Saturday, February 27, 2010

Saturday Seven (7 Things I Hate About Winter)



1. Snow

2. Ice

3. Shoveling snow and ice

4. Being Cold

5. The fact that it gets dark earlier

6. Driving on snow and ice

7. Slipping and falling on snow and ice

(I could name more but that would just be complaining too much!)

Friday, February 26, 2010

Weekend Humor


A very prestigious cardiologist died, and was given a very elaborate funeral by the hospital he worked for most of his life.

A huge heart covered in flowers stood behind the casket during the service as all the doctors from the hospital sat in awe. Following the eulogy, the heart opened, and the casket was rolled inside. The heart then closed, sealing the doctor in the beautiful heart forever.

At that point, one of the mourners burst into laughter. When all eyes stared at him, he said, '' Oh... Oh, I'm so sorry. I'm sorry. I just can't help it... bwahahahahahaha. I, I, I was just thinking of my own funeral. See, hahahahahahahahaha... I'm a gynecologist. "

At which point the proctologist fainted.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Keith's Favorite Quotes


"Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery." - Malcolm X

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

My Radio Sho Was Good 2 Me!


I was driving home today and I was listening to the syndicated Michael Baisden show on WDAS-FM... my radio station of choice since 1974 and I'll get back to that in a minute. He was talking about his mentoring program and how he used his radio show as a bully pulpit to help get Barack Obama elected and to fight for justice for the Jena Six. What he said that got to me was how black radio doesn't seem to have that activist spirit anymore. It got to me because I remember how important radio used to be, not only to me but to my entire community.

In Philly, there was always WDAS, from the time I can remember. They had legendary jocks like "Butterball", who is still around, believe it or not; Georgie Woods, "The Man With The Goods"; Carl Helm; Jimmy Bishop, "The Lovvvvve Man!"; his now ex-wife, Louise Williams Bishop, who today is a State Representative and in ministry; and the man who I believe was the first rapper, "Doctor" Perry Johnson... "I said yum yum, gimmee some... Don't stop, don't stop, don't block the Doc!" Jocko Henderson was a little before my time, but I'm sure my cousins remember... "EEEE tiddly yock... ouuu I'm the Doc and I'm back on the scene wit' my record machine sayin' ouuu papa dooo, how y'all do? This is Jocko baby!" And, last but certainly not least, Harvey Holiday with the "oldies" on Sundays. Soul classics.

These were local guys, neighborhood guys... and guys who kept you up on what was happening in your community. When Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. or Malcolm X came to Philly, they stopped at WDAS to talk to Georgie Woods and they stopped at their rival station WHAT to talk to "The Mighty Burner". These were just jocks to the untrained eye or ear, but they were diplomats to the black community. They got people out to support the Civil Rights Movement in the south and they got people out a decade later to support Hardy Williams in his bid to be the city's first black mayor.

You felt like you knew these guys (and, you did) because it was nothing to see Georgie Woods at the Uptown in North Philly introducing The Temptations, Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, The Jackson Five, The Ojays, Billy Paul, Jerry Butler, The Intruders, Wilson Picket, The Delfonics, and all of those great soul acts of the past.

That was the WDAS of my childhood and by childhood I mean, the first 14 years of my life. By the time I was 16 years old, I discovered that WDAS had a "sister" station on my FM band. It was called "black rock" and it was way different than the station I just described. They played album cuts.

Donny Hathaway, Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and Isaac Hayes were creating some incredible experimental soul music back then. Cuts weren't the typical three minutes you would hear on a top-ten single. Cuts were from 8-10 minutes long and sometimes, even longer. For those of you who are in your mid-late 40's, remember how long Isaac Hayes' "I Stand Accused "actually was? I wondered if I could hold a girl's attention that long in a conversation without singing at some point.

This station played the long cuts. Not only that, they played albums by white artists that I might not have ever heard of otherwise. It was here that I heard the Rolling Stones "Sympathy For The Devil" (a song I long believed was about me). I first heard two Philly guys named Hall & Oates on this station, as well as Steely Dan and The Doobie Brothers. Music wasn't as segregated and formatted as it is now. Also, a black guy from Newark, NJ (which according to my grandfather, was one of the funkiest places on earth... though, I doubt he meant that the way I took it) named George Clinton birthed three groups... Funkadelic, Parliament, and Bootsy's Rubber Band that were producing music like nobody had ever heard at the time.

New bands like Earth, Wind & Fire, War, and Mandrill were just starting out and it was here that their first works were broken. I could go on and on... I sat up in my room from midnight until whenever, drifted off to sleep, and heard history and magic. It was incredible and I took it all for granted. I thought it would always be that way and never end. So, let's fast forward to today...

I still listen to WDAS FM, more out of loyalty and nostalgia than anything else. It in no way resembles the station I described to you above and it's no longer locally owned. It's now owned by communication conglomerate "Clear Channel", which owns about five other stations in the city. Seventy percent of it's programming is syndicated... you've got Donnie McClurkin from 5:00-6:00am; The Steve Harvey Morning Show 6:00-10:00am; then, you get a local jock, Patty Jackson, until 3:00pm; and then, it's the Michael Baisden Show from 3:00-7:00pm. From 7:00pm-midnight you have another local jock, Tony Brown, followed by another syndicated show, "I Heart Radio" from midnight-5:00am. They play classic R&B and Neo Soul, but my wife will tell you, the playlist doesn't deviate for close to five days until a slight change is made.

It's like that with all radio now. If you want to hear new artists, especially Neo Soul, R&B, and Hip-Hop, you have to go to satellite radio or the internet. And, that's a shame because my little cheap $40.00 radio used to break all of the new music I needed to hear for a long time, including hip-hop in the 1980's and 90's. In the words of Public Enemy's Chuck D, "Who stole the soul?"

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I'd Rather Do Business With Them!


Two years ago, I got a nice shiny Visa Card in the mail. It's one of only two credit cards I own. Up until last November, I have paid my bill in it's entirety and on time. Sometime in December just past, I was late with my payment. By late I mean that they got my payment two days after the due date. Last month, I received a letter informing me that since I was "late" with my payment in December (first time, mind you) they were going to waive my intro interest rate of 0%-14% as "punishment", I suppose. I laughed, since I hardly use the card anyway and paid my bill in full most of the time, I didn't care.

Two weeks ago, I got another letter from the same credit card company informing me that they had "reconsidered" and they were "not" going to raise my rate afterall... instead, they were just going to charge me a late fee for my "indiscretion." I laughed until I cried. The only reason I bring this up is that I was reading in the paper today how new credit card laws are going to raise the eyebrows of quite a few people.

