Snow day

We have snow and cold today. Per tradition, I let the boys see the snow. They always are curious about it…. Dougy wants to get right in it; Andy wants to get right in it, but isn’t sure if he’s just kidding himself or what. (Seriously, Andy’s scared snotless by the great outside!)

weather 21 nov 2013

Dougy would run away if I let him outside. He’d follow his nose wherever it took him. That’s the bad news about Dougy, the reason I have to be very careful about knowing where he is when I hold the door open!

The snow gave me a chance to try out my new camera in extreme lighting, and it handles it pretty well for a little point-and-shoot camera! I think the video quality is great, too. The money was well spent!


I took a few stills of Dougy, too, before I decided a video’d be a good idea. All used flash, and none really appealed to me. This one of Dougy contemplating a little snow is about as good as it got. Frankly, I could get better stills by [Print Screen] off the video!

Dougy notices the snow by the door...

Dougy notices the snow by the door…

Dougy vs. the newspaper

I never know what kind of show to expect from the boys. Today Dougy decided to take on a newspaper on the light stand by my chair. (“My chair” because neither cat likes to lounge in it…!)

Most newspapers I read are on the Internet, but I still get a “hard copy” of my cousin Sharon Wheelock’s weekly, the Grant County News. It is that newspaper Dougy shamelessly attacked. I’m glad it is an old issue, one I left there as a buffer to coffee and water drips when I put a mug or glass down on the stand.

The bad part about making cat videos is naughty behavior oftentimes is the best for video. So, when I should be encouraging Dougy or Andy to cool it, I’m grabbing my camera instead.

If people didn’t encourage me with positive comments on my videos, I wouldn’t make them. It’s your fault Dougy and Andy are naughty boys, then! Ha!

annual Perseid meteor shower

The annual Perseid meteor shower is almost here! It peaks between the 11th and 13 of August, and is one of the more wholesome ways to use your late night-early morning hours. Weather permitting, I hope I can make a short drive out of town, away from city lights, and watch this amazing natural phenomenon of the night skies.

Below, a somewhat daunting link to a sky events schedule:,d.cGE

The Nebraska Sandhills region is famous among skywatchers, who flock there to watch the night skies. There’s little light pollution, thanks to lots of cattle pastures and few human settlements! You actually can see the stars there!

I often miss the Perseid meteor showers because of cloud cover and a lack of enthusiasm for driving out of town, sitting on a dark country road (sounds spooky, eh?!) looking suspicious or vulnerable, and having to do this several nights before I catch a glimpse of the meteors. It always is more fun, too, if you can talk someone else to go out with you, which hasn’t worked out in recent years. Some people still work!

Highway 2 through Nebraska

Highway 2 through Nebraska

Nebraska Highway 2 is my favorite highway. The best stretch crosses from Grand Island to Alliance, traversing the Nebraska Sandhills, a rich grassland of rolling stabilized sand dunes and huge vistas. This is Nebraska’s beef growing region, and the cow population more than exceeds the humans.

Highway 2 is “the road less travelled” through Nebraska, one that people who fly over the state or cross on I-80 miss. This isn’t a flat state! I-80 follows the path of least resistance, the Platte River flood plain. Of course it’s flattish!

Not Highway 2. It winds, twists, climbs, disappears in the distance, reappears magically and without warning.

Along this highway are hamlets, small towns, small cities. People here wear a cowboy hat because, well, they are cowboys and ranchers! They probably use an ATV or small plane to manage their chores these days instead of a horse, but there are many ranchers, still, who rely on this basic tool of the trade. Nothing like a good cow pony to sort and separate cows from calves for branding!

This is the eastern end of the West, if you will, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.


Please note that this is the section of Nebraska that includes the route of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline to transport Alberta tar sand oil to refineries in Texas for refining to sell to foreign markets. The Ogallala Aquifer is beneath the Sandhills, and is the source of water much of Nebraska for agriculture, industry, and people in this state, and the Great Plains. There are people in this state – running this state – who kiss Koch butt and want to risk contamination of this irreplaceable water resource. Oh, have you guessed I don’t support the pipeline?! If you want to see the other side of the story, it’s out there, just not here.

somewhere east of Laramie

somewhere east of Laramie

What I love about my home state, Nebraska, is how the clouds dominate all. There is a rule of thumb, though. The prettier the cloud, the more dangerous it is.

The first time I visited family in Colorado, I mistook the Rocky Mountains for clouds. I still do, though I know better. It’s clouds I expect to dominate the landscape, so my mind vaporizes mountains and hangs them in the sky.

