Monday, August 07, 2006
I read this great post about the
Thursday, August 03, 2006
Thursday, March 23, 2006
Elephants Never Forget
Moving on- the real reason I have something to say has to do with a TV show I viewed on the discovery channel a few weeks ago. The story was about a large Elephant and his hardcore biker/hells angles ruffian turned trainer and friend. I was intrigued by the trusting friendship that these two souls formed. This friendship was easily seen as they sauntered from tree to tree both picking leafs one with his hands, the other with his trunk. Twice a day elephant and trainer go for theses long walks silently expressing trust and respect for one another. As the show moves on, we learn that both elephant and trainer were “social outcasts” in their own right. One lived a nomadic life on the road with nothing more then a saddle bag full of belongings, the other a tired, cranky and over worked “movie prop.” This elephant was aching for some room to move. By nature elephants are very nomadic; their herds require lots of room in the open to move from one grazing location to another. The trainer obviously understood and could sympathize with the pent-up frustrations of this elephant. This led to a very unusual companionship that has been therapeutic for both parties. This elephant is one of the lucky ones. He has been allowed a place to roam in a huge refuge for large animals that have been abandoned or neglected. All in all it was a great story that I found very thought provoking.
At this point everyone is wondering why is he writing about this? Well its all coming full circle I promise. As I was surfin’ the web this morning I came across a great post. It was about circus elephants and how they have been forced to walk through the midtown tunnel (note the picture and the very funny sign above the tolls) all en rout to Madison Square Garden. For those of us who drive around the tri-state area know that gridlock along with the sound of horns honking and yelling people coupled with flashes of middle fingers are just a way of life, you can’t avoid it. Commuting can be a very traumatic event. You need to have a clear destination in mind…you won’t find any “crusin’” or “stopin’ at the sonic” going down on the long island expressway. Now, imagine if you’re some poor circus elephant being prodded by a cattle prod and forced to walk through one of the busiest tunnels in New York all for a photo op. There is a bigger issue here and it has to do with the inhumane treatment of these large animals. Most are chained and confined to small quarters. Anything that is confined like that slowly looses its desire to live. It’s just sad really. So for all of you circus going folk, next time your under the big tent eating pink or blue cotton candy and milk duds, poking fun at the creepy looking clowns, remember the elephants in their chains just waiting to get a peanut.
Sorry if I just bummed people out, I know that I kind of am after reading this. I really didn’t want this to come off like a PETA statement. Bottom line, I just like elephants, and seeing stuff like that makes me feel crappy about what people are capable of. It all seems so totally unnecessary. Maybe you think I’m a hippie? Maybe you don’t, all I know is …I’ve got a tree to hug.
Saturday, September 10, 2005
Sticks and Stones Babs...
Let’s not kid ourselves; we’ve all said stupid things. Everyone has put their foot in their mouth once or twice causing the inevitable and very uncomfortable silence to follow. Most “foot-in-mouth” experiences are forgotten and excusable. On Monday, the ex-first lady and mother to the current president of the United States, Barbara “Babs” Bush gave us a doozie. Babs explained, half chuckling, how the 5 star accommodations at the Astrodome “were working out well for them” (refering to the victims of the hurricane disaster). Babs also said “everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality” and that “so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway” as to imply that the 10,000 cots aligned across the astrodome floor, that now represent all that many people have as “working out” just fine because they were well, “you know…underprivileged anyway.” This remark just put a large exclamation point on her lovable, compassionate conservative stance on things.
The sad thing is, as Babs said these things she had no idea that what she was saying was not only totally out of line but as condescending a remark as could be said at that time. Babs’ statement has uncomfortable undertones that are similar to the statement made by Marie Antoinette during the French revolution when she declared “let them eat cake” after being informed that peasants outside the castle wall were starving to death. I’m sure Ms. Antoinette felt that things were “working out” for the peasants, because they were “you know…underprivileged anyway” too.
The Bush Camp has jumped quickly in to do damage control trying to excuse the Ex-first ladies comments, as well as other misguided statements made by the President and others around him. In addition, the Bush Team is trying to quell the storm of criticism regarding President Bush’s choices involving hurricane relief, rising gas prices, and the war in Iraq. The President’s approval rating is sliding downward quickly as more and more citizens of the United States question his ability to lead the country.
With his approval rating in the tank, Bush tried to save some face and pulled the highly criticized and embattled Michael Brown the acting director of FEMA, off the hurricane relief effort. The President reassigned Brown to a Washington post to oversee other FEMA efforts that do not involve hurricane relief. This reassignment of Brown seems to fall a little short with some who feel that he (Brown) should have been fired. Also, this move adds fuel to the fire considering that on September 2nd after the hurricane had hit, amidst applause from the Bush Team, the President praised Brown for his efforts by saying “Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job.” President Bush has also drawn a lot of heat after comments he made in a TV interview regarding the breeching of levees. Bush said it “came as a surprise,” despite years of federal reports, scientific analyses, and newspaper articles predicting that it would happen in a storm of Katrina's strength, reports the Boston Globe.
