Friday, December 07, 2007

Why Some Men are Threatened by Hillary

As a conservative woman, I dislike some of Hillary Clinton's policies. I was also disappointed when she chose to "put up and shut up" when it came to her husband's peccadillos. I saw this as a sign of weakness, and I dislike weakness. She is also pro-abortion (I am not) and tends to favor more social programs than I do.

These are my reservations about Hillary Clinton, and I am always happy to discuss them with anyone.

However, there are many men who are self-styled 'conservatives' who are hardly conservative in their approach to Hillary. Such men speak about and refer to Hillary as they never would about her male counterparts. Instead of behaving as intelligent gentlemen, they are instantly reduced to white trash when Hillary's name is mentioned.

Why is this?

I've seen the t-shirts that say "Hillary, get in the kitchen and make me a sandwich." I haven't seen any that tell Barack Obama "Barack, go back to Africa" or ask Mitt Romney "Mitt: Where are your other wives?" And even if such t-shirts existed, those sayings wouldn't be attacking the candidates from a sexual perspective, as Hillary is being attacked.

On the internet, the name Hillary Clinton is often associated with such sexist put-downs as bitch, c***, whore, etc. However, you'd be hard-pressed to hear any of the male candidates called a prick, a dick, or even an asshole. Their beliefs are attacked, their sex is not.

I've heard Glenn Beck (who I otherwise respect for the most part) do an imitation of Hillary in a shrill fishwife voice. I've heard Rush snidely refer to her repeatedly as Mrs. Clinton, as if she has no claim to the throne based on her own merits.

Of course Rush makes other less oblique references to her, as well. Today, as I was radio-surfing, I heard him state that the only reason Hillary (and all women of her generation) went to college was to find a husband! And yet, I remember reading that Hillary was a brilliant scholar. I also remember that she graduated: Why graduate if your only goal is to catch a man? And what of the women who went to college after they married? Was their goal to find two husbands?

As the snot-nosed bully on the playground would say, "You're just a girl!"

What about Elizabeth Dole and Margaret Thatcher? What about Ann Coulter, darling of the right? Are they only girls, too?

This conservative male attitude is serving as a real eye-opener to many of us conservative females. If the worst that can be said of Hillary is a sexist put-down, obviously being female is a greater sin than being liberal. And this places many conservative males only slightly higher than the Muslim fundamentalists who believe in subjugating women through severe restrictions, female genital mutilation, and societal pressures.

How many women can remain quiet, knowing what their sons, husbands, and fathers are saying about Hillary? Do they not realize that such disdain is also levelled at them? For surely a man who believes that being a woman is a greater sin than liberalism will also see the women in his family as being a little less-than-human.

My mother is only a little older than Hillary. She and many other women of her generation didn't go to college to find a husband. They went to learn, better themselves, and come out as richer human beings. Having questing minds, these women worked their way into the workplace, sometimes doing the job better than their male predecessors. Many stayed at home, where the work was even harder.

These women enriched our lives due to the concepts they learned and the experiences they had in college and in the business world. It may shock some men to hear that many of these women became successful not simply because of the men they slept with, but due to their own merits instead. In fact, my mother just became a published author whose book can be found on Amazon and in bookstores.

Oh, but that's right: She's just a girl.

So why are some men so bent on attacking Hillary's sex? I had thought such barbarism went out in the 1970s. However, apparently such disdain runs deep in the psyche of less-intelligent males.

Do you remember the schoolyard bully that I mentioned earlier? Of course you do: Every school had at least one. Well, what do you remember of that bully? You probably remember he was pretty stupid and no one really liked him.

As we grow older, we realize bullies picked on others because they felt so terribly inadequate. In order to feel better about themselves, bullies need to view all others as lesser-beings.

Obviously the men attacking Hillary in this way feel threatened. And they're not threatened by her ideas, or they'd be attacking the ideas instead. No, they're merely threatened by her sex: "The Little Woman has arisen and she's uppity! Doesn't she know her place? Her place is beneath and behind us, or we will find ourselves last in line!"

The bully's solution is to attempt to denigrate Hillary in any way he can. And if Hillary can be treated this way, what will happen to the rest of us women who dare to state our sometimes unpopular views? Are we destined to be bullied, too?

