Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Broken Promises

I grew up in a working class neighborhood. Not remote rural, certainly not suburbia. We had a nice yard and a driveway.

My father was one of the group of men who worked at the local steel mill. He managed to work his way up to Quality Control Foreman. He worked the plum day shift and wore a white shirt and hard hat.

By the time he returned from work at 4:20pm he smelled of the steel dust that coated his white shirt. The environment was challenging for a black man with just an associate's degree. He put up with far more indignities than I faced on my worst day.
The "rules" were to get an education, find a home at a good company, retire and die.

The steady income and the health insurance for us kept him loyal to his employer. The insurance gave him pride and security. With three children who participated in sports it was a nice benefit.

Eye care, medication and dental were included in the package. He would painstakingly sit at the dining room table and fill out the insurance forms. He paid a deductible.

Then came managed care. PPO's, gatekeepers, referral slips and co-payments. Has the cost of healthcare reduced in the last 40 years?

Insurance companies, healthcare providers and drug manufacturers are recording record profits.

The money not spent on healthcare went to our home, furniture, electricity, food, clothing, cars, gasoline. Products that stimulated the economy.

Most people in our country are closer to club poverty than club riches. Until people wrap their brain around this painful fact, nothing will change. A very dear friend of mine, whom I am convinced watches Fox News, is a very successful attorney. From his perspective he is the new middle class. Since when did making a income that exceeds six figures denotes the middle class?

Using the accounting principles of EBIDTA employees and their benefits lends itself to the outsourcing of jobs, to increase the profits for corporate shareholders.

After 35 years of service at the ripe old age of 58, Dad and many of his peers were given a package. He was not emotionally or financially ready to retire. Shortly, thereafter his company was sold twice. The community this plant supported looks like the retirees, tired and broken down.

Eventually, his life insurance was eliminated, pension and health coverage reduced. Try to find a life insurance policy after three bouts of cancer. I can't imagine it developed being exposed to steel dust for 35 years. Minor details. Familiar faces from the mill shared the chemo sessions with Dad. There are not many survivors.

Personal protection equipment mandated by OSHA was not a priority 40 years ago. The OSHA police continue to be underfunded.

My father worked everyday with his eye on the promise of a financially secure retirement. He makes too much money to receive Bush's donut hole prescription drug plan. His out-of-pocket expenses associated with the care of his health exceeds $700 per month.

He at least has what is left of his pension. The ERISA statue was created to make sure employers keep their promises. Employers are now whining that the pensions are killing their profitability. These are the same companies where the CEO's walk away with a platinum package. My daughter only knows of 401K plans.

If he had universal health coverage, he could die in peace.

OSHA and ERISA were created by the government to protect the employee from their employer. Both have failed due to lack of funding and enforcement.

I think it is great billionaire Mortimer Zuckerman writes on this topic. There is just one flaw in his essay. The middle class has already disappeared. No one wants to admit it.

The Lone Ranger

To the surprise and dismay of Washington Insiders are dismayed with Bubble Boy's bunker mentality. Bubble Boy should have spent this much time deliberating before he went to war.

Monday, December 25, 2006

What about the families of the deceased?

Bubble Boy has actively avoided the families of those soldiers killed in this debacle. News coverage of funerals has been frowned upon by this administration and complied with by the MSM.

I think the soldiers, who have managed not to die, would prefer to be home with their friends and family than to chat with their Commander-In-Chief.

I support the troops and the sacrifices of their families. However, it saddens me that their lives have been so casually been used in the family Bush war games. I am not so convinced that all members of this volunteer military new what they signed up for.

Could they know more than their fearless leaders?

Bubble Boy's stubborn resolve is an indication of a man so out of touch with reality, impeachment would be too easy. He should be imprisoned for sending these folks to Iraq and the lack of preparation for peace.

During your "thank you" calls, did you tell these folks when they could come home?

