Monday, February 28, 2011

Birthday...or non-birthday...??

Well I'm home today.  I took the day off to be away from work on my birthday - non-birthday really as I don't have one this year.  My birthday is Feb 29 and I won't have an actual birthdate until next year.  I'm 47 today and proud of it. 

It is nearly 10 am and I'm not dressed.  I'm not sure I'm getting dressed, it seems like a stay in the jammies day but I'll have to see how I feel.  My plan for the day is to work on writing things.  I worked for a while yesterday on organizing things.  Today I may continue that trend.  There are two more steps I want to go through before I feel like my writing is organized the way I want it.

I also have several projects I want to work on.  They are screaming at me for attention.  I may just put in earplugs and work on the one manuscript that has consumed me for months.  I'm taking a day to do what I want.  I slept late - sort of.  I was up late and I got six hours - not much more is needed typically. 

Normally around my birthday I write in my annual journal.  This journal is one where I set aside my daily grumblings and commentary and look at life.  In the past I've written about my childhood memories or the events of the past year.  It varies.  I'm also not always great about writing exactly on my birthday but I grab the journal and set it out so it reminds me to do it.  This year I'm not sure what I'll write on.  Nothing profound comes to mind.  My year has been fairly uneventful.  Although Ken and I are coming up on our 30th wedding anniversary.  Maybe I'll do a review of our marriage... have to think on that...

This journal is a summary of life for me.  It isn't the daily grind journal I carry with me. It allows me to look at the big picture.  Before I start a new entry, I go back to read what I've written in the past which I don't normally do in my daily journal.  It is very much a reflective journal for me.  It helps me see patterns in my life and think about what those patterns mean. 

In all I hope I have a quiet and calm day off.  I hope the chaos of the political scene stays at bay and I can allow myself these moments to enjoy and recharge my batteries...

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Thank you...

Thank you to the Democrats who left the state to stand up for our rights.  Thank you to all the people who have come out to support this cause.  Thank you to those who have spent countless hours organizing and working on getting people to the capitol and keeping it peaceful.  Thank you to anyone who has gone to the capitol to lend their voice to the protest. 

Thank you to those who are for the bill and willing to listen and debate the issues.  I've learned a lot about the issue and beliefs of people by listening to their point of view.  I've enjoyed the open debate and discussion.  That is what our politicians are supposed to be doing - listening to all.

On the other side of this gratitude is sadness at the behavior and representation of the Republicans who aren't listening, have closed their doors to the public, who shut down the debate in the Assembly, who will not negotiate.  I hear them spewing on tv that the Democrats are not letting democracy work but they are the ones who are not listening to the people or even their own assemblymen.  How is that democratic? 

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Tomorrow I start five days off.  I have things scheduled for tomorrow and Saturday.  Some of them are the normal errands of the weekend but some aren't.  I'm hoping to visit my sister since she came down to protest... I'm also going with my daughter to get a massage.  That will probably be my favorite for the weekend.

Aside from that I'm going to tackle some of my writing things.  I'm going to attempt to be less obsessed about the politics going on (yeah right) and hope that I'll be able to dive back into writing as I've not done much lately.

I'm laughing at myself because I know that I just submitted three essays to Chicken Soup for the Soul.  All three were from a bit of a different perspective so I don't know if anything will happen with them. 

I'm debating a web site.  I'd like to post some of my work either here or on my own web site.  The problem is I want to make sure they are somewhat secure.  Some of the stuff has not been published so I'd like to protect it.  I have figured out how to do that somewhat but I can't figure out how to post it here.  So I'm trying to decide whether I want the responsibility of a web site.  What do you all think?  Let me know...

I hate web sites that get stagnant but a web site would be great to point publishers to so they can see my work.  Do I have time for this project?  I don't know for certain but I think I could make time for it.  There are a lot of things that go in to it.  I don't want to have to pay for a site because of the money situation right now.  The company I get my Internet through offers space for a web page but I'm not sure I'm sticking with them so then what happens to my page... there are just so many questions... I need input... PLEASE

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


I watched the Governor's news conference today.  He tried to convince all of us what a horrible position we are in.  He can say we are broke a million times and every time he does I think about the tax breaks he gave his cronies.  What he really said were half truths and lies.  I get that he is trying everything in his power to convince the citizens of Wisconsin that he is being truthful and trying to do what is best for Wisconsin.  He comes across as a slick used car salesman.

