Friday, January 30

"Enough Already!!"

Here's a news flash for all of you...the 43rd edition of the National Football League's championship game is scheduled to be hosted in Tampa this coming Sunday. Personally,I'm about over it.

Unless one has been sequestered in the increasingly long lines at the local unemployment office without benefit of access to newspapers, radio, or television, one has had no choice but to be inundated in the metropolitan Tampa area with the ceaseless hype that is relentlessly on-going with this event. Touted as the biggest annual sporting event in America, the weclomed economic impact on any city that host this event is incalculable, but the time and effort expended to promote this extravaganza boarders on near hysteria. The game itself and the two teams who are slated to compete in it are almost relegated to the status of secondary importance, so wrapped up are the media types, government dignitaries, the whose-who of the social elite, and the myriad of commercial establishments, big and small, who fawn over and gravel at the feet of the mass influx of supposed celebrities that flock to this event for no other reason but to see and be seen...

As an example, consider the poster child for narcissistic, self-absorption, Sean, a.k.a, "Puff Daddy, P. Ditty, Diddy Combs, whose apparent claim to fame is being famous for merely being famous, who blew into Tampa this morning at 1:20 a.m. to host his own Super Bowl party that began hours earlier, claiming his untimely delay was due to "traffic." The traffic in and around Tampa can be horrendous, but at 1:20 in the a.m., I don't think so. Still the faithful "beautiful people" welcomed him as though he was a returning conquering hero, salivating at his mere presence in their otherwise unworthy midst. Rumor has it that Paris Hilton will also grace us, the great unwashed, with her effervescent and vapid presence. I am agog and spellbound by the mere prospect!

Here's the bottom line.... I am as big a casual sports enthustiast as the next guy, and I look forward to the actual game. However, I could care less if Bruce "The Boss" Springsteen offered to perform a private concert in my living room, or Linsay Lohan promised to do our laundry for a month. I have no interest in rubbing elbows or any other part of my anatomy with these types of individuals who bring nothing to the table for societal consumption but an unquenchable thirst for baseless recognition. Let the teams take the field, play their best, and then everyone go home. Enough is enough already.

Wednesday, January 28

"Learning To Roll With The Punches..."

An exasperated wife walks into the bedroom and spies a pair of her husband's underwear in the middle of the floor, prompting her to yell out in exasperation to him, "Is this your dirty underwear I see lying here on the floor!" A moment's hesitation and then the testy reply, "It darn well better be mine!!"

I like a neat and orderly home, having been raised by a meticulous mother who even at the age of 80 continues to insist that everything has an assigned place and everything had best remain in that assigned place or there will be hell to pay. Mother's housekeeping is immaculate. Dust is a foreign substance that is constantly being eradicated almost before it has the opportunity to alight on any otherwise welcoming surface. One can literally eat off her floors. This condition is also true of my home, as there is probably a seven course dinner and several varieties of leftover snacks lurking somewhere just below our feet.

To suggest that my wife is not a domestic queen is understating the true facts of our reality. Judi insisted that as I was renovating our home that I provide her with an office space in order that she may more successfully administer her Mary Kay Cosmetics business. That was years ago and Mary Kay has been relegated to the dustbin of history and Judi has now moved out of the office and into the dinning room, the living room and and a goodly portion of our bedroom. Her on-going efforts to make a successful go of her real estate investment business has produced more paperwork than the headquarters at the I.R.S. Judi too operates under the adage that everything has a place and she insists that she knows exactly where each any every piece of paper is among the myriad of stacks of documents that occupy every available nook and cranny throughout our house. So adept at record keeping is she that I have long been convinced that she maintains at least copies of the original feed bills for the Ark.

Even though I miss the days when our dinning room table was actually used to eat meals around, I've learned to adapt. Her office is now my office and I use it as a place of refuge and tranquility. It is here that I attempt to release my desire to communicate with the larger world and hope for stimulating reciprocation. It is here that I find solace in a good book and peaceful lingerings in good music...until the love of my life calls me to dinner, "Grab a tray and join me in the living room for cheese sandwiches." Judi makes a mean cheese sandwich.

Please know that I am not really complaining. Yes, I would perfer to have our home be more of a reflection of my mother's housekeeping habits. But a truly happy home does not and should not merely revolve around how a home looks...its soul is in how it feels...and this feels like home. Now if you'll excuse me I have a bed to make, dishes to wash, and I think there's a pair of my dirty underware lying in the middle of the bedroom floor that must be reassigned to their proper place. A housekeeper's chores are never done.

