Ah, the Tween of the Holidays!

It’s like the taint, but much more pleasant! LOL

Yule/Christmas was pretty awesome this year. Despite all the fucked up banking shenanigans pulled on us by Wells Fargo (thanks Adrienne, you bitch and your asshat appraiser can fuck off, too) and Bank of America (eat a bag of dicks), we still managed to pull a very nice holiday from the hat. We did not travel, which immediately adds +20 to the whole affair. I HATE traveling at Christmas. You spend all your time shlepping when you could be having egg nog by your own VERY NICE TREE. So, no shlepping and all our time next to our very nice tree and we had a wonderful time. Very quiet. Very soothing.

I cooked a big dinner Christmas Eve and had friends over. It was FAB. I pulled out my china and vintage stuff to serve on, which always makes me happy. I made Ricotta and spinach stuffed shrooms to start, then creamy tomato soup, then Pork Loin Roast w/ herbs and cider, Roasted veg, sautéed green beans with pine nuts and red linguine (made by sautéeing with beets!). S made a chocolate pistachio cake. I served prosecco, sauvingnon blanc and pinot noir wines with dinner. Much food and good times were had by all.

We got snow on Christmas in GA this year, which was a real treat. It’s not happened in decades (if ever) and it was all that much sweeter because we did not have to get out in it. :) We enjoyed the snow, drank wine and watched movies and opened our presents, of course! We got small stuff for each other like we usually do. We are the type that buy what we want when we want it, so Christmas is usually small stuff and our traditional stockings stuffed from Rite Aid! I adore drugstore stockings! Dental floss, Bic lighters and lube! Oh, my! :)

Today, Nick is back at work and I’m back to my routine. I got some New Balance trainers to replace those horrible Skechers that injured my right foot. I walked for almost an hour w/out incident. Back story to the Skechers: I bought them about 9 mo ago. The first few times I wore them on the treadmill, they hurt my lower back, but that stopped happening pretty quick. After a few months, I began to have fairly severe pain in my right foot in the mornings, which I ignored. Then I noticed a pattern that was coinciding with exercise and wearing the Skechers. When I skipped a few days, my foot pain would lessen and when I started back up, my foot pain would increase. My foot didn’t hurt when I was exercising, but it would become stiff and sore if I was off of it for a few hours and especially overnight. I can barely walk in the mornings until my foot warms up. Weird, I know. So I looked it up and it’s an injury to the tendons on the bottom of my foot and heel that have to do with the Windlass Mechanism, which is how we walk. Yah, so I wrote a nasty note to Skechers and got myself some plain trainers. My foot is a little sore after 50 mins of walking today, but I’ll just have to put up with it until the tendons heal. Suck.

After almost a year, I can say with confidence that Skechers are for fashion, NOT fitness.

I’ve decided to skip another silver fabrication class. It’s just not money I wish to spend at the moment. It’s frakking expensive to take that class and buy materials. Silver is hella pricey right now. So, I’ll pass. I’ve got beads to keep me entertained for a lot less money.

I looked at p/t jobs on craigslist today. Buh. It’s a wasteland out there. And I tell you, some people are really out of their minds with the skillsets they want for a p/t job. I saw one that pretty much wanted a college graduate to run their office and do everything from design flyers to accounting to payroll for $10/hr, 30 hrs/wk. WHAT? That is just stupid. But the economy is so bad, they’ll probably get someone desperate enough to be worked to death for laughable pay. >:-(

While I’m glad 2010 is done, I’m not particularly optimistic for 2011. Thanks to the banks running rampant and treating us like we are losers (with high 700 credit scores) we have some hard choices to make in 2011. I hope we can get some relief from the bullshit one way or another. No matter what, the banks can suck our taints. This country will not recover from this deep recession as long as the banks refuse to give credit and do everything in their power to beat down what good credit already exists. We had TWO BoA credit cards taken from us this year. Explanation? Our credit is “questionable”. Really? At 750+? LIES! It’s hard for consumers to buy houses when perfect credit is ignored. It’s hard for businesses to expand when the banks refuse to lend. It’s really hilarious that these are the same banks who got BILLIONS from us taxpayers to ensure that their execs got their million dollar paychecks and bonuses. And we’re the assholes? Right.

