Something in the Air?

Every now and then, you hit a rough patch in life. It always seems to come out of nowhere and often comes when it seems you are just about to hit your stride. Whenever that happens I find myself getting wound up into the twisty road of ‘why’.

In the last few weeks, lots of stuff has been swirling all around. A friend of mine is very concerned about their parent, my friend Kelly, as most of you know, was in a very bad car accident, Roomie’s friend was just diagnosed with cancer and still other friends are having difficulties too, to a lesser degree. It makes me wonder, is there something in the air?

I tend to be a little supersticious, or maybe just paranoid – but this is very unsettling to me. Although, this year has been filled with lots of changes, some good, some bad, generally speaking my life tends to be even and calm. When something gets in the mix that riles that up, I look inward to see if there is something I’m doing that is causing it. In this case, it wouldn’t seem so, since most of it is happening around me and isn’t specifically about me. Which makes it worse because there is precious little I can do about it, except watch it unfold.

Since Kelly’s accident, it is nearly impossible for me to not to think about it and her most of the time. I find it hard to concentrate on the rest of my life but know that I must. I will be no good to her or anyone else if I steep myself in worry and concern and don’t focus on the daily tasks that are necessary to get on in life. Yet, when I do this, I feel guilty as though I am letting her down. Truth be told, I felt that way the entire time I was in Seattle. Not only could I not fix things (an unrealistic goal, of course, but that has never stopped me) but I was so distressed and upset personally, that I spent much of my time there trying not to fall apart around Kelly and her family – especially her children. Consequently, I spent a lot of time out on their deck, late at night, crying when everyone else was asleep.

Maybe that is the normal response to situations like this, I really don’t know – the last time I had someone in my life in a critical and dire condition was when I was twelve years old and my grandfather was in and out of the hospital. From that standpoint, I should count myself as lucky, because most of the people in my life are healthy and happy and doing well.

I could just adopt the view that sometimes things just happen. That is true enough, yet still, with Kelly it shouldn’t have happened – not because she is my friend or because she is a good person – but because it just doesn’t fit. She is an adventurous woman, an excellent driver, very perceptive and intuitive and doesn’t fit the profile of someone who would get into an accident. I just can’t get that out of my mind. I just can’t stop wondering what happened – was she upset just before the accident, did something get her so riled up that she wasn’t paying attention? These questions and many more swirl around in my head whenever I think about it but I find no answers – and may never.

As far as I can tell, Kelly wasn’t aware of my being there and/or if she was, she didn’t know me. It’s possible that that part of her memory is gone and she may never know me again – except in the context of now. As though life came along and decided to pluck parts of her life away from her and is holding them hostage for an unknown ransome.

And though it’s futile and not well-advised I can’t but help to ask, why? Why Kelly? Why now? Maybe someday I’ll find the answer but for now, I am stuck with only the the continuous and never ending winding road of questions.

Pain at the Pump?

Okay, most of you know that I’m a capitalist at heart and believe in the free market. I do, however, make a qualified exception when it comes to the price of gas and heating oil.

My buddy, PG, sent me this link and I highly recommend you check it out. They make a good point and if nothing else, give us some sort of forum to maybe have our voices heard. One of the nice features on the site is that it gives you the opportunity to vent. This is what I said to them:

It costs over $60 to fill my tank and that’s an economy car. And of course, you have to forego, small luxuries if you need to get around. I live in California, so we have one of the highest costs for fuel in the nation and there is no way to get around the L.A. area without a car – the public transportation system is inadequate and walking or taking a bike is not an option when you work 20 miles from home.

Though I am not in favor of regulation generally speaking, the utility companies are regulated because people must use their services to survive – that is also the case with gasoline and heating oil – therefore, I do think some sort of regulation or price cap is in order.

The thing of it is, that there is no shortage of oil in this country or any other and that speculators are being allowed to drive the cost of oil up is ridiculous, especially since the oil industry with the help of Congress, works laboriously at keeping competitive fuel sources and energy sources off the market – that my friend, is called a monopoly – which is supposed to be a no-no in this country.

Congress needs to get out of its Hippie/Boomer/60’s mode and look at the situation today – we need more refineries, drilling and clean nuclear power. They don’t seem to mind zipping around in their private jets and suv’s – while letting the taxpayer foot the bill – yet, we practically have to shoot ourselves to get our own government to provide the services we want, as opposed to what they think is best for us.

If we are indeed, living in a free market society, then let all the other sources of alternate energy/fuel inventions and innovations, etc. onto the market and to compete freely and give us a choice about whether or not we want to line the pockets of the oil industry and middle east despots.