I watched the Democrats' response to the Governor's news conference.   I think they were genuine in their response.  I listened to the Republicans attempt to bully the Democrats and realized that they were doing their best to stand up to them. 

Walker says that the stimulus money was misappropriated.  Where is his proof?  I worked for the DOT and I know how careful everyone was for making sure about how the money was spent.  I know that we let (this means to put out for bid) a billion dollars worth of contracts which is twice what we normally do in a year.  We worked our asses off to get that money out to the contractors.  I'm offended that he would accuse us of spending it unwisely or erroneously. 

Walker said nothing new in his speech.  He just spewed more of the same rhetoric.  I saw Republicans yelling at Democrats because they weren't getting their way.  It is sad that adults who are supposed to be leaders act like bullies on the playground.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Another Work Week

Today we start again with work.  The unions are calling for people to go to Madison.  It will be interesting to see how many keep showing up.  This is a furlough day for most state employees (not me) so the potential is there for a large number of employees to go to the Capitol.  There is a rock concert in support of the unions at 5 pm tonight. 

I feel like we have two very stubborn two year olds fighting over a bone.  Neither is willing to concede anything.  Yet the ones who suffer are those affected by it.  If we allow this bill to pass this Governor will have unprecedented power and the unions will be gone. 

I'm still supporting the Democrats.  I hope they stay out of the state until the Governor realizes that he has to negotiate.  Come to the table and have a discussion. 

I watched a news conference he had on line and was appalled by the stuff he was saying.  It sounded very much to me that he wanted to look at everyone's base pay (once he rams this bill down our throats) and negotiate those down.  I'm already taking a pay cut - how much more does he want? 

He said that he wouldn't impose furloughs but once the unions are busted he will have no one to stop him.  He said he wouldn't lay off large numbers of people but again once the unions are gone what is to stop him?  I don't trust him.  I think if this bill passes I could very well lose my job or end up taking a significant pay cut.

I don't know how this will play out in the long run but hopefully we won't have to give up our collective bargaining so we can keep some of our protection.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Creative vs Business

And now for a slight break from the drama and stress of politics...

Writing is a dual process.  You have to be creative to create the product but you also have to be business minded to market your work.  The creative side sort of takes care of itself in my mind.  There are times I sit down and say – let’s try something new.  I’ll pull out my poetry book and try a new type of poem.  Or I’ll go to a publication I don’t normally write for and try their style.  Flash writing for me is quite the challenge.  I LOVE words so I’m not likely to tell you there is a blue sky.  I’m going to tell you about the clear cerulean endless expanse dotted with puffy billowy white clouds.  Flash writing is typically a very small number of words – 500 or less is very common.

Marketing and the business side of writing is a bit more difficult.  You have to find the places that publish the work you produce.  Then you have to follow their guidelines (don’t bother sending if you aren’t following them).  After an interminable amount of time you find out whether they accept your work or not. 

You also have to put your creative self away when you get the notice because most of the time it is NO.  They don’t tell you why – they just say no.  You have to have a thick skin here because I’ve had rejections from sweet and kind to completely bitchy.  One of the things you have to realize is that in a magazine there is a limited number of spaces they fill.  If it is a big publication maybe ten, for these ten slots, they get hundreds (perhaps even thousands) of submissions.  You are one very small submission.  Your article, story, poem – whatever – may have been perfectly lovely but there were a lot of other ones that were just as lovely.  The lesson here is “do not take it personally”.  It is just a business decision.  Move to the next publication that fits the item.  Keep trying – even if it seems hopeless. 

The problem here is there are only a finite number of hours in the day.  If you are like me – you have a day job, family and other obligations.  Sleep is important… I guess.  You have to find a balance between your writing tasks.  For me this is one of the hardest things to do.  Sometimes I’m just in the mood to write and to hell with everything else.  I just want to work on what I want to work on.  I don’t want to deal with the editing, marketing, etc. 

