Thanks to my new friend Norma for signing my guestbook and making some can check out the guestbook by scrolling all the way down to the bottom of the page and clicking on "view guestbook." I'm wondering why there aren't more entries...

Anyhoo, Norma had a comment about the handshaking thing. She said that some people are arthritic and therefore are unable to provide a firm handshake. For the physically infirm, I would certainly make allowances, but for those who are capable, I expect to feel a bit of resistance upon shaking your hand. If I wanted to jiggle a dead fish, I would hang out down at the docks.

I was IM'ing my friend last night--funny she only lives down the road from me, but what the heck. She said my ranting about Florida and the passion with which I hate this state almost hurt her feelings. My comments were never aimed at her, but I certainly wouldn't have moved here if she didn't live here, along with my other best friend from high school. And I definitely wouldn't have moved here if some butthead high school principal hadn't assured me that I would have a teaching job. (the job was given to someone who was just finishing up his college credits--alrighty then) So my husband and I hate it here. We are leaving. We would rather be cold than be so far from our families and warm and miserable. Unbeknownst to me, we have moved into the hub of the KKK in FLorida. One of my friends told me that it simply isn't true, but I've heard too much from too many other people. The people of this area give a new meaning to the word ignorant! Hell, the school system alone should be enough to send most educated people running scared! An example of how lousy the schools are: My sister, who lives with me, is a freshman in high school. She has no homework--no novels, projects, papers. You name it, she doesn't do it, because there are no assignments. I wrote a letter to her principal stating my disgust for the system and received no response. My sister, however, was called down to her office, and when she questioned the principal, she was answered with a question. Anyway, why should a freshman have to defend herself against a Ph.D? Especially when I am the one wrote the letter!? My sister made the honor roll--but I can't help but wonder why...she didn't do anything other than show up and complete the minimal assignments given her. I don't want to make her feel bad, but why is she being rewarded for excelling in a climate with no standards? Instead of being allowed to take Spanish or a music class, she was given a class which teaches the kids how to take the Florida Comprehensive Achievement Test. Totally bogus. Anything on that test should be the result of day-to-day work. Yet they spend money on a teacher who gives out copies of the test from previous years. Mind you, the classrooms have no paper for the students to write on and out of eight classes, my sister has only one textbook, but the schools who do best on the FCAT are the schools that get state money. It stands to reason that the money should go to the lower scoring schools. Or perhaps I am one of those stupid-ass yankees I keep hearing about. The only culture around here is in the yogurt, if I may steal that line from someone else!

To be fair, though, I have met a few cool people in FLorida. Some of the people I work with are great. I met a sweet Korean lady who makes some bad-ass Kimch'i. I met a wacky lady who runs a catering business in Palm Beach. And my best friends from high school are here. But they work so much trying to support themselves and their families in this crap economy, that I doubt that I have spent even 24 hours total with them in the past 10 months. Sad, huh?

Someone please tell me, Is there any form of life lower and more annoying than the cockroach or the telemarketer? I think not. The cockroach is simply fulfilling its biological imperative. And the telemarketer is only working, doing a job, I know, but there comes a time when the Craftmatic Adjustable bed people have called my house one too many times. Even once is too much. And why does Discover Card call when I have asked them not to call unless there is a problem with the account? One rude woman had the balls to hang up on me after I started explaining the concept of "no problem, no calls, please!" My sister likes to ask for their home numbers so she can call them at dinner time. A former boss of mine likes to just put down the phone and walk away, leaving the telemarketer talking to dead air. On the market now is the Telezapper--designed to "lose" the telemarketer's connection, somehow. Big money, that. And I just visited the Direct Marketing Association in an attempt to remove my name from mailing and phone lists. Guess what!? They asked me to PAY to remove my name! Great big cojones....Some company that I have dealt with in the past sold my name, MADE MONEY OFF MY NAME, and now I have to pay them to stop the calls and junk mail! I still receive calls for my maiden name, and calls for my husband. Gotta pay to remove those names, too, I would imagine. I am trying to devise a way to get them good. Any suggestions for dealing with telemarketers would be most appreciated... My sister-in-law suggested that we as a community start sending junk mail back to the sender in their own postage paid envelopes. Sounds like a plan.

