Wednesday, April 26, 2006

A View Of Legally Protected Loafing

Good news from Gotham!

A judge recently ruled that a city worker cannot be fired from his job for surfing the internet while on duty. Noting that the internet has become "the modern equivalent of the telephone or newspaper...(and since) city agencies permit workers to use a telephone for personal calls, so long as it doesn't interfere with (his or her) overall work performance," a 14 year New York city employee was given his job back and given a reprimand, the lightest possible punishment possible for a city worker, for surfing the web after being told not to do so by his boss.

Surf the web without guilt, my fellow workers. Precedent has been set in the courts to protect your internet habit, as long as you don't go out to any of those naughty sites or neglect your work.

Off to shop on the boss's bandwidth and time! More to come later.

Monday, April 24, 2006

A View Of The NAGMF

As I was driving home this evening, I learned why I, along with millions of other women, remain perpetually single.

According to Michael Baisden, the self proclaimed, "Bad Boy of Radio," it's because of my reluctance to cook. A portion of Mr. Baisden's show was devoted to his founding of what he called the NAGMF - "The National Organization to Get Men Fed."

I guess he was so hungry, he failed to realize that "organization" does not begin with an "a." Poor baby.

The portion of the show I caught was about why it's important, if not required for a woman to cook for her man. Men need food, and it's a good woman's responsibility to give her man a good meal. It seemed tongue in cheek until a man named George called in and talked proudly about how, when his wife refused to cook the meal he demanded she make for him after she came home from work ("If that's what you want, you better cook it yourself or find someone to do it," she told him), he called his ex-mother-in-law. She told him she'd have his meal ready in two hours. The conversation then turned to who was the better cook - "the southern girl or the northern girl."

Perhaps, once I turned away from the show, the topic of conversation turned to finding a cure to the crippling aversion those men had to a skillet and a stove.

It could happen.

Do you think that when Mario Batali, Emeril Lagasse, or Bobby Flay go home after a long day's work, they walk through the door of their home, plant a kiss on their woman, plop down on the couch and say, "So, what's for dinner?" And if they do, how long does that woman laugh and walk off muttering, "That joke always cracks me up, dear."? And why is it when men grace a kitchen they are highly trained gourmands, but when a woman goes into a kitchen, it's a natural mandate? Can a woman become anemic if she refuses to handle a cast iron skillet?

Check out this article that recently ran in the New York Times to see that no matter how far we advance, our society can't seem to shake the antiquated notion of housework being "woman's work." According to the article, "Housework showed up right after money as the top issue of discord...It was higher on the list than sex, higher than raising the children, ahead of every other issue you can name."

We've come a long way, baby. Haven't we?

I'll let you men out there in on a little secret we ladies keep to ourselves. When we are treated as equals and with respect, we don't mind doing our fair share to maintain a home and make our partners happy. When we are treated like we are required to serve your needs and be good little girls, we will rebel, reject, and shut down.

More to come later. After I pick up my carry-out.

A View Of The TEM Getting The Clutter Out Of Her Head

I'm in a cranky mood this morning. I've had some random thoughts rattling around in my head since last night that need to get out. Make way, here comes the flood:

1) I'm quite tired of all the pandering to overindulged celebrities and their every move. Does anyone really care if Katie Holmes gave birth in silence? Does the phrase "baby bump" make you just want to scream? Will the world really grind to a halt if Jennifer Aniston never gets over Brad Pitt? Just when I thought I'd reached my fill, I came across this picture of someone who is a bit more compassionate and patient than I could ever be.

Bless his heart. I hear he sold a pint or two at the blood bank to get a gift for Baby Cruise.

2) I got a link to a story about Reggie Bush and his family allegedly accepting a home from a sports agent - a violation of NCAA rules. I don't know the whole story. Frankly, I don't care. What does bother me is they way our kids are continually being exploited by the NCAA, by the schools, and sadly by our community all in the pursuit of athletic success. Too often, this pursuit of a physical idea and success (roughly translated as money, fame, and all the trappings of privilege) means that education and academic development is ignored or discouraged.

Wouldn't it be better world if we put as much effort and encouragement into getting our children to pick up a book or exercise their minds as we encourage them to become the next big sports or entertainment star? I look forward to the day when we have an academic draft that's covered heavily by the media or "American Reader" is the top show on TV. This probably won't happen in my lifetime, though, and it depresses me to no end to think that it appears we are more willing to make our children stars of the court instead of stars with a firm educational background. I'm not the only one who feels this way. Check out the book, "The Covenant With Black America," edited by Tavis Smiley, for more on this subject. By the way, this book as been #1 on the New York Times Non-Fiction Bestseller's List (paperback) for the past six weeks. Bet you didn't see that on your paper's front page or as breaking news on TV. It would've cut into the time needed to cover upcoming sports drafts or possible playoff scenarios.

