Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Putting the "Thanks!" back into Thanksgiving, and taking the Black Friday Out

As I sit here at 5:15 am on Thanksgiving Eve, trying to put into words what has been floating around in my head for weeks, I find it a bit ironic that I am awake earlier today than I would be on a school day.  On a day I didn't have to be up at a certain time to get my two small humans into the care of those that do the hardest job (and get paid the least) in our society, I was awake at 5 am.  Waking after 7 am is as elusive in my life as a sighting of a Sasquatch (Bigfoot or Yeti, if you prefer). But fundamentally, even though I am sleepy, I have been given another day to grace this planet, and for this, I am thankful.

So I hear a lot about how we need to put the Christ back into Christmas.  Now make no mistake, I am a Christian (Presbyterian to be more specific) and I agree we could all use more Christ in our lives, but in my mind, it is impossible to take him out of ANYTHING! He's tenacious that way, always all up in my business, making me a better Lucy, ever present with his unending grace and expecting me to love others...just BECAUSE!  So this premise that we can take Christ out of Christmas, or anything else is a bit ludicrous, in my humble opinion. And don't get me wrong, it's not that we are getting Christmas "right" in our society, but to me you have to start with fixing the "Thanks" in November before you can get on with fixing the "giving" in December.

Thanksgiving has ALWAYS been my favorite holiday.  In fact I like it so much that in 1996, when planning my wedding, I initially tried to schedule our nuptials for Thanksgiving weekend but the US Army decided that Ethan Waterbury would be in Panama. And the US Army didn't give a rat's ass about my love for Thanksgiving so we made do with August. And 18 years later, tomorrow is go time in this house as my husband and I host family and friends here at our house for Thanksgiving. My Turkey is swimming in brine, my homemade cornbread is drying for the dressing and a pumpkin pie will be born into this world around 11:18am (depending upon when I publish this fine literary specimen).  

So why is Thanksgiving my favorite holiday?  Well hell, what's not to love? It is a day off from work (for most) built around the premise of giving thanks, eating wonderful food, & visiting with the ones you love. Historically speaking, there are many politically laden versions of how Thanksgiving originally went down (much of which makes this bleeding heart liberal proud and cringe at the same time) but in 2014, I just feel like we are missing it.  

It seems like so many in our culture are "going through the motions" to get to the Black Friday part of Thanksgiving, which in my mind, should be no part of it at all. While sightings of Sasquatch may be rare, sightings of Christmas trees the day after Halloween have become common place.  There is a radio station in Lexington that converts to Christmas music on November 1st, subscribing to the 55 days of Christmas model which seems to have become pervasive in our society.  

We blow past the Thanks! to get to the giving.  And that folks, is just plain sad. We think that giving people material things makes up for not giving them our thanks, time, love and affection. Our souls have been eroded by Black Friday retail "deals" and our collective concern for humanity has been replaced by a concern for keeping up the the Joneses (and the Smiths too, or so it seems!)

Occasionally I will run across folks in my facebook newsfeed that will take the time to express an attitude of gratitude about the simpler things in their lives and I find this encouraging.  So on this Thanksgiving Eve I am publishing my own attitude of gratitude list in an attempt to set an example of how to get the "black" out of this sacred day.  Here goes...

I am thankful for...

  • those who enrich my life by their presence
  • those who love and serve others who are so desperately in need of love and services
  • those who put themselves out there to affect positive change in their community
  • those who use their voice to speak their mind for the voices that have been silenced
  • those who sacrifice their lives to protect mine
  • the innocence of children and the wonder in which they approach life
  • an appreciation for all that is beautiful in this life, the ordinary and the extraordinary

While this is by no means a comprehensive list of everything for which I am thankful, it is a pretty good start.  And, money cannot buy any of the above.  For those who will get up from their Thanksgiving table tomorrow to go "cash in" on those material goods, the reality is that it is your soul you are selling. Life isn't found in what is bought and sold, it is found in experiences and memories and those are not for sale, they are for the taking and making.

May your Thanksgiving table be filled with an abundance of food and those you choose to spend it with be filled with an abundance of love and thankfulness for all that is good and beautiful in this life.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Dear Mr. President...there isn't enough bourbon

Dear Mr. President,

This is your future Ebola Czarina checking in.  You've been pretty busy lately, so if you missed my blog about Ebola, you can read it here: How Do You Solve a Problem Like Ebola?  Seems like we have Ebola under control at the moment, so kudos to the current Czar, but if you would like to write in a succession clause, I'm your girl. 

But I digress, Ebola is not why I am writing.  Earlier this week, exactly 56.2% of the 46% of Kentuckians who even bothered to show up to vote sent Mitch McConnell to represent them in the United States Senate. (Note: let's be fair, Lexingtonians and Louisvillians are excluded from this statistic, they actually voted to send Alison to the Senate in the same proportions) 

I have to believe that a certain percentage sent him back, not because they liked him, but to bring home the "pork" to Kentucky, as Senate majority leader, because after all, it's the American way. I'm not sure how I feel about those people as it is this logic that has completely bastardized the resource distribution of our democratic government but that's a letter for a different day.

Those Kentuckians didn't send him to represent me, as I promise you that the votes he will cast will never reflect anything that I stand for.  And you know that saying, "You have to stand for something or you'll fall for anything".  Yeah, well let's just say that too many Kentuckians will fall for anything, and evidently that disease is pretty contagious among the voting electorate in the mid-terms of 2014.  

On Wednesday, after those Kentuckians who cannot see that they are being lied to and their votes and souls are being bought by fear mongering billionaires, decided that Mitch McConnell, after 30 abysmal years of legislating, was yet again their man, you invited him over for some food, fun & fellowship at the White House. You said, I quote, "I would enjoy having some Kentucky bourbon with Mitch McConnell." Now Mr. President, I will take you at your word that you meant what you said, but I have to assume it would be the bourbon that you would enjoy with Mitch McConnell, rather than the discourse.  

In this state, bourbon flows like water.  We drink it in any manner you can imagine, we've built a trail around it, we make candy out of it, we have even been known to light it on fire when served as part of a decadent dessert or two. In a few hours, I myself will be tailgating with it at the UK vs. Georgia game, but I think you get my point. 

But Mr. President, this Kentucky girl is here to tell you...there isn't enough bourbon. You could push Bourbon through the veins of Mitch McConnell intravenously and he still wouldn't see what you and I see.

