Thoughts on My Fiftieth (yes, that’s 50th)

Thoughts on My Fiftieth (yes, that’s 50th)

That would be my 50th High School Class Reunion, held this weekend.  A variety of activities were planned, including a golf outing on Friday, a tour of the school and drinks at a local watering hole Friday afternoon, and a big dinner Saturday night.  I have to say that I was one of a class of 700 in a city high school, so there were hundreds of “classmates” who I never even met in all our three years.  I was also pretty much of an outcast, with few friends and few activities.  Most of the “cool kids” wouldn’t give me the time of day, way back then.  I discovered to my delight that the years dim memories, and when I met people at reunions, starting with the tenth, they had mostly forgotten that I was unpopular then, and were nicer to me than I had expected.

At the fortieth reunion in 2007, I actually became re-acquainted with a friend from school who I knew as very conservative, and a fan of Richard Nixon.  Well, it turned out that I had turned conservative over the years, and we now had lots in common.  It was just wonderful to get back in touch with someone who I now could relate to much better.  Over the last ten years, she and her husband have joined me and my husband in a variety of activities, including Hillsdale College functions.

Since the Friday golf outing was being held at a country club pretty close to where I live, I offered to tag along and be the “unofficial official photographer”.  The event organizer said he’d be happy if I went, so I took Friday off work and met the group at the ungodly hour of 8:00AM at the golf course.  Aside from myself, there were four women and six men in the group, which made three groups.  I went with one of the male groups, and took a golf cart with a gentleman whom I had never met in high school at all!  It was absolutely delightful talking with him, and I was sorry I didn’t know him in high school.  The golf course is very pretty, and very hilly!  I not only took pictures of the players, I trained my camera on the course itself.

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See that sign to the left of the golf cart path?  It says Caution 35 degree slope!  And those speed bumps were actually welcome-that path is really steep!

The 18 holes took over four hours, and they just sped by.  We all had a great time, and met back at the club for lunch in their beautiful dining room.  It turned out that the host and his wife (who met in high school and have been married 47 years), live right by the golf course, which is only about 5 miles from where I live.  No excuse for not getting together again soon.  Here’s the golf group at lunch.

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I went home after the golf outing feeling just wonderful.  I’d gotten re-acquainted with people I hadn’t seen in ten years, and liked every one of them.  I was pretty sure that everyone had appreciated my photography, and enjoyed my company as much as I’d enjoyed theirs.  Everyone had done something different with their lives, and moved around the country, but now we were all back for a while, and the years just seemed to fall away into insignificance.

Saturday night was the big reunion dinner at another country club in town.  There were over 200 people there, which is pretty remarkable after fifty years!  If you just closed your eyes and listened, you could hear multiple “Nice to see you” and “Great to see you” from small groups and individuals all over the room.  I must have re-met dozens of people I had known, and even some that I hadn’t!  Some people never change-I recognized more of the women than the men (who had lost more hair!).  Since I don’t, I did notice that the majority of the women color their hair, so there was less gray than there might have been if everyone had remained all-natural like me.

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Fifty years is a very long time.  Most of us are different people than we were in high school, but everyone mostly was successful in life.  Classmates showed pictures of their kids and grandkids, and discussed careers and travels.  From snatches of conversation I heard, many of us had traveled the world, both for work and leisure.  Dozens of us had been or still are teachers, and many different professions were represented.  I was pleased to see that I’m not the only one still employed and loving it.

As I look back over my life, I have been through some trying times, and always landed on my feet.  Fifty years is a long time, but I can’t say I feel that old.  And I think many of my classmates feel the same.  A few people used canes, and there were a couple of walkers in evidence; but that didn’t keep them away.  Everyone who came looked like they were having a pleasant evening, and I think everyone went away happy, with new memories to add to the old ones that are fading.