3) I'm currently reading, "Are Men Necessary," by New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd. It's a fascinating read about the current state of relationships between men and women, the feminist movement, and contemporary women's issues. While I don't necessarily agree with all of her viewpoints, it's an eye-opening take on far women have come in this country and the world over the past 30-50 years. She also has a keen eye on our current political state. The following quote, in a chapter about the current obsession with looking young at all costs, blew me away:

"Millions of American women from their twenties to their eighties are erasing their faces, and freezing their features, some to the point of freakish death masks, by shooting up with the pretty poison Botox, a botulism neurotoxin that paralyzes muscles - the same strain of neurotoxins that is classified as a WMD. (Pretty much all the American weapon hunters found in Iraq after the invasion was a bit of botulism neurotoxin, meaning we went to war, basically over a vial of Botox. Wrinkles of Mass Destruction.)"

Not only are we willing to risk death to essentially freeze time and make nature bow to the will of mankind, we are willing to risk obliterating our society and the world in an attempt to make the Middle East bow to our will. Bush may have said we won our war, but who's going to win the Iraqi civil war - a war our government's actions created - and at what cost? Think about this the next time you go for a $4 fill up at Sunoco.

Another quote in the book reminded me that being a liberal is something to be proud of and is not a source of shame. She interviewed Mary McGrory, former editor of the now defunct Washington Star, and she discussed her pride in being branded with the scarlet "L."

" I still think (liberal) is a respectable word. It's root is liber; the Latin word for free, and isn't that what we (Americans) are all about?"

I sure hope so. Don't you?

There. I got it all out. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to cash in some bottles so I can send a baby gift to all those celebrity babies.

More to come later.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

A View Of The TEM's Hometown

It seems as though whenever I hear Detroit described in the media, it's always described as timeworn, "Rust Belt," tough, and hard. There's some truth to that description, of course. Detroit is a manufacturing town with more than its share of blight. On the other hand, there is beauty amid the factories and the grit.

Take a look at this for example:

I was out on Belle Isle, the nation's largest city-owned island park, and a park designed by Frederick Law Olmstead - the man who designed New York's Central Park, late this morning just to get shots of the cherry blossoms (gifted to Detroit by its sister city, Toyota, Japan - click this link to learn how to get involved in the city's student exchange program) around Scott Fountain in full bloom. There were families out playing in the sunshine, couples taking a romantic stroll around the fountain, and rollerbladers gliding around the park enjoying the view. Belle Isle is one of my favorite places in Detroit - always evolving, never the same park everyday, full of sights and sounds to be admired and treasured.

Like this view, for instance:

This is a view of the riverfront from the southern tip of the island. On a clear day, like this morning, the city's skyline just glows. The Renaissance Center, Chene Park, Comerica's headquarters, and the Penobscot Building are beautiful buildings - this view highlights that beauty from afar.

The beauty is just as dazzling up close:

I got this shot from the top of the Pyramid Amphitheater in Hart Plaza last summer when I attended the Detroit International Jazz Festival. I liked the view of the United Way Tower between Comerica's headquarters, the Coleman Young Municipal Center, and an office building on Jefferson Avenue. I think it shows how Detroit can be solid, tough, and delicate all at once.

It's easy for us Detroiters to look past the beauty the city has because we're in the midst of it everyday. We begin to take it for granted, not see it, or sometimes neglect it and let it fade into ruin. When I went out on the island this morning, I was reminded of how beautiful Detroit is when I rounded the corner off the MacArthur Bridge. Seeing the downtown skyline, the sunlight hitting the Renaissance Center, the people in the park flying kites or walking their dogs, and the cherry blossom petals blowing off the trees and into the water, I had to take a breath. It was like seeing the city for the first time. All I could do was smile, stop the car, and take some pictures to share with you.

There is no place like home. Just stop and take a look. You'll see it, too.

More to come later.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

A View Of The TEM, Future Sexasaurus

My ad on that online dating site I told you about isn't really garnering any responses, so I'm considering rewriting the profile. What exactly does one say in less than 1,500 characters to attract the attention of a future Mr. Right?

