Thursday, June 30, 2011

Pretty Sure I'll Take Heat For This.....

Today was to have been the first day of a very long weekend.  'Was' being the operative word.  Like many, I cannot bring myself to walk past the Blackberry, sitting on the counter charging, without at least looking at it.  It's a bad habit and one I've tried to break for years.  Unfortunately, I've been unable to cut the electronic leash.  I simply looked at it early this morning and, realizing there was an unfinished project that required attention, started typing.  Even as I began, I knew it was wrong.  Fortunately, too, I work with a great team who, after seeing my responses, politely told me I was on vacation and to put it down.  Finally, I heeded their advice.  If only they knew I was going to have to do yard work......

As with any other early morning in my office, I turn on the television to catch the Today Show.  Still a bit undecided about Ann Curry and I miss Meredith.  Actually, I wish they'd given the job to Natalie Morales.  I like her interviewing style better as she, unlike Ann, doesn't tend to 'lean in' and interrupt guests.  Watch her sometime - the hands are moving as she leans toward the person she's interviewing, then interrupts or stammers a bit while asking her next question.  I know it's just me and a personal taste, but, it throws me off and annoys me.  Yeah, how's that for a little glimpse inside me, huh?  I get annoyed because Ann Curry leans in, talks with her hands, and interrupts.  You'd think I would have bigger things annoying me which, truth be told, I do...but that's another story. 

The story I was referring to that I expect to 'catch heat' for, however, involved one of their 'Survey Studies' involving infidelity.  Uh-huh.  Yes, please fasten your seat belts and keep hands and feet in the car for the duration of the ride - I'm sure it's going to get bumpy.  The segment I am referring to was titled, "How Women Really Feel About Infidelity."  Now, I'm sure this is compelling to many and, quite honestly, I sat there and listened to the entire segment.  They were showing survey questions like, "Does social media make it easier to cheat?" (Yes - 81%) and, "Does social media make it easier to get caught?" (Yes - 80%).  Apparently, 80 guys have been busted and one is still delusional. thinking he won't get caught.  The other questions involved how forgiving a woman would be about her man sexting another woman.  In case you wonder, single women would be less forgiving of their boyfriends doing this than married women would be of their husbands doing this.  Then, after the third or fourth question of this nature, I had to ask (as I always do when this subject comes up), "Why  is it we are only asking women how they feel about a man cheating?"  I'm pretty sure these things are taking place and involve both men AND women.  I mean, I don't think Ralph gets up one morning, dissatisfied with his marriage, and sends Frank a text that says, "Hey, baby, I'm hot for you.  Let's meet for drinks after work in a secluded spot."  Okay, that might be happening in San Francisco...and now, New York, but still.  You get my point, right?  I'm just saying that the days of men going to work and leaving their wife at home to cook and clean are, for the most part, over.  In many, if not most, marriages both spouses are working and have more than ample opportunity to have an affair if they choose. 

These stories and segments on morning TV, while interesting and compelling, always seem to cast men in the negative spotlight.  I hear you, ladies.  You are hurt if something happens that undermines your relationship.  It can be devastating.  What, though, makes you think that it's a one-way street?  Why are women the only gender that are prone to this type of devastation and hurt?  I understand that part, too - women will talk about it, men simply want to pummel the other guy or blow something up.  Run a car into a wall, even.  My point is, simply, that women are equally prone to having an affair as a man and men  are just as rocked by this happening.  It's the same thing with spousal abuse or child custody.  You can argue the point if you wish, but I can tell you that, if you do any research, more men than women get arrested for spousal abuse and custody of a child is awarded to the mother more than the father.  In these days of equality, maybe, just maybe, we ought to reconsider our stance on many of these issues...because now, more than ever, it's tough being a white man.  Say what you want about us getting "all the breaks" and having advantages in our jobs, etc - no one ever passed legislation telling employers they had to fill quotas with white men.  Sorry...the infidelity segment got me ranting.

Until next time.......

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Today's News of the Weird

Sorry, Gang, but it's been a long day and The Voice is about to come on.  I have to be in front of the TV so I can see Dia Frampton (write it down) win the contest.  I've spent time trying to figure out exactly who she sounds like and the answer, I think, one, really.  As I've watched these past several weeks, what I've come to realize is that she is the next Sarah Maclachlan.  She plays piano well, can belt out a tune, and is somewhat shy and reserved.  If not Dia, it will have to be Javier.  Incredible voice, too, and when he sang with Adam Levine last evening, they rocked the place.  Actually, they all did, both alone and in their duets with their coaches.  If you haven't seen this show, say goodbye to American Idol.  Blows it away and there is a different feel altogether.  I'm kinda diggin' this one.  Oh, of the weird.  Almost forgot.

First up, the lady that had her husband's body exhumed because he was buried with someone else's dentures.  Uh, yeah.  Really?  Just a shot in the dark here, but why not make another set?  Take it from me, if those bad boys were in the casket, I'm thinking they aren't going in my mouth again.  he can keep them.  Thanks anyway.

Charlie Sheen has admitted to doing steroids for his role in, "Major League".  Okay, listen - they're drugs.  Charlie Sheen.  What are we having a picture problem with and why can we not connect those dots??

Lastly, the presidential race has begun.  Not really, but we have almost a year and a half before we go to the election booth.  Really, do we have to do this already?  I want to propose a law - no political ads on TV prior to one week before the Iowa Caucuses.  Who's with me?

Seriously, dear readers, I have to cut out early tonight - it's on....and you should be watching.  We're taking bets.  Who's got the action?  Talk to you soon and, as always, thanks for reading!

Until next time.......

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Carter Strange, Muslim Woman Suing, and The American Flag - What A Day In News

Carter Strange.  Does this name sound familiar to any of you?  Turn on the news, please.  I'm pretty sure this will be something shown everywhere tonight.  It happened eight days ago and, miraculously, this young man is already out of the hospital.  He is 18-years old and was trying to rush home before his curfew of midnight.  He had already spoken to his mother to tell her he was running a few minutes late but promised to hurry.  He jogged through the Five Points area of Columbia, SC when 8 (count 'em, 8) youths (I am having a very difficult time not calling them animals - I'm sorry) jumped him.  Actually, they attacked him savagely and beat him.  When he was found, he was rushed to the hospital where his mother could not recognize him as she stood next to the gurney on which he had been placed.  He has had to have reconstructive and brain surgery.  Remarkably, he was on the Today Show with Matt Lauer this morning.  The boys that attacked him have all been caught and they ranged in age from (get ready) 19 - 13.  The oldest was 19, there were 4 16-year olds, a thirteen year old, and two others not mentioned.  They have these boys on film, earlier in the evening, wandering the streets in a pack.  After Carter was beaten, the stories have emerged that they had previously, on the same evening, tried to attack four other people so they could rob them.  Their attorney has stated, as if this will surprise anyone, that these are actually good boys that just did a bad thing this night.  Yeah, these 'good boys' just happened to have a few past transgressions.  Forgive me if I'm not very understanding.  Thank God, this boy will be okay.  His only crime that night was trying to get home to beat curfew and, fortunately, this assault has led to an emergency motion by the City Council - there is now a curfew for anyone under the age of 17.  They must be in by 11:00 p.m. and not out before 6:00 a.m.  What I really want to know is.....

Where is Jesse Jackson?  Where is Al Sharpton?  Here are two men that scream, louder than any of us care to hear anymore, of the racial injustice in the world.  They find any TV camera available and bemoan the fact that the, "black man is being held down."  Both these mean use the title "Reverend" as well.  So, Revs Jackson and Sharpton, where are you when the white man was being held down by EIGHT black men?  I'm not...repeat, NOT...trying to cause any more racial tension, but I have to ask, "Are Civil Rights only for a select few?"  Why is it that no one comes to preach about the injustice done to this white man?  Let me guess, it's because we, as whites, have caused this action by the black man because whites have oppressed blacks for so long.  Is that the case?  I'm sorry, but as a black man pointed out years ago when I was living in Richmond, VA and he did NOT want to be called "African American," he said, "I can go back four generations and NONE of my relatives were born in Africa.  I served in the US Marines, proudly, fighting for my country - America.  I am an American."  I'm not so sure any o fus could put it any more eloquently than that.  So, dear Reverends, if you want to cry for justice and equality, you must make sure you understand the word - EQUAL-ity.  Until you stop bemoaning the woes of blacks, there will continue to be civil rights issues.  Yes, you read that correctly - I hold you both to blame for much of the problem.  You are the shield that they hide behind as an excuse for their actions.  Stop now.  Please.

