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Monday, April 30, 2007

Newspaper

Last week I received an e-mail requesting volunteers for our community newspaper.

I volunteered to help in any capacity. Imagine my surprise when I received a call from our editor saying that she felt that I was already a reporter for the paper. I've written several articles, covering either my travels or events of my singles group. The articles have been very sporadic, usually whenever the mood hits me.

Now that I know that I'm a member of the staff, I have to be more consistent with my articles. I think I'll push for a column devoted to the activities of the singles. I'll call it, "On Our Own". I dislike being called "single", it sounds so lonely, I prefer "on my own", or even independent.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Shadfest

Today we took a ride to Lambertville, a small town on the Delaware River. Again, we picked the wrong day. We had just wanted to wander around and check out some of the galleries and craft shops, but it was very crowded and parking was very tight.

Today was the last day of Shadfest. This is a day to celebrate the running of the shad on the river. Evidently, this is a very popular event. According to my research, most riverside towns hold such a celebration.

This is a very pretty town, it's very old and I'm sorry I didn't bring my camera. This means I'll have to make another trip. Some of the buildings were very interesting. They converted the old railway station into a restaurant which had very good food. I had a chicken and walnut salad with a honey mustard sauce which was delicious. This recipe was featured in BON APPETIT.

It was a very good day.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Gardening

I recently had some landscaping done on my property and it put me in the mood to put some more plants around the house.

I went to a local garden center today, just to look. Then I saw they had their herbs out, so, of course, I had to buy some. I grew a few in my kitchen this past year and it was great to have fresh basil or parsley on hand. I would just cut a few sprigs and chop them into a salad or a sauce. I felt just like a real chef.

Encouraged by this success, I bought three more basil plants, another parsley, some sage and oregano. Right now, since the evenings are still too cool to put the plants outside, they are sitting three deep in front of my windows.

Oh, I also saw some annuals that I thought would look good on my patio. As a plus, they are supposed to attract butterflies. That would be nice since this is a new community and the trees aren't too tall, so there are not many birds or butterflies or squirrels. I can't believe that I actually miss squirrels.

I'm thinking of turning my guest room into a home for my plants, I already have several house plants and African violets. My spider plant has many "babies" that should be put into another pot, but I have to find a high place for them since my cat Burnie likes to eat the spider plant, which then makes him sick.

All these plants are becoming an obsession.

Friday, April 27, 2007

CNBC MILLION DOLLAR PORTFOLIO

Today is Friday and that means it's time to report on my virtual portfolio.

This has been a very exciting week on Wall Street, the Dow hit 13,000 and hadrecord closings for the last three days. Earnings have been strong and unemployment is still low, but there has been some unfavorable news. The housing market is still in the doldrums and there are fears of inflation.

Week #8 was not as good as I had expected. My goal was very ambitious. I had hoped to finish in the top 10% with a total portfolio value of $1,125,435.77. Actually, I finished in the top 12% with a total value of $1,114,314.62. While these numbers are not too shabby, I would have liked to have done better. On the plus side, if I were playing with the celebrities, I would be in 3rd place.

For the next week, I'll have to be more selective in my sales and purchases. Maybe I should hold longer. Of course, since the market has been doing so well the past few weeks, there may be some profit taking and some down days. I'll have to be ready to buy when some prices come down.

My goal for next week is still to finish in the top 10%, but I think I'll increase my total value to $1,128,368.50. Let's see how well I do.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

E-Mail Problems

This morning I went to check my e-mail, but there was none. Several times during the morning I checked and still none, even the usual daily newsletters.

I checked all my settings, even deleted them and re-typed them, but to no avail. Finally, this afternoon I decided to take drastic action. I had to decide between making a fine adjustment by hitting the unit, or closing everything and shutting down. I chose to shut down for about an hour.

When I turned my computer back on, I got my e-mail - all 45 that should have been sent during the day and some that I had tried to send last night finally were sent.

I could have gone into my service provider to check my mail, but, for some reason some of my newsletters seem to be in another language before they are routed to my inbox. I haven't figured out a solution to that problem yet.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Good News

There's good news tonight!