Tuesday, January 27

"Far From Perfect..."

One of my favorite blog reads is written by a lady who goes by the moniker of Norman. (It makes perfectly good sense if one reads the history of the how and the why she came to adopt that name.) She lives in the San Antonio area and works as a customer service representative for what sounds like a prominently recognized insurance company that includes the underwriting of motor vehicle insurance policies. She's less than enamored with her job, and based on the types of telephone conversations she has had to field of late in this worsening economy from irate policy holders, I can't say that I fault her (pardon the intended pun.)

In a most recent post Norman goes into lengthy detail describing a phone conversation she attempted to have with a policy holder in order to determine the client's side of a vehicular accident in which it appears the teenage policy holder was clearly at fault. In synopsis the teenager was operating his personal vehicle at night without his headlights being switched on. An on-coming police officer observed the lightless vehicle and in an attempt to signal the car's operator of that fact, the officer flashed on and off several times his headlights, but to no avail. The car continued past him and made a turn at the next intersection...right into the path of another on-coming car that did not see the turning vehicle in time to avoid the resulting crash. Sounds pretty cut and dry to me.

The police officer filed his official report as operator error, failing to operate the vehicle with the headlights illuminated. Norman becomes involved as she attempts to contact the teenager by phone to obtain his side of the story. The teen male, for reasons only known to him, has been repeatedly avoiding talking with any of the insurance company's representative. Finally Norman succeeds in getting in touch with the teen's mother and the "fun" begins. Apparently the Mom believes her son can do no wrong, thus did no wrong, that her son stated to her that he had the car's headlights on, that the police officer and the other on scene witnesses who contradict her son's contention are all lyin. And here's the kicker...the Mother proclaims that she is a Christan and, therefore, is beyond reproach. The Mother even threatened Norman with eternal hellfire and brimstone if she dared deny her son's claim for recompense.

Pardon my French, but Hell, I'm a Christian and that pisses me off!! And no I'm not taking the Mother's side nor the son's. That "Christian" family is totally and completely out of touch with the basic essence of what being a "Christian" means. At base it should first and foremost embrace the basic principles of what is right and wrong. If anything that Mother should have forced her son to immediately and forthrightly face the consequences of his error and begged the insurance company to take compassion on her son's youthful stupidity and not cancel instantaneously their automobile insurance policy. But no, she deliberately played the "holier than thou card" in an attempt to perhaps shame the insurance company from even daring to consider that they don't consistently "walk on water." It is the likes of this variety of self-righteous religious snobs that lend unfortunate and unwarranted credence to the assumption by so many that all professing Christians are at base hypocrites. If this were indeed the types of individuals who populate our country's houses of worship, I'd stay home myself on Sunday mornings. For what it's worth, I know that not to be the case. As a rule there dwells in the hearts of the faithful and devoted Christian a ready compassion and an accompanying sense of duty to serve others, who seek first to do good and never to intentionally do harm.

For me, personally, Christianity should be a filter through which I am to be an observer and a consumer of what life challenges me day to day and not wielded as an impenetrable shield by which to unfairly judge the motivations and actions of others. I have no more right to play the "religious" card than a man of color has the right to play deliberately the "race" card if the underlying motivation is for no other purpose than self aggrandizement.

Bottom line...there are any variety of malcontents, miscreants and your basic kooks that occupy rungs on the many ladders of organizations and institutions. Christianity has a recorded history of not being immune from such self absorption, nor will it escape future embarrassments. Norman unfortunately ran up on a family unit that serves to prove the point that there are bad apples bobbing in the barrel among those of my fellow Christians who would have otherwise expressed embarrassed regrets and would have been respectful of the job she is tasked to perform. When one tastes a bad apple, one needs little encouragement to spit it out, move on, and not prejudge the rest of the barrel's contents. Norman was personally and professionally courteous in that regard. I, perhaps, would have been less so. The "bad apple" family could learn a lot from her and reciprocate in kind. One can hope...and in my case, pray that that shall prove to be the case in her future encounters with professing Christians. We don't need any more bad press.

Monday, January 19

"A Two Parter..."

PART ONE... It has come to my attention that my last post (see below) is rife with misinformation. Apparently "Happy Harry" never had a great, great Uncle Remus Reid, who allegedly was hanged in Montana in 1889 as a convicted horse thief and train robber. A little fact checking has revealed that this hoax has previously been perpetrated on several prominent political figures prior to "Happy Harry" being so connected. I can't say that I am too terribly disappointed that this has turned out to be the corrected record, as if indeed there was a gentleman of this infamous history, I would certainly hate sullying his reputation further by linking him to the Senator Majority Leader who has managed to become a first-rate scoundrel without the aide of a family tree populated by like miscreants. If indeed there once existed a fellow named Remus, who must surely have been somebody's uncle, I offer my sincerest apologies for any added hurt and embarrassment my post may have inflicted upon his later-day descendants. God knows you don't need Happy Harry's added albatross mistakenly hanging around your necks.