I also wanted to point out the gross misinterpretation of the Bill of Rights plastered in the news today.  The first amendment provides for "Freedom of Religion."  That means, though I am not a Constitutional Scholar, that we have the right to practice any religion we choose.  The government may not dictate a specific 'national religion', nor may they deem any religion unacceptable.  It's the practicing of the religion and, though I cannot be positive, I'm fairly certain the Framers of the Constitution did not envision us dealing with as many diverse peoples as we have now.  Here's the issue: Hani Khan, a Muslim woman in San Francisco, worked for Abercrombie & Fitch in the stockroom.  She has been fired for refusing to remove her hijab, the Muslim headscarf, while on the job.  Before anyone thinks they automatically fired her without discussing the issue, she had been initially told she could wear it if it was in the company's colors.  Four months later, she was asked by a District Manager as well as a HR Manager to remove it while working.  She refused.  She was suspended, then subsequently fired, for refusing to do so.  Critics are calling this discrimination based on the company's "look policy," which (they say) means mostly white, young, athletic people.  "Growing up in this country where the Bill of Rights guarantees freedom of religion, I felt let down," Khan, now a college student studying political science, said at a news conference.  "This case is about principles, the right to be able to express your religion freely and be able to work in this country."  There's the quote - now please read it again.  The Bill of Rights does provide for freedom of religion, however the company also has a dress code, I'm sure.  No one is challenging her right to practice her religion, however this is her job.  If we continue to interpret the Constitution and its Amendments to specifically fit a situation, well....anyone else see the slippery slope?  Quite frankly, in a "Right to Work" state, an employer can fire you for any reason they choose and you have no legal recourse.  Period.  I know because I was a victim of it.  When I sought legal help, the attorney told me, "You can fight this...and I will take your money...but you need to know going in that you're going to lose."  I was given no reason, there was no documentation of poor work performance.  There was a new manager that wanted to hire his own people and systematically did just that.  This woman happens to be a minority and wears this as part of her religion.  I get it.  You don't have to work there.  I realize that might be overly-simplified, however the dress code, most likely, does not allow for the hijab.  Hypothetically, if I wanted to claim my religion says I should show homage to God by wearing denim, do you think that case would even make it to trial?  Please, someone, anyone....tell me the difference.

Lastly today, I wanted to share one of the greatest injustices of all.  An American veteran - Fred Quigley of Macedonia, OH - served in both Korea and Vietnam.  he is 77 years old and served his country proudly - with valor and honor.  As expected, the Homeowner's Association is going to take Fred to court because he wants to fly the American flag, not from the side of his house, but on a pole in his front yard.  I realize that may sound to some as if he wants to put up a monstrosity.  You tell me - does this look annoying?

Mr Quigley, on behalf of all the sane, patriotic, appreciative Americans in this country, I'd like to say, "Thank you for doing what many others did not.  Thank you for prudly and valiantly serving our country so that we can take the aforementioned Constitution and Bill of Rights and hold them dear.  Thank you for defending them as you put your life on the line."  Let's face it 100 years, is this really going to matter?  Don't we have bigger things to worry about?  Maybe if we spent our energy on REAL issues, we'd be a better society.  Just a thought.  Fred, you're my hero.  Keep fighting the good fight.

Until next time.......

Monday, June 27, 2011

More World Madness...Friends.

Please, someone...anyone...tell me what we're thinking.  Not 'we' specifically but, rather, people and scientists in general.  I use that term very loosely, too.  Here's the big news from Sweden today - at the Egalia preschool in Stockholm, they are fighting the "Gender Bias" by no longer referring to boys and girls as, well, boys and girls.  They are going to refer to them as "friends"...and no, I am not making this up.  Wait, it gets better.  The premise is this - they feel that in every society, boys are given an unfair edge and advantage.  The direct quote from a teacher was,

"Society expects girls to be girlie, nice and pretty and boys to be manly, rough and outgoing.  Egalia gives them a fantastic opportunity to be whoever they want to be." Uh....okay.  I'm....not respond to that.  Another teacher noted that they like to help the children discover new ideas when they play.  "A concrete example could be when they're playing 'house' and the role of the mom already is taken and they start to squabble," she says. "Then we suggest two moms or three moms and so on." 

Okay, now I think you're just mugging for the camera.  This can't be real.  Is it just me or is this taking things way too far?  Listen, it's a biological fact that boys and girls are different.  We all know those differences, too.  For too long, Equal Rights in this country was like Civil Rights.  I understand that, years ago, many men would call women, "Hon, Sweetie, Sugar," or any other name that women found demeaning.  It signified that the woman could not or should not even think of doing the same job as a man or expect the same wages.  I want to point out that those years involved men whose mothers stayed at home daily.  They didn't even enjoy the opportunity to work outside the home.  Things changed.  Women began to work outside the home and (part of the change, here, folks) they had sons that noticed.  My mother worked since before I was born.  I have had female co-workers and female superiors.  I want to ask, "Are we really still fighting this battle?"  Seriously, we are now sending women to the front lines in wars overseas.  What more do you want?  What more can we give women to make things 'Equal'?  Ladies, I mean that with no disrespect whatsoever.  I'm just curious as to why we are still jumping all over this.  I know an argument can be made for wages.  If a woman is doing the same job as I am she should certainly be paid the same wages, no question.  I would be the first person to fight for that, too.  Bring me the specifics and I am all over it.  The male-chauvinist pig of the 60's, 70's and early 80's is long gone.  Please don't make us pay for the 'Sins of the fathers' any longer.  We're with you...and will do what we can to help, but really?  We are now going to call students 'friends' rather than boys and girls?  I'll fight that one.  I want girls to be lacy and frilly, and wear high heels and dresses...and enter the Boardroom and kick some ass.  There is where the point gets made - I don't care if it's a female or male she hammers.  Just get the job done.....friends.

Ironically (and a little of the last subject), I did tell a friend (she) today that I was going to steal her words.  They weren't actually her's, however they were posted where she asked that they be stolen.  No, not in a public restroom.  They were online.  In a comment to her friends, she wanted to let them know how she determined who she considers a friend and what matters.  In it, she said, "I don't care what you earn, where you live, what you drive, whether you're gay or straight, fat or thin, tall or short, beautiful or average (or less), rich or poor, smart or not, sick or healthy. If you're my friend, you're my friend. I accept you for who you are, and that's ALL that counts. Signed me, your friend."  I told her I was, indeed, going to steal it.  It'd be nice if everyone viewed friendships that way, wouldn't it?  I mean, even if she can't come through with Alabama/Penn State tickets, she's still a friend....kinda.  I'm kidding!

Until next time..........

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Needing Margaritaville and A Mini-Vacation Tonight

There comes a time, in everyone's day-to-day life, when they need Margaritaville.  Jimmy Buffett and his band of Parrotheads have described it many ways and I, in turn, will describe my vision of this oasis of pleasure.  Like Buffett, I would love to fly to this far away island aboard a plane like his, the Hemisphere Dancer.

Flying over the sapphire-colored waters surrounding this island, you are captivated by the lush growth and palm trees that line the shore, only yards from the white-sand beaches.  As the plane descends and skims across the water, it gently and slowly comes to a stop a hundred yards or so from those beaches.  You exit the plane and walk, in waist-deep water, first to the beach and then to your bungalow waiting at the edge of the tree line.  Your bag is slung over your shoulder and carries every essential you could want for your stay here.  Your toiletries, a few shirts, a few pair of shorts, your flip-flops....which might get 'blown out' along the way.  There are a total of six bungalows on this particular beach with a central, seventh hut that serves as the purveyor of fine alcoholic refreshment.  After settling into your bungalow, tossing your bag on the bed, and placing necessary toiletries in the bath, you realize there are no doors.  the front of the place is open to the 'porch' - several boards lined horizontally that are wide enough to hold a rocking chair where you can sit and listen to the waves gently lapping at the edge of the beach every hour of every day.  There are no cell towers here.  Your cell phone and Blackberry have been 'searching' for a signal for over an hour.  Kick off your flip-flops, open your shirt (ladies, too, if you feel so inclined), and walk down the two front steps of your porch to feel the fine-particled sand under your feet as it slips gently between your toes with the pressure of each step.  That's it - head toward the bar and that frozen concoction you've been craving since leaving the states.

As you pass the edge of your hut, look left.  Do you see it?  Your very own oversized hammock strung between two large palm trees begging you to lie down, drink in hand, and rest for a few hours.  As you reach the bar, the dark-skinned bartender greets you with a smile and extends his hand that has your long-anticipated margarita resting in it.  The warm breezes graze your skin and you can almost feel the tension being released from within.  The drink is cold and has the perfect amount of alcohol and sweetness blended into a frozen, slushy drink.  You take a long draw on the straw and....brain freeze!  it passes quickly, though as you walk back toward your hammock.  Climb in and feel it cradle you as the breeze continues to blow, the palms gently swaying to the music you didn't even realize was playing on the bar's hidden speakers.  This is paradise.

When you wake a few hours later, you are still lying in the hammock with half your frozen drink splattered across your chest and shirt.  Slob.  No worries, though - there's no one around to judge you.  Take the shirt off as you climb out of that netting and toss it over the railing of your porch as you walk to the water.  The temperature is warm, slightly below that of a warm bath.  You look down into the crystal blue waters splashing at your knees and see your toes wiggling in the sand as the water is so clear.  Knowing you have a few more days of this pleasure, you head back to the bungalow and your bag.  I forgot to mention, in mine at least, I have a nice bottle of Captain Morgan's Dark Spiced Rum waiting to be emptied.  The captain and I take a stroll back to the water's edge where we drop to the sand and sit watching out over the ocean.  A few lights of passing ships are beginning to flicker in the distance and I take another drink.  This is how I could least until the hangover sets in.  Nasty.  Now I remember why it's a bad idea.  Yeah, slipping away to here every now and again...especially after a horrendous a definite necessity.  Go ahead....try it.  You know you've been there, too.....

