Saturday, January 31, 2009

Saturday Seven (7 Things I'm Looking Forward To)

1.The First Day of Spring
I hate Winter.

2.The Super Bowl
Even though my team isn't there, it's still the best game in town.

3.The NBA All Star Game
Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard,Yao Ming... Are you kiddin' me? It's a Basketball lovers dream!

4. A Stimulus Check
I need to be bailed out... for real!

5. My Income Tax Return
Same as above.

6. A Well-Deserved Vacation
Well, I deserve it!

7. A New Car
Nuff said.

And, did I mention the first day of spring?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Think Of Something Happy

"Happy 3rd Birthday Boogs!"

Yesterday's post about the man and woman who lost their jobs and felt so much despair that they made the horrific decision to kill themselves and their children upset me a lot. I read that post after I wrote it and was filled with a sadness I haven't felt in a long time. When I was a child, I was always able to bounce back after something bad happened to me by bringing up a memory of something good that happened to me. It's something that has stayed with me most of my life... the ability in the worst of times to think of something happy.

I pulled up my blog and I stared at the photo of that family and I was wondering what I was going to write today. I didn't want to write about anything else in the news. The news has been and probably will be very depressing for a while. As I was preparing to write something altogether different, my grandson ran past me. He had a little cup of Motts Apple Sauce and he was eager to show it to me. I looked at him and remembered that just three years ago this month, he came into the world...

I sat in a hospital room with my daughter, who was in intense pain. Being a man and having never given birth or witnessed anyone being born. I really couldn't relate but, I could understand that she was in pain. I told her that she could hold my hand and squeeze it as tight as she needed to. We had been in the hospital all day awaiting his birth. It was now 9:30pm and he still hadn't arrived. There was a television on above us and I remember that "American Idol" was on (just like it is on right now, as I write this post).

On that night, I remember the performers were particularly bad and I was trying to get my daughter's attention off of her obvious pain and to watch the screen. One guy said, "People, tell me that I'm a cross between Ginuwine and Maxwell when I sing." He sang and let me tell you, Ginuwine and Maxwell have nothing to worry about! Midway through the song (he was singing "She's Out of My life" by Michael Jackson), he forgot the words. He asked Simon if he could start over again. They allowed him to do that and he stopped again, burst into tears, and ran off the stage. I was hysterical, slapping my knee with one hand while my daughter was squeezing my other hand like a vice grip. I pointed to the screen with my good hand and I told her, "You should really watch this show... these singers are giving me as much pain as you must be in." She didn't say anything but, I'm sure in her mind she was saying, "Don't bet on it!"

A couple of nurses came in and one put a cold towel across my daughter's forehead, while the other was telling her to "push". She tried valiantly but, nothing was happening. Meanwhile on the TV screen, another person was singing and attempting to do a back flip to close out the song. He lost his balance and fell into a group of chairs and hit the floor. I was in hysterics again until I felt her grip on my hand tightening. I looked around and it seemed as if twenty doctors were in the room all at once (really, it was about eight or nine). They were all talking feverishly fast and imploring my daughter to PUSH... PUSH... PUSH!!! Finally, I don't remember if it was my wife or one of the nurses but I heard someone say, "I see his head!"

Then, I heard everyone in the room say, "Ohhhhhhhhh..." I looked up and there was the little fella... all 8lbs + 7ozs of him. My daughter was relieved and my wife was ecstactic (I think she was the first one to hold him). I was happy because my daughter let go of my hand and this little fella grabbed a hold of my heart...

aka "The Booga Wooga"
January 24, 2006 @ 9:59pm

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Collateral Damage

Photo: Ervin Antonio Lupoe (top left); his wife, Ana (top right); and their five children-- Brittney (top), twin girls Jaszmin and Jassely, and twin boys Benjamin and Christian.

"After a horrendous ordeal, my wife and I felt it better to end our lives ... and why leave our children in someone else's hands?" These are the shocking words of 40 year old Ervin Antonio Lupoe in what is believed to be a suicide note written before he decided to kill his wife, eight year old daughter, twin boys, twin girls, and then end his own life. This shocking crime scene was called the most grizzlie crime scene witnessed by case hardeed L.A. Homicide detectives in years.

This young upwardly mobile Black couple lived in a nice three-story house in the suburb of Los Angelas. Both the husband and his 39 year old wife worked as lab technicians at Kaiser-Permanentes West Los Angelas Medical Center until a few weeks ago,when both were fired from their jobs for reasons that are still "sketchy" at best.

Ervin Antonio Lupoe said that he and his wife were being investigated for "misrepresentation of our employment to an outside agency for the benefit of child care." He said that the initial interview was on December 19th. When he reported to work on December 23rd, it seems that he was allegedly told by a supervisor, "I don't know why you even bothered to come to work. You should've blown your brains out."

Now, a family of seven lies dead. Officials at Kaiser Permanentes have said that they "find it hard to believe that any manager or supervisor would have told Lupoe to take his life." Of course, they are going to say that... In fact, they better say that because I can see a nice lawsuit brewing if they didn't.

The point is, I can imagine how hard Christmas must have been for this family of seven with both individuals suddenly without employment... morgtage, car notes, and utility bills looming... health care cut off and no money to even think about Christmas gifts. I can imagine how hopeless this couple must have felt but, I can't imagine it being so hopeless that both the man and the woman made the horrifying decision to end their lives and take their childrens lives too so that they wouldn't be parentless and alone in the world.

I would like to say that this horrific murder-suicide is the collateral damage of an economy gone bad and that America should expect more incidents like this in the coming years as more families wind up without jobs and feeling desperate. I sincerely hope that I am wrong. I keep asking myself why did these two feel that hopeless? They were both college graduates and skilled individuals. You can't tell me that they couldn't have found employment in the future or had the economic outlook become that bleak to them?

There are questions that will never be answered... questions that only Mr. and Mrs. Lupoe know the answers to. I ask myself everyday if this is only the beginning of some really hard times and if I'm prepared to deal with them if this is?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Okay, that's not an actual word but you gotta admit, it's a catchy enough title to make you actually read this, right? One of my readers responded to my last post by saying that, although she applauded President Obama's action of international goodwill by closing Gitmo and places like it around the world, what concerned her most right now was the economic situation in this country. The Stimulus Bill... Let's talk about it.

From what I hear, this bill has ballooned to a whopping $850 billion dollars. This was done after negotiations with his Democratic allies in Congress, who I understand wanted more provisions and re-wrote some of his tax proposals. This is what has driven the price of this stimulus bill even higher than it was when first proposed... something I can already see that might not go over so well with the Republicans and some moderates in the President's own party.

The Democrats are trying to use the economic recovery bill to extend a tax cut for middle to upper income taxpayers. A lot of members of President Obama's transition team don't feel as though that will boost the economy and after all, isn't that the order of business for the day?