This means time management is a key skill to employ.  It is one I’m still working on.  One thing I do is when I have very limited time, rather than start writing when I’m not going to want to stop, I’ll work on those marketing tasks, editing tasks and so on.  If I’ve only got an hour, I’ll look at my submission guidelines and try to find a piece that will fit without me having to write.  If there is one then I work to make it fit the guidelines.  If there isn’t one – I put it in my to do pile (which is WAY too big). 

I have a day job so my breaks / lunch time activities sometimes include editing and other writing activities.  Because it is a shared break room I often end up doing more of the business side of the writing during this time.  I try to make the most of my time but really there are just times I want to be a veggie and hit my recliner…

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Go Democrats!!!

I'm not a political person - yes I know I've posted so much this week on the issues going on but under normal circumstances I'm just not.  I don't vote by party lines.  I don't discuss my votes.  I vote - every election.  I despair that our politician will ever get what is needed for our country.

Today though, I was PROUD of our state Democrat senators.  The Republicans and Governor have closed their minds and their ears to the pleas of the workers in the state.  Walker said he had 8,000 emails supporting what he is doing.  How many did he have wanting it to stop?  How many people have protested - somewhere around 50,000. 

I watched the national programs tonight - they were amusing.  They also got to the heart of the matter.  I think this is the first time I've heard the other side of the story.  It has been the Republicans BLASTING away at the "evil" state workers and unions. 

The overly dramatic presentation of the information was a bit much (maybe because I'm from the Midwest) but maybe that will start people thinking.  Paul Ryan is an idiot.  He accused the protesters of being violent.  I say come to Madison and see for yourself.  The Madison police had only good things to say about the protesters.  Apparently Ryan thinks the teachers are a bunch of violent radical people.  Well they are radical - they want to keep their rights.

If Walker and his cronies have their way, Wisconsin will become a state of haves and have nots.  It isn't the state workers who have.  It will be the corporations, big business, and the politicians who have.  The workers - everyone else will be a have not.  State worker (those that don't already have second jobs) will be looking for a second job. 

I hope the Democrats drive their point home and stick together.  They are doing what's right and I intend to support them.

Check out these articles...

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Building Wisconsin's Economy?

Here are a few numbers for people to consider.  Since before Walker took office here are some things he has sent away for us.

·         800 Million in High Speed Rail funds
·         23 Million in Broadband funs – WI libraries fought for this and it was supposed to go to schools, libraries, police, fire and hospitals in rural areas for the last three
·         70 – 75 million in transit funds will be lost if the collective bargaining goes away because the Federal Dept of Labor requires this be in place to receive federal monies.

Approximately 900 million will be lost by this man in six weeks of being in office.  For those who cry out for recall – recall of public officials cannot begin until they have been in office for 1 year.  Impeachment is reliant on the legislators to impeach him.  Do you see that happening with a Republican legislature? 

How much can Wisconsin afford to lose?  These funds were going to go towards making a better Wisconsin and now we are out nearly a billion dollars. 

Governor Walker – How do you intend to replace these funds?  I can guarantee that state workers will stop existing if you take more from them.  Private sector employees should pay attention because what happens in the public sector will happen in the private sector.  You think you are paying a lot now for your benefits – wait till this goes through.  You will pay even more and you won’t have a chance of getting a union anywhere.

I’d like to believe that our representatives would listen to the outcry of the workers of this state but they are sheep all following party lines. 

I’ve read some of the comments about state workers on the Journal Sentinel and other sites.  Here are a few things I’m sure the general public won’t want to hear.  State workers tend your old, your poor, your battered, your roads, your schools, and your safety from crime and fires. 

Some of the workers are lazy.  They do only what they have to in order to keep their jobs.  These workers are few and far between.  Most workers for the state give of their time and energy for a paycheck that is smaller than what they could get in the private sector.  Yes their benefits are better than the private sector.  No state worker has said they aren’t willing to pay more for any of the benefits.  However, taking away collective bargaining rights is not going to balance the budget. 

What that does is allow Walker to make arbitrary changes.  He can then fire people for no reason other than he wants to save money.  He can add furlough days and state workers have no choice or protection.  He can make all sorts of changes.