Until next time.....

Friday, June 24, 2011

Death of A Two-Year Old

I happened to be in Orlando a few weeks ago and the continuing trial of Casey Anthony was being broadcast on the local NBC affiliate.  It's something they show everyday while network programming is shown on their other channel.  The day I had a chance to watch some of the trial was the day Casey got sick as she sat at the defense table.  By now, I'm sure many of you are tired of hearing of about it.  Let's convict her already, right?  As I ask that question, some of you might even be wondering if that is the side of the argument I will take.  While I pride myself on being able to, in most cases, argue either side of a debate, this is one with which I would have serious difficulty.  They are going with the defense that this little two-year old drowned.  Sorry, but.....Daddy ain't buyin'.

This woman, from the bits I have seen, has presented nothing but contradictory evidence and lies from the outset.  This is a mother that, quite frankly, simply did not want to be burdened with having a child in her life.  How can I say that?  Easily, it has to be the most damning piece of evidence to date - she did not even report the girl missing for 31 days.  31 DAYS!!!  How many people, parents or not, could have a two-year old in their care and not freak after the child went missing for 31 minutes, much less days?  In those 31 days, they have pictures of her partying with friends in bars and nightclubs.  Again, I ask - how many people could do anything but search for a missing child?  She has admitted to concocting a story about a fictitious nanny taking the child.  The neighbor that testified said that, on the day Caylee went missing, Casey backed her car into the parent's driveway and into the garage, something she had never done previously.  This same girl, the one that never spoke to said neighbor, decided on that day she would go next door and borrow tape and a shovel.  Hel-lo!  I'm starting to point fingers already.  Later, Momma Anthony (grandmother) calls 911 and tells them the car smells like a dead body has been in there.  RED FLAG!  Computer searches revealed Google searches for 'chloroform'.  MORE RED FLAG!  The day I watched the trial, they also showed the medical examiner detailing how the duct tape was over the baby's mouth and nose and, I believe, they said the body and head were found in separate bags.  Can't remember exactly.  I think that was when i got physically ill.

Now, they're going with a defense of drowning.  A two-year old slid a glass door open, walked outside, climbed a ladder, fell in the pool and drowned.  I know we don't think that a child that age could accomplish that, but I do.  I believe all those things could have happened just as they said.  Here is the hitch in that entire theory, in my opinion - 911.  That's it, plain and simple.  My problem with that theory is 911.  My question for the entire family trying to perpetuate this myth is, "Why did you not dial 911?"  If a child drowns, we can all admit it is a tragedy.  It is a tragedy if anyone drowns.  Why, though, would you not call the police or EMS?  If this was accidental, you now want me to believe you knew she was already deceased so you didn't bother calling the authorities.  You simply wrapped her in garbage bags, then put her in a second to hide the smell, then buried her in a wooded area....because she 'accidentally' drowned?  Dear Anthony family, I believe PT Barnum said it best (at least I think it was ol' PT) when he said, "You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time."  Your story doesn't make sense.  I probably would have been relieved of Jury Duty for this case.  I had the "Hang 'Em High" attitude with this piece of dirt from the beginning.  A child is dead and you were out partying.  Even if she drowned, you covered it up.  In this day and age, when there are so many people going to fertility clinics, did you not think to put her up for adoption?  You could've made a bundle as she was an adorable child.  Then, with your 'winnings', you would have had plenty of time to party with your boyfriend...or girlfriend...or both.  Sadly, you are a confused woman.  There are many of us that have children we don't get to see enough, nor have the best relationships with at all times.  Even when our kids tell us they "hate us and don't ever want to talk to us again," our love for them is beyond belief.  To think you took that little girl and killed her is too much for anyone to comprehend.  I find this hard to type, but you don't deserve to die.  You deserve to suffer.  Sadly, none of us thinks your worth keeping on the public dole.  One quick flip of the switch and we can save a lot of money for the amount of time you'll spend behind bars.

Then again, it might happen.  You might actually walk.  As much as it pains everyone to hear that, remember this - it takes only one person on the jury and they can always claim there was 'reasonable doubt'.  Yes, you would actually have to be a moron to vote that way, but it's happened before.  Anyone else remember OJ Simpson?  That was about as clear-cut a case as I've seen and we had to wait years before that scumbag was locked up.  The Goldmans' lost a son and Nicole Brown's children lost their mother.  OJ kept golfing.  How he could even show his face again was beyond me, but he did it.  Lost the civil case and kept on golfing.  Grrrrrr.  Want to guess how I really felt?  For the sake of everyone involved...and the public in general, let's hope they get it right.

Until next time...............

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Blocked! Oh, and Retro Stuff...

I know a lot of people blog about their everyday activities.  Some of them are very good and lead really exciting lives, apparently.  Others, often can you read about Bob going to the refrigerator to make a sandwich?  I suppose it depends on the type of sandwich, but I don't think so.  Anyway, as I sat here deciding what the topic would be, I realized I had the dreaded 'Writer's Block'.  Actually, you probably have to be a writer to have that, so let's just say I am blocked.  With my writing.  Only.  For real.  Then, I looked into the kitchen and what, to my surprise, do you think I saw?  You probably won't guess, so I'll step up and tell you - Cap'n Crunch!  Not Captain Crunch.....Cap'n Crunch.  Remember him?  It got me thinking about all the other cereals of days gone by that we used to long for when we were kids.  I'm sure we all remember going to the grocery store with Mom.  She actually hated that aisle.  It was the one aisle through which Mom would actually sprint to get to the other end.  There were times we'd watch her make the turn from the canned soups and vegetables and, as she was gearing up to hit our 'hallowed ground', she would do the whole 'neck move from side to side' to loosen up a bit.  I swear, toward the end of the canned aisle, she actually stretched her legs a bit so she wouldn't get a muscle spasm and get stuck in the cereals.  There were a few times she even tried to divert our attention by sending us to get paper towels or toilet paper.  We caught on.  Oh, it took about four or five times, but we busted her.

Once we hit our beloved aisle, we saw those beautifully colored boxes with the pictures of the animated characters.  Tony the Tiger on Frosted Flakes.  That goofy little frog on Sugar Smacks.  Remember those?  Then there were the ones they introduced Count Chocula and FrankenBerry.  Seriously, chocolate flavored cereal...and strawberry flavored, too?  Easy to figure out when the parent companies sold mix for chocolate and strawberry-flavored milk.  It's what was left in the bottom of the bowl along with our beloved sugar!  There were others, too, and I know I am dating myself when I mention these.  Remember Quake and Quisp?  I can't remember the taste of either, but they were cereals we had to have.  Mom, of course, always found the Cream of Wheat for those cold winter mornings.  We never ate it, but I'm sure it was great for those cold winter mornings.  How about Cocoa and Fruity Pebbles?  Then there was Honey Combs, Lucky Charms, Trix, Froot Loops, Chex, Cheerios, and Life.  Mikey dug that one, didn't he?

Like I said, Mom hated that aisle.  I can't tell you how many horrible-tasting cereals we bought to get the secret decoder ring.  Or the magic tricks.  Or the little plastic 'twirly thing' that flew into the air when you slid it up the rod.  Okay, that last line sounded like something I'd dig through a cereal box for even now. How demented.  Sorry.  There were a few other aisles that Mom hated, too, though stores like Wal-Mart would've worn her out.  Seriously, toys in a grocery store?  It was bad enough that I wanted to water pistol or rubber ball that would bounce to the neighbor's roof, but when I asked for the handcuffs she drew the line.  Wow....again, it appears there's an aisle I'd be happy to peruse even now.  Mom used to hate having to keep my sister and I from wrecking the place, too.  Admit it, most of you were just as bad.  I know because I saw you.  if you had siblings, pushing the cart was the big deal.  Then, when Mom averted her gaze, you took full advantage and ran into your sibling with said cart.  Oh, you know you did.  You wanted to catch them just right, too, when they had their back turned.  Then, as you eased up on them, you'd *BAM* clip 'em with the front edge of the cart.  This was mere seconds before the palm of Mom's hand hit the back of your head, or, if she was in a really bad mood, she'd stop what she was doing, turn to face you, grab your shirt collar, then lift you to her level so her eyes were mere inches from yours.  The first threat started the same way every time - "Young man, if I have to tell you...."  It was like clockwork.  Each one was gradually more intense until you hit the dreaded, "Listen, you little sh**, if I tell you one more time I will redden your ass right here.  Got a problem with that?"  Mom loved me.  I was her favorite.  Let's not base it on this story alone, shall we?