Amidst all the politicking, criticism, and “foot-in-mouth” sound bites that the hurricane has caused, it is most important to remember that there are thousands and thousands of displaced Americans that have had everything they know and lovel wiped out. Children without homes and families who have lost loved ones. Hopefully, the leadership along with the people of this country will buckle down and make sure the right type of assistance is provided to those in need.
Saturday, August 20, 2005
Did He Really Just Say That?
Rush Limbaugh is a jerk. My wife said it best, -plus, I can’t think of a better way to say it. I have written and re-written blog drafts on this topic in an attempt to keep it “Fair and Balanced” but its just not working. All of this re-writing has happened because Rush Limbaugh really is a jerk. There is no other way to say it, trust me I’ve tried. Over the past few days I have been blown away by some things he has said. Now, I don’t claim to be a “far left person,” or a “far right person.” Extremism (in my humble opinion) in any form is ugly and only leads to problems. For that reason alone I try to keep a balance of banter going on in my car. I’ll listen to Air America (left of the isle) for a while; get their view on “the news” of the day, then I’ll tune into WABC (right of the isle) and get their take on “the news.” Now, for those who are not familiar with WABC it is the home to big talkers like Rush and Hannity. Air America gives the microphone to AL Franken and Randi Rhodes. These four shows are the flagship programs for both stations. Hannity follows Rush, and Randi follows Al Franken. These other shows I’ll leave for another day and another blog.
-Back to Rush Limbaugh being a jerk; He is known for being hard-line in his politics, unforgiving and unmovable. Recently he has been taking endless shots at Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a soldier who was killed in Iraq; she now holds a 24 hr a day protest outside President Bushes Ranch in Texas. Sheehan’s protest of the war and desire to speak with the president has become national news. Many reporters and others have investigated into her past, labeling her as a “casuist” desperate for attention. Others have applauded her efforts and have joined her outside the gates of the Texas ranch. Sheehan has said the protest will continue 24 hrs-a-day for the 5 weeks that the President is on vacation at his ranch. She is insistent on talking with President Bush, and has said that her personal protest will end as soon as she is given a chance to talk with him. This topic however has sparked furry into the mind of Limbaugh. On August 16th I heard Limbaugh say this and immediately felt sick;
And frankly -- I'm also fed up -- not fed up. I retract that. I'm weary, ladies
and gentlemen, of even having to express sympathy. "Oh, she lost her son" --
well, yes. Yes. Yes. But you know, this is [sigh] -- aaah. We all lose things. I
mean -- Snerdley thinks the red flags are going up, so I should shut up now.
No. I'm serious about this. At some point, you know, people have been
bending over backwards to understand her, and give her the benefit of the doubt.
But now she's starting to complain that the media's turned her act into a
Whether you agree or disagree with Ms. Sheehan’s personal protest against the war, I find it despicable for someone to say that they grow “weary…of having to express sympathy” to someone who lost a son (in Sheehan’s case) or husband, Father, Mother, daughter, friend or whoever in the line of duty, and then to say “we all loose things” as if Ms. Sheehan had lost a toy. This to me is unbelievable. I understand that political issues are important, they shape the world around us, and maybe Rush feels that this protest by Ms. Sheehan is nothing but a political ploy, but to draw a line in the sand based solely on a personal political agenda and refuse compassion to those who differ from your line of political thought is unconscionable. Hence my statement Rush Limbaugh is a jerk.
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
I read this article today that made me think of my own experience with stampeding people all in the name of a sale.
Over the past few years my wife and I have spent Thanksgiving at her parent’s home. The weekend is always great! The few days we spend with the family are priceless. Each day is full of laughter and always consists of football games, maybe some fishing, golf, and of course more great food then you know what to do with. A few years ago my father-in-law got some “insider information” from a friend about the great unbeatable deals that stores offer the day after thanksgiving. Now, looking back this “insider info” was really not that “insider.” It was public knowledge and those who were “in-the-know” knew where and when to go.
Shortly after we arrived at my in-laws home my father-in-law half jokingly suggested that we go check out this super-duper-ultra-save-a-thon that would happen in a couple of days but, there was a catch; we had to go early and stake our place in line. As we heard this suggestion my brother-in-law shot me a sarcastic half smile and said he was in, so I followed suit and joined the party. To me it was a fun quirky idea, a good time really, and we where on vacation what else were we going to do? To my father and brother-in-law, it was as if we had just signed on to a top secret mission, a mission of savings. As we pulled into the parking lot of the best buy around 2 am we found that we where not alone. Seasoned veterans of the after Thanksgiving Day sales greeted us as we hopped in line. Some even went as far as to share their secret plans on how they intended on saving more money then the next guy. Some had the store mapped out on paper and randomly studied it as they tried to visualize the layout of the store. This was all in an attempt to give them “the edge” and help them flow through the store with ease gliding from isle to isle snatching up every last bargain. It was amazing! People love this stuff.