Both Democrats and Republicans feel very strongly about using the stimulus package to fix the alternative minimum tax which would prevent more than 20 million additional tax filers from having to pay it. For one year alone, that would take about $70 billion out of the $300 billion President Obama has set aside for tax cuts alone in his $850 billion stimulus plan.

If we look past the tax cuts, there is the $3,000.00 job creation tax credit, which a lot of Democrats and Republicans say is "unworkable" and will probably be knocked down or at least cut off and saved for another day. Both parties are in surprising agreement that Obama's pro-business provision (which would allow companies who have posted losses last year to get refunds for taxes paid as far back as five years ago) is also "unworkable". You'd think that Republicans (anyway) would love this since they are supposed to be so pro-business. It seems like that bi-partisanism has worked in uniting, at least for now, some people in both parties against him.

Well, it seems as though the honeymoon is over. President Obama has the unfortunate position of not only having to fight Republicans (he and we expected that) but, people in his own party (he and we didn't expect that). He wants to make sure that the wealthy pay some taxes and I can see that becoming a bone of contention too. He may not be beholden to any lobbyists or big business interests but the folks that he works with most certainly are and it's going to be a long time before that is changed, if ever. I know he means well but, that beast is what it is.

The Obama stimulus plan will continue to morph until it becomes acceptable to both the House and Senate and I believe he will get it passed, despite the fact that it originally started at $725 billion and has jumped to $850 billion. He has said that we can't just sit around and do nothing. We've got to do something. I'm not an economist and I won't pretend to know if his plan will help the economy or not but, what is the alternative? If someone else has a better plan, I'm sure we are all ears.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


President Barack Obama has decided to close the notorious holding facility known as Guantanomo Bay in Cuba within a year. I hope all of the right-wing crazies read me right... I said within a year. This will end another very embarrasing chapter in American history. This goes right up there with the detention camps of the 1940's that housed Japanese Americans, as far as I'm concerned.

In addition to closing "Gitmo" (as we called it in the military), he has ordered the closing of other secret detention centers around the world that were supposedly run by the CIA. This is a measure of good faith to the rest of the world and a bold statement early on in the Obama Administration that tells the world that the United States will no longer detain and torture individuals either at home or abroad in violation of our own constitution.

One thing I learned when I was in the U.S. Air Force and actually got to live in places outside of the United States was that the average American citizen has no idea of some of the things done in their name by our officials and representatives abroad. This is why some Americans who travel abroad our stung by the negative reaction they get from foreigners.

Former President George W. Bush told us that the United States does not torture and most of us took him at his word. He told us that Iraq was a direct threat to the world with it's weapons of mass destruction and we took him at his word for that too. After the tragedy of 9-11, we gave him and his administration a blank check to thrash the constitution by grabbing people suspected of being terrorists or having ties to terrorists off the streets and having them detained at places like Gitmo without due process of law and without much proof that they were guilty of anything.

Now don't get me wrong, I know that some of these detainees are indeed avowed members of Al Queda but, many may be no more than illegal immigrants or loyal American citizens of Arab descent. This is why he is giving the officials a year to go case by case and decide who is a terrorist and who is not.

We then have the problem of what to do with these people after all the sorting out has been done. I for one do not feel comfortable just deporting the guilty back to their country of birth. This leaves them free to try and come back to America again and really reek some havock. (Let's face it... it's not hard to get into this country and everybody knows it.) If these people are, in fact, guilty of terrorist activity, tried, and convicted in a court of law, then they should be locked up in an American federal prison just like anybody else guilty of a crime would be.

Then, what about the innocent? The ones who are just in the country illegally or the ones you simply can't prove are responsible for any wrong doing? What happens to them? I suppose you deport some and release the rest back on the streets and take your chances. This is not a chance that I feel safe taking but, what is the alternative?

We have already gone down one wrong road for too long. Can we afford to continue making the same wrong headed mistakes? As long as we keep places like Gitmo open and other places like it around the world, we give the real terrorists propoganda and justification for further attacks. This measure of good faith from the Obama Administration sends a different kind of message to the rest of the world...

"We'll extend our hand if you'll unclench your fist!"

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Macaroni Hustle

I was on Mizrepresent's blog recently and she did a post about recession era foods. On the post, she also talked about those days in college when Ramen Noodles and other things got you through a day. She mentioned the all you can eat Taco bars at some restaurants and a few other things which brought back a memory of mine that I would sheepishly like to forget.

Up until my junior year, I lived in the dorms and had a meal card that entitled me to eat in the cafeteria and in the dining hall on campus. We had two dining halls, one on the East side and one on the West side of the campus. You showed your student id and they punched a hole in your meal card which entitled you to breakfast, lunch, and dinner. On Saturday nights, they served a midnight meal (I hear that that is no longer done). You couldn't use your meal card for that but, it was so cheap that you really didn't need it. I remember coming from the party many-a-night and stopping by to get a sandwich, soda, and chips to hold me over.

Come junior year, that all came to an end. I moved into an apartment off-campus with five other guys and I stopped paying the "activity fee" which included my meals and free admittance to the football and basketball games. I used my student loan to pay for instruction and the rest for rent. Of the five guys I lived with, only two others (who I'll call Tyrone and Derrick) and myself had jobs. I worked at a Burger King in town and I think the other two guys worked in the local supermarket. You would think that one of us would have thought to buy some groceries but, it never occurred to us and we spent many nights hungry.

One night, I remember that one of my roommate's girlfriends came over and she went in our refrigerator. The only thing in there was a jar of mustard and some Arm & Hammer Baking Soda so, she left. She came back with her four girlfriends and three bags of groceries. They fried chicken and made some Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. One girl made a salad and they cooked some corn on the cob. Another girl used our oven to barbecue some ribs. Well, we all ate, played cards, played some records, and had a grand old time. In fact, they made so much food that we ate for a week. Then, the food was gone. I kept looking at the one box of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese that was left and the gears of my little mind started working.

The next day, I showed up at one of the girl's apartment with the box of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. We talked and it seemed that she was so glad to have company considering she lived so far from campus. I cleaned her bathtub, mopped her kitchen floor, helped her take her laundry to the Laundromat downstairs in her building, and then helped her fold her clothes (all things I didn't do for myself). When we returned to her apartment, I know she probably thought that my motive was sexual but, to her surprise I said, "Let's make dinner."

I started making the Kraft Macaroni & Cheese and I went in her refrigerator and took out some lettuce, cucumbers, and whatever to make a salad. She was so grateful for all of the help I gave her that she began making cornbread, potato salad, and frying Chicken. She even had some Sangria. We sat, we feasted... and there was so much food left that she gave me a few bags of food to take back to my apartment. She thanked me profusely and was so impressed that I was such a gentleman. I didn't try to make any moves on her at all. She was so impressed that she told a few of her friends about it (like I knew she would).

