Category Archives: Relationships

Are you too stupid to be a lawyer?

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Is Law School a Losing Game?

In this article (above link) by DAVID SEGAL, published Jan 8, 2011, in the NYTimes, miserable law school graduates with gynormous debts whine about:

  1. Not being able to get a high-paying job with a m ajor NYC law firm
  2. Not being able to find a job
  3. Not being able to find a job that pays $160,0 00/year
  4. Not being able to pay back huge debts accrued going to law school
  5. Having been tricked by law schools into believing they’d automatically get a job making $160,000/year
  6. Being lied to by an institution
  7. Having been robbed by law school because of high tuition
  8. Having to pay back loans they took to pay for law school
  9. Having to also pay back debt they accrued as undergraduates
  10. Not having someone tell them it wasn’t a good idea to go to law school
  11. That lady at law school didn’t tell me NOT to apply
  12. Bad, bad law schools tricked them into going in debt
  13. Law school accepted me, even though they knew I’d have to borrow money
  14. Not having someone tell them how much it would cost to pay back hundreds of thousands of dollars
  15. Not being told they shouldn’t borrow hundreds of thousands of dollars
  16. Not having someone point out they’ll have to pay it back
  17. If they have a job, being made to work under conditions usually reserved for slaves & first grade teachers
  18. Being disrespected by employers, if they find a job
  19. Being fired for disrespecting their employer
  20. Thinking law school was an investment & finding out it wasn’t any more an investment than sub-prime mortgages or hedge funds
  21. Finding out that even with a job, most lawyers don’t make $160,000/year
  22. Not being told there was a good reason that particular law school was ranked in the bottom 25%, and finally
  23. you can’t eat a JD degree.

Warning! Warning!

Compassion block! Compassion block!!!

How stupid do you have to be??? I can see, if it were the 1980s, how they’d have something to complain about – after all, lawyers ruled that decade! But it’s not. DUH. It’s the 21st century. We have the interwebs. College students are supposed to know how to do research, or at least search the interwebs to buy copies of term papers… College students have even, occasionally, been suspected of the capacity for critical thinking – or at least buying a book called something like “What you should know before you apply to law school”. I can not weep for a “man” who chose his law school because he thought it would be nice to live in San Diego.

Or a boy who already had excessive debt from undergraduate & masters programs, and then decided to take on law school debt, too. Or the girl who thought they’d just hook her up with someone and a job would happen. The young women & men who continue to live in NYC, despite no job prospects & miserable living conditions.

Much Dragonmum compassion block.

Guess what? A fact of life: EVERYONE lies. Including US News & WP, law schools & your mother. (she told you about Santa Claus, right?) The more money involved, the bigger the lies. Get over it. It’s not going to change.

It’s your responsibility to check the facts.

Since it seems that no one gave these pathetic children any guidance in making responsible choices, or taught them critical thinking, research techniques or how to handle money, they had to rely on nothing but their exceptionally poor decision-making skills. In an attempt to save a future generation from making these same hideous mistakes, I offer here a small multiple choice test quiz game:

Are you too stupid to be a lawyer?

Please read the following 20 questions carefully. Choose the best answer based on your own reality & beliefs. Check your answers carefully; once you get to the bottom, you will have no chance to go back and change your answers. Keep track of your answers so you can use the ratings scale at the end. Good luck! Have fun!

1. Do all lawyers make at least $160,000/year?

a) Yes

b) No

c) As long as they pass the Bar exam

d) That’s the interest on my trust fund.

e) Only if they have a second job as a stripper

2. Are all lawyers employed by law firms?

a) Of course!

b) I think so; Daddy is.

c) as long as they pass the Bar exam

d) No

e) Only the ones willing to whore themselves for a living & give up their life

3. Does everyone look up to lawyers?

a) Of course!

b) I do! Daddy’s taller than me!

c) only if they pass the Bar exam

d) No

e) What’s a bus full of lawyers at the bottom of the ocean?

4. Do all lawyers work in New York City?

a) Yes

b) Well, I want to.

c) All but Uncle Orsiruss, and he drinks.

d) No

e) Not even all lawyers in NYC work!

5. I graduated from:

a) a public university with a great GPA

b) a small, elite private school with an OK GPA

c) that place Daddy paid for. What’s a GPA?

d) the school of hard knocks with lots of experience

e) umm, college… well, I mean, it took 6 years, and I transferred… that’s why my GPA looks so low…

6. I have:

a) next to no undergraduate debt. I worked my way through school &/or had scholarships.

b) no undergraduate debt, but Mom & Dad saved since I was an embryo & mortgaged the house.

c) a lot of undergraduate debt, but, hey, it was Columbia, so it was worth it, right?

d) those people who keep calling me. Why do they have to inform me it’s an attempt to collect a debt?

e) Daddy, what’s debt?

