Archive for January, 2019

Foxconn(ed) Wisconsin

January 30, 2019

And how many people are really surprised? A stupidly sweet tax deal that Wisconsin’s own estimates says they won’t start making a dime on until 2043 entices a company in and ever since the deal has evolved into something different and, arguably, worse for Wisconsinites. Now it’s not even going to be a factory at all. It’s no being referred to as a “technology hub,” what sounds like an R&D park. So, all of those blue collar jobs it was supposed to bring in to help put people in the lower rungs of the economy a leg up? Never going to happen, at least not with Foxconn. These are going to be white collar jobs and while they continue to pay lip service to investing in Wisconsin, hiring a bunch of people, etc. … does anyone expect that to happen? I don’t.

And the reasoning behind the switch screams bullshit. They say the economics have changed and it’s cheaper to build LCD screens overseas. Well, yeah. It was like that five years ago, too. And ten years ago. Ask yourself this, has Apple ever sourced their screens in the US? I don’t think so. That tells you right there that it’s cheaper overseas and has been for quite awhile.

So, why would Foxconn have ever started a factory in the US to build them? They wouldn’t. That’s why there was language in the deal for changing circumstances allowing them to alter their business plans. They dangled 13,000 blue collar jobs in front of Walker, he jumped like a trained dog, and gave them whatever they could ask for.

And now they are taking all of it and doing with the land what they likely wanted to do with it in the first place.

Here’s the thing, if there is money in building a factory to make anything, someone will build it. They don’t need to have their taxes waived for the next 25 years, they don’t need to be allowed to run rampant over EPA regulations, if there is money to be made they will make it happen. If the only want you can get a company to come to your city or state is to bribe the hell out of them, something is wrong.  Figure out why a company needs bribed so much to come in, and fix those issues. And instead of sinking money bribing a company to pack up and move in, use those millions you’re trying to give away to people already there looking to start their own businesses.

Foxconn is going to keep abusing Wisconsin with this deal. Hopefully we’ll finally learn from it.

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I hate pants

January 27, 2019

I wear them, but they have been a part of my growing discontent lately. It’s not the fault of the pants, they are all perfectly fine pants. They have two legs, a waist.  They are perfectly fine examples of the garment.

The problem is my less my pants and more my waist line.

I gained weight over the holidays, like nearly everyone. I’ve gained weight since. I don’t know if that’s like nearly everyone.

With that has been the tightening of the pants.

And I’m just frustrated and defeated by it. I have been trying to but back on what I eat, trying to be more active, and I think I’m doing well.

Then I put on my pants.

Then I get on the scale.

Then I just want to take a framing hammer and break things, namely said scale. Maybe the pants,but I don’t think the hammer would really be an effective weapon against their limp go with it defense.

I’ve been overweight for quite awhile. I’ve been trying a bit harder to tackle it over the past five months or so. I made some progress. My obesity has started fighting back. I’;m not orca fat, but I’m definitely overweight. And I’m working on it.

The pants, though. The damn pants.

Blah, bills

January 24, 2019

So, today has been a bit of a  housecleaning day in that I have been trying to get through all of the envelopes of mail we’ve tucked away and forgotten about. The biggest problem has been hospital bills. I’m constantly looking at something and going, “didn’t I pay this?” and then trying to track down bills that have already been paid and filed away, comparing it to the new bill. Seeing I paid for this thing listed on the bill, but not this other thing, but they apparently hadn’t processed the payment yet so they just tacked them together.  Admittedly, I also got to the point of just putting off a bill or two knowing they’d do this, so I also have bills where they are angry about Part A not being paid but are fine with Part B.

Today, trying to put it all right, I figured I would finally just set up online accounts for these things and sort it out that way. One hospital wouldn’t let me set up an account for my daughter. Another hospital couldn’t find the account information for my wife. Another hospital is apparently combining their system with their parent company and so their payment buttons just send you back to another page that tells you your payment options without giving you links to actually use any of those payment options.

