Thursday, September 28, 2006

A Different Kind of Addiction

I know there is differing opinions about these type of things, That suits me. Actually, I am hoping that someone reading this WILL disagree with me and comment so I can begin to understand the behavior in question.

We recently sent out our invitations to our wedding reception-type event. It is an evening affair in November. It is going to be in a relatively small venue (100 or so capacity). Do you see where this is going?

There were a few responses with the RSVP cards that apply here, but this one was the worst (so far). One card was marked, "accept -
5"!! WTH? Here is the thing. This couple has three kids - all under 11-years-old. Keep in mind, the invitation is addressed to "Mr. and Mrs So-and-So". It didn't say "and family" or anything like that.

Why would anyone assume that it is okay to bring their small children to an adult, evening function? Why would anyone WANT to?

I understand that childcare is sometimes a problem. However, this couple has been out without their kids on a number of occasions - usually involving businesses that insist on a 21 and over clientele. They also have a built-in babysitter with grandma living right there with them. Even if they didn't, for this topic is bigger than this one instance, they have nearly TWO MONTHS to work out a sitter for a couple of hours this particular evening.

As far as I can tell, this couple and many others (probably some reading this) have an offspring addiction. That's right; they are addicted to their children. Addicted so much, they are, that it totally clouds their judgment regarding their kids. I have seen this before with this particular couple. They bring their kids nearly everywhere and allow them to stay up all hours of the night even when they are having adult company. So disoriented from reality are they that they believe other people are as enchanted by their young ones as they are. They must think, "Oh everyone will want to see our kids without question. Jeff will be thrilled that we decided to bring them." Well, Jeff's not thrilled.

To put this in perspective, I knew when I sent the invitation that they would do this. I still elected to send it, so I knew what I was getting. I just thought MAYBE, just maybe they would have a clue. But no, because see, it is a sickness. Just as one may steal from a loved one to feed a cocaine addiction, offspring addicts will punish those around with them with the presence of their children in inappropriate or undomfortable situations.

Let me contrast this example with another invitee that is bringing her child. One of my fiancee's co-workers received the invitation and asked, "Are you allowing children? I mean, I can try to find a sitter, but it is hard sometimes. I can try, though." My fiancee, knowing that there was surely going to be other child crashers attending graciously told her co-worker that it would be fine. See the difference?

My fiancee and I had decided long ago that when we have children (and we do want them - I really love kids, seriously), we are going to make every effort not to include them on many outings until they prove their merit. We certainly are not going to bring them to adult functions or other events where children are not CLEARLY welcomed. We decided this policy long before we were even officially engaged.

Okay mothers and others with insight, let me hear it. Where is my thinking faulty? What is it that I don't understand that makes this seemingly irrational, and discourteous behavior appropriate? While you are thinking about it, I am going to see if I can change my reception location to Chucky Cheese.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

TV or not TV?

That is the question. Here is my answer. This is my list of must-see shows weekly. This is subject to change when some of the new shows reveal the frauds that they probably are and others surface as diamonds in the rough.

Monday - I would like to see Heroes. Because of Monday Night Football, I probably won't be able to see it and add it to the must-see list. If anyone else has seen it, I would be interested in what you thought of it. Since MNF will be seen by me weekly, I really don't have a must see program on Monday night. MNF isn't necessarily must-see for me (some of the games are weak), but I meet with bunch of guys every week for it and that is that.

Tuesday - Two shows: House and Boston Legal. House is a very smart show. I can't resist a good smart alec and Hugh Laurie's Gregory House is great. He is one of my favorite all-time television characters - which I am sure will be the subject of a future blog entry. Boston Legal the spin-off frome the now defunct The Practice is great because of the chemisty of James Spader and William Shatner. Two words: Denny Crane!

Wednesday - Two new programs have picqued my interest. Jericho so far has been very interesting as a rural town in Kansas is discovering that they may be the only survivors of a nuclear holocaust. Gerald McRaney leads this cast. He is one of those feel-good kind of actors that you feel at-home with (see Promised Land). The other program on Wednesday is Justice. I already discussed this show in an earlier entry. The show hasn't run me off yet.

