Oct 29, 2008

We'll keep your seat warm for you!

This week the headlines of the Detroit papers proclaimed that the former, disgraced, but unexplainably still proud, Mayor had been sentenced to 120 days in Wayne County jail. This coverage came complete with a nice mug shot of the ex-Mayor in his green uniform. I am sure his new duds will not be the worst humiliation he will suffer during his incarceration. But for a man who monograms the word "Mayor" on his cuffs I am sure it served as a wake up call that he ain't in Kansas anymore.

The prisoner garb photo isn't my favorite one though. I like the one above that was taken during his sentencing. It is so "Kwame". This photo was taken just before he was taken away to serve his time. Kwame knows what we want. We want to see some humility, some remorse, hell, we'd even take fear. He will not oblige. He remains steadfastly smug and arrogant.

Kwame's list of proven and alleged digressions is long and sordid. Stripper parties, extramarital affairs, perjury, unexplained murder, improper award of city business to personal friends. Click the link below for a detailed blow by blow of this 5 year saga.


In the end it caught up to him and he stands before us a broken man. Oh wait, no he doesn't. His confidence is not shaken in the least. And his parting words upon his resignation were "You have set me up for a huge comeback". The sad thing is that he is probably right. We have not seen the last of Kwame.

Oct 27, 2008

Say what?

I gave up smoking two years ago. I did it for many reasons. I was feeling like shit at the end of the day. My kids bugged me constantly to quit. My mother-in-law had just died from emphysema. And not least of all, because I was starting to feel like a social leper. The places where you could light up in public were getting to be few and far between. And if you did find a place you were reduced to shamefully puffing away while all the non-smokers waited patiently for you to hurry up already.

Every year more and more cities, counties and even states are passing laws that prohibit smoking in one place or another. I don't regret giving up the "cancer sticks". But as someone with an addictive personality I have to admit I still miss it. But I fight the urges and carry on.

Today I received quite a shock. I served jury duty today. As anybody who has performed this important, but very boring civic duty, can tell you, it involves quite a bit of sitting around and waiting in a confined space.

At the start of our morning a very nice court employee was explaining the lay of the land to everybody. She was quite entertaining. As she was nearing the end of the rules she asked "Any smokers here?".

Everybody looked from side to side. At first only about three or four people in a room of well over 200 people raised their hands. Seriously, three or four people. We all knew there were more of them out there. But they weren't 'fessing up.

"Now c'mon, this will be important to you. Raise your hand if you're a smoker." the nice court lady encouraged them in a very motherly tone of voice. Sheepishly a few more raised their hands. "Well, at break time you are the only jurors allowed to go outside. Everybody else has to stay in the building." You could hear the gasps in the room. Then the mumbling and grumbling started.

She then told the the smokers that we were going to have to get started at 9:00am sharp and that they had just enough time to sneak out for a quick smoke. I was standing near the front counter as the nice lady behind the counter dumped out a healthy supply of "loaner lighters" for the smokers since theirs had been confiscated on the way into the courtroom.

There was a stampede. As I suspected, the jury pool certainly had more than the dozen smokers who had raised their hands. I fully expected somebody to complain about this special priviliege. Especially since it was being bestowed upon "smokers". Maybe it was the courthouse setting or perhaps, like me, some of them were former smokers and could empathize. Not one person complained.

I think I know why the court makes an exception for smokers. It isn't in anybody's best interest to have a cranky, distracted juror. I'm sure the whole "fair and impartial" thing is really hard to control under the influence of nicotine withdrawal. I certainly wouldn't want my fate resting in the hands of a heavy smoker who had gone without a fix for the whole day all because of me. Innocent until proven guilty my ass.

The only thing that keeps me from starting to smoke again is knowing how hard it was to quit. I hope those smokers enjoyed every minute. Light one up for me!

Oct 23, 2008

Life Lessons

My sister and I chose very different career paths. I entered the business world and she became a teacher. Over the years we have rejoiced in each other’s successes but I’m sure, just like me, she would shake her head occasionally and think “She just doesn’t understand what I do.”

I am very proud of my sister. She has taught school in poor, rough neighborhoods throughout her entire career. She has had to deal with parents that were often ungrateful and sometimes even a little scary and threatening. She has had to deal with an increasingly ungrateful community that was led to believe by Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” that it is the teacher’s fault if their kid is not doing well.