I will be the first to defend your right to be a dumbass, Virgil

I really have no patience for stupid people. What offends me more, is a stupid person in a position of power with a very large megaphone.

The winner this week is Rep. Virgil Goode from the great state of Virginia. All he has to do is read the the FIRST article of the Constitution, if his attention span does not permit him read the entire document. According to my history teachers, people fled to these shores to escape religious persecution.

Worse, Rahm Emanuel's solution is Virgil to meet with Rep-Elect Keith Ellison. I suppose once they meet Goode will see the light and stop being a racist. Who died and made Virgil that important?

Ellison, like it or not, was BORN in this country and really shouldn't have to defend himself to Virgil from Virginia. The voters from his district put him in office.

No one, other than the folks from his district, ever heard of Virgil before this infamous letter. Virgil needs to spend more time reading the document that he is supposed to protect.

BTW your ignorant commentary is protected in the same Article. Let me be the first in line to defend that right, VIRGIL.

If my momma named me VIRGIL I would be fearful too......

Look what's under the tree

Merry Christmas Philadelphia!

What a perfect Christmas present. The Eagles beat the 'Boys in Texas clinching a playoff spot. The bow on the gift was the camera focusing on T.O. pouting after he dropped yet another pass.

I give my future son-in-law credit for choking down this loss. He showed up wearing his Dallas garb. The blue stood out in the sea of Eagles green worn by the rest of my family.

Blessedly, my parents made the trip without incident. They took off before the game started because the weather was pretty crappy. Dad looked pretty good and ate too much. Everyone was glad to see him.

After eating dinner, we gathered around the tube to watch the game. It was cool having most of the family together. My kid brother called after dinner. All is well in his corner of the world. My ex-husband, a Philly native, who now resides in Texas called throughout the game to torment the lone Cowboys fan in the house.

All is well in my corner of the world. Merry Christtmas Jeff Garcia, Welcome to Philadelphia.

Eagles 23, Cowboys 7.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Daddy's Home

My Dad is resting an home today after four days in the hospital. According to my Mom, he is starting to look like his normal self today. A Christmas wish granted.

On Monday morning I saw my Mom's cell number flash on my cell phone. I knew immediately, something was not good. My mother never uses her cell phone, ever.

When I answered, Mom informed me that she and Dad were on the way to the hospital. Dad's heart rate was so low at his doctor's visit, he was instructed to go immediately to the local hospital.

My parents are old and have been married forever. I am not sure when they officially became old, but I am discovering that old people have rules. In my parents world, Dad always drives. Period.

Dad has a history of diabetes and high blood pressure. I knew that he was on a lot of meds but I did not know heart medicine was in the mix. Mind you, Dad could have had a stroke, seizure, or simply passed out. But there are rules. Mom rides shotgun.

Mom assured me that Dad was fine, under the circumstances and they would be at the hospital shortly.

During this brief conversation, I was not quite sure who to be annoyed with, the doctor or my folks. Fear was the best description of how I was feeling.

I love both my folks. I was terrified that they would, in this little 20 mile excursion, kill themselves and faceless strangers. Where my folks live 20 miles is local.

My best friend recently buried her father. His funeral flashed in my mind.

When I received the call, I was on my way to take an account that I actually like to lunch. Nice clients are rarity in my business. I would be two hours. Mom told me not to rush. Dad stopped taking one of his pills and it screwed up his system. The doctor told them once the old body was recalibrateted, he would be fine. The plan was to keep him at least overnight.

I called my older brother who was closer to the hospital at that moment. I told him what was going on and asked him to meet the folks at the ER.

I told him that I should get there in enough time to relieve him and chat with the doctor. He is money. "I got it, Sis," as he hung up.

It seemed like a week took place during the lunch. One member of my party was a nun. She sensed my anxiety and her words of kindness gave me comfort.

After lunch, I dropped off my employee who whispered a prayer for my family. The traffic gods shined on me. The route that i had to take always has either an accident or a construction project.

