Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Last Wish...

My daughter sent me this story about her friend's cousin, Nachu Bhatnagar, who is dying from Ewings Sarcoma. Nachu doesn't have long to live, doctors give him till June. His one dying wish was that he live long enough to read the next installment of his favorite series of books by Harry Turtledove. The next book is due to be released in July and it was possible Nachu would not live long enough to read "The War That Came Early." However, Nachu's best friend, Colton Jang, a high school student, took matters into his own hands. He set out to make his friend's dying wish come true. Colton's belief in the power of the internet paid off. He took his friend's story to "Reddit" and posted at 2 AM it along with a request for an advanced copy of the book. By 7 AM, after answering questions all night from people questioning his veracity, he saw a comment from the friend of the author's daughter, saying she would get word to him. The next thing he knew, three editors were offering to send him an early copy of the book and the author himself, Harry Turtledove, said he would call Nachu and tell him his plans for the rest of the series. The power of friendship, love and the internet is amazing and I just wanted to share this story here. 

I'm filled with emotion for everyone involved as I write this. For Nachu, who has suffered with this disease and tragically going to die at such a young age. I can only imagine how his parents must feel, knowing they are going to lose such a wonderful son. And for Colton, who surely would have had a long friendship with Nachu, his loss is going to be devastating. But, I'm very happy that Nachu's last wish was granted and that it was his best friend that was able to make it come true. I'm not so sure it was the power of the internet and not Colton's passionate desire to do this for his friend, that made it all possible. The human will, when it's very determined, can make the impossible, possible. It just speak volumes of the love Colton has for Nachu.

I will post the link to the entire story below as well as the video of Nachu's reaction when he open's Colton's birthday present to find the book he thought he would never get a chance to read. Make sure you have tissues when you watch it.

Link: Nachu and Colton

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Oscars & Racism

There was the “racy” wardrobe malfunction that Jennifer Lopez was reported to have at the Oscars Sunday night. There has been a lot of talk on both sides saying yes she had one, and no, she didn’t. Television pictures show a blur over the breast area where her dress seemed to be cut just a tad too low. Online pictures and video do seem to show a malfunction, but the designer of the gown says it’s impossible because of the way that it’s made. I guess they will get to the bottom of it soon enough, but I digress from my original thoughts….wardrobe malfunctions will do that to everyone.

Back to racism. Two separate controversial incidents, at the Oscars, were being discussed today and frankly, I found both hard to believe. The first is the Billy Crystal “blackface” performance where he was portraying Sammy Davis, Jr. When I first heard of it, it brought me back to 1993 when Ted Danson got a lot of heated criticism for doing some  minstrel/vaudeville routine in blackface, and he did it at the Friars, not nearly as big an affair as the Oscars. He was with Whoopi Goldberg at the time. You would think that Billy Crystal might have learned how bad an idea doing “blackface” is and why. Doing blackface is never ok. People were tweeting their opinions all night. Apparently, Billy used to play Sammy Davis Jr. on SNL in the 1980’s and decided to reprise the role. But, even if Billy Crystal had a serious lapse in judgment, what about all the other people involved with putting on the show? No one chimed in and said we better rethink this idea? No one suggested doing something different that wouldn’t be so offensive?  I think this just about says it all: When Octavia Spenser won supporting actress for "The Help," comedian Paul Scheer tweeted her win "shows just how far we've come since Billy Crystal performed in Blackface."  So much for political correctness? 

Not long after I hear about Billy Crystal’s faux pas, I get wind of Ryan Seacrest’s very poor choice of words. Ryan was interviewing veteran actor Demian Bichir, on the red carpet. Demian is Mexican and has a thirty year career in acting. After their interview, Ryan Seacrest tweeted, "Demian Bichir's story is incredible...the guy moved here from Mexico and was making guacamole. Now he's nominated for an Oscar.” Ryan made it sound like Demian was just a Mexican laborer who got lucky and won himself an Oscar. Ryan’s remarks do sound stereotypical and racist and it seems the tweeters had a field day with it, calling Ryan ignorant and racist, and rightly so. People don’t know when they have crossed the line from being funny to being racist. It reminds me of the blog I recently did on Jeremy Lin, the Knick new basketball star. 

I shouldn’t be surprised by things any more, but I am. Crystal and Seacrest , in their zeal to be funny, better rethink how they execute their jokes and the topics they select. Both incidents were inappropriate. Crystal’s routine could have been changed and many people were aware of what he was going to do, so they could have spoken up. Seacrest just tweeted it out, without thinking, apparently the little censor in his head was taking a nap. I didn’t find his remark remotely funny and it certainly sounds racist. There really should be some repercussions for these kinds of incidents. We shouldn’t give them a free pass. Ted Danson didn’t get one. How about on top of the criticism they have to pay a huge fine that goes to a worthy charity affiliated with the group that the racism is directed towards. In Crystal’s case maybe the United Negro College Fund or the American Sickle Cell Anemia Association. For Seacrest, we know he makes tons of money and Mexico can sure put his to good use. There has to be some way to make people aware of there own ignorance. The guy who used the headline, “Chink In The Armor,” to describe the first loss of the Knicks after Lin joined the team, got fired. Are these two incidents any different? I don’t know, you decide.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

My Guilty Pleasures...

I’ve had a few guilty pleasures in my lifetime. Nothing outrageous, but I wouldn’t go around bragging about it. Like sometimes I like to drink a little more wine than I should, just to get that nice warm buzz in my head that makes me forget everything else. I can’t do it often, in fact it’s a pretty rare occurrence now because my stomach doesn’t handle the wine well any more. I used to love to finish off a nice box of Junior Mints! I love them, but again my stomach doesn’t cooperate with my desires, so I have had to cut back. In fact I can’t eat any of the things I used to overindulge in, in the privacy of my home, all thanks to aging and my stomach. But, I have acquired a new guilty pleasure the last 10 months and it doesn’t upset my stomach at all.

My new guilty pleasure is watching Mob Wives, the VH1 reality show. The women curse like drunken sailors, sometimes worse. They have ongoing arguments. The have real fights with actual hair pulling, down on the floor kicking and screaming. They are related to criminals, mobsters, murderers, drug dealers you name it. I can’t relate at all to their lifestyle. I never knew anyone involved in the mob, however, my mother could have given them a good run for their money when it comes to cursing. 

They started out with four mob wives in season one and added two more to season two. They all know each other in real life and their history spills into the show. The drama sucked me in like a Hoover vacuum sucks up crumbs! You may or may not know the women on the show, but one of them is Karen Gravano, the daughter of Sammy “The Bull” Gravano. Sammy Gravano was the underboss of John Gotti. He was involved in 19 murders, cooperated with the FBI and turned on Gotti for a plea deal of 5 years. While filming season one of Mob Wives, Karen wrote a book called Mob Daughter, which was released on February 14th and in a week was on the New York Times Best Sellers List. Why am I writing about all this? Well, because of my guilty pleasure of watching the show, I “liked” a couple of facebook pages. On one page they were having a contest to win an autographed copy of Karen’s new book. All I had to do was type in my name to enter, so I did. Yesterday I was informed that I was a winner! Can you believe that? It’s funny to me how so many things have come out of my passion for blogging and now my guilty pleasures are also paying off! 

I can’t help it if I find Mob Wives entertaining. The drama is over the top at times. But even though I can’t relate to the lifestyle, the language, the violence, and the crimes, I can related to their Italian ethnic culture. I hear about how they speak of their parents and watch how they raise and protect their children. I see the big pot of Sunday sauce on the stove. They all hug and kiss hello. There is a strong Italian presence that almost makes me feel at home. It wasn’t a show I expected to keep watching. I signed on to mob wives when there was all the media hype about it and Dr. Phil was busy running his housewives off the track and off the air. I was just looking for new replacement “housewives” and got more than I bargained for plus a new autographed book!

If you haven’t seen the show, you might want to try it. It’s not for everyone, but it is for me. I’m entitled to at least one guilty pleasure that my stomach can’t ruin for me and I finally found one.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

An Italian Expression...

