Friday, December 23, 2005

Open-mindedness goes both ways or does it?

I'’m tired of liberal friends who want to chide me for not being open-minded. There are some areas I am more closed than others. I like supporting organizations and institutions that match my views in life.

If I am expected to give to charities that support Planned Parenthood and other liberal causes why don’t the liberals support the things that matter to me? Hypocrisy.

That’s why when Katrina hit I made a bold statement that if you are going to give, give to the Salvation Army or some other trusted faith based organization. I said that the Red Cross for all the good it has done is a hopelessly inefficient bureaucracy and your money will be wasted on that inefficiency. I was chastised for that view.

I’ll do that when they agree to support the Intelligent Design Fund for Education.

I believe Faith Based organizations just do better than Secular organizations. I mean who do you want doing the hard things for your community, the government, FEMA anyone, the ACLU or NAACP (when’s the last time they did anything that mattered), and most secular charities are bloated and ineffective. Many faith-based groups are too. You have to be careful. But as opposed to a faith-based group, would you rather a hypocrite-based group. Sorry, I’m not open-minded about this. Even United Way has lost its way (so to speak). Don’t knock on my door for their cause.

The other day our church took 70 people into the local youth prison. They brought in hundreds of dozen cookies. The reason? The state has cut funding for doing the things needing done. The chaplainry has been trimmed. The state can no longer afford to do what they promised. So, United Way, nope, Red Cross, Don’t think so, local church, yep.

Support faith based organizations doing good things in your community. Start with putting a few bucks in the Salvation Army Buckets. A great investment and it gets lots of miles on each dollar.

They’ll even say, MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Why I didn't move back to ND in part

The other day a friend of mine posted an old picture of me from my high school yearbook. 


It reminded me why I didn’t move back to North Dakota in 1995 when I planned to.


The big problem for me is the frame of reference which people see me from.  When I recently connected with friends from a church I attended in Fargo they immediately went back to what I was like when I first came into the church in the late 70’s.  30 years ago.  I’ve lived in Chicago 20 of them.


For those at the church I am frozen in time. For the yearbook people I’m frozen in time. 


Except none of us ever are.  We are the sum of all we experienced, loved, pain we suffered, work, disease, travel, books we read and every thought we have had.  We have become what we think about all day long.


So, unless I want to be discounted pejoratively in a frame of reference from 30 or 40 years ago I will not move back to deal with pigeon-holers who insist on putting me in a box.


I will not be boxed up and discounted. 


I’ll stay here.





I'm NOT Dreaming of a White Christmas

Peggy and I were in town walking around Thursday on her Birthday. It was a beautiful day. People all over the place. Music, color and all the things you think of for Christmas. Marshal Fields (soon to become Macys), Water Tower Place (a huge downtown shopping mall) and The German Christmas Market.

BUT, I made an observation which I am puzzled about.

All I saw was WHITE FOLKS. Everywhere. Chicago is nearly 40% black. Where were they? It’s a quarter Hispanic. Where were they? I could have been in Jamestown North Dakota for all the racial diversity I saw or more important didn'’t see.

We ran into several friends including our Pastor from the far west suburbs. As large as Chicago is you still run into people you know.

So, my conclusion is the folks who live in Chicago don’t shop in Chicago or at least downtown.

Or, they don’t do Christmas.

Just an observation

New York Transit Strike, Well Done New York

9-11 proved NYC to be a great city. The transit strike that just ended reconfirmed it. Over and over again New York is hit with one thing or another.

Here they are, lining up to get 4 in a car so they can get into the city. Strangers helping strangers.

I have always loved Manhattan. It’s a great place to visit. The people are great and it’s more fun then you can imagine.

Thanks for showing the way New York City once again.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Are we Dumber than then??

Last night we went to the Shakespeare Theater in Chicago.  After several presentations of his tragedies, comedies and love stories over the years I have never been disappointed.  We are truly blessed to have such excellence in theater as we do.  I don't know where else in the WORLD you could go to see better.
I go to operas, movies and watch TV and sometimes come away less than enthralled.  But when it comes to Shakespeare as presented in Chicago I'm in awe. 
We saw Much Ado About Nothing.  If you know the play you know it's a comedy.  It is funnier than anything I have seen in a very long time.
Having read it, it's much funnier when skillfully presented by excellent actors.  I fell out of my seat several times from laughing.  The color and beauty of the language wrapped with the tempo and timing of well placed lines left me awestruck and longing for more.
TV and movies can't do this.  The spectacle and panorama of a live stage is so far superior to a screen it's hard to imagine how they could do this as well as they did on a movie or TV screen.
Oh, the language is as written with all the thees and thous.  It takes about 20 seconds for your ears to switch and hear it as natural as if you heard a man from Kansas talking. 
The clever interplay, twists and tensions cause me these conclusions:
  • No writer of Seinfeld, Hogan's Heroes, SNL, Mad TV, and any stand up comedian I have ever seen is as consistently funny as this was and is after 500 years.  Isn't that amazing?
  • Skillful acting can make even reading the phone book entertaining.
  • Much of what we watch on TV and in Movies is absolute drivel.  There are a few which tug, humor, entertain but so few and so infinitely far between that it is a sad commentary on our modern culture.
So, my question is, are we dumber than they were then? 
My answer is, TV and Movie producers sure think so.  Maybe they're right.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Much Ado about NOTHING

