Friday, February 29, 2008

R.I.P. George "Buddy" Miles (1947-2008)

I was deeply saddened to learn of Buddy Miles' death yesterday. He was one of my favorite drummers/musicians. There is a generation of people who only know him as the voice of the "California Raisins" commercials ("I heard it through the Grapevine"). But, to true music fans like myself, I remember The Electric Flag Band, his work in Band of Gypsys with Jimi Hendrix, and his own band, The Buddy Miles Express ("Them Changes"). The music world will mourn his passing.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

We Never Truly Stop Learning

I often wonder if I was actively looking to switch careers right now, would I be relevant to the current job market. It seems like an eternity since I was in college (1976-1981) and the world is much more complex than it was then. This was before CD players, personal computers, laptops, Ipods, Iphones, text messaging, cell phones, etc. Is it any wonder that I feel like a relic. Although, I recently read something that made me feel better about the college degree that I did earn and I would like to share it.

Is Your Degree Recyclable?
By Kara Wahlgren

Feeling a little lukewarm about your current job? You're not alone. In a national employment survey conducted by Harris Interactive in 2007, 84 percent of workers said they hadn't landed their dream job yet. But, switching jobs can be a daunting prospect, especially if your ideal position is in a completely different field. If you're like many recent college graduates, you may feel that a drastic career change would be a waste of the time and money you invested in your education. In reality, there's no need to throw away all your hard work -- most degrees can be relevant to a wide range of career paths as long as you know how to make the most of your educational achievements. Here's how to give your degree a second life.

Get nostalgic: Before you make your next career move, consider the reasons you chose your current field in the first place. Are you a fact fiend? A numbers geek? A creative free spirit? If you want to be happy in your next job, make sure your goals mesh with your core values. "The best career is going to be a match based on your interests and skills," says Lynn Berger, a career counselor and coach in New York City. Say you're an engineer longing for a creative outlet. Berger points out that engineering is a specialized field that attracts analytical thinkers -- so an innovative field like robotics or ergonomics will probably be more fulfilling than a career in poetry writing. Likewise, a financial whiz might find respite from a trading job by working as an analyst for a nonprofit."Why did you pursue that degree? Is it something you're passionate about?" asks Hallie Crawford, CPCC, an Atlanta-based certified career coach. Once you've reconnected with the plus points of your current field, you probably won't have to stray too far to find job satisfaction.

Rethink your degree: Even if you discover that your dream job is in a completely different field, don't worry that your degree will go to waste. According to David Hults, CEO of activ:8, a career coaching firm in St. Louis, and the author of "From Cornered to Corner Office," many job seekers underestimate their value by focusing too much on their college major. "Your degree is not who you are. That's a mistake that we make," Hults says. "We're much more diverse than that. We're short-sheeting our own bed." Hults recalls one client who wanted to make the leap from graphic design to crime scene investigation. Although the two careers seemed disparate, he found a common thread: The designer was a perfectionist with an obsessive attention to detail. "I need to know the truth about this graphics program' translated to 'I need to know the truth about what happened,'" Hults says.

Pinpoint your skills: You may feel like you're starting from scratch, but in reality, you've amassed an impressive skill set throughout your education and employment. If you pause to take inventory of your abilities, you may find that you're far more qualified than you initially thought. "Get clear on what your transferable skills are -- problem solving, calculating data, organizing -- regardless of what your degree is," Berger says. And don't feel obliged to follow the traditional career path for your major. Crawford advises, "Think out of the box. Ask yourself what you learned by pursuing that degree." For example, you might assume that your Bachelor of Arts degree in history makes you ill-equipped for a career as a sports writer, but don't overlook your passion for sports, superb writing skill and ability to retain trivia and make past events relevant.

Emphasize the "how": Most employers are far less concerned with your chosen major than with the way you use your background to do your job. "Interview questions are all about how you handled situations," Hults says. "I can teach somebody a skill, but I have a hard time teaching people to be responsible or organized." When you're applying for your dream job, explain what makes you uniquely qualified for that position. Perhaps your humanities degree allows you to understand an advertising firm's target audience, or your English degree equipped you with the written communication skills you'll need for a career in management. Your degree reflects the way you think and work, so don't hesitate to tout those attributes to a potential employer.Above all, realize that your talents helped you earn your degree -- not the other way around. When you're making the decision to switch careers, concentrate on the unique skills and work ethic that led you to your current degree, and then ask yourself how those qualities can help you succeed in your desired field.

After reading this, I felt so much better. So, if there are any of you out there who went to school when I did or even before I did, there is a lot of living and learning yet to be done. We never truly stop learning.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Mike & Ralph

Would somebody please tell me why Senator Mike Gravel is still running for President? Has anyone besides me, his wife, and maybe his mother even heard of him?

And while we're at it, would someone please talk to Ralph "The Spoiler" Nader (a man I otherwise greatly admire) and ask him to NOT throw his hat in the ring again. How many times can he run (and lose) for President? Ralph, it's not gonna happen. Come on... stop it!

Hillary Missed The "Head Shot"!

I have always heard that the best defense is a good offense. Is that what Hillary Clinton was doing last night during the debate? She said that Mr.Obama doesn't have the "experience" to take on a seasoned republican candidate like John McCain. She attacked his campaign mailings to voters which questioned her support of her husband's programs like Nafta as "misleading" and then she pulled an odd rabbit out of her hat... she asked him to denounce Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam, who has announced his endorsement of Barack Obama. That is what players call the "head shot", the "kill shot"... and she missed.

