Monday, December 29, 2008

Caroline Kennedy and the Kennedy sense of entitlement

Caroline Kennedy and I are exactly one year apart in age. I remember being jealous of her because she had that adorable pony named Macaroni and I wanted a pony more than anything!

I am also blonde and female and of Irish American extraction. That is where our similarities end.

I was too young to really understand what it meant when her father was killed. I am sort of ashamed to admit my father was relieved JFK had died "before he messes up things more." (He was also relieved with RFK was shot, dad didn't like the fact that RFK was in bed with Cesar Chavez.) I remember thinking the riderless horse, Blackjack, was the coolest thing ever.

To this day I am still not sure of the implications of JFK's killing. Would we be better off today? Would we be worse off had he lived? Every night, watching Chet Huntley and David Brinkley bring the nation up-to-date with the carnage in Southeast Asia, my dad blamed JFK for the war in Vietnam. He was no fan of the Kennedys in any way, shape or form, despite being Irish Catholic himself. Dad was outraged Ted Kennedy got away with leaving Mary Jo Kopechne to drown at Chappaquiddick.

I watched, semi-amused, as one Kennedy after another in my generation "answered" the call to public service. Funny thing was the public they served wasn't me. Tax and spend, which is easy to do if you personally have all of the money in the world, lawyers to fight your having to pay taxes, and really, you have never worked for anything. When JFK, Jr. failed to pass the NY bar exam right away, I wondered if his family had bought his way through college. I was saddened when he died though, too young, and he'd barely found his direction in life.

I suppose one could argue that poor Caroline has finally found her calling in campaigning for Hilary Clinton's senate seat. Hey it's cheaper this way! No campaign funding; no buying expensive television time. She doesn't have to really reveal herself to the citizens of NY. What does Caroline stand for? I have a feeling she is like every other Kennedy before her... tax and spend. Redistribute the wealth, from working families to those sitting on their butts waiting for the checks in the mail. What are her qualifications? Oh yeah she's got an Ivy-league education and has been a fundraiser for NY schools. (Doesn't fundraiser sort of sound like "community organizer" to you?) She's never had to work a day in her life, has never wanted for anything (except perhaps her father, because no child deserves to grow up fatherless), and has no idea how real people like you and I live.

Congress and the Senate are a collection of out-of-touch well-to-do people who may have forgotten about worrying month-to-month how to pay their rent. They have forgotten that not everything in life is deductible or reimbursable. They don't worry about the consequences of not showing up to work every day or putting in an 8-hour day (or worse). They don't worry about their kids' educations because they are all in private school (or they can afford to live in a neighborhood that has the very best schools... another tangent here, why weren't the Washington, D.C. schools good enough for the Obama girls? Don't they live in a good neighborhood?).

Wouldn't NY state be better served by having a senator who has lived the real life, who has worried about paying tuition and rent or a house payment, one who doesn't get to jet off to exotic vacations at the drop of a hat, one who doesn't have a rural hideaway (what is she hiding from anyway?) and who worries about day-to-day living like you and I? I wish we could get someone like that as a representative for California, but with the stupidity that abounds here, how much longer are we stuck with Dianne Feinstein and her majesty Nancy "my plane's not big enough" Pelosi? (Yes, I know DiFi is contemplating a run for Cali governor ...)

I am *still* waiting for that damned worker's comp carrier to approve my facet neurotomies. I have been dealing with this since Halloween. What would have happened to me if I'd had a job outside the home and were unable to get to work for this long? The one thing I want in the worst way this coming year is gainful employment outside of the home, a writing/editing job where I get to work with adults and help promote something I believe in. The odds are against me though ... 50-something, disabled, and white.

I will try to be outraged on a more regular basis. I am scared for this nation. Anyone care to bet our incoming president faces impeachment proceedings during his 4-year "presidency?"

Saturday, December 13, 2008


I haven't written in this blog for nearly a week but it sure doesn't mean I'm not thinking abut things.

I am seriously concerned about the messiah's plans for health care and the claim that employer-based health care isn't working. Listen, I know that employers offer health care not because they really care about their employees, but rather it's a way to attract decent employees to the job. Nowadays few people care about other people because "it's the right thing to do." If the messiah wants to expand employer-provided health coverage he needs to speak the language employers understand—tax breaks.

I have a dear friend who is the political 180 of me. We do agree on a few things—leave the gays alone, allow a woman to make a choice about carrying a baby, and stem cell research is something that needs to be fast-tracked. But she feels business and its greed is evil and the only way to fix it is to have government regulate business practices and encourage unionization to ensure employees are treated humanely.

I hate unions. The two I was forced to belong to as an RN did nothing for me when I suffered my career-ending injury. At the first job, the union did nothing for me as far as assisting with modifying my job (in other words, it wasn't a good idea to have me to janitorial work or direct patient care. I was fine for treatments, assessments, teaching and documentation. Nope. Not even when a pair of utilization revue jobs came open did the union step forward and insist I get the job over someone who was not having on-the-job-injury problems.