I'll bet you think this is a political tirade.  NOPE.  Peggy and I are off to the THEATER tonight.  And since it is her (number deleted) birthday on the 22nd we are staying at the Palmer House Hotel overnight.  Dinner date.
We will avail ourselves of walking up and down the Magnificent Mile and watch people celebrating the birth of Jesus with their credit cards and a frenzied look on their faces.  Somehow I think the pre-conversion iterations of Scrooge & Marley Accountancy and Moneylenders would applaud this perverted holiday. 
Then we will go to the Weinachtmarkt on Daley Plaza. (there is a law in Chicago that everything must be named for Mayors Daley).  This is a pretty good representation of the Weinachtmarkt's (Cristkindlmarkts to you Catholics) as are in Germanic countries.  When we were there we made a hobby of going to as many as possible.  I'm an expert.
It all seems so much better eating a potato pancake outdoors  with applesauce on it, a couple sausages and a side of sauerkraut in 5 degree weather.  MMMMM
I am soooo German.
So, I'll report back when we return tomorrow afternoon.  I'm looking forward to the Shakespeare.  It's never disappointing.  NEVER!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Holiday Eating Tips

I laughed so hard at this, I had to post it. I got it from a friend of mine. Thanks Ken.

1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving rum balls.

2. Drink as much eggnog as you can, quickly. Like fine single-malt scotch, it's rare. In fact, it's even rarer than single-malt scotch. You can't find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn into an eggnog-alcoholic or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It's later than you think. It's Christmas!

3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That's the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.

4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.

5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people's food for free. Lots of it. Hello?

6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and NewYear's. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.

7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don't budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the centre of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you're never going to see them again.

8. Same for pies. Apple, Pumpkin. Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labour Day?

9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards.

10. One final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention. Reread tips; start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner.

Remember this motto to live by: "Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO what a ride!"

Have a great holiday season!
And a very very Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Fantasy - Vanity - TIme and Times

You know these people, self important, attractive, skillful, connected, media savvy, iconic and still able to position themselves portrayed as victims.
Working in Corporate America I met several.  Well dressed nincompoops who looked good, but who possessed no actual brain.  Perhaps it's because I didn't look as good or dress as well (but I could think and actually get desired results) that they grated on me a bit.  I could put up with their presence until they opened their mouth.
So, you know these people.  I mean, we watch TV shows about them.  The only weekly TV show I have programmed on my VCR  is Alias (No I don't own a TIVO).  The very beautiful Jennifer Garner, Her associates, her spy dad, all very attractive people.  Only the pro/antagonist Sloane is sort of not pretty.  And it is intriguing.  I'm into it.  Not since Star Wars Next Generation have I been so taken with a TV show. 
Who can resist a beautiful spy, her handsome husband or father, dark undercover, opponents from on high in government.  It's great stuff.
In real life it's more transparent. The media has loved the whole Valerie Plame Joe Wilson deal, she's a mom, and he's handsome, and they have a baby (Something Sidney Bristow is about to do on Alias).  And Valerie is pretty, (I may not have mentioned that). 
Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame love the spotlight.  You have seen the Vanity Fair Cover with the two of them in a Mercedes Convertible.  She is in "Disguise" with a scarf and sunglasses.  We're supposed to ask "who's the mystery woman with the ambassador". 
So when she was "OUTED" by someone unknown it was supposed to be a big shock.  Heck, they couldn't stand NOT being the center of attention.
But you know these kind of people.  Look at me, look at me, no don't look at me.  They were in your workplace, they were in your church, they were in your class in college.  Acting humble and yet hoping to be the center of attention at all times.  Then feeling persecuted because you paid them attention.
So, now Time Magazine has stroked them once again and they love it, New York Times quarterbacked the leak story to embarrass the President (which is New York Time's current mission statement), Vanity Fair is running a new article on them.  "We just want to be left alone, no wait, not really".
It's all Fantasy Island.  They fly in, the little guy says, "de plane, de plane", they dress up pretty in spy clothes and pretend to be meaningful for the rest of us.  And we suck it up.  It sells glossy tabloid magazines like Time.  We are so pitiful as a country. 
I think I'll stick to real fantasy, Alias and Sidney Bristow, unless the Plame-Wilsons make a movie, starring themselves of course.
Oh wait, they already did.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Ten Most Dangerous People (or Groups) of 2005

