Loyalty or Spy Card?

Rite AidImage via WikipediaIt’s easier to find a Rite Aid drug store in my town than it is to find a mail box. There is one at almost every major intersection. We probably all shop at Rite Aid a lot because of the convenience.

Rite Aid has decided to “offer” a loyalty card called a “wellness” card. It is, I understand from the manager, intended to reward loyal customers. We are all loyal customers. We can hardly avoid it.

But this card is all wrong at a drug store. First of all medical items should never be offered to different customers at different prices. My mom needs a personal item which is consumable. She needs it over and over again. She’s 93. This item is difficult to find and relatively expensive on my mom’s limited budget. Yet she missed out on $2 in savings because she did not have a “loyalty” card. She missed out on these savings twice. So that is $4. And that is not right.

Second we like to have some privacy when we go to our pharmacy. This card violates our privacy. It is a sort of “spy” card. It may be used only for marketing purposes now, but could be misused by health insurers at some future point.

Rite Aid – thanks for being there for us but please get rid of that “wellness” card.

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Chile 2

Before I went to bed last night the first miner was out of the mine in Chile. By this morning when I woke up, eleven miners had been “reborn” out of the womb of mother earth. It sounded very much like a womb down there, 85 degrees, the men’s needs met through a single tube/umbilical cord. And like a real birth, there may be some birth trauma.

Twenty-two to go. We all must wait. I continue to be amazed by the human spirit. Will the human body and mind be able to keep up with the spirit? Will the fallout from this shadow these guys for years or will all the interaction with families soften the potential negatives? How many ways did modern technology help these miners? We may occasionally wish for a simpler world without computers or “skype”-type devices or cell phones, but not this time.

Spock had this one right, “live long and prosper”, our wish for the 33 and their families.

Books – October List

So many books, so little time.

Fall of Giants by Ken Follett
Snow Day by Billy Coffey
Reversal by Michael Connelly (detective)
The Pattern in the Carpet: A Personal History with Jigsaws by Margaret Drabble (memoir of a British novelist)
The Museum of Innocence by Orpah Pamuk
The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris
Great House by Nicole Krauss (follows a desk)
Saving Max by Antoinette van Heugten (child accused of murder, courtroom drama)
The False Friend by Myla Goldberg (mistaken memory)
Exley by Brock Clarke
Djibouti by Elmore Leonard Morrow (mystery)
The Lost and Forgotten Languages of Shanghai by Ruiyan Xu (suddenly unable to speak your native tongue)
Our Kind of Traitor by John le Carre
World and Town by Gish Jen
Bound by Antonya Nelson

To Chile

The whole situation with the miners in Chili is a testament to the power of the human spirit. The level of cooperation of officials and community is rare in such contentious times. This situation had grief and disaster written all over it. But it hasn’t gone there and, because of careful planning and hard work, it looks like it won’t.

All of the ways the community stayed in touch with their guys and kept them from starvation (physical and emotional) were both touching and ingenious. The men have also been able to contribute to their own rescue by keeping the well hole clean of drilling debris, which kept them healthy in body and in mind.

So we’ll all hold our collective breath and pray, in our own ways, that the men of the Chilean mine are back on the surface by next week.

Baby Names One

A friend of mine mentioned that she liked to read all the baby names listed in the paper each Sunday. I decided to steal her idea and so I have collected the baby names from the past two Sundays. I think I’ll buy a New York Times and see if the names are different in any way.

Boy Names: Ty Patrick, Hunter Ted, Luca Angelo, Brice Cayden, Isaac Robert, Sean Edward, Alexander Philip, Owen Michael, Ethan Patrick, John Edward, Hudson Loki

Girl Names: Mia Carmen, Ainsley Jane, Adelyn Cadence, Layla Rose, Jaelynn Lorraine, Mara Marie, Brooke Ellen

Books – Unfinished Desires

Unfinished Desires: A Novel (Random House Reader's Circle)I am working on my August booklist. All the house shopping has put me really behind on my reading. I finished Unfinished Desires by Gail Godwin, a book of Catholic nuns and a Catholic girl’s school in Appalachia and a particular nun who became the headmistress of the school. Although she led the school for decades, the girls in 1952 are the focus. This class includes the daughters of the girls Sister Suzanne Ravenel went to high school with. The Sister, now retired, must deal with several bits of emotional trauma centering on the girls and her old classmates that she has carried with her throughout her career.
It’s obvious that being a nun doesn’t protect you from life’s guilt, pain, ambition, pride, and all the pathos and bathos. Was she a good headmistress most of the time? We get the feeling that she was. Was she a good headmistress in 1952?
Not for everyone, but the characters are nicely done.

