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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Devotion for the Day

"Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commands." - Deuteronomy 7:9

When God entrusted Moses with the task of leading His people out of bondage, the people kept forgetting that they had the strength of Lord on their side and continued to doubt Him throughout their journey in the wilderness. There were even people among the people who tried to encourage the masses to return to Egypt, and accused Moses of merely bringing them to the dessert to starve and die. They stressed that by returning to Egypt, they would have plenty of food, warm beds, and shelter. But as you know, they would also be returning to a life of bondage. When the people ultimately lost their faith completely and turned their backs on Him, God had enough and decided that they would not reach the promised land. So, the people continued to wander in the wilderness in circles for 40 years in an attempt to complete a journey that should have taken no more than one month, according to some religious scholars. God saved the victory of reaching the promised land for future generations because the people lost faith in Him. Does this remind you of anything going on in your life right now? Continue to hold on to the Master's hand and stay steadfast in the plan He has laid out for you. Keep pressing forward. No matter what anybody says, just keep pressing forward!

Happy Pumpkin Day!

"Pumpkin" (Author Unknown)

A woman was asked by a co-worker, "What is it like to be a Christian?" The co-worker repled, "It's like being a pumpkin. God picks you from the patch, brings you in, and washes all the dirt off of you. Then, he cuts off the top and scoops out of the yucky stuff. He removes the seeds of doubt, hate, greed, etc. Then, he carves you a new smiling face, and puts His light inside of you to shine for all the world to see."

This was passed on to me by a very dear friend of mine. Now, dear pumpkin... it's your turn to pass this on to yet another pumpkin!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

R.I.P. Sony Walkman

July 1, 1979 - October 25, 2010
220 walkman units sold in 30 years!

The device that changed forever how we listen to and transport music is about to become a museum relic in Japan. Sony has announced that it ceased production in Japan of the iconic, revolutionary personal cassette tape player in April, and when those supplies run out, that will be the end of the concert.

The pocket-sized stereo was a revelation and a runaway hit shortly after its debut in July 1979, when it transformed the very way music is enjoyed. Prior to its introduction, record players and large portable stereos were the standard equipment for playback, not exactly the utmost in on-the-go convenience, although bell-bottom-clad hipsters could often be spotted grooving down the street with a “boom box” hoisted onto one shoulder.

According to a story in PC Magazine, Sony has sold some 220 million Walkman units in 30 years, but sales in Japan have declined steadily over nearly the same period. Demand for the old analog technology has all but vanished in the digital music era. For those who pine for the good-old-days of tapes, Sony said it will continue manufacturing the Walkman in China, for markets outside Japan, including the U.S. and Europe. By all estimation however, the older device’s days overseas are numbered as well.

The little cassette player may be a natural victim of its own innovation. The original device was long ago supplanted by the Walkman CD player, then ultimately, the digital music device. Sony has carried on the Walkman name for their line of mp3 players, to compete in the market that is currently dominated by Apple’s iPod, which changed the very foundations of how music is distributed after it debuted in 2001. The iPod is now the worldwide standard for portable music players, much in the way the Walkman enjoyed that distinction in the early 1980s.

In fact, former Apple CEO John Sculley recently told Businessweek that Apple founder Steve Jobs was so impressed with the Walkman he received 25 years ago that he disassembled it in an attempt to learn as much as he could about how it worked. While Sony will continue to build CD players and mini-disc players in Japan, it announced in April that it will no longer produce or sell computer floppy disks. The company also applies the Walkman brand to several cell phone models it currently makes.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Pajama Photo

"Night night, sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite!"

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Some Grown-Ups Are Just Plain Stupid!

Innocent Until Proven Guilty: Bert & Ernie are just
two loveable Sesame Street characters and nothing more


If you happen to be a friend of mine on Facebook, perhaps you noticed the following comment in my status box yesterday afternoon...

Well, I guess I'm guilty of "living under a rock" and so be it! I never knew that people have been questioning whether or not Bert & Ernie are gay. Oh, come on people... they're just a couple of harmless muppet characters for kids to enjoy! Why must adults always ruin innocent stuff for kids w/ grown-up crap? Let kids be kids while they can! They'll become adults soon enough without you pushing them into it before they're ready! Sorry for the rant, but I'm just plain angry over this mess!

Now, I invite you to read the ridiculous article I stumbled upon on the Metro (Philadelphia) website yesterday, which was the cause of my rant. I also added a link for this article to my FB status...

Have Bert & Ernie Come Out On Twitter?

The mystery surrounding the sexual preferences of Bert and Ernie, the beloved yellow-and-orange roommate puppets from the classic children’s TV series “Sesame Street”, is nothing new; but an official tweet on Twitter, allegedly from Bert, has renewed the question in the mass media.

On June 11th (9:56am), in anticipation of the recent film adaptation of the "A-Team," Bert allegedly pontificated on Twitter: "Ever notice how similar my hair is to Mr. T’s? The only difference is mine is a little more 'mo,' a little less 'hawk'."

Casting aside the question of whether a pair of hand puppets can be categorized as gay, there seems little doubt as to the meaning of the tweet. According to the online slang Rosetta Stone Urban Dictionary, "mo" can mean one of two things: "Modus Operandi," which makes little sense in this context, and an abbreviation of "homosexual."

Sesame [Street] Workshop has long denied the rumors... "Bert and Ernie do not portray a gay couple," the organization officially stated in 1993. According to the company line from Sesame Workshop, the characters are merely an "Odd Couple"-esque pairing, designed to show that friendship can transcend differences. Whether or not the TV-viewing crowd can do the same is up to debate.

However, in 1994, Rev. Joseph Chambers, a Pentecostal minister from North Carolina and author of "Barney: The Purple Messiah," attempted to get the colorful pair banned under state anti-sodomy laws. Chambers railed... "Bert and Ernie are two grown men sharing a house and a bedroom. They share clothes, eat and cook together, and have blatantly effeminate characteristics. In one show Bert teaches Ernie how to sew. If this isn’t meant to represent a homosexual union, I can’t imagine what it’s supposed to represent."

Gary Knell, Sesame [Street] Workshop CEO, said... "They are not gay, they are not straight, they are puppets... so they don’t exist below the waist!"


I cannot believe that grown people are actually questioning the "sexual preference" of two Muppets characters! Good comeback, Gary... "puppets don't exist below the waist." But, unfortunately, people who are "dead from the neck up", like Chambers, do exist.

As mentioned earlier, some of you may recall that the North Carolina minister "went off the rails" over another beloved children's character several years ago. Chambers cites in his booklet "Barney: The Purple Messiah," an episode in which the friendly dinosaur conjures up Mother Goose, who pops-up out of a book of nursery rhymes, by uttering "Shimboree, shimborah", which is a common expression heard on the TV show. Chambers claims this sequence is really a "seance".

"I'm not on a crusade," the minister insisted and describes the series as an insidious attack on families. "They transcend the real and get into New Age philosophy. It's absolutely antithesis to the Bible. For instance, families never appear, leaving Barney to provide the comfort, joys, and instructions of everyday life. Mama is kept apart, so Barney is a secret. The real family is excluded. And to a Christian, Jesus should be a child's next best friend," he says.

Chambers also accuses Barney of endorsing too much diversity. "When it comes to a moral lifestyle, I'm not for teaching people that pedophiles and homosexuals are on the same level" as parents, he says. "The program is a politically correct extreme of the liberal-left agenda."

Further, he writes in his booklet... "When you mix captivating entertainment, catchy songs, and emotionally satisfying music with a message that glorifies the creator of all of it, you have the making of a cult. Barney has become the leader of a children's cult."

Now, after those ridiculous ramblings, I rest my case. I admit that when I was raising my daughter, she never watched Barney too much because he didn't appeal to her personal taste when she was a child. She was also too young to know anything about all the controversy going on about him at the time. And, guess what? I didn't make it my business to bring it to her attention either. But today, both of my grandchildren love watching Barney. I've also watched it with them several times and I just don't understand what all the fuss was about.

So, no disrepect intended to Chambers as a minister or to his ministry... but I'm sorry to say that, as a person, he sounds like a total idiot! On second thought, if I were a member of his church, these ramblings would cause me to think twice about him as a pastoral leader. In my mind (and to turn his own sense of logic back on him), there are several statements he made that have underlying negative "connotations" and cause for concern about his thinking on a wide variety of issues. What was that saying again? Oh yeah... the one about "the way a man thinketh...?"

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Where Have All The Flowers Gone?

I should probably start this post by explaining that I used the word "Flowers" in the above title as merely a play on words. Depending on when you were born, most of us might look at this familiar title and immediately reflect back on the popular song by Earth, Wind & Fire back in 1972. But, in this case, the "Flowers" I'm referring to are Catholic churches and schools. So, the question I'm really asking is... "Where Have All The Catholic Churches & Schools Gone?" And, more importantly, I want to know why they have abandoned the inner-city in particular.

