Archive | March, 2012

Afternoon at the Capitol

30 Mar

I know a lot of people who would rather get a root canal than to talk or get involved with politics but as one of my high school social studies teachers, Chuck repeated often, don’t be a one of those apathetic Americans when it comes to politics. Well, I was one of those apathetic fools for a long time, well until about 17 years ago.

In my humble opinion, we are in a very sad and destructive period of time in politics right now. I think it started in 2000 when the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to select Bush II over Al Gore to become President. The highest court stocked by five conservatives voted 5-4 again a couple years ago allowing a corporation to be treated like an ordinary citizen to be allowed to create a super PAC to create havoc in campaign financing.

The divide is so great between the only two political parties that count, Republicans and Democrats that the late, legend Evil Knievel or his son Bobby (who I met in 89′ on Daytona Beach) could not jump over the gap. It is so sad for so many reasons. I recently tried to be non-partisan when I re-registered to vote (since I moved). I didn’t select either party since it falls in line with my political philosophy, I want to take the best ideas that will solve problems despite who proposes those ideas. Well, I found out when I registered that way, I was unable to vote in the Republican presidential primary. So I re-registered again and selected the Democratic party since some of their ideas align with mine.

In local politics, I found out recently that the superintendent of the school district doesn’t even know how an “elected” school board member can be removed from the board. I found this very sad since we have a mechanism to remove the President of the USA but we can’t remove a school board member. Excuse me?

For the past six months, during my prolonged unemployed status I have been attempting to brush up on the “issues” but just by experience with being unemployed, I have run into some discouraging systems and policies which could be modified if a politician or two were involved. However, the only problem with that, our “elected” officials are untouchable. I recently called the White House about information about Obama’s recent visit to the great state of Oklahoma and it has been 10 “business” days now and no return call. The visit was 3/23. I left a message for a state representative over two weeks ago and no response.

So I took it to the next level and invaded our state Capitol in OKC on 3/27. I was across the street anyway taking a test for another state job I won’t get but I said what the heck, I am going to drop in on a representative or two. As entered the Capitol building, I went thru security which the last time I visited didn’t have. I noticed right away how warm it was inside. There was no directory on how to find anything. There was a sign giving the directions in case of an emergency. As I strolled around the floor I was on (not sure what floor that was), I looked for the public elevator since I had mapped out that the representatives were mainly  housed in the 5th floor from my prior internet search. I noticed large paintings and some artifacts, but I wasn’t there for the art. I was there for some answers (maybe)!

I finally found the elevator and went up to the 5th floor. As I walked down the hall of the representatives, very young people were coming in and out of very small offices. I actually thought I was walking down the halls of a high school. I must be getting older (even though I still think I am 18). I came to the desk of Stacy, the woman I spoke to on the phone about seven days earlier when  she told me that “someone” would get back to me to answer my questions. Well, I introduced myself to Stacy in person and informed her I wanted to talk to “someone”. She seemed flustered at the request but then walked me down another hall searching desperately for “someone” to talk to me.

At the end of the hall, she passed me off to another woman and left (fast). This woman (I am sorry I forgot her name) but she isn’t a representative wanted to know how she could help (if possible). Since I wasn’t going to talk to a rep., I settled on “her”. As I started my long list of questions, she listened as she was munching on Cheetos. She apologized for eating but “it was her lunch”. She took a phone call or two while I tried to talk and then two blonde women approached her and wanted to see her boss (because they knew him). The woman I was talking to told them that he was in an energy committee meeting until 3 pm (it was now 1:30 pm). They said that they would “wait around” by the committee room to catch him. That is how it works, I found out, it is like fishing, you put your bait out there and just wait and wait and wait.

After the interruption, I started talking again and she started munching again. Another phone call and another “high school senior” guy poked in and asked if he could help me. I answered, well you will have to ask her (but she was on the phone). He couldn’t wait and left. She got off the phone and excused herself again as she checked her email and made a phone call instructing “someone” to write a press release “on something” and get it out right away. Back to me, I kindly said, how about you direct me to “someone” else since you are obviously very busy. She said ok and walked me to another office. She dropped me off with Marsha, a black woman who seemed perturbed but somewhat approachable.

I was instructed to have “another” seat and to wait…IT was finally my turn, I was going to meet a representative. Oops, then a very attractive woman was dropping off some leaflets and “my” rep. had to chit chat with her. Finally, again, Mr. Scott had time for ME. Yipee. Finally! Mr. Scott looked like a college freshman and I followed him into his cluttered office. I re-introduced myself again since he forgot my name after talking to Ms. Leaflet (she was hot). Then we got down to it. I told him how my ex-gf of 8 yrs was now not allowing me to see my 9 year old daughter. She is not my step/adoptive/bio daughter but I am all she knows in the daddy department. Mr. Scott looked perplexed and stressed and then he said I should talk to “someone” else on the 3rd floor but thanked me for coming in and to “stay in touch”.