It was an excellent reunion weekend, and I’m so glad I went.  And the Memory Book that we bought has addresses and pictures for most classmates, so we can stay in touch.  As we get older, friends and family become more important, and classmates aren’t far behind.  “What I am to Be, I am Now Becoming” was our class motto.  Would I have laughed then, if I were told that what I would become was what I am today (planner/buyer, Business Survey Chairman)?  Probably.  In any case, I’m very proud of what I have become, and my high school education helped get me started.

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Some thoughts on the King County (WA) Ballot Proposition 1, “Sales tax for Cultural Access Program”

Some thoughts on the King County (WA) Ballot Proposition 1, “Sales tax for Cultural Access Program”

Here is the text of the ballot measure on the primary ballot in King County, Washington, that includes Seattle and surrounding suburbs.

King County
Proposition No. 1
Sales Tax for Cultural Access Program

The King County Council passed Ordinance No. 18513 to establish and fund a cultural access program. The program would expand access to arts, science, and heritage programming throughout King County. The program would include cultural education in schools and transportation to cultural venues for public school students. The program would also provide funding for cultural organizations to expand programming, including to serve diverse and underserved populations. The cultural access program, including administrative costs, would be funded by a county sales tax increase of one-tenth of one percent for seven years beginning January 1, 2018.  [Emphasis mine]

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Last night, and at a concert last week, the Marketing Manager of the Seattle Chamber Music Festival urged us in the audience to vote in favor of this addition to the Sales Tax in King County.  Being a Cultural Organization, the Seattle Chamber Music Society would get some funding from the sales taxes.  Vote King County a higher sales tax, so we may have some of those funds.

Here are some of my thoughts and questions about this ballot measure.

  1.  King County is the most liberal political unit in the state of Washington.  The residents of King County, and Seattle, rarely saw a tax they didn’t like.  The city of Seattle has numerous times voted to tax its property owners additionally for schools, the homeless, family programs, transportation,  ad infinitum.
  2. The liberals who live in King County are always bemoaning the “regressive” taxation scheme in Washington State, whose Constitution forbids an income tax, and its reliance on sales taxes, which disproportionately fall on the “poor”, “low-income” portion of the population. {An aside–the Seattle City Council has just voted unanimously to institute an income tax on its wealthiest citizens, knowing full well that this is illegal and will be held up by lawsuits from day one}
  3. The Sales Tax in Seattle has already broken the 10% level, and is approaching 10% everywhere else.
  4. If this measure passes, everyone in King County will be paying an extra $.01 in sales taxes on everything they buy.  Yes, those poor, underserved community members will also be paying that extra sales tax on everything they buy, in order that they may have “improved access”, whatever that means, to “cultural programs”.  There is no way to exempt the low-income from paying this additional sales tax.
  5. The money collected from this additional regressive sales tax, will cover “administrative costs”, as stated in the ballot measure above.  Did anyone opine on what percentage of the money collected will go for administration?  Administration includes the costs of collecting the money, allocating it to a special account, deciding which organizations will receive money, and deciding how much will go to each organization.  Employees will have to be hired (and paid, and provided with benefits including pension), to develop an application form and procedure, and then to evaluate the applications as they are received, to decide how the money collected will be spent.
  6. What happens when the cost of living in King County rises by the amount of this additional sales tax on everything you buy?  Might the increase in the cost of a new car discourage someone from buying a new car in King County?  The surrounding counties of Pierce, Snohomish, and Kittitas will not be raising their sales taxes, so a certain amount of purchases of expensive items might go to another county.  Those low-income residents of King County might have to defer purchases into the future, or not buy at all, since their income would not rise to cover the additional expense.  It has been shown that those who advocate for higher taxes rarely take into account the behavior changes that happen when someone experiences an increase in their cost of living.
  7. Who decides which cultural and heritage organizations will receive money from these new “access” funds?  Do faceless bureaucrats in Seattle decide how to allocate this money?  Do they solicit input from the arts community?  Do they give money to organizations whom they know and patronize themselves?  Do they favor the “charity of the month”, like the Gay Pride organization, or the Seattle Symphony?  Do they give money to the ACT Theater, which promotes liberal causes and puts on productions which take gratuitous slaps at a president they don’t like?  Will they be funding the “Resistance”?  Will they solicit input from ALL the people who will be paying higher taxes for the next seven years?
  8. What do they actually mean by “Access”?  Is there an implication that access is now denied to some of the “underserved” population?  Do they know who the underserved are?  How do they determine who is underserved?  And exactly who makes that determination?  What do they mean by “diverse”?  People of color, people of oppressed ethnic groups, people of sexual minorities?

