Apr 30, 2010

What a pain.

I feel like I've blogged about my tooth before. Have I? I checked back on my list of blog posts and if I did I can't find it. If I have and this seems familiar to you, stop reading and do me the favor of leaving a comment that says "Stop repeating yourself".  

I'm in the market for a new dentist. I am not happy about it. It's hard to find a good dentist. Same is true of a good hairdresser. Getting your hair cut or having dental work is tough for an introvert. Both are very personal services to begin with. Then to make matters worse the people providing the service try to chit chat you up while they are doing it.

You can tell when they are faking a personal interest in you. Please don't bother. Just (cut my hair), (fill my tooth) and I'll be on my way. What I liked about this dentist was his sincerity. Quiet guy who really seemed to take an interest in his patients. It took me a long time to find him and I've been going to him for years. My whole family goes to him now.

In the beginning everything went wonderfully between my dentist and me but over the last few years our relationship has deteriorated. I blame him.

He botched a root canal and ignored me every six months when I told him that the tooth felt funny. Not painful, just funny. He always wanted to wait and see..... Fast forward eight years ... my tooth got infected to the point that my gum swelled up with a nice little pocket of pus. Gross, I know, but that's what it was.

I made an appointment. Finally, he gave me a referral to an endodontist who re-did the root canal. My misery wasn't over though. The infection was so bad I had to go back four months later and have oral surgery to scrape the infection from my bone.

I decided I had had enough. I was going to find a new dentist. I know some of you are thinking "Hello?? Why did you wait eight years?" Please see above where I mention I "hate" finding a new dentist. I finally had to admit though that quality of dental work surpasses the quality of the social experience while in the chair.

As I was procrastinating about actually doing something to find a new dentist one of my fillings fell out. I had no choice. I went back to my dentist.

He put a new filling in and told me we would have to do a crown. I asked if I would need a root canal before he did it. He actually answered me "Well, I know how sensitive you are about root canals because of that problem you had with the last one. If you think you need one, we can do it."

If I think I need one? Aren't you the freaking dentist? Shouldn't you be telling me what I need? And how dare you act as if my root canal problem was an emotional issue on my part. That's it. I am REALLY finding a new dentist now.

Apr 23, 2010

All they need is a foothold.

Does anybody else see a similarity between the proposed Arizona immigration law and the measures taken by the Germans in the 1930’s to identify Jews? The proposal would make it a REQUIREMENT for local Arizona law enforcement to determine an individual's immigration status if an officer SUSPECTS that person is in the country illegally. They can look at you and decide that you need to produce papers saying you are legally here in the US.

Those who think that somehow the Germans were intrinsically evil and that nothing like that could happen again should read the book “Stones from the River” by Ursula Hegi.  The Nazis didn’t march into Germany one day and take over as the Third Reich. It was a slow and gradual process that started with measures like those being proposed in Arizona. Things that were easy for people to shake their head at in disagreement and go on about their business. Next thing you know people are wearing stars on their clothes. Then another year or two later and they are being hauled off in the middle of the night to be murdered. Meanwhile everybody else is either brainwashed or living in fear of the crazies now running the country.

These border fanatics are employing the same tactics in Arizona. Their message – “Everything wrong with your life is THEIR fault. If we can just get control (get rid of) THEM things will be better for everybody.” I’ve had statistics quoted to me about the number of illegal aliens in prison, in gangs, in HUD housing, on welfare….. The people quoting these statistics don’t seem to understand that poverty is the common denominator for these issues, not alien status or their not-so-veiled implication that it’s based on somebody’s nationality.

Immigration needs reform. Nobody can argue that point. My opinion is we do two things. First, punish the people who employ illegal aliens. They are the ones promoting illegal immigration into this country. Easy explanation for why we don’t. They are the business owners who make contributions to political campaigns. So instead we demonize the illegals who are, for the most part, coming here to make a better life for themselves. Isn’t that where most of us came from somewhere down the line?

