Wednesday Night Open Thread

The comments to this Gawker article about the two-toilet stalls at Sochi are pretty funny. Here's a photo.

Sochi will be the most expensive Olympic games in history, coming in around $50 billion, which is $40 billion over budget.

Shaun White has dropped out of the Slopestyle. Too much risk of injury on the oddly built course. He'll still compete in the half-pipe.

"There are definitely concerns about the course," he said. "It's been interesting to see how it's developed and changed over the past couple days. The big question is if it will continue to change. Because every day, they have riders meetings and they give feedback. Sometimes there's changes, sometimes there's not."

In TV news, Hollywood week starts tonight on American Idol. The show is much improved with new Judge Harry Connick, Jr. All the judges are good this year. [More....]

Also tonight: The season finale of Top Chef. And a new episode of Nashville, which has been much better this season.

It's the final week of La Reina del Sur on Telemundo. Mun2 TV just started re-airing Senor de los Cielos with English subtitles, but it pales by comparison to Pablo Escobar: Patron de Mal, El Capo and la Reina del Sur. My Spanish is definitely improving having to watch El Capo and La Reina del Sur with Spanish close-captioning. Starting in a few weeks if not sooner: Camelia el Tejano and El Capo 3. I may have to get rabbit ears for El Capo 3 since Xfinity doesn't carry FoxMundo for some reason (some of the shows are available on On Demand, but only for those with the Latino package. But FoxMundo airs in Denver free on an over-the air- antenna station.)

The winner of the Biggest Loser is catching heat for losing too much weight.

Is anyone still watching Justified? I think it's too heavy on the violence and the new characters lack any appeal. I'm looking foward to the second season of The Americans on FX next month.

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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    ... quickly becoming the Rodney Dangerfield of GOP politics (minus the sense of humor) and gettin' no respect, I tell ya, no respect at all.

    New Jersey's lamest of ducks is headed to Dallas-Ft. Worth tomorrow to dutifully raise money for the Republican Governors Association, but surprise, surprise, surprise -- neither current Texas Gov. Rick Perry or Greg Abbott, the likely GOP gubernatorial nominee who's looking to succeed Mr. Goodhair in Austin this November, will apparently be able to attend.

    Gee, I wonder why. Maybe they have to mail a letter, or wash the car or something ...


    Christie (5.00 / 4) (#5)
    by lentinel on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 02:23:29 AM EST
    may be a buffoon, but he is not the one who is about to OK the Keystone pipeline.

    I was talking about Christie. (2.75 / 4) (#6)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 05:08:41 AM EST
    But if you feel that strongly about Keystone, then get out there and join the activists in the front lines and do something to try and make a difference. How effective are you being by preaching to the choir here?

    Perhaps you could write an op-ed for the local paper that expresses your concerns (doesn't have to be the New York Times), or help your local chapter of the Sierra Club to organize a phone bank for people to call the White House or members of Congress.

    But don't just talk the talk. Walk the walk. That's how you effect meaningful change.



    You have (5.00 / 7) (#12)
    by lentinel on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 10:28:13 AM EST
    absolutely no idea of how I'm walking - or have walked.
    You have no idea of what papers I have written to, or to whom I have placed telephone calls and emails. But that is an irrelevant circumnavigation anyway - as is your want.

    You, however, are a political operative in the employ of one of the bloated parties that control our destiny. But, this is the choir to which you have chosen to preach. Once in awhile, a member of the choir, like myself, chooses to react viscerally instead of just sitting there in the wind blast of your euphoria .

    It is obvious that you would rather spend your time laughing at, or trying to get us to laugh at the laughable alternatives to the dangerous garbage presently in place in D.C.

    That is your right.

    I am also within my rights to express my opinion that Christie, your obsession of choice, is presently far less dangerous than the titular leader of the party you aggressively represent.



    Does this mean (3.00 / 4) (#17)
    by CoralGables on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 12:16:33 PM EST
    if Christie actually wins the presidency he will be the only politician in DC that you admit to liking?

    Reading comprehension (5.00 / 3) (#19)
    by shoephone on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 12:35:28 PM EST
    not your bag, eh?

    "Buffoon" and "presently far less dangerous" don't exactly equal "liking" Christie.

    Try again.


    Didn't ask you (none / 0) (#23)
    by CoralGables on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 01:03:24 PM EST
    And I wasn't making a statement, I was asking a question. You have a reading comprehension issue?

    Your derailment won't work (3.50 / 2) (#26)
    by shoephone on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 01:11:48 PM EST
    You made sh*t up about what lentinel said.

    Same as it ever was.


    Actually (4.00 / 3) (#78)
    by MO Blue on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 12:09:38 PM EST
    The derailment worked as intended.

    No discussion occurred on whether or not Obama would sign off on the Keystone pipeline and the ramifications of that decision.


    The thread started with a post on Christie (5.00 / 2) (#89)
    by CoralGables on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 01:14:09 PM EST
    The pipeline was the attempted and failed derailment.

    No, the derailment (5.00 / 1) (#104)
    by MKS on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 08:52:23 PM EST
    was standard issue Democrat bashing....

    Even if it is not the subject, just squeeze in anyway.


    On the contrary (none / 0) (#28)
    by CoralGables on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 01:15:54 PM EST
    I asked a question.

    lentinel has admitted in the past to not liking a single politician in DC. (I admired the honesty)

    So you have both a reading comprehension issue and a poor grasp of the facts.


    Snort. Your "question" (3.50 / 2) (#35)
    by shoephone on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 01:57:52 PM EST
    to lentinel was sarcastic and petty, and meant to imply something he didn't say in his comment.

    Kinda funny how no one wanted to touch the substance of his point about Obama approving Keystone.

    Keep on truckin'!


    Maybe the key qualifier was "presently." (none / 0) (#20)
    by oculus on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 12:44:20 PM EST
    And maybe some folks (5.00 / 2) (#22)
    by shoephone on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 12:50:59 PM EST
    have a habit of engaging in misrepresentation of other folks' comments, in order to score points.

