the children were given a small piece of candy and as they walked down the street Mom dropped her candy. My grandfather would not allow her to stoop to pick it up. Sanitation issues were not at the forefront of concern when one has little to eat; she knew it was his pride that kept her from retrieving that prized candy.

The Bear Angel is tucked away in the box with the rest of Christmas's past and I'll get up from here and go to the piano and play Silent Night, Away in a Manger for my mom.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Mississippi Woman Makes the Big Time!

Brandon Mississippi native Sarah Thomas just became the first woman to referee a college bowl game. (See ESPN story.) There are five other female referees in major college football, but Sarah Thomas was the first to draw a post season assignment. That might be because she has the most experience - she became the first woman to officiate at a major college game in 2007. She is also on the NFL's list of  officiating prospects - she's already worked the Saints training camps.

PREDICTION: Sarah Thomas will be the first female NFL official!

Sarah has always loved sports. She was the first athlete (not just female athlete) at Pascagoula High School to earn a letter five times in a sport - softball (first sport). She earned a basketball (second sport) scholarship to the University of Mobile, where she was an Academic All American. She accompanied her older brother to a meeting of football (third sport) referees on the Gulf Coast and decided that's what she wanted to do.

She started in youth leagues and studied and took tests and worked her way up through middle school, junior varsity, and finally high school. In the meantime, she gave birth to two boys. She said she worked the time clock when she was pregnant. In a New York Times article about her,
“The spouses of my crew made me a maternity referee shirt,” Sarah Thomas said, blushing. “Standing out there, big and in stripes has been the only time I’ve ever felt out of place.”
Just when she was about to give it up to work on her career (pharmaceutical sales rep), she was invited to a college officials camp, where she was immediately hired  - because of her excellent skills and performance.

After two years of training and being eased into the rotation, 2009 was her first year of officiating a full schedule of games. And the season was capped off with a bowl game.

Other officials and players have nothing but great things to say about her work. She has a bright and exciting future ahead of her. And she got her start in little ole Mississippi. Time for her to be added to the ads for Mississippi Believe It!

Check out this interview with her and see if you don't agree that she's terrific.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Online Ambassador for Natchez

I decided today that I serve as an unpaid Online Ambassador for Natchez - and I'm not the only one. So you may be wondering what in the world is that?

I'm a great believer in Google Alerts. I subscribe to one for Natchez. Every day, I receive by email a list of all the places on the internet that the word "Natchez" appeared that day. I read quite a few of them. If Natchez is in the news or there's an especially interesting article, I share that on facebook.

But what I really look for are people who have visited Natchez or are planning a visit - and are writing about it on their blog. I will usually leave a comment there. I thank them for coming and encourage them to come again. I may suggest other things to do here on their next visit - based on what I've just read about them. If they have given incorrect information, I politely correct them. If their visit included something they didn't like, I apologize to them - and give suggestions for avoiding that situation. I encourage them to contact me if they have any questions.

People are invariably impressed with the fact that I do this - and I'm not paid for it. They like that I love Natchez so much that I make time to leave a comment. It definitely gives them a positive impression of our city. I also get to know some interesting people. Today I "met" a librarian who is the Director of Digital Projects at the University of Houston, and she offered me some suggestions for the pitiful attempts at digital projects at our Library.

I'm not the only person who does this. I know for a fact that Elodie Pritchartt does it, too, because I see her comments on the blogs. Two ambassadors - now people are really impressed! There may be others that I'm not aware of. Maybe you want to do it as well.

I Can't Tell My Right from My Left

At some point as a child, I discovered that I couldn't tell my right from my left - when all my friends could. I also became aware this was something "everyone" knew. Wow, something was really wrong with me. Of course, I did not admit this to a soul - that would be like announcing you were an idiot. So instead, I developed coping skills.

When I discovered this major deficiency, I was attending a Catholic school, although not a Catholic. My parents thought I was smart and wanted me to go to the best schools, which at the time were the Catholic schools. I certainly couldn't let my parents know I really wasn't smart since I couldn't even tell my right from my left. I couldn't let the school know, because they might have kicked me out - I thought you had to be Catholic or smart to go there. I just had to cover this up.

If there's one thing you learn well in a  Catholic school, it's how to make the sign of the cross. I discovered that I always made the sign of the cross with my right hand - without even thinking. Bingo! Thereafter, whenever I needed to differentiate right from left, I quickly made a sign of the cross. This led to the mistaken belief that I was very religious, since I was always making the sign of the cross at strange times.

Although this technique was a little weird, it covered up my disability. It worked quite well until junior high school, when I was given a ring, which I always wore on my right hand.  The ring served as a very good coping mechanism. It is a lot quicker and less noticeable than making the sign of the cross.

I lost that ring while swimming one time, and I was hysterical with grief. I was quite certain that my stupidity was now going to be exposed to the world. Fortunately, my parents quickly bought me a new ring - just to shut me up.

I kept up this charade until I was in college. I was taking a psychology course and discovered there were other people with my same problem. This was exciting! I found out that this condition is not related to intelligence at all - what a relief! It is far more common in women than men. It has to do with the way you make cognitive maps in your brain. People with this disorder tend to be more creative, are better at multitasking, and can more easily solve complex problems. Hey, this is pretty cool!

