Archive for September, 2010

No lock on this….

Friday, September 24th, 2010

To my complete dismay, there doesn’t seem to be a particular group among us that has a lock on a demeanor that is not only disgusting, but also unnecessary. The standard “please” and “thank you” are disappearing from conversation at an alarming rate, but along with those time-honored words a general attitude of civility is waning and that should give each one of us pause.

A few days ago in a place far, far away (at least in terms of miles from home), I found myself face to face with a truly rude person. It always takes me aback to be in that spot, but what amazes me is that it happens more and more frequently.

I can’t be sure that I am correct in my assessment, but I do feel that this increase in bad behavior only reflects a larger problem among us today: the preoccupation with self. The “I” factor that rears its ugly head does nothing to elevate the one who parrots self-worth. In contrast, it speaks volumes about the one who places self above all else.

I found it much easier to allow this woman to make a fool of herself than to respond and get into a verbal sparring match. She certainly did a good job of showing her true personality. Yes, there were others present and after she left the venue, they bantered about and apologized to me for her. After all, I was a visitor to the area and she was a resident.

I wasn’t offended. Ignorance doesn’t offend me. It disgusts me, but it fails to offend me. I wondered, as she drove away in a very dirty car, if she had any friends at all. It would be difficult to forge a meaningful friendship with her social skills.

Do things get under my skin? Of course they do. The bottom line is how I react to them. Oh, I mutter great retorts to myself when alone after the attempted confrontation is a mere memory, but I never lower myself to spit back a nasty comment to anyone who has a mind (?) to act so rudely.

No doubt, you have been on the receiving end of a barb or two in the past. The only way you can distinguish yourself from the rude person is to react in a neutral way and let the words fall at your feet. That’s where they belong anyway. Train up your children and grandchildren to ignore rudeness. The only ammunition rude people have is to quote your response. Don’t give them the opportunity to make a fool of you. Take the high ground. Think about it.

39 Words matter. Ethics matter.

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

In a world besieged with messages on what to wear, what to eat, what to drive, or what to do, there is a trend that needs more than a little attention.

In the early days of television, companies were hesitant to use competitors’ names. Some of you are old enough to remember Bufferin versus Brand X in a familiar pain reliever ad. Oh, were those days ones of innocence!

Ideally, an effective ad presents prospective customers with facts in order to persuade them to purchase a particular product. Over time, the simplicity of those early television ads has morphed into an industry that funnels untold sums of money into the coffers of both mainstream and cable television channels. It’s big business, and it doesn’t reside solely on Madison Avenue anymore. Small concerns with high tech tools can produce ads that rival the older, established advertising agencies.

Lately, I grow more and more wary of some of the current ads. I focus on one aspect of them — an aspect that should worry all of us.

Let’s examine just two of these ads. The first is actually a multiple of glitzy ads touting a major city with a reputation for glitz. Various characters appear on these ads, but — in the end — the message is that it doesn’t matter what you do there, there will be no consequences. In essence, what goes there stays there. Oh, gee, is that an invitation to bad behavior? You think? The message is unsettling — particularly because young people find them humorous. Bad behavior funny? Evidently. How sad.

The second ad features a mother and a daughter. In one scene, the mother is having a good time. In her exuberance, she spills something on her clothing. Later, the daughter complains that she cannot find her favorite top. Clearly disappointed, the daughter then leaves the house. The next scene shows the mother using a brand name laundry detergent to wash the top. Then the ad cuts to the daughter wearing the top, now with no sign of any stain. Instead of stepping up to the plate and admitting that she borrowed her daughter’s clothing, the mother quietly allows the girl to think that somehow she missed it when she was rummaging through her closet earlier.

The message? It’s perfectly acceptable to lie so long as you don’t have to admit your bad behavior. How nice — parents deceiving children. Some message. If anything, it makes me vow to never buy any of the sponsor’s products, and it makes a lot of them!

Is this how far we have come? Do we now watch these commercials and ignore lying and misbehaving as updated norms for society. If we do, I fear for those among us lacking a moral compass with which to judge these ads. Minus guidance, youngsters are the most vulnerable among us.

How do you react to ads of this type? Do you find them unsettling and troublesome? Clumped together with the clothing ads laced with sexual messages, ads pummeling our kids should demand more of our attention than they do. I’m not a fan of boycotts, but a barrage of letters might get the attention of the proper people.

