29 August 2014

Getting money under control after the move

 After our move in late July, the time has come to get the money situation back under control again. I am stretched due to the extra costs incurred with the move and I do not like the feeling. The time has come to readjust the budget and get things back under control as soon as possible. I am not at the danger point yet, but I want to get that sense of comfort back that I had after paying off a debt from earlier this summer.
    The first thing I have done it to temporarily stop paying Kohl's every pay period in favor of paying them once a month. I dislike doing this, but it is something that has to be done for the immediate future. I have to stop eating out and withdrawing money until next payday. This will be an extremely tight 2 weeks for me, but I will overcome it very quickly.
    I have to maintain at least $200 in my checking account since that payment is due on the 10th, which will be the last day before next payday. Each time I look at the balance I have to take that into my calculations. September should finally get me over the hump in terms of the tough times and I will then be able to keep things on a normal field. Just make it through until next payday and things will get better.
    I was able to get my new glasses this pay period. This was something that was a necessity that had been put off for a long time. Now I no longer have to worry about that expense. I will be preparing meals at home until next payday in order to save more money. That is not a problem since I do enjoy cooking. I need to stop the temptation to get something to eat while we are out. That will save a lot of money without too much extra effort. The food cost will happen at the grocery store for the foreseeable future, and that will be cheaper than eating out. If necessary, I can dip into the meagre savings that I have for this 2 week time period. My main goal is to have the $200 left on the last day of this pay cycle.
    On the bright side, the move has proven to be worth it in so many ways. We are both much more comfortable in the new place, we have a washer and dryer in the apartment and covered parking as well. There is plenty to do within walking distance and things are quiet and the neighbors are great. The apartment complex is well-maintained and maintenance is always prompt in their reponse to troubles when they arise.

Waiting for the weekend to arrive

   I am at the office on Friday morning and have gotten everything ready for my morning meeting at 1030. I hope that this will be a slow day, but the feeling at the back of my mind tells me that this will not be the case. Supervisor was supposed to take the entire day off, but he has already altered his schedule to be at his desk for most of the day. THe only saving grace is that his desk is approximately 3000 miles away. The bad part is that he is 3 hours behind and always forgets that late morning meeting on his Friday translate into afternoon meeting on Friday for me.
    My main goal today is to get things done and get out of here as early as possible this afternoon. WIth luck, there won't be anything after 1400 ET, but that has been known to change at the last minute before.

24 August 2014

Boring Sunday

     I had planned to go out today. Then I found that there is an electrical problem in the apartment. At some point after I woke up, power dropped to the Master Bedroom and bathroom. I'm not sure exactly when this happened but I am staying home until this problem is resolved. I reset the breakers, for those who would think to ask about such things, but that did not resolve
the problem. The last thing I want is to leave here and come back to find that something terrible has happened after I noticed a problem.
     I reported this problem to the apartment maintenance facility via email, but I don't believe that they will show up until at least 1200. This isn't an emergency, the power is on throughout the rest of the apartment. It is for now, an inconvenience that I have to deal with. Luckily, I do not HAVE to go out today but it would have made a nice change after being here all day yesterday.
     I suppose that it is just as well that I have to delay any trips for today. I had thought about making a few purchases, but I really don't need the items in question right now. Since no one seems to be available to get together this afternoon it saves me the process of having to call them to alter or cancel plans.
     I hope that the problem is a simple one to repair and that it won't take too much time, but I will be here as long as it takes to be sure that nothing bad happens to the cats. IN the meantime, I will just write since it always helps me to brighten my mood and makes me feel better about whatever is going on in my life at the moment.
    I have not heard from Hal, but that is no surprise since he is still busy with family in Atlanta. HE returns tomorrow and it will be great to see him again. After nearly 15 years together, these separations are still tough for me at times. I wonder if he really knows how much he means to me, but I suspect that he does.
    I want to get through this next week at the office. I left there on Friday after spending way too much time with my boss trying to get my time-sheet as he wanted it after all the extra hours that I put in on his pet project. I will be updating my resume in the near future because I really don't need to have to go through things like that after so many years with this company. Perhaps it is time for a change.
    At least after this next week, I will get a 4-day weekend due to prior planning and reserving the Tuesday after Labor Day as a day off for myself. At times, taking the extra day after a holiday weekend is the only thing that seems to keep me sane on the job. I hope that the next week will be a quiet one, but I learned a long time ago that the only way to guarantee myself of that is to refuse to get drawn into company politics.
    I am thinking about taking a stroll over to the apartment office in 45 minutes when they open to see about an expected time frame for repairing the electrical problem here. If nothing else, it will relieve the boredom and the anxiety for a few minutes. Until then I am OK with hanging on here.
    It is now 1230 and I have not heard from Maintenance yet. I just decided to scrap plans for going out and started laundry after having a nice lunch here at home. I am glad that I took the time to prepare the chicken breasts yesterday while the weather really sucked. It saved me plenty of time around here in terms of lunch.