Thursday - The only must see show here is The Office. It is easily the funniest show on television. Once you get used to the presentation and understand the concept (the office crew is in the midst of a documentary), the laughter ensues. Steve Carell of The 40-Year-Old Virgin fame leads this cast. However, the characters are so strange and compelling, that it definitely isn't the Steve Carell show. It would fill up an entire post to give this comedy its due. Just check it out. I already bought the DVD's from last year's season. I gave Six Degrees a look last week. It is a little convoluted, but it could pan out as a fine series. I was distracted some doing wedding prep last week, so it might be easier to follow than I let on. We'll see.

Friday and Saturday: Truthfully, I am never home so I don't have any recommendations. I have seen some of Numb3rs last year and was pretty entertained (Friday nights). It has a unique premise and makes one appreciate math a little more.

Sunday: I have one program that is must-see: Family Guy is awesome. It is a little bawdy for my normal taste, but it just strikes a chord with me. The flashback segments are unparalleled for its humor. If you haven't checked out this program because it is animated, get over it. It is well worth the effort if you need a good guffaw.

Top Five:

1. The Office
2. House
3. Family Guy
4. Boston Legal
5. Jericho

What's yours?






Friday, September 22, 2006

The "whys" have it.

Why is it that President Bush's approval ratings directly reflect the price of gasoline. Is it a coincidence that gas is the lowest in the weeks going into the election? Is it also a coincidence that Bush has a lot of friends in the oil business - including family interest? I hear that the price is low because there have been no hurricanes this year. I don't remember hurricanes affecting the cost of fuel before last year (Katrina). Does anyone else remember this having a major effect on oil prices over the years?

Why do 90% of the people going 5 mph under the speed limit in the passing lane have a cell phone attached to their face?

Why is it that when taking a standardized test, one has to erase mistakes COMPLETELY or it will be scored incorrectly, but at the same time, one must fill in the circles COMPLETELY and very dark or the same test scanner will not be able to pick it up?

Why did my stat count drop when I wrote about Islam and violence? Why do people have a greater interest in my love life and/or my testicles? ;)

Why is it that when I am resolved to have a relaxing and uneventful upcoming weekend on Monday, by Friday it is filled up with undesirable tasks and events?

Why do I continue to write in this blog when I really don't have the time? :)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Islam and Violence

I look with interest at the fracas between with the Pope and those of the Muslim faith. It seems that the Pope quoted 14th-century Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus who said, "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." These comments were made at an academic address in Germany. Muslims around the world were outraged that the Pope could say such a thing since Islam is a "religion of peace."

Muslim protesters reacted to this politically incorect faux pax with . . . well, violence. How's that for putting illegitimacy to a complaint? Here's what has happened: Not long after a Muslim cleric in Somalia condemned the Pope's remarks, a nun was shot and killed, a group threatened to attack the Vatican with a suicide bomb, five churches in Gaza and the West Bank were firebombed, and the Pope has been burned in effigy.

Muslims do more damage to Islam's reputation than the Pope ever could. September 11th happens and some Islamic countries issue statements of regret (some don't). However if someone should draw a cartoon representation of Mohammad or if the Pope quotes an emperor from the 1300's that may disparage the religion tad, all hell breaks loose. It seems that there are protests all over the globe about the Pope's statement still, but yet I haven't heard about one protest about the murder of the nun or any other example of violence that has taken place in the aftermath.

The Pope has issued an apology and relates how he regrets what has happened. He explained that it wasn't his view, but of the 14th Century emperor he was quoting. He couldn't have back-pedaled any faster if he was sitting on the handle bars. It isn't good enough, though. No one has said what will be good enough. Some folks are just hell-bent on being outraged.

I have a Muslim friend in Saudi Arabia and she can't tell me why there are not more protests about such things. She says that she doesn't blame westerners for having negative feeling towards Islam. Well, that is one Muslim who gets it. I can only pray that it will start a trend.



Monday, September 18, 2006

Blessing in Disguise

My refrigerator gave out this weekend. It made for a trying weekend. Why do some of the most simple things become so complicated?

A lot of the food went bad so I had throw it out. What a waste of money! Then I had to recruit my nephew and we wrestled the old thing out the door.

It was then time to go find a replacement. There was an ad that had a new fridge for pretty cheap. We ran out to the place (that shall remain nameless), and they were closing up at 8:00 on a Friday night. When I asked the rep in the parking lot why the early closing, he said that they open an hour earlier than everyone so they close an hour early, too. It was a trade off. I said, "Some trade off! You open at 8:00 a.m. when most people with jobs (where paychecks and refrigerator payments come from) are at work instead of 9:00 a.m. (when those same people are still at work) so you can close at 8:00 pm when those same people are finishing up dinner on a Friday night out so you can disappoint them in the parking lot. Makes sense (to someone).

