Colorado Inferno

Waldo Canyon Fire, Denver Post Photo

It rivals the Chicago fire lore, reputed to be started by Mrs. O'Leary and her cow.  It probably started just as innocently, although how the Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado Springs did start remains a mystery .Waldo Canyon Fire Crews Making Progress

This fire, along with scores of other fires throughout Colorado just adds salt to a wound.  The temperatures here have been in the three digits for almost two weeks.  The nice thing about this state was that when it got this hot, we got a reprieve with a cold front that would cool things down for a few days.

No such luck.

Colorado has its' annual fires every year, but I can't remember one as devastating.  It is surreal to look at the pictures of neighborhoods smoldering from a fire that tore through Colorado Springs. Rampant winds accelerated it to 20 miles an hour yesterday.  This gave residents' little time to evacuate their homes.

Looking at the faces of people that lost everything just breaks my heart.  Special memories; the births, deaths, graduations, marriages- all things we associate with home-  taken away so ruthlessly by mother nature.

I am  fortunate, as I live north of the closest fire to my residence, which has now been contained in Boulder.  It gives me pause to think about what is really most important in life.  For me, it would be family, pets, pictures.  

Everything else can be replaced.

However, in Colorado Springs, there is one documented death, and 10 people remain unaccounted.

Colorado weather for the coming week is going to be in 90's.  We aren't going to get much of a break.  It's  like fighting a fire within a fire.  Not enough credit can be given to the fire fighters from all over the country trying to contain its' fury.

Soon, regretfully, this state will have lost all it's wooded areas; the evergreen's and other foliage that make it so marvelous and beautiful.

There is no doubt this is part of global warming.  A women remarked that "the world was coming to an end."

After all the bible does say it will end in fire.

I hope not.

Will Obamacare Deliver?


I am at a cross-road.  I think like a republican, but I can't afford to be one.  Part of me is delighted about the Supreme Court ruling on health care.  After all, it is the "right" thing to do.   Not because it will benefit me, (I have coverage through military) but for the hundreds of thousands of people without insurance.

I was speaking with a good friend just recently, who explained she cannot get to the dentist to treat a gum disease, as she does not have $7000 and is without coverage.  I asked her couldn't she find a dentist that would accept payments?  She gave me a vague answer, and said she was pursuing a holistic approach to treating her gums.  I cringed. 

How can you ignore a gum disease?  Yikes.  The answer is, very easily if you don't have the money to pay.

Obamacare promises an end to all this.  The  needy, poor, indigent will now get insurance.  The government cannot deny you coverage for pre-existing conditions.  That's a big one.

There seems to be everything right with Obamacare.  Any decent human being would be for this new insurance plan.

The flip side:  Is this all it is cracked up to be?

What about choice of doctors?  According to SmartMoney, Who the Health Ruling Impacts Most:

Consolidation within the industry means that people will have less choice,” says Alex Morozov, a senior health care analyst at Morningstar. In fact, the two largest insurance companies have a 70% market share in nearly half the 50 states, according to the American Medical Association". 
I am not sure this is a good thing.  One of the drawbacks, in my opinion, of social medicine is when the government expands care, there is diminishing quality of care.  This is frightening to me.  I want to be able to choose my practitioners.  Maybe I am making to much of this issue, but it is a concern.

I am also concerned how the new plan will affect businesses.  If 70 percent of health care will be facilitated by two companies, what happens to the rest of the health care industry.  It will be a trickle down effect, placing more of a burden on an already struggling economy.

The fact remains, however, that according to SmartMoney, nearly three in 5 Americans remain uninsured, that amounts to 43 million people.

Time will tell if we are in love with Obamacare, or if the costs hit Americans in other ways.  As I have said in a previous blog on Obamacare, someone has got to pay.

I will continue to evaluate the impacts of the new plan.  For me, it is too early to tell if this is a complete blessing or complete disaster.

It sounds great, but will it deliver?

The Sun Is Not My Friend

Teenage girl (14-16) looking at tan lines at beach

I just got into the office, after spending an hour-and-a half in the doctor's office.  It wasn't more than 6 months' ago that I last visited my dermatologist.  Here I go again.  I am waiting for the results of three biopsies.

I was in my early thirties when I first had surgery for a basal cell carcinoma.  Not at all as serious as melanoma, but hey, cancer is cancer.

My mother was very cavalier about the sun.  If I would break out, the sun was the answer! " Bake yourself in the sun tomorrow" would become her favorite mantra when I complained about my zits.  I was desperate, and would have done anything to rid myself of this malady!

Fast forward twenty years, I was sitting in the dermatologist office - not discussing acne- but cancer.  I'm paying a steep price for all that baking.

How would we know in 1960 what we know today about the sun?  Generations ago,debutantes' were never allowed to go out into the sun without an umbrella, covered up.  Women used to believe that the sun would destroy their fair complexions.  Turns out, they were so right.

My mother was of Lithuanian background.  She received no such instructions from her mother.  What did she know about the dangers of the sun?  She would share with me the odd story or two about my father roasting himself at the beach.

Dad got sun poisoning and apparently locked himself in a room, to hide his blistering skin from her.  I took after Dad, the palest skin, with dark hair.  Dad was Austrian-polish decent.  Mother had olive skin, and while she also baked in the sun -and was blond-  the damage wasn't as evident.

Today, I cautiously watch my skin in fear.  I am saddled with hyper-pigmentation due to my  love affair with the sun.  I look at myself with disdain, and marvel and women who have no traces skin sun damage.