First, Rosie. She's leaving The View. I must admit, I haven't watched much since she started, I've found her to be loud and obnoxious. Occasionally, while flipping around the channels, I've caught some of the show, and of course, some of her more outrageous comments have made the evening news. I may tune in again once she's gone. I'm sure she'll turn up somewhere else.

The main good news in that the Dow hit 13,000 in early trading and closed above 13,000. Maybe that number and the good earnings of some major companies will restore consumer confidence.

I've often wondered if the lack of confidence in the economy is the result of some experts saying we're having a slowdown, consumers believe it and stop spending. I think that is some of the reason behind the housing slowdown. Everyone kept saying house sales were slowing down, mortgage rates were going to go up, so new buyers are afraid to invest in a house now. They decide to wait, so houses are not selling. It seems like a self-fulfilling prophecy. I'm no economist, just someone who has managed the family finances for many years, and that's my take on things. I have confidence in our economy.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

OLD FRIENDS

Today I had a chat with an old friend. I've known her for over 15 years. We've shared some good times and some bad times. I met her when I was working for an insurance company. She was a vice president and I an administrative assistant, but something clicked and we've remained friends.

We also have something else in common - our birthday although there are many years separating us. We're going to meet next week and celebrate. I can fill her in on the wonderful life of being retired and she remind me about the joys of raising two teenagers.

I don't think about the number, I just congratulate myself on making it another year.

Monday, April 23, 2007

WEIRD BUT TRUE

Let's hear it for the seniors. The big story in golf lately is a 102 year old named Elsie McLean. She just became the oldest person ever to hit a hole-in-one on a registered course. The Chico, CA woman whacked the ball with a driver and nailed the par 3, 100 yard shot at Bidwell Park. "For an old lady, I still hit the ball pretty good", McLean told a local TV station.

Unfortunately, this senior didn't fare too well. He was critically injured while riding his motorcycle after a boxed bathtub fell off a pickup truck on a Louisiana Intgerstate and landed in his path. Charles Warren, 72, was thrown from his bike and onto a grass median. He was taken to a local hospital. The driver of the pickup truck was booked for negligent injury and driving with an unsecured load.

A Croatian man was caught smuggling 175 chameleons out of Thailand and told authorities he thought they would camouflage themselves against detection. Border officials singled out Dragos Radovic because his luggage appeared to be moving on its own. Radovic's explanation, "The man who sold them said they changed color to make themselves invisible, but it didn't work." He's not too bright.

Now here's a headline that, at first, shocked me, then puzzled me. CHILD IS KILLED, PARENT AXES 60. I thought, how sad, a child is killed and the parent does a Lizzie Borden. Fortunately, I went on to read the article. It seems that Meredith Corp. is stopping publication of CHILD MAGAZINE and firing 60 people in the publishing group, including all 30 at the magazine. The lesson I learned from this - read before you leap (to any conclusions).

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Dinner

About three weeks ago, a group of us decided to go to dinner. We wanted to go to one of the restaurants on the shore. We thought the end of April would be a good time. The weather would be nice and it's early in the season so the restaurants would be fairly empty. Were we ever wrong!

Today was the first very nice day of Spring and everyone in New Jersey decided to go to the shore. The first restaurant we chose had a wait of 1 1/2 to 2 hours and they had no place to sit while we waited. We went across the street and tried that restaurant. There, the wait was only 1 hour and they had a place to wait. We stayed there, sat in the bar. After about 1 1/4 hours, we decided to check on our tables. They told us our tables would be ready very soon.

We finally got seated about 1/2 hour later. We told the waiter we didn't want anything to drink, or any appetizer and we were ready to order. Fortunately, the food was worth the wait.

I'd go there again, but not on a Saturday night, especially if the weather has been very good.

Friday, April 20, 2007

CNBC MILLION DOLLAR CHALLENGE

It's Friday and that means it's time for my report on week #7. Wall Street has been very, very good to me.