7. Do you know at least 3 lawyers under 40?

a) Yes

b) Yes, but I don’t tell anyone I know them

c) No

d) There are lawyers under 40?

e) They’re all really nice to me at Daddy’s office, too!

8. Do you know at least 3 lawyers under 40 who think it’s a good idea for you to go to law school?

a) I told you I don’t tell anyone I know them!

b) No one has ever said I should go to law school

c) Yes, they think I’ll be really good at it & be able to find just the job I want. Really!

d) Yes, but they were rolling on the floor peeing themselves when they gasped it out.

e) Daddy says I shouldn’t listen to them

9. I want to go to law school because:

a) I want to make a lot of money

b) I want to be an advocate for a good cause; I can make a difference as a lawyer

c) I want to be a consultant for  Law-related TV shows

d) People will be impressed when I tell them I’m a lawyer

e) Daddy, remind me why I want to go to law school?

10. I think $160,000/year is:

a) enough to have a great apartment in NYC, wonderful social life, take a month’s vacation in Aruba, and comfortably pay back all my law school debt.

b) barely enough to rent a one bedroom apt & eat in NYC, much less have a family or pay student loans.

c) enough to have a life, a spouse, 2 kids, a nanny, a 2,500 sq ft house, a Mercedes, good health & dental and pay off student loans , too.

d) a pretty decent income in most parts of the country, especially without much student debt.

e) what my last car cost, wasn’t it?

11. At the school I want to attend, I will speak with:

a) the admissions office

b) a) and the 3 alums they said would love to talk

c) b) and 3 alums I selected randomly from a list of graduates from the last 5 years and current students

d) no one. They don’t say I had to do that on the application.

e) sooo many people! I meet them every time we go back for Daddy’s reunions.

12. The research I will do on this school includes:

a) Looked at their brochure & their USN&WP rank

b) a) and visited the school website

c) b) and doing extensive Internet searches to find out who graduated, where they are working & how much they actually earn

d) talking to a friend of Daddy’s who went there 30 years ago

e) research?

13. It is important to me to go to a school in:

a) a place close to home so I can take my laundry for Mom to do

b) a place it stays warm all year long

c) a place they speak English

d) a place I can live comfortably without fear of bodily harm

e) the town where Daddy has an apartment for me to use.

14. Graduating from law school entitles you to:

a) a cup of coffee at Starbucks if you have $5.

b) put J.D. on your resume

c) admiration from friends, relatives & strangers

d) live in NYC the rest of your life

e) a Porsche. Isn’t that what you said, Daddy?

15. The Bar exam is:

a) a test on what you learn in law school

b) only important if you actually intend to practice law

c) impossible to pass unless you take a $1000 Kaplan review class

d) hard & has little to do with law school classes, but I know how to learn new things quickly

e) Umm, do I have to take another test?

16. If I borrow $300,000 at 5% interest:

a) I can pay it off in 10 years if I get that job on Wall Street

b) it better be for a mortgage on a really nice house, not to go to law school!

c) I won’t worry about it. I mean, they don’t have debtor’s prisons, right?

d) Daddy will invest it for me, and I’ll have made $300,00 after I pay it back.

e) I’ll take out life insurance so my great-grandchildren won’t still be paying it off in 2080.

17. Law school is:

a) a great place to meet chicks

b) fun, if you’re into that sort of thing

c) hard work if you want to do well, no matter where you go

d) where the entire family expects me to go after college

e)  a great place to find a husband, right Mommy?

18. The government & academic institutions:

a) have high ethical standards & always act morally.

b) are usually trustworthy

c) lie.

d) lie and don’t care if you know it.

e) Isn’t an institution where Aunt Jenny is?

19. Employers:

a) often reward you if you work hard & do a good job

b) should always be respected & obeyed

c) are so awed at a law degree, they will hire you instantly

d) have to look out for their own bottom line; they usually don’t do much hiring in a bad economy

e) are just like Daddy!!

20. Life is:

a) like a box of chocolates

b)  a bowl of cherries

c) a long & miserable slog through brutish madness

d) what I make of it

e) That magazine?

Scoring – Here comes your reality check, bro!

  • You took this quiz: -5
  • It took you more than 5 minutes: -5

(Not starting out so well here, are we?)

The answers are in columns under their point score. Give yourself the appropriate amount of points for each question.  And look, if your total isn’t a multiple of 5, I’ll KNOW you cheated!