It’s a special talent I have, this transforming mountains into clouds! Or, did I ever tell you how I can dissolve clouds by staring at them? Ha!

medicaid, nebraska style

Governor Heineman looks friendly enough.

“…As governor, Heineman worked with the Nebraska Legislature to pass the largest tax cut in state history. He also has pushed for legislation that would make the state’s Department of Health and Human Services more accountable to citizens….” Excerpt from Dave Heineman’s Wikipedia entry.

New years usually mean little to me and often are the start of the next round of bureaucratic nightmares associated with my mother’s finances. This is a Medicaid episode, courtesy of the gutted Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, the agency Heineman “made more accountable to citizens“.

Today, I had a telephone interview appointment with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Resources. The letter notifying me gave a toll-free telephone number and the numbers to punch in to get to the service I needed. My interview was for 7:30 this morning.

I called the provided telephone number at 7:30. An automated voice gizmo tried to direct me through the stages of hell, but, when I became frustrated and yelled some obscenities into the phone, it became confused, even sad that it no longer knew what I wanted. Neither did I. I punched the end call button on my phone.

I redialed the toll-free number. The pleasant male voice had forgotten I existed, so was more cooperative the second time…until I accidentally hit a wrong key on the instruction to give my mother’s birth date. SHIT! I punched the end call button on my phone. Twenty minutes passed from start of ordeal to nowhere. I called again.

A human female answered, but informed me I had the wrong number.

Yep! Dialing error! I called a fourth time.

I mean, he's a politician, but an honest and sincere bloke.

Finally, my brain and fingers worked together to get me on to the right line. The male voice assured me I’d get to talk with a human as soon as one was available.

Thanks to Governor David Heineman and the State Legislature of Nebraska, the human I used to talk with face to face in my home town no longer existed as an employee of the Department of Health and Human Services. Her position was one of many cut in the effort to make the DH&HS “more accountable to citizens” (Sic).

The two DH&HS humans I talked with in my hometown over the years both were helpful, caring, competent individuals who walked me through the process of documentation and certification for the services my mother required. I tried to focus on that while I waited, and waited, and waited for this human the automated male voice promised me was still unavailable: I WAS MAD!

Yeah. Then the human came on the line, 36 minutes after the ordeal started, the interview took less than five minutes, plus ten more for me to rant on about the changes the governor’s budget cutting cost in terms of convenience, ease of access to the system, and general satisfaction with a necessary bureaucracy.

The human was helpful, caring, competent, and I told her so, thanking her for being part of the humans I’d had positive experiences working with in her agency. Actually, every human in her agency has been very helpful.

Sometimes the price of saving dollars by cutting labor is reduced service, dissatisfaction, confusion, a desire to eliminate the politicians responsible from their positions. My nearly 98-year-old mother could not deal with this. I can but catch myself thinking I can’t wait until I don’t have to (i.e. when my mother is dead, so I feel shame and guilt for the thought because it isn’t what I wish for her) or thinking I hope I’m dead before I have to make use of the service (i.e. a death wish for myself or a sign of a self-destructive nature, though I actually hope I live as long as God wishes for me).

No, I hope Heineman, who hopes to win the seat of Senator Ben Nelson (Democrat, Nebraska), who isn’t running again, has a terrible fall from his high and mighty position to become a pauper dependent on the hand outs of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. He’s never experienced deprivation, and I wish tons of that on him. I’ll start the process by voting for anyone but Heineman for Senator to replace Nelson.

I hope to participate in a revolution to wipe that smile off your face, Dave. I wouldn't vote for you for dog catcher!

P.S. Have I ever told you how I actually could have saved time driving to the next town to the Social Security Administration’s office rather than trying to contact them by telephone for a simple change of address on my mother father and me? Yep, An hour and a half wrestling with an automated voice system, with no human making an appearance.

In frustration, I drove to that nearby town (a fifty minute drive), stopped by the office, where, after the armed guard decided I wasn’t a terrorist – he had his hand on his gun, and asked suspiciously paranoid questions of me – he directed me to a pleasant, unarmed lady in a cubicle. Whew! Maybe he thought I had a saber in my cane!

The lady asked me for my parents’ Social Security Numbers, which I’d forgotten to bring with me. She said it didn’t matter, that she could pull up their information by their names. She asked me a couple of verification questions on the files she pulled up on her terminal, made the changes, and I was on my way home, mission accomplished! No gunshot wounds or worse.

P.P.S. This website’s proofreader doesn’t like my characterization of the various humans as “ladies“, though I can assure you they are, and “Bias Language” (sic) is a silly reason to highlight under the circumstances. It does allow “women” and “female humans“. I’m in no mood for political correctness today.

P.P.P.S What’s that saying about governments that fear their citizens? Must Google that.