Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cleveland's International Film Festival...

I recently had the opportunity to attend the 33rd Cleveland International Film Festival. I didn't attend the opening or closing ceremonies, that's not my style. However, I was able to attend the entire festival using Media Passes which allowed me into everything, save it wasn't already sold out or had standby seating.

This was the biggest year for the CIFF to date. On Saturday alone they had a record number of 9,500 visitors in one day topping their record from last year by 800. A total of 66,500 movie fans took to Tower City to view some amazing films from around the world. They showed an amazing 320 films from 63 countries in a span of 10 days.

I saw a few really good films. But as a fluke, I came upon a showing of the top winners from the Cannes Film Festival's Gold Lion awards. The Gold Lion is for advertising. This 90 minute foray showed us all the worldwide winners in commercial advertising. I highly enjoyed watching the commercial genius of these advertising firms. So often our commercials are directed to the mindless. These had substance. These were amazing.

I've managed to find a few of the best for you to view here. There were a few that I wished I'd had a pen and paper handy to make notes to myself...but alas, as commercials go, sometimes you remember the commercial but not what they were advertising!

One in particular has me humming the song from it ever since. It's a 2 minute piece for Nomis soccer shoes (or boots as they call them) and it's brilliant. It won in two separate categories.

Damn Boots from Nomis Boots on Vimeo.

And there were a few really clever Crest toothpaste commercials that also won awards. They were edgy and funny...and probably only shown to the European market. I've never viewed them on American TV. The first, and perhaps best one is the bulldozer ad. All of the commercials end with the tagline: "You can say anything with a smile."

This was the second from the Crest series....one where the boyfriend comes home with a lice comb and tells the girlfriend that the new pillow? He found it and now they both have lice. It's pretty damn funny. Gross, but funny. I howled. There were alot of "Eeeeww's" going about the theater, but I thought it was great.

The last of the series is this one. Not quite as good as the other two in my opinion, but hats off to the person that came up with all of these. Fabulous. Pre-nupts will never be the same. I thought I might fall out of my seat laughing!

If you get the chance to attend the film festival next year, I would highly recommend it to anyone. There were many 'art' films that weren't of my taste, but it was a wonderful event and great for the Cleveland area. It was quite refreshing to see how crowded it was early on a Sunday morning, people downtown with their coffee cups in hand, ballots in the other looking for one theater or another to sit down and watch films that many won't even make it to the Cedar Lee.

I didn't have the time allowed to delve in completely with the film festival. I sat next to a gentleman in one theater that told me he had been down to see a few films every day the festival was running! He had managed to take in 33 of the 320 films. Not bad. Much better than me.

Can't wait till next year. Hopefully I'll have more time to devote to the movie buff in me. I'll leave you with the best one by Sylvania Lightbulbs. Enjoy!

Friday, March 27, 2009

ghosts in the basement...

My friend believes in the supernatural. Ghosts, really. She has had ghost experiences that just cannot be logically be explained in any other way than they were supernatural experiences. Ghosts....? They follow her home, become attached to her and take up lodging with her in her house. At first I didn't believe her, but over the years I accept it like I accept my Master Card bill when I see another purchase for a new pair of black boots. It happens.

I even bought a house that was 'haunted'. When I arrived to pick up the keys (it was a FISBO) the owner of the property told me, "Oh...and did I tell you about the ghost?". I mean, WTF! What are you talking about lady? A little too much weed smoking this morning? (Yes, on prior visits I smelled the lingering smoke of a pot smoker.)

She had told me about her experiences with "the ghost". She collected elephant statuettes (the owner...not the ghost). They were everywhere. She'd have them arranged just so and when she would return home, they would be moved to all face the doorway. I'm to understand that it is good luck to have an elephant facing the door...but she wasn't doing that. She assumed her boyfriend was moving the darn things around. But he wasn't....here it was Hazel, the resident ghost.

Needless to say in my area of disbelief, I bought the house anyway. A big 3 family home on the west side of Cleveland. I still own the property and use it as a rental income property. It was one of those great investments you come across every so often in your lifetime. But I have to admit, after the seemingly sane woman explaining to me that the home I just purchased has a ghost living there, it slightly creeped me out.

