Saturday, May 28, 2005

My Fall From Grace

In this case, grace refers to my ability to walk upright on two feet. But, before I give you the impression that I was clumsy, that wasn’t the case. And I put the blame squarely on the sergeant.

I had to stay late at work Monday evening because the sergeant wanted to have a squad meeting. I’m the program secretary, so I had to stay to take notes. Not a problem, I’ve stayed late countless times and it generally is not a problem.

I will state for the record that had the meeting started on time, My Fall From Grace would not have happened. But, on the other hand, had the meeting started on time, I would have been looking for the Second Coming. I believe that a meeting starting on time is one of the signs.

Since the meeting hadn’t started, I decided to do a bit of housecleaning in my office. I took the trash can and set it outside my door as I always do. As I set it down, a piece of paper fell out. I bent over to pick it up and that’s when the whole thing started.

I started to lose my balance and put my left hand out to steady myself on the lockers that were against the wall. Except they weren’t. Didn’t think I put that much pressure on them, but enough that they started to tip over. As it happened, they stood, oh, I’d guess about an inch and a half away from the wall and didn’t have any support at all. Now, I knew this, but of course, my thoughts were otherwise occupied. With trying to keep the lockers from tipping over and trying to get my feet back under me. Because of course, I was tipping over myself.

I decided to let the lockers fend for themselves and try to keep from falling on my face. I was hoping to keep upright long enough to get to the far wall where I could catch myself. No such luck. My upper body was finally far enough ahead that my feet couldn’t catch up at all and down I went. On my nose. Literally on my nose. As I was going down, I realized I was in perfect position to do a push up. Legs straight back, hands on either side of my shoulders and headed toward the floor.

My nose met the floor. Ouch! That hurt. One of the deputies ran out of the sergeant’s office where he was waiting for the meeting to start and asked if I was all right. Of course, my first reaction was to say, “yes, I’m fine.” Then I noticed the blood gushing out of my nose. “Well, except for the bloody nose, that is.” I’m still not sure just how I got up off the ground, but I did quite quickly and ran into the ladies room where I stood over the sink and let the blood flow. I was wondering whether I had broken my nose and wiggled it a bit. It still hurt, but I figured it was intact.

So, I’m standing there, head back, holding my nose, when the sergeant came in, asking if I was all right (he had been out of the office while I was performing my routine). I thought I had the bloody nose under control, but found I was wrong about that as I turned to answer him. I let loose of my nose, and of course it started bleeding again.

I finally got the bleeding under control, and trooper that I am, went and took notes at the meeting. The sergeant asked if I wanted to fill out a “first report of injury”, but I chose not to. I didn’t think I was seriously hurt (I wasn’t) and, to be quite frank, I didn’t want to go to the ER and pee in a cup. Nothing would be found, I hadn’t taken so much as an aspirin for weeks, so that wasn’t the problem. I knew I would be hours in the ER, have x-rays taken, and nothing that could be done except maybe a band-aid across the nose.

My nose is still tender and still just a little bit swollen. I remember that every time the dog bumps against it when he’s loving on me. I had a bit of bruising in the inner corner of my left eye. I had a few sore muscles for a couple of days and I must have twisted my left wrist because it’s still sore.

But the bottom line is that I survived and lived to tell the tale. And even better, can laugh about it. It must have been funny to see.
Americans For Fair Taxation

My newest post is up. I hope you'll go and read. It's not a long post, but I think it's pithy.
Hurricanes Happen

Well, it’s almost June and as everyone in Florida knows, or should know, that’s the beginning of hurricane season. For the most part, we won’t have any storms that amount to anything until August. September will probably be the most active and then it begins to wind down in October. November is still hurricane season, but it’s rare that we have hurricanes that late in the year. But, hurricanes can happen anytime from June 1 to November 30.

You may remember that Florida was hit four times last year by major hurricanes, and had a fifth turned just a little more easterly, it would have gotten us too. There were complaints that the forecasters didn’t give enough warning to the areas that were hit by the ‘canes. As a one who has lived in Florida since I was just a little girl, let me tell you something: it’s not an exact science. Hurricanes are still guided by climatological conditions. A shift in an air mass over Oklahoma can push a hurricane eastward. A cold front over New York can cause a hurricane to move west. Hurricane Charlie was originally forecast to hit Manatee County where I live, but a change in weather conditions somewhere changed its movement and it slammed into Charlotte County. Not all, but some of the devastation was caused by people who listened to the forecasts that Charlie was going inland at Manatee County and decided they didn’t need to worry about boarding up. I know; I’ve seen it happen in other storms.

Everyone who lives in Florida must prepare themselves as if a hurricane is coming down their street. When the meteorologists start making their predictions, they include an area on either side of the anticipated landfall area where the storm may hit. For example, Charlie was supposed to hit Manatee County, but there were indicators on every weather broadcast showing that Charlie could also make landfall just about anywhere on the Gulf Coast. That’s from Naples/Everglades City to Pensacola. If you look at a map, a few degrees in either direction can make a big difference.