Hallowed grounds in many Philadelphia neighborhoods are not what they used to be. Many Catholic churches are being left vacant, put up for sale, and in some cases, converted into condominiums. More secular than perhaps ever before, the city's population is now witness to a sell-off of places of worship by many denominations, but most notably the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

According to a recent statement by one real estate consultant who prefers to remain annonymous, the Archdiocese has about 20 buildings up for sale right now. In addition to churches, many of the city's Catholic schools are now closed and sitting vacant as well. In somes cases, they have been sold and torn down to make way for something else. But, there's also a nasty little rumor going around that more Catholic schools are actually being built in the suburbs.

One observer of the city's churn toward fewer religious sites, said the fabric of certain neighborhoods have been torn loose by such sell-offs. "These buildings aren’t just a building, said Patrick Hildebrandt, facilitator of The Philadelphia Church Project. The PCP is a website that focuses on religious architecture in decline. "They are a living history, of a person, a family, and a neighborhood... to take away one of these buildings is to take away from the fabric of the community.”

The Church of the Assumption on Spring Garden Street is the most prominent example: The city Historical Commission voted on September 10th to permit demolition of the twin-steeple building, which Cardinal John Neumann helped consecrate in 1854. "Every denomination in the city is suffering the same issue," said Bob Jaeger of Partners for Sacred Places, a national non-profit organization that helps maintain historic religious properties.

It also seems that North Philly has been hit the hardest by church closings, especially Catholic churches. Lux Rivera, along with her husband, owns and operates a laundromat on Diamond Street. She attended St. Boniface Catholic Church at Diamond and Hancock streets for eight years before it was shut down. Rivera is pictured above with the now vacant church in the background. When it closed, items from the interior were either sold or given away.

Rivera said her daughter's godfather purchased the church's Stations of the Cross for $100 at a parish sidewalk sale and Rivera had a new door to her home crafted from its wooden pews. It's very sad that the church closed," said Rivera. She now attends Mass at a Catholic Spanish chapel located at 19th & Spring Garden Streets.

Anyone who knows me, should also know that I'm actually Baptist... and I have no intention of converting to Catholicism anytime soon. So, you might be wondering why I even care about all of this because I'm not Catholic. Well, I work for a religious organization and I'm actually no stranger to the fact that "traditional-style" neighborhood churches of all denominations seem to be in trouble these days. Many of them are struggling financially due to lack of membership, and some of them are literally dying. The so-called "mega church" seems to be the big draw for many people these days. Personally, I feel that the tide may do a 360-degree turn on that some time in the future, but that can be another post for another day.

I confess that my primary interest in this story centers around the closing of so many Catholic schools in Philadelphia. And no, I didn't go to Catholic school when I was growing up... I actually attended public school. But, it's no secret that the state of public education in our fair city and many other inner-cities around the country is deplorable. For many years, generations of families made the necessary sacrifices to meet the financial commitment and chose to send their children to Catholic schools so they could get a better education. Now that this option has disappeared from most of our neighborhoods, what are parents to do if they can't send their children to charter or private schools?

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has explained that Catholic schools within the city are closing because "they can no longer afford to keep them open". As much as I would like to believe that, I can't help but wonder why they don't have the money to keep an existing school open, but they do have the money to build a new school elsewhere? I know people who live in the more economically affluent areas surrounding Philly and my sources tell me that the rumors about new Catholic schools going up in the suburbs are true. So, you do the math... it seems to me that they have consciously and deliberately decided to abandon the inner-city for "greener" (mo' money) pastures.

Meanwhile, the neighborhood children left behind when these schools close their doors can't even pray for things to get better while class is in session, thanks to a woman by the name of Madalyn Murray O'Hair. She was an atheist who is best known for the Murray vs. Curlett lawsuit, which led to the landmark Supreme Court ruling ending prayer in American public schools in 1963. Ironically enough, she was eventually murdered along with two other members of her family in 1995. Well Madalyn (wherever your soul is right now), class ended for me a long time ago and I succeeded in spite of your efforts to remove God from my public learning environment. So, this is my prayer for all public school students on this day...

Almighty God: Please make a way for the educational needs of our children to be met, in spite of any difficulties and inadequacies they may face in the days to come. We know that, no matter what the circumstance or situation, they will never be forgotten or overlooked by You, Heavenly Father. Amen.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Another "Mommy Dearest"

A bizarre tale unfolded into the public eye yesterday in Reading, PA. A nurse’s aide, who is married to a astrophysics scholar, was charged with allegedly giving birth to and then killing, a total of 5 babies over the last two decades. Even more shocking, she did it without anyone ever knowing or finding out about it until now.

Following a three-month investigation into this morbid and sad story, Berks County District Attorney John Adams said that Michele Kalina, 44 years old and pictured above, allegedly stored her dead children’s remains inside her home in a cooler and a concrete slab in the wall. "I've been involved in criminal justice for 25 years, but I have never seen anything like this,” Adams said in a phone interview. "It’s shocking, disturbing and it's just very, very unusual."

District Attotney Adams said Michele's husband, Jeffrey Kalina, who has a doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania in astrophysics and a bachelor’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, had no idea about the corpses of the dead babies being inside their home, allegedly since 1996.

According Adams, in 1996, Michele Kalina began having an affair with another man, who was not named but has been confirmed as the father of four of the five dead babies found. At this point, only Michele Kalina has been charged with their murders. The bodies of infants believed to be between 32 and 48 weeks old were badly decomposed when they found back in July by Jeffrey Kalina and a daughter he has with Michele.

District Attorney Adams said that no one, not even Michele's husband, knew that she was ever pregnant with any of the dead babies, Adams said. "There is very little evidence from anyone who knew her. No one has told us they were certain she was pregnant and she hid it from her family and boyfriend the whole time."

Just when you think you've heard it all... I'm SMH in utter disbelief!

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Tyler Perry Story...

as told on The Oprah Winfrey Show on October 20, 2010

Tyler Perry is a media mogul sitting at the top of the A-list. He's produced more than 20 plays, movies, TV shows, and has rubbed elbows with entertainment's elite. In 2010, Tyler was also named the second highest-earning man in Hollywood by Forbes magazine. But Tyler's life wasn't always so fortunate. For years, he says he suffered brutal physical abuse at the hands of his father and severe sexual abuse at the hands of several adults. Inside or outside the home, Tyler says he never felt safe.

Now, for the first time, Tyler reveals in-depth details of his traumatic childhood and shares his personal story... a story of strength, power and, ultimately, triumph. Though they're close friends, Oprah says she never realized how brutal Tyler's childhood really was. When she asks Tyler to describe the early years, his answer says it all. "A living hell," Tyler says.

Young Tyler at 6 years old

As a picture of a young Tyler flashes across the screen, tears flood his eyes. "That's hard for me to look at," he says. "I feel like I died as a child." To endure the violent beatings, shouting, and name-calling, Tyler says he used his imagination to escape. "I could go to this park in my mind that my mother and my aunt had taken me to... I'm there in this park running and playing, and it was such a good day," he says. "So, every time somebody was doing something to me that was horrible, that was awful, I could go to this park in my mind until it was over.

One particular beating Tyler says he'll never forget is the time his father brutally whipped him with a vacuum cord. "To this day, I don't know why he did it. But I remember him cornering me in a room and hitting me with this vacuum cleaner cord. He just wouldn't stop. There are all these welts on me, the flesh that's coming from my bone, and I had to wait for him to go to sleep," Tyler says. "When he fell asleep, I ran to my aunt's house, and she was mortified when she saw it.

Tyler's Aunt Jerry seated in the audience

Tyler's Aunt Jerry she says he didn't say a word when he got to her house, but he was crying. "I lifted his shirt and there were five huge long welts... they had lines in them and they almost broke his skin," she says. "I got very upset. "And what did you do, Aunt Jerry?" Oprah asks. "I picked up a gun," she says. "I'm not proud of the fact, but I did and I went around the corner to their house. I met Tyler's father on the sidewalk, and I pointed the gun at him." That same day, Jerry says she told Tyler's mother, Maxine, that she should never leave Tyler alone with his father again. "I knew that he couldn't stay there with him and I took him everywhere with me after that," Jerry says.

After another vicious beating from his father, Tyler says he blacked out for three days. "He played these mind games with me," Tyler says. "This one in particular, he wanted me to change a tire." As Tyler worked to loosen the bolts, he says his father screamed and cursed at him. Even Tyler's mother and uncle tried to help him... but they couldn't prevent the inevitable. "My father couldn't get the bolts off either because they were rusted," Tyler says. "He looked up at me, and there was a smirk on my face. All I remember is him tackling me, and I remember holding onto a chain-link fence so tight, my hands are bloody and he's hitting me."