  • To see that people are people, and Corporations are NOT
  • To see that inconvenient truths not addressed for decades, could become species ending nightmares at the end of the millennium
  • To see that legislation passed in his name is often exactly what Jesus WOULDN'T DO! (not WWJD!)
  • To see that choosing "Pork" in Washington, in the long run, harms the men and women bringing home the bacon
  • To see that profit maximizers don't self-regulate
  • To see that ending the "War on Coal" fuels a war on clean drinking water and irreversible environmental damage
  • To see that access to healthcare makes us all healthier
  • To see that Student Loans are as important, if not more important, as Business Loans
  • To see that Planned Parenthood serves low income women in ways they will never understand 
  • To see that birth control pills are used for dozens of women's health concerns, only one of which is preventing birth
  • To see that being Pro Life should mean feeding, clothing, and nurturing these children long after the birth is over
  • To see the importance of funding Sesame Street instead of Wall Street
  • To see that tomorrow's criminal is today's abused, neglected, and broken child
  • To see that neediest children come to school to be loved as much as to learn
  • To see that Head Start isn't just an academic start, it is the ONLY start for many of these children
  • To see that choosing butter over guns is not only the right thing to do but the smart economic thing to do
  • To see that love is defined by the heart, not the type of genitalia
  • To see that government can and should reduce suffering, instead of inflicting it
  • To see that as Americans we are, and should be our brother and sister's keeper

So now that the Bourbon Summit is over, keep fighting the good fight, please get back to doing what you have gotten really good at, rebuilding a country and economy you inherited 6 years ago that was decimated by 8 years of the policies of the same party that just dropped by for a bite of lunch.  

And while these next two years are going to be a nightmare of preventing the passing of legislation that will undo the economic growing, deficit & governmental fraud reducing and consumer protecting accomplishments of your presidency, please know that history will be kind to you.  

And Mr. President, if Mitch didn't bring the Pappy Van Winkle, he brought the wrong stuff.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

How do you solve a problem like Ebola....

(Maria is not the problem we need to solve at the moment, and in all reality was she ever really a problem?! I mean she was a dream of a nanny who ended up loving those children like her own.  Have I mentioned The Sound of Music is my favorite movie OF.All.TIME?)

I am not a doctor.  I don't play one on TV.  Hell, I don't even want to cut my husband's toenails. Okay, maybe when we are octogenarians I will, but even then it will be reluctantly. Additionally, my only forays into politics, outside of being President of my high school class (have I mentioned there were only around 50 of us so even that wasn't too difficult to achieve) are two failed attempts at running for the Site Based Decision Making Council at my son's elementary school.  So I guess what I am saying is the chances that I will be appointed the next Ebola Czarina are remote. 

Having said all that, my degree is in Economics & Sociology and everything I learned while pursuing my relatively inexpensive University of Kentucky college education (compared to what it would cost in the way, in Econ, we call this secondary education hyper-inflation) tells me we are getting this Ebola thing all wrong.

But majoring in Econ and Sociology is a bit like living in two worlds at the same time; the world of studying supply vs. demand, rational vs. irrational behavior, correlation vs. causality, & nature vs. nurture. Where these two disciplines intersect is the study of when the chickens come home to roost, so to speak. So on my diploma it should really read:

Lucy Jett Waterbury

(yes, I was married before I graduated!)

Summa Cumme Laude

Bachelors of Arts

When The Chickens Come Home To Roost

Even if you are not the fear mongering type (Fox News viewers among us, stay with me here), this virus should be on your radar screen, but perhaps not for reasons that you may think.  Although there are those in our society that choose to live life in fear, I am not a card carrying member of this crowd. (Have I mentioned I have experienced a statistically significant number of frightening life experiences including watching my mother and brother die around age 40 from fatal brain tumors and living in the familial aftermath of the murder of my uncle in a random convenient store robbery?  I am only 39 folks.) Obviously the brains tumors are in my DNA, and my uncle was murdered by random evil that existed in 1986 and still exists in this world.  So yeah, fear could be something that defines me, but I simply don't let it.  But let's be real, if you aren't the slightest bit concerned about a horrific virus with a 50% mortality rate, that has already reached our shores, I am sure I can find a good suicide hotline phone number for you, as this is serious business.

Fortunately, we are now at the end of the quarantine period of those nearest and dearest to the first victim of Ebola in America, Thomas Eric Duncan, and his medical support team.  And for the most part, we can breathe a sigh of relief but it is now are duty to investigate "WTF just happened?!" and how do we respond when it happens again, because it will.

As I mentioned, this strain of Ebola, Ebola-Zaire, has a mortality rate of 50%.  Yep, you have a 1 in 2 chance of meeting Jesus if you become a card carrying member of this group.  Medically, we seem to THINK that we understand how it is transmitted (we will revisit this point later). But this assumes it does not mutate as viruses have a propensity to do (I hate it when that happens!).  We also seem to think that we know how to contain it but we have a major, modern medical facility and the CDC that cannot adequately explain how two nurses, using the proper protocols and wearing haz mat suits, contracted it. 

For those who have been living in a cave over the last couple of months or so, let's do a little Ebola 101.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO):

"First symptoms are the sudden onset of fever fatigue, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, symptoms of impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding (e.g. oozing from the gums, blood in the stools)."

What that WHO fact sheet fails to do a very good job of explaining, is what dying of Ebola really looks like.  Our own National Institute of Health (NIH) does a better job of explaining this in bullet points (Americans are all about their bullets so this not surprising...)
  • Bleeding from eyes, ears, and nose
  • Bleeding from the mouth and rectum (gastrointestinal bleeding)
  • Eye swelling (conjunctivitis)
  • Genital swelling (labia and scrotum)
  • Increased feeling of pain in the skin
  • Rash over the entire body that often contains blood (hemorrhagic)
  • Roof of mouth looks red
Sounds fantastic, doesn't it? Bleeding from your eyes makes pink eye look appealing, huh?

(Have I mentioned that according to the CDC, the budget cuts from "The Sequestration" hampered the NIH's development of a vaccine for Ebola?  How do you like the Sequestration now?  How does that thought process go exactly, "Hmmm, wow, I am really glad we cut government spending to a point where it may have put millions of tax payers lives at risk for the most deadly epidemic since the 1918 Spanish Flu outbreak. After all, we handled the 1977 Mexican Hot Sauce Botulism Outbreak just fine. History will treat us kindly, don't ya think?") Chickens roosting folks, chickens roosting!  If you are a geek to the level that I am, you can check out the Bipartisan Policy Center's "The Sequestration Explained" fact sheet here.  But how we got here is somewhat irrelevant, what counts now is what are we going to do about it and what have we learned, right? 