The Stooges are also having their lunch right now and I will keep them locked away until maintenance has arrived and dealt with the electrical problem in the bedroom. If things cannot be resolved today, I will have to consider going to the office and getting my laptop and then submitting a schedule change to work from home tomorrow. I just called and maintenance should be here within an hour or so. I will wait and see what happens.
    I do have some music playing right now as I continue to write, and to wait on the first load of clothes in the washer. Now that I have started laundry, I suppose that really diminishes my chances of getting out later today. At least I will save money by staying home. There will be several more loads of clothes that have to be done once this process has begun.
    Nearly 1300 and things continue as before. I had a few text messages today from people, but nothing about getting together at all. I wrote the other day about Loneliness, but the people who texted me are not the ones that vanished without a trace yesterday. It is sometimes rather difficult to keep things like this under control. I cannot lash out at those who never wronged me in place of those who have. I value my friends but I do think at times that I place far too much value on them in relation to the value that is returned back to me. I decided that those people are being deleted from my contacts list simply because I never hear from them at all. A catharsis of sorts that makes me feel better.
    Jazz seems to be my music of choice today. Thrown in with some Blues for good measure to match the funk I am fighting my way out of right now. Regardless of how I feel, there is always music that helps me deal with things. The world would be unbearable without music.
    Time has passed. It is now 1730 and I was here when the electrician arrived. He saw the problem firsthand and still could not pinpoint the cause of the problem. He will be back tomorrow with more equipment. When I heard this, I then went to the office and got my laptop so I can telework tomorrow. I already submitted my schedule change request and will be home tomorrow.
    I left a message with Hal to call me so I can let him know that I will be at home when he returns to town tomorrow, but I have not heard back from him yet. I probably won't get an answer until much later this evening. I am taking care of laundry once again and that will be done before I go to bed this evening. I have music playing again which is always much nicer than the idiot box blaring for no reason.
    I am basically done for today. My plans for getting out fell apart with the exception of getting my work laptop from the office. I have been at home otherwise today. Perhaps there is some cosmic reason for this, I don't know. At any rate, I am done with this blog post.

23 August 2014

Loneliness

I don’t think that there are many feelings that are more awful than loneliness. We spend our lives interacting with people, and somehow we can still feel as if we are the only person on the planet at the worst points in our lives. It is a cruel trick that gets played on us, almost always at the point where we are the most vulnerable. I am feeling that way this evening.
Hal is out of town. This is nothing unexpected because he had been planning to visit some of his relative in Atlanta for several months. Hal’s trip was scheduled well in advance and I was more than prepared for it, or so I thought.
I spent the entire day inside the apartment, mainly by choice with the weather being rather dreary outside all day. I got a lot of things accomplished. Cooking was done earlier than anticipated. I even took a nap this afternoon. That was the first Saturday nap I have had in ages. After I woke up I was already in good shape to get together with friends for the evening and watch the premiere of the new Doctor Who.
I wonder now why I made any such plans. The friends never showed up. Not a word from them, and I realized I was too depressed about this development to call them. The depression quickly turned to anger at having built up my expectations for a fun evening that were dashed. To have called after them to find out what happened struck me as being both unnecessary and also projecting a need that I was not prepared to acknowledge. Whatever happened to change their plans must have seemed important to them at the time. Personally, I have no plans to contact them again at all since I was not presented with the common courtesy of even an apology phone call.

It was at this point that the loneliness really set in for me. At least I had the Stooges here with me all day. I was able to talk to them and play with each of them in order to pass the time. I think that without them here, I might have ended up in tears. Luckily, that didn’t happen. I made the best of the evening by myself and decided on an early bedtime. Hopefully tomorrow will be better than today, but I have re-learned the lesson that you can always count on people to let you down.