I realize that I’m preaching to the choir, but there are times when I’ve had it up to my ears with advertisements. If you disagree with current practices, use your voices. Most companies have a toll-free number. Call it. You can find corporate addresses in many places. Drop the company a note.

Ironically, if sponsors paying huge dollars for these ads knew how many of us hit the MUTE button the moment a televised program cuts to a commercial break, they might think twice about what they run for ads in the first place.   What ever happened to “truth in advertising”?  Think about it.

Not a day like any other….

Friday, September 10th, 2010

Some days transcend time. Some days burn into one’s memory to last a lifetime and beyond. Such is today, September 11th.

You know where you were… what you were doing… how you felt… what you thought…. Some of us remember an event that preceded 9/11 by 38 years. That day, one precious life was snuffed out suddenly and without warning. The September day we commemorate today witnessed thousands of innocent men, women, and children murdered by 19 cowards with a bent view of life and purpose that defies rational discourse.

That said we haven’t learned enough to stand up to the specter of what is really happening. The Islamic terrorists are no different than the bully on the playground or in the hallways of our schools. Yet, we launch program after program to help students and teachers deal with these thugs.

Let’s face it. Much as I admire President Bush, he missed the opportunity of a lifetime. If he had ordered the military to the US borders on 9/12, nobody would have batted an eye. The Congress, standing in union singing “God Bless America” would have stood behind him — united with a nation forged by shock and loss to counter a threat unknown never before seen on our soil.

Well, he didn’t do it. The borders have given easy access to untold numbers since that day. Can you swear that nobody has carried a suitcase packed with nuclear device across the border? Can you swear that nobody but Hispanics come across? Can you really recognize the enemy? They recruit among the disaffected, the ill educated, the brainwashed, the weak — and they haven’t stopped their recruiting efforts.

They use threat and intimidation as easily as they breathe. They think nothing of killing their women for supposed sexual misconduct, yet they purposefully force genital mutilation on young girls to rob them of any sexual pleasure. Evidently, that reaction is reserved for men. Give me oxygen. Do you think that people who espouse these values can accept the freedom and acceptance of others’ faith as we do? If you do, think again.

Building a mosque at “Ground Zero” makes as much sense as building a commemorative site touting the exploits of the US Army’s Cavalry exhibit at The Little Big Horn. How do you think that would play among Native Americans?

My grandparents come from deep French roots, yet Paris has areas besieged by Muslim fanatics where the Sureté Nationale (The French police) dare not go. I wonder if Orlando and Dearborn have similar areas.

We have stepped on radical groups within our midst before. Al Capone and his ilk are gone, as is the Klan. We work against White Supremacists today, yet we shrink in the face of a few nutcases whose holy book tells them that Jews are pigs to be slaughtered.

Jews are a proud people. God protects them. God help the country that abandons Israel. We are on the cusp of doing just that. When Britain gave a portion of then Trans Jordan to the Jews after WWII, the land did not belong to the Palestinians. Yet, the media continues to push that false idea forward, as if they need to underscore it.

Israel is a beautiful land where hard-working people have turned large desert areas into fields of flowers, vegetables and fruit. When forced to turn over millions of dollars worth of profitable greenhouses over to the Palestinians several years ago, the world witnessed a travesty. Did the Palestinians continue to operate the facilities to help their own people? No, they tore them to the ground and left a wasteland. Some gratitude, huh?

Whenever a nation is threatened by people bent on violence and it does nothing to stop them, the nation invites them to visit even more carnage on its people.

Thank God we have been safe for nine years. I firmly believe that Americans would shudder if they knew the details of the foiled and discovered plots over that time.

We focus on one site. Undoubtedly, the sight of those two massive buildings collapsing is stamped into our memories, but there were two other sites. We lost vacationing families and business people traveling for their jobs, not only on those planes that hit the towers in New York, but also on the plane that hit the Pentagon. We lost valuable military and civilian personnel in all three planes. We lost flight crews. We lost brave Americans who fought back against the terrorists and died near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. They knew of the attacks in New York. Yet, they willingly died to spare another attack that was, no doubt, on the fanatics’ list. We cannot underestimate the impact of the hundreds of NYPD, NYFD and Port Authority personnel killed in the line of duty in New York City. Now, people move to build a mosque nearby — replacing a building struck by a landing gear from that first plane. Why?

