Sunday, March 29, 2009

Peel Me a Grape

My state has a biennial form of government, which means that a legislative session is two years long. Odd-numbered year are long sessions and even-numbered years are short sessions. In the odd-numbered years, legislators generate a two year budget, however, adjustments will generally need to be made to because the "best laid plans of mouse and men oft go astray." So in the even-numbered years, whatever adjustments that are necessary are made to the budget.

We are in the midst of a long session. In addition to the budget, there are thousands of other legislative matters involving where golf carts may be driven, the use of traps to hunt foxes, and my personal favorite, creating a license plate with a logo to commemorate some group or organization. Then there is the more heavy duty stuff like increasing penalties for certain criminal acts, making changes to the state health plan, and trying to provide some assistance to families facing foreclosure. Government is important stuff and I'm proud to be a small part of it but I'm also exhausted! I'm doing the hamster dance again and my legs are really too short and chubby for this type of a workout. Last week, I worked 52 hours (two days were 13 hour days). I really don't know if I'm coming or going. I've made an attempt to read blogs that entertain and stimulate me, but I haven't had the energy to leave a coherent comment on most.

Rather than continue to whine, I have decided to imagine a calming scenario. It involves a beach, but with shade (I have no interest in working on a tan) and a tall frosty glass holding a pina colada so cold that my fingers are slightly chilled, with a wedge of fresh pineapple on the side speared with a maraschino cherry. Here's the best part: a tall young brown-skinned man to massage my shoulders and his twin brother to fan me. I also want a port-o-potty right on the beach. I'm a practical woman and all those pina coladas have to go somewhere. Oh please, somebody peel me a grape.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Introducing the WTF! Awards

A friend that I greatly value suffered a great loss this past week. It's funny, I don't recall when Marc and I became friends; I feel as if I've known him for ages. Logic tells me that our friendship began sometime after 9/11/06, the day that I began blogging. His sorrow is his to tell, so I will simply encourage you to stop by his blog, read his words and offer what comfort that you can.

As for me, I hope to make you chuckle a bit today. Laughter really is the best antidote to whatever ails you.

Several entries ago, I wrote of the things that made me have to wash my mouth out with soap, the events, behavior, and/or statements that made me exclaim, WTF! I've decided to take it one step further and to officially create the WTF Awards. Unlike the Darwin Awards, no one has to die to earn a WTF Award. The criteria is quite simple: the behavior, statements, or events have to move me to proclaim, WTF! I encourage you to send me nominees for future awards whenever you find yourself exclaiming, WTF! And now, for the first official WTF! Awards.

The Power of the Weave
I first heard this story on The Tom Joyner Morning Show, (TJMS) my favorite morning radio show. Tom, Jay, and Sybil find the news stories that other stations miss or dismiss. The setting is Kansas City, MO and the theme is love gone wrong. A young woman got into her car and was approached by a man who informed her that her recently ex-boyfriend still loved her. She responded, "Well, I don't love him." The ex-boyfriend, who was evidently lurking about, upon hearing her less than favorable response, fired a gun at her, breaking out her rear window. She gunned the motor, wheeled her way out of the parking lot and called 911. For some unfathomable reason, she then went back to the scene of the crime, where the police met her. The ex and his friend were gone, but the police caught up with them and arrested them. At some subsequent point, the bullet that was fired through the rear window was located--caught in the young woman's hair weave. She wasn't injured. The weave stopped the bullet. I'm seriously thinking about getting a weave, just in case anyone decides to try and shoot me in the head. Update: The ex's cousin called the TJMS to say that the alleged victim was stalking him and that she probably placed that bullet in her hair weave and broke out her own window.

'Twas Beauty that Killed the Beast
Academic researchers recently released the results of a study conducted at the University of South Florida that offers an interesting perspective on what went wrong with the McCain/Palin campaign. Sarah Palin's beauty made it impossible for voters to take her seriously. Her sexy good looks were perfect for getting her magazine covers and media attention, but actually worked against her for getting votes. It seems that pretty women are perceived as incompetent. I'm thinking that if Palin had uglied up a bit, then no one would have probably noticed her incompetence.

This Is An Emergency!
My perspective on this story has changed from when I first hear about it on TJMS. Latreasa Goodman, age 27, went to a McDonald's in Fort Pierce, Florida and placed an order for a 10 piece chicken nuggets combo. After she paid for the order, she was informed that there were no more nuggets. Ms. Goodman, asked for her money back but was told that there was a no refund policy but that she could have a substitute meal that didn't include nuggets. Ms. Goodman called 911, (three times) in an effort to get her money back. When I first heard the story, it was presented as, "Woman calls 911 because McDonalds ran out of nuggets." I laughed and marveled at her ridiculous behavior, and called the poor woman an idiot. However, after reading additional details of the story and hearing the 911 calls, while I don't think that this was an appropriate use of the 911 system, I also think that the real nitwits in all of this are the media outlets who published misleading headlines and McDonalds. This woman wasn't asking for police assistance because McDonalds ran out of nuggets, she wanted her money back because McDonalds couldn't fill her order. Given these economically stressful times, I see her point. She ordered nuggets, they couldn't produce them, so refund her money. Instead, this particular McDonalds tried to force her to accept a substitution that she didn't want. The update is that McDonalds has apologized to Ms. Goodman, stating that their policy is to offer a substitution but if the customer does not want the substitution, then the customer is to receive a refund. My WTF! Award goes to McDonalds and the media that went for the humorous headline rather than accuracy.