I remember many other 'Retro Scenarios' that are fun when I revisit them.  I might have to keep sharing these as they seem to be both amusing, cathartic, and fond memories all in one telling.  Thanks for reading...and remembering...with me.

PS.  The 'look' of the blog has changed, yes.  I hope to make it something that is easy to read and appealing at the same time.  How does it look?  The font okay?  Easy to read?  How nice that I am concerned with my readers every whim.....sorta.  Thanks again - throw the input out there for me!

Until next time..........

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Father Needs Advice....or, What Have We Done, Part II

A little while ago, I wrote, asking, "What have we done?" in regard to our children and the newest generation.  I asked, rhetorically, as we are already seeing the effects of what we've done.  We've seen the effects of less discipline and, quite honestly, good parenting.  I pointed out that, too often, we're more concerned with being our kids' friends than we are their parents.  This is made even tougher when these kids are members of a divorced family.  Let's face it (yeah, I'm digressing), divorce is ugly, messy, and down right a nasty thing to go through.  I don't care if you're one of those couples that had an 'amicable' divorce or not.  Quite honestly, I think and amicable divorce is an oxymoron.  You obviously do not want to be with each other.  So, you're telling me that you 'nicely' decided to bail on the marriage, split the belongings you acquired during the marriage (oh, yes, that almost always turns out fair), and split time with the kids.  Take it from a 'weekend father' - that's never fair.  So we have a divorced couple that are splitting up the family unit...and I actually had to ask what we've done?  Isn't that enough?  That mess, coupled with the fact that we cannot discipline our children for fear of them calling the police, has turned our society on end.  I'm can argue the point if you'd like, but I'm living it.

Kids, too, are a lot smarter than we give them credit for at times.  They are the best salespeople and they certainly learn at an early age how to play mom against dad, even without divorce.  They know to come to dad and complain that, "Mom never gives me any money," yet when they are with dad, they call mom constantly to discuss going to the beach, did she buy her a jacket yet, etc.  Yeah, dad, you've been played.  Okay, let me correct that - "Yeah, Dave, you've been played."  But that isn't even the real issue.  The advice I need is how to deal with attitude.  Not snarling, raging, hateful attitude but, rather, the attitude that is displayed when they sigh louder than I can yell.  The attitude that cuts you off in mid-sentence when you are trying to make a point and is heard simply as, "Okay, Dad!"  Yes, with emphasis and matching volume.  Seriously, I'm listening.  I know - give them a time-out.  Uh, she's 15....think it'll work?  That would be 15 minutes for her to contemplate what she's done wrong.  Trust me, it'll be 15 minutes for her to contemplate how she's going to 'off' me as I sleep.  Okay, maybe she wouldn't....but I might have if my parents had done it.  Should I tell her, as she is spending time with us for two weeks, that she's grounded?  Yes, because I only get to see her a relatively short time now.  She has her own social schedule.  I even let her bring a friend along and plan on taking them to Disney next week.  Maybe I should tell them, when the attitude rears its ugly head, that she can't go to Disney!  That should do it, right?  Her response was, "I don't care.  Don't take us."  HELP!  The only other option I have might land me in jail.  That one's out - I have to work tomorrow.

You know, I remember when we were kids that, when we did happen to be stupid and thoughtless and talk back to our parents, a friend would always be smart enough to come to our rescue (and be a wise salesperson in their own right) and tell us we really ought to treat our parents better.  We shouldn't have been so idiotic and dumb.  We should apologize.  Our parents appreciated it and we looked like we actually had feelings.  Today, the friend stands idly by as I get told that, "Now, you sound like Grandma."  I have to admit, I long for the days when we could bust our kids butts...and they had more rational thoughts.  I long for the time when they would come to their parents and say, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean it," without being prodded.  If anyone has any advice on how to handle the situation, I'm listening.  I'd really love to hear how to handle a permissive ex-wife and mother that is my daughter's best friend, while making my life a living hell.  Yeah, I'm pretty sure she's diggin' that, too.  This is my way of saying I sympathize, empathize, and am screaming (not crying) for help.  That's it - maybe I should just jump into the bottle.  Can't hurt....can it?  Either way, it'll make the night go by faster.

Until next time......

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Youth Sports, JoePa, and The One-Dollar Bank Heist

Go ahead, admit it.  The title sort of got you wondering what these three things have in common, right?  The short answer is, "Nothing."  It will make for a good story, though, I promise.  First up?  Youth sports and the wonderful adults who coach, manage, and referee these activities.  Let me qualify this, though - I am not going to take issue with the majority of these good people that, as far as I know, volunteer their time.  With that said, I will take issue with a select few.  I remember, when we were kids, riding our bike to baseball practices during the summer at Good's Field in my hometwon.  We played in what was called the "Morning League," a bunch of 8- and 9-year old kids that showed up and, along with a 'Coach' that served both teams, learned to play the game.  We were taught the basics - how to field the ball in both the infield and outfield, how to pitch, how to catch, when and how to run the bases.  Yes, we had teams and we played games, however the main goal of this league was to teach.  When we turned 10, we moved up a division and played for teams sponsored by local businesses.  The coaches 'drafted' us on these teams based on seeing us play in the Morning League and this league, too, taught us more about the game.  I remember playing our games in the evening and, though it was competitive, we had a good time.  Our parents, for some reason, never felt the need to impose their unrealized personal accomplishments on us.  Most didn't, anyway.  I'm sure there were a few, but for the most part we went to the field, played the game, and enjoyed a flavored snowcone on our way home (walking) as we critiqued the poor play of one of us after another.  It was a blast and I'd give anything to be back there for one week. (If you build it, they will...)  Yeah, whatever, Costner.  Anyway, my point is this - we didn't pay $200.00 for a bat or $150.00 for a glove...and neither did our parents.  We had good gloves and bats but it wasn't a contest to see who could afford the best equipment.  We learned to play the game and the coaches did just that - they coached.  It wasn't solely about winning.  We wanted to win, we tried hard to win, but it wasn't 'Win at all costs'.  We all played and, quite honestly, it was usually the same amount of time during the game.  I have to mention, too, that NONE of us got trophies merely for showing up.  It's what made us try harder.  If I didn't get a trophy, I'd try harder - it's something I've taught my kids to this day and something I believe in.  To award trophies for non-performance is setting a child up for disappointment later in life.  Period.  Showed up for work?  Great - here's the same raise we gave to Stan...even though Stan worked 60 hours a week and won the Stevens Account.  Yep...because that't the way life works, right? 

The other issue, besides overzealous coaches, is parents that don't or won't admit their child isn't the next Brooks Robinson (Google it) or Cal Ripken, Jr.  I saw, just this morning, that a mother in NY was arrested for stalking a coach and threatening his family because her son didn't make the team.  I'm not talking, "I'm going to spill a drink on your wife and trip your kid," threats, either.  Demented, dark-soul, "I'm-probably-a-slasher-and-cut-myself-already," kind of threats.  It's happening far too frequently lately and, quite honestly, needs to stop.  These kids should not be allowed to play if their parents do something that asinine. 

On another note, Joe Paterno has (finally) committed an NCAA Rules Violation.  Mark it, write it down, highlight this day on the "Calendar of Things You Thought You'd Never See."  Keep in mind, the Ohio State infraction still isn't a dead issue.  Cam newton still puts Auburn in question, and USC has recently vacated their BCS Championship.  How could JoePa, of all people, commit a violation?  What was it exactly?  Did his students commit armed-robbery as happened in Auburn?  Did someone on the team receive benefits from an agent?  Did Joe give out too many scholarships?  No, my friends, Joe commited an NCAA sin - he watched his players.  Yep, you got it.  Watched his players.  During a voluntary workout, Joe happened to be walking across campus and stopped to watch the players.  He then, after speaking to no one while on his journey, told an assistant coach that one player in particular looked pretty good.  The coach then informed Joe of the violation.  Earth-shaking and unforgiveable, right?  How could an 84-year old coach be so thoughtless? 84, I hope I remember to go to the bathroom in time.  Joe, I've already forgiven you...and we'll get our personal retribution in September in Happy Valley.  By the way, anyone have tickets?

Lastly, a brief mention of the bank robber that asked for a dollar.  One dollar.  Handed the teller a note and calmly waited for the police to arrive.  "Why," you ask? (go ahead, ask)  I'll tell you why - he needed healthcare.  Seriously, the former Coca-Cola delivery man-turned truck driver-turned convenience store worker needed health care...and could not get it.  He robbed a bank.  Sadly, they only called it larceny and his $100,000 bond has been reduced to $2,000.  He says he won't pay and, if necessary, will hand them a note asking for more.  Either way, it's safe to say there are problems with the system...and now that it's been noted that millions of middle-class people could get free healthcare, you can bet there will be a change.  maybe this time someone will read the damn thing before they pass the legislation.  And that, America, is tonight's rant.  A few winners here, huh?  Maybe we should let Joe Paterno kick the hell out of those idiot parents and coaches so they'll need the new healthcare plan.  I knew I could tie all this together!

Until next time...........