******** ** 10  *   5   *   0  *    -5  *    -10 ** ***
************************************

  • 1.         e         b       c        a         d
  • 2.         e         d       c        a         b
  • 3.         e         d       c        b         a
  • 4.         e         d       b        a         c
  • 5.         d         a       b        e         c
  • 6.         a         b       c        d         e
  • 7.         a         b       c        d         e
  • 8.         c         a       b        d         e
  • 9.         c         b       a        d         e
  • 10.       b        d        a        c         e
  • 11.       c         b       a        d         e
  • 12.       c         b       a        d         e
  • 13.       d         c       a        b         e
  • 14.       a         b       c        d         e
  • 15.       b         d       a        c         e
  • 16.       b         e       a        c         d
  • 17.       b         d       c        a         e
  • 18.       d         c       b        a         e
  • 19.       d         a       b        c         e
  • 20.       c         d       a        b         e

Your reality check…

If you scored:

195-135 You are WAY TOO smart to consider going to law school. Really! I can’t stop you, but you might be happier if you go into something lucrative, like plumbing, auto maintenance or mythbusting.

130-70 Congratulations! You are probably the perfect candidate to go to law school, do well & be a decent lawyer.

65-5 Not so bright, are we? If you go to law school, don’t count on finding a job that will help pay back any loans. Better start working on your stripper skills! Have you considered selling real estate, instead?

0- -100 You are too stupid to be a lawyer & don’t even know it. Well, I’m telling you now. You are too stupid to be a lawyer. Don’t go to law school. I hear the local auto parts store is looking for a new salesman. You probably think I really do know you cheated!!

If you scored -101 or lower, you’re definitely too stupid to be a lawyer, but you might as well go to law school anyway. You’re never actually going to practice law. Daddy’s giving you a free ride, you’ll push up everyone’s average, you’ll find a wonderful spouse, too. Isn’t that right, Daddy?

What world do these entitled, IQ-challenged young JDs live in??

My daughter  is too smart to go to law school. She’s in law school anyway, but she has a plan!  Having gone to NC State University on full tuition scholarship, she has little undergrad debt. She has a degree in Forestry & Public Policy, has worked as a high-tech forester, and is now studying Environmental Law at Pace on a full tuition scholarship. This year, she’s on Environmental Law Review, has a part-time job & has an on-line business.  She will OWN you & be Empress of the World. Bow down before her awesomeness!!!

Take THAT, stupid lawyers.

Artwork by me, the magnificent, grandiose Dragonmum

A bus full of lawyers at the bottom of the ocean? A good start…

Hackers: 21st Century MacGyvers?

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There were SO many interesting and/or disturbing news stories  yesterday,  my brain nearly exploded when I contemplated blogging. No DREAM, Bev Perdue choppin’ away at the remnants of NC state government, good riddance “don’t ask, be a douche”, Republicans, Bev Perdue, Republicans…

I just couldn’t do it. I knew if I started, I’d be sucked so far into the blogosphere, they’d have to send a search party to get me to go to bed.

Instead, I read What Would MacGyver Do? by Brendan Vaughan, starting myself in another direction, which – as usual – came back to the very issues I was attempting to ignore… MacGyver is now part of our cultural heritage & English lexicon. Anyone capable of reading this bog ought to know what “to MacGyver” means. If you don’t, go look it up, or you’ll be a bit confused.

MacGyver burst on the scene only a couple of months before my daughter burst into the world. Since I was finishing my master’s thesis at the same time, naturally I spent plenty of time watching TV. A little 14″ cutie from a pawn shop, our TV kept me entertained on long Sunday afternoons, soothing me to sleep with football commentary. We’d actually bought it to play Atari, but … (slap face. get back on topic!) The series spanned a my new career, 2 children, a divorce & start of  medical school, so it swam in & out of my consciousness. Through the wonders of syndication, I could catch an old episode every now & then.

When I was a kid, I thought I wanted to be James Bond. Now I realize I would much rather have been more like MacGyver.   Not only could he jury-rig himself out of almost any situation, he was also a truly good human being. What Would MacGyver Do? contained stories of real human beings improvising brilliant solution & saving themselves from the perils of arrest, embarrassment, angry spouses & heat stroke. (That whole drinking your pee thing makes me gag, but I’m sure I’d do it too if the circumstances were bad enough…) I was impressed by how imaginative deceptions people invent, but many of those are not in the good-hearted MacGyver spirit.. On the other hand, use of common sense, the tools at hand & basic scientific principles, in the face of other people wringing their hands or stomping around having temper tantrum, is what I consider truly MacGyverish.