I also hate unions because of the United Farm Workers, simply because those farm workers who marched alongside Cesar Chavez are still in the gutter while Chavez' family all live in palatial homes and live off of their dues. But I digress.

My friend also has multiple orthopedic problems that require frequent epidural steriod injections. We were commiserating one day and she told me that one of her spinal injections earlier this year was billed at $19,000. Yes, let me spell that out for you, nineteen thousand dollars. It was not a diagnostic procedure, the doctor knew exactly where he was going, and the procedure took 15 minutes. It was performed in a fluroscopy suite (real-time x-ray to guide the needles), and the doctor also had a couple of nurses and the x-ray tech in the room. She put $400 down as her co-pay and anticipated remaining balance.

When she saw the bill she went postal, but she went postal on the insurance company. Wrong organization to go postal on—the question is WHY did the doctor and facility bill that much? Anyway, four months later she needed a repeat of the injection and this time the bill was $6,000. Identical procedure, same place, same doctor.

She can't find out why the rates changed, so she likes to think it's because she negotiated. She's about to have another injection so we will see what this one costs.

I don't see my bills, I guess that is the advantage of worker's comp. At the time I was declared permanent and stationary (worker's comp term for "you are as good as you are going to be"), my attorney told me that my three surgeries had cost the State of California $250,000 (California Department of Corrections). I don't even want to think what that is in 2008 dollars (my last surgery was in 1994).

When I was still working as an RN in the small community hospital, there were several billing scales—MediCal/Medicare, private insurance and self-pay. At that time, self-pays were billed the highest amount (which I always thought was kind of strange; if you are in the position to have to self-pay, either you are Bill Gates rich or so poor you don't have a decent-paying job and make too much for MediCal/Medicare.). I'd imagine that now it's the insured who pay the highest rates ...

So who has the real answer as to why medical care is so expensive? Does the cost of working as a physician justify the rates? Is malpractice insurance eating up doctor's income? My friend tells me it's hard to get a case of malpractice into court. Is that true? Are the insurance companies misleading doctors and holding them hostages by scare tactics (you better pay or else you are going to be sued big time)? I do know that support staff have to be paid for out of the fees we pay our doctors. That charge of $300 for am uncomplicated 15-minute office visit isn't all going into the doctor's pockets. So just where do our health care dollars go and is this really a place for government intervention butting in?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

here's an idea

All this talk of the messiah's "job programs" in green technology is so laughable if it weren't so pathetic. Where will these workers come from? Ah, probably from the same pool of people who are looking for work already ... bet it's not going to get a single person off of welfare, because we do not have the infrastructure to train anyone. Will these jobs be of a livable wage? Or is this another excuse to open the southern border?

I do have an idea for the chosen one. There are plenty of perfectly good middle-aged people out of work, yet for some reason companies keep hiring younger people with less experience, or in the case of the high tech industry, cry about how they can't get qualified workers and import engineers and such from India and China. How about this: let's give employers a financial incentive to retain and hire older workers? We already know we can't trust American business to do the right thing by U.S. citizens, so how about offering those business some sort of tax break for every worker over 45 that they hire or retain? Even those green technology jobs? "Old" dogs can learn new tricks, and some probably learn a lot quicker than a 20-something!

Oh, I'm sorry, that would be a tax break and we don't want businesses to have anything like that during the messiah's hopefully short rule.

Friday, December 5, 2008

well, good news with the back doctor

When you've had back problems for as long as I have, it's just nice to know what is going on sometimes and that something can be done and that you are not crazy in the head or making things up.

I saw my back doctor today. His name is James Reynolds, and he's part of a group that does nothing but state-of-the-art spine stuff. Period. He's been my doctor since eight months after my on-the-job injury at the Soledad Prison. It took me that long to get to him because I was trying to stay local (a big mistake if you are living in a rural area and there are no hotshot doctors who care about publishing and teaching other doctors about the complexities of the spine), but had been released to return to work when I couldn't stand up straight or barely walk.

You see, my diagnostic tests were "normal" in the local doctor's mind. I did not have a big nasty herniated disc that would explain the severity of my symptoms. So, no disc herniation = no problem, and my inability to do anything was malingering. I was referred to the prison's "official" comp doctor who immediately referred me to Spinecare, two hours north of where I lived.

Spinecare's head doctor, Dr. White, had recently operated on the SF 49er's Joe Montana. We know how well that one went. The doctor I was assigned had assisted Dr. White with Joe's surgery, so I knew I was in good hands.

Right off the bat Dr. Reynolds knew why my back hurt. I had dessicated discs, and they were leaking disc fluid onto my nerves. So rather than the pain being due to compression it was due to a chemical reaction. As part of one special but very painful x-ray procedure, I could clearly see what he meant by dessicated—the disc itself looked as if it had been scratched by a cat.