    Looks like not much has changed around here.


    Maybe. But, to me the exchange between the two (none / 0) (#24)
    by oculus on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 01:04:53 PM EST
    prinicipals was over-the-top. Invites puncturing.

    Mayhap (3.50 / 2) (#34)
    by sj on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 01:56:13 PM EST
    Maybe. But, to me the exchange between the two (none / 0) (#24)
    by oculus on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 12:04:53 PM MDT

    prinicipals was over-the-top. Invites puncturing.

    But assuming you are talking about CG that wasn't so much "puncturing" as "punching".

    Like shoephone said: not much has changed around here. Not that I expected it to be more measured. I was just hoping my reaction to the punching would be more measured.


    Another day, another pie fight. (4.40 / 5) (#36)
    by Anne on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 02:44:58 PM EST
    Between lectures on "how to be a good citizen" from someone who seems desperate to headline the stage here at the TL Comedy Club, to questions that approach "when did you stop beating your wife," to people digging in their heels in the belief that they have the definitive, inside track on the Tea Party, to the passive/aggressive questioning of people's loyalties, there's a sense of futility that sets in as you realize that jumping in won't make a damn bit of difference - but given that reaching that stage can spare you from another session of "how high can my blood pressure go?" it's not entirely a bad thing.

    It's just kind of sad.


    True (4.25 / 4) (#39)
    by sj on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 04:08:53 PM EST
    ...there's a sense of futility that sets in as you realize that jumping in won't make a damn bit of difference - but given that reaching that stage can spare you from another session of "how high can my blood pressure go?" it's not entirely a bad thing.

    It's just kind of sad.

    You're right, of course. It's just that I don't really want to get to that point of ennui. I don't really want to stop caring. Then I would be someone else, right?

    It's a dilemma.


    I think it's more of a pick-your-battles (5.00 / 2) (#69)
    by Anne on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 10:40:44 AM EST
    kind of thing: not getting into it with some people doesn't mean I've stopped caring - I don't think that's in my nature - it just means I've reached the point where it's obvious that nothing I say will make one iota of difference to that person,  and since I know if I do get into it, it will just degenerate to feeling a lot like a production of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf," lately I've been making the decision not to bother.  Sometimes, I even just skip over those exchanges because they just make me want to mutter "are you fking kidding me" over and over.

    thank you, thank you (5.00 / 3) (#73)
    by NYShooter on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 12:02:10 PM EST
    I have been preaching this approach for a long time now. I still say that the most beneficial tool on your computer (for the situations we're discussing here) is your scroll bar.

    Time, and again, the conversation goes like this:

    A. "Christie doesn't stand a chance."
    B. "This morning's poll shows him up by 5%."
    A. "That poll sucks; it's a right/left wing rag."
    B. "You didn't think so when it showed your guy  in the lead."
    A. "Now you know what I'm thinking?"
    B. "Why do you always say that?
    A. "Always?" I Always say that?"

    And, off to the races we go......for the next 10-20-30 posts. It's so predictable, and, what makes it even worse is that some really smart commenters here, those that I have a lot of respect for, aren't immune to the bait these trollers toss out there, regardless of what the topic is.

    Take Yman, for an example. Lord knows, I think he's one of the smartest, and articulate posters here. But, I ask you, can anyone here point to a "conversation/debate" he's entered into where he's convinced the other party as to the correct facts of that particular subject? He always has his facts correct; he backs up everything with references & links. I'll give anyone here $100 if they can show even one instance where the party he's trying to convince has responded with something like, "Oh, thanks, Yman. I didn't realize the source I was using was lying."

    Just once! (and, make that $1000)

    And, again, I remind you, Yman is only one of many that get into these absolutely predictable, and, unresolve-able debates. Many, many of our best & brightest get sucked in also.

    There used to be a time when a topic came up, and the first couple of comments were on opposite sides, but, stated calmly and honestly. I'd think, "oh, wow, this is going to be interesting." Instead, now, my first thoughts are usually, "oh, no, here we go again."

    I apologize for ranting like this, and, I'm not sure I expressed myself very well. But, I've noticed recently that more and more posters have been expressing similar thoughts, and, I just wanted to toss my 2 cents in there for support.


    But interestingly enough (none / 0) (#10)
    by jbindc on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 08:24:39 AM EST
    He's actually gained popularity among the more strongly partisan "Core Republicans".

    (with all the usual caveats of polls) - doesn't match with the tired "But the Tea Party doesn't support him" meme.

    It may be that the media storm around Mr. Christie has rallied the most loyal Republicans to his defense and, perhaps, led them to see him differently. The story has created a narrative of Mr. Christie versus the media, which may help him with some Republican voters.

    And remember those Core Republicans will likely be a crucial part of the Republican presidential primary electorate, should the New Jersey governor emerge from the bridge saga with 2016 ambitions.

    That's (5.00 / 2) (#27)
    by Ga6thDem on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 01:15:52 PM EST
    because they love to wallow in victimhood and they feel that Christie is a victim. He still doesn't have a constituency.

    A schoolyard bully (5.00 / 5) (#32)
    by jondee on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 01:27:42 PM EST
    usually has a bunch of cowering flunkies behind him.

    Yes (1.00 / 1) (#53)
    by jbindc on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 07:40:24 AM EST
    Look how many people around here still think Obama is a great president.

    Who? (5.00 / 2) (#109)
    by jondee on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 08:37:20 AM EST
    Sometimes you seem as sensitive about Christie as you were about Sarah Palin.

    No idea what you mean (1.00 / 1) (#110)
    by jbindc on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 11:44:08 AM EST
    As with your usual incoherence.

    Martin Bashir - is that you?


    Christie is surging (none / 0) (#105)
    by MKS on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 08:57:33 PM EST
    Really??  With a couple of more weeks like this, he will have the nomination all sewn up.

    Do you really believe this stuff?