And the date for their combining was 2017.

I think I finally figured out this last one by joining the patient network for the larger network their hospital is joining. But I still couldn’t pay my bill because I have to connect to my local health care provider first, which I assume is  someone sitting at the actual hospital who checks their email and then hits a button. I’m still waiting for that button to be clicked. If it isn’t up and running by tomorrow morning, I think I’ll probably just get in the car and drive over to the place and talk to an actual person.

Oh, and did I mention that this is the same hospital that on a separate bill to me had a “quick pay” option where I could just go in, type in one code, it would bring the bill up, and I paid it with our HSA card? Well, it is. Why my wife’s bill doesn’t have that code…I have no idea.

It’s not just the outrageous costs for health care that make me support the idea of a national health care system, but it’s getting rid of the anxiety and frustration of dealing with all of this bullshit.

Let it snow let it snow let it snow

January 22, 2019

I don’t know how much snow fell here over the weekend, but it seemed like around a foot. Just powdery fluff, so it wasn’t bad to shovel off the drive, at least not when I went out three different times as it was snowing to knock it down before it got too high. I was talking to the neighbor yesterday, as we stood out by the road, leaning on our shovels. We remembered getting snows like this all of the time, how winter would start around November and last until March or April, the lakes frozen solid for those months, so you could walk out, drill a hole in the ice and do some fishing.

I’ve never taken my step-son ice fishing, partly because he used to have some really nasty asthma problems. As he’s gotten older and those issues have waned a bit, though, we just don’t get the ice to go out. Some of my best memories of my dad is going ice fishing with him. Sitting on overturned five gallon pails on small ponds, surrounded by trees and quiet. An occasional deer stepping close to see what we are. My dad taking me through some weeds and showing me what to look for in their stalks to know what ones have a small grub hibernating inside that you can break open and use for bait. Chasing a glove blown by the wind all the way across a lake. My dad bopping his little Ford Fiesta back and forth against the walls of snow next to the road like a pin ball.

And I just don’t get to go with my kid because the weather just doesn’t cooperate, even now that his health does. Which is funny, considering schools are closed all over my neighborhood right now because it’s too cold. The timing of this post and that. But the forecast is also calling for forties and rain tomorrow, so….yeah. The ice isn’t going to stand a chance.

Your party didn’t betray you

January 16, 2019

I hate political discussions online and, oddly enough, it’s usually when it’s with other democrats. Why? Because once the party doesn’t pass some pet legislation, doesn’t meet some lousy level of “purity,” they start complaining about how the party has betrayed them. And they use this imagined sleight as their excuse to not vote, to not care, to vote for some loser third party candidate who is just siphoning needed votes away from people who might actually win, etc. At least with conservatives there is a certain level of understanding of where all of us stand. I’m a democrat. They’re insane. And we can go from there. Liberals finding every reason to excuse their lousy support for their party is just a whole different order.

I almost got into it again today with someone who believed that liberal voters not showing up and keeping Democrats in power in the house/senate was the fault of the party leaders and not the people who didn’t vote. No. You might disagree with some crap the party does but your not voting is entirely on you. Unless you’re black and showed up to a voting place only to stand in line for four hours before going home in disgust or just because you had to get to work. I don’t see a lot of minorities doing this sort of griping, though. It’s really just white people and the sense of privilege, the linger waft of the “why aren’t you catering to me” eau de toilette is strong.

You need to pick a side. I don’t care about how you don’t like the two party system, how you think something is unfair, how it doesn’t entirely represent you… . It doesn’t matter.  Nothing ever will. You pick a side. You get as involved as you want to get. And you support that side.  There was some hope with this last mid-term. Hoping for some more hope with the next one. And a lot less whining about how leaders betrayed us and choosing not to vote and then whining about the results of that, too. Pick your side. Support it.

Is this the best?

January 15, 2019

So, apparently this has caused an uproar:

CNN has two articles about it. Gillette’s youtube, which I’m not going to bother linking to, is a toxic mess of guys taking offense to it. I don’t see how people can take offense to this ad. Though folks clearly do, apparently upset that standing up to bullying and sexual harassment is antithetical to manhood.  

