Saturday, November 30, 2013

Love Shopping But Hate Black Friday Hype

Love Shopping But Hate Black Friday Hype

Anybody who knows me is aware of my affinity and propensity for shopping.  I love to shop online. In my former life, I haunted the malls, alleys, markets, factory stores, warehouses, and carts of discards of whatever locale I called home and searched for bargains, deals, and treasures. But I hate crowds and despise hype. To me the whole concept of “Black Friday” offends my psyche. Bargain hunting is noble.  Camping outside a big box store for days and leaving a family gathering for a discount on a TV, toys, a phone or an appliance and fighting with others for the limited offering is – well – unseemly, tacky, childish, desperate, crazy, and gullible.

Really, does anybody truly believe that eschewing family on the day we Americans are supposed to celebrate thankfulness for what we already have to shop for faux bargains is in any way reasonable? 

It is not that I am against rampant consumerism. It is the American way. Other societies create products or build them. Americans build theme parks, export jobs, rely upon foreign engineers to design American goods, and then encourage our citizens to shop. Our society is based upon consumerism rather than balanced economic theory. We do not advocate savings. We do not advocate repairing what we have or renovating our homes or reupholstering our furniture.  Nope – we discard and buy new.

Consider, however, that the connections we have with the people in our lives are really the most precious of gifts. How can fighting over a discounted 25 inch TV fill a void more than sharing a day with our loved ones? I feel sorry for the unfortunates that have no better way to spend the most special of holidays – our national day of celebrating our good fortune – than pushing through crowds on Thanksgiving evening to “score” a tangible item of questionable value at a “door-buster” price. What? A 25-inch TV!

My mother-in-law and I visited a couple of stores in Winchester, Virginia before seeing “The Hunger Games ~Catching Fire” on Black Friday. We avoided the mall like an infestation of plague. We ordered our movie tickets online the day before Thanksgiving.  We each bought a turtleneck at Chico’s. That was it.  The deal was no better than a regular sale.  We found absolutely nothing worth the 50% off one item at Talbots.  The heat in the Coldwater Creek store was stifling and that store has a sale every week. Oh, I bought some birdseed at Wild Birds Unlimited.  There was a sale but I was not aware of it until I entered the store. I just needed birdseed.  I planned to buy it anyway.

So. I shop online in the privacy of my home whenever the muse strikes. It takes minutes. I don’t fight crowds. I do not desert my family. The deals are great because I always search for coupon codes. I get free shipping and seldom pay sales tax. I save gas, sanity, money and pride.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Giving Thanks for an Abundant Life

Giving Thanks for an Abundant Life

While I try to practice an attitude of gratitude on a daily basis for the abundance of good fortune in my life, coming together with family and celebrating the annual Thanksgiving holiday causes me to reflect more fully on my blessings and focus on the people and experiences for which I am most thankful.

Everyday I celebrate having met and married my wonderful husband and soul mate.  We appreciate the time we spend together and we celebrate our individuality and the time we spend pursuing our individual interests and hobbies.  It is a relationship built on mutual trust, love, appreciation, commitment, acceptance, and laughter.

I am thankful that I still have both of my parents in my life. They are healthy, happy, independent, funny and enjoy every day.

I am grateful for my good health; that Lasik has given me excellent eyesight; that I have all of my limbs and they function as intended; that my senses of smell, taste and hearing are fully functional; that yoga has helped me develop and maintain flexibility, strength, balance, friendships with positive minded people, and a focus on living in the present and accepting what is; that my years in Al-Anon gave me the strength to overcome adversity, to begin my journey of healing and self discovery, to accept that I have no control over other people, places and things, and to find hope, acceptance, love, support and a road map to peace and serenity among people I might otherwise have thought I had nothing in common.

I am thankful that I found the capacity to learn from my mistakes, to take ownership for my actions, to appreciate that I deserve happiness, to celebrate the good within myself and to give myself a break when I’ve made less than stellar decisions. Every step I’ve taken or decision I’ve made has helped create the person I am today.

I give thanks to all of the people who have walked beside me on my journey, who reached out a helping hand, who forced me to make my own decisions and make my own mistakes, those who caused me pain and anguish and those who brought me joy and made me laugh.  I am even grateful for the young woman at a seminar in Denver 5 years ago who told me I have nice teeth – for my age.

I am thankful for wine, crab cakes, asparagus, my furry feline companions, indoor plumbing, electricity, automobiles, air travel, computers, cell phones, the Internet, satellites, having been born in the USA, the incomparable experiences I had living and traveling in Asia and Europe, that I finally decided to interview for a job with my current employer the 3rd time a recruiter called, books, homegrown tomatoes, hot showers, cultivating my garden, classical music, sunsets, watching birds at the feeder, the smell of rain, the sound of the ocean, and that I live in a little piece of heaven in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

But I have no thanks for sweet potatoes or yams or liver or possums. Or deer. Deer eat my plants.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

There Must Be Consistency by the Supreme Court ~ Corporations Are People Or Not!

There Must Be Consistency~ Corporations Are People Or Not!

The current issue before the U.S. Supreme Court involves the question as to whether corporations are people entitled to religious freedom with the right to opt out of certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) a/k/a Obama Care.  This article will not comment on the constitutionality of the ACA or my personal opinion regarding its implementation. The fact is, the ACA was passed by Congress and is being implemented.  Critics should just accept that as fact and move on.

My critique is the whole dispute as to whether corporations qualify as people. The answer should be either an unqualified “yes” or an unqualified “no”. It should not situational. The Court should not pick and choose which Amendments to the Constitution will identify corporations as people and which will not. Consistency is the key to legal authority.

