Saturday, January 31, 2009

Volcanic eruption coming?

There are an increasing number of small earthquakes under Alaska's Redoubt volcano. As a mother of boys who love science, this is of interest to our family. This is the kind of volcano that explodes dramatically. No rivers of red lava like Hawaiian volcanoes. They say stores in the area are doing brisk business on the sale of face masks, protective eye wear and car air filters. The U.S. Geological Survey expects an eruption in a matter of days or weeks. Here is a picture of Redoubt's last eruption in 1990.

I still remember the summer Mount Pinatubo erupted. It was much cooler than usual in Southern California.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Congressional Vote on Stimulus Plan

Of course the bill passed the democrat-controlled House of Congress. According to MSNBC,
Roll call vote

All Republicans voted against President Barack Obama's spending plan. Of the Democrats, 11 voted against the measure. Among them: Allen Boyd, D-Fla., Bobby Bright, D-Ala., Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., Brad Ellsworth, D-Ind., Parker Griffith, D-Ala., Paul Kanjorski, D-Penn., Frank M. Kratovil, D-Md., Walt Minnick, D-Idaho, John E. Peterson, D-Penn., Heath Shuler, D-N.C., and Gene Taylor, D-Miss.

We have borrowed this money from our kids and grandkids to support our generation's bad decisions. I'm ashamed.

Can we now spend our way to prosperity?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

No drums, no fanfare

Just quietly driving up to my "old" home and unloading the family's suitcases. Feeling a little emotional. There was a time there when I thought this day would never come.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Thank you for the award

Thank you Julie Chats for giving me this awesome and beautiful blog award. Here are the rules of the award:

1. Put the award up on your blog.
2. Add a link to the person who awarded it to you.
3. Nominate at least seven other blogs.
4. Add links to these blogs on your blog.
5. Leave a message for your nominee on their blog.

I have selected my favorite blogs that I regularly read to receive this award:

All D's D is a kind, loyal friend, and a prolific commenter. An all-around wonderful woman who doesn't see her own worth by half. And she doesn't hold grudges when our politics disagree.

LL is an old friend and a mysterious man who can't tell you what he used to do for a living. :D

I Am Harriet is my newest blogging guru, and she's teaching me about networking and Technorati authority.

Julia, at Sometimes Lucid because in my opinion, she's always lucid, and her posts make so much sense to me.

"Infertile Ground on which I tread, and sometimes kneel." There are no words.

And Lisa
and Maisy, two of the sweetest, kindest, real-mommy friends you will ever meet.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Co-Sleeping Alert!

I admit that I have co-slept with my infants on occasion. But this news story gives pause for thought. Infant suffocation and strangulation has gone up 4-fold in the past 20 years? Mostly due to co-sleeping? Eeeek!
Most of the deaths that could be determined were by "overlay" — the parent rolling over onto the child.

Other causes include suffocating in soft bedding, becoming wedged between a mattress and frame or wall, or getting a head caught in something.

"To our knowledge, it is the first study to document the national trend showing a fourfold increase in accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed infant mortality in recent years," the CDC team wrote....

Evidence shows that babies should be laid to sleep alone, on a flat mattress, with no loose pillows or blankets and in a crib with bars designed to prevent entrapment.

I, personally, make sure that the only blanket I put on my baby is a crochet blanket with holes in it for air flow. And I have often found them sleeping with the blanket pulled over their face.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Too many things to do

Tomorrow is the 26th. They come to pick up the rental house furniture and housewares on the 30th. My lease is up on the 31st. Tomorrow they will install insulation into the house attic, having completed the rebuild and cleaning last week. Also, they will power-wash the exterior of the house on Monday. Then I will have Tuesday to get things cleaned up and shop for sheets/comforters/pillows prior to receiving delivery of the new beds on Wednesday. Thursday will be moving day. Friday will be for cleaning the rental house. I hope nobody drops the ball. This is a tight schedule.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Let's nationalize the legal system, too

As soon as we're done nationalizing health care, we should move swiftly to nationalize (socialize) the legal system. I mean, it's not fair that some folks have better representation than others, right? And those lawyers out there make too much money. That's not fair, either.

Try not to think about the fact that lawyers have had to work hard for years and years to get where they are. That they went without years of paid work and instead racked up high student loan debt. Forget that some of these lawyers are better businessmen than others. They make more money. This is about fairness. It's time to take what we covet.

It's now or never. There is single-party rule Now. Let's slam these changes through before anybody realizes what we are doing. Yeeehawww! Go US!