    Look pre-scandal, I thought you could be right that Christie would be the nominee.  But changed circumstances require re-assessment.  You just dig in.


    Do you understand the (4.20 / 5) (#106)
    by Anne on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 09:44:58 PM EST
    difference between "gaining in popularity" - the term used in the excerpt jb provided (not her word choice) - and "surging," the word you chose?

    If you do, the question is why you'd choose a word that conveys something much stronger than the phrase from the article.

    Hmmmm....okay, yeah, I think I've figured that one out; probably the easiest thing I've figured out all day.


    It's kinda like (3.00 / 2) (#111)
    by jbindc on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 11:44:38 AM EST
    watching Rachel Maddow.

    He just makes stuff up.


    Speaking of surges.. (none / 0) (#112)
    by jondee on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 09:15:02 AM EST
    there's nothing like a surge of semantic nit-picking to divert the discussion as far away from the main thrust of the other person's argument as possible.

    Oh, for the love of God... (3.67 / 3) (#114)
    by Anne on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 12:29:33 PM EST
    we both know why MKS chose the words he did - it was to make the point he wanted to make, so he could have the argument he wanted to have.

    In my book, that's a dishonest way to have a discussion or conduct an argument, and I can't think of any good reason to accept it or enable it.

    And that's why I called BS on it.


    He could have and I'm sure would (5.00 / 1) (#115)
    by jondee on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 01:11:00 PM EST
    have made the same point if he hadn't changed "gaining in popularity" to "surging". As if there were some tremendously significant difference in connotation between gaining and surging worth diverting the discussion over..

    You're circling the wagons around a compatriot who can stick up for herself just fine, and in the process doing the exact same thing you're accusing MKS of doing.    


    I'm sure MKS is thrilled at your (5.00 / 1) (#117)
    by Anne on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 03:46:55 PM EST
    stout defense of his lame disingenuous tactics - speaking of "circling the wagons" - but after repeated instances of MKS playing fast and loose with language to suit whatever his agenda is, I don't have the same level of confidence you do.

    Really? (3.00 / 2) (#116)
    by sj on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 02:55:13 PM EST
    He could have and I'm sure would (none / 0) (#115)
    by jondee on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 12:11:00 PM MDT

    have made the same point if he hadn't changed "gaining in popularity" to "surging".

    Too bad he didn't. I, for one, would appreciate the clarity it would offer should he still decide to do so.

    And yes, there actually is a

    ...significant difference in connotation between gaining [popularity] and surging...
    How can you not see that? I'm actually rather surprised that you don't. And I'd be even more suprised if you're pretending you don't.

    I dunno (3.00 / 2) (#113)
    by sj on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 11:47:48 AM EST
    there's nothing like a surge of semantic nit-picking...
    You are right, I suppose. If you look at it squinting, with one eye shut. I declare, I don't understand the scorn for "semantic nit-picking" (you) and "word parsing" (not you).

    What part of reading comprehension does not include the parsing of words or semantics? Isn't the comprehension of the written word the point of learning to read?


    SITE VIOLATOR (none / 0) (#119)
    by shoephone on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 11:05:10 AM EST

    In Kim DotCom news... (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by unitron on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 05:34:43 AM EST
    "My Spanish is definitely improving" (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 11:44:06 AM EST
    My Spanish is definitely improving having to watch El Capo and La Reina del Sur with Spanish close-captioning.
    The reverse also works well. When I traveled in America del Sur I would go to the movies of which most were American movies in English with Spanish subtitles. For me it was much easier to learn this way than Spanish programming with English subtitles.

    The coolest things (5.00 / 1) (#72)
    by jbindc on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 11:23:01 AM EST
    you can buy at the Creationist Museum.

    Who doesn't want a tiny Mini Good Luck Baby?

    The Koch Bros... (none / 0) (#2)
    by desertswine on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 10:52:00 PM EST
    He who shall not be named is signed up (none / 0) (#3)
    by oculus on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 12:28:45 AM EST
    for a celebrity boxing match:


    Other people are saying it... (none / 0) (#4)
    by unitron on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 02:02:51 AM EST
    ...and saying that he's said this and said that, but I have yet to see anything I can feel confident came directly from him, like something on the Twitter account known to be his, so I'm withholding belief for the time being.

    Cool. (none / 0) (#7)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 05:13:55 AM EST
    Maybe he can fight Dan Snyder, owner of that hapless NFL team from the Beltway whose name shall not be mentioned.

    Once he finds out (none / 0) (#9)
    by jondee on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 06:55:10 AM EST
    he's going against DMX, he'll probably try to sneak a gun into the ring..

    What's next? Dancing With The Stars?


    I was just gonna ask... (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by kdog on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 09:12:22 AM EST
    he knows they don't allow guns in a boxing ring, right?

    I'm embarassed to say I'm a horrible human being who will gladly plunk down some cash to pay-per-view this...I take DMX at his word, he ain't the type to be f*cking around.

    X Gon' Give It To Ya


    Is George now going to be forced (none / 0) (#14)
    by jondee on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 11:21:04 AM EST
    to act like a weak sister in the ring just to prove how a high school kid could've tossed him around like a rag doll?



    He's welcome to try... (none / 0) (#21)
    by kdog on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 12:47:12 PM EST
    but The Yonkers Avenger ain't takin' no pity or prisoners.  

    Sh*t it might not be an act...hence the concealed weapon habit.

    I'm surprised they only had 15,000 volunteers...and wish somebody had asked me, this welterweight would love a piece of the heavyweight chump....for charity, of course;)


    Sure.. (none / 0) (#25)
    by jondee on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 01:09:18 PM EST
    as long as he goes through a metal detector first..

    And, btw, how pathetic are people to accept that guy adopting the mantle of "celebrity"? Is the popcorn shooter going to the next celebrity if he gets off?


    I hear ya... (none / 0) (#29)
    by kdog on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 01:19:27 PM EST
    when did celebrity become synonymous with infamous?  That's a good question.

