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Wood Owl's Roost [Mother Jones] [Air America Radio] [Center for Responsive Politics] Below are the 10 most recent journal entries recorded in the "Wood Owl" journal:

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February 14th, 2012
09:03 am

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Writer's Block: Starstruck
Have you ever met anyone famous?


I met (waited on) the actor Van Johnson when I was younger. I couldn't help smiling as I waited on him, and when he came in after that, he insisted on having "Smiley" wait on him. A truly nice guy.

I also went to high school with the actor Peter MacNicol at MacArthur High in Irving Texas. He was an excellent actor even back then.

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January 31st, 2012
05:05 pm

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Well, that was an experience!
About two years ago, I noticed that the vision in my left eye was getting fuzzy. Subsequent visits to the eye doctor confirmed it was (as I figured) a cataract. The doc said that I was young to be getting one, and that the kind I had was normally only seen in people that were diabetic or had been taking cortico-steroids for long periods, neither of which applied to me. Oh well, shit happens. Up until a couple of months ago, it wasn't too bad, but after that I couldn't read through my left eye.

I saw an ophthalmic surgeon, had an evaluation, and yesterday I had surgery to implant a new lens. It wasn't as bad as I thought, but, as we don't have insurance, the cost is a bit much. I was up so much the night before being nervous, that I zonked completely as soon as they gave me something to relax. The surgery itself only lasted about 15 or 20 minutes. I had the bandages taken off today, and it's really weird to be able to see at a distance without a contact in that eye, and see clearly after two years of progressively foggy vision.

The doc said I have a small cataract starting in the right eye, and, in a year or two, I'll probably be needing to have it done also. I'll just have to see if I can find a staff job with benefits before then.

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December 23rd, 2011
10:20 am

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OK, sorry about the rants. I listen to NPR most mornings, and end up grinding my teeth after hearing about the circus in Washington.

"And now, for something completely different..."

I've been thinking very seriously about calling my step-father and asking him and his wife to come over for a visit. We haven't really spoken much since my mother passed away over 20 years ago, and haven't spoken at all the past ten years. We were at odds most of the time before Mom died, but I think that had to do more with the fact that the way we saw things, our interests, and our wants were almost always 180 degrees different. He was also physically abusive some of the time, and I spent a good amount of the time afraid of him.

But I've come to believe that he was doing what he truly thought was best and, even though I don't agree with his methods, in my heart I can't fault him for that. I can't forget the things he did, but I can forgive them. Also, 20 years can change people. I know I'm not the same person I was back then, and I doubt he is either. I have the very strong feeling that seeing him again and talking to him will heal something inside me. Even if it doesn't turn out well, at least I'll know.

Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful
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December 14th, 2011
11:29 am

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(Warning – continuation of rant/sermon ahead)

I suppose the problem is the part about "taking more than a cursory look at the facts". Many people don't want to be bothered to check the facts. Instead, they want to be told who and what to believe. They want their "facts" handed to them by the many talking heads on TV and radio, their religious leaders, or whoever their authority of choice is.

What can we do?

Do we "put on a better show", out-shouting the more insane-sounding, calling them out on their misrepresentations, and degrading their veracity as they do ours? Or is that just fighting fire with fire, making things worse and eventually leading to a conflagration that we can't control?

I don't know. I can vote my conscience, try to convince people as often as I can, and work in any other way that I can to bring about change, but I don't know if that's enough.

I do know that trying to talk to someone who would sneer at the above facts frequently leads nowhere. For many, once the mind is set, facts mean nothing. They simply quote one of the many misrepresentations to show that your "facts" can't be correct. Pointing out the misrepresentation only leads to more arguments, and an endless circle.

I often find myself gritting my teeth when I hear of the latest from the government, especially the Tea Party activists (yes, I call them "Tea Baggers").

I think that the previous row over the debt ceiling is what has brought this to a head for me. The approval rating for the Congress is at 14% - the lowest since the poll was first taken in the 50s or 60s – and I can understand why. As the main part of the Progressives are moving to the center, the Conservatives are moving further to the right – unwilling to even consider compromise. Their stance is "I don't see what the problem is – just do things the way we want, and there will be no problem!". They have put blinders on themselves, unwilling, or unable, to see anything but consequences for the next elections. What is good for the people no longer has any bearing on their considerations.