At that time, since the house was built in 1912, there were pull chains to turn the lights on and off in the basement. That meant as you were nearing the stairs to return to another level you must 'pull the chain' to turn off the light which then leaves you in total darkness....

The first night there as I was leaving the basement after yet another round of "unpack the boxes and put the damn stuff away", I pulled the chain and approached the stairs. I suddenly had this urge to introduce myself. To whom? Haven't a clue. Yet I turned, faced the open, pitch black basement and said, "Hi, My name's Nancy. I'm the new owner of this house. You got any problems, you go through me. Understand?" And with that turned on my heel and walked upstairs.

When I got into my first floor suite, I felt a little foolish for my diatribe to a dark, empty basement...but went to bed and didn't think much of it after awhile.

Over the years I've run into people that lived at the home I now own. One time I was writing out a check for a turntable at "Play it Again Sam's" and the guy said, "Hey, I lived there, you know about the ghost?" C'mon, now. Many have told me their own stories of the ghost, like that guy. And each and every time I shake it off that "these people are crazy". I had shared the story with a friend/tenant who lived on the second floor. It made her 'uneasy'. I used to play tricks on her because of it. I'd go up sometimes and move her candlesticks around just to freak her out. It worked. It did. And I'd laugh....!!!!

When I moved from that house down the street a bit into a single family home, I didn't think much about Hazel Gogan anymore. All the time I lived there there was not one incident (outside of that experience with me introducing myself to the basement) that ever occurred. It was perhaps 6 years after my move I finally had one of my tenants ask me if anything 'unusual' had ever happened there.

I called a lady named Mary, who was a ghost buster. She was listed in the Yellow Pages of all things. She came out to the house to rid it of its inhabitants. Turns out she said there were 3 living there. Hazel, who used to live in the house and was killed by her husband with cyanide. (He was tried of the murder in 1950, but not convicted.) There was a carpenter who helped build the house. Apparently after he died, he decided he liked it there so much he stayed behind. And then there was some young guy who had killed himself by hanging that had followed my friend, Christine, to my home one night after a night out downtown.
All were given the choice to leave or to be banished from the premises. As far as Mary told us, they all chose to leave. She supplied us with quince seeds that we put above all the entrance ways...and we called it a day. I wrote her a check for her services, which I later claimed as a pest remover expense on my taxes.

It made my tenants happy, but I didn't really believe the whole thing. I asked the ghost buster, Mary, why nothing had ever happened while I lived in the house. She told me that I had told the ghosts they had to go through me, and they weren't able to since my soul was in its Dharma. She might as well been speaking Greek, I had no idea what she was talking about...however I was in a quandary how Mary knew I had said that to the basement on my first night there.

Maybe one of my friends that I had shared the incident with clued her in before hand? Highly unlikely. So perhaps there was something. How would she have known?

Later that year the same friend, Christine, wanted to have a psychic party. You know, where you hire a couple of psychics, they do their thing and everyone takes their turns and gets the fortune or palm read or whatever. I was happy to host as I was anxious to show off the new diggs. When it was my turn to see the psychic the first thing he said to me was, "your spirit is in its last stages of Dharma. Dhammic." Okay, that's the second time someones told me that.

He had asked me if things just happen. You mean like the time I was short for making my mortgage payment, totally stressing about how I was going to come up with the money and then a check appears in my mail from an overpayment? Overpayment? Who does that? Not me. I know I didn't...and why would they send the money back to me? Most companies would just hold it and you'd have a negative balance. And get this, it was $10 more than what I needed for my mortgage. Convenient, but odd.

I always chalked it up to a guardian angel of sorts watching out for me. I never questioned it...I just let it flow.

But by now, I needed to know what this Dharma/Dhammic thing is all about.....

From Wilkepedia: Dharma.
"Dharma is the reflection of natural law which was rediscovered by Buddha and shared with the world. A person who lives their life with an understanding of the natural law is a "dhammic" person, which is often translated as "righteous". Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths, the Noble Eightfold Path, the Three Marks of Existence and other guidelines to achieve the freedom and liberation from suffering."