    How do you you characterize the (none / 0) (#30)
    by oculus on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 01:21:13 PM EST
    Kardashians, if you do?

    speaking of concealed weapons.. (none / 0) (#37)
    by jondee on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 02:49:12 PM EST
    Offputting... (none / 0) (#107)
    by unitron on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 11:41:31 PM EST
    ...is the most restrained reply that comes to mind.

    AN AXE LENGTH AWAY, vol. 270 (none / 0) (#13)
    by Dadler on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 11:07:35 AM EST
    If you turn yourself in, they'll give you a WalMart gift card. You elderly suckers. (link)

    v. 269
    v. 268
    v. 267

    Get your Thursday on, my friends. Finally getting a good soak in the Bay Area. We need the water desperately. Hope it rains for a month. To all those suffering back east, my condolences.

    Peace, y'all.

    Seems like there is misery to (5.00 / 2) (#16)
    by Anne on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 11:55:06 AM EST
    spare for both coasts - and in between...

    Let's see...Monday was the snow.  We got about 4 inches, most of which had the decency to fall in-between commutes, and only in select areas (mine was one of them).

    With snow on the ground, the next event arrived Tuesday night into Wednesday.  This was mostly freezing rain, which glazed roads and surfaces with significant ice, which in turn brought down power lines and trees.  I had a big tree across the road in front of my neighbor's house on the one side of me, and down the road on the other side, there were large tree branches and debris blocking that way out.

    Big tree got chainsawed out of the way by around 1:00.  I ended up going to my daughter's to watch my grandson, as the power was out at his daycare, and it didn't make sense to me to head downtown to work for only a couple hours.

    Oh, did I mention we had no power at our house?  And still have no power, with no estimate of when it will be restored.  Since we are all-electric, no power means no anything - no water, no stove/oven, no heat.

    Bundled up in socks, leggings, a shirt and a sweatshirt for bed, I listened to the constant cracking of tree limbs, the occasional crash of another branch hitting the ground, and the crushed-glass sound of ice falling off the trees onto the ground.  Prayed nothing close to the house would decide to crash into it.

    Now, we haven't had multiple feet of snow, so we've got that going for us, but I would take snow any day over ice.

    Supposed to be a little something headed our way on Saturday/Sunday, but nothing to get all in a dither about.

    Enjoy the rain - I know you all need it, and as someone with a well, I swore i would never, ever complain about rain after we had to have our well drilled an additional 150 feet to tap into more water.  Yeah, I know the snow and ice will melt and become the water we need, but it's not the easiest way to get it.

    Stay warm, and dry and travel safely when/if you venture out.


    We're in the megadrought here (none / 0) (#18)
    by Dadler on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 12:17:31 PM EST
    dry, dry, dry. they should make a water pipeline, forget oil.

    sounds miserable out your way. if it's any consolation, we live in a completely uninsulated house, with 80 year old windows, and our bedroom is like an icebox, so I sleep in socks, sweats, beanie, hoodie, a lot in the winter.

    Listen to me, whine, whine.

    Thanks for the thoughts and stay safe, and warm however you can manage it.



    I kind of like this Sochi (none / 0) (#33)
    by leap on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 01:55:56 PM EST
    Still waiting for the 'superb bowl' they promised (none / 0) (#38)
    by RonK Seattle on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 04:04:36 PM EST
    ... if I came to their party on Sunday.

    With friends like that, whaddyagonnado?

    Justified (none / 0) (#40)
    by ruffian on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 04:15:11 PM EST
    I know exactly what you mean - the new characters are just revoltingly over the top creepy. I watched the recording last night of the most recent episode, and I almost did turn it off or ff through the scenes with that big new Crow brother.

    I'm losing reasons besides Timmy O to tune in.

    Top Chef (none / 0) (#41)
    by The Addams Family on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 07:28:57 PM EST
    Nina Compton got robbed

    totally mugged, with a big bully club wielded by Tom Colicchio

    & it seems that virtually the entire internet agrees with me

    I agree, and as I was watching (none / 0) (#42)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 09:18:08 PM EST
    there was a chiron at the bottom of the screen with live viewer votes, and 84% thought Nina should win. Her food seemed so much better than Nicholas' all season. I don't think anything N. made last night beat her baby goat dish, and her desert seemed fine to me.

    as somebody on Twitter said . . . (none / 0) (#43)
    by The Addams Family on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 11:16:38 PM EST
    now Nicholas can go and cook somewhere for Hosea

    Obamacre creates a disincentive to work (none / 0) (#44)
    by Slado on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 11:49:27 PM EST
    So says CBO


    Apparently (5.00 / 1) (#48)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 06:04:58 AM EST
    you don't know many working class people. There are a lot of women in so called pink collar jobs that don't make any money working after they pay child care etc. They are working solely for health insurance. So if you're not bringing home any money from your job anyway yeah, and you were ONLY working FOR health insurance, yeah, with Obamacare there's no incentive to keep doing that if now you can get health insurance and not work and stay at home with the kids or whatever.

    Frankly as much as conservatives talk about how they want women to stay at home with their children you would think they would like that.


    Is health insurance free now? (5.00 / 3) (#52)
    by Anne on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 06:48:20 AM EST
    Because last I checked, it isn't.  And if you're getting it fully paid by your employer, quitting your job means having to pay for it.  But maybe, if you're one of those women working to pay child care, and you can save that expense, and you're not spending money on gas and clothes and parking and such, you can afford insurance.  Maybe you can get it for a low cost, maybe quitting your job makes you eligible for subsidies or for Medicaid, but I think there's a lot more that goes into this than, "great! I can quit now!"

    But it probably only works if there's someone else in the picture who can carry the full support of the family.  If you're it, the only one working, it isn't going to be health insurance that makes the difference between working and not working.

    I guess I'm a little skeptical about how many people, in the end, will choose to give up working, especially with regard to older workers, who don't have child care expenses they would save by not working.  Maybe they can make it on early Social Security if they don't have the expenses of working, I don't know.