From what I hear, Mr. Obama ducked and dodged her attacks and weathered the storm like Muhammad Ali (in his prime) dodging Sonny Liston. Hillary did not produce the ground breaking effect she was hoping for... a surge that she needs. You see, the slight lead she holds in Ohio is slipping. She was ahead by 17 points about two weeks ago and now she leads by only 4 points. I'm not aware of how things look in Texas but, Hillary clearly needs to do something to gain momentum if she hopes to get the nomination and that hope appears to be getting slimmer as the days go by.

Just an observation.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

In Defense Of Eddie Murphy

If I hear one more person say that Eddie Murphy's movie "Norbit" destroyed his chance at an Oscar for "Dreamgirls", I will vomit. I personally thought "Norbit" was the funniest thing he's done in years. The truth is, he deserved the best supporting actor nomination for "Dreamgirls" but, didn't get it because of Hollywood politics (i.e. The Academy doesn't like Eddie Murphy). If I may paraphrase Snoop on "The Wire", "Deserve ain't got nothin' to do wit' it!" I don't think it was racial because, at that same ceremony, they gave Forrest Whitaker and new comer, Jennifer Hudson Oscars. I think it was simply a matter of who they liked and who they didn't like.

Eddie's prickly personality doesn't go over well but, damnit, it should be about the work, not who you like personally. I'll always say and believe that. "Norbit" was released right after "Dreamgirls" but, before the Oscar voting was finished. Everybody said that the movie was so bad that it turned the judges off. That's crazy! Since "Norbit" was not being nominated for anything, what did that have to do with "Dreamgirls"? "Dreamgirls" was nominated. Now don't get me wrong... "Norbit " was not "The Best of Eddie Murphy", but after years of trite family comedies like "Daddy Day Care" and "Haunted House", it was nice to see the real Eddie Murphy return in (what I thought was) a raw, drop dead, funny comedy.

People have lost their minds... Now, one year after the fact, Eddie Murphy just won three "Razzie" Awards (Winners List) and, needless to say, he was not very happy about it. He won the Worst Actor award for his portrayal of Norbit and two Worst Supporting Actor awards for his portrayals of Rasputia and Mr. Wong. Come on... give Eddie a break, will ya? The movie was not THAT bad!

Oscars? What Oscars?


Okay, does anybody else feel like I feel? Did you really go to see any of the movies that were nominated this year? Have you ever heard of any of the actors or actresses that won? (Okay, maybe Daniel Day Lewis.) Yeah, me neither. The Oscars just didn't do it for me this year.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Is Walter Mosley A Black Existentialist ?

Is Walter Mosley, more than just a writer of light fiction... is he a black existentialist? Before I begin, I should explain what existentialism is...

Existentialism is a philosophical movement that posits that individuals create the meaning and essence of their lives, as opposed to deities or authorities creating it for them. It emerged as a movement in twentieth-century literature and philosophy, though it had forerunners in earlier centuries. Existentialism generally postulates that the absence of a transcendent force (such as God) means that the individual is entirely free, and therefore, ultimately responsible. It is up to humans to create an ethos of personal responsibility outside any branded belief system. In existentialist views, personal articulation of being is the only way to rise above humanity's absurd condition of much suffering and inevitable death.

I know... it sounds pretty depressing, doesn't it? I confess, there is a part of me that is a bit of a nerd. As a teenager, I read books by Albert Camus, Jean Paul Sartre, and Franz Kafka... all known writers of the existentialist school of thought. I was also reading Richard Wright's darker novels ("Black Boy" and "Native Son"), which also seemed to belong to existentialism. Some people will argue that Richard Wright was what they call a "Naturalistic" writer... another
blog for another time.

I have read three novels by Walter Mosley this year "Blonde Faith", "Killing Johnny Fry", and "Diablique" and I'm wondering if I have discovered, at long last, a black Existentialist. In all three novels, the main charactor seems locked into a life and set of circumstances that are beyond his control. The protaganists seem bored, hopeless, and depressed until they take action... an action that gives them meaning and purpose... a reckless action that could mean their downfall yet, makes them feel more alive than at any other time in their lives.

I am curious as to Mr. Mosley's philisophical leanings. Of course, I know that one could argue that the protaganist in any story must overcome odds that are beyond his or her control...but in the existentialist novel... the character's response to those odds is a response that defines his/her existence... a response that redeems them somewhat... which is what makes the story fall in this genre. Plus, the themes of meaninglessness, sadness, and betrayal by life itself... I found these themes in all three novels.

Mr. Mosley is not a lightweight. No indeed. He is up there with some of our best writers but, I defer, I am biased... he is my favorite. Oh, and just for the record, I am not an existentialist. In order to be a true existentialist, one would also have to be an atheist, to which I am not. Nor am I one who believes that there is no meaning to life, no pre-determined meaning to life. I do believe in these things and I do have hope. It gets strained at times but, it's still there.

Friday, February 22, 2008

What Is Happening Here?

If you were a white male child growing up in America within the last 50 years or at anytime in the history of the United States, your father and/or mother probably told you to study hard, get good grades in school, work hard, and you could one day grow up to be president of the United States. I doubt that any black parent ever told their child that because, come on... this is America after all, and that kind of dreaming just wasn't productive UNTIL NOW.