During the past nine months, credit card companies jacked up interest rates, created new fees, and cut credit lines. They also closed down millions of accounts. A law, hailed as the most sweeping piece of consumer legislation in decades, has helped make it more difficult for millions of Americans to get credit, and made that credit more expensive. It wasn't supposed to be this way. The law that President Barack Obama signed last May shields card users from sudden interest rate hikes, excessive fees, and other gimmicks that card companies have used to drive up profits.

Consumers will save at least $10 billion a year from curbs on interest rate increases alone, according to Pew Charitable Trust, which tracks credit card issues. But, there was a catch... card companies had nine months to prepare while certain rules were clarified by the Federal Reserve. They used that time to take actions that ended up hurting the same customers who were supposed to be helped. Don't think that this was just a coincidence either... it was calculated.

Consumer advocates say the law still offers important protections for the users of some 1.4 billion credit cards. "We expected some rate increases, we expected some annual fees," said Ed Mierzwinski of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, an advocacy organization that lobbied for the law. To be sure, the law takes effect while credit card companies are still reeling from the recession.

In 2007, the top 12 card issuers earned a combined $19 billion from credit cards, according to The Nilson Report. A year later, amid the financial meltdown, profits for those companies fell more than 65% to $6.32 billion. The plunge was largely because defaults ballooned as unemployment soared.

Profit figures for 2009 aren't yet available but banks wrote off about $35 billion in credit card debt last year, as the unemployment rate topped 10%. Analysts predict the default rate will remain at least twice as high as normal through this year, and longer if unemployment stays high.

At the same time, the law is expected to cut into future profits. FICO Inc., the company best known for its credit scores, projects the average card will generate less than $100 a month in revenue within three years, down from $200 a month before the law. That helps explain why the industry reacted so aggressively to the legislation. Among the moves it made:

Annual fees, common until about 10 years ago, have made a comeback. During the final three months of last year, 43% of new offers for credit cards contained annual fees, versus 25% in the same period a year earlier, according to Mintel International, which tracks marketing data. Several banks also added these fees to existing accounts. One example: Many Citigroup customers will start paying a $60 annual fee on April 1.

Created new fees and raised old ones. These include a $1.00 processing fee for paper statements for cards issued by stores such as Victoria's Secret and Ann Taylor. Another example is a $19 inactivity fee Fifth Third Bank now charges customers who haven't used their card for six months. Other banks increased existing fees. JPMorgan Chase, for instance raised the cost of balance transfers from one card to another from 3% of the transfer to 5% of the transfer.

Raised interest rates. The average interest rate offered for a new card climbed to 13.6% percent last week compared to 10.7% during the same week a year ago — meaning cardholders had to pay almost 30% ore in interest, according to Bankrate.com. For millions of other accounts, variable interest rates that can rise with the market replaced fixed rates. The Fed is expected to start raising its benchmark interest rates later this year, which would likely trigger an increase on those cards.

Besides making credit more expensive, banks also made it harder to get and keep credit cards. One big reason: Since the financial meltdown, many credit card issuers have been trying to reduce risk. For example, the number of Visa, MasterCard and American Express cards in circulation dropped 15%. Rarely used cards were among the first cut off. Some cards linked to rewards programs for purchases like gasoline were likewise shut down. So, you were penalized if you didn't use your card enough. Clearly there was no way to win with these legal loan sharks.

Card companies also slashed credit limits for millions of accounts that remain open. About 40% of banks cut credit lines on existing accounts, according to the consultant TowerGroup, which estimated that such moves eliminated about $1 trillion in available credit. Much of that was unused.

Credit lines were frequently cut in regions most affected by the housing crisis and high unemployment, such as Florida and California, said Curt Beaudouin, a senior analyst at Moody's Investors Service. "They're not doing it willy-nilly, they're doing it systematically," he said.

Companies are also making fewer solicitations. Mailed offers for new cards increased in the final three months of 2009 for the first time in two years, but there were only about 575 million. That's about a third of the average number of quarterly offers from 2000 through 2008, according to Mintel.

Because the law makes credit cards less profitable, some subprime borrowers may not be able to get cards at all, at least for the next few years. There's no fixed definition, but subprime borrowers generally have a FICO score below 660. For a good portion of this group, options may be limited to alternatives like PayPal and other electronic payment services, prepaid cards, and payday lenders.

"Not everyone either deserves or should have an open-ended credit card," said Roger C. Hochschild, chief operating officer of Discover Financial Services. Joining those who won't easily get cards are college students and others under age 21. The law strictly limits card marketing on campuses, ending giveaways like t-shirts and pizza cards can only be granted to applicants who show they have the means to repay, or those who have a co-signer who can pay.

"Some of the more vulnerable parts of the population are a little bit more protected," said Georgetown University finance professor James Angel. But he predicts card companies will find ways around most of the new restrictions. And once the economy recovers, he expects the lending spigot to open again.
In the meantime, there is one group of consumers that banks will chase after — those who carry a balance from month to month for at least part of the year, and pay their bills on time. They're the most profitable and least risky group for banks (that group would be me but, I got news for 'em). Also a target customer: Anyone willing to do more business with the bank that issues their card... opening a checking or savings account or taking out a mortgage.

"What we want is a deeper relationship with our customers," (No, what he wants is to push his customers deeper into debt.) said Andy Rowe, an executive vice president with Bank of America's card business. Customers willing to stick with a single bank may even be able to get annual fees waived or get a better interest rate, he said. "That's where the competition will be."

Say what you will or may but I'd rather deal with Tony Soprano and Paulie Walnuts than these banks. At least, I already know I'm gettin' hosed when I deal with them!

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Little Matter Of Infidelity


If you follow me on Facebook, you know that I often crack jokes about my new barber. He's a talented barber and a multi -tasker. The guy wears a blue tooth, orders fish and chicken platters, argues with his girlfriend, and mediates a dispute between his mother and sister while cutting my hair. A few days ago while I was getting my hair cut, he even managed to sell a couple of DVDs. Normally, I would be a bit perturbed by this kind of behavior except for the fact that despite all of this, the man knows his business, cutting hair, and he always gives me an excellent hair cut and shave.

Like most barber shops in the black community, a certain bit of knowledge is dropped while you're either waiting to get your hair cut or getting it cut. Well, he dropped a bit of truth the other day while I was getting my hair cut that I just had to share with you...

Of course, you know that the topic of discussion this past Saturday morning was the infamous Tiger Woods press conference of the day before. People were saying everything from how sorry they felt for Tiger, from a man's perspective of having to walk in that house and face a wife after you've been accused of cheating with close to 16 women, to questioning why Tiger had to have a press conference in the first place... the general consensus being that Tiger doesn't owe anyone an apology except his wife.

