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April

So, like three months since I wrote last... I saw that I had written up a draft entry about a month ago but I just deleted it.

The wedding in South Carolina was beautiful. We had 14 people in one house - Rich's grandparents, his aunt and uncle, and four of his seven cousins, along with one other child besides our kids - Rich's cousin's son.  It was so much fun. Rich has a great family besides his mother so it was really awesome spending so much time with them.

I said a few entries ago (December 1) that I hope I wouldn't get drunk and tell Rich's grandmother what a shitty person Cindy (Rich's mother) is.  Looking back at that I laugh, because I did say the same thing to her sober.  I told her I wanted to make sure I said this while I was sober so they'd know it was me, not the alcohol talking, but I think their daughter is a miserable, disgusting piece of shit for not wanting to have anything to do with her son.

Other than that, the weekend went wonderfully. Pictures are on Facebook. It was everything you could imagine with a Southern wedding. Hydrangeas, seersucker, bow ties, corn hole, and barbecue.  I was loving every minute.

James is doing tae kwon do and he just had his first belt test. He did pretty well and we're awaiting the results. I think at this age they pretty much pass everyone, but I won't be happy until I see it in writing.

Rich and I are doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  We had a seminar a few weeks ago with Royce Gracie. It's fun to finally find a way to be active and for Rich and I to enjoy doing something together.
In surveys, 2.5 times more women than men said they feel "a great deal of apprehension" about negotiating.
  • Men initiate negotiations about four times as often as women.
  • When asked to pick metaphors for the process of negotiating, men picked "winning a ballgame" and a "wrestling match," while women picked "going to the dentist."
  • Women will pay as much as $1,353 to avoid negotiating the price of a car, which may help explain why 63 percent of Saturn car buyers are women.
  • Women are more pessimistic about the how much is available when they do negotiate and so they typically ask for and get less when they do negotiate—on average, 30 percent less than men.
  • 20 percent of adult women (22 million people) say they never negotiate at all, even though they often recognize negotiation as appropriate and even necessary.
  • By not negotiating a first salary, an individual stands to lose more than $500,000 by age 60—and men are more than four times as likely as women to negotiate a first salary.
  • In one study, eight times as many men as women graduating with master’s degrees from Carnegie Mellon negotiated their salaries. The men who negotiated were able to increase their starting salaries by an average of 7.4 percent, or about $4,000. In the same study, men’s starting salaries were about $4,000 higher than the women’s on average, suggesting that the gender gap between men and women might have been closed if more of the women had negotiated their starting salaries.
  • Women who consistently negotiate their salary increases earn at least $1 million more during their careers than women who don’t.

In addition, the studies undertaken or reported by Babcock and Laschever indicate that age makes no difference when it comes to women’s avoidance of any and all negotiating situations – younger women struggle just as much as their older peers.

Fortunately, the authors don’t just document this situation at length. They also describe the ways in which we trip ourselves us up (e.g., giving up too much too soon in a negotiation, being more invested in protecting the relationship than in getting a decent salary, feeling guilty about putting our own needs ahead of others’, etc.), which then gives women an opportunity to recognize and understand their own self-sabotaging behaviors, and practice strategies for overcoming them. (For the authors’ tactical advice on how to overcome self-damaging responses and instead negotiate from a position of strength, see their excellent follow-up book, Ask for It: How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What They Really Want [Bantam, 2009].)

Although their stated audience is women, this is a terrific book for anyone who feels their negotiating skills could use a bit of strengthening.

Women Don’t Ask: The High Cost of Avoiding Negotiation – and Positive Strategies for Change. Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever, Bantam, 2007. 272p. ISBN 0553383876.

Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever, Bantam, 2007. 272p. ISBN 0553383876.
Women Don’t Ask
The premise of Women Don’t Ask, by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever, is simple: over the lifetime of their careers, women make substantially less money than men because, unlike men, they simply don’t ask for more.

This starts with the initial job offer – women generally accept what’s offered while men generally negotiate up to the tune of an additional 7% above the initial offer – and then compounds over a lifetime of smaller raises built on that smaller base salary. The statistics cited by the authors are stunning:
Read more...Collapse )

I think a lot of this is true - I've probably ALWAYS overpaid for a car, besides when I bought my Scion, which is also a fixed price car.  My last car before the Scion was a used Santa Fe, and they said they couldn't negotiate the "internet special" price, but I was able to negotiate a higher price on the trade-in, so at least I had that going.