By the time I reached the hospital, Dad had been moved to a room and was hooked up to every machine imaginable.

By this time, Mom was worn out. My brother decided to take her home. I promised to wait for the cardiologist and call everyone with an update. With that my brother gave me a big old hug. I needed it at the time.

Dad was pretty spent, so we sat quietly as the sun began to fade into the evening. Before the doctor arrived I had to know why Dad was screwing around with his meds. He told me that the one pill "messed with my stomach." Unfortunately, it was his heart medicine and he didn't bother to tell his doctor until this morning.

I recalled my parents discussing the high cost of their medication. I could always talk to my Dad about sensitive stuff. Money is a sensitive topic.

I asked if he was he cutting back on his meds because of the cost. He said no. He is the collateral damage of the collapse of the American steel industry. After 38 years of service, he was forced into early retirement. They eliminated his life insurance policy, slashed his health coverage and cut his pension by 15%.

I made him promise if the cost of the meds were an issue to let me know.

Once we chatted with the cardiologist, we just sat with the sounds of the machines providing a break in the silence. I found comfort in the rhythm of the machines.

Finally, visiting hours were over.

As I was leaving, I told Dad " don't die yet, OK?"

With a big old grin, he told me "God didn't want him messin' up his Heaven."

Presumptuous aren't we? I responded. We both just laughed, and fought back tears.

Serenity Now

Because of my stressful life, my family doctor suggested, yoga or drugs. The whole zoned out approach to my life never had much appeal to me. So I opted to go the Yoga route.

I have been accused of being a quadruple" A " workaholic control freak. A harsh assessment. There may be a grain of truth to the label. Just a grain. What is so wrong with seeking spiritual enlightenment in a week?

Like any practice, you are to find the right form of yoga for your spiritual journey.

The teachers I encountered ask who you are and what you do for a living. Most of my classmates hailed from corporate America. The men in my classes were there with their wives or with the encouragement of their ex-wives or coworkers.

My first teacher looked at me with his piercing blue eyes and told me that the point of the class was not to be competitive and to work at sane pace. He warned me that if he sensed me being competitive, that he would make me face the wall. I tried to muster a smile but I did find myself looking away with a pout.

When I relayed this story to a friend of mine, he asked me "What color is the wall?"

Once I permitted myself to slow down, I found myself really enjoying the classes. The kinks in my body are worked out through a series of poses. By focusing on the poses it stills the mind in preparation for meditation.

After eight weeks with Francois, I moved due to life's circumstances, which left me without a teacher.

Once I settled into my new community I found a home to practice my yoga. To my delight, Francois was a student of the teacher who founded this institute. The same firm philosophy and gentle approach. You hear horror stories of psycho-nazi instructors that push folks and injuries occur.

I usually go to class on Sunday morning. It helps me through the week.

Each class begins with a word or concept to focus on. Non-violence is a concept that seems to surface in every class.

I never considered myself to be violent per se but I discovered, that when I make mistakes I have found myself assaulting me verbally. Wow. It is something that most of us do. A whacked version of humility or self-evaluation. We would never say to someone we love the things that we say to ourselves in a typical guilt ridden thought loop.

I found that each week, the word of the day always strikes a cord. One week it was aversion. According to my teacher, annoying people are sent into your life to teach you compassion. I guess that explains my current boss.

On this Christmas Eve the class was packed. I guess I wasn't the only one who needed a break from the holiday insanity.

Today the word was intention. My intention now and into the future is not to permit anyone take my joy.

I have let too many people or circumstances steal my joy. I recommend yoga for anyone trying to get through the day.

By the way, the wall at the yoga studio was baby blue.

Merry Christmas!

Dear Santa,

Dear Santa,

It has been a rocky season with my beloved Eagles. Tomorrow the Eagles will spend their Christmas in the Texas Stadium. They will square off against T.O. and the 'Boys. (BOOOOOO).