I decided to come out of the closet. I publicly admitted that I couldn't tell my right from my left. People looked at me very strangely - after all, I was an adult. But then I looked down my nose at them and told them about my superior skills. What fun! What I noticed is that people (mostly women) began coming up to me and admitting they had the same problem. They felt so much better when they learned the reason. We laughed with each other at the ways we had tried to hide this.

I notice now that lots of people admit to not being able to tell their right from their left, without the least embarrassment. But when I was young, no one admitted it. I feel like a trail blazer - bringing the directionally challenged out into the mainstream.

PS  At no time did I ever confuse right from left politically.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Today is a Palindrome - 01022010

According to Wikipedia, a palindrome is a word, phrase, number, or other sequence of units that can be read the same way in either direction (the adjustment of punctuation and spaces between words is generally permitted).

So if you're an American, today is a palindromic date01/02/2010 is the same read forward or backward. But in Europe, they do the day, then the month, so today is not palindromic - 02/01/2010. If we just use 2 digits for the year, we'll have another on 01/11/10 - but that's too easy.

Palindromic dates do not occur regularly. We've already had one in this century - 10/02/2001 - and we'll have another on 11/02/2011. But before this century, the last one was 600 years ago on 08/31/1380.

Most people are more familiar with palindromic character by character words - civic, radar, level, rotator, kayak, racecar, mom.

There are also palindromic phrases"A Man A Plan A Canal Panama", "Able was I ere I saw Elba", "Was it a rat I saw?", "Dammit I'm Mad".

Some palindromes use words as units rather than letters"Fall leaves after leaves fall", "First Ladies rule the State and state the rule: ladies first", "Girl, bathing on Bikini, eyeing boy, sees boy eyeing bikini on bathing girl". The command "Level, madam, level!" ,composed only of words that are themselves palindromes, is both a character by character and a word by word palindrome.

There are palindromes in poetry, music, biology, acoustics, and computer science.

Semordnilap (palindromes spelled backward) is a word or phrase that spells another word or phrase backwards - stressed/desserts, saw/was, dog/god.

Of course, this day could not go by without someone applying this to Sarah Palin.

Technology Redeems the Decade from Hell

As I lamented in my previous post, this past decade was mostly a disaster. However, in technology, there were tons of positive developments. We have come so far in ten years that it's hard to imagine. And the best part? It keeps getting cheaper - and thus more available to more people.

In no particular order, here are some of the amazing technological ideas that appeared during the first decade of this century, along with my prediction for the next decade. If I left off your favorite, add it in the comments.
  • Although I detest Steve Jobs as a human being, I must give him credit for two of the biggest tech gadgets: the IPod and the accompanying ITunes Store - and the IPhone. Both were revolutionary.
My 2020 prediction: Apple will lose its innovative edge following the death of Jobs.
  • Although I don't own a TV, I know enough to see that the advent of the DVR totally changed television behavior. Unfortunately, it didn't cause it to decrease - Americans watch an average of 150 hours a month. And we wonder why we're so obese!
My 2020 prediction: TVs will cease to exist as a separate piece of equipment. It will be combined into whatever form the computer is taking and all content will be wireless.
  • The bulky TV and monitor disappeared and brought us LCD. At least TVs don't have to take over people's living rooms anymore - something that always grossed me out.
My 2020 prediction: I have no ideas here, but I'm sure they'll come up with something to make us spend money on.
  • Guys who would never ask for directions don't need to anymore - they all have GPS. Sort of removes the "I got lost" excuse.
My 2020 prediction: GPS is just getting started. Merged with mapping and photos, it will really take over our lives, and we won't be able to live without it.
  • Video games have exploded - and I have not participated.
My 2020 prediction: Soon we won't have real lives anymore - it will all take place in the virtual world.
  • Flash Drives have become so cheap that we can carry our world in our pocket with us.
My 2020 prediction: The next big transformative invention is a long lasting, cheap battery.
  • Facebook has taken over the world - and most importantly brought non techie types and old folks on board. It led to Twitter which helped to forment a revolution in Iran - and forced politicians to communicate with their constituents.
My 2020 prediction: Facebook and Twitter may not be here, but another form of social networking will take its place.
  • The Flip Camcorder lets anyone be a videographer - and even become famous if your video goes viral on YouTube.
 My 2020 prediction: All this stuff - phone, camera, video, etc - will be in one gadget and be SO much faster and better - and at the same time, smaller and lighter.
  • Wikipedia provides amazingly reliable knowledge on just about anything.
My 2020 prediction: Wikipedia will still be here - only bigger and better.
  •  Google has provided us with incredible search, the first good online email, online programs for what everyday people need, great mapping with pictures, blogging software anyone can use, and now a new phone. And, they made it all available for free without intrusive advertise. Amazing!
My 2020 prediction: Google will take over the world - Apple and Microsoft will go the way of Netscape. I also predict they will maintain their philosophy that will keep them from becoming an evil enterprise.
Ain't technology fun? If you don't think so, you're in for some tough times.