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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Just ramblin' a bit

Is Barack getting on TV as much as Billy Mays?
Some recent quotes, facts, and figures.....

From Peter Bronson of the Cincinnati Enquirer referring to President Obama: "He is becoming the Billy Mays TV gadget geek of the White House. He’s everywhere. Just lately he did the "Tonight Show", "60 Minutes" and ESPN to explain his NCAA Tournament bracket."

"It's like — it was like Special Olympics, or something."— Barack Obama, responding to a question from Jay Leno on NBC's Tonight Show about his shoddy bowling game. The president recently shot a 129 game which is bad but better than the 37 he bowled last year. He also apologized to the Special Olympics for his unfortunate remark.

"Somebody said that we’re not in President Obama’s Final Four, and as much as I respect what he’s doing, really, the economy is something that he should focus on, probably more than the brackets." Duke University basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski. (Sorry, Mike. After Duke’s crushing loss to Villanova on Thursday, BO was right about your team. )

"Arizona could be facing a budget deficit equaling 30 percent of the state’s general fund spending, giving the state the largest budget deficit on a percentage basis in the nation, according to Arizona’s Joint Legislative Budget Committee. The committee is projecting Fiscal Year 2010 revenues of about $8.3 billion against a general fund budget of about $11.5 billion, for a deficit of $3.2 billion." Tom Jenney, The Heartland Institute

According to AARP, Arizona has the largest percentage of shortfall (15.9%) in their general fund budget than any state for midyear fiscal 2009. Close behind is Illinois (14.8%) and California (13.6%). Arkansas, Texas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, West Virginia, and Wyoming are the only states in the black.

"Tonight we'll be putting the paper to bed for the last time, but the bloodline will live on." Editor and publisher Roger Oglesby to a silent newsroom at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer on March 17.

The Seattle PI will still exist online so I guess the people of that city can mount their computers on their breakfast tables to enjoy the paper with their morning coffee. Somehow, I don’t think it will be the same but with subscriptions down to 117,600, they probably had no choice. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer ends 146 years of hard copy publications.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Chavez fought illegal immigration

I’m trying to avoid politics in my blogs because we have plenty of people blogging who thrive on that sunject. But, I felt a comment was necessary concerning the following.

I just read Yvonne Winget’s blog reporting that "Anti-Arapio activists will stage a week-long fast to bring attention to what they believe are his office’s ‘abuses of power and discrimination.’ " The fast will be in conjunction with a celebration of the life of Cesar Chavez, the late civil rights activist. The shindig starts March 29, one day before my birthday, but I doubt if I will get an invitation.

I just reviewed 60 of the current 80 comments to Yvonne’s blog and 55 of them back Sheriff Arpaio. Many of the commenters laughed and said "Let ‘em starve" while others told them to "Go back to Mexico." I wouldn’t want to be near the protests in downtown Phoenix on 3-29 as there could be some violence. It might also be a good opportunity for the sheriff to make a good haul of illegals instead of the few he has picked up on his raids.

It all seems silly as the protestors are the most uninformed group to come down the pike. If they are backing illegality, what is their complaint? Illegals shouldn’t be here in the first place. Also, they are celebrating Cesar Chavez who did so much for LEGAL migrant farm workers. Chavez was a third generation American and Navy veteran who was against illegal immigration and was known to turn in known illegals to the border patrol. I guess the leaders of the protest and fast didn’t bother to check that out. If Cesar was alive, he would be helping the sheriff root the illegals out of their holes.

Another comment I love is when the protestors refer to those who oppose illegal immigration as "racists." They don’t even know the difference between "race" and "nationality." Mexican and Hispanic are nationalities, not races, so how is the sheriff a racist? Plus, he doesn’t make the laws, he enforces them. They are complaining about the wrong guy.

The Russin comedian Yakov Smirnoff used to rave in his standup routine about how great the U.S. is. His favorite line was "What a country!" What a country, indeed. It’s one of the few places where criminals can openly protest the law. Try doing that in Mexico City.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Are drugs worth side effects?

Cialis has worked when the couple makes the tubs

Ever since they were approved years ago, we have been inundated with TV commercials for prescription drugs. Some of them can be fantastic in their claims to ease pain and suffering. When I see a pitch for these miracle products my first thought is, "O. K., let’s hear about the side effects."

One of my favorites is for Abilify, a drug used by those suffering from depression and bi-polar problems. Side effects include tremors, restlessness, shakes, muscle stiffness, other involuntary movements and a possible tendency toward suicide. Needless to say, anyone who uses this drug better be under some supervision especially for the suicide warning.

Then there is Cialis. We all know the ads: the gray haired guy is dancing with the babe and suddenly they head for the elevator to get to their hotel room. The dude took his Cialis 90 minutes ago and he is ready for some action. We’re all rooting for him but we hope that he doesn’t take nitrates because when they are mixed with Cialis, it could cause a dangerous drop in blood pressure.