For my part, me and my roommates had food to eat and I had another house to clean. Everyday after class, I would go to another girl's apartment, clean it, and start cooking some Kraft Macaroni & Cheese... and, almost everytime, I would be asked to stay for dinner... the grateful young lady would be so happy that she would start cooking... and I would wind up taking more food home with me. It was great until a casual friend of mine (who I will call) Gregg Pruit, discovered what I was doing. We were sitting in the student union building and I was bragging to him about my sweet little "Macaroni Hustle" and we were laughing our heads off. He was clapping his hands and saying, "Keith, you Philly guys are off the damn hook! All of you all are natural born hustlers... every one of you that I meet!" And me, like a fool saying, "Ain't we, though?"

Well, within days, Gregg was trying to do his best imitation of me only, he didn't clean as well and unlike me, he wasn't willing to start cooking. He expected the young lady to cook for him before he even started working and what was worst, he was making all kinds of unwanted sexual advances at these girls. I don't know if he was kicked out or not but, the next time I saw him he had a black eye and a swollen face. Apparently he tried the "Macaroni Hustle" on somebody's girlfriend and their man wasn't too impressed.

The next time I came calling, I was told nicely "thanks but, no thanks" and was shown the door before I could even get started. Gregg Pruit had ruined my good thing! I would open my refrigerator door, see a container of mustard and some baking soda and just get furious! Finally, one of my roommates said... "Hell, why don't you just buy some groceries?" Mind you... he was one of the ones who didn't have a job and who barely contributed any rent yet, he had a great idea. I quit my job at Burger King and got a job pressing shirts at the dry cleaners which paid a whole lot more money. I began investing in groceries every time I could. Tyrone and Derrick, the other two roommates who worked, also followed suit and we began cooking our own food from that day forward. It was a lot easier than cleaning somebody else's place just to eat.

My mom sent me a list of essential things to buy every week like soap and toilet paper (things we thought would just naturally be there) and our living arrangements that last year got better. The ladies that stopped by were also a lot more likely to stay longer since we had food. I don't know why we never thought of it sooner!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Saturday Seven (7 Things I'm Thankful For)

1. Salvation
It's always good to know where you're going after this trip is over!

2. My new LG cell phone
It's so flat, I can fold it up and put it in my pants pocket or shirt pocket.

3. I still got a job
In a scary and flat economy like this, that's always good to know.

4. My car is still running
Need I say anymore on that?

5. My blog editor
I couldn't do these blogs without her and the fact that I'm married to her is a plus!

6. Health insurance
When you pass the age of 45, it's essential that you have it... things start going wrong real

7. Blogging
It's so thereaputic and it keeps me off the streets.

Weekend 1

Friday, January 23, 2009

And, The Results?

Well, I've taken at least 48 hours to let it soak in that we have a new president and that my win percentage for picking presidents is slightly up. Let me see now... I told you that I voted in a presidential election for the first time when I was 22 years old so, that would have been for Jimmy Carter over Ronald Reagan. And, the results? I lost 0-1. The next time I voted was in 1984 for Walter Mondale over Ronald Reagan. And, the results? I lost again 0-2. In 1988, I voted for Michael Dukakis over the first George Bush. And, the results? It was bad for me again, 0-3.

You might figure that by this point, I was getting a little pissed off and totally disillusioned with politics. I did. I don't know how many occasions I said the "game" was rigged and my vote didn't matter anyway so, I said that I was never going to vote again. I even said something crazy like I might change parties and become a registered Republican since they seem to be winning everything. Oh, I was pissed off.

By 1992, I was 34 years old, married, and had a family, when a most unlikely candidate from Arkansas named Bill Clinton emerged as the front runner in the Democratic primary. I had never heard of him but, something about him said that he just might have something going on. I cast my lot in with him since I hadn't made good on my threat to become a Republican or Independent. (I came very close to voting for Ross Perot that year.) This time, I was rolling sevens and I won for the first time. Okay, I didn't win anything... I picked the winning presidential candidate for the first time. And, the results? 1-3, me.

Despite his penchant for chasing women, Bill Clinton proved to be my kind of guy as far as governing goes so, I voted for him again in 1996 and whoopeeeeeee! I win again... uh, I picked the winning Presidential Candidate again. And, the results? 2-3. I was almost at .500 and fired up now, baby!

In 2000, with the economy doing well, the country not at war, interest rates at an all time low, and Al Gore running slightly ahead of Baby Bush, I just knew that my choice was going to even things up. Well, we all know what happened in that election! And, the results? 2-4 and I lost again. I was pissed and disillusioned to the point that in 2004, I wasn't going to bother to vote at all. I didn't feel as though I had anyone to vote for... I didn't care that much for Kerry and I certainly wasn't going to vote for George W. Bush. I was going to sit out that election all together. Then, a funny thing happened and I swear this is the truth. I'm not making this up...

I watched the 2004 Democratic National Convention and I saw a young Black man, a guy about my age, give a moving speech at the beginning that made me turn around and look and pay attention. I heard an announcer say, "You could be looking at the next president of the United States right there. That was the Junior Senator from Illinois, Barack Obama speaking." I took notice and said, "Wow, they really think that this guy could be the president? What's up
with this guy? Who is he?" That was my first sighting of Barack Obama and I began following his career from that time on. I remember saying, "I wish he was running... I'd vote for him." But, that was then. I voted for John Kerry and that was a losing cause too. And, the results? 2-5... I wasn't surprised or disappointed that time either.

In 2008, I was so angry at the state of affairs in this country that if the Dems didn't come up with a viable candidate, I was thinking about running myself. First I backed John Edwards, because I said that he was the second coming of Bill Clinton... a handsome, southern, charismatic white man with liberal sensibilities. He was a shoo-in (or, so I thought). Then, Barack won in Iowa, Vermont, and in John Edward's home state! There he is... the guy who I saw four years ago who I said I'd ride with and I rode with him from that time on. Of course, you know I won this one. Okay, Barack won. He was my candidate of choice. And, the results? 3-5.

I don't know how many more presidential elections I have left in my life but hopefully, enough to at least be .500 one day. (I guess you can tell that I'm a sports fan by the way this was written.)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

He Is Our 44th President

Obama Takes The Oath Of Office

Today, Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th president of the United States and the nation's first African-American president. In his speech, President Obama said America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace. This is the prepared transcript of his speech...

My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often, the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land -- a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America: They will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the fainthearted -- for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things -- some celebrated, but more often men and women obscure in their labor -- who have carried us up the long, rugged path toward prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.

Time and again, these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions -- that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act -- not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions -- who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them -- that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works -- whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account -- to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day -- because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control -- and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart -- not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: Know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort -- even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West: Know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment -- a moment that will define a generation -- it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends -- hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism -- these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility -- a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world; duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship. This is the source of our confidence -- the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed -- why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent Mall, and why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

Let it be told to the future world ... that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive... that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]."

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested, we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back, nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations."

Okay, anybody feel like poppin' some champagne bottles and doing a two-step? I'll join you. Mission accomplished!!!

