Monday, December 16, 2013

I suck at blogs

I'm really terrible at blogging. I have a tendency to either overshare (boring or disturbing you with the minutiae of my life) or else let weeks, if not months, pass by between postings.

I don't have any burgeoning offspring to track like all my relatives; there isn't even a dog or spouse in the picture to spice up the commentary.  All that exists is the subject matter cooked up in my brain and I'm decidedly not narcissistic enough to think people really want to hear this crap all the time.  "Oh there goes Karen on another one of her rants" I can just imagine people saying.  I cringe at the thought of being the obnoxious blowhard who never shuts up.

But then I have people begging me to tell them my adventures and I realize that one man's (woman's) daily life is another man's adventure!  Who am I to take away the fantastic joy of yard saling through life stories?

And so you have the conundrum(s) that faces me each and every time I sit down to write:

1) Sleep? Or write? Sleep usually wins, every time. There are two lives in this world (and a whole lot of others on the road) that depend on me being alert while I'm behind the wheel of this monstrosity.  I don't take that duty lightly.
2) Does anybody really wanna hear this? Or am I deluding myself into thinking it's worth reading?  Self-doubt wins out a lot more times than I would care to admit.
3) Reprisal.  Can I safely write about this without getting in trouble, getting fired, or pissing someone off to the point that I'm going to get hurt? This internal censor of fear has shut down more posts than I have ever written.

As it stands now I'm in the third hour of sitting at a dock waiting to be loaded.  The first hour was spent just waiting to back into the dock. As I cough and hack huddled under a blanket fighting a cold,  I have to wonder what someone in a cushy office job would envy about this. But if I'm honest with myself, I already know; cuz I used to be one of those cushy office job workers, ready to poke my eyes out as I fought for such grave injustices as the failure of the supply room to stock both invisible AND transparent tape for our use. The nerve! Don't they know there's LIVES hanging in the balance here? 

However,  I do miss being able to do the simple things like drink water before bed and not have to climb out of a truck and walk across a snow and ice covered parking lot just so I can pee. (There's that oversharing I warned you about!)  I miss being able to bake cookies on a whim and stay in bed when I'm sick.

On the flipside, I don't miss the petty, shallow focus that consumed my life off the road. Neither do I miss the constant hectic turmoil I kept my life in so that I wouldn't realize how unhappy I was. I don't miss my inability to seize the day or moment and realize that every scrap of life is precious.

So for now I stay on the road, craving adventure and delighting in the small stuff that can make a day so grand, like a beautiful sunrise, colorful sunset, or fantastic food at a crazy hole-in-the-wall place found completely by accident that becomes my new favorite when we take that route.  I giggle at obscene postcards and send them to my friends whenever possible,  hoping to put a smile on their face as big as the one I got when I found it. I delight in good coffee and indulge in half-n-half in my hot chocolate for the ultimate combatant of PMS. In short,  I do everything I ever wanted to do but was afraid to let myself do before life became so precious.  Don't wait til your end of days for that last hurrah or moment of fun; pursue it NOW while you can enjoy it. 

Monday, September 30, 2013


On the eve of the Marketplace opening for Obamacare, I simply cannot keep quiet any longer about my opinions on medical insurance.

The original purpose of insurance was to guard or “insure” against catastrophic difficulties that one could not afford. Examples of this included house fires, car wrecks, major surgeries, etc. Such examples were expenses in the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. It was expected that one would keep an emergency savings account for smaller issues, such as house repairs, childbirth, doctor visits, and prescriptions.

At some point, however, we became such fools with money that a simple $75 doctor visit was suddenly unaffordable. Not because we didn't have the income – we made $30, 40, even $50,000+ per year! But we spent $40, 50, and $60,000, respectively, on an annual basis. Phrases such as “more month leftover than money!” became commonplace as we regularly and repeatedly outspent the flow of what was coming in. Credit cards facilitated this overspending with tremendous ease.

When I was in high school, circa early 1990's, a friend of mine worked at Burger King, one of the first fast food restaurants to begin accepting credit cards. At lunch one day, she regaled us with the tale of a customer who came in and paid for a 99 cent Whopper with his credit card. She said with complete disdain, “If he can't pay for a Whopper with cash, he shouldn't be in there buying it!” Fast forward 20 years and now we're all paying for our Whoppers (and everything else) with plastic.

