Sunday, January 31, 2010

Making Profit off the suffering of others

I am all for helping the people of Hait as much as I am people who suffer from any natural disaster.

But there comes a time when I think the motives of some so called "helpers" are purely selfish.

When Gov Rendell personally escorted 40 some orphans on a plane to Pittsburgh, I saw a potential act of kindness perverted to a PR stunt.

Call me a cynic or whatever, but all I saw was a political opportunist looking to enhance a damaged image.

Now lets take this idea to remake "We are the World."

If you are like me, and can remember back 25 years to when it was released, I hope you remember how sick most people became of hearing that song OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN!

I was in Europe at an Army base and the Armed Forces network played the damn thing every half hour. At the time Troops were there to discourage any Russian attacks, but many of my buddies and I seriously considered blowing up AFARTS. (Armed Forces Radio and Television Station.) instead. Yes it was called AFARTS. The Military comes up with the damnedest acronyms, but that is another post some other day.

I am all for helping the Haitians, and I applaud people like Brad and Angelina who give a million bucks to Doctors without Borders for Medical supplies. George Clooney organized a Telethon. There is nothing in it for these people, they always do things like this. Politicians? Not so much.

But then I look at the recording industry, and there's all this speculation of who will work on the remake, as if it is a badge of honor, and the spots will go to the highest bidder. Okay, so they are raising money, that is a good thing. But the media experts on CNN are also talking about how some performers (i.e. Kanye West) can help reform their image by doing this.

That gets me to thinking that some of those who want to be involved aren't doing it for the best of reasons, that there is more self interest than humanitarian gesture involved. I know it is politically incorrect to say this, but I think some of those behind the "We Are The World" remake don't give a damn about helping Haitians, all they are looking for is a few extra bucks and some good PR.

I know that the idea of USA for Africa was to raise money for famine relief, and Bob Geldof got knighted by the Queen of England for what he did. The road to Hell is paved with good intentions, and "We Are the World" at age 25 is like Route 22 through the Lehigh Valley is at age 50. I'm not sure that redoing it will be an improvement. Route 22 is in regular need of repaving, just as the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

I'm not looking forward to this remake. We will be hearing that annoying song for another generation. It will probably raise hundreds of millions of dollars to supposedly help Haitians and many media darlings will feel good about themselves. More power to them. But every time I hear it on the radio or see it on TV, I will be changing the channel. I am not blind and deaf to the needs of the suffering, but I choose to ignore the pleas of those who would surreptitiously profit from it.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Biannual Check up time!

Last Wednesday I headed over to Valley Sports and Arthritis Surgeons for my biannual check up.
I had my right hip replaced in January 2006, at the ripe old age of 44. I was the youngest person my surgeon had done at that time, and he told me it was one of the worst degenerative joint conditions he had ever seen. My surgery was January tenth of that year, and I was back at work by May.

Every two years I have to stop by the office and let them take X-rays to see how it is holding up.

So far so good. The left hip has a few issues, but nothing like the right one had. It might need work about the time the right one needs replaced again.
I have survived multiple high speed impacts in my life, in vehicles, while skydiving, and a couple while rock climbing/rappelling.

I used to be a risk taker, and now I am paying the price. That's how it goes.

When the surgeon came in to see me he had a couple of residents tagging along. The had me bending my leg all kinds of which ways, checking my mobility and balance. I was the first person under sixty years of age that the one young doctor had met. He asked me what I did for a living that made me need a new hip.

I told him I tested parachutes for a living, and that sometimes they fail.

He believed me.

I am a bad bad man. Yes I told him the truth, but I think he thought that was B.S. Oh well.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Long Strange Guilt Trip over a hearing aid

If you were to play a word association game with me and say "Super Bowl", I would answer, "my Dad died."

I have nothing against the Super Bowl, I love Football and I am looking forward to a very exciting game this year. I think Peyton Manning is incredible and playing at a whole other level, but I love underdogs and its hard not to cheer for New Orleans. I will be happy no matter who wins.

My problem is that my Dad collapsed while watching the Super Bowl on January 29, 1995. They got him back with the Defibrillator but he went into Cardiac arrest about 1:30 AM Monday morning in the ICU and that time they couldn't get him back.

