Wednesday/ packing for South Africa

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Aw .. a friendly little Seattle Seahawks ‘beanie ball’ from the airport bookstore smiled at me as I walked out to baggage claim.

I’m home from Denver .. a crazy day at work it was, squeezing in as much as I can before caught the cab downstairs.  At Seattle airport at 7 pm the cab driver gave me a big smile; he finally made it to the front of the line after he started his shift at 6 pm; so I was his first passenger for the night.  (Man! At least I don’t work the night shift, I thought).  He dropped me at The Chieftain pub on 12th Ave, and in I went luggage and all to join Bryan, Gary, Steve and Ken for their Wednesday night beer, and just to say hi and good-bye to everyone.  I leave for South Africa on Thursday with a stay-over in Reykjavik.

I see the Fed said it would start to taper their bond-buying to $75 billion a month from $85 billion.  And in the waning days of 2013, the US Senate approved a tiny two-person (Paul Ryan and Patti Murray) budget deal.  First time since 2009 the USA actually has an approved budget. There is a ‘doc fix’ in there : postponement of a nearly 24% cut in Medicare pay for physicians from Jan 1 until April 1 – in fact, they get a 0.5% raise during that period.  I guess we have to pay the doctors, right?  But extended unemployment insurance benefits are set to expire December 28, which will leave 1.3 million people without benefits and hit another 800,000 in the coming weeks.  Not good, but for how long should one get unemployment insurance?  More than 6 months?   This budget deal also has military retirees chip in a little bit of their existing benefits.  Is that fair?  Life is full of tough decisions.

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