Hmmm. Cool...really cool. So they are telling me that my soul is in its last stages of its Buddhist life? I didn't even know I was a Buddhist! I thought all this time I was a Methodist. Silly me....

But I like the perks of being "enlightened". I'm a little short this month due to that pair of Via Spigas I had to have. I wonder if my Dhammic soul will help me out with my Visa bill.


Friday, March 20, 2009

helmetless head no more....

I'm having trouble coping with the news about Natasha Richardson....

It's not like we were friends. I wasn't even that big of a fan, I mean, she is beautiful, very talented and comes from this acting 'dynasty'...she's even married to Liam Neeson (who I also think is very good looking and talented). But my mind can't seem to grasp the fact that she fell while skiing in Canada...and two days later, she's dead. My heart goes out to her family. I cannot possibly imagine how they must feel. It seems so senseless.

In this day and age when the medical community can do mind boggling feats to treat, diagnose and heal people...how can a woman fall on a bunny hill of all places and then die! It's unfathomable.

Years ago my niece had a blunt head injury. She fell on a sidewalk and cracked her head hard. She was in intensive care for weeks. They opened up the back of her skull to release the pressure...and she's fine. No brain damage, no long term side effects. She does have the scars to prove the ordeal did indeed happen, but they saved her. It was all very touch and go for a time...but it all worked out.

My niece isn't famous. She didn't receive and special treatment. She wasn't flown to a special hospital. We do have the benefit of living in a city that has a world renowned hospital that people from all over the world come to be treated. One would think that if you are of the rich and famous set that special considerations would be made. Perhaps it was just 'her time'...however, the news just really upsets me.

It also makes me think about my skiing this past year. I don't ski all crazy (anymore) and don't go too fast or on too steep of slopes. I no longer push the boundaries of my skiing abilities. I'll leave that to the younger set. So I've never worn a helmet...although there seems to be more helmet wearers now than ever before.

Since my daughter has been skiing we've had her wear a helmet. Some of her friends in ski club do not. She tried to negotiate with me about her wearing the ski helmet and I told her she had to wear it. The negotiation came into play because she said that neither her dad or I wear one, so why should she? It was the classic, "Because I said so" answer. In retrospect, that seems a bit hypocritical. I make her wear one for safety yet I don't protect my own noggin'.

With this latest revelation that perhaps Ms. Richardson could possibly be living today if she had been wearing a helmet, it makes me rethink my own helmet-less head. Why don't I wear one? I believe it has been due to vanity. Our friends whom we ski with wear them. He's a doctor so I chalked it up to their sensibility. His wife also told me that it keeps her warmer, so that's a bonus. I personally don't really care for the looks of them. They look a little too geekish or speedracer for me and what it does to your hair for God's sake. Plus I have to admit that I like feel of the cold air in my hair when I ski. Perhaps it's because all those covers on SKI magazine have taken their toll on my psyche....the beautiful couple shushing down the slopes, tanned faces, white teeth gleaming, their hair flying out behind them as they seemingly are having the time of their life on that beautiful sunny day....
I want to be one of the beautiful people. And the helmet just doesn't fit into that picture.

But as I was fixated to the news cast reporting the fact that "We're confirming the fact that actress Natasha Richardson has just died", a tear slid down my face. My daughter doesn't miss anything and asked why I was so upset. I normally don't cry while watching the news. I explained what had happened and her next words made me think.

She said that she wanted me to wear a helmet next time we go skiing. That she didn't want to lose me. That she loved me and I would look just as good, if not better with a helmet on. That if she wears a helmet to save her life, then a helmet would save mine as well....and she didn't want me to die also.

I'm not planning any spring skiing this year, so I have quite a bit of time before the next ski season. My basement is already jammed with storage of winter sports stuff. But guess what I'm doing this afternoon? I'm buying myself a helmet.....

Monday, March 16, 2009

just say "No"...

Seem easy doesn't it? Saying the single syllable word...No.