21 August 2014

America....We have a problem

    Too often I find myself at home in the evening waiting to hear some news out of Ferguson, MO. It is now nearly 2 weeks since Michael Brown was murdered and yet that always seems to be the least discussed part of any media coverage that we see. The murder of Michael Brown only serves as the introduction to the nedia's almost ghoulish fascination with the protests and with itself.
    The event that triggered the demonstrations and protests seems to be barely noticed anymore but somehow I suspect that the people of Ferguson, the people who knew Michael Brown, have forgotten about him. They have lost a friend. Michael Brown's family has lost a son. These are the facts that have gone missing. Imagine how you would feel if someone you knew, or a member of your family were murdered in cold blood in broad daylight by someone that historically will not be punished sufficiently for their crime. Would you be angry? Would you feel bitterness knowing that the person who committed this crime was more than likely to go free because of the color of their skin? Would you feel even more anger if the color of your family members skin had played a factor in this event? What if the color of the victim's skin prejudiced the scales of Justice in such a way that you knew that a fair trial and a just verdict were all but impossible?
    We cannot sweep this problem under the rug any longer. If we truly are a notion of laws that hopes to see Justice equally served to all, then this environment has to be taken head on. The mindsets have to change. There is no room for any system that presents even the hint of unfairness or impropriety. We have to realize that these feelings did not just happen overnight. They have been festering for a long time, for generations, not simply for a few years.
    We have to come to grips with the knowledge that this problem cannot be solved overnight. The prejudices that still poison us are learned from an early age. Hopefully they are better now than they were a generation ago, but they are nowhere near out of the picture. Even with the best and most concentrated efforts, this is a process that will consume our nation for at least 2-3 generations, but at the end of that time we will hopefully be the free people (all of us) that we currently only believe ourselves to be.
    If it takes longer than the time to eat a taco, most Americans aren't interested in making that effort. But I say that it is vital that we do because without it we are facing the empty promise of America and not the America that we all want and deserve. Equality is not just an idea, it is something that will raise us all up to levels we never dreamed possible. There is no limit to the things we can achieve if we can eliminate the fear and hatred and prejudice that still governs us.
    I don't believe in something being impossible simply because it has not happened. To me, that only indicates a lack of effort or a lack of belief in what is important. To be a part of such a grand undertaking should fill us with wonder and awe, not terrify us with shame and fear. I believe that without this movement for all Americans to enjoy equality that we are doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over again. The only way to make things better is to work together to bring that change about. Silence and acceptance equals consent.

A Line has been crossed in Ferguson

    It is time to make a point very clearly to everyone. What happened to Micheal Brown and to Kajieme Powell in the space of less than 2 weeks in the St. Louis area is a very disturbing sign. When the all-too-familiar stories of a White or Non-Black person killing a Black person hit the news it usually contains the information that the killer was not acting in any official capacity. What happened in St. Louis was the line was crossed. These were instances in which the POLICE acted as immediate EXECUTIONERS of civilians.

A Lack of Empathy

    With all of the sad situations around the world today, it seems to me that what we have lost is our Sense of Empathy for our fellow human beings. Every crisis or event seems to follow a pattern in which the persons involved are portrayed as somehow less than human. Once that statement has been issued the floodgates open and the ugliness flows forth.
    The situation in Ferguson is a prime example of this. Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was shot to death by a police officer. While his body lay in the summer sun with witnesses capturing the image on their cell phones the demonization began.
    "Michael Brown was a Thug". This was one of the first and also most predictable responses from people. It has become second nature for us to categorize someone based on the color of their skin. The dog-whistle approach always seems to work the quickest. This approach is evil and it appeals to so many because it is also intellectually lazy. To say this and then proceed down the path to dehumanizing Micheal Brown simply requires no thought at all. The people who will follow this approach will simply never stop to think about what actually happened. If they do they resort to the next line of reasoning in this chain.
    "If Micheal Brown had done what the cop said, he would not have been shot". This next step once again fails to recognize what actually happened. Once again there is not thought required to process this statement, so anyone who questions it must be struggling to find a reason why Michael Brown was innocent of any crime that warranted immediate execution. The funny thing is that I always was taught that everyone is INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY! That misplaced and out-of-date reasoning simply cannot be allowed by the people who are already convinced that Micheal Brown must have somehow deserved to be shot.
    We will eventually reach the phase where every single moment of Michael Brown's all-too-short life is called out for judgement by those who never knew him. Somehow in this twisted world that Conservatives have created, any instance at all that shows Michael Brown did something that might be construed as out of the ordinary is grounds to claim that his fate was sealed at that point, and that some type of bizarre cosmic justice finally took its toll on him.
    While Michael Brown is being dehumanized to the world, another project is becoming apparent. The police officer who shot him must have acted correctly. Conservatives base this on the alleged past imperfections of Micheal Brown, or the pressure that police officers are under from dealing with people like Michael Brown. The police officer is transformed into the VICTIM in the minds of these people.
    Race is the 800-lb gorilla in the room that COnservatives dare not discuss unless it is to claim that Race is only a benefit to non-Whites in America. In their minds the police officer must have been right, first and foremost, because he is White and Michael Brown was Black. This justifies the dehumanizing of Michael Brown and quickly arrives at the foregone conclusion that race is only an issue to non-whites and is therefore less than relevant to the issue of Michael Brown's murder.
    To these Conservatives, the very idea that a community of which Micheal Brown was a part, would ever dare to rise up in anger and frustration, demand justice and demand respect is nothing more than an excuse for more people "like Michael Brown" to misbehave and break the Law". The racism in this viewpoint is blindingly obvious.
    I shudder when I hear people talk like this. I cannot understand how they will so easily throw away their empathy for another human being and indulge in the emotional and disturbing behaviors that I already mentioned. I feel for Michael Brown, as I feel for anyone who has been killed or harmed by injustice. I do not believe that Justice exists for any of us if it is DENIED to any of us.
    The bottom line is that the awful and repugnant behavior exhibited by Conservatives in the Micheal Brown instance can be explained by one simple statement. They don't care, because caring would require thought and self-examination. It is always easier to follow the herd, somewhere in the middle or towards the back of the pack so they will see the cliff before plummeting over it with their leaders. They will then claim that they were misled in the first place and quickly seek out the next leaders who will do their thinking for them.