As Margaret Thatcher once said "If you want anything said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman."

Oh, but that's right: She was just a girl.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Lack of Shopping This Season

Today I'm not going to bemoan the commercialization of Christmas, or how we have to use the word 'holiday' in substitution of the various holy days we celebrate this time of year.

But, I do a lot of shopping at discount outlets for goodies to sell on Ebay and I have to say I've been shocked to see how few people are shopping at this time of year. And, those who are shopping are carrying far less parcels than they did last year.

And yet, as the government cheerfully tells us, employment is at an all-time low! What they neglect to mention is that people who used to have high-end high-paying jobs are now employed at McDonald's.

Yup! Unemployment's at an all-time low: So are our salaries.

So it's no wonder that when you walk through Macy's you can hear your footsteps echoing throughout the vast cavern of glittering holiday-themed outerwear and assorted tchochkes. However, try to elbow your way through a Dollar Tree to get a simple pack of tissue paper, and you'll find out where everyone is buying stocking stuffers this year.

Even our local outlet stores are offering additional discounts off their already low prices and many people are agreeing to forgo gifts this season. In fact, my parents, Sonosaur and I have an agreement to go out for a very elegant meal at a 5-star restaurant, instead. It makes sense for us, since we all have what we already want and need: What's the use in receiving one more sweater, one more necktie, one more Christmas ornament?

The shoppers look different, too. They have an almost haggard look about them, as if they are worn out from pinching pennies too fiercely. There are few smiling faces, no carefree swinging of bags, and a look of intense concentration as they carefully compare merchandise: "Should I spend the extra $20 for this sweater? Is it really worth the extra money?"

Perhaps as we near Christmas, we'll see a difference. But for now, there is a dearth of happy Holiday shoppers.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Why I Didn't Write Last Week: The Mobile Home

As most of you recall, I had a nightmare tenant who had been a former friend. When she was evicted (read more about that decision here), she left destruction behind. I've had to hire two people and the three of us have been working on fixing the entire wreck.

Here are some pictures of what she and her son did (I'll be posting the 'after' photos when we're finished). I made them to document her destruction for court, but the notes are specifically addressed to her. This is the Augean Stables, trust me.

The funny thing is that I had never wanted to be a landlord. This was supposed to be only temporary, and I was helping a friend out. As my grandmother always said, no good deed goes unpunished.

The mobile home park management says they’ve brought this repeatedly to her attention. From the way the glass lies, it is apparent that it was broken from within the home. Shards are laying about outside.

Here are a couple shots of the brand-new carpet which had been installed for her. Please note that these pictures are easily enlarged and do illustrate what she already knows to be true: This is a true mess that will need to be steam-cleaned. Potentially, the carpet may be ruined because we cannot be sure if that long black stain can be cleaned, as we don’t know what it consists of. Due to the state of the carport, I’m sure it’s possible that it’s motor oil.

Here an entire kitchen cabinet door has been ripped off and is nowhere to be found. I have been forced to go buy 4 doors to replace these doors, as it is impossible to find another door that will match the original three.

These holes are not due to termites, as my pest control experts could testify. They’re due to someone having applied tape to the ceiling in places. In other places, it’s just obviously been picked at. Because both Mom and son were on drugs, it was probably done while they were high and sketchy.

Now we come to the new closet which had been installed for her in the living room (she 'needed' more storage space). Apparently someone had gone inside the closet and exerted a great amount of force outwards, resulting in the entire wall being pulled away. Seams were ripped open, and cracks were evident. A hole was punched into the base of the closet.

Now we come to the satanic (and just strange) drawings which occupy one of the panels in the bedroom. Again, this was freshly painted before she moved in and we had a discussion about her son drawing on the walls. This discussion didn’t prevent him from sticking up rock bands, sexually explicit lyrics, and satanic pictures on another panel in there, however, as the next picture shows.

Incidentally, many of the brand new knobs were ripped off, and one was dented and mangled beyond use. I will now have to purchase new knobs and hardware to replace what has been lost.

Here’s a shot of some of the garbage which she left behind. This is only what was between the refrigerator and kitchen counter…

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. So what does this filthy refrigerator say? The lady who is cleaning the place gagged over this one.