Jessie Jackson ran for president when I was 26 years old and I voted for him knowing that this vote was more symbolic than real. In the back of my mind, I knew he didn't stand a chance of actually winning but, I wanted to make a statement. The statement being, that black votes are here and they are important. Jessie actually won two or three primaries but, in the end, he was not the Democratic nominee (to nobody's surprise).

When Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton began, I must admit that I thought John Edwards would be the eventual front runner. When Obama won a few primaries, I still was not convinced. I'm sure that I, like most African Americans of my generation, did not believe that America would ever get past race... and we still may not... he hasn't won yet. Then, a funny thing happened... Obama won 10 straight primaries and won in places where he could not have been supported by a majority black vote. (i.e. Hawaii ???)

I know that a lot of young blacks (and whites) are voting for the first time and looking past race but, a lot of older whites must be voting too or he wouldn't be winning in a lot of these states. In the past few days, I have often wondered aloud, "What is happening here?" Is it because Obama is "bi-racial?" or could it be that people are just tired... so tired of what we've been doing before that they are willing to try anything different... even a woman... even a black man!!! Now, little boys and yes, even girls, of all races can truly reach for the stars and one day become president of the United States of America.

H-m-m-m... "What is happening here?"

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Sad & Amusing State Of Race In America

The African author of "Half of a Yellow Sun" discusses a new short story and permutations of race in America...

"She held him from the back, wrapped her arms around him, felt the warmth through his sweatshirt, but even before he eased away, murmuring that the rice would get too soft, she knew they were failing at this; she turned to look out of the window, at the grey grandeur of Yale campus, and saw the first snow flurry swirling through the late evening air."

This line is from a short story I started in 2003. It was first set at Johns Hopkins, then at Princeton, and now at Yale where I am doing graduate work in the African Studies program. In the story, a Nigerian student cheats on her African-American boyfriend and then tries to save the relationship. She invites him over to eat coconut rice, a reconciliation meal, which is also symbolic because the relationship started a year before when he came over to study and she was cooking coconut rice. Her apartment smelled of spices, there were bottles of cheap red wine, and Femi Kuti was playing on her stereo. The beng-beng-beng song that is unabashedly sexual, ridiculous, and effective at guiding people across the bridge from friends to lovers. I've gone back to this story often but I'm always stuck at the scene where they're cooking rice for the reconciliation meal. A few days ago, because of an entirely unrelated incident at the Yale library, I felt inspired to write this sentence, the first new one added to the story in months. It's given me hope that the story might be finished sometime this year.

I often go to the library to get books whose dense, incomprehensible academics I struggle to read. One of the security guards at the exit, an older black man, often smiles and says hello as he checks my books before I leave. I read in the student paper that his friend, another black man, came by one evening and the two stood outside the library. He gave his friend his car keys (apparently, the friend wanted to borrow his car). The friend gave him some money (apparently, the friend had borrowed the money earlier). A white library employee was watching them. This employee assumed that the two black men were dealing drugs and called a supervisor. The supervisor called the police. The police came and led the black man away to be questioned. Later, the university librarian insisted that the incident was a simple mistake and had nothing at all to do with race.
I found this incident both sad and amusing... not being an American but being black, I look with intense curiosity at the permutations of race in America. It made me think about how something of this sort can affect something else that isn't obviously related, and inspired me to go back to the story and make the library incident play a role in the make-up or break-up of the couple (although, I don’t yet know how it will). Maybe the couple will talk about the incident, observe it, read about it, or join the Black Student Union protest. Maybe the story will change.

“Big things” like race inspire me but, I am interested in writing about them in the smallest, most oblique way. I'm happily old-fashioned in my literary tastes, very keen on social realism, on fiction that is strong on character and place and has something to say about real things and real people without being preachy. Some of my favorite stories about race, by authors Brock Clarke and James Alan McPherson, are serious, funny, and sure but not self-righteous. I hope this will end up being similar.

Footnote: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s work has appeared in various literary publications, including Zoetrope and the Iowa Review. Her first novel, "Purple Hibiscus", was short-listed for the Orange Prize and the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, and long-listed for the Booker Prize. "Half of a Yellow Sun" won the 2007 Orange Prize and was a National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist.

[This article was obtained from, as told to Anya Yurchyshyn.]

I can certainly relate to Chimamanda's feelings about "the library incident". Too many times in the past, I have been "profiled"... stopped and frisked by the police when I was in a part of town or the suburbs where I "didn't look like I belonged" or when a crime had just been committed and I fit the suspect's description (Black, six feet, and thin). Yeah, I'm the only one that fits that description! Further, I can't tell you how incensed I would become when I couldn't get my white colleagues to understand how that made me and other Blacks feel. They just don't have a frame of reference for it but, I know that Latinos experience it as well and I'm betting that Arab-Americans can relate to the feeling now too.

Kudos to this author for calling attention to "the library incident" and finding a way to include it her short story. I look forward to its completion and reading it!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Q. Still Don't Know Who To Vote For Yet?

The Pennsylvania Primary is just a few months away (April 22nd) and there are several candidates to choose from. How do you make such a decision? Rely on peer pressure (telling you who to vote for) or the media (telling you who the front-runners are)? NO! You can start with the Presidential Matchmaker Quiz to help determine the best-matching candidate for you based solely on the important issues of the day for this country (which are the only things that really matter, anyway). Simply answer the questions and find out which candidate shares most of your views. It goes without saying that no one will share all of your views. If you don't agree with the result, you don't have to vote for that person. You could also take the quiz "just for the heck of it" to see what candidate comes up for you. Either way, the ultimate decision is still up to you and no one else!

