Tag Archives: Obama

Test Strips Arrived.

Don’t know if it was the 5 or 6 posts bashing Prescription Solutions over their inability to deliver test strips for my diabetic mother for over 7 weeks that got them here…finally…on Friday.  Might have been the open letter to Barack Obama.  Perhaps my complaint on the health reform mandate query sent out by Barbara Boxer’s virtual team.  Or maybe they just got tired of Corinne, my mother, calling them every day for days on end.  You know the expression:  “The squeakier the wheel the more oil it gets.”  Maybe one of the customer service (or customer avoider) reps just developed a conscience and overruled the rules.  I don’t know.  But the test strips arrived.  They work.  My mother can, once again, monitor her blood sugar levels.  Miraculous.

I’m mad as hell…and I’m not going to take it anymore?

This past week, there were three specific posts that caught my eye and I am compelled to share them with you. The first, comes from Ronni Bennett at Time Goes By. A reader’s comment about ageism spurred her on to write an article about ageism and prejudice that will ring true for all of us. If you are a Boomer, do you cringe at the concept of 50 Plus? If you are a 50 plusser, do you bristle at being called old? And if you are old, how do you feel about the old-old? I mean, 73 isn’t 86, right?

The second is a post by Scot Herrick at Cube Rules, all about the concept of “practicing” for a layoff.  There are so many truths in this article, that it should become an HR offering to employees a year before layoffs loom!  One comment he makes that really resonates in this economic morass we find ourselves in, is that rather than the rule of thumb of having a savings cushion of 4 months to handle a layoff, he counsels trying to set aside ONE year’s worth of your own operations capital.  Now, that is a hefty amount, especially for most Americans who live paycheck to paycheck, but given the extreme challenges inherent in finding a job now, especially if you are a 50 plusser, I have to say, he isvery, very correct.  In any event, an excellent article to prepare you for the inevitable.

The third article is by Corinne Copnick at Cyro-Kid, who chronicles her (funny if it weren’t so heartbreaking) futile attempts to get her prescription provider to send her test strips for her diabetes.  Not only will it give you some chuckles, it will possibly also bring you to tears.  If I had a TV to throw out a 2nd story window and create a furor, yelling: “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”, I would.  But I live in a one floor bungalow and my analog TV is worthless after June 12th anyway. 

And to give a follow up to Corinne’s story, today, again during another call to find out whether the THIRD authorization from her doctor had been approved, she was told (for the first time after, literally, hours of phone calls) that not only box SEVEN had to be filled out again as the wording was not 100% correct, but box TWO had to be rechecked. 

President Obama, are you listening?  The insurance companies cannot fix this problem.  THEY and the pharmaceuticals are the ones CREATING it!  By  so much bureaucracy, so much dotting of “i’s” and crossing of “t’s”, they are delaying Corinne’s test strips, for now…um…6 weeks, and if they are doing this to countless numbers of Americans, how much money are they keeping for themselves?  If Prescription Solutions delays all prescriptions from filling by one month (in this case now more than 6 weeks) they gain an 11% additional profit on this one client.  So what if the client dies?  In fact, that would save them a whole lot MORE money in the long run. 

Corinne is my mother.  So, I’m not done with this one yet.

The week ahead…I’m all a’Twitter

I’ve talked about Twitter before.  Twitter is a very different kind of social network — it is based on micro-blogging (think 140 character text messages to say EVERYTHING that is on your mind…well at least in that moment.  Twitter is a viral phenomenon (just as MySpace was when it first caught on) and there is a lot of discussion about the merits (or not) of this type of instant thought-babble. 

It took me awhile to warm up to this rather unusual way of connecting with like-minded, or not-like minded tweeters and a social networking genius friend of mine keeps pointing me in the direction of staying with it!  When I was at the car show in Detroit earlier this year, it was really exciting tweeting at the launches as news broke. Standing in the media hordes, I can’t tell you how many conversations I had with other media about out Blackberrys, iPhones, etc….but I digress.

This past week, I became a bit enamored of the viral rumor…very fast-breaking trend news on innovative new products, new marketing strategies, on medical findings, on anything and everything Obama and economy.  And in the midst of this, I started noticing real pops of innovation.  The market is so tough right now, that anyone who wants to make it through with their businesses intact must become insanely creative with meaningful innovation. 

So I’m now on the prowl.  Next week, I’ll be hosting our Blogging Boomers Carnival and intend to have an assortment of interesting and unusual websites and blogs for you to explore.  But for the rest of this week, I’m on the Twitter-hunt for innovation.