When faced with an impending crisis, most people tend to react in one of 3 ways.  Most frequent & most familiar is the “OMG! Whatever will we do? We’re going to die! Or something horrible! Or at least have to put up with the running toilet for 4 days until the plumber comes!!!”. You can’t tell them anything; all they see is the sky falling & they must run & tell Farmer Brown. Now. Something has to be done now. Extremely short-term results oriented – they’d escape the chicken house, then get eaten by the fox.

There is also the “Whatever” denial group. Hearing some horrible crashing, grinding sound, these guys (yeah, usually guys) will poke their head up from whatever they’re doing. They’ll then look at their immediate surroundings, determine nothing can be touched, tasted, smelled or seen (yet), and promptly resume watching the 24th re-run of  “Whatever”.  Until they start roasting, they never know a B-52 crashed in their front yard, engulfing their entire neighborhood is in flames. Unobservant & immobile, these rock-like mules will never see or hear anything that they don’t already think they know or believe. Uh huh – read that one again!

Both OMG! & Whateverare maladaptive responses to fear: Fear of the unknown, the known, the might be, the what if & I might have to do something different.

In contrast to incompetent frenzied flapping chickens & self-centered  snoring ostriches, there is a third group. We’re the people who say “I’m sure we can figure something out…I don’t know quite how, but we’ll get through this…Whatever happens, I can handle it…Here, let me fix that toilet for you…”.  We’re the people who will spend 18 hours learning HTML by trying to figure out how to keep the funky script from appearing on our (pre-made) template on website x, when it worked fine on y. Having taught themselves before they were 14 to repair toilets & re-wire the Christmas lights (sometimes out of self-defense), they think – high school dropouts can do this, so can I. We know never, ever leave home without duct tape, rope, a knife and – of course – a wire clothes hanger. (Yes, that’s all based on personal experience…)

I’ve noticed there are several characteristics that set the “MacGyvers” apart. One is a sense of competence, of one’s self as a competent human being. It’s important to believe you will be able to handle whatever comes your way, including failure. Another is the ability to pause & evaluate the situation, before doing anything else. I mean really evaluate the situation & environment, making as few assumptions as possible, only as reasonable extrapolations of what you know. Willness to admit you don’t know, to be wrong, to ask for help when appropriate – these are all MacGyverish characteristics. A big helping of (un)common sense, a basic understanding of the physical world & knowing what you don’t know is needed, too.

Here’s where it comes full circle. I see state, national & international governments being shredded by the tug-of-war between the OMG! & Whatever factions.  Various groups take turns playing those roles in different situations. Currently, as US is over-run by squawking Democrats & Republican rocks, Obama has been trying to MacGyver the government. Unfortunately, there’s too much chaos & volume to accurately assess the situation, much less to expect to implement any brilliant solutions. Mr. Obama’s willingness to “be wrong” has made him a target of ridicule, instead of admiration.  Most Western politicians have been squawking about wikileaks, but the US is screeching most loudly. I believe it was the Israelis who made a comment about the US being so busy reacting to wikileaks that they didn’t have time to have talks. Not, I think, an admirable face to show the international community, eh?

Meanwhile, there are some MacGyvers in the international community, but they don’t belong to a government or any particular political ideology. They are the hackers, the new “freedom fighters”, the ones who say – it’s out there, I’ll find it… this shouldn’t be hiding under a rock, let me shine some light in there…   They have networks of resources, contingency plans, others who’ll get their back, and, above all, confidence. Often mistaken for arrogance, confidence is more self-understanding than self-glorification.

I see this in Julian Assange. He is confident that he has taken the best course. He understands he’s not the only or even most important part of the wikileaks movement anymore & has been quite willing to let it be so. He used his resources, took time to consider his actions and turned himself in to the British in a quite calculated move.

In many ways, I identify with JA. I’ve never been one to follow the crowd unquestioningly. Somehow, I know, like me, he’d never settle for “because that’s the way we’ve always done it”. Like JA’s mother, I’m working hard to make certain my home-schooled son doesn’t develop an unhealthy respect for ‘authority’!!

Is the Password to Grandma’s Basement “123456” or “password”?

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I enjoyed the article about Gnosis hacking the Gawker website & revealing how apathetic users are about using passwords. There are so many sites requiring a password to “become part of the community”, that it’s quite easy to get password burnout. But “123456”? Really? I understand the temptation. Many times in the last 20 years, I’ve found myself staring at those annoying red letters that announce my failure to join the correct user name with the correct password. I now have a fairly simple, but secure method to generate a unique PW for each individual site, which allows me to remember them easily. No more scribbling pws on yellow stickys – something my 80-year-old father still does “just in case”. He has a healthy disrespect for technology, despite spending 5 hours a day on-line.