Let's talk about the continent that has been hosting this plague of 2014, Africa. But let's get more specific, shall we?  The countries that are currently cesspools of Ebola are Sierra Lione, Guinea, & Liberia. 


Most of my readers would not be surprised if I suggested that Africa has issues...lots of them. But when you consider Africa in the context of a deadly virus outbreak it has some things going for it. Intuitively this may seem awful that I am calling these positives but compared to the complexities of containing a deadly virus in the US, these are positives. Many times these outbreaks are contained in small, remote villages. And let's just say that most Africans do not have the means or method to leave the cesspool village. Sadly, it takes years for the village to raise a child but in Africa, they can unintentionally kill that same child in a matter of days.  Secondly, protecting basic human rights isn't exactly priority #1 in these countries so to be a human there is pretty awful and you are at the mercy or abuse of whomever dictates your quality of life, or lack there of.  Just as the politics of famine are complicated in Africa, so are the politics of disease. When competent to do so, the local folks will do what it takes to try and contain the disease but alas, even with limited mobility, denial of human rights, and governmental attempts to regulate travel, Ebola-Zaire landed in Dallas, TX on September 20th.

How does this happen?  Well, you show up at the airport without a fever, tell security what they want to hear and then board the plane for the promised land.  Can you really blame him?  After all, your fiance'  is in Dallas, you have other family in the States, you already quit your job, and basically YOU CAN. This post is not intended to demonize anyone and evidently Thomas Eric Duncan was a pretty darn good example of a kind, compassionate human as his willingness to transport a dying pregnant Ebola victim earned him his own ticket to meet Jesus.

To say that any of us would act differently is a self serving stretch.  Now many of us would have NEVER answered the call for help to move the dying Ebola patient, that is a given.  But most Americans, when afforded the opportunity to better his life and see his loved ones, would do what he did and the same would happen here. You would get on that plane to go "home" to see your loved ones and choose a better life, whatever that means in your circumstances and locale. If you say you would not, you are lying to yourself.  He acted rationally.

Did you know that the person responsible for the Nigeria outbreak was a Liberian-American (yep, those pesky Americans who think they can travel the world as they please) who traveled to Nigeria and infected 19 people. Nigeria has since been declared Ebola free but it was an American who brought it there.  Does that make you think about things differently?

The key to containing this virus here in the United States is controlling it before it reaches anywhere near what we call in Econ, the tipping point, which is a mind boggling low number of infections.  Because if you let it reach the tipping point, containing this virus here will be far more difficult.  I don't care what epidemiologists say, I don't care what the CDC says, when you have a critical mass of Americans exposed to this virus, the cows are out of the barn folks.  Why, you ask? Because the devil is in the details, as they say.

Here are some details:
1. Most regional hospitals and small community hospitals are not prepared adequately, nor is their staff trained to handle even a single highly contagious Ebola victim that stumbles into the closest ER, bleeding from every orifice.  What are most going to do with them once they have them?  They will assess them for disease and do what medical professionals do, put their own lives at risk to save others (This assumes that at this point in the epidemic that enough doctors and nurses have decided it is worth it to keep coming to work...a big assumption for some that went into medicine for the wrong reasons).

2. If this virus reaches anywhere close to a tipping point, people will have no idea they even have the virus or were exposed to anyone with it, as they may think they just have the flu, decide to work anyway or send their sick children to school anyway.  Remember the onset of Ebola is very much like that of the flu.  In a country where medical costs are outrageous, the working poor will do what is rational which is continue working and sending their infected kids to school.  It doesn't matter what they should do, or would like to do, they like to eat and put a roof over their head and there is no back up child care available to them.  When the going gets really rough, like bleeding from the eyes, rough, they will eventually seek medical treatment, but far too late to prevent a potential public health nightmare created by their rational behavior.

3. We do not have sufficient ways to contain the virus in a population where human rights are at least in the top 10 priorities of our Constitution (okay, let's be real it is not #1 and if you believe that I can guess your race and socio-economic status in 1.5 seconds flat, remember, I am an Economist and Sociologist by training).  On any given day, I can jump in my car in Kentucky and I can put my foot down on the soil of most of the 48 contiguous states within 3 days, 5 of them within 3 HOURS!.  I don't have to ask for permission, I don't have to be screened by anyone, I just CAN. 

4. Quarantines work when people cooperate, choose honesty when facing unknown repercussions, and make their medical condition known to authorities.  We can quarantine citizens but by then, how many have already been put at risk.  These numbers start to get out of control quickly. 

5. Dogs can become infected with Ebola-Zaire and produce antibodies and excrete the virus in their stool and urine.  Can they transmit it to humans?  Are you ready....WE.DON'T.KNOW!  In a country where you are far more worried about where your own next meal is coming from,having a canine mouth to feed is highly unlikely and completely irrational.  How about in America where dogs are members of the family that sleep in the same beds with their owners?!

6. Tens of thousands of American lives are lost to the flu every year, and we have a vaccine for it that many people refuse to take (albeit for many and varied rational reasons)!  You could say that many would more willingly take a vaccine for a disease that has a 50% mortality rate but remember we still have hundreds of millions of Americans to vaccinate which is a logistics challenge, in an ideal set of circumstances, much less during mass chaos and hysteria.  

So what do we do now?  We can rejoice that it seems we dodged the bullet this time. We can dig deep, talk to professionals in many and varied disciplines outside of the medical profession and we can make sound public policy decisions and allocate adequate resources.  Some of these policy decisions will test our resolve and make us feel very uncomfortable.  But being uncomfortable beats being dead.

Any when BioProcessing, the company located in Kentucky, has produced enough Ebola fighting compound, a suspected cure for Ebola ,made from....(wait for it)...tobacco, we can all breath easier, both literally and figuratively.  Fortunately, the land of my birth and where I choose to call home, is exceptionally good at growing tobacco and we could really use the jobs.  (And if you are registered to vote in the land of my birth, for the love and anything and everything, please Ditch Mitch & vote for Alison!) 

Perhaps now that the potential cure to this horrific virus can be found in a previous delivery mechanism of death, we will think differently about a lot of things.  Maybe we have just been using tobacco wrong all of these years?! In an ironic twist of fate, perhaps it took the deaths of millions of Americans from tobacco smoke, and a potential epidemic to realize the life saving mechanism of tobacco was under our nose, literally and figuratively, all along.

So when Sequestration rears its ugly head again, and it will, just think of all the potential medicinal uses of Kentucky Bourbon we might be missing?! Okay, and in all seriousness, as the 101st Airborne Division out of Ft. Campbell, Kentucky is mobilized in a last ditch effort to try and keep Ebola-Zaire in Western Africa, ask yourself why bullets are funded more often and freely than the National Institute of Health.  One funds death re-actively, the other funds life proactively.