For salaries, I think I've been pretty good at asking for more. This might be an interesting book to pick up.

paid account

I just "upgraded" to a paid account for 2 months so I can upload pictures with my iPhone/LJ app. Then I realized I had $7.75 in "gift" money on my account... oh well. We'll see if I keep this updating to a regular basis.

I mainly wanted to do this because I still read quite a few ljs of real-life friends and I realized I know everything going on in their lives but they know litte of mine. I'm halfway into my eleventh year of journaling, though there's about a 4 year gap in updates since becoming a mother and updates became sparse. I miss writing, even though it's just my boring day-do-day life.

Writer's Block: B.Y.O.B. Holidays

What is on your holiday wish list this year? One random answer will win a $50 Amazon gift card. [Details here]


Vitamix!!!

May. 21st, 2011

Rich had to be admitted to the hospital today.  He will be okay, but he has a staph infection that regular antibiotics aren't helping, so he will probably have to get cut open tomorrow.  It's been rough but I've managed with the help from friends.  I couldn't bring the kids to the hospital because he is in isolation in case it's MRSA.  It's a little ridiculous but I understand why they have to be that way.  

It's stressful but I'm managing. I'm very thankful to have the friends and help that I've gotten, and will get more of tomorrow.  It just pisses me off to no end that I have a mother who is alive and able, but wouldn't come down if I asked her to, and I could really use some live-in help.  On the off chance that she would come down, she'd never move from the couch, would leave when shit gets really hard, and be mad that I didn't throw her a parade in thanks when she left me hanging.  

When I went to a friend's house today to drop off Nathan, my friend's father was out shoveling mulch, cleaning the yard, and helping them get the yard ready for the summer.  I'd be lucky to get my stepdad to look away from the TV for a second.  
Have you ever given a friend or partner a second chance? What were the consequences? Any regrets?

I have and it always bites me in the ass. 

I'd give my husband a second chance if he screwed up, but he hasn't messed up yet :)

Nov. 22nd, 2009

I want a Google Wave invite.  anyone want to share?

The Politicization of Peace

 

By Bruce Walker
Few spectacles so clearly show the politicization of life than the surreally silly award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Obama.  The Nobel Prize has long been a reflection of the whims of those who run political correctness.  The politicization of peace extends beyond just the Nobel Prize.  The very day that the Nobel Committee announced its choice of Obama, Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin miraculously "discovered," eight years after American forces invaded Afghanistan that "If the U.S. troops left - the country would collapse.  We'd go into civil war."  The about face on our domestic peace movement reflects only who now commands American forces.  Benjamin likes Obama, so her doctrinaire commitment to peace goes wobbly when Obama is Commander-in-Chief. 

Many people have noted the total disconnect between Peace Prize winners, like Al Gore and Jimmy Carter, and world peace.  Gore, of course, supported our undeclared war against Serbia ten years ago.  Before that, Gore supported "Operation Just Cause," the insertion by Clinton of American troops into Haiti to impose our will on that nation's politics.  He voted for Operation Desert Storm, but most notably, he pandered his vote on that crucial question based upon how it would help him politically.  Gore does not even seem to care about world peace.

The politicization stretches back earlier.  Woodrow Wilson, who campaigned in 1916 with the slogan "He kept us out of war," and five months after his re-election, shortly after his inauguration, Wilson asked Congress to declare war on Germany, plunging us into an utterly unnecessary war whose ultimate end almost ensured a Second World War.  Wilson, the vile racist bigot who lied to the American people about going into war, won the Nobel Peace Prize.  Terrorists like Yasser Arafat, Communist apparatchiks like Michael Gorbachev and Le Duc Tho, have won the Nobel Peace Prize.  Willy Brandt, the socialist chancellor of West Germany who left office under a scandal when it was revealed that his closest aide was a Communist spy, won the Nobel Peace Prize. What is the common thread that links Obama, Arafat, Carter, Gorbachev, Tho, Wilson, and Gore?  All are planted firmly on the left of the political spectrum. 