I had these ugly spots since I was 30.  Not exactly an age related issue at that time.

I  blame the UV rays and cooking myself to a lobster red in my teens. Strangers would approach me on the beach, pleading with me to get out of the sun.

What did I know.

However, I am grateful I know now.  My daughter, 29, will not listen.  She has a weekly date with a tanning bed that is sure to do her in.   I have tried unsuccessfully to get her to listen, but my advise falls on deaf ears

 My son, on the other hand, is as white and pale as me.  He never goes outside with out ample sun screen.  At thirty-one, doctors marvel at his healthy skin.
According to Today Health, :Everything Causes Cancer': Teens Justify Tanning Bed Use, Study Finds.  

When will American teens realize the harm they are doing to themselves? 

It is sad to think they will some day have to deal with this unpleasant issue. The not-so-lucky may have to contend with live threatening skin cancers.

Please folks, do your research.  If you don't believe me, look it up for yourselves.  Protect your skin, and no matter where you live, don't venture out without your ammunition:

Your sunscreen recommended for your skin type.

Good luck!  Please don't worship the sun.

 It is not your friend.

Rodney King: A Gentle Voice Silenced

Rodney King
Joe Klamar, AFP / Getty Images

I am saddened by Rodney Kings's death.  The first thing I thought of is "only the good die young."  This man had a tortured existence.  He wasn't exactly angel.  We all knew that.
But rather, an old sould that learned more than his share of life's lessons.
Rodney King's Sudden Death Ends Long Struggle With Demons

The beating he endured in 1991 left him with memory loss, aches and pains, and still he found strength to go on.  He prayed for his accosters'.  He had only forgiveness for the pain he suffered, and endured for his 47 short years' of life.  I marveled at how spiritually evolved king was.  I don't think I could have forgiven quite as easily.

Not for all the money in the world.

Rodney King did forgive.  He spent the rest of his life trying to right the wrong's in society. He wasn't perfect, like all adolescents he had his share of trouble.  What he did with the rest of his life is awe inspiring.

He was totally translucent, and willingly shared his sentiments.  According to the Daily Beast,  he was displeased with the progress with racism.  He was encouraged that we were moving forward, but discouraged by the Trayvon Martin incident.

Still, he did not hold himself out as flawless:
I tell people I am not perfect. and I haven't always made good decisions, and sometimes I make the same mistakes, again and again.
How sad he had so many demons to conquer.  Rodney King added something to my life.  To hear him speak, was inspiring.  It is hard to hear about the loss of a good guy.  Because we only hear about the bad guys.

King struggled with drug addiction for most of his life.  A troubled, yet gentle soul. 

The world is going to miss Rodney King.  We will miss how he handled life's problems with class and dignity.  We will miss his voice to remind us we were wrong.

We have to take the reins and follow through were Rodney left off.  We have to make sure that we don't resort to brutality to right societal wrongs.

I believe, this is what Rodney King was fighting to change.

A friend once told me " A heart recognizes a heart."

Tonight when before I lay my head on the pillow, I will say a little prayer for the 6'2" man, with the heart of a giant.

What Do You Do Best? Are You Doing It Now?

I am doing battle with myself.  I continue to beat myself up because I haven't met my software skills goal.

Woody Allen in Midnight in Paris
Woody Allen: Midnight in Paris - Sony Picture Classics 2011
In reading a Wall Street Journal article about Woody Allen, he talked about how he avoids anything mechanical, even depicting his characters using typewriters instead of word processors, the car he owns but doesn't drive:  Older Mellower, But Still Woody.

It never occurred to me that I could GIVE myself permission not to be an expert in everything technical.

I continue to challenge myself to keep up with the software programs in a quickly evolving market.  I understand the world turns because of Apple and Microsoft.  To be ignorant is not an  option.  After all, I am working  in a technical position (for which I received 6 weeks training I might add).

Yes, you can teach old dogs new tricks!  

A light went on after ingesting what Woody said.  Of course I am not comparing myself to him, but it is so easy to be caught up in the "I shoulds" that we can lose one's sense of self.

This is where I am at now.

The artist side of me wants to drop out, take each day as it comes, and do whatever is of interest.  The business and practical side says, "oh yeah, and then what?"  It is not only because of income requirements, as I know I would be bored if I wasn't working.

 More importantly, I would not be happy if I were not continuing to learn.

Courageous people don't worry about how they are going to make a living; they believe that everything will take care of itself if they are doing what they love.

They are definitely on to something.

I have always equated success with working in a corporate world.  As I grow older, I  have noticed a tendency to look at things more honestly- sans the ego- sans the money.

The biggest disservice  we can do to ourselves is compare our station in life to others.

 I am so guilty of this. 

 I just can't get it through my head that I am different than everybody else.  This falls under the beat myself up category.

So what it it you do best?  Are you doing it now?  And if not, why not?

What can change to make that a possibility?  

I am still working on the solution.

Common Sense Or Business Genius?

Medicinal Cannabis User

I spoke with a family member today. We discussed mutual friends and business acquaintances. Specifically, the multitude of people trying to jump on the bandwagon in selling medical marijuana. It seems many of the folks out there that have licenses are looking for a get-rich quick business venture; these people are unlikely to have a health-care background.

The venture is a quick way to make a dollar.

The federal government frequently places new restrictions on medical marijuana licensees'. It seems to me that this is a risky venture on  many levels

However, there are people that are going ahead anyway, despite the risk that they may be headed into a manhole. I understand there is no gain if there is no risk.  The thought of loosing the investment money would make me more than uneasy.