My parents were Sicilian and followed many of the cultural ways and thoughts from the old country. Sicilians have dozens of expressions for every occasion. Some are like words of wisdom based on experience, others are founded in superstition. One expression that my parents used a lot was “two parents can take care of 100 children, but 100 children can’t take care of two parents.” Of all the proverbs and idioms I have heard growing up, this one impressed me the most. I couldn’t appreciate it when I was a kid, but now that I’m older it takes on a new meaning. Who knew about what it really meant to make real sacrifices before having children?

Two parents will make all the sacrifices it takes to raise a hundred children. If it means going to bed hungry so their children are all fed, that’s what they will do. If it means wearing and mending a winter coat for ten years in order to make sure their children are dressed warm enough for winter, they do it. If it means sitting up all night with a sick child and getting up for work in the morning, it’s what they do. If it means listening to their pain and drying their tears while keeping their own problems to themselves, they are there without fail. It means going to work every day, even when they are sick, in order to provide a roof over their heads. So many quiet, unmentioned sacrifices are made that children never realize until they become parents themselves.

But when parents get older and need help, the roles reverse. The children need to take care of the parents. Too often I have heard stories of the “burden” of caring for elderly or sick parents falling on the shoulders of one child, no matter how many there are in the family. The care giving is rarely evenly divided. When it becomes too much for the one child to handle, the others will fight before stepping up to the plate. There will be dozens of excuses why they can’t make any sacrifices and come to the aid of their parents. When no one can agree on who will take care of their mom and dad, the nursing home solution comes up. It’s a sad thought when children don’t have the time or energy to care for or even visit their elderly parents. It even happens in the best of families. 

I guess it’s not a new thing either, if this expression has been around for a very long time. It makes you think. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Eddie Reyes, The Frozen Food Guy

I am always quick to write a seething letter of complaint when I don’t receive good service from anyone. Most of the time it’s the large companies like Verizon and AT&T or my local supermarket, Stop & Shop. I am also just as quick to write a letter of praise when someone goes above and beyond to help me out, instead of just saying, “if it isn’t on the shelf, we don’t have it.” Eddie Reyes is my “go to guy” at Stop & Shop and I wanted to let corporate headquarters know it. He helped me on quite a few occasions and they have a program to recognize employees, so I wrote a letter.

I sang the praises of Eddie Reyes and I write a damn good letter, if I say so myself. Eddie doesn’t just stop what he is doing to help me out with his department, he will help me with anything I need in the store. Many times, when Breyers was on sale, they didn’t have the flavor my daughter loves best. I have gone to Eddie and asked for the Vanilla Fudge Twirl and after he checks to see if it’s there, he will go to the back and bring me out four boxes! One day, I asked him for frozen spinach and he told me they stopped carrying it, but he goes to the back to get me frozen artichoke hearts, which they must be hiding like buried treasure, and sneaks them into my cart. Artichoke hearts are delicious in scrambled eggs and my mother made those sandwiches for me and my father. It brought back memories and I went home to make them for myself and my husband. This kind of things happens all the time.

This past December, right before Christmas, the store had put the Dunkin’ Donuts Coffee on sale for $5 a bag! I told my husband I was going to get two at that price and put them in my older daughter’s stocking for Christmas. She loves that coffee. When I get to the store and walk down the coffee aisle, there’s no Dunkin’ Donuts Coffee…just the sign saying it’s on sale. I can tell you I was disappointed and disgusted. It’s not the first time a sale item was not available, but I wanted it and needed it that day. As I walked around doing the rest of my shopping, I spot Eddie and ask him about the coffee, even though it’s not his department. He says he heard they hadn’t gotten the shipment in, but it will be here next week. I told him yes, but I wanted it get it today for Christmas and I thanked him anyway. A couple of aisles later I see Eddie coming towards me and he says the guy is putting out the coffee now and if I want it I can go over and get it! I was happy and told him I was going to write a letter for him to the company, he always helps me out. He was happy to hear that and he thanked me.

After putting my groceries away I head to the computer to get my letter out. I told them of all the times Eddie has helped me, no matter what department or item was missing. I wrote about how professional and friendly he always is and what an asset he is to their company. I even suggest they should consider him for a store manager. Off the letter went, but I never heard back from the store.

In mid January I spot Eddie walking past me, head down, and I walk over to him to say hello. I told him I wrote that letter for him. He said he knew and thanked me. He told me they were putting it up in the front of the store, but when he had checked it wasn’t up yet. Then he says, they gave him a ten dollar gift certificate. I said what? Ten dollars? He said yes. I felt he was embarrassed and then I felt bad that my writing him a letter really did more harm than good. In my mind the ten dollar gift certificate was like a slap in the face or showed him how little the company thought of him. I was pretty angry. I told him I didn’t understand because I wrote a very good letter and I hope he gets to see it. We parted ways and I just couldn’t forget about it. I was determined to give corporate headquarters a piece of my mind!

The next day I called the number and explained my situation and why I was upset. They explained their position. They have a number of different ways for managers to recognize employees for good performance. They can’t give out big awards for letters of praise because they get many and also friends and family would be writing in for employees. They say it’s gotten to the point that when an employee does their job or goes above and beyond like they are supposed to, people think that that has to be rewarded, when it’s something they are supposed to do. They tell me the ten dollars is a token of their appreciation for a job well done and it’s equivalent to a free lunch. 

What I got from that call is that they must get lots of people like me calling because they got that script down pat! All my comments were falling on deaf ears and I wasn’t going to get anywhere. Their policy is set in stone and I just had to accept it. I tried to do a good thing, but I think I just ended up making Eddie feel bad. I haven’t seen him as much lately, so I don’t know. 

Eddie Reyes, you do a damn good job, and I think you are an exceptional employee, even if Stop & Shop doesn’t do a better job of acknowledging you.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Office Pranks!

Years ago, I actually had a job working at a savings bank. I started as a teller and progressed up the ranks. One of my positions was in the SBLI Department (Savings Bank Life Insurance) where I had the title of Chief Clerk, the third “in charge.” The bank had a program where they would hired business majors as management trainees. These trainees would be rotated through various departments and evaluated before getting a final assignment in the bank. One day we got a Management Trainee of our own and I was assigned to train her. Let me say first, that I was not impressed by this short, dark frizzy haired, rotund, over eager, over confident, newbie, but I had to work with her. Her name was Shelly and she thought she knew it all.

Day one I begin by explaining each facet of my job and she is taking NO notes. I took notes when I was trained and I will say, at the risk of appearing immodest, that I was very intelligent and could have run rings around Shelly. I suggested she take notes, but she said she “got it” every time I show her a task. I was getting pretty annoyed. I started to show her how to put the policies together, before they are sent out. Again, no notes. I finally said, “Okay, you already know how to do it, here, you take over.” Of course, she couldn’t do it and I was basically wasting my time with this lump.

One day, I was in a mischievous mood and decided we needed to play a little prank on Shelly. I took some scotch tape and taped down the receiver so that when her phone rang and she picked up, it would keep ringing. Then, when I saw her sitting at her desk I called her number. Her phone rings. She picks up and says hello, but the phone keeps ringing. The tape is so clear she can’t figure out what is going on. And she keeps looking at the phone and the rest of us for help! It was a little like a scene from Candid Camera. I had tears running down my face and just couldn’t hide my uncontrollable laughter.

I had so much fun with that prank, that on another day, I put her phone in her desk drawer. She never noticed it was missing from her desk, that’s how bright she was! I called her number and the phone begins ringing. She starts looking all over for her phone and as she does so, the one of the wheels from her chair pops off and she falls to the ground. I was pretty worried they would think I had tampered with her chair too, but I swear I never touched it. Maybe her ample derriere had something to do with tipping the chair over as she searched for the phone, but I swear it wasn’t me. I’ll admit to wanting to knock her down a few pegs and deflate her ego, but I am smart enough not to get sued doing it. The whole little comedy lasted a few hilarious minutes, as Shelly scrambled/rolled to get back on her feet and popped the wheel back in her chair. She wasn’t injured at all, but maybe her ego was a little bruised.

