Monday, October 31, 2011

October 31 Schedule Update

Friday, October 28:
Saw Dr.
Started Dexamethasone, 4mg 4/day - mind screwer - giggling today, may scream at you tomorrow
Discontinued 81mg aspirins
Taking Timilol - glaucoma
Doxycycline 20mg 2/day for gums
Got CAT scan of brain and chest xray - masses are visible in both.

Saturday, Oct 29
Scheduled Radiology brain MRI - Walnut Creek

Monday, Oct 31
Received contact from project/plan nurse coordinator - Oncology Walnut Creek. She's got the ball.
Got CAT scan of lungs for scheduling biopsy with Intrusive Radiology - Walnut Creek (expect to hear soon)
Expect Oncology to call as soon as biopsy results are in, prob following week.

It's moving...


The Wound that Never Healed

Dear Beloved Sister,

You went too quickly and I'm thinking of you again in a state of sentimental nostalgia. I don't often do that; it is too painful. Yet, by some ironic mystery, the pain is delicious and I am, beyond reason, grateful for the pain. Your passing from this Earth broke my heart; a wound that has never healed. I can't deny that. That did not happen for all of the others I've loved who have passed beyond my sight. The wounds from their passing have healed. But, you? The thought of you makes my chin quiver, my eyes water and my nose run. I cannot control it. It is inevitable. Look at these three handkerchiefs that were dry only a few hours ago. They are already soaked.

So, what has me awake at 3 A.M. thinking of you? Not only as of this morning, but from yesterday afternoon, continuously? Is it this super-steroid drug I've begun taking? It's one of those high powered, mood and mental changing drugs, a physical changing drug that will make me into either a crow magnum man or a puffed up marshmallow; into yet another disguise that will forever hide what I used to look like. Is today's emotion of my own volition or brought on by this mind-bending drug? I don't know. I've experienced these emotions before in a state of need and without drug influence, but who knows what brings this one on?

I visited two old friends a few months ago and the first words they said to me was, "I'd recognize you anywhere." They lied! Because I look in the mirror and I don't see that young man I used to be. I see an old man, cheeks sagging, wrinkles fully developed, sad eyes and a long upper lip frown that seldom turns to a smile anymore. And when I do smile, I see long teeth and receding gums. Who have I become? Who are they seeing? And now another change is coming, only partly of my own making, or maybe wholly of my own making, and even they may not recognize me. That, too, is inevitable. And probably unimportant.

I love you. I haven't said that enough, especially when you were here to hear me say it. I swear I can still see you wherever I conjure you up. Is that really you? Or, is it a figment of my imagination, a vision that is not really there? But, you look so real, young and beautiful like my first memories of you. I remember the very first time I really noticed you, the day you melted my heart. Do you remember? It was a Saturday night when dad, as he usually did on Saturday nights, brought those hamburgers home from Whimpy's Cafe and we gathered around our kitchen table to eat them. My favorite style to this day. A hamburger with pickle, onion, ketchup, salt and pepper. Now days you may get tomato and lettuce and thousand island dressing, but it's not my favorite. Give me the good old Whimpy's hamburger.

But, on that night I sat at the table in a chair that you should have taken. And, I complained when dad asked me to move to let you sit there. "She's no different," I complained. "She can sit over there!" I believe you were holding Kim who was perhaps less than a year old. "Oh yeah?" dad asked. "Do you have these?" I was embarrassed as he pointed to your breasts. I hung my head, then looked up into your eyes. They twinkled and you smiled and my heart melted and I gave you my chair and stood beside you to eat my hamburger. "There is a chair there, David," dad said, but I didn't move, always stubborn. Then you whispered in my ear, "sit over there, Dave. I'm not far," and, satisfied, I sat "over there," beside Elvin as I recall. Elvin was a gruff man, a tough man, who squeezed my leg just behind my knee and laughed his peculiar, air-pushing laugh between his teeth. He squeezed a little to hard; meant to tickle but it hurt. It took a while for me to learn to love him too, but never as much as I loved you.