Please Note: This is not intended to be a personal endorsement for the website or the Presidential Matchmaker Quiz; but rather, a suggested resource that might help if you're really in a quandry about the best political candidate for the job of president. You should know that you will be required to give your name and email address to get the result of the quiz. The site will also allow you to supply the email addresses of friends that might want to take the quiz but, you can choose to skip this step (it is not mandatory).

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Are We Having Fun Yet?

Stay informed... check out my new political toys at the
end of the post column; this just might be the most
exciting presidential election in U.S. history!

Friday, February 15, 2008

The War Of Words Begins

Every now and then, I like to hear what "Conservative America" thinks... if for no other reason, to compare viewpoints and come to an intelligent decision. As I have gotten older, I have come to realize that everything is not black and white (and I'm not talking about race). There are grey areas and what is perfectly good in one area, might not be so good in another. I don't allow myself to have tunnel vision and just go in one direction... I listen to both or in some cases, three sides of a particular situation and decide on what makes sense for me.

All that said, I happened to come across an article in today's paper and it touched a nerve. It made the hairs on the back of my neck rise. I posted it here so you can read it, then I'm going to take it apart. Here it is...

I'm Immune to the Obama Swoon
Christine M. Flowers, Lawyer
Philadelphia Daily News

Just like every other kid, I endured the battery of shots that inoculated against the diseases of childhood: Diptheria, Whooping Cough, Typhus, Measles, and Polio.

The marks have faded after more than 40 years, but there is still enough definition there to remind me of my parents' concern and my doctors' wisdom. Thanks to them, I was immune to anything but the passing cold.

I wonder if, in that pharmacological mix, they slipped in a vaccine against hype. It occurred to me that this must be the only explanation for my complete and utter immunity to Barack "Yes We Can!" Obama. When he stands at the podium and delivers those words of hope and uplift, the crowds roar back in support.

And here I sit, trying to figure out what it is that keeps me from succumbing to the enchantment of this political messiah when so many intelligent people are falling in line and in love. After all, if even some conservatives are in sync with his siren song, like the farmers in Kansas and the denizens of the Louisiana bayous, why am I indifferent to his manifest charms?

Well, I never understood the attraction of those old-time revival meetings, either... where people with personalities even bigger than the churches they were preaching in, could sway the crowds by the sheer force of their passion. I need actual red meat, not the wispy promises of a sweet-talking neophyte.

So, perhaps I should ask the candidate myself: Tell us, Sen. Obama, how would your plan for withdrawal from Iraq keep that country from devolving into a fratricidal cesspool, threatening surrounding nations and our own?

Don't just say, "I was against the war when Hillary voted for it"... that ship has sailed. What in your experience qualifies you to sit at a table with other world leaders and inspire confidence that you know what you're doing, not just that you know how to say it eloquently?

Explain, in simple terms for the non-believers like me, how being a community organizer in Chicago, your friend Oprah's hometown, prepared you to deal with al Qaeda, the looming crises in Lebanon and Syria, the ominous rise of a nuclear Iran and the threat to Israel? And, you might have heard that your father's homeland Kenya is having a few problems these days.

Any suggestions on how to approach the ethnic cleansing there, not to mention the genocide in Sudan, the continued conflicts in Sierra Leon, the highly combustible situation in Algeria, the deterioration in Chad?

I'm waiting to hear some solutions, not just a trite slogan like "Yes We Can", which is beginning to sound like "Can't we all just get along?"

And, speaking of getting along, you pretend to be a unifier but, have little patience for conservatives like me. You make scurrilous attacks against the current administration and conservatives in general.

You pretend to appeal to all of us as "Americans" but have a palpable disdain for those who don't buy the Democratic narrative. You aren't above taking pot shots at a certified war hero because he said we'd have to maintain a presence in Iraq for years to come.

So, I suppose you also have a problem with our 60+ years in Germany since WW II? Our 30+ years in Korea? Our NATO bases in the Mediterranean?

And, I hope you'll tell some of your acolytes to cool their jets when they start accusing we who are immune to your charms of racism. When I last wrote about you, I said that I thought you lacked the experience for public office. Many of those who e-mailed me afterward suggested that, as a white woman, I had a problem with a black man. One went so far as to say that "lack of experience" was code words for "something else." So, let's get this straight... "Lack of experience" means (1) you're too young, (2) you're completely untested, (3) you have an insignificant Senate record, and (4) your soaring rhetoric won't protect us against soaring missiles. It does not mean "I don't like you because you're black."

Frankly, there are a lot of reasons why I could never pull the lever for you, but race isn't one of them. And, yet I'm a racist because I'm immune to your appeal? Please tell your supporters that some people really don't cast their vote because of or in spite of race and gender. The irony is that white folks who embrace your candidacy are viewed as inclusive since this plays right into your narrative as a "unifier", while those who take issue with your, well, serious lack of issues are foot soldiers in the army of Gen. Jim Crow.
The truth is, senator, I don't think I'll be needing a booster shot anytime soon.

Okay, let me say this...I'll go along with Christine's assertion that because she is not voting for Obama, it doesn't mean she is a racist. She has a right to vote for whomever she chooses.