The trickle down effect of this has been an entitlement attitude when it comes to medical care. To illustrate what has happened, I'm going to substitute car care for health care. Imagine if society viewed car care the way it does medical care:

  • “Your car insurance doesn't cover oil changes? Those are expensive! I use only synthetic oil because it's better for my engine and an oil change costs me $80 every 3-6 months! I just can't afford that, so I make sure my insurance covers it with free preventive maintenance.”

  • “I know I'm supposed to change the oil in my car every 3 months, but I just don't have time for that. Besides, my car loves to eat thicker oil after 6,000 miles or so, so who am I to judge? I change it every 2-3 years when it starts running really badly and the engine doesn't feel quite right. Oh sure, it may cost more in repairs, but that's what insurance is for, right?”

  • “I need new tires for my car, but I don't know how I'm going to pay for them. I've known about this for a few years, but never bothered to get around to saving up the money for them and now they're just about bald. I sure hope my insurance will cover the cost.”

  • “I love my insurance. It covers all preventive maintenance and only charges me a 20% co-pay for all of my gasoline consumption!”

Next, imagine the cost spikes in all of these services if car repair shops and fuel stations had to submit their expenses in the same manner as doctors' offices and drug stores do. Help Wanted signs would be all over for people who were skilled in insurance coding for vehicles. Employment needs for gas stations and car repair shops would triple or quadruple as they worked to expand how many different types of insurance they could accept for their customers.

To pay for these new employees, the cost of gasoline and repairs would skyrocket so high that the average citizen could no longer afford them, thus making insurance a self-fulfilling “need”.

Basically, it was the offering of comprehensive insurance in the first place that drove up the prices so high that everyone began needing insurance. If we returned to only paying cash for our services and insuring against those things that are catastrophic, such as surgeries, cancer, etc., instead of demanding coverage for every little nickel and dime thing – we'd find the prices would plummet and things would be affordable again.

If you don't believe me, the next time you visit your doctor ask what his/her cash discount is (usually 25%) and inquire as to why they offer such a high incentive for same day payment. You may find yourself quite surprised when you learn the REAL costs of insurance on EVERYONE.

**Special article note:**
I am not opposed to the Obamacare health reform. With the state our society's health care is in, having a marketplace where insurance companies compete for our business is a good first step. The insurance business will have to stop catering to larger employers and start catering to us, its customers. I am excited to log into the Marketplace on 10/1/13 and see what prices and options are available. However, I am supremely disgusted that our own laziness with our health and finances has brought us to this point. We want to pop pills instead of changing our diet. We want surgery instead of increasing our physical activity. We continuously want to blame our ills, complaints, and general dissatisfaction in life on anything and anyone else we can rather than face the one who is truly responsible: the man or woman in the mirror. Have you taken a good hard look lately? Get to know him or her again. He/she is your best friend in this life. Don't neglect that friendship.

Friday, April 26, 2013

I Feel A Google Coming On

I love Googling things. It's a fantastic way to satisfy my curiosity while learning things at the same time. Anyone who hangs out with me for very long is going to hear, "Let's Google that!" as I whip out my smartphone and start typing wildly.

People who hang out with me for even longer get subjected to my rambling stories that can be interrupted with, "I wonder what makes X be like Y?" And they know, without fail, after pondering the possibilities and coming up empty, I'll answer my own question with, "I gotta Google this!"

Much like a physical adventure, Googling provides a fascinating meandering path to information and knowledge.  I can start out trying to find out what makes bricks different colors and end up learning that green is an actual soil color in specialized parts of the world!

Some of my more recent quests included:
* How is cultured marble made?
* Is Borax an element?
* Where were the Japanese internment camps of WWII located?

It should be no surprise, then, that one of my favorite literary poems is "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost:

...Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Potshots @ Gun Control

I take a dim view of the notoriety given to violent perpetrators by the media.  Their use of human tragedy for their own profit and gain only serves to further propagate the problem.


