Saturday, April 30, 2022

Colleagues Leaving the Workforce in Droves

 

One of the most emotionally challenging facets of reaching the twilight of one’s career is the attrition of respected and beloved colleagues. Retirements are devastating my industry, as those in the know have anticipated for some time. I have worked in the I insurance industry for 40 years. Few young people are attracted to a career in insurance because most believe it is dull without the opportunities for achieving wealth.  

It is true that only senior executives rake in the dollars; however, I stumbled into life as a Casualty Claims professional and have been privileged to work with some amazing people and handle some fascinating claims. Eventually, I may share details of some more salacious claims (without divulging information that would violate confidentiality). 

One of my mentors retired rather prematurely last week. That was tough. I am thrilled for him, but selfishly sad that I will no longer have such a brilliant technician as a resource. People are leaving the insurance industry in droves. Most companies have been cognizant of the ‘big retirement’ for several years, but did not establish strategies to replace those of us aging out. Instead, many leaders believe people  can be replaced by artificial intelligence. But, the Bots are actually not so smart. The Bots create additional work for the people they are intended to replace.

So, it is difficult to replace those departing in the ‘great retirement’. The institutional knowledge loss is irreplaceable. But, COVID and the failure of many senior executives to acknowledge the altered employment landscape creates additional challenges recruiting new talent. 

In the meantime, we move forward…keeping on keeping on, until we can also pull the plug and move into the next phase of life.




Thursday, March 31, 2022

What is a Woman, Really? Part II A Level Playing Field

 

Stepping back upon my soapbox for Part II of what it means to be a biological woman in 2022. Biological females have two ‘X’ chromosomes.  Biological males have  one ‘X’ and one ‘Y’ chromosome. To date scientists have been unable to alter this biological phenomenon for transgender individuals. Ultimately, this biological factor identifies one sex. Hormone treatment and surgery can, to a great extent, alter one’s appearance and physiological traits. However, I’ve not read any medical studies that have concluded a transgender woman can have functioning ovaries, Fallopian tubes, a uterus, and experience the monthly menstrual cycle, incubate a fetus and give birth. How many transgender women have spent s hours lying on the sofa with a heating pad while overdosing on extra strength Tylenol because of menstrual cramps? Or worried if it was safe to wear white pants? 

Women throughout history have been marginalized, ostracized, isolated, or considered evil temptresses. They’ve been stigmatized  as ‘unclean’ during monthly courses. Some religions requiring cleansing before returning to marital duties.

Women still have to be smarter, more attractive, better dressed, work harder, and overcome stereotypes to achieve promotions in many industries. 

No doubt the decision one makes to transition to another sec is a painful one filled with questions, doubt, confusion and awareness that they are going to experience discrimination from some unaware people. I admire anyone that seeks to be true to one’s self. But, those born with male chromosomes have different biological features that prevent transgender women from participating in womens competitive sports on a fair playing field.

Be all that you can be. But, think about fairness. Lia Thomas did not play fairly in collegiate swimming. Amy Schneider performed with excellence on a level playing field when she delivered an amazing performance on Jeopardy. Amy succeeded using her beautiful mind. Lia succeeded ungraciously using a man’s strength and physical prowess in a woman’s sport that requires physical strength, endurance and lung capacity. There is a difference.

FYI! We loved The Amy Show! 

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Movies to Watch Over & Over

 I grew up at a time when movies filled a huge entertainment hole. I did not live close enough to a venue for live theater. Instead, my dad would sit up with me into the wee hours of the morning while I watched classic films and dreamed of different worlds.

I’m a huge fan of classic movies and some modern flicks that celebrate triumph of the human spirit. I invite you to share with me movies that still speak to you, films you can watch over and over.

Just a few that make my list in no particular order:

The Help

Casablanca

The Thin Man

It Happened One Night

Four Weddings & A Funeral

Pretty Woman

Little Women

Psycho

West Side Story

12 Years A Slave

Moonlight

Apollo 13

Young Frankenstein 

Schindlers List

Silence of the Lambs

To Kill a Mockingbird 

Apocalypse Now

Raiders of the Losr Ark

The n The Heat of the Night

Pride & Prejudice

Fargo

Sunset Boulevard

Inherent The Wind

The Best Years of our Lives

Glory

Carmen Jones

Hidden Figures

Jezebel

Annie Hall

Rear Window

All About Eve

Dead Poets Society

The English Patient

Citizen Kane

The Seventh Seal

Das Boot

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon

Ben Hur

Gaslight

The Maltese Falcon

Training Day

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Daughters of the Dust

Monty Python/ Holy Grail

Coming To America

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Autumn Sonata

So, this is my preliminary list on the day we are ignothe Academy Aawards to watch Hidden Figures yet again. 