Monday, January 19, 2009

"It's Gonna Be A Better World For You"

I was ten years old when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered. He was gunned down in Memphis, TN just a few days after my tenth birthday. It was the early spring of 1968... just one year after the "long hot summer" of rioting across the nation. I don't think I was even vaguely aware of any of that at the time. My main concern was whether I was going to get the new G.I. Joe with kung-fu grip by Christmas.

I saw Dr. King on the news from time to time... usually getting arrested, leading a march, or giving a speech. It didn't occurr to me that this was being done for me or that it would effect my life in any way, shape, or form. I was after all, a child. I did notice that when Dr. King was on television being interviewed or giving a speech, the adults in my house would get very quiet, gather around the television set in the living room, and hang on to every word. My grandparents especially responded to Dr. King as if he was their pastor and they were in his church.

He was their pastor, we were his congregation... all of us. My grandfather and uncle explained to me that Dr. King was a good man and even though he was going to jail, it wasn't because he was a bad man. There was a difference between him going to jail and say, Mr. Robinson across the street... who routinely got drunk, came outside naked, and had to be hauled off to jail for the night. No, Dr. King was fighting for something called "civil rights", something that I would understand when I was much older.

When he died, I knew just by the reaction of my parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and older people on the street that something monumental had happened. I could see the universal dispair in peoples faces and the anger in a few younger folks who I recall threw a few bottles and set a few small fires that weekend. My mother explained to me that because of what Dr. King did, it was "gonna be a better world for you." She said that my brother and I would be going to college and that when we graduated, the world we would be entering would be a much better one than the one she had come of age in.

My mother also told me that when she was a little girl, my grandfather was driving her and her sisters somewhere and they saw a body hanging from a tree. They saw it before my grandfather could shield their eyes from it. It was something she never forgot and an everyday occurrence in the 1930's and 1940's. It was a warning not to "get out of line". Dr. King, Malcolm X, and the people who followed them had indeed "gotten out of line" and had changed all of that. She was certain in 1968 that wouldn't be my reality.

In a sense, she was right. I attended integrated schools most of my life, never lived in an age of segregation, and entered the work force with much more opportunity than my grandparents and parents could ever imagine. Although, I didn't enter a perfect world... the hatred and small mindedness that killed Dr. King still exists but, it's fading fast. I want to thank Dr. Martin Luther King and all of the people who lost their lives during the civil rights movemant for leaving me a better world than the one I was born into. I hope my generation can leave this world a little better for the children who are coming up now.

In another sense, my mother was wrong. This world is a much more dangerous and hateful place than it was then. The economy is worse... it's much harder for a young person to get started in the work force and the future looks about as bleak now for Americans of every hue as it ever did. Despite this bleakness, I'm left with my mother's optimism and her hope for me. I have this hope for the young people coming up now. It's gonna be a better world for you too, if you follow Dr. King's example of faith and activism and make it what you would have it be. Don't just except it as it is and lose hope. Take the cards you are dealt and play the best hand you've got!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Emblem Of The Helping Hand

I have been tagged again and this time, I'm saying "thank you" to Mizrepresent over at Miz's Write For Life for naming me (my blog) as a "Helping Hand". In turn, I need to name five bloggers (blogs) who are my "Helping Hand" and they are:

1. Thoughts of a Southern Gal (One Good Reason...)

2. Rich Fitzgerald (The Rich House)

3. Opinionated Diva (Divalicious Opinions)

4. 12Kyle (The 12th Planet)

5. CurvyGurl (The CurvyGurl Chronicles)

You guys have supported my blog on a continuous basis and in return, have introduced me to people I wouldn't have otherwise met. I can't thank you enough and I'm so glad to have cyber met you all.

Next, I need to extend a "Helping Hand" in support and encouragement to five more bloggers (blogs) and they are:

6. Beautifully.Conjured.Up (Conjured Perceptions)

7. Qucifer (It's Q's World You Just Live In It)

8. Strongblkwoman (Tammy's Thoughts)

9. Truth (The Enclave)

10. Kofi Bofah (Onyx Investments)

You guys have great blogs and I hope that the exposure here brings you an even larger audience because you deserve it.

And finally, I added my name (blog link) to "The Helping Hand Meme" and a comment was left there as a permanent record.

Smile Enjoy and have fun everybody!!!

Rules for The Emblem of the Helping Hand:

1. Select 10 bloggers: First, pick 5 bloggers that you consider your blogging "Helping Hand". Second, pay it forward by extending your "Helping Hand" to 5 additional bloggers in support and encouragement for their efforts.

2. In passing on the emblem, each recipient must provide the name of the blog and/or blog author with a link for others to visit. Each recipient must show the emblem and put the name and link to the blog that has given it to her/him.

3. Link the emblem to this post, "Helping Hand: Much Obliged and Paying it Forward", so that others will know its origin and impetus.

4. If you have not already done so, show your recipients some love by adding them to your blogroll, Technorati Favorites list, or in some other way to further let them know that their blog voice is important to you and being heard.

5. Add your name to "The Helping Hand Meme" and don't forget to leave a comment as a permanent record of all "Helping Hand" recipients.

6. Display the rules in your post.

Friday, January 16, 2009

His Show Now

In a few days, it'll be his show. He won't be the candidate, the president elect, the heir apparent, or any of those things. He'll be the president of the United States. It will no longer be his dream or the dream of many who are basking in the afterglow of the events of last year. It will be for real, for all the marbles and everything that happens in the next four years will be on him.

Mr. Bush will be back on his ranch in Crawford, TX, a faint and distant memory. If things go right and progress is made, the new president will get all of the credit and adulation. If things go bad (and they will) he'll get all of the blame. It's on him now. This is after all what he wanted. He's made history... he'll never be forgotten. The thing is, how will he be remembered? I digress...

This is a rotten time to be elected as president of the United States. I don't have to list the litany of things that are wrong with this country right now. It seems everything went south so fast. This is the worst time to be the newly elected leader of the free world but, if you're going to do a job, you might as well take the biggest challenge right? If you're a doctor, do you want to remove a kid's tonsils or do you want to transplant a heart?

I think he's up to the challenge. I think he has an idea of what he'd like to do. Furthermore, it looks like he has lined up some people who have a clue as to how to make his life a lot easier. Time will tell. Right now, the country he has inherited is a strange one. If he can straighten half of this mess out, he'll look good and guarantee himself re-election for another four years to try and finish what he started.

I often wonder if Franklin D. Roosevelt felt the same way on the eve of his first inauguration. He inherited a country that was in the same mess that this one is in now. People were losing their jobs, their farms, their homes, and all hope. It took him four terms but, he turned America around and brought it new prosperity. I wonder if he knew... if he had a clue... as to whether or not he could do that on the eve of his first innauguration?