Here is the thing – the state of Wisconsin is not a business.  It is a complex government body that needs careful consideration in how it should be run and where cuts can be made.  Walker does not care about children, women, workers, poor, middle class.  He cares for the rich and businesses. 

Rights in Jeopardy

I’ve been reading the articles and announcements. I’m not one to just believe some of the propaganda put out by one side of an issue.  I will go looking for information until I can get information from the original source.

I watched Walker say he was surprised that the protests were peaceful.  He’s called out the National Guard to make sure the protests this week are peaceful.  I don’t believe that is the real reason.  I think he did it to try to intimidate the people coming to the protests. 

Some serious concerns I have is he is talking about health risk assessments.  Does this mean if you are a smoker, have a disease, or are obese he will deny insurance coverage?  This would be an extreme invasion of privacy. 

While the money issues concern me, I’m aware that we will have to pay more during these economic issues.  The favoritism he is showing towards his contributors is more of an issue.  The companies from the Green Bay area who want to build in an area for the endangered Cranes backed him and now he is trying to overrule the DNR.  These cranes are rare and this is their nesting area.  If we allow companies to build there these cranes may die out.  The unions he is exempting from the busting he is trying to do are the ones that supported him during the election. 

Is this really the kind of politician we want in?  Someone who allows people to buy his influence?  Shouldn’t he be looking out for the good of Wisconsin – all of Wisconsin - not just those who paid for him to do it? 

The man has cost the state $800 million in federal funding for the high speed rail project.  He has lost jobs of at least 900 for the train company who will be moving as soon as their contract is up.  The jobs he is supposedly creating are minimum wage jobs that are part time and offer NO benefits.  Apparently we are going to become a serfdom with him as the lord of the manner.  Minimum wage jobs will not pay the bills.  If you work 40 hours a week at $7.25 your gross pay would be $290.  In a month that is $1160.  If your mortgage is a $1000 then you can’t live on one job.  Most of these jobs are part time so you wouldn’t actually get 40 hours per week.  Then you are stuck working two or three jobs.  We will be working ourselves to death just trying to live in poverty because the annual wage would be a bit over $15,000 which is well below poverty level. 

Whatever he does in the public sector, will stream outward into the private sector.  If we lose our rights to negotiate, get raises, strike, whatever, then the private sector will as well. 

I agree the government needs to curtail spending and reduce the amount of money going out.  However, banishing unions is not going to help.  Neither is giving the rich tax breaks.  Since we are already one of the states that have a high tax rate it would be best to look at options like raising the sales tax or cutting spending across the board.  This may mean that some of the pet projects needs to go.  Sacrifices will need to be made.  I don’t think our programs for children and poor should be the first to go.  Let’s look for the pork and cut that. 

We also need to have an open discussion.  The people of the state and the people most affected by cuts should have a say in the cuts being made.  Public hearings, open discussion, communication are all key factors in facing these difficult economic times. 

Bullying and ramming through changes which aren’t going to make a difference will not help the state but hurt it.  Walker needs to wake up and realize he is a public employee and his job is to serve the public not be a dictator.

I watched an hour last night of the finance committee hearings.  No one spoke for the bill, one person even said that since 1:15 (I was watching at 8:15 still) had spoken for the bill.  Each speaker was given only 2 minutes to speak.  Yet I feel that this bill will get rammed through and the entire state of Wisconsin will pay for it.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Money Money Money

I’m looking at an 11% plus cut in my pay due to Governor Walker and that is on top of the 3% I already took with the furloughs.  This is significant as it will put me from making it to not making it.  I’m a public employee and proud to be serving the public.  I do the best I can in my job, helping as many people as I can regardless of what they are asking of me.  I don’t just say that isn’t my area I can’t do it.  I say it isn’t my area but let me see who could help you.  I did this when I worked at the DMV, BPD and now at the University.

Unfortunately this is not seen or appreciated by those in power.  My bosses have appreciated me and given me pats on the back but the legislature and governor apparently can’t be bothered to promote workers. 

I don’t know Scott Walker at all.  I didn’t vote for him.  I don’t like his way of treating people.  I find him arrogant and irresponsible.  He is not a person I would choose to run anything let alone our state.  However, now that he is in power I have to deal with the fall out. 