For the better part of my twenty years in HR I have collected I-9s to make sure our employees are able to work legally in the US. I have never once had my records inspected by INS. I’ve never talked to another HR person who has. Employers know that the government doesn’t have the resources to enforce the law. They are too busy building fences and adding guards at the border. Let’s enforce our immigration laws at the source of the income. Enforce existing laws against HIRING illegal aliens and punish those who ignore them.

Second, issue working visas that would make it easier for immigrants to work here on a temporary basis. This benefits everybody. We could start collecting taxes off of these wages. It would also raise the overall wage rate in the US which right now is being held down because of under the table wages paid to illegal immigrants. With a legal method to come here and work the people left trying to illegally cross the borders would be criminals trying to avoid the scrutiny of the INS.

I am probably a little more sensitive these days to the immigration issue. My new son-in-law is Mexican. So, when I hear people paint all Mexicans as (fill in the blank), it makes me very angry. These days it seems to be OK to spew hatred and venom on Latinos so long as you replace the word Mexican with “Illegal Immigrants”. You think that means you’re not a racist? Bullshit.

Apr 20, 2010


This is my Dad. Hard working, honest and the man that taught me to treat all people in this world with respect and dignity. He will be 70 years old this September.  He's a paradox in so many ways.  One of the most generous people you will ever meet but also able to pinch a penny tighter than anybody I know. Kind of works on the perimeter of things as if he isn't paying any attention to you at all and then he will come off with a statement that makes you realize he really has been paying attention.  Says some insensitive things but then will do something so incredibly thoughtful and sweet that it nearly makes you cry.  He frustrates me to no end sometimes but I also wouldn't trade him for any other Dad in the world.

He's on Facebook now. Not because he wants to keep up on the latest and greatest social networking trend.  Because he's a man on a mission and it involves making my Mom happy, which he tries to do to the best of his ability.

Our trip to Norway this August is a return trip for my mother.  She spent time there in the mid 50's, recuperating from rheumatic fever.  Not sure why Norway's climate was better than Germany, maybe they thought the mountain air would do her good.  She has many fond memories of the place and especially the people she met.  But being a young girl when she was there she only knew people by their first names. 

Not sure how we were going to find them except to wander through the village asking around.  My Dad needed a better plan than that though.  He's not really one for flying by the seat of your pants.  I also suspect he can't see us making this expensive sojourn to Scandanavia and ending up with nothing to show for it. 

He called the hotel where we are staying and asked the person who answered if she knew anybody who lived in the village we are going to visit.  The desk clerk said no but her co-worker had grown up there and probably did.  This progressed to where we are now.  A FB account for my Dad and friendships with many of these people from my mother's past.  We now have addresses, names and open invitations for coffee when we are in town.

What a guy!

Apr 15, 2010

Great Special Effects

I get a news feed on my iGoogle at work. Very distracting because I am very distractable. Today a story about a meteor blazing through the midwestern skies caught my eye.   I love end of the world type stuff and though my friend Tony will probably disown me..... one of my favorite movies is Armageddon.  The other movie, Deep Impact, that came out at the same time is also worth watching again whenever I run across it.  Heck, I even liked 2012, as hokey and implausible as it was.

All of these movie special effects though couldn't prepare me for how chilling it is to see the real thing.  That's a real fireball shooting over your head.  Hello?  That thing could kill somebody.

My favorite part of this video is how they circle the meteor in the replay.   Yeah, we see it.

Somebody told me that the meteor in the first one was probably the size of a grain of sand. No wonder the Worldwide Meteor Detection Net didn't pick them up. If there is such a thing. I hope there is.

I also heard they are predicting another meteor shower to rain down upon us on April 21st. You'll have to excuse me now while I go stock my apocolypse bunker.

Apr 14, 2010

Aisle Rage

Sort of like road rage only it happens in a grocery store.   Have you ever suffered?  Or are you one of the inconsiderate people who invoke it in others?  Here's how you can tell, give yourself one point for each yes answer:

Do you wander aimlessly from one side of the aisle to the other instead of keeping your cart to the right?  You see, it works sort of like a road, where people following traffic rules makes things run much more smoothly.