Sometimes you need a little something to lighten the tension in the office. I took matters into my own hands. Luckily she was only with us a couple of weeks and never made it through the management trainee program. She got lots of bad evaluations…gee, I wonder why? I wonder what became of Shelly? Maybe she went to work for the phone company?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Can’t Agree With Rick Santorum…

Even though I don’t follow politics, I manage to hear a few things here and there a long the way, thanks to all the media coverage. This weekend I heard from Rick Santorum and I really don’t agree with what he had to say. Santorum is speaking out against prenatal tests, like amniocentesis, which he says encourages abortions. He is also against Obama’s plan to have employees of religious schools and hospitals to have birth control covered by their healthcare insurance. I have to disagree with him on both counts.

Prenatal testing has been used for years to identify genetic problems in the unborn baby. Women, age 35 and older, and those with hereditary conditions, are encouraged to have the test done. It is NOT a way to encourage abortion. That decision is up to each and every individual or couple to decide, once a problem has been identified. Some problems that are found can even be corrected while the baby is in utero. 

One of the main reasons for determining if a problem exists and what it is, is to not only to give parents a choice, but to psychologically and emotionally prepare them for the outcome before the baby is born. Many, like Santorum himself, will choose to have their baby and they will have time to be informed as to what special needs their child will require. Others will have to make a decision to terminate the pregnancy based on the medical information they are given and the severity of the condition. That is their choice to make and, one way or the other, they have to live with it. There are a lot of considerations that go into making this decision. The family’s financial circumstances and whether they have good health insurance has to be a major consideration. How many other children they have and how a special needs child is going to affect their lives may be considered. Parents cannot live forever, the care of a sibling with special needs will eventually fall on the other children in the family. Is it not an easy decision to make by any means.

Santorum’s stand that birth control shouldn’t be covered is ridiculous. First of all, birth control does help to prevent abortions. So if Santorum is so concerned about abortion, he should make sure everyone has access to birth control.  Second, I have had an issue with the Church’s position on birth control for years. The Church says it’s a sin and we should all have as many children as the Good Lord wants us to have or use abstinence. Isn’t abstinence a form of birth control? It is a detrimental form of birth control. It can have some serious affects on a couple and their marriage. Why would the Church want to put a strain on marriage when the divorce rate is already so high? They should encourage couples to have loving, sexual relationships without the fear or possibility that they will have more children than they can afford to provide for. If a couple followed the Church’s teachings, I’m sure there would be many more children, but at what cost? If a family is struggling and can’t afford diapers or formula or baby food, will the Church send them a check every week for being “good” Christians and having more children than they can afford to feed? No, they will not. What they will do is expect you to contribute one tenth of your salary every week to the collection plate on Sunday. Is this even realistic? Birth control allows couples the freedom to be loving and intimate without the stress of having additional children that they cannot care for and which will cause additional stress on the couple. I don’t see what is wrong with that, especially if the Church isn’t going to step up to the plate and supplement their income for the extra unplanned children.

This issues are not cut and dry or right and wrong. They are personal decisions best left to the people who avail themselves of prenatal tests or birth control, not the government or the Church. It’s the individuals themselves that will make these choices and have to live with them. To me it would be more of a sin to have six children when you only have the resources to provide for two, or to have a special needs child if you don’t have the emotional, financial or physical resources to care for them. That’s my personal view on these issues.

I don’t see Santorum winning anything if he sticks to his position on these issues. And, to quote Martha Stewart, “that’s a good thing.”

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Jeremy Lin Beats The Odds...

I have been hearing so much about Jeremy Lin the past couple of weeks. I am not a huge sports fan, so I had to look into who this amazing athlete was and why was everyone talking about him. People were so hyped about Lin that they created a whole new language to express their feelings and I heard that somewhere in China they even started a class to teach students these new American words specifically created for, Jeremy Lin, an amazing basketball player. Some of the words that I’ve heard are: “linsanity,” “lintastic,” “lin it to win it,” “nothing is linpossible” and on and on,

Jeremy Lin played great basketball in high school, but none of the college recruiters gave him a second look. Speculation has it that it was because he was Asian and there had never been an Asian-American basketball player before. And the perception that Asians cannot play basketball caused Lin to take himself to Harvard University and get an education there. A coach at Harvard told Lin he could be in the NBA, but he was never drafted. What happened was a series of events that can only be attributed to fate. Lin was picked up by the Golden State Warriors, only to be cut because they had enough guards. The Houston Rockets took him, but then cut him for the same reason, too many guards. Knick guard Baron Davis sustained an injury and the Knicks took a chance and picked up Lin. But, before they allowed Lin to play, Baron was due to come back and they were going to cut Lin. However, Baron was not ready to return to the game, and Lin was finally put in the game to show what he could do. Two weeks later, after Lin made phenomenal plays in game after game, his name became a household word overnight and, the Knicks, who had been losing miserably before using him, had a six game winning streak. It’s an unprecedented rise in success based on his extraordinary talent and especially surprising to many because Lin is Asian-American.

But, the same racial perceptions that kept Lin from getting his career in basketball off to an earlier start, has caused some controversy the past day or two. When the Knicks lost their last game, after several wins credited to Lin, ESPN ran a headline “Chink in the Armor.” Not only a racial slur and derogatory use of the word, but Lin himself has spoken about being taunted at Harvard by the use of that particular racial slur. A couple of days ago, after a win, a picture of Lin over of a fortune cookie with the caption “The Knick’s Good Fortune.” And let’s not forget The New York Post’s headline on it’s back page after a win in Toronto, “AMASIAN.” 

Jeremy Lin was obviously talented, but college recruiters couldn’t look beyond his race to see his outstanding skills as a basketball player. While in college, at Harvard no less, his coach thought he was good enough for the NBA, even as others on the prestigious, ivy league campus referred to him by racial slurs. He was cut by a couple of teams, before he was even given an opportunity to prove himself. And, when he was finally given an opportunity by the New York Knicks, because they desperately needed a guard, he rose to the occasion, exceeded all expectations and lead the team in a six game winning streak. An overnight sensation! Everyone is thrilled. The only thing is that the media still cannot see beyond his race. They think they are being cute, they forget their political correctness, they use racial slurs, “clever images,” and coined terms to refer to his race even as they praise him. 

Something is just not right with this picture. Imagine all the odds this young man has had to overcome to get where he belongs?  He still cannot seen as a great basketball player, without first being seen as Asian American, above all else. The same erroneous perceptions about his race, that kept him out of the sport, is still haunting him in the limelight. First he got no attention because he was Asian American, now he gets tons of attention, not so much for his skill, as his heritage. Imagine if every athlete had to put up with those kinds of insults in guise of praise? I can’t imagine how Lin must feel to be finally able to get an opportunity to play on the Knicks, in New York, and get some much attention for his skills on the court, only to still have to deal with thinly veiled bigotry. 

Jeremy Lin beat the odds in basketball, but unfortunately he still has some challenges ahead of him.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Whitney Houston: Freedom Of Speech Or Crossing The Line?

I want to know when does freedom of speech turn into crossing the line? It has to be more than just yelling fire in a movie theater or saying racial slurs or hate talk. I have been hearing all kinds of comments about Whitney Houston since her death and some of them are disgusting and appalling. Just this morning, I turn on the computer and an article pops up about two LA talk radio hosts being suspended for there comments because the station feels they crossed the line and they were inappropriate. From what I read, they do this sort of ting all the time and as a punishment, they get a nice long weekend off from work.