I was at a loss until I happened to find inspiration in the "Pop Candy" blog Whitney Matheson writes for USA Today. She pointed out a post on the MTV News website that discussed R. Kelly's appearance at Radio City Music Hall on Tuesday. This modern day romantic premiered a new song from his upcoming album, "Makin' Babies," which contains the touching, inspirational words I've been searching for:

It's like 'Jurassic Park,' but I'm your sexasaurus
You and me, hopping like two kangaroos
You got me locked in your cage of ecstasy, and I don't want to be free
I'm your Tarzan, and you're my Jane

They don't write 'em like that anymore. All I have to do is massage a pronoun or two, and the men will be beating a path to my door with baited breath.

Thank you, R. Kelly. You're a musical genius.

More to come later.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

A View Of A Small (Online) World

I recently decided to post an ad on an online dating site. Again. I've tried this about three times now, and each time has been decidedly underwhelming. While I haven't met anyone with whom a relationship was a feasible possibility, I have gotten a couple of pretty good stories out of the experience. I told you one already - the one about the guy who equated Thai food with golddigging. The other one just played out over the past couple of days.

I was on the phone with my girlfriend last night, and the topic turned to our online ads. She asked if I'd had very many responses. I told her I've only received three so far. Two of them were duds - they sent introductory e-mails but never replied to my response - and the other seemed promising at first but fizzled out. I recapped what had happened.

He sent a kind e-mail saying he liked my ad ("I've been hoping to meet someone like you on here"), and that he'd like to get in touch. We exchanged a couple of e-mails and he seemed like a nice person, so I asked him to give a call. We had a couple of phone calls, where he told me more about himself. He worked afternoons, so it was hard to meet "quality people," he said. He'd just gotten divorced, didn't like the bar scene, and just wanted to meet "someone nice, someone serious." He thought smart women were "a turn-on," and preferred an "independent woman with her own life," especially with his work schedule. He gave me his cell number and told me to call him "anytime, day or night."

On our last call, he asked if I'd had many responses. I told him no, and mentioned the tendency of the ones who did respond to disappear after that first contact. Don't worry about them, he said, and focus on him - "a quality man." I asked him about his responses, but he never really answered the question. He instead asked when we could meet in person. I told him that it would at least a week because I had committed myself to a full volunteer schedule at the radio station. He then remarked that he thought my "busy schedule" might prevent me from having a relationship. I told him that wasn't the case - I keep an active schedule, but there's always time for friends and that I would only be really busy for a few days. The call ended with him telling me to call him "anytime," that we'd make a date to get together and that he thought I was someone "worth meeting." I haven't heard from him since. I called twice and sent an e-mail to say hello. No response. I figured that he decided he wasn't interested and moved on or was just looking for a quickie.

When I finished my story, my girlfriend asked, "His ad wouldn't happen to be 'Phony Baloney - The One and Only,' would it?"

(* - Please note: The online ad name has been changed to protect the identity of someone who really deserves to be called out for his inexcusable behavior.)

"That's the one. You got him, too?" I laughed out loud, and so did she.

It's a small dating world out there, isn't it?

This guy had pulled the same thing with her, using almost the same words verbatim. He even called to set up a date, telling her he'd call back with a meeting place once he took a shower and changed clothes. He called back - two months later asking, "What happened? I never heard back from you." When she called him on his behavior, he said he had to go and disappeared again.

Online dating may not be getting me much success romantically, but the stories more than make up for my lack of success through the entertainment value alone.

More to come later.

Monday, April 17, 2006

A View Of TEM Being Saved - An Open Letter

I received your e-mail today. You know, the one that I have to forward to ten other people within five minutes of opening it so that I can receive good luck/bountiful blessings/a lifetime of riches. The one that has the rose glistening with dew, hands folded in prayer, cherubs with full faces and flushed cheeks quoting Bible verses, reciting prayers of forgiveness, calling on God and Jesus to watch out for my soul.

Thank you for thinking of me. The message lets me know that you care. I'm flattered to know that I've crossed your mind long enough for you to send me the message and that I am someone you treasure. It's a good feeling.

Now cut it out. Please.

I don't want to come across as harsh, rude, or ungrateful. That's not the case at all - I'm honored that you care enough to pray for me. Now I need you to care enough to hear me when I tell you that I do not share your beliefs.

Q: How can you be an atheist given the way that you were raised?
A: Careful planning after the deprogramming.