He better not drink alcohol to excess with Cialis as that could lower blood pressure too and cause additional dizziness. Cialis can cause upset stomach and headache and possible back and muscle ache. In rare occurrences he may report loss of hearing or vision at which time he should immediately call his doctor. Really? Can you picture this scenario: "Uh, hello Doc. Ya see, I have this babe in a room at the Ritz-Carlton and I took some Cialis, not that I really need it, but, well, you know Doc, I got lucky and got her up to my room and suddenly I can’t hear or see. Other than that and my upset stomach, dizziness, and headache I’m feeling pretty lucky tonight. What should I do?"

I don’t know what the Doc tells the guy but the commercial always ends with the two lovers sitting in bathtubs with a couple glasses of Champagne watching the sun set on the Pacific. Something tells me he did all right.

Ah, the glory of Cialis except for those pesky side effects.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Economy is affecting everyone

The Dow Jones averages have gone up 684 points in the last four days of last week which normally would be encouraging but with the economy floundering, it is probably just the dreaded "dead cat bounce." I would love to be wrong but when you look at the current situation, I’m probably not. A dead cat bounce is better than no bounce so let’s enjoy it for the weekend until reality clicks back in on Monday.

Have you done much grocery shopping lately? Bashas’ and Fry’s in Phoenix have recently laid off a lot of people plus it’s almost comical how various manufacturers are fighting price increases by varying product sizes. Remember when Breyer’s ice cream came in half gallons? A few years ago, they reduced their size to 1.75 quarts. Since then they have shrunk to1.5 quarts. However, you still pay the half gallon price. The same goes for Dreyer’s ice cream. Safeway’s brand has only dropped to 1.75quarts and they always offer it at one free with one which isn’t a bad deal.

I don’t want to beat up on just the ice cream guys. It’s happening all over the store. Remember when coffee was in a pound can? Try 10.5 ounces to 13 oz. now and most of it comes in plastic containers. The old gallon of bleach is now 96 oz., facial tissue has dropped from 100 count to 66 count, bacon is often 12 oz. where it used to be a pound. I could go on but you get the point so when you shop and think you got a good deal on something, check the size. It may not be as large as you remember.

Elsewhere, a couple Big Macs and fries are pushing $10 and I’m not so sure it is the same size Big Mac we used to get. I ate breakfast at The Good Egg in north Scottsdale the other day and the potato portion was minuscule while the usual garnish no longer exists. At a Quizno’s recently the condiment bar was removed. No more extra sauce, pickles, peppers, etc. Brisam’s Restaurant in Cave Creek has good fish and chips but have cut the portion from 4 to 2 ½ pieces of fish.

Car dealers? Airpark Hyundai has recently closed as has their neighbors Airpark Chrysler-Jeep and Cardinale Buick-Pontiac. I was going to take my Buick to Cardinale after Power Buick on McDowell closed but I guess I’ll forget about that. Those are all Scottsdale delaerships.

Now that I have cheered you up with the economic good news, I hope everyone will have a nice weekend. Oh, I almost forgot. Foreclosures have dropped the median home price in Scottsdale 23% in the last year. But, on the bright side, spring training attendance is down 7% so you can probably get seats. Of course, those seats will cost a lot more than in the past.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I feel like spouting off today

Maybe there is something that has slipped by me. I hear about "illegal alien rights" and it seems like an oxymoron. I thought that if you were from another country and came to the U. S., you worked to become a citizen, thus EARNING your rights. That's what my mother did when she emigrated from Canada in the 1930s. I’ll always remember her feeling of pride when she worked for and received her U. S. citizenship.

With the battle going on between certain politically ambitious forces like the mayor of Phoenix and the House Judiciary Committee versus the Maricopa County Sheriff who has been working against illegal immigration within the guidelines of federal ICE standards, one wonders what the controversy is about. It seems simple enough: if you are in this country illegally, you should get out at once and try to return at a later date through normal legal channels. Otherwise, it is an insult to those who came the right way.

Here is something else that confuses me. Our new president, who is black, picked a black attorney general, Eric Holder, who makes a speech saying that ..."in things racial, we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards." He claims that Americans live in "race protected cocoons." It seems like an odd statement from a black who is appointed AG after the election of a black president. I hope he is referring to Black Entertainment Television or the United Negro College Fund but I have a feeling that he is not. Maybe Mr. Holder thinks the Justice Department should be picking our friends for us under the new regime. By the way, Mr. Holder is also investigating the sheriff much to the glee of Mayor Gordon.

The controversy over the Sheriff is about his methods of finding illegal immigrants. He has done neighborhood sweeps in areas where illegals are most likely to be and done investigations during traffic stops. By doing this he has been accused of "racial profiling." This reminds me of the old Sam Kinison joke where he said that if you are starving, you should go where the food is.

It seems like a harmless method to me. If a person is legal, all they have to do is prove it and they are sent on their way. If they are illegal, they are apprehended. It’s kind of like a roadblock being established after a bank robbery in an effort to catch the thief, only a bit less overt.