He was alert and awake in the ER Sunday night and still bitching about how the Forty Niners did not deserve to win for getting rid of Joe Montana. He had been brought back from the dead, and was not the least bit grateful about it.

My regret is that we argued in the ER. My last words to my Dad were words of anger. He wanted me to take his hearing aid home for safe keeping, and I had refused, because I was sure he would need it. I ended up cursing him and his non stop bitching, and I put it in my pocket just to shut him up. It was still there in my pants pocket the next morning when I walked into my Mom's hospital room several floors up to tell her he had died. She had been there almost a month after having a stroke on New Years eve, and was supposed to come home that very day.

This past year I finished several drafts of a novel. The main character is an alcoholic Army vet who has a dog for a best friend. The Vet's relationship with his father is one of resigned indifference. He feels obligated to care for the man despite their constant bickering.

Just like I inadvertently carried my dad's hearing aid around in my pocket after he died, I still unintentionally carry a unmeasurable amount of guilt and grief with me each and every day concerning how badly I treated him in life. This time of year, as the anniversary of his death draws close, I can't help but once again reexamine all that transpired between us.

I keep thinking that somehow someway, I will find that process that lets me put the guilt down, but I am still searching. I thought writing the novel would help, and it has. The burden is not as heavy after 15 years, but it is still there.
No one can do this for me, I have to do it on my own. There is one bright shining star in this, and that is my wife. The life I have had with her since then has made it easier to move on, even if it was only a little bit at a time. Thank you Honey.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Phone Book or Sponge? You make the Call!

When it comes to Home Delivery, some people stopped trying long ago.

I am old enough to remember when someone delivered your phone book by ringing your doorbell and politely handing it to you.

Way back in the summer of 1980, when I had finished my Freshman year of college, I earned $35.00 for every 200 phone books I could deliver. I had a 72 Dodge back in those days, and it could hold a lot of Phone books. I would load up twice a day and do several blocks worth. That's how I paid for My textbooks.

But nowadays you get what you see in the picture above. I came home from work right after the Monday Monsoon, and lo and behold, there at the community mailbox was a pile of new phone books.

There were not any notes inviting you to take one, I guess whoever thought leaving them there was a good idea did not think of that.

If you think those books stayed dry through that rain Monday, you would be wrong.

So I would like to congratulate the purveyors of "LEHIGH VALLEY EASY PAGES" for choosing the delivery system to the customers that they did. I bet all the people who paid for advertising in your publication are thrilled with the result.

I have a second observation, and that is I can't remember the last time I used a phone book. I go on line and search/Google everything when I need to make a call. I looked up my sister in Massachusetts phone number that way, and I do the same for local numbers.

Is the Phone book obsolete? Or is it just a glorified money saver full of coupons that happens to have some relevant phone numbers in it?

Other than the Coupons, there is not anything in this easy pages directory that I can't find out online. So it is pretty much either redundant and or useless, or both?

I know what I am doing with my waterlogged copy. I'm sticking it in the Freezer. I bet it gets as hard as a cinder block. Then I am going to stick it in my catapult and launch it into the swamp.
The possibilities are endless. What would you do with your soggy EASY PAGES?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Meet the new snack machine, same as the old snack machine

We have a new snack machine at work. as well as a new snack vendor.
The old vendor used a machine that you had to put quarters in and turn a dial to use. As you rotated the dial the item you wanted moved to the left and fell down to the access door.
The old vendor complained that the employees weren't buying very much out of his machine.
There was a good reason for that.
You know how stuff has that "Best if used by" date stamped on it?
Mr. Vendor not only used old machines, he use old food. I mean REALLY OLD FOOD. We started betting on whether the over/under on the "best if used by" date was within the last year. One guy kept buying and eating the sticky buns out of it in December despite their use by date being last June.
If you bought a bag of peanut M & M's, when you opened it you found something that resembled multicolored gravel. One guy said it looked like the colored sand in his fish tank.
Another issue with the old machine was the bags of chips would not fall down. At one point four different bags were jammed up in the drop area, and we had to wait a week for the guy to come in and clear it.
Yet he always bitched he wasn't making all that much money, while I had to listen to everyone bitch about there being nothing decent in it, etc, etc.
So finally the powers that be heard us and changed vendors. Hallelujah! The new vendor even gave us a survey to fill out asking us what we wanted in it, and then put that stuff in our machine!
You might think our prayers were answered. Then someone made that very first purchase, and I took a picture of it. Yep, your eyes don't deceive you, he wanted Nacho chips, and they got stuck. What makes it worse is they bolted the machine to the floor, so you can't even shake it.
The good news is I took this picture, emailed it to the vendor's phone, and he fixed the problem pronto.
It just goes to show that no matter how much different you think things are going to be, you still can get the same result.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

