Tuesday, May 22, 2007

What happens in Camelot stays in Camelot.

...well, not really because I'm about to tell you a little bit about it! ;-)

We here in Louisville were fortunate enough to have the US tour of "Spamalot" stop through this weekend. It was, in one word, OUTFREAKINFANTASTIC!

I'm a Monty Python fan from way back in the days when we had only four stations -- ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS. (Yes, your friend ConservaChick even remembers 8-track tapes.) PBS carried Monty Python's Flying Circus and I was there for each one. I can quote many of their sketches and movies word-for-word; however, I will spare you (just this once).

So, when word went out that Spamalot was coming to town, many of us were all a-titter with excitement. As a matter of fact, we planned well ahead and procured very nice seats for the show. Little did we know that what we would see and hear on Sunday night at the Kentucky Center for the Arts would be even BETTER than the movie -- for those of you who don't know, the musical is based on the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

For those of you who are fans of the movie, picture the Camelot castle scene filmed in Las Vegas... picture Sir Lancelot "coming out"... picture the Lady of the Lake perturbed with her agent... it's that fresh and it's all that and more. Friends, if you have not yet had the pleasure but find yourself with the opportunity to do so, SEE THIS MUSICAL!

(Yes, I know... it won Tony Awards in 2005. Louisville actually *is* that far behind. Grrr.)

Congratulations, Governor Fletcher!

The results are still unofficial but I'd like to congratulate Governor Fletcher and his team for winning the GOP gubernatorial primary today. They were certainly up against some fierce competition and pulled the rabbit out of the hat today.

Obviously, some of us in the party -- I don't think I've been shy about expressing my discontent here -- became quite disenchanted with the governor because of the way he handled hiring. Yes, Stumbo's witch-hunt was obvious; however, there should NEVER have been an opening for a "hiring probe" in the first place. Hiring buddies, even though the Dems have done it for decades, was never meant to be part of "cleaning up Frankfort."

I won't apologize for being upset with the lapse in "tidiness" or the blanket pardons within the Fletcher administration. I don't feel the least bit bad about supporting Billy Harper's candidacy. I had hoped to see a change in leadership styles from career politician to private businessman. Obviously, I was among only 13+% who desired such a change.

Ah well. Politics is a horse race. I simply hope that Fletcher can carry this win all the way through the general election in the fall. A double crown, maybe?

Thanks for a race well-run to both Anne Northup and Billy Harper. You both kept it lively and sparked good debates within your own party.

Good luck and all best in the fall to Governor Fletcher and the GOP!

Dems, how did you feel about the results of your primary? I really was hoping to see Lunsford and Harper paired up for the general. Call me silly, I guess.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Ky's Gubernatorial Primary -- TUESDAY 5/22/07

Thank God it's almost time to end the party in-fighting for both the Dems and the GOP! I don't know about you all but I'm tired of watching Anne Northup and Ernie Fletcher hammer each other on TV and radio. It's nasty and it's really unnecessary. Most of us who have met either Ernie or Anne found them likable people; however, in my view, their actions while in office fall short of truly Conservative.

Even though I haven't had the time to make a choice and volunteer any time to any candidate this time around, I've been watching the races unfold on both sides. My fellow Conservative bloggers have taken sides and are supporting specific candidates in the GOP primary. I've hesitated to do that for a myriad of reasons, not the least of which is that I don't want to get sucked into the party in-fighting. Yes, even bloggers on the same side of the political aisle jab at each other over issues and primaries. ;-)

Since the gubernatorial primary is Tuesday (5/22/07), I suppose it's time to give you all an idea of where I stand and why. After weighing the cons of electing a political neophyte and finding them far fewer than the cons of continuing to elect career politicians who cannot see the state economy clearly through the lens of public office, I am fully endorsing Billy Harper for Governor.

Why would I support a political "outsider" over the incumbent Governor and an accomplished Congresswoman? In short, I'm tired of the same old song and dance. It's time for a change. A change that emphasizes achievement over the appearance of achievement. Any man who can grow a small business into a multi-million dollar enterprise knows quite a lot about tangible achievement. Any man who signs a No New Taxes Pledge and advocates school choice is a man I can feel confident voting into the race. He's knows what it will take to grow state revenues and raise the quality of life in this state.

Unfortunately, I've heard a few people say that voting for Harper is akin to throwing away a vote. That is absolutely not true. If everyone thought that way, voting for Anne Northup would have been a throw-away vote in dark blue Jefferson County in 2004. Heck, President Bush lost the vote in this county that year while Anne pulled out a win. She would never have been re-elected that year if voters hadn't voted their consciences regardless of how we were told others would vote. I hope this will be true when it comes to Billy Harper.