A quick Google search (or rudimentary criminal justice knowledge) will tell you that most serial killers crave fame.  Psycho crazy people who blow up buildings and shoot crowds of people aren't what you would call "right in the head." They see large-scale violent acts gaining fame in the press and the wheels start turning in their own heads.  Before you know it, what started out as one nut shooting up some kids in a school becomes bombs at a marathon and fertilizer plants exploding.

Gun control is NOT the answer to stopping violence. Guns are not sentient, autonomous, or operated by Artificial Intelligence (AI). Guns are inanimate objects used as tools to facilitate death.  As are bomb components. And knives. And blunt objects. And any other item you can think of that has been used to kill other people. Regulating guns is about as useful as regulating rocks.

It is not the guns that need to be controlled.  It is the people. By supporting gun control, we are sending a message that we believe society cannot be restrained or inhibited.  That since we feel we cannot do anything about the people, we are going to take the Don Quixote approach and systematically attack the tools instead.

Yet look at the followers of Glenn Beck - a so-called "entertainer" who hoodwinks thousands of people into buying overpriced gold and hating a man named George Soros for all their problems. Look at how many people pass along email chain letters as gospel without bothering to check Snopes.com first. Look at how many people spend hours on Facebook claiming it as an essential "need" when only 9 years ago the site did not even exist!

Don't tell me people can't be controlled.

People are manipulated every day into buying certain brands, liking certain cars, and becoming angry at certain events, ALL BECAUSE THE MEDIA CONVINCES THEM TO.  Whether it is a commercial or Fox News, people subconsciously turn to their televisions each and every day. 

You want to stop the violence? Create a media black-out for every single large-scale violent act.  Set parameters for allowing pithy, "just the facts ma'am" reports of what happened, and limits for how many times those reports can be repeated.  By limiting the fame, by reducing or removing the incentive for the acts, we go a lot further in containing this violence than some silly law limiting the number of uzi's we can buy without a background check.

Agree?  Disagree?  Sound off in the comments below.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Merkin, anyone?

Today I was researching the etymology of the word "privy," trying to ascertain how it came to be known as both an outhouse and also being in on secret information. This was fascinating, but nowhere near as entertaining as what I will now call:

The. Best. Scrabble word. Ever.

Simply because as soon as you play it your opponents are going to demand to look it up and you will then get to watch the priceless expression on their face when it dawns on them that the word you just played means:

Vaginal Toupee

or

Pubic Wig

I can't make this stuff up.

According to Etymonline.com, merkins originated with prostitutes in the 1500's who were trying to cover up an absence of pubic hair or evidence of disease. It was common practice at the time to shave one's hair "down there" to control the spread of body lice, so the absence of hair would likely have had a negative impact on sales.

This conjures up all sorts of questions. How were such things attached? Glue technology not being what it is today, did the adhesives survive the service these girls were selling? Were they removable? Did one wash and powder them like head wigs?

The world may never know.

I don't know if merkins are still used in that capacity today. Most references I could find online pointed to their use in movies and/or as a sexual enhancer, like lingerie or those cute little tuxedo thongs for men.

Don't believe me? Here's my references:

1) Etymonline.com
2) Wikipedia

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Welcome and Warning

Today is my 37th birthday and I'm giving myself permission to speak. On anything.

I'm tired of censoring myself. I'm sick of worrying what others will think of my opinions and how they'll judge me for my thoughts. I'm ready to just be myself.

If you're going to read my blog, I suggest you leave any faintheartedness at the door. There are no holds barred here. I may use words such as fart, penis, vagina, fuck, shit, dammit, etc. If this offends you, stop here.

Seriously.

Still here? Good.

I work 3 weeks on and 3 days off. This doesn't always leave a lot of time for posting. If you see a 3 week gap, it means I had a good run at work. Don't get bitchy about this - we all have to make a living.

I've tried to enable comments so anyone can speak - even anonymously. If you can't leave a comment please let me know via email. There will be a link in my profile.

I encourage discussion of any issues brought up; this is how we all grow and learn. However, focus on the issue, not the person.  I will not tolerate personal attacks on other people. Play nice.

Welcome aboard!