You can click on the banner in my sidebar or the above link to check out the site and sign the petition. I don’t know how much good it will do, but it sure can’t hurt.

A Day to Remember

Memorial Day is that first big picnic and three day outting holiday of the year in the states. And I have many fond memories of the family gatherings at local parks, the smell of burgers and hot dogs on the grill – juicy watermelon dripping down my chin, mom’s macaroni salad and of course the waiting for nightfall so we could light our sprinklers. It’s all part and parcel of this holiday.

Though, I would ask, that we all take a moment of silence to thank God for those who have spilled blood and given their lives so we can celebrate this holiday. And to say a prayer of thanks and Godspeed to all our troops worldwide – who carry on the tradition of standing the watch.

It’s days like these that I wish I had the wherewithall to send a home made bbq to Iraq and Afghanistan – with vat’s of mom’s special macaroni salad on ice. Unfortunately, I haven’t so…I offer the recipe instead. I suppose it is possible that one or two of our troops might find the recipe and be able to convince somebody to make it for them???

Okay –

2lbs of large elbow macaroni

1/2 small brown onion, minced fine

3 stalks minced celery

1 very small jar of pimentos

2 large dill pickles, minced fine (are you sensing a trend here?)

3 large hard cooked eggs minced fine

1/4 cup of dill pickle juice

3 TBS yellow mustard

paprika

1 can of tuna (optional)

1-2 cups of whole egg mayo (depending on how dry or wet you like your mac salad)

Cook elbow macaroni and drain and rinse. Place in large bowl in fridge and let completely cool. Once mac is cooled pull out of fridge and set aside (it works well if you make the mac the night before and leave in fridge over night – cooled mac does not absorb the liquids as much and keep the salad much more moist). Take mayo, mustard, pickle juice and mix in separate bowl, set aside.

To the mac, add the celery, onion, egg, pimentos, pickles and tuna (if you are using) and toss thoroughly. Then again, put in fridge for about an hour. This lets the flavors marry and seep into the mac first.

Then pull out of fridge and add ‘sauce’, again tossing thoroughly. Sprinkle with paprika on top, cover with plastic wrap and keep cool until ready to serve. If you find that the mac has absorbed the liquid too much and is a little dry, just add a little water to bring it back up. Quite yummy.

Have a safe and happy Memorial Day.

WC

Our Brother's Keeper – Or is That Somebody Else's Job?

Lately, this question has been circling my awareness and it seems to be screaming at me from all places. From the whole Obama/pastor snafu to my own personal life, it seems our connections to others or lack thereof are up for scrutiny.

It begs the question, is one responsible for those they know and what they do? I’m a bit on the fence about this because I can see both sides of the coin. On the one hand, every person is accountable for their own actions and words. Absent any kind of physical or emotional force (at least in America) people are not made to do or say things – in fact, we are the land of freedom of speech – no country has more personal freedoms than ours. So, from that point of view, no, we’re not responsible for the actions of others. On the other hand, no man is an island – despite the latest craze of cocooning and sort of running our worlds from the one-stop shop of our computer hubs – there actually are other people out there and we come into contact with them everyday. Whether through physical or cyber means. We all have a voice and our own brand of influence – we can change people’s minds and actions. We do it all the time. Don’t believe me? You see a little child about to run into the street – you stop them just as a car zooms by. A friend is distraught over a recent breakup and maybe thinking suicidal thoughts, you stay up the night talking them down from the ledge. Or even….you write a post about something that is bothering you on your blog – a stranger halfway around the world reads it and rethinks something they were going to do, perhaps even gains some insight or perspective on the situation and decides not to do something rash or decides to do something that ends up really helping someone. See where I’m going with this?

The world and life is full of choices, some good, some bad. We can bury our heads in our butts and pretend we don’t see things or recognize cries for help or we can open ourselves up to all and everything out there. And it’s the little things too that I think that sometimes mean the most. Sure, we like to all get involved in ’causes’ help fight drug abuse, breast cancer, MS, oppression in China, imprisoned bloggers, expose nasty politicians or corporate malfeasance and there’s nothing wrong with it. But there is so much going on right outside your own doorstep that I wonder if tending to that, doesn’t have a greater overall effect. Maybe it’s the trickle down effect – know what I mean? Where that one little action you take can change a whole sequence of events of which you are not even aware?

Today, Blog Catalogue is doing a blogger human rights event. The idea is to get all the bloggers to unite and discuss human rights across the world. A lofty goal and worthy too. And I thought about finding some big issue and writing about it – but instead I thought that big issues only become big because the little issues are ignored and left to fester. I wonder, if we all just did whatever we could to stop injustice and enhance the quality of life for all those around us (including ourselves) if the big issues would ever come to be. Don’t you?