Two months after I found this doctor, I had my first surgery, a two-level laminectomy, which worked beautifully. But I messed it up two years later cleaning horse poo out of a stall. I then had a two-level fusion, fused front and back (nasty surgery!) and then 18 months later, had the hardware removed (a normal thing for that kind of surgery).

So I have had a good 16 years that I wouldn't have had if I hadn't found a doctor willing to think somewhat outside what was then the conventional way of thinking.

So what's wrong with me? Normal for someone who has been fused where I am. The vertebra immediately above the fused area (I'm fused at L4-5 and L5-S1) are not designed to bear the load they now must deal with because the area below is one big fused bunch of bone. So last year I had only one level that was problematic, at L3-4, on the right side. Now I'm at two levels, L3-4 and L2-3, and both sides. But because I had great results last year, there will be no need for diagnostic blocks; they will be able to go right to the offending areas and electrocute the offending nerve. The procedure is called a median branch neurotomy or rhizotomy. It doesn't hurt to have it done; the doctors give conscious sedation medication and not only do I not remember the procedure, it doesn't hurt at the time. It does hurt for about a week, then I am good to go again.

The doctor told me I can have this procedure done as often as I need, and now that I have an established pattern, I can expect about 11 1/2 months of a decent functioning back. And I guess the best thing is I never see a bill! Worker's comp is a pain, but I suppose one could argue I am lucky in that I was hurt when I was, under the old law. I have fewer games I need to play, but worker's comp doesn't move quickly on back procedures anymore.

I sure hope this can be done by Christmas. I want my life back!

Monday, December 1, 2008

as good a day as any to whine ...

I think today is as good a day as any to whine about my employment situation.
As I've previously mentioned, I have a catastrophic back injury which prevented me from working as a registered nurse. Once my back situation was permanent and stationary (a worker's comp term for "you are as good as you are going to be"), I went back to college to earn a B.S. degree in public relations. You'd think that would be a job that someone with a bad back could do, and that a good writer would be in demand.
A couple of years later I returned to college to earn a B.A. in sport management, hoping to gain employment in the sports PR industry, and to add a bit of business and marketing knowledge.
Ha! Ha! Not in this area, especially if you are anglo.
I had been performing a the written PR needs of a community college district for over 2 1/2 years. At the time I was signed on as a contract worker, the chancellor and her assistant asked me to be patient, that they liked my work, and that once they were in a financial position to make the job full-time, it was mine. I'd have to interview of course, but that was a formality. The chancellor, a Latina, repeatedly said that I understood what that district needed and that she liked my work very much.
The full-time job was posted this time last year. I found out by accident. I applied and was granted an interview. I showed up for the interview with a 101-degree fever.
My references were never checked. Each person said they would have recommended me for the position, no doubt. It was one of those rare situations where a person—myself— could do every aspect of the job—writing, simple graphic design, and photography. I knew everyone at both colleges and would have been able to hit the ground running.
The job was given to a Latina who is not only less academically qualified, but who has been fired from several high-profile PR jobs because she cannot write.
Now this person is my "supervisor." And I am expected to help her transition into the job.
And I can prove no job discrimination happened at all.
Where are my rights? Do I expect the messiah to fix this? Heck no!
Anglo people had better watch their backsides during the messiah's rule. Unionization, affirmative action, and "politically-correct" hiring decisions will become the norm. And that sucks.

Friday, November 28, 2008

more musings on Mumbai

As I type this, 160 people are dead and 327 wounded due to the attacks on three locations in Mumbai—the Taj Mahal Hotel, the Oberoi Hotel and the Chabad House, a Jewish center. Sixteen police officers are dead, as are the chief of Mumbai's police anti-terror squad, and two commando attackers.

The dead include 15 foreign nationals—three Germans, one Italian, one Australian, and one Chinese. Murdered Americans include Alan Scherr and his daughter Naomi, and Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg (a native of Israel who had lived in the U.S. from the age of 9) and his wife Rivka (also born in Israel but residing in New York). Seven Britons, three Americans and two Australians were among the injured.

This was no random, spur-of-the-moment attack. A little-known militant group called the Deccan Mujahedeen is taking credit, though United States officials and security experts think a more established group may have been involved. The gunmen had even set up "control rooms" in the two targeted hotels. In a restaurant near the Taj Mahal Hotel, authorities found 17 pounds of RDX, a powerful military-use explosive.

The attackers entered Mumbai by water, and a ship from Karachi, Pakistan is said to have been the source of the smaller attack boats. Methinks India is going to have to do a better job of securing its borders, not only the land ones, but the waterways too. A cautionary lesson about what can happen when your nation's borders aren't secure.