I understand how confusing it must be to realize that my viewpoints are so divergent from mainstream belief and from your beliefs. Please don't take my opinion, however, as a reflection of any shortcomings or rejection of your influence on my life. If you've never listened to me before, hear me loud and clear now - my emotional, spiritual, and intellectual development is only a reflection of my own personal growth. Nothing you didn't do or neglected to tell made me reach this point in my life. As a matter of fact, your constant encouragement to be the best I can be and your trust in my judgment helped me become confident in my personal development and exploration. I thank you for the experiences you provided for me, the knowledge you passed on to me, the love you gave and continue to give to me, and the ego check I occasionally need when I get too big for my britches. You are a valuable, vital part of my life, and I'll always be grateful for everything you've done and provided for me. The only thing that's different now is that I no longer share your spiritual beliefs. Other than that, I'm still the same person you've come to know and love.

Q: What do you do when people around you pray?
A: Sometimes, I pull out a lottery ticket, scratch the circles, and scream, "GODDAMMIT!" when I don't win. Other times, I pray that everyone will be done before the food on the table gets too cold or I nod off and begin to snore.

I don't want you to stop being who you are, or believing what you believe. When you pray, I will be respectful enough to bow my head in silence in honor your beliefs. I will never try to convert you or sway your personal belief structures. You are an adult entitled to your own value system and spiritual life. I trust you will pay me the same respect. People who love each other give each other the space they need to live their lives as they see fit.

Q: If you are an atheist, why do you still celebrate Christian holidays like Christmas?
A: Because everybody loves free swag.

I'll celebrate religious holidays for the same reason we all celebrate special occasions; to spend time with and share love with those closest to me. It's not about the gifts, the food, the clothes, or all the other material things. A very wise person once told me, if people really cared about Jesus on his birthday, they wouldn't be thinking "cheap bastard," when they open their gift, smile, and say, "Wow. What a nice loofa." Holidays like Christmas and Easter are about caring for others, bringing joy, and spending quality time with loved ones. The idea of doing something selflessly for loved ones is an experience too strong to give up because it transcends dogma. Only the coldest of hearts could reject that feeling, and while I don't believe in a divine being, I know I could never give up believing in family and friends.

Q: Why do you say "God bless you" when I sneeze?
A: Because saying, "Smile when you spray that," is rude.

Just because I don't share your belief in an omniscient deity doesn't mean that I'm going to abandon most social conventions. I have no desire to be a militant atheist, singing, "Onward Non-Christian Soldier," and working to convert the masses over to an all encompassing, deity free world. That would be boorish and egotistical on my part. I believe everyone finds their own path in life; it would be very rude for me to try to persuade someone to deviate from their path because I don't like it. When I receive your electronic prostelytizing, it comes across as though you are trying to pull me away from my life's path simply because said path makes you uncomfortable. That's not very Christ-like now, is it?

Q: Does this mean you won't go to church?
A: Not without a court order.

When the situation warrants, I will attend a church service. I have no problems attending a Bible study. I love listening to gospel music. Alexander Cockburn, a famous activist and fellow atheist, once said, "Even though you don't believe in God, there's no need to break your mother's heart." Just know that these actions won't change my core beliefs. I don't want to break anyone's heart or compromise anyone's principles, including my own.

I thank you for your love, care, and your prayers. Thank you for caring about me enough to be concerned about my welfare. Thank you for worrying enough about my spiritual life to try and bring me to a place where you find comfort and strength. Having someone in my life who treasures me enough to extend help and support warms my heart. I know I'll never be alone or wanting for a place to turn when I need help as long as you feel this way.

I now ask you to trust me enough to know what is best for me and my life - spiritual and otherwise. If you will do this for me, I promise I will do the same for you.

I learned that when I was taught the Golden Rule in Sunday School, without the glistening roses, cherubs, and chain letter forwarding obligations. Keep the rest of those e-mails coming. I love hearing from you.

More to come later.

A View Of How Things Could Be Worse

When you get through paying your taxes, check out this comic strip's website.

Today is Tax Day. To paraphrase James Brown, time to give up and turn it loose.

Deductions and income, that is.

Nobody likes paying taxes, but it's one of those necessary evils to cover the essential services this country needs to function - even when it seems like nothing's being done.

In a way, we here in the United States have it pretty easy. According to an article I read this morning on the MSN Money website, the tax burden for an American single wage earner with two children is the third lowest in the world - only 29.1% of wages. Only Iceland (at 29%) and Ireland (at 25.7%) have lower tax burdens. Our Irish comrades have it even better if they are married with two children - only 8.1% of their income goes to paying taxes.

On the other end of the scale, if you're single with two children in Belgium, you're giving up a lot of chocolate coins with your 55.4% income tax base. A Swedish citizen in a similar tax bracket pays about a hair under half of his income (47.9%) in taxes, and a single parent in Hungary could end up going hungry paying her 50.9% tax bill.