    I guess we'll see how it all shakes out - but it may be that upon reflection, many people will hedge their bets and keep working out of fear for what the future might bring.


    Thank you (5.00 / 1) (#54)
    by jbindc on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 07:52:32 AM EST
    This is what I've been asking - who are all these people who just work for insurance and not also for the money?  Are there really as many as the CBO report supposedly calculates?  All these people will just stay at home (or cut to part-time) and have no more financial worries?

    I don't think (none / 0) (#55)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 08:05:26 AM EST
    single parents are going to be the ones who quit their jobs or single people. I think the numbers are mostly those people who are currently working simply for insurance or people who are really wanting to retire but keep working for insurance. It's not like the CBO is saying that everybody is going to quit their jobs. It's just that some people are going to have more options when it comes to certain things.

    I can see people changing jobs, now that (5.00 / 1) (#57)
    by Anne on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 09:04:46 AM EST
    they can get insurance that isn't tied to where they work, but that's about it.  Maybe they could go from full-time to part-time, but I honestly don't see much more than that.

    I'm 60; I'd love to retire.  I'm don't have insurance through my employer - I'm working because after my husband lost his job a few years ago, and couldn't get another one, he opted to take SS at 62 (his medical is fully covered by the VA, and now he has Medicare, too) - but we still have 10 years left on the mortgage, and I'm going to need a new car soon, and we have all the bills people have regardless of whether they work.  I can't collect SS for another 18 months, and it may make more sense for me to keep working until I can go on Medicare.

    Plus, I'm making contributions to an IRA and my employer makes a 6% contribution every year - and I'd like to keep building up that fund, so when I do start drawing on it, it does a better job of helping us meet our expenses.

    When to stop working or whether to stop or go part-time doesn't just come down to an insurance premium, not for most people, I don't think.

    I'm not saying some people won't leave their jobs, but I'm skeptical that it will be as widespread as is being projected.  I think there is still a lot of uncertainty where the economy and jobs are concerned, and I think that uncertainty is going to keep more people who have jobs in those jobs - and deciding to put whatever savings they derive from getting less expensive insurance into savings, or paying down bills or taking on some of those things we keep saying we'll get to "one of these days."


    And with (none / 0) (#58)
    by jbindc on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 09:14:33 AM EST
    another lackluster jobs report, I can see how people might be very skeptical about leaving a job.

    The people (none / 0) (#60)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 09:34:33 AM EST
    that are going to be leaving their jobs because they are working simply for insurance are not going to be influenced by that. They already are not producing any income for their household. And people getting ready to retire and have enough money are not going to worry about there being no jobs.

    We're sort of talking past each other. (5.00 / 1) (#67)
    by Anne on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 10:11:03 AM EST
    Many women who pay a significant portion of their net pay to child-care providers continue to do so because eventually, their kids will be in school fulltime, their costs will go down, their net will go up and they will be contributing to the family income.  Unless you are talking about minimum wage jobs, I think you have to consider that it's hard to leave the job market for five or six years while kids are little and then jump back in when the kiddies go to school - it's why a lot of women make the sacrifice that comes with working full time and having young children.

    The CBO seems to be saying that the reduction of hours worked will be the equivalent of 2+ million jobs, not that 2+ million people will leave jobs altogether.  So, we may see a reduction in hours, which, if someone has the option to do because they aren't tied to full-time work in order to get employer-sponsored insurance, that's a good thing.

    What I've seen is that when people stay with an employer on a reduced-hours basis, the employer simply expects them to be as productive as they were when they were working full time.  


    Yes, (none / 0) (#75)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 12:06:25 PM EST
    but what I am talking about is people who are so called pink collar jobs not people who are going to see an income worth keeping. I'm not talking about doctors and lawyers and the like who if they wait it out are going to be way better financially. I'm talking about people who are not earning any income right now even though they are working.

    Yes, it is hard for professionals to get back in the job market but not pink collar jobs like putting up files at an insurance company.


    Really? (none / 0) (#61)
    by jbindc on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 09:38:41 AM EST
    And people getting ready to retire and have enough money are not going to worry about there being no jobs.

    If you (none / 0) (#74)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 12:02:49 PM EST
    have a significant amount of money saved and you can get insurance cheap and you hate your job why wouldn't you quit instead of staying? I mean we're not talking half the workforce here. We really are just talking about what? 5%? 1%?

    Well (none / 0) (#59)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 09:31:20 AM EST
    that's kind of my point. It's not most people it just some people may have other options. Everybody has different circumstances.

    Which was mine (and Anne's) point (5.00 / 1) (#64)
    by jbindc on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 09:53:56 AM EST
    You really think 2 millions workers will "opt out" of the labor force because "Hey!  I don't need to work for insurance anymore so I can quit my job / go part time!" ?

    And you really think that those who retire are doing so because they have plenty of money?  (You might want to talk to people who are subtly pushed into "forced retirements" and see if they think they have plenty of money).


    FWIW... (5.00 / 1) (#66)
    by kdog on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 10:11:01 AM EST
    The only reason my moms is still working is for the health insurance.  Don't know if there are 1,999,999 more like her, but it sounds plausible.

    Hope I am not being too nosy. (none / 0) (#68)
    by vml68 on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 10:40:39 AM EST
    Will she be able to quit her job now and still have comparable health insurance?

    Not at all nosy... (5.00 / 1) (#71)
    by kdog on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 11:20:52 AM EST
    It's moot now in my moms case, she turns 65 this year and will be going on Medicare next year.  

    The family desperately wanted her to retire sooner at 62 and collect my deceased father's social security, but the health insurance held her back...despite our pleas that we would all help out and make it work somehow.  That's my moms for ya...giving quarter all day long, but doesn't wanna take any quarter.   I wanted us to look into making it happen this year for her with an ACA subsidized plan but at that point she had already made up her mind to work one more year while collecting Social Security to build up a little more savings. She's so stubborn!

    Now if the ACA took effect 3 years ago, it might have helped us realize the early retirement wish.    