Let's look at her assertion that he's "too young". He's 47... not exactly someone who might need a fake ID card, yet not so old that he might fall asleep during a meeting. (Excuse me, uh, I believe the Republican, so often called "The Greatest President" often did that.)

She says that it doesn't seem like Obama has an "Exit Strategy" for Iraq? Is she serious? We've been waiting for one from the current President since 2004!

As far as "experience to sit at the table with world leaders", I would hope that anybody could sit at this table and do a better job than the current administration has done. Bush and Rumsfeld succeeded in aileanating every Nato ally, except the British against theUnited States. No one with any common sense can say that the Middle East is more stable today than it was in 2000. Here we had a sitting President and his staff, who invaded Iraq not knowing that there were three distinct Islamic groups co-existing who were kept from each others throats only because they feared Saddam Hussein and his cronies more. Not that I'm endorsing Saddam, but with him gone... it is virtually impossible to control these three groups who are now free to kill each other (and Americans) at will. So, is she saying that the current so called experienced administration has done a good job of making the world safe from terrorism? I think the British, The French, The Spanish, and the people of Denmark would beg to differ.

She compares our occupation of Iraq with our occupation of Germany, Japan, and other Nato bases in Europe. I was in the Air Force for 22 years... I visited every last one of the places she named and I'll tell you what the difference was... at no time was my life in danger. There were no bombs buried on the highways in any of those countries. Iraq is dangerous and Americans are in danger every minute they are there.

Obama and Clinton may lack experience in certain areas... but, you only get experience by getting in there and doing the job. If you want my opinion, the Bush administration has performed as though THEY didn't have any experience. Look at this country right now... the economy is on the fritz, there's a quagmire of a war that nobody understands, people are losing their homes, etc. Does she really want more of the same?

I'll go out on a limb and take my chances with Obama, Clinton, or even McCain doing a better job than what I've seen.

That's my opinion and I'm stickin' to it!!!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Rules Of Love (Valentine's Day Meditations)

Shall we make a new rule of life from tonight? That is the question I leave before you. Here is something deep I came across that I would like to share with you...

A Soulful Relationship
by Rev. Ronald McFadden

If you're not married yet, share this with a friend. If you are married, share it with your spouse or other married couples and reflect on it. An African proverb states, "Before you get married, keep both eyes open, and after you marry, close one eye."

Before you get involved and make a commitment to someone, don't let lust, desperation, immaturity, ignorance, pressure from others, or a low self-esteem make you blind to warning signs. Keep your eyes open, and don't fool yourself that you can change someone or that what you see as faults are not really important.

Once you decide to commit to someone, over time his or her flaws, vulnerabilities, pet peeves, and differences will become more obvious. If you love your mate and want the relationship to grow and evolve, you've got to learn to close one eye and not let every little thing bother you. You and your mate have many different expectations, emotional needs, values, dreams, weaknesses, and strengths. You are two unique individuals who have decided to share a life together.

Neither of you are perfect, but are you perfect for each other? Do you bring out the best of each other? Do you compliment and compromise with each other, or do you compete, compare, and control?

What do you bring to the relationship? Do you bring past relationships, past hurt, past mistrust, past pain? You can't take someone to the altar to alter him or her. You can't make someone love you or make someone stay. If you develop self-esteem, spiritual discernment, and "a life", you won't find yourself making someone else responsible for your happiness or responsible for your pain. Manipulation, control, jealousy, deceitfulness, neediness, and selfishness are not the ingredients of a thriving, healthy, loving, and lasting relationship. Seeking status, sex, wealth, and security are the wrong reasons to be in a relationship.

Question: What keeps a relationship strong? Answer: Communication, intimacy, trust, a sense of humor, sharing household tasks, some getaway time without business or children, and daily exchanges (a meal, a shared activity, a hug, a call, a touch, a note), sharing common goals and interests. Leave a nice message on their voice mail or send a nice email.

Growth is important. Grow together, not away from each other, giving each other space to grow without feeling insecure. Allow your mate to have outside interests. You can't always be together. Give each other a sense of belonging and assurances of commitment. Don't try to control one another. Learn each others family situation. Respect his or her parents regardless. Don't put pressure on each other for material goods... remember, for richer or for poorer. If these qualities are missing, the relationship will erode as resentment, withdrawal, abuse, neglect, dishonesty, and pain will replace the passion.

Nurture your mind with great thoughts, for you will never go any higher than you think." The grass withers, the flowers fades, but the word of God stands forever. Isaiah 40:8.

Shall we make a new rule of life from tonight? Always to try to be a little kinder than is necessary. The difference between 'United' and 'Untied' is where you put the " I " . Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

And to that I say, Amen. Enjoy your relationship. Enjoy life! - Keith

The Foods Of Love

On Valentine's Day, there are certain foods you can eat that can possibly be aphrodisiacs. I have heard this for years and have wondered aloud if this could be possible or if it was just the stuff of legend. Well, apparently there is a scientific basis to all of this and the great editors of Men's Health will once again enlighten everyone on this subject...

Have Sex for Dessert
A meal that leads to bed but, not for sleep.
by the Editors of Men's Health

What fuels great sex? The clichéd stimulants, such as oysters and avocados, "aren't necessarily valid aphrodisiacs," says Barry Swanson, Ph.D., a professor of food science at Washington State University. Follow our menu for a libido-lifting, energy-boosting, three-course meal that will guarantee she stays for breakfast. Bon appétit! Your catch of the day starts here... GO!