They do get what they pay for, however, because the extra levies help pay for little goodies like secured pensions and lifetime socialized medicine. Not a bad trade off when you think about it.

The article went on to say that while we Americans aren't too unhappy with the amount we pay, we are very unhappy with the rules that determine how much we pay. The United States has one of the most complicated set of tax laws in the world. The article didn't note if there was a country with a more complicated system. I wouldn't want to go digging that sort of information up, either. Might give our government some ideas for making a bad situation even worse.

The article did point out that state laws and levies help make a murky tax system even murkier, pointing out some rather unique laws currently on the books. Imagine going to H&R Block and reminding your tax specialist to include the following on your 1040:

  • In Tennessee, you are required to pay a tax on the toke, snort, or shoot of your choice. All illegal drugs must be reported to the state within 48 hours of purchase and a tax must be paid. When your payment is received, you will receive a stamp to place on your substance as proof of payment. You can pay this tax anonymously, by the way, so you don't have to worry about breaking any other laws.
  • In Chesapeake Bay, Maryland, a "flush tax" is levied to help with municipal clean-up efforts. You don't have to pay at the porcelain, however. The tax is added to septic and sewer bills.
  • In Arkansas, you have to pay a tax for every tattoo or nose ring you receive in the state. Not sure if this tax applies to a Prince Albert, though.
  • Since we're on the subject, if you appear completely or partially nude as part of your business in Utah, reach into that G-string and pay up a 10% "sexually explicit business" tax.

Funny all the ways one has to pay to play, isn't it? Now stop procrastinating and go pay your taxes.

More to come later.

    Sunday, April 16, 2006

    A View Of Getting What You Pay For

    A few days ago, I wrote about taxes and said there would be more later that night.

    It never came to be, did it?

    There was one quick but serious post about the Bush administration doing a pale imitation of "Dr. Strangelove," but it wasn't the promised post.

    Let's say that you own a business or a home, and you required the information in the promised post so you could meet a client deadline or make a needed improvement to your home. Or perhaps your life hung in the balance, and you needed that information to survive.

    Information that never came. What would you do?

    Would you call your city government office and try to locate the information despite the possible red tape you faced?

    Would you strike out on your own to try and find a solution, even if it was illegal?

    Would you wait patiently for a day or two then give up, shaking your head in disgust about the lack of leadership and doing nothing else?

    Would you survive?

    If you live in the city of Detroit, you face this dilemma everyday in one form or another. You read about declining population and skyrocketing debt. You hear stories about failing city services due to a seemingly endless clash between the Mayor's office and City Council - a power struggle that seems to be rooted more in the desire to fight simply for the sake of tradition (the two have clashed for as long as anyone here in the area can remember) than in a true desire to improve the city and region. You see evidence of neglect in your communities - illegally dumped garbage that never gets cleaned up, calls to 911 that fail to get answered, abandoned homes that rot away like open sores in the middle of neigborhoods struggling to survive, street lights that never come on and potholes in streets caused by water mains that never seem to get fixed, an increase in violent crime that some believe is due to a decrease in police presence on the street. You feel worn down by cynicism, apathy, and the never ending cry of racism that rises whenever a problem crops up in the city - sometimes applicable, sometimes completely out of place.

    What do you do?

    What do you do when a child calls for help to save his mother and the help never comes? Or when it comes out that other calls for help have been ignored? I'm sure you've heard by now the tragic, embarrasing story of young Robert Taylor who lost his mother Sherrill in spite of his calls to 911 for medical assistance. The operators who took the calls dismissed the young boy as a prankster and lied about sending help. Robert faced a horror no one, much less a six year old, should ever have to endure - watching a loved one die because nobody would provide help.

    The embarrasing part of this story comes not only from the fact that authority figures he was raised to trust failed to live up to their responsibilities, but from the way that our community has been strangely silent about the aftermath. We've been content with the boy's family hiring Geoffrey Fieger to sue the city, and we expressed shock over the fact that this situation has occured before. There were a few stories on the news, nationwide coverage, and the expected (though totally inappropriate) cries of racism, and then...nothing.

    Where are the calls of action to help fix a system overburdened with prank calls? How can our chief of police sleep at night defending the operators who have repeately turned away calls for help without attempting to find out if the calls were truly legitimate? Why isn't there a push from our citizens to get our city workers the training and support needed to better serve the city?