Every day, Tyler says he lived in fear that something would set his father off. It got so bad, young Tyler took drastic measures. One day, he says he slit his wrists and tried to commit suicide. "I thought, 'What is the point of living?'" he says. "My mother was truly my saving grace, because she would take me to church with her. I would see my mother smiling in the choir, and I wanted to know this God that made her so happy. If I had not had that faith in my life, I don't know where I would be right now."

In addition to the brutal physical abuse, Tyler says he also suffered severe sexual abuse at the hands of four different adults. Tyler says he was 5 or 6 years old the first time he was molested. While building a birdhouse with an adult male neighbor, the man put his hands in Tyler's pants, he says. "I'm thinking, what is this?" Tyler says. "And I felt my body betraying me, because I felt an erection at that age."

Tyler says he later endured sexual molestation at the hands of a male nurse and a man he knew from church. "The man from church used God and the Bible against me to justify a lot of the things that were going on. It was so horrible," Tyler says. "And that was my first sexual experience, with this man performing oral sex on me as a boy."

When Tyler was just 10 years old, he says he was also molested by a friend's mother. Tyler says he was over at his friend's house while the mother was arguing with her boyfriend in another room. Then, she suddenly appeared in front of him, wearing lingerie. Tyler says she put her son in the bathroom to take a bath and told Tyler to go home. But, when he tried to open the door, it was locked...

Tyler: "I hear the click, click, click of the door. I couldn't unlock it. She lays on the sofa. I didn't know she was wearing lingerie at the time. I said, 'I have to go. It's getting dark'."

Oprah: "You're 10."

Tyler: "I'm 10. And she says, 'You want to go home?' She lights a cigarette. She takes the key. She said, 'Here's the key'. I come over to get it, and she puts it inside of herself and she tells me to get it. So I... I get the key, but I feel my body betraying me again because I felt an erection. This is so disgusting, you know, what these people did to this little boy."

Oprah: "Yes."

Tyler: "She pulled me on top of her. So my first sexual experience was with a woman, that was it."

Oprah: "Did you even know what sex was?"

Tyler: "I had no idea."

Unrelenting abuse made it nearly impossible for Tyler to trust adults around him. Aside from his Aunt Jerry, there was one other woman he loved and turned to, his mother. Tyler says his mother, Maxine, was also beaten and threatened by his father, and she even tried to leave him when Tyler was very young. One day, Maxine packed up the children into a Cadillac and drove to California to escape. Tyler's father reported the car stolen, and his mother was arrested. They were driven back to Louisiana by Tyler's uncle, and Tyler says his father beat his mother the whole ride home. "My mother wasn't strong like my aunt," Tyler says. "She was just very passive. She did not have that backbone to stand up for herself, so certainly she couldn't stand up for me."

Tyler's mother passed away December 8, 2009, and now that she's gone, Tyler says he's willing to talk about the abuse he endured. "She suffered so much horror in her life... surviving breast cancer, the abuse from my father, the belittling, and the beatings. And I just could not be a source of pain," he says. "I knew if I spoke about this, that she would be hurt. So, I didn't. I feel this tremendous sense of... Now it's time for me to take care of me and get some of this stuff out of me and be free from it."

As a little boy who was molested by three different men and one woman before the age of 10 and before he even knew what sex was, Tyler struggled to understand his sexuality, he says.

Oprah: "Did the molestations leave you confused sexually?"

Tyler: "Yes, absolutely. How could it not? I knew I liked the little girls in the neighborhood, but this man was doing something to me and my body kept betraying me. It took me all of my 20s to figure out what this was that this man had given me to carry inside of my heterosexuality that did not belong to me. This is why so many men will not talk about this—the shame of having to admit that. And there is no textbook definition for what molestation does to someone. Each individual is different."

Oprah: "Everyone is different."

Tyler: "This is my story, so another man who has been molested may have a different story. But for me to be in this position and have what he had done to me, he gave me something to carry that I didn't want, that I didn't desire. And thank God, somewhere along the way, I found what you feed will grow in your life, and what you don't will starve."

Decades later, Tyler is still learning to cope with the aftermath of childhood sexual abuse. In his adult relationships with women, Tyler says certain experiences have triggered painful memories. He recalls how one woman locked the door just before becoming intimate. "Click, click, click..." Tyler says. "I went from being stimulated to not being able to perform. My body betrayed me again." Another time, a woman Tyler was in love with walked into the bedroom wearing lingerie. It was another trigger, reminding him of the lingerie his female abuser wore the day she molested him.

"All of these people had given me something to carry," Tyler says. "I think that everyone who's been abused, there is a string to the puppet master, and they're holding you hostage to your behaviors and what you do. At some point, you have to be responsible for them. What I started to do is untie the strings and chase them down to where they came from. And I was able to free myself and understand that even though these things happened to me, it was not me."

Tyler's father is still alive today, and Tyler says he feels no remorse for abusing his son. After sending out an emotional message to his fans last year revealing parts of his painful past and the power of forgiveness, he expected a phone call from his father. What he got was very different.

Tyler: "He sends a message through my brother saying, 'If I had beat your ass one more time, you probably would have been Barack Obama'."

Oprah: "Wow."

Tyler: "Here I am trying to heal from it, and that's what he sends me."

Oprah: "And yet, I know you still take care of him."

Tyler: "I do."

Oprah: "You still send him a check every month. You still have him living in a beautiful mansion in Louisiana. You still provide for him."

Tyler: "I do. Because I forgave him. I had to."

Though he forgives his father, Tyler says he will not have a relationship with the man, and will not put himself through the fear and emotions that surface whenever he's around. "I think that's really important to be clear that just because you forgive somebody does not mean that you now want to be around them," Oprah says.

By sharing his story, Tyler hopes other men will be encouraged to stand tall, speak out and begin to heal... just as he started his journey toward healing after watching an episode of The Oprah Show years ago. "Nobody's telling me I'm special. Nobody's telling me what I can do, and here you are on television," Tyler says. "I turn on the TV, and I see you. You say during that show that it's cathartic to start writing. I started writing down all of the things that happened to me. It was a chain reaction." Tyler credits Oprah with helping to change his life, but he also credits his younger self, the boy who went through so much pain.

Oprah: "What do you think you owe your younger self?"

Tyler: "My life. I think that he had to endure so much and had no recourse. He had no help. He just had to walk through it. So, he gave birth to the man I am. I owe him to live the best life I can. I owe him to be the best father that I will be someday. I owe him to use my life and my words and my work to encourage, to inspire, to do what you did for me."

Oprah: "What would Tyler Perry say to that little boy now?"

Tyler: "I would tell him... 'It's going to be all right. I'm going to make you proud'."

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Warning: Don't Vote Angry!

Okay, with unemployment still hovering close to the double digits, frustration and dissatisfaction have been running high in the lead-up to the election... that's not been lost on Democratic candidates and surrogates who have (of late) spent time on the campaign trail putting the electorate on the proverbial couch.

Former President Bill Clinton said at a campaign event for Washington state incumbent Sen. Patt Murray... "People are angry. But, when you make a decision about anything when you're mad, not just politics, there's an 80% chance you will make a mistake." Clinton's suggestion that fear and anger can cause voters to make unwise decisions appears to go hand in hand with President Barack Obama's warning to Democrats that some voters are reluctant to accept rational political arguments because fear and anxiety are clouding their judgment.

Last week, President Obama told Democratic donors at a fundraiser in Massachusetts... "Part of the reason that our politics seems so tough right now, and facts and science and argument do not seem to be winning the day all the time, is because we're hard-wired not to always think clearly when we're scared. And, the country is scared."

Feelings of "anger" about the country's economic problems vary across party lines. In a recent ABC News/Yahoo Poll, 12% of registered Democrats said they were angry about the economy, compared to 30% of independents and more than 40% of Republicans. Among the quarter of the survey's total registered voters who classified themselves as "angry" heading into the mid-term elections, a majority said that they blame both parties equally. But an additional 35% point the finger just at Democrats, compared to just 10% who say the GOP is solely to blame. They also say that they are more likely to vote than those who say that they're "dissatisfied," but not hopping mad.

However, studies have shown that anger can be a powerful motivating force for voters. "Anger is an empowering emotion," says Christopher Weber, a professor of political psychology at Louisiana State University. "It mobilizes, and it also has been shown to give people a heightened degree of efficacy... that's the feeling that they can make a difference." People are also more likely to become "angry" about a situation if they can point a finger at a particular individual or group, Weber adds. "If blame is clear and you know who to assign responsibility to, you're more likely to appraise a situation with the result of becoming angry, rather than fearful or anxious," he said.

Now, looking at that highly motivated and angry slice of the electorate eager to place blame on incumbents, Democrats are asking voters to think twice about the consequences of pointing those fingers. The latest incarnation of the "don't vote mad" riff came Tuesday, when the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee unleashed a new ad in the highly contested state of Nevada, warning the state's voters not to take out their "anger" at the polls...