People are expecting our new president to be Jesus Christ and Superman all rolled up in one. Newsflash... he's neither! He's going to do the best he can to striaghten out a mess that he didn't start and that really wasn't completely the fault of the last president. No, the seeds of this mess started back in the 1980's. It just spread, festered, and got swept under the rug until there was no more room to hide it. It just burst out and spread all over our living rooms like so much dust.

So here we are... here he is... on the last weekend he has to be innocent and free from blame. After Tuesday, the buck stops with him. It's all on him. It's his show. I, for one, will be watching and rooting for him to pull it off. In my minds eye, I see him turning to America and saying cooly and with much swagger, "America, don't fret baby... I got this."

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Thought For Thursday

A friend sent this to me in an e-mail. I thought I'd share...

By Maya Angelou

A hater is someone who is jealous and envious and spends all their time trying to make you look small so they can look tall. They are very negative people to say the least. Nothing is ever good enough!

When you make your mark, you will always attract some haters...

That's why you have to be careful with whom you share your blessings and your dreams, because some folk can't handle seeing you blessed...

It's dangerous to be like somebody else. If God wanted you to be like somebody else, He would have given you what He gave them! Right?

You never know what people have gone through to get what they have...

The problem I have with haters is that they see my glory, but they don't know my story...

If the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence, you can rest assured that the water bill is higher there too!

We've all got some haters among us! Some people envy you because you can:

a. Have a relationship with God
b. Light up a room when you walk in
c. Start your own business
d. Tell a man or a woman to hit the curb (if he/she isn't about the right thing)
e. Raise your children without both parents being in the home

Haters can't stand to see you happy.
Haters will never want to see you succeed.
Most of our haters are people who are supposed to be on our side.

How do you handle your undercover haters? You can handle these haters by:

1. Knowing who you are and who your true friends are. (VERY IMPORTANT!)

2. Having a purpose to your life. Purpose does not mean having a job. You can have a job and still be unfulfilled. A purpose is having a clear sense of what God has called you to be. Your purpose is not defined by what others think about you.

3. By remembering that what you have is by divine prerogative and not human manipulation.

Fulfill your dreams! You only have one life to live... when its your time to leave this earth, you want to be able to say, "I've lived my life and fulfilled my dreams. Now I'm ready to go HOME!"

When God gives you favor, you can tell your haters, "Don't look at me... Look at who is in charge of me!"


Don't Hate, Co-operate, that's my mantra for 2009. I'm like Jay-Z, brushin' the dirt off of my shoulders!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Cops and Brothas

Oscar Grant

I was going to write about the murder of Oscar Grant in Oakland a few nights ago but, I didn't. I kept seeing great blog posts about it and saying that I didn't need to but, I couldn't hold this in any longer. I think of Oscar Grant, shot to death while handcuffed... I think of Sean Bell, an unarmed man who was shot to death the night before his wedding... I think of Fred Hampton, shot to death while in his bed sleeping... I thought of Michael Griffith, Rodney King, and so many others. In each case, the offending officer thought that HE was in danger.

Sean Bell

I also think about how, as a young man, I was constantly stopped by the cops for either being some place I wasn't supposed to be (according to them... I always felt as though I belonged anywhere I happened to be) or for violating the curfew. They would always catch me, just as I was crossing 60th and Girard Avenue and attempting to run through Carolls Park to my neighborhood on the other side. The cops had a little trick they used to pull back then... they would take you to a "foreign" neighborhood, drop you off, and then you had to fight that neighborhod's gang and run back to your own neighborhood. I risked having to fight some gang, possibly robbed, and then face my mother's wrath for being late. I tell you, some nights, I was just better off staying in the house!

My mother always told me and my brother to never talk back to the cops, stand perfectly still, and never make any move that could be considered "threatening". I guess she knew. She drilled that in my head especially, because I had attitude "going to bed" and I was more than likely to get smart with the cops. I, to my credit, never gave the cops any lip... After they frisked me and determined that I was no threat, they usually let me go about my business. I violated the curfew so much, that the cops in the 19th District got to know me on a first name basis. Sometimes, they even gave me a ride home. Still, I often wonder when I would hear about the Sean Bells and the Oscar Grants, if that could have been me. One night, it surely could have been...

I was 29 years old and engaged to be married. My future wife and I went to dinner out in a Philadelphia suburb. These two cops roused me and through me up against the wall. If they had been Philly cops, it would have gone down different but, these suburban yokels were cowboys and it was one of those nights when I just wasn't with this "dog and pony show". One cop, a big beefy baby-faced guy who looked a few years younger than me, acted as if he'd just caught John Dillinger... frisking me and roughing me up. He could tell by the look on my face that I didn't like it and he seemed to enjoy it even more.

His Partner was a little older, tried to be a little more humane, and said "Sorry sir, it's just that you resemble a burglary suspect". "Oh, He was black, huh?" I said back rather tersly. "Hey, lose the attitude, okay?" said his baby-faced partner. I looked at him with fire in my eyes and my right hand was trembling but, I didn't say or do anything else. They gave me back my wallet, my keys, and they let me continue my dinner. I was so enraged that all I could do was hold back tears. What could I have done but gotten myself arrested at best, killed at worse?

It was embarrassing because it happened when I was out with my fiance. Luckily, she was inside the restaurant and didn't actually witness it. I know that cops have a tough job and I by no means hate cops. I just hate killers who hide behind a badge... I hate killers who hide behind a military uniform... and I hate the cowards who justify their actions and won't do anything about the problems (i.e. politicians) I feel blessed that I didn't become an Oscar Grant or a Sean Bell. Lord knows, the way I traveled the streets at night, I easily could have been.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Cold Turkey

Once, when I was in college, I found out that a young lady I had been dating for close to a year had slept with someone else while I was away for the weekend. I actually found out about it from the person she had slept with. You see, he was somewhat of a friend. He was complaining about the fact that the two of them had stained his sheets and that she hadn't offered to wash them for him. He was pretty pissed... so pissed that he didn't realize who he was complaining to, until it was too late!

I confronted the young lady about his accusation and she appeared shocked that I knew already... then, she was obsessed with finding out who told me. Oh, she accused the entire Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. She said that they hated her because she had made her intentions known to pledge AKA. Then, she accused the AKA's because they might have thought she was a little too chummy with the Deltas. Next, she accused my "newsy" frat brothers because they never liked her in the first place.

Of course, none of these was true. I got the story from the horse's mouth. I could have told her but, I got a sadistic pleasure out of watching her try to figure it out and grow paranoid by the second wondering who was her friend, who was pretending, who could have seen her, and how they got it back to me so fast. (This was before cell phones, email, and BlackBerrys.) Mind you, she never denied it. She just wanted to know... needed to know who told.