Who is going to buy our way out of this economic disaster?

The California budget and economy is falling apart. 21,000 state employees are getting layoff notices in about a minute.  Those remaining will be forced to take 2 day furloughs per month — but at least they’ll still have their work.  The federal stimulus package was just signed by Obama, so over time, some lost ground will be regained, and states will get some relief, but, boy, oh boy.  Are we in trouble. 

I’ve been getting emails from readers who are so disappointed the Obama hasn’t already “fixed” this crisis.  There are certainly problems with how our 2-party system in the US makes it very easy to become paralyzed and road-blocked.  But, this economic freefall isn’t even a question of how our federal government works — because the economic challenges are global.  The world financial leaders allowed this to happen by a serious lack of oversight combined with a Roman Empire style greed and love of excess.  So it is no surprise that the cards are not just tumbling, but rather cascading down. 

We are in absolutely in crisis and according to Obama, possibly heading into catastrophe.  It is dire.  We are all scared.  And we have to get cracking… as a people and not counting on government alone…to get innovative and find the ways to cauterize the bleeding.   The newly signed stimulus package is, to my mind, like half a cauterization.  The artery will stop projectile bleeding (so hopefully we, the patient, won’t bleed out in 4 minutes) but there is a gaping, seeping wound. 

I have the urget to go off ona tangent here (but there is a point, I promise):

A couple of years ago, I re-fractured my navicular bone (a small, but critical bone near the ankle) in my left foot.  I went to a highly recommended orthopedic surgeon, Clifford Kahn. I remember meeting him for the first time.  Very tall, attractive in an unusual way — with a very unorthodox full Z-Z-Top beard and cowboy boots peeking out from under the scrubs.  I’d never met a doctor who didn’t actually look like a doctor, but he was incredibly brilliant and incredibly kind and he was able to put me on the right path to fixing my teeny, tiny little injury.  That is not what this tangent is about.  It is about the other part of Dr. Kahn’s practice — that of wound healing and care.  He specialized in trauma to the foot and circulation to the feet tends to be poor as we age…resulting in very slow wound healing.  Part of wound healing, as I learned, requires taking off unhealthy flesh to the point of leaving only healthy flesh, so that the wound will bleed freshly and allow nature to heal the diseased area.  And often, it was necessary to work on the wound with no freezing so that the doctor would clearly know where diseased flesh ended and clean flesh began.  Imagine having a deep wound cleaned with no anaesthetic.  Yes, people scream in pain.  I heard it…not good for a gal with a weak stomach.  When I asked Dr. Kahn about that, he told me that the patients understand why the rot needs to be cut out and that they also understand why they need to communicate the pain.  So that they can ultimately and hopefully heal — without amputation.

I’m not a doctor, so perhaps I didn’t understand the explanation perfectly, but that is the image I carry around in my head regarding our economy.  Our government is trying to figure out what the extent of the rot is, what is salvagable and what needs to be amputated.  Obama is the new head doctor and he’s hearing the screams of the patients whose rot developed on another surgeon’s watch.  He took over the job, he wanted the job and now he’s got to get us out of the mess.

We are all realizing that is not going to be a short-lived crisis.  Speak to any older person, let’s say 70 years and older.  They will all tell you they see a struggle for the next 3-5 years until we can feel a bit of economic confidence.  I agree with them.   I also believe that our carbon-fuel economy will ultimately be replaced by renewable and alternative energy solutions.  But that also will take a ton of time and new infrastructure building.

We all know that housing is a disaster and will be the next big item on Obama’s plate.  Right next to the auto industry.  If you were watching the news yesterday, both Chrysler and GM had to present their viability plans.  It’s pretty bad.  A big restructure is in the cards for GM and Chrysler.  And a painful restructure this will be.  Here is a link to the GM press conference.  It will be available as of Wednesday at noon. You’ll have seen the sound bytes, but what CEO Rick Wagoner put forward in terms of the viability options is that GM projects it will cost much less to support the plans for restructure than to support a bankruptcy.  47,o0o employees will be terminated at GM and about 3,000 at Chrysler.   Additionally GM and Chrysler may need $22 Billion now and ultimately as much as $39 Billion over time to bail them out. 

I cannot see how we can let any of the Big 3 can go into bankruptcy.  Their effect on world economy is so huge that the ramifications of letting any of these companies fail are beyond imagination.  We need them to take the lead, on a global level, on renewable and alternative energy solutions, do it well and do it as quickly as they can.