"You're angry. You're frustrated at Washington," a narrator says as a young pony-tailed woman jabs at a punching bag in a deserted ring. "Think how much angrier you'll be if Sharron Angle has her way." The ad goes on to list some of Angle's more extreme policy proposals, like phasing out Social Security, and gaffes like saying, "It's not my job to create jobs in the state." The narrator concludes, "So work that anger out in the ring because voting for Sharron Angle is only going to hurt yourself."

The 30-second spot does not once mention Angle's opponent, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat who has suffered from bleak approval ratings among voters in the state throughout the campaign. Professor Eric Herzik, who chairs the Department of Political Science at the University of Nevada at Reno, says that although there are not many undecided voters in the Nevada race, the ad could serve to mobilize both Democrats and Republicans who dislike Reid but are wary of Angle's "extreme" policy views...

"You're mad at Obama. So you're going to let Sharron Angle be your senator? You may be angry about the economy, but the alternative is not a good alternative for many voters in the state who think that Angle is just too crazy," Herzik said.

Such an argument could drive more Nevada voters eager to register a protest vote to choose the state's unique ballot option, "None of these candidates", instead of selecting one of the two major party nominees, he added. Political analysts believe that could give Reid an edge in the razor-tight race.

Democrats appear united in warning voters against the dangers of making ballot-box choices rashly because of their discontent with the status quo. But, Republicans argue, it's a strategy that could backfire.

Former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson skewered Obama for his "hard-wired" comment in a Washington Post column, writing that the president demonstrated that he is an "intellectual snob" by arguing that his political opponents "rely on their lizard brains" rather upon the "cognitive reasoning" executed by supporters of his policies. Gerson wrote... "Though there is plenty of competition, these are some of the most arrogant words ever uttered by an American president."

So, are voters angry, annoyed, confused, or just plain scared? We'll see next month when the electorate gets off the couch and into the voting booth on November 2nd.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Jonesin' To Be The Joneses

Recession Concessions

We all know what it's like to want what other people have and then, we spend more than we really want to or should to get it, whether it's a new pair of shoes or a flat-screen TV for the family. Believe it or not, "Keeping up with the Joneses" is not necessarily something we do consciously, but it's almost always very costly. So, why do we work so hard to keep up?

It's actually in our nature. Whether it's the crowd, the herd, the pack, or whatever... we humans want to fit in and be accepted. Research has shown that other people affect just about everything we do in our day-to-day lives. Likewise, when it comes to money, studies show that if we surround ourselves with "big spenders", we're likely to spend more ourselves. And, everyone has a story...

There's the couple who felt pressure to take pricey vacations with family even though they preferred to stay home... or the multitudes of women who have felt obligated to take on the expensive role of being a bridesmaid in a friend's wedding, even though they couldn't afford to buy a fancy dress or fund a bridal shower. So, how can you fight the pressure to spend more than you can afford? Start by trying these few steps:

1. Wikipedia: "Keeping up with the Joneses" is a catchphrase in many parts of the English-speaking world referring to the comparison to one's neighbor as a benchmark for social caste or the accumulation of material goods. If you fail to "Keep up with the Joneses", it is perceived as demonstrating socio-economic or cultural inferiority.

Now, deep down inside, you know that nothing could be further from the truth, so start acting like you know it. The perception of being "rich" depends on where our "treasures" are mentally stored. Some of us just have our "treasures" stored in the wrong place (i.e. in money and things as opposed to the loved ones and people in our lives).

2. Avoid costly situations: If you're worried that dinner out or a birthday celebration at a restaurant could be a drain on your budget, just say "no". Simply send your regrets and then, invite the person over to your place to celebrate on another night with dinner or something as simple as tea and cookies. You can also get creatively frugal when it comes to celebrations, like getting together for a slumber party, complete with movies and popcorn.

3. Set clear family money rules: There are many things you won't buy because you can't afford them, like a new car or an expensive vacation, and that's nothing to be embarrassed about in the least. In fact, it's good for your children to understand the importance of "living within your means". It's also okay to say no to your kids' wants if they aren't in lockstep with your family's values, even if your kids complain that "everyone else has it." Just be honest about your reasons and tell them they'll get to make these decisions when they have their own kids and money.

4. Find a FBF: If you know someone who's great at actually saving money in a BANK rather than at a store SALE, recruit that person to be your "Financial Best Friend". The next time you need to make a purchase, ask them to help you stick to your budget. It's like having a workout friend who pushes you to do those extra crunches and push-ups. Now, that doesn't mean you have to ditch your spendthrift friends... just avoid shopping with them. Also, look for a few FBFFs... "Financial Best Friend Families" who share your values.

5. Focus on the "plenty" in your life: These days especially, you don't have to look very far to find someone who is struggling to make ends meet more than you. So, remember those in need and give what you can. In this area, it's great to try to keep up with or even outdo the Joneses! Find ways to donate what you can afford and/or your time whenever possible. The blessings you'll receive in return for such acts of kindness always have a way of coming back to you at a time when you need it the most.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

There's No Need To Worry

This may be the start of my first recurring post for this blog, so you might see it again from time to time. Here's a short list of things (and for some of us, phobias) that have been passed around and down from generation to generation. Well, it's time we learned a few things about them so we can let go of our fears and stop worrying. Life is stressful enough these days, right? Okay, so here goes (smile)...

1. "OMG! That hairy, nasty spider on the wall is going to jump on me any second now!"

News Flash: In the United States, there is only one family of spider, called Salticidae, that is capable of jumping and these spiders are not commonly found in houses (they actually prefer forests). Generally, spiders do not seek people out and attack them. It's not in their nature. Spiders are only going to crawl across you if they're headed somewhere and you're in the way. As for the hairiness, what can I say? They are indeed hairy!

2. "Some crazy person is going to push me onto the subway or railroad tracks!"

News Flash: In old movies, "falling" onto the train tracks is a convenient way for a character to meet his maker. But, in reality, getting injured or dying that way is rare. Realize that every weekday, about 34 million trips are taken on public transport in the United States. In 2009, a total of 17 people died in subway, rail, or light-rail stations and that number includes people who were pushed as well as those who fell by accident. And, virtually no deaths come from making contact with the third rail. Yes, touching it can be fatal, but it's hard to reach. You are safer on a rail platform than you are on the sidewalk a few feet from your home.

3. "Why did the plane's engines suddenly get really quiet after takeoff?"

News Flash: Pilots use an abundance of thrust to get an aircraft off the ground. Once aloft, they cut back on it. Why? Reason #1--The plane doesn't need that much power anymore. Reason #2--They have to comply with local noise regulations. Some passengers grab armrests at that moment, as there's a sense of falling. But, the plane isn't dropping... it's just accelerating less rapidly.

4. "I'll be struck by lightning if I carry an umbrella with a metal tip (or a BlackBerry) in a storm!"

News Flash: Contrary to what we've been led to believe, metal doesn't attract lightning. Even a lightning rod doesn't... it can only conduct lightning, should a bolt happen to strike nearby. People who are zapped while holding a golf club or listening to an iPod are just in the wrong place at the wrong time and that's anywhere outside (wrong place) during a thunderstorm (wrong time). Carrying an open umbrella may slow you down if you're running for cover, but the fact that the umbrella is part metal doesn't factor into it at all.

5. "When the elevator stops at my floor, it bounces disturbingly and seems as if it's about to plummet downward!"

News Flash: The elevator isn't really bouncing... it's adjusting to make sure its bottom is level with the floor outside. That way, you won't trip when getting off. The cables supporting an elevator are designed to stretch and contract with its load. So, when a car slows down at a floor, it re-levels itself as people walk in and out. Besides, elevators never fall. If one safety feature malfunctions, there is a host of software, mechanical, and electrical protection devices which prevent that type of catastrophe from happening.

Relax! Feel better now? Meow!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Healthier Kids May Depend On Where You Live

It has been reported that every year nearly 12 million U.S. households pull up stakes and head for a new place to live. Although these moves are motivated by a variety of reasons (foreclosure, job loss or transfer, desire for a better home, etc.), families with children usually think long and hard about how their move will affect their children. How will the kids deal with the change? Will they make new friends? And most of all, what school will they go to? One question you probably won't hear discussed over the kitchen table is... "How will the neighborhood design affect the kids' physical and mental health?"

This question might be something for parents to seriously consider according to Richard Jackson, chair of UCLA's Environmental Health Sciences at the School of Public Health. A pediatrician and former director of environmental health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Jackson has spent the better part of the past decade rethinking U.S. children's most pressing health problems from a radically new perspective: Through the lens of the neighborhoods where they grow up.

At the CDC, Jackson noticed that his agency wasn't addressing the primary health risks most kids now face. "Most of the environmental health hazards that we focused on, toxic chemicals and climate change, were relatively remote and abstract," he says. "On the other hand, a lot of our environmental threats come from polluted air, water, and stress, which can be traced back to transportation. And, our transportation system is a response to how we build our environment." Thus, one of the country's foremost public health pediatricians began thinking like an urban planner.