In an attempt to further simplify my life & connect with the on-line community, I try to keep the same user name & avatar (now a gravatar…). That way, all the same people who comment on the NYTimes, NPR & BBC sites can recognize me in the Comedy Central forums too! The problem comes when someone else has sneakily acquired it first, & I have to modify it.  I’ve also had issues when the sign-in is an email address that’s not my primary email.

Usually, I’m OK, as long as my browser picks up the pw correctly. Not all sites let me save info in my browser, nor do I want all of it in my browser! I get around this by keeping bits & parts of this info in various files on my system. None of this is any help, however, if I’m attempting a log-on from a remote site!!

Earlier this year, I password protected the administrator ID on my son’s netbook,  using a combination of letters, numbers & symbols – in what I thought was a fairly simple phrase – in order to keep it safe from teenage hacking fingers.  Now, despite the “hint” I set up, I can’t for the life of me remember them! I’ve even tried doing an algorhythm matrix to test all the probable combinations I might have used… Massive fail. Now I can’t access the security OR maintainance features… or upload new, protective firefox add-ons. What I get for being so clever, I suppose – defeated by my own cunning!!

(UPDATE!! 1/2011. My cleverness returned with the new year, I realized there must be a back door in XP Home for all the other idiots who’ve done the same thing… Found it! Also finally pressed the right button at the right time, to get into SAFE mode. It’s one of those computers with a proprietary start-up; it doesn’t have that old fashion black screen. I, once more, have the “Mommy hacker of the House” crown…)

I also use numerous add-ons which allow me to browse fairly anonymously. My next step is to set up a rotating proxy, which is about as far as I am willing to go – there’s just not that much I have to hide & so much time I can devote to dealing with privacy & security features.

Meanwhile, we continue to be bombarded by the convoluted saga of stolen, leaked government documents, Julian Assange’s trumped-up Swedish charges, bail or no bail, Anonymous attacking “anti-wikileaks” sites, etc….

So who needs to spend time on privacy & security features??? Repeat after me – “The US Government”! A very low ranking soldier (what is he, a private?) is accused of up-loading bunches of supposedly sensitive documents from Afghanistan to wikileaks. He’s probably not the same guy responsible for the latest 250,000; there are probably quite a few leaks in that dam. Here’s one of the big problems – these documents were in a place that’s security is roughly equivalent to boxes in my Grandmother’s basement. She wouldn’t let just anyone in the front door, but there were at least 3 half windows downstairs. Like anyone was going to want diplomatic cables, right?

Now, it turns out that most of them are really, really just trash. The “what are you doing Tuesday night? Let’s have dinner” sort of trash. Why do you think only a few have been released? How long will it take to sift through a quarter million potential junk mails, in order to find something actually interesting? As an scientific information specialist in one of my former lives, I spent LOTS of times sorting through confidential corporate documents, most of which were exactly the same sort of trash. Much sympathy I have for the wikileaks sorters!

Why is so much trash considered “confidential”, “classified”, “secret” or “top secret”? And if it’s so important, why is it in Grandma’s basement? Here’s my theory: It’s been shown that government correspondence suffers from “over-classification”;  those red stamps are so pretty! Government officials are notorious for thinking anything they do is much more important than it actually is. So, the ones in charge of security know most of it was completely drivel, and, as such, didn’t think it was worth extra-special security. By this, I mean “security that a high school graduate can’t hack”…the equivalent of using a password more secure than “123456” or “password”. Unfortunately, that also means worthless paper is mixed with documents that truely might be important (or embarrassing…)!

Even though Grandma would never let a stranger through her door, she invited several of these sweet young leakers in. After all, they were her grandchildren’s friends. Some of them may have even been her grandchildren… She wasn’t aware of it, but she really did need help cleaning out the basement!!!

Thank you, Mr. Assange & wikileaks.

Visa, I was about to be sympathetic, but then I read this…

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I want to make it clear that, although I support Wikileak’s and their mission, I in NO WAY condone attacks against anyone in their name. That is just as bad as what is being done to Wikileaks; the attackers are just as bad as the repressive organizations they hate.

Dec. 8th NYTimes Lede blog>

‘Operation Payback’ Attacks Fell Visa.com

By ROBERT MACKEY

I started reading this article with the thought “now they’ve gone too far. Is this the world we really want?”. However,  as I read further, I became more & more disturbed at actions taken by multinational corporations, such as Visa, who have targeted smaller companies they believe (or know) support Wikileaks.

Visa, now you’ve gone too far!

Once a company starts involving itself in international politics – especially in an arena where it should (theoretically) have no particular interest. After all, aren’t they the ones who want to be accepted everywhere?? Why are they now rummaging through their files  & spending time threatening businesses – who are using their service & making them money? How far does this go, and where does it stop?