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Graduations and Education in Today's World

Over the past several weeks, I have had the opportunity to attend two different graduation ceremonies.  One was filled with the typical pageantry associated with these types of graduations - Pomp and Circumstance (a song we can all 'hum', yet are there words?), the Processional, the Recessional, Awarding of Diplomas.  The auditorium was filled with family and friends and, as usual, there was the requisite amount of picture-taking and well-wishes after the fact.  The other, though it had its own ceremonial gestures, was not quite as prim and proper.  Ironically, it seemed that both groups of graduates were filled with hope and promise, eagerness and apprehension.  You see the first group were high school seniors who were awarded their 'You're a grown-up now' papers.  They can now go face the world as adults - some heading to college, some heading into the workforce, some starting a family, and the others that will reside on mom and dad's couch for the next few years until they find themselves.  The second group was comprised of older individuals (relatively speaking) that had recently completed the GED program and were finally receiving their diplomas as well.  It was the first time I had attended one of these ceremonies for GED recipients and I was impressed.  All of these people, for whatever reason, had been left without a diploma in years gone by.  Impressively, though, they made a concious choice to return to school and get that diploma.  Let's face it, at 17 or 18, you still don't know what will make you happy for the rest of your life.  Some of these folks had gotten pregnant and had children, others had to quit school to help raise their siblings, while others still simply "dropped out."  No matter what the reason, though, they were here.  They had their families and friends with them as well, and they got cheers beyond belief when they finally made that walk across the stage, proudly, in their caps and gowns.  The smiles that evening were unbelievable, and their comments to the crowd of, "I finally made it!" were heartwarming.  They had something to prove and, unlike the high school seniors of the other graduation, they did this on their own terms without benefit of a parent demanding they get good grades and make it through.  It was impressive, to say the least, and a side of people I had rarely seen.

Don't get me wrong - the other graduation was nice, too, however it was typical of the annual event held across the country.  The scary part, for me, was what was to come this week.  You see, as the girls that I previously mentioned were sitting and talking with us, we began to discuss their grades.  We talked about the subjects they had problems with.  They complained, universally, about their teachers for certain subjects.  It was the same thing we had all done many years ago, yet there seemed to be something different.  As I have written in previous posts, you know that this is a subject near and dear to me, and one I care about greatly.  Being curious, I had to ask a few questions.  We were discussing History class and how they couldn't "get it".  What, I asked, was the problem and what was it that they couldn't "get".  They hit me with the subjects of History class that I struggle with to this day - The Mayans, the Aztecs, the Incas.  Yes, there are more but, quite honestly, these still send shivers through me.  I decided to venture into subjects of which I was sure they were informed.  I asked about the Civil War....and was appalled.  Yeah, sorry.  They go to a high school named "Lee-Davis," yet get taught very little about the Civil War.  My blood pressure began to rise.  Okay, how about...and then it happened.  The recently graduated young lady told me, though it seemed I was criticizing their abilities to remember anything having to do with history, that she wrote a term paper on the concentration camps and got a score of 3950 of a possible 4000.  Based on that alone, I ask you, dear readers, if you think she'd have a grasp on the material.  Don't you think she pretty much, "nailed it?"  Me, too.  "What was the story of the concentration camps?" I asked.  "What was their significance?"  The reply I got was, "They killed a lot of people."  Fair answer and somewhat accurate but, I think we can all agree, not what I was looking for.  "Who did they kill?"  Again, a sparkling response - "The Germans."  Wait...I, umm....I about this, let's try again.  Might have been momentary confusion.  "You mean the Germans were the ones doing the killing, right?  Let me ask, how did they kill them?"  Please, everyone, before you read the response, please take a seat.  "They lined them up."  That's when it happened.  I could take it no longer.  "Are you kidding me?  The concentration camps, otherwise known as 'extermination camps', were for the killing of Jews.  Have you ever heard of the Holocaust?"  My voice might have risen a little in pitch and volume.  We spent the next fifteen minutes discussing what happened and how, with a term paper score that high, the teacher might have been absent the day the papers were graded.  The biggest compliment was from Brittany who told me they learned more in that fifteen minutes than entire week of history class.  I'm scared.

My point is this - I am seriously concerned about the education our children are getting at present.  I'm not blaming it all on the teachers.  I believe they have been 'put in a box' and are held accountable based almost entirely on their pupils standardized test scores.  We have an educational system that is more concerned with posting great scores on these exams so the funding can continue to flow into their districts.  I understand that reasoning, however might the test scores rise based on our educating the students properly and teaching them rather than having them simply memorize things?  My daughter, along with the other two girls, then informed me that, "It's hard and we can't learn it the way they teach it.  It's boring."  I told her they have been learning, not memorizing, since they were born.  I used the stove analogy - do you stick your hand on a red-hot burner?  Of course not...because somewhere along the line you 'learned' it was hot.  Maybe by burning yourself.  Regardless, you learned not to touch it.  Period.  We need to take the time to educate our children rather than training them to be breathing memory chips.  If they learn it, it will stay with them.  If they memorize it, it's gone when the test is over.  As a society, we need to focus our energy on doing what we did in years past - make learning fun and make it something a student wants to do.  We must help them yearn to learn.  Hey, that's kind of catchy, huh?  Perhaps, we can use that as our new sound bite when the next politician wants to get elected.  it sure beats, "Just Say NO!" or, "It takes a village to raise an idiot."  Wait...I might have that wrong.  It might have been idiots trying to tell us how to raise our kids while they neglected to educate them.  We need a solution....and we need educators and elected officials that care more about the students than they do about standardized testing.  Just my opinion.

Until next time.............

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Father's Day...and the Lemonade Stand Update

First, I wanted to update everyone on the post from last evening.  It seems that publicity in Montgomery County, MD got to be a bit much for county officials.  They have rescinded the $500.00 fine on the children selling lemonade and have waived the fee for a permit they needed.  The kids had to move their stand a few feet down the street, however they are sitll in business and donating all proceeds to pediatric cancer.  Nice to hear someone actually could extract their collective heads from their.....well, we know where they were stuck.  Congrats, kids...and please keep up the good work.  It was an honor to be able to write about you and I hope you inspire more young people to perform similar acts of this nature.  Bravo!

Now, the other part of tonight's post - Happy Father's Day!  I know it's tomorrow, but reflections over the past few days have me sending these wishes tonight.  You see, tomorrow will be a strange day for me.  Father's Day always has been, especially over the last 10-15 years.  No, the 'strange' part has nothing to do with actually being a father...unless you ask Brittany.  She might say otherwise.  You see, it's always 'strange' because I had so many calls to make.  I had my biological father, my step-father (that adopted my sister and I and raised us), and my other step-father that was around later in life. 

I'd like to tell my biological father that, though we lost 15 years of contact while I was growing up, I am appreciative and grateful for the last 25 years.  We became great friends and, as he was a great salesman and sales manager, I appreciated his guidance when I got into business.  I remember when he first got me to invest in a set of golf clubs because, "If you're going to be in sales, you're going to have to learn how to golf."  It became a game I fell in love with and, quite honestly, was the thing that brought us closer again.  I remember every time we were on a golf course and our trips to Myrtle Beach.  I remember, too, how he helped guide me into sales, the sales training book he gave me when I started, and the advice he offered through the years.  He and Momma Little gave me a place to stay when I separated from my ex-wife...and never asked for a thing in return.  I remember spending time in the family business when I was very young, a local dairy, and how he always seemed proud to have me with him.

I'd like to tell my step-father how much I appreciate how he raised us.  He taught us manners, right from wrong, respect, and consideration for others.  I remember getting up at 4:00 a.m. on Christmas break while I was in grade school so I could travel with him on his sales route for a snack food company.  I remember, too, the sound his belt made when it was being pulled with speed through the loops on his pants just before he doubled it over and showed me the "error of my ways."  Every one of them was earned, too, and I know he had to deal with a lot from me.  I remember he and my grandfather taking me for my first car and how they both could tell what was wrong with the engine just by listening to it.  Great mechanics.  He gave me my first beer...then freaked when I was drinking with friends and got busted.  Okay, I was young-ish.  We'll leave it at that.  I was, in no small way, a problem.  No jail time, but a disciplinarian's wonder child.  He got lots of practice in with me.

The other step-father earned his share of memories with us, too.  I remember the family vacations to Oak Island, NC and how he was the stero-typical grandfather to my kids.  I remember him teaching my step-son to fish in the surf...and, though he was well over 300 pounds, the "Gentle Giant" lying in a hammock with Brittany as a baby.  I remember the times he gave advice and would answer the phone at 2:00 a.m.  I remember him taking me to his company golf outings, too, and how he was proud to introduce me as his "son".  Most importantly, though, I remember how happy he made my mother.  For the first time in her life, she seemed at peace and that she had truly found her life-partner.  Mom was the one constant in our lives and it was important to us that she be happy.  He was her best friend and, together, they have weathered many situations that require marital teamwork.  He protected her, cared for her and her family, and loved her.  For that, I will always be grateful.

