Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Too Funny

I don't see a lot of movies, so I probably won't see The Da Vinci Code. I listened to the book on CD and enjoyed it very much.

As a Catholic, I wasn't offended, nor did I feel the need to renounce Catholicism, or doubt that Jesus was anything less than Man/God on Earth. I found it intriguing that Christ (as Man) may have married and procreated. The storyline is nothing new (as Dan Brown knows) and it's a neat discussion to have around the campfire half-gassed on Crown Royal.

I am very amused by all the 'boycott' talk by insecure Catholics and Christians.

I am even more amused by a report today noting that an Albino group is upset about the portrayal of Silas, the albino villain who commits several murders in the book. They say that albinos are caring people who do not participate in self-flagellation or murder.

Once again, lets remember: "This is a novel/movie. It is fiction. It is fiction. It is fiction".

Thank you.

Monday, May 15, 2006

For Mother's Day

My Father was born 1935 on a small dirt farm in northeastern Nebraska. It was not a successful farming operation like the ones his grandfathers had. There’s a story about how destitute the family was one winter when Grandad had to cut down the fence posts from a neighboring farm just to heat the shack. Instead of a well, water was from a cistern, which essentially a pit that collected rainwater. When my Dad was 10, he lifted the lid on the cistern and saw a dead rat floating on the surface. Terrified, he brought the news to Grandad, who said, “don’t worry about it, we’re pumpin’ from the bottom”. My Father recalls dust storms so bad that when you blew your nose, your handkerchief would be filled with mud. He once said if Nebraska had a DCFS back then, they would have taken him away from his parents.

My Dad started his first business at the age of 12. He wholesaled eggs. He would drive a wagon to farms throughout the area, buying eggs and then re-selling them to markets and stores. A few years later, Grandad gave up farming and moved the family to town. Grandma worked at a small grocery store, which she later purchased and ran until she retired. My Dad kept the egg business, and later worked for Grandad, who had started a trucking company. The family prospered, and even bought a TV in the early 50’s. Out in rural Nebraska, I have no idea how much programming was available to them.

At some point, my Father determined that the hard work of farming did not appeal to him. After he graduated from High School in 1952 (in a class of 16 or so), he was drafted into the Army, and spent two years in Germany. When he returned home, he got a job selling shoes in a nearby college town, met my mother (a coed), got married a few years later and managed a shoe department in Lincoln, then moving to St Louis in 1964. We owned a house there at first, then sold it at some point and rented houses. A millinery company hired my Dad in 1966, becoming a district manager. We got transferred a couple of times, living in Ft Wayne Indiana for eight years, Houston Texas for four years, finally moving to the Chicago area in 1981, when my Dad became the president of his company.

My Dad never went to college, and there was never any question that I would go. Actually, all four of his kids were expected to attend and graduate, but I was the only one to follow the program. I did it more for my parents than for me; this fact reflected by my disinterest for the first 3 years of a 4-½ year undergraduate career. It wasn’t until I started doing for myself that I excelled.

My Dad eventually bought his company, which he later sold (but stayed on to operate). When the parent company was eventually sold to Sears, he quit. No sooner did the ink dry on his resignation his health became to falter and he suffered from a brain tumor and then a heart attack within the next 12 months.

All this is background information to make the point that my Dad was a business genius. He was sharp, shrewd, and amazingly intelligent about retailing and merchandising. Had he stayed with Sears, he could have written his own ticket. He chose to walk away, and he and my mom moved back to Ft Wayne in 1989 and he is still in Northern Indiana widowed now these almost 6 years.

In the last 2 years, his health has betrayed him. More shockingly, though, is that his sharp mind is not there. He is in severe financial straits, and only because my beloved (yet ne’er –do-well) brother is living with him, he has a roof over his head.

Now the time has come for him to sell his home and find a new place to live. I had no idea that he was broke until a few months ago, and he refused to let me help him negotiate with his creditors. He had no money for medicine, and is about 4 beats too slow to respond to questions about just about anything.