Designing for Couch Potatoes

"In 1969 over 40% of children walked to school," Jackson explains. "Now, less than 13% are walking to school. Subsequent studies have found that walking to school promotes higher levels of physical activity in boys, and the farther girls live from school, the less physical activity they get. Surveys also show that when parents are asked why they drive their children to school, they cite a range of reasons including traffic, crime, and weather... but, the foremost concern is distance from school.

"There's been an absolute decline in fitness and an absolute increase in obesity," says Jackson. "We're all burning fossil fuel instead of burning excess fat." In other words, when he traces the root causes of the ills of modern childhood, Jackson's studies lead him to a suburban cul-de-sac, a car ride away from any school, park, or store. Jackson's the first one to admit that 32% of U.S. children are obese as a result of many factors. But, a growing body of research suggests that neighborhood design does play a role in children's physical well-being.

From Asthma to Apathy

Jackson points out that how we've built our cities may affect three other big health risks for children: Asthma (typically blamed on air pollution, in part resulting from ubiquitous car travel), car fatalities (more common in un-walkable neighborhoods), and depression (sometimes linked with social isolation).

Should the far-flung suburbs get all the blame for our kids' morbidity and malaise? Hardly. Still, as any parent knows, when the school year hits the fan, convenience and safety trump all else. Whatever we believe about kids needing plenty of exercise, fresh air, and community may fade in the face of choosing between a walk that involves a highway crossing and another car commute.

Though the new wave of "healthy neighborhood" research is mostly directed at pediatricians, planners, and other policymakers, Jackson's ideas cast light on what kids really need from their neighborhoods and how parents on the verge of relocating can and should consider those needs.

Walk It Out

"It's important for parents to realize that they only have a preschooler for a very short time," Jackson says. "It may be fine to drive them around when they are 4-5 years old, but when the kids get to be teenagers, it's a different story. So, parents need to think about the best environment for their children across different ages."

Before families move to a new community, Jackson recommends checking out places on Will they be able to access the public transit system? Can children walk to school, a library, or a park? "Look into whether you're going to have to pick up your 14 year old son from soccer practice every night because the last bus leaves too early," he says.

The Civilizing Power of Green Space

Research suggests that access to natural areas promotes children's play and socialization, so looking for backyards and nearby parks isn't frivolous. In one famous study of Chicago's Robert Taylor Homes, the largest public housing development in the world, researcher Bill Sullivan looked at children playing at the "hardened" versus the "green end" of the projects and found that those with access to trees and grass socialized better than those playing on asphalt. It's also interesting to note that even parents who spent time in green space seemed to fare a little better, had lower stress levels, and were more patient with their children.

Your Commute & Their Mental Health

"The best place for kids is where they've got loving adults," says Jackson. How might this be relevant to the neighborhood you choose? Consider the long-term costs of commuting on your children. "If Mom or Dad's exhausted from a long commute and dinner is from the fast-food restaurant because no one has time to cook, then it takes away from time with the kids," he explains. "A lot of family life is a rat race."

Jackson knows this from experience. While working at the CDC in Atlanta (a city known for its sprawl), Jackson and his wife had three boys at three schools and two careers. "Every afternoon we had to decide which of our careers was less important when trying to figure out who would pick up the kids," he says. His advice? Rethink the long commute. "In our zeal to give our kids so much, we've inadvertently made life pretty lonely for a lot of them."

In the end, it may make better financial sense to live without a car or commuter expenses, to the tune of $10,000 a year, but pay $150,000 on your mortgage. "You may not want to buy something cheaper that's farther away from job," says Jackson.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

For Grandparents Only...

I first saw this Humana-Medicare TV commercial about a month ago and I thought it was the cutest advertisement with grandparents and grandkids I had ever seen. I only saw it that one time and never saw it again. Today, I found it on YouTube and just had to post it on my blog so I can watch it whenever I want (smile).

Enjoy your grandkids while you can because they grow up so fast. This commercial almost moved me to get some insurance with Humana. I said "almost"... I'm not old enough for Medicare just yet - LOL! And, apparently, I'm not the only one who loves it... it was posted on YouTube 09/30/10 and it has been viewed 7,295 times to date. Check it out!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Good Guy, Bad Guy, Or Same Guy?

I'm w-a-y too old to be a fan of rap music, so I confess that my first exposure to rapper T.I. was via the end-of-summer movie hit, "Takers". As a result, I can't speak on his talent as a rapper at all, but I can say that I really enjoyed his performance in the movie. If T.I. ever gets tired of the fame and popularity he has as a rapper (and now actor), he may have yet another career already lined up as a "crisis negotiator". On Thursday, October 14th, the hip-hop star was credited with saving a suicidal man's life after hearing a radio report about a person threatening to jump off a building in downtown Atlanta, GA. Upon hearing the news, the rapper drove to the office building and offered his assistance to the police.

T.I. said, "People were trying to talk to him and tell him to get down. Something in me just said... Man, you gotta try and help. You gotta do whatever you can. At that point, I started calling people at the radio station. I went down there and talked to a police officer and he sent me to the negotiator. They told the man I was there and he started responding a little bit. I told him it's not that bad, I was there for him and, there is nothing that you can't get through as long as you are willing to put the time and energy into it, but first things first. You're going to have to come on down here and holler at me."

Officer James Polite of the Atlanta police said, "T.I. came to the scene and offered to talk to the man. We told him that and an officer on the scene shot a quick video of the rap star, which was then sent up to the man on the roof. The man was then shown the video and he eventually came down after about 20 minutes." T.I. recalled, "The first thing I said to him was... Man, what's up? What's wrong? He just shook his head, took a deep breath, and said everything. He was kind of depressed and kind of worn out by life. His demeanour to me seemed like a guy who just can't catch a break."

The man, whose name was not released, spoke with the rapper and was then transported to a hospital for treatment. He will not face any charges. Polite said that the police were very thankful for T.I.'s assistance... "He didn't have to stop. He could've kept on going about his business. We're happy it ended the way it did, and we thank him." T.I. said, "It wasn't heroism. It was just me listening to my spirit. I have a very hard time taking any credit for it. It was "God's work" and I just showed up."

Unfortunately, despite his "heroism", T.I. has his own problems with the law, including a jail stint on a gun possession charge, but he may have earned himself some good will with this "act of kindness". No good deed goes unpunished, or at least that's the case with T.I. On Friday, October 15th, the Grammy Award-winning artist was ordered back to prison to serve an 11 month sentence. Apparently, he had a strict probation in which he couldn't commit any more crimes, had to submit to at least three drug tests, do community service, and enter a drug and alcohol treatment program. The trouble started last month when he was caught with illegal drugs in his possession.

At the hearing, T.I. pled a very convincing case, saying that he wanted to get clean. "If I can get the treatment and counseling I need, I can beat this thing," he reportedly said. But instead, the rapper submitted diluted urine samples and used ecstasy several times since his release. The rapper agreed to surrender himself voluntarily and it's been reported that he did so today. I can only hope that his "act of kindness", "crisis negotiation", "heroism", "obedience to God", or whatever you want to call it was genuinely sincere, and not just a stunt to get the court (judge) to give him a pass on violating his probation. Ironically enough, only God (and his barber) knows for sure... and if you saw him in Takers", you would understand. Excellent performance, T.I.! Bravo!

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Days Of Wine & Roses

I was about 12-13 years old when I first saw the 1962 movie "Days of Wine and Roses", starring Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick. The film depicts the downward spiral of two average people who succumb to alcoholism and their attempts to deal with the addiction. Even as a child, the movie struck a cord with me and, despite its triumphant yet tragic ending, I've watched it several times over the years. At this point, you're probably wondering what any of this has to do with Whitney Houston, aren't you? Well, just indulge me for a few minutes and you'll see...

In the movie, public relations man Joe Clay (Jack Lemmon), meets and falls in love with a secretary by the name of Kirsten Arnesen (Lee Remick). Kirsten is a "teetotaler" until Joe introduces her to social drinking. Reluctant at first, after her first few Brandy Alexanders, she admits that having a drink made her feel good. Despite the misgivings of her father, who runs a San Mateo landscaping business, they get married and have a daughter named Debbie.

Joe slowly goes from the "two-martini lunch" to full-blown alcoholism. It affects his work and, in due time, he and Kirsten both succumb to the pleasures and pain of alcohol addiction. Joe is demoted due to poor performance brought on by too much booze. He is sent out of town on business. Kirsten finds that the best way to pass the time while he's away is to drink, and drink a lot. While she was drunk one afternoon, she causes a fire in their apartment and almost kills herself and their child. Joe eventually gets fired from the PR firm and goes from job to job over the next several years.