Collectively, all these men have had one striking shared quality that played the most important role in my life - they taught me how to be a father.  Right or wrong, their teachings have enabled me to become the best father I can be.  I have learned a great deal from them all and hope that their wisdom will continue to guide me now and in the future.  I hope I show the patience, love, kindness, and gentle qualities they did.  I hope, too, that I can be strict, disciplined, and motivated as they were.  I hope, overall, that I can be an amalgam of their best qualities.  I try, every day, and hope I have made them proud.  I know many of you feel these things, too, about your fathers.  I hope you've already picked up the phone, sent a card, written an e-mail.  I hope these things because, as I hate to think about it, I am no longer able.  My step-father that raised us is alive and I saw him this week, however we are more friends now.  He has another family and we rarely see each other.  My biological father and my mother's husband both died last year within four months of each other.  There are times I want to speak to them both, yet I know any calls or letters will go unanswered.  For those of you in the same situation, I empathize.  For the rest of you, do it now.  Pick up the phone and tell dad how much you love him, miss him, and appreciate him.  If you haven't seen him for awhile, make the time.  If the relationship is strained, fix it.  If it's non-existent, make the effort.  Do what you can to make your father feel like it truly is 'His Day'.  To all my friends that are fathers - Happy Father's Day!  You, too, have helped me become a better father...and a dad.

Until next time......

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Heartwarming Tale

Good evening All!  My apologies for few words on the page recently.  Sadly, or not I suppose, I've been playing Road Warrior again.  I  am still in the car at present (don't you love technology?) though not behind the wheel. There's a 16-year old doing that and I'm holding on.  A lot.  I'm trying to remember how it was when we started driving and I'm having difficulty.  I'm old.  A lot.  That, however, is not the reason I chose to write tonight.  No, tonight is all about the fine folks running Montgomery County, MD.  I'm sure most of you have heard this wonderful heartwarming story. There were a couple of kids that, knowing the US Open was in town, decided to open an old-fashioned lemonade stand. Enterprising, right? Kind of, I suppose. You see, the kids were selling lemonade for $2.00/glass. Are you kidding me? At those prices, they probably wanted to about six hours, it appears! Quite honestly, though, these were kids that any parent would be proud of. You see, they were donating all proceeds - ALL proceeds - to the pediatric cancer foundation. Helping fight cancer for kids. Really? This is a story that needs told, right? Let me move forward a bit to where the county officials get involved. As expected, the county has an issue with kids selling this lemonade because...are you ready?...they have NO vendor's permit. While peopl are charging $50 or more to allow people to park in their yards, the kids have no permit. It seems you don't need one for the parking gig. When the parents refused to make the kids stop selling lemonade, the county, in all their brilliance, fined them. $500.00. Yes...seriously. Can't make this stuff up, Gang.

Can we please, anyone, start using some common sense? What is the rationale? In plain words...what the hell are they thinking? Pediatric cancer, folks...and there are kIDS doing the work and taking the initiative! Ever wonder why, in this day and age, we can't get others to take te first step toward doing something nice? I think I have a perfect illustration. We have got to start doing what is right...and change the law and make exceptions for these things. If other vendors wanted to bitch, so be it. We can deal with it after the kids help fight cancer. We can drag them out into the public and tell them that they, too, do not need a permit if they give verything to charity. You mean the county offal couldn't think of that? Who have you people hired? Please America, let's not stifle these kinds of incredible children. We need more of them...and fewer adults that are clueless.

Until next time....

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

What Have We Done?

I know that title sounds a bit hazy...but I cannot, for the life of me, figure it out.  When I ask, "What have we done?" I am referring to our kids.  When I say, "Our kids," I am referring to those in the age ranges of 25-35.  Probably younger ages, too.  I suppose a bit of elaboration is in order.  I mentioned that, this past weekend, I was lounging on the couch with a remote in my hand.  Nothing unusual there - hey, I'm a guy.  It's what we do.  I happened to pick up on a good friend's suggestion and, as the channel guide scrolled with the names of the shows, I saw the name, "Bridezillas," listed.  Based on the comments made about the show, I had to watch.  Sadly, I was not disappointed.  For those that have not yet seen this white-trash reality show, let me describe it this way - 'Train wreck' or 'multi-car accident'.  Seriously, you want to look away.  You try to avert your eyes.  Yet, try as you will, you can't seem to do it.  I think, after watching several episodes, I've figured it out.  There is NO WAY any of us could believe someone could act that badly.  These girls aren't any names with "-zilla" at the end of them.  They are flat-out, 100%, bad to the bone, hardcore bitches.  Spoiled rotten little bitches.  Their actions, coupled with the fact that the men marrying them are completely emasculated and idiots, are what begs the questions, "What have we done?"

Please tell me where people get the notion that they "deserve" anything.  Did I miss the memo?  You deserve it?  "I am going to get my way because I always get my way!  If I don't, there's going to be some serious problems!"  I have no idea how many times I heard that line.  "You're going to give me that," and, "You better damn sure have that for me," were lines I heard justified because...they deserve it.  I wanted to slap them.  I know many will think the show is staged, but there are some things that just cannot be scripted.  Let's be honest, we've seen the faces these spoiled little brats make, too.  Usually on kids that are about 4 or 5, yet we've seen the look.  I hate to say it, but we HAVE done it.  We, as parents, have turned these lovable little people into grown-up monsters that treat others with little or no regard.  It's appalling and pathetic.  Still don't believe me?  Drive through a high school parking lot.  Have you ever seen more BMW's, Mercedes, Lexus's, or Audis?  True story - a father here in Gardendale, AL just gave his 16-year old daughter a Hummer.  A HUMMER!!!  What the hell was he thinking?  Do we seriously think this kid will be anything but a bitch and a nightmare for any guy that tries to date her?  Want to know how divorce starts?  Hey, Daddy - how 'bout not setting the bar so high!  You are setting your children...and even their future families, up for failure!

I am writing frantically at this point.  I tend to hit the keys of the computer a little harder when I am this irritated.  I am this irritated, too, because I know how this gets started.  We don't want our kids not having what the others do.  Listen, I agree that, years ago, parents wanted their kids to have better than they had.  Trouble is, when they got to our generation (the generation about to have, or having, grandkids) there was nothing more we needed.  That was the trouble.  In the years of the Great Depression, those kids grew up wanting to give their kids more because, odds are, they might have had a five-pound bag of potatoes to feed their family for a week.  I know.  I heard my grandmother tell the stories.  Can you imagine?  Neither can I...nor our kids.  Seriously, though...I have told my mother more than once - we didn't 'want' for anything.  We had food, clothing, shelter, new bikes, board games, Hot Wheels, skateboards....all of it.  They didn't have to give us anything else.  Then, when we had kids, we began to screw up.  Case in point - I had a 13" black & white TV in my bedroom when I was a senior in high school.  It was the big gift for our Christmas that year.  I might have told this story already, but it bears repeating.  My daughter?  Yeah, she had a 15" color TV with a built-in VCR in her room...when she was FOUR!  Really?  Might I add that I can be, times.  It wasn't my idea.  I see what this is doing to our kids, though.  They play video games rather than skipping rocks on a lake.  They want to be in someones basement playing video games at roughly the same time of day that we were trying to sneak up to Dick's Dam, pull the car off the road into the grass, then run back to the bridge and jump off into the creek slowly floating underneath.  Oh, and "yes" to answer your question.  If all my friends were jumping off a bridge, I would, too.  Been there, done that.

We have got to stop giving our kids everything they want rather than spending time with them.  We have got to stop giving them what they want to keep up with their friends.  I truly believe they will thank the horrible parent that says "no" when they are older.  They will appreciate what we've done if we give them a few things...such as appreciation for what they DO have...and for others.  If we teach them that there is such a thing as "too much" and that going outside to play is a good thing.  If e teach them to respect others and their property.  If we teach them to love, to care, and to give.  We owe it to them.  Apparently, we best get started.  We have a lot of work to do.

Until next time............

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Alabama's New Immigration Law, the ACLU and the SPLC

I've brought this up before, however today's events make it noteworthy again.  Alabama Governor Robert Bentley today signed into law what is considered to be the toughest law yet against illegal immigration.  Some of you may not find this topic to be something you want to read about, however I've found it to be a praticularly divisive issue and important to all of us.  I must first say that I, personally, am not against immigrants coming to this country in any way, shape, or form.  Let's be honest - Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty have welcomed immigrants to the shores of this great country for years.  Just a quick read of the writing on Lady Liberty's pedestal, a poem by Lazarus, shows the intention of this country when it welcomed immigrants from 1892 through 1954.

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

We welcomed immigrants and they came with merely hope and a dream - to be Americans and live a better life.  The 'Land of Opportunity', quite frankly, is more than a simple expression.  Today, however we are fighting illegal immigration, not immigration.  The law signed today will require schools to determine a student's immigration status.  It also requires employers to use the federal E-Verify system to determine if a worker is a legal resident.  Does anyone have issues with it so far?  If so, what are they?  One of the sponsors of the bill also points out that this will put many Alabamians back to work as they've lost jobs to illegal immigrants.  Now, let's take a look at those associations that, honestly, like seeing these laws passed because it allows them to justify their existence.