I sat in my room for close to three days and didn't leave... I just stared out the window. I recall that I slept a lot, didn't eat, didn't bath, didn't shave... just stared out the window. It was a mild case of depression but, I will say this... all of that time allowed me to think clearly and "get my mind right ", as comedian Steve Harvey says. Well, I got my mind right and on the fourth day, I shaved, brushed my teeth, showered for a good long time, put on some clean clothes, and returned to the world. I had a new girlfriend (or at least someone to sport around) within two or three days. Today, no one would be able to do that... too many distractions with email, cell phones going off, text messages, Twitter, Blogging, etc.

So, I approached my good friend, who I spoke of in a post I wrote a few days ago. She is in the fourth day of what I'll call "relationship rehab." A guy she was involved with for four years told her last week that he was (finally) moving out. He said that he had been seeing another girl for months and that he could no longer lie about it. He told her that it wasn't her fault, that it was him, and he just couldn't "get himself together." I recalled him saying the same thing a few weeks ago at a mutual friend's Christmas get together. He kept saying, "If I could just get myself together, I'd be straight." He said this about ten times before he fell flat on his face, drunk and stoned in our mutual friend's living room. A couple of us had to help him to his car and his always loyal yet mortified girlfriend had to drive him home.

I'm sure, over a period of four years she must have grown tired of scenes like this yet, she endured. He went to rehab, came home, was "straight" for two weeks, and he was right back at it. He and I had been in the Air Force together for years and I was quite aware of his problems, which was why I told her in the very beginning to just "go out with him, have a good time but, don't get involved and don't let him move in with you." She didn't listen and four years later, we come to this.

I must admit, I didn't know about the cheating. I didn't take him for the type but, it all came out and this was one of three reasons why I have hung up my cape and long underwear. I realize that I can no longer save the world. Grown folks do what they want to do in the end and even though they ask for your advice, they never really take it unless it's what they really want to do.

My friend asked me how I handled a bad break-up and I told her the story I wrote above... how I just sat in my room and thought and thought, without being disturbed and without being around people for three days. She didn't want to do that and I wouldn't advise anyone else to do that. You can get pretty hungry and otherwise unbearable during that time. What I didn't do, however, was call that person (she wants to call her ex's sister, just to see how he's doing) or beg. I explained to her that if she hasn't heard from him, he's probably doing fine and further more, why should she care? She agreed with me but (there is always a but), I wasn't inclined to hear it.

From what I understand, she is spending her evenings watching BET (that will take your mind off of anything right there) and reading magazines. Everybody rehabs differently after a bad break-up... some people eat, some people meditate, some people cry, some people drink, and some people sleep with a series of partners until the pain subsides. I can't say what is right or wrong... it depends on the person. I just know what worked for me. I hope my friend finds something that will work for her.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Believe In Green!!!

Well, the Eagles did it again yesterday! The final score was Eagles 23, Giants 11. I guess I don't have to tell that the excitement is really building here in Philly so, stay tuned for next week's game.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

What Crazy Looks Like

30th Street Train Station in Philadelphia

This past Friday, I put my car in the Firestone Shop at 32nd and Market Streets to have some minimal repairs done. Since this type of thing usually takes a couple of hours, I decided to walk over to the 30th Street Train Station to peruse some of the shops inside and pick up some newspapers and magazines.

Upon entering the train station, I thought it would be a good idea to get some money out of the ATM machine. While I was standing there, I noticed her out of the corner of my eye. She was a very attractive woman who kinda put you in the mind of the singer, Keyshia Cole, though a few years older. She was dressed very nicely and sitting at one of the many tables that are situated outside of the restaurants and coffee shops inside the train station. She had a lot of papers on the table that she was peering at and she appeared to be talking on a cell phone. I've seen this scenario a million times in the airports, train stations, and coffee shops I've gone to... people waiting for planes and trains, tapping away on laptops or blackberries, and chatting away on cell phones. There was nothing out of the ordinary about it.

I got my money, counted it, and put it in my wallet. I looked over at the lady and I could see that she was staring at me. She winked (which under the circumstances, I thought was kind of odd) and I smiled. She then asked me if I could lend her eighty cents so she could buy a cup of coffee. I get propositioned for money by homeless people and bums all the time and depending on my mood, I either let go of a few dollars or I keep walking. Today was her lucky day so, I passed her a dollar. (Where are you going to get coffee for eighty cents outside of McDonalds anyway?)This seemed strange to me because, at first glance, this was the type of woman that I would be borrowing money from... not vice versa.

Anyway, I walked over to hand her a dollar and the first thing I noticed was that all of the papers on the table were dirty and handwritten with mathematical equations and alphabets all over them in no certain order. The woman looked at me and said, "When I get my new house, I'm going to have you over and we can spend some time together." Say what? Maybe she had me mistaken for someone else, I thought! Then, she said.. "Don't mind all these documents. I'm trying to get my business plan together. I emailed Obama from my cell phone this morning. He hasn't hit me back yet but, I'm trying to get him to give me a government loan so I can set up my businesses. I have a plan to set up a franchise of homes and shelters for battered women. It would be like the McDonald's of shelters for battered women." (I kid you not, she actually said that!) She said, "I'm tired of fooling with Bush and them Republicans. I done emailed him, mailed him letters, and he ain't sent me nary a response. I just emailed Obama yesterday and I was hoping he'd get back to me before the inauguration."

Upon looking at her closer, I noticed that her "cell phone" didn't have any back on it... no cell, no battery either. It was just a frame. If she has been emailing President Elect Barack Obama on that phone, I doubt that he'll be getting back to her anytime soon. Maybe that's why Bush didn't get back to her either! Okay, At this point, you realize that I understood that this woman was out of her mind so, I backed up.

There was another sister at the ATM machine who must have heard the entire conversation. She was cracking up... laughing and banging her hand on the side of the machine. I looked at her and said, "She's crazy but, she doesn't look crazy." The sister looked at me and said, "So, what does crazy look like? She's here everyday, talking out of her head like that and she gets men to hand over twenty dollars or more to her. She must stay somewhere because she's always clean and dressed nice. I wonder if she really is crazy or if you guys are the ones who are crazy for talking to her and giving her money."

I have to admit... the sister had a point!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Saturday Seven (7 Things I'm Feeling Right Now)

1. Ethiopian Coffee
Too black, too strong, but just right to kickstart your morning.

2. Beyonce "I Am Sasha Fierce"
I said I wasn't feeling it at first but, it grew on me!

3. Foreign Exchange "Leave it all Behind"
Original R&B, mixed with a little acid jazz, and just a touch of funk.

4. Anthony Hamilton "The Point of it All"
The point being, this is real soul music here... the way it's supposed to sound.

5. "Seven Pounds" starring Will Smith
A far better movie than the critics are telling you it is. It makes you think and it keeps you engaged until you finally figure out just what it is this movie is about. After all, isn't that what good movies do?

6. Taraji P. Henson, Actress
I have been loving her since the movie "Baby Boy". She has just been giving us one great performance after another.

7. "The Right Mistake" novel by Walter Mosley
He's still my favorite author!