So we have another attack against the "infidels" in the name of God. It's sometimes hard to remember that these extremists DO NOT speak for the majority of Moslem people. I have Moslem friends and co-workers and they are embarrassed by things like this. I don't want my friends to become victims of suspicion and hatred which of course is the knee-jerk reaction we tend to have. That's probably the worst thing that will come out of this mess.

Because U.S. intelligence really has NO idea who is currently in the United States, aren't you concerned that a similar cell of Moslem extremists is in a major town near YOU putting the finishing touches on a personalized attack on America citizens? Sadly I fear a repeat of 9/11, maybe not with jet airplanes crashing into buildings, but I expect the same thing that happened in Mumbai to happen in multiple locations in the U.S. And I expect it won't come out of nowhere, but there will be smaller attacks on European and American soil, leading up to the big bang. And then as things shake out, we will learn the CIA and other agencies knew something was fishy but just couldn't connect the dots.

This is one time I pray I am wrong, but there is reason we study history—to avoid repeating it. And as you well know, we seem to repeat history a lot, never learning much from our past. We are beyond that, many thing. We are far too civilized to do these things again.

God help the U.S.A.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Mumbai attacks

I have been wondering how long it would take for an attack on Americans, albeit that attack was on Indian soil.

As I type this, 101 people are dead and 314 are wounded. Of the dead, 11 are police officers. Nine gunmen (attackers) are dead.

Most of the people killed or being held hostage are Americans or Brits. I have not yet read "who" is responsible for the attack but I suspect it's the same old same old for that region—Moslem extremists. And I also believe this is a rehearsal for a similar dress rehearsal on on British soil, or perhaps Canadian, and then the grand opening will be in the United States. 

Are our borders secure? Do we know who is here and who is coming in? Ah, we don't. We are trusting Canada is doing its job, and we know Mexico is of course doing its bang-up job of keeping its borders secure. Besides, what is there to blow up of consequence in Mexico anyway?

Thus far the U.S. response is guarded and measured. No call to action yet. We are of course having our own problems with the economy and with the transition to the messiah's "government," there is simply no way we as a people are in a position to protect ourselves from what is to come. 

I honestly believe that indirect attacks on Americans abroad will escalate. Perhaps nothing of the scale in Munbai, but enough that we should be aware and careful. After the coronation, it's anyone's guess as to the first attack, a la our Marines who were killed in Lebanon, or the USS Cole , just to see what the messiah's response will be. Of course with Hilary Clinton as Secretary of State, it will be a strong statement about how we are all pissed off and we are going to go to the UN and ask for the offending nation (nation of the terrorists origin) to be reprimanded. Next attack, ask for UN sanctions. Let's talk it over and find common ground. No action, lots of talk. Just like hubby Bill did so many times in his 8 years, finally culminating in 9/11.

Unfortunately there are times the American people expect to be protected by our government but it might end up we need protection from our government.

I have been busy all week writing up community college propaganda. Once that's off my plate I will have more time to share my fears.

Prayers to those lost in Mumbai. I hope the Indian government is able to act swiftly and give what those terrorists have coming to them. Though no doubt those involved in the attack are just dying to become martyrs for their cause.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

so, Mr. President-elect, what job are you creating for me?

The LA Times has an article discussing how the messiah's economic aid plan will create 2.5 million new jobs by 2011. According to the article:

"The plan would include jobs rebuilding roads and bridges, improving schools and building alternative-energy technologies. Details are to be worked out in the weeks to come."

Does anyone else notice that each of these jobs require able-bodied people? So much for "creating jobs" for older people, or disabled people.

Actually those jobs don't need to be created, laws "protecting" us from discrimination due to age and disability need to be actually enforced, with it being easier for the wronged person to bring attention to the employer's prejudices. Even if age or disability discrimination remains hard to prove, perhaps if there was a nice fat file of continuing hiring prejudice with an employer, the authorities already in place would be able to do a bit more for people like me—good brains, abilities, and a desire to do a good job and to earn a living wage, but an inability to build a bridge ... or much of anything requiring an able body.

Someday I will talk about the perfect job that I actually did for 2 1/2 years as contract work, but when it came time to hire a permanent person with actual benefits, I was passed over for a 15-years-younger, less-qualified person of a non-white ethnicity. It is impossible for me to even initiate some sort of investigation as to why someone less qualified was given the job ... 

P.S. Going on two weeks of this back attack. Two more weeks until I see the doctor ... 

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

scary ... and nothing surprising.

How Obama Got Elected

Take the time to watch the video.

No surprises here, I saw strange things at the polling place ... 

Rantings ...

More on Saturday's entry about the Santa Clara killings ...

The perp, Jing Hua Wu,  is a Chinese national who has been in the United States for over 10 years yet still identifies himself as "Chinese." And according to an article in today's SF paper, he and his wife have collected 19 investment properties worth an estimated $2.4 MILLION. In an earlier article, he was said to have earned $110K in the first six months of 2008, and had been fired WITH CAUSE but with a generous severance package. 