PART TWO... Late last evening the final National Football League team was determined to compete in this year's Super Bowl that is to be played here in Tampa on February 1st. The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Baltimore Ravens and will pair up against the Arizona Cardinals who had earlier Sunday afternoon bested the Philadelphia Eagles. The entire metropolitan Tampa Bay area is in the frenzied midst of the massive preparations that is required and expected to host what is considered to be one of the premiere yearly sporting events. The chances of your average football fan scoring a ticket for this event is as likely if not decidedly worse than being struck by lightening. In today's economy shelling out half of one's life savings for the privilege of being in physical attendance at this spectacle, even if a ticket were readily available, just isn't that appealing to me, especially since the three million dollar a minute television commercials are not displayed on the stadium's jumbotron. But all is not lost... I have scored two tickets to the next best thing...


That's right, boys and girls, I pooled all of my egg money and purchased on Ebay two platinum Bob Uecker, front row seats, which entitles me and a guest to unlimited pina coladas, lawn chairs, fresh towels, and a souvenir program signed by the winning team. Such a deal!! There is only one minor drawback... The event is being hosted by a nudist resort! Seriously. Kind of limits my usual practice of wearing my favorite team attire. Oh well...I'll just have to make this sacrifice for the team. My only other concerns are where does one put one's tickets and will standing up to do the mass spectator wave be discouraged? I guess that's what the towels are for.

And if you believe any of this...I've got several hundred acres of repossessed swamp land I'll sell you for a song. Go Team!!

Thursday, January 15

"SPIN... "Let's Twist Again Like We Did Last Summer!"

According to Merriam-Webster's dictionary, the word "spin," used as a noun, has four usages, the fourth being, a: "a usually ingenious twist" and/or b: "a special point of view, emphasis, or interpretation presented for the purpose of influencing opinion," i.e., "Put the most favorable spin on the findings." The best recognized purveyors of this particular definition have been and continue to be, I believe, a toss up between our mass media outlets and the politicians of all stripes who find it in their best interest to turn fact into fiction, following the mantra that we the people are either too stupid, too gullible, or too lazy to care or know the difference. "Why tell the truth when a lie will suffice?"

A good friend of mine from Tennessee sent to my attention a prime example of how a truth, which can be easily verified through a careful check of historical record, can be so twisted and so spun, so as to erase any facsimile to the true facts in evidence. Let's together examine the case of Remus Reid, the great, great uncle of the present majority leader of the U.S. Senate, Harry Reid...

Happy Harry

As told to me by my friend, a professional genealogy researcher in southern California, Judy Wallman, was conducting some personal research into her family heritage and discovered that Harry's great, great uncle, Remus Reid, was hanged unceremoniously for horse stealing and train robbery in Montana in 1889. Both Judy and Senator Reid share this common ancestor. Below is the only known photograph of the infamous Remus, standing on the gallows platform right before he was dispatched to the great horse breeding ranch in the sky.

On the backside of the photograph is printed the following description, "Remus Reid, horse thief , sent to Montana Territorial Prison 1885, escaped 1887, robbed the Montana Flyer six times. Caught by Pinkerton Detectives, convicted and hanged in 1889." Wishing to obtain perhaps some further insight into their common relative's life, Ms. Wallman sent an email to Senator Reid. Below is the reply received from Senator Reid's staff...

"Remus Reid was a famous cowboy in the Montana Territory. His business empire grew to include acquisitions of valuable equestrian assets and intimate dealings with the Montana railroad. Beginning in 1883, he devoted several years of his life to government service, finally taking leave to again resume dealings with the railroad. In 1887, he was a key player in a vital investigation run by the renowned Pinkerton Detective Agency. In 1889, Remus passed away during an important civic function held in his honor when the platform on which he was standing collapsed."

Revisiting Merriam-Webster's definition of spin, "a special point of view, emphasis, or interpretation for the purpose of influencing opinion." Senator Reid most certainly has elevated this definition into an art form, by himself elevating his great, great uncle Remus from scoundrel to saint in one brief paragraph of subterfuge. Perhaps as a personal aside, one can commiserate with those of us who have less than a glowing opinion of Senator Reid and had wished that Harry's descendancy had terminated with the final and abrupt decendancy of his uncle. But, alas, that is not the case and we are saddled, if you will, with the descendant of a horse thief who himself is a latter-day thief who would have you believe that your money is his money, and can spin it so you, yourself, actually come to entertain that pronouncement as fact.