Drink: A glass of red wine

Why: Grape skins contain the antioxidant resveratrol, the closest thing we have to an actual aphrodisiac. It increases estrogen production, say Northwestern University researchers, and that heightens sexual appetite and makes lubrication easier for her later in the evening.
Red wines from muscadine grapes have a higher resveratrol content than other reds do, say researchers at Mississippi State University. But too much vino in too little time forces the body to absorb the alcohol quickly, causing drowsiness.

Appetizer: Shrimp cocktail

Why: The zinc-dense shrimp increase sperm levels and make orgasms more powerful, according to a study in Fertility and Sterility. They also contain a stress-reducing amino acid and the feel-good hormone serotonin.


Entrée: Filet mignon au poivre (6 oz)

Why: High-protein foods boost production of dopamine and norepinephrine, hormones that increase alertness and assertiveness. Eating too much (and this goes for everything on the menu) can trigger your body to release cytokines—hormones that induce sleep. Black pepper aids digestion, according to an Indian Journal of Medical Research study, and is helpful for any energetic activities after dinner.

Side: Baked sweet potato

Why: It's high in potassium, which helps reduce stress, a great way to curb performance anxiety later that night. "The thing to avoid is dumping on a lot of salt, because the sodium can inhibit the potato's potassium," says Swanson. Top the potato with a dollop of sour cream, another source of libido-friendly protein.

Side: Spinach salad

Why: Spinach is a potent source of magnesium, which helps dilate blood vessels, ensuring the smooth bloodflow that's crucial for strong erections, according to Japanese researchers.


Dessert: Fresh raspberries drizzled with melted dark chocolate

Why: British scientists have discovered that women release four times more endorphins after eating chocolate than they do after making out. The caffeine in chocolate also increases your alertness for what's to come after dessert. Try using Chocolove's Extra Strong Dark Chocolate (77 percent cacao) on the raspberries, and pair them with a glass of port. You'll get a double dose of polyphenols, antioxidants that increase your HDL (good) cholesterol.

Recipe for Seduction:

Seal the deal with these three dinner moves...

1. Strategize Your Seating: Arrange the table so she'll sit with her back to the wall. "She'll feel like all your attention is focused on her instead of wandering about the room," says Joy Davidson, Ph.D., author of Fearless Sex.

2. Don't Hurry to the Table: Meeting her at your front door with the food already on the table can be awkward. Instead, greet her with a glass of wine, give her a quick tour, and then seat her near the counter to watch you prep.

3. Skip the Movie: "Rushing isn't sexy," says April Masini, author of Date Out of Your League. Time-sensitive activities, like going to the movies, are better for when you're not tied to a stove.

And on that note, I'll leave the rest up to your creative imaginations! Happy Valentine's Day Everyone! - Keith

Happy Valentine's Day


In honor of this special day, here are some
timely quotes you may want to ponder.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

To Live Forever

I would like to live forever! That said, you can all stop snickering and laughing. Okay, to be perfectly serious, I would like to live and be healthy to a ripe old age like my grandparents (both of whom were close to one hundred when they died.) My quality of life is very important to me. I don't just want to be old and in some nursing home slobbering, not knowing what day it is, or who I am. I want to be close to 100, self-sufficient, and enclosed in my right mind (something that some people may not think I'm in right now at age 49). Go ahead, laugh it up! Here are some tips that I found and thought would be helpful for those of you who think likewise.

Top 10 Ways to Live Forever
No drugs. No bypasses. No scars.
Just solid DIY advice on how to keep your heart pumping.
by the Editors of Men's Health

1. Grill a steak: You may think it's bad for your heart but, you'd be wrong. Beef contains immunity-boosting selenium as well as homocysteine-lowering B vitamins. And up to 50 percent of the fat is the heart-healthy monounsaturated variety.

2. Tell your wife to butt out: People who are exposed to cigarette smoke for just 30 minutes, three times a week, have a 26 percent greater risk of developing heart disease than people who rarely encounter second-hand smoke.

3. Take aspirin: Regular aspirin consumption cuts the risk of coronary heart disease by 28 percent in people who have never had a heart attack or stroke.

4. Drink more tea: Men who drink 2 cups of tea a day are 25 percent less likely to die of heart disease than guys who rarely touch the stuff. The reason is the flavonoids in tea, which not only improve the blood vessels' ability to relax but, also thins the blood, reducing clotting.

5. Touch her: Ten minutes of skin-to-skin contact (hand-holding, hugging) with your mate can help keep your blood pressure and pulse from spiking during stressful times, according to University of North Carolina researchers.

6. Go fishing for tuna: Omega-3 fats in tuna help strengthen the heart muscle, lower blood pressure, and prevent clotting, as well as reduce levels of potentially deadly inflammation in the body.

7. Pair up: Married men are less likely to die of heart disease than bachelors. Scientists looked at men with mildly high blood pressure and found that after 3 years of marriage, the happily married men had healthier hearts than their unmarried brothers.

8. Adopt a dog: All that love ("You're a good boy, yes you are!") and aggravation ("Bad dog! Don't eat daddy's crab dip!") makes your heart more adaptable and better able to deal with the stress that can lead to heart disease.

9. Rinse, brush: Rinse your mouth with Cool Mint Listerine and brush with Colgate Total toothpaste. They'll reduce oral bacteria, which can decrease your risk of a heart attack by 200- 300 percent.

10. Make friends at work: Men with the most work friends also have the lowest heart rates and healthiest blood-pressure levels, even during times of stress.