And according to Maria, the Reverend Mother said, "When the Lord closes a door, somewhere he opens a window".  It is our job to look for that window and not break the damn thing with our efforts. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Rainy Days, My Congressmen, and ISIS Really Get Me Down

Enough already! Could the torrential rain please stop in Kentucky?  Flash flood warnings, impassable roads, and flooding basements (including my own) have become so common, we have forgotten what a normal rain event feels like around here. We smashed some daily and monthly rainfall records in August, last night, and every day, or so it seems. It is getting a bit moldy and mildewy as everything is a bit soggy around here. My garden is full of tomatoes that never got their time to shine, pun intended, and rot claimed them.  For a gardener, food rotting on the vine is pretty depressing, let me tell ya.

And I have a confession to make.  Okay, let's be real, I have a lot of those but I will let you in on just one of them today; I did not watch Obama address the nation about ISIS last night.  

And make no mistake, it is not that I think that ISIS, whom I refer to as "It's Satan!,It's Satan!", isn't worthy of my attention and concern (did I tell you I am a Presbyterian and we don't talk about Satan much, although we probably should, but let's just say that Dana Carvey and the Church Lady were not Presbyterian). ISIS is truly a horrifying nightmare to everyone on this planet, not just Christians and democracies. 

It's not that I don't like Obama, in fact the contrary it true, I proudly cast my vote for him twice and I sing his praises to anyone who will listen (did I tell you I am a classically trained soprano? so it isn't my singing that is the problem).  But those that want to hear the truth, or talk about substantive topics at all, are few and far between these days.  Our society has little tolerance for serious discourse and as a result of this, those chickens will come home to roost one day, typically in the form of a world war. 

And while many of you have most likely not watched a live Presidential address to the nation in years, I RARELY miss them.  I am ashamed of myself. Instead of listening to the leader of the free world explain his plan of dealing with this hell on earth, I went to bed. Yep, I did, I went to bed at 9pm (and my 4 year old joined me 30 minutes later, and my husband put the 4 year old back in her bed, and came to bed himself most likely around 11 but I digress...).  

Fear not, I told myself, fortunately we live in the digital age, right?  With 24/7 media coverage, not only could I find 10 different replays of his address this morning, if I looked hard enough on YouTube I could likely find a parody of it to the tune of the latest Taylor Swift song, Shake it Off. This song is kind of catchy.  You can watch the video on YouTube here ----->, Shake it off .  (did I tell you there were 12 years of my life that I wore tutus and danced en pointe like the ballerinas in that video? Don't believe me, here's proof!)  

Anywho, fundamentally you have to understand that I am am one of those "Be the change you want to see in the world" kind of gals.  And last night, all I was concerned about was when the sheets were changed last and that is shameful I tell you, shameful.  What has happened to me?!

I think what has happened is I am a tired mother of small children who pays attention and can't turn her brain off.  And because I was raised by liberals, and am a card carrying one myself, I care deeply about not only my corner of the world but every corner of the world (did I tell you some of my best friends are conservative Republicans, including the guy I have been sleeping with for 18 years?).

I am not one to typically bail when the misery index of the world reaches outrageous levels but the sadness of 9/11, the legitimate fear of "It's Satan!, It's Satan!", my Congressional representation in Washington (did I tell you that Kentucky really needs to ditch Mitch?), and the continued flash flooding in Kentucky is making me crazy.  And when the going gets tough, the crazy go to bed, or she did last night.

Eh, in time I am sure I will just shake it off as the "haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, but I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake" (if you are lost, watch the video!). And if you are a Kentuckian, for the love of anything and everything, vote for Alison. 

Friday, July 4, 2014

Dear Ann Coulter...if you are looking for moral decay, look no further than your own reflection in the mirror

On June 25th, just days before the US World Cup Soccer team played their hearts out representing the United States of American in a single elimination round match against Belgium, Ann Coulter, a well known right-wing, conservative talking head, made an ass of herself. This wasn't the first time she has done this, and I promise you it won't be the last.

If you missed it, or would like to waste precious minutes of your life reading her nonsensical, hatred filled ranting you may read it here:  Ann Coulter's Hate Speech about....Soccer?!

While I refuse to waste precious time out of my life to do point & counter point on each of her ill conceived rantings, I have chosen a few that I would like to address.

According to Coulter, 

(1) Individual achievement is not a big factor in soccer. In a real sport, players fumble passes, throw bricks and drop fly balls -- all in front of a crowd. When baseball players strike out, they're standing alone at the plate. But there's also individual glory in home runs, touchdowns and slam-dunks. 

In soccer, the blame is dispersed and almost no one scores anyway. There are no heroes, no losers, no accountability, and no child's fragile self-esteem is bruised. There's a reason perpetually alarmed women are called "soccer moms," not "football moms." 

This woman has obviously never actually PLAYED soccer or she would realize how ridiculous she sounds here.  Perhaps Ms. Coulter is unaware that goals are scored by individuals and defended by individuals.  When goals are missed wide or high or right, they are also missed by the individual and in the case of the World Cup, in front of a WORLD audience.

And Ms. Coulter, the number one job of a goal keeper, such as Tim Howard , the new United States "Secretary of Defense" is to prevent the ball from going into the goal, making sure that "no one scores anyway"  If the amount of points scored defines your value of a sport, are you sure you have even watched a major league baseball game?!  

(2) Liberal moms like soccer because it's a sport in which athletic talent finds so little expression that girls can play with boys. No serious sport is co-ed, even at the kindergarten level. 

I am a liberal. I am a mom. I like soccer.  Not only that, I am a liberal mom of one son and one daughter, who coaches soccer. Ms. Coulter, you are none of these!  Until you are raising even one member of the next generation of Americans, you cannot pretend to tell me why I enjoy the game so much that I have both children playing it on gender separated teams, and take the time to coach the ALL BOYS team of second and third graders that I do. And Ms. Coulter before you disparage your gender any further, it is the girls who dominate the boys at this age, as their coordination and ability to focus are more developed.

And Ms. Coulter, I coach like a girl and I am proud of it.  And although I was the only female coach in our age division, we won, A LOT.  We won because I taught my players that team work is exceedingly important but I also tried to develop each player to their own set of strengths as an individual.  

(7) It's foreign. In fact, that's the precise reason the Times is constantly hectoring Americans to love soccer. One group of sports fans with whom soccer is not "catching on" at all, is African-Americans. They remain distinctly unimpressed by the fact that the French like it. 