Money police?

Visa & MC have set up a virtual global monopoly on money transfe r, along with eBay‘s more evil twin, PayPotty. They are throwing their collective weight around, in an attempt to shut down an organization that some governments don’t like. (OK, hate, despise, fear, etc) Who’s tail is wagging these big dogs? Or are they the tail?

Here are a few of the key paragraphs from the blog that, shall I say, pissed me off?(my bold)

The move against Visa comes after a Web services company in Iceland, DataCell.com, which has supported WikiLeaks and still hosts a Web page facilitating donations to the organization, complained that the credit card company had tried to force it to stop working for the non-profit media site… the company also hosts the Web site Wikileaks.ch.

…Mr. Sigurvinsson told Iceland’s national broadcaster RUV that “he finds Visa and MasterCard’ s request that DataCell stop serving WikiLeaks highly distasteful, asking what business two private companies have dictating terms to another private company.” He added, “It is clear that they will never close WikiLeaks except by taking the whole Internet down.

The chief executive of DataCell, Andreas Fink, explained in a statement that his company has been operating “a payment gateway so people can donate” to WikiLeaks for two months. On Tuesday, Mr. Fink said that Visa had asked DataCell to stop accepting payment details from Visa cardholders who wanted to donate money to WikiLeaks. The company declined to do so, because, Mr. Fink explained:

After discussions with our lawyers, we have decided that we can not honor such requests based on the pure simple fact of untrue and unverified accusations.

Freedom of speech is the freedom to speak freely without censorship and/or limitation. The right to freedom of speech is recognized as a human right under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and recognized in international human rights law. Furthermore freedom of speech is recognized in European, inter-American and African regional human rights law. (US courts can’t argue with this, now that they’ve pronounced corporations “people” in terms of $ = free speech)

It is simply ridiculous to even think WikiLeaks has done anything criminal. If WikiLeaks is criminal, then CNN, and BBC, The New York Times, The Guardian, Al Jazeera and many others would have to be considered criminals too as they publish the same information. Nobody even tries to touch them though. You can still buy a New York Times subscription and pay with your credit card I guess.

On Wednesday, Mr. Fink added an update to his statement, in which he said that Visa and MasterCard had stopped processing all online payments facilitated by DataCell, affecting up to 3,000 clients, apparently to ensure that no money would make it to WikiLeaks. Mr Fink added that his company was taking “immediate legal actions to make donations possible again.”

He also wrote:

The suspension of payments towards WikiLeaks is a violation of the agreements with [Visa’s] customers. Visa users have explicitly expressed their will to send their donations to WikiLeaks and Visa is not fulfilling this wish. It will probably hurt their brand much much more to block payments towards WikiLeaks than to have them occur. Visa customers are contacting us in masses to confirm that they really donate and they are not happy about Visa rejecting them. It is obvious that Visa is under political pressure to close us down. We strongly believe a world class company such as Visa should not get involved by politics and just simply do their business where they are good at. Transferring money.  They have no problem transferring money for other businesses such as gambling sites, pornography services and the like so why a donation to a Web site which is holding up for human rights should be morally any worse than that is outside of my understanding….

This is not about the brand of Visa, this is about politics and Visa should not be involved in this.

I knew there has to be more than one reason I don’t use credit cards… besides keeping out of debt & out of their great greasy paws….


My Daughter is Awesome!!

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This, again, is an old post I’d never published. It has enough bragging about my daughter that I felt like it would be something positive to do on this very dreary rainy night…..

I’m one of those compulsive crafty hoarder types & I’ve accumulated more stuff from my mother and grandmothers…and aunt…. One of my current projects is to dig out lots of my vintage patterns, books, magazines & materials to share with the rest of you all….

Well, then, since I’m actually in condition to start using my (beloved vintage) yarn again, I’ve been obsessively searching for just the right yarn winder and swift. I think I’ve come to the conclusion that I can make my own… I found wonderful instructions for tinker toy and wire hanger swifts – and interesting ways people have figured out to use hand-mixers or reversible screwdrivers as ball winders.

I surrendered my ball winder to my DD for her recycled yarn project. She needs the $ for law school next year plus she’s an awesome artist… One of the most creative people you will ever meet. (Do you think I’m proud of her?)

Please see her etsy store Dyet Yarns for her luxury recycled fiber selection. Many of these are proba bly vintage to begin with but she puts her own special “twist” on them – and then you can buy yummy yarns for pennies on the dollar!!