AND he has TWO PUBLIC DEFENDERS! When he was arrested on Saturday, he claimed he was too poor to hire an attorney!

The SF Chronicle says:

According to public records from eight counties in three states, Wu and his wife own at least 19 homes and vacant lots worth more than $2.4 million. One house in Arkansas, which is now being offered for rent by Wu, is in Hot Springs Village, the largest gated community in the nation.

...But Wu, after his arrest in the Friday slayings ... told the Santa Clara County pubic defender's office that he could not afford a private attorney, officials said.

The whole story is here:

Isn't it amazing that Wu was willing to take what the United States had to offer, a great job and the ability to buy INVESTMENT property, still identify himself as a Chinese citizen AND when the time comes, does the all-American thing and claim poverty and ask for a public defender? Would he have had half the opportunities the U.S. offered him in China?

He has three anchor babies too.

If he'd done this crime in China, he'd already have been tried and awaiting his date with the executioner, and his family would be billed for the bullet. 

Sunday, November 16, 2008


I suppose I should start talking about my fears for the United States (and my way of life) during the rule of the newly-elected messiah.

First, I am so distressed about people who say "this is the first time in a long time I am proud to be an American," or "I finally have hope." Listen, if things had been so terrible, if you'd been humiliated to be an American, there are other places you can go. Perhaps you should have gone there years ago. 

I do think it's funny that the term "liberal" is used when what being a liberal means is an anything goes attitude, except the government is telling you what goes. Liberal means more government in everyday life, legislating morality (and the ultra-conservative Repubs are just as bad, so I'm not blind to this) and telling us all what is acceptable to think and do. 

So here's today's concern: employment/labor & immigration

I'm a baby boomer who can't get full-time work. People in their 30s are picked before me, even though I have more education and most likely can do the job better than someone wet behind the ears. How many other boomers are in my situation? I know so many high-tech workers, smart people, eager and creative people, who remain unemployed while their former employers demand that more work visas be granted so they can fill jobs. What of the boomers you chose to fire because you felt their benefits were getting more expensive? It's more acceptable to import an unknown person so you can pay him/her less? Shame on the U.S. companies who have bought into this! Claiming qualified workers aren't readily available is as shameful as the outsourcing that's become so popular. Why isn't Big Brother looking out for the good of U.S. workers? I'm hoping against hope the messiah and his regime find a way to take away any advantages to these labor practices—higher taxes, tariffs for each foreign worker admitted into the U.S., and closer monitoring of those workers to make sure they do leave the U.S. when their visas are up. Oh and NO ANCHOR BABIES. That's always their way in.

There is an article in today's LA Times about how happy labor unions are with the messiah's election. They are salivating all over themselves, eager to unionize anything and everything. Look what unionization has done for American car makers—the product is not as good as a Japanese or German-built car (even if they are built somewhere in North America), and the U.S. product is certainly no value for the dollars you spend on it (though my 1998 Mustang with 162K miles is still going strong). And the government is considering bailing those automakers out, which really means that the unions can continue to extort dues from American workers.

I have worked in unionized jobs twice. I hated paying those dues, and in each case, the union did NOTHING for me. I looked for assistance as I kept suffering on-the-job injuries with the first job, and the union rep claimed there was nothing that could be done for me. Thanks for nothing! I sure could use that $200 a month in "dues" you took from me in the 1980s. 

I know of a family whose patriarch worked tirelessly for the United Farm Workers in the late 1960s into the 1980s. He alienated local growers who had previously hired him and his family. When he became too gravely disabled to work or even do union organizing, he filed for retirement—benefits he'd been paying for as a member of the UFW.

He was told he hadn't paid enough in to draw from the UFW's retirement program. Yet Cesar Chavez' family all live in very nice homes, driving late model cars. This man ended up on social security disability AND SSI—something he never expected to do, because he believed in the UFW and its retirement program.

The only people who benefitted from the UFW's union dues are Cesar Chavez and his descendants. I believe the only people who benefit from unions of any kind are the head honchos and the so-called organizers. Their check is in the mail. Where is yours?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Kooks ...

Yesterday in nearby Santa Clara, a recently-fired high-tech employee, Jing Hua Wu, assassinated the CEO of SiPort, the company VP and the HR chief.  I went to bed thinking this was sad and ridiculous and hoped the perp would be found soon. 

It took the cops nearly 24 hours to do so, but he's been caught. He is a Chinese national and I am taking bets as to how long it will be until China accuses the United States of violating a Chinese citizen's rights.

At least Santa Clara county will seek the death penalty, but I predict an insanity defense. I also predict a public defender will be utilized, even though the shooter reportedly earned in the neighborhood of $110K over the past 6 months and was given a severance package even though he'd been fired for cause.

Strength to the families of Sid Agrawal, Brian Pugh and Marilyn Lewis.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

say it isn't so ...

Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State?

*crickets chirping*

Oh my. This will end badly. She's got the tact of a bull in a china shop. 

still having bad back day ...