I dashed down two flights of stairs and headed into the “bullpen” (I think Marsha called it that). I introduced myself to another woman (didn’t get her name either) and I took a seat again. Then, Mr. Rousselot (I am sorry, I can’t pronounce it, I think it is French) invited me into his office where I met Larry (never did get his last name as I recall) as well. I reported my story for the third time but this time got some real attention. They agreed to my request that they would think about my idea for a bill to give some rights (at least visitation) to “non” (legally speaking) -dads. Larry said in his 8 yrs as a rep., I was the first dad to bring up this issue. He said most dads who break up with the moms, don’t want anything to do with “her” kids after the break up. He said I was different. Yes, I am and I am damn proud of it.

I shook their hands and thanked them profusely and left the capitol feeling good about what I think I accomplished. I implore you, get involved in politics. We need to take back this country from the “elected” officials and the 1% who fund those officials. We owe it to ourselves, our kids, our communities, and our great country.

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Shame on you Saints!

24 Mar

I have been a sports guy for as long as I can remember. Sports guy meaning: I love (most) sports. When I was a young lad, I participated in all sports because I could. Now, I don’t participate so much anymore but I can still watch.

I even got to write about sports for my high school and college newspapers. I had the pleasure to interview athletes and coaches, nobody famous though (as of yet). I loved hearing what drove athletes to do their best and what motivated coaches to strive for wins. I could really relate because I was an athlete and even became a coach as well. In fact, when I coached abused and neglected boys back in the early 90’s, I was awarded the “Sportsmanship” honor for showing leadership in that area.

The 80’s were great for sports: Magic and Bird in the NBA, The Twins winning the World Series, Joe Montana and Jerry Rice. What else could a sports fan ask for? Then the 90’s came which brought the Fab Five in the NCAA and of course, the greatest athlete made his presence known by winning six NBA championships. I’m sorry to MJ’s teammates, but the Jordan Factor led to those championships, not Rodman or Luc Longley. It was all Jordan.

I really lost my excitement for sports in the 00’s. I got tired of hearing about huge contracts and huge endorsements for what? Because a guy is good at a sport. Where are the huge contracts and huge endorsements for the guys and gals who are good at their jobs? I’m talking besides the Gates and Jobs of the world.

In the last few years, I might catch the last quarter of a good NFL game or the last minutes of a NCAA game (football or basketball) but that is about it. I can’t remember the last time I actually watched a full game of any sport. And by the way, I don’t count NASCAR or horse racing as a sport.

But now, I am really devastated by the latest sporting news. By the way, ESPN was a great invention. The New Orleans Saints have been caught putting bounties on opposing players’ heads. Unbelievable! What’s next? “Stand Your Ground” legislation to allow players to use guns on the playing field. And what’s more unbelievable, the Head Coach of the Saints (need to change their name to Sinners) was only suspended by the NFL for a year. Give me a break! Just kidding Saints. This guy should be banished from the NFL and the state of Louisiana!

And get this, the best part of this bounty game. The NFL doesn’t know how to discipline the Saints players who participated in these criminal activities. Give me another break! Ban all of them from the NFL. Thank you. The NFL needs to send a message to young athletes, play by the rules or don’t play at all.

 

Stand Your Ground!

24 Mar

I just read an article, dated 12/05 discussing the new bill that passed in Florida called “Stand Your Ground”. Incredibly, the sponsor of the bill is an National Rifle Association member but doesn’t even own a rifle or a gun. He just thinks that Floridians should be able to kill people no matter where or whenever.

Fast forward to 2012, and a Black teen is shot dead by a neighborhood watch captain for carrying Skittles and an ice tea. Because of the 05′ bill, the watch captain is not arrested because he had blood on him. He is not arrested even though the 911 operator told the guy to back off as he tracks the teen down in the “nice” neighborhood.

Back to 05′, the “Stand Your Ground” bill is just an extension of another bill that allows homeowners to kill anyone who enters their homes without permission, as along as there is a presumption that the guy entering is intending to do great bodily harm or more. Give me a break! How is the homeowner supposed to know that? “Well, Mr. Police Officer I saw it in his eyes, he wanted to kill us.”