Anyway, 2011 will probably not be much better than 2010, but what can you do? Soldier on, do your best and try not to let the bastards keep you down! :)

TSA Response from Isakson

I wrote a pissy email to Senator Johnny Isakson about the harassment of Americans perpetrated by the TSA and I actually got a response. I don’t think it’s a form letter, but you never know with politicians. I like this response, however I doubt there’s little to be done about the TSA. Once they are unionized, they will NEVER go away and their power will only increase. Nonetheless, I like the response so here it is, complete with header:

Dear Ms. Pratt:

Thank you for contacting my office regarding the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) security procedures. I appreciate hearing from you and appreciate the opportunity to respond.

I fly between my home in Georgia and Washington nearly every week. Having seen and experienced firsthand the new TSA procedures, I share the very strong concerns of my constituents. Specifically, I have concerns with the image produced by the Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) machines and with the intimate nature of the physical screening.

At a recent hearing at the Senate Commerce Committee, I questioned TSA Administrator John Pistole on TSA’s policies. I asked for TSA to come back to the Commerce Committee in a classified setting and share with the committee specific intelligence they have gotten that prompted TSA to impose these radical changes to airport screenings. I believe that seeing this intelligence is important for the committee to appropriately conduct its oversight role and determine if the TSA is acting in the most appropriate manner. I am pleased that TSA has agreed to this request.

During this hearing I expressed concern with the intrusive nature of the pat downs and plan to work with my colleagues to review that process and make changes if possible. I also expressed my concern with the scanner images themselves, and asked what progress TSA has made in moving to the automated target recognition feature that eliminate the viewing room and instead use a cartoon stick figure on the machine itself, visible to the passenger. Administrator Pistole said they are in the process of testing that technology and hope to roll out it out in airports in a matter of months. I also admonished the TSA for not implementing a system to provide expedited access to sterile areas for flight crews, also known as CrewPASS. I was pleased that, shortly after my line of questioning at the hearing, TSA announced it was moving forward with CrewPASS. I expressed my concern that the Department of Homeland Security and TSA have not done a good enough job of explaining the meaning and intent of its aviation security regulations and policies to the traveling public, or to its field representatives who are charged with enforcing them. I believe that TSA consistently fails to communicate these changes, especially when doing so could speed up the process and give travelers an idea of what to expect. I also asked for, and received, clarification that children under the age of 12 are not subject to pat downs. As a grandfather of nine, most of whom are under the age of 6, I was disappointed to see that TSA then reversed course on that policy, and that children under the age of 12 are now subjected to a modified pat down. I am working with my colleagues to address this issue.

I recognize that security is a balancing act, and that we must balance the free flow of commerce and freedom of movement with security in the post 9/11 world. I was disappointed that Secretary of Homeland Security Jane Napolitano said that “if people want to travel by some other means” they have that right, and when she implied that air travel is not a right. I do not think her comments reflect an understanding of the necessity of air travel and its importance to our nation’s economy.

I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure the TSA implements appropriate passenger screening that manages risk to the specific threats and uses intelligence information to apply greater scrutiny to those who need it, not using a one-size-fits-all approach to security and screening everybody the same way.

Thank you again for contacting me. Please visit my webpage at http://isakson.senate.gov/ for more information on the issues important to you and to sign up for my e-newsletter.

Johnny Isakson
United States Senator

Suck it, TSA!

When I call and email politicians, you know I’m pissed. The intertubes have been alight with posts about TSA abuses this week, which is all fine and good, but that does NOTHING to actually stop the abuse. This is the main issue, I think, with Americans. Posting on the internet does NOT send a message to the politicians, contacting them directly is the only way to let them know that they have gone too far.

The stories of abusive, invasive and demeaning pat downs by untrained, low paid TSA staff are numerous. The video of a little girl being groped and crying “Stop touching me!” have been expunged from every source that posted it, which tells you that it is just more damning evidence of a[nother] government agency run amok. Here is the FlyerTalk forum for stories about abuse (sadly, many of the posters have no idea that this abuse is ILLEGAL).

