Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy 2011!



It is a beautiful, balmy New Year's Eve here. The final day of 2010. Tomorrow, we'll begin a new decade.

While I'm not one to put stock in resolutions, I do have a list of things I've been doing or will do this year, barring the catastrophic. One is to update the design and links on this blog.

Another is to ask for two favourite book recommendations from each reader who feels like sharing.

I hope the new year brings you happiness, health and opportunities. Thanks for reading and leaving your comments!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Christmas and New Year, Everyone!

I wish you all a wonderful Christmas and hope for a healthy and happy new year in 2011! Though not a holiday I celebrate, Christmas holds many meanings and memories for most of you, and I hope this one is lovely as well.

I will see you all in 2011!

Many joys of the season, and until then, stay warm and well!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Okay...I Give Up!

I'm sure all of you have had days when nothing seems to go right, despite best efforts. Yesterday was like that for me. Twice weekly I visit a hospital for a supervised programme of fitness. Believe me when I say that this is not a bow to vanity but a medical necessity, according to both GP and physiotherapist. The machines keep me strong and the stretches and other exercises keep a chronic back problem from becoming painful and debilitating. I pay a monthly fee for this.

In order to get there, I use our local taxi service, which under the ADA, is supposed to provide a small percentage of wheelchair cabs, thus there are six in a fleet of about 400. Our county being amongst the most populated in the country, you can quickly deduce that the demand for for such service far exceeds the available number of vehicles. I organise my weekly trips for all things medical and otherwise a good four to five days in advance and barring the ubiquitous traffic jams, road accidents or breakdowns, things generally go according to plan. I pay for the taxi service.

Yesterday, however, my one o'clock pick up time came and went with nary a peep from a flustered cabbie. By 1:30, I was on the phone with the cab company wheelchair supervisor querying this conspicuous absence. Keys tapped on her keyboard and then she asked if I was calling regarding my return home. When I said that I had never been picked up in the first place, she asked me to hold, please. After reaching all of the drivers, she apologised, telling me that all were in east county, a good forty minutes from me, and she had no-one to dispatch in my direction, but that she would get to the bottom of the mess...

This meant calling the appropriate party at the hospital to re-schedule my appointment. I left two lengthy voice mails. I did not know the hospital phone system was out of order. At four, my phone rang. A rather harried male voice asked if I were ready to depart the hospital for home. When I replied that his colleague had failed to show for the trip to hospital, he quite justifiably said that his supervisor from the taxi company should have advised him about this...

He had been waiting for me to emerge from the cavernous building for almost an hour...

I should add that all drivers can be reached by car radio and mobile phone. Since I was not advised which of them was to take me and that two different drivers would be involved, I could not have taken it upon myself to call the one scheduled for the return home and explain the situation.

When I rang his supervisor and asked what had transpired, she reported that the driver who was to take me in had picked up an extra fare to east county and was not available when he should have been to pick up my scheduled fare. Because of the distance involved, the driver stood to make more transporting someone to east county. He gambled that he would eventually get to me, and lost. I also lost a medical appointment and the chance to re-schedule for what amounted to greed and stupidity.

Such occurrences only serve to remind that I am a mere commodity and that no-one functions out of pride of a job well done, if they ever really did so at all. Passing the buck with impunity has become the rule of the day and no-one is really held accountable to anyone else.

The taxi company owes me more than an apology...Any takers for the bet when I'll see it??

Until Next Time...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

So, What's New With You, Then...

So asked an acquaintance, the friend of a friend...

I paused before answering, a habit developed long ago at the hand of a favourite teacher who was fond of telling students, "It is far better to keep your mouth closed and be thought an idiot than to speak and prove your detractors correct."

Millions of thoughts flashed through my mind, the foremost being a question about whether this individual was nosey or had some genuine concern for my well-being...

A split second later, I heard myself admit that nothing much was new, that I was getting on with things and was fine, really.

Her arched eyebrow said she was unconvinced, and as we sat for a minute longer, I told her of yet another older friend who lost a job and is now looking for work, at seventy,just when she ought to be able to enjoy some peace in her so-called "golden years."

Like many, she has a mortgage and other obligations, and cannot afford to simply bask in the glow of former careers until she leaves the planet. I have another friend whose sister trained in a new field upon being downsized, and two years later, still cannot find work. She has been rejected from retail establishments seeking holiday help on grounds of over qualification. She is about forty and nowhere near retirement.

I wonder about what our workforce will look like as more and more of us take any job just to squeak by...

My own experience shows that standards of living and expectations have shrunk for the first time in a generation. My parents never had to worry. Their jobs were secure. They worked and saved, sending me to university in the hope that I too might reap the benefits of security, an idea that grows more illusory by the day.

I rarely travel anymore, eat in restaurants, go to the cinema, visit the library or the park, or see plays, and I think twice before buying anything and only get new items on discount. I've reduced my grocery bills, and haven't run the heat during this cold snap, preferring to wear my coat instead. I've no television and no cable and have developed a coupon habit. I'm also considering getting rid of my long distance phone service and using Skype.

If any of you have experience with Skype, kindly let me know.

All of this is by way of saying I'm living differently, and will continue to examine both priorities and expectations as I think we're all in this so-called recession for much longer than anticipated.

What do you think?

Until Next Time...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

World AIDS Day And More...

The World Health Organisation established World AIDS Day in 1988 to focus on providing information and preventing the spread of HIV across the globe. World AIDS Day is commemorated annually on every continent and in communities worldwide. This year's theme is human rights and universal access, and that, as with themes in past years, kicks off year-long activities in the fight against AIDS.

For more information about world events,visit http://www.worldaidscampaign.org/en/World-AIDS-Day.

Today is also the 55Th anniversary of Rosa Parks refusal to move to the back of the bus on which she travelled. This marked a turning point in civil rights for African Americans in the United States.

Sundown this evening also signals the beginning of eight days of Hanukkah, during which Jews the world over commemorate their ancient winning of an uprising against the Greeks for religious freedom and the restoration and lighting of the Temple. Candles are lit each night as we say special prayers and enjoy time with family and friends. I will be joining friends this weekend for a celebratory dinner.

I am writing this at 4:45 AM after being awakened by the cute Siamese you met in my previous post...Would you say she has trained me well?

Until Next Time...