My guess is that those promoting this new tax have not given any consideration to many of my points above, especially the one about our regressive tax system here in Washington State.  They think that everyone will just happily pay more for everything they buy, knowing that those underserved, low-income populations will benefit from their largesse.  It will make the relatively wealthy residents of Seattle feel good, knowing that they are helping those underserved populations get a dose of “culture” that they are being denied now.  Starting in the late 1960s, cultural programs in the Seattle Public Schools were reduced, in order to pay for busing students across the city for desegregation.  These days, the Seattle Public Schools have all sorts of programs devoted to sex-education, environmental education, and “white-privilege” education; and their dropout rates are much higher than they were in the 1960s.  Also, these days 40% of the schools budgets go for administration, eating up funds that could be spent on art and music in the schools.

It will be interesting to see how the residents of King County vote on this new sales tax proposal.  I do not live in King County, so I don’t get to vote on this measure.  But if it passes, I will do my best to spend as little as possible in King County.  See, people DO change their behavior in response to economic incentives.

State of Washington to Taxpayers: All your money are belong to us.

State of Washington to Taxpayers: All your money are belong to us.

As usual, the latest session of the Washington State Legislature (third “special” session) has found ways to forcibly extract more of their hard-earned money from taxpayers.  Yes, to your ostensible “representatives”, all you are is a bottomless source of funds for them to spend (waste?).  And when a small tax reduction was attached to the latest state budget (reducing the gross-receipts “Business and Occupation” tax for all manufacturers, not just The Boeing Company), the governor VETOED it, appalled that it would COST THE STATE money!  The implied sentiment here is that all the money earned by corporations and state residents is assumed to belong first the Government, and any money they let you keep from your paycheck, costs the state those funds.  See how it works?  Here are some of the things the WA legislature did to reduce your disposable income.

They voted into law a Paid Family Leave act.  Each week, you will pay about $1.42, and your employer will pay $2.42. Which isn’t strictly true, since your employer doesn’t pay any tax, they just reduce your earnings by that amount.  Kiss future raises goodbye.  Anyone too old to have children, or single, or with no family, will now be paying, every week, for leave for those who do.  Older people staying in the work force may decide that this is not a good thing for them, and decide to retire now rather than later.

The Government created a New Agency to handle matters dealing with children and families.  Yes!  Another new agency, which will have to be staffed with political appointees, and over-paid staff who earn pensions that taxpayers will be paying, and paying, and paying for.  And if you follow the news from the state of Washington at all, you know that the current Department of Social and Health Services is a wreck, leaving vulnerable elderly and foster children in abusive homes, and paying out millions of dollars in settlements to relatives of those neglected people when they sue the state.

They increased the toll on the Highway 520 Floating Bridge in Seattle by 5%.  They also made the toll 24 hours, where before it was not collected between 11PM and 5AM.  And you can bet that, even when the new bridge is paid off, that toll will still be collected, in perpetuity.

The State Property Tax was raised, to pay for Government Education.  In reality, it gives raises to teachers who are not under-paid, and increases the amount paid to the Teachers Union.  WA residents will now pay about $243 MORE per year on a $300,000 home.  In Seattle, the median home price is now over $500,000, so the state will be taking even more from those suckers, to pay for a local school system that is falling apart.  And only a fraction of that money ever goes to classrooms-most of it goes to administrators (and for programs like White Privilege and Sexual Identity education).