The line of thought is: "make money and get out quick." I, for one, do not understand the logic.

There are so many brilliant people in the world that cannot make it in business. These same people may struggle with how to tie their shoelaces.

I believe to be successful in business one has to be "street smart."  as well.  It is being to look at the whole picture, not the immediate future.  Being able to objectively weigh the risks and benefits.  I am convinced this takes a special skill set.

Common sense, is part of this ingredient.

A simple analogy:

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Correct? I guess I couldn't figure that out, as I have been entering my apartment complex the same way for 5 years.  Not only that, but when visitors call on me I carefully navigate them to the gate, give them my code, and explain they have to make this turn at this point, and another turn at that point. Ten minutes later, they still can't find me and are frustrated.

One day a friend was riding home with me and asked; “Why are you going in that gate? Let's take this other entrance to get to your building.” Why? I thought to myself. I never take that gate. My apartment is east of the entrance, so my natural inclination is to go to the entrance to the right. The point is his recommendation took me right to my front door, no twists, turns, maneuvers.

 WHY couldn’t I figure that one out?

Just common sense, I suppose.

I'm Not Mrs. Rodriquez

Bill_collector : Telephone with money – call for help with your finances stock photo

It's 5:15 p.m. and I've just stepped in the door.  The phone is already ringing, but before I answer I look at the call screen and see it's Portfolio Recovery.  Sighing, I decide to finally pick up the phone.  The company has called me every day for the past 5 months' and I haven't answered.  It goes like this:

"No this is not XXXXX Rodriquez.  Yes, this is my phone number, the name is Denise Fisher.  I am sorry XXXX Rodgriquez gave you this number.  This is my phone number now, and has been for the past year and a half.  Yes, I am certain XXXXX Rodriquez does not live here.  I have no idea why she didn't give you her new number..."

I have Comcast service, I am guessing this person had the number at some point before I did.  The calls continue.  It gets even better:  I get at least 5 company calls for different parties every day just like this.  I don't want to change my phone number, so I take the easy way out and not answer the phone.

Question is, who are these people?  Could so many deadbeats have had this same number?  Or, it is nobody in America pays their bill anymore?  I get the promise that I won't receive anymore calls from Portfolio Recovery.  Twenty-four hours later, I get the same call again.

This was the same drill I had with Sprint, for about a month, looking for yet another subscriber who left them in the dust.  I tell them I don't have the 411 on their customer, and beg them not to call.

My land line has been so busy with company callers, that I barely have time to take my own personal calls.  I am at the point I want to ask the caller if they are single, and what they are doing tonight.

But I don't.  I continue to dodge the bill collectors, for parties I have never met and just happened to inherit their phone numbers.

I have no idea if this is an isolated problem, but it is certainly an annoying one.

I have the same issue with the mail, I have been receiving one party's mail  for over 12 months.  Don't people notify the post office with forwarding addresses?

After careful consideration, I have a solution to the problem:

 I am training my parrot  to answer the phone; he can say "bad boy" better than I.

"To Know All Things Is Not Permitted"...Horace


Throughout my life, I have had a strange addiction to  astrology and psychics.   I  remember my mother and I using the Ouija Board when I was an adolescent.  I thought nothing of asking questions such as " who will I marry, "how old will I be when I marry,"and delighted in watching the the oracle glide over letters spelling out names and dates.         

I have consulted with more than a few psychics in my life.  Some quite accurate.  My sister has also been interested in astrology and the occult as far back as I can remember. 

As a Catholic, I knew that I should not be consulting psychics and reading my personal astrology chart.  The Catechism of Catholic church states:  (Catholic Answers)

 "All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to ‘unveil’ the future. Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone" (CCC 2116). 

I had an obligation to my faith, and to God not to visit with psychics, or have my chart done.  For me, it was different than just reading for entertainment, I BELIEVED in what was said.

I followed the advise, I paid close attention to dates and predictions.  I had even consulted phone psychics.

I have since thrown away my Ouija Board, and I don't consult psychics. I avoid reading my horoscope.  I worked with my parish priest over two years in learning to avoid these temptations.

I knew that these practices were dangerous; and moreover, when the predictions did not come true, I was in deep depression.  After researching the occult, I realized how fortunate I was not possessed- as can happen- when engaging in these activities.

I have come to understand that one can 'open a door' that can't be easily shut.

 Yes, I do believe there is good and evil in the world.  The priest that I worked with had performed many "deliverances" and has witnessed everything from levitation, to people speaking in tongues, and the most vile behavior.  He has cleansed many houses, and has worked with people for months' because they engaged in the occult and could not get rid of negative spirits in their homes.

Thank God that didn't happen to me.

I am so grateful that I fully understand the consequences in simply reading my horoscope.  It has the same effect on me as an alcoholic having just one drink.

While I will always be fascinated with stories of the paranormal, and amazed at psychic predictions, I realize that this is not what God wants.  It is all about having faith that someone is looking after me, and understanding I don't have to know everything.

Because, just like Saul  in the Bible, I might  find out something I don't need to know.

Birthday Reflections

By Sandratrala

 Paul McCartney's lyrics from "It's Just Another Day"  are going through my head:
slipping into stockings- stepping into shoes- dipping in the pocket of her raincoat....          It's just another day.... at the office where the papers grow she takes a break...
I do feel positive today, it being my birthday.  My desk at work is beautifully adorned with all the tinsel and cards, and I was welcomed with a breakfast burrito by my co-workers.