I guess in the end, I do believe we are our brother’s keepers. And we wear that responsibility by the way we treat others and ourselves. By the way we reach out or pull back. By the way we view the world. By our attitudes and philosophies – by our inclinations to help or to harm – to share or compete. To me, human rights aren’t about some big issue ‘out there’ it’s about all the many little things in our own backyards.

What do you think?

WC

Our Brother’s Keeper – Or is That Somebody Else’s Job?

Lately, this question has been circling my awareness and it seems to be screaming at me from all places. From the whole Obama/pastor snafu to my own personal life, it seems our connections to others or lack thereof are up for scrutiny.

It begs the question, is one responsible for those they know and what they do? I’m a bit on the fence about this because I can see both sides of the coin. On the one hand, every person is accountable for their own actions and words. Absent any kind of physical or emotional force (at least in America) people are not made to do or say things – in fact, we are the land of freedom of speech – no country has more personal freedoms than ours. So, from that point of view, no, we’re not responsible for the actions of others. On the other hand, no man is an island – despite the latest craze of cocooning and sort of running our worlds from the one-stop shop of our computer hubs – there actually are other people out there and we come into contact with them everyday. Whether through physical or cyber means. We all have a voice and our own brand of influence – we can change people’s minds and actions. We do it all the time. Don’t believe me? You see a little child about to run into the street – you stop them just as a car zooms by. A friend is distraught over a recent breakup and maybe thinking suicidal thoughts, you stay up the night talking them down from the ledge. Or even….you write a post about something that is bothering you on your blog – a stranger halfway around the world reads it and rethinks something they were going to do, perhaps even gains some insight or perspective on the situation and decides not to do something rash or decides to do something that ends up really helping someone. See where I’m going with this?

The world and life is full of choices, some good, some bad. We can bury our heads in our butts and pretend we don’t see things or recognize cries for help or we can open ourselves up to all and everything out there. And it’s the little things too that I think that sometimes mean the most. Sure, we like to all get involved in ’causes’ help fight drug abuse, breast cancer, MS, oppression in China, imprisoned bloggers, expose nasty politicians or corporate malfeasance and there’s nothing wrong with it. But there is so much going on right outside your own doorstep that I wonder if tending to that, doesn’t have a greater overall effect. Maybe it’s the trickle down effect – know what I mean? Where that one little action you take can change a whole sequence of events of which you are not even aware?

Today, Blog Catalogue is doing a blogger human rights event. The idea is to get all the bloggers to unite and discuss human rights across the world. A lofty goal and worthy too. And I thought about finding some big issue and writing about it – but instead I thought that big issues only become big because the little issues are ignored and left to fester. I wonder, if we all just did whatever we could to stop injustice and enhance the quality of life for all those around us (including ourselves) if the big issues would ever come to be. Don’t you?

I guess in the end, I do believe we are our brother’s keepers. And we wear that responsibility by the way we treat others and ourselves. By the way we reach out or pull back. By the way we view the world. By our attitudes and philosophies – by our inclinations to help or to harm – to share or compete. To me, human rights aren’t about some big issue ‘out there’ it’s about all the many little things in our own backyards.

What do you think?

WC

Mywireless.org Update

I just received this in my inbox – I highly recommend you check it out. It is something that will affect us all unless we put our collective foot down. WC

CONGRESS – Say NO to ALL UNFAIR, NEW State and Local Wireless Taxes – For Three Years!


Support a Cell Phone Tax Moratorium Today

Congress is now back in session for 2008 and is again working to forge consumer-friendly telecom policies that will impact more than 253 million American wireless consumers just like you. Already, there is important legislation being considered in Washington, D.C., and you can make a difference by letting your U.S. Representative and your Senators know where you stand. Please act now to support a 3-year freeze on any new, discriminatory state and local wireless taxes.

Today’s American wireless consumer faces a tremendously unfair financial burden:

  • Wireless taxes are currently DOUBLE or TRIPLE that of other goods and services.
  • Nationally, the annual wireless tax consumer debt is now a whopping approximately $20 billion dollars!
  • Consumers already pay an average of 15% in combined federal, state and local government taxes and fees on their monthly wireless bills.
  • Because unfair, new state and local taxes, fees and surcharges on wireless are regressive, the burden often falls especially hard on fixed-income users such as seniors, working families and small businesses.
  • Too often, this tax responsibility puts wireless out of reach for far too many who have come to rely upon its value, convenience and safety as a preferred communications tool for their daily lives.