If the Eagles win, they will be in pretty good shape for the playoffs. They just have to win.

My family will gather at my place. Dinner will be served at 3:00pm. Standard fare: Homemade mac & cheese, mashed sweet and white potatoes, collards, corn, mushrooms, cornbread stuffing, turkey, gravy and ham.

Everyone should be ready for dessert and coffee around kickoff. My baby is making homemade sweet potato and apple tarts.

Here's the rub, my baby's sweetie is a fan of America's team. Of course, the trash talkin' has begun. You have to admire someone so arrogantly struttin' into enemy territory. At the end of the evening, there will be either 8 happy campers or one very happy soul. My Mom simply enjoys the insanity.

I hope the feared defense shows up and Garcia has the game of his career. If you recall, T.O. made Garcia' life a living hell in San Francisco. He even suggested that Garcia did not like the ladies. Finally, I want T.O. to continue to drop passes. No touchdowns in your stocking for you, just lumps of coal. He has been naughty his entire career.

Thanks Santa.



Sunday, December 17, 2006

He is just crazy

The contest featured record-breaking field goal Morten Andersen, handing his wife his jersey after kicking one through the upright for the beleaguered Falcons. To everyone's surprise, there was lot of scoring by both teams. The dreaded Cowboys (BOOOOO) won, securing a spot in the second season.

If T.O. is anywhere in the state, he is the center of drama. This jackass was not happy to catch two touchdowns in this game. He felt compelled to share his saliva with Falcon's cornerback DeAngelo Hall.

Hall was talkin' trash, which is common in any sports venue, unless you are on a golf course. Poor TO he couldn't take it anymore so this is what he did. The handful of remaining T.O. fans has been reduced to his grandmom and agent.

He is a disgrace. The league will fine him less that what he pays in taxes in his weekly check. The best thing that could happen to him, is that the media simply ignore him. He is too old to spank, ignoring him would be the worst punishment in the world.

He needs the drama, we don't. Stop feeding the beast, let's go a whole week without talking about him. Jerk.

When was the last time you received a party when you got fired?

Last February, three competent employees were reorganized out of my company. In my president's brave new world, they were deemed expendable.

You know the deal when an employee leaves, LA riots ensue. Before the disposed employee reaches the elevator, the looting is completed. This process takes, oh, ten minutes max. Admit it, when one of your coworkers takes a week long vacation or is out sick for more than two days, your eye up their stuff.

The affect of their dismissal had such a profound impact, their work stations were treated like a crime scene. The only thing not present was the yellow crime tape. Only with the recent EBITDA driven renovations have prompted the actual touching of their remaining things.

On that cold morning, they received their final check and their personal belongings were packed up in a record twenty minutes. Many of the remaining employees had no idea what occurred until they were huddled into a conference room for a rare impromptu meeting. For some this was the first time they were introduced to my boss and his vision. His guarantees of continued employment fell on shocked deaf ears.

It has been ten months and the survivors only speak of that day in a whisper. When the HR manager and my boss pay a visit to our office, a good portion of the day before is spent promising no harm will come of their visit.

Real world response to the termination of three coworkers. Unless you work for Bubble Boy's White House.

It is bad enough, that Paul Bremer and George Tenant were given prizes after they left for their "hard work" and incompetence, our boy Rummy gets a party. He gets a forum to tell the soldiers he has not sacrificed and the world how much he will be missed.

All three no doubt were spared the "walk of shame." You may know what that feels like, walking past your now former work family with all of your crap in a bankers box. Unless you are in the ranks of the still employed. Then it is combination of sympathy but relief that you are still employed. Some look away or mouth from a distance "Call me."

Maybe thia trio will call Colin Powell and get together once a month like, the ex-employees of my company. Weird, huh?

Yep, once a month they get together at a local bar or restaurant. Some celebrate the freedom of not being employed by our organization. For others the bitterness is palatable, according to my sources.