And, before I get too far, I feel I owe an apology to my other siblings, and I include your son and daughter in that group of siblings because they became my brother and sister even though by blood they are my nephew and niece, because you allowed my to live in your house when I had no place else to go. At least I felt that way. I owe them an apology. I loved you more. Oh, I love them and they too can break my heart, but not like you did when you left me. I can't deny that. Would you look at this? I've already soaked those handkerchiefs and I'm now using toilet paper. Will I ever be able to control my emotions when thinking of you? It's impossible! I'm an adult! An old man! What is it with this blubbering like a child? It's embarrassing. It happens too when they bring up your name in conversation. I cannot speak your name in the presence of others. It catches in my throat. Tears well up in my eyes. My chin quivers. I must get up and leave before I burst out crying like a child. I don't know if they notice.

You were my guiding star, my saint on Earth, my Angel, my wise councilor and adviser and my sometime scolder. I remember every word you spoke to me and every scene. How could I ever forget? Do you remember the last time you rebutted my complaint? You, dad and I were alone in your kitchen on the farm, and I complained, probably bitterly, that my Japanese wife had not accompanied our son to his first day of school. I had tears in my eyes. I expected your agreement and compassion, or at least what I thought to be those things. Instead, you ask a simple and softly spoken question: "What about you, Dave?" It stopped me cold in my tracks. It cut like a knife. I whimpered in response, "but, I'm always gone, at sea or on some Navy duty assignment." Your question changed my life, and likely my marriage. From that day onward, I reevaluated my own actions before I criticized my wife. I taught her how to drive, I sent her more money and I lived on a lot less, I tried to teach her not to trust American culture in regards to children as much as she trusted Japanese culture where children are a thousand times safer. She learned, she stayed home and raised our children while I cavorted around the world. She was unselfish while I was selfish. She stood by me in spite of myself. It didn't save that marriage, in the end, but I'm forever grateful you asked that question. I have a new wife now, and she too is a good woman. She too shows complete selflessness in regards to her children. I'll live with that. How fortunate I have been and am! What was that margin of random chance that might have caused me to be born to other parents, in another country, far less fortunate, and to never have known you? It would have been tragic, but I would have never known.

How do you come when I summon you? Where do you come from? Is it from some far region of the universe or heaven or whatever you call it where your curiosity has taken you? You needn't have come on my summons. I love you too much to limit your freedom in whatever state of being you are. What are you? I can clearly see you in that image of light above that tree, surrounded by a darker area. Are you real? I hear you say, "Yes." But, still... I'm unconvinced. Is that because I'm filled with human fallacies? You are strikingly young and beautiful, as you used to be. I'm glad that you're young. Is it true that we'll meet there where you're at? I hope so. If that's true, then I insist on meeting you first, before all others, even Him Himself. I want to give you an eternal hug and to hear what you've been doing. Tell me all, everything.

You're sorry? What did you do that you could possibly be sorry for? I can't think of a single thing. Oh, that. The request that you asked others to do after you left; to fill your place in my life. That was nothing. I knew that it couldn't be done, although they tried, I suppose, as best they could. It was a useless endeavor. They came across as presumptuous, arrogant Bible philosophers, pompously quoting from it rather than answering its questions. There are no answers in the Bible. Only questions. You taught me that long ago, but it has taken a lifetime for it to become abundantly clear and only then when I heard someone else say it out loud. The Bible is a search for Justice, and more importantly, a search for the God of final Justice. It is truth, yet not necessarily all Historical fact, however most like to claim it is. And then? A miraculous thing happened. Reading the Bible after that is like reading a whole different book. Because, you see? They never knew of those conversations, short and infrequent that they were, about spirituality and religion that you and I had. Beautiful conversations, deep and meaningful. They had no way to compete with those. Only your daughter has been able to compete, to a degree, with those. And the quest those conversations led me on was marvelous. You had your strong faith and I had my strong spirituality and it led me into as much as I could study of Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Greek philosophy and mythology, and others, and finally back to Christ and his teachings. So, you see? Your request of them was needless. I came back to where you wanted me to be all along. But, I have a whole new, or at least different, perspective. A truer one I believe, but not yet finished I think. It appears to be a never ending quest that will only end when I die. What will I learn after that? Glorious things, I think, in the depths of my soul.