As I told her... thanks for the used toilet paper wadded up on the toilet paper dispenser. That was a particularly nasty surprise.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Logan is a 13 year old boy who lives on a ranch in a very small town in Nebraska. He called a Christian Radio station to share his story - he was distraught because he had to kill a beloved calf.

What I hear repeatedly echoed by everyone who's heard this is "his words have wisdom beyond his years." I think you'll agree. Even those of you who are die-hard atheists will probably find this touching.

Listen to what Logan had to say here

I will write more tomorrow! See you then!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I'm Not Dead Yet!

Contrary to popular belief, I'm not dead yet! More on what's been tying me up tomorrow...

Monday, November 19, 2007

Deader n' a Doornail

My next door neighbor died Friday night. It's really affected so many of us who loved "Sam" and yet had mixed feelings at the same time.

Sam was an energetic 64-year-old who had an exciting and weird life, and was dynamic with a funny, sarcastic sense of humor. His failings were his alcoholism, smoking, and addiction to anything that would get him high. His tall tales were never guaranteed to be true, but they were always entertaining. He had a long-suffering wife who alternated between adoration and exasperation.

When Sam began to have intense back pain in the early part of this year, everyone initially assumed it was just an old problem that had resurrected itself (he had had back surgery previously). Incompetant doctors misdiagnosed him until it was finally discovered that he had bone cancer.

It was downhill from there.

Sam himself had been part of my personal chaos, as well as the chaos he caused with others. However, I would never have termed his motives as malignant. No, he was removed from such an emotion.

Sam wished everyone well, but wished himself even better. He was a people pleaser when he wasn't pursuing his latest fix. Puzzlingly, he was a hard worker, and quick to help me when repairs or light construction work were needed. He could work harder than a 20-year-old, and he could party harder, too. Because of this, he eventually went into collusion with an ex-boyfriend of mine, and they both grew their addictions together for a while, conspiring to deceive me throughout the process.

However, Sam was also genuinely shocked and remorseful when he saw how devastated I was once the truth was revealed. And when he saw my ex-boyfriend on the road to recovery a year later, he couldn't have been happier.

Coming from a large American Indian family, Sam had some wonderful stories to tell, and would talk about the log cabin he lived in as a boy. He once told us of the time that there was a death in the family when he was only a young boy. Family came from all over to attend the funeral, and the senior members got the beds, so Sam found himself stretched out on a mat for the night, with the corpse in the coffin on the porch just outside. What particularly frightened Sam was the fact that the corpse was just on the other side of the wall, and he had a very difficult time sleeping through the night. He never forgot that particular terror and, perhaps because of this, he always had a fear of death.

Sam was also a handsome devil who had had at least three wives, four children, and three stepchildren. He was rugged, with a marvellous, full mustache that he was inordinately proud of. Because his four children had little to say or do with him, it's fair to say that he brought chaos into their lives as well and that as they grew up, they did their best to minimize it by distancing themselves.

As Sam would have said, he's now deader n' a doornail. I only hope it has brought him peace from the pain and the chaos. And perhaps now his children will be able to remember his strengths with appreciation, and remember less of his weaknesses.

I think that I speak for many when I say that he will be missed.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

No Growth Checking

I just took this picture when I was at my bank yesterday (the bank just changed it's name to Grow Financial). They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but I'm going to try to sum it up in eight. This means "We Need to Fire Our Marketing Department Immediately":

Monday, November 12, 2007


Remember the poor little abused dog ("Oscar") I got last Christmas? Now here he is, part of the gang and happy as he could ever hope to be:

Here's BoBo, The Top Dog, after we all went to the dog beach nearby. He is a gentle leader, who allows the other two to act like puppies and play together until he thinks they're getting too wild: Then he breaks it up by calmly walking into the middle of it and nosing them apart. During their day at the beach, they had a wonderful time, and everyone got a bath afterwards:

Here they are, always together. This time, laundry was freshly done and dumped on the couch. There is, apparently, nothing better than fresh, warm laundry to snuggle down on (yes, they're clean dogs):

Friday, November 09, 2007

The OTHER Ringling Mansion in Sarasota

(NOTE: Please forgive the poor photographs. I hadn't brought my camera when we stumbled across this and I only had my cell phone with me)

A couple of months ago, my parents, myself, and Sonosaur went to the beautiful and fascinating Ringling Museum in Sarasota, FL. I have plenty of pictures from the trip, and I will eventually share them with you. We've been going there on pilgrimages at least once a year for my entire life.

