Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Moving Day

I have moved myself to Blogster. This place has acquired too many spammers and hackers for my comfort. I was upset when Wayfarer's blog was hacked and taken over by a pornographer, but now Mr. Ornery's closed blog has been hacked and taken over. I can't deal with that on any kind of sane level. These were e-friends of mine and I'm seriously upset.

I'm getting far too many spam visitors, and am accumulating close to 40 spam comments a day. It's no longer fun here.

Since I'm aware now that closing the blog wont stop the hackers, I'm just going to leave everything exactly the way it is and I won't be back. If this blog acquires another post, it won't be me. I don't know how to protect myself from that happening. So I took this opportunity to warn you all.

It's been fun, enjoy yourselves and stay away from the spam if you can.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

I Told You So

I've always wanted to say that. I told you so is such a satisfying use of 4 words in the English language, isn't it? Admit it, more than once any of my readers have found themselves with the sudden lift in spirits that the ability to use those 4 words brings. It's a rush, almost as good as winning the lottery because you aren't any richer, but you have the proof that you were right! Yay! I was right! Then reality sets in. And being right becomes less important in the over all scheme of things.

I have a really hard time dealing with people who spout the GOP theory of trickle down economics. I'm not seeing evidence that it works, but that doesn't seem to be stopping anyone from saying that trickle down is evidence of a free market. Where? Even more important, where do people get that idea? Exactly what part of people are unemployed because there are no jobs that they have the skills to fill escapes them?  Furthermore, since they are unemployed, where is the money to acquire the skills supposed to come from?

The reality of the situation should have indicated that something is wrong with this theory, but it doesn't. I'm not surprised since we've become the type of Christian society that doesn't seem to understand the meaning of Jesus and the covenant God created with his people by allowing Jesus to die on the cross. To some degree, that becomes understandable when you realize that a large segment of Christians actually believe Jesus, born in the Middle East was blond and blue eyed. Spoke English too. After all, the Bible is English, right?

Jesus appears absent from most Christian churches these days. He's been replaced with Politics and Money. How else do you account for the hatred of the poverty stricken? If one were to follow the example of Jesus as it says to in that Bible, people would have to give up something to assist in caring for those less fortunate. Pointing fingers and ordering the "lazy" to get a job isn't quite it. But that's only my opinion. Oh! Wait! The holder of the very highest religious position within Christiandom, Pope Francis also says so. Ahem!

Another opinion I've held, is that corporations are not job creators. WE, the consumers are the creators of jobs. WE buy the products in sufficient numbers to create a demand and people must be hired to meet that demand. THAT'S the "free market" that I hear so much of these days, only that's not what we have. We have a market that bears a marked resemblance to that market created by monopoly. We've been there during the Gilded Age, we did that and it didn't work then. So, why are we trying it now?

If you need proof that our economy runs on how we shop, what we buy and how much of it, I suggest you look at Staples as an example. They're closing 225 North American stores. They are doing this in order to better serve their customers, according to them. And where are they intending on serving these customers? Why, online of course.

Instead of keeping stores open for the convenience of shoppers, they're enlarging their website to handle the increased traffic that online shoppers have brought them. Online shoppers are the drivers of this particular bus. That's really a negative since if the same volume of shoppers had gone out to the stores to buy their products, the stores would be left open and the people there would have jobs. While it is a negative, it is also proof that our economy doesn't run on the corporations as job creators, it proves that the CONSUMER is the job creator. Only, in this case the consumer is the job destroyer.

So, now I want to hear from all you believers in the poor corporations that don't create jobs because of unions and taxes. You tell me where, since its entirely driven by the increased use of the internet as a shopping tool, Staples is creating unemployment for the workers in 225 stores because of unions and taxes. And when this situation becomes widespread enough to affect  your own ability to support yourself and your family, you can take pride in the fact that you built this. Oh yeah, don't look to the government to help you out because you fought to destroy the programs you will need. For your sake, I hope you won't be successful in that but if I'm wrong, well, I told you so.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

With Green Eggs I Prefer Ham, Not Spam

I have suddenly become a popular blogger. I'm not doing a single thing different than I've ever done and I'm an overnight sensation for reasons I've yet to figure out.

Since April 27, 2006 when I wrote my first blog post on another platform, I've averaged 50 visitors a day. Back then I was an eager beaver and I ran around the Blogstream commenting on other people's posts which got them visiting me in return. They must have liked what they saw since there were days I had many hours of fun in my comment section answering the words of wisdom they left on my page.

It was an easier website to use in many ways than Blogger. It was created to help the novice promote themselves so they were visible to like minded individuals. We spent hours online at a time speaking with each other and having fun. Pranks were played, parties were given and a good time was had by most. I can't say all since there were people who felt left out who wanted to be a member of the in-crowd.  Trolls and bullies exist everywhere and we had those there too. What we didn't have until the very end was spam.