What has me more than riled up today are the comments they made about Whitney Houston. Sorry for the overkill about Whitney Houston, but she has been in the news a lot and because of that, so many are taking the opportunity to take insensitive potshots at her. This time it’s John and Ken on KFI AM. Here is what they had to say:

Maybe their rhetoric attracts certain kinds of fans who like this sort of thing, but the station must have gotten complaints to distance themselves from their remarks and “punish” them to absolve themselves of wrong doing. Similarly, CNN made it clear that Nancy Grace’s remarks were all on her and they did not represent the opinions of the network. My question is, hasn’t freedom of speech gone too far? Just because you can say something bad, do you have to say it? Do people have no conscience, integrity, no ethical standards? What makes them think they can reduce a person’s whole life down to just one aspect of it? Yes Whitney Houston was addicted to drugs, she herself talked about it. It’s a disease, whether people want to believe it or not. But there was more to her than just that. Her addiction did not define her life or who she was as a person. She was a brilliant and immensely talented singer and actress who shared her gift with the world. She was a mother of a beautiful 18 year old daughter. She took in a young boy, Nicholas Gordon and raised him as her own son. She was the daughter of Cissy Houston and John Russell Houston. And in addition, she was a great humanitarian. Whitney gave back to many charities.  I feel that, that is the way she would want to be remembered and DESERVES to be remembered. I am going to copy a list of her charitable works right here. It comes from a document drawn up by the Congressional Black Caucus, which is honoring Whitney Houston and her life. The document includes all her career achievements, but here is a list of all she has done for others:

"Whereas Ms. Houston not only had the voice of an angel but a heart of gold, Ms. Houston’s humanitarian efforts are as impressive as her accolades;

Whereas Ms. Houston raised funds for numerous causes, including: children around the world, from South Africa to Newark, generated over $300,000 for the Children’s Defense Fund as a result of a 1997 HBO concert;

Whereas Ms. Houston supported Nelson Mandela and the antiapartheid movement and while a model refused to work with any agencies that did business with the then-apartheid South Africa;

Whereas Ms. Houston participated in a benefit concert that raised over $1 million for charities while bringing awareness to apartheid;

Whereas Ms. Houston worked tirelessly for St. Jude Children’s Hospital, the United Negro College Fund, and the Children’s Diabetes Foundation;

Whereas Ms. Houston founded the Whitney Houston Foundation for the Children which cares for such problems as homelessness, children with cancer and AIDS, and other issues of self-empowerment;

Whereas Ms. Houston’s Foundation was awarded a VH1 honor for its charitable work;

Whereas Ms. Houston Founded the Whitney E. Houston Academy of Creative and Performing Arts to provide expanded arts-focused educational opportunities for its student body and the surrounding community;

Whereas Ms. Houston served as a spokesperson for a youth leadership conference;

Whereas, out of the generosity of her heart, Ms. Houston donated her portion of the proceeds from the release of the National Anthem as a single to the American Red Cross Gulf Crisis Fund and therefore was named to the American Red Cross Board of Governors;

Whereas Ms. Houston supported, performed, and visited many of our service men and women fighting in the Persian Gulf War;

Whereas The Whitney Houston Foundation For Children, Inc. agreed to donate royalties and net proceeds from all single sales of ‘‘The Star Spangled Banner’’ coupled with ‘‘America the Beautiful’’ to the New York Firefighters 9–11 Disaster Relief Fund and the New York Fraternal Order of Police”

Why is none of this being emphasized and all the focus being put on her drug addiction? I want to know what these people, who are so quick to criticize and dishonor her memory, have done in their lifetimes that even comes close to what Whitney has done for others? Maybe they aren’t addicted to drugs, but what the hell have they contributed to this world to make it a better place? Instead of appreciating the beautiful person Whitney Houston was, they take this time, the moment of her death, to reduce her life down to her addiction? Freedom of speech allows them to do that, but should we as a society tolerate and support people who abuse this freedom to malign another person. Is her drug addiction the only way we are to remember Whitney Houston after all she has done?

Let me ask John and Ken, Nancy Grace, Bill Reilly…and all the other big mouth, self-righteous, pompous asses, what have they done besides not get addicted to drugs? What have they contributed to this world besides hateful speech? What will they be remembered for? And who the hell are they to judge her worth as a human being? No one among us is perfect. No one. But we do know that, in her imperfection, Whitney Houston has done amazing and wonderful things, and that very few people on this earth can measure up to her degree of humanitarianism. We should be celebrating her life, not dishonoring it!

Here are two link where you can see what she is being honored for and the list of her humanitarian works. 
2. Black Celebrity Giving a more detailed list of her charitable work

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Nancy Grace Dishonors Whitney’s Memory…

That’s the way I feel about it. Nancy Grace opened her mouth and said too much about what the cause of Whitney Houston’s death was, hours after the singer died. She didn’t base her speculation on facts or keep her mouth shut until she had some. Instead, she made the most outrageous statements she could make at a time when the family, friends and fans of Houston were still in shock over her death. I heard the statements myself and can only imagine the pain she caused to everyone, but most especially Whitney’s daughter, Bobbi Kristina. 

Here is some of what she had to say, in her loudest most aggressive tone of voice: 

"I'd like to know who was around her, who, if anyone gave her drugs, following alcohol and drugs, and who let her slip, or pushed her, underneath that water?" Grace said Tuesday on CNN, HLN's sister network . "Apparently no signs of force or trauma to the body. Who let Whitney Houston go under her water?"

This before the coroner and toxicology reports were even completed. She tried to put a spin on the story to make the circumstances appear in the worst possible light and create suspicion and accusations where no evidence even suggested any. It’s clear to me that Nancy Grace took this opportunity to exploit Whitney’s death in order to help boost the ratings for her own show. I find this in extremely poor taste, poor judgment, callous, and irresponsible. 

What’s more, she refused to apologize for her hasty judgment and choice of words, but instead defended herself, though to me she appeared on shaky ground. When challenged and asked to explain her statements she said:

“Well, if you look at the entire sentence, I understand that some people would consider that jarring or harsh. But there is nothing delicate or nice about a murder, a death, an unexpected death, or an autopsy. And that is what autopsies are for. I know most people aren’t exposed to medical examiners, autopsies, morgues, medical examiner investigations. But that’s why you have an autopsy, to determine — when something looks to be not a natural death or an accidental death — was it a murder? Was it a heart attack? Was it an overdose? That’s what they were looking at. That’s what they had to find out.”

I didn’t find her comments very comforting and I’m sure Whitney Houston’s family and friends didn’t either. Her comments were beyond inappropriate. There is a little video below where you can hear her comments and those of Dr. Drew, who also jumped the gun on the cause of death. Whoopi Goldberg replied to both in a way I agree 100% with.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Chris Brown At The Grammys...

Chris Brown’s name stirs up all kinds of feelings. Many are still disgusted with him for assaulting Rihanna in 2009, others feel he paid his debt to society, he was prosecuted and got 5 years probation and six months community service. Personally, I don’t feel that was a just punishment. As for the damage it did to his career at the time, that was all on him. 

So when he was asked to perform at the Grammys, two times no less, it created a buzz and people had lots to say about it. Celebrities made several comments that were quoted in the media and got back to Chris Brown. Here are a few tweets from his peers:

"Chris brown…people don't forget! #chrisbrownbeatswomen" Jack Osbourne tweeted out. "If Chris Brown had worn a wife beater, the irony would eclipse the whole show #chrisbrownbeatswomen."

Michelle Branch also added to the pileup of disbelief, tweeting, "Trying not to go off on a rant but…Chris Brown…*bites tongue* have we forgiven him? #Grammys."

Seemingly answering that very question, at least for himself, was Ethan Suplee.
"Why wasn't Chris Brown fired from 'music' (public dancing) when he beat up that girl?...Dear 'thugs' and 'gangstas' of the hip-hop industry, how is it that none of you 'handled' Chris Brown? #thuglife #prisonrules #getsome."

Of course, sometimes the best response is the simplest, which was supplied in this case by Wil Wheaton.  "Everyone who apparently forgot what Chris Brown did to Rihanna should read the police report on exactly what he did."

Miranda Lambert: "Strange. And Chris Brown twice? I don't get it. He beat on a girl…

Fellow small-screen big name Sherri Shepherd also offered up her point of view: "Looks like all is forgiven w Chris Brown. That's all I'll say."