She suffered through all this because she put the kids first. She has taught kindergarteners how to brush their teeth (and given them toothbrushes). She has visited the homes of her students to offer her help to their families. These visits were in neighborhoods so impoverished and dangerous that most people wouldn’t drive through them, let alone leave their cars. She has spent huge amounts of her own money on school supplies and mittens, coats and gloves for these kids.

What did my sister get for her years of devotion and hard work. She got laid off. The students in her district slowly moved away from the public school system to charter schools. These charter schools are funded by tax dollars. Their parents believed that attending a school with the word “Academy” in the name and wearing a uniform were the key components missing from their child’s education. Never mind that most of these parents couldn’t be bothered to come to conferences, to help their kids with homework or to respond to phone calls and messages from my sister.

After losing her job my sister got the opportunity to take a Human Resources position. That is my chosen profession. We have discovered that our jobs aren't really that different after all.

Do you remember the book “All I Ever Really Needed To Know I Learned In Kindergarten”? It’s true. The employees that cause the most grief for HR professionals are the ones that didn’t learn those lessons. My sister is uniquely qualified to be in HR. She can help those wayward employees learn the lessons that she has been teaching kids for 20 years.

* Share and Help Others
* Don’t Tattle Tale
* Be a Team Player
* Don’t Hit
* Don’t Call People Names
* Don’t Lie or Cheat
* Respect People and Their Property
* Do Your Best

What she did best though was to inspire her students. She taught them to have confidence in themselves and to not be afraid. That is something we in HR could do a little better job at.

Now we have lots to talk about, my sister and I.

Oct 15, 2008

My physics and astronomy gene is missing!

I am convinced that I don't have the gene that allows you to understand physics and astronomy. I try so very hard to understand but I just don't.

We watch the Discovery channel, National Geographic channel, I love science in general but when a program related to physics or astronomy is on I feel like a caveman encountering a computer. It's just something beyond my abilities. My head tilts and I say "hunh" in a really high pitched tone. It amuses my husband to no end. He gave up years ago trying to help me understand. Now he just laughs at me.

Well it just so happens that we got onto this subject at the local watering hole recently. Somehow this led to a discussion about the moon and it's phases. It shames me greatly to admit that I just don't get it.

Coincidentally, one of the regular couples we meet there met at an "astronomy club" and were totally on board with helping me to understand. I was even trotted outside to view the actual moon in hopes that the light bulb would come on.

I did see how the moon shone in relation to where the sun was (theoretically was anyway, since it was night.) Mission accomplished. But I don't get the whole picture.

The drawing above was sent to me by my good friend in an attempt to once again help me understand. She agreed to let me include it in my blog only if I included the e-mail chain below.

Me: I've been paying attention to the moon since bar night and although I thought I had it, I really don't . Gonna bring a grapefruit (sun), orange (earth) and ping pong ball(moon) next time for a 3D demonstration.

Friend: LOL!! It's still on my radar to clean the basement storage room before Thanksgiving -- last I saw I still have leftover styrofoam balls and paints from an elementary ed moon phases demo I did for my student teaching. Maybe I won't pitch them quite yet...

(Friend sends me above diagram).

Me: Oh, thank you for the diagram. Also for alerting me that I am not 1:20 the size of the earth.

I get the whole sun shining on the moon thing. But I don't understand why the moon is in different places in the sky. How does it move in relation to the earth during a 24 hour period, and during the 28 day cycle? And how does this movement affect how we see it. .... I know I am being incredibly dense on this subject but it frustrates me not to understand, I guess I'm not as smart as a 5th grader.

I am afraid that there is no way to avoid a 3D demonstration.

Sister: (I think she was embarrassed on my behalf by this point.) ZOMG, you are really over thinking this!


Friend: Cool site! I love the first line: The Moon travels around the Earth. Square one!

Me: You guys are brutal.

Friend: While I admire your quest to fully grasp this concept, I'm a little disconcerted by the fact that it's taking you so long. :)

Me: It's as if I damaged some section of my brain isn't it ??

Friend: Like your moon phases gene is stuck in a black hole or something; nothing's getting through.