Here is a round up of the various articles I’ve been reading the last few days:
Wear a Kilt on Nov 24!
Johnny Isakson is on the committee over the TSA.
Don’t think contacting them works? Here’s a TED discussion about writing your politicians.
Israelis don’t take shit from anyone – not even airport security!

And to top it all off, our illustrious president wants TSA workers to unionize. What a moron. I try to be nice about the man, but he’s really clueless about most everything. All he sees are workers who want to unionize (always a far left fave). He doesn’t have to deal with the abuse from those assholes, so what does he care? Letting them unionize will make airports even less safe and will allow any and all abuses of the public to go unaddressed.

Yes, it’s a fine mess. And those perfectly safe (LIE) virtual strip search scanners? Yah, the promise that “scans will NEVER be saved”? You can forget that, too. Here’s the first 100 pix that have been “leaked”. Fortunately for those whose naked bodies were published, the asshats that saved the scans also didn’t have the scanner set up right, so the scans are not clear.

If all this evidence isn’t damning enough for you, may I suggest that you, too, are a moron? Anyone who’d put up with this blatant abuse of power by our government should have their voter card revoked. There is neither reason or justification for our government to treat its citizens like common criminals. Nor is there reason or justification for our government employees to unionize to further insulate them from being held accountable for abuses of power.

These TSA employees are semi-literate, untrained, low paid government employees. I know personally from a source who worked with the hiring company for TSA that they dumbed down the application tests THREE TIMES so they could find enough people to fill the positions. There are cursory at best background checks. The training for the full monty pat downs was one class.

These people want to unionize to insulate themselves from citizens’ complaints. Once they are a government union, there will be absolutely nothing for a citizen to do when abused by these low level employees with unlimited power. Just think about it: a person who may not have graduated high school and has had minimal training has the power to grope you, demean you and ultimately detain you.

Does that make sense to you? Well, it must make sense to the majority of the flying public since they have allowed the TSA to keep escalating their “security”. It’s not security, it’s security theatre. And it must work, since sheeple believe it’s really helping. Read more of Goldberg’s excellent posts, like this one with a better idea than kilts and the related posts that are listed within the article. They are worth your time.

Then get your lazy ass to contacting your politicians and bitching about this abuse of your rights. Suggest the TSA be dismantled and that money put to intelligence efforts where it will be USEFUL. Don’t be nice. These assholes are the ones pushing for the war on terror in the first place. And they’re doing it wrong.

As the article says:

“There is absolutely no intelligence and threat analysis done in Canada or the United States,” Sela said. “Absolutely none.” -Rafi Sela, the president of AR Challenges, a global transportation security consultancy. From Cathal Kelly’s report in the Star, Dec. 2009.

It’s your duty as a citizen to jerk an knot in the collective ass of our out of control nanny government. DO IT. And remember this shit at the polls.

Etsy goodness!

So, I found my earring making supplies last week and took them to the mini con for something to do. I made a pair of Venetian glass earrings while sitting at the table and had fun doing it. Then the other day, I decided to look up the brand on the vintage 60s (read: butt ugly) dress I decided to sell. Lo and behold, it’s a Tina Leser and worth some scratch! I paid about $50 for it several years ago and it’s worth around $200. Yay!

So, I decided to try out Etsy for selling the vintage dress. I posted it and decided to post the earrings, too. I remembered I had several pairs of earrings I’d made in that spate of beadery, so I got ’em out and posted them, too. I also posted two metal stamps that did not work for the project I bought them for. Voilà, an Etsy shop was born! Check it out:

Boneless Cat Designs

I sold a pair of earrings overnight and now I’m stoked to make more! I’m going to Michael’s and the bead store today to get more wires and supplies. I am making Day of the Dead earrings and bracelets (more supplies I’d forgotten about!) to post later today. I’m also restringing a vintage crystal necklace I’ve had laying around forever.

Whee! I love feeling creative! :)

Mini Convention! Sun Oct 17!

Atlanta Comix Factory and Atlanta Cartoonists invite you to join us at Oxford Comics for the first mini convention for local comic artists. It’s 11am-7pm in the parking lot of Oxford on Piedmont road. Come by and support your local comics!! If you’d like a full res pdf to print and distribute, email me and I’ll send it to you! misangela at gmail.

comics Sun Oct 24
Mini Con at Oxford Oct 17 11-7!