I'm pleased to report that I surpassed last week's goal of the top 18% and total value of $1,073,400.75. I am now in the top 13% with a value of $1,099,451.35. If I were playing with the celebrities, I would rank at #4.

I've taken some profits today, maybe prematurely. But, I have locked in the profit and if I can keep answering the bonus bucks questions, my value will increase. Someone once told me, "You can be a bear, you can be a bull, but you should never be a pig".

My goal is to hold a stock for an increase of two points, then sell and take the profit. There are many companies I have sold for a profit, and they are still climbing. Sometimes I wish I had not sold, but, at least I made a profit.

I have a fair amount of available cash, so my new goal is to finish next week in the top 10% with a total value of $1,125,435.75. If the Dow keeps its momentum from this week, I'll be able to. I know it's due for a correction, but I hope it's not too much.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Two Americas

I have an appointment next week to have my hair done. I need to have my roots colored, my hair trimmed and blown dry. All this will cost me about $40.00. John Edwards whose hair is much shorter than mine pays $400.00 to have his done. He has also had his skin smoothed for $225.00.

John Edwards lives in a 28,000 square foot home on 102 wooded acres. My home is 2600 square feet on a lot about 30 feet by 80 feet.

Most people in North Carolina probably couldn't afford to have their hair done for $400.00, nor could they live in a 28,000 square foot home.

This "champion" of the poor should try to live more modestly. Unless you have a huge family, you don't need a 28,000 square foot home. The amount of money John Edwards spends on his hair in one year could feed a family in his own state for a year.

If he really feels for the poor, John Edwards should truly support them. Get his hair done at the local barber shop, let his skin go for a while, and maybe move to a smaller home.

He's right, there are two Americas. The America of the people and the America of John Edwards.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Accident

Imagine this, you're anxious to get to a meeting where you're not even needed, but you tell your driver to hurry.

He speeds, you're not wearing your seatbelt. Other cars try to get out of your way. Your driver tries to slow down on a curve, but he loses control of the car. You crash. You're seriously hurt, need three surgeries and will be out of commission for a long time.

Besides the injuries, do you face any consequences such as a ticket for not wearing a seatbelt? The fine is $46 which you can well afford, but no ticket is issued. People on the inside say that your driver will get the blame for this accident. He had no choice. He knows that a previous driver who refused to ignore traffic regulations was removed as a driver.

It must be nice to be governor.

It is a shame he was hurt so badly, and I wish him a complete recovery. Hopefully, he will have learned his lesson and at least wear his seatbelt like everyone in his state is required to do.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Summer Travel

Today's WALL STREET JOURNAL carried an article about expected problems for air travelers this summer. Because the airlines have scheduled 3.5% more flights in June, July and August than last year, there will likely be many problems this summer when storms force slowdowns and cancellations. I really don't think I'd like to be stuck in a plane without air conditioning on a hot summer day.

According to John Prater president of the Air Line Pilots Association, "If this doesn't look like the summer of 2000 all over again, I don't know what does." In 2000 the airports and airways were jammed with travelers, causing widespread flight delays. This year, travel is booming again, good for the economy, not so good for travelers. Airline staffing is tight and there may be some labor battles at some airlines.

Employment at the major airlines was down 2.9% while passenger traffic was up 1.2%. They have also reduced the number of spare pilots in reserve to fill in when crews get sick, delayed or stranded and they also have fewer spare airplanes to replace mechanically grounded aircraft or planes off schedule because of storms.

This article gave a few hints to make travel easier this summer. Don't schedule flights with close connections or arrivals shortly before big events, meetings or cruise-ship sailings. Watch the weather, if storms are brewing try to leave a day earlier if you can change without penalty. Try to fly early in the day since thunderstorms often occur later in the day.

Now I have to decide if I really want to fly this summer, or should I take the train or drive to my cruise to Alaska.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Storms

We survived the weekend nor'easter. We had a lot of rain and this morning there was even some snow. Fortunately it didn't stick.