One fellow brought up the fact (which I believe to be true) that this little dog and pony show was put on for the benefit of his corporate sponsers. With the exception of Nike, practically all of them have jumped ship on him. This apology was to get everyone back on "Team Tiger" again.



It was then that my multi-tasking barber hit us with a bombshell. He asked if any of us realized that a week after the Tiger Woods story broke, Shaquille O'Neal was accused of having an affair with another NBA player's fiance? He said that this story broke a few weeks after the Tiger mess and that Shaq has not lost one corporate sponser, is still doing those commercials with Ben Stein, and more than likely, will NOT be having a press conference of any kind. He said that he hasn't heard anyone saying... "Oh, poor Shawnie", the way everyone is saying..."Oh, poor Elin". Further he said... "Do you know why? Because Shawnie O'Neal is a black woman and Elin Woods is a blonde, blue-eyed white woman. We put a higher premium on a white woman than we do a black woman."

Of course, this could all just be construed as barber shop talk, but I can't help but think that what my barber said has a lot of merit to it. Cheating is cheating, as far as I'm concerned. You could argue that Shaq is just accused of one woman where Tiger has him beat by 15 more... but, if Elin's name was Elaine Jackson and all 16 of the women worked at McDonalds on or "Uncle Sam's" strip club, would there be such a furor?

I have to ask this because I always say that after a scandal, America will be outraged until the next scandal. Shaq's alledged indiscretions came about two weeks after the Tiger Woods scandal and yet, with the exception of black radio, nobody else is talking about it. Yet on Facebook, Twitter, and numerous blogs all everyone wants to talk about is Tiger Woods.

The media is just jamming Tiger Woods down our throats with such a viciousness and passion that it is incredible. Where is the outpouring of sympathy for Shawnie O'Neal? How come Ben Stein hasn't denounced Shaq's behavior? How come Shaq, who is just as big a sports icon as Tiger is not giving a mid-day press conference to apologize to his wife and to the fans who "he let down?" Is it because she's a black woman and no one cares? I have to ask that question because that's certainly what it looks like.

What makes what Tiger Woods did any worse than what Shaq is accused of having done? The answer is nothing. Most of the people who write the sports columns, pontificate, and moralize are guilty of the same petty jealousies and racism as the average guy on the street. It's not really about infidelity... they are men too and they understand the reasons why. No, it's about simple jealousy.

Shaquille O'neal cheated on his black wife and he gets a pass because he stayed amongst "his own" while Tiger Woods cheated on his blonde, blue-eyed wife. This is his real "crime" and that is why the media is so "outraged". How dare you, it screams! If this was just about infidelity, we would be off Tiger by now and Shaq would be sitting in a press conference crying, faking tears, and holding a huge ring he bought to show his wife how sorry he was for what he did and saying he will never ever do this again. Some of you (most of you), reading this didn't even know about Shaq did you? Because nobody's talking about him and he's probably glad. Tiger Woods is probably shaking his head going... "What? I don't believe it."

O.J. Simpson is sitting in his jail cell saying... "Unbelievable!"

Friday, February 19, 2010

Fear Of (Low) Flying (Planes)


I remember how I felt on September 11, 2001 when I heard that a plane flying too low had crashed into the first of the World Trade Center towers. At first, I thought that it was an inexperienced pilot flying too low. As the drama unfolded and yet another building was hit by a plane and then, the Pentagon, I realized that this was something more... an elaborate plot by terrorists.

Today, around lunch time, I saw a CNN report that said another plane had hit a building in Austin, TX and it was believed to be intentional. My mind began to race and once again, I thought it was terrorist action. Then, I found out that much like the Oklahoma bombing, this was some homegrown terrorism.

Apparently, a man who was upset with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) set fire to his home and then, got into a small plane and crashed it Thursday into a multistory office building, authorities said. At least two people were injured and a third was unaccounted for when reported. The crash caused a fire and sent black smoke billowing from the seven-story Echelon Building.

Officials told The Associated Press that authorities were trying to determine if the pilot intentionally targeted nearby office space of the IRS. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was continuing. Another official said authorities were pursuing reports that the pilot had a long-running dispute with the IRS.

The man was identified as Andrew Joseph Stack, officials confirmed to NBC News. A senior law enforcement official told NBC's Pete Williams that the saga began Thursday morning, when police received a domestic disturbance call at Stack's house. When they responded, they discovered that the man had lit a fire in his house and fled. They said he went to the Georgetown Municipal Airport (about 30 miles north of the crash site), got into a small plane, and took off.

A short time later, the plane crashed into the office building. Federal officials said they did not know whether the man crashed the plane intentionally, though they said it was a "distinct possibility", the official told NBC.

As a precaution, the Colorado-based North American Aerospace Defense Command launched two F-16 aircraft from Houston's Ellington Field to patrol over the crash area. The Echelon Building is next to a major highway in North Austin, and the crash started fires on several floors of the building. Dozens of windows were blown out of the hulking black building and vehicles traveling on a nearby highway paused to look. Authorities were conducting a roll call to try to account for all the workers who were in the building.

Two people were taken to a hospital, Austin Assistant Fire Chief Harry Evans said. The nature and severity of their injuries weren't immediately clear and a third person was unaccounted for, Evans said. It was not immediately known if the victims were from the plane or the office building.

In a rambling statement posted on the website of his independent software company "Embedded Art", Stack apparently blamed the IRS for the loss of tens of thousands in savings and retirement money over the years. Hell! Does he think he's the only one who can complain about that?

In one instance, he says: “That little lesson in patriotism cost me $40,000+, 10 years of my life, and set my retirement plans back to 0. It made me realize for the first time that I live in a country with an ideology that is based on a total and complete lie. It also made me realize, not only how naive I had been, but also the incredible stupidity of the American public. They actually buy hook, line, and sinker, the crap about their "freedom" and they continue to do so with eyes closed in the face of overwhelming evidence and all that keeps happening in front of them.” (Wow, haven't I been saying that since I started this blog two years ago?)

He also wrote: "Why is it that a handful of thugs and plunderers can commit unthinkable atrocities (and in the case of the GM executives, for scores of years) and when it's time for their gravy train to crash under the weight of their gluttony and overwhelming stupidity, the force of the full federal government has no difficulty coming to their aid within days, if not hours?

“I saw it written once that the definition of insanity is repeating the same process over and over and expecting the outcome to suddenly be different. I am finally ready to stop this insanity. Well, Mr. Big Brother IRS man, let's try something different... take my pound of flesh and sleep well.”