Luckily, the now departed employees missteps did not cost any lives. I wish the same could be said for the gang that has left Bubble Boy's administration.

Unfortunately, MSM doesn't see the madness of this administration. Oh I forgot, they want to be invited to White House holiday party. While our citizens soldiers are dying in Iraq; the pundits wasted valuable air time frettin' about what Bubble Boy will say to them during their photo shoot at the White House party. These are same "journalists" who did not ask the hard questions when it mattered. They are now concerned if Bubble Boy is upset with them because they are finally questioning this disaster.

I am sure our battered troops would love to see the money spent on the White House party spent on body armour. After attending the grown up version of a high school party at the cool kid's house, they will return to the comfort of their homes. No fear of insurgents in the beltway.

Our founding fathers empowered the press with the freedom to hold our elected officials accountable. Instead of focusing on the loss of lives and injuries associated with this disaster, the press gave Rummy's termination party plenty of airtime.

Who wouldn't like a televised forum to tell a former employer how much they will miss you when you are gone, without the fear of being escorted to the door by security?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Baseball Hall of Shame

The nominees for the Baseball Hall of Fame are out. On the list, Jose "I watched everybody take steriods" Consaeco and Mark "I don't want to talk about the past" McGuire. The fact that they are on the list overshadows Carl Ripkin, Jr. and Tony Gwynne. A dilema for the members of the sportswriters selection committee.

Apparently, drug use in baseball was the worst kept secret on the planet. McGuire and Consaeco were lustly annoited the "Bash Brothers" by sportswriters. Fans love the long ball. There is a sexiness to watching the ball flying out of the stadium. Everyone gets warm all over.

Baseball purists know it is the short game, bunts, singles and doubles are what win games. It is inexplicable to me why every flippin' pitcher in the National League cannot lay down a bunt. Rarely does a pitcher stays in the batter's box beyond five pitches. The networks struggle not to go to commercial when they come up to bat. I digress.

Ripkin showing up to work everyday appealled to the workin' class stiff in all of us. This combined with the chase for the single season homerun record is credited with saving baseball after a long strike.

Sammy "corkbat" Sosa and Mark McQuire were everywhere. Everyone was caught up in the excitement. The teams and the networks made a ton of money. It was fun for sportswriters to prepare their essays.

Conseaco, McQuire and Sosa are representative of players who cheated. They all had excuses as to why but it is still cheating.

The naysayers say you still need bat speed and good eye coordiation to even hit the ball. I am not an expert on the drugs they may have taken but it just isn't right.

All parties were complicite, in this fraud that was perpertrated on the buying public.

Next year, if he doesn't get hurt, Barry Bonds will break Hank Aaron's record. Like the Bash brothers there is questions surrounding his sudden muscle development. Another dilema facing this institution.

What will baseball, the networks and the sportswriters do?

I really do not hear a drumbeat from the masses to vote McQuire or Conseaco into the Hall of Fame.

They are not the only members of this club whose reputation that has been tarnished by the worst kept secret on the planet.

The depature of A.I.

It is finally over. Allen Iverson has worn out his welcome in Philly. I do not blame him, the fault lies squarely with upper management.

Whether you manage an office or a basketball team, you are still managing people. The problem with the Sixers was they let the superstar man/child take over managing the team by default.

There was always a separate set of rules for Mr. Iverson. That is not his fault. He filled the arena so it was always, Allen just being Allen. Like the star employee who manipulates management, eventually the star either fades or bursts before crashing into the universe.

Basketball is a team sport. Mr. Iverson needed to be taught how to play within the framework of a team. To that end, he needed to be surrounded by skilled players and a management team willing to enforce standard rules. We are not talking extraordinary rules. Let's start with the basics, show up and on time. Practice is part of his job. After his infamous riff about practice, he should have been traded or deactivated immeditately.

He did not get it. But like most gifted athletes, from an early age, they are placed on a different career path or in a bubble. The rules are different for the Iversons in the world because schools, boosters and management created these rules.