This storm reminded me of Friday in December 1992. I had taken the day off to go Christmas shopping, but my friends at work filled me in on the events. Downtown Manhattan was flooded. The water from the East River covered three blocks, leaving some dead fish when it receded. The water was knee deep, and of course, there was no electricity so my friends walked down 14 flights. Most of the subways were also flooded.

There was so much water that most businesses stayed closed the following Monday. Monday was the day I originally wanted off, but as a favor to my boss, I changed my plans and stayed home on Friday. It worked out very well for me, I got the day I wanted and didn't lose any vacation time.

It pays to cooperate and compromise at times.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Prizes

Today I went to a dinner/gift auction. If you have never been to a gift auction, let me explain. There are an assortment of gifts, each gift has a bag and description. You buy tickets and can put any amount of tickets into any bag. Then a ticket is pulled from the bag and, if you're lucky, you win. It's a lot of fun.

There was a lovely assortment of gifts - gift certificates, boat rides, tickets to shows or sports events, housewares, etc. I had made my selections and had one ticket left when I saw a book on America, along with a blue furniture throw. I threw my ticket into the bag and then proceeded to read the full description of the prize. It also included a mission style chair, which I really didn't want and have no use for it.

All evening, I promised my friend that if I won, she could have the chair. Of course, out of all the prizes I wanted, this was the only prize I won. Then came the problem. There were four of us in the car, so on a rainy night we struggled to put the chair into my friend's car, along with the many prizes she won. Another friend volunteered her trunk since she also had four in her car. It still didn't fit. Finally, a neighbor volunteered his trunk, but it still didn't fit. Fortunately, he came alone and had room in the back seat for the chair.

The lesson I learned from this - read everything before you commit. When I realized I had put the ticket in for a gift I really didn't want, I thought about taking it out, but I thought that would be tacky. If only I had read the description more fully. But I do have a new book.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Stormy Weather

All week we've been hearing about the "killer" storm, a Nor'easter, that is heading our way. Tomorrow, we're supposed to have wind gusts of 55 mph and heavy rain with flooding along the coast.

Today, however was simply beautiful, not a cloud in the sky. It's hard to believe that we have such rain coming our way. Some areas may even have snow.

Of course, I wouldn't mind a rainy day. It's always a good time to curl up ont the couch with a fire in the fireplace, a good cup of coffee at my side and a good book. I need a day where I'm forced to stay inside so I can read. I'm so backed up, I don't know where to start, not to mention, I haven't read my paper in many days. By the time I get to that, it will be history.

So, I'm looking forward to a little storm so I can curl up with my book and a nice hot cup of coffee.

Friday, April 13, 2007

CNBC Million Dollar Challenge

At the end of week #6 I have good news and bad news to report. The good news is that I made my goal of finishing in the top 20%, but the bad news is that I didn't make the $1,070,400.75 total worth goal that I set.

The total value of my virtual portfolio is $1,063,659.46. I've taken some profits this week and now have enough cash to make some more buys next week. The celebrity traders have gotten better, I have dropped to 6th place against that group of 10.

I have made some progress in the Bonus Bucks section. I've been able to answer most of the bonus questions, some for $2,000 and some for $1,000.

I don't expect to ever make the top 10 traders, but I am enjoying this test of my investing skills. I think, on the whole, my investment choices, while very conservative, have been pretty good.

Next week, I'd like to finish in the top 18% with a total value of $1,073,400.75. This will take some work, research and a lot of luck.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Vacation

Last year at this time I was in the middle of my cross-country trip. I had always dreamedof driving across the country and because I'm retired I did it. I was right, it was a wonderful vacation.

I saw and stayed in so many different states. It was so exciting to see the St. Louis Arch or the Rockies way off in the distance. It was educational too. I had always heard that Kansas is flat, but what I didn't realize is that it is really rolling.

I was able to spend a few days renewing a friendship in Las Vegas. It's so great that friends can get together after many years apart and yet it seems like only yesterday that we last saw each other.

I also went to the Space Needle while I was in Seattle. That was no small achievement for someone who dislikes elevators and heights, but I did it.

On my return drive, I stopped at Yellowstone and saw "Old Faithful", fulfilling another dream. My only disappointment in Yellowstone - I didn't see any bears or wolves, probably because it was still rather early in the season.