I'm still having a bad back day going into a bad back week ... and the first available appointment with my surgeon isn't until December. Oh well. Nothing new really, he told me the block might be good for only a year.

My back injury is covered by Workers' Comp, and one could argue I was "lucky" I was hurt when I was. I was hurt under one of the old laws that is a bit more injured-worker friendly than what we have now in California. Not that I wasn't for reform, because during the 18 months I worked as a nurse case manager for various workers' comp carriers, I saw my share of bullshit claims and people milking the system. Perhaps I was lucky because my injury was witnessed and I was a state employee at the time.

Like everything in health care, nothing happens quickly. I'll see my doctor on December 4 and he will refer me to the affiliate group that does diagnostic blocks and the eventual procedure I'll have, a rhizotomy. Sounds scary, all it will do is zap some nerves feeding into the painful facet joints and I'll be relatively pain-free until they repair themselves. 

I hinted that I'd been dealing with back problems for some time before I got the state job. I worked at a small rural hospital that was grossly understaffed and I hurt myself several times doing janitorial work (cleaning up after deliveries once the custodian went off duty at 10 p.m.) and also assisting postpartum women to the bathroom after their deliveries. Not meaning to sound bigoted, but each injury was because of a Hispanic woman, each of whom had birthed several times before, willing themselves to faint dead away in front of their husbands to garner some sympathy. Rather than letting them fall, I tried to slow down their progress to the floor. Dumb dumb dumb. At least I documented every injury and that hospital now pays 40% of the bills associated with my back. The primary carrier I am sure is grateful.

When I was working in the case management field, I had three difficult clients who were champion malingerers. Two ended up being under surveillance for a short time and found to be frauds; the third was vocational rehabbed out of her deli job. They took a lot of time away from my legit clients, those who needed a health care advocate to explain things to them, to keep doctor visits and physical therapy on track, those who wanted to go back to work. 

There was an article in the SF paper about a firefighter who has received more than $100K in back pay who claims to be unable to work as a firefighter but who is able to compete in triathlons. Why wasn't she reassigned to a teaching position if she is that unable to work? She claims a shoulder and thumb injury apparently ... and people like her are the reason cities are going broke (people taking "medical disability" retirements) and legitimately hurt at work people get hassled all over the place. Not to mention our veterans being given substandard care when they can get it at all ... 

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Still a bad back day, but thinking about the CSU cuts ...

I'm still trying to get my wonky back under some semblance of control today ...

There has been a couple of articles in the SF paper about the California State University (CSU) system having its budget cut again, and how the Board of Regents is considering raising admission standards. I have no problem with tightening admission standards because far too many students are utterly unprepared for higher education.

Before you go off on me and say "well things have changed since you went to college," know this. I went back to college to complete a bachelors degree in my 40s. I earned an associates degree in my mid-20s that allowed me to write the state nursing board exam and work as a registered nurse until I blew out my back in 1989. Once my back problem was relatively stable, I enrolled at San Jose State University in the hope that I could obtain a degree and seek gainful employment despite my disability (so much for education equalling employment in my case!). I found myself surrounded by students who were in no way prepared for the rigors of college—the nightly reading and digestion of material, a weekly paper in each class (usually at least 500 words) and the ability to contribute a coherent thought in class. 

I know people who are so academically-challenged that they should have been encouraged to seek a vocational education of some sort, be it construction technology or early childhood education. I do believe everyone has a right to at least learn a trade, and because high schools have suffered backbreaking cuts to vocational programs like wood shop or construction, auto body and engine repair, secretarial or nurses aide classes, that responsibility falls on community colleges or for-profit trade schools. Not everyone is cut out for the challenges of college, but that certainly doesn't make a person seeking a vocational education a stupid person. Far from it, many are quite gifted in their choice of careers. I can barely check the oil in my car, and I am amazed by anyone who can take an engine apart and then fix whatever is wrong, put it back together, and make it run even better than before!

Unfortunately community colleges are busy remediating students who somehow got through high school unable to write a sentence or balance a checkbook. And this isn't just minority students—I am taking a graphic design class and the young white man who sits next to me, who is a whiz at anything on the computer, can't write a paragraph let alone a sentence. And he's looking to transfer to nearby SJSU. He's a perfect example of someone who should be earning a vocational degree in graphic design—and then let him seek work in that area. He's clever and gifted, but if and when he gets to SJSU, he is going to be very frustrated with the amount of writing he will have to do. Wasted resources.

I also know of a gravely learning disabled young woman who was the perfect candidate for a vocational certificate in early childhood education. She loves working with kids, period. Instead, she was babied throughout a community college career with the help of a disability resource center who found tutors who did pretty much everything for her. This young woman has NEVER, on her own, turned in an assignment on time. She transferred to a CSU where she has failed her senior capstone project twice. She's working on it for the third time, and if by some miracle she pulls it off, she's off to a year at a teacher's college, and then of course needs to pass her CBEST. She wants to be a primary or elementary school teacher.