I recently e-mailed George Dubya regarding Colin Powell's latest mission to the mid-east. I received a generic e-mail back, stating that Mr. Prez would be advised of my comments and concerns. Attached to the e-mail was an address for the Afghan Children's Fund. I think I will send them a couple of dollars, but I'll also send a couple of dollars to a fund designed to help children in the US. There are malnourished children right down the street from you and me--maybe my contribution can help. I'm adding the president's website as a link on this page. Feel free to tell him what you think. I found it interesting that a news commantator/analyst guy on tv recently said that Dubya's reaction to the 9/11 attacks was a visceral one, where his reaction to the violence in the mid-east must necessarily be a scholarly one. Only with a thorough examination of history and a true understanding of the historical events which have led up to the present struggles will any outsider help to bring about peace in that part of the world. If at all. As we know, our illustrious leader, the leader of the free world, was a mediocre student at best. Looks like we're all in for it! -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Click the link above to find out more about the plight of America's working families. When I was teaching I heard too many people degrade parents who sent their children to school for breakfast. These people felt that parents weren't taking responsibility for their kids. So my question to them was always, "Should these children have to go without, because you don't think their parents are doing the right thing?" Inevitably the response from critics of school breakfast sounded something like,"People should take care of their own children. I'm tired of supporting the welfare system." Well, I have news for them: Chances are, the children who go to school hungry and are unable to learn due to distraction and undernourishment are the kids who will perpetuate the welfare cycle because they will leave school without the skills necessary to support themselves. School meals exist because parents, for whatever reason, are unable to feed their children properly. Don't penalize the children! Visit this website, make your voice heard to your representatives. Donate to the cause if you can. And note that food banks and soup kitchens are being increasingly visited by EMPLOYED parents of children. Parents who don't have enough money to buy good food because they are paying high rent, medical insurance (if they have it) and other bills. Doesn't everyone agree that something must be done about this? We are the wealthiest nation in the world. No one should be malnourished... -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Remember the old TV shows with mom, dad and the kids living happily together under the roof of a home that they owned? Dad went to work and mom stayed home to raise the children. I don't know what the percentage of stay-at-home moms is in this day and age, but it doesn't seem like that scenario is even remotely possible for most families. The lack of a living wage and the increase in real estate prices, property taxes and rents have made the American Dream a virtually unattainable goal. Too many families need at least 2 incomes, if not more, to maintain the barest minimum of living standards. How sad it is that while moms and dads struggle to stay afloat, the children are left to fend for themselves.Mom and dad work two jobs each to make sure the children are provided for. How much time is left for "family time"? How much guidance is provided to the children when their parents struggle to pay the bills and provide the bare necessities for their kids? How many parents work extra hard to give their kids the tings that they never had? Parents are killing themselves to provide the "extras" that consumerism dictates children must have. "Sorry I have no time for you and I to talk, Son, but here are some Tommy Hilfiger Jeans that I worked eight hours to buy." What's that crap? Anyway, back to the issue at hand.My husband and I are getting ready to move back to Rhode Island, where we were happy and can be close to our families. Florida is a pit and we want out. So I am looking for rents in between taking care of our infant and working. My husband is so busy working twelve hour days that his ability to seek appropriate housing is effectively wiped out. I am own my own here, but more than happy to do my thing. So I look in a rental guide, and in the local newspapers online. Who can afford to pay $1200 per month for a two-bedroom apartment? Apparently someone can, but not us. Mind you, this includes nothing-- no utilities, no pets and no parking. The city where I grew up is a complete study in contrasts. The locals complain about the yahoos who rent during the summer--the ones who come in and destroy the town, drink excessively, cause traffic and parking problems, break city