They added Sales Tax to bottled water.  With sales taxes approaching 10% now, that’s a tidy chunk of change.  They have deemed that online retailers, even those with NO presence in the state, will now be required to collect and remit to the state sales taxes on all purchases.

They raised the salaries of public employees and teachers.  Higher salaries lead to higher pensions when those people retire, often at an earlier age than the poor souls who are paying their salaries.  Due to increased taxes on employers in the state, you ordinary folk will be paid less, and forgo future raises.  Don’t blame that on your  employer, blame it on Jay Inslee and the Democrat-dominated legislature.

And you can kiss your disposable income goodbye.  Perhaps they should simply confiscate all the earnings of state residents, and just give us an allowance to live on.  Since “all your money are belong to us”.

Photo Challenge..Is it a Table…Or a Bridge?

This particular dinner table is….wait for it…Both!  The people at this table journeyed from miles away to meet with the Honored Guest, a remarkable young man from Romania.  This Gentleman (capitalized because he is the epitome of Gentleman) is known to all of us online, and the friends at this table, along with dozens of other American friends, paid for his airfare to come to America, and see the country which we love so much.  All last summer, he flew, and bused, and was driven, from the East to the West Coast, staying with friends, and seeing America.

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The guest of honor is at the end of the table, with the goatee and red cravat.  He regaled us with stories of his voyage across America, and bridged the gap for us all.  At the end of the evening, when no one really wanted to leave, we had all gained knowledge, and the immense pleasure of his company.  This table is a bridge, across oceans, mountains, prairies, lakes, rivers, and people.

Oh, and I just couldn’t resist this, for Cherie Lucas Rowlands:

Bridges in Cambridge, England, the opposite number of Oxford.

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A peaceful River Cam bridge, behind Trinity Hall.
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Two bridges over the River Cam, Cambridge (seen from a punt)

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/bridge/

Independence Day! Celebrate the Miracle that is America!

Independence Day!  Celebrate the Miracle that is America!

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Cherish your Liberty, today most importantly, but do so all year round.  The country that you live in is the greatest miracle that has ever taken place in the history of Humanity.  A group of intrepid, well-educated men and women journeyed across a forbidding, mostly unknown Ocean to a new land, where they could live in Freedom and make their own way without an all-powerful King to dictate to them what they could and  could not do, make, and own.  And they went to this new Land so they would be able to worship in their own way, and not be bound to the State Religion.

And what a country they made!  Today, even in spite of all the internal and external forces aligned to try to take down America, you live in the most-hospitable, most prosperous, most welcoming country that has ever existed on Earth.  Why do you think that the earth’s “huddled masses yearning to breathe free” try so hard to get here?  Millions of people have braved rough seas, searing deserts, and other hardships to come to America, because they know that America is the best place to live in the world, and they know that, through their own hard work, they can support their families and become whatever they want to be.

Celebrate America, From Sea to Shining Sea!

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Atlantic Ocean, at Cape May, New Jersey

Newport Beach, California
Pacific Ocean, Newport Beach, CA

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Liberty Bell Mountain, North Cascades National Park

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE GREATEST NATION ON GOD’S GREEN EARTH!

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RushBabe49 and Hubby’s Excellent Arizona Adventure

From February 13th through the 18th, hubby and I flew down to Arizona for a Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar in Phoenix.  We attended the Seminar Tuesday and Wednesday, then did some sightseeing the rest of the time.  Monday’s flight was uneventful, and we arrived at our hotel in good time.  Upon unpacking, however, hubby discovered that he had forgotten to pack some necessities, one of which was very important for our Seminar.  So we broke out the GPS for directions, and went shopping.  We made our way to the Desert Ridge Marketplace, an outdoor mall near the site of the seminar.  Fortune was smiling on us that day, because we found what he needed the very first place we stopped.  Once that was done, we could go find dinner.