Wow, if he wasn't so murderously wrong, I could feel for this guy because his frustration is the frustration of many. Somebody has got to stop the bleeding. Somebody has got to slow this "gravy train" down or else we are going to see more people like Stack. I'm not upholding him, but I'm saying I understand and share in his frustration up to a point.

Take this pound of flesh and do something America. Don't sleep well, do something to ease the mounting frustration of more and more people who feel betrayed and desperate. I warned in another post that this might be a sign of the times. I sure pray that it isn't.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Manny


I had a friend once who I'll call "Manny". We knew each other for all of maybe seven months and we worked at the same establishment. People pretty much thought he was a prick but he was my boy because we talked and both had pretty much the same (bad) attitude about life at the time.

You see, some people (people who don't and who never knew me) got the idea that I was a pretty nice guy... that I was almost like Jesus Christ. True, there are times when I can be very gregarious, very compassionate, very what you would call "nice". Then, yeah... then there are times when I can be a world class a-hole and that's the time when I can bring out the worst in everybody around me.

I always understood my dual nature, even if nobody else did. My mother always understood just who I was because she was my mother. When I was being praised by some neighbor as being "such a nice boy". She was proud for a minute and happy that I wasn't out causing the family any embarrassment... but at the same time, she would look at me side-eyed because she knew her little boy and she knew that her little boy was more than what some deceived neighbor thought they saw. She knew who I could be when I thought no one was looking. She was never fooled.

And, that's why I liked Manny... he was just like me and we understood each other quite well. We worked at this job... a job we both hated... cleaning office buildings and being blamed for everything that wound up missing or wasn't where it was placed the night before. We both had a deep hatred for our supervisor... A man who made it plain that he thought the two of us were a bit too "leisurely"

I used to tell Manny..."Yo man, one day I'm gonna work in an office like this and I'll be leaving my trash for someone to pick up after I get off at 5:00pm." He used to look at me when I said that with one of those "Yeah man, sure" looks. And, how ironic... today, I do work in an office building... one of the ones that I used to clean decades ago and part of my job is to assign work details to people like me and Manny. I'm a lot nicer than our supervisor was back then... at least, I think so.

Manny was a year younger than me. He didn't have the benefit of a college education like I'd had and because he had done a year as a guest of the state of Pennsylvania (state prison), he couldn't enlist in the military as I had already done at the time. At age 24, he felt as if this was as far as he could go in life and that might have been the reason for his bad attitude. Me, I didn't have a reason or justification. I just had a bad attitude at the time, but I knew I was moving on and that's why I could dream out loud.

I had another job, working at a Burger King in North Philly (far enough from my home so that no one who knew me would see me, though everyone who knew me, knew that I worked there). I was just trying to bank enough money so that when I eventually made my move, I'd have plenty of cash to keep me straight until my rich uncle (Sam) kicked in and started paying me.

Manny and our supervisor had one too many altercations. His lateness, attitude, very existence... you pick one... and Manny and the man nearly got into a fist fight. Of course, you know led to him being terminated. It was bad for me then because I had lost a brother, a comrade in arms. Some people just help you do your time in a bad place (jail, bad job, etc.) a little better. They help you pass the time. When Manny left, things got boring around the job. I had no one to talk to and I didn't really vibe with the other folks who worked there.

About two months before I was to leave Philly to report for basic training at Lackland Air Force base in San Antonio, TX, I ran into Manny. He was decked out and had a knot of cash in his hands. We sat in a restaraunt and he bought me a steak, baked potato, a salad, and a beer. He said, "Yo man, you sure you wanna go in the Air Force? I got a big money game goin' on and you could be in it with me partner." It didn't take much imagination to figure out that Manny was selling drugs and apparently was doing well at it. He told me he had three "corners" in North Philly and was getting ready to take one in West Philly.

"You sure got big in a short while." I said. "That's cause I know somebody, somebody important" he said. "Somebody that set me up nice. I could talk to him, and get him to set you up too man" he said. I declined his offer but looking at all of that cash he was throwing around and the nice clothes he was wearing at the time was tempting. Yet, the thought of living that life and always looking over my shoulders just wasn't appealing to me. It wasa good thing too. I couldn't have known that would be the last time I'd see my friend alive.

A few days before Christmas of that year, I was getting off of the 46 bus near 61st and Oxford Streets and I ran into a girl that we both knew. She called me over to where she and a bunch of her girlfriends were standing. "I guess you heard about your boy Manny?" she asked. "No. What about him?" I asked. "They found him slumped across the front seat of his car with two shots to the dome. I heard the Junior Black Mafia got him", she said. Everytime somebody got killed back then, the Junior Black Mafia got blamed. They did kill a lot of people, but not everybody. To this day, no one has ever been arrested for Manny's murder.

I was sick to my stomach, hearing that and I couldn't believe that he had been killed. We were supposed to hook-up before I left for active duty and hang out. I had already quit both of my jobs. She looked at me as if to say... "Why couldn't it have been you?" She didn't say that, but I never felt this particular girl cared too much for me anyway so, that's what I thought she was thinking. She, too, had gotten a glimpse of the "other" me.

I don't know why I thought about Manny today. I was sitting in an office... ironically enough, of one of the buildings I used to clean... drinking coffee, tapping the keyboard of a computer, and listening to the radio. A young skinny guy came by and emptied my trash can... a trash can he should have emptied the night before. I didn't say anything to him and I thought about what I said some 26 years ago..

"Manny, one day I'm gonna work in a building just like this... in an office... and somebody is going to empty my trash." And, he said..."Nigger, you crazy. Come on man and get back to work." Yeah, I am crazy. Manny, whereever you are, this one's for you!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Infamous Hood Pass


You know, I have tried not to make this an entertainment/gossip blog and for the most part, I have succeeded. There are one thousand other blogs you can go to if that's your thing. The only reason I'm going to give my take on the whole John Mayer flap is because both my wife and daughter are big fans... they introduced me to his music and I would hate for them to think that he is a racist.

He did use the N-word in a Playboy article recently and he did say something about a certain apendage of his being a "white supremacist". I don't know if he was trying to be ironic, cute, or just where the hell he was going with that... but, all in all, the guy talked a little too much, too freely, and got set-up.

People who have not read the Playboy article in it's entirety have lost their minds, branded him a racist, and tossed out his CDs. All of this based on some mutterings on Facebook, Twitter, and certain blogs. I have said that Americans don't read and that their minds don't run past a soundbite. To my dismay, Americans of all races prove me right every time.