ordinances relating to noise, number of people in a residence, garbage, dogs, and so on. But looking through the rental guide, I see nothing but summer rentals. $4,000 per week?!?! I guess the prevailing thought is, "if you can't get rid of 'em, gouge 'em". Yet here we are. A young working family looking for a reasonable rent. We are not drunken yuppies from Boston, here to raise hell over the weekend. We want our son to grow up in a town where we know people and are known, where he can go out to play in the yard and not be afraid of the scary, big-city things that happen in the world. Where are regular working people supposed to go when the elitist crowd will only accept mostly ill-behaved but wealthy renters?And what are our chances of fulfilling the American dream through owning our own home when we spend everything we earn on housing and other basic necessities? Believe you me, this problem is not unique to Newport, RI. It is a pervasive problem which illustrates a perverse contrast between the "haves" and the "have nots." A book which I recently read and thoroughly enjoyed is by Barbara Ehrenreich. It is called Nickel and Dimed and it is an in-depth study of the dichotomy which exists within our country. Big business exploiting people who want only to make a decent living while running mom-and-pop businesses into the ground and denying their employees a basic right--the right to earn a living wage and raise their families to an acceptable standard of living and quality of life. God bless America. Now let's get our acts together! -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- A musing.....what's up with people and their dead fish handshakes? Such a handshake does not instill trust in a person. Let's be firm! The state where I now live (Florida...a godawful sinkhole if ever there was one)has legislation enacted in 1977 to prohibit a gay individual or couple from adopting children. The Moral Majority (which is neither)must have had something to do with this one! The latest debacle in this saga is regarding a pair of committed gay men who have a family of foster children, some of whom have the AIDS virus. One child, Bert, is ten years old and has resided with the men since he was eight days old. Long story short, the men are interested in adopting the boy, but this archaic law is preventing them from keeping the boy in their home as a legal, permanent part of their family. The Florida Department of Children and Families had the nerve to call the men and say that they are looking to adopt the boy out, and did they know anyone who is interested? Now here are two responsible, caring adults who have known the boy his entire life, and who want him to remain part of their family, but some backward redneck law is trying to put the child in a state of limbo. Rosie O'Donnell has taken up the cause and there is a fantastic article in the April issue of Rosie--the Magazine. Please visit the link above to check out the website. Maybe if enough reasonable people protest this travesty, something can be done to leave this child where he belongs--in the arms of a family who knows and loves him. Haven't heard from any readers in regard to my first missive. Are we all apathetic with no opinions or what? I have installed a guestbook and with any luck will be teaching myself enough HTML to be able to provide some groovy graphics. As an addendum to my first entry...How is it that the majority of people don't know how to figure a tip?? Example: Your bill is $50.00. A fair tip is $10.00, or 20%. $5.00 on a $50.00 check is 10%. Don't be so rude!! Easy math here: double the first number of your total. $20.00 check? $4.00. $100.00 check? $20.00 tip. Not hard. And you'll receive better service if you are a decent tipper. Believe me. Everyone should have to wait tables for a month or so to see how "easy" it is! stay tuned for the next topic...I like to call it the Death of the American Dream.... -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The Last Rant -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Aloha! For anyone who knows me well, I have a penchant for writing letters to the editor and to other entities--the powers that be! While my rants may not change the world, perhaps they will provoke change and awareness amonst those who read my missives. I will probably write only about those concerns that are within my scope--I don't have much expertise in areas that are outside my immediate experience. My first topic: Why do people go out to eat when they are unreasonable and miserable? I work as a waitress. I love working in restaurants, and have been doing it since I was 12. My first job was working for a mob don, washing dishes for $2 per hour. I also got to play all the football cards I wanted and I sometimes won! Uncle Don was a good guy and allowed me to move up a bit within the restaurant. I learned about cooking, waiting tables, bussing tables and the like. I eventually went