But on this last trip, we discovered something that none of us had known before. Apparently John Ringling's brother lived in a mansion on a piece of property next door to the Ringling Mansion and although it's been kept up by the local university, it is not part of the tour. Remember that they all got their money from the Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey Circus, so there were many brothers who did quite well, although it was John who 'discovered' Sarasota in the early 1900s and attempted to entice people to build vacation homes there.

During our exploration, we found that the front door was unlocked, and I am going to show you the pictures of THIS place first (they're not the greatest because I only had my cell phone with me at the time).

The home is built lavishly, according to Ringling standards, but is more of a true home than the schmaltzy John & Mabel Ringling home. Sadly, it's been converted to offices for the local college, so many rooms were inacessible or altered. Perhaps some day they'll refurbish this mansion, and include it in the tour.

I'll start out by telling you about the marvellous wrought iron entrance, concealing massive wooden doors:

Here are the doors as seen from the inside of the mansion:

This is an exterior shot of the mansion, showing the color of the stone:

These are pictures of the backside of the mansion. Note there are actually two homes. We now know that John Ringling housed family on his grounds, but I'm not certain as to who owned the mansion on the right. Both mansions are conjoined by a covered walkway that is original to the structures:

This is what you see when you first enter the front doors of the rosy mansion on the left:

Here is a close-up of the fireplace in the front entryway:

This is a view to the left of the front doors:

This is a view from the mansion, looking out the front doors:

If you have just entered the doors, and you look to your right, here is what you'll see:

And if you keep going to the back of the room, there is an entryway on each side that leads to a back porch. This is what you see:

If you're standing in the entryway again, and you go to your left, you will walk through some massive mahogany doors and down a couple of steps into the ballroom, which is made of polished mahogany.

If you look up, this is what you'll see:

Look at the handpainted ceiling details (I truly regret that I didn't have my camera with me that day).

On the side adjoining the house is a built-in pipe organ (below). Interestingly, there was a side door open as we went down the steps, and we peered in to see a pit that descends below the house, with a ladder. It's apparently there so that the pipe organ can be easily maintained from behind the scenes. However, we didn't venture down into the pit so we have no way of knowing. What's odd is that in Florida, we have a high water table, so I'm not sure how it could stay dry down there.

The room takes up the entire side of the house, from front to back. Here is a shot of the other side of the ballroom:

We did go upstairs, but rooms are locked and as I said before, they are all now being used as office space. There were some marvellous views over the water, and it seems such a shame to waste all this on a handful of faculty members and the occasional janitor. They include the family bedrooms and servant's quarters, and I sincerely hope that the university there has not altered this mansion from it's original schemata.

I understand that not much of this mansion is truly used, and so perhaps there are plans to bring it back to it's original splendor with furnishings and paintings and the opulence that the Ringlings loved.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Tough Decision

The reason I haven't been writing is that I've been consumed by a tough decision that I have had to make. A friend is always in a tough situation. She had never been able to hold down a job, until I finally found her one with a fellow businessman. I couldn't afford to risk my reputation, but she promised she'd not let me down.

However, she calls in sick constantly, and is unreliable. Thankfully, they allow her to get away with it. Privately, I've told them not to hold me to what she does or doesn't do. If I'd known this was going to happen, of course, I would never have recommended her. Still, she hasn't been a complete disgrace, thankfully.

Then there was the problem of her housing. She was living in a hotel room with her son for years. This would be interspersed with brief times of living with friends or family until someone got good and sick of her and they would angrily part ways. Being somewhat gullible, I always felt badly for her, believing that she simply never made enough money to make ends meet, and there will always be tension between people if someone stays in another person's house for an extended period of time.

Finally, I purchased a small mobile home, fixed it up, and told her that she could rent from ME. Then I knew they'd have at least one bedroom, it would be vastly cheaper for her, and I wouldn't have to worry about her being out in the cold.

But she didn't pay me for the first three months.