Even people like Holly Robinson Peete, who should know better, is going around saying that "John Mayer hurt every black woman's feelings with his remarks." Did He? I mean, it's not like Denzel Washington or Barack Obama made these remarks. Did that many black women have John Mayer posters in their bedrooms? I'm just asking. If anybody should be angry at John Mayer, it should be Jessica Simpson and Jennifer Aniston. He gave a little too much information about the intimacies of their relationship with him to the press.

He actually paid Holly Robinson Peete and Kerry Washington a compliment. He said he thought they were "super hot". He didn't say that he didn't want to date black women... he merely stated that as of yet, he hasn't dated any.

He was asked by the reporter, "Why is it that so many hip-hop artists, so many black singers like you?" A set-up question if I ever heard one. Would this same reporter ask a black artist why he has such crossover appeal? Maybe... but they certainly wouldn't say to Snoop Dogg or Will Smith, you have an official white boy pass or something of that nature, would they?

Why does John Mayer have to have a "hood pass" because a few rappers and singers who happen to be African American happen to like the guy? The question in and of itself was racist. But, I'm not letting Mayer completely off the hook. The way he answered it was so incredibly stupid, that he should have retracted it immediately after saying it, or asked the reporter not to print it, which (of course) he most certainly would have done anyway. Reporters interview people to get controversial statements because controversial statements, even when they are clearly idiotic, sell magazines.

These are excerpts from the Playboy interview. Judge for yourself if you think he's a racist...

MAYER: Someone asked me the other day, “What does it feel like now to have a hood pass?” And by the way, it’s sort of a contradiction in terms, because if you really had a hood pass, you could call it a nigger pass. Why are you pulling a punch and calling it a hood pass if you really have a hood pass? But I said, “I can’t really have a hood pass. I’ve never walked into a restaurant, sked for a table and been told, "We’re full."

PLAYBOY: It is true, a lot of rappers love you. You recorded with Common and Kanye West, played live with Jay-Z.

MAYER: What is being black? It’s making the most of your life, not taking a single moment for granted. Taking something that’s seen as a struggle and making it work for you, or you’ll die inside. Not to say that my struggle is like the collective struggle of Black America. But maybe my struggle is similar to one black dude’s.

PLAYBOY: Do black women throw themselves at you? (Would any white reporter ask Shemar Moore, "Do white women throw themselves at you? I'm betting, they don't want to know the answer to that one.)

MAYER: I don’t think I open myself to it. My dick is sort of like a white supremacist. I’ve got a Benetton heart and a fuckin’ David Duke cock. I’m going to start dating separately from my dick.(Meaning, he hasn't dated any Black women, but he is open to it.)

PLAYBOY: Let’s put some names out there. Let’s get specific.

MAYER: I always thought Holly Robinson Peete was gorgeous. Every white dude loved Hilary from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. And Kerry Washington. She’s super hot and she’s also white-girl crazy. Kerry Washington would break your heart like a white girl. Just all of a sudden she’d be like, “Yeah, I sucked his dick. Whatever.” And you’d be like, “What? We weren’t talking about that.” That’s what “Heartbreak Warfare” is all about, when a girl uses jealousy as a tactic.

I don't know what he was talking about there... just rambling. But, for sure, he wasn't insulting black women or black people. Yet, all over Facebook, Twitter, and Blogger there is almost universal condemnation for the guy by people who haven't read the entire article... people both black and white who took one fragment of a sentence, the equivalent of a sound bite, and ran wild with it.

Could he have expressed what he meant better? Sure he could have. Should he have used the word nigger? Screw all that politically correct n-word jazz. Hell to the no, he shouldn't have... and neither should my cousin when describing one of his best friends or the cats that live down the street from me, whether they are drunk or not. Do I beleive John Mayer is a racist? No, I do not... just the latest recipient of the "Foot In Mouth" award.

If I thought he was a racist, I would be the first to condemn him, just like I do all of those rotten politicos in the great state of South Carolina. But in this case, I think there was a rush to judgement on behalf of some people and poor judgement and choice of words on John Mayer's behalf.

Again, like I said... the real people who should be angered about that interview is Jennifer Anniston and Jessica Simpson. No woman likes a man who kisses and tells.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

Links2Love.Com

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










Saturday, February 13, 2010

Weekend Humor


Here's a rare item. Mark it on your calender folks. A second post in one day from the house of ideas. This one was too good to not post...

An older gentleman had an appointment to see the urologist, who shared offices with several other doctors. The waiting room was filled with patients. As he approached the receptionist's desk, he noticed that the receptionist was a large unfriendly woman who looked like a Sumo wrestler.

He gave her his name and in a very loud voice, the receptionist said... "YES, I HAVE YOUR NAME HERE; YOU WANT TO SEE THE DOCTOR ABOUT IMPOTENCE, RIGHT?"

All the patients in the waiting room snapped their heads around to look at the very embarrassed man. He recovered quickly, and in an equally loud voice replied... ''NO, I'VE COME TO INQUIRE ABOUT A SEX CHANGE OPERATION, BUT I DON'T WANT THE SAME DOCTOR THAT DID YOURS.''

The room erupted in applause!

The E-Games People Play

As I said yesterday, people play these online games with people because of their own special agendas. Some folks are bored, some folks need to know how popular they are, but the biggest driving forces here are fear and deception.

Jennifer Worick, author of "The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Dating & Sex", says people do have different agendas when it comes to dating. "For me, the end goal is to be in a loving relationship with someone. But for others, the end goal might be that they’re passing time, preventing boredom, or just collecting men and women", she says.

Deception, people pretending to be something they’re not (whether it’s single or a certain gender), can be another reason relationships stay in the virtual realm, says Patricia Wallace, Psychologist and Senior Director of Information Technology at Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth in Maryland.

Another big factor is fear. "There’s the fear of failure, the fear of rejection, the fear of making a fool of yourself," she says. "An online relationship is perceived as being low-risk as compared to meeting in person. When you pick up the phone or meet in person, you have a lot less control over your message and your impression as compared to a Facebook wall post or an IM where you can rewrite and think about what you want to say." (In other words, lie.)

She says, having more control means having the ability to create a better version of you which can then be marketed to a better version of someone else (more than likely a fake version). "A woman (or a man) might feel really smart and attractive when she’s (or he's) online because she (or he) comes up with a lot of witty things to say. She or he controls the pictures that she or he sends and she or he meets somebody who does the exact same thing," says Wallace, author of “The Psychology of the Internet." "They can have a magical interaction — a meeting of the minds, sort of — whereas meeting in person would just spoil it. He stutters; she burps." (You know, real human things.)

