Friday, January 30, 2015

Whew, got through January!

Well, yes, there's another day left.  But it's as good as done.  I don't do January well these days (years).  I blame mostly the horrible polluted inversion air we have every January.  It really drags my mood down and some days I don't function very well. 

I made the usual New Year's resolutions this year but did not post them here.  I am spending more time posting to my private journal and that's where I track the resolutions and progress.  Well, January was almost a bust with that regard.  But in the last week, I seem to have snapped out of it.  I saw progress on every item.  Naturally, one of my resolutions is to work on specific house and yard projects every month.  I wasted most of the month, but am making up for lost time now. I could possibly have my January project finished next week.

I don't feel bad about that.  I realized this month that I need to give myself a break sometimes.  Setting goals and then failing right away was making me feel guilty and unhappy with myself.  But then I looked around at everything I've accomplished in recent years.  Sometimes progress happens in spurts, and sometimes I just have to be lazy.  Even my idea of lazy is not really--I'm so busy with commitments to help other people.  My goals are arbitrary.  But they sure aren't worth sacrificing my feelings of happiness, contentment, and self-worth.  I will cut myself some slack.  I'm not wonder woman, but I am good at getting stuff done -- eventually.  And I will.

So far, so good with 2015.  Bring on February.

P.S.  I've actually been able to get out birding several times this month.  But my favorite bird of the month was a visitor to my suet feeders.  A little Ruby-crowned Kinglet.  I've never seen one before, let alone in my own yard.  It's a blurry picture taken from inside the house as the guy was quick and elusive.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

I have my name back and a new license

I spent a couple of hours today and jumped through all the officialdom hoops needed to get a birth certificate with my correct name and nothing crossed out.  Cost was $20 at the Department of Vital Statistics.  They were remarkably helpful and efficient.  That was the easy part.

Back at the DMV, I was treated to having a new picture taken, which was equally as bad as that last one.  And was required to fill out a new application for a license. Jeez, the one I filled out three weeks ago wouldn't do?  They wanted to charge me $18 for the change, but I protested.  After all, they accepted an unacceptable birth certificate which necessitated the change.  The supervisor was consulted and they reluctantly agreed to waive the fee because they should never have issued a license until I provided a corrected birth certificate.  They then went through the application with a fine tooth comb looking to see every "t" was crossed and every "i" dotted.  Even gave me another vision test.  Now really, was that all necessary?  Yes, because we are the DMV and we have the power.

Ah well, it's all done, and I have a temporary license with the new one to be mailed in a few weeks.  Crisis resolved.  My good humor is intact.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

My name is no longer my name - so I'm told

It's a strange thing to wake up in the country of my birth and find that both my birth certificate and the name I've used all my life are no longer recognized by my government.

I renewed my driver's license in December.  They mailed the new license to me as I didn't have all the right documents the first time I went in.  I guess when you have to go in a second time, they can't give you the license on the spot and have to mail it to you.  Maybe I should back up and explain a bit.

Five years ago the Utah state legislature, in its fear and paranoia about non-citizens ("illegal immigrants" in their words) getting driver licenses, implemented new requirements for ALL license applicants.  You must now prove you are a U.S.citizen, prove you live at the address you say you do, and prove your social security number is your own.  There are various documents they accept.  And they don't bend those rules.  I no longer have a valid passport, so I used a birth certificate for proof of citizenship, which they accepted.  But I had an unaccepted document for social security number and had to return a second time.  It seemed all was good.  

Until I received my new license in the mail.   

My name on the license was Becky RAE Stauffer instead of Becky ANN Stauffer.  What!?  I called to report the error and after lengthy discussions, I was informed that my birth certificate had been altered and that "Homeland Security will not allow us to accept altered documents."  

Yes, my birth certificate has a change on it.  My parents changed their mind about my middle name while I was still in the hospital.  Since the birth form had already been typed up and signed by everyone, the hospital simply crossed out Rae and typed Ann directly above.  And all my life that small change has proven to be no problem for enrolling in school, applying for my first driver license, social security, employment, U.S. passport.  The health department has always provided me with legal certified copies of that same birth certificate containing the change, and it has never been a problem.  Now I am informed that my birth certificate is no longer legal and I must have a new one issued.

So here I am at 67 years old, no longer having a valid birth certificate and with a different LEGAL name than the one I've used my entire life.  I am so baffled, frustrated, and angry at being forced to jump through these hoops.  The state health department tells me that for $20 I can get an "abstract" birth certificate with the corrected name which the driver's license bureau will accept. So there is that additional cost, a trip to the health department and another trip to the DMV.  And I suspect there will be a charge to change my license, too.  And no guarantees the DMV will accept the abstract.

And while it might be tempting to blame Homeland Security and terrorism for this hassle, make no mistake about it: the Utah legislature is responsible for all this trouble -- for requiring all legitimate citizens to prove their citizenship.  What a joke of a state I live in!

And as an afterword, when I first failed to provide the correct documents at the DMV, I observed that nearly everyone applying that morning had a similar problem with documents.  When I went back, I asked the clerk if she thought 90 percent of applicants failed to have the correct documents.  Oh no, she told me, it's more like around 60 percent.  It boggles the mind to think of the ridiculousness of a law that is so confusing that most people can't easily comply.  And then think of the inconvenience and cost to the applicants and to the state as well for having to process the application twice and then mail out the license later.  Just unbelievable.

I rarely get angry.  But this would be one of those rare times.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

2014 Year in Photos

Not sure if this will work or not.  I just noticed that Google+ created a year in photos for me.  It's much better than the one Facebook compiled.  I'll try to share it here: Year in Photos

If the link doesn't work, please let me know in the comments.