I mean, it IS easy to say it. Trust me, I've said it a lot over the years. To my dogs..."No! Bad dog!", to my daughter, "No! You did NOT lose those hamsters again!" Or when I said it to my lawnmower in slow motion as I unfortunately ran over that frog..."Noooooooooo!" or even when that a**hole guy in asked me out, "No. There is no f**king way."

But I can't seem to say it to people when they say, "Hey, I need a favor? Can you do this for me?" I answer "Sure, no problem." as if it really won't be. Even as I say it I know that it's going to be hard to complete that task. At least in the time frame they have in mind. I'll have to move my schedule around in order to fit this in, or change plans altogether in order to get done in a timely fashion. And yet...there I am agreeing to help out in whatever manner is asked of me.

Now don't get me wrong. I usually enjoy helping out. I like to help others. It makes me feel good...and needed. I'm a caretaker by nature, but this year for my New Years resolution, I chose to put myself BACK on my own list. And by helping all these others I then manage to put myself back on the bottom of my "to do" page.

I'm pretty good at managing my time. Although I do admit to having 'lazy' days where I just do not feel like being productive. But my normal routine is pretty well organized so adding in one or two little 'help me' blips shouldn't be all that much of an added burden.

I'm really working hard on this. I'm trying to do it sans professional help. I mean seriously...the last time I was in therapy I ended up sorting out stuff for the therapist! It was just a chat session that I paid $200 for and all I came out of there with was giving out names of my favorite restaurant, lip color, colorist and shoe salesman. What did I gain? Nada. But I tell you, I bet the hundreds of dollars I paid her she's out getting facials and buying the boots that I should have had with my money! "And how do you feel about that...?", I'd hear her say. Well how the F*ck do you THINK I feel about it! C'mon now...give a little bit. We don't have to start on that same square each time!

Since my last post...I have spent an entire 12 minutes standing in front of my mirror saying the word, NO. As of yet, it doesn't quite feel right, but I'm going to continue to work on it. I've even written it on my palm so I can see it periodically. I put it there to remind myself when going into a meeting..."look at your palm...say the word."

I have to admit I slightly afraid that I'll get used to it though. I had a friend that always said "No" to most things and I liked her, but geez, she was such a bitch. What if I get so used to saying "No" that it becomes automatic? That it's the first word to hit my psyche and fly out of my mouth? I might start answering with ,"No, sorry.", or "Nope, no can do.", or even "Uh, no." What if that answer starts popping out? And perhaps it might happen at the most inopportune times.

If my dad asks, "Why don't you come visit?"
"What? Did I hear you correctly?"
Might as well go ahead and tear my name right out of the Will.

Or out with friends, "Had a great time lunching with you! Want to do it again this week?"
That might get a little awkward.

Or what if I were at the drug store and some hot guy asked me about condoms. "Would you like to test these out with me?"
I mean....give me a break! You know that's not the right answer!

That would just be plain out wrong.....

So I have to ease into this "No" thing slowly. I don't want to overload my mental capacities...If I run into the hottie in Drug Mart I'm going to walk right up and say, "Yes. Yes! YES!"

But that gets us onto a whole completely different train of thought......and no, not going there right now.


Friday, March 13, 2009

the great smoky mountains...

I just returned from a wonderful extended weekend to the Great Smoky Mountains. With the overload going on in my bubble right now, the time away to 'unwind' was just what the doctor ordered. I really hadn't realized how tightly wound I had actually become...until I got there.

There seems to be no shortage of responsibility that gets put on my shoulders. I have a very difficult time is saying the simplest of words, "No". I realize that I do most of this to myself. I must learn how to say it. I need to stand in front of a mirror, purse my lips and utter that single syllable over and over and over again, until it feels...natural.