The name of the structure should give you a clue: Cordoba. By tradition, when Islamic forces triumph over an enemy, the first thing they do is erect a mosque. They tore down the Cathedral in Cordoba and replaced it with a mosque when they conquered Spain. I doubt if their mindset is less today. A new mosque is a symbol of victory, yet I hear no voices within the government who echo historical precedent. Sadly, few know of it. Media focus is misplaced. These people don’t need a reason to be mad. They are mad.

Don’t support the New York City mosque. Somehow, it reminds me of “The Trojan Horse”. It looks good, but the interior hides a dark secret. These people do nothing without good reason. I want to believe that there are many moderate, peaceful Muslims who deplore the violence, but I hear few of them speak out against the radicals. If their voices are heard softly, they aren’t heard often.

Perhaps they fear those who would bring our house down. Their history is one of fear and anger — of beheadings and mutilations. What a way to control one’s people.

Should we still be angry? Damn right, we should. What we need is another George S. Patton. If you don’t know enough about him, do a little reading. I cannot imagine what he would say under these circumstances.

Our security rests on peers of those who died going into the World Trade Center that fall day nine years ago — the policemen, the firemen, and the security officers. As we remember all those who died, give thanks for men and women, take a moment to thank God for those who protect us every day.

Not a day like any other? You bet it’s not. Don’t let it be. Think about it.

No what?

Monday, September 6th, 2010

We’ve seen them. Those signs. They pepper the landscape and structures from coast to coast. We obey them. For the most part, we understand them. What are the words, you ponder. “No Pets” Ah, yes, the ominous placard that strikes dread into little old ladies with Lhasas… plump baby boomers bouncing their Beagles… prissy Mollies with their collies….

But, there is — as Paul Harvey was accustomed to saying — the rest of the story. We love to RV. We haven’t done it too long. Actually, we began about three years ago, but we’ve enjoyed it so much that we feel as if we have been camping for a much longer time.

From time to time, we take a jaunt to an RV dealer and pad around the lot to see what’s new among the trailers, motor homes, and fifth wheels. On one such recent walking tour, we came to the conclusion that the aforementioned sign is lacking in its direction.

It’s one thing to come across a dog’s calling card in the grass. Maybe not too palatable, but not exactly unexpected either. If you were to ask someone what animal is most associated with shelters, the dog would — undoubtedly — be the considered response.

I am a dog lover from the word “go” as my late grandmother would have put it. My family was awash with animals of all kinds — including, but not restricted to ordinary domesticated varieties, too. We had a raccoon that realized, after many experiments, that he could not wash his Graham crackers before munching on them. I always wanted a monkey, but my father put that thought to rest in short order. He was used to Mama having a small menagerie, but he drew the line at monkeys!

We had cats. When kittens were around, I would dress them in doll clothes and rock them to sleep in a doll’s cradle. Their tongues were fascinating, with prickly little barbs that seemed to go backward.

I must say that cats are rarely a problem. I’ve seen only one cat on lead, and that was a real surprise considering a cat’s independent nature.
And is there anything sweeter than “puppy breath”? Most of us have encountered a problem with a pet. Housebreaking can test your patience and your supply of carpet cleaner. However, with time, those hurdles are overcome and the house resounds with happy yips and barks to the delight of the children of the family.

Is there anything sweeter than the smell of “puppy breath”? Nothing that I can think of at the moment…. And what, pray tell, does all this have to do with a day at the RV dealer? Well, there is a connection, and it is a clear one.

A quick scan of the used RV ads on line will tell you a lot. Of course, text states the year, the manufacturer, model, type, size, mileage (if applicable), standards, available options, and — of course — price. But there’s more. In many of the ads, a couple of attributes have nothing to do with the RV itself. In contrast, they reflect the lifestyle of the former owner.

One is pretty standard: non-smoker. The other is our old friend, “No Pets”. If you think that this is the “be all end all” guaranteeing you a pristine recreational vehicle, think again. I consider it a bit off the standard mark with good reason.

After stepping in and out of dozens of used RVs, we came to the opinion that some of them should have had boasted a disclaimer. “No pet would have left this unit in such a condition.”

Perhaps each new RVs should come with a sign of its own. Moreover, such a sign would be perfect for apartments, houses, cars, alleys, sidewalks, lawns, and storage barns. Oh, and public restrooms….

No dirty people.

Think about it.