Before I wrap this up, I need to explain what this is all about. I'm going through another change. I'm premature in being so sentimental, I suspect, because nothing firm is yet determined. I have one, maybe two, masses, likely tumors, in the lower back portion of my brain, the Cerebellum I believe. That area that controls balance and equilibrium. I'm dizzy, but only slightly. I walk with a slight stagger, like I'm slightly drunk. I have a walking cane, now, to steady myself. I've lost weight, recently about eight pounds in only a few weeks, and it all came to a head last week. I woke up last Monday with a complete loss of appetite, and couldn't put a single thing in my mouth without gagging. I felt like I was getting seasick, the most debilitating sickness I've ever experienced. I also have two spots in my right lung, also likely tumors, but nobody is ready to call them that just yet. So, to decrease possible brain swelling, my doctor prescribed 4 milligram Dexamethasone 4 times daily. It's a super, hyper steroid; a drug that has wild side affects. And, he referred me to Radiology and Oncology, both of which will schedule the start of further study of these things soon. Nothing is firm. All is up in the air. But, I'm under no illusion that this isn't bad. I haven't lived a risk-free life. It's time to get my affairs in order. There is an expiration date, as smart asses like to say, but nevertheless true.

I may need your help again. Perhaps you can be my advocate in a sort of final decree, a decision by someone or something? I don't want to live listless in a bed someplace with strangers taking care of me, blinded by drugs, force-fed through a tube, unable to know my own name or my loved one's names, unable to read or think and someone changing my diapers. That is a waste. I want what I have left of this Earth to be left as much in tact as possible to those that I love and not to be wasted on me. Is it possible to know that instant before I become completely incapable of thought or decision? Plea my case for me, please, yet I hope it doesn't come too soon.

I'm looking forward to seeing you again, later, I hope, rather than sooner, but nevertheless with great anticipation.

Your devoted and loving brother,

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Who, me? Dictator?

I never thought I'd see Paul Krugman write this! He talks about Iceland in his column, here The Path Not Taken - To tell the truth, I'm not sure anymore whether I'm changing my mind, or whether things are just becoming a lot more clear as time passes. The bank bailout, I thought and still think, was to save everyone's ass, er... I mean retirement funds and bank savings accounts; everyone being the normal, average Joe on Main Street. I never envisioned that it would save "the bankers." And, it did save those retirement and savings accounts, as I recall. My accounts, for example, or at least the portion of those accounts that was held in Money Market funds, got back 97 cents on the dollar and TD Ameritrade made up the 3 cents that I would have lost. Without the bailout, I, and millions of others, would have gotten back about 40 cents (maybe less - I don't recall the exact amount) on the dollar, a loss of 60% or more. So, I thought the bailout was a good thing. Plus, the government made money on the deal. For example, the government got about $38 billion back from the $30 billion bailout it gave to Citibank. We, the taxpayers, made $8 billion, or 27%, return on that investment. At least that's what I read. That's not too shabby. Ben Bernanke testified to Congress that the government got back over $120 billion from the approximate $400 billion used as bailout, 30% ROI. Great!

And about those savings accounts. Most people think that the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Company), a government sponsored enterprise (GSE), would have saved their savings accounts up to $200,000, and that was after Bush increased it to that amount. Ha! Laugh out loud, lol. The failure of a single bank (A SINGLE BANK!), Washington Mutual, threatened to bust the FDIC, which would have caused us taxpayers to pay the price to make good on Bush's promise, costing the U.S. another few trillion. To save the FDIC, the government forced JP Morgan-Chase to buy Washington Mutual, with a big government loan guarantee, costing us much less than FDIC's bankruptcy would have. That deal, too, was a good thing. In fact, it was the only thing to do.

What I didn't expect is that the banks walked off with record profits and the bankers paid themselves billions more as if nothing happened at all and then they hoarded their cash like a miser while the world crumbled around them. Iceland didn't take that path. Instead of saving the bankers, Iceland said, "Up yours! Get yourself out of your own mess." Iceland voters voted down bailing out the banks, took over the banks and made them smaller, used the banks cash and profits, and government stimulus plans to settle the housing mess and the employment mess, and went on living, albeit on less, but on the way back to a good standard of living. It was a rare exception. All other nations took up the austerity chant and are now in a worse mess.

