Sunday, March 11, 2012

Hate, Religious Leader Style

Hate is unacceptable. In my family, the H word (Hate) is akin to a curse. Yup, I don't allow my kids to use that word. You can say you "severely dislike" but Hate is out. I just will not tolerate it.

Hate is bad enough but to choose to show it at a funeral is unacceptable. This goes for folks like the Westboro Baptist Church who seem to think its okay to protest at the funerals of our service people. UNACCEPTABLE.

Another funeral was a made into a display of hate. You can read the story here.

The short story is that Barbara Johnson, a devout Catholic and gay, was at her mother's funeral mass at the St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Gaithersburg, Md. Johnson was the first in line to receive communion but the priest refused Johnson, the sacramental bread and wine citing "you live with a woman and that is a sin in the eyes of the church". Then after gaining her composure to deliver her mothers eulogy, the priest left the alter when she spoke. Last, the priest, refused to deliver mass at the deceased grave site.


No religion is about that much hate. Sure, the priest was probably a "bad egg" in the bunch, but really that much venom shown to a daughter mourning the loss of her mother seems particularly cruel.

Its probably time we all started interviewing our faith leaders. Faith is about peace and in peace there is no hate.

What does your religious leader think? Do you share the same values? Better find out now, because finding out in a time of need can have horrible results.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Car Manufacturers: The distracted drivers friend or enemy?

We all know about the distracted driver. The texter, eater, phone using driver.

We are probably all guilty at one time or another, even the driver who is too involved in the song, audio book or a thought about that little snippy argument you had with your spouse as you were leaving the house at 6am (My opinion, in case you are curious, is that no fight between 11 pm and 7 pm should count, really save those for traditional working hours).

Okay, I will get to the point.

Now the U.S. Department of Transportation wants to get into the act. The DOT
"announced voluntary guidelines to "encourage automobile manufacturers to limit the distraction risk for in-vehicle electronic devices." The guidelines cover communication, entertainment, information gathering and navigation devices that are not necessary for the safe operations of a vehicle by the driver."

Here is an interesting blog post on the topic.

So will the car companies listen? Will you heed the warning?

Last year Volkswagen said their cars were rolling computers. We know the other car manufacturers are rushing to add music, wifi and all sorts of bells and whistles to your next car. Do you really need all of that in your car? Can you just use all those bells and whistles when you are in park or is the inevitable going to happen.

DOTs proposal has no teeth (read that no fines to car manufacturers) in it yet. Its also important to note that President Obama's FY 2013 budget request includes some $330 million over the next six years to fund distracted driving programs (read that lots of commercials). Is there not a better use of $330 million dollars!!!

Again, we miss the logical point. Lets all keep our eyes on the road, admit we do not need a car that is a rolling computer (you have your smartphone) and save $330 million dollars that we could use for something more prudent.

Happy trails!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Frick, Frack…WHACK!!!

There is a thought process that says go for the short term gains (usually money, jobs, etc.), at any cost.

I do not share this thought process especially when it's the environment you are playing with. Especially if it's the environment in Pennsylvania, as that seems to cut a little too close to home (although honestly, I am pretty earthy, and pro- protect our environment kinda girl).

It's for the reasons above, and more, that I just do not understand why we don't stop Fracking. IMMEDIATELY.

In case you have been under the proverbial rock, Fracking is:
Hydraulic fracturing (also called "fracking"), a method for extracting oil and natural gas. Hydraulic fracturing is the propagation of fractures in a rock layer caused by the presence of a pressurized fluid.

Here is the longer definition in case you are curious.

Fracking in our state is putting increased chemicals into our drinking water (yes, sometimes small levels of some chemicals appear naturally in nature but we are not talking small levels here). Period. There is evidence of such harmful chemicals, such as,
a. Benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene (BTEX)
b. radioactive elements including radium, barium, strontium, and uranium;
c. heavy metals including lead and arsenic;
d. high levels of mineral salts such as bromides and chlorides.