That was just a sample of the criticism. It’s upsetting. Brown didn’t care for it and tweeted back the above response, which he later deleted when his publicist thought it would look bad if he acted cocky about what he did. Apparently no one has forgotten the 2009 assault or Rihanna’s pictures. The incident happened because Rihanna found a three page text on Chris Brown’s phone from his ex girlfriend which started an argument. He tried to push her out of his car, but couldn’t because she was wearing a seat belt. Here is the beginning of the police report and the link will provide the rest of the beating.

“When he could not force her to exit, he took his right hand and shoved her head against he passenger window of the vehicle, causing an approximate one-inch raised circular contusion.

"Robyn F. turned to face Brown and he punched her in the left eye with his right hand. He then drove away in the vehicle and continued to punch her in the face with his right hand while steering the vehicle with his left hand. The assault caused Robyn F.'s mouth to fill with blood and blood to splatter all over her clothing and the interior of the vehicle.

"Brown looked at Robyn F. and stated, 'I'm going to beat the sh-- out of you when we get home! You wait and see!' "  To read more details: Police Report

Of course, I am not happy he was so readily welcomed back to the Grammys. He hasn’t even finished his probation. To him it’s like it never happened. He went on with his business. But does anyone know the scars it left on Rihanna? How will this assault affect her future relationships, how she feels about herself, or men in general? Will she have trust issues? Physical wounds heal, but emotional and mental scars not so much. She says “she has put it behind her, it was taking up too much of her time, it was too much anger.” Does that equal forgiveness? No. She has to move on for herself and she can’t dwell on the assault and let it affect the rest of her life. If she can do that, it’s great, but it can’t be easy. Maybe she still has nightmares over it, maybe she had to seek therapy? And if she has forgiven Chris Brown, forgiveness is for oneself not necessarily for the other person’s benefit. It’s a process to help let go of the anger that consumes you.

What I found appalling was the comment made by the Executive Producer of the Grammys, Ken Ehrlich. "Ehrlich told ABC News Radio, “I think people deserve a second chance, you know. If you’ll note, he has not been on the Grammys for the past few years and it may have taken us a while to kind of get over the fact that we were the victim of what happened.”  At best this was a very poor choice of words. We (the Grammys and viewers) were the victims of the assault because Chris Brown couldn't perform? I mean how does that thought even enter into someone's head. It tells me that if it weren't for how it would have reflected on Ehrlich and the Grammy's in general, he would have had him perform even sooner. As it is, people were still not happy about the decision to have him on stage this year.

The fact that he was permitted to perform twice just made things worse. Giving him a second chance, and glorifying him on the stage of one of the biggest award shows, are two different things. If he has been working on his reputation he certainly didn’t get too far based on what he tweeted. He could have ignored the haters, after all they truly had something to abhor…his violent behavior. Or he could have been prepared for the criticism and had something more fitting to say to show he had changed, but he didn’t. He paid for his crime? Maybe according to court records, when his probation is over, he will have paid his debt. However, according to the people living in our society and his own peers, they don’t feel he was punished enough, me included. This sends a bad message to other victims and perpetrators of domestic abuse. It says it’s not such a bad crime. 

We really need an overhaul of our justice system. Celebrities are held to another standard and literally get away with murder. Their punishment, compared to others, is often a slap on the wrist. God forbid we put them in prison where they belong or interrupt their precious careers. Maybe they should be held to a higher standard of behavior because of their celebrity and the number of people who look up to them, especially the youth of this country? Maybe their punishment should be a little more severe, or if not more severe (because that isn’t fair) then at least equal to what the average “Joe” would get for doing the same thing!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day Spending?

How much will you be spending? They say the average person will spend about $200 this Valentine’s day, according to a survey. Roses, chocolates, restaurant dinners, cards and gifts really add up. Is $200 too little or too much? Men will spend about twice as much as women, $169 vs. $86. Married spouses will spend less, about $74 per person. This all adds up to billions of dollars being contributed to the economy…around 17.6 billion to be exact. To break it down further, they spend a mere 1.5 billion on cards and candy, 1.8 billion on flowers, 3.5 billion on dinners, 4.1 billion in jewelry, 1.4 billion in practical gifts like clothing, 1.1 billion on gift cards. I guess the rest of the money goes to movies, which are not cheap either, my theater charges $11 or $12 per person.

So now that you have the statistics you can evaluate your significant other’s Valentine plans/gifts and see where you stand. I know where I stand. Neither my husband nor I are going to be represented in those statistics. I have never made too big a deal out of Valentine’s Day. Sure, when the girls were little, we decorated, made cards and I would get them little tokens and candy to celebrate the day. I bought those little cards for classmates and little valentine candy to go with it for them to give out. My husband and I sometimes exchange cards or boxes of candy, but it’s not really a big deal. That’s because throughout the year, when we want something we buy it. It doesn’t have to be a special occasion to go out to dinner either. Besides, one year we planned on doing dinner and a movie, only to find the movie was sold out. So we had our dinner and then went to blockbuster and got a movie to watch at home.

As far as I am concerned, all the restaurants are busy and packed. They make holiday menus that are simpler and easier for them, but often the meals lack the variety and quality that you find on an average day. As for candy…you get half the amount because it’s in a heart box instead of a rectangular box and then the very next day the cut the prices of the hearts in half. I don’t know about you, but I can afford to wait till the next day or eat my chocolate out of a normal box. Cards? If you want to get the very best, it has to be Hallmark, right? Their average cards are running around $5 each last time I looked. I used to buy cards all the time for every occasion, but you won’t see me doing that these days. Besides, if I am desperate to look at cards, I have years worth of cards saved that I can reminisce about the good old days with. Jewelry? Gold has gone sky high in the economy. Used to be I could get a pair of gold earrings for under one hundred dollars. I went looking for earrings for the girls over a year ago planning to buy them each a pair only to find out how expensive they have gotten. The only affordable jewelry is sterling silver and I am not crazy about that. As for movies, I could buy a couple of the ones I haven’t seen and watch them on my big screen television for what it costs for two people to get into the theater. So all of this stuff is really a waste of time, money and energy. Maybe I am just getting old?

I think it would be much better to buy something expensive to cook at home for a fraction of what a dinner would cost, and cook it yourself. Jumbo shrimp come in 12 to 16 per pound for $20, they are easy to clean, and you can turn them into a gourmet meal with a little linguini and sauce. A bottle of wine runs around $10 and a couple of candles could be maybe $5. Make your own dessert like strawberry shortcake with a little pound cake, strawberries and homemade whipped cream, for under $10. Rent or buy a movie or just play some favorite cds. Really, what more can you want? I have some other ideas, not for this type of blog, but they don’t cost a dime. To each his or her own.

What will you be spending? Money on your loved ones or time with them? Whatever you do, I hope it’s a very Happy Valentine’s Day!

PS Valentine’s day is for all loved ones, so pick up the phone and make a couple of calls to family or friends and just tell them or show them you care…ok?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Whitney Houston, RIP

I was shocked just like everyone else last night when the news broke that Whitney Houston was dead. I had no idea she was so young. Only 48 years old and she has been an icon in the music industry since her career first began. It seemed like she had been around forever. Her song, “I Will Always Love You” could never be replicated by another singer, though some have come close. That was her song and the song I identified with her and her alone. It’s so tragic and it’s a great loss we have all suffered.

They don’t have a cause of death yet, but it has been reported that she seemed healthy and beautiful when seen a few days earlier. We all know about her long struggle with addiction and who knows if drugs were the cause. Her body has taken so much abuse, physically, emotionally, mentally and chemically. My heart goes out to her daughter, Bobbi Kristina, who lost her mother. I saw Whitney’s two day interview with Oprah in 2009. She had released a new album, “I Look To You.” Her daughter was there supporting her mother. Whitney talked about her life and addiction openly. She seemed to have found her way back on track with the help and love of her daughter. The two seemed very close.