The day I was supposed to leave South Dakota and Mt. Rushmore, it snowed. I spent another day in South Dakota.

I've been thinking a lot about that trip lately, probably because of the strange weather all over the country. If I had planned such a trip this year, I probably would have cancelled, too many storms and tornadoes.

That trip was a dream come true. Would I do it again? In a second. My only hesitation would be leaving my cats for a month and I couldn't take them. They are terrible travelers. I once drove for three hours with them and it was stereo meowing. Never again.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Double Standard?

I've spent the greater part of today watching the news. The good news that the three Duke University students have been found innocent of all charges. And that the district attorney is being investigated.

He withheld evidence from the grand jury, showed the "victim" only pictures of the lacrosse team for the line-up. I guess once he heard from Al Sharpton, he was convinced that the boys were guilty.

It seems that one word from Al Sharpton can ruin and even take lives, but he is not taken to task for his remarks. I've never heard one word of apology from Al Sharpton for his involvement in the Tawana Brawley and Freddy's Fashion Mart cases.

Imus, on the other hand, has been suspended from his job, part of his broadcast has been taken away, sponsors are caving and withdrawing their support. All Imus did was insult the basketball team, while Sharpton slandered Steve Pagones and caused the deaths of seven people in a store that was set on fire because of Sharpton's words. Sharpton still has not apologized. In the Duke case, Sharpton claimed these boys attacked a girl and if there weren't arrests immediately, there would be no peace. Time and evidence have proved the Duke students innocent. I haven't heard any apologies from Sharpton.

Is there a double standard, or is it just my imagination?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Today's Big News

And now for the really important news of the day.

We finally know the identity of Anna Nicole's baby. It's not the lawyer (surprise, surprise). Now we just have to sit through the custody hearings.

The other news is - Imus. I really didn't even know he was still on the air. What he said was offensive, but it would have gone unnoticed if the media hadn't made a big deal of it. From some reports I've heard, he's been offensive since he's been on the air. I've always thought he appealed to the lower class of listener.

He has apologized for his words, and that's all they really were - words, and he has been suspended for two weeks. Al Sharpton has insisted that he be fired. I'm not defending Imus, I really don't care what happens to him. All parties involved have gotten a lot of publicity out of all this. I'm sure there will be books written.

Why should he be fired, after all, he never falsely accused anyone of kidnapping and rape.

Monday, April 9, 2007

"Tyra Banks Show"

Today, I caught the Tyra Banks Show (tyrashow.com). I've seen this show a few times and I enjoy it. Today it was very scarey. The theme today was, "Kids Growing Up Too Quickly" and showed how children are being pressured to act and dress sexy.

The media tends to target little girls. Tyra found these stories on magazines geared toward children, "Get Hot Abs, Legs & Butt", "Lucious Lip Tips", and "Kissing Tricks". At one point, Tyra held up a black, mesh thong with the words, "Bite Me" right above the red strawberries printed across the front. This thong is for children ages 12 and under.

Tyra then set up a kids' fashion boutique to observe how average little girls go about choosing their wardrobe. An 8-year old admitted she wanted to dress like pop star Christina Aguilera and a 4 year old smiled in confusion as she tried to explain her shirt's logs, "Single & Fabulous". Both acknowledged that girls dress sexy to get the boys to like them and that sexy equals showing your body.

There was a 13 year old whose mother was worried about the clothes and attitude of her daughter. The 13 year old admitted she dressed slutty and posed for pictures in a very sexy way. She admitted she dressed that way to get the boys to look at her and that she liked it.

There was also a discussion with a father who, when he's with his son and without his wife and two daughters, openly ogles the girls and whistles at them. His son who's about 11 or 12 liked a particular video game because it had prostitutes and he was able to walk around and slap women.

I just wonder what's the matter with these parents. Why should a four year old wear a shirt that says, "Single & Fabulous"? Who pays for the clothes for a 13 year old. Who monitors their TV? Who says "NO"? Parents should be parents. After seeing this show and the clothes in some of the stores, it's no wonder there are so many children having babies.