When players continue to act "special," there is shock in management when the behavior of these "special" players bite them in the ass.

In the corner, sits the coaching careers of quality coaches, who pleaded with upper management not to undermine their efforts to enforce the rules to The Answer or ship him out.

The fans have voted with their feet. Management made a ton of money by tolerating Iverson's failure to follow basic workplace rules. Now they will lose money because, not only is the star gone, the supporting cast of characters are mediocore at best.

The Sixers should make additional changes. With the departure of Iverson, Billy King and Ed Snyder should do the honorable thing and resign.

I slept through the second half, so did the Eagles

After spending most of my weekend in the office serving in the capacity of renovations foreman, I was pretty wiped out when I settled in to watch the game.

The first half showed some promise. The Eagles were up 21-3 when I drifted off to sleep. As an Eagles fan, I have been conditioned not to celebrate until the game is officially over. Matt Bryant's walk off record tying field goal still haughts me.

When I emerged from my afternoon slumber, the Eagles were ahead by two lousy points. Ugh. Brian Dawkin's fourth quarter interception ensured a victory. It wasn't pretty but really awful teams lose games like this one. The Eagles managed to put in the books as a win.

The illusion of a fearful smashmouth defense is gone. Jimmy Johnson has aged 20 years this season with this gang. Brian Dawkins cannot be everywhere on the field even though he chalked up his first sack of the seasson.

Aging former Eagles defensive hero, Troy Vincent now plays for Washington. The mere mention of his name had me longing for the good old days of the dangerous tandem of Vincent and the oh so fine Bobby Taylor.

Because I can't help myself, I remain optimistic for a playoff berth. However, I am not so far gone that I will schedule a Superbowl party with an Eagles theme.

Next up the Giants.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Philly Love

Jeff Garcia lead the Eagles to a victory over the struggling Panthers. He efficiently managed Andy Reid's sacred west coast offense Monday evening. What could have been a prime time debacle turned into a competitive contest.

Before the game started, ESPN did the obligatory snowballing of Santa Claus story. It happened 37 years ago. Give me a break. It was just snow.

Unfortunately, the fans did not disappoint. When Garcia finally got up after a brutal hit, Philly's finest showed their love by booing. Nice.

For a player who had no snaps until McNabb went down, he has done a tremendous job. He even went long, which was concern about his arm strength.

I am not making reservations for the Superbowl, but we could sneak into the playoffs on the back of Jeff Garcia. He played with T.O. so he can handle the Philly fans.

Bring on Washington!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

"What was the score?"

I had lunch with the folks today, a weekly ritual that I enjoy. Both of my parents are retired. It is my Dad's job to keep me informed of what he thinks is news worthy. It took me months to get him to stop watching the Devil news channel. The NY Daily News and the Star are his current alternative news sources. I am convinced that he reads this crap just to drive me crazy. He just laughs at me when he quotes something outrageous. So when he brings up a topic, I usually roll my eyes and ask him his source.

A group of college kids walked into to the local restaurant which prompted today's topic. "Did you hear about Lincoln's team?"
They scored over two hundred points.

Lincoln University in not known for sending athletes to ANY professional sport.

Apparently, they scored so many points, that the scoreboard did not have the capacity to add more than 201 points.

It was bad enough that there was such an imbalance in the final score. He shook his head in disbelief, when interviewed by a local reporter, the leading point scorer admitted that he could not add up his 21 three pointers in his head.

I suppose he is not majoring in math.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Another not so prime time game

After the debacle last week against the Colts, the Eagles will face the Panthers on MNF. The poor slob who scheduled this game was no doubt deactivated by the network.

The Panthers have looked as bad as the Eagles this season. John Madden and Al Michaels groaned very loudly after the first quarter of last Sunday's game. The game started and ended very ugly. I turned it off at half time.

Are you ready for some football? I am. I hope the Eagles are too.