Those who are stopped and are legal should be thankful that efforts are being made to rid the area of illegals. Illegal aliens pay little or no taxes, send most of their money home to Mexico, they jam our public schools and health care systems and drive cars with no insurance. Who pays for all this while local employers reap the benefits of cheap labor? Answer: U. S. Citizens.

Since Sheriff Arpaio began his sweeps and began enforcing the Employer Sanctions Law, thousands of illegal aliens have fled the area. Formerly overcrowded apartment complexes are now vacant as illegal residents have gone to other states. It sounds like the sheriff is getting the job done and it is odd that only two racial profiling cases have been filed.

Today’s Republic editorial, as one would expect, criticizes the sheriff’s methods and claims legal Latino citizens live in fear and "feel vulnerable, targeted and afraid." Why? If they have nothing to hide, they have nothing to fear.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Phoenix in the 1940s

(L) Members of Phoenix's A-1 beer women's softball team receive their new uniforms in the late 1940s (R) The control tower at Sky Harbor Airport in the 1940s

If you love Phoenix but missed the December, 2008 edition of Phoenix magazine, you missed a powerful 31 page picture laden edition prepared by Susie Steckner devoted to life in Phoenix during the 1940s. It’s worth your time to call the magazine and try to obtain a copy.

In 1940, Phoenix was an "agricultural community and a service center with retail and wholesale operations." However, tourism was making a move toward the Southwest and when WWII broke out in 1941, air bases like Luke in Phoenix and Williams in Mesa combined with defense plants being built, brought growth and new employment to the area.

It was a time of population boom with its obligatory housing boom, the addition of spring training baseball, and the emergence of some good leaders that guided the city’s growth in the 1945 post war era. Three of those leaders were Attorney Frank Snell, Valley Bank president Walter Bimson (as a former VB employee, reader Don is familiar with him), and publisher of The Arizona Republic, Eugene Pulliam.

In 1949, Barry Goldwater was elected to the Phoenix City Council where he served until his election in 1952 to the U.S. Senate. By 1950, the population of Phoenix had grown to 107,000, almost double the population of 1940. The boom was on.

From Phoenix magazine, here are some highlights of the 1940's: By 1940, passenger airline service was becoming popular at Sky Harbor. The airport proudly mentioned an observation deck that offered the "thrill of watching planes land and take off."

Jacque Joy Mercer of Phoenix won the Miss America contest in 1949. Also in 1949, KPHO signed on as the first TV station in Phoenix and was located in the Westward Ho Hotel. It was the only TV station between El Paso and San Diego.

The Boston Store had been a retail leader in downtown Phoenix for 50 years but in 1947 became Diamond’s which many years later became Dillard’s. In 1947, Diamond’s, Korrick’s, and Goldwater’s ruled the retail scene in Phoenix.

The December issue of Phoenix magazine is a collector’s issue for anyone who cares about the history of Phoenix. The cover is appropriate as it depicts Rosie the Riveter, a true hero of WWII and the 1940s.

Monday, March 02, 2009

HEALTH INSURANCE IS IMPORTANT

I can’t imagine not having health insurance. Even as a foolhardy kid who never felt sick and figured I would live forever, I wanted to always be sure I had health insurance in case something catastrophic hit. It didn’t have to be a health problem; accidents happen too.

My parents always had some type of health insurance for my brother and me when we were kids. It was cheap in those days and even when I got married in the late ‘60s my wife and I only paid $13.50 a month for Blue Cross. When we both graduated from college, our companies provided insurance so we were well covered. It came in handy in 1984 when I tore an Achilles tendon playing basketball well past my prime and needed surgery.

When we retired to Arizona on a permanent basis in 1989, we went on COBRA for 18 months which was expensive but better than nothing. After that, I worked at various part time jobs that provided insurance and the most I ever paid for it was about $80 per month. With today’s health costs, I considered that a good deal especially in 1998 when I needed eye surgery. I was on an HMO and the surgery didn’t cost me a cent. I don’t hear much about HMOs anymore.

In 2000 my wife went to work for Safeway on a part time basis of about 20-25 hours per week. Part of her benefits were free health insurance. Another benefit for her was that I became Mr. Mom and cooked a lot of meals, did ironing (you should see my creases), washed dishes, grocery shopped, etc., but that is a story for another time.

That free insurance came in handy when I had cataract surgery last year on my right eye. It was a simple procedure but I shudder to think of the medical costs coming out of my pocket. I know of people my age who have no insurance because when they inquired about it they were told either that because of some prior condition, they were uninsurable or, if they were insurable, the cost would be astronomical with a high deductible. Most are taking a chance and waiting for medicare at 65 which costs about $190 per month not counting supplemental policies.

Anyone who has been to a hospital knows about the high cost of health care. I have seen people lose all their savings because of that cost and because they didn’t have health insurance. If you don’t have it, but there is a way you can get it, I would advise going for it.