For me this means, we are no longer going to have any cash to spend on anything other than the absolute necessities.  We may even be looking at dropping services. I’m not sure what we will have to sacrifice but something will have to go.  I may have to drop my insurance – if that is allowed mid-year.  Other options are to drop cell phones or cable… I’m not sure what else.

This will not mean tightening our belts.  It will mean that we are doing without.  I was working on paying off my credit card debt but we may have to let our credit rating tank in order to pay for our basics with this type of drastic cut in pay.  

I know the propaganda out there is that state workers make six figures and they don’t do anything.  There probably are a few who are like that.  However, the majority of state workers are not that well off.   Between my husband and I we don’t make six figures.  We are not living high off the hog.  We get paid.  I pay the bills.  The money is gone.  There is no emergency fund. There is no huge retirement fund.  There is no savings.  It is just us working to pay our bills. 

Does Scott Walker understand that is how most of the state employees are?  Does he understand that we are just like all the other workers in Wisconsin who are struggling to stay afloat during these difficult economic times?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Villains and other fun characters...

Villains are fun and difficult to write.  In the manuscript I’m working on I’ve been so focused on the good guys the bad guys have been somewhat vague as they are just bit parts.  This criminal is brought to justice and the good guys win.  Now the good guys are dealing with worse bad guys and these have names and powers.  They aren’t just non-descript criminals. 

I’m just getting into introducing the big bad guy.  He has been eluded to often but never described.  I have to get into his head and figure out how to make him three dimensional and not a caricature of a bad guy.  He is somewhat surrounded by others who are bad guys too so these characters have to be well developed. 

I’ve just started the character development so it will be interesting to see how this goes.  I want my bad guy to have almost no redeeming characters.  Yet I may have to throw a twist or two in there – I don’t know yet. 

I was feeling a bit stopped up as I felt I was dragging this story on too long.  I was thinking it might be time to find a way to finish it off quickly but now (after a night of little sleep) I’ve come up with several ideas that are all bursting to get out and I’ll have to make sure I get them down on paper soon. 

This last weekend I was hoping for some writing time but didn’t get any.  Mostly because I opted to spend the few hours I had to myself (yes during the super bowl) watching DVDs.  I was feeling like I had let myself down by not taking the time to write. 

Whether from lack of sleep or down time I don’t know I suddenly have the story flowing from my fingers with alacrity.  I am once more wishing I could spend all my time writing instead of working my day job…

Monday, February 7, 2011

Early Case of Spring Fever

The snow has piled up.  The drift between my house and the neighbors to the north is at least 4 – 5 feet tall.  I’m not talking about a drift plowed there by the snow plows.  No I’m talking about snow that was either fallen or blown there (by wind or snow blowers).  That is too high.  I’m so ready for spring to be here and to have some green grass and leaves back. 

I am looking forward to my rhododendron bush blooming again.  I also am excited to see how my bush fence is going to come in.  I am hoping to have more lilacs this year.  The endlessness of the white snow and cold winter has finally worn me out. 

I backed up to leave my driveway and realized the drift between the two houses was so high I couldn’t see over it to tell what was coming in the road.  That is too much winter. 

I’m one of the few people who sits back to enjoy the snow on the trees, the contrast between the white snow and evergreen trees.  However, enough already, I want some warmth.  I want the snow to stop falling – I don’t care that it is big fluffy pretty flakes.  It is still cold and will just add to that damn drift. 

I look out my window both at work and at home and think – more white stuff.. can’t we have some relief from this?  Outside my window at work there is a lovely giant evergreen which is picturesque.  It is one of the darker pines dusted with a lovely layer of white on the branches.  It looks amazing. 

I want to walk up to the tree and shake its trunk hard enough that all the snow falls off.  Not that I could even if I were to walk across campus to do it.  The tree is too large.  It represents winter to me.  I am tired of winter – obviously.

I know I’ll get over this but for these moments – I just want to think of a summer breeze and the birds singing.  I want to feel the sun on my face and be WARM.  I want the breeze to cool me off not put me in a deep freeze. 

