Thursday, May 27, 2010

Just like our parents?

As we age into our 40s, time seems to follow two themes.

One is that it doesn't seem all that long ago that we did the crazy things we did at age _____ (20? 25? 39?).  The other is a grim realization that we are becoming - as Pink Floyd put it - "shorter of breath, and one day closer to death."

The 40s are that age when we look in the mirror and see our parents.  As children, we remember what mom or dad looked like when we were kids.  I caught a glimpse of myself the other day and, for a moment, wondered why my dad was looking back from the reflection.

Wierd.  Or just getting older.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I'm back (sort of)

Has it really been more than a year since I've posted?

Looking back, I see the connection. A year ago, my kids were in a great gifted and talented program in our local public school. In April 2009, the local school corporation made the short-sighted decision to close that program. I am been home-schooling our kids in a virtual charter school program that opened last year, thanks to our state legislature. Also, I am part of an organizing group to bring a new public charter school to my city.

I always heard that people locate where there are strong schools. I didn't think much about that in my 20s or 30s (when I moved to my current location). Seeing our local public school corporation get weaker, it's important to step up and try to bring improvements to public education. We'll keep you posted on that.

Meanwhile, I'll be back to regular posting. Enjoy.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Spring this!

Maybe it's the 40 in me, but Daylight Saving Time was a rough go this year. After a week, my body is finally realizing that 9 a.m. is 9 a.m., not 10 a.m. (or is that 10 a.m. is 9 a.m., not 10 a.m.? I don't know...)

This is a little off the topic, but this talk of time changes makes me think of time zones which makes me think of Marvin Barnes, a basketball player who was quite a character in the old American Basketball Association during the 1970s.

He played for St. Louis. His team had played a game in Louisville - located in the Eastern Time Zone - and was flying home to St. Louis - in the Central Time Zone. The flight ticket showed the flight departure from Louisville at 8 p.m. local time (accounts vary on the exact times, but the gist of the story is the same) with an arrival in St. Louis - a relatively short flight - at 7:59 p.m. local time. Barnes told team officials they should cancel his ticket because, "I ain't goin' on no time machine."

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The season of giving up

The Lenten season is upon us. That means a couple of things: Easter is less than seven weeks away and chocolate consumption will plummet as it is the No. 1 item that is sacrificed during Lent (watch out, guys!).

The Sunday before Lent, pastors everywhere likely prepped their congregations for the season’s 40 days, which started on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter.

As a Catholic schoolboy, the season marked a special time in the church year. From Stations of the Cross to the processional and special Masses during Holy Week, I have fond memories from my days of wearing an altar boy’s cassock (we didn’t have altar girls in the 1970s).

The tradition of giving something up for Lent has changed slightly for me. Back then, you gave something up because the priest, the nuns and your parents instilled in you a deep fear that Hell’s fiery gates awaited you if you didn’t. Plus, it would make Jesus sad.

Fear and guilt – two required tools of Catholic parenting.

In middle adulthood, churches today encourage the practice sacrificing something. But it’s less on a physical product – such as chocolate or tobacco – and more on personal habits.

Makes a lot of sense, if you think about it. When you give up a favorite treat, you find yourself – consciously or subconsciously – counting down the days until you can once again be reunited with those salty chips or fined brewed pilsner.

But say you give up gossiping about the neighbors, yelling at your kids less or saying something nice to that co-worker who you can’t stand. Doing that over the course can have a positive effect that can extend beyond the 40 days of Lent (oh, Lord).

When Satan tested Jesus for 40 days in the desert, the Savior didn’t say, “whew, glad that’s over.” He continued to be a positive role model for those around him. The phrase “What Would Jesus Do” isn’t just some catchy marketing slogan. It’s what we – regardless of our beliefs or lack thereof – should put into practice all the time.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sipping wine in a plastic cup

When you promise to write more on the blog (as I did what seems like an eternity ago), two things can happen:
- You think that someone might actually tune in to see what you've written, so you wait until you've got something really great to say; or
- You write anything down to keep the commitment.
As I drink some Wollersheim River Gold wine wine from a child's plastic to-go cup from Rainforest Cafe, I realize I'm doing the latter right now. But the creative juice will start flowing again soon. I made it through Day 1 of no Facebook gaming with no consequences, and actually got a couple of things done. My goal is to hit things hard over the next two weeks (cleaning house, organizing papers, balancing the checkbook, finish taxes) and go into April with a clear plan to resurrect a writing career - or at least something that I can do from home that pays the bills.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Stupid Facebook

I made a post about a month ago, saying I would be more faithful to the Blog. About that time, they seemed to be this mass rush to Facebook. I thought I'd take a look. I spend more time now on the computer player games (stupid Mafia Wars) than writing.