Storm forecasters use the data supplied by reconnaissance aircraft and historical data. As I said, it’s not an exact science. If it were, storm forecasters would have known well in advance that Punta Gorda would take the hardest brunt of Charlie.

Starting June 1, Florida will have a tax-free week on hurricane related supplies. That includes lumber to board windows, nails and screws, (probably) power tools, batteries, flashlights, generators, candles, lanterns, portable cook stoves, coolers, and just about anything else that can be used as hurricane supplies. I would include canned food and bottled water in that list, but I’m not sure if they taxed or not – some food is taxed, others not. (Where food is concerned, if I need it, I don’t worry about whether it’s taxed or not.) I don’t have a lot of room for storage, but I plan to make some purchases of my own.

Every household needs to have a hurricane plan. Will we evacuate? Are we required to evacuate? Our counties are set up into evacuation zones. The newspapers will be printing a hurricane map with the evacuation zones in the next couple of weeks. Zone 1, for instance, is all mobile homes and homes on the Gulf. The islands flood during a heavy rain and a hurricane usually has a very heavy rainfall. This is a mandatory evacuation zone because of flooding and water surges and tidal waves. Each zone is slightly further inland, or on a river, bayou, or inlet that is prone to flooding. I happen to live in an area that, if evacuated, means Noah has built the Ark and is lining up the animals two by two.

If you evacuate, where will you go? What will you take? Some evacuation centers will not accept pets, some are not designed to take people who need oxygen or have other special needs. So, everyone needs to decide early on where they will go. Maybe you have friends or relatives you can go to. Find out now what they will want you to bring. You might think sleeping bags and a deck of cards are enough. They might be thinking along the lines of extra food and a camp stove. And they might be allergic to Fluffy. What are you going to do with your cat?

Another question is when to evacuate. Don’t wait until the last minute, when the wind and rain have begun to pick up. It may be too late then. Oh, the storm might still be a few hours away, but the roads may be too congested. You need to decide early what direction you plan to go in.

In short, it’s up to you to make preparations for hurricane survival. The forecasters can only give a general idea of where a hurricane will make landfall. If you aren’t properly prepared, you can’t blame the forecasters if you sustain damage to your home or injury to yourself or family members.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Americans for Fair Taxation

I've just posted my latest essay on how the Fair Tax will increase the tax base at Americans for Fair Taxation.

Please. Read it. And watch for at least two more installments.
The Fair Tax: The Great Equalizer

This was my first post on Americans for Fair Taxation:

When Sunnye invited me to post on this blog, I wasn’t sure I was up to her calibre of writing. But decided that all I had to do was speak from my heart about something I am passionate about: The Fair Tax.

I began looking through the 50 Reasons I Support the Fair Tax and decided that #26 is well worth writing about and brings in two of my other passions, Immigration reform and Social Security reform. But, I promise I will stay off my soapbox and not speak to the others except as it applies to the Fair Tax.

There are approximately 290 million Americans. I say approximately because there are births and deaths and people emigrating to and immigrating from all corners of the world every day. Of those approximately 290 million Americans, only about 110 million workers fund government programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

There is something in the vicinity of 51 million tourists who visit the US. While they are visiting our fair country, they spend money. Hotels, car rentals, housing, food, souvenirs, clothing, tickets to theme parks, museums, sporting events, and so on. Pretty much the same things American citizens spend money on everyday. The main difference is that tourists don’t live here and so don’t generally contribute to funding the American government through payroll deductions.

Add to the millions of tourists visiting the US the tens of thousands of people who live “below” the radar of our current tax code by not having traditional jobs where taxes are taken from their paychecks. The group that you would probably think of first is the criminal element. Burglars, drug dealers, car thieves, muggers, identity thieves, and prostitutes would pay their “fair” share simply by making a purchase at their local Wal-Mart or Circuit City. You don’t suppose that drug dealers file an income tax return do you? And if they do, I’m reasonably sure that they wouldn’t report their full income. By instituting the Fair Tax, every time a drug dealer bought a new car, jewelry, clothing, food, he (or she) would pay as much tax as you.

How about the day laborers who are so often illegal immigrants? They are usually paid in cash, often under the table and no taxes are deducted from their wages. Like the criminals in the previous example, cash-paid day laborers would pay their “fair” share of the tax burden when they purchased food, goods, or services.

Under the Fair Tax, it is the consumer who decides how much tax they will pay. Everyone will pay the same rate. There will be no loopholes or deductions that are available to the wealthier members of society; they will pay the same rate as the couple or the single mom (or dad) struggling to get by on minimum wage. If Sam Gotrocks wants to buy a new car, he will be taxed as the same rate as Joe Lunchbox who buys the economy car. If Joe wants to buy a “used” car, he will pay no tax at all. The original owner will have paid the tax for him. Imagine buying a car only a year or so old and not paying taxes on it.

Talk about an equalizer! The Fair Tax is just that! It doesn’t discriminate. The Fair Tax doesn’t care whether you are wealthy or poor, black or white, legal or illegal, working or not. Everyone pays the same tax rate.

Here's a link to the Fair Tax Act petition. From there, you can review the site and get more information.