I remember that Whitney went on a world tour, called Nothing But Love, soon after that interview and it was a dismal failure in Australia, where the audience booed her and many walked out on her performance. It was promoted as her comeback tour. But, her voice wasn’t the same, the reviews were very bad. I don’t know who thought she was ready for something like that, but they set her up for a huge failure and overwhelming embarrassment. Maybe that set her back? I don’t know. The world can be a very cruel place.

Whitney was in town for the Grammys in LA. They found her dead in her hotel room. Tonight, Jennifer Hudson is going to do a special tribute to Whitney. I don’t think there will be a dry eye in the house.

There will never be another Whitney Houston. She was one of a kind. I feel we were blessed to have had her and know her in our lifetimes. It’s just so sad that the events in her life caused her to cut short her career and her life. She should have been singing for decades. I think everyone is thinking the same thing today…Whitney Houston, We Will Always Love You. RIP

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Beyonce's Baby Girl: Blue Ivy

Well somehow pictures of baby Carter have been leaked to the internet before being sold for millions to a magazine. When I first saw the picture this morning, I was captivated for some reason. This little girl, being held in her mother's arms, seemed to have the face of an old soul. Beyonce, of course looks great, even after giving birth. I don't look half as good as she does on my best day. I know how Beyonce feels as a first time mother of a new baby girl. You cannot describe the joy and love that fills your heart, but it is written all over her face. Baby Blue is already on the billboard charts too! Her cries were incorporated into a song that her father, Jay Z, wrote for her, called "Glory", which was released two days after her birth. Here is another close up of Blue Ivy:

It takes me back to when I first gave birth to my older daughter. That was a moment in time I will never forget. It's the wonder and awe of seeing this beautiful, precious little bundle, a miracle really, that I have been carrying around for nine months. I love her unconditionally. I count her ten little fingers and ten little toes. I study her. She's perfect in every way. She smiles in her sleep. She has dark hair and hazel eyes. She is so small and fragile, I am almost afraid she will break. She has to go back to the nursery.

The next day, the nurse brings her to me for a feeding and tells me to wake her up by opening the blankets and tickling her feet. I try doing all that, but my precious bundle won't wake up to eat. She is in a deep sleep.  I'm already a failure on day one. The nurse comes back to get her and sees she hasn't taken her formula. I get reprimanded for not calling her for help. My first day as a mom and she cuts me no slack. I'm exhausted from all the noise and visitors that the other two women had all day and night. I can't wait to go home with my daughter. My mom is coming to visit, she will make everything ok.

When my mother arrives, I am expecting her to be thrilled. She has been waiting for grandchildren a long time and this is her first. I ask her if she has seen the baby in the nursery. She says yes. I ask her what does she think? She answers, "She looks like a wet cat." I said something like what do you mean a "wet cat"? I studied her little face and she is so cute! "Sorry, she looks like a wet cat to me." And that was the beginning. 

I went home two days later. I was nervous and so was my husband, who had been buying formula for when we got home. We had a hard time getting our baby into the car seat. It was raining that morning too. I was in pain from the stitches. I finally got in the back seat of the car and held her in my arms, while he drove home as carefully as possible. We made it home and our lives as a little family began.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Stay At Home Mom…That's Me!

The other day I ran into a friend of mine on the street. We first met many years ago when our children were in elementary school. We started talking and catching up on things. She told me about her boys and I told her about my girls. Even though all four kids are in their twenties, we are still stay at home moms. We both had college educations and careers, but once we had children, raising them took precedence over everything else. We were lucky that we were financially able to stay home. It was a conscious decision on both our parts, to give up the extra pay check and many luxuries in order be home with our kids. We had made that decision before we even had children.

Being a stay at home mom is not for everybody. Some women would rather work and some have to work to support their families. All I know is I made the right decision for me and I wouldn’t trade one minute of raising my children for anything. I was always a hands on Mom. Before my children started school, they were with me practically 24/7, unless I had to do something, and then I would leave them with my mother. I hugged and kissed them all day, we talked, we played together, we planned holiday activities, I read to them…there was time for everything. I went to mommy and me classes with them. I took them to ballet and Girl Scouts. I drove them to school every morning and kissed them goodbye.  I was there waiting in the schoolyard when they came out at the end of the day to drive them home. When they were sick, I was home to care for them until they were well. When they had class trips, I would volunteer to go along and chaperone. I helped out at school when the teachers asked. I oversaw their homework and made sure they did their best in school. I arranged play dates with their friends at home and elsewhere. I paid attention to the friends they had. We always had dinner together. We had a lot of family time on the weekends taking day trips and visiting grandparents. And, we managed to take family vacations every summer. 

Once I resigned from my job, after my one year maternity leave, I never looked back, never had a moment of regret, never missed it. I was where I was destined to be, at home with my children. I never thought about what the extra money from my paycheck could mean for my family. I never looked at the sacrifices we had to make as that a big deal. Sure we could have had a much bigger house, better cars, and a lot more things and money. But we never missed what we didn’t have. As far as I was concerned, we had everything.

My friend said to me that many people have said to her, “Look at the sacrifices you are making by being a stay at home mom.” She said she answers them, “You are the one making sacrifices,” by not being home with your children in order to earn a pay check. I have to agree with her. We may have less money by staying home, but we have so much more time with our children. I have loved every minute of it. I don’t think any woman should give up having a family because she needs to work to support them. I don’t think anyone who wants to work or have a career, should stop working when they have children if that is not their choice. But there are some of us, when given the choice, choose to be home with our children and raise them the old fashioned way. I just know that the time I have spent with my children is priceless. 

A bigger house, luxury cars, more jewelry, none of it could ever compare to seeing them take their first step, saying their word, hearing them laugh, or feeling the tugging on my jeans from my baby girl who wanted me to pick her up and hold her. It would have killed me to give all that up and I'm very blessed I didn't have to.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

CNN Takes A Stand With Roland Martin…

Roland Martin is being suspended for tweets he made during Sunday’s Super Bowl. It wasn’t about the game that he was tweeting. It all started with the David Beckham commercial for male underwear. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t care for the commercial at all. I thought David Beckham looked ridiculous and I even asked WHY is he promoting underwear instead of something else? I felt he was posing like a female supermodel instead of a male athlete. But, what do I know? Fashion and modeling are out in left field for me. Never paid much attention to either one. But Roland Martin’s tweets took his dislike a bit further.

His tweets were construed as anti-gay and promoting gay violence. What exactly did he tweet?  The offensive tweets in question were:

“If a dude at your Super Bowl party is hyped about David Beckham's H&M underwear ad, smack the ish out of him! #superbowl”  AND

“Who the hell was that New England Patriot they just showed in a head to toe pink suit? Oh, he needs a visit from #teamwhipdatass”

Three Days later CNN issued this comment and suspended Martin: “Roland Martin’s tweets were regrettable and offensive. Language that demeans is inconsistent with the values and culture of our organization, and is not tolerated. We have been giving careful consideration to this matter, and Roland will not be appearing on our air for the time being.”

I have to say I was surprised to see the network take such swift and decisive action regarding Martin’s tweets and the offensive meaning behind them. It does give me hope, that as a society, that things are moving in the right direction. After reading what the protesters said about Ellen being spokesperson for JC Penney, and the Washington State pastor who feels that people supporting same sex marriage are doing the devil’s work, it is refreshing to see an organization that will take action against intolerance of others.

Sometimes I think political correctness goes too far and becomes absurd, but in this case, I think CNN is to be commended for taking a stand. Promoting hate and violence against one group of our society, because they are different, is wrong. And, as a black man, who belongs to a group of people who have been discriminated against for over two hundred years and suffered great intolerance, Martin really should know better.

Let’s hope Martin uses his time off to reflect on his prejudices and work on changing them. Hopefully, others will learn something from it too.

If you want to see the entire exchange of tweets go to this link: Roland Martin Tweets

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Ten Years Later, Church Still Talking!

