Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Second Blog Anniversary

"Along The Way" celebrates a second annual anniversary with a new look. I've written previously about the serendipitous manner in which this blog was started that you can read about here in my initial posts (see Oct. '06 Archives.) The appearance of ATW has recently been altered with some features I prefer and others I don't like as well when compared to my original home page format, so there will likely be more changes over time. I was finally able to add the "Proud Elderblogger" badge to my blog.

This alteration all came about because I had the benefit of my tech guru son to aid me in a quick efficient manner in adopting this new blog look. I still experience internet connectivity problems here at home, but since we were working on his computer during my recent visit to his home we could not trouble shoot further my computer's problems.

My posts have been few for some time, especially this month, and my other blogging limited for a multitude of reasons including the aforementioned internet connectivity problems. Murphy's Law about which I previously have written has continued to be operative, but since last I wrote about the Law, bad juju, bottle trees, evil spirits, hoodoo, voodoo and peacock feathers, effects have been largely restricted to my personal health arena. I guess that's an improvement over household mechanical items breaking down, too.

My health issues that emerge are always unexpected and unusual for me including weeks of dental problems that culminated in my being in a specialists office for a root canal with plenty of roots. Worst of all for me was having to hold my mouth open for two solid hours and being unable to speak. Living alone in my home with no one to whom I could talk when the mood strikes has been an adjustment these two plus years, so guess that has been good preparation for those dental hours. I once longed for more quiet and now I have all I want and then some.

Soon after the dental episode I enjoyed a trip with friends to visit their son and family in Las Vegas. Yes, I donated to the commerce there via their slots though my friends actually won enough to cover the added expense when we had to stay over an extra day because guess who apparently contracted what I'm convinced was the Norovirus. That's the virus that surfaces in large groups as has been reported on cruise ships, in nursing homes, or more recently in the student body of the Univ. of Southern California almost canceling one of their football games.

While my friends spent more time with their grandchildren and later gambling, I devoted a night and the next day and night to staggering between the bed and bath, staying hydrated, before we were able to return home the following morning. The real highlight of that trip before my upset was visiting their family, the guitarist son's music store where we attended a rehearsal of his new up and coming blues group about which I'll write later.

A Sunday following my return home I read a piece in the Los Angeles Times travel section with a colorful picture recalling to me how much I longed to once again visit the New England states during the peak of my favorite fall season when the leaves were changing color. My daughter reminded me during a phone conversation I had a few flight miles to be used and could probably find some colors I wanted at her brothers should I go there, plus they had been wanting me to visit for some time. We learned my travel had to be completed by a certain Oct. date or I would lose the miles. Coincidentally, I would celebrate my Oct. 20th birthday while there. I would need to start this trip within days. I mentioned this to my son and his wife and the next thing I knew they had convinced me I should fly to their new Great Lakes area home.

I knew from my Ohio years the Great Lakes area including their state, too, had lots of fall color with many maple trees which typically offer varying leaf shades of gold and red to contrast against the green and browns much like New England. So, my daughter I've designated as my travel agent hastily made my flight reservations. I was not disappointed and actually was present during the peak of the green leaves changing to those spectacular fall colors I viewed daily from their home's windows and during several driving trips. Yes, I have pictures, but I will likely not acquire the skill of downloading from my digital camera to my computer and then figuring out how to post to my blog until possibly if we find time when my daughter visits in December.

Of course, I had to create a bit of excitement soon after my arrival at my son's by having a huge piece of tooth break off leaving an open nerve exposure sensitive to room air as I was brushing one morning. Their dentist came to my rescue and four hours later I was good to continue enjoying the rest of my trip. This included two more October plus one December birthday celebrations, helping decorate for a Halloween storytelling event conducted by my daughter-in-law and numerous other nature activities. Life was enhanced by entertaining and being entertained by two lively cats, one of whom is clearly neurotic and has a voracious appetite that is requiring retraining.

I'm home now with no additional travel plans this year but have concluded being ready to go anywhere anytime is a wise idea. I've come home rejuvenated and am undertaking some long overdue projects I just hadn't been able to get enthusiastic about starting. I'm finally in the process of getting a new kitchen oven installed after having to replace my washer, and dryer earlier this year. There's still much to do to this house's interior.

These two and one-half years since my husband's death including the two years since starting this blog have been an emotional roller coaster ride. I've alternated between obsessive blogging and emailing to opposite periods of virtual abstinence. I've ricocheted between a sense of obligation to post here daily to resentment I had this self-imposed commitment and I sometimes became determined I would simply delete this blog once and for all.

I always seem to come back to the fact I feel a sense of connection with other bloggers here, some more so than others by virtue of the length of time I've had contact with them and the nature of our interaction. Each of you knows how your words and actions through blog comments, private emails and phone contact contributed to my comfort though you may not have realized the significance to me of your acts at the time. I cannot dismiss the fact that virtual though these relationships may be, since I've never met another blogger in person, I've experienced a special and unique support during this special time in my life. I want to express my appreciation to each of you, confident you know just how much I value you.

This year in mid-April I recall sitting at my computer one afternoon, gazing out the window with my thoughts lost in the greenery of the bushes upon which my eyes were focused. Suddenly I was aware of an inner calm deep inside my being that had previously been absent. Instantly, I knew without question my life had somehow evolved to a different state ready for further forward progression.

The unexpected episodes of a deep gnawing ache centered just below my rib cage seem to have vanished. I always have wondered what those feelings indicated when I first experienced them many years before my husband's death. They sometimes seemed associated with individuals still living but also those long dead, then became acute, sometimes overwhelming and more erratically frequent the past two years. I considered the feeling encompassed an empty hole inside me that can never be filled. I even had realized this feeling could be erroneously perceived as one of hunger, but fortunately never made the mistake of trying to fill that vacuum by excessive eating. I have concluded these feelings are associated with loss or perceived loss, but perhaps I'm wrong.