Ms. Coulter, perhaps if you or I were African-Americans, we might be able to speak to this, but neither of us qualify here.  But, I can assure you, they could give a rat's ass whether the French like it or not.  My education in economics would suggest that most likely it comes down to opportunity cost, earnings potential and specialization of "labor", in regards to your beloved football and basketball, but that would bore my readers so I will leave it at that. The bottom line is that the above statement is in poor taste and divisive, not that I should be surprised. 

(9) Soccer is not "catching on." Headlines this week proclaimed "Record U.S. ratings for World Cup," and we had to hear -- again -- about the "growing popularity of soccer in the United States." 


If more "Americans" are watching soccer today, it's only because of the demographic switch effected by Teddy Kennedy's 1965 immigration law. I promise you: No American whose great-grandfather was born here is watching soccer. One can only hope that, in addition to learning English, these new Americans will drop their soccer fetish with time. 

Ms. Coulter, 28,000 fans attended just 1 viewing party at Chicago's Soldier Field.  They gathered together to watch it on TV, nothing live was even happening in the stadium for goodness sake! And this was only one of such viewing parties that drew tens of thousands of Americans together around the country to cheer on their national team. Additionally, the largest demographic that has grown up playing soccer in this amazing country caught on to soccer just over a decade ago. It is the demographic that chooses to consume your hate speech that would benefit from "catching on" to a sport that the entire world adores.
I have great, great, great-grandfathers that were born here and I awoke yesterday to find my 7 and 4 year old watching the replay of the US vs. Ghana World Cup game ON DEMAND. I have to believe that I am doing something right when they chose a soccer game over Disney Junior.
Coulter begins her tirade with the statement below:
I've held off on writing about soccer for a decade -- or about the length of the average soccer game -- so as not to offend anyone. But enough is enough. Any growing interest in soccer can only be a sign of the nation's moral decay. 
I will end my tirade with this.  Please Ms. Coulter, do us all a favor, quit writing all together. I agree, enough is enough.  If you are looking for a sign of this nation's moral decay, simply look at your own reflection in the mirror.  Fortunately, the raising of the next generation of Americans is not in your hands.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Making lemonade from Corvettes and Sinkholes

On this day in 1953, the first Chevrolet Corvette rolled (literally) off the Corvette assembly line in Flint, MI.  Since 1981, these highly priced yet highly sought after American made sports cars have been manufactured in Bowling Green, KY. 

Evidently an unbelievable number of people have 1. the desire and 2. the disposable income and time to travel (many times in the Recreational Vehicles that are now their permanent residence!) throughout the United State paying entrance fees to stroll through museums featuring American inventions such as Spam (the canned meat kind, not the equally as undesirable e-mail kind) and Corvettes.  If you are going to have one at all, logically and logistically I'm sure it made sense to make Bowling Green the home of the Corvette Museum. 

For my readers who are not as familiar with the virtues of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Bowling Green, KY is located only 35 miles from Mammoth Cave, a massive underground cave system that is recognized as one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World. Well, what happened at that museum, on a seemingly random day in February, was a wonder of a different kind.

On February 12th, just a few hours before the Corvette Museum opened for the folks with massive amounts of time and a reasonable amount of cash, a 30 X 40 foot wide sinkhole opened up and swallowed 8 Corvettes.  Yep, just like that.  Here is link to the Youtube video footage from the security camera: Corvette Drops Into Sinkhole  

(photo source: Reuters, Corvette Museum)

In what I choose to believe is a sign from the universe that our culture is valuing all.the.wrong.things and spending our disposable income similarly, these high performance vehicles valued at a total of almost $1 million became scrap metal, in an instant. The timing was fortunate and spared all human life. In fact, the museum found out about it via a call from the security company monitoring the museum.  Wouldn't you love to hear a recording of that phone call to the facilities manager of the museum?!  Maybe it went something like this....

Security company dispatcher: "Hi, is this John Doe, the facilities manager of the Corvette Museum located in Bowling Green, KY?"

John Doe: "Yes it is."

Security company dispatcher: "Well, it seems that our security sensors have lost the security signal response on 8 of the Corvettes in your museum, you better get over there STAT!  It's the strangest thing, it's like they just fell off the face of the planet"

John Doe: "Wow, okay, I am on my way, thanks for calling."

Security company dispatcher: "Sure, no problem, hope you figure out what's going on over there, but I have to run as our system is detecting a plague of locusts carrying off a '68 Mustang Cobra over at the Ford Mustang Museum"  

(Note: there is currently no Ford Mustang Museum in existence, but the author took some creative license because there is one opening in Birmingham, AL in spring of 2016. Evidently this country needs more venues for these people with time, money and recreational vehicles on their hands.)

But the story doesn't end there. At this point, if you are like me, you are thinking "Wow, that really sucks for that museum.  I can't imagine anyone is going to want to go near that place any time soon!"  Well, we would both be wrong.   

If you happen to be the proud recipient of a driver's license and spend any time exercising the privileges that come along with it, you know Americans love to "rubber neck" when they drive by an accident scene, many times causing another one. But our tendencies to rubber neck extend beyond car accidents, and extend into natural disasters.  And apparently the tragic sink hole has become big business for the museum.  A USA Today article by Jolie Lee states, "The museum, located in Bowling Green, Ky., saw a 59% increase in the number of visitors from March to June, compared with the same period in 2013....There was also a 58% increase in gift store sales, a 72% increase in membership and a 65% increase in revenue overall in this four-month period over last year's."  

(Note: I will spare you how my mind would analyze the business metrics found in the above paragraph.  This brain of mine is a blessing and a curse.  I mean, who spends a Saturday afternoon, after a 60 hour work week in real estate, writing a blog post about the demise of Corvettes, which she thinks are an unbelievable waste of precious economic resources?!)

So people are now attending the museum to see... wait for it....the sinkhole. And according to a news release from yesterday, the museum's board has now decided to keep a part of the sink hole in the museum permanently.  And....they are going to put 2 cars that have been retrieved from the sink hole, BACK IN! (head seen shaking in the background)

Let's think about this, shall we?  People are now making the conscious decision to enter a building whose foundation dissolved, instantaneously swallowed 8 sports cars, and put the structure of the museum at risk.  Even more mind boggling is that they are more likely to do this and pay an entrance fee for the privilege, than when it was a completely structurally sound building with luxury sports cars on display.  I would have to verify this but, that karst topography, on top of which that museum was built, has NOT filed a change of address form with the United States Postal Service.