Legislation has been introduced in the 110th Congress providing for a 3-year freeze (or tax moratorium) for wireless, which would put a stop to all new, discriminatory state and local wireless taxes. You can help today by urging your Congressman and Senators in Washington to pass a Cell Phone Tax Moratorium, placing a 3-year freeze on all new, discriminatory state and local wireless taxes.

Super Tuesday

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t absolutely obsessed with politics right now. I am. Poor me, because really the long and short of it is, what will be will be. Not that I’m fatalistic really, but I do realize that all I can control are my own actions – not those of others and I suppose we will see what in fact, the American people really want.

While all of the candidates leave much to be desired, some are much worse than others.

Since most of you know that I am a conservative, it’s not likely I would vote for a liberal and if I were a liberal I would cringe at my choices. Hillary is like coffee, either you love it or you hate it. And while Barack Obama scores high marks in the personality department and the presence department and the intelligence department – he still has a nearly identical platform as Hillary. If you removed the personality factor – in terms of the issues there really isn’t much difference. And while I know that there are those who feel this is a very important election because it may result in either the first woman or the first African-American to hold the office – I honestly don’t believe that is a significant enough reason to vote for either of them. That being said, I would vote for Barack, if he were a conservative – I actually like the guy and think regardless of what happens has a definite future in politics in a big way.

As to my side of the aisle – I haven’t been excited about any of them very much. Except McCain and that is in a bad way. Read this. Frankly, I don’t understand why he isn’t running against Hillary and Barack right now -because if you close your eyes – again one doesn’t see much difference.

But now that the field has thinned considerably for the conservative side I am on board with Romney. While he has things that don’t thrill me – he is intelligent, well mannered, has proven track records in management, turning deficits into surpluses and something else I can’t really put my finger on. There is something about the man that makes me feel he can be trusted in the important issues. I don’t know why – perhaps it is the fact that he is even tempered, seems virtually unflappable and seems presidential. Or maybe it’s something else. At any rate – I can’t vote for McCain, Huckabee is a poor imitation of Clinton and Ron Paul is just to loopy to take seriously. So there you have it.

Who are you pulling the lever for on Tuesday and why? I’d really like to hear people’s thoughts on this if you care to share.

WC

We, the People…

How many of you out there has read the Constitution? I have, but to be honest it’s a bit of a blur and I didn’t retain much understanding of it – if I ever had any to begin with. The language is archaic and far from modern day nomeclature. Yet, it the foundation upon which our country is built.

There are those out there who like to think of the Constitution as a ‘living document’ which is code for ‘I can change it to suit my current political ambitions’ and there are endless interpretations of the documents. There are lawyers, judges and others who specialize in it – and every Tom, Dick & Harry – or every Tanya, Diane & Henrietta love to spout off about their Constitutional Rights.

Yet, how many of you really know what your Constitutional Rights are? I don’t mean what the likes of Al Sharpton or Jerry Falwell may spout, I mean straight from the source?

The truth is, that most Americans if quizzed on the Constitution would likely fail that quiz even if they were looking at the document during the test. We don’t really know what’s in it or what it means.

My friend Dave Kluge had this and many other realizations one day while watching a Presidential debate. Each debater was citing the Constitution and yet were at odds with each other in what they were saying. Dave found this confusing and it made him stop to wonder if people, generally really understood the Constitution and what the Framers intended.

Long story short, he started to research the document and continued to make some very interesting discoveries. His research ulitmately turned into a book The People’s Guide to the United States Constitution.

It’s very exciting to know any author who has had their book published, especially if you’re an author yourself – but I was excited about this book for many more reasons than that. I realized that it was something I wanted to know about, to learn about and ultimately understand. So, I happily attended his book signing and bought my very own copy – which the author was happy to sign.

The book is clear, concise, very reader friendly and informative.

A lot of us out here in blogland bandy about our political views and cite the Constitution, yet I wonder how well we know it. I’m going to know it a lot better once I finish this great book. Check it out. You may find it’s something you just have to have too.

WC

Writers Unite???

Okay, so the big writer strike started today. For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about – out here in fantasy land, we have a thing called the Writer’s Guild. Writer’s who somehow have managed to make a living as writers (especially in film and television) all join up after they get a couple of credits. It’s good for them because the Guild has set standards of pay, etc. as well as healthcare and other bennies for the poor writers.

Contrary what most people may think, most writers, even working ones aren’t bagillionaires. They don’t hobnob with the big celebrities andn sunbathe with JayLo. Nope, they usually, at best live comfortable middle class lives. That and the fact that I too, am a writer, makes me sympathetic to their cause.