But here I was, standing on the deck high in the mountains in this beautiful log cabin (although complete with all the modern facilities minus the WiFi) overlooking a great expanse of woods. As I looked out on the expanse of wilderness listening to nothing, I could feel the weight lifting off my shoulders. The road getting to said cabin was rather extreme in itself. The grades were steep both going up and down as we wound our way higher into the mountain on a single lane gravel road. Thank God I drive a Jeep, but even so...I don't think I'd want to encounter one of those roads after a heavy rainfall OR ice. Treacherous is the only word that comes to mind. And what pray tell do you do if you come across another vehicle going the other way! Backing up on these steep curvy roads with a deep ravine drop off on one side and rock mountain on the other doesn't sound like it would be easy. And there would be no possible way for two trucks to pass each other on these roads.

But it was extremely peaceful and a pace that made you want to stay there...for a long time. We actually DID extend our stay from the original time planned. It was just too beautiful and too relaxing to leave! We hiked every morning with the dogs, relaxed every afternoon, made a fire every evening and cooked over the open flames. How good can it get? Did I mention the hot tub? That helped with the post hiking...as the same grades I spoke of in driving were even more challenging on foot.

When we ventured down into the little 'town' at the base of our mountain, everyone we spoke to always asked us to, "Come see us again!", or "Stop back if you get the chance!", and "Hope we'll be neighbors" when we told the guy at the hardware store how much we were enjoying our stay.

We thought, "wow"...what a positive Zen place we have found.

But as all good things, we had to pack and return to the urban setting from whence we came. It seemed more arduous packing the car for the return trip. We were quiet and pensive as we made our way down the mountain, out of the little town into the mecca of tourism that lies in the surrounding areas of the smokies.

As I eased my car into the left turn lane and was waiting at the light an old boat of a car pulled up on my right. The woman appeared to be in her 60's although I think it was just all the hard living/drinking that made her appear so. It was only 9:30 in the morning and she was yelling and shaking her fist at me.

"Bitch! You almost hit me!" she screamed. "You need to learn how to drive!" I just looked at her blankly as I knew there was no possible way I could have or even would have cut her off. I wish I had had something smart to reply like, "You need to go to a cosmetics counter!", or "Whens the last time you brushed your teeth and spat our your chew?!"

But instead I just hit the up power window button on my new-fangled car. I watched as she gunned her boat and blasted through the traffic light to show me who actually really needs the aforementioned driving lessons.

And with that I got on the highway leaving Tennessee, now with conflicting emotions about my stay there. What happened to the wonderful serene people in the mountains? Was that a farce and they are all really like this moron early this morning?

I guess I'll find out when I go back....as I know I will, after I write my book on good driving practices.

Friday, March 6, 2009

it's okay, talk to me...

I have something tattooed on my forehead. It's invisible to most people, but blatantly obvious to others. Can you see it?

It doesn't seem to matter where I am; the post office, the grocery store, the bank or local Costco...there always seems to be someone that is going to tell me something personal about themselves....and I don't KNOW these people.

Maybe I should take it as a compliment. That I'm so approachable that the most random of people that I come across in the daily arena of life would feel compelled to share with me their secrets. However, for the most part, it makes me rather uncomfortable. And I'm just too damn nice to walk away....

There have been times when I'm alone that this phenomena occurs. I usually come home to share my daily 'weirdness' with the household. They all laugh and shake their heads. But it doesn't always happen when out by myself. There are others that have witnessed this odd occurance. Last week, when at Costco, a lady in line told me all about the baby gift basket she was purchasing for her sister. Her sister had in vitro insemination from an 'outside source' because her husband didn't have the sperm count to father a child. Okay, wow...way too much information. And yes, she said 'outside source' in a whisper...all secret like, which of course makes me wonder if it was in vitro at all or some story that the sister concocted to cover the fact the the UPS guy has been delivering packages to her house often. I thought, "Wow, this IS a long line today but you've been in line with me for what?, 40 seconds?" HOW did I manage to get all that information in such a short period of time!

My daughter asked me as we were leaving and the 'nice lady' in line behind us was waving goodbye to me, "Mommy, who was that?" Now what do I tell my 10 year old. The truth, as in, "How the f*ck would I know?" NO, of course not. I said, "Sweatheart, it's someone who is lonely and needed to talk". "Oh." she responded. Obviously distressed while processing this thought. She was thinking about how random people will in the future will possibly intrude on her own private space.