I wonder what President Obama's Harvard Law School buddies will think of this progressive idea.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Taking financial responsibility

There should have been a class. Or maybe our parents should have had that "talk" with us when we were little. No, not the birds and the bees. We seem to have that part down, lol. The other talk. How to live life responsibly; able to take care of ourselves and our loved ones and dependents.

For the rest of us, there is a book by Thomas J. Stanley, written 12 years ago, called The Millionaire Next Door. It is a classic.
How can you join the ranks of America's wealthy (defined as people whose net worth is over one million dollars)? It's easy, say doctors Stanley and Danko, who have spent the last 20 years interviewing members of this elite club: you just have to follow seven simple rules. The first rule is, always live well below your means. The last rule is, choose your occupation wisely. You'll have to buy the book to find out the other five. It's only fair. The authors' conclusions are commonsensical. But, as they point out, their prescription often flies in the face of what we think wealthy people should do. There are no pop stars or athletes in this book, but plenty of wall-board manufacturers--particularly ones who take cheap, infrequent vacations! Stanley and Danko mercilessly show how wealth takes sacrifice, discipline, and hard work, qualities that are positively discouraged by our high-consumption society. "You aren't what you drive," admonish the authors. Somewhere, Benjamin Franklin is smiling.

The steps are simple.

1. Get a paying job.

2. Live beneath your means.

3. Save 10% of each paycheck (or a minimum of 5% if you are really strapped) into a savings account. Do this first, before deciding to buy that new TV, ATV, motor home, digital cable, DVD player or other (un)necessary sundries.

4. Place the entire 10% each month into your new "emergency fund" savings account. This fund should stay liquid, meaning something you can take money out of when you need it, not a CD (certificate of deposit). Continue to contribute money to this account until it equals 6 months of your monthly cash-flow needs. Now you can rest easy that if something goes wrong with your job, car, house or health, that you have 6 months in which to figure out how to handle it.

5. When this account is fully funded, take the 10% and put it into investments. Remember not to invest all of it in one place. Try to do different things with it. This is called diversification. That makes your money less at risk.

6. If you have debt problems, you need to lower your standard of living. Get a cheaper place. Drive a cheaper car. Live frugally. Perhaps take 5% for savings and 5% toward debt repayment until you get it paid off. And stop using your credit cards as if they are your emergency fund. This is no way to prepare for retirement.

For those who refuse to listen, refuse to save money in a bank account, refuse to live beneath your means, please remember. Actions have consequences.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

His life ended too early

I told my husband the story of a partner in my ex-husband's law firm. This man, Mike Grzanka, was a hard worker, delayed-gratification type. He was in the building phase of his life, working, working all the time, so that he could enjoy life at a later time. In his mid forties, he found out that he had terminal liver cancer. He and his family went on a world travel tour for about a year. He was survived by his wife and 2 kids.

I wonder if this is the reason my husband announced that he is going to try to rearrange his schedule to free up some more time.

We all need to remember. Life is the journey, not the destination. Make sure you don't sacrifice too much of the Now. Now may be all we have.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I miss my house

At least the fire couldn't ruin the view. See that shiny patch in the distance? It's the ocean.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A letter from my SIL in Israel

Good for you for speaking up and writing. Unfortunately, since the 1980s, Israel has become the evil occupier in the eyes of the media. You would figure that the media would have learned something from the Iraq war. That is that the arabs don't have fair war fare. It is well known that they place stocks of ammunition and bombs in schools and where families live. They send their children across the border to blow up Israeli buses full of families. They place mines or bombs where they know children's school buses are traveling. Israel would never target children and families. But Hamas/Palestinians have been sending Katusha missiles into Israel targeting border cities where families live since Israel gave up Gaza. Was this ever in the media? Of course not!! Schools are closed in the south and families that live in major cities like Ashdod, Ashkelon and Beer Sheva have to live in bomb shelters. Regular innocent people have been killed and severely injured because of these bombs. It all comes down to what you said in your article. If Mexico would start sending bombs and hitting places like San Diego, people in the U.S. would be in an uproar. Israel has been tolerating this for years!!!! Before the Lebanon wars, Hizbullah was sending missiles also for many years till Israel had to put a foot down. Who are the protesters across Europe demonstrating? They are the arabs who need to find a scape goat for all their issues. Europe would rather them demonstrate about Israel than cause havoc like they did in Paris in violent demonstration by burning cars.

Reprinted with permission from an email sent to me 2 days ago by my sister-in-law, who lives in Israel with her husband and family, in response to my published article.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Quote of the Day

Do a good job at the job that you're doing, and future jobs will take care of themselves.
- Coach Terry Donahue (UCLA) November 1986

This is something coach Donahue told me in person when I was a sportswriter at UCLA. I had some questions for him, and he sat with me after practice under a darkening sky, on the cold bleachers of the practice field, patiently answering questions after all the players went home. Coach Donahue is a gentleman.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

I just got published!