R.I.P. Micheal Brown

    The world takes another step into darkness

20 August 2014

Sometimes the Police are the problem

     With all of the news regarding Ferguson Missouri right now, it seems like a good time to discuss the issue of police behavior. I myself have been abused verbally by a police officer. This is in no way as bad as what is happening in Ferguson, but it does make me think that the problem of bad police behavior  is much more widespread and we want to believe.
     To tell my story, it was in the evening when I was driving home with Hal after a nice dinner at a local restauraunt . I had toyed with the idea of having a beer or cocktail at dinner, but wisely I decided against it. The weather was overcast and slightly warm and muggy that night.
     Due to some widely-reported heavy traffic, I decided to take a different route home than usual.  I had come to an intersection and entered the left-turn lane to wait at the red light. Across from me another vehicle was doing one of those slow rolls up to the light with their headlights on BRIGHT. This was extremely distracting to me as I sat there because the oncoming car gave no solid indication if it was going to proceed through the intersection, or turn left opposite me. 
     As the light turned green the oncoming car just seemed to continue its slow roll through the intersection. This struck me as odd' but I was about to find out why that car didn't accelerate normally. When the car cleared the intersection I didn't realize how much the bright lights had affected my vision. I looked and then slowly proceeded to begin my left turn. It was as I started that I finally saw a Hispanic couple with a baby stroller in the crosswalk. They had the right of way and I came to a stop.
    At this point I discovered that the car which had been waiting in the left turn lane behind me was actually a cop! His lights came on, his siren blared, and he proceeded to scream over his loudspeaker "Pull over to the curb, Asshole!" I was feeling a mixture of emotions at that point. The panic at the realization I had come within a few feet of actually hitting a couple along with their child terrified me. The fact that a cop had seen this incident unnerved me, but I found myself really pissed off that this cop had acted in the way that he did with his verbal assault broadcast for the entire neighborhood to hear.
     I pulled over to the curb after carefully cleared the intersection and waited for the cop to approach my car. I stayed perfectly still and gave no indication of trouble whatsoever. After a minute or two running the obligatory license plate checks, the cop approached my car. The cop was an African-American and he proceeded to verbally harass me even more with several obscenities thrown in which apparently provided amusement to the crowd that gathered after hearing the siren and the uncalled-for insult broadcast over his car speaker.
     I was subjected to approximately 25 minutes of interrogation and repeated verbal abuse in addition to correctly performing what must have been every field sobriety test in the police handbook. A second officer arrived and was much more interested in finding out what had uld    happened. I had deliberately avoided saying anything to the abusive cop that was not a direct answer to a question from him. It honestly felt like this cop was trying to provoke me into some type of incident.
     I know that my story pales in comparison to what has happened in Ferguson. I can't begin to umderstand or pretend to know how someone who is African-American could possibly feel when a cop so acting as if they are above the law. I merely want to point out that when we allow the police to act above the Law, then we are all in danger from those cops. The ones who want to pick a fight with the people they are supposed to protect.

Insomnia

     Once again Insomnia has struck me.  This time it is directly related to my diabetes. My blood sugar has plummeted and I woke up feeling very disoriented and in need of something to eat in order to raise it back to normal levels. I know from experience that it is pointless trying to get back to sleep right now so I am sitting outside on the balcony and I decided to write again.
     I have noticed that writing often calms me down after such an event. I do wish that it didn't happen quite as often however and I also wish that I found more time to write without a traumatic event to spur me into action. Having said that, there are much worse things that can happen in one's life..