Just a few weeks ago, the Lunsford-Stumbo slate was polling the highest among likely Democratic voters. Now it looks more like a run-off will be in the offing for the Democrats as neither Lunsford nor Beshear are polling at 40% right now. The Democrats are fairly split on those two tickets. It seems the Republicans are split on Fletcher and Northup as well. If there's going to be a Republican run-off why not make it between a businessman and a career politician?

Let's think about this for a minute...

Lunsford is a businessman. Why would any Republican put a career politician like Anne or Ernie up against a businessman in the general election? If you ask me, that's a recipe for GOP political suicide. It is easy for those running for office who have no published voting record (private citizens like Lunsford or Harper) to use the voting record of a career politician as negative ammunition in the general election.

Maybe it's the Capitalist in me but if I were a Democrat, I'd be voting for Lunsford. Businessmen have a talent for boiling problems down to the essentials, understanding what needs to be done, and solving problems. They have to know how to work well with others despite differences because that's what it takes to thrive in the private sector. It's time for change all around here in Kentucky. I'd like to see our next governor come from the private sector with a successful record in business.

Should Harper win the primary and his Democratic opponent end up being a career politician, Harper will absolutely have the advantage. Should the Dems elect Lunsford, Republicans will stand a strong chance with a businessman of our own running against him. I just don't see any negative angle at all on electing Billy Harper to run for our party.

It is my educated opinion at this point that any right-thinking Republican will be voting for Billy Harper on Tuesday. Not only can we rest assured that we're electing a competent, achievement-oriented individual to run in the general election, we're electing a man who will drive us toward a better Kentucky after winning the race in November. (Okay, yeah. That whole "drive" and "race" bit was a pun well-intended. You caught me.)

Good luck to Billy Harper on Tuesday! If Kentucky Republicans are thinking about general election strategy, luck won't be necessary though. ;-)

Congratulations, France!

...and welcome back to the real world where capitalism, self-empowerment, and independence are wonderful assets to be admired and respected. France has elected a Conservative reformer, Nicolas Sarkozy, as President replacing one of the worst presidents in European history.

(Picture from the AP article published at Philly.com)

For those of you who may have forgotten your US history, France was a great ally for the fledging United States during our fight for freedom. Now, after all these years, it seems our old friends may be back. Will they truly become a great ally to the United States once again? Who knows, really, but it will be very interesting to follow what happens there now.

I've often wondered why the French people seemed content to settle for a mediocre (at best) economy when there are so many wonderful things produced there, so much to see, so many great minds. It seemed such a waste. I suspect that socialistic economies like France's only breed laziness. How else can you explain an exorbitant tax and jobless rate without the people rioting in the streets to oust the root of the problem? Evidently, the French prefer to wait for their presidential elections to make their voices heard -- and heard they were, around the world!

A French colleague at work told me last week that his mother was already complaining to him about the looming 40-hour workweek. He said he laughed at that and told her 40 hours would be a breeze compared to all the hours we put in over here. I'm sure she was not comforted much by that remark!

Congratulations, Nicolas Sarkozy! Well done, France!



By the way, Chirac, President Bush asked me to be sure to post his best wishes to you on your departure from office...

Welcome to the family, Parker and Caroline!

Benjamin Parker and Caroline Sophia

Among developments in the world of ConservaChick while I was away is the introduction of twins to my family. Congratulations to Terry and Anna (my brother and his wife) for successfully bringing us two beautiful new babies to love! I am an aunt again for the fourth time and couldn't be happier about it!

Parker and Caroline were born April 10, 2007. Earlier than expected as is usually the case with twins but healthy and happy nonetheless. They are fraternal twins and really look nothing alike other than a somewhat similar shape to their mouths. Already their personalities are becoming evident and those personalities will probably be markedly different.

The interesting thing about these two new members of the family is that they "squeak" when they sleep. Interesting little quirk! Anna said that she's read/heard a theory that they are communicating via the squeaks. Maybe it's the first glimmer of "twinspeak?"

Freedom!

My apologies to all for such a sudden and prolonged absence recently. I treasure your comments and have come to think of many of my regular readers as friends. Thus, it troubled me quite often to have left ConservaChick unattended all this time. You'll be glad to know that it was done for a very good reason. On March 15, 2007, I changed my life for the better. I am posting this today as a non-smoker. Heck, I'm posting today not just as a non-smoker but one who is actually 11 pounds lighter on the scales!