Even when the winner is a truly decent man, like Andrei Sakharov, if the candidate does not support the left, he does not win and if he supports the left then he can win the Peace Prize no matter what.  Sakharov, after all, won the Stalin Prize and the Lenin Prize for helping the Soviet Union build an Atomic Bomb and then masterminding the Soviet development of the Hydrogen Bomb.  The greatest nuclear explosion in human history, a 25 megaton blast, occurred in 1961 under the guidance of Sakharov.  When Sakharov began to worry about the nuclear weapons he built, his attitude was traditionally leftist:  he called, specifically, for an end to anti-ballistic defenses.   Sakharov opposed building weapons which could make nuclear missiles useless. 

Just as revealing are all the people who did not receive the Nobel Peace Prize.   Ronald Reagan won the Cold War without firing a shot, the greatest triumph for peace in world history.  Pope John Paul II boldly reached out to end the historic distrust between the Catholic Church and Jews; he also showed how passive resistance could work in Poland; he also went around the world preaching peace and love; he also forgave the Moslem who tried to assassinate him.   Alexander Solzhenitsyn won the Nobel Prize for Literature, but not for Peace, even though he proved, perhaps more courageously than any man in modern history, that the pen could be mightier than the sword.  Konrad Adenauer worked hard for a peaceful Germany at the end of the First World War; he opposed the Nazis and spent time in a concentration camp for that; after the Second World War ended, Adenauer reunited the three western sectors of Germany and reached out to Israel and offered, without being asked, for the Federal Republic of Germany to pay reparations to Israel.  None of these magnificent champions of peace won the Nobel Peace Prize. 

The Nobel Peace Prize, like the support of Code Pink is based upon ideology and nothing else.  So Obama, Gore, Carter, and Wilson have won the Peace Prize, but Reagan, who dedicated his last term in office to ridding the world of nuclear weapons and who actually won a world war without violence, does not.   Willy Brandt, a thoroughly unlikable socialist West German chancellor, who left office in scandal, wins the award, while a magnificently noble conservative West German chancellor does not.  So two Soviets who buy the rhetoric of the chic left - Gorbachev and Sakharov - win the award, while a much braver and clear voice for peace, Solzhenitsyn, does not?

We should know by now, if we ever needed to know, that the awards, compliments, and honors which the establishment of the world offers is offered only to those who have first paid homage to the ideology of the left.   Awards given to communist terrorists, like Le Duc Tho, or anti-Semitic ogres like Jimmy Carter, are no badges of achievement:  such awards are evidence of moral surrender. 

Bruce Walker is the author of two books:  Sinisterism: Secular Religion of the Lie and The Swastika against the Cross: The Nazi War on Christianity.

Presidential Fail

Over the past couple of weeks, it has become apparent even to politicians and the media that the Demented Spree Act of 2009, better known perhaps as the "Obama Stimulus", has not worked, and shows no sign of ever working.

Unemployment -- the professed reason for the stimulus in the first place -- is now at 9.5% and will break 10% within the next few months. Credit remains tight and industry is still fumbling. It is clear that there are no shortcuts back to a steady prosperity, that this recession will be overcome in the exact way such disasters always have been -- by working our way out of it. The $787 billion ("real money", as Everett Dirksen would have put it), already spent, being spent, and to be spent, can be considered as so much waste paper.

The interesting thing about this is the reaction of our media and political elites -- or rather, the lack of reaction. They're behaving as if flushing away three-quarters of a trillion dollars is trivial. The failure of the greatest act of financial pump-priming in history has elicited no more than a collective shrug. Cognitive dissonance doesn't come more obtuse than this. Our great opinion leaders have stumbled over a huge pile of facts having serious bearing on O's future prospects and rather than pausing to take a look have instead gotten to their feet, brushed themselves off, and hurried away exactly as if nothing happened. The pretense appears to be that the fate of the stimulus has nothing at all to do with the rest of Obamus Maximus's policies.

Of course it does. The collapse of the stimulus can be taken as representative of Obama's policies, past, present, and future. The stimulus shares one major element with every other program this administration has come up with: they have all been tried before, and they have all failed.