Her education was paid for by grants and loans. Right now she is trying to figure out a way to not have to pay back the student loans. She has been in college for 7 years as a full-time student. 

Should the CSU system decide to raise admission standards and more honestly assess a student's readiness for college, it is a win-win situation for all past and future CSU grads. Right now a CSU degree means nothing, the quality of graduates is all over the board. Better to know that the cream of the crop attended college and that your degree is actually something meaningful rather than a piece of paper that says you took a bunch of classes in a certain area of study ...

Now back to the floor I go, with an ice pack strapped to my lower back. 

P.S. Thank you veterans. Can't say it enough. 

Monday, November 10, 2008

today is one of those days ...

Today is one of those days when I am so rudely reminded why I can't work full time. It's a bad back day. Can't say as I know why, but it is.

I had several minor back injuries at my first nursing job in a small rural chronically-understaffed hospital, and finally went looking for work where I would not be performing patient custodial work (changing beds, moving people from the bed to a chair, pretty much anything that required lifting or prolonged standing or walking). Unfortunately for me I finally finished off my back one night in an ambulance with an inmate who was faking seizures. (I recommend correctional nursing for any RNs who are sick of civilian hospital work. Very challenging, you are required to use all of your nursing skills and wits because there are no physicians on site 18 hours a day or on weekends). The inmate got another 90 days on his sentence for harming me; I have received a sentence of nearly 20 years with no end in sight. And for me, the end would be "gainful benefitted employment."

Prior to my first back surgery, my doctors told me in no uncertain terms that I'd not be going back to work and was gravely disabled. I ended up having three back surgeries in four years.
I've since managed to pull myself together and earn advanced degrees in the hope I'd be more employable. I've found that to be NOT true. It doesn't matter how much better my education is than other job applicants, if I am lucky enough to make it to an interview, my abnormal gait is no doubt enough to scare off anyone.

This same group of doctors told me that once you've suffered a back injury, for some reason your body "grows" a second brain, and it's in your back and it does what it wants when it wants. So even if you are fit and active, and do nothing extraordinary, it can and will choose to act up.

So what will our new administration do for people like me, not gravely disabled enough to be wheelchair-bound, but disabled enough to scare off a potential employer? And don't tell me there's protection under current laws, 'cause that's bullshit. White, female and disabled. It could be worse I guess. I could be a white disabled male ... 

I am going to lie on the floor now with an ice pack and contemplate calling my doctor. At least my injury is covered by worker's compensation.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Things I am happy about as a result of this month's elections

There are some things I am happy about following last week's election.

Even though I knew my presidential vote was utterly wasted in California, there were some propositions I felt strongly enough about to research and ultimately vote upon. 

Proposition 1A, the high-speed rail bond act, passed. I know that right now isn't the best time for California to be spending a dime, but our state is known for its innovation and our environmental consciousness. I like to look at it as an opportunity to create oodles of new jobs, and also gives California a chance to be an actual leader in embracing the use of high-speed rail. Heck, there are trains all over Europe and Japan. It's embarrassing how underutilized trains are in the U.S. as far as moving human beings is concerned.

Proposition 2, standards for confining farm animals initiative, also passed. Of course agribusiness is squealing "foul" and threatening to leave the state. I say those animals who produce our food and become our food deserve better treatment during their time on Earth. I have already given up eating veal because of the cruelty. I don't eat foie gras either, but for a couple of good reasons. One, it's icky and two, I can't afford to eat it!

Proposition 4, parental notification prior to minor daughter terminating a pregnancy, passed (aren't we Californians getting tired of voting on this one?). I know this is an issue where traditional Repubs and I are far apart.

My previous job was that of a registered nurse. I know that not every teenaged girl has a wonderful kumbaya relationship with her parents. I probably would have snuck off and not said anything to my parents in fear of what my father would do or say (teenage girls were sluts, and he was certain I was having sex with every boy in high school even though I didn't date a single one!). My mother would have been an ally but at what cost facing up to my father? 

Yes, it's hypocritical that you have to sign a permission slip for your kid to receive an aspirin at school. However, the consequences of an unplanned pregnancy (or an irate parent learning of that pregnancy) and the potentially more dire consequences of parental anger (or more) if the young woman wants to terminate her pregnancy makes this a bit of a no-brainer.

On the other hand, as this young woman is waking up from anesthesia, she needs to receive a nice little Norplant contraceptive implant in her inner upper arm. Abortions are no laughing matter ... 

Proposition 8, eliminates rights of same-sex couples to marry, unexpectedly (in my opinion) passed. Honestly, I would have thought that all of the people voting liberal democratic would have just gone along with this one. I do not understand how people who were not bothered by Obama's "spread the wealth" and  embrace his idea of required volunteerism for middle-through-college students could not grasp that this is the same as a civil rights thing. I'm guessing the problem is the word "marriage."