Frankly, I've had enough! I'm ready to OCCUPY SOMETHING! Alas... There is so much to write about and so little time to do it. And, I likely don't have time to be The Dictator, but I'll accept the job, thank you very much, but most of you won't like it. The first thing I would do would be to suspend the Constitution, especially the part that provide the Congressional and Judiciary powers. There would be no due process, which goes against my own constant yelling for justice. But, I would be selective. For example, there would be a line of bankers, hedge fund managers, derivative traders and credit ranking company executives forming at court house entrances for their trials, including those that have already left their positions into retirement or other jobs. The evidence? If they held an executive position in the companies that took this country down; they are guilty! Off to jail for a good long time. What'd you say? Constitution? There is none! What? You want to settle? There is no settling! You want to appeal? There is no Judiciary to appeal to.

Of course the immediate result would be that the "Occupy Wall Street" people would go home, and be replaced by the those who support the bankers and those others I've put in jail. Tough titty.

And, for you that want a tax-code revision, there would be one. All people earning one million and up would see tax increases starting at about 50%, with 10% in increments up to 80% for those with higher incomes, with no second and third home deductions and certainly no yacht or personal jet deductions. You might have to sell those. What's that? Don't like the high taxes? Hell, there's a deduction I put in there. It says, "create a job in this country - get a tax cut." You have to prove it, though. It's as simple as that!

I would immediately freeze every healthcare providers' salaries and wages in the country. Sorry brother and sister, I know you'd get your dander up about that. But, the next thing I'd do is decrease a few salaries, starting with hospital administrators, then doctors, and working down until I got to around $100k, depending on the living standard of the area, then leave those and below alone. Whoops! May have to sell a second and third homes, guys and gals, if you didn't have to from the tax-code rewrite above. You may not be able to afford those anymore. And, maybe you'll have to sell a yacht or two and a personal jet. By the way, to all those who have to sell those extra luxury homes and stuff, good luck finding a market for them. Isn't that your philosophy, laissez-faire, let it ride, or in other words, let the market decide? Well, it's all your's now! You try it for a while.

But, the medical field can look to other changes that you may like. A medical and dental education will be free to anyone wanting it and can maintain the grades and who can endure it. All education loans will be paid. The cost of Medical equipment will adjusted to a reasonable cost and strategically placed in some communities for access to all. Pharmaceuticals will have to live on less; drug costs will be cut drastically and free to some. Research and development investment for new drugs will be paid mostly by taxpayers, so Pharmacy companies can no longer claim this high cost and, by the way, lie about it. General practitioners will likely not see a salary cut, especially small town or community practitioners. They may see an increase in both salary and tax write-offs. Claim forms will be standardized; one single claim format for all medical and dental procedures. Doctors, dentists, nurses and technicians may have to live on less, but it will still be a good living standard, above most of other citizens, likely in the top 20%. Your new challenge is, then, to learn within your new means. Oh, you can still hold your drug parties, if the cops don't catch you at it!

I would immediately implement the "Public Option," Medicare for all. Whoops! Did that make you insurance company executives shit your pants? Likely. What? You want to lay off all of those people and close your companies and take your millions in compensation? No, sorry, but you can't or you go to jail. You now have to figure out a whole new structure of plans to sell good, full coverage plans, competitive with the Public Option, by the way, for those who want your coverage. Remember, your plans must cover everything. Leave out one iota, and you go to jail. What? Constitution? What Constitution? By the way, your compensation is eliminated. You earn the same salary I get, $400 thousand. Better start saving for your retirement. That's all you, and every corporate executive in any industry, get from now on. Want a higher pay? Then march in the street for my pay raise.

Oh yeah, to all of you who want to toss out Welfare. Nooo, we're not going to do that. We're going to feed the hungry. Oh, I agree it's broken. But, it's broken because of all of the fixes you've thought up that have failed miserably. You, Republicans and all of you who complained about it, who thought up the Welfare-to-Work program, but failed to pay for the jobs skill training that would put Welfare recipients to work are invited to form a commission to find what works. What I mean by that is that you must figure out 1) what motivates or gets people back to work, and I don't particularly care what it is that does that, 2) how to implement it, 3) how much it costs, and 4) write out a check payable to each state, proportionally, to get it going. Oh, one last thing - you're going to hold the states responsible for implementation. Any state that doesn't; I'll put the governor of that state in jail, or you if you don't report the governor. What? Constitution? Bwhahahahaha! But, I'm not opposed to nearly anything. For example, if you want to sterilize all who seem to have too many Welfare babies or crack babies, well, we can do that. Hell, I'm easy. But, you make not like the results. It may be your daughter that I order sterilized.