Yeah, reality kicks in... reality can be messy. It's not clinical, it's not clean. What all of these people miss out on is that life... real life, real love... is only interesting really good when it is in fact what it is... messy, unclean, unclinical, and totally out of control. This is what makes a relationship worthwhile and memorable. The technology, the hiding and the posturing be damned. In the end, the real will win out and it has to.

Don't get me wrong... I network on Facebook, probably more than I should, but if I were single, trying to meet someone, and forge a relationship, Facebook, Twitter, I-Chat, etc. would be the last place I would go to do so. Remember, you're talking to a guy who doesn't trust the personals in the newspapers!

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Friday, February 12, 2010

The E-Lationship


I was laying in my bedroom listening to the radio and Sade's new song, "Soldier of Love", was playing when this revelation hit me. I was thinking about how relationships are now. I was once again thankful to be married and out of the game but playfully wondering if I were "in the game", would I take care of the new technology available today that was non-existent, 20 or even ten years ago.

Yeah, I'm kinda ol' skool in that I wouldn't trust meeting someone on an online dating site. I don't think I'd want to meet someone on Facebook, Twitter, I-Chat, or texting either. You are talking to a guy who didn't trust meeting someone in the "personals". (Does anyone know if they even run the "personals" in the newspapers anymore?) Reason being... people lie. Here's a short story...

Once, when I was in my twenties, a friend of mine answered an ad put in the personals. The young lady described herself as "looking like Janet Jackson". The guy wanted me to go with him to meet up with the girl and we agreed to meet in the downtown area in front of a well-known landmark.

Well, we got there, looked around, and we didn't see anyone who resembled Janet Jackson. When he finally met up with his date she resembled gospel singer Mahailia Jackson more so than Janet Jackson. When I got finished laughing, I quietly disappeared into the night and left my boy to his misfortune. However, what you should know is that he lied too. He never mentioned to the young lady that he had put on a few pounds himself. He described himself as "athletic build". That's what I mean... people lie.

People post photos of themselves on Facebook,Twitter, and what have you that are decades old... they lie about their marital status... and in some cases, they lie about their true sexual orientation. It's hard to do that much lying when you're standing face to face with somebody, isn't it? Give me the old-fashioned face to face meeting any day. The only new thing I like is that you no longer have to exchange phone numbers on cocktail napkins. You can use your cell phone or BlackBerry.

The "e-lationship" (electronic relationship) is not for me. Now, I hear we have the new freak. This is a person who only wants a relationship with you on Facebook, Twitter, Text Message or I-Chat and they have no desire to actually meet you. "I’ve been involved in five or six of these", says a 49 year old male co-worker of mine who in recent months found a "dime piece" of a girlfriend on Facebook and left the online dating scene. "One woman was always popping up on the chat box everytime I was on Facebook... "What you doing? Where have you been?" This went on for a month and then, I proposed that we meet but she was always busy. So, I called her on it and she said, "I’m getting what I need out of this and there’s no need to go any further." So, I cut it off. I de-friended her because I didn’t have time for the B.S.", he said. Meanwhile, I just shook my head. Is this what we've come to?

Why would someone spend all that time communicating with a person they never plan to meet? I think some folks, both guys and girls, just like to collect "cyber-harems." My friend who I spoke of in the last paragraph told me, "I have a female friend who’s on a dating site and I can see that a lot of the people from the site have started following her on Facebook. She has 15 to 20 guys all commenting on her posts and looking to get with her but she’s only interested in the attention. She’s told me flat out that she ain't about meeting anybody. She just wants to feel like people want her every now and then." He laughed.

That kind of self-absorbed behavior may be great for her ego, but on Valentines Day, when she's sitting home drinking a wine cooler alone, how will she feel then? This isn't all on women either, There are a number of men on Facebook who I suspect are doing the same thing (more men than women).

Different people have different agendas when it comes to their personal relationships. I suppose the ultimate goal is to connect with someone... to find that soulmate, that relationship. I suppose that some folks are just bored and passing time... testing the waters, I guess. I tend to think deception and fear play a big part in why people play these "e-games". I'll discuss this more in my next post...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Blizzard Blues


I suppose this is what you would call a mood piece... I'm just riffing about my current mood. Normally, I would write something like this as a status update on my Facebook page, but you know how I am on this blog. This is going to be way more than the 140 charactors they allow on a Facebook or Twitter status update (since I'm not on Twitter, I don't know what their equivelant is called).

As I write this, it's snowing and I'm aching. We got hit this past weekend with 28 inches of snow. Tonight, I understand that we are about to get hit with more (12-18 inches) snow. At work today, I was told to cancel a number of meetings that were scheduled to take place on Wednesday and Thursday. We were told to leave early today too. This means that there is a possibility that by the time you are reading this, I may be off from work, still at home, and still in my pajamas.

I also told you that I'm aching. I got that pesky tooth pulled (or extracted, as they say in dentist speak) last Thursday... the day before the first blizzard hit. I had to get stitches so I'm spending my days ingesting pain killers and eating soup and pudding and it's going to be that way for a while.

Optimist that I am though, I am making the best of it. I am, after all, writing this post and jumping back and forth to Facebook. I've got the company of my wife, good music (Sade, Maxwell, Alicia Keys, Mary J. Blige, Joe, and Robin Thicke), a refrigerator and cubbard full of food, and Cable TV. What more do I need? What I don't need is a power outage... that would fix me wouldn't it? No computer... no TV... then what? Well, I do have books and magazines I could read by candlelight. As long as my gas does get cut off, I can still fix some food (what little I can eat considering my painful mouth).

I don't really have the blues. I mean, I absolutely hate winter.... but, I'm a realist. I live on the East Coast and it is what it is... this is the nature of the beast. Winter, particularly bad winters like this one, help me to appreciate the beauty and splendor of spring and summer. I'm counting the days. Believe that (as 12Kyle can say). In the meanwhile, I'm making the best of a bad situation.

The weather outside is frightful
and the fire is so delightful.
And since there's no place to go,
let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

If you live on the East Coast of the United States and are snowed in like we are, I hope you have a warm cozy place to lay your head and that you, like I, am making the best of the situation. Until next time...

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Snow Blows!