Goes to show you what happens when an improperly educated populace votes.

At my polling place, there were people who voted way too quickly. I had my sample ballot filled out and it still took me a good 2 or 3 minutes. While standing in line, my daughter observed that people simply voted for president and then left the remainder of the ballot blank. 

An open-minded friend told me why he voted yes on 8. He pointed out that gays and lesbians in "domestic partnerships" already have a right he does not have. He cannot get his live-in girlfriend on his health insurance. He stated, "when I have the same rights as they do, I see no reason to prohibit them from marrying. Just don't call it marriage." 

I can't say as I blame those who were against Proposition 8 for their protests. It worked for civil rights in the 1960s. What I do think is stupid is celebrities like Melissa Etheridge saying she's not going to pay her state taxes 'cause she's not properly represented in Sacramento. Well if she can do it, so can I! Who are the politicians looking out for me? You know, the ones who are fighting age discrimination, discrimination against disability, and discrimination against being ... white and female and NOT 25 years of age? (In the coming weeks I'll talk about a job I didn't get, one I was 100 percent qualified for, and the person hired is unable to do over half the things required in the job description, yet she is ... Latina.)  I didn't vote for the guy who will be occupying the White House for the next four years, he certainly won't be representing me in any way, shape or form. Best I take care of myself and my meager income by not paying taxes so I can keep a roof over my head, pay for my medications, and have some milk and bread in the apartment. 

Proposition 11, redistricting, barely passed (but at least it passed!). This is so long overdue! Let geography & a region's economy play more of a role in drawing district lines. How can anyone in their right mind think that it's fair to attach an area whose economic base is agriculture to one that is in another industry? And face it, without agriculture, California is in big trouble. The way that district boundaries are currently drawn, agricultural regions are sadly underrepresented. How can anyone think the needs of the Salinas Valley are the same as the needs in Santa Cruz? Even though there is agriculture in Santa Cruz county, most residents seem to forget about the broccoli and strawberry fields in Watsonville.


Saturday, November 8, 2008

Scared Moderate Female: The concerns of a middle-aged underemployed moderate Republican female

I figured it best to wait a couple of days after Tuesday's election to start this blog, just to make sure this wasn't some sort of knee-jerk reaction to what happened in the United States on November 4, 2008. 

Yes, what happened is historic, but in more ways than one would think of at first blush.
I have no problem whatsoever with a black president, but honestly, I figured that person was going to be Colin Powell. Truly a man of integrity, he transcends color and race for me. He was hung out to dry by Bush and his administration and I hate that. Colin Powell is the only reason I voted for Bush in the first place.

I live in a county and city that is heavily populated with democrats—and so many are just blind democrats, spewing party rhetoric just as offensively as ultra-conservative Repubs. When I have discussions with friends about my political beliefs, I have things in common with both parties. I'm pretty much socially liberal but fiscally conservative, and I believe that there are some things government needs to go (highways for example) but things government doesn't need to do (legislate morality).

I'm socially liberal in that I'm pro-choice but not pro-government pays for unlimited abortions and lots of welfare babies! Let gays and lesbians do what they want, as long as heterosexuals have the same rights—that includes insurance benefits to co-habitating couples, just like in a "domestic partnership." My attitude is that God will take care of it Himself someday in His own way... He has given us free will though I am sure He's not too crazy about the idea of humans going to war over in his name.

I'm fiscally conservative in that taxing working men and women to death is no way to go either, and that's what scares me most about Obama. "Spread the wealth" is socialism plain and simple. He should have said "Spread the opportunity." I'm fine with people working hard and reaping the benefits of that hard work. I'm not fine with welfare baby mamas with multiple kids and multiple baby daddies sitting at home waiting for the check to come in the mail. 

I'm for securing the southern U.S. border immediately, but I am realistic enough to know that rounding up every "illegal" isn't feasible or really desirable. I look at this as a huge opportunity to keep the cream of the crop as far as undocumented people are concerned. Send the ones who have been involved in the criminal justice system back where they came from. Even the 14-year-old MS-13 drug runners in San Francisco who have had a field day because of that city's sanctuary city policy.

Automatic U.S. citizenship just because a baby is born here has to stop too, but I don't expect that's going to happen in the next four years. 

I'm a fifth-generation Republican who is different from her father and paternal grandparents in that I don't hate black people with a vengeance like they did. I have worked hard to earn a bachelors and masters degree after suffering a career-ending work-related injury 20 years ago this coming spring. And I remain unemployed and ineligible for social security because I manage to pick up enough non-benefitted contract work so I can pay rent but little else.

I am worried for my future and the future of like-minded individuals who may be in the same place as I am. I'll use this blog to think out loud (sort of!) and four years from now, I hope my pessimism is all for naught.

But I doubt it. 

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