Later, after I had to get firm, she began to pay me on a weekly basis, but by then it was too late. Because she hadn't been paying me, I didn't have the money I needed to have to pay the IRS and they began to assess me huge fines. I ended up losing over $2,000 in fines alone. I told her about this, but she was miraculously unaffected by it. In other words, she couldn't care less.

Then she began whining: It wasn't good enough. She needed another bedroom (as opposed to the no-bedroom hotel rooms she'd lived in for years). She didn't like the fact that it wasn't electrically rigged to withstand high loads of amperage when her spoiled teenage son plugged all his expensive guitar, amps, computer, airconditioner, and other equipment in at the same time. She felt it was somehow my fault that she would blow a fuse each time, and disdainfully declared the trailer a fire hazard (even though everyone told her otherwise).

This brings us to the next question: Where did her son get all the expensive equipment?

I found out only after she moved in that she'd won $9,000 in a settlement last November, and blew it all in a month and a half. Much of what she threw away was on toys for her son, though she also spent it on trips and gifts and non-essentials.

She didn't save a dime.

When she needed a new car, it took a number of us to beg her to reconsider getting further into debt. We steered her to a car that was reliable which she could afford. She finally agreed, then declared herself to be very happy with the car.

But then her behavior became bizarre. A relative of hers has privately told me that this is what happens each time. This is why she never stays anywhere for long. This is why she can't stay in a relationship.

Apparently at first, she is thrilled with whatever 'new toy' she has been given. But as time goes by, she grows increasingly discontented. She goes from wanting to marry the guy in the first week of their relationship to hating him by the sixth month. And she went from loving her little home and car to declaring that they were all crap, she hated living there and driving that car, and it is suddenly my fault that she has to pay me rent.

However, she is making good money! So where is it all going?

Well, I've discovered she smokes pot. In addition, she continues to desperately try to buy off her son by getting him whatever he wants. In turn, he is almost 18, does drugs, steals from her, and has brought his girlfriend into the house to live with them. Neither of the kids work, they only sponge off her, and he is mentally abusive to both of the women.

A week and a half ago, her spoiled son blew another fuse. Not knowing what was happening, my friend and I drove over to see what was wrong. Again, it was merely a fuse blown due to his excessive use. We tried to explain this to her, but she became increasingly irrational, declaring that she wanted out, hated living there, and even a hotel room was preferable.

She had done this once before. At that time, I was alarmed and had tried to persuade her to stay, pointing out all the benefits for her (even though I had lost a vast amount of money on the deal). She reluctantly capitulated then. Now I was facing the same thing, but even worse than before. She railed, she ranted, and she insisted that she wanted to leave.

I finally left.

And I thought about it.

And then I sent her a letter detailing everything, and asking her for a move-out date.

She didn't respond for a week, until she finally dropped off a payment in my mailbox. On the envelope, she'd written " I guess I'm still not ready to address your email but I will." No, I decided, I am NOT going to continue to wait upon her pleasure. I had enough, and this was going nowhere.

On Monday, I served her with an eviction notice. Following the eviction notice, she sent me an increasing amount of angry emails. I attempted to handle each one truthfully and logically. But what it all boils down to is...

I am done.

Friday, November 02, 2007

When to Call 911

As many of you know, one of my best friends is dying from excruciatingly painful bone cancer. She was recently prescribed oxycontin, which will hopefully ease her pain yet allow her to be somewhat functional.

But Rosie continues to see the humor in situations, and there are many times that we find ourselves laughing hysterically over something. So when Rosie got off the phone with the pharmacist the other day, she had to call me.

"You know how I am," she began. "I just had to get out the literature and read all about the side effects."

"Oh NO," I exclaimed. "Don't you dare do that! Why, have you ever read the warnings on birth control pills? I know you! You will take the warnings way too seriously!"

"Stop interrupting!" said Rosie. "OK, so as I was saying, the side effects are frightening! It says I shouldn't take oxycontin if I have had head injuries, asthma or allergies (among other things). Well, I have all three! So, I called the pharmacist immediately."

Here we go, I thought. I will never get her to see the wisdom in taking the oxycontin now. She already has her resistance up because she doesn't want to take anything addictive like an opiate!