Sister: Was the year your teacher showed you the 3-D model that every school has the same year you were visiting the "chemistry" class too often ?

Friend: Ah hah! I think you're onto something. Maybe those brain cells have been permanently "impaired".

Don't even get me started on black holes. And how did you know I was going to title my blog entry "I'm missing the astronomy and physics gene!" And Sis, you just keep your theories as to where my brain cells went to yourself.

Oct 12, 2008

You crack me up!

There are moments when my husband can make me laugh unexpectedly. An honest laugh that comes from deep inside. It's one of the reasons I stick around after nearly twenty five years.

Me: Hey, come read my blog!

Him: Right now?

Me: Yeah, c'mon.

Him: I have to listen to your blog all day long, now I have to read it too?

See. He cracks me up.

Recently, while driving home from work I saw a huge owl flying low in the median of the highway. It was an unusual sight. I thought to myself, I have to remember to tell Jim about that. I know I'm going to forget about it. (It's a long boring ride home, my mind tends to wander.) I know, I'll text him. I proceeded to text him the word "OWL". I couldn't do more than that without risking life and limb.

I drove happily along forgetting about the owl. I was confident that he would ask me about my strange text message when I got home. Five minutes later he sent me a text message. I thought it would probably be a text like, "Why in the hell are you texting me the word OWL?" That's what I would have done in his shoes. No, his text was "EAGLE". God, do I love him.

Oct 10, 2008

Main Street USA

The current political catch phrase being bandied about by everybody is driving me nuts. It is meant to make us feel like our politicians are on our side, they get where we are coming from and they are here to help. It always involves contrasting and comparing "Wall Street" and "Main Street". This bothers me on so many levels I don't know where to start.

Not sure who used it first a Democrat or Republican but they all throw it around in an attempt to make us believe they care more than the other guy. They try so hard to convince us that they come from Main Street.

Sarah Palin does it best. Is the fact that she comes from a small town meant to comfort me? Make me believe that she will fight for me? That might work better if she hadn't tried to have the town librarian fired for not destroying books she found objectionable. Do you think that library is on Main Street?

When they say "Main Street" they all give a dramatic pause and then wait afterwards. As if they are rock stars on stage during a concert mentioning the name of the town they are in and expect us to explode with pride because they actually know who we are. Bob Seger giving a shout out to the Motor City. Woooooooooo!

When they say Wall Street they practically hiss. As if these aren't the same people who regularly visit their offices on capitol hill. Do you think we are that stupid? Moguls don't get where they are without greasing the political wheels in Washington.

And by the way. The wolf is at the door. To be an effective leader you need to A) See the wolf when it's on the horizon and, most importantly, B) Do something about it.

Quit acting like I might run into you at the Home Depot down the road. Unless of course you need some more of that duct tape you are using to patch up our failing economy.

Oct 8, 2008

Do I really have anything to blog about?

OK. Fresh sheet of paper..... well not really paper.

Start over.... blank screen waiting for witty musings about everyday occurrences, keen insights into current events or deep thoughts about life and our place in it. Wow, the pressure is overwhelming, I don't think I can do this.

I guess I will start small.

We're thinking about getting another dog. OK, I'm thinking about getting another dog. The only thing holding me back is that I am trying to decide if I want a third dog because I love dogs (which I do) or because my youngest son just went away to college.

My husband's objections would seem to play a role in my decision, but only to an outsider. He has objected to every animal ever brought into our home. This is purely a strategy on his part so that he can lay the blame squarely on my shoulders if any doggie misdeeds occur. He loves the animals as much as I do. And in the case of one Golden Retriever named Brutus, even more than me.

We recently had my sister and her husband over for cards (euchre... there's your first clue that I live in Michigan). The dogs had been to the groomers that day and received for their trouble , cheesy doggy bandannas. I stopped the game to insist my husband put the bandannas back on the dogs. He claimed they made the dogs look stupid and refused. We went back and forth. My sister and brother-in-law started laughing and asked "Do you guys miss your son?"

I do miss my son. The dogs have been taken on more walks, been played with more and just generally received more love and attention. I see the connection, really I do. I don't need anybody to point it out to me.

I still might get another dog though.