I'm going to take these tips to heart (no pun intended). I feel better already! - Keith

Monday, February 11, 2008

Isn't It Time We Show Beyonce Some Love?

Beyonce Knowles

Well, with the exception of one lady I know, most women who read this are going to respond with hate (my wife included). I watched the Grammys last night... what little of it I could stand because I hate most awards shows. For me, the highlight of it all was watching Beyonce and Tina Turner perform "Proud Mary". I believe that most of the media agrees with me because every article in every paper and on every website I have surfed concerning the Grammys has a photo of Beyonce & Tina Turner performing. Some might say that all of the articles and sites were written and created by males. I don't know... but, does it matter?

I have followed this young lady's career ever since the first Destiny's Child CD dropped in 1999. Has she really been part of American Pop culture that long?) Let's face some facts that can't be denied:

1. The girl can sing... No, she's no Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, Mariah Carey, or Whitney Houston... but, she holds her own and she sings a lot better than Janet Jackson yet, Janet never gets the hatred from other women that Beyonce gets.

2. She can write a little bit... No, her songs are not as poeticly deep as say a Smokey Robinson or a Bob Dylan, nor are they as melodically catchy and creative as a Stevie Wonder... but, they do speak to her generation and they are catchy.

3. She can dance as well as she needs to for what she does... Take that with a grain of salt.

4. She can act... Again, she's not going to win an Oscar anytime soon but, poor Mariah Carey's two tanked and she hasn't gotten the hatred that comes Beyonce's way. Beyonce has been in some hit movies.

The bottom line is that the girl is a pretty good entertainer. She may not be deep but, neither were the Beatles at first... it took awhile. It took growth, maturity, life, and living... something we all have to attain. Isn't it time we show Beyonce some love?

And, just in case you missed this "once-in-a-lifetime"
performance, watch it here and judge for yourself...

50th Annual Grammy Awards


Thursday, February 7, 2008

9 Things I Hate

My friend, Arthur "Old Head" Dunlap speaks again. Today, he talks about 9 things that really irk him...

1. People who point at their wrist while asking for the time.... I know where my watch is pal, where is yours? Do I point at my crotch when I ask where is the toilet?

2. People who are willing to search the entire room for the TV remote because they refuse to walk to the TV and change the channel manually.

3. When people say, "Oh, you just want to have your cake and eat it too. "What good is cake if you can't eat it?

4. When people say, "It's always the last place you look." Of course it is... why would you keep looking after you've found it? Do people actually do that? If so, who and where are they?

5. When people say while watching a film, "Did you see that?". No loser, I paid $12.00 to come to the cinema and stare at the floor.

6. People who ask, "Can I ask you a question?" Didn't really give me a choice there, did ya sunshine?

7. When something is "new and improved!" Which is it? If it's new, then there has never been anything before it. If it's an improvement, then there must have been something before it so, it couldn't be new.

8. When people say "Life is short." Life is the longest thing anyone ever does! What can you do that's longer?

9. When you are waiting for the bus and someone asks, "Has the bus come yet?" If the bus came, would I be standing here, genius?

Well, once again, Arthur is timely and aggravated!

Welcome Back, Diane!

It's time to talk about books again. About 13 or 14 years ago, I read a novel called "Tumbling" by a then unknown Black author named Diane McKinney-Whetstone. What I enjoyed about the novel most was that the city of Philadelphia was the star of the story. It was so nice to read a book that has familiar streets, places you've been, and characters that remind you of people you know. I loved it, raved about it, and was the first person in line to buy her second book, "Tempest Rising". I also bought her subsequent books, "Blues Dancing" and "Leaving Cecil Street". All three of these books are set in my 'native' (West) Philadelphia.

Diane has a good read for details. She got every crack in the sidewalk right. I can tell that she obviously has lived on these same streets. Today, while surfing the web, I find that she has written another novel, "Trading Dreams at Midnight". I can't wait to purchase this book. Each one of her novels has made me hungry for the next one and it's been at least a seven year wait. She teaches at the University of Pennsylvania.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

A Black Man

Why is it that a Black Man can create a tiny piece called a filament (electric light - Lewis Latimer) that allows people to see in the dark? But, he can’t be seen fit to lead a country to the true light. Why is it that a Black Man can create an instrument (clock - Benjamin Banneker) that all people use to tell time? But, people don’t think it is time for him to run a country.

Why is it that a Black Man can design a place for the high authorities to meet in and a place for the president to live in (The Capital and The White House - Phillip Reid, a slave, and Pierre L’Enfant)? But, he's not good enough to lead these meetings or live in it himself.

Why is it that a Black Man was brilliant enough to do the first open heart surgery (Dr. Daniel Hale Williams) and show the world how to get and preserve plasma (Dr. Charles Drew)? But, he's not good enough to put a program in place where everyone can afford this surgery.

Why is it that a Black Man was creative enough to design an instrument (traffic light - Garrett Morgan) to bring multiple people (traffic) to a halt? But, he's not seen as creative enough to design a plan to end all of this unnecessary and worthless fighting between countries.

Why is it that a Black Man could create the soles (for shoes - Jan Matzeliger) that people walk on everyday? But, he's not seen as good enough to fill the shoes of a bad president.

Why is it that a Black Man was smart enough and brave enough to teach himself (Fredrick Douglas and Thomas Fuller, both slaves) and others how to read, write, and/or calculate math? But, he's not seen as smart enough and bold enough to calculate a platform to be President to a country that sure needs another first by us.