So, the next time one of these talking media heads or wily politicians tells you that the sun rises in the west and sets in the east, you may wish to pause for a moment or two and give that some further deliberation...unless you happen to be of the opinion that horse manure is best consumed with a pinch of sugar and a cup of milk. Spin that!

Tuesday, January 6

"Okay...I Admit It..."

I've been lazy." So, sue me. It's not that events which have transpired in my life these past few weeks have been anything approaching cataclysmic. If anything they have been mundane in importance and thus (in my opinion) unworthy of comment. Being still unemployed...especially in the month of December when commerce even in the best of economic times slows down to a virtual crawl...has rendered my enthusiasm to get very excited about life in general to the near point of total apathy. My forced retirement (thus far) is agreeable in that the hours are excellent, but the downside is that the pay is horrendous. Still, Judi and I are managing to keep our heads above water and are anticipating that this New Year will bring about far better fortunes. After all, Mr. Obama is about to become President and his promise of "hope" has me nearly convinced that come January 21st we shall awake to our own personal bail out check in the mail. It's that what every American is hoping for? Sorry 'bout the skeptical sarcasm...

Here's what I do hope for. That President-elect Obama will take the reins of power and become a guiding influence for the betterment of our country, not for the benefit of the few, but for the many. Even without our current economic turmoil, we live in a perilous world of divergent viewpoints, many of which are harbored by persons who would slit the throats of their neighbors for some perceived slight that occurred centuries before they were born. Keeping these dangerous ideologies at bay and hopefully safely at a distance from our shores should be among the highest priorities of our new President. Failing to be so persistently diligent will render our current economic woes mote.

Like it or not, every American will continue to have a discomforting price to pay in order to right our nation's course. Until just recently Americans for the most part have enjoyed an almost unparalleled period of prosperity, albeit underwritten by the false notion that the heretofore free and easy credit would be a debt the Pied Piper would never call due. The startling reality is that our institutions of trust have let us down, choking on their unquenchable thirst for a bigger and more profitable share of the pie. We all bought into the notion that the good times would continue to roll, that our sense of easy entitlement would have no end, and that our futures were safely secure. What far too many folks discovered is that we all are intertwined with a world economy that would forever function on the notion that someday in the future all that we borrowed today would be paid back in spades. The bill continues to come due and even the innocent among us are facing the uneasy consequences of mistrust and uncertainty.

President Obama must now translate his rhetoric of hope for a brighter tomorrow into concrete policies that will provide a foundation on which each hard-working American can again stake their trust, their fortunes, and their futures. President Obama is willingly inheriting this present place in our nation's on-going history from which there is no turning back. The American people will give him his lead to search out and implement resolutions to our many short-comings, but he needs understand that his opportunity for significant change from the old policies of "business as usual" will be short lived, that the American people will take whatever steps may be necessary in order to separate those who would abuse their elected power and garner it unto themselves. President Obama, like American as a whole, needs to be ever vigilant and held closely on a very short leash. For if we cannot as nation of free people decide and command our own fate, then in the wings wait patiently those who would deny us our very basic freedoms.

These are indeed perilous times. We each have a responsibility to not blindly abdicate our vigilance to those who make promises yet fail to deliver. The future of our country lies within each of us to demand that each and all of our governing institutions are help strictly accountable. If we fail to hold to the strict adherence that we are a government of the people, then we each shall sadly discover that we have apathetically allowed a government that serves its own self interest and continues to be populated by persons who too readily point away from themselves the finger of responsibility. There is no excuse for deceit. We must never forget that we are a people governed by law. There can be no order without law. When we as a people are no longer resolute in applying the rule of right and wrong, when we fail to apply the scales of justice to all of our institutions, then we shall surely lose ourselves in the resulting chaos for which we have allowed ourselves to be the witting authors.

Be, therefore, prayerful that this renewed promise of hope is far more than mere audacious speeches eloquently mouthed to appease the masses. Be, therefore, diligent and demanding of those whom we have imbued with our vote of representation abide by the letter of constitutional law. Be, therefore, Americans...ready to uphold truth and ready to demand that it be always the pillar on which as a nation this country unwaveringly stands. Mr. Obama...the ball is squarely in your court. Don't drop it.