Last week, he called me in a panic. American Express was threatening to take his home and car if he didn’t pay them $1,000. I may or may not have $1,000 sitting around, but I knew that I wouldn’t see it ever again if I didn’t make another push for him to sell his home and find more affordable housing.

I went to his home and called his creditors, starting with AmEX. It turns out that the call he got was from a collection agency, and it was the initial “send us the entire balance or we’ll have you killed” phone call. I properly reamed the collection guy and laid out the story….give us 4 months to sell the house, and we’ll settle the account. I understand that he was just doing his job, but it was MY Dad he was threatening, dammit.

My “old” Dad, the captain of industry, would have never allowed himself to get in such a situation. But my old Dad is gone. I miss him very much. The Dad I have now is simple-minded and frightened. He has to trust me to get him out of this jam, and I’ll do my best. Despite the fact that I worked my ass off to meet his expectations, I am not the child he goes to first. Rather, he goes to another sibling who instead of meeting the issues head on, just sends money to him, and then calls me and yells at me to fix the problem.

My Dad is listing his home for sale this Wednesday. He’ll sell it, and then he’ll move back to the Chicago area, near the rest of the kids. My brother will be hung out to dry, but he’s 36 and it’s time to grow up. I’m networking trying to find him a job. He has grown up quite a bit in the last 6 months, and I think he’d be a dependable worker. I can only fix one life at a time, I think.

Yesterday was Mother’s Day. My Mom passed away 5 ½ years ago (yes, I could give you an exact number of days, but why bore you?). I do all this for her. She’d expect it, and she’d deserve it.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

It depends on how you define 'convicted', I guess

Zack Moussaoui's mother in France was quoted yesterday as saying that she is crying because her son was 'wrongly convicted' in his trial for planning the 9/11 attacks.
Ma'am, he pleaded guilty. He admitted his involvement.

Are you upset that he received life imprisonment? As opposed to the Death Penalty?

Today, she said that he was being "buried alive". Too good for him, actually. Not because he was apart of scheme, but because he's so frickin' obnoxious.

By the way, as much as I am a blood-lusting, revenge-minded Christian, I am pleased he got life imprisonment.

I recently wrote to Artist James that it would have been neat to see him get sentenced to Stateville Prison in Illinois in the general population. Remember Jeffrey Dahmer?

Recently, a white supremacist serving 25 to life in Florence ADMAX (the prison Zack will be doing his time) committed suicide because he was depressed about his 23 hours-a-day incarceration. A 7 x 12 cell is bad enough, but the 12 inch TV would make me go crazy.

Zack, the first bedsheet is on me.

Now, shut your mouth and do your time. I've got 2019 in the death pool. You should live so long.

The Love of a Father

A Father’s Day note from Earl Woods to his son, Eldrick:

"You are my little man. You are my treasure. God gave you to me to nurture and to grow and to develop. I always have had your interests first and foremost in my life, and it always will be. In fact, you mean more to me than life itself. I can remember when I taught you it was OK to cry--that men can cry. It was not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength. That was part of the education and the legacy that I wanted to leave with you, that sharing and caring for others is a way of life. And it is not taken lightly. I pass on all of my abilities to share and care to you. I realize that you have an infinite, higher capacity and capability to perpetuate this philosophy in our day's world. I trust that I have given you the guidance and love in which you can then execute that mission. What God has in mind for you, I don't know. It is not my call. It was my job to prepare you. I trust that I have done the best job that I can. I know you will give it your all. And that you will be my little man forever."

The letter was read on "Oprah" when Eldrick and Earl Woods were Winfrey's studio guests. And Eldrick “Tiger” Woods wept.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Satire R Us

I know what I do is illegal, but it’s justified by my desire to provide for my family.  It’s not my fault that it illegal.  I didn’t make the laws.

I’ve been breaking the law for years.  Everyone does it.  Why should I be arrested now?  My family will suffer tremendously if I am incarcerated or otherwise forced to leave them.  I’m just doing it to keep them housed, fed, and clothed.

Illegal Shoplifters have rights, too.