I know I have another couple months to go before we see anything near to summer like weather.. until then I’m going to huddle impatiently under my quilt with the bright colors up so I feel like spring will come eventually.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Super bowl... I can't believe this title...

Anyone who knows me knows I don't like football - with a passion I don't like it.  I'd be happy if all of the stadiums were sucked into a void somewhere and we never had to deal with another game ever.  So this is not going to be a happy go packers post - if you are looking for that just quit reading...

I'm sick to death of the whole super bowl thing.  I do not want to hear one more word about the damn thing - I know this won't happen but really does this have to be the focus for two weeks?  Why can't they play the super bowl the day after the final play off game?   I know why - big bucks.  Okay and maybe logistics.

Our lovely governor is going to the super bowl.  Ken heard that it is going to cost $10,000 for him to go and that was on the taxpayers dime.  I looked on line to see what was up and found that he bought the tickets for him and his family - one article said he was charging it to his campaign.  I question that use of funds. 

In all the articles he made a point of saying that the tax payers only had to pay for the security detail he was required to take.  Well I say with the money crunch, he should be staying home and watching it at the governor's mansion.  Or he should be reimbursing the state for the cost of that security detail. 

I do want to say that I'm proud to be a Wisconsinite.  I think our fans are well behaved and good natured (for the most part).  I think they show what good sportsmanship is and love the game.  We have good people in our state - yes we have some damn awful ones too but overall... good people. 

Aside from that I have only one thing to say about the super bowl - Is it done yet?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Snow Day.. and the fall out...

Yesterday was a snow day and I did NOTHING.  I have a long list of writing and household things I want to work on.  I did none of them.  I sat in my recliner and watched DVR stuff.  I cuddled with Ken.  I was a bum. 

Now I feel like a person again, though today was difficult because work was just not flowing.  I wanted to get stuff done and have my student workers get stuff done.  It didn't go so well. 

Hopefully next week with the new workers will go well.  I have two new students who both seem eager to work and dig in.  I'm hoping they are hard workers and have the skills needed to get work done.  I'll see what happens. 

I'm hoping that the bum day yesterday will give me enough down time that this weekend I can get a number of things done.  I'd like to get my office cleaned and rearranged, perhaps move a few things into the craft / work out room. 

I'm also going to be working on taxes this weekend.  I have at least three people who want me to work on their taxes so that will keep me busy. 

I'm also hoping to have some writing time.  I'm hoping that I can finish the chapter I'm working on and move forward.  I've been a bit stuck - not in knowing what I want to write but in being motivated to write.  I've done a lot of journaling and that helps me move forward.  Now though is the time to go back to the manuscript and finish the chapter and keep going forward with the story.  The thing is I still see the picture in my head of how the scene will play out and the longer I wait the more details fill in.  It will come as I need it to I know...

Last day of work tomorrow.  I'll be taking mom to the doctor.  I'll be hanging out with her for a while until Alicia comes to pick her up.  Then I'll have to see what mischief I get up to...

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Winter weather – it is February

It snowed last night.  It is snowing today.  We are supposed to get about 18 inches of snow overnight.  I understand this is a lot of snow and that it will be compounded by the high winds we are also supposed to be getting. 

I don’t understand why the news has to make such a HUGE deal out of it.  Here’s the thing – it is winter.  In winter we get snow which may or may not be accompanied by high winds.  If you are used to Wisconsin weather then you know this and know how to handle it. 

It doesn’t make a lot of difference other than I might have to leave earlier to get to work.  Or worst case scenario, I get to stay home and sit in front of the fireplace because there is too much snow for me to get through on the roads.  Maybe that is best case scenario… look at that I’m 47 (well almost) and I’m hoping for a snow day…

It is winter and in Wisconsin this means we don’t need to be overly dramatic about a snow storm that sweeps through.  Yes we need information – like when is it going to hit, how much, driving conditions and so on.  We don’t need sensationalism that will cause panic – or in my case annoyance.

I wrote all of this above while comfy inside my work.  Then I walked out to my car and the wind nearly blew me off my feet.  It is hazardous out there but at the same time we don't need the drama we just need facts.

Back at the Grindstone

With nine days off, you would think I got a lot accomplished.  I did when it comes to spending time with my girls but off my to-do list?  No...