Welcome to the Summerlands, or Everyone Talks About the Weather

I know some of you are dealing with horrendous winter weather at the moment. I wish you good luck and warmth as you deal with it. That said, it’s too bad you don’t live here. We are having a heat wave of sorts, with temps in the high 70s.  Blue, blue skies, occasional wispy clouds, and very happy birds and squirrels. We’re opening windows and kicking off covers around here. It’s gorgeous.

We tend to have warmer weather east of the Berkeley hills, than the rest of the Bay Area experiences (except for South Bay). But we were in Oakland last night and didn’t even need sweaters.  This morning, after our weekly ramble to buy the Sunday papers, I came home sweating.


While I do appreciate the nice days, we really could use a lot more rain. Perhaps a little frost to reduce the bug population. I like warm days but I really like cool weather and rain. Someone’s always complaining, right?

How are you dealing with the weather in your parts?

Three Muslim Students Were Killed in a Tragic Attack Carried Out by an Atheist

My heart actually hurt for the three people who were killed. They were good people, kind, generous,  compassionate… and they were senselessly killed by a deranged idiot. Did he do it “because” they were Muslim? I don’t know – although I’m sure his insane mind latched onto the current issues regarding Islam and terrorism, and used that as justification.

Atheism had nothing to do with this. This man is insane.

Three Muslim Students Were Killed in a Tragic Attack Carried Out by an Atheist.

Middle Earth Living

I like round houses. Don’t know why, but when I see  a picture of one, I get happy. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a round house in person but a tour of round houses would be an awesome vacation.

I’m going to make a confession.

Sometimes I look at round-house porn.

I’ll go to sites like this or this and lick my lips at the possibilities.

What is it that attracts me to such oddities? I do have a contrary streak that leans toward the unusual. It’s pretty mild, which is why there are no pictures of me with big purple hair and glittering eyebrows, sitting naked on the back of a Harley in the desert somewhere, and a pair of Rottweilers standing guard.

Sorry. Hope you can get that image out of your minds.

So yes, my extremes are near-normal, but I’m not exactly suburban material. Yes, I know I live in the suburbs, but that’s because it’s where Himself lives and I really like living with him. More than I like round houses, in fact. I just reserve the right to indulge in ogling once in a while.

I like the hobbitesqueness of round houses. They seem to encourage a lifestyle closer to nature, as if living in a tree house. Of course, any house can be built with eco-friendly materials and be designed to deliver an energy-neutral environment. Any house can be equipped with  walls of windows and a wrap-around porch. And any house can be built to be interesting, with its own personality, although you won’t find them in the suburbs. But if a house is all of that and round… my fantasy-loving spirit really groks that!

What about you? What’s your favorite kind of architecture? What kind of house would you love to live in?


Where Did I Put the Wine?

In the Happy News Department, my latest blood test reveals a normal, healthy liver! Enzymes are back down where they’re supposed to be, so I guess I can write off the crazy-high numbers of a few months ago as part of the general stress of the time with the complication of massive doses of pain meds for a hurt back.

Where did I put the wine? Bring it on, folks!

Except… I kind of like not drinking every day. I know, I know, but there it is. I may drink when we go out or we’re visiting people, but otherwise… meh.

And I’ve found a really cool “mocktail” that’s perfect for those times I’d really like a martini or something, but want to stay clean. I never thought I’d find anything to substitute because I don’t like sodas or juices. I’m kind of hard to please in that regard. But Jack Monroe, aka, A Girl Called Jack, mentioned something she discovered at a London restaurant. I had to give it a try and by golly, I like it! The latest craze: Vinegar Sodas!

That’s it for the ingredients, too. Soda water and vinegar. I use two teaspoons to about 8 oz sparkling water and ice. Give it a try, with any good vinegar you have hanging around. I’ve been making mine with a sherry vinegar, but I will try out the others in my cabinet: red wine, white wine, champagne, cider… the more exotic the vinegar, the more exotic the drink!