So the chemicals are getting into our drinking water thru fractures and because the waste water in the Fracking process, is dumped, without filtering, back into our streams and reservoirs.

Yes, small towns that employ Frackers have jobs and lots of full motel / hotel rooms now, but in under 10 years, they may very well be ghost towns, as the water will be polluted and the jobs long gone.

I beg us the stop the insanity. Call your Senator and Congressman and tell them to stop Fracking.

Here are some resources:

Now we get to taxing it and some safety standards, I am still a no but wanted to be fair…

smarter debaters than I:

and its not just our state:

Lets grab this logic chip and say no to fracking, together, or our children are going to pay for this decision dearly.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Buying Prisons: Can Your State Guarantee Prisoners?

Under the category of really scary...

Corrections Corporation of America, the nation's largest operator of for-profit prisons, has sent letters recently to 48 states offering to buy up their prisons. Okay, privatization of prisons, sort of scary but times are tight. All options need to be explored, or do they?

But wait, it gets super scary...

They want a 20 year agreement, and they want you to guarantee a 90% full rate?

Huh, I thought we want less folks in prison.

But wait, then they are honest, and I will give them that...

"Corrections Corporation's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission clearly point out that business success is tied to a status quo in criminal justice policy.

"The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices or through the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by our criminal laws," the company's most recent annual filing noted. "For instance, any changes with respect to drugs and controlled substances or illegal immigration could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them."


That is not okay. We all want less folks in jail right? And wait, with the recent attacks on public education, could there be a plan? I mean, if you want to keep jails full, certainly not educating folks, is a great way to accomplish that mission.

That is just sick thinking. After all it costs about $30,000 to house an inmate and $11,000 to educate a child per year. Again, do the math, better to educate than jail, not only for the obvious reasons like you want a smart society, but because in dollars and cents, it just makes more sense!

Read Private Prison Corporation Offers Cash In Exchange For State Prisons

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Found: $200 Million Dollars!

So this is the stuff that keeps me up at night!

It's a total disregard for logic.

It turns out that pennines and nickels, cost more to manufacturer than they are worth. Yup, to a tune of $1,000,000 per year, per coin.

Come on! Do we need pennies and nickels?

Read the story here

and even worse, if that's possible, we have the solution...

"Treasury estimates the halt in production of the coins will save about $50 million a year." because we have 1.4 billion surplus presidential dollar coins sitting in bank vaults waiting to be circulated.


Come on, we could spend that $200,000,000 on education, jobs for the troops, anything but wasting it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Lets talk about love...

In honor of Valentine's Day, lets talk about love.

Google will tell you this about love:

Noun: An intense feeling of deep affection: "their love for their country".
Verb: Feel a deep romantic or sexual attachment to (someone): "do you love me?".
Synonyms: noun. affection - fondness - darling - passion
verb. like - be fond of - fancy - adore

But what is love to you?

I grew up with great role models for love. My grandparents, Bob and Irene Kaufman were married for over 69 years. They adored each other and they were each others best friend. They had each others backs no matter what. If they did have a difference of opinion on something major, that was handled when no one else was around. They could laugh with each other even when old age robbed them of physical things they had no desire to part with. They were my families rock and they are sadly missed but they gave us lots of intangible gifts, the number one gift being love and what it looked like over decades and decades.

I try to model my grandparents in my relationship now entering its 29th year. My grandparents had much more grace but as I stumble through and acknowledge all the hard work my grandparents put into their relationship, I realize my definition of love changes and evolves. What I think was proof positive of love before, is now just a relic. There are some givens, but the rest of the love in my life is fluid.

Here is how I define love, both in a traditional sense and actions, because actions speak much louder than words most of the time. This list is in no particular order, my mind does not work like that!

1. Love is shown by "time of service". If you have been with your partner / spouse / "whatever you call it" over 11 years, you love them. Anyone can get thru the first 5-10 years, to make it through decades together, there must be some love.