And then there is that "Balanced Budget" you're bitching about. Okay, let's do that. Generals, Admirals and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, get ready for some cuts. Let's start with a $300 billion per year cut in defense equipment and weapons. Maybe you can find a jet fighter/bomber you don't really need, or maybe a few aircraft carriers that are a tad old. How about a thousand or so nuclear tipped missiles, with accompanying launch platforms that can be cut. I'm sure you'll come up with a suitable list. What? Afghanistan? I guess you didn't get the word. I handed Hamid Karzai the keys to Afghanistan this morning and I instructed the Central Command to start pulling our troops out of there immediately, every last single troop to be return to the United States in sixty days. Oh, I also gave Hamid an M-16, an armored vest and flak jacket and told him that he'd better get hot getting his army together to fight off the Taliban. What? Pakistan? Well, I told him he's got a problem, or a few of them that we were not going to pay for anymore. The main thing I told him is that if I got the slightest hint, proven hint, that he intends to launch or give away one of his nuclear weapons, I'm going to blow the shit out of him. I also told him that I'm going to have a few drones watching over him, sort of my eye in the sky thing. He shit his pants. Don't worry General, I've got it covered. By the way, figure out other bases we can close. We don't need most of them. We're still the most powerful in the world and we still have powerful friends. We have nothing to fear.

Well, then there is Wal-Mart, Home Depot and a bundle of other big-box stores (my "boys" will make up a list) who invaded small communities and small counties across the county. You have to close those stores. There's a catch, though. You've got six months to revitalize and restored the economies of those small towns and counties that you ravished and destroyed. In other words, you have to rebuild all of those small businesses that you ran out of business. I'll leave it up to you on exactly how to do that, but if I hear of one single community that isn't set right... well, you know what I'll do by now, don't you? Oh, and until those small business are in good, sound buildings and find their own supply channels, you'll have to provide them using your own trucking fleet, your own merchandise and at reasonable wholesale prices. I'll allow only a 2% markup over your wholesale cost for transportation costs. Live with it. By the way, you can stay put in those large population centers that can handle you, but that's it. Don't overstep your bounds. You may not be a monopoly in those areas or nation-wide, but you are monopolies in those smaller populations.

And to the regional and national banks, those that have bought up small community banks and that have become to big to fail; you have to break up. You have six months to restore the small community banks you bought and money from deposits to those small banks cannot be passed to a central bank outside of the community. Oh, and you must renegotiate all of the mortgages that are under water by reducing the loans to the value of the homes; the current market value, which, of course, means that you're going to lose a ton of money. Send me an appointment request for a personal appointment with me if you don't want to do this. Better get it in fast. My appointment calendar is booked through November 2015 as of ten minutes ago. I'm receiving over 5,000 appointment requests an hour, so you're already late. I've turned down 99.9% pleas so far. So, take your chances.

There's a few new laws on the books as of this morning:

1. Truth in Media and Broadcasting: This law is simple. If you make a claim, announcement, a news broadcast or write an article; you must be prepared to prove your claim in front of fifty of the world's most prominent scholars in the studies on ethics in media and broadcasting. Your proof must be an original written or taped interview or you must be prepared to present the source of your information to the judges. You must convince all fifty judges for a unanimous decision; any single judge who calls your media/broadcasting representation rubbish will send you to jail.