I may start asking for this at restaurants. Pour it in a fancy glass, add a pretty garnish, and I’m fitting right in with the social crowd.

With no complaints from my liver.


Have Nationwide Insurance? Consider Switching.

A Supreme Court case is the subject of a Raw Story article titled Supreme Court Lets Stand Ruling that Firing Woman for Breastfeeding not Sexist Because Men Can Lactate.

The Raw Story does tend to sensationalize their headlines, and they do latch on (breastfeeding moms will get that pun) to a deeply buried part of the ruling when they shout about the “men can lactate” thing. A deeper reading of the case documents shows that the reasoning of the circuit court – and SCOTUS – centered on technical legalities. To whit: (thought I’d use a legal term) that the plaintiff did not show that her supervisor “intended” to fire her by engaging in hostile behavior designed to force her to resign.

Of course, SCOTUS had to stand on its head in contortionist mode in order to come to this conclusion, but still…

Despite the fact that SCOTUS did not find any fault with Nationwide, I still ask you to consider going to a different insurance company if you currently have insurance with them. I do this because it appears that, despite the supreme court’s decision, Nationwide seems to engage in discriminatory employment practices, and yes – maintains a hostile environment for its employees. I can’t tell (not enough information) if their practices are limited to women – or breastfeeding employees, specifically – or if their male employees also deal with them. Let me discuss a couple of the practices that show up in this case.

1. The manager in this case maintains that all employees in his department must keep current in their work even if they are off on leave. He maintains they must work overtime upon returning to catch up.

This is downright silly. At the very least, Nationwide should consider firing this manager. I don’t think he’s suitable management material. Seriously, what kind of rule is that? People take leave for all kinds of reasons and lengths of time. The courts involved in this case took pains to declare that this rule applied to “all employees in the department” and therefore was not discriminatory.

Okay. So a male worker has a triple bypass and must take three months off of work. This manager lets all the employee’s cases pile up on his desk until he returns, at which time he must put in weeks of overtime to finish the backlog while also completing new work.

Really? Really? Does that seem counter-productive to you? Dare I say… stupid… even? Is this any way to run a department and turn in timely work for the customers? Does Nationwide not hire temp workers? Or perhaps spread the work around to everyone else so they all pitch in to help? If it’s important that the department’s work gets done in a timely manner, why is the work allowed to pile up until the absent employee returns?

Honest, I can’t get my head around this, it’s so ridiculous. I can’t imagine this is truly done in actual practice. If it is, then the plaintiff clearly had to know about the practice and would have been expecting the extra work when she returned. Yet Nationwide’s argument never states that she knew about it ahead of time.

2. Breastfeeding employees must obtain a badge to use the lactation room. The employee must fill out a form, which takes three days to process before obtaining the badge.

I don’t like the idea of needing a badge. It treats employees as if they are children. But okay, you’re a new mother returning from maternity leave and you need to pump, so you need a badge. Let me remind you all that a breastfeeding mother MUST pump every few hours or her breasts get full, hard, and painful. Not pumping frequently can lead to infection, or (and this is important) losing her milk supply. She can’t wait three days for a damn badge.

Let me ask Nationwide’s Human Resources about this:

Is there some reason this badge is not automatically included in the employee’s paperwork when she returns? If any employee is out on medical leave, aren’t you required by law (I’m thinking the ADA) to accommodate his/her needs? Do you force the employee to return to work before beginning the process to obtain what is needed?

Isn’t it just a good business practice to perhaps have the badge ready so your employee can get right to work on that 3-month backlog and doesn’t waste time running around trying to figure out where to pump?

I realize that stupid business practices are not illegal. But these rules DO create a hostile environment.  And I would love an investigation into whether they are really applied to all employees, all of the time, or if they are used only or mostly against women or new or breastfeeding mothers.

Because that is illegal. And stupid, too.




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