Laptops were the hot item of the day. The word on the “street”/line was that there were a limited number of laptops. Only the first people in the door could get them. Lucky for us, we were in the market for desk top computers; it was at this point we knew with our good position in line and the majority of people raring to dash for the laptops, the desk top computers were as good as ours. In addition to our strategic planning we knew that we all possessed catlike reflexes coupled with great sprint speed (only to be used as a last option or in evasive action). Everything was in our favor, we could not fail.
Shortly before 6am the line had grown enormously. It wrapped all the way around the store spilling out into the parking lot, it was chaotic, people everywhere. All eyes seemed transfixed upon us and everyone who was standing towards the front of the line as the doors threatened to open. The best buy employees stood nervously but held their ground as the doors opened. Like a breaking dam the store was invaded by a flood of patrons who, just seconds earlier stood calmly in line chatting about their future purchases. Now, these calm individuals had morphed into some kind of shopping monster like Dr. Jeckel and Mr. Hyde. Racing through the store like a tsunami, the wave of Dr. Jeckel’s grabbed and snatched up deals as they passed by. My father-in-law (who is laid back by nature) shot quickly into the store, he knew right where to go; he was as a magnificent blocker his skills would have matched any pro football player in his prime, my brother-in-law and I followed closely behind. We were a team, a well oiled machine. It was game time. With our great lead blocking we found ourselves back inline to claim our prize. About 2 hours latter we exited the packed store with a couple of computers, sleeves of blank CD’s, Power cords, and other impulse buys. Most important we were all smiles, we had made it. Mission accomplished!
Because of the eventful experience of that year, my father-in-law makes the after Thanksgiving Day sale part of his holiday ritual. To me these sales are more then just saving money, it’s about the memories!
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
“Do as I do, not as I say”
Gone are the days of the Cuban missile crisis. The frightening days are gone where school children practiced drills of what to do in case of a nuclear scare, or when home basements were transformed into bomb shelters. Gone are the days of the nuclear nervousness that seemed to dominate the mindsets of Americans, Russians, Cubans and the world in the sixties. During that time the world looked down the barrel of nuclear war. It was a very uneasy time. Anything could happen. Everyone was glued to their T.V. sets or to the newspaper anxiously awaiting any reports involving the current nuclear crisis. Thankfully, this nuclear crisis was averted by negotiation and not by warfare. A gigantic wave of relief washed over the American public along with the Cuban and Russian people I’m sure as the crisis came to an end. Looking back Robert McNamara said "the major lesson of the Cuban missile crisis is this, the indefinite combination of human fallibility and nuclear weapons will destroy nations."
Although the major nuclear threat that seemed to control the minds of many during the Cuban missile crisis does not exist in that same form today. It is amazing how times have changed but in many ways they are just the same. The buzzwords of the day have changed from “nuclear missile crisis” to “war on terror.” Even with this shift in thinking the nuclear issue has not disappeared. Recently it has raised its ugly head once again, bringing the topic of nuclear technology back into the headlines.Many reports have addressed the issue of Iran breaking the seals on uranium-converting equipment at its plant in Isfahan. The Iranian government insists that they will only be taking the next steps to enrich the uranium for peaceful purposes. The International Atomic Energy Agency (I.A.E.A) has approved the breakage of these seals and will over see the movement. Iran represents a handful of smaller countries that feel alienated and bullied because of the stipulations that are enforced by the UN regarding nuclear proliferation. Many of these countries claim rights under the nuclear nonproliferation treaty that would allow them to proceed with the testing process that would help push them closer towards using nuclear power to create electricity. Obviously the change in status of Iran’s nuclear situation is alarming to many in other countries around the world because of the example it sets for smaller countries who insist on furthering their nuclear programs.
At this time world leaders and diplomats should not be the only people who are concerned with the recent developments in Iran. As a growing global community all should be concerned about the increasing desire for countries to use nuclear technology. Whether you feel that this technology would be used for good or for evil, it is clear that nuclear technology can be deadly. The United States and the other major players in the nuclear weapons/technology field should continue to use negotiations and peaceful diplomatic measures to help solve this issue. As world leaders urge Iran and others to stay-off their nuclear desires, they too should heed their own advice and show other countries that the desire to rid the world of nuclear weapons is not just a request by those who already have the technology to those who want it, but a appeal by those who are willing to give up what they already have in order to eliminate an intimidating and deadly technology to better relations the globe over. The truth is; real leaders will always say “Do as I do, not as I say.”