So, you see my brother and sisters, what I am saying is let us not forgot our past, which led us to our present and can definitely be the backbone to our future. We were good enough, smart enough, creative enough, and bold enough then.

We all are as strong as our weakest link so, don’t be that weak link that denies our people the chance to show we still can OVERCOME & BE THE FIRST!

"Super Tuesday"

Primary Election April 22, 2008

I got up this morning and ran to my nearest polling place to vote. I had very good intentions. The only problem was, there is no primary in the state of Pennsylvania today. I was informed that our primary is in April. So, for all of the people out there voting today, please make it a really super "Super Tuesday "... go out and vote for whoever you feel is the best candidate.

The thing that excites me the most this year is that we hear a lot of the candidates talking about the actual issues and at least, appearing as though they care about the average person, where they live, and what they have to deal with. I don't hear anybody talking about this candidate is "a guy I'd like to have a beer with so, I'll vote for him" or any of that other silliness I heard in 2000 and again in 2004.

I think the American people have matured and because they have, the candidates are forced to mature too. We have some serious issues out here that need to be addressed. We have some interesting candidates on both sides with some interesting ideas that need to be heard. 2008 looks like it's going to be an exciting year people... and this is only the beginning!

For Your Information & Action

5 Reasons to Find a New Job in 2008

If you’re like many professionals, you daydream about leaving your underwhelming job to find a more fulfilling (or at least, better paying) one, but you never do. Here are five reasons why you shouldn’t put off your job search one more day.

1. You'll Stress Less: These days, work and stress are synonymous. A 2007 survey by ComPsych Corporation found stress is rampant in the workplace. Sixty percent of workers said they have high levels of stress with symptoms of extreme fatigue and feeling out of control. Another 33 percent said they have constant but manageable stress. That's a lot of headaches. What's the biggest cause of all this tension? The study cited "people issues" as the number one work stressor, followed by workload and work/life balance. It's proven that stress can harm your mental and physical health so, save yourself by finding a new job.

2. You'll Advance Your Career: Take the next step up that proverbial ladder. Workers may have more negotiating power with employers than they think. Eighty-one percent of hiring managers said it was difficult to find qualified candidates twelve months ago, and ninety-one percent said recruiting is equally or more challenging today, according to the 2007 Employment Dynamics and Growth Expectations (EDGE) Report by and Robert Half International. More than half of hiring managers who are having trouble recruiting cited a shortage of qualified professionals as the primary culprit.

3. You'll Make More Money: All signs point to fatter paychecks in 2008. Nearly two-in-five hiring managers plan to increase starting salaries in the next year to attract new talent, according to the EDGE Report. Plus, the Department of Labor reports annual compensation costs (what employers spend on wages, salaries, and benefits) for civilian workers increased 3.3% for the year ended September 2007. And, average hourly earnings increased from $16.91 in October 2006 to $17.58 in October 2007. Take advantage of this knowledge and use it in negotiating your new starting salary.

4. You'll Get Better Benefits: Although economic pressures are increasing, employers are becoming more committed to offering more and better benefits packages to attract and retain talent. Thirty percent of hiring managers reported their firms have instituted new policies and programs to increase staff retention rates in the last twelve months, up from twenty-three percent this time last year, according to the same Half report. The primary measures taken included offering pay raises, bonuses, better benefits, and more flexible schedules. In addition, Prudential Financial's study "Employee Benefits: 2006 & Beyond" looked at current and future employee needs and how employers plan to respond to them. Eighty percent of employers say it's important to offer and subsidize a wide range of employee benefits. Be prepared: Although more companies are offering more diversified benefits, workers may see more costs shifted from employer to employee, especially in voluntary benefits.

5. You'll Have More Time: Isn't it time you improve your commute? Fifty-nine percent of workers surveyed by admit to experiencing road rage while traveling to and from work. With 128 million commuters in the United States that's a lot of road rage. It seems your commute is only going to get worse according to "Commuting in America III" by Alan Pisarski and published by the Transportation Research Board. The average national travel times grew to 25.5 minutes in 2000, up from 22.4 in 1990 and 21.7 in 1980. That time is increasing even though more people are leaving for work between 5 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. to beat rush hour. Find something closer to home, or better yet, become one of the 4 million Americans already working from home.

by Anthony Balderrama

And, if I may add the sixth and most important reason to get a new job... because your present job just simply sucks!!!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Super Bowl Sunday


I was watching the game and playing with
my grandson during the commercial breaks.

Now, about the Super Bowl...

What a pleasent surprise! The sports "experts" had all but annointed the New England Patriots the 2008 Super Bowl Champs as far back as week 8 when they were still undefeated. Nobody gave the lowly fifth seeded New York Giants a puncher's chance to dethrone the "annointed kings." If you ask the "experts", the Giants were just one small obstacle to what "everybody knew" was the inevitable crowning of New England.

Well! It didn't quite turn out that way... New York and it's much criticized quarterback, Eli Manning, shocked the world (and the gamblers in Las Vegas) and did the unthinkable! They simply won. I love it when the "experts" are wrong... I love an upset and I always root for the underdog.

It's pleasant surprises like this one Sunday night, that make Monday mornings especially nice.


"Mommy, can I go to Timmy's blog and play?"

Click on image to enlarge for reading

Click on image to enlarge for reading

Click on image to enlarge for reading