2. Truth in Religious Claim, Prophecy or Prediction: This law is simple, too. Anyone making a religious claim, prophecy or predicting a religious event must prove it. Bibles, written in translated versions in any language other than the original Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek, whichever the original scroll or document of antiquities is written in, is not suitable proof. You must support your claim with original proof from antiquities. Your panel of judges must be the most respected biblical scholars in the world; historians, archaeologists or anthropologists are suitable. You must find them, prove their credentials and pay for their term as your judge. All fifty must agree to your claim, or you go to jail. What? Freedom of religion? Hahahaha! There is no freedom for making outrageous religious claims, prophecy or predictions. Oh, and just because you can quote the Bible verbatim doesn't mean that you know the essence of the Bible. All that being able to quote from the Bible means is that 1) you can read it, and 2) you can memorize it.

3. Money In Politics Act: All Political Action Committees (PACs), and Super-PACs are hereby outlawed. All monies from corporate sponsors, lobbyists, or any cumulative donation from a single individual over $2,000 in a single election campaign is outlawed. This applies to all political campaigns for any office nation-wide, from the smallest local office to President. Any entity or individual who disobeys will be jailed without trial. Any political candidate for any local, state or national office accepting monies outside these boundaries will be jailed without trial. By the way, political statements and claims will be judged under the Truth in Media and Broadcasting Act. You must prove your claim or assertion. Get your shit together.

4. Security Exchange Commission (SEC) Regulation Act: The SEC is charged with regulating and enforcing laws regarding the financial markets. All instruments; stocks, bonds, commodities, indexes and any other financial instrument sold to any investor must be sold or bought in a transparent manner in a market exchange. Exchanges are hereby nationalized and are no longer public companies. Credit rating companies are hereby nationalized and are no longer public companies. The SEC is charged with overseeing, regulating and enforcing laws regarding these entities. Any financial instrument derived from an underlying security is illegal. Short selling is illegal. Flash trading is illegal. Any employee not complying will go to jail without trial or due process, including SEC employees.

4. Social Security Solvency Act: The Cap is hereby raised to $10 million. All citizens making up to $100k will pay a 6.5% payroll tax to Social Security, $100k to $1 million pays 7.5%, and over $1 million pays 8.5%. This will make Social Security solvent through at least 2200. The country can now relax until about 2180 to settle any insolvent condition that might appear. Further, a government run Social Security Investment Management Department, consisting of employees with the best credentials and investment management education, will be established to invest a percentage of the Social Security Trust Fund into financial market securities rated triple A, including corporate bonds, treasuries, dividend paying indexes, such as ETFs, REITs and stocks.

All college Chancellors, Presidents, Deans, Professors, and Administrators' salaries are hereby cut by three-quarters. If you lecture or make speeches for pay and receive over one million dollars a year, you teach or perform your college duties for no pay. Lectures and speeches must be confined to your area of expertise and provable under the Truth In Media and Broadcasting Act. Please submit an appointment to me for a personal appointment if you decline this offer. My calendar is full through November, whoops, December 2015. Get your request in fast. Otherwise, since you signed up for a college or university position to teach our future leaders in industry and public service, you are now hereby appointed public servants. You can resign when you find a suitable and qualified replacement.

Okay, boys, that's enough for the first week. I'm taking time off next week, so get another list ready for the following week. Don't let me down. If you don't understand where I'm going by now, resign. I'll easily find a replacement. It won't be hard. I have over a million applications for your jobs. Maybe you can start the list with the Patriot Act and Homeland Security. Maybe we can make it comply with the Constitution even though its suspended for the moment. We don't need to be thought-spies or privacy invaders without warrants. Figure it out.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Homeowner Associations and the Rumor Mill

Consider yourself lucky if you don't live in a homeowner association. It has to be one of the biggest scams in America. Rumor has always had it that living in one increases, or at least maintains, the value of your home. That's because your not likely to have someone move in next door that trashes their yard, creates an eyesore and causes a blight in the neighborhood. That's a crock. In a neighborhood of three-quarters of a million dollar homes, it's not likely that you'll have a bum move in next door. But, that's the rumor. So, in an association, there are "inspectors," appointed members of the neighborhood, who go around periodically and write letters of warning to you if they find a weed growing in your lawn, or your house needs painting, or your driveway has a stain on it, or your house number painted on your curb is fading. The Gestapo squad is what we generally call them, and we dutifully pick the weed or paint the house.