You know you love someone when......... have been up 16 hours and your wife asks you if you will go get her some Yocco's and you do.
I was willing to go to McDonald's and get her an Oreo McFlurry as well, but this way I got to get an order of Pirogies.
I also got the inspiration for this post. What food inspires the romance in your life? What food do you have a romantic relationship with?
My personal food love is almonds and walnuts in Vanilla Ice Cream, in a sugar cone. That is what tickles the happy of my taste buds. I have been known to put a couple scoops in a blender with Nacho Cheese Chips, when I want to put a "Twist" in it.
So how do you Spice up your food love?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Sentimental Journeys: A road to Hell paved with good intentions

Sometimes I get asked what inspired me to write a certain post. Well this post has its roots in posts I read over the weekend that from two other Lehigh Valley Bloggers. The first influencing post was from Renee James blog, "It's not me, it's you." Her post was titled "Winding Down" and she wrote about the generational divide between people who still wear watches and those who don't, but carry blackberry's or I-phones.
The second post that drives my own was by Kathy Frederick, the very funny woman who writes the Junk Drawer blog. In her post on Sunday she opined about saving her best blog efforts for her worldwide readership, and not just her Facebook posse. She admitted that sometimes when commenting on other blogs, great ideas for her own blog jump out.
That is what happened to me. I was commenting on Renee's post, and this one came to me.
I consider myself an observer. I like to watch society as it evolves, and I see a culture that is losing its sentimentality. We have this notion that technology is making our lives better and we are bridging gaps that allow us to communicate in ways never considered. The intentions of the technology are arguably good, but I think we are losing something in the trade off for convenience that we will regret. I think a bit of our humanity and empathy for each other has been discarded.
I feel we are losing our appreciation for those things that are old. Not just goods, such as typewriters, watches, calculators, et. al., but we are losing our appreciation for basic emotional values.
We look at business partnerships, relationships, friendships, as mere things we use to transition to the next, best thing. We discard our friends and lovers as easily as we trade in our old car or go to Home Depot to buy a washing machine.
Too many of us don't do the necessary maintenance to keep our appliances running, because we know we can run down to the store and get a new one whenever we want. It is sad, but we have begun to accept that ideal as okay for all aspects of existence. We don't like our collection of Facebook friends? Maintaining these connections isn't worth the bother! Delete them and start over. It's easy! Get a new batch!
So to borrow from the current hip lingo, I guess I am "Old School." That's why the thumbnail I chose for this post is a wedding band. (IT's just a picture, that's not mine, by the way.)
You see, I am Sentimental. On my left hand I wear a wedding band that has been there for more than 13 years. Before I had it, it was on my Dad's hand for almost fifty. I have this crazy idea that some things are worth doing the maintenance on, and are not disposable. Some data can't be transferred by way of cyberspace, sometimes you have to pass the hard drive on in person. My Mom gave me my Dad's wedding band when I told her I was getting married, a year after he died. I don't know if anyone will ever want my wedding band when I am dead and gone, but at least for now, it still means something to me.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Here come Da' Judge!