What Small Government Really Means

The idea of small federal government or “federalism” which may have been appropriate in the 1770’s or even in the 1860’s is not a useful concept in the 21st century. Our population is huge compared to the population in 18th and 19th century America. Our society has become skewed in that the rules have favored the rich for so long that a few people have cornered most of the wealth. Our forefathers were elitist. They did not put too fine a point on the rights of people who did not own land.

We are experiencing a return to elitism. Those who have been financially successful want to cut the rest of us loose now that we have become a drag on the economy instead of a useful work force (cash cow). They want to end all entitlements – no Social Security-no Medicaid-no Medicare. Then they could just pocket our tax dollars in the name of jump-starting the economy.

This approach will not really satisfy anyone. Pretty soon they’ll be tripping over us on the streets, we will have massive new slums, crime rates will rise, disease rates will rise. America will not look or feel anything like America.

This is what the Tea Party wants to do. This is what the Republicans want to do. It is all about greed and the status quo (those with the dollars get to keep the dollars.)

Haiti Concerns

US C-17 emergency airdrop in Haiti, Jan 18.Image via WikipediaEveryone seems to believe that Americans have forgotten all about Haiti. We haven’t. It is difficult to forget people who have had to live in tents for months on end and face the lack of privacy and disease and the rains.

Haiti had a lot of help just after the earthquake,although I remember how long it took to arrive because of logistics.We all felt a sense of urgency about getting food and water to the survivors. Then I believe I remember the President of Haiti asking the aid workers to step back. I remember pictures of supplies sitting in warehouses because distributing free aid supplies was supplanting the Haitian economy.

Haiti is an independent nation and apparently felt the need to take charge of the rebuilding. If we are asked to step back, I guess that means we step back.

If our government pledged money to Haiti and has not delivered it, is this, perhaps, because our aid was not welcome, or is it because we want some control over how the money will be spent, or is this just part of our own government’s current dysfunction? “Curious minds want to know.”

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Taking it Personally

Homeland Security Advisory System scale.Image via WikipediaMy friends, a young-senior couple, recently left the U.S. to live in Germany for three years. We have all had mixed feelings about this. First we will miss them. Besides this our feelings have been part “are they nuts?” and part “aren’t they lucky?”. We are all a bit jealous and we hope to make plans to visit them and Europe at some future time.

But Europe is in the news this week for a couple of reasons. They are experiencing some economic difficulties which are serious enough to send our stock market all kerflooey. Secondly, and more worrying to those of us with loved ones in Europe, they have raised the terror threat level throughout Europe and especially in Germany where our friends are. I believe my friends will be safe and I have hopes that officials in Europe will be able to defuse possible attacks.

What if I had made plans to travel to Europe this week? Would I go? All the brave people are saying that they will live their lives and not let terror threats dictate their behavior. I admire their moxie, but I can feel a little shiver in my knees. Maybe it’s just arthritis.

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Q me

I wish that every day before I go out into the world I would meet with Q (or was it M) at MI5 or MI6 or whatever. I would be given all the clever gadgets I would need to get through my days. Maybe I would get some kind of sexy car with rocket afterburners in case I needed to make a fast exit. Maybe Q would give me a pen that would stun a salesman into making a spectacularly low offer. Maybe he would have invented an invisible patch that taps into some special area of the brain and turns me into a great negotiator, or perhaps a pheromone that makes me so hypnotic that I can have my way with the universe. Of course this would have to be the kinder, gentler MI5/6 because all the gadgets usually did was kill someone (in self-defense, of course.)