2. Love is opening the door for the person you care about, even if they can open the door themselves.

3. Love is a good meal, prepared for (takeout included), or consumed together outside the home.

4. Love is telling someone you love them when you leave the house and when you hang up the phone. The more the merrier.

5. Love is supporting your partner in their dreams, even if you do not share the same dreams.

6. Love is sharing money, you can still ask questions about where it all went, but this is the "what is mine, is yours" category.

7. Love is making someone laugh. Call me whacked out but if you can't make your partner laugh, its going to be a longggg relationship (and that is not good).

8. Love is not letting your children play you against each other. Even when they really test you and try really hard to divide and conquer.

9. Love is holding hands or sitting next to each other on the couch, just being close and together.

10. Love is acceptance not agreeing. Don't say you agree if you don't, but the non-agreeance does not mean the end of the world either.

11. Love is standing behind your partner, if you don't agree, save it for home.

12. Love is not sweating the small stuff (just for you Barb).

13. Love is not holding a grudge and getting that we are all humans and are trying.

14. Love is understanding that love is work, that the divorce rate is 50% because lots of folks do not or do not know how to do the work.

15. Love is talking and talking because that the only way you are going to get through it...together!

What is your definition of love? Leave it in the comments, we all have tons to learn from each other.

Happy Valentine's Day, I miss you Mama and Papa (Bob and Irene to you). Your love was one for the ages, and I am so proud to have been around you for so long. xoxo.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Values, and why don't we agree on the easy stuff?

So I know I ave written about PA Governor Corbett's budget recently, but I am still up at night and I am still wondering. Bottom line, I want you to wonder with me. Sorry (not really).

Here a couple of items that seem so logical to me. I want healthy conversation, I want to know what I am missing, where I have erred. Please do tell me.

Why would you cut:

1. Education, K-12: Why, after $900 million cut last year do you take another swipe at Public Education. ALL children are entitled to a free and appropriate education…or is that just for the "good" zip codes?

The link between a poor education and jail time is undeniable, so why not educate (pro-active) than jail (re-active)…oh wait, jails are for-profit institutions, and oh wait, folks who run jails make campaign contributions…oh my!

2. Education, Part 2, Colleges: So if you happen to make it to 12th grade and want to go on to further your studies, POW! You have been cut by 20-30%, thats on top of 18% from last year! Getting that degree just cost a heck of a lot more. Does that mean depending on your zip code, again, education is only for the wealthy. I do not believe college is for all but could a state school not cost $30-40,000 a year? Please.

3. Department of Agriculture: huh, we need food, we need farmers, gosh knows its a hard job. Under Corbett's budget (and in all fairness, Rendell cut them twice too) Funding would be eliminated for agricultural research, agricultural promotion, education and exports, hardwoods research and promotion, and food and marketing research. Boo!!! Farmers are fabulous!

4. Transportation: Our roads and bridges are crumbling, but are not addressed in this budget. Its only going to get worse. No one likes a tax increase, but do we want to have bad bridges?

5. Environmental Protection. The Governor’s Budget cuts every line-item in the office of Environmental Protection. Ummmm, this could be scary.

Why wouldn't you cut, or tax (I know its a bad word):

1. Natural Gas: check that, I don't want to tax it, I want to stop drilling NOW. Its a short term gain in jobs and money for land for a very long time of pain in wrecked communities. The gas is getting into places we don't want it to be in (like drinking water). When folks can light up their faucets, its not good. We are missing the common sense chip, big time here!

2. Businesses. They can take a tax cut if they buy new equipment, despite a resulting $200+ mil revenue shortfall to the state. Huh, could we even that out a bit? Maybe only a $100 million dollar hit?

3. The county having block grants sort of scares me…what if your county does not like your town? What if there is a difference of opinions in what a great town is? Could disparity now become a tool of your county leadership?

Look, clearly I do not have the answers, but I do know the cuts above scare me and are part of the values I hold near and dear to me, like education, kids and our environment. I know no one likes new taxes but aren't some things just worth it?

I liked these graphics on our state budget, sometimes pictures help.