On the way over to “restaurant row”, we stopped by an interesting amenity at the mall, a shallow “fountain” designed for people to wade in to cool their feet.  I sat down on a bench, under the palm trees, and looked up.  I couldn’t resist taking this picture with my iPod camera.

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Tuesday morning, we checked out of our hotel, and headed down to the Arizona State University Research Park, to visit the offices of my professional association, the Institute for Supply Management.  I have been doing the Report on Business for the Western Washington Chapter since 1999, and I thought it would be good to visit those at the National office who manage the National ISM Report on Business, to whom I send a summary of my data every month.  I found them to be a delightful group, and we had a productive meeting.  I thank them for their excellent hospitality, and their ongoing support of my efforts for Western Washington.  As a result of this meeting, I was invited to complete the National survey for my company; my boss and I agreed to do it.

When we were done there, we had a nice lunch at the local Chick-Fil-A, then drove over to the J.W. Marriott Desert Ridge Resort and Spa (long name, huge property!), the site of the Hillsdale Seminar.  We found our very nice room, got unpacked, and relaxed for a while.  Our room had a balcony, and this was the view.

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Once we settled in, we went downstairs to meet one of our online Ricochet friends, who was also attending the seminar.  As with all of our Ricochet friends, she was a very nice person, but busy so we couldn’t talk very long.  Next, we went to the President’s Club reception before dinner, where we greeted friends from Hillsdale, including, of course, their President, Dr. Larry Arnn.  RushBabe also got a chance to cross an item off her “gotta do before I die” bucket list.  I got to speak with, and shake the hand of, the “Last Un-documented Guest Host (for Rush Limbaugh) Before the Border”.  That would be Mark Steyn, who was one of the conference speakers.  He is a very tall, very gracious guy, and I was lucky to get to talk to him.  We also met another of the speakers, Mr. Herbert Meyer, who just so happens to live in Friday Harbor, Washington, not too far from us. And, he is the father of one of the Ricochet editors-a twofer!

After the reception, we went in to dinner, and were bowled over by the size of the crowd.  This seminar had over 700 attendees, enough to fill the entire ballroom.  At our table were seated two more of our Ricochet friends, one of whom flew down from our neighborhood to attend.  We had a nice dinner, heard Dr. Arnn and Mark Steyn give excellent speeches, and then called it a night.

On Wednesday, we had a nice breakfast out on the lawn, and were joined by Mr. Meyer.  The rest of the day was filled with  speeches, a nice lunch, and more speeches!  In the afternoon Elaine Donnelly gave a very interesting talk about women in the “Obama social experiment” military, and how that may be reducing the readiness of the US military for combat.  The seminar ended in mid-afternoon, and our Ricochet friends went home, so we were free.  Wednesday evening, we drove into Scottsdale, through ugly rush-hour traffic, to have dinner with yet another Ricochet friend, who we’d met before.  We had a great pizza dinner at Grimaldi’s, and caught up with everyones’ doings.

Thursday was to be our “drive south” day.  In the morning, we had a nice breakfast in the hotel, and strolled around the grounds for a while.  The resort has some very beautiful landscaping; in fact, a river runs through it!

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After our stroll, we checked out, and headed south toward Tucson.  Along the way, we stopped at a rest area, and I got out the trusty camera.  This is really Arizona.

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And then, there’s this:

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In Tucson, we had a very nice lunch, at the Gringo Grill, with a couple more Ricochet friends, one of whom is a former Portland, Oregon police detective, and the other of whom is a graduate student in Physics, from Cambodia.  Can you say “great stories”?!  Well, they had them, and we spent a very pleasant hour.  Then, it was back on the road.  We drove to the border town of Nogales, caught a glimpse of the border with Mexico, turned around and drove back to Phoenix.

Friday was our “drive north” day.  We had a Ricochet dinner meet up scheduled that evening in Prescott.  We headed north, and stopped at the Sunset Point rest area to stretch our legs and get some pictures.