Update: She has recently put up an even yummier set of yarns, with colors ALL inspired by Miyazaki’s Laputa: Castle in the Sky!

a. Something Worth Protectingn (Silk/Cotton Upcycled)
b. Ancient Guardian (Shortcake and Luscious)
c. Raze the Sky (Sockolate Mousse)

(see it in her blog: http://www.dyetyarns.com/archives/345)

You get the idea!
Her other store CandyCornStudios has other great creations like her jewelry & knitting- no bias here, huh?

She also sells more uber-neat creations on her own site CandyCornStudiosHub. Yeah, that’s her in the tentacle shirt….

 

I know it’s not vintage, but it sure is creative!! She does work with vintage parts too – she just doesn’t have any of her steam punk pieces up.

Does “Unschooling” mean letting Nik run wild?

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Well, that’s what my Dad thinks. He’s certain I give Nik too much freedom & not enough “discipline” (whatever that means – I seem to remember belts & yard sticks…).  That is, until he need him to do something in the middle of the day, like walk the dog. Then he’s sooo glad Nik is there….

*In reality, Nik needs very little “discipline”. Well, in the evening after his meds wear off, he does get kinda goofy & loud – but he also respects my migraines or times he really has to be low-key. He’s (as I’m sure I’ve said a few times before…) an old soul; quite wise for 14 1/2. These last few weeks, after Dad’s surgery & Mom was dying, he stepped up & took on a lot of responsibility.  This is a child who whines if he doesn’t get to weekend meditation at our Won-Buddhist temple. Where did he come from???

*As for running wild? Nik uses his freedom (from the routine of the robot-producing public school system) very well. He continues to do wonderful photography. We entered 2 photos in every category of the NC Wildlife Magazine photo contest. We’ll find out by the end of October whether he got any recognition. I think several of his pictures have a “wow” factor that will at least attract the judges’ attention. Last year, a 16 yo girl won the Grand Prize – bet there were a bunch of miffed pros!! I’m posting several of the photos at the bottom.

*So, you might say “but what about academics? How is he going to learn about history, government, English literature?”  & all those other wonderful little boxes schools like to put “knowledge” in? Hmmm… 2 years ago we did that critical comparison of Lord of the Flies & To Kill a Mockingbird. Faulkner is upstairs beside his bed. “The Pearl” is in the van. A stack of Marvel comics is in his closet. Is normal kid, rly! Writing is becoming a pleasure, not a chore. Today he was blogging about the current conflict about taxes/war/social services.  Something about being a BBC & NPR addict…. Even though I told him to write 5 reasons to go to The Rally to Restore Sanity & 5 reasons to go to the March to Keep Fear Alive. Well, I guess that will have to be tomorrow. He needs to know why we’re going. (I think he does…)

*Science? Besides knowing practically everything about living creatures & plants, he’s gotten very enthusiastic about medical subjects. Loves anecdotes. Yesterday, I got him a book with anecdotes about famous & difficult patients. He read the one about Hitler to me with glee. “Blood & Guts: the history of surgery” is in the van & the pictorial “history of surgery” is on a cabinet in the living room. At least it’s not on the mantel…. We’ve also been working on electricity & history of inventions. This started because he wanted to know about microchips – figured he needed background before we got to semi-conductors & micro-micro chips.

*Yesterday, he spent time explaining to his father how a barometer worked. Was a good exercise in putting technical terms into language a layman understands (his dad had no idea how the thing worked – he can’t even figure out an ipod).  Out in the common area, he’s been figuring out that this area has geology different from most of the state – and finding various forms of hematite & other iron-containing rocks. (hint: what makes red clay red?) He’s had a couple of meetings with copperheads (nice photos) and met a nice black racer who came right up & licked his camera lens!!  (even nicer photos) Recently, he’s been experimenting with light effects on plants, trees & leaves. Salamanders & frogs should fear him, but they don’t seem to have problems letting him pick them up & photograph them. Same with butterflies & various other bugs.

*

Art? He wanted to draw people & start with faces. “Oh, great”, I said, “You want to start with the second hardest part to draw.” Not one to be second-best, he wanted to know what first hardest was. “Hands”, I told him. Good thing I’m an artist, among a zillion other things – and I’m good  & have education in this one! We started with the basics – how to see the shapes & then put them together. Darn if he didn’t get it almost right away. Except for a thumb placement problem, he drew a hand! A GOOD hand!  We’re going to get together with another “gifted” home-schooled teenager, who’s also interested in art. Should be fun!

*There are many more things we’re going to explore, especially now we don’t have to worry about Mom’s care. One of the first is going to DC the end of October. Hey, isn’t that when those rallies are? Sure is a coincidence, huh?

Here are some of Nik’s Pics, as promised…

See, I told you he licked the camera!!