One day, Joe walks by a bar and sees his reflection in the window. He goes home and says to his wife... "I walked by Union Square Bar. I was going to go in, and then I saw myself, my reflection in the window, and I thought, 'I wonder who that bum is?' And then, I saw it was me. Now look at me. I'm a bum. Look at me! Look at you! You're a bum. Look at you! And look at us. Look at us! C'mon, look at us! See? A couple of bums!"

Seeking escape from their addiction, Joe and Kirsten work together in Mr. Arnesen's business and succeed in staying sober for a while. However, the urges are too strong and after a late-night drinking binge, Joe destroys an entire greenhouse of his father-in-law's plants looking for a stashed bottle of liquor.

After commitment to a sanitarium, Joe finally gets sober for a while, with the help of Alcoholics Anonymous, a dedicated sponsor, and regular AA meetings. When Joe tries to help Kirsten, he instead ends up drinking again and goes to a liquor store that is closed for the night. When the owner, whose home is on the second floor, yells to Joe to beat it because he is closed, Joe breaks into the store and shoplifts, resulting in another trip to the sanitarium.

As Joe sobers up, he is greeted by his AA sponsor, who says that Joe has to keep sober no matter what, even if that means staying away from Kirsten. Joe also explains that, to some alcoholics the craving for alcohol can overcome all else, and points out that because Kirsten was a chocolate lover, that may have been the first sign of an addictive personality.

Joe eventually becomes sober for good and becomes a responsible father to his child while holding down a steady job. However, Kirsten begins disappearing for long stretches of time and picking up strangers in bars, hopelessly lost to alcoholism. When Joe tries to make amends with his father-in-law by offering him an envelope full of cash for the damaged greenhouse, Mr. Arnesen lashes out at Joe for getting Kirsten involved in the alcoholic lifestyle.

One night, after Debbie is asleep, Kirsten comes to Joe's apartment to attempt a reconciliation. However, Joe sees that if he were to give in, it would lead to the same self-destructive behavior of what he did at the liquor store. Joe explains to Kirsten: "You remember how it really was? You and me and booze... a threesome. You and I were a couple of drunks on the sea of booze, and the boat sank. I got hold of something that kept me from going under and I'm not going to let go of it. Not for you. Not for anyone. If you want to grab on, grab on. But there's just room for you and threesome." Sadly, Kirsten admits that alcohol has taken over everything in her life and she can't imagine never taking a drink again. She leaves as Joe has to fight the urge to go after her. The film ends with Joe watching Kirsten walk down the street from the window of his apartment with a "BAR" sign flashing in the background.

Needless to say, the movie painfully reminds me of the life and times of Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston. If the cover story on the latest issue of the National Enquirer is true, Bobby and Whitney bear a striking resemblance to Joe and Kirsten. It was reported yesterday that Whitney's ex-husband, Bobby (who has been sober and drug-free for quite a while now), is planning to stage a drug intervention to try and save Whitney. Sources say that Bobby now blames himself for the superstar singer’s various addictions and is recruiting her loved ones, and Janet Jackson, to step in and help out.

"Whitney is struggling with her addictions and Bobby blames himself for her problems," a friend told the tabloid. "They did drugs together for years, but Bobby got clean and now he sees it as his job to help Whitney beat her addictions." He told me, "What’s happening to Whitney is all my fault. I stayed in the party life too long and I should have helped her a long time ago."

Bobby and Whitney’s 17 year old daughter, Bobbi Kristina, apparently begged him to help her troubled mom. "Bobbi Kristina told her dad that she thinks Whitney is still getting high, and asked him to confront Whitney about it," the source revealed. "Bobby went to Whitney and said... "Look, baby, you can’t get this monkey off your back alone. I will help you." He promised that they’d beat her addictions together. Bobby knows that most of the people he has asked to intervene, especially Whitney’s mom Cissy Houston, don’t like him and blame him for Whitney getting hooked on drugs. But, he’s hoping they’ll put those feelings aside long enough to help Whitney."

Some people feel that you should never believe what you read in tabloids and, for the most part, I'm inclined to agree with them. But, even tabloids report the truth sometime... just like a liar tells the truth sometime. So, just in case this recent story about Whitney is true, I feel that she is going through what I like to call, a "Footprints" period. Despite everything that has happened to her over the last 20 years, I know that God still has His eye on the sparrow and is watching over her... and, He will continue to carry her until she is strong enough to walk on her own again.

I neglected to mention before that the first time I saw "Days of Wine & Roses", my mother watched it me. She had seen it before and thought I might like it too, so she actually suggested that I watch it. When the movie was over, my mother told me something that I will never forget: "You should always be mindful of what you encourage other people to do... what could turn out to be just 'a phase' for you, could turn out to be 'a life wasted' for the other person." I kinda-sorta understood what she meant at the time, but it didn't really resonnate with me until I was much older. So, please keep Whitney in your prayers... just in case.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


By Mother Theresa

People are often unreasonable,
illogical and self-centered;
forgive them anyway.

If you are kind,
people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
be kind anyway.

If you are successful,
you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank,
people may cheat you;
be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building,
someone could destroy overnight;
build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness,
they may be jealous;
be happy anyway.

The good you do today,
people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the best you can,
and it may never be enough;
give the best you've got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis,
it is between you and God;
it never was between you and them anyway.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Truths For Mature Humans

The following is an email forward...

1. I think part of a best friend's job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.

2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.

3. I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.

4. There is great need for a sarcasm font.

5. How the hell are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?

6. Was learning cursive really necessary?

7. MapQuest really needs to start their directions on # 5. I'm pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.

8. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.

9. I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind of tired.

10. Bad decisions make good stories.

11. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest of the day (and sometimes that's at 8:15am).

12. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don't want to have to restart my collection again. Some of us haven't converted to whatever Blue Ray is yet!

13. I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page technical report that I swear I did not make any changes to.

14. I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.

15. I think the freezer deserves a light as well.

16. I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Lite than Kay.

17. I wish Google Maps had an "Avoid Ghetto" routing option.

18. I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.

19. How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just nod and smile because you still didn't hear or understand a word they said?

20. I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers and sisters!

21. Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty and you can wear them forever.

22. Sometimes I'll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is.

23. Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey... but I bet everyone can find and push the snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every time!

24. The first testicular guard, the "Cup," was used in Hockey in 1874 and the first helmet was used in 1974. I guess that means it only took 100 years for men to realize that their brain is also important. (Ladies, quit laughing!)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What Does It Mean To Forgive & Forget?

1. Forgiving is allowing another person to be human for faults, mistakes, or misdeeds. Forgetting is putting these behind you; they are no longer brought up and no longer remain a barrier between you and the other person.

2. Forgiving is letting another know that there is no grudge, hard feelings, or animosity for any wrongdoing. Forgetting is the lack of further discussion, with no ongoing negative references to the event.

3. Forgiving is letting the other person know that you accept as genuine the remorse and sorrow for actions or words that hurt or disappointed you. Forgetting is promising that this deed, whether of omission or commission, will not be brought up again.

4. Forgiving is accepting the sincerity of penance, sorrow, and regret expressed over a grievous personal offense; making it sufficient to clear the air. Forgetting is your commitment to let go of anger, hurt, and pain over this offense.

5. Forgiving is giving a sign that a person’s explanation or acceptance of blame for a destructive, hurtful, or painful act is fully accepted. Forgetting is the development of a plan of action between the two of you to heal the scars resulting from the behavior.

6. Forgiving is the highest form of human behavior that can be shown to another person. It means being vulnerable to being hurt or offended in the future, yet setting aside this in order to reopen and heal the channels of communication. Forgetting is also a noble human behavior; it is letting go of the need to seek revenge for past offenses.

7. Forgiving is the act of kindness between you and a person who has hurt you; the bandage that holds the wound together long enough to heal. Forgetting is also an act of kindness; in rehabilitation therapy, helping the wounded return to a full and functional life.

8. Forgiving is the God-like gift of spiritually connecting with others, touching their hearts to calm the fear of rejection, quiet the sense of failure, and lighten the burden of guilt. Forgetting is the God-like gift of spiritually touching others’ hearts with the reassurance of a happy and full life with no fear of recrimination.

9. Forgiving is the act of letting go of temporary ill will, disappointment, or the disgust that arises from the break in a relationship. Forgetting is bridging this gap in a relationship, eventually strengthening it against such a break in the future.

10. Forgiving is an act of compassion, humanity, and gentleness by which you let another know that he is indeed a child of God, upon whom a variety of graces and blessings have been showered and that current or past offenses need not be a barrier to goodness. Forgetting is the act of encouragement, support, and reinforcement by which you assist the other person to rebuild, reconnect, and re-establish a caring, healthy relationship with you and the world.

Monday, October 11, 2010

"Moving America Forward" Rally In Philly

At a late afternoon rally in a field next to Robert Fulton Elementary School (Germantown) in Philadelphia, President Obama urged thousands of people to look past their frustration with the pace of change and vote on November 2nd for Democrats in the mid-term elections to keep progress alive. The president said, "The other side has decided to ride that anger and frustration without offering solutions. Pundits in Washington say it's a smart strategy. I think the pundits are wrong. You care too much about this country to let it fall backward."