 10.  The Hollywood idiot left.  Barbara Striesand, Cher, Harry Bellefonte, Rosie O’Donnell, Jennene Garafolo, Michael Moore, Whoopi Goldberg and Martin Sheen.  These people make stupid thinking fashionable.  They are a bad example to the youth and impressionable trailer trash of America who subscribe to the National Enquirer.  That’s about all that remains of the Democrat base.


9,  Bob Graham who represents all Liberal Democrats that held just enough elected office to make you almost believe he/she has a valid view.  Sort of in the same league as Julian Bond, Tom Daschle, Barbara Boxer, and Maxine Waters.  "Look at me, I was elected to something so, what I think matters doesn’t it?  Huh?"


8. France.  The country.  Say no more, say no more.


7. Teachers Unions.  The single biggest obstacle to your children and Grandchildren’s education.  They should be outlawed.  DOE and all unions abolished.  You now work for the state.  Better yet, privatize all schools.  Education in America no longer works.  REDO!


6. Katie Couric and all her wannabee clones on broadcast and cable TV.  There used to be intelligent talk with real inquiry on Morning TV.   Since Katie emerged or evolved that’s gone.  You’ve made enough money Katie.  Bye Bye.  Bring Back some Brains.  


5.  George Soros, a man that will finance anything Un-American to undermine the USA.  He should be very happy I’m not King.  He would be divided not quite in two if I were (off with his head).


4.  Ted Kennedy, famous for bringing the bar so low in anything representing competent ethical moral Senatorial demeanor.  He is so far past his good till date it has become nauseous.  Joe Black where are you?


3.  The New York Times and their sycophants.  Why anyone believes anything these traitors write astounds me.  I stopped getting their paper a year ago.  I’ve survived.


2.  Left wing opportunists who never saw an issue with a photo op they didn’t love.  Jesse Jackson, Dick Durbin, John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi, Mr Hillary Clinton and Jimmy Carter.


1.  The idiot who decided that Saturday morning cartoons should be used to “educate children” to “be nice” to each other, and that Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, if shown at all, could not be shown being shot, blown-up, erased, squeezed into tiny spaces, sent flying from a cannon, played like violins, dropped into glasses of water, blown to smithereens by Martians, un-feathered unto nakedness, or tricked into playing “Believe Me If All (Those Endearing Young Charms)” correctly on the piano, thus being sent to heaven wherein they wear halos and pluck on tiny harps. They can, however, be shown in drag. Whole generations are growing up being thought of as too delicate to watch cartoon characters being shaped into musical instruments, and they’ve lost exposure to thinking outside the box and have become LIBERALS.


Children’s cartoons, that’s what’s wrong with America!


Why the Critics don't matter any more

Was a time when an examination of the situation would produce a well thought out consideration of facts that might come to a different conclusion.  That would be the critic's job.
I have come to the conclusion that critics today of almost everything must now be ignored and perhaps pilloried.
Critics of the war in Iraq who are continually being countered by the facts of the situation, elections, positive poll numbers, jobs, security increases.  Forget them.
Critics of the NSA CIA wiretaps who on one hand jump up and down about the constitution and at the same time would destroy the President if an attack took place, he had the ability to stop it and didn't because of constraints.  Ignore them.
Critics of Government response to: Katrina, Rita, Wilma, Tsunami, Earthquake, and a hundred other things.  When was it mandated that government was supposed to be the Red Cross?  Government are supposed to protect the citizens from outside invasion or threat.  All this other stuff is phony grandstanding.  Plug your ears.
This doesn't mean that there isn't a right to question or react.  It does mean you must be honest about your motives.  The critics today all have agendas. 
I just want to ask the question.  Where is the line, particularly in national security and the war, which when crossed no longer is partisan criticism but becomes treason?  I guarantee, there is a line.  Where is it?  
It's time to ask the question because for some of us, that line is very close to being crossed and there will no longer be answers given to critics, but questions about what constitutes treason.
Some on the very far left have already crossed the line.  Careful out there.