Joanne Palmer: Debt ceiling and other confusions |

Joanne Palmer: Debt ceiling and other confusions

Joanne Palmer

In 1989, Joanne Palmer left a publishing career in Manhattan and has missed her paycheck ever since. She is a mom, weekly columnist for the Steamboat Pilot & Today, and the owner of a property management company, The House Nanny. Her new book "Life in the 'Boat: How I fell on Warren Miller's skis, cheated on my hairdresser and fought off the Fat Fairy" is now available in local bookstores and online at or

— Raise your hand if you understood the debt ceiling debacle.

Me neither.

Oh my goodness. What a long, drawn-out process. I think trying to beat the world record of Pi memorization (someone once recited 42,195 digits) might have been easier and more interesting than reaching a bipartisan agreement. Notice how I dropped "bipartisan" into the above sentence to give you the impression that I have some grasp of our political process?

The fact is my eyes glazed over about two hours into the whole mess and nothing happened after that to pique my interest. I realize this probably cements my status as an intellectual midget, but try as I might, I could not get interested in it.

What is a trillion dollars anyway? I had to Google it. But just so you know, a trillion dollars is a million million, or a thousand billion. It's followed by 12 zeros.


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Maybe that will make it easier for some of you to understand. It was easier for me to grasp the fact that the United States borrows 40 cents of every dollar it spends.

I wish they would hire me to come in and find ways to cut the budget. Armed with an oversized pair of scissors, I know I could be effective.

Here are some other things that confuse me:

■ The Dow Jones Industrial Average. I can't get interested in that, either. I hear it on the radio every day and know I should be interested, but my holdings are few and likely to remain that way until someone wealthy adopts me (yes, I'm available!). Notice how I dropped "holdings" into the above sentence to give you the impression I have some grasp of the Dow Jones?

In fact, I do not.

■ Instruction manuals. I believe the world is divided into people who read instruction manuals and those who do not. I do not.

Instruction manuals take all the fun out of life. They are written in a multitude of languages, most of which I do not speak. Sometimes turning the manual or booklet upside down or sideways is required, which is no fun whatsoever. I would rather shake the computer, blender, camera or whatever it is I am trying to understand, turn it upside down, bang it, reboot it or jump up and down on it before I read the instructions. That's just me.

■ Sewing patterns. I don't understand them. The last time I looked at one, I believe was in the eighth grade and I wisely decided that buying my clothes at consignment stores and thrift shops was more cost effective.

■ Military time. Despite the benefits, I have no plans to join the military. Therefore I do not see the point in deciphering military time. Military time requires math skills, which as a loyal English major I do not possess. So there.

■ Road maps. There are too many squiggly lines to even be bothered with these antiquated objects. Save a tree and use MapQuest instead. Because even if you can understand a road map, you then have to refold it, which is crazy-making.

■ Iron sheets. There are some neat-niks who iron their sheets. Why? They will only get wrinkled while you sleep, and unless you sleep with your eyes open, are you going to notice the sheet status anyway?

■ Lipstick. There are women who can eat an entire meal with their lipstick on. How they do that is a mystery to me. I can barely get it to last for 10 minutes.

■ Tupperware. Plastic containers are ruining my life. A conservative estimate shows I have 1 bazillion Tupperware containers in my pantry. However, a secret Tupperware lid-snatching thief has absconded with the lids. So there. It is not my fault.

There are other things on my list, like medical bills and foreign policy, but it might confuse me more to keep listing them, In the interest of mental acuity, I will stop for now.

What confuses you? Join the conversation with my column on

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