Why the prolonged absence from writing on ConservaChick? A cigarette smoker has certain "triggers" that set off a nasty chain of cravings and a pressing "need" for nicotine -- writing this blog was a BIG one! By the time I would turn the computer off in the evening, I had most likely smoked 15-20 cigarettes. This room was like a multi-sensory ad on the evils of smoking: the ashtray was full, with random ashes scattered on the desk, a haze of smoke hung midair in the room, and the odor of cigarettes clung to everything within floating distance. It got to be horrendous. Even as a dedicated smoker, I found it disturbing.

For those of you who have never been addicted to smoking/nicotine, let me tell you that giving it up completely and forever is one of the hardest things a long-time smoker will ever do in his/her life. (I smoked devotedly for about 23 years.) The addiction to cigarettes is so multi-faceted that a smoker trying to break the addiction will fight not only a physiological addiction that is on par with heroin addiction but a physical and emotional addiction as well. The cigarette, once a good buddy in times of stress, boredom, fatigue, and celebration becomes a little devil on your shoulder.

I began the Cooper Clayton program and the Chantix medication during a smoking cessation program at work. In the very beginning, I had determination on my side and pushed those cravings away when they were triggered by sitting in front of the computer at home; however, as the days went by, it became much harder. In the end, I realized it would be better to avoid it altogether for a while. That's what I did and it turned out to be a good strategy.

What makes this even more interesting is that a Weight Watchers program was started at work. Knowing that I would gain a minimum of 10 pounds while quitting -- most often, it was 20 pounds -- I signed on for that program in addition to the smoking cessation program. I was afraid that it would be overwhelming to do both at the same time and boy was I right! It was overwhelming for quite a while but it has turned out to be the best strategy in the long run. I've achieved two goals at the same time: (1) I lost most of the old weight from past smoking cessation attempts without putting on any new weight, and (2) I have become a non-smoker! I couldn't be happier!!

I had tried to quit several times over the course of my time as a smoker. What generally drove me back to smoking was the weight gain and the depression. It always seemed so much easier to go back to smoking than to manage the effects of being without my cigarettes. This time was different... I was ready to commit fully to becoming a non-smoker, the wonderful world of pharmaceuticals had come out with a wonderful new drug to assist in the effort, and I was consciously managing my weight downward for a change!

Pfizer, the manufacturer of Chantix, provides an online suppport program called "Get Quit." In daily emails, they provide insight into becoming a non-smoker for life along with a link to check in on their website to track your progress. Today's insight dovetails beautifully today with my return to blogging.

"There are memories in life that we cherish. Being a smoker sure isn’t one of them. When you look back now, it must be starting to seem strange that you ever did it...

Take a few moments to think of how your life has changed for the better since you quit. Then congratulate yourself. And every day, enjoy the freedom of being a nonsmoker."


Let me tell you, folks, I am enjoying the freedom! It feels good to never worry about having cigarettes handy at every moment. It feels great not to cough in the morning or wake up with stuffy sinuses. It is liberating to be able to spend ALL of my time with family and friends without excusing myself to go outside to, as I used to say, "feed the beast." Life is full of wonderful moments that I don't miss now because I'm never outside by myself smoking.

For those of you who may be smokers thinking about trying to quit (again), be advised that health insurance carriers are not covering Chantix. I paid $122 a month for the prescription at Wal-Mart's pharmacy. That seemed like a lot of money until I realized what I spent on cigarettes a month. It's a good trade-off. Honestly, at this point, I'm glad my health insurance didn't cover the cost. Every time I entertain that "just one smoke won't hurt me" devil of a thought, I remember that I've spent months and $366 trying to free myself from this addiction -- it's a powerful motivator to STAY quit this time!

I can't help but throw in one more tip for those of you who may be on the borderline of comitting to quitting: I highly recommend joining a group-supported weight loss program at the same time you join a smoking cessation program. It seemed like a lot to take on at once when I initially started all this but it has really made a huge difference for me. Look, the weight gain with smoking cessation is not a moral weakness or a figment of your imagination. A smoker's metabolism is revved up enough to burn an additional 200 calories a day. When you quit, those 200 calories have to be avoided or burned simply to maintain your current weight. Then, of course, you know you'll try to compensate for the loss of the physical motion of smoking by raising food to your mouth more often, right? So, if you're one of those smokers who can't commit to quitting because the weight gain depresses you, do both types of programs at the same time. Yes, it's hard but it's more likely to keep you on track to staying quit.

It has been a full and trying absence from ConservaChick and I'm sure I will continue to be tested; however, I feel strong enough as a non-smoker now to quickly fight the cravings and ignore the triggers that initially threatened to stop my progress toward freedom from this addiction. I'm free and ready to blog again! So, thank you all for your patience and your presence here at ConservaChick.