    Don't know if you Mom is aware of the (5.00 / 2) (#81)
    by MO Blue on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 12:24:25 PM EST
    fact that she can take your Dad's SS (assuming he is dead and his benefits is higher) now, let her own build up until she is 70. At 70 her benefit will have gained 8% (Deferred Benefit Credit) for each year after her full eligibility year. And if it is then higher than your Dad's, she can switch to her own.

    This option has provided me with several hundred dollars extra a month and will be worth 2 or 3 hundred more when I switch to my SS at 70.  

    Delayed Retirement Credits

    Social Security benefits are increased (by a certain percentage depending on a person's date of birth) if retirement is delayed beyond full retirement age.

    The benefit increase stops when a person reaches age 70, even if they continue to delay taking benefits.

    If she is not aware of this option, she needs to get on the phone with SS ASAP. She may be losing out on funds that she is entitled to right now.


    Pardon my ignorance and confusion... (none / 0) (#84)
    by kdog on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 12:41:38 PM EST
    but then she would have to work till 70, no? Nobody wants that, even if it means extra shekels.  

    All I really know for sure is my dad's benefits dwarf what hers would be retiring at 65...don't know about 70, but I'm guessing my dad's would still be more...he was in the workforce a lot longer and contributed a lot more.  

    PS...why does it have to be so convoluted and confusing! Is it intentional to screw people and/or make money for consultants and lawyers?  I mean I'm a resonably intelligent person and your link is almost all Greek to me.


    NO, NO, NO (5.00 / 1) (#90)
    by MO Blue on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 01:34:22 PM EST
    She would not have to work until she is 70. She could quit work tomorrow (I was not working when I pursued this strategy) and still collect on your dad's SS. And then if more beneficial collect her own at age 70. She is collecting your dad's benefits and not touching her benefits until she is 70. IOW as long as she has built up enough credits to be eligible for SS her benefits at full retirement age her benefits would be frozen and gain simple interest from full retirement age until the age 70.

    To simplify the math: Moms benefit at full retirement age at age 66: $1,000. per month.
    Number of years deferred (70 - 66) 4
    Deferred Payment Credit @ 8%: $80 per month.
    Total 4 yr. Deferred Payment Credit: $320 per month.
    Moms benefit age 70: $1,320 per month.*

    * This amount does not include any COL adjustments which would automatically be included in the amount.

    I may be wrong but if her benefits never exceed your dad's even at the age of 70 and she never switches to her own benefits, I doubt there is any advantage to continue working. Why would she want to continue to build up her benefits if she never takes them.

    All of this information is based on my circumstance which sound somewhat similar to my own and I do not claim to be an expert. A telephone call to SS agent can get all the answers. Have all the information aThey can run the numbers for all scenarios and give her exact information. I found the agents extremely knowledgeable and helpful. You might want to somehow be there and help her get and understand the information.

    Also it is important for your Mom to sign up for Medicare when she reaches 65. From SS.gov website:

    Here's An Important Point: If you decide to delay your retirement, be sure to

    sign up for just Medicare at age 65.

    If you do not sign up, in some circumstances your Medicare coverage may be delayed and cost more.

    Thanks MO... (none / 0) (#91)
    by kdog on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 01:44:22 PM EST
    we gotta sit down and call the SS people.

    To clarify she sin't working this one last year to build up benefits, but to simply collect a paycheck and my dad's SS check for a year to save some money for when she does retire and only has SS coming in.


    Oh I get it now. (none / 0) (#93)
    by MO Blue on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 01:53:19 PM EST
    That makes more sense.

    Make sure that she factors in how much her other expenses cut into her the cash she actually receives (taxes, FICA, transportation, wear and tear on the body, etc.) when she does the calculations.

    No matter what, I definitely think a call to SS is in order. It always helps to have all the information and all the numbers when making these types of decisions.


    No this is a "good" benefit (5.00 / 1) (#99)
    by MO Blue on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 03:24:08 PM EST
    and helps rather than screws a surviving spouse like me. This option resulted in me receiving hundreds of dollars more now and several hundred additional dollars when I reach 70.

    The fact that it is confusing probably has more to do with my lack of presenting this option properly rather than your intelligence. The people at the SS office went over my options with me in terms that I could understand until I firmly understood what would garner me the highest benefit that would meet my current needs. They will run several different scenarios so that you can explore all your options. Knowing the exact amount of the shekels really makes it all clearer.

    Once the information is put into actual dollar amounts it is hard not to understand the idea that if you do X you will receive a certain dollar amount and if you do y the dollar amount is higher or lower.



    I don't understand (none / 0) (#82)
    by NYShooter on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 12:31:40 PM EST
    If your Mom is turning 65 this year why does she have to wait till next year for Medicare? She becomes eligible for Medicare the minute she turns 65.

    Yes... (5.00 / 1) (#85)
    by kdog on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 12:49:24 PM EST
    she could get on Medicare this year, but despite my pleas to the contrary she still wants to work this year while collecting SS to bank cash.  And stay on her employers health insurance plan since she's working.  

    Like I said, she's stubborn...I wish she'd listen to me and retire on her birthday.  She sure as hell has no love for her damn job but there's no arguing with her.  

    On the brightside, she won't need the job anymore for health insurance so with any luck they'll piss her off and she'll tell 'em to shove it;)



    Your Mom really, really needs to talk (5.00 / 1) (#92)
    by MO Blue on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 01:44:43 PM EST
    to someone at SS.

    It's twisted... (none / 0) (#94)
    by kdog on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 01:57:54 PM EST
    now I'm worried, I'm going to see her tomorrow to talk about it...hopefully she knows more than I do and/or has spoken to SS already, I could be speaking out of turn.  I'm especially curious if she has to pay for the Medicare she's not going to use for a year, just as to not get jacked for signing up next year...makes no f8ckin' common sense.

    Hats off to you older folks who have to navigate this maze.