How thoughtful!

Although tonight will be spent quietly with my Great Pyrenees and parrot.

 Do I have to go out to have a good time?

I will do this Saturday when I don't have to get up in the morning.

Up until very recently, birthdays' were a big deal for me.  Not at all about the gifts, but the coming together with friends' and family- to enjoy the warmth of love and endearing friendships and fond memories.

These days, much of my family is gone, and the rest live out of town.   So it is, with adding another birthday notch to my belt, I think about the future with hope and optimism.

The first thing I did this morning, was thank God for my many gifts, health, friends, home.  Although, I struggle with the positive;  I have much to be thankful for.

Ever notice how easy it is to look around and think that everyone has it better?

The truth is, I am very, very lucky.

The past year has had its' disappointments.   However, it was a tremendous growth opportunity.  Let's see, here are some tough events:

  • I loved and lost
  • It is the second year I've lived alone- something I swore I could never do
  • Despite my efforts, I didn't find the dream job

If I had found my dream job, assuming it did not involve writing, I wouldn't have put as much effort into my blog.  Writing to me is like breathing, when I finish an entry or story; I feel invigorated - reborn and elated.

Relative to what's important in life, I would say my disappointments do not outweigh the positive events. I suppose I have come to the realization that birthdays' may be overrated.  

But for sentimental slobs like me, they are still important. I will continue to take inventory, and look at my goals as challenges that I welcome for personal growth.

And while this birthday may not be the most memorable, I look at it this way;

I am still around to talk about it.

Long Live The Queen

Official Website for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee

"We want the Queen!"   Hundreds of thousands' of Britons' shouting out in celebration of the Queen's Diamond  Jubilee, following the St Paul's service and carriage procession.  There she stands, in all her glory, having proudly served her British subjects for 60 years.

It is pure excitement to me.  As I hobble through my charges at work today, I can't help but sneak a peek at Reuter's live coverage.

Across the pond, we are struggling with volatile stocks, an uncertain economy, bantering about the upcoming presidential election.  While the British have a far more laid back attitude about priorities.

They comment about how proud they are of their Queen.  The Queen who wasn't supposed to be Queen.  But because of a twist of fate when Edward abdicated from the crown, she was put in line for her remarkable journey.

 It is a privilege to have witnessed her spectacular reign.  The ups and downs of wearing the crown, watching her graciously welcome everyone from commoners to celebrities at Buckingham Palace;  she has met just about every foreign dignitary, with no signs of slowing down.

Only Queen Victoria has served as long.  How lucky I am to be living at a time when I can share in this history. After all, we are a part of Britain although perhaps much removed.  It is refreshing to see the color, the pomp and circumstance, and to look back at her reign.

I can remember Prince Charles, when he was still a boy, and all I could remember about him was that his ears stuck out!  Then came his adolescence, his partying era, thinking he would never marry. I adored the Queen Mother, the way she dressed, the colors and her kindly, sweet face.  Then, Along came Diana, the births' of  Prince William and Harry, and the rest, as they say is history.

It is wonderful watching her splendid grandson, William, come of age.  He is fortunate to have a Grandmother whom he can have as his mentor.

There is a new generation of royals' that the world will be watching with interest and wonder.  For Queen Elizabeth, she shows no signs of waning, and I hope to see her waving at her subjects on that balcony for many more decades.

After all, she is our Queen Elizabeth too.

Don't Let Smoke Get In Your Eyes: Ask Questions On The Interview

I have had a long and rocky career.  Most of it was quite successful, and found support and energy from my supervisors.  However, I also have failed miserably, and after I got finished beating myself up about my failures, I went back and analyzed why.

In every instance, I didn't listen to my gut.  I was so excited about the job, the industry, I never really listened to my feelings about my immediate supervisor.  Moreover, I took some risks with positions that were less than stellar because I wanted to be in a particular industry.

I can remember, very recently, interviewing for a position where I was told "do not ask questions," I am the interviewer, and I am interviewing you."  No, no no!

Most good human resource managers' will agree that the interview process is as much your business as it is the interviewer.  I now know that if someone tells me not to ask the questions, a red flag goes up.

The point is that few candidates' listen to their inner voice with regard to their feelings about their working environment.  Perhaps the money is good, the industry is what they want, and they minimize the importance of the dynamics of their relationship with their immediate supervisor.

One of my biggest failures -could have been avoided - if I walked away from a job that I really wanted. I knew was not the right fit for me. I went in for a couple of interviews, all from supervisors' who would not work directly with me.

When my immediate supervisor interviewed me, it was at a rapid fire pace.  She explained the job, and her expectations, in five minutes.  Moreover, she told me that nobody from the organization had even asked her what her about the type of candidate she felt would best suit the position.

I didn't feel good about this remark, but let it slide anyway.  In the five minutes I spent with her, which was to be my final interview, I felt as though the interview was an intrusion on her time.

I was offered the position, but it was a bust from the beginning.

 I had already failed as the chemistry was not there between us, and I was off to a bad start.

I had been out of this particular industry for some time.  The organization wanted a band-aid candidate to just have a warm body on site.  There was no start-up time for learning.  I was expected to hit the ground running.

Another red flag.

My job skills were rusty, and I asked if there would be training.  I was told that yes, absolutely, I would receive training.

Realty set in when I got a 45 minute phone session from someone in the New York market.  That was the extent of the training.  During the training, the "trainer" yawned on the conference, as if she was straining to stay awake.