The Birds Are Coming!
This story has been giving me waking nightmares ever since I read it this past week. I have a bird phobia. If you don't have a phobia of any sort, you may not fully understand what I'm talking about. Phobia's are not rational. A fully developed phobia can render an otherwise reasonable adult incapable of moving. I don't know where my bird phobia comes from, it's just been with me forever. I never go in pet stores because most of them sell birds. Even a bird in a cage sets my pulse to racing. I can tolerate birds flying in the sky, but if one lands near me, I have to escape. So this story horrified me. A tractor-trailer was driving along on a Nevada highway when a golden eagle crashed through the windshield into the cab of the truck. Golden eagles only weigh 15 pounds but they have a seven foot wing span. It seems that the misguided bird was very angry, so the two guys in the truck ran for their lives. The eagle seems to have survived with only a slightly swollen head. Meanwhile, every time I'm in my car, I grip the steering wheel and frantically search the skies for any dive bombing birds.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Nothing and Everything On My Mind

It has rained all weekend and the latest weather forecast predicts that the rain will become snow before the night ends. You would think that with all this dreary weather that I would have managed to catch up with reading the blogs that I follow and perhaps post an entry of my own. I've been fixin' to do that all weekend, but it has taken me until Sunday night to gather enough mental energy to do anything other than watch movies on the Sci-Fi channel. (Note: Fixin' is southern for getting ready to do something. Ex: I'm fixin' to go to the store.)

I enjoy my work at the state legislature, but session is in full swing and my hours are long and busy. I spend my days reading and analyzing proposed legislation, and then writing a digest of each bill that I've reviewed for daily publication. When I get home, I don't have enough brain cells remaining to do anything that requires any thought.

I really appreciate the honest and thoughtful responses y'all have left regarding my last entry. I shared my personal journey publicly because I hope that maybe my story will help someone else who is in emotional pain, feeling suffocated by societal expectations and norms about appearance. I'm no expert on moving beyond the pain, but I've made some pretty big strides. I'm not done yet, I think that it's an ongoing journey.

There are many things to write about, but that's the problem. There's that dumb NY Post cartoon with the dead chimpanzee and the reference to the stimulus package. In the cartoon, a cop is holding a smoking gun and, with another officer, looking at a bullet-riddled body of a chimpanzee. The caption reads: They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill.
My initial response was that the cartoon was racist. However, then I stepped back and I realized that the person who created the cartoon may not have been familiar with the history of race in this country. (For a good historical overview, click here.) May not have known that black people were commonly referred to as monkeys, apes, gorillas, and other members of the simian family as a form of insult in newspapers and magazines across the U.S., not just in southern publications. I've concluded that the cartoonist and the editorial staff of the Post that authorized the publication of the offensive cartoon were just insensitive, stupid, and ignorant of history, but not racist. Besides, President Obama didn't write the stimulus policy. I do wonder what the real-life shooting of the rabid monkey had to do with the stimulus package.

Then there was the Los Alamitos mayor that forwarded an email picturing the White House lawn covered with watermelons with the caption, No Easter egg hunt this year. I like watermelons. If President Obama and the First Lady invited me to the White House and served watermelon, I'd be pleased. However, I find it a bit disingenuous for the mayor to claim not to be aware that this image wasn't really about a love of watermelons but a commentary reinforcing a not very flattering stereotype of the happy Negro with his watermelon patch.

I really didn't plan to write a word about this nonsense, nor the fool Greenwich Village baker who made the offensive "Drunken Negro Face" cookies to honor President Obama (that's what he said), but I read one too many comments on these stories in which some white people asserted that black people were overly sensitive and that they were tired of us being so touchy. I thought about it and realized that perhaps, they had a point. So, for future reference, if you are one of those people who don't get why we would be upset with these racist stereotypes, here is something that you should know: most black people do not appreciate having stereotypical images of ourselves reinforced in the media or by elected officials. I would suggest that newspapers hire more reporters of color and run things by them before publishing anything that might be questionable. As for politicians, find yourself a person of color whom you can count on to be truthful and before you send out an email with potentially offensive material in it, ask that person if it's a good idea.

Well, I can't settle my mind on any one topic, so I'm fixin' to watch some more television.