Back to 12′, I find it amazing how Black people are able to form rallies and protests like nobody else can. The “Occupy” movement has been occupying for awhile now and yesterday’s rallies and protests caught the attention of the President of the USA faster than the Occupiers have managed to do. The President even remarked, he  (the gunned down teen) looks like he could have been my son (without the hoody, of course). Yes, I bring up the hoody because Geraldo Rivera thinks that hoody worn by the teen signed his death warrant. I have to agree that the hoody does give off a certain aura about it that takes my thinking to gang bangers and the like.

Quite frankly I am surprised that I hadn’t heard about this “Stand Your Ground” bill before this recent incident. However, after this incident I don’t think “Stand Your Ground” has a chance to “Stand Around Much Longer”.

One Day-Movie Review

23 Mar

After just watching the Notebook last Saturday night, I was still in the mood for another romance feature so I picked up One Day starring Anne Hathaway(Emma) and Jim Sturgess (Dexter).

The film starts as Emma and Dexter are graduating from college and then follows their lives for the next 20 years on one particular day. The coupling definitely has “full” chemistry that first day but they decide to be just friends. They stay in contact thru the years, mainly by way of letters and phone calls. They have their chances to take their friendship to the next level  but fail to do so and they continue to live separate lives.

Until one day, Dexter is finally ready to move forward with her but Emma has a beau. However, she finally comes to her senses and runs to Dexter. The couple spent many years apart but finally take the leap but the leap doesn’t last long enough.

I found this movie very frustrating because I found the two characters very intelligent in many ways but not when it came to love. I kept waiting for one of them to say, “I need you. I want you” but they just seem too stubborn to say it. In life, we need to seize the moment and take a risk. In this story, the characters took a long time to finally take a risk on real love.

How many times in your life have your heard the line, “life is too short.” Plenty, I imagine. I think about the couples who have been married 50 years like my Aunt Sandy and Uncle Roger (well, technically not until July). They had a moment way back when and they grabbed it and their love is still intact today. What if they would have not grabbed it? Their lives would have been probably totally different.

What I am saying? Don’t let those moments slip by. Jump on them. Take that risk that seems scary. Ask her out even though you think she may say no. What do you have to lose? Maybe the best you would have ever had…

2 out of 4 stars

 

Tower Heist-Movie Review

21 Mar

Tower Heist filmed in Trump Tower in Manhattan is about a few guys and gal who want back what belongs to them & others.

The idea for the movie came from Eddie Murphy’s brain, even though Chris Rock was considered for Murphy’s character’s role. I am glad Eddie took the role. I don’t care for Rock.

Robert Redford was asked to play the role of the rich guy in the movie but Alan Alda got it after Robert turned it down. He was probably too busy getting ready for the Sundance Film Festival he started way back when. I just watched Alan in another movie, Flash of Genius starring Greg Kinnear, where Alda plays an arrogant attorney. BTW, check “Flash” out, tear jerking and inspiring (to do the right thing).

Can you believe it? Alan is already 76 years old. I was never a fan of MASH, since I don’t care for military-type shows but I respected his work in the long running series.

Back to the “Heist”, starring Ben Stiller as the ringleader. Ben’s character is a good guy who has tried to the right thing for many years but then he is basically “shit” on by Alan’s character (Shaw) and hatches a plan to steal from Shaw to give to the peasants, employees of the Tower.

I like Ben but he does seem to play the same type of roles over and over but he is still funny. Matthew Broderick plays a character down on his luck, living in the Tower and joins Ben’s gang. Where has Broderick been all of these years? His wife has been kicking ass but Matt, not so much. Some actors just can’t escape certain roles, his being Ferris Bueller’s Day Off back in 86′. He has one line in the “Heist” that is funny but I won’t give it away.

All and all, the “Heist” is somewhat funny and worth the time. It was good to see Eddie again.

2 stars out of 4.

Love is…Finding love again

19 Mar

I wrote a post a little while ago about how I loved myself and the women throughout my life. On both counts, I had said that I lacked love. Well, I am here to change that on the second count, the women.

My new insight came from watching “The Notebook” the other night. As you all know, the movie centers on two lovers who get separated but find their way back to each other to live a long and loving life together.

All this time, I have been living and thinking that my life wasn’t complete because I lost my “first, real love” way back in college (I was 19). I was under the belief that I could never love again like I loved that first time. I thought that no woman could ever measure up to “her”. This belief actually started me on a path of self destruction that lasted for many years. Very unfortunately. Because during that time, I met some special women along the way and I didn’t give them their due.