Today's walk down memory lane is inspired by Judge Judy. Last night I was writing while Judge Judy's top rated show was on in the background. The Show is called Judge Judy, but it should be titled "America's Biggest Idiots."
What in God's name would possess people to go on national television and air the stupidest things they have ever done for all to hear?
Last nights show included a guy who beat up his girlfriend's TV because she wouldn't let him in the house after he had been drinking.
When I was growing up in Columbus, Ohio there was a locally produced TV show that aired once a week after the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite. It was called simply, "THE JUDGE." Unlike Judge Judy, "The JUDGE" dealt with such amazing cases like a teenager who called in false fire alarms, or a Mom who let her kids drink wine to keep them quiet. Every week there was one case involving bad kids, and one case involving bad adults. It was a bonus when a case had both. It was no "Judge Judy" which is why it didn't last all that long.
I think I am bothered that our legal system is such a joke. There are so many judge shows on that I think they should have their own channel. How about the "Judge Channel?"
We already have TLC, how about TJC? It would be the perfect place for America's sweethearts, Jon and Kate Gosselin. They could host a show that specialized on divorces.
Think of the ratings! I even have a title: "Jon and Kate's Celebrity marriage train wrecks!"
My only casting problem is I don't know who to get as a judge. I know Mills Lane was a boxing referee, and could handle a divorce show, but I like Judge Judy's spunk, the way she slams stupid people. What do you guys think? Should we look forward to "The Judge Channel?" Would you watch? People like to watch car crashes, and that's pretty much what divorces are, intimate relationship car crashes. So maybe what we need is a Judge with experience as a traffic cop. Or did they already do that show, called Traffic Court? who knows.
This is why I watch so little TV. Thank God LOST is coming back. That's another post, on another day.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Puttin' on the Ritz!

I don't consider myself a snob. but there are things I will pay a little bit more to have. One of them is Ritz Crackers for my soup. I like Soup. I probably have a bowl of Campbell's Chicken Noodle soup at least three or four times a week for a meal.
Yesterday after I worked out at my gym, (Only Snobs would say that, right?) I stopped at Redners (Where the little people shop) to pick up a few things I did not find in the grocery section at Walmart in Trexlertown. (The official store of Rednecks, Side note: Wouldn't it make more sense if Rednecks shopped at Redner's? Several of the Cashier's have matching Kate Gosselin scare hairdo's, so I was wondering.)
Anyway at Redner's I had a choice between a one dollar box of regular saltines, or paying $3.29 for the standard eight pack box of prepackaged Ritz. I put half a package worth in my can of soup, so that is 16 servings at 20.5 cents a serving. The saltines would have lasted almost twice as long at around 4 cents a serving.
I chose the Ritz. I always do. Funny thing was I hadn't been in the grocery section of Walmart in over a year, but I had a ten dollar gift card from my Christmas stocking and decided to use it.
One thing I had reinforced is that while Walmart may have the best prices, their selection sucks. I like Bear Naked natural cereal to put in my vanilla yogurt. Walmart only had one flavor, CRANBERRY. YUCK. but their price for a 12.5 ounce bag? $3.00
Redners, on the other hand, had the flavor I like, banana nut with walnut and oak clusters. Their price? $3.79. I would rather get the product I want and pay a few more cents for it, than buy the bargain and hate it. If that makes me a snob, I don't care. I'm going to have my yogurt now, with my bear naked cereal. Maybe for lunch I will make a pork roll sandwich and put some grey poupon mustard on it. Now that's snobby, right?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Holidays are over. Time to flush your humbug and whatever other baggage you have been carrying away.

If you haven't already, it is time to flush your Christmas spirit away. Whether it is good or bad, just let it go.
Don't get me wrong, I love the holidays but I think starting the Christmas season on October first is a bit early. It doesn't seem all that special anymore.
So now we head into the "DEAD" of winter. I tried to look it up on Google for a good definition, but couldn't find one.
I have my own theory, probably one already posted somewhere else. Did you know that the elderly are more likely to die in January than any other month? Some experts speculate that old folks live for the Holidays, and then give it up. There is always a big die off of certain mammal herds in winter. That is nothing new.
This is a pretty depressing post, huh? That's what pops out of my head and into my blog and mostly into my journal late at night. Scary isn't it?
I saw this picture on Google images when I used "FLUSH" as a keyword, and thought it appropriate. New year means new beginnings, and flushing all the baggage, or in this case crap away. I hope you started the New Year with a good healthy Flush. Now get back to work.