    The Medicare program needs (none / 0) (#95)
    by Anne on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 02:48:33 PM EST
    those at the younger end of the spectrum, because they are generally healthier and help spread the risk among a larger population, which keeps costs down for all participants.  Right now, the Part B premium is $104.90 per month (depending on income); the premium for Part A varies, but I know my husband pays nothing for his.

    And if she has both Medicare and employer-provided coverage, she will end up using it - you need to find out from SS which of the two plans is considered primary and which is secondary.  Every single claim form we fill out for providers asks if you have other insurance and from which company, because benefits will be coordinated between them.  Even though a person might pay for more than one insurance, he or she will never have a benefit greater than the better of the two coverages.

    The folks at Medicare can walk her through all of this, and between them and Social Security, she may be able to make some decisions that she won't regret!


    I just called Moms... (none / 0) (#97)
    by kdog on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 02:57:23 PM EST
    the suspense was killing me...she's on the ball I think, I did not know but she did in fact sign up for Medicare Part A when she applied for my dad's SS...and was told that she won't be penalized when she signs up for Part B and D since she is currently covered by her employer plan.  Phew!

    Still say all this sh*t is waaaay more convoluted and confusing than it needs to be...but in Moms case it sounds like she's got her retirement plan navigated, just not as soon as we kids would have liked.  But she's the boss of the extended clan, whaddya gonna do!


    Both Mr. Zorba and I (none / 0) (#100)
    by Zorba on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 03:42:16 PM EST
    are Medicare age, but he is still working.
    We did sign up for Medicare Part A, which costs us nothing.  But since his health insurance is primary, we did not sign up for Medicare B (which costs).
    When he retires, we will keep his current health insurance as our supplemental plan, and sign up for Medicare B for primary.
    You have awhile to do this, without penalty, after retirement.

    I think your mom needs to consider (none / 0) (#87)
    by Anne on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 01:00:56 PM EST
    the penalties associated with not enrolling in Part A and/or Part B Medicare when initially eligible:

    If you don't sign up for Part B when you're first eligible or if you drop Part B and then get it later, you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty for as long as you have Medicare. Your monthly premium for Part B may go up 10% for each full 12-month period that you could have had Part B, but didn't sign up for it.

    Usually, you don't pay a late enrollment penalty if you meet certain conditions that allow you to sign up for Part B during a Special Enrollment Period.

    If you aren't eligible for premium-free Part A, and you don't buy it when you're first eligible, your monthly premium may go up 10%. You'll have to pay the higher premium for twice the number of years you could have had Part A, but didn't sign up.

    She may think she's saving money, but the reality is it could be costing her more not to enroll in Medicare.


    Say what? (none / 0) (#88)
    by kdog on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 01:06:44 PM EST
    you get penalized for not taking your benefits right away aka saving the system money? wtf is going on here?  Gotta be a better way...

    2 million is (none / 0) (#77)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 12:08:11 PM EST
    what percentage of the work force? Think of it that way.

    I found the numbers (none / 0) (#79)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 12:14:42 PM EST
    and the 2.3 million people are approximately 2.1% of the work force. You don't think that 2.1% of the workforce isn't going to altering their work because they can now get insurance? I think that is a very small percentage.

    Which will open up the job market for (none / 0) (#46)
    by oculus on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 11:53:02 PM EST
    younger people.

    So people who might ... (none / 0) (#50)
    by Yman on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 06:12:50 AM EST
    ... otherwise choose to work fewer hours or retire early but keep working for health insurance should remain tied to their jobs so the can jave health insurance?



    Obamacare costs AOL 7.1 million (none / 0) (#45)
    by Slado on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 11:52:40 PM EST
    So says CEO

    Guess who's going to foot that bill.   The employees of AOL.

    Awesome job pres.

    Better to blame the 401k cut on OC (none / 0) (#47)
    by nycstray on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 12:14:16 AM EST
    than 2 sick babies, eh ;)

    But seriously, why is OC going to cost them so much money?


    Really? (none / 0) (#65)
    by Slado on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 09:55:39 AM EST
    Because the new policies require more benefits be provided.

    Why?   Because they need the money to provide subsidized coverage for the uninsured.

    There is no free lunch.   To provide healthcare for people who didn't have it somebody has to pay.   The payer in this case is the people who already had it and the biggest bucket to get that money from is the big companies providing coverage.  

    The writers of this law as usual didn't think things through.   They thought they could just ask employers to pay more and they wouldn't react.

    Or maybe they did think it through.  Maybe they hoped they would blow this all up.   They just didn't plan on it happening so fast.


    Nothing in Obamacare says employers (none / 0) (#76)
    by ruffian on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 12:07:57 PM EST
    have to self-insure. If AOL had provided paid premiums for their employees to an insurance company instead of deciding to assume the role of insurer (and risk taker) themselves, they would possibly be better off, but who knows? I assume they as corporate geniuses factored in the risks before they made that decision.

    Now they want to blame the sick babies for losing them money, rather than their poor business decisions.  


    Insurance (none / 0) (#49)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 06:05:34 AM EST
    is expensive. So let's just get rid of it and go to single payer.

    Well, if the CEO ... (none / 0) (#51)
    by Yman on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 06:18:45 AM EST
    ... is pointing the finger at the ACA, it's got to be true, right?

    Was this right after he blamed the two women employees who gave birth to sick babies?

    "The Affordable Care Act is simply a convenient whipping boy for any decision an employer makes to cut benefits," Tim Jost, a law professor at Washington and Lee, said. "Assuming AOL had reasonably generous coverage like most large employers, it should not have experienced any significant changes in its benefit structure for 2014.



    Make all the excuses you want (none / 0) (#62)
    by Slado on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 09:47:22 AM EST
    Taken individually you and defenders can claim that people will not have to work just to have healthcare, companies are the real enemy etc,.. Etc...

    The real point is this law is radically changing the way our economy and our healthcare system is going to work.

    If that was resulting in a net positive for society maybe you could defend this mess but frankly I don't see it.