The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) wants to take issue with the law.  My initial thought on that is that, in their name alone, they are the American CLU.  Are we not talking about people who, in the absence of achieving citizenship status, are NOT Americans?  More on that in a second.  The other group that wants some press is the SPLC (Southern Poverty Law Center).  Their direct quote about the law is that, "It is clearly unconstitutional. It's mean-spirited, racist and we think a court will enjoin it."  I'm trying to find something racist about this.  It's a law against ALL illegal immigrants and, though they may be from one specific country, does not mean an illegal immigrant from Spain or France would be treated any differently.  They're white - what's racist about that?  How is this "mean-spirited"?  You mean because it doesn't allow people here illegally the same rights as the rest of us enjoy?  Those same people that are free of paying taxes on any wages they make?  The same people that are getting public assistance and educations for their children at our expense?  THAT'S why it's "mean-spirited"?  How, too, in the name of all that is good, is this "Unconstitutional"?  Where, in the document signed over 200 years ago, does it say that people are allowed into our Union that do not have to adhere to the same laws that the rest of us abide by?  Plainly and simply, it doesn't say it anywhere.  Period.  To have this law stricken down by a court, especially the Supreme Court, is nothing but a stretch of the imagination by lawyers redefining something as simple as a word and intent.  The SPLC also said the law, "will set back progress the state has made on civil rights and race relations."  If I were black, and quite frankly as a white man, I take offense to this comment in principle.  The civil rights progress was about a march in Selma, a woman on a bus in Montgomery, and the progress made by Dr King.  These were about black Americans not having the same rights as white Americans.  I am proud to now reside in a state rich in the history of the Civil Rights movement and, honestly, feel they worked very hard to legally get the change they wanted.  These were not blacks that snuck into the country and held their hands out.  All they wanted, as Jefferson pointed out in the Declaration of Independence, was to realize that, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal...."  That was the Civil Rights movement.

There is one other group that became involved with this today, too - The National Immigration Law Center.  Their quote on the subject was, "It is a sweeping attack on immigrants and people of color in general. It adds restrictions on education, housing and other areas. It is a very broad attack. The state does not have the right to create its own immigration regime."  Again, this has nothing to do with "people of color" and the state, I believe, does have the right to create its own Immigration regime.  The state is doing nothing but saying illegal is illegal and taking care of those putting money in the state coffers.  As a matter of fact, 3.9% of the state's residents are listed as Hispanic or Latino.  That number is double what it was in the last census in 2000.  Obviously, we have no statistics for who is illegal and who isn't.  Personally, I applaud the law and the Governor's decision to sign it.  I agreed with Arizona's, too.  To me, it shows a sign that some are actually using common sense and a 'right or wrong' attitude toward illegal immigration.  Really, though, if it's such a problem, why not go to France, Spain, England, or better yet, South America?  Why not head to another country altogether?  I assume it's because they won't give hand-outs the way we do.  I assume it's because we offer help that no one else will.  I assume, as is most obviously the truth, it's because this is the best place to live in the entire world.  We'd just like you to do it legally...oh, and learn the language.  Don't make us change to fit you.  Really, it ain't cool at all....

Until next time.......

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Drug Testing....Unconstitutional? Yeah, well......

I apologize to all for this being a day late - I was traveling.  No excuse, I know, however it did give me a chance to read other articles and blogs about this very topic.  What I have found is that there are people crying "Foul," over this new law in Florida.  Again, because I have your attention and you found your way here, I'm weighing in.  One person (that I would seriously love to debate), made the comment that he saw this on Facebook and wanted to delete anyone that is "stupid, selfish, and short-sighted enough to think that this is a good idea."  My response?  Hey, you never had me as a friend - have at it!  The ridiculous remarks this person made were laughable, in my opinion.  I could not tell if this was a man or woman, but the first reason they gave for being against this so-called travesty of a law is that the main people applying for welfare are single mothers who are required to name the father and attempt to get child support before applying for welfare benefits.  Fair enough, right?  Hey, I pay my child support and, quite frankly, have no respect for a parent that doesn't pay.  Here's the line that really caught my eye, though - For a woman who may not know or wish to disclose the identity of the father, this is a doubly-humiliating experience being drug-tested trying to feed their children."  Let's let that sink in for a second before we dissect that little doozy of a comment.  Uh-huh.  Ready?  This is exactly WHY the law is put into place.  For them to be so irresponsible so as to NOT KNOW who the father is, well...they belong on Maury.  If you're that irresponsible with your own body, how do I even imagine you're going to be responsible with the cash I worked so hard to give you?  You can color this any way you like - I have lived in the inner city.  I have spoken to women who would tell you, point blank, they had another child (after having three already) because the government will pay more money if you have four children.  They didn't CARE who the father was - they simply wanted more money from the public till.  I think we can all agree that logic is horribly flawed...not to mention insulting to those of us that go to work everyday and pay our taxes so these recipients can receive the welfare.  As for "doubly-humiliating," I can only say that, faced with the prospect of being down on my luck and facing hard times, I would have no problem providing a urine sample if it meant my kids would have food.

Let's not try to pretend there aren't people taking advantage of the system.  We can argue for days that there are people that are very deserving of the welfare checks, however when the logic of having another child for money is put into play I take serious issue with it.  The writer also says there are disablist undertones to this story.  Reading further, I found that the argument here is that many disabled people are forced to self-medicate and receive prescription medications "outside the system" - a practice many would disagree with.  You think?  Why, yes, we do disagree.  As a matter of fact, they now have a law to protect against you getting tax dollars for doing just that! 

I am astounded that there are representatives in office that want to call this unconstitutional.  Let me help you, Congressman - these are tax dollars that we worked very hard for.  We, as fellow Americans, want to help and do our part to make sure our neighbors in need are taken care of.  As with any good program, though, it's being abused in many cases.  All Gov. Scott did was try to minimize that abuse.  This is hardly unconsitutional, HOWEVER......I think I can help with a solution!  Here it is - if this law bothers you, you are offended, or think your Constitutional rights are being trampled, please let me be the first to point out that you don't have to apply.  Simple solution - get a job.  I know, the economy sucks.  Jobs are hard to find.  Sadly, they won't make the same money at, say, McDonald's as they will from Uncle Sam.  You do not have to take a drug test.  You do not have to receive benefits.  Now, just one question left - do you really want them or don't you?

Please, for the love of God, can we STOP having stupid conversations and work on real issues?  The law took care of a serious issue, now I say it's time to move on to the next...right after the other 49 states jump on this.  Folks, we're doing the right thing by helping others.....but we're also doing the right thing by saying "Enough," to those that want to abuse our good nature.

Until next time............

Monday, June 6, 2011

One More Time, Huh?

Well, well, well.  Here we go again.  So, Rep Weiner lied.  Should any of us be surprised?  I'm not...and don't think anyone else is either.  Let's face it, when he was asked, point blank, a yes or no question, instead of giving a simple response he gave an answer that took five minutes.  In those five minutes, he neither confirmed nor denied.  It was a YES or No question, for crying out loud!  I am not surprised or shocked.  I am disgusted.  In a time when all we ask for is someone in politics to be honest and represent his constituents, all we get is deceit.  In a country where opponents tear people's private lives apart prior to an election and sling mud everywhere they can, this idiot lied to the American public on national television...and says he should not resign because it won't affect the way he governs.  I am disgusted because he is dishonest.  It's one thing to THINK a politician dishonest.  It's another altogether to have it proven  and him remain in office.  Please understand - this is not a 'holier than thou' type thing.  This is someone the public has entrusted with representing him...and I, for one, do not think he should remain in office.  I am tired of politicians doing whatever is necessary to gain office, only to do whatever they please once they are there.  You are abusing the office and our trust, all while sullying the reputation of a government that we are trying, desperately, to be proud of.  I am calling for him to leave office...and every one he represents should do the same.  He is a loser, arrogantly proclaiming her will not leave office.  This needs to stop.  We deserve better and right now he has not shown me he is any better than a spoiled rich kid who is thumbing his nose at the country.

Another thing that must stop, and something I have mentioned to more than a few of you, is the inability of teachers to discipline in their classrooms.  Yes, if you watched the Today Show (lots of material, by the way) this morning, you saw a 64-year old female teacher with an unblemished record that has been arrested for felony child abuse.  Why?  Because one of her students was trying to intimidate her, getting in her face, calling her names like, "You F***ing C**t," and "You ugly F***ing Bit**."  The teacher, as was evidenced by the video shot by another student, was clearly worried and scared.  He was literally in her face trying to intimidate her and provoking a fight.  She swung, hit him, and cut his lip.  She has had action taken against her beyond being arrested and it's time, too, that THIS MUST STOP!  Where the hell are the parents?  This kid should have been taken and beaten by a principal or parent.  he was a few inches taller and much younger.  He was trying to get her to react, all while another student was yelling that the teacher, "can't call him stupid, and can't touch him."  They know it.  The kids know the teacher cannot react so they do whatever they can to harass and intimidate, all while encouraging the adult, already scared about what could happen, to react.  THIS HAS GOT TO END NOW.  I would like to call for legislation to allow corporal punishment in all 50 states.  We need to restore discipline to our classrooms.  Trust me (and I said it before), abuse is a chronic, ongoing situation.  Discipline is a one-time thing.  This teacher could have been injured but we will only worry about the rights of the child.  Sadly, this was not a child and we will not say "enough" until a teacher is injured or, worse, killed.