The president appeared yesterday along with Vice President Joe Biden, U.S. Representatives Bob Brady and Chaka Fattah, Govenor Ed Rendell, and Mayor Michard Nutter (who was resoundly booed twice), as well as Democratic candidates Joe Sestak for the U.S. Senate and Dan Onorato for Pennsylvania governor.

The president railed against the recent Supreme Court decision that has enabled conservatives to use non-profit organizations with undisclosed donor lists to spend millions attacking Democrats. He said, "We need you to fight their millions of dollars with our millions of voices. The other side is counting on your silence, apathy, and amnesia." An estimated 18,500 people attended the rally next to Fulton School, according to Deputy Managing Director Jazelle Jones.

As Germantown prepared for this day, they tried to be ordinary, as the most powerful leader in the world was soon to be in their backyard. Cars and the number 65 bus rolled down Germantown Avenue but were stopped as two Philadelphia Fire Department emergency vehicles turned onto a side street that led to the field where the "Moving America Forward" Rally would be held in a few hours. The McDonald's on Chelten & Germantown Avenue was packed. Some customers looked like the usual Sunday Golden Arches diners... but, not the people whose laptops were open on their tables, or the man in black who was wearing a protective vest under his clothes, whose t-shirt read "AGENT" on the back.

In another smaller event which was organized before anyone knew President Obama was coming to the "City of Brotherly Love", nearby volunteers were busy cleaning up Vernon Park. The environmental group was preaching efforts to end global warming and cleanup volunteer Mark Smith of Glenside said, "I think it's ironic because he's is the most influential person in the world and we're trying to raise consciousness for climate change."

The congregants of the Mt. Tabor Baptist Church on West Rittenhouse Street near Germantown Avenue, gathered in the sanctuary listening to Pastor Melvin McAllister preach. "The church doesn't need us. We need the church," he told about 90 people. But, the media also needed the church. Members of the congregation were asked to move their cars by 3:00pm to provide media parking. Deacon Jeffrey Banks said, "The turnout for Sunday morning service is usually higher, but anticipated street closings and traffic might have discouraged some worshipers from attending."

The bigger crowds were along Germantown Avenue, where entrances for the general public, special guests, union members, and the media were marked off on streets leading to the park. People started lining up as early as 9:00am, said one political operative holding a water bottle in one hand and a cell phone in the other. The gates opened at 3:00pm for the 4:00pm rally start time. Three giant American flags hung around the field and people were given signs saying, "Vote 2010." On the metal railing around Vernon Park were campaign signs for Sestak and Onorato.

A few blocks away on Germantown Avenue, Bryant Feggins was selling political buttons. "Three for $5.00! Three for $5.00! I'm just an entrepreneur. They're going pretty good," he said. Among the inventory were buttons with the famous Obama head-looking-up pose and the word "Hope", another picturing the Obama family, and another that listed Sunday's event and its landmark date 10-10-10. "Oh, that is nice. I support the president," said Lynne Smith of Blackwood in Camden County, a volunteer at the event.

Barbara E. Mack of North Philadelphia, also bought a button. She supports the president, as well as Joe Sestak, whose campaign she supports as a volunteer. She said that both she and Sestak were in the Navy, and that's reason enough to stick by him. She told the vendor, "I'll take Hope. Hope floats and that's what I always tell the NAACP." Hope may float, but apparently Mack has a pragmatic strain. She's not sure how much Obama will help Sestak in his Senate race against Republican Pat Toomey (or Onorato), as he tries to beat GOP rival Tom Corbett to become the next Pennsylvania governor. Mack worries that the Republicans "have that strong Republican look." Can Obama help the Democrats overcome that? She said... "No, let's be honest."

Nesha Griffin, who came from Delaware, was setting up a table with her handmade jewelry. She was contributing in her own way to improving the national economy, she said... but, was also hoping that people would support the president's policies by electing Democrats in November.

Note: Unfortunately, I wasn't able to go to the rally because of a previous commitment to attend our annual family day church service. However, after I got home, I was able to obtain the details on what happened for this post from a news article that was posted on I wish I could've been one of the estimated 18,500 people who were there to support the president... but, I'll have another chance to do the same on November 2nd!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

An Email Invitation From President Obama

Dear Friend,

I'm excited to gather with supporters in Philadelphia today at the park next to Robert Fulton Elementary School. We've got a lot of work to do between now and November 2nd to keep moving America forward, but this movement has never backed down from a tough fight. I hope you can join me. If you haven't already done so, please RSVP here.

I hope to see you there,

President Barack Obama

P.S. The OFA organizer who is helping set up the rally passed along some nuts-and-bolts details of the event that you should know:


"Moving America Forward Rally w/ President Barack Obama
and Musical guests The Roots and DJ Diamond Kuts


Park next to Robert Fulton Elementary School, 60 East Haines Street
Public entrance is on High Street & Germantown Avenue
ADA entrance is on East Haines Street & Germantown Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19144


Sunday, October 10, 2010--Doors open & 3:00 pm, program begins @ 4:00 pm

The event is free and open to the public. Tickets are not required, but an RSVP is encouraged. Space is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Use of public transportation is greatly encouraged. No signs, bags, or sharp objects are permitted. Please limit your personal items.


Limited public parking is available at these locations:
Roosevelt Middle School, 440 East Washington Lane, above Musgrave Street
Martin Luther King High School, 6100 Stenton Avenue, at Haines Street


Click on any of the text links above to confirm your attendance!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

You Can't Take It With You

Teddy Pendergrass, his son Teddy II, and grandson Teddy III in 2008

Teddy Pendergrass left an indelible music legacy behind when he died in January of this year... but, unfortunately, he didn't leave much else. A bank foreclosed on his Penn Valley home over the summer and the property is slated for sheriff's sale next month. There's also an outstanding car loan and a lawsuit by a former songwriting partner. But, none of that has squelched a bitter battle over the famed singer's will.

For months, Teddy's second wife, whom he married in 2008, has been quietly warring with his son over the remnants of his estate. Both sides have produced conflicting wills, purportedly approved by Pendergrass, that cut the other out. Together, the documents and interviews suggest a portrait of a renowned R&B artist and Philadelphia institution whose mind and money may have been slipping away at the same time.

Last Wednesday, attorneys for Teddy Pendergrass II and his father's widow, Joan Pendergrass, met with a judge in Montgomery County, but left without an agreement. One of her attorneys said the dispute was less about money than about the singer's legacy. What that legacy includes and who deserves to control it has divided the family.

LaDonna Pendergrass Hollerway, one of the late singer's daughters, said she believed that Joan Pendergrass wanted only to profit from his life, through a movie, book, or even a reality show. "She was married to my dad for only a year, and she has turned my family upside down," said Hollerway, a hospital technician in Plano, Texas. Joan Pendergrass declined interview requests and her supporters deny the accusations. "To say it's a money grab is ludicrous because there's just no money to fight about," said her attorney, Kevon Glickman, of the firm Offit Kurman.

If the root of the dispute isn't clear, the acrimony is. Three weeks ago, at the Philadelphia premiere of a television documentary about the famed singer, Teddy Pendergrass II shared a stage with his stepmother, but refused to hug her or be photographed with her. "We simply don't see eye-to-eye," the younger Pendergrass said Friday. He declined to elaborate, except to say, "What I do know is my father did what he intended to do and that is, put me in charge for the family."

Others say Joan Pendergrass cared deeply for both her husband and his children, and is stunned to have been dragged into such a battle. Jerry Pendergrass, a family cousin, said that "she did not and does not understand why someone, anyone, would come after her for any reason, knowing that she did everything on this earth to take care of Teddy Pendergrass."

When someone passes away, it seems that people always find a reason to squabble over what is left (or not left) behind. Sometimes, I think life (and death) would be a lot easier for everyone involved if you COULD "take it with you"... then, there wouldn't be anything for people to focus on except the cherished memories you leave behind.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

An Email Call From First Lady Michelle Obama

Dear Friend,

I've always said that 2008 was an amazing journey. But nothing from that election struck me more than seeing so many giving their time and lending their voices because they were ready for change.

Two years ago, in state after state and no matter where I went, I saw grandmothers out canvassing, college kids traveling to swing states and sleeping on gymnasium floors, and people using their lunch breaks to make a few more calls. So many got involved for the very first time, each one bringing others along with them. It was inspiring to witness.

Now, Barack and I need you to help show that energy again. Because this is such a critical moment, a group of grassroots donors are ready to match any contribution you can give. Across the country, teachers, firefighters, truckers, and nurses have made pledges of support, hoping to inspire you to take the next step. Because of them, a $3.00 contribution will become $6.00. Please donate today and answer your fellow supporter's pledge to match whatever you can give.