Not very professional at all.

Today, as difficult as it may be, I would ask more direct questions about the position, instead of assuming I could hit the ground running.   While skills are most important, I won't let anyone dissuade me from believing that chemistry with your co-workers and immediate supervisor can make or break you.

So, the next time you go in for that dream job, have a list ready of the most critical questions you have for taking on the position.  If you're concerned, like I was, about on the job training; ask about how much training you will get.  I certainly would also ask what the timeline is for getting up to speed in your new position.

It can make the difference between success and failure in your new role within the company.

Reality Show Star Entrepreneur: Skinnygirl Bethenny Frankel

Bethenny Frankel
Skinnygirl  Bethenny Frakel,  Christopher Polk- Getty Images

Talking about  business models, and making something from nothing, I am continually inspired by Bethenny Frankel, reality star turned Entrepreneur.

Frankel, you'll recall, was a finalist on The Apprentice: Martha Stewart.   While the then natural foods chef didn't win the Aprenticeship from Stewart, she was already off and running in on her own steam as savvy businesswoman soon-to-be Entrepreneur. How Bethenny Frankel Used Her Reality Show To Make 120 Million

No sooner had she wrapped the show with Stewart, when she was approached by producers of The New York Housewife's.  Frankel admits that she dodged the offer for two months', as she already had a deal on the table with  Pepperidge Farm.

After speaking to producers, she negotiated the right to promote her products' on the show.  In a world where the show makes the star, Frankel turned around the opportunity to leverage her own business efforts.

Very clever indeed.

Her first business, "BethennyBakes" she delivered and prepared organic food to the doors' of New York's health "foodies.

 Loving Margaritas, she was struck by the caloric count in the drink.  She was amazed at how high the calories are in just one margarita.  Frankel knocked on doors, approaching all the distributors with an idea for a reduced version of the Margarita.  Unable to sell her idea to distributors, she decided this product would fill a need, and  produced it herself.

Skinnygirl was born.

 She partnered with David Kanbar (formerly with Skyy Vodka).  Kanbar and Frankel met with mixologists' to perfect the ingredients.  The business model was so successful they couldn't keep up with demand.  The clever girl then sold the product to Jim Beam Distributors for a reported 120 million.

Not bad.

To date, there are two other cocktail lines in the Skinnygirl  brand.  Moreover, Frankel has her own exercise video, clothes line, and has several published best sellers on diet and cooking.

The girl has the "it" factor.  At only 42, she is already at the top of her game.  Make no mistake, it all looks so easy.  But during her career ascent she rarely slept and worked outrageous hours to achieve this level of success.

Everyone has the opportunity.  But few of us are willing to sacrifice so much and have the "pit bull" attitude it takes to reach the goal.

If you have the drive, the idea, and are willing to see it through to the end you are one of the chosen few.

The rest of us will sit on the sidelines and ogle at your victory.

Celebrating The Queen's Jubilee

Popperfoto:  Getty Images

I enjoyed watching the Queen's Diamond Jubilee feature on 20/20 last night.  It was everything bright and beautiful.  I particularly liked the look into the Queen's childhood, and how she evolved into what she is today.

What I like best is she is still traditional.

Of course, she would be.  You can't be royalty and not hang onto tradition.  Isn't that what it's all about?

 I am in love with history.  I could easily live in England.  Yes, I would be homesick, but I get a buzz out of knowing that I am standing on soil centuries years' old.  I revel in thinking about Ann Boleyn, Henry VIII, Queen Victoria.

I like analyzing what makes the Queen so special.

I was surprised to learn she wasn't exactly in line to the throne.  But when King Edward stepped down, to marry the infamous Mrs. Simpson, her fate was sealed.  Her father, King George was now King.  All the activities she enjoyed as a child would have to be supervised at Buckingham Palace.   Her life was restricted to growing up within the palace walls.

20/20 (05.29.12)
The Diamond Jubilee:  ABC NEWS
But what is, and was, so remarkable about Elizabeth is she is a picture perfect Queen.

She has never given an interview to reporters, is always dressed as you imagine a Queen should be dressed.  Bright, cheerful, classic.

She seems to always handle the diciest situations with grace.

 Her one fumble, after Diana's death, in not participating at Diana's funeral, is the only cloud on her horizon.  She handled the palace scandals throughout the years.  The notorious divorce of the much more worldly Princess Margaret, the adventurous 'Fergie' and of course; the courtship, marriage and divorce of her son and Princess Diana.

I was also surprised to learn that she is a master mechanic.  During World War II, she was working along side commoners repairing war trucks for England.  She wasn't spoiled, and took up responsibility willingly without hesitation.

The one thing that was not negotiable was Prince Phillip.  While he was a Greek Prince, King George was not enthusiastic about embracing him as a son-in-law.  The demure Elizabeth, being extremely tenacious, was not about to let go of her soul mate.  She stood her ground and told King George that she was determined to marry.  Eventually, they became engaged, and Phillip was welcomed into the royal family.

I delight in seeing the Queen with her Corgis' and horses.  She has similar interests that I have.  Family, and animals are up at the top.  Most people cannot envision having to give up so much to serve their country.

I would gladly offer up my services, however.  I could do this for God and my country!

So it is with joy and wonder, I watch history in the making, and celebrate in my humble dwelling, her 60th year as Queen.

Why Is One Child Lost And Another Found?

Etan Patz, Timeline

I read this story and think of my son.  How many of us have let our children make that first step to independence, and worried that we won't see them again.  I bet every one of us.