There is a saying, "When life hands you lemons, make lemonade".  While the economist in me can understand the financial reasons behind the museum board's decision to keep part of the sinkhole (but putting 2 previously retrieved cars back in, is entirely ludicrous under any circumstances, IMO), I truly struggle to understand those who desire a taste of that very strange lemonade.  Of course, maybe that is all part of the order of the universe, perhaps also serving as a perverse form of natural selection, as if that hole opens up even more, it will take those who just can't deny those rubber necking tendencies, right along with it.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Don't drink the water and if Katmandu calls...hang up!

In what I have to believe is part of the design of natural selection, it seems to me that those that are blessed (?) with an inherent assumption of immortality are also the least blessed with common sense.

Maybe assuming only other people are the victims of an untimely death comes from living a life where no one they cherish has been taken from this planet, decades before the average.  Or maybe they are just dumb.

While I can understand there are many in this world that would never be happy living an average, ordinary life, why must they subject themselves to situations that pose incredibly high probabilities of death?  Like say, Himalayan peak mountain climbing. 

Never in my life has it seemed like a good idea to climb to heights that require you to bring your own oxygen.  I am a big fan of oxygen and I prefer to stay in conditions where carrying my own is not required.  The chances of dying an an attempt to summit Mt. Everest is staggering.  According to Wikipedia, "Curiously, 1996 was statistically a safe year for Everest climbers. Before 1996, one in four climbers had died making the ascent; 1996 saw huge numbers of people attempting the climb and the statistics for 1996 revel that only one in seven died"  So in an average year, you have a 25% chance of dying. Dying!

Any who, so last week, this professor from Western Kentucky University, Dr. John All, fell through a crevasse on Mt. Himlung in Nepal.  Haven't heard of Mount Himlung you say? Well, when access to Mt. Everest is understandably shut down last month due to an avalanche that took the lives of 16 sherpa you have to make do. Given there are few employment opportunities in the higher elevations of Nepal, these sherpas feed their families by risking their own lives to schlep the crap of citizens of industrialized nations (okay, most of them Americans and Europeans!) to the top of a mountain.  In an ironic twist, that I consider to be a sign from the universe, one of the sherpas that perished in that avalanche was on All's team.  Did that deter him from making this attempt? Nope.

In what appears to be another unbelievable part of this story, the professor (sounds a bit like Gilligan's Island, doesn't it, but I have to believe that the professor on Gilligan's Island would never have attempted these shenanigans) appeared to be climbing by himself. Who in the hell does this?!  At what point does one make the decision that climbing one of the highest peaks in the tallest mountain range in the world by yourself, is a rational idea?! Hasn't he heard of the buddy system?! 

Well, it doesn't go so well for the professor as his 240 lb. human body plunges into a 70 foot deep crevasse.  After dislocating both shoulders, sustaining internal injuries, and breaking 5 ribs and one arm, what did he do next you ask?  Well, logically he pulls out his smart phone to make a video of the scene. Folks,  Locating and dislodging his smart phone out of his pack or pocket, or wherever it was at that point, with two dislocated shoulders and a broken arm would seem to be a logistical miracle at that point but he did it.  For those smart phone users out there, you know how much battery power is consumed while creating a video.  If I were stuck 70 feet below the surface of a Himalayan mountain peak (I think I just laughed out loud just now) I can tell you for certain, using my battery power making a video for posterity would be down there on the list with playing a game of Bejeweled at that point.  I'm thinking preserving the battery for things like the flashlight app might have been wise, but I'm no mountain climber!

But I digress, you've got to hand it to this guy, he somehow climbed out of the crevasse, and crawled back a significant distance to his tent.  After using satellite technology to send a SOS text to the rest of his team who were two days away from reaching him, he does the next logical thing, posts a plea for help on....wait for it....facebook!  

What was the title of this post?  "bad shape, need help".  Ya think?!  I have lots of friends on facebook and I often catch up on my newsfeed while waiting to pick up my son in car line.  Can you imagine scrolling through your newsfeed to find a friend of yours posts a plea for help from a peak in the Himalayans?  So you are thinking something like "well, if you had posted 5 minutes ago, when my phone had more than 10% battery power before videoing this idiot in front of me in car line, I could have reached out to that Nepalese foreign exchange student, who I'm friends with on facebook that attended my highschool 20 years ago, whose father is a sherpa on Mount Lohtse, oh wait, no, he died in that avalanche...hmmm guess I will just go back to playing Words With Friends"

Here is the link to his video.  If you suffer from virgin ears and are offended by the f-bomb, this is not a video for you: Facebook Link to Dr. All's Video

Now that I have you all wondering what happened next, the rest of the story doesn't get any more logical.  After putting even more lives at risk to rescue his dumb ass off that mountain in a helicopter, he is taken to an intensive care unit at a hospital in Katmandu. So you are thinking, finally this guy will come to his senses and do what most logical human beings would do, stay to recuperate in the hospital.  Well, you would be wrong. He checked himself out of the hospital, against doctor's orders, and decided to check himself into a Katmandu hotel instead. I guess the mints placed on the pillows of the ICU weren't up to his standards.  Granted, I cannot speak to the living conditions of a hospital intensive care unit in Katmandu but it seems that they would have significant practice at saving the lives of these dumb people and it would be preferable to most hotels in Katmandu, but what do I know? 

So my suggestion to you professor is this...the next time Katmandu calls, hang up. Or most likely it will be your dead body they will be pushing off the main trail to join the body of University of Louisville graduate, Francys Arsentiev who sadly ran out of oxygen (not.making.this.up) on Everest in 1998. Or just quit drinking the water, as perhaps it is something in the water at institutions of higher learning in Kentucky?  

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Ripped from the Headlines....When Truth is Stranger than Fiction

My life reads a bit like a Faulkner novel, seriously.  In fact, I have had several people tell me that I should write a book about it. I consider myself to be a prime example of a statistical anomaly.  I mean, who loses both their mother and brother to brain cancer before 40? {both were diagnosed at 38.  Guess what? I'm 38!} Less than two years after my mom died, I had an uncle that was shot and killed in a convenient store.  His crime...stopping by for his morning coffee and chat with a friend after working a double shift as an engineer, both his shift and one for a friend with Cancer who couldn't afford to miss a paycheck.  

The way I see it, life is seemingly strange and random and I have been on the receiving end of more than my fair share of tragedy in my first 3 decades, but similarly, more than my fair share of blessings as well. I have an amazing 97 year old grandmother with a facebook account and e-mail address who routinely engages me in political and social conversation.  So if I won the genetic lottery, as opposed to my mother and brother who both lost it, I may have almost 60 years left to grace this planet.