From my Blogger statistics I knew I was receiving 25 to 40 visits a day. On days I posted, I might get 70 to 90. With a monthly total of 700 to sometimes as high as 900 a month. In the past week, I've gone from those figures to near stratospheric heights.  Yesterdays pageviews were 244. My monthly total now stands at 2368. I need to be careful, the rarefied air up here might make my nose bleed.

Of course, there are the usual 10% of visitors who are leaving comments. It seems, no matter where I am, my percentage of comments to page views remain the same. Since all of those are anonymous and contain invites to websites I'd rather not visit, I believe they're spam. Of course, they're nice spam, since they leave me such wonderful compliments.

The following are excerpts of some of my comments, with my answers. It's the polite thing to do.

"Hey there. This is a very well written article. I will be sure to bookmark it and return to learn extra of your helpful info". {Comment is on the post about Hubby's grandmother throwing a fork and putting out the eye of his granddad.}

Me: Well thank you for the comment and might I suggest you be very careful who you throw a fork at? Come to think of it, you might try sticking that fork in your own eye. I'd consider that a welcome punishment for spamming my blog.

"Can I simply say what a relief it is to discover someone who understands what they're talking about online?"

Me: I'm so glad you're relieved. You'd feel much better if you'd spell relief GAS-X. You're leaving quite the stink in here.

"This is the story of men and women these days. Make positive you get history into account. It also adds to the disadvantage on the mileage when it comes to the reselling of your car or truck."

Me: I bow to you. For the first time in 8 years a comment has left me speechless. Just don't ever let me catch up to you since I wield a pretty mean baseball bat and while reselling value mileage may vary, you won't get squat when my bat meets the fender and whatever else I can beat on of your vehicles. Just call it stress relief for having to put up with all you spammers.

I'm not sure at all where these are coming from, but I suspect it's from something called webwiki. It's a directory of blogs that added me in May of last year and the posts these comments are coming in on are all from that month. Most popular is the tale of Hubby's grandparents. With over 4000 pageviews it's the single most popular of my posts. It appeared here the day after webwiki added me.

Webwiki has a Facebook page. It seems to be the only way to contact whoever owns the site. I'm not interested in opening myself up to more problems via a FB page so I have no way to ask that they remove me. I never asked to be aggregated there, I've no idea how to get rid of this except to take down the offending post and there isn't any way to know that would work. I also can't say for sure that is the problem so I'm going to continue to ignore it until something happens that becomes the last straw. Now, I think I'll go scramble some eggs.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Lying To Myself

At my last doctor visit, she didn't feel I was as "far along the curve" as she thinks I should be. At first I was wondering about a possible health issue that we might be missing. I took a virtual trip through the Mayo Clinic, WebMD and other sites like Medicine (dot) net. I don't advise that. Unless, of course, it's Halloween and you're looking for a way to scare the bejeezus out of yourself.

My entire attitude towards the changes I'm making is one of having to give up everything I like which would make the extra years I'll live pretty damn boring. I had settled on a 90/10 percent ratio of healthy versus unhealthy and had you asked me, I would have said "Achievement Unlocked". Since I believed I had managed the changes I couldn't understand why my weight loss stopped, and why my blood pressure was still higher than it should be. Of more importance to me was also why I'm not consistently feeling better.

I decided that the only way to know what was going on would be to create a journal of everything I consumed and how active I actually was. It was an enlightening 2 months of recording my life in one of those black and white composition notebooks that pages are stitched into. I didn't want any of those pages tearing out.

I discovered that the incidents of consuming the bad things like doughnuts, muffins, pieces of cake, slices of pie, pieces of candy were a lot more often than I was admitting to myself. I also failed in the fruit/veggie department. Instead of the 90/10 percent, I am actually closer to the 50/50 percent which obviously isn't enough.

Activity level was adequate and would have been beneficial IF I had actually accomplished the 3 hours per week of physical exercise. I found the exercise was more like an hour a week of stretching and 0 strength building or aerobic activity. That inconsistency alone would explain the total exhaustion on the days at work where I'm mopping floors and carrying laundry through the halls of the buildings to the onsite laundromats. At the end of those days I have difficulty getting out of my rather low to the ground car.

I have 0 resistance to temptation and part of my problem is clients who worry about my lack of food intake. Someone with resolve would have no problem saying no to the goodies they offer even though it hurts their feelings. I'm going to get around that by purchasing some fresh fruits like apples, oranges or pears to take with me to eat when I'm working. I can cut them up and put them in baggies to stick in my tote bag. It's not going to stop them from offering, but it will give me the backbone to say no.

Now I have to figure out what kind of strength building exercise I can do that won't kill my knees and hip. Walking isn't doing it so I guess some kind of squats will be in the plan. I've fallen outside on the ice 3 times this Winter so anything that strengthens my legs and helps me keep my balance is a good thing. I may lack the "joy of exercise" gene, but I also don't have the "joy of falling on my ass" gene either. It's all about choices these days. And taking better care of me.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Life Or Something Like It

After almost 2 years of trying to build a caseload with some hours to it, I'm finally up to 20 hours a week. Well, technically it's 19.5 work hours and an hour travel time. Still, it's an increase in pay. Doubly so since I received a $1.65 an hour raise.