It was different for Etan Patz,  memorial day weekend,  May 25, 1979:  After 33 Years, Police Make An Arrest in Case of Etan Patz 

It was all so innocent, it would be the first time that Etan would make the trip to the bus stop alone.  His mother walked him to the front of the apartment complex that morning, never imagining she'd never see him again.  Just a block and a half from the school bus stop in New York City.

The case remain unsolved until Pedro Hernandez, 51, confessed to the crime last week.  According to the NY Times, Hernandez had confessed to family members' throughout the years.  The family, even called New York police to report it.  Some how, police dismissed his confession as him just being a "lunatic."

Hernandez was a 19 year-old bag checker - working at a bodega -on Etan's route,  during the summer of 1979.

I can't tell you how many times I have looked back at how I raised my children and thought to myself;  how lucky I am.

I can remember the firsts' for my children:

The first time I let them take the elevator by themselves to the front of our apartment building, to wait for the school bus.  The first time I  let my daughter bike to school, just 6 blocks away from home, when she was in third grade.

I remember asking her teacher if she thought it was safe.  My daughter was already a third grader and I still worried.

I once took the children to a friend's company picnic during summer in Florida.   The picnic was held on the Miami zoo's property.  The picnic was barricaded off from the cages and animals. I hadn't batted an eye when they had escaped and gone under the security stanchions.  I was talking to my friend, enjoying the picnic, and within seconds they were gone.

My heart stopped.

I thought of Adam Walsh, I thought of never seeing them again.  I raced to the security guards, and a massive search ensued that Saturday afternoon.  The zoo was flooded with people.  Five minutes into the search, I still could not see them.  The zoo in Miami, as most zoos, was huge and spread out.

Finally after running like a manic from cage to cage, I found them, holding hands in front of the monkey cage.

They were so precious, reminding me of Hansel and Gretel.

Things might not have turned out as well.  It could have been a tragedy.  Why is one child lost forever and another found?

As a parent, I can't come to grips with that.

Just "dumb" luck I suppose.  It is not that one parent is any better or worse when tragedy strikes.

It is easy to blame the parents.  The truth is, kids' are like contortionists.  In the blink of an eye, they can get out of a car, run away from a table, lose you in a crowd.

I am happy that Etan Patzs' family has finally got closure.  Ever time I hear his story, and other stories of lost children, I think to myself how lucky I am.

How lucky I am...

Fear Keeps Me From Being An Entrepreneur

I was thrilled reading Sara Blakely's advise on how she found success as an Entrepreneur.   She dispels just about everything you would think you'd have to do to roll out your product: Ten Lesson's I Learned from Sara Blakely That You Won't Hear In Business School.

With just $5,000 dollars, she introduced Spanx, a  women's undergarment, that evolved by her "cutting off the legs" of her pantyhose to develop her prototype.

I  have a couple of ideas' that I am convinced would be successful. The first of which, was a drive-in deli.  At the time, I was living in Miami, Florida.  In the 1980's there were tons of delis'.  However, there were no quality delis' in a drive-in venue.  Convinced people would pay a premium price for a good, fast- food deli. I quickly got to work on getting prices for meats, fish, breads, and beverages from wholesalers.'

My drive-in deli would start out simple.  I would only offer refrigerated foods, there would be no grilling, or cooking.  This would hold down start-up costs.  I would have meat steamers, and all refrigerated products, including the cole slaw and potato salad.

I contacted Roy Black, a prominent patent attorney at the time in Miami.  Since I was working as a Marketing Director at a major mall in Miami, I approached food merchants and ran my idea by them.  It was suggested I open "a deli in a strip center first to test the waters."

I was completely against the idea because the whole concept was to have it just off South Dixie highway;(US 1), next to a heavily traveled road, where people would have easy access, and have high visibility.

 Interestingly, Sara advises not to discuss  ideas prematurely, before having your prototype ready to go.  People, according to Sara Blakely, will want to shoot it down before it gets off the ground.

Isn't that the truth!

However, my enthusiasm for the drive-in deli waned and my idea died on the vine.  

Why?  Fear, fear and more fear. 

In the beginning I was convinced I could find an investor that would back my concept.  But I neglected to follow through.  Excuses, excuses.

I never believed my research was polished enough.  

Sara Blakely worked from the back forward.  She focused on her effort for two years to complete her prototype.  She didn't worry about her business plan, or the presentation.  With her initial investment of $5,000.00,  she hired people to put together the details.  This allowed her to focus on her product and reach her goal.

Why didn't I do that? 

 I always thought that I had to do everything myself, and the venture soon became overwhelming.  Unlike Sara, who gave herself permission to delegate what she couldn't handle.

 I have already addressed two major issues that Sara overcame that kept me from following through on my dream.  

Sara didn't let the details stop her. Instead, she continued to focus on the product. This is one of the traits of a true entrepreneur.

I have another idea I have been kicking around, which targets unemployed 50 plus women.  It is a
networking idea to help them find career placement.

So I ask myself, what's stopping me now?

Obamacare: Nobody Wins

I recently addressed health care issues for Franciscan University, regarding its' dropping student health care insurance, due to Obamacare's  mandatory coverage requirement for abortion and contraception.   Obamacare: Not So Attractive

The Obamacare healthcare bubble is bursting.

According to Godfather Politics: Affordable Health Care Act-Results In Costs Rising Faster Than US Inflation Rate; it is not only the Catholic health community that has headaches with the plan, but it appears it is a corporate issue as well.