I'm not saying girls should play with dolls until they're teenagers, or that they should not want to be attractive, but first, they should be children. Leave the sexy clothes and attitudes until they are older and really know what they're doing.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Babies

I've just come home from a wonderful Easter Dinner at a friend's house. She had a full house. Her daughter, her husband and her 11/2 year old little girl were also there.

She's a very good baby, but over the years I've forgotten just how busy babies can be. She was all over the house, and of course, her parents took turns eating and following her. I've forgotten how fussy children can be. After you put the plate together and cut everything into bite size pieces, they decide not to eat and they're off and running. Then, of course, they get tired and you have to put pajamas on a wriggling child who doesn't want them on even though she's tired.

I'm not complaining about babies, I loved those days. They were the good old days. There had to be a reason why few women had children after 40. They certainly are active. I got tired just watching her and her parents run around the house.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

CNBC MILLION DOLLAR CHALLENGE

This is the end of week #5 of the CNBC Million Dollar Challenge and I have good news to report.

Last week, my goal was to finish this week in the top 28% with a portfolio value of $1,033,500.50. I'm proud to say that I exceeded my goal. This week I am in the top 25% with a portfolio value of $1,056,035.15. Putting my portfolio against the celebrities, I am in fifth place.

I'd like to say that this progress was all because of shrewd investing, the truth is that it is benign neglect. I've had a very busy week and haven't been doing much trading. I was able to answer a few trivia questions for additional cash.

I've just checked my portfolio and, if the market is good on Monday, I will take the profit on several of my holdings. Then I have to make some good picks to reinvest.

Next week, I hope to finish in the top 20% with a portfolio value of $1,070,400.75. Let's see if I can do it.

This is so much fun, especially since it's not my money, it's not even real money.

Friday, April 6, 2007

What Were They Thinking?

They have got to be kidding! I saw this article in today’s NEW YORK POST. The headline is, “SEW MAD AT IRAN’S WAR CRIME VS. FASHION”. It seems that some New York tailors have given the Iranian President an “F” for fashion faux pas – over the ill-fitting suits he forced captured British sailors to wear as he paraded them around before setting them free.

According to a mid-town custom suit maker being made to wear those suits is worse than incarceration. The British soldiers were marched out in the cheap baggy suits before being set free after being held hostage for nearly two weeks. Being marched around in the ridiculous looking attire was just the latest indignity the British sailors were forced to suffer, coming after days of being marched in front of television cameras and compelled to issue “confession” letters.

Let’s just hope these tailors were speaking tongue in cheek and were not serious. But I doubt it. In a culture where people are more concerned about the latest American Idol, the latest antics of Paris Hilton, or what Tom & Katie and Brad & Angelina are doing, I can believe they were more interested in the clothes rather than the well-being of the sailors.

Meanwhile across the Pond, the British press was criticizing the behavior of the captive sailors. Did anyone ever stop to think they were just trying to survive? True, they didn’t behave like Jeremiah Denton, an American aviator during the Vietnam War who was held hostage for almost eight years. He blinked the word “torture” in Morse code during a staged North Vietnamese TV interview.

Times have changed and I guess the means necessary to survive as a hostage have changed too.

It is good that they have been released and now are back in England. I wonder about the price for their release? Only time will tell.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

WEIRD BUT TRUE

The NEW YORK POST provides a number of stories for this category. Here are more.

Don't mess with mom. A Danish teen learned the the hard way that he should listen to Mom when she used a policeman's ax to smash open the windows of a car that he refused to leave. He had locked himself in his mom's car when she went shopping and then wouldn't get out, even after a cop arrived on the scene. So she borrowed the cop's ax and smashed open a window.

A farmer in Scotland has dyed his sheep red to entertain mororists caught in traffic jams along a country highway. The sheep are causing quite a stir. The farmer used a sheep spray that was animal friendly and would not do the sheep any harm. Motorists will be seeing red until the sheep are shorn.