Thursday, March 24, 2022

What is a Woman? Really? Part I

 Helen Reddy’s anthem, “ I Am Women”  which debuted in 1971 set the hearts of every woman and young girl looking for agency and a chance for equal opportunity in what was a man’s world hope and courage in what we hoped was a brave new world. 

While I can appreciate and readily accept transgender individuals in my sphere and will argue with my last breath for one to live his/her/their authentic lives, biology is what it is. And it is offensive to those of us who fought for acceptance to top universities, a chance to be hired for a job that was considered the purview of men, compete in fair sports events against other women, the right to apply for a mortgage without a husband or father as co-signer, get a credit card without a male co-signer, wear trousers, get a law degree, successfully run for political office, not be fired for aging, or just be accepted as an individual American with the same rights as men.

I was born in 1959. At that time women were expected to quit their jobs as teachers, nurses or secretaries after they married to take care of the house, husband and children. Divorce was unacceptable. Women could not have bank accounts. Unmarried women were pitied and considered ‘spinsters’. A woman without a husband was considered a lesser being. When young women went to university, it was be,Ives most were looking for a MRS degree. When I applied for my first adult job in 1980 I was a ‘quota’ hire. I was the first woman hired in Indianapolis, Indiana as an outside insurance claims adjuster by the now defunct Commercial Union Assurance Company. The men treated me as a pariah. The wives of adjusters wouldn’t let their husbands eat lunch with me….assuming that a single woman wanted to nab their husbands. The clerical support staff disliked me for trying to take a job from a man. The men took bets on how quickly they could get me to quit by treating me like a servant.

Think about it! This was 42 years ago- a near blip on the continuum of time. Women had been marginalized and treated as chattel for the entirety of humankind. So, yes! We deserve to enjoy what we’ve fought hard to achieve without having biological men marginalize us once again. 

Lia Thomas is  celebrating her true self. But she is doing so at the expense of biological women who deserve the chance to compete on a level playing field. And Thomas does so with absolutely no grace or self awareness. 

This is heinous. 

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Surviving Savannah by Patti Callahan ~ A Book Review


From the first lines I was mesmerized. I love historical fiction, Savannah, the early 19th Century, tales of shipwrecks and miracles of survival, the alternating time frames, triumph over tragedy and loss. This story has it all. And Ms. Callahan tells it beautifully. 

To discover that the Pulaski was a real steamship that sank and that some of the characters are loosely based on real people made it all the more intriguing. Now, I’m starting to research the real story based upon first person accounts. 

One of the best books I’ve read in a long time. 

A big thank you to Bookbrowse.com and Netgalley for a courtesy copy in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, March 14, 2022

The New Oil Crisis - Did Biden Forget the Gas Lines of the 1970’s?



Apparently Joe Biden has forgotten the gas lines of the 1970’s when America was dependent on OPEC for fossil fuels and we were faced with the Iran hostage crisis. No doubt it is a convenient lapse of memory based upon his apparent need to keep the members of the  squad, who weren’t alive during the ‘70’s, in his corner. Or, more likely, dementia. 



Whether one loved or hated a Donald Trump, he guided the USA into energy independence. The first thing Biden did after his inauguration was to crush energy independence in a misguided effort to enact green energy legislation on an accelerated trajectory. Apparently, Biden and his climate change activists have either ignored or really have no appreciation of the actual American geographical landscape. Really, Will alternative energy really be effective for transportation in Texas, Wyoming, Montana or Alaska? Not in my lifetime. Those who lead the charge for green energy do not depend on their vehicles for commuting or basic travel. 

While Kamala Harris can express excitement over funding for electric school busses, how well will that work in rural areas? What about those of us who commute hours and 60 + miles for work? I personally do not want to risk my life traveling on a green airliner for a 15 hour flight from San Francisco to Tokyo. It is not as if one can charge a jet in mid flight. 


Now, thanks to the Biden energy debacle, we are once again dependent on foreign oil and natural gas. Instead of energy independence. Biden is begging despots to increase production so that we can import and support corrupt regimes. 