Check out my recently published content on AC:

News Reporting on Israel is Unfair

Sean Roberts No-Gi (Team Ralph Gracie)

Here is a video of one of my son's jujitsu instructors. Pretty impressive for a skinny 19-year-old kid. He is the one with the shirt on.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Awesome Mom Blogs

Here are some more great blogs.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Receiving Ain't Easy

Deep breath. This is hard to even write about. But I am *so* grateful, I have to say something. I have been the recipient of charity this past month and a half since the fire. I'm finally getting caught up on my thank-you notes, and that feels good. But I want to say a public thank-you to everyone who has helped us.

First, thank you to the local MOMS Club for donating toys and casseroles. We had pretty much no toys when we were in the hotel room. Then the MOMS Club made an announcement and some thoughtful members brought toys over to the rental house. Most of our toys were in boxes in the garage, where the fire was. I don't like a cluttered house, and I had the toys on a rotation, so we lost all of that. And I'm also grateful for the several casseroles that were brought by. One night in particular, a casserole arrived when I was feeling weak and feverish (after surgery) and unable to physically make dinner for the family. It was a G-dsend.

And thank you to the Jewish Federation of Orange County. They surprised us with a gift bag full of Hanukkah stuff. The timing was great. All of our dreidles had been left at the other house, so they were much appreciated, along with silver garlands, a new menorah, a Jewish teddy bear, candles, and candy.

It was just all so sweet. And I feel so cared-for. What a great community we live in.

More Cool Mom Blogs

Here are some more to check out.

Monday, January 5, 2009

There are 5 cracked beams

The men went up into the attic today, my general contractor, the truss guy, and my husband. The consensus is that the roof does not have to be removed on order to make the repairs. The roof sags slightly in the area of concern, and they will need to jack it up, so if they can't do it with the weight of the tiles on, they may have to take the tiles off. Otherwise, the truss guys will bring the trusses in parts to rebuild and repair what is there. They will get an engineer to sign off on the plans first, and the contractor will call me in the next few days to get the work scheduled.

I hope this happens very soon, because the owners of our rental house just gave us notice that they close escrow on February 5th, and they want us out by January 31.

In other news, ServPro came and cleaned the remaining fire cinders off of the floor of the garage last week, and our house doesn't stink quite as badly now. But it still smells like a smoker lives here.

Cool Mom Blogs

I'm a member of the Mom Bloggers Club, and I'd like to start featuring other blogs to check out. Here are some fun mama blogs to read and comment at.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

I Guess I'm stuck here for a while longer

Rental house, front view.

Back yard.


Here are some pictures of the rental house. I had better get used to it, apparently. I found some damage at the house yesterday that really set me back on my heels. I was all prepared to move in early next week. The guys were taking the old insulation out of the attic and vacuuming, getting ready to put in the new insulation. I insisted on going up there myself to make sure it was clean enough. I want *all* the dust out of there, as long as we are going to all this trouble. They called me and said it was time. I climbed up the ladder and hoisted myself into the attic. Balancing on the rafter beams, I crab-walked over to an open space and wiped my hand over the dry-wall/ceiling. It was still dirty. The guys were using a shop vac, but it wasn't doing a great job. As I inched my way back to the opening, I noticed that a crossbeam right in front of my face was cracked in the middle, near a knothole. I thought, hmmm, that's odd. I pointed it out to the guys. Then we started looking around at the beams, and found that there were 4 truss beams in a row, snapped in the middle, and bowed out to the side. Strange, almost as if a giant had stepped on the roof and squashed the house. There may be more broken trusses. I didn't even look at any other areas of the attic. I called the insurance agent; I was lucky he answered his phone at 5pm on New Year's Eve. He told me that our contractor needed to get an engineer up there to see what was going on. So I left a message for my contractor. He is taking the weekend off.

My theory is that the helicopter water drops caused this damage. After the fire, the neighbor said that there were 3 water drops directly onto our house.

Later I spoke to a fire captain who told me that helicopter water drops were dangerous, and that they needed to be careful not to drop them onto houses with people in them, because folks can get hurt. I did a search online and found that the helicopters carry 700 to 2000 gallons, so at the very least, that is 2.5 tons of weight being dropped onto the roof from a height.

I'm bummed. I was all set to move back in. Now I have a house with no insulation; I had to turn the heat off again. I have to call the mattress company to tell them to delay delivery again. I have to call ServPro to tell them not to bother coming out to clean the attic now. And I have to gear up for more weeks in a rental house with no good internet connection. I'm regretting not signing up for the cable internet. Blah.