Today we’ll hear the next pain solution as Obama lays out what he’s looking at regarding the housing market.  Crikeys.  Can’t wait.

Stimulus package passed…about time.

Whether you agree with the details of the stimulus package or not, it had to be passed.  Politicians can posture as much as they want, but the reality outside of Washington, DC is pretty dire. 

Today, on Friday the 13th, while across the US, kids in elementary schools (yes, even in California, which ranks 48 out of 50…), pre-celebrated Valentine’s Day, having parties, exchanging valentine cards and goodies, and loading up on sugar, another 10,000 Americans had their homes foreclosed. 

As I walked around a neighborhood today, I saw a house, locked up, with signs glued to the windows — “Abandoned house.  Not for rent.  For purchase information, call…”

A mediator I know, is trying to negotiate for his client to walk away from a property.  Only he can’t get anyone at the concerned bank to call him back.  Not only that, no one at any branch has a clue who to call regarding loan negotiation. 

On Monday, President’s Day, Obama will be outlining a plan regarding home foreclosures

I spoke to a reporter today who is looking for people who have been laid off and found a brighter future.  And I’m having trouble coming up with people to send to her.  Last week, a friend of mine had to lay off the last batch of lay-offs at the company she works for.  Last week, an acquaintance shared with me that her husband, a CFO had been laid off last year and was out of work for over 10 months.  He finally found employment and now, just two months into the job, had to lay off over 20% of the workforce.

And I’m really angry that the politicians can’t stop themselves from being politicians.  There is something about being nimble that helps effect change and a stumbling, angry political machine just bogs everything down.  There cannot be bi-partisanship in such a polarized country.  And so we’ll continue to move along, at a snail’s pace, while Obama gets frustrated, and Judd Gregg resigns (wonder who has what on him?) and no Republicans vote for anything Obama puts forward…just because. (Don’t go throwing comments at me for that one!)

So, I’ve made a nimble, executive decision in my own little world.  Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day…and I’m taking the day off.  From the news, from my finances, from stress, from worry and will spend my day loving all the people in my life.  My daughter, who makes every day just that much sunnier, and the rest of my family who I love dearly.  I’m going to see a movie…preferably a comedy with a dear friend and she and I will hopefully drink a glass of red wine somewhere in there over a good meal and hope for a better week next week.

I mean…how much farther down can the bottom be?

9% unemployment in California

Unemployment in California has hit 9%.  That is just plain bad.  So I can’t understand why so many politicians are trying to put the brakes on Obama’s stimulus package.  At the Democratic caucus, Obama reiterated the point of a stimulus package …to…spend money to create jobs.  And with so much money going toward infrastructure rebuilding, I can’t understand what keeps so many so small-minded and so focused on the small picture.  This is a big picture problem and if the government can really through money toward infrastructure, then the benefit will be to America.  There are 10,000 schools slated for renovation.  Federal buildings will be “green-ified”. 

The plan is hanging on by a thread right now in the Senate, according to a newly released article from the Associated Press

Last month, in Detroit for the North American International Auto Show, I had a great conversation with a highly experienced E-flex director, Gregory Cesiel, at General Motors.  One of the great challenges of changing propulsion systems is having the consumers eager to purchase the vehicles…i.e. enough customers to make producing the cars viable.  I asked him why the government didn’t change their own government fleet contract to hybridize all their vehicles.  He was surprised that I asked the question and, in fact, that was exactly what some of the discussion was at the time.  This was confirmed in Obama’s speech on Thursday — the government fleet will be hybridized — creating jobs in the auto industry and for the American manufacturing plants that will be producing American-made lithium-ion car batteries.  It was just a sentence…but what a sentence.  Those few words may equate to over 900,000 related jobs in the US alone, never mind European markets.

In Obama’s prepared speech (which he departed from in his passionate address), this is what was scripted:

This plan will save or create over three million jobs – almost all of them in the private sector.

This plan will put people to work rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges; our dangerously deficient dams and levees.

This plan will put people to work modernizing our health care system, not only saving us billions of dollars, but countless lives.

This plan will put people to work renovating more than 10,000 schools, giving millions of children the chance to learn in 21st century classrooms, libraries, and labs – and to all the scientists in the room today, you know what that means for America’s future.

This plan will provide sensible tax relief for the struggling middle-class, unemployment insurance and continued health care coverage for those who’ve lost their jobs, and it will help prevent our states and local communities from laying off firefighters, teachers, and police.

