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Driving in Virginia on Thanksgiving morning…

November 22, 2012, 7:04 PM

First of all, greetings from Stuarts Draft, where I will be through Sunday.  And so far, so good.  The drive went surprisingly well, and then Thanksgiving dinner was absolutely wonderful.

Considering how well my drive went today, though, I don’t know why anyone would want to go driving on the day before Thanksgiving.  Seriously, this was one of the easiest drives to Stuarts Draft that I’ve had in a long time.  I left the house around 8:45, and it was more or less smooth sailing the entire way.  Georgia Avenue in Montgomery County, from my house to the Beltway, was no problem.

On that note, by the way, does anyone know what’s going on with the Freestate gas station on Georgia Avenue at Layhill Road?  This is how it looked this morning:

The Freestate station on Georgia Avenue

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Walmart worker strike on Black Friday?

November 20, 2012, 1:29 AM

So like many people, I got wind that there are strikes planned at Walmart stores this Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.  These leave me with very mixed feelings.  First of all, some of you may recall that I am a former Walmart employee, who worked for the company for a little over three years, from late 2003 to early 2007.  My employment ended there when I was fired for what I would consider to be questionable reasons.  And then I have made it no secret that I am quite pro-union.  I think that Walmart employees need a union badly, because Walmart is not looking out for its employees’ interests, no matter what kind of anti-union propaganda they throw at their employees, and their anti-union manuals prove it.  Thus employees must stand up for themselves.  But at the same time, I’m not sure about these tactics, because I fear that the groups behind these actions may, though well-intentioned, be leading these people off of the proverbial cliff.

First of all, on the matter of Walmart and what they provide their employees, I don’t think I ever made more than $7.50 per hour the whole time I was there.  For the first six months of my employment there, the insurance was a joke.  Full-time employees were eligible for the real insurance only after six months’ service, and before that, you were offered coverage through a company that I’d never heard of, and it was basically a reimbursement plan.  In other words, you had a plan where you would go to the doctor, pay out of pocket, and maybe – just maybe – the insurance company would pay you back for it.  I never had to use that insurance, thankfully, so I can’t speak for how well it worked out.  But it felt like a scam from the get-go.  After six months’ service, I got the real insurance, which was Blue Cross.  That was better than the junk insurance that they offered the new employees, but not by much.  If I recall, the package for one person was around $15 per pay period, and it came with a $1,000 deductible.  Yes, before the insurance would actually pay for anything, you had to spend a thousand dollars.  Thus in most years, you paid $390 per year for the privilege of paying out of pocket for all of your health care expenses anyway.  The only time the insurance actually paid for anything was in 2005 when I had that pilonidal cyst taken out, and I hit my deductible in February (yes, $1000 in medical bills in a month’s time).  And even then, it didn’t cover much, and the copays were pretty ridiculous.  I will say that I don’t know how much Obamacare will affect what Walmart provides its employees, though, and this information comes from my experience from several years ago.

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Categories: Walmart

My thoughts on the election now that it’s finally over…

November 9, 2012, 12:35 AM

First of all, aren’t you glad it’s just over with now?  Our election cycles run for far too long, especially when you consider that the New Hampshire primary was on January 10 this year, which meant that candidates started running well before that.  The 2012 election cycle started up right after dust settled from the 2010 midterm elections.  That’s far too long, in my opinion.  Considering that this year, Mitt Romney became the presumptive nominee in May, I think we could safely adjust the schedule a bit.  Basically, imagine the primaries in the summer.  Have New Hampshire in May.  Then have nominees by September.  Skip the conventions, because all they are is a coronation for the nominee that is known months ahead of time, and then vote in November.  The goal in this compressed schedule is to give the American public some peace and quiet in between elections.

Now as far as the contest itself goes, I think this was the biggest dog and pony show that I’ve ever seen.  The moment that I laid eyes on the Republicans’ field of candidates, I knew that President Obama was getting a second term.  Realize that the Republican Party didn’t want to “put out the good silverware” for a race against a popular incumbent president.  I’m sure that’s really why the likes of Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, etc. didn’t run.  The party didn’t want to dirty up its better names on a race against an incumbent.  Then once the crazies that did run on the Republican side actually opened their mouths, I really knew that they had no chance.  Thus I felt confident for just about the whole season that the end result of the contest was settled.  Basically, barring a major scandal or a major blunder on the Democratic side, President Obama was in, bottom line, end of story.  Thus my view that the whole campaign was basically a dog and pony show.  I was pretty sure that the Republicans knew that they had no chance in 2012, but they still had to put on a good show and run someone to at least make it look like they were interested to keep their faithful engaged.

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