 

Update: Nik won 2nd place in NC Wildlife Photo Competition Invertibrate category with the Ant!!!

Hospice RULES! Update on my Mom

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My last post of 2009 was about my Mother’s illness, so I thought I’d follow up on that…

Mom died yesterday morning. We have had an incredibly blessed year of her continued life, defying the dire predictions from last October. She made it through her 80th birthday AND Mom & Dad’s 60th !! wedding anniversary!!! She’s been under hospice care since December ’09 & they have been absolutely key for us to handle Mom’s illness & death as smoothly as possible. I’m very glad we didn’t wait to get hospice in.  I think they were a huge contribution to Mom’s quality of life.

Up until the end of last week, she had been alert, talkative, feeding herself, reading, watching TV and enjoying her Saturday “Brit coms”, up in her chair every day & interacting with everyone. Not in any pain either. It was clear her functioning has been deteriorating slowly, but she continued to be bright & happy. Over the last couple of months, she had been intermittently choking on liquids. With the help of the hospice nurse, we decided not to thicken them as a quality of life issue.

Unfortunately, we think she had another stroke sometime last Friday. She had gotten much sicker in just 3 days. Hospice ramped up their services instantly. We had someone from hospice here every day & the nurse came by every day that week. Since  it was clear she had only a short time to live, they helped us make arrangements for pain relief & cremation services.  I believe the excellent in-home care we have been able to provide, both privately & through hospice, made a huge difference. We’ve really been blessed by the extra special year of her company!

As usual in our chaotic family, there were complications even in the few weeks before Mom’s death.  Dad had surgery on an inguinal hernia 2 weeks before. Can you imagine – it was his first surgery EVER in 80 years (if you don’t count having his wisdom teeth out earlier this year!!)!!!  The surgery went extremely well & he’s recovering faster than I did from my appendectomy. However, he was forced to go from doing WAY too much for Mom to not being able to do much at all.  He’s slowly resumed some of his previous “chores” and been able to return to driving – so he can get out of the house. Nik has been awesome at taking over the heavier duties of walking Star, trash, recycling & feeding the beasts.  Dad managed to get 2 people to be here when Mom needed the most care & hospice made certain extra people were around as much as possible.

Hospice has been our savior in all this. Dad slowly came to accept that she won’t live much longer & is having a much easier time now as a result. The Chaplain, Aaron, is also a Lutheran minister & from the town in Florida Mom & Dad lived in!!! What an amazing coincidence!! He’s helped us over quite a few difficult spots. The latest was 2 weeks ago – right before Dad’s surgery. Mom started to have tooth pain a couple of days before Labor Day weekend. Convenient time, huh? We tried to get someone dental to come to the house, so they could tell us whether Mom needed to go to an oral surgeon or if there was something that could be done here. Mom had left the house  only a couple of times since we brought  her home last year. Hospice workers tried to find someone through their services, but had no luck. Finally we spoke directly to our lovely Dentist, who was kind enough to come by the house & look – and tell us she needed to go & get the tooth extracted.  AKKKH!!!

Now, Dad had to cancel his surgery once, while they worked up a mild heart conduction problem. He had set up the double coverage for the first surgery date, canceled it, and now had to recreate it in a much shorter time. So, on top of that, Mom had the tooth problem! The freaking out level was through the roof here!!

The day before his surgery, Dad got transport for Mom & we got her to the Doc, where she had no problem at all with the extraction. That changed after we got home. Mom didn’t remember she had a tooth removed, so she didn’t see why she should bite down on the gauze to stop the bleeding.  Dad completely freaked out, which escalated to a totally unacceptable level.

This is when an intervention by Aaron really really really helped. Talking to him on the phone probably saved at least one life – was gonna be me or Dad… I was so knotted up that I was sick. We had to get to the surgery center by 9 am next morning. And you know what? We made it there on time and both in one piece. As Dad was checking in, Aaron actually came in to see how he was!!

Since then, I’ve had to step in to do more care-taking & more activity than I really should be, with my physical problems. Hey, someone had to do it!  Dad’s much better and making peace with his limitations & Mom’s death. I think the tooth extraction pushed Mom over the edge, but it was going to be something, anyway.  The hospice nurse, aides & social worker have all been there for us. It’s been great to know we have support, even for the next year following her death.

Hospice is the best. If your loved one has a terminal illness, please don’t wait until the absolute end to call in Hospice! Medicare pays for it all. They will make sure your family member dies as painlessly & in the most humane way possible. They’re also very very much there for you, as family members – as well as all the support I’ve mentioned, they also have group programs for children, teens, caregivers & bereaved, grieving family for as long as a year after the death. Don’t wait! You won’t be sorry.