Friday, January 9, 2009

For Blogging Out Loud

Yesterday, a number of my favorite bloggers decided to return. I saw posts by Dreamy, The F%$K It List, Sexxy Love, The Flyest, SLC, Pocahontaz, and Rich. Some were on hiatus... some had quit the game and closed down their blogs. All of them wrote fresh posts and I was so glad to hear from them. Still no sign from Don, though. I checked out his blog (Minus The Bars) and he's still missing in action. His last post was written on October 24th. I guess he still hasn't found enough money to get away from those UFOs that are holding him hostage. Wherever he is, I wish the brother luck.

I keep saying that I'm going to take a break from blogging and read a couple of books. I just bought a new novel by Walter Mosley called "The Right Mistake" and I also have the latest novel by Diane McKinney Whetstone called "Trading Dreams at Midnight" lying on my nightstand (unread since June). Every time I say I'm going to take a break, I find something else to write a blog post about.

This was going to be one of those nights... I'm in complete chillout mode... I got a glass of red Kool-Aid, four new CD's to listen to (Foreign Exchange "Leave it All Behind", Keyshia Cole "A Different Me", Musiq Soulchild "onmyradio", and Anthony Hamilton "The Point of it All") and my two unread books. I may listen to the music... all I have to do is put that on but, I doubt that I'll get more than one chapter read in the book. Why? Because I'm here blogging, that's why. It's supposed to snow all weekend. I can read and listen to music then.

I respect bloggers who take a "blog haitus" because they hit that brick wall, they have nothing fresh to say. When or if I hit that brick wall, you won't hear from me for a few days but, I'll be back. I didn't think I had anything fresh to say tonight, and here I am blogging about blogging.

A close female friend of mine is getting used to sitting in her house alone for the first time in four years after a turbulent relationship ended with a man who was both an alcoholic and a substance abuser. He also couldn't find it in his heart not to cheat on her in the process. I was going to say that I had tried to tell her about him four years ago... that what I said went in one ear and out the other... and how I am out of the advice business forever but, Rich beat me to it. He wrote something simular today and, I ain't mad at him... I'm just glad he's back in the game. I held it down for him while he was resting (I'm just kidding, of course).

I was going to do a post about how women would be much happier if they compartmentalized like men do but, I didn't. It's all been said before and Lovebabz beat me to that and she said it best... "Grown folks know what to do, they just choose not to." So, there were my two topics, written for me. It's alright. I'm not mad. I'll come back with something fresh for my next post.

For all of my brother and sister bloggers who returned yesterday... Thanks!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Take Your Seat

Governor Blagojevitch and Roland Burris

My mother and grandmother always used to say that you are judged by the company you keep. In Roland Burris's case, he was judged unfairly, I might say, by the company or rather the person that chose to be with him... that would be the controversial and soon to be indicted Illinois Governor Blagojevitch. (Boy, that was a mouthful. I'm happy to say Ed Rendell any day. Phew!!!)

Governor Blagojevitch allegedly attempted to peddle his influence by offering to sell the empty senate seat once held by President Elect Barack Obama to the highest bidder. I guess he figured it is his state and the seat is in his state so, why can't he profit from it? I believe he allegedly said as much.

If you recall (and you would have to be living under a rock not to recall), there was much drama and gnashing of the teeth about this situation. Jesse Jackson, Jr. was thought to be the heir apparent to the seat and despite what he has said, coveted that seat greatly. I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt that he wasn't involved in any wrong doing. But, it doesn't really matter now because the governor, who was just days out of a jail cell, got real gangsta and appointed Roland Burris to the seat. Roland Burris is the former Attorney General of Illinois and from all accounts, a good and decent man with no blood on his hands.

I gotta hand it to Governor Blagojevitch (Man, couldn't you have changed your name to Smith? Jeez!!!)... it took some nerve to do that. Apparently, he has learned nothing from O.J. Simpson. (Hell, O.J. Simpson has learned nothing from O.J. Simpson!) He tapped Burris and up until today, the senate refused to seat him. Not because of anything he had done wrong but, because of who appointed him. This goes back to what my mother and grandmother said about "the company you keep."

I'll remind everyone that Governor Blagojevitch (I'll be glad when I'm finished this post because I won't have to spell his name ever again!!!) has not been convicted of any crime and, therefore, is innocent under the law so, I suppose that he was perfectly within his right as governor for picking Roland Burris to take Obama's vacant seat. After all, he is still the elected governor of the state of Illinois. He's just as gangsta as he wants to be... crooked politician or not. He looked at the U.S. Senate and said, "What?"

Today, Roland Burris, a good and decent man, was seated, as he should have been. Hello Senator Roland Burris... take your seat please!!!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Five Down, Fifteen To Go...

I weighed myself today... 215 pounds. I've lost five pounds and I did it without even trying. I guess that's because I've missed a few meals.

I'd like to think it was because I've been taking the bus to work lately instead of driving. The bus stops at the corner of my block and it seems like I always have to chase it in the morning. Soon as I lock the door, there it goes whizzing by my house. There is a stop light at the corner. If it's red, I can catch the bus easily. If it's green, then I hope that there are a considerable amount of passengers waiting at the corner, forcing the bus to stop. The run to the bus is great early morning exercise. Then, I take the trolley home. The trolley stops right outside my work place but, lets me off about eight blocks from my house. I walk the eight blocks as opposed to waiting for another bus... once again, this is great exercise.

Of course, there is eating or the lack of it. Some mornings, I miss breakfast altogether. Depending on what I'm doing, I might miss lunch too. Then, I go home and have a big dinner. After that, I do some reading, some blogging, and watch a little television. Yesterday, I fixed pasta. I melted butter into a frying pan, added garlic, some orange, yellow, red, and green peppers to it and poured it over the pasta. I then sprinkled the pasta with cooked shrimps and served it to my family. I'm allergic to most seafood so, all I could do was enjoy watching them eat it. I had pasta, with a light marinara sauce, minus any ground beef.

I have not had any beef or pork this year... just chicken and turkey. No fried chicken either, just baked. The loss of the five pounds doesn't excite me because I'm just one hoagie or cheese steak away from gaining it back. I'm going to try to be good and leave that most comforting of comfort foods alone for a minute. At 6'1+1/4" and 215 lbs., I don't look fat to the person just meeting me but, to family members and people who have known me most of my life, I look like the Notorious B.I.G. (remember, I was about 167 lbs. when I got married... a real skinny guy). The words big and me should have never been synonymous.

So, I'm down five pounds and got fifteen to go to make my goal. Who knows? I might just lose that twenty pounds by March 24th after all!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Everybody Could Win If...

The Free Library of Philadelphia

Philadelphia, like Detroit, Chicago, Baltimore, and one hundred other cities in the United States, is close to being broke. Our mayor, through no fault of his own, will not be able to balance the city's budget and with the looks of things in the United States right now, not much help will be coming from the federal government anytime soon. In all fairness, how many institutions can they bail out?