According to statistics from the Health Care Institute, Obamacare, once touted as the be-all-end-all to health care plans is not delivering:

  • Costs to employers for health care coverage for employees increased 3.3% in 2010
  • The inflation rate for the United States in 2010 was only 1.5% less than half the rate of increase in health care
  • Price of prescriptions increased by 3%
  • Admission cost for in-patient care went up by 5.1%
  • Outpatient treatment costs rose to 10%

The Health Care Institute gathered this data from Aetna, Humana Inc, and United Health Care.

Looks like the honeymoon is over.  Which goes back to my view of the Obamacare in general.  If it looks too good to be true, it is.

While the intention was there, Obamacare is a pipe dream, nothing more.  I can't see how things can get better. 

For example, I work as a contractor for a major United States corporation that has let its' permanent employees go to hire people without the benefits of a health care plan.  Typical of contractor employment.  No benefits.

This is taking place with much of corporate America, because of the economic crisis in this country.  While the President's health care plan sounded great, it is just not delivering.

So what is the answer?  The answer is not going to be found in a socialized medicine plan;  because, as I have said before, someone has to pay.  The package always looks good, but there are always back-end provider costs. 

With Obamacare, no matter how you slice it, nobody wins.  

Looks like it is back to the drawing board.   After all, you can't get blood out of a stone.

College Student Protests Weight Discrimination

Jordan Ramos
Jennifer Ramos and fellow students plan protest in Iowa City over incident
Benjamin Roberts / Iowa City Press-Citizen

It's no wonder that America has its' share of bullies. After watching Dr. Drew last night, I was absolutely appalled by the statements made by Me Me Roth, regarding her position on student, Jordan Ramos,

Ramos, 21, was turned away from dancing on a platform at a bar in Iowa City. Ms. Roth's first name all but explains her agenda:
" It isn't like they said she couldn't drink," she said. "This is a girl who wanted the audience to find her beautiful. It didn't find her beautiful, said Roth.

Roth is an anti-obesity activist and founder of National Action Against Obesity. Does she really believe people choose to be overweight? It was reported that Ramos was turned away two-times by a club bouncer, when she approached the club's platform to dance.  Confronting the bouncer, he admitted he was not letting her dance on the platform because of her size:
"It completely made me feel like a worthless human being -- that I wasn't as valuable as somebody who might be prettier or thinner than me," said Ramos.
More surprising, was the caller remarks' on Dr. Drew's show. They all seemed to support Ms. Roth's position; which is, the club has a right to limit the platform dancing to slender, attractive people.

There are too many selfish, superficial people that populate this planet. I am ashamed for our country. One would think there is more to the person than what they eat or don't eat. 
I do care about my weight, I struggle like most with keeping it down. However, I would never think to play the blame game with regard to judging why someone is obese. Taking this a step further, there are those that believe  obese people should not have the right to enjoy life in the same way as thinner people. 
This is not so different from how Nazi Germany evolved. If you weren't blond, white, Aryan, Christian, you didn't deserve to live. What a travesty! I never imagined that there is so much discrimination. I gave us far too much credit, and thought we had intellectually evolved much more. 
This particular incident took place at the Union Bar, in Iowa City, Iowa. The owner, George Whitgraf issued a formal apology in the local news paper :Bar Owner Apologizes To Woman Who Felt Discriminated Against Because Of Weight
I can't help but deduce this attitude has to start at home.
What are we teaching our children? Are we instilling values that include compassionate understanding? We place so much value on formal education. I believe we neglect to address the most basic issue, regarding respecting people and their differences. 
The fact is; our morality, integrity, and how we treat others, cannot be taught at school. This has to come from parents.' Our children will mimic our behavior and attitudes. It all begins with taking an inventory of what is projected to children at home. 
If we neglect this fundamental responsibility, we are just as guilty as the offenders' because we failed to do a good job with our parenting. 

Link Between Personality and Frontal Lobe Brain Injury?

Phineas Gage
From the collection of Jack and Beverly Wilgus (Image laterally reversed to show the features in the correct position since daguerreotype is a mirror image)

Read more:

I am fascinated by this story: Phineas Gage-Neurosciences Most Famous Patient.  While fascinated, I am not surprised.

Phineas Gage lived in the late 1800's.   He was a railroad foreman, and as such, suffered a bizarre accident that drove a rod through his head, blinding him his left eye and destroying the part of the left frontal lobe.

Phineas was never the same after the accident. His personality and demeanor totally changed.

Once a respected foreman, who was liked by his peers, turned into a nasty ogre who used profanity, could not complete tasks, and was reduced to taking odd jobs to support himself until his death.

Once the frontal lobe is damaged, people can become violent, disorganized, easily frustrated and highly irritable.  Frontal Lobe Injury

I am not surprised by this story, as I have witnessed this in my family. This individual suffered a frontal lobe injury after running into a wall as a child.  Following the mishap, he became angry and impatient.  Similar to the personality change and description of Phineas Gage.

According to the article, once the white matter surrounding the cerebral cortex is damaged, it prevents the brain from making its' neurological connections that account for how we react to our environment.  Because the brain has been traumatized,  people effected can react inappropriately to every day stimuli.

Our family member, whom I will call "Gregg" can lose his temper over the most trivial reason.  If a cup is not put away correctly, or he receives a response from a question that he does not like, he will  lose control.    He appears to enjoy starting arguments; thinks nothing of raising his voice, or even screaming, in public.