Due to this new insight (way overdue), I finally have to let my first love go. She let go of me 26 years ago. I guess I have a good grip. LOL. But there is more…whatever happened to Paul Harvey? I am grateful for the women that I have shared my life with. Each  woman chiseled away at the man I have become and strive to become more of.

I remember Sue back in Menomonie, WI. I fell for her fast after I saw her super smile and heard her loving laugh. We walked and tripped over learning how to live in this world without the aid of our parents. She was my glue that held me together when those around us didn’t approve of what we were doing. But I lost Sue due to my continued self destructive ways and to this day, she hasn’t forgiven me and that hurts.

Then I met my first wife, Alison, after a date was set-up for her and one of my friends didn’t go so well. I also fell fast for Alison and asked her to marry me within eight months of our first date. She was the kindest, most respectful person I have ever met. And I thought I had those traits. I had nothing on her but she brought them out in me. Alison also had a super smile that would make any temporary woe just go away. But due to my lingering belief about my first love, I had doubts about “really” marrying Alison. Doubts I didn’t share with her and the marriage ended as fast as it started and I lost love again. I was able to say “hi” to her recently over the phone (after 16 years) and she is happily married with kids. Good for her.

I found my first love in sobriety with my second wife, Maria. Yes, again I fell fast and hard with Maria. Hey, when I know, I know. Maria had the most magnetic personality that I have ever encountered “off the screen”. She was just bursting with affection and wanted to please me and I wanted to please her. This time around, it wasn’t me who fouled up. Maria had a tendency to run when  she didn’t get her way. And she just didn’t run to her friend’s, she would run for months. I didn’t so much care for an absentee wife, so I divorced her and moved to the Sooner State.

However, my love for Maria didn’t stop with some legal paperwork and we got married again a couple years later in a very romantic ceremony in Eureka Springs, AR. But, it wasn’t long before she was running again and again I divorced her for it.

Yes, I am very grateful that I had the opportunities I have had with the “loves” in my life and I am also grateful that I can finally move on and really love the next woman God puts in my path.

 

 

War on Drugs

17 Mar

What would you do with 15 BILLION dollars? Keep dreaming…

Well, that is how much the federal government spends on the “War on Drugs” each year. Most of this money is spent on enforcement: stopping the drug trade and locking drug offenders up. Another part of it is spent on treatment and just a tiny bit of the green stuff is spent on prevention.

This whole war on drugs could have been WON by now if we had just listened to one of our forefathers, Ben Franklin who said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” I will come back to that brilliant piece of advice in a moment.

A little history for you: 1971 President “Tricky Dick” Nixon proclaims the War on Drugs because U.S. soldiers fighting in Vietnam are becoming addicted to heroin. Back in the states, gangsters are buying heroin by the kilo (that’s 2.2 lbs) and distributing it by 1/8th of a gram (28 grams in an ounce). Don’t forget what Franklin said. So what happens? We have a heroin epidemic because the demand is strong and the suppliers are making tons of cash (non taxable).

Fast forward to last year, I live in Oklahoma and Oklahoma had the highest number of prescription drug users (without a prescription) at 240,000 or 8% of the population. It is interesting because they don’t even mention how many people are abusing prescription drugs with prescriptions. What was the leading prescription drug used? Hydrocodone. What is Hydrocodone made from? Opium. Where does Opium come from? 87% comes from Afghanistan. Where are our troops right now? Afghanistan. Yes, 40 years later we are fighting the same war against the same type of drug. BTW, of those 240K people, 739 died from their use. Even scarier is that in 05′, only one Oklahoman died from Hydrocodone but last year, 153 died from it.

I can’t do a story on drugs without mentioning the biggest problem we have in this country, alcohol. There are approximately 12 million alcoholics which cost us about 60 billion per year. Now alcoholics aren’t the only problem, American drinkers spend over 197 million per day on alcohol. No wonder there are so many beer commercials. Alcohol is factor in 83% of homicides, 81% of wife beatings,73% of felony arrests, 73% of child beatings, 72% of stabbings, and 41% of the rapes in this country.

One more interesting tidbit before I talk about prevention. Lipitor is the most successful drug on the market (legal). It rakes in over three billion a year. Lipitor is useful because it lowers cholesterol. High cholesterol is a factor in 80% of the heart attacks.

So back to Franklin’s advice, the best strategy against drugs is prevention. Please kill the idea of legalization of all drugs. Just look at the havoc alcohol causes in this country alone and it is legal. There are, of course many reasons people use drugs but it really comes down to just two main reasons: increase enjoyment and increase relaxation. To simplify, to prevent a person from using a drug in the first place, he must be shown ways to increase his enjoyment and relaxation which really gets back to the simple pleasures of life.