Look, before you get started reading, this is my top pet peeve, so if you don’t want to read another rant about the Catholic Church today, just skip it or search for a more pleasant blog to read. Every now and then something happens to bring my anger back to the surface and it’s going to spill out right here. I read the other day that the leaders of the Catholic Church were going to meet for a four day symposium, to discuss the prevention of child abuse. Ordinarily I might consider this a good thing, but it comes 10 years after the horrendous scandal broke out. Ten years is a long time. And they describe this as an “unprecedented assembly.” They are going to talk about the “best ways to help victims, protect children and educate priests.” The New York Times sums up my feelings in a nice way:

“As cases of abuse prominently emerged in North America and several European countries over the past decade, the church was often slow and clumsy in its reactions, angering the faithful and inviting accusations of both negligence and cover-up.”

Why all the “talk” just now? Well it seems that the Vatican has a reason to act like it’s trying to do something. I read that they are being brought up on charges with an International Criminal Court amongst others. So maybe self preservation or a line of defense against the indefensible is being launched? Who knows? What I do know is all this talking, ten years after the fact, is not about the children, it’s really about repairing the Church’s reputation. That will never fly with me unless they round up everyone guilty and punish them. That includes not only the priests who committed the crimes, but everyone who covered them up! 

Why am I skeptical and critical? Why don’t I trust the Church? They haven’t done anything, that’s why. What little they did do was to benefit themselves and damage control. And here is another thing that riled me. This morning I heard something on the radio that pissed me off. Remember former New York Cardinal Edward Egan, who was in the middle of the church scandal ten years ago in Bridgeport, CT when he was bishop there? Well he recently gave an interview and in it he says that while he was bishop there was never a case of child abuse by a priest in his diocese and he insists he did nothing wrong. And, he added, there is no legal requirement to report abuse cases in Connecticut AND he regretted making the apology he did back then concerning the priest abuse scandal! 

"Egan is obviously unrepentant, self-absorbed and painfully dismissive of the abject suffering of tens of thousands of deeply wounded men, women and children who have been sexually violated by priests, nuns, bishops, brothers, seminarians and other Catholic officials," said David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. "We can't help but believe that many other prelates feel exactly as he does, but are shrewd enough to avoid saying so outside of clerical circles."

Maybe this is why I am still fuming over something that didn’t just happen ten years ago. It’s been happening for decades, maybe hundreds of years, maybe as long as the Church has been around. People didn’t talk about these things in the past and are only recently speaking out about it. One example can be found in the graphic movie the “Magdalene Sisters,” a true story of abuse told by the victims themselves. This is nothing new, it’s just that ten years ago victims began speaking out. Before that, the complaints were “handled” within the Church by transferring the guilty priests to other unsuspecting parishes where they could start their abuse all over again.

“In the interview, Egan said many of his accomplishments were unfairly overshadowed by the priest sex abuse scandal. "I'm not the slightest bit surprised that, of course, the scandal was going to be fun in the news -- not fun, but the easiest thing to write about."

That statement also drew criticism. "Cardinal Egan's statements in this article, including describing the sex abuse scandal as being `incredibly good' or `fun' for the news, confirms the extent to which he was out of touch with the reality of what occurred to the Catholic faithful within his diocese," said local attorneys.”

I don’t believe for one minute that Egan is alone in his way of thinking. I believe this type of denial is pervasive throughout the Catholic Church. The fact that they are waiting ten years to discuss the matter now that they are being charged with criminal complaints in an International Criminal Court speaks volumes to me. In fact, all I recall at the time was a lot of denial and excuses and NEVER any outrage as to what was going on under their noses. That’s because they always knew what was going on and never addressed it in a meaningful way. I hope the matter comes to court and they are found guilty. I hope each and every member of the church will have to actually pay for their crimes. We don’t even know the full extent of the problem, which was happening worldwide, because they got rid of much of the evidence when the scandal broke. 

They can talk until they are blue in the face, but as I told my own pastor at my church ten years ago, I will never be satisfied until something is done and the guilty pay for their sins. Unless I am satisfied, I will not be donating my money to the Church for their legal defense fund, but to the many other worthwhile charities who work to protect children make this world a better place!  (No answer from the pastor.)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Super Bowl's Worst Play...

Worst play of the game: Mrs. Brady opens mouth, inserts foot!

I watched more of this Super Bowl than any other in my lifetime. Why? Not because of the NY Giants, not to spend time with my husband, certainly not because I love the game or any sport for that matter. I watched because we had a little company and I was waiting for a little appetite to get worked up.  I have to say that the last minute of the game was very suspenseful. The Giants, “our team,” were ahead and the Patriots could still pull off a win in the last 60 seconds. So that last minute was really something to see. 

However, yesterday I heard something that irked me, and it was a statement made by Mrs. Tom Brady, the Patriots quarterback. I don’t want to paraphrase what she said so I will quote it: 

“You [have] to catch the ball when you’re supposed to catch the ball,” she said in a video posted by, via TBL.  “My husband cannot f–king throw the ball and catch the ball at the same time. I can’t believe they dropped the ball so many times.” ~ Gisele Bundchen

I have no idea who plays for the Patriots, and frankly I don’t care that much. However, what could sting more than losing the Super Bowl, after having a great season, might be being told that it’s your team’s fault and the only player who deserves any credit at all is Tom Brady, by Mrs. Tom Brady? I am sure that was a boost to everyone’s morale. The Patriots looked dejected and depressed after the game. No one had anything to say. Yes I stuck around for the post game and thankfully it was a mere 20 minutes long. 

But the day after the game, Mrs. Brady had a mouthful to say about the game, criticizing the receivers for not catching  the balls and dropping them so many times. And it’s her remarks that are being publicized and repeated over and over again in the media. So Much for good sportsmanship. 

Only one team can win a game. A lot was riding on this one. Maybe the Patriots were having a bad day, were out of sync, weren’t up to the challenge. Maybe the Giants were playing exceptionally well? Who knows? At the end of the game there can only be one victor and one loser. Then, it’s time for the losers to be gracious and congratulate the winners. I didn’t see any congratulations going around. The Patriots seemed so dejected they couldn’t even speak. But leave it to Mrs. Brady, supermodel, to get a super nail in the coffin of this defeat. Her comments stung. Her husband will have to go and face his teammates soon enough. I imagine he was embarrassed by what she said. I hear his plays weren’t all perfect either, but I’m no expert.  I guess I should be grateful she didn’t lash out at the Giants? 

I just think her comment was so out of line and speaks to her character as a person. People like that should think before they speak. The days of good sportsmanship and grace in losing are over. Money has changed sports. Steroids have changed sports. And people’s attitudes about winning and losing have changed sports…and not for the better.

Maybe Mrs.Brady should stick what she knows best...modeling and footwear!

Monday, February 6, 2012

AT&T Bill $665

Whenever my husband comes to me with papers in his hand, I know there is usually a problem. Saturday he had a fist full of papers and I asked what it was. I never expected him to say it’s the AT&T bill and we owe $665.00. I said, “What!?!” as I jumped up to look at the bill. It must be a mistake. That’s almost $500 over what we typically pay.  I checked all the pages. We have four phones with 1,000 minutes and 3,000 rollover minutes that we don’t use. I don’t get it! I was shaking as I tried calling AT&T three or four times and the call wouldn’t go through. Who knows what number I was dialing? 

As I am waiting for someone to pick up at AT&T, I am pacing in circles and making myself dizzy. My daughter is laughing at me, telling me not to worry, they will fix the bill. She wants me to stop pacing before I end up on the floor. All the while, my saint of a husband is telling me not to worry, if we have to pay it we will pay it. But, I finally managed to get a customer service representative while I am still barely on my feet and shaking. 