Finally, this plan will begin to end the tyranny of oil in our time. It doubles our capacity to generate alternative sources of energy like wind, solar, and biofuels in three years. It saves taxpayers billions of dollars by making federal buildings more energy efficient, and it saves the average working family hundreds on their energy bills. After decades of empty rhetoric, that is the down payment that we need on energy independence.

There is NO mention of a government fleet of hybrid vehicles.  But in his empassioned departure from the teleprompter, he talked about changing over the government fleet to alternative fuel vehicles.  This is a big, big statement.  And offers MANY prospects for recovery.

Is anyone listening?

No stranger to nationalization

Globally, many countries are having to take stake in life-blood companies — in the US, banks like Bank of America, Citibank; in the auto industry, Chrysler and GM — and, well, you’ve read the news.  The more money that gets infused into the failing businesses, the  more nationalization will be taking place.  As an ex-pat Canadian, with 36 Canadian years of living, nationalization doesn’t scare me.  I grew up with social responsibility as part of my fabric and I never saw any reason to fear it.  Moving to the US, I learned quickly that entrepreneurship is easier to embrace in the US because of the sheer numbers of citizens and their desire to consume.  The meltdown that we are experiencing globally means that entrepreneurship will be that much more challenging.  Financing harder to come by.  Business development  painfully slow.

But it still doesn’t scare me, yet.  Having lived multiple corporate lifecycles, I’ve seen big business tighten and loosen the reins.  In that cycle, a company will decentralize to be more nimble and give great latitude to field operations.  As soon as profits start to shrink (which is inevitable), the company will again centralize, taking away operational privilege from field directors and managers.  Purchasing will become centralized, expense accounts downsized and for a period of time, there can be intense scrutiny on all aspects of remote operations.  And, then, when the burden of handling all operations and control internally at corporate headquarters, the cycle will begin again — more control and responsibility will head out to the field.  Some unprofitable operations will be shut down, corporate headcount will be streamlined and it’ll be sink or swim for the field leaders. 

If you are in a corporate structure for any period of time, you’ll see the same pattern repeated.  Each time the pattern is re-shaped, with a new leader, new CEO, new director, there will be many fancy names attached to the activity: downsizing, right-sizing, change management, restructure, etc, etc.  But if you take all the fancy, scary names away, really, you just have natural expansion and collapse.  Companies with enough support survive the collapse.  So right now, we are in an elevated state of collapse and the restructure is nationalization.  It’s the business reaction to a disastrous economy. 

Is there any silver lining to this current cloud?  I don’t really think so.  But I do believe that the innovators and inventors will find their way to invent and innovate new ways to rebuild economy.  Israel created farms out of desert through creation of irrigation and solar systems, when there was no other way to fuel their own need for a level of self-sufficiency.   We, the boomer generation, the “me” generation, the post-hippie Yuppie, found ways, as a whole,  to create wealth…to the point of fabricated wealth for which we are all suffering greatly now.

Obama’s mantra of “Yes, we can” is not about the government “doing” for us.  The government must and will shore up deficiencies by making more money to keep us afloat until the “we” in “yes, we can” actually get squeezed into invention.  That invention will come from our demographic and the invention of the millenials, our echoes.  Of that I have no doubt.

Two steps forward, one step back. Two steps forward, one step back.

With markets imploding, 50 plussers are losing jobs by the droves while seeing their nest eggs devastated. When I think of the economic journey we are faced with, regardless of demographic, and the responsibility that is laying on Barack Obama’s shoulders, I get the image of the mythological Greek Sisyphus endlessly pushing the boulder up the hill.  In the story of Sisyphus, however, he is doomed to an eternal struggle pushing the boulder up the hill as a punishment for a life of crime, including chaining the angel of death.  As I reread the story, I realized that Sisyphus was not the image I was looking for.  So I reread the story of Job.  Job has to endure the test of faith as God even as all his wealth, health and family are destroyed.  And, yet, he never loses faith, even as he asks God “why”. 

Well, that wasn’t quite the right image either.  So I pounced on the tried and true “two steps forward, one step back.”   Now, this one seemed closer to right.  Also called the “Frog in the Well”, the image is of a frog trying to get out of a well and for every two leaps forward, up the walls of the slippery well, it slips back by half, making for an arduous, but necessary journey.  If the frog gives up, it will drown in the well.  If it can make it out of the well, it will be depleted, exhausted, but will have survived death.