First up is health care. We're constantly reminded that the U.S. is the only industrialized nation lacking a national health-care system, without anyone going on to add how lucky we are. Health care systems of the exact type promised by Daddy Obama are omnipresent all across the world, their records open for our edification and enlightenment. A close look at only the Mother Country will suffice.
    
Here's what a search on "UK NHS" a few weeks ago came up with: a maggot infestation at the Royal Children's Hospital (the staff assured parents there was nothing to worry about). A sick woman who grew so tired of lying in filth that she got up out of her hospital bed and cleaned the room herself, dragging her IV behind her (The nurses, she reported, "let her get on with it.") The two emergency medical techs arrested for letting a patient die while they stood around and cracked jokes. The fact that the UK has once again achieved the highest levels of superbug infestations in the industrialized world (over 32,000 hospital patients die of MRSA alone each year). The so-called "Mental Capacity Act", under the terms of which a patient unable to communicate is to be considered "due to die", and denied food and water, the same treatment meted out to Terry Schaivo. Across the UK, families have been rescuing aged relatives declared surplus under the terms of the act.

And last but not least, we encounter Prof. Trevor Sheldon, one of the UK's leading authorities on health-care policy. In 2007, Professor Sheldon published a study on mortality in British hospitals. According to that study, the NHS kills up to 91,030 patients each year through "avoidable" mishaps. The professor went on to assure readers that these numbers are matched in many other countries, but that's not quite the case. To equal the UK number, the U.S., with six times the population, would have to suffer 450,000 unnecessary deaths annually.

All in all, this sounds like a system that, if put in place by an occupying enemy power, would be considered a war crime. But it's the system Obama is wishing on us. Needless to say, none of this has been mentioned in the mass media, for fear of confusing and alarming the public, although it's finding its way into the debate anyway. My prediction is that nothing like ObamaCare will be passed anytime soon. ObamaCare has already been "delayed" past its original launch date, which in Washington terms usually means it's dead-on-arrival.

Our next item from the Obama piñata concerns industrial policy, namely the administration's enthusiastic takeover of industry for the benefit of all. This is one instance where the imputation of fascism is perfectly accurate. This policy, known as "corporatism", comprised the economic system of fascist Italy. Corporatism was developed at the behest of Mussolini as an answer to the manifest failure of Soviet-style expropriation. It divided Italian industry into easily-run sectors with the state acting as upper management, exactly as the administration is doing for GM, Chrysler, and a large chunk of the financial sector.

And how did this work for Il Duce's Italy? During the Depression, Italy coped worse than any other nation in Europe. Real wages fell 20%, as did investment, while international trade was cut nearly in half. Per capita private consumption remained below the 1929 level straight into WW II. Corporatism also had a clear impact on the war itself. Italy had one of the largest fleets in the world, with battleships equal to anything on the seas. But they weren't equipped with either radar or modern fire-control systems -- there was no corporative sector for electronics, you see. So the British, using the primitive gun-laying radar of the period, managed to ambush the Italians twice and put much of their fearsome navy at the bottom of the Mediterranean.

The Nazi example is even more entertaining. In the 30s, German aircraft development was nationalized and handed over to Ernst Udet, WW I ace, expert pilot, and complete wacko. Udet became obsessed with dive bombers after seeing a U.S. Navy demonstration team and decreed that all German bombers must be able to dive. This was obeyed with Nazi alacrity and German efficiency. From then on, all bombers were modified according to decree, up to and including a heavy bomber, the He-177 Greif, truly one of the weirdest designs ever -- a plane the size of a 757 fitted with dive brakes. The end result was that Germany fought the Battle of Britain with no usable strategic bombers, and failed to defeat the British. Knowing that this meant the war was lost, and aware of his personal responsibility, Udet shot himself in 1941.

Compare this to what occurred in the U.S. at the same time. Henry J. Kaiser, a steel magnate who had scarcely ever set foot on a ship in his life, had the brainstorm of building ships the same way they did cars, using prefab parts on what amounted to an assembly line. The result was the Liberty Ship, a squat, ugly little devil of a freighter that became a legend for shipping every kind of cargo there was to every last corner of the earth. Down in New Orleans, Andrew Higgins offered to build a landing craft for the Marines after a government department screwed the project up. Working from a drawing, Higgins had a prototype ready for tests in less than a month. The LCVP -- the "Higgins boat", became an emblem of victory, the troops racing over its dropped ramp one of the memorable images of the war.