Really! I agree that planning for alternative energy sources is a noble goal. But it won’t happen overnight. Think Texas during the big freeze of 2021 when windmills froze solid.

Idiocy. Pandering. Shortsightedness. A blind eye to reality. Dementia. Take your pick. Apparently, Biden & Company do not understand that people won’t return to city offices if it costs an arm & a keg to commute. 

Sunday, March 13, 2022

~The Tragedy in Ukraine Should Not Be Allowed To Continue~

 


After WWII there was a global belief that such carnage must never be allowed to happen again. yet good people stand by and watch the atrocities on television, YouTube, iPhone and satellite image  unfold minute by minute, missile by missile, bomb by bomb, attack by attack and bullet by bullet as people are massacred and towns are destroyed by war criminals. It has happened in Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, the Balkans, Vietnam, China, Israel,  Georgia, and Chechnya in my lifetime. This wasn’t supposed to be possible. Humans were to have learned after WWII that killing on a massive scale violates every international law. But, the political realities result in handwringing,  moral outrage, ineffective sanctions and juggling political expediency over what is right.



One would have thought that 160 years after Alexander Gardner published the first photographs of battlefield dead in the aftermath of Antietam in 1862, that humankind would have developed strategies to avoid such bloodshed. But, that has not happened. Today the world watches helplessly, with disgust, as Russia attacks a sovereign nation that is not a part of NATO while governments twiddle their thumbs and make excuses for failure to do what is necessary to support the people of Ukraine. 

How can anybody with any sense of morality allow this to continue! Ukraine is a free country with a democratic ly elected government, peopled with individuals who grew up without the specter of totalitarianism governing every facet of life. Think! If it can happen to Ukraine, where people were living a month ago just as we do in the USA, it can happen anywhere. 

Of upmost concern, a recent poll of American citizens revealed that many young Americans would refuse to take up arms to defend the homeland should something similar happen here. Wow!  Biden and his ‘green new deal’ cronies should hide in shame. I guess ‘never again’ was just a slogan. 



Friday, March 4, 2022

Sanction Russian Oil Now! Do Not Abandon Ukraine

                 

When bad men combine, the good must associate: else they combine, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle~ Edmund Burke

I am appalled and embarrassed by the response of the Western World. Yes, I understand the reluctance to impose a no fly zone over Ukraine. But, my thoughts of the horrendous acts of Hitler come to mind. People turned a blind eye to the genocide and criminal acts of Hitler and his acolytes until war came to Pearl Harbor. Every military strategist believes that Putin will not hesitate to use illegal weapons to subjugate a democratic nation. 

We watch, with heavy hearts, as Putin bombs a peaceful democratic nation filled with a free people who lived as we Americans live just a few weeks ago. Yet, all Biden, his climate mad progressives, and Western European nations really appear to care about is the continued importation of Russian oil. Yes, petrol is getting more expensive. But, I would bet that most westerners would prefer to drive less, fly less and turn down the heat in their offices and homes than watch with horror that is televised live as the brave Ukrainian people barricade themselves, hide underground, fight without sufficient arms, and listen to President Zelenky’s  pleas for help.

The US has engaged in stupid wars in the past with the philosophical belief that Communists should not encroach on other lands. Examples: Korea and Vietnam. Those countries did not have the critical geopolitical place that Ukraine holds in the modern world. The fact that John Kerry is more concerned about climate change than an illegal invasion of a European sovereign nation says horrible things about our current government priorities. 

I am angry. I have more respect for Zelensky and the German chancellor than any figurehead in Washington. And the idiocy of a Kamala Harris makes me cringe.

Send planes. Establish a humanitarian no fly zone. Offer Russian soldiers amnesty in the West to defect. Do something other than wring your hands, speak platitudes, and apologize for being weak. Call Putin’s bluff. 

Monday, February 21, 2022

Peach Blossom Spring by Melissa Fu. ~ Book Review



Beautiful & Timely
Peace Blossom Spring is a beautifully written story about family ties, the effects of world, civil war when it is impossible to know who can be trusted, a mother's strength and determination, the value of stories that resonate throughout a lifetime, resilience, memories, happiness in small things, and the immigrant experience in America. 

So much of this saga feels personal. I had the good fortune to spend two years in Taiwan followed by three years in Hong Kong and had conversations with people who lived through much of what Renshu and Meilin experienced in Peach Blossom Spring. The fears of government retaliation against family if one says the wrong thing. The identity crisis of what it means to be Chinese, how foreign students visiting China were treated as foreign dogs, how the Taiwan people never truly rest while PRC continues the threat of reunification…a nightmare of more than 70 years. 