Anywho...I am also a statistical anomaly these days in that I receive the daily newspaper at the age of 38.  And...I have received a copy of the Lexington Herald-Leader, everyday, for over 17 years (ok, give or take a few days where my carrier decided that his/her warm bed was far more desirable than the snow and ice of a -15 below February morning, but who can blame them, right?!)

Very few of my friends...okay, only one that I can think of at the moment, "take the paper" as they say, every day. And, isn't that saying "take the paper" a bit strange?  First of all, I don't take it, they bring it {and drop it in my yard at the point geometrically farthest from my front door}. Secondly, I pay for it, it's not like I take it and run, which is what that saying implies to me. 

I can't say that I read it cover to cover everyday, or any day for that matter.  My husband is better about laying his eyes on every page, but it is astounding how many times, upon reading it myself, I will ask him about an article I read and most of the time he didn't read it.  Now, articles about asparagus or composting, those are very popular in this house and both of us will voraciously read those.  {I didn't say I live an exciting life, just a statistically crazy one, but when you and your husband can geek out together about anything, much less asparagus, after 18 years together, we must doing something right.}

So why am I writing this blog post today?  Over the past few days, I have actually had a few minutes to look through the entire paper.  And I am telling you, what was in there was stranger than fiction.  Here are a few headlines:

"Stowaway in wheel well of plane 'lucky to be alive'"
"Mummified body in storage unit ID'd; daughter accused of stealing benefits"
"Man kept mother's body in freeze: for 3 years, he spent her Social Security"
"Poll: Most Americans skeptical about many of scientists' truth"
"Christie named Father of the Year"

The first three article headlines,  The last two make me laugh out loud.

In the interest of keeping this blog post readable before you head out to vote in the primaries (hopefully most of my readers do this!)I will give you a cliff notes version of these articles and why I think this is just stranger than fiction.  Here we go...

"Stowaway in wheel well of plane 'lucky to be alive'" - Okay, so evidently a runaway teenager in San Jose, CA scaled the airport fence and stowed away in the wheel well of a plane headed to Maui.  Teenagers do crazy, seemingly illogical shit, but it was a Hawaiian Airlines, so we should give him credit for picking a plane headed to Hawaii, as opposed to an Alaska Airlines plane, right? Tragically, it turns out that this teenager is a Somalian refugee now living in California with his father, that was attempting to get to Somalia to see his mother. He evidently had no idea where any plane was going he just wanted to get on one going anywhere (sometimes I feel like doing this myself!) CNN quoted his father as saying ""My son, like many immigrant children, is struggling adjusting to life in this country," he said. "Our situation was aggravated by our displacement in Africa for many years after fleeing our home country of Somalia because of war conditions. As a result, my son was not able to receive any formal education before we immigrated to the United States. Yahya is a good kid who I love dearly.""  My heart breaks for the teenager, the father, and mostly for the mother. Having lost my mother, I can understand his mania, and honestly there are days that I could imagine depriving my brain of oxygen and exposing my body to -50 degree temps to see my mother again. There must be big things in store for this dude, in the order of the universe, as instead of turning into a human Popsicle, he lived to tell the tale, as they say.

"Mummified body in storage unit ID'd; daughter accused of stealing benefits" - There are so many sick and wrong things to this story that it is practically unimaginable.  In a nutshell, a daughter allegedly stored her father's dead body in a storage unit in Lexington for practically 2 decades and drew his social security benefits.  Times are hard for many Americans, no doubt.  Based on the decay of her father's body, they say that she drew $150,000 from the Federal Government between 1997 and 2011. In addition to the Social Security benefits she was erroneously drawing, this women earns $270 a month working from the National Psychic Network.   So how did the authorities finally figure out her father was no longer of this world...The Social Security Administration Centenary Project.  If you become a centenarian, you can look forward a call from your government. This heinous woman received one of these calls, attempted to imitate her father's voice, and officials became suspicious when she sounded much more like a woman than a man.  You have to give them credit for attempting to protect our tax dollars.  Low and behold, somehow the trail led from Texas to Lexington and there they found him. So I guess we can safely assume that this woman does not work in the capacity of a psychic for the National Psychic Network as ostensibly she would have seen this coming, not answered the phone, and moved the body, don't ya think? You know what is the most disturbing in all of this, her elderly mother has not been seen alive since March! I am not making this stuff up folks!

"Man kept mother's body in freezer: for 3 years, he spent her Social Security" - Here we go again, but unlike the heinous woman above, this guy at least had enough respect for his mother's body that he kept it in a freezer, okay, as least for awhile.  How did they find out what this loser was up to?  Federal investigators noticed that his mother, who would have been 96 this year, did not file a medical claim for three years. Statistically speaking, this anomaly. So, they engaged the services of the Pulaski County, Kentucky Sheriff's office to help locate her.  To make a long story short, the son was the caretaker for his bedridden mother and she died in 2011.  After she died, in order to keep receiving her benefits, he put her in a deep freezer.  And in that freezer she remained until the son lost the home they were sharing so then he took her with him to another house but just left her in the yard for the winter.  Authorities suspect that the long, cold winter in Kentucky allowed for this frozen state to continue until the son waltzed into the Social Security office to get his own benefits.  At that point, the authorities had a lead on him so they went to find him at his new residence, where he committed suicide while the deputy stood just outside the door. Can you imagine?!  Again, I am not making this up folks!

"Poll: Most Americans skeptical about many of scientists' truth" - In reality, instead of laughing at this, I want to cry.  In a study conducted in late March of 2014, respondents were asked about their confidence levels in reference to what Nobel Prize winning scientists call "settled scientific facts".  There was almost complete buy in that smoking causes Cancer and that a genetic code exists.  Those suffering from mental illness will be happy to hear that only 6% respondents questioned that mental illness is a medical condition that affects the brain. But when it comes to global warming, the age of the Earth, natural selection, and The Big Bang Theory, we are a distrusting bunch.  Believe what you want about how we got here and in what manner we have evolved as a species, as it really doesn't make a damn bit of difference moving forward. But I am sorry people, the alarming rate at which glaciers are melting and man-made heat trapping gasses are forcing our planet temperatures to rise, puts the entire planet and our existence on this planet in jeopardy. Being blissfully unaware, or I guess in this case blissfully unbelieving, is a really dangerous thinking pattern.  So maybe natural selection isn't real because you would think by now, the human species that is here would be using their brains!