Well, it was reported that 28.5 inches of snow fell at Philadelphia International Airport Friday evening through mid-Saturday afternoon (just under the record 30 inches that fell in January 1996). Actually, we were already scheduled to keep our grandkids on Saturday, even before news of the approaching snow storm traveling up the East Coast was reported. So, when news of the storm broke, our daughter suggested that we pick up the kids on Friday evening (before the storm hit) and we decided to keep them with us through Sunday. Even our church cancelled services for today so instead, we will be digging out the car so we can finally take the little ones back home. In spite of the weather, we had a great time indoors with them but all of this shoveling is no fun at all. Now, I'm hearing early reports that we may get even more snow on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. Next year, I think we'll just fly south for the winter-LOL!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Student Loan Relief


When I started college, I started with a scholarship (for track) and a grant. The money from these two combined got me through one semester. After that, my mother and I were informed through my college's financial aid office that we would have to take out a student loan. I'm sure this is something that every parent and perspective student goes through.

I was particularly struck by President Obama's State of the Union address last week when he said that a person shouldn't have to go broke just because he or she attempted to get an education. I finished school in 1981... my final student loan (I had three) wasn't completely paid off until 1989, right before I got married. My wife-to-be helped me pay it off. It would not have been a good look to go into a marriage in debt.

Paying off a student loan probably keeps a lot of people from moving ahead economically. Even the most conscientious people (of whom I was definitely not one of) will tend to fall behind in payments and this can effect your credit. Of course, if you were like me in my twenties, you probably wouldn't have cared. I owned nothing... no house, no car, nothing. In my thirties, it was different. I wanted to have a house and a car. Since my name was not Micheal and I didn't have four brothers that sang, those things were going to take credit being extended to me, which is why it was a good that, although I had some late and missed payments, I got those pesky student loans out of the way before I got started on my way into real adulthood.

A new program links payments on federal student loans to income and forgives balances after 25 years. Those working in public service could have their debts erased after 10 years. This sure would have helped me.

As graduates struggle to find jobs during this worst economic crisis of a lifetime, an adviser to the Secretary of Education expects a rise in the default rate on student loans, which cannot be easily renegotiated or discharged in bankruptcy, but a provision of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 that reduces monthly payments for hundreds of thousands of borrowers who qualify for the new Income-Based Repayment (IBR) plan took effect July 1, 2009.

Borrowers who work in certain public service jobs could also have the balance of their loan erased after making qualifying payments for 10 years. Supposedly, this costs the government nothing, since it will now change the way it subsidizes student-loan lenders. So, will your student loan be bailed out? In a word, maybe.

At the very least, the IBR plan will lower the monthly payments of people who accumulated significant federal student loan debt but don't have the income to make the payments on the standard 10-year repayment plan. This relief may reach as many as 1 million people, according to the Project on Student Debt. And, despite lower payments, the former students won't be paying off their loans indefinitely because any remaining balance will be forgiven after payments are made for 25 years. Wow! I had mine paid in eight years so it wouldn't have included me anyway but it would have been nice to know.

The news is even more promising for people working in public service jobs... government employees, teachers in public schools and universities, workers at public hospitals, and anyone working for a 501(c)(3) nonprofit would qualify. Anyone working in a qualifying job who borrowed from the Direct Loan Program is eligible for loan forgiveness after 10 years, down from 25. This definitely would have effected me since I work for a non-profit.

To qualify for forgiveness, borrowers who work in a public-interest position must either have an existing Direct Loan or consolidate a federal loan with a private lender into the Direct Loan Program and make 120 payments after Oct. 1, 2007. The payments, which do not have to be consecutive, can be made while at different eligible positions and must be made on the income-based or standard repayment plans.

At this point, the burden is on borrowers to document where they were working during their repayment period. The Department of Education is planning to develop a more definitive system to confirm eligibility, but right now borrowers should keep pay stubs and tax documents that verify their work history.

IBR and public-loan forgiveness won't be the best options for every borrower. Some borrowers, those able to make higher monthly payments, would be better served by sticking with a traditional payment plan to avoid accruing years of additional interest. Graduates who financed their education with private loans are ineligible entirely. Bummer!

But, for an MBA grad who borrowed $150,000 while planning to be an investment banker but ended up in government service (i.e. mailman), the IBR will result in payments that are affordable on a civil servant salary.

And, that is certainly good news to know. When I came out of college in the 1980s, I had nothing good to know.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Keith's Favorite Quotes

ART: Oscar Wilde Caricature By Brendan O'Rourke

"A gentleman is one who never hurts anyone's feelings unintentionally."

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Nicknames


One thing about your childhood and your adolescence... when it's over, it's over and, in essence, it should stay over. Michael Jackson never understood this and he spent the rest of his adult life trying to, in effect, "fix" what he felt was broken in his childhood. Most people don't do that, but they do carry past hurts and humiliations with them into their adult lives and they make everybody they meet pay for it... people who had nothing to do with it.

In my case (one case, anyhow), there was a nickname. One thing you should know about me is that I hate nicknames and I always have. I liked my name... the one my mother gave me that is on my birth certificate is just fine. It has five letters, it's easy to pronounce, and I never had a problem with it. I had relatives who found it necessary to add a "y" to it. While I couldn't do anything to my relatives, the quickest way to get into a fight with me then and now would be to call me "Keithy". I hated it.

My grandmother was from the south and she had a peculiar way of calling my name, which sounded like she was saying "Keith A.", A. being my middle initial (it's stands for Albert, just in case anyone was curious). To some of my cousins, I jokingly became "Keithay"... One cousin still calls me that to this day, in jest, but I don't mind it.

However, the one nickname that I hated the most was a name I was given in high school that lasted until I graduated. I will not reveal the nickname here but I hated it. It was given to me in the 10th grade during a snowball fight. I had on a cheap pair of gloves. The material was so cheap that the snow and ice were freezing my hands so there was really was no reason to have the gloves on. I would have been better off throwing the snow with my bare hands.

Well, this guy yells out the nickname that would follow me throughout high school and it was actually the name of a Chicago gangster (not Al Capone) who had long been dead. Everybody laughed, including me. I had no idea that this nickname would become synonomous with me... but it did and it stuck.

By the time I was a senior in high school, some of my teachers were referring to me by this nickname too. My mother always told me that you are the name that you answer to... so, I should have nipped that in the bud right there and refused to answer to it. Maybe, it just wouldn't have mattered at all. Sometimes a name catches on like wildfire and there is nothing you can do about it.

Bank robber, Charles "Pretty Boy " Floyd hated his nickname, which was given to him by a prostitute who was impressed with his looks and the impeccable way he dressed. When shot down by the FBI in 1934, agents ran up to him, leaned down, and asked him.. "Are you Pretty Boy Floyd?" He answered, "I am Charles Arthur Floyd" and then he died.