I truly don't know what this coming third year of blogging will bring. I anticipate more active participation in the blogosphere. I do look forward to whatever that may be and view the future with optimism.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Financial Meltdown & Trust

Bailout/Rescue Plan Doesn't Seem to be Helping

Is Meaningful Regulation Missing ?

Financial Return On Our Investment Necessary

Is this a bailout of those on Wall St. who created the financial crisis or is it a rescue plan for Main Street America? The answer depends upon personal perspective based on information we each gather, process and interpret to reach an ultimate conclusion independently. The fact there have been so many financial experts offering conflicting views as to what action is best has not clarified the issues. The pundits state the problem, potential solutions, and possible consequences have not been explained well. Even more critical in creating uncertainty among all of us is the experts general agreement the results of implementing this plan are unknown. What is proving to be the case so far is that the plan has not resulted in a desired positive effect on the financial markets in the U.S. and the world.

I've read news reports, and listened to more than a few knowledgeable financial authorities of differing ideological persuasions explain their point of view. I've engaged in thoughtful debate with friends of varying socio-economic status who have been equally anxious to consider all the angles as best we were capable. I am familiar with young people attempting to sustain a new successful several year old business, raise young children, and maintain their home's mortgage. My own family consists of members a next generation older than that couple who are also striving to prepare for their futures. I have personal knowledge of couples entered into their first medicare-elgibilty retirement years whose financial well-being is paramount now that they're no longer in the work force. Especially vulnerable are some other couple friends and singles already in their retirement years whose financial security is most eminent. Will some of the older people need to return to work and might they encounter that unlawful but still covertly practiced age discrimination?

My Representative, Republican David Dreier, coincidentally the night before the second bailout/rescue vote offered me an opportunity to participate in another of his periodic phone conferences. I have yet, however, to be selected to ask questions and speak directly with him. His votes have not often reflected my point of view, but I value hearing his perspective. I sometimes let his office aides know by phone, letter or email my own opinion that I expect him to seriously consider whether contrary to or supportive of his position.

During his exchange with constituents in this phone conference I informally judged 80% to 90% of those who spoke had the same reaction I did of outrage – outrage that we were being asked to underwrite the excesses of Wall Street, the failure of government to regulate the violators of sound business practices and provide carte blanche authority to one government official for dispersing 700 billion dollars. He said he agreed with our concerns, but was convinced there was too much at stake for each of us, our country and the world financial markets, so he "held his nose" and voted for the first bill. Before this conference call I had reached that same conclusion as he had stated when it came to a vote on that bill. My Democratic Senators, Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer also voted for the bill.

The other night Warren Buffett appeared on The Charlie Rose Show on PBS-TV making a similar case for a "yes" vote on this revised bill. I do respect Buffett, but I realize he has his own business perspective and agenda though it does seem to be one supportive of Main Street Americans. I did conclude, nevertheless, that everything considered I was not willing to gamble the financial condition of this country against the unknown of what might be our future if this revised bill did not pass. I left a message for Rep. Dreier that I hoped he would vote "yes" on this revised bill, too, as he did. Expectedly my Senators Feinstein and Boxer would again vote their support.

I continue to feel a crisis of trust toward current governing figures but now even far greater than any I've ever felt before in my lifetime toward any other administration. Congressional persons and those occupying the executive branch of our government from both of our major political parties have not only failed to serve the American people well as they pledged to do, but they have betrayed us for too many years.

Whose opinion on how to act do we trust to resolve the financial debacle our country is experiencing? Originally I thought U. S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson was that person by default but then I was quite repelled by the original bailout plan he proposed. What a power grab to rival that of what the current executive branch has been doing these past years. The constant admonitions by officials urging fast action to endorse this plan had me questioning whether or not this tactic might just be rushing us to action saying time was of the essence in classic sales closing pressure tactics. I also knew that approach almost always raises a red flag of caution to not get stampeded into what might likely be a questionable investment. Common sense suggested to me that both the original plan and the revised bailout/rescue plan saddling 700 billion dollars of debt risk on to all citizens was tantamount to rape of the American people. Despite all that, right or wrong, I over-rode my hesitations and was willing to accept that revised bailout/rescue plan.

Friday night 10/10/08 I listened to George Soros interviewed extensively on Bill Moyers Journal PBS television program. Soros basically said this rescue plan was already too late to be effective, so I wonder what are we doing? We can't rescind this plan now, but I believe we need to keep up the pressure on our Representatives and Senators to see that items I mentioned in my previous post are adopted in new bills if need be to ensure their implementation. I'm especially concerned that regulations are strengthened, if need be, but definitely strongly enforced in the financial world, including banking. Also, the Securities Exchange Commission purportedly has long fought off regulation to their and our detriment it seems. Specific approval and accountability beyond "oversight" needs to be required for the distribution of my portion of the $700 billion tax dollars and I'm just not sure that will effectively be done.

I want those same 700 billion tax dollars and any new amounts appropriated rewarded with earnings repaid at an interest rate that any such high risk investment would generate. The principle, of course, must also be reimbursed to our U. S. Treasury. Perhaps we should even charge the financial market the same usury rates they've forced us to pay for many years which our state and federal government officials have permitted. All the financial groups who benefit from loans, cash infusions and/or purchases of their bad debts are monetarily, morally and ethically indebted to all U. S. citizens.

The very least the financial markets and banks can do is to dedicate themselves to making our investment in them profitable for all of us.