Rosie continued, "I got a lady whom I'd never spoken with before. I told her my concerns. She said it really wasn't a big deal, and I shouldn't worry about all the contraindications. I told her that I was especially worried about the part where it says you could suddenly stop breathing. I said "You know, ma'am, I'm ready to go, but not quite yet. Although these pills are supposed to stop the pain, this would be a rather drastic way to accomplish that.""

The pharmacist chuckled and assured her that this was highly unlikely. "And," she added helpfully, "If you do stop breathing, call 911 immediately."

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Haunted House

When I was a little girl, I was scared of everything. I would lie awake at night and wonder when The Things in the closet and under the bed would come out. I knew they always waited until I was asleep, and if Mom or Dad came in, they would cleverly disappear into another dimension, but they were there: No doubt about it.

Halloween was always an especially trying holiday because of my ability to scare easily. I loved the excitement, however, which was always mixed with a tiny bit of terror, too. My grandmother was a sewing genius, and every year she would sew us children costumes that would regularly win Halloween contests. One year I wore a gorgeous yellow ballroom gown from the late 1800s that would rival any professional Hollywood production. Of course I won that year: It would have been hard for the judges to give out first place to anyone else. I stood out in a sea of cheap, store-bought costumes.

One Halloween, this same grandma decided to take my little brother and I to the mall on some errand or other. In the middle of the mall, in front of a large department store, a haunted house had been set up. It was still early in the morning, and there were very few people in the mall, so there were no customers, no lines, and all was still except for the gruesome ticket-taker.

"A haunted house!" said my grandmother, clearly delighted. "You kids should go!"

My brother was two years younger than I, and just as much of a scaredy-cat as I. We both shook our head violently, but Grandma persisted in insisting that we should enjoy the 'delights' of the season. How we ended up getting bullied into it, I'll never know, but suddenly we found ourselves enterering the dreaded haunted house without Grandma, cautiously looking about at the entrance and slowly tiptoeing in.

My memory dims as to what we saw there, but I'm certain that it really didn't amount to much, according to modern-day standards. We probably had the usual things popping out at us, and saw the ordinary vampires and ghouls. But what made it especially unnerving is that we were the ONLY people in the entire haunted house, and we'd never been in one before, and we didn't have an adult with us.

About halfway through, completely terrified and with the dreadful belief that we were never going to get out, my brother and I finally decided we would crash down an entire wall to get out (like something out of Scooby Doo). We kept thrusting ourselves repeatedly and futilely against this one plywood wall, amidst screams and flashing lights, until I was tapped on the shoulder.

I turned and saw a mummy looming over us. I screeched as well as Jamie Lee Curtis could ever hope to screech, and the mummy motioned placatingly toward the exit. You could tell it felt keenly sorry for the two trembling, bewildered children that kept trying to claw their way out. I'm sure the actor underneath the rags was wondering if we were residents of a local asylum out on day passes.

We bolted for the exit and ran so fast that once we were out we couldn't stop the momentum. We fell and skidded across the marble tiles, tangled up together, arms and legs flailing as we sailed along. A baseball player sliding for home couldn't have done any better. Our long skid ended at the feet of our grandmother, who was laughing so hard she could barely stand up.

I've often wondered if anyone else has ever seen such a neurotic reaction and if so, how it was handled.

I recently took my son to ZooBoo, the Lowry Park Zoo haunted house extravaganza. We went through some pretty lame haunted houses, with an exit halfway through so that children who are easily scared could quit the show. What a great idea! Of course we didn't need it: My son sauntered through with calm amiability.

I look back with fondness on my wonderful, crazy grandmother who is the Patron Saint of Halloween and April Fool's Day. She added humor and adventure to our lives. Now that I recall my first Haunted House, I admit we must have been quite a comical sight... but it took me years to see the humor in the situation.

I wonder if the mummy ever fully recovered.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Hemingway Home in Key West

As many of my faithful readers know, I recently went on a trip to Key West. During that trip, I visited Ernest Hemingway's home. Here are some pictures that we took when we were in the home.

Notice the cat, who is The Cat used in much of the marketing literature for the home. He is voice-trained and will readily leap onto Hemingway's bed on command. He is one many of the six-toed cats that roam the property; all of whom are descendants of Hemingway's beloved pet.