    Yes some people now have healthcare but for many more the price to give those people healthcare is more expensive healthcare that offers a lower quality of care.

    The stories will just keep coming and every time the talking heads invested in this mess will create another clever retort but collectively we'll contine to see that this law sucks and hopefully democrats will pay for dumping this mess on us this fall.

    The employee mandate shoe will start dropping soon and that will be impossible for the supporters of this laws and their friends in the media to defend.


    I am not a big fan of the ACA; there (5.00 / 2) (#83)
    by Anne on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 12:36:06 PM EST
    were better ways to address the problem of access to and affordability of care, and the powers that be chose to try to tweak an already-dysfunctional and avaricious system rather than truly reform it.

    But here's my question to you: what's the Republicans' plan?  Do you even know what it is?

    You might want to look at this: What GOP-Style reform looks like

    In part:

    The plan would repeal the Affordable Care Act and substitute an alternative that would likely cover fewer uninsured people, raise premiums for many older adults, shrink Medicaid, cut back on subsidies for middle class Americans, scale back protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and allow private insurers to escape many of the consumer-friendly requirements now imposed on them.

    Now, rather than carp and whine and moan about the ACA, how about you tell us how the GOP's ideas not only make the problems with the ACA go away, but they improve access and affordability for more Americans.

    I'm all for a single-payer system, an improved Medicare-for-All.  And there are ways to transition from where we are now without dousing the ACA with gasoline and setting it on fire.



    What planet (none / 0) (#80)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 12:15:49 PM EST
    do you reside on? I have worked with a ton of people who were working SOLELY to get health care. It has been this way for quite some time.

    There are none so blind ... (none / 0) (#103)
    by Yman on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 06:26:43 PM EST
    If that was resulting in a net positive for society maybe you could defend this mess but frankly I don't see it.

    LA Times

    New Republic

    Center For Economic and Policy Research


    Law Professor (none / 0) (#63)
    by Slado on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 09:50:10 AM EST
    What a lame quote.

    A law professor knows more then a CEO about how to run his company?

    Double heh


    No, the professor ... (5.00 / 2) (#101)
    by Yman on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 04:31:15 PM EST
    ... is just smart enough to realize that some CEOs are just using the ACA as an excuse to cut benefits, and you shouldn't just accept the CEOs self-serving argument.

    Not that you need to be a professor to know that.


    Short, Sweet, and Accurate (5.00 / 2) (#102)
    by CoralGables on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 04:53:36 PM EST
    How about a healthcare expert? (none / 0) (#108)
    by Yman on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 07:43:02 AM EST
    One who's not making a self-serving argument?

    The idea that costly pregnancies would increase AOL's future employee benefit costs doesn't make sense, said Gary Claxton, the co-director of the Program for the Study of Health Reform and Private Insurance at the Kaiser Family Foundation. Those expenses shouldn't have any effect on costs. "There should be none. None," he said.
    "Unless those babies are still sick and still extraordinarily expensive, it's irrelevant. I mean, something that happened in 2012 should have no bearing on 2014," Claxton said. Likewise, the $7.1 million excess cost Armstrong attributed to the Affordable Care Act is out of proportion with the size of the company's workforce, he said.


    In a 2013 survey, more than half of employers estimated the Affordable Care Act caused marginal increases in health benefits costs of 5 percent or less, or that it reduced their costs, in 2012 and 2013.

    "It is gone, goodbye" (none / 0) (#56)
    by kdog on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 08:30:16 AM EST
    The city of NY and the baseball world lost a gem yesterday, the legendary Ralph Kiner passed on at the age of 91.

    One of the greatest sluggers to ever play the game, and one of it's greatest voices from the broadcast booth.  

    Thank you Ralph Kiner for 51 years of great calls, great stories, & great insights broadcasting for the hometown Mets.  Ralph was with the Mets since their inception, part time the last ten years after he suffered a stroke.  It was always a most pleasant surprise the last few years when you turned on a weekend afternoon game and heard that old familar voice again...a little slower on the delivery, but as sharp and entertaining as ever. How blessed us Mets fans were to have you.

    AN AXE LENGTH AWAY, vol. 271 (none / 0) (#70)
    by Dadler on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 11:19:07 AM EST
    What You Learn About Tech (none / 0) (#86)
    by jbindc on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 12:54:44 PM EST
    from watching Law & Order - all 456 episodes.

    That was fascinating (none / 0) (#96)
    by sj on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 02:51:27 PM EST
    Thank you. The mini good luck babies were interesting, too. Do you have to buy a whole container, I wonder?

    This has practical application, if they are mini enough. When I worked for a company based in Baton Rouge we would follow a tradition of starting off Mardi Gras season with a King Cake. Because King Cakes were, at that time, not readily available in Colorado we modified the tradition by using any dessert that had the baby hidden inside.

    I wanted to do that at work this year but I didn't get off my duff in time (MG season starts on Twelfth Night which is January 6).

    But speaking of tradition, I wonder: did you do the Santa thing this year after all?


    No Santa (5.00 / 1) (#98)
    by jbindc on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 03:06:41 PM EST
    But some presents from mom were labeled "From Santa" and some were labeled "From Mom". We had a really nice Christmas, and all got really neat presents.  We did well this year.  New Year's was kind of a bust - BF and I had to cancel our fancy dinner plans because I came down with a horrible case of some kind of stomach flu the day before, and while I felt a little better on New Year's Eve, the idea of having a really late steak dinner didn't feel like it would be good for my stomach.

    I LOVE King Cake! We had it when I lived in Texas. I understand that some places won't bake the baby in the cake anymore (it comes on the side) because kids have choked on them.  Boo.

    The Law & Order tech thing fascinated me too - I really have noticed in that show (now, SVU), and other police shows I use, how far they tech has come - now they all have iPads and upload crime scene photos, and receive instant information at crime scenes.  On the other side - many of the crimes committed in the stories have gotten more "sophisticated" - using cell phone pictures, spying equipment, etc.

    Mini Babies!