The cuts that they want would come mostly from programs that benefit the poor, unemployed, elderly, and disabled. They refuse to consider solutions that would increase the currently low taxes on the rich and corporations. The only good part of the cuts is the cuts to military spending, but even that has drawbacks, as it will also decrease spending for veterans' benefits and care.

Don't think that all Republicans are like this. John McCain spoke out on the Senate floor calling his fellow Republicans out on their absurdities, and there are others like him. There are also some Democrats who are as narrow minded as the worst of the Tea Party, but these seem to be a very small minority.

I've started a list of things that I believe would make things much better for Americans, although getting them instituted is the big question:

* Universal health care and control of health care costs.
* A simplified tax code with a steadily increasing percentage capping at about 40% toward the high end of the pay scale and elimination of most deductions.
* Elimination of the deduction cap for Social Security.
* Elimination of the rights of corporations to act as voting individuals.
* Publicly funded elections, or at least a reasonable cap for any single contribution from any source to any candidate, PAC, election committee, or any other party or individual with influence on the elections.
* Election by popular vote.
* A verifiable paper backup for any election tally.
* A realistic immigration policy, with the ability to gain citizenship through work, military/social service, and/or payment of taxes.
* Elimination of government outlays to any corporation that would show a profit without those outlays. Analysis by an independent agency of ALL outlays and price supports to assess real benefits and harms caused by each.
* Automatic cut-off date for most bills passed. Bills to be re-evaluated after cut-off.
* Rehabilitation instead of incarceration for drug offenders that are users.
* A higher minimum wage.
* Affordable housing for the poorest.
* Adequate school funding and leveling the field on how much each school gets.
* Reliable public transportation.

I know; "Dream on", but one must dream to see what is possible. In the words of Robert Kennedy (who I believe would have been a better president than his brother): "There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not? "

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December 5th, 2011
04:20 pm

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Writer's Block: Bless you!
What are you allergic to?
Pollen or spoors - not sure which, but it's something in the air, mostly in Fall.

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04:13 pm

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I'm Back! (again)
Well, the job search was one of the longest I've had, except for a 4 week short contract in June to write one manual. I then got a contract with a mortgage company (writing policies and procedures again) in November that lasted till the next March. I then struck it lucky and got a long term contract with Fidelity Investments in April that I'm still on, and it goes till the end of next year!

I'd still love to get a staff position, but I'm not complaining. I'm just worried about not having insurance, but that just gets me started about politicians.

(Warning – rant/sermon ahead)

Over the last few decades, our country has adopted an attitude leaning farther and farther towards self-centeredness and a constant atmosphere of fear. Our government has become a giant version of Survivors, with the most loud-mouthed, cynical, and self-serving among them leading the way, and many of us cheering them on in the media and with votes.

Almost without fail, it is fear that is used to control us and convince us of inflated or nonexistent threats. Fear of terrorists, welfare mothers, illegal aliens (thinly disguised bigotry), drugs, joblessness, gays, loose morals, etc.

The oddity of it is, most Americans don't have the opinions of the rulers in the government. If the polls can be believed, and I think most of them can, most Americans want legalized abortion, legalized same-sex marriage, higher taxes for the rich, and Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid (along with other entitlement programs) left alone (i.e., not cut). Yet we keep electing people who don't follow our wishes simply because they put on a better "show" during elections.

Unfortunately, it is usually the most reasonable among us who are the quietest (thank God for people like Al Franken who DON'T stay quiet). We erroneously expect the facts to speak for themselves, and reach the people casting the votes. Instead, it is the ones shouting out the most outlandish claims that get our attention, no matter if those claims have little, if any, connection to the facts (Cough-Fox News-Cough). For example, the following are things accepted by almost any reasonable person who has taken more than a cursory look at the facts surrounding them:

• Global warming is real, and is mostly due to carbon dioxide from man-made sources.