   
  I am fortunate to have my fan club hanging on my every word at this point, as you can tell.  Since it almost 0230 I'm not surprised that they are so attentive to my every word. Seriously, I'm not going to bother them. The Stooges have adjusted well to the new apartment after 1 month. Hal and I love it here.
     I will have to start getting ready for work in about 2.5 hours. I don't suspect that I will get more sleep before then. I am used to going into the office after a sleepless night, I am sorry to say. One more day won't make much difference to me. At least I hope to avoid working offsite tomorrow/today. I have put in too many extra hours this week and I really have to catch up on my normal work if I can have that chance.
     At any rate, I will stop this blog post and try to relax in the hope that I might sleep again. Wish me luck.

15 August 2014

Exhaustion on a Friday

 For those who read my post on Insomnia from very early this morning, it should come as no surprise that I am completely exhausted at work today. I have put in 8 hours of extra time over just 3 days this week, and that does not include the extra time involved with commuting on those days due to traffic. At any rate I am taking my lunch break here at the office now and waiting for a meeting with the boss that was supposed to have taken place earlier today. The boss has shifted my meeting until late this afternoon so I will not be able to recoup any of the time that I am due today.
    This just adds to the exhaustion that I am already suffering from. If I were a rookie when it comes to insomnia I would feel dead right now. Sadly, this is a far from rare occurrence for me and I am just going to have to wait until I can try to rest again before anything will change. When I leave work this afternoon I will try to get a nap before committing to anything this evening. I hope that I will feel more alive after the nap and that I can enjoy the weekend without feeling like crap the entire time. The least attractive alternative is sleeping through most of the weekend because I will really not feel good about not having any time to myself for what I want to do.
    Life goes on. I will make the best of it.

Insomnia

     During a workweek from HELL I wonder why I must be visited by insomnia once again? I have had more than enough difficulty this week without having to face tomorrow after a sleepless night.
     I suppose I should be grateful that the insomnia hasn't been with me every night this week. The 12+ hour days are really wearing me down. I have already told my boss that this cannot go on and that tomorrow I need a break. I have no plans to work late tomorrow because it is Friday and I need some rest. Actual I need that rest right now, but it just isn't happening for me.

11 August 2014

Ferguson - A symptom of a problem that won't go away

        By now everyone else has written something about the tragedy in Ferguson, MO over the weekend. It is a sadly repeating story about a black teen killed by the police. The pattern was the same as in all the other cases like this, the media ignored the story until there was some violence that they could report on. I say this because the violence used against the teen was not sexy enough, the media had to wait until there were riots and looting in order to sit up and take notice.
        How many more people do the police have to kill before we realize that there is a REAL problem with the police all across America? There is a never-ending cycle of police violence that we are suffering from, and yet no one wants to address that issue for fear it will upset the status quo. If the status quo involves police killing unarmed civilians, then it it time to upset that status quo!
        This problem cannot be addressed without discussing racial issues in this country. There is no way to frame this in a "law and order" style as most Conservatives would like to. The attempt to framne the issue in this manneer is indicative of the refusal to address the underlying causes of the problem. Since a minority is disproportinately targeted in these killings, the media in this country wants to picture them as the problem. This also defeats the real purpose of getting to the root of the issue. 
        The American public folliows these stories with distracted interest until violence occurs. "If he would have done what the police said" is the most common rationalization I see from people who don't want to truly solve the problem. This approach is a way of making themselves feel good and demonizing the victims of the police violence as somehow deserving it.
        Race relations in America have always been complicated. It is something that only discussion and understanding will ever hope to resolve. Sweeping the problem under the rug and blaming the victim for bringing the misfortune upon themselves does NOTHING to start the process of understanding each other. I find it interesting that the people who will blame a woman who has been the victim of rape for somehow "deserving or asking for it" take that same tone when it comes to Black Americans being the victims of police violence.
        The police are supposed to protect the population, not to terrorize it, not to terrorize  targeted portions of the population. To question the police is to be seen as part of the problem rather than someone seeking a true solution. This is another Conservative trick philosophy designed to get the majority of White Americans to instantly discredit anything said that impugns the integrity of the police who are supposed to protect THEM from harm. Sadly, this philosophy somehow includes the precept that those who disagree are not entitled to the same rights, and deserve much quicker and harsher "justice" to be delivered to them.
        America has a real problem with the police. Militarization of the police after 9/11 has only worsened the problem. We need to stop this insanity before more people die and are then ignored by the media and the rest of the population. This is NOT how America is supposed to be.