My friend Chrissy thinks that I bring this upon myself. That I'm too friendly and it opens some weird divide that she has been able to so meticulously put into place. One time, years ago, she accompanied me to pick up my ex-husband from the airport. I knew that he has a weakness for White Chocolate Chip Macadamia nut cookies...so I bought a few for him at the cookie joint before his plane landed. The lady working there told me about her latest raise, that her boyfriend brought her flowers and that her mom was getting married again. Okay...? I don't know you.....why are you telling me this in an airport?

Chrissy laughed, but it was pretty obvious see that she was bothered by this exchange.

She had driven to the airport. So when my husband arrived I gave him the cookies, we retrieved his baggage and we proceeded to her car. He doesn't do backseats so I rode in the backseat. Chrissy paid the cashier, pulled forward a car length and then stopped. We both turned to look at her to see if something was wrong, if she had dropped something or what the deal was. She turned around to me and asked, "Should I back up so you can speak with her? I realize that you didn't get the opportunity to say good bye."

I about peed my pants laughing. Funny girl that Chrissy...

I think it's about the 'stove pipe syndrome'....some things that people feel the need to talk about but don't have anyone that will listen. Or that if they tell a stranger, they've gotten it out but not had to divulge any information that will maybe find it's way back to them.

But so goes my life. I continue to be asked odd questions by strangers when standing in line. I'm asked directions when I'm out walking and get downright confessions from people in restaurants and bars. It's all rather interesting if you view the big picture. I should probably start taking photographs of the people that talk to me, write down their stories and put together a coffee table book.

"Random Encounters" is a potential title, but that's sounds a little racy. People might think they are buying something other than random stories. Or maybe, "Why are you telling me this?"or perhaps a simple, "What the F**k?" I wonder if I'll should start carrying waivers with me....I think that as f8hasit, I will.


Monday, March 2, 2009

the stock market, family values and the recession......

I've been reading in papers, seeing it on the news, hearing people talk about it in restaurants and bars and had a heated discussion with someone just the other evening...recession, recession, recession.

On one hand, it depresses even me. I'm not a financial analyst, but my dad has taught me well. He's a veritable genius with the stock market. I have several stock holdings that I watch with TD Ameritrade. They have this client tool that allows you to get live streaming feeds of the stock market. You can watch as things are traded...real time. I usually have it on the desktop computer in my office and glance at it every so often. Sometimes more than often...sometimes I find myself staring at it, willing the prices to rise.

Like today...at least people have started to pull their heads out of their asses (oops, did I just say that?) and realize that Apple stock is going to still be a good stock even if Steve Jobs is sick. it was sickening to watch the stock fall the day that they announced he was going to be working from home. One year ago the stock was trading at $192...it hit an all time low on the 20th of January trading at $78.

Most people are currently watching the stock market looking for the right time to sell out and not lose too much more money. I say stick with it and wait for it to rise...because it will, just not in the time frame that perhaps you want it to. It's going to take a little patience. But if you sell now...you've just locked in your loss. I'm not ready to throw in the towel just yet.

Yeah...some of my stocks have taken a beating. Hell, most of my portfolio has...but now is the time that I think is the best time to buy. I picked up an extra 100 shares when AAPL went that low. I didn't even buy my current holdings at that price. It was like going to a department store and looking at the clearance merchandise and seeing the perfect thing at 90% off!

But I guess I'm better off than most. I've been keeping my side of the street clean. I dot my i's and cross my t's, I pay my bills on time and have been fortunate enough to see this coming (although I didn't want to admit it) and started to put aside a little extra 'just in case'.

What's sad though is all the people that didn't. And now...they don't know how to handle it or what to do.

Like hearing about the guy in California that killed his entire family; his wife and five children because he was so in debt and didn't have a job. Or the guy in Columbus that also killed his wife and two kids. His brother had no idea there was a problem. Where were these peoples friends, extended family or acquaintances? Why did they feel that they couldn't reach out for help? Could it really have been THAT bad? How could they be so alone.......

It's tragic. It's sad. And it was utterly needless.