Has your cart ever been parked sideways in an aisle?  Double points if you've left it there while you went to a different aisle to get something you forgot.

Are you oblivious to what is going on around you?  (Say yes if you've ever had a line up of four carts waiting for you to decide whether you want your tuna packed in oil or water..... go for the water packed tuna, it's better for you.)

Do you bring your five kids to the store with you during the after work grocery store rush?

Do you let your toddler wander behind you munching on a box of animal crackers and drinking a chocolate milk because you don't want to make them sit in the cart because they will cry about it even though they are clearly wreaking havoc as they stand obstinately in front of the dairy coolers not letting anybody get their milk?

Do you refuse to move forward at the register which prevents the person behind you from putting their groceries on the belt?

If you answered yes to ANY of these questions you could be the target of aisle rage.   If somebody walks past you shaking their head in disbelief and mumbling to themselves you'll know for sure you need to work on your aisle ettiquette. 

Rant within a rant.  I don't care how cute your kid is.  I had kids, they were cute too.  Get your kid out of the way.  You are teaching them to believe that the world revolves around them.  It doesn't and the rest of us will be saddled with having to teach the obnoxious brat that lesson when he/she becomes our student, employee, co-worker.  Consideration, it's a positive trait that will serve your precious little muffin well in the future.  Pass it on.

Apr 11, 2010

Where was I ......?

Oh yeah, homeless guy in San Francisco.  It was on my second trip to SF that I had the scariest street encounter of my life, but it wasn't my first. I was an experienced harrassee.  My previous run in was in Ann Arbor.  I was walking down Liberty St., near State.  I think I was going to the book store or something.  I was carrying Miss Erica, who at the time was about one year old.  1987.

It was a beautiful summer day.  I hear this woman behind me going on and on about "You've got William F. Buckley's granddaughter.  You can't have her.  Give her back to me.  Hey lady, give me that baby."  I turn around to see who she's talking to and lo and behold it's me.  I turned back around and kept walking.  She caught up to me and was yelling in my face about how I had to give her William F. Buckley's granddaughter back.   Miss Erica was crying and I was pretty scared since she wouldn't leave me alone no matter how much I ignored her.

Since there were no police in sight I ducked into a shoe store to ask one of the clerks to call the police.  I was hoping Homeless Hannah wouldn't follow me into the store but she did.  She's yelling by this point as I calmly try to explain to the clerk that this crazy lady won't leave me alone.   He hesitated.  Seriously.  As if he couldn't decide who was telling the truth, me or the crazy lady in rags.  After all, Miss Erica was balling and who was to say whose baby it was..... except of course that Hannah was claiming it was WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY'S GRANDDAUGHTER.  I don't think he knew who WFB was because I thought that was clearly a point in my favor.   Finally he decided to believe me (I think it was because I had more teeth than she did) and called the police.  By the time they came Hannah was long gone.

The homeless guy in San Francisco was a much scarier encounter.  It was my second trip there, probably around '92 or so.  Business during the week and sightseeing on the weekend.  My husband had flown out with me.  We saw all the sights you see when touring SF.  One night we were walking near Fisherman's Wharf but a little off the beaten path.  We like to find little hole in the wall bars or restaurants whenever we visit a new city.    We ended up on a street with not a lot of anything going on.  No bars, restaurants or shops and only a few people here and there. 

Down the street heading right for us is this scary looking homeless guy.  What made him scary were two things.  One, he was looking up and was trying to make eye contact with people.  Most homeless people look down at the ground or stare off into space.  Not this guy.  He seemed to be saying "I dare you to look at me".  The second scary thing about him was the baseball bat he was swinging around.   He clearly was not coming from baseball practice.  That bat was a weapon and he was not afraid to use it.