It was good electronic crack for a while, but the sore shoulder and hunched posture of too much computer time is making me rethink the Facebook gaming phase. It's been great to see some old friends, but life's too short to worry about how many virtual casinos I can build.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Why newspapers are important

Leave it to newspapers to clean up the details overlooked by the TV media.

In the drip-drip-drip of Ann Curry's interview with the Octuplet mom, the TV journalist left unanswered (and unquestioned) the claim by the mom that she was not on welfare and was relying on "other income."

But the Los Angeles Times clears that up with a story in it's Tuesday edition that the mom is not only receiving food stamps, but also medicaid payments for three of her six non-octuplet kids due to a disability.

A publicist - has anyone asked how this woman can afford a publicist - for the mom says that the food stamps and payments do not qualify as welfare. Technically correct, but it is a careful parsing on the woman's part.

I can't decide whether to laugh or cry when the woman says:
- She worked double shifts to make money for the in vitro procedures and she told people she was saving her money to "have babies;"
- She had been on disability for six years from an injury sustained as a psychiatric hospital where she worked;
- She will use student loans when she goes back to school in the fall to help support her family;
- She is pursuing a career in counseling (who believes this woman can offer sound advice?).

Let's tally it up: 14 kids, no visible means of support. Sounds like she is in the running for her own government bailout.

Monday, February 2, 2009

When all is lost

Just when job losses, company closures and other economic stresses get you down, here's a less-than-upbeat story about the link between economic woes and family murder/suicides.

Two recent cases in Ohio and California brought the issue to the forefront. And while not as dramatic as financial managers jumping from ledges during the depression, it's disturbing because this can happen anywhere.

While the cynic in me says people who do this cleanse the population of weak-minded souls who cannot cope with life, I'm worried about the next step.

What happens when a person decides to take out his/her economic woes not just on family, but on current/former co-workers, neighbors, or other innocent bystanders? If people were worried about one Unabomber, what about potentially 8 percent - roughly the current unemployment rate - of many people teetering on a fragile edge of control in their lives.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Obama watch

With both a majority of votes and an electoral landslide, Barack Obama will certainly enjoy a honeymoon of sorts from the American public.

That doesn't mean he's on Easy Street for his first 100 days in office.

From the New York Times' issue-tracker to the National Journal's Promise Audit to the St. Petersburg Times' Obameter, there's a lot of eyes looking to see if the promise translates to performance.

The tradition of the following the president's first 100 days dates back to FDR, who pushed many of his projects and programs through shortly after arriving in office. Considering the country is facing the worst economic crunch since the Great Depression, the comparison between FDR and Obama may be worth revisiting 100 or so days from now.

For a look at the first 100 days of Presidents W. Bush, H.W. Bush and Clinton, PBS has a great link to information about what those three presidents accomplishments during that first trimester.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration: Importance and insignificance

Barack Obama is about to become our 44th president. The day serves as a great example to the world about peaceful government transition. Obama's step into the presidency would be historic on any note, but has the added note of Obama being the first non-white president of the United States.

It's a long road ahead for the new president, and one that people hope he navigates smoothly and effectively. While most of the inauguration is pomp and circumstance, Obama has a tremendous opportunity to set a positive tone and infuse the country with pride and determination as he begins Day 1 of the next four years.

There's a lot of fun today, but Obama will get down to work on Wednesday. It's not like he's been sitting around since Nov. 6 - the guy knows how to get things done.

Now maybe it's the man in me, but when I hear Meredith Viera in her serious news voice say that they are awaiting the announcement of who the designer is for Michelle Obama's inaugural ball dress, I wonder to myself, "Who cares?" OK, a lot of people care. Maybe the question is more, "Is it really that important?"

The Obamas have a tradition of service in their lives. I would hope that Michelle Obama's impact during her husband's presidency expands beyond her fashion.

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