The sale was pretty good so I decided to wait and come in on Saturday. When I got there, I found out that the good price was on a 14 cu. ft. unit (which is a little bit bigger than a dorm fridge). When I checked the ad again in the store, it conveniently didn't give the size.

Even though I hated to get baited like that, I swallowed my pride and asked the guy to show me the non-toy refrigerators. The prices weren't that great, but I was getting desperate and they had a finance plan that was two years with no interest. I inquired about one, and was told that I could get it the next day. The next day? The way this company does business is that they have NOTHING in the store, they have to get everything from a warehouse 20 miles away. I told him that I couldn't wait and would have to give up the good financing deal. He then told me that I wasn't going to get the financing anyway, because I would have had to spend $1000 to qualify. What a waste of two days!

I went down to the closest place to the bad store which happened to be Lowe's. Fifteen minutes later, I had a refrigerator in the back of my truck heading for the kitchen that had a refrigerator-sized hole in it. I got free financing for a year, a decent price, and the aforementioned quick service. The only problem I had was that I needed them to change the side of the door handles, but they wouldn't unless it was delivered. That makes sense - I save them the time of delivering and that disqualifies me for getting them to switch the door handles. I got a shrug as a response, which I guess is better than an argument. ;)

The old refrigerator was ruining food before their due dates and giving my slightly better than room temperature drinks. I was just procrastinating on getting it replaced. I am glad that it finally gave out. I actually enjoyed a drink last night that wasn't even a Diet Coke with Lime! It was cold, though, and I had forgotten what that was like.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Do as I Say . . .

This is post is probably not going to set right with a lot of people. However, I think we can all disagree and still get along. Have you thought about what kind of people our kids are supposed to look up to?

When thinking about role models for today’s youth, it is mostly athletes and musicians for boys, and musicians and actresses for women. In a poll I saw (2004), Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson were at the top of what teenage girls consider their role models. I didn’t see one for boys, but listening to them talk and dress; it is pretty much the same thing (entertainers, not Spears).

Years ago, kids looked to police officers, fire fighters, teachers and even the president as role models – with other politicians such as congressmen and mayors. Police officers have been tainted with such public displays like the Rodney King arrest and similar items, that kids do not respect them – especially given that they tend to appear as the anti-rapper in society. Firefighters got a lift from the 9/11 disaster, no doubt, but those sentiments have settled now. Politicians since Richard Nixon are under extreme scrutiny. Every tainted deed is broadcast from the highest mountaintop. Who could look up to Clinton or GW Bush now? Don’t get me wrong, some people shouldn’t be role models despite their position, but we are our own enemies sometimes.

A lot of kids these days say they just look to their parents or family members as role models. That makes sense and I hope it is true. It seems to me that it is probably reported by kids who want to say the right thing. Regardless, we should take it seriously.

Are you doing anything that you wouldn’t want the kids in your family to do?

Here is the controversial part. If I were king, I would raise the pay of teachers, police officers, and firefighters three fold. However, here is the catch. Being a role model would be part of the job description. That means that none of these occupations allow for anything that we tell kids that are wrong or that they should stay away from. These people would not be hired or retained if they drink, smoke, curse, sleep around, cheated on their wife/husband, etc.

I remember the first time I saw evidence that a teacher smoked. The respect I had for him took a hit. I even saw a joint in a vehicle of a teacher in sixth grade as he was transporting our basketball team to a game in his van. I remember the first time I saw a police officer with a beer in his hand. Boom – another hit. When I heard a teacher in class say the “sh” word, - another hit.

Does that mean we tell our kids that people who smoke, drink or swear are bad people? No. We just tell them that it isn’t the right thing for them to do. Hopefully, through ourselves and other good role models and instruction, the rest would take care of itself.

Yes, if I were king, things would be different. However, I would probably struggle as a good role model. At times, we all do.





Thursday, September 14, 2006

Help Me Score some Coke!

I am in mourning today. I have recently found out that the only soft drink that I like is no longer available in my area. What am I going to do?

It is funny. I usually over-buy my Diet Coke with Lime. I never wanted my local Buehler's Buy Low to stop carrying it as other stores did. Ah, but I didn't know that I had to buy enough to keep the product in the CITY.