I love the stories from the precious scroll that Meilin tells Renshu through their journey. 

And this quote makes my heart sing: "Within every misfortune there is a blessing and within every blessing, the seeds of misfortune. And so it goes, until the end of time." I usually pass along books to share with others. But this one I will keep.

Thank you to Bookbrowse.com and  Publisher Little Brown & Co. for a free copy of the galley in exchange for an honest review. Peach Blossom Spring will be published in the USA in March 2022

https://www.bookbrowse.com/reader_reviews/details/index.cfm/ref/rr49387



Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Disheartened by Continued Political Division

 

The current political climate in the USA continues to baffle me. We are a people who engaged in revolution to become an independent nation where all people have the opportunity to be who they want to be. Yes, we have a sad history that did not recognize the freedom of all. But the strides we’ve made brings joy to my heart. I truly believe that most Americans believe in the words of the Declaration of Independence that all of us are created in the eyes of God as equals. 

There have been dark periods. But…today, I still believe that there is no where else on earth where the individual can overcome birth and achieve whatever he or she aspires to achieve. 

Think! 60 years ago it was a triumph that John F. Kennedy, a Roman Catholic, was elected President. That was barrier breaking. LBJ passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That was barrier breaking. Barack Obama was elected President twice! That was barrier breaking. Most people that voted against Obama didn’t care about his race. They disagreed with his political views.

Yes, there are troglodytes among us. There will always be narrow minded idiots. We will never agree as a people on every issue. That is the human condition. 

But, consider what it would be like to live in China, Russia, Afghanistan or Iran where there are no civil rights. Imagine living in Ukraine or Taiwan or South Korea where other despots want to invade and usurp legitimate governments. I have lived in those at risk countries. I loved Hong Kong and cry for the people being repressed and subjugated. I cannot imagine the people of Taiwan being controlled by PRC. 

We have freedom. It is not perfect, but I defy you to give an example of a better place to live, a place with more freedoms and more opportunities to be who you want to be. It is easy to criticize if you’ve not experienced the worst the world had to offer. Really, take a bus tour of a major capital where they drive by a prison and caution that anyone arrested will never leave alive. Watch the movie Midnight Express, based on fact, it will open your eyes.

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Capitalism With a Conscience

 

I believe in capitalism with a conscience. My husband thinks I should refrain from political commentary in this hyper sensitive age to avoid potential professional backlash. But, that is not how I am wired. My parents never stepped away from the fray if they held strong feelings. I’ve lived in Taiwan and Hong Kong. The saber rattling by Peoples Republic of China ( ‘PRC’) is at its most distressing since Tiananmen Square. At that time I was an expatriate living in Taipei. Taiwan was a fledgling democracy that had made huge political and economic strides since that time. Hong Kong was the most capitalistic place I’d ever experienced. The energy of the place was thrilling. I loved every second of my three years in Hing Kong despite personal turmoil. 

The British and PRC made a deal to preserve the freedoms of Hong Kong for 50 years. PRC has breached the agreement. I am not surprised. PRC never intended to comply. PRC has always threatened Taiwan and refuses to recognize Taiwan as a free and independent Republic. The western world has failed Taiwan and Hong Kong by pandering to PRC for money. It is a disgrace. It is inconceivable that any free government with any sense of honor would continue to support this oppressive regime. 

Apparently few remember the Cultural Revolution, the starvation of millions of citizens, the reeducation camps, the theft of personal property, the execution of intellectuals, the continued theft of intellectual property, and the wrongful arrests and repression of private citizens that oppose freedom. 

Coca Cola, P & G, the NBA, Nike, NBC, the Biden’s and multitudes of other American corporations do not need China to return dollars to stockholders. Pandering to China is anathema to the American psyche. The only explanation is greed. Pure and simple greed. I will not watch the Olympics. I will not buy goods from pandering organizations. 

And anybody who ignores the plight of the Uyghurs is no better than those who turned a blind eye to Hitler. Shame!


Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Geography Does Affect Ideology

 

This afternoon I enjoyed a great conversation with a colleague who grew up in New York State and went to university in Ohio. While it began as a business meeting, the chat morphed into the way people raised in different parts of the USA think about some politically divisive issues based upon their individual experiences. 