Here's how it works:

* You choose the amount you are able to give and another supporter willing to match that amount doubles it.

* You can choose to write a note to the individual who matched your donation and tell them why you decided to own a piece of this movement.

Since the day Barack announced his plan to run for office, supporters like you have made everything we've achieved possible, and that's as true now as it was on Election Day in 2008. You're the reason we reformed a health care system that was broken, progress that means so much to so many. You're the reason we reined in Wall Street banks that were out of control.

But Barack can't keep making progress without strong allies in Congress. And now, the same people who have opposed us at every turn are targeting the folks who voted to make change real. They think we can't do it again, but they're wrong. If the folks who I saw in 2008, those of you who packed up your bags and slept on floors, made calls, and talked to voters day after day, are ready to stand with us again, then I'm ready for any challenge that lies ahead. That's why we're asking you to help grow this movement once again.

The plan for this election is based on the lessons we learned two years ago. Our organizers and volunteers are knocking on doors every weekend, making calls every night. Your support will help to fund this work. Another supporter is asking you to join them today and has pledged to match whatever you can give. Please use this link to donate $3.00 or more to help grow this movement before November 2nd:

Thank you,

Michelle Obama

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Turn Off The Computer & Turn On The TV!

Well, the new fall season of television programming has begun and there seems to be a surprising number of African Americans actors and actresses gracing the small screen. Just in case you've been living under a rock, a total of 21 (Count them!) are featured in new television shows this year. Are we finally getting our just due in prime time? If so, I think you will agree that it's long overdue. There's always plenty of room for more, but this is definitely a step in the right direction.

So, take a few minutes and check out these new faces and shows in this year's television lineup... you just might be surprised who you'll find on this list. Further, why not select a few of these shows and make a serious commitment to watch them? Heaven only knows when this phenomenon will happen again and the networks show "no mercy" when it comes to TV shows with low ratings. Please support and enjoy these shows while you've got the chance... once they're gone, it's too late!

Boris Kodjoe - Undercovers (NBC), Wednesdays, 8pm EST: Kodjoe plays CIA agent/catering entrepreneur Steven Bloom in this action-spy series. He started as a model, but many will remember him as heartthrob Damon Carter on Showtime's Soul Food TV series. Since then, he's had movie roles in Madea's Family Reunion (2006), The Gospel (2005), and Brown Sugar (2002).

Gugu Mbatha - Undercovers (NBC), Wednesdays, 8pm EST: In Undercovers, Mbatha-Raw stars opposite Kodjoe as his wife and partner-in-crime, Samantha Bloom. She's no stranger to the screen on British television. She starred in Spooks and the critically acclaimed sci-fi series, Doctor Who.

Vanessa Williams - Desperate Housewives (ABC), Sundays, 9pm EST: Of course, this isn't Desperate Housewives' first season, but there will undoubtedly be some dramatic changes to Wisteria Lane with the addition of Renée Perry, an old college rival of Lynette Scavo (Felicity Huffman).

Blair Underwood - The Event (NBC), Mondays, 9pm EST: He's joining good company in the list of black presidents on-screen: Morgan Freeman, Dennis Haysbert, and even a young Sammy Davis Jr. Underwood plays President Elias Martinez, who's Afro-Cuban, in this conspiracy-thriller series.

Michael K. Williams - Boardwalk Empire (HBO), Sundays, 8pm EST: Your favorite stick-up man is back on HBO on its new drama, Boardwalk Empire. Williams plays Chalky White, the de facto mayor of Atlantic City's black community, on this Prohibition-era series.

Mehcad Brooks - My Generation (ABC), Thursdays, 8pm EST: On My Generation, a docu-style TV series following a group of classmates 10 years after they graduate from high school, Brooks plays Rolly Marks, a devoted husband and soon-to-be father who's in combat in Afghanistan. If you were a fan of True Blood's second season, then you'll definitely remember this face. Perhaps you also caught Brooks in CW's/BET's, The Game.

Naturi Naughton - Mad Men (AMC), Sundays, 10pm EST: Every week, The Root counts how many black folks are on Mad Men, and now Naughton, who starred as Lil' Kim in Notorious, can be added to the cast list, at least for a few episodes.

Christine Adams - The Whole Truth (ABC), Wednesdays, 10pm EST: She plays Lena Gaudet, a go-getting Ivy Leaguer, determined to become partner the minute after she steps into the firm at James Brogan & Associates. Have you seen her before? She's also had several one-time appearances on a few television shows (Nip/Tuck, CSI: Miami, Lie to Me).

Flex Alexander - Blue Bloods (CBS), Fridays, 10pm EST: Alexander appears on Blue Bloods as Detective Demarcus, partner to Detective Danny Reagan (Donnie Wahlberg). He was Flex Washington on the UPN sitcom One on One. And, you might remember him from the short-lived, out-of-this-world sitcom Homeboys in Outer Space.

James McDaniel - Detroit 1-8-7 (ABC), Tuesdays, 10pm EST: McDaniel returns to television as Sgt. Jesse Longford, a 24-year veteran on the brink of retirement. On policing in Detroit: "I been a cop in Detroit so long, when I started, half the suspects was white." He's best known for his seven years on NYPD Blue. Looks like McDaniel couldn't stay away from the police unit.

Terrence Howard - Law & Order: Los Angeles (NBC), Wednesdays, 10pm EST: Deputy District Attorney Jonah "Joe" Dekker (Howard) is partnered with Ricardo Morales (Alfred Molina) and will appear in half the episodes this season. Aside from a cameo in Living Single (as one of Max's young lovers) and a stint on UPN's short-lived legal sitcom Sparks, Howard is pretty new to the small screen, but he's no stranger to the big screen.

Rose Rollins - Chase (NBC), Mondays, 10pm EST: Rollins is sticking to law enforcement in her role on NBC's new police drama. After her role in The L Word as soldier Tasha Williams, she's finding a niche for herself as a woman in uniform.

Romany Malco - No Ordinary Family (ABC), Tuesdays, 8pm EST: George St. Cloud (Malco) is an assistant district attorney and black best friend (BBF) to Jim Powell, the super-strong police artist heading up the No Ordinary Family cast. You may have seen Malco in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Baby Mama, and as Conrad Shepard in Showtime's Weeds.

Reno Wilson - Mike & Molly (CBS), Mondays, 9:30pm EST: Wilson stars as Officer Carl McMillan, Mike's wise-cracking partner. McMillan is quite the fast-talker and a big supporter of his pal Mike's weight-loss plan. Seen his face before? He played Theo's college buddy on The Cosby Show and also had a role on Martin as Martin Payne's Eddie Murphy-impersonating cousin.

Regina Hall - Law & Order: Los Angeles (NBC), Wednesdays, 10pm EST: Evelyn Price is a deputy district attorney in this latest Law & Order spinoff. Viewers familiar with Hall's work will get to see her serious side after her roles in the Scary Movie franchise, Malibu's Most Wanted, and The Best Man.

Jon Michael Hill - Detroit 1-8-7 (ABC), Tuesdays, 10pm EST: Det. Damon Washington is the rookie in the homicide department. And, although he's a young actor, Hill has already nabbed a 2010 Tony Award nomination for his role in Superior Donuts.

Gabourey Sidibe - The Big C (Showtime), Mondays, 10:30pm EST: Sidibe (who again plays a student, Andrea), nabbed a recurring role on this show starring Laura Linney (as Cathy Jamison) as a teacher seeking hope and humor after her cancer diagnosis. Unlike Sidibe's character in the movie Precious, Andrea is a confident, smart-alecky student who helps Linney find hope in her situation.

Eamonn Walker - The Whole Truth (ABC), Wednesdays, 10pm EST: Walker plays senior assistant district attorney Terrence Edgecomb in this legal drama. He played Howlin' Wolf in 2008's Cadillac Records and is best known for his role as Kareem Said in HBO's Oz.

Aisha Hinds - Detroit 1-8-7 (ABC), Tuesdays, 10pm EST: In this new crime drama, Hinds is Lt. Maureen Mason, who manages the homicide unit of the Detroit Police Department. Recognize her? Hinds played a voodoo lady on HBO's True Blood for one season and also had a short stint on TNT's Hawthorne in its first season.

David Ramsey - Outlaw (NBC), Wednesdays, 10pm EST: Al Druzinsky (Ramsey), the liberal defense attorney and Cyrus Garza's (Jimmy Smits) best friend, is a hopeless optimist. Fans of Showtime's Dexter will be happy to see him back on the screen, or maybe you remember him as Pastor David Randolph on UPN's Good News?

Robbie Jones - Hellcats (CW), Wednesdays, 9pm EST: Jones plays a black male cheerleader in this teen comedy-drama series. He's had several one-offs on TV shows, including Raising the Bar, Southland, and Dark Blue. Sharon Leal (Why Did I Get Married?) and D.B. Woodside (24, The Temptations) will have recurring roles in the series, too.

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