The main point of contention is that with the onset of the new media that have cropped up since they last negotiated a contract (1989) was not included in their contracts. So, in a nutshell it’s all about residuals. Residuals are sort of like royalties, you get a little cut every time something airs that you’ve had a part in. Songwriters get them, producers get them, actors get them and I think so do directors. Well, with the internet and downloadable media exploding, the producers/studios have been cleaning up because they haven’t had to pay the writers a cut of this business which probably is in the billions overall.

And though I’m sympathetic I also have a problem with it. Not being a big union person, though my Pop was in a union all his life, I find the whole thing kind of weird. Writers, like it or not, often write for hire. Work for hire means, somebody hires you to perform a job, you do so and then that product that you produce belongs to the person who hired you to do it. It happens with inventors, software engineers, lots of different industries, also don’t forget tech writers. So, when a writer goes into that situation they know that they are doing that. If they write a screenplay on spec and it gets sold, it doesn’t belong to them anymore, it belongs to the studio who purchased it. And so on. So, now to come back and say, not fair, etc. seems wrong somehow. Especially since, financially they don’t take any risks. If they are hired to write something, they are paid for it. If it flops, the studio loses the money, etc. and everything they invested in it – they don’t go back to the writer and ask for their money back or a portion of it. If it’s a success, since they took all of the risk, shouldn’t the studio who bought it have the right to reaps the benefits?

Anyway, it’s about all that is in my little peabrain right now – so tell me what you think. I really don’t know.

WC

Go Away, OJ

It seems like only yesterday when I sat glued in front of my t.v. set, waiting with baited breath to see what would happen today. The “Trial of the Century” they called it and man were we hooked or what? I admit that I became a total junkie. There wasn’t anything I would rather talk about, nothing I’d rather think about – I had to solve the mystery.

As did many of us, apparently. What was really a three ring circus, starringa dyfunctional judge, a prosecutor who couldn’t look attractive regardless of her hair style or makeover, a cast of the weirdest witnesses ever to sit in a witness box and some of the most expansive gasbags in Beverly Hills (also known as lawyers).

I admit too that at first I didn’t want OJ to be guilty. I was particularly a fan of his, nor did I watch any of his movies – but, he was an icon not just of football but of the American Dream. I really didn’t want to blow up that image in my head and replace it with the reality that he was simply a narcissistic psycho who got away with murder.

After millions of dollars, mountains of evidence, hundreds of witnesses and volumes of testimony, the most inept prosecution team in the history of California and perhaps the country, managed to lose a case that should have been a slam dunk. And you may not know this but I kid you not, they all got a BONUS after they lost the biggest murder case in decades. Yep, I paid for that too.

Okay, so it’s over and thank Gawd, because by the time it was over I never, ever, ever, ever, wanted to hear about it, him, them or anything having anything to do with it. Never again. Much as I felt for the Browns and the Goldmans I was fresh out of sympathy and interest in the saga. Stick a fork in me because I was done with a capital D.

Since then, there have been the odd news item about the murdering s.o.b. which may have been amusing but certainly not interesting. And for the most part, OJ ceased to exist in my world. Can I get an, Amen?

But, apparently the universe doesn’t feel we’ve had enough OJ and apparently OJ doesn’t think we’ve had enough of him either, since the idiot went out and kidnaped, and held people at gunpoint over his old OJ shit.

You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting some story, news report, article or conversation about it. You know what I say? Big f’ing deal. The jerk committed yet another crime. Are we surprised? Are we honestly shocked in any way? Are we amazed by the new depths the man has managed to sink? I think not. Yet, our information suppliers (aka the media) are all atwitter over OJ’s latest bullshit and they can’t get enough of it, so we can’t get enough of it.

But I have a suggestion for the media. If you really want to drive the guy crazy, drive him up the frickin’ wall – why not just ignore the whole damn thing? Nothing bothers a narcissist more than being ignored. Nothing enrages them more. Nothing freaks them out better than that. You media guys want to see OJ’s head explode, ignore him. Treat him like the scurvy little spider that he is. Treat him as though he matters not and I promise you will get the story of the century. I can see the headlines now, “OJ Spontaneously Combusts on Larry King Live! Ignoring OJ May be Responsible for his Giant-Ass Brain Tumor Which Doctors Have Confirmed is Inoperable. OJ Takes Off for the Moon Without a Rocket Ship!”

Yeah, I like the sound of that. I like the idea of him sitting in a jail cell and being ignored and treated like he is no better than the dust bunnies under my bed. I really like it.

Hey OJ! Just go away!

WC