So, in my panic, I decided to go to coca-cola.com to see what my options were. I have NO options. They have no control of what of their products local distributors sell. No contol? It is YOUR product. I don't pretend that they are going to try to force our local distributor into carrying something for some schmoe in southern Indiana. However, for marketing purposes, they should have SOME control.

They also don't sell drinks online. Oh, they sell shirts, trays, sunglasses, and any other thing you can think of that will not satisfy one's thirst, but Coke does not sell COKE!

I did find a couple of places I can buy them online. Do you know how much shipping costs are for a 12 pack of drinks? Twenty bucks or more! So for $28, I can buy my precious Diet Coke with Lime. I guess I need to play the lottery more.




Monday, September 11, 2006

Not a Typical 9/11 Post - Hopefully

The big statement is that things are different since 9/11, 2001. It is true for me, but not because of the attacks. How are things different?

Five years ago I was in the tail end of a long relationship. My life was peaceful and predictable. I enjoyed it, really. I have the same job, but it seemed easier at the time. My family life was stable. Things were very pleasant, actually.

Things are not so peaceful now. I am facing the stress of getting married to a woman that I was only acquainted with five years ago. I never dreamed that my future would be with her. My health and my family's health have taken a slide. I guess my health isn't too bad, but I have a plethora of aches and pains that I don't remember having five years ago. I am not sure if it is the weight lifting, the stress of the upcoming nuptuals, or some demon that has awakened after a long, dormant slumber. My mother's health is more fragile. My sisters' are as well. Time tends to do this to us with or without terrorism.

I haven't flown in a plane since 9/11, 2001. It isn't so much fear as it is finances and time. I never have been fond of flying so this (especially the new security measures) hasn't given me much incentive to try. I will get over it next month when I fly to Jamaica for my wedding, though.

Five years ago, I owned no houses. Today I have two (and soon to be three). I really would like to own none again and rent. Who has time for keeping up with property? I guess I wouldn't mind one place in a rural setting, but that dream has too many layers of dust for me to take it seriously anymore.

Things have changed a lot for me since 9/11, 2001, but I can't give the credit or the blame to terrorists. The world tends to turn no matter what calamities come. We can turn with it or live in fear. In some ways, I think we shouldn't have changed a thing (on the visible level). Things change enough on their own. Just look at my life.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Best and Worst

At my office, the radio station is set to an eclectic mix of hits from the "the best hits of yesterday and today". One song came on that always made me cringe when I hear it. I will get to that song later. Anyway, I can sit for hours and have the music be background and not really pay too much attention to what the songs are, until some song gets my attention. So, I thought from time to time that I would compile a list of the best and worse songs that ever made radio airplay.

The best - this in my definition is a song that gets my attention and cheats my employer for five minutes as I soak it up as it plays. There are a number of these songs, but I will submit for your approval just one for now. It is Boston's More Than a Feeling. There is a feel to that song that stops me in my tracks and forces me to take it all in. I guess there is a part of our spirits that certain songs feed. I turn into a hot, thursty lad in the park as I walk by a water fountain. I just HAVE TO STOP and drink. I can't tell you why exactly this song does it for me. It might be the singing guitars, the catchy melody, or the nostalgia. Perhaps it is a combination of those and other things. It just IS.

The worst - these songs are the ones that compel you to turn the station or leave the room. They tend to stick with you for the entire day and you hate yourself for singing and/or humming it - even in mockery. The song today that wins this razzy-type prize is Cher's Do You Believe. I can't explain why I hate that song so much, but maybe I don't need to. Why do we hate fingernails on a chalkboard. It is just offensive in some way and that is enough.

There are other songs in the best and worst categories that I am sure will surface here in the future. If you have any to add to these lists, do share!





Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Couric - Not Terrible


I took the time to check out Katie Couric in her debut on the CBS Evening News. I don't think she did a bad job, but it just didn't feel right to me.

Maybe I don't know what CBS's is going for, but it didn't seem like the evening network news. It had more of a Today Show feel to it. I know, some folks may be thinking, "Hey, she was on the Today Show so it is just your mind making you think that." I can't argue against that. I think there is more to it than that, but it is a good argument.

Couric seemed to be a lightweight. On the Today Show she wasn't so much. I think she came off the same "weight", but a network anchor demands more authority than a morning news show host. She seemed to have the same amount (enough for the morning show, lacking for the evening news).

