Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Folly #1

I'm angry. Upset. Irritated. All of the above.

Wanna know why? Read this: http://www.thestate.com/politics/story/634720.html

Basically, the governor of South Carolina is holding unemployed people hostage to his whacked-out idea that by not signing for a Federal loan will cause an agency to reform overnight.

Currently in South Carolina, there are 77,000 people on the unemployment rolls, making it 4th in the nation for unemployment. Considering the growth of the unemployment rate, the low charges to businesses in South Carolina for unemployment insurance, and the lack of fore-thinking by ANYONE have created a perfect storm of a dwindling unemployment benefit trust fund. As of Wednesday, the South Carolina trust fund is depleted and there are no more unemployment checks for anyone.

The South Carolina Employment Security Commission (ESC) asked for a $147 million loan from the Federal Government (which must be repaid.) Governor Sanford is refusing to sign the loan request. Instead, he is grandstanding on the backs of the unemployed, demanding that ESC submit to a legislative audit and to cooperate with the Department of Commerce.

I get that ESC needs to be more transparent in its actions. I really do - I've been working with ESC for over a year to get them to the table to sign off on a project that is nothing but benefit for them. What I don't get is Mark Sanford's timing. The unemployed are already down and out - are you trying to kick them in the nuts again, Mr. Sanford? It's the holidays, people are already feeling pretty damn miserable, so you just want to up the ante and add no more unemployment benefits to them? It would be a pretty interesting study to see if the rate of suicide among the unemployed has gone up in the last month here in South Carolina.

And ESC, get over yourselves. It's time to stop building brick walls, tear down the ones you have in place, and start working with other agencies. Your dogma of non-cooperation is damaging the very people you are supposed to be helping.

And US DOL, it's time to intervene and get these warring parties to the table.

Give people some hope for the new year.

Monday, December 29, 2008


Foible (n): A minor weakness or failing of character

We all got 'em. Mine are legion. Some I choose to lament over, others I embrace and adore. So for my first true blog, I thought I would tackle one of my foibles - a dislike of spicy hot food. Truly. I abhor anything that makes my taste buds hurt. I just don't get spicy hot.

Actually, I just don't get hot. I forget everytime I eat Thai that Green is hotter than Red. I think green and think cool/mint/lettuce/spinach. I end up with tears rolling down my face. I don't get people who cover good eggs with hot sauce. I don't get eating salsa that can double as perming solution.

So today at lunch, I pick up some grocery store sushi. Back in cubeville, I carefully fish out the wasabi placed on the picket fence green paper separting it from the good rolls. With surgical skill, I examine the pickled ginger for any sign of wasabi. Pleased at the ease of wasabi avoidance, I prepare my rolls by liberally dunking them in soy sauce. I munch through my first two, happy as the proverbial clam.

And then it happens. Undetected wasabi contamination.

I pop my third roll into my mouth, chew and prepare to swallow, when pain fires over my tongue. In midst of the swallow, far too late for spit and run, I feel the back burn of wasabi make a beeline up my throat into my sinuses. Nose hairs catch spontaneous fire, and I joke you not, a small mushroom cloud formed out of my nostrils.

The body, in response to the overload on the heat monitors, activates its personal sprinkler system aka the PSS, sometime known as tears and sinus discharge. The hands go into defense mode, trying to keep the evader out of the eyes by pressing them into the back of my skull. Any attempt at looking like a well-kempt professional has gone by the wayside - my mascara is now dribbling down my checks and past my nose.

I reach for my diet coke, when to my dismay, I discover it is freshly opened and its effervescent fizz is now carrying more wasabi particles up my nose. Again the PSS kicks in with additional fire retardant. I reach for a kleenex to stem the tsunami of snot. I come up for air, and then go back under. Finally, I grab a wheat thin and throw it on the fire.

The rage of wasabi slows. I eat another wheat thin. The fire wans. After 10 wheat thins, my breathing pattern has slowed from a marathoner in mile 20 to someone who just climbed a set of steps. I look at my sushi and shudder. It goes in the garbage, and my box of wheat thins serves as lunch for the day.

Ah wasabi - you got me again, you bastard.