These ideas would never have occurred to any "central planner" and could not have been rammed through the bureaucracy if they had. They were products of the creative chaos that prevails under true capitalism and is its chief, often overlooked virtue. (This, by the way, gives the lie to people John Kenneth Galbraith who contend that "planning" won WW II.)  So let's all wave goodbye to GM while we still have the chance.

Third on the list is the ever-popular topic of liberal foreign policy. Now, anybody who does not understand the shortcomings of appeasement really deserves his own umbrella with "Neville Chamberlain" engraved on the handle. The problem is that I'm not sure that Obama needs a dozen umbrellas. The sole innovation he has made in hail-fellow-well-met foreign policy is that he's appeasing everybody. And even there, Jimmy Carter may well have surpassed him.

Carter came into office with a lot of appeasing to catch up with, but he managed to bring it off. Within four short years, he saw that the Sandinistas took over Nicaragua, assured that the Shah was overthrown and replaced by elements out of the 12th century, undermined a legitimate democratic election to put Robert Mugabe in control of Zimbabwe, and enabled Russian tanks to find their way to Kabul with no unnecessary holdups or delays. And somewhere in there, he found time to see that no assistance was given to the Vietnamese boat people, so that thousands of them drowned or were murdered by pirates.

Clearly, Obama has quite a challenge ahead of him to match this record. But he's off to a good start. Today, less than eight months into office, he has Kim shooting off missiles with the intensity of a meth addict, the Iranian mullahs all but publicly marking targets in Israel, and Chavez grunting insults on Venezuelan TV while Danny Ortega (one of Jimmy's little friends), threatens to intervene in an internal political crisis in Honduras. If he keeps this up, Obama may very well take the appeasement cup from Jimmy, leaving himself plenty of time to give Indonesia back to the Hobbits.  

So what does this tell us about Obama? For the AT readership, it speaks above all to the phenomenon of conservative despair. Since last November conservatives have been in a complete funk over Obama and his intentions for the country. It's as if they believed in Obama's messiahhood to an even greater extent than the followers who believed Obama was the One, the Alpha and the Omega. Problems simply solve themselves in his presence. The oceans stop rising. Cracked glasses are made whole again. Henry Louis Gates overcomes writer's block. Obama could not fail -- Obamacare, the Obama Recovery, the Obama Century were in the bag. America as we knew it was doomed.

Among our Northeast Exquisites, this attitude has led to direct collaboration. In the heartland, it has given rise to desperation and feverish hunts for will-of-the-wisp "solutions" such as the birth certificate. (As an aside, amid all the uproar I can't help but notice that nobody has produced a birth certificate from Nairobi.)

That there is now no justification for this goes without saying. But as the record shows clearly enough, there has never been any justification for it. Obama cannot make it work. Here is a man whose entire basis of belief and action was that he was living outside of history, not subject to its lessons or limitations. He is now, as my old granddad used to say, getting a rude awakening, learning what truly capable presidents ranging from Lincoln to Truman to, yes, even the despised George W. Bush, knew at the beginning: that the limitations entwining a president are not less than those of the man in the street, they are greater. Very few things are possible to a president, and even those few must be handled with infinite care and attention to detail. Even if Obama learns this lesson, he is learning it very late. So there will be no social revolution, no left-wing Rapture, no Promised Land. The Red Sea has been bid to part, and the waters have stayed right where they were. Obama is no Moses; he is simply another example of liberalism's long, miserable decline.

About a year ago I wrote on this site that Obama's chief characteristic was his flakiness, and that come what may, that would eventually be clearly seen. Well, behold his flakehood made manifest, and a superhuman and preternatural flakiness it is too. Obama may yet prove to be one of the most remarkable presidents of the emerging millennium. Despite himself, he may well be the president who discredits the liberal brand for good and all.

Jul. 18th, 2009

Not that I had a chance at marrying him or having his kids, but I have to say that my ex has some FUGLY kids.  Maybe him dumping me all those years ago was a blessing.

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