I guess it is tough to be a pioneering, female, network news anchor. Competing with the ghosts of Cronkite, Rather, Brokaw, and Jennings is no easy task. Ask Brian Williams on NBC how tough the anchor's job is. He is slow in getting respect following Tom Brokaw. Being female is just that much harder. For right or wrong, people (even women) do not see the authority from females as easily as they see it from men - all things being equal.

Some women can pull it off. I think NBC's Andrea Mitchell and Norah O'Donnell have it. My first choice would probably be ABC's Diane Sawyer. Maybe Katie Couric will have "it", too. I don't know yet.

The first show is always a tough test. Things may get more comfortable for her and the audience. However, people need a reason to stay after their curiosity pushed them to turn over to CBS for Couric's premiere. My guess is that folks will drift back over to Charles Gibson on ABC again today. As for me, it is back to Seinfeld reruns on TBS.





Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Got a Good Joke?

I am in a bad place. I don't really know what is wrong with me. The last couple of days I have been in a not-so-good way inside. I guess if one would diagnose it, it is a kind of depression - based on symptoms. I can't get motivated and I seem to be pessimistic.

The last couple of days I had planned to get a lot done. I need to work on my house(s), work on wedding stuff, mow three (count them) THREE lawns, write (including in this blog), and other things that I can't even think of now. Here is what I did. I watched TV, actually played a video game, and messed with fantasy football stuff. That's it. Now the holiday weekend is over and I have to cram that stuff into my work week. Joy.

I was really hopeful about the productivity I would have this past weekend, too. My fiancee was out of town so there was the decline of demand on my time that she provides. But no. Nada. It is not that I had the attitude that I needed the rest so I felt good about it. I did, indeed, need the rest; I just didn't feel good about getting it. Actually it made my mental state worse, yet I felt helpless about it.

I tried to analyze myself to try to figure it out. Did I miss my fiancee? Yeah, but I also looked forward to the space a little. As a matter of fact, yesterday when I woke up, I decided that I didn't want to get married after all. It is a short five weeks before I am nuptualing, honeymooning, and vacationing in Jamaica. I am not looking forward to it for some reason. I chalked it up to the depression; maybe it was a tropical depression (for lack of better term) so I got over it (or am in the process of doing so). After all, feelings and emotions are seldom the representation of reality. Fear isn't going to defeat my intellect on the subject.

Finding out that the Croc Hunter (Steve Irwin) was killed didn't help. I liked him and his program, but admittedly, I haven't watched it in quite some time. Still, there was something unsettling about his death.

I shouldn't have missed church. Nothing good ever came about from me missing church. I just couldn't get going, though.

These things will pass. They always do. The sun rises and sets, sets and rises and life happens between those events. We have to go with it and make the future as it is the sum of many presents. Maybe all I need is a good laugh.


Friday, September 01, 2006

Swift Justice


From time to time, I will give my opinion about a television show that is courting the couch potatoes for its survival. Since the fall television schedule is kicking off, there may be more of this in the coming days. I like TV when it is good and detest it when it is bad. What conclusion will you draw when I tell you that I don't watch as much as I used to?

The first program I will mention this year is called Justice. It is on Fox Wednesday nights. The premier was this week and I wasn't sure I was going to like it, but I was hopeful. I like legal shows (The now defunct the Practice, and Boston Legal, which it morphed into are two programs that I don't/didn't like to miss).
If The Practice and CSI had an offspring, Justice would be the result. It is fast-paced and unpersonable like CSI, but it does have the show's science and polish. It also contains The Practice's legal smarts.

Hopefully, there will be more character development in the future. We really do not know too much about the characters after one program. The show just didn't have enough time for that. It was almost like the original plan was to have a two-hour premier, but at the last minute the network didn't want to allow two-thirds of its prime time programming to an unknown, so it was edited down to the bear-bones case. We know the character's personalities, but not anything about them. In that way, it reminds me of CSI.

The most interesting element of the show is it reveals the tricks and tactics of superstar attorneys in big cases. It kind of gave me an uneasiness about our legal system. It reconfirmed the popular belief that money can trump truth - although it worked out in the pilot.

One unique part of the show comes about at the end of the hour. After the case is decided, the audience is privy to what really happened. That way we can compare courtroom "truth" to truth itself.

It is too soon for me to give my endorsement of this program, but I will say it kept me interested. I will be tuning in again if that tells you anything.