"Baby Face Nelson", whose real name was Lester Gillis, hated his nickname too and no one dared call him that to his face. It was a nickname cops gave to him because even at 26, He was short and looked like a little boy. He never liked it or answered to it. He prefferred to be called "Big George Nelson" , but nobody ever called him that either. The man killed three FBI agents in 1934 before he himself was gunned down. When asked who the body belonged to at the local morgue, his wife , who came to claim it, said "Lester Gillis." Nobody knew who she was talking about until a cop said, "That's Baby Face Nelson." Then, everybody knew.

The year I graduated, I won a few awards... the Coaches Award for Athletic Excellence and a few others. When my name was called, there was a hush amongst my classmates. They had been calling me by this nickname for three years and only a handfull of them actually knew my "government" name, as the young people say today.

When I left high school, that nickname was buried there. No one in college called me anything other than my real name. My wife doesn't even know about this nickname. I went through the Air Force known by my actual name and I left it at that.

You can imagine how mortified I was a few weeks ago when I was sitting in bar and restaraunt with two female co-workers enjoying some hot wings, a couple of cold beers, and catching the Sixers game, when two of my friends from that era (who, by the way, did not go to high school with me and only knew me by that name because they had heard someone else call me that)walked in and sat with us. They were a tad bit inebriated and very talkative... especially one of them.

They began regaling these two women with tales from my "colorful" past... some of it complete fabrication and some of it was only partially true. Then, they began calling me by that name... that dreaded nickname. Naturally, these women were fascinated and here was a whole side of me that they didn't know. The thing was, I didn't know this side either... and neither did the storyteller. Since these guys and the women were drunk, talking out of their heads, and no one was getting the hint that not only was I embarrassed but they needed to shut up, I endured and it was high school all over again.

In high school though, I never told anybody to shut the hell up and I never said that I didn't prefer being called by that nickname. I still didn't tell anyone to shut up, but I made it clear to all involved that I prefer being called by my given name. This was news to them and one guy just couldn't let it go. He told the women that most women called me "Keith" and that the "brothas" called me by my gangsta nickname. I reiterated that everybody calls me Keith and that was what I preferred. He wasn't hearing it, but the other three kinda got the message and caught the vibe. The matter was dropped and I have dug up the ground and buried that name again. Hopefully, it will never to be revived.

I never said that, at times, I couldn't be petty. For some people, a name is all they have. There are thousands of people who can't stand their birth names and hide behind a middle name or hide behind a nickname... but, I am not one of them.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Trouble With Toyotas


If you follow me on Facebook, you know that yesterday I wrote a humorous status update that said I was driving to work behind a Camry and in front of a Corolla. Both of these cars are manufactured by Japanese carmaker, Toyota. If you haven't been under a rock for the past few weeks you know that they have been having more than a little bit of a problem with the acceleration pedel on their most recent models.

Now, I drive a Japanese car myself (2008 Nissan Maxima) and who knows... they may not have a similar problem one day. The thing is, I was in traffic stuck between two Toyotas that looked like they were recently manufactured and well, you know how your mind gets to wandering and you get to thinking thoughts? The truth is stranger than fiction. While I may or may not have been in any danger, the way Toyota handled the problem is very, very scary. It began in August of last year...

The 911 call came at 6:35 p.m. on August 28, 2009 from a car that was speeding out of control on California Highway 125 near San Diego. The caller, a male voice, was panic-stricken: “We’re in a Lexus... we’re going north on 125 and our accelerator is stuck! We’re in trouble... there’s no brakes! We’re approaching the intersection! Hold on! Hold on and pray! Pray! Aggghhhhhhhhh...” and the call ended with the sound of a crash.

The Lexus ES 350 sedan, made by Toyota, had hit a sport utility vehicle, careened through a fence, rolled over, and burst into flames. All four people inside were killed: The driver, Mark Saylor, an off-duty California Highway Patrol officer; his wife, daughter, and brother-in-law. It was the tragedy that forced Toyota, which had received more than 2,000 complaints of unintended acceleration, to step up its own inquiry, after going through multiple government investigations since 2002.

Yet, only last week did the company finally appear to come to terms with the scope of the problem, after expanding a series of recalls to cover millions of vehicles around the world, incalculable damage to its once-stellar reputation for quality and calls for Congressional hearings. With prodding from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Toyota halted production and sales of eight models, including its top-selling Camry sedan. And late last week, the government allowed the company to go ahead to try yet another new fix for its vehicles, which it is expected to be announced today.

At almost every step that led to its current predicament, Toyota underestimated the severity of the sudden-acceleration problem affecting its most popular cars. It went from discounting early reports of problems to overconfidently announcing diagnoses and insufficient fixes.

Toyota’s safety problems may prove to be a hard lesson for the N.H.T.S.A., as well. Six separate investigations were conducted by the agency into consumer complaints of unintended acceleration and none of them found defects in Toyotas other than unsecured floor mats. In at least three cases, the agency denied petitions for further investigative action because it did not see a pattern of defects and because of a “need to allocate and prioritize N.H.T.S.A.’s limited resources” elsewhere, according to agency documents.

If that doesn't frighten you, I don't know what will. From reading this, I guess you all understand why I was just a little bit concerned about driving in front of and behind two cars that could have been included in the recall. Actually, I kid... I wasn't really concerned. But, I can't in all honesty say that thoughts didn't come to my mind about the possibilities...

Monday, February 1, 2010

What I've Learned


1. The older you get, the more nostalgic you get.

2. I always said that I never wanted to have any regrets... I find now, that's just
impossible.

3. In my lifetime, I've found foolishness and meanness in all races... and I've also found
a lot of good and noble people in all races too!

4. My grandmother used to say... "I'm from Missouri, show me" everytime a politician got on television and made some outlandish promise. I thought she was just being overly cynical.
She used to tell me to live long enough and I would understand. I think I understand it
now.

5. My mother instilled in me that an honest days work, regardless of what it was, is always better than feeling sorry for yourself and doing nothing. This is probably why I've seldom been without money in my pockets since I was about 23 years old.

6. I still believe in America, its promise, and its potential in spite of everything I've seen to the contrary.

7. Never expect a thank you and never do anything to get a thank you... see how free you feel afterwords.

8. We are all confused by the fact that there is always a lack of time for this and a lack of time for that...

9. You always find yourself wishing at some point that you might have been a better example to your children, but that's just the cycle of life. Your parents probably felt the same way too.

10. Sitting on the boat of mediocrity makes you miss your opportunity. Get out that boat and swim!




KEEPING THE FAITH: RANDOM PRAYERS "ON THE DOWNLOAD"
























































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



































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Click on image to enlarge for reading



Click on image to enlarge for reading