Since nothing is quite right to describe the trials and tribulations facing Obama as the leader of our nation, I came up with a combined image, instead.  Obama is in the well.   The water in the well is our economic death.   Obama has been elected by us, the people, to get us out of the well.  He’s climbing up the sides, two steps forward, one step back, with a humongous boulder on his back.  On top of that, it is raining.  Non-stop.  Now, if Obama were the frog, he’d likely be defeated.  I mean, how could a tiny frog possibly get out of a slippery well, in the rain, with a boulder on its back?? 

But Barack Obama is different.  He is not alone.  He’s asking us, the people, to work with him to get out of the well.  He’s shouldering the boulder in the rain, but he’s asked us to get behind him and help push.  It will still be two steps forward and one step back, but if we can help relieve the weight of the boulder and give him the support, energy, enthusiasm and innovation to fundamentally change how the US does economy, then, I’m pretty confident he’ll get us out of the well.  Oh yeah…also, we’re a people of good intentions.  Unlike Sisyphus.

“The Moment”

Mixed into the excitement of today’s inauguration, were two technological items of note that may have gotten swept a bit under the carpet.  The first is the launch of Barack Obama’s Presidential website at http://www.whitehouse.gov/  Obama’s team have created the first dynamic Presidential website with a tone very much in keeping with the tone Obama set throughout his campaign for the Presidency.  If you click on the site, you’ll see, right at the top right corner an email sign-up.  His team plans to continue the powerful email communication strategy that won him the hearts of America.  As well, there is a sense of transparency, lots of video and tons of info.  I’m signed up.  You should, too. 

Second on the technical side is the amazing interactive 3D photo of “The Moment” — the moment of the swearing in.  Attendees were encouraged to email in their pictures to CNN, from their perspective at the inaugural celebration.  The result is an astounding bit of online technology developed by Microsoft Live Labs, called “Photosynth”– a truly interactive, 360 degree, multi-dimensional, multi-moment , virtual collage.  When you first click on the picture, you think you are just zooming in, however, each “zoom” is another picture.  I was fascinated by the close-ups of the Obama’s — pictures grabbed several moments and you can see, expression-by-expression “the moment”, even seeing Ted Kennedy smiling behind Obama.  Apparently, many other photos will be added over the next few days, but even at this stage it is astounding.  http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2009/44.president/inauguration/themoment/

Blogging Boomers Carnival celebrates #100

When the moon is in the 7th house, and Jupiter aligns with Mars…

It may not be THAT aligned, but I find it rather appealing that our Blogging Boomers Carnival celebrates our 100th carnival episode on a national holiday (MLK) and the day before the most historic presidential inauguration in the US.  Does it mean anything???  At all??  I doubt it.  But coincidence?  I don’t think so…

It gives me great pleasure to direct your attention and your clicks to The Boomer Chronicles for this week’s 100th installment of Blogging Boomers Carnival, hosted at one of our carnival founder’s (Rhea Becker) sites!

When Wes Hein and Rhea Becker, both exceptional writers, asked me to join their Carnival a few years ago, I remembered thinking, “Huh?”  I had no idea what a Blog Carnival was, what it was for and I seriously doubted we’d be at it more than a few weeks.  I didn’t know either Wes or Rhea, but had “met” Rhea online through her blog and found her writing very appealing.

A Blog Carnival, for inquiring minds who want to know, is an online round up of blog posts by a specific group of bloggers (in our case Boomers) that makes the rounds by being hosted on a different blog each week (or day or month, depending upon the schedule your group decides upon.)  When we started, there really were no social networks, except for My Space and a fledgling LinkedIn.    So we kind of started our own.  Each week, for the past 100 weeks, we stayed on track and on schedule (thanks to Wes and Rhea’s tenacity and good organizational skills!) and shared our views on all things Boomer.  As a result, the Carnival has become quite well known among Boomer circles.  We aren’t all the original members, but I am delighted to have been part of the first round. 

There are some weeks, where, as a blogger, you sometimes feel a bit discouraged.  Perhaps no one has emailed you anything exciting for a few days.  Or the news is just really bad (like, oh, let’s say, our economy falling through the floor).  Or people are afraid or too quick to move on to take the time to comment (yes, we LIVE for comments).  But having our Carnival deadline is always the kick in the pants to inspire some sort of blogging frenzy on those rare occasions that blogger’s block kicks in.

Thank you for following our blogs.  You have no idea what your support means to each of us.  I hope we’ll continue for another 100 carnivals and I’ll do my best to keep you engaged (with my witty reparte, insightful commentary, ground-breaking analysis…LOL)!