It’s Nicole. How can I help you she asks. I tell her my story. I thought I had over 3,000 roll over minutes and now my bill is almost $500 dollars over what I normally pay.  She pulls up my account and says she will see how she can help me. She tells me my rollover minutes were all used up in November, 2011. Apparently, I had been eating into my little “cushion” of extra minutes all along and never realized it. And, now all the “extra” minutes over 1,000 for the month, were billable. She tells me she will see what she can do about it. A couple of minutes later she says she is taking off $303.33 from the amount due; that is all the computer will allow her to do in one day. But, she adds, she will call me back tomorrow to see if she can take off more money and give me some rollover minutes too. She asked me what would be a good time for her to call me and I said 11 AM. I thanked her for her help.

The next day, promptly at 11 AM, Nicole calls. She reviews my account and says she is taking another $178 off the bill and adding 5,000 rollover minutes to my account for me so hopefully I won’t go over again. I laugh and tell her she can be sure I won’t be going over ever again. I think her again for all her help and ask to speak to a supervisor to tell them how much she helped me. She tells me all the supervisors are busy, but thanked me. I said I’d be willing to write a letter or email. She said it wasn’t necessary, I was a good customer and I should have a nice day.  And with that, my phone bill went down to the normal $182 a month and I have more rollover minutes than ever before. 

Yes, I learned a valuable lesson about checking minute usage. Over the years I have gotten very complacent about never going over my minutes. But. It seems it’s very easy to do and very stupid on my part. I do have a landline and many times I use the cell phone because it’s easier and right there. You can bet I won’t be using it as much any more. And now I won’t be able to rant and rave when AT&T has a temporary outage in my area. I usually give them a very hard time about things like that. But, they didn’t give me a hard time when I needed this problem solved. So I owe them big time!  

On top of that, I knew this whole problem was my fault. The other three in my family hate talking on the phone and rarely do. If minutes were being used, it would have had to be me. However, I couldn’t yell at myself, could I? Then I would have looked like an even bigger nut than the one who went over LORD knows how many minutes to add an extra $500 to the bill. Honestly, I couldn’t even tell you how many extra minutes I used. The paper was shaking so much in my hand and I was going into a mini panic attack, that I couldn’t see the numbers.

The next thing I need to do it to see if they have some kind of usage alert feature on the website, so they can tell me when I am getting close to using all my minutes (like that’s ever going to happen again). I think that should be an automatic feature for every cell phone. If you don’t have it activated, you might want to, so that one day you aren’t in my shoes pleading your case to the phone company.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Christians Against Starbucks!

A boycott is being held against Starbucks by a Washington state, Christian pastor, Steven Andrew. What can possibly be behind this? No they have not asked Ellen to be their spokesperson. Starbucks is supporting a bill in favor of gay marriage, and for that, the pastor says, they are following Satan. Using religious rhetoric and saying things like “are you on the Lord’s side” and “will you help the US be blessed by God” he hopes to strike a blow for Christianity. It seems the state of Washington may become the seventh state to recognize same sex marriages and that’s intolerable.

What bothers me more than protesting Ellen, is when religious “leaders” come out against gay people. They flat out say that God wants them to protest the gay population, to be intolerant, cause them hurt and harm, and basically deny them their human rights. What God are they praying to? I want to ask them where is the text message, email, hand written letter from God asking for their help to ostracize gay people from the community? What God are they worshipping who would select a group of people and demand others treat them badly, wound them, shun them, deny them opportunities available to others? It can’t be our Christian God. He sent His only Son here to teach us to “love one another as he has loved us.” I never read anywhere in Jesus’ words where he said, “My father says gay people do the devil’s work, boycott any merchants who are gay or kind to gay people.”  

How can these Christians go around preaching love and hate at the same time? It’s hypocrisy. If you ask me, this is the work of the devil. To use your position as a “preacher,” a man of God, to promote hate. What could be worse? They would sooner forgive a murderer and welcome him into the flock and into heaven than they would a law abiding, God loving gay person. Something is very very wrong with this picture. I wonder what God is thinking when He sees and hears these people? How twisted must their minds be to think that preaching hate is part of God’s message? 

It’s up to the followers of these “men of the cloth” to straighten them out. They need to speak up and show them the error of their ways. They have become misguided, or maybe they always were. If they really understood what God was about, what love was about, what bringing people together was about, they certainly would not be spreading these kinds of bigoted messages. This pastor, Steven Andrew, is not alone is his ignorance, but how many more people will he convince that his words are right and condoned by God? It’s sinful, it disgraceful and even blasphemous to speak on God’s behalf and preach hate.

I hope Steven Andrew gets a message from God and that he gets it soon, when the bill in favor of gay marriage in Washington state passes next week. I hope the other 43 states follow suit. We shouldn’t even be discussing this issue any more. It should have been put to rest long time ago. But thanks to people like Steven Andrews, intolerance and hate are alive and well.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Protesting Ellen DeGeneres?

Heard Everything?

It’s one of those days when I just heard another thing that tops it all. JCPenney is doing a whole makeover of it’s brand. They recently announced they will have no more sales, all their prices are going to be rock bottom all the time. And now, they have hired Ellen DeGeneres as their spokesperson. I thought everyone loved Ellen, but I was wrong. Dead Wrong! This anti-gay group,, is actually protesting the fact that Ellen was chosen and demands she be replaced. 

They argue that most people who shop at JCPenney have traditional family values and they will not shop at a store whose spokesperson is openly homosexual. They say the majority of shoppers will be offended. I am almost speechless that this kind of ignorant prejudice is around and so openly expressed. They actually feel justified and think they are making a perfectly good and rational argument. Sometimes I feel like we are still living in the Dark Ages and I will never see the modern Age of Enlightenment. I’m not even sure how this group is getting away with making these kind of public statements. They even have a facebook page.

Here is their post: 
Recently JC Penney announced that comedian Ellen Degeneres will be the company's new spokesperson. Funny that JC Penney thinks hiring an open homosexual spokesperson will help their business when most of their customers are traditional families. More sales will be lost than gained unless they replace their spokesperson quickly. Unless JC Penney decides to be neutral in the culture war then their brand transformation will be unsuccessful. Degeneres is not a true representation of the type of families that shop at their store. The majority of JC Penney shoppers will be offended and choose to no longer shop there. The small percentage of customers they are attempting to satisfy will not offset their loss in sales. JC Penney has made a poor decision and must correct their mistake fast to retain loyal customers and not turn away potential new, conservative shoppers with the company's new vision. By jumping on the pro-gay bandwagon, JC Penney is attempting to gain a new target market and in the process will lose customers with traditional values that have been faithful to them over all these years. Make a personal phone call to JC Penney's customer service department. Their numbers are 972-431-8200 (customer service) and 972-431-1000 (corporate headquarters). Ask JC Penney to replace Ellen Degeneres as their new spokesperson immediately and remain neutral in the culture war.

I suggest we call JCPenney and applaud them for their decision. We can't allow people like these to voice their intolerance without drowning them out. They don't speak for everyone! I pray to God they don't speak for the majority, as they think they do. Meanwhile, GLAD has a petition going around online in support of Ellen. You might want to vote there too.

I don’t know where to place the blame for this intolerance. I know it goes way back and it’s hard to eradicate intolerance and ignorance. But, I like to place blame somewhere for the lack of progress we are making. Maybe if different religions would speak up and tell their followers that they do not condone expressions of intolerance, people might listen. I mean the Bible does have passages against homosexuality, but what about the new commandment that Jesus gave us, “Love one another as I have loved you?” Does just apply to certain people and not others? 

I wonder what the people in this group will do when one of their children comes home and tells them they are gay? Would they want their children shunned? Not be able to get jobs? Be discriminated against? Bullied? Beat up? Would they want to have to bury them after they commit suicide? 

I just don’t understand how they can think the way they do in this day and age! They are propagating hate because gay people are different. Can’t they spend their energy doing some good in this world? How about they go after pedophiles, drug dealers, the pornography industry? And really now, who in their right mind can protest Ellen, of all people?

I don’t know about you, but I have always been a JCPenney customer and now I will make it a point to shop there even more. I am going to make up for the tiny percentage of business they might lose due to the stupidity that this group is trying to create.