"Christie named Father of the Year"- In no way do I pretend to be Mother of the Year, so you know that saying, "those who live in glass houses, shouldn't throw stones", applies here, but how in the hell does Chris Christie, the Governor of New Jersey, or any other Governor of any other state in America, qualify as Father of the Year?!  You know those Governors.... they have copious amounts of time to spend with their children, never missing the school play, rendering life size robotic recreations of Thomas Jefferson out of household recyclables, coaching baseball teams, and manning the grill at the teacher appreciation cook outs.  I'm sure after Christie left the staff meeting that effectively shut down a major bridge commuting route in New Jersey, he went straight to the local supermarket to help his daughter sell her girl scout cookie quota. Who bestows this award you ask? That would be The National Father's Day/Mother's Day Council.  What in the world is that?  Are people actually paid to serve on this Council? Do they have a national headquarters?  This Council just smells of major greeting card stench! I am not really picking on Christie here, it is the premise of this that just boggles my mind. I am sure he is a good father, and parenting is the hardest job in the world, but come on now, let's be real.

I just might write that book about my life some day.  In reality, writing this blog is doing just that, over time, and in small doses, and I hope that you find it worth reading.  And hopefully when the Social Security Administration Centenary Project calls someday, it will be my voice that answers.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Certainty of Taxes Beats...death.

There are two phenomenal quotes regarding a topic that is guaranteed to squelch my enthusiasm for every April's arrival...taxes.
 "The only things certain in life are death and taxes." - Benjamin Franklin
"The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax." -- attributed to Albert Einstein

So as to the first quote, while death is certain in this life, the how & when are fortunately a bit sketchy for most people. You have some control as to your risk seeking behavior, i.e. how much pork belly you consume, if you limit your smoking habit to one pack a day as opposed to two, if you enjoy base jumping in your spare time (if you are not familiar with base jumping, do your life expectancy a favor and pass on Googling this one). Regardless of how or when it comes, it will certainly come eventually.

The how and when of tax day, on the other hand, are certain and stand at April 15th (alright, alright, alright, you are correct, occasionally this is a Saturday or Sunday so it technically could fall on the 16th, 17th, or 18th, but you get what I am saying here). Now one could say that filing an extension is an option to try and finagle your way around the infamous April 15th deadline, but regardless of whether you file for the extension, if you owe, the money is due on April 15th. That is of course unless interest and penalties are your cup of tea.

The second quote, however is the one that boggles my mind.  While technically this quote is only attributed to Albert Einstein, let's apply some suspension of disbelief, for my sake, and say that he indeed did say this.  Assuming this is the case, what chance in hell do I have of trying to understand the income tax code in 2014 when Einstein couldn't understand it in the 1950s?!  Here's the kicker, it is likely that not a single human being on the planet understands the ENTIRE United States tax code.  Is it just me, or does this bother anyone else?  

Fortunately, I have Turbo Tax.  The complexity of the computer code that drives this software miracle is most certainly one of the world's less appreciated wonders. Of course Turbo Tax is a suspected victim of the recent Heartbleed encryption computer code virus (Have no fear, I have changed my password!).  This means that ostensibly there could be a computer hacker attempting to file a return in my name but I am pretty sure any refund filing submitted would result in an automatically rejected transmission to the IRS system with a display something like this "Error 404: Lucy Waterbury does not receive refunds from the IRS.  Please try resubmitting your return, this time with some cash behind it.  That is all".  They may not have a single person in the place who understands their own code they are enforcing, but they do understand that Lucy Waterbury never gets refunds.  

This brings me to my next point.  Evidently the IRS is in a bit of a bind this year when it comes to answering their own phone.  According to an AP article "Risk of audit by IRS lowest in years" written by Stephen Ohlemacher, as published on the front page of today's Lexington Herald-Leader, "Last year, only 61 percent of taxpayers calling the IRS for help got it."  Okay this blows my mind, who calls the IRS to ask them for tax guidance?! How does that phone conversation (assuming they answer!) go exactly?  Maybe something like this....
(phone ringing heard in the background....)

(call answered with recorded message "Your call may be recorded for training purposes", but not "quality assurance" because really, the government doesn't care about that!)

-"Hi, is this the IRS?"

-"Yes, this is Cheryl, an IRS tax adviser, how may I assist you?"

-"Here's the thing, I am a self-employed business man & I bought myself a houseboat to use on Lake Cumberland last year so I could entertain clients and write it off as a deduction even though I will be the one really using it with not a client setting foot on that beauty.  So anyway, how do I calculate the mileage on Lake Cumberland to take the mileage deduction for this bad boy or do I have to depreciate the damn thing?"

-"(silence briefly ensues) Well sir, it is a difficult question for me to answer, as you basically just asked me how to take an illegal tax deduction, but since you called from your personal cell and we have a souped-up, NSA programmed, caller ID program that links directly to your tax filing records, I'm going to wonder why you called your government to ask that question."  (for the record, I have no idea if this is true but given what the NSA is monitoring these days, it seems logical to me that this could be the case)

-"Okay, I will just tell the missus we need to leave the boat in the slip this year and party like it's 1999 with the other Ohio Navy sailors who never take their house barges out.  Oh and miss, you should really come down to Cumberland this year, they are putting all the water back in and it's going to be good times down there in the Bluegrass!"

-"Thank you for the tip sir, have a lovely evening."


Please note: If your taxes are so complicated that neither you nor Turbo Tax can figure them out, you need a CPA folks. Don't call the IRS.

To make matters worse, the self-reporting nature of our tax code, makes those of us that are self-employed dig deep to find the center of their moral compass at tax time. Elizabeth Maresca, who is a former IRS lawyer turned academician, is also quoted in the article.  According to Maresca, "Anybody who's an employee, who gets paid by an employer, has a limited ability to take risks on their returns...I think people who own their own business or are self-employed have a much greater opportunity (to cheat), and I think the IRS knows that too."  Ya think?! 

The article also states, "the IRS could scrutinize more returns -- and collect billions more in revenue -- with more resources....the IRS would collect $6 for every $1 increase in the agency's enforcement budget."  Evidently Congress has no appetite for fully funding the IRS to get a return of six times their investment.  And this my friends, along with an inordinately complex tax code, is what is wrong with the government today; passing new and complex laws that no one truly understands and while not enforcing the ones we have on the books already. I don't care what your politics are, I think we can agree on this point. 

My husband and I are both self-employed.  I do not cheat on my taxes, as lying isn't in my repertoire, and I am in favor of liking the person who stares back in that mirror every morning.  According to the Turbo Tax algorithm, my chances of getting audited are low. But on this eve of the 2014 tax filing deadline, just hours after emptying my bank account to fulfill my complex tax burden, I will gladly accept this uncertainty of a potential audit over the other certain thing in this life.