My colleague that was raised in New York had never known anyone who’d owned a firearm. His college friends, raised in the heartland of America, were raised with firearms, hunting, target practice, self defense and support of the Second Amendment. 

My colleague talked about the different views of fellow students on issues regarding voting rights, firearms, stand your ground laws, federalism, immigration, and other issues that tend to divide Americans.

We talked about the fact that we Americans view the Country through the lenses of our individual experiences. This is something lost on politicians and political activists.  Y colleague, having attended university in the Midwest, maintaining friendships with people he met from backgrounds completely different than the ideology with which he was raised, learned to appreciate another perspective. His Ohio friends were amazed that he, being raised in New York, had never been hunting or even touched a gun. He, one raised in a state that restricted ownership of guns was amazed at how easily midwesterners talked about hunting, target practice, self defense and abrogation of rights. 

Those who vilify fellow citizens with different ideology, opinions, life experiences and political views have more than likely never taken the time to get to know those on the opposite end of the spectrum. But listening, engaging, discussing with an open mind and with friendship provides the perspective that so many lack in our polarized society. 

Despite what one may think, there is room for different viewpoints, approaches to life, and political affiliation. The key is to refrain from trying to force solutions for a one size fits all. People in Indiana or Kentucky will likely always have views that differ from citizens of New York or California. What is critical is to appreciate that there is room in our republic for those with different views. You can choose to live in Texas or New York. But the citizens of each state have the right, under the Constitution, to apply laws that serve its citizens. It is not one size fits all.

So, if you live in a liberal state, pay your exorbitant taxes to support your unions, schools, mandates, enhanced state funded programs. But, don’t expect those in Texas, Florida, Wyoming or Indiana to pay additional federal taxes to support the subsidies for your welfare state. That is the beauty of federalism. 

Monday, January 17, 2022

My husband has Omicron

 


My dad is almost 90. My in-laws are in their late 80’s. My sister has lupus. My brother has myriad co-morbidities. I’ve spent the time since late March 2020 hibernating to avoid the potential of infecting my loved ones with less advanced immune systems than mine. Todd and I have  been fully vaccinated. We’ve followed the protocols. But, each variant changes the playing field. 

There have been breakthrough infections. My unvaccinated brother with multiple co-morbidities likely contracted COVID traveling to Texas. We feared for Dad. He said he sprayed every surface with Lysol.

 My well vaccinated husband believes he contracted Omicron flying to LA. He’s been down for the count since Friday night. The cats and I have tried to pander to his needs at a distance. 

But, I was overwhelmed with tears this evening, thinking about the risk to my dad,  my in-laws, my friends, just because we are living our lives. 

I do not believe in mandates. I am confident that my focus on health, exercise, wellness, and nutrition will protect me from contamination. But, there is no guarantee. So, I send positive energy to the universe, ask my Dad to protect himself, and take each day as it comes. I cannot withdraw from the world. Living involves risk. So, I will accept the risk of living in this crazy world of 2022 and take each day as if comes. 

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Welcoming 2022 With Positivity~

 My mom’s funeral took place five  years ago on New Years Eve. Since that time I’ve struggled with the holiday season. My mother loved Christmas. She decorated the entire house from head to toe including multiple trees and nativity scenes. We haven’t put up a tree or decorated since 2016. It has been too painful. 

But as 2021 came to an end, I started to emerge from my self-imposed holiday hibernation back into the light, resisting my personal disenchantment and the global COVID negativity. I decided to embrace the world despite the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, sing songs of joy, experiment with new ways to celebrate, substitute friends for family for gatherings, let go of things and people over which I have no control, and celebrate life.

This recipe worked for us. We enjoyed a lovely weekend in Richmond, Virginia with fabulous food, two amazing exhibitions at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts…Ansel Adams and Man Ray. What sublime mastery of photography!  

We explored a couple of wineries we’d not previously visited. I went to a matinee alone to experience the joy of West Side Story 2021 followed by my first manicure and pedicure in two years. And who can dispute the blessings of a well functioning septic system! 

Christmas evening we had the pleasure of sharing with a beloved friend, our goddaughter, her partner, some new friends and delightful furry critters. 

To end the second year of COVID, I had the fortuitous good fortune of visiting Ulta for the first time in an age only to discover I had $317 in bonus points I HAD TO USE by end of 2021 or lose them! I had no idea!  That I showed up just in the nick of time to use my $317 in free makeup /skincare is a message that good times are ahead! It took me 90  minutes to figure out how to spend it….but I did. This was a sign!