A rare Black Australian swan has fallen madly in love with a plastic paddle boat carved in the form of a swan at a lake in northwestern Germany. According to biologists in Muenster, the swan has been circling the boat staring endlessly at it and making crooning noises. The zoo director said the swan believes it has found a partner for life.

Panama's top coffee producer brewed 750 gallons in a giant mug in an attempt to make the world's biggest cup of coffee. They used 300 pounds of coffee to brew the cup which measured 3 yds. by 1.6 yds. The company will submit its four-hour attempt to Guinness World Records this month.

These two FedEx workers could have used that coffee. They took a nap on a cargo plan in Paris and woke up in Vienna. The men were working early Friday in Paris and apparently fell asleep while waiting for a freight delivery that didn't arrive. Then the doors closed and the plane took off for Austria. The two workers, presumably very refreshed, returned home later in the day aboard an Air France flight.

That's all for now

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Equal Rights Amendment

It's baaack! The ERA is back. I've just read an article in THE WALL STREET JOURNAL by Christina Hoff Sommers, author of "The War Against Boys".

A group of Democratic leaders and feminist activists have decided that women today do not have equal rights, and they want to bring back the Equal Rights Amendment. The ERA which was first introduced in 1973 says, "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex." A large body of law has developed since 1973 which bans sex discrimination in jury selection, unemployment benefits anf family property law and promotes women's progress in the workplace, sports and other arenas. Female students no longer face barriers based on gender, college enrollments are now 57% female.

If this amendment were passed, would it grant equal rights to both men and women. I do not think so. From everything I've read and heard, this amendment seems to be the Women's Extra Rights Amendment.

This amendment would force the Boy Scouts to admit girls, religious institutions that do not allow ordination of women would lose their tax exempt status, single-sex schools and summer camps for boys would be phased out.

There is now a big push for single-sex schools, of course, favoring girls. I've heard the "experts" say that girls learn better in a single-sex environment because they are made to feel inferior by boys. By this thinking, there should be single-sex schools for boys because teenage boys are distracted by teenage girls.

There is a popular saying, "You've come a long way baby", and without the ERA. Without making it the law of the land, we have the WNBA, a female Secretary of State, Supreme Court Justices, female company presidents, female police, firefighters, mail carriers. The list is too long to go into here.

We have accomplished all this, not because of a constitutional amendment, but because of the attention placed on the inequalities before 1960. It is amazing what can be accomplished by bringing a problem to the attention of the business world and letting common sense take over.

There is still much to be done, but a constitutional amendment is not needed. What is needed, and is happening, is a change in the thinking of individuals. A law cannot do that, it can only be done by education and example.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Aerobics

I recently joined an aerobics class. It's quite interesting and our instructor is in terrific shape. She speaks through the entire hour while doing all sorts of steps and bounces.

Therein lies the problem for me. I've always had trouble with aerobics. I don't have any trouble keeping up, I don't get winded, but my coordination is horrible. In the past I've had trouble with "jumping jacks". After about three of them, I'm just flailing my arms and jumping up and down.

I think I've found one source of my problem. I'm left-handed and I always start on my left foot when everyone else is starting on their right. And it's downhill from there.

When I was a child I wanted nothing more than to take dancing lessons, but we couldn't afford them. Now that I see how badly coordinated I am, it's a good thing my parents never gave me dancing lessons. That would have been a huge waste of money. Sometimes it takes many years to realize that some dreams should not come true.

No matter how badly I look in my aerobics class, I'm not giving up. It's fun.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Time to Move?

While trying to catch up on my newspaper reading today, I saw an article in Saturday's WALL STREET JOURNAL Special Report.

It seems that today's retirees don't want to sit still. In addition to all the travelling and golf, many retires move several times over the course of their retirement. I guess because of the longer life span we retirees have, we're always looking for the next best place to live.

I now live in a lovely home in a very friendly community, but I'm getting restless. Maybe I want another house with more closets and a little more land with trees and some wildlife in the form of deer, rabbits or I'd even settle for squirrels.

There are so many places to see and so many nice places in which to settle. Where shall I go next?