This kind of behavior would embarrass most people.  While Gregg is aware of his short temper, and has sought help, he still is not pleasant to be around and not surprisingly, has few friends.

It is not unusual for people who engage in criminal activity to also have this disorder The Criminal Brain: Frontal Lobe Dysfunction Evidence in Capitol Proceedings.  The man in this documented case, suddenly began to read child pornography and solicit prostitutes.

 According to the case study, the individual began to have serious headaches, and after being admitted to the hospital, it was discovered he had a large tumor. Once removed, his impulses subsided.

There are many incarcerated people that have had frontal lobe injuries.  Many of them unaware of why they have strong impulses to commit crime.  For the unlucky people that suffer from Frontal Lobe Injury, medication may help but not cure them of this disorder.

Phineas Gage was the first story documented on the link between personality change and Frontal Lobe injury.  According to the article,  two thirds of  introductory psychology books mention the Phineas Gage case.

A cast of his face, his skull and the rod are housed at Harvard Medical Schools Warren Anatomical Museum.

Elephant Whisperer Speaks No More

Lawrence Anthony:  Camera Press

Two herds of wild elephants in mourning.  They traveled over 12 miles to pay homage to Lawrence Anthony, the conservationist known as "The Elephant Whisperer." Lawrence Anthony,

Anthony was a native of Johannesburg,South Africa.  He made international news in 2003, when he arrived in Baghdad to rescue animals in Saddam Hussein's zoo. 

Anthony witnessed horrific conditions at the zoo.  Carcasses of dead animals lined the cages.  Parrots were loose, monkeys'  and baboons'  ran wild.  He worked for six months' to restore the original condition of the zoo.  By the time Anthony finished his mission, the animals were well fed, with fresh water, and in good health.

In his native South Africa, he was known for establishing the "Earth Organization," a  conservation effort which established two new reserves.  The first of which The  Royal Zulu Biosphere in Zululand, and The Mayibuye Game Reserve in Kwa Ximba, both in South Africa.  These reserves provided people with jobs, and helped preserve wildlife from uncontrolled development.

So when Anthony learned the fate of two herds of wild elephants, he decided to work with them to save them from certain death.  The elephants had broken out of every enclosure they had been in.  There were nine in all, highly dangerous and and feared by villagers.

Anthony explained that he began to work with them by pleading with them to behave.  He singled out "Nana" first, the matriarch of the group.  At one point, he literally threw himself in front of her, explaining that if she broke through the electric enclosure again, she would be killed.  Remarkably, his effort to try to speak rationally to "Nana" paid off.   He used words and gestures, explaining to her that he knew she couldn't actually understand, but he hoped that his tone would convey what he was trying to say. Gazing at him in anger, she ultimately turned around and walked away.  

So, on March 2nd, when Lawrence Anthony died, two herds of elephants that Anthony had worked with unselfishly to save, made  the 12 mile procession to his grieving family's home.  How they understood is unknown.  But it is said that elephants are fiercely loyal to their families.   The herds mulled about the family property for two days, as if to pay respect and love for sparing their lives.  Then, after spending two days on the property,, turned around returning orderly to the reserve.

To the locals, there is no question that these elephants were in mourning.  They had accepted Lawrence Anthony as their own.  In their own way, they understood his passing.

I treasure this remarkable story, it is another testament of the intense love and devotion animals are capable of expressing.

Lawrence Anthony was one of the privileged few to understand this connection,  Because of his special gifts, he was able to communicate with them in his own way.

It is unlikely the elephants' will every forget his unconditional love and devotion.

Obamacare Not So Attractive

Okay, I admit the package is attractive, health care for everyone, pre-existing conditions are covered, sounds wonderful, right?

Truth is, there are more nuances to the package for students at Franciscan University; a Catholic college in Steubenville, Ohio. Catholic Students Take A Hit Because Of Obamacare

Because of the position of the church on right-to life issues, students will lose their health insurance with the University.  The position of of the University is this: They will not participate in a plan that requires us to violate the consistent teachings of the Catholic Church on the sacredness of life.

The socialized medical plan would require the University to up the the maximum coverage for each student to $100,000.  Students' now paying $600.00 for coverage will have to now pay $1200.00.   So, the University opted out of a student health plan altogether

How sad for students.'   However, as a Catholic myself, I understand.  The college was backed into a corner.  I can see how people would disagree with my view.  However, even if the University did agree to cover contraception and abortion costs, the plan is not flawless as costs to students' will still be exorbitant.

I believe that if this glitch is already effecting Catholic Universities, how will it impact American citizens.

Obviously, someone has to pay for extended coverage and pre-existing conditions.  It all looks good, but how easy will this be facilitated?  This has always been an issue for me with socialized medicine.  While it is very attractive, there a numerous draw backs to the plan: Obamacare: Disadvantages

Other issues include:
  • quality of health care
  • co-pay expenses for extended or pre-existing coverage
  • difficulty in getting appointments
  • waiting time for emergency care 
All that glitters' is not gold.  So much of this  is a pipe dream.  I'll admit, Initially I was on the bandwagon, excited about the roll-out.  But with every positive in social medicine there are two or more negatives. 

The reason we love America so much is because of the quality of life in this country.  Americans' never have to compromise when it came to getting premium health care.  This is why people all over the world have come to our country to get treatment for serious health issues.

With that said,  each of us has to examine what issues are important to us.  More important:  We need to examine the package offered by Obamacare.

Is this plan really everything we were promised?