• Same-sex marriage does not degrade the institution of marriage. If same-sex marriage is allowed, it will have no affect on the outcome of couples currently married or contemplating marriage, nor on the outcomes of couples contemplating divorce.

• Same-sex parents raise children just as well adjusted as opposite-sex parents.

• Using stem cells from unused zygotes (which would in any case be discarded) does not keep children from being born.

• Homosexuality is not a choice.

• Marijuana is less harmful than either alcohol or cigarettes, and you cannot get high on industrial hemp.

• Having the current entitlement programs is not the same thing as socialism.

• Privatizing Social Security using any existing plan will not work.

• The war in Iraq was unnecessary, and resulted in more harm than good.

• Our current fiscal crisis is mostly due to programs instituted by the previous (Republican) administration(s), and is being aggravated by programs demanded by the current Republicans.

• Most mainstream media does not have a noticeable liberal/left-wing bias.

• Seeing things as they really are and pointing out reasonable consequences of them is not liberalism.

There are others, but those spring to mind.

Continued later.......
My mouth is hurting from gnashing my teeth.

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February 12th, 2010
10:53 am

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Weird weather time.
As the cowardly lion said in similar circumstances, "Unusual weather we're havin'!"

It snowed here (north Texas, Denton area), from yesterday morning till 3AM this morning. The main roads weren't too bad, but it took me almost half an hour just to get out of my driveway because of the snowdrifts. The shovel and I spent a while becoming reacquainted with each other.

Usually we get maybe an inch of snow all year, if that much. Unfortunately, because of that people around here don't really know how to drive in bad weather. In icy conditions, I often see people trying to accelerate while driving up hills, putting on their brakes on bridges, and other acts just as stupid. I've learned to just take it slow and develop eyes on the sides and back of my head while driving.

I hope none of you have been caught in the bad weather up north I keep hearing about.

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January 22nd, 2010
02:09 pm

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Lessons learned
During the last part of 2008 and the first part of 2009, my wife had two surgeries to replace both of her knees. Because of a congenital defect, the cartilage in both knees had worn completely away. She was walking bone-on-bone for a couple of years before she got up the nerve up to have the surgery. She recovered enough from the first replacement to walk on it before having the second done. The walking before the surgery was painful, but the recovery was worse for a while before it finally eased off. But she's bionic now, and walking around pain free at last.

She usually takes care of me so much, but for awhile I got to take care of her almost completely. We both hate having to depend on someone else for basic needs, but we've both had to learn our lessons, me before and after back surgery, and her after the knee surgeries. We both had to realize that taking care of your partner is something very fulfilling, and the one being taken care of should remember that, and accept graciously.

Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful

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January 20th, 2010
12:59 pm

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Back in the saddle again!
Well friends, I'm back. The homepage said it has been 226 weeks since I'd posted. Lord, how the time flies. To give a quick update:

I have four grandkids now! In order of age from oldest to youngest - Evan, Josiah, Chloe, and Payton. I guess my daughter finally figured out where they were coming from...

I was laid off in June of '06, got another job in November, laid off again in January of '09, and I am presently working on a contract job I got in October of last year. Unfortunately, a lot of companies are moving to contract labor for professions like mine (technical writing). I need to find a staff position to get the benefits.

Other than those two things, it's been fairly uneventful. I was reading some of my old posts the other day, and realized how much I missed writing. The stuff I do for work, though fulfilling, can be a bit dry. Right now I'm working on documenting the procedures for the finance department of a city. I hesitate to describe it any further in fear of putting you to sleep.

I AM going to start posting regularly again, though. Until next time, ta ta.

Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful

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September 19th, 2005
04:07 pm

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Friends,

For reasons of my own, I will be making my journal private from now until the foreseeable future. This has nothing to do with any of you, I appreciate all the comments I have recieved to date. This is purely for personal reasons. If any of you wish to defriend me, or have me defriend you, because of this, I will understand completely. I will keep this entry public for this purpose. Only those entries from this point forward will be private.

Thank you,
Wood Owl

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