to college but returned to the restaurant scene, because it's a job that exists practically anywhere and the money can be good. Anyhoo, I schlep plates at a corporate restaurant where there are many issues. I took this job because I was told that there would be opportunity to move up into management (I would like to own a resturant one day, and management experience looks good on a bank application). I transferred to a franchise, where there appears to be even less opportunity than in the corporate joints. Now, the place where I work (I won't mention the name, because Ruby Tuesday might sue me) is fine for what it is. The food is ok. The service from most of my co-workers (team members, as the entity likes to call us--although they don't appear to be on my team) is substandard. My store is in a mall, so we are basically an extension of the food court. And very often the tips reflect that. The insurance sucks, the managers are far more interested in their bonuses than with anything else, I earn $2.13 per hour and I get as much shit as I could possibly eat in a 6 hour shift. I am a Three-Star Trainer, which means only that I work three times as hard as anyone else, and get three times the aggro. Managers are worried about their bottom line (which I understand is vital to a business), but they are not willing to take care of team members who are qualified and trained. Rather, they will let them go to other restaurants and set about training a new person at the expense of the Guest, ticket times, service standards, and other employees. God forbid the most qualified person in the kitchen make more than $9.50 per hour! There's the background. Now, on to the main point. When I am working, I am there to earn TIPS. I am not there to earn my $2.13 per hour. TIPS stands for "to insure proper service." I consistently provide excellent service, even to cranky people, befuddled people, holier-than-thou people, obnoxious people, demanding people and every one in between. I do my best to get their food out (even when the kitchen is getting killed, I try to explain the situation to them rather than hide). I do my best to get their beverages out (even when the bartender is swamped, the soda mix runs out, or there are no glasses or ice, because my co-workers are too swamped to do their sidework). I smile as I eat shit at my tables and remain calm when a guest will not let me leave while they are deciding on what to order; when I know that I just got triple sat, have food and drinks waiting for pickup and credit cards to run. I try my hardest to make change for a party of 9 that wants separate checks. I do all of this and more, and my reward? A 9% tip. On a good night I will average 10-15%. On the exceptional night, I receive 20%, which is fair and proper. On a bad night, I will run myself ragged and receive a religious tract. Thanks for attempting to save my soul, but that's not paying the bills in the here and now! I particularly enjoy the people who sit down on a Saturday night at 7pm and inform me that they have a movie to catch at 7:45. Then they become irate and leave because they ordered well-done steaks and expect a 7 minute cooking time. Even more irritating are the people who walk out on their bill. I was 8 months pregnant when I got my one and only walk-out. It was a well-dressed older couple with shopping bags from one of the pricier department stores in the mall. They ordered dessert and when I went to make it they disappeared like roaches when the lights come on. My company makes us pick up the tab when that happens. Doesn't any one give a rat's ass when they screw a hard-working person? Apparently not. It happens all the time. How about the people who sit there calmly eating their dinner when their children scream bloody blue murder and rattle the nerves of EVERYONE in the dining room?These children DESTROY the area around them, put everyone on edge, and ther parents leave a crappy tip. My son is 3 months old, and when he so much as fusses, I whisk him out of the restaurant to settle him down. I won't even start on the parents who order their toddlers cokes. That's another story altogether. I also enjoy the tables that I approach by saying "Hi, how are you all doing tonight" and receive no response whatsoever. There are tumbleweeds rolling by. Or the ones who don't know how to say "Please" and "Thank you." Or the parents who don't require their children to speak with a modicum of manners. Why do these rotten people even leave their homes? To inflict their misery upon others? Not that every party is bad. I do get some exceptionally good people, and often I am able to turn a crabby person around and make them smile. But that doesn't work on everyone. My advice to wretched individuals who think that their server is their slave and servant--STAY HOME! Any comments on what I've said? My email address is on this page. Drop me a line!
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