    Has anyone come forward to provide the counseling needed to help Robert get through this ordeal? Legal action is being provided, and reports have focused on monetary damages, but what about his emotional damages? Has anyone told Robert that he was a brave boy to keep trying to get help for his mother? That he did nothing wrong? That he should not give up on turning to trusted adults and authority figures if a situation calls for getting assistance? What about the others who have come forward with similar stories? Is anyone reaching out to Anshiree Martin, who lost her child because of neglect by 911, with emotional support? Who's assisting Lorraine Hayes, who survived because she managed to get relatives to call for help from Minnesota when she was attacked and is now a paraplegic because of local neglect?

    It surely doesn't seem as though we can turn to our local government for help because they don't seem willing to provide it. During his recent budget address, Mayor Kilpatrick said that he was willing to bring back some DPW employees to help address the illegal dumping that has exploded in the city since bulk trash pick-up was discontinued in January. He also said that not only would bulk pick-up on a regular basis not return, he wanted to charge city residents a $300 a year fee for basic trash disposal - a tax increase thinly disguised as a "service fee." We were told that "low-income citizens" and seniors would receive a discount on this new tax, but we were not told what defined "low-income" in a city where more than half of its citizens currently live at or below nationally defined poverty levels. Seniors and disabled citizens were told they face an increase in bus fares, but were not told how the administration would address the poor performance of said bus system - buses that rarely run on schedule, or have wheelchair lifts that are so inefficient lawsuits have been filed charging the city with violating the Americans With Disabilities Act. City workers were told to brace themselves for contract concessions and health care cuts, but there was little discussion of any further cuts being made by the current administration.

    Needless to say, City Council attacked the mayor's budget proposal - in record time this go around - but they didn't discuss specifics on ways to make the budget more reasonable. Citizens complained about yet another tax increase, but pretty much threw their hands up in the air because they felt there was not much they can do. Union officials got up in arms about the mayor trying to "balance the city's budget on their backs," but said little if anything about how they planned to negotiate to help the city try and right itself. The mayor said that his budget was feasible and that the consessions would be presented as a "last, best offer" to the city's unions, but he also refused to say where the numbers in his budget came from or why he decided to make a "last, best offer" via local media outlets without talking to union officials first - immediately destroying any hope held by the city's unions of good faith negotiations.

    Everyone is complaining about what the other side is doing, but nobody seems to be talking about what they intend to do about making things better. A lot of people writing checks with their mouths that no one can cash. And, looking at where the city is, we're getting what we're paying for. Nothing.

    I'm one of those persons. I chastised my mom when she called the city's lighting department daily to complain when our streetlights in our neighborhood went dark for months at a stretch instead of calling myself. I voted for my choice of City Council reps and mayor, but did (and have done) little else. I've talked when I should be taking action. I'm tired of writing bad checks. It's time for me to pay up.

    Does anyone reading this blog know of a group who wants to actively work toward improving the city? Does anyone know of a viable candidate beginning to explore a run for city goverment? I'd like to put my capital toward someone or some group who cares enough to take action.

    If you have any information, share it with me, and I'll share it on my blog. This means you'll be paying forward for your city and region, too.

    Talk loud and say something, ya'll.

    More to come later.

    Wednesday, April 12, 2006

    A View Of Our Worst Fear

    I interrupt normal posting for this very important plea:

    You may have seen reports in the news that the Bush administration may be planning a nuclear attack against Iran. This is alarming. A strong statement of opposition from the American public before that idea becomes credible is important. Please sign's petition against nuclear attack and then alert your friends, family and colleagues by asking them to sign the petition:

    It scares me to think that this idea is being seriously entertained by the current administration. The last "pre-emptive" strike has led to chaos in the Middle East, skyrocketing gas prices, and thousands of lives unnecessarily lost lives. This "pre-emptive" strike could lead to the total destruction of society as we know it. If you haven't felt the need to get involved before, this certainly should make you want to get involved now. Your life and the lives of your loved ones could depend on it.

    Thank you.

    The following observation just came in for you to consider:

    This also insures the proliferation of nuclear weapons (and most likely nuclear war) all over the world. Like it says in the article below most nations will think---and rightly so---that nukes will put them in the "safe circle" of nations. Because as the Bush gang sees it, the threat of thousands of instantly fried Americans could lose votes...and oh yeah, it would kill a lot of people too. But all other humans are fair game. We need to sign the petition and finally send a message to Congress with the next round of elections.

    Thank you for that insightful commentary, Richard. We can't sit still and let this happen, folks.

    Act now. Act often. Act.

    And now, back to our regularly scheduled posting.