I'm of the belief that a recession or depression will actually help our country and our world. We have become so misguided in the past few decades that we need to get back to basics. We need to rebuild our communities, our neighborhoods, our families and our support systems. We have become so isolated....so ME driven, that we have begun to lose accountability for our actions. It's like that old Janet Jackson song, "What have you done for me lately".

But we need to get back to the basics. In particular, our interactions with each other. There has seemingly become a misunderstanding between independence and interdependence. With some things in this world, it's a strong positive to know that others have your back. That there are others that can take over and make it happen. But we've become way to dependent on that mindset. There has to be a balance between the two and we are leaning towards the latter. There has to be equal balance between the two to make our society work. Read Ayn Rand's, "Atlas Shrugged". Timeless. Classic. That will give you a better viewpoint.

People within our society have begun to think that it's not their fault. They point the finger and blame whatever has happened on someone else. Then they fall into the trap of wanting someone to fix the problem for them.

I don't wish to sound mean...but I have been doing what we all have been told and taught to do. I understand that I will be held accountable tomorrow for what I do today. It's the way that I was raised...with family and with faith.

I've never been taught to rely on others for help. I was taught to be self-supporting. However there IS a time and place when we need to put ego aside and ask for help...but not all the time. It is not my neighbors responsibility to make sure that my mortgage gets paid and I feed my family. But I can guarantee you that if I were in a position that I needed to ask for food assistance, they would be there for me. But the reliance on others for our basic needs has reached a limit! Because I have been doing what everyone should have been doing...I am now going to be penalized. It seems as though my next year taxes will be higher in order to fund the bailout for individuals that didn't do as I was taught. They were given loans and now can't repay them. They are working on keeping these people in their homes...and it's people like myself that will be footing the bill. No one is going to lower my interest rate of give me a break because I've been paying my mortgage on time like I was supposed to. Who is going to come by and pat me on the back with a reward because I've been holding my own without asking for help from the government?

Owning a home is not a basic right for Americans. It is something that we aspire to do if we work hard and watch our spending. Only spend within your means! It's simple! I just can't believe that more people don't get it.

I watched a video on YouTube the other day and this guy nailed it on the head. If you have an extra four minutes you have to take a look. He's great.

The family unit itself has begun to falter in America. I am a divorced mother, not by my choice. I don't know that many people that haven't been divorced at least once. Some people I know have been divorced as many as five times! I don't quite understand that...that goes back to my thoughts on our disposable society. (blatant archive plug) There are few families that I admire and would like to emulate. My neighbors to the south of me are one of those families. They are the perfect (from my view) nuclear family. Both parents work, they are raising 3 children. Married and will probably stay that way, which is quite refreshing. They are a team. They don't always see eye to eye but they work together. Divorce is not an option. They eat together as a family. Typical round table style with discussions of the day. They go to church (well he doesn't go, but that's due to his belief on organized religion...which I also believe. THAT topic we'll address another time.) They are FAMILY.

But the definition of family is from Merriam-Webster's dictionary: "a group of people united by certain convictions or a common affiliation." We need to strengthen our family base. Rely on those close to you and ask for help when needed. A relationship is only as sturdy or as frail as you choose to make it. If those men had reached out to their respective extended families...those tragedies could have possibly been avoided.

In this time of recession we need to watch to make sure we aren't just focusing on money. It's not completely about how do deal with our financial situations that we need help with. A bailout plan isn't going to really 'fix' anything...it's just going to mask the problem for a period of time. Financial planning is great. But we need to work on the basics of home, of family, of friends. We should take the lean times and work on our personal relationships which is really the basis for all societies. It's nice for our economy to have the dollar strong and the stock market steady. But having that extra money in my pocket isn't going to bring me happiness. It might make me a bit more comfortable, but it's those close around me that really bring me joy.

We've devoted ourselves to chasing the almighty dollar and it hasn't gotten us anywhere good. This whole recession is due to greed. If we all start thinking about what we are doing, then the world is going to be and can be a better place for us all to live in.

And just in case you were wondering...AAPL stock is up 3.2% today. And Nancy has gotten off her soapbox in order to get her mortgage paid today...on time.