In Citizens United, the Supreme Court made the unfortunately flawed decision that corporations are people. In this instance, the Court must either decide in favor of Hobby Lobby and deem that Hobby Lobby as a corporation is a person with the right to exercise religious freedom and rule that the corporation has no duty to provide health care services that its religious beliefs find abhorrent, or overturn Citizens United- realize the error of its ways – and find that allowing corporations to contribute to political campaigns as people actually fosters corruption and the ability of corporations to unduly influence elections.

What will these 9 justices do? We as the American public rely upon the checks and balances of the Supreme Court to prevent the executive and legislative branches from overstepping their bounds. However, the individuals that make up the Supreme Court bring their individual political preferences and prejudices to the bench. Perhaps these 9 justices should reflect upon the prior errors of the Court such as the Dredd Scott decision and Plessy v. Ferguson and reconsider Citizens United. It is either that or allow Hobby Lobby to deny benefits legislated by the ACA to its employees.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Week of Remembrance~ the Juxtaposition of Anniversaries: JFK & Remembrance Day

A Week of Remembrance~ the Juxtaposition of Anniversaries: JFK & Remembrance Day

Over this past week we Americans have commemorated to events that resonate in the consciousness of the people. It is the 150th Anniversary of the Gettysburg Address as well as the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy. However, the media seems to have focused all energies, airtime and column space to JFK.

The 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination in Dallas on November 22, 1963 spawned hours of television coverage, documentaries and editorials by major news organizations regarding the continuing speculation of conspiracies, opinions regarding the legacy, observations on the 1000 days of the presidency, and controversy over the personal foibles of the man who served as president.

During this same week, we commemorated the 150th anniversary of the dedication of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg where Abraham Lincoln delivered the historic speech that came to be known as the Gettysburg Address on November 17, 1863.  In my humble opinion, it is a travesty this anniversary has been overshadowed.

The events of November 22, 1963 resulted in the death of one man. Although he was a popular president of this great nation and his untimely death left a pall over the citizenry, this heinous act of a lone gunman did not cleave the nation, as did the civil war.

When Lincoln spoke those 272 words that would honor those who fought and died for preservation of our union and the proposition that all men are created equal, he set the trajectory in motion that would ultimately result in the civil rights laws enacted by Lyndon Baines Johnson after Kennedy’s death 100 years later.  But for the courageous acts of Lincoln, there would be no Kennedy or Johnson legacy.

Furthermore, the commemoration at Gettysburg on November 17, 1863 began, albeit in some small measure, the healing of our collective psyche caused by the war that divided families and states as well as the nation.

So, from my humble perspective, Lincoln and the Civil War should trump Kennedy.  620,000 died in the Civil War. The battles of Gettysburg resulted in 51,000 casualties including dead, wounded and MIA. One popular president died in Dallas. While I do not intend to minimize the impact of his death, the 620,000 dead over 4 years in the Civil War is far more tragic and the 150th Anniversary of the commemoration of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg should have received equal if not more media attention.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Erosion of Civil Liberties ~ How TSA Treated Me Like a Potential Terrorist

Erosion of Civil Liberties ~ How TSA Treated Me Like a Potential Terrorist

Really~what profile would this woman fall within? Yes, I buy too many shoes and handbags! Not a crime! 

In 1755 (Pennsylvania Assembly: Reply to the Governor, Tue, Nov 11, 1755), Franklin wrote: "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

Like sheep to slaughter Americans are surrendering their civil liberties for the illusion of safety.  Every citizen who seeks to travel by air is forced to abrogate essential rights and submit to invasion of privacy and illegal search as over zealous TSA agents X-ray, pat down bodies, swab iPads and the insoles of shoes and rummage through the personal linens of honest, law abiding citizens who happen to use hand lotion before being forced to strip off shoes, belts, jewelry and underwire bras to enter the sacrosanct halls of our nations airports.

Despite what the ACLU and thought police advocate, when it comes to terror suspects, profiling should be okay. Really, when is the last time anybody has read a news report of a natural born American woman of a certain age wearing Chico’s and Talbot’s clothes, tiger striped loafers, a patent leather carry-on with 360 degree wheels filled with matching lavender leather covers on Kindle, iPad, and portfolio with a Brahmin bag on her shoulder been involved in a terrorist plot? How about NEVER! But yet, at Dulles Airport outside Washington, DC on Monday afternoon, I found myself the subject of an uncomfortable, humiliating, invasive investigation and search AFTER the full body scan because I used hand lotion with glycerin that I purchased at Bath & Body Works. Certain lawn fertilizers used at golf courses and heart medication can provide evidence of nitrates which causes TSA to haul one off bare-footed and embarrassed with all one one’s belongs to a little room for a private invasion of privacy. My only relief came from knowing I had packed nice undies. These TSA agents did not care if I missed my flight. They did not care that I had already been pre-checked by TSA to limit my screening but had been directed to the wrong line. How is it that if I had been directed to the correct line, I would not have been required to remove my shoes, belt of baggy of liquids but by was somehow suspect by proceeding through regular security? How is it that the full body scan did not suffice to show I had nothing dangerous concealed on my person that would be better discovered by a pat down of my breasts and thigh?

I am outraged! But speaking up in the moment would likely have resulted in my being detained longer or even arrested. So I repacked my bag, headed to my gate, and vowed to speak out about the injustice.  I am a descendent of several patriots who fought to liberate this land from tyranny. Individual liberty is one of the foundations of our Constitution.  There is not a scintilla of evidence to even suggest that these abusive actions by TSA and Homeland Security have prevented even one terrorist attempt.

Are you really willing to tolerate this? I am not. 

Please read this report and be enlightened.