In order to balance part of the city's budget, our mayor has proposed the closing of several non-regional libraries and firehouses. Take a guess where these libraries and firehouses are and who gets affected by this the most? According to the mayor and his staff, the city will save so many millions of dollars by doing this.

As of this writing, a judge has blocked the mayor from closing the libraries but, the firehouses might not be as lucky. If I recall, this is the second time in my lifetime that something like this has been proposed. It wasn't very popular the first time it was proposed either. You may save the city's budget but, piss off a lot of its citizens in the meanwhile. When the city cuts services like this, it causes a lot of people to get fed up and move away... and you still lose your tax base, which after all, pays for the city to run. However, there is a feasible solution to this mess. Do you wanna know what it is? Glad you asked and here it is... a win win situation.

You know that I'm a die-hard Philadelphia sports fanatic, right? It has come to my attention that the Philadelphia Eagles, Sixers, Phillies, and Flyers all owe the city of Philadelphia, upwards to millions of dollars in unpaid back taxes and other fees. The Eagles have been in court, arguing that they should be given more time to pay and should not have to pay the entire amount that the city says it owes. Here is a thought... Instead of paying the city all of the money, how about each team "adopt a library and a firehouse slated to be closed and provide the finances needed to keep the mayor from having to close them. This works as a great public relations tool for the team (i.e. "The Sixers have adopted the Parkside branch of the Free Library"), it saves the library, acts as a boon to the community, and cuts down a part of the team's debt. Everybody comes out smelling like a rose and everybody wins!

There is a local activist who has been screaming, blogging, and e-mailing anyone who will listen for years that the city ought to make these teams accountable to the community in other ways than just having an athlete visit a sick child in the hospital and taking a couple of photos with them but, no one in the last administration or the present one wanted to demand anything from the sports franchises. The Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, and Flyers all have brand new state of the art playing fields and stadiums that I can only afford to actually go to once a season. They make plenty of money. My cable bill alone can attest to it. The same organization that owns my cable company, also owns the Sixers and Flyers. Are you all starting to get my drift here?

What I am proposing can be done. Everybody involved could win if somebody in City Hall would really think outside the box and make this happen. It's called corporate sponsorship. It's done everyday. In the streets, it's called "calling in your markers." Because, if you dance to the music, sooner or later, you got to pay the piper. Ask yo mama!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Redemption At The Supermarket

OK, you all know how I feel about resolutions, right? I'm going to go on record and say that what I'm about to write right now is not so much a resolution but rather, a pledge. I pledge to be more forgiving and understanding of people in the coming year. Last night, my wife and I went to the movies to see Will Smith in "Seven Pounds". Without giving any of the movie away, let me say that my take on it was of a man riddled with guilt and unable to forgive himself. With that said, I won't say anymore about the movie. You really have to see it to understand what I'm saying. Case in point...

I drove to the nearest supermarket (Shop-Rite) this morning to pick up a few things... some Hefty trash can liners and tall kitchen bags. I also picked up two bottles of mildew remover and a Jet Magazine with Keisha Cole on the cover. I think everything came up to about $28.50. The supermarket has a policy that you cannot take grocery bags into the restroom with you so, I told the cashier that I was going to leave my two bags on the side to be picked up when I returned. She nodded. I returned a few minutes later only to discover that my bags were gone.

The cashier, who was in a conversation with the other cashier across from her about who was the flyest, Little Wayne or T.I., suddenly realized what happened and she said, "Oh, I'm s-o-o-o sorry, somebody just walked off with your groceries! They just walked out... if you hurry, you can catch them. They couldn't have gone far!" I dashed out of the store and into a parking lot filled with people. Several cars were pulling off and people were everywhere. The person with my groceries could be long gone! I ran back in and asked the cashier what did the person look like? She couldn't remember. I asked if the person was a man or woman? She just gave me blank stare! What was true was that my groceries were gone.

I was asked if I had a receipt. It was in the bag with the groceries! The manager was called and my plight was explained to him. He asked me for a receipt. It was in the bag. He said that he could look at the tape of the transactions made and give me a duplicate receipt. He needed to know how much the groceries were. I said, "$ 28.50." It took him about twenty minutes but, he found proof of my transaction and I was able to get the same things I originally purchased and go about my business.

I should have been incensed and I admit being a little perturbed for a few minutes... but, I realized that making an ugly scene was not going to get me any satisfaction any quicker. I also remember what it was like to be a teenager, working a mundane minimum wage job, and have my head in the clouds. Been there, done that. I thanked the manager for taking care of the manner and I walked away.

I even forgave the cashier. People make mistakes and nobody is perfect. One of the criticisms that is most thrown around about me is that I don't always pay attention to detail. This made me think about being more detail attentive in my own day to day work to avoid such mishaps. A mishap that might have turned ugly was handled so quietly that nobody else in the store was even aware that it happened. I was proud of myself for showing restraint when I had every reason to explode. By not exploding, I didn't make the cashier or manager's day bad and everybody walked away a winner.

This year, I pledge to show forgiveness and understanding and practice restraint. This is not a resolution. It's my pledge... to not only forgive others but, to forgive myself too for my own past shortcomings. It's a good way to start off 2009, if I do say so myself!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Football Gods Are Still Smiling!!!

Well, it's been another great football weekend for me... Eagles 26, Vikings 14. Next week, we meet the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants for a divisional playoff game. How did your team do this weekend?

Saturday, January 3, 2009

What I've Learned

1. It's better to roll with the "seven" who loves and adores you than to take a chance on the "ten" who just tolerates you.

2. I have never once talked to any female who used any of those "ten things to drive your man wild in bed" pointers that are featured in magazines like Redbook. I always figured those articles were written for people in the waiting rooms of their respective doctor or dentist.

3. Sometimes, it's just not about money.

4. I'd much rather try something and fail miserably than to not try and spend the rest of my life wondering, "what if ?"

5. Sometimes, it's not about sex.

6. My father died suddenly, the day after Father's Day 2002, and I thought in the moments after I got the news that I knew very little about his life... as a young man in the service, the types of women in his past, etc. I was going to have that conversation with him one day. You always think you've got all the time in the world... in those quiet moments, I realized that I did not.

7. My grandson teaches me everyday how beautiful it is to learn something new and how we take the simple things like talking, walking, holding hands, and trusting someone for granted.

8. You don't want to meet a lot of celebrities you admire... you're always let down in some

9. Most people who are portrayed as larger than life usually aren't (this just re-inforces what I said in number 8).

10. The first time I heard Tupac Shakur rap, I knew he was destined to be a star. I also knew that he wasn't going to be around to see his thirtieth birthday. He just had that look, that
starcrossed look. Biggie had it too!

11. Fidelity is the greatest thing you have in life because it's yours and no one else's. Word truly is bond.

12. It's far easier to overcome adversity than it is sucess. After sucess, what do you do next?


"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