    Tuesday, April 11, 2006

    A View Of One For You, Nineteen For Me

    I've been meaning to add a new post, but it's tax time. I'm sure you can relate to the final crunch - getting your papers in order, looking for every possible deduction, trying to get a Social Security Number for your pets so you can claim them...

    Come on. Like you haven't thought of it.

    Anyway, just when I thought I was done, a friend sent me the new IRS tax form. I don't know if you've seen it, but if you haven't, it makes the tax filing process much easier. Here's a copy in case you need one:

    "...And you're working for no one but me...."

    Kind of how the system works, isn't it? Anyway, you may want to read about some of your fellow tax filers out there and the creative deductions they tried on their tax forms. My favorite is the guy who, after hiring an arsonist to burn down his business, and claimed the insurance payoff on his taxes - along with the money he paid the arsonist as a "consulting fee."

    Rich don't equal smart, y'all.

    More to come in a post later today related to paying City of Detroit taxes (or throwing money out a window if you want a more accurate description). Look for it soon, but I have to go cash in my bottles, pennies, and spare scrap metal right now.

    Thursday, April 06, 2006

    A View Of "Damn Baby!"

    I'm not a fan of baby showers because they're usually too cute and too girly. I've only been to one really good, entertaining baby shower in my life. (A big way to rock the shower shout out to Supermama Tracey and Kenn, the host with the most.) Another one (I don't even remember who the shower was for) started out slow, but really became fun after the hostess kicked off a door prize auction with Monopoly money. You'd be surprised at what $500 in Monopoly money will buy these days. The rest? No good until the cake was served.

    Still, I've never been to one quite like this one described on today's MSNBC website. I suppose any shower that devolves into an argument over whether or not beer should be served to a five-year-old child will be a bit problematic. A shower that ends with the mother-to-be being beaten with a big stick and a guest firing a gun in the air is probably entertaining for gossipy neighbors and fans of COPS or Jerry, but not so much for the new parents. Had they played the clothespin game, I could only imagine a riot would've broken out.

    The good news is that mother and baby are fine. The bad news is that, because of the scuffle, Fisher Price is scrapping production of its "Baby's First Glock" line.

    Don't drink and coo, y'all. More to come later.

    Wednesday, April 05, 2006

    A View Of London Calling Chicken Little

    If you listen to this album, then the terrorists win.

    It's a slow day here on the j-o-b, so I've been able to do a bit more clandestine web surfing. I wiped out, however, when I came across this story about a man in England who was detained as a possible terrorist because he sang the lyrics to "London Calling" in a cab on the way to catch a flight.

    I am not making this up.

    Here's the story, as found on the MSNBC website, in a nutshell:

    Harraj Mann, a 24 year old, got into a cab in northern England. He was headed to Durham Tees Valley Airport to catch a flight to London. The cab was fitted with a music system which allowed him to plug in his MP3 player. He was listening to "London Calling," and began singing along. The cab driver, upon hearing lyrics like, "Now war is declared," and "meltdown expected," sized up Harraj, put two and two together, came up with five and alerted authorities. Harraj was detained by Durham police and later released, but he missed his flight. Harraj had a sense of humor about the situation, saying that while he can understand the driver not being a fan of the Clash, but he "didn't think there was any need to call the police." A spokeswoman for the Durham police was quoted as saying that the cab driver made the report "with the best intentions" and she hoped this incident wouldn't deter people from contacting the police with "genuine concerns."

    Wonder what would've happened if Harraj had been singing this XTC song? Or happened to be listening to this classic Gil Scott-Heron piece?

    While not effective, this war on terrorism has cornered the market on unintentional humor.

    More to come later. If I'm not placed on a terrorist watch list, that is.

    Tuesday, April 04, 2006

    A View Of Paper Covers Rock

    Have you ever seen something in a store or on T.V. so simple and so profitable that the first thing that pops into your head is, "Why didn't I think of that?" We all have. I did a few months ago while I was watching a Scrabble championship I happened to stumble across on ESPN. I figured that if a Scrabble tournament could hold enough people's attention to get airtime, then why not something like a Rock-Paper-Scissors league?

    There would be the drama of two competitors locked in battle eye to eye as they strategized and sized up each other. Is he a rock man? Does she stick with scissors? There would be the thrill of the victory - a man conquering rock with paper, or a woman safely running with her scissors from the adrenaline rush of cutting her competitor's paper. There also would be the agony of defeat - a warrior crushed in battle, destroyed by the fact that his scissors were vanquished by rock, or forced to leave the playing field because of a broken nail or, even worse, a career ending carpel tunnel injury. It would be a sport where the sexes could compete on an even playing field. It would be a sport with the promise of endorsement contracts from Fiskars, Georgia Pacific, or quarries from glamorous locations around the world.