Our office coordinator got fired and the one that left the state in 2009 was rehired. She and her husband had moved to Florida where she was unable to find employment so they came back to New York State. They gave her my old on-call job and she was waiting in the wings when the new coordinator apparently screwed up big time. Trust me when I say it was big time. My boss doesn't fire anybody. She just makes your life miserable until you quit.

When I have contact with the coordinator, I am the one with the issue I'm asking her help on so I tend to follow up on things. I use my age as an excuse and usually ask if I have the correct information. That avoids the going to the case when you aren't supposed to go issue, and also keeps things running smoothly when there's a change in how the client's care gets paid for. Some cases start life as temporary for a number of hours and if I go for longer than the approved hours the company has to pay me, and can't get paid. Sometimes those cases switch to a different program and become permanent at so many hours per week. If the coordinator doesn't pay attention, mistakes happen. Since I follow up on my end, changes in schedule get caught before the damage happens.

The oddest thing was that while P was coordinator if I asked for more hours I'd get told we weren't getting any cases. The first week that C was back, the subject of my hours came up. I asked for more hours since my case load was down to 12 hours a week. In 2 days she found cases for me that now have me working 19.5. In a week and a half, C picked up 17 new cases. Although cases have been assigned, there is still the potential for me to pick up more hours since the first aide on the case sometimes doesn't work out. It's been hurting my income to have gone from 26 hours a week down to 12 especially since we were being paid minimum wage.

I have space in my schedule for 6 more client hours. With the increase in pay, I may not have to take all of that. I might though because when it comes to my retirement, it might make my monthly payment higher. I can't retire at full benefit until 66 and actually might, depending on how I feel, actually wait longer than that. We'll see. I have arthritis and it does limit things like stair climbing which so far, I don't have to worry about. It's something I need to consider before asking for more hours. The pain might not be worth it. Also? Some of these senior buildings have periodic outbreaks of bed bugs. I'm not sure I'd want to take cases in those 3 buildings.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The More You Know

In all honesty, the ACA or Obamacare health insurance plan is only great if you're very low income. If you make less than 138% of poverty level it's a major deal. If you're higher in income than that, its not so great.

Youngest is a family of 5 making just under $50,000 a year. His insurance for 4 of them will cost $1190 per month. That's a Bronze plan with some pretty steep co-pays. That monthly premium is 24% of his income. He will get his "subsidy" with his taxes next year. In the meantime he has to pay that amount every month and still make his mortgage, school and property taxes. His heat and utilities. His food, clothing, car expenses and telephone. With 23% of his household GROSS income gone to health insurance every month.

Included in that household income is my 21 year old granddaughter who has to buy her own insurance. She can't be included on their policy because she works. Her job is part time at Kohls and she has to pay her student loan, transportation to and from work, clothing for her job since Kohls requires their employees to "dress well". However, her part time income MUST be included in household income since she lives there.

Without her income they would qualify for a better subsidy. However, if she was to be forced to move, she doesn't make enough money to support herself. There are no apartments within walking distance to her job since the town this particular Kohls is in opted to have a commercial corridor that is an absolute nightmare to drive in. Trust me I've driven there. Rents in that area are as high as $800 per month without amenities like heat. Homeowners are paying the taxes these businesses don't pay due to the designation as an Empire Zone. Towns must make the taxes up somehow.

Public transportation in this area operates 6 days a week from 6 am to 6 pm. If you work outside those hours, take a cab for the princely sum of $7 to $10 one way. Her choice would be to have a vehicle or a roof over her head. Nice choices there.

Should she have the audacity to apply for Public Assistance she will immediately be sent to Working Solutions where they will be happy to help her find an additional part time job. Heaven forbid that the state should require these businesses to employ people for more hours in order to earn the tax incentives. The incentive is earned by the number of new employees that business hires. This is accomplished by hiring part time help to employ more people. At least at Kohls they don't do the 180 day temporary workers the way Walmart does.

However it would be nice to have a set number of hours that an employee is expected to work every week. Can't very well move out of Mom's basement if this week they work 18 hours and next week might be lucky enough to be given 24.

In New York State over 6 million people have moved away taking with them $97 Billion in taxable income. The state is trying to attract new business with these Empire Zones. So far only retail establishments have taken advantage of the deals and they aren't paying anything close to a living wage. In the meantime the necessary tax is being collected from the residents and low income employees who used to be a member of the middle class.

Somehow or other we've decided that the blame for our failing systems should be placed upon the poverty stricken people and seniors who need the safety nets our tax dollars are paying for. The Pentagon can waste billions of our taxes killing our children in wars instead of using that money to rebuild our crumbling roads water mains, sewer systems and bridges. Now there's a job creating idea that won't require tax incentives that get passed onto a failing middle class.