Speaking of painting the house; it has to be a color the association likes, otherwise you can't paint it. That's why every third home in our association are just a shade different in color, except for one that is. A few years ago we voted in a person as President of the association board who we thought would be a good president. Man, that was a mistaken assumption. As soon as she became president, she painted her own home a bright blue. It stands out like a sore thumb. We also voted in a few friends of hers, unbeknownst to us, and they cooked up a few surprises for us, at least according to the rumor mill. Well, at least one thing that happened is fact and not rumor; the quarterly dues rose about 30%, from around $140 to around $200 and there was no noticeable gain from the raise. I mean we, or at least I, didn't notice anything new in the neighborhood, such as a security guard, a gate or an improvement at the swimming pool. Nope. Just about everything remained the same, so where was all that added money going? The rumor mill eventually supplied an answer.

I heard that a woman living on the edge of a canyon, and we live on a hill surrounded by canyons, drained her private swimming pool over the bank behind her house and into the canyon. She used a garden hose, I'm told, as a siphon. Now a siphon doesn't create a lot of pressure as it pulls water from a source, but I guess this particular siphon took several days to drain the 20 or 30 thousand gallons from the pool and eventually eroded away a huge chunk of the canyon wall, enough to threaten the foundation of her house and the house next door. The house next door turned out the be owned by one of those friends of the president of the board and who we voted in as a board member.

Now anyone of reasonable mind would think that homeowner insurance would pay for such damage as was caused by the silly woman draining her pool, or perhaps the one owner could sue the other for damages, but that's not what happened. Instead, the board voted for, and approved, a $1.5 million contract that, by the way, all of us would pay for, to repair the damaged canyon wall, which of course caused the homeowner dues to skyrocket. Apparently the rumor mill wasn't all wrong, here. There was some truth to it. Everyone was p.o.'d.

We eventually voted out that board and replaced it with all new members. But alas, someone is dissatisfied with the new one. Apparently some guy on Bellingham Drive, the next street over from ours, wants a diving board and the board voted it down. They didn't want the liability problem the diving board caused, as well as the added insurance cost of the liability insurance. This new board has successfully reduced the homeowner dues to $120 per quarter, and I am real happy with that. The board just doesn't spend money to be spending money. It actually analyzes the necessity of new stuff before they buy into it. I like that. And so, the board voted down the diving board because of the added expense.

But, one woman complained that her three year old needed the diving board because her toddler hit its butt on the concrete when it jumped into the water from the pool side. Well! What the hell does she think its going to hit when it dives from the diving board? Its head, likely. And too, what mother would let a three year old dive from a diving board? At three years old, jumping from the pool side seems much more safe than jumping from a diving board. It seems to me that the association board is saving that mother more grief than she knows. But, we now have a bru-ha-ha, and presumably egregious wrongs committed by the board of directors. Whoa my god! The world is ending, or so you would think. The guy on Bellingham wants four members, all but the president, recalled for, he claims, self-serving, cover-up, compromised voting, vote manipulation, abuse of power, circumventing the by-laws, obstruction of communications and pretty much any other vague criminal act you can think of.

He ran around the neighborhood collecting signatures for a petition to have a recall vote. But of course he wasn't all that truthful and forthcoming when he ask for signatures, saying only enough to get a signature for a diving board. Low and behold the signatures were for a recall.

I suppose the truth of this matter lies closer to the idea that this current association board is doing a fairly good job. It has reduced our dues to something a little more reasonable, there are not so many Gestapo inspections as there used to be and it seems that we pay for things that are pretty much equally shared by the neighborhood. Well, I'm not fond of paying for that outside swim team club that uses our pool just because one or two of the club's members live here. According to the rumor mill, more than 80% of them don't live here. As far as I'm concerned, they should not be using our pool. But then, as far as I'm concerned, we don't need the extra expense of the pool anyway and we can fill it with dirt and I'll be fine with that. If I want to go swimming, I can find a place to do that and pay $20 admission once instead of $100 every quarter to keep our own pool open six or seven months a year.

But, I guess if you ask me, I would dissolve the association entirely. I don't see a logical reason for having it either. The fact that we live in a homeowner association had squat influence on our home values in the latest mortgage scam-fest. Our home values fell like a rock when the housing bubble burst, association or not. So, don't tell me that an association holds home values. That's a crock.