Jim can handle himself.  At that time he had been studying Soo Bahk Do, a Korean martial art, for a number of years and had a black belt.  Though he learned in his studies that it's best to avoid an encounter if you can.    He calmly advised me that maybe we should cross the street.   I'm not sure if that's what did it or the fact that I kept stealing glances at the guy.  Either way, we were targeted.  He crossed the street and put himself in our path again.   This time we turned around and started walking.  He started yelling at us as he followed us.  I don't remember what he was saying exactly,  mostly incoherent stuff.   As he's gaining on us he is slamming the baseball into every inanimate object he comes across.... signs,  parking meters, mailboxes.  BANG.

I was very scared.  I was pretty sure Jim could protect us but was worried he would get hurt in the process.  In the end Jim decided to make a stand.  He said "Stop walking and get behind me."  As soon as we did that and Jim looked this guy straight in the eye, he sort of mumbled something, hit the nearest street sign with his bat, did an about face and left us alone.

Never had another encounter since then, at least not with a homeless person.  There was the time I used a dryer at the laundromat and was informed by this crazy guy that I had used "his" dryer.  Spittle flying from his mouth, red faced.  I calmly moved my clothes to another dryer and he settled back into his chair and started rocking back and forth again.    You just never know what will set somebody off.  Sad , really, how many of the homeless are obviously suffering from untreated mental illnesses.

Apr 5, 2010

Who knew it could be like this?

The first big city I visited was San Francisco. Well, the first big “real” city anyway. I had visited Detroit plenty of times before that. Detroit hardly qualifies as a great American city. Hell, it barely qualifies as a functioning city. It is a rusted out shell of its former self. It’s more of a cautionary tale about what happens when a huge percentage of the population leaves for the suburbs followed by 50 years of mostly corrupt governance.

You ever see "The Omega Man"? A movie from the 60's, maybe early 70's, with Charlton Heston. It's based on the same story as Will Smith's "I am Legend". There's a scene in that move meant to illustrate how everybody's dead and gone. It even has tumbleweed rolling down the street. That's Detroit, minus the tumbleweed.

I grew up in the western suburbs of Detroit. As a kid I would sometimes go to downtown Hudson’s department store with my Mom for their annual sale. As a teenager I attended concerts at Cobo Hall and later Joe Louis Arena. All of these excursions involved getting in your car, driving to your destination, parking as close as you could, attending the event, getting back to your car as quickly as possible (especially at night), and driving home. Not only wasn’t it safe to go walking around, there really wasn’t any reason to. The majority of Detroit looks like this:

                                Detroit Train Station

Abandoned Home
Another One

Shopping District

After I got married I lived in Ann Arbor. It’s a wonderful college town. I use the words vibrant, bohemian and quirky to describe Ann Arbor. There I got my first taste of walking downtown streets, eating at an outdoor cafĂ© and the hustle and bustle that comes with a thriving community. As a college town though, Ann Arbor is almost entirely focused on the University and its students. It lacks the bigness and the competing interests that you find in a major city.

I never imagined what a real city was like. Then in the early 90's I visited San Francisco on a business trip. I had never seen a bustling big city neighborhood before. Everywhere I looked there were people working and shopping and even living in these cities. I had no idea. A year later I went to Boston, which confirmed that San Francisco was no fluke. In the ensuing twenty years I've been to many cities. Sad to say that none of them are as dismal as Detroit. Cincinnati came close but it's more gritty than destitute. It has a certain character.

There have been attempts to revitalize Detroit that have resulted in some positive changes. A thriving casino district, though, is hardly something to hang your hat on for sustained improvement. What will help Detroit? 1) A good public transportation system. We have no train system, no subway and the city line and suburb lines are operated by two different companies. 2) We have to get people living in the city again. When they live there, they will want to shop and work there. They will pay taxes that the city sorely needs. 3) Somebody has to take over that corrupt school system and start all over again.

I hope there's a brighter future for Detroit. The city motto after all is: "We hope for better things; it shall arise from the ashes."

(This post was originally going to be about an encounter I had with a homeless guy in San Francisco. Ms. Healthypants comment reminded me of it. I got sidetracked. Stay tuned.)