Personally, I can really relate to parts of it. I could be a real son of a bitch when I was a kid. I was a little bigger than most. More to the point I could just be a hell of a lot meaner. Picking on kids and making their lives hell wasn’t a 24/7 job for me, I wasn’t the cartoonish bully that chased the nerd home from school on  my bike. Hell, I was a nerd, too. But I could make someone’s life pretty miserable when I decided to.

The hell of it is that I still think of those moments. I still regret them, though they’ve probably become something less than footnotes to everyone else. at least I hope they have. And I still remember the kindness and strength of my elementary school principal who took me aside and just showed some kindness to me, some understanding. And how that has echoed through my life.

This ad is asking for more people to be like that principal. To be kind. To be understanding. To build up. To protect. To nurture. To give a damn and behave with thought and empathy. Yes, the world can use so much more of all of that. 

Fussin’ About

January 13, 2019

This weekend my wife tackled the litany of photos we have swimming around the house, trying to put some order to them, cram them into photo albums, etc. Apparently I have a few hundred I need to get printed so that every aspect of our lives has been properly documented.

I’m  not huge on photos. Not any more. My mom looks through hers quite a bit, I guess. we’ve had so many people die on my side of the family, basically my mom’s entire family and 2/3 of them went within a year. Yeah, it was fucked up.

I used to look at photos. To miss them. To remember. Now I have a little girl and we have pictures of her all over the house, her first four years on this planet arrayed pictorially throughout our home. I watch her grow up every day. Today she made an odd paper assemblage of bits she cut out, folded, drew on with blue or black pens, and glued together with a glue stick.

Watching her grow up scares the hell out of me. There are days where I watch her do something and step into the kitchen to bawl my eyes out for a bit. Or when I drop her off for school. Or a million other little things. Children. It’s something you only really understand when you have them and no, folks, your dogs don’t count. Not even close.

But I don’t really want a ton of photos of her stuck into a photo album and I don’t ever want to sit down and start paging through the thing. It kills me. I see pictures of my grandpa. My grandma. My Uncle Jim. And I miss them. The pictures just hurt. I remember their faces fine. I can call them up in an instant. But it hurts. It’s not really comforting.

No, I’m not big on picture albums and leafing through the past.

It just tastes better

January 11, 2019

So, I made the mistake of getting involved in a twitter back and forth with a nut job. Of course about something stupid. Of course I wish I hadn’t bothered. Of course it still bothers me.

Here’s what it was: fresh veggies versus frozen.

Now, I use frozen veggies. Too often, in my opinion, just because time is never on my side. But I do use them, I don’t think they always taste bad, but they are almost always on the mushy side. Their flavor is never as big as fresh veggies. They absolutely can not be eaten by themselves, raw, at least not if you want to keep your soul.

Yet, this guy is willing to defend them to the death. If only you dump enough butter/salt/pepper on them they are fantastic.

No, they are not. They are edible. Good? I don’t know what anyone else’s expectations are for labeling something “good” but mine are just slightly higher  I guess.

And what seals it for me is my 15 year old. He notices a difference and admits that the fresh veggies are always better. My wife hates onion but can only stand them in dishes if they are frozen. Why? Their texture is so different. they are mushy.

Part of me is surprised this is even debated. If you have ever had the same dish, one made with frozen veggies and the other with fresh, you can’t help but notice the difference. One (the latter) is clearly preferable to the other. The difference is loud and clear.

I wonder if part of it is a class thing. People defending their depending on frozen over fresh for whatever reason. Or maybe it’s a need to attack people who are different (the poor, minorities) who have to depend on frozen but want access to fresh. Or maybe it’s just weirdness. I don’t know.

For the record, my preferred use for frozen veggies are soups, casseroles, and ramen. I’ve had to use them in stir-fries but those stir-fries are noticeably less popular among the family.