These situations require our immediate attention.  We can no longer sit idle and say this is okay.  It isn't and we need to make it stop NOW.  I'm not letting this one go.

Until next time.....

Friday, June 3, 2011

Stupidity and Irrational Behavior...Otherwise Known as Today's News

Go ahead...peruse the news for the day.  Think things aren't getting stupid?  Let's take a look together, shall we?  I just want to make sure no one misses some of today's 'This Day In History' moments.  I can't think of a better place to start than with John Edwards.  Remember John?  He was the one that was devout in his beliefs and was going to lead us to the Promised Land of Politics.  Sadly, John's indictment came in today.  Yes, ol' Johnny got busted and, as expected, used the tried and true, "I didn't break the law...and didn't even know that would be considered against the law," defense.  Let's see....running for President, sympathy for wife's cancer, devout christian and....OOPS!  Johnny had a girlfriend!  Wait, it gets better because.....he got her pregnant!  Brilliant man that he is, he tries to get someone else to claim THEY fathered the child.  Hey, John - how's life in that House of Cards?  He spent $925,000.00 to hide this woman with money received from donors....then said he didn't know it was against the law.  Want to be a devout christian and someone I want as a leader, John?  Give that $925K to a few homeless shelters and take care of the kids that we cannot feed or house in this country.  As for the 'devout' part (and this will get me going on another tirade), it makes me think of a saying I've grown quite fond of - "Religious people scare me, spiritual people inspire me."  This might be the divisive part of the blog, but here goes anyway.  I am tired of people that try to define what a "good christian" is by showing me the rolls at church.  Quite frankly, I do not care who goes to church, I care what they do with it afterward when they walk out those doors.  And don't tell me that, just because people don't park it in a pew every Sunday that they are not the Christians of which you speak.  The world is filled with people that do good things for their fellow man every day, yet haven't been in a church for years.  Okay, I'm done.  More news.....and these are really good, too.

Sarah Palin - yes, she made the news today, too.  This is so good, I have to quote it exactly.  While visiting the Old North Church (of Paul Revere fame) in Boston today, she had this little bit of history for us...and I quote,

"He who warned the British that they weren't going to be taking away our arms by ringing those bells and, um, making sure as he's riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that, uh, we were going to be secure and we were going to be free." 

Wait, what?  Seriously?  Okay, I realize there's not going to be a test on American History when you decide to run for President.  I truly understand that, like asking my sophomore Geometry teacher when I'd need it in the future, she won't get questioned about it while reducing the deficit.  We all know this was just a simple question and she chose to visit the church, but...are you serious?  He warned the British?  They weren't going to be taking away our arms?  Sent those warning shots?  Will someone please hand her a small plastic container and send her to the ladies room?  I want to know, exactly, what she's been smoking or ingesting?  THIS is what we're sending to the plate?  We don't have a pinch-hitter?  I've said it before and I'll say it again - it ain't about who's best for the job, it's about who has the fewest skeletons in the closet.  Apparently, it's about who's not afraid to look really stupid on national TV, too.  I now have a headache from literally shaking my head over this one.

Okay, two more 'quickies'.  The first involves an 11-year old boy in California that broke his teacher's nose.  He actually started screaming at her, then got up and punched her in the nose, breaking it.  What, you ask, did the teacher do to cause this behavior? (go ahead, ask)  Thanks - I'll tell you.  She asked him to move to another seat in the classroom.  I know what you're thinking...and I felt the same way - how DARE she?  What was she thinking?  How rude!  Yes, I am being very sarcastic.  Remember what I said a few weeks ago - we cannot punish them and they know it.  I can show you teachers that have stopped teaching because of these very issues.  Parents, it's time to step up.  This kid needs his ass beat and NOW!  This is unacceptable and he needs to be disciplined...and before all the child advocates start their ranting, how do you propose to stop this?  Wait....time-out, perhaps?  NEWS FLASH - Time-outs are what started this debacle.  Time to revert back to the methods that actually worked.  Freaks.

Lastly, there's the lady that is suing Dunkin' Donuts in Philadelphia.  No, no....that one's been tried before.  She didn't spill the coffee so they had to invent a new 'coffee scam'.  They are asking for unspecified damages because (so she claims), a worker put sugar in her coffee rather than artificial sweetener. (Audible Gasp) Oh. My. God.  Can you believe it?  I know, right?  How stupid are we that we never tried THAT before?  You mean....rather than hard work and toiling away all day at my job, all I had to do was get a screwed up coffee order to make it to Easy St?  Really?  I am so disappointed in myself.  Yes, that was more sarcasm...and a lot of it.  You know who I am really disappointed with?  The lawyers.  I know that's not a big shock, either, but what do you call a hundred lawyers going off a cliff in a bus?  A great start!  Oh, man....I slay me.  Thank you very much, folks...don't forget to tip your waitresses...I'm here all week!  Sugar instead of sweetener, huh?  We are seriously damaged and, quite honestly, I'm not sure we can make it back from the brink we're teetering on....

Until next time..............

Thursday, June 2, 2011

An Open Message to Teenagers......Yes, Again.....

I've touched on this before, I know...but humor me, please.  Ironically, you kind of have to - I've got the keyboard, blog site, and (hopefully) your attention.  I've made statements before about our youth....including last night.  This message, however, seems to be lost as I am 'preaching to the choir' with most of you.  This is on our collective behalf.  I thought it best to actually address the youth directly this evening, so here goes:

Dear Younger Generation,

It appears you're seeing us - your parents, grandparents, and other adults - as something we're not.  You apparently think, when you look at us, that there's a village somewhere missing their idiot.  Oh, you'll deny it and try to tell us you think the world of us which, by most accounts, you do.  Sadly, though, you also think we have turnip greens in our hair as we have just fallen off the turnip truck.  Quite honestly, I have never understood that expression, but hey, it works.  You get the idea.  You must think we were born at night which, though some of us were, it was not last night.  There's another doozy we always use, eh?  Let me put it more succinctly - we aren't stupid and we're on to you.  As I have often told both my son and daughter, "You can try to get away with anything and everything you'd like.  Please know, though, that you will not succeed."  Here's the deal, kids - you're going to get caught.  I mean it.  Now, let me say, too, that you're going to want to test that theory.  Bit of advice?  Don't bother.  See, now you're thinking I'm just trying to scare you into submission.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I am trying to tell you that you will get busted!  Here's the inside story of how I know - I did it.  Got busted, I mean.  You will, too, I can promise you.  You see, we tried all the games our parents tried.  Then, when we were done trying those games and needed a little more adventure, we invented new games and tried something even more radical.  Want to guess?  Yep, we got caught at those, too.  We invented the game and you are not as good as we were at it.  Period.  Let's say, for example, that you're going, I don't the beach.  Yeah, that's a good one.  We've been there too and, just for good measure,  we've seen all the Spring Break/End of School movies.  The ones where they have wet t-shirt contests by the pool during the day and drunkfest parties at night.  Yes, my dear children, they even had alcohol in our time.  We ingested our fair share and know all the signs.  So all of a sudden you go to the beach and LOOKIE THERE!!!  Some friends from home!  What a coincidence running into them there!  Yes, they're boys and you happen to be two newly-graduated girls fresh out of high school just glad to see them to 'hang out' with them.  Poor guys were supposed to hook up with some of their buds, too, but damn! - they can't find them.  Whatever will they do?  Sure, you could take pity on them and let them crash at your pad (nice - a 70's term) on the floor.  What else would good friends do?  Uh, hello?  McFly?  No turnip greens here, ladies!  This was a planned excursion and you aren't fooling anyone!  Now you're going to tell me you're going out with a white midriff t-shirt with nothing underneath left the bikini top in the car and will put it on at the pool in the bathroom.  Seriously, I wish I could see me...or any adult through your teenager 'I can pull one over on them' eyes.  We're not slow, we're not mentally-challenged and we are sure as hell not stupid.  Do not lie to me, do not try to get one over on me, do not be an idiot yourself.  One of these stupid things you're going to try could get you killed....or worse - pregnant.  Just sayin'.  Anyway, I hope you heed the advice and hope you understand where I'm coming from.  I feel confident in saying I speak for most, if not all, of the parents I know....and the others, too.  Again, if you're going to try it, do so at your own peril.  We love you...but will not hesitate to take the keys and 'bench' you. 

PS. We can still do these things better than you'll ever dream of doing them.  We're rock stars.....and we earned the title.

Until next time.........