    I never followed up on my idea because, well, nobody else would understand the appeal, right?


    Had I followed my dream, I could've been at the vanguard of a new movement. Someone took the idea of a R-P-S league and developed it into a thriving sport. Alas, I won't be driving force behind the world's newest sporting thrill. There will be no place for me in the Rock-Paper-Scissors Hall of Fame - located on the rim of the Grand Canyon, of course.

    But you, dear readers, can take comfort in knowing what I know. I thought of it first. I was just too scared to take my scissors and run with them.

    It's okay, though. This is only encouraging me to work on my other dream. Who wants to get in on the first level of a worldwide Duck-Duck-Goose league?

    More to come later.

    Monday, April 03, 2006

    A View Of Prince Charming, Part 2

    I've had some disastrous dates.

    Some of them have been utterly clueless. There was the guy who, after mouthing off to a border guard and lamely trying to explain why his friend stashed a joint in the car (which led to a strip search), couldn't understand why I told him to fuck off when he "offered to make up for it on our second date." He called for about a week (with me refusing every call) before he got the message there would be no second date.

    Some of them have been on another planet. There was the guy who picked me up in his cab, told me about his long range plan to open a checking account "someday" and his short term plan to get a leather jacket. Our date didn't come to an end until after he dropped off the fare he picked up as he was taking me home.

    Some of them have been startlingly insulting. There was the guy who stopped by my cousin's home the day after we went on a date to borrow money so he could take another girl out, a childhood friend of the family, even though this was the same cousin who set us up. He was more upset about not getting the money than he was about me finding out.

    Some have been unexplainable. There was the guy who backhandedly called me a gold digger (he sang the chorus of that Kanye West song before asking the waitress for the check) because I chose a Thai restaurant for our first date, even though he insisted on paying when he asked me out for lunch. ("It'll be my treat, I insist. You pick the place.") He also ate his meal, a rice and shrimp dish, with his hands and complained because the restaurant didn't serve Sweet & Sour Chicken. "I don't understand this food," he kept saying.

    I didn't go out with any of these men again, but I continue to date occasionally because I believe the man with whom I'll spend the rest of my life is still out there. I continue to want to meet people, have great conversations, enjoy new experiences. I continue to want to believe my happily ever after will include a partner for better or worse.

    Many of my fellow African American female peers have given up on this dream. A couple of days ago, I received a link to an article in the Washington Post about the decline in marriage rates among African Americans. A young man about 12 years old rejected the notion of marriage in a cynical, heartbreaking way:

    "Marriage is for white people."

    Has it really come to this? Have people in my community really succumbed to the stereotypes we're fed, the pressures we face daily, our reluctance to openly talk to one another about our fears and challenges, and given up on finding a partner? I'd like to think we haven't. I'd like to think that African American women who want a husband won't have to face a future without one because we aren't willing to face and deal with societal pressures and personal challenges together. I'd like to think that dating and marriage is not a black and white issue. My hunch is that, based what I read in advice columns, newspapers and websites, it's not. All of us - men and women, gay and hetero, young and old - crave companionship. We all need to be loved. We all want to be wanted.

    Like I said, I've had some disastrous dates. I've had my heart broken many times. It's quite tempting to throw in the towel and never try again. Still, I know that if I give up, I'll become as cynical and as lost as the young boy in that article sounds. I'd like to think there's still hope for him, too. All he needs is a little love.

    I do, too, by the way. If you know anyone you think might be a nice match for me, let me know. I haven't been on a date - good, bad, or ugly - in a while.

    More to come later.

    A View Of Prince Charming, Part 1

    As I've mentioned in several of my previous posts, I am a divorcee who's still in search of Mr. Right (aka: Prince Charming). While I know he's out there somewhere, I'm hoping that he realizes I'm looking for him. Still.

    Anyway, I'm not alone in my search. A post on a favorite blog, "Urban Journalista," let me know that the struggle continues for many of us out there and to never settle. I also found this strip on the "Rhymes With Orange" website to help me out when (if?) I ever go out on another date:

    Be sure to click on the link listed above or on the picture to check out more "Rhymes With Orange."

    I received an article from a family friend that says the chances of me and the rest of my fellow African-American sisters out here finding our own Mr. Right are slim to none. I'll share that article with you in my next post, along with some of my more recent dating stories. While the stories have an "Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here" tone to them, there's a lot of learning and validation, too.

    Once you get past the initial cringing, that is. More to come.