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Northern Arizona obviously gets more precipitation than the south-just look at that green grass!

We arrived in the town of Prescott a little early, so we strolled around the Old West-looking downtown area.  We stopped into Jersey Lilly’s Saloon for a drink.  Jersey Lilly was the famous Lilly Langtry, and here is her portrait.

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Under her portrait on the floor is this cool old potbelly stove.

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I was taken with these beautiful old buildings across the street.

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Next door to the restaurant where we had dinner, there was this tiny establishment, and I was intrigued with the combination of services this small business offers.  CDs and bike repair?

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We had a yummy dinner of Indian food at the Taj Mahal restaurant with our Ricochet friends, then headed back to Phoenix.

On Saturday, when we were scheduled to fly back to Seattle, we awoke to something we had never seen before in Phoenix.  Rain!  It was raining lightly, very similar to what we have most of the winter in the Seattle area, so we felt right at home.  I imagined that there must be a lot of very happy vegetation in Phoenix that day.  We had been warned about the danger of flash floods, but since the rain was pretty light, there didn’t seem to be much danger of that.  We got to the airport in plenty of time, and went to our gate to wait for our flight.  It was nearly an hour late taking off, due to trouble with the aircraft (which turned out to be a software issue).  The flight was another uneventful one, and we arrived back in Seattle to nearly the same weather as we had left in Phoenix, only 20 degrees colder!

In all, it was a nice, relaxing vacation, with no real crises.  We made new friends, saw new scenery, and got away from the rat race for a while.  Definitely worth the price of admission!

Borrowed with permission from a Ricochet friend. How many of these phrases do you Disagree with?

Hello, Visitors and Followers of RushBabe49..

I’m hoping you’ll help me with a very simple data-gathering project! It will take maybe five minutes, and should be painless.

Instructions

a.) go down through the following list of statements and count up those with which you DISAGREE.

b.) don’t overthink it. Even if the phrase doesn’t precisely match your view, if you generally agree, don’t count it.

c.) let me know ONLY the number of items with which you DISAGREED (e.g. somewhere between 0 and 25!) . You don’t have to tell me which ones or why!  *Put your answer in the comments below*

I am not making any presumptions of your political leanings-just list a number, how many of the following statements you Disagree with.  Thanks!

AGREE OR DISAGREE:

1.) Sexism remains a very significant obstacle for women in America.

2.) Racism remains a very significant obstacle for Americans of color.

3.) Race-based affirmative action is necessary.

4.) The minimum wage protects workers from exploitation.

5.) To be white and male in America confers significant unfair advantage.

6.) Climate change is a real and urgent problem.

7.) Islam is no more likely to inspire violence than Christianity or Judaism.

8.) Systemic racism explains the disparity in arrests and imprisonment of black men.

9.) Systemic racism is a significant factor in recent shootings by police of black people.

10.) Income inequality is a problem in the United States.

11.) Abortion rights are good and necessary.

12.) Same sex marriage is a human right.

13.) Americans have a right to good quality healthcare.

14.) Diversity on college campuses confers significant educational and social benefits.

15.) Republicans are ideological rather than practical in their approach to things like controlling gun crime, reducing poverty, increasing affordable access to good quality healthcare and bringing down rates of teen pregnancy and abortion.

16.) Stricter gun laws are necessary to prevent gun violence.

17) Corporations are not people and thus do not have First Amendment rights,

18.) Government led educational standards are the best way to make sure the next generation is well-educated.

19.) Social problems are usually the result of prejudice/hatred/discrimination against that person’s “group” rather than character failings or poor choices on the part of the people involved.

20.) Government regulations protect citizens against harms caused by profit-driven corporations.

21.) Fossil fuels are a threat to the climate and must be replaced by renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.

22.) Israel is at least as responsible as the Palestinians for the continuing hostility between Israelis and Palestinians.

23.) The tax code should be used to redistribute income from wealthier citizens to poorer ones.

Thank you!