Friday, October 28, 2011

THE GHOST OF HALLOWEEN PAST

This is Ms. Fanny with a Halloween story.  Once upon a time children—and sometimes parents—looked forward to the yearly ritual of Halloween.  They ran through their neighborhoods, many in homemade costumes in search of candy, fruit and even money.  They swapped stories of which houses had the best treats and which cheapskates to avoid.
Parents stood on the sidewalks chatting with each other as they watched their little ones race from house to house.  They also watched out for the pranksters that soaped windows when they didn’t get treats.  The point is it was fun and relatively safe, and then one Halloween the wind shifted,
Instead of gobbling candy as soon as they got it, kids had to take their treats to fire stations and hospitals to have it x-rayed for razor blades and other objects.  The boogie man was not just on the movie screen but it popped up more and more in real life.
Yep, things have changed.  Heck, I remember liking scary movies like, House on the Haunted Hill, Night of the Living Dead, The Tingler, and just about anything starring Vincent Price. Yes I know, by today’s standards, those movies may be corny but there was suspense and there was enough left to your imagination, that you were really scared.  You finished the movies laughing about the things that scared you, rather than vomiting from the gore.
What do we have today?  Blood, guts, torture and sex is about all you’ll see on the big screen these days, all of which is motivated by the constant quest to make money, of course.  If a movie makes a dollar, then by all means do it over and over.  So we’ve started having cookie-cutter movies that show every gory detail for those too dumb to figure it out, movies like Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.  Filmmakers had an ‘aha’ moment and made 75 more of each of these movies—or at least it seems like it.  I’m sure the next franchise will feature movies like Jason, Jr. and the Grandkids, Freddy’s Dead—Again and Saw and Saw Some More.
But don’t mind me.  I’m just musing about the good old days when I could frighten the brats in my neighborhood nearly to death and laugh about it the next day.

Friday, October 21, 2011

POLITICAL POSSIBILITIES

Hello folks, it's Bea this week and I'm sitting here thinking about how difficult it is to be a political animal when politics has become so nasty. These days politicians are thought of as scum and the reputation has been earned honestly.  The American public couldn't rate the members of  the U.S. Congress any lower than it does presently.  Yet, I'm still interested in politics.  I still think that there is hope for America's politicians.

Before I retired I was an administrator in city government with a lot of political contacts and connections.  Over my many decades in dealing with politicians from the county level to the federal level, I can tell you that there were times  when hope looked dim for some of the nitwits.

Oh, I'm not saying that everyone who goes into politics is crooked. I still like to believe that most people who go into public service do so with the best intent.  It's just when some of them get there they get a taste of power, even at the local level, it becomes addictive and too often gets out of control.

I don't know the statics, but I wonder how many members of the U.S. Congress enter their positions on shaky financial ground but leave their terms of office wealthy.  How can that happen?  Well the "benefits" of being in public office can be very rewarding.  There are the contacts that can be made and the inside information that can be gathered that can prove to be very lucrative, and if you don't believe that some of them don't take advantage of those "benefits", then you've got a lot to learn.

What we need is term limits for these suckers! I don't mean the 2 to 6 year terms that they presently serve, but limiting those terms to running once or twice, like the President of the United States, and then it's over. That should be long enough to do something effective while in office, and if they don't then maybe the next one will.  No more sitting in Congress 30 or 40 years until you're so old that you're moldy and so are your ideas. Maybe what could emerge would be the birth of a new type of politician--one who really cares about the people that they are elected to serve.

Let's take some time to muse on that!    

Friday, October 14, 2011

THE PASTOR’S ASS REVISITED

This is Connie Palmer.  You may have read articles by my friend, Hattie, who has made her opinions known several times.  Hattie has quite a problem worrying about how she is being judged by others.  I’ve tried to tell her over and over again that the best way to live life is to be satisfied with who she is.  “Hattie,” I said, “worrying about what others think will be the death of you.”  Then, I ran across an old story that illustrated my point perfectly.  I don’t know who originally wrote it but its good advice for a lot of us.
THE PASTOR’S ASS
The pastor entered his donkey in a race and it won.  The pastor was so pleased with the donkey that he entered it in the race again and it won again.
The local paper read:  PASTOR’S ASS OUT FRONT.
The Bishop was so upset with this kind of publicity that he ordered the pastor not to enter the donkey in another race.
The next day, the local paper headline read:  BISHOP SCRATCHES PASTOR’S ASS.
This was too much for the bishop, so he ordered the pastor to get rid of the donkey.  The pastor decided to give it to a nun in a nearby convent.
The local paper, hearing of the news, posted the following headline the next day:  NUN HAS BEST ASS IN TOWN.
The bishop fainted.  He informed the nun that she would have to get rid of the donkey, so she sold it to a farmer for $10.
The next day the paper read:  NUN SELLS ASS FOR $10.
This was too much for the bishop, so ordered the nun to buy back the donkey and lead it to the plains where it could run wild.
The next day the headlines read:   NUN ANNOUNCES HER ASS IS WILD AND FREE.
The bishop was buried the next day.
The moral of the story is...being concerned about public opinion can bring you much grief and misery... and even shorten your life.  So be yourself and enjoy life...Stop worrying about everyone else’s ass and you’ll be a lot happier and live longer!
Muse on that, Hattie.

Friday, October 7, 2011

BRAIN FART: HELP! I’M DROWNING IN EXPERTS

Hello, folks, this is Miss Fanny here, and I’m so mad that I can spit!  These damn pundits or punk heads or talking mouths or whatever they’re called are getting on my nerves.  Everybody is an expert on everything.  Everybody’s got something to say about everything thing and I have just about had it.
Every time I turn on the TV there’s some so called experts with their lips flapping.  One of the things that really bugs me is when they’re talking about us being in a recession, over and over and over and over again.   I get it!  Nobody’s got any money or jobs except the rich fat cats who are to blame for the mortgage crisis that helped start the recession in the first play.    Then there are the news programs that cover famous trials.  The parade of “experts” making comments on the defendant, the prosecutor, the judge, the jury, the bailiff, the court d├ęcor etc. etc. etc., goes on and on.  I’m telling you that I don’t care!  All I care about in a trial is if the person on trial is declared innocent or guilty.  That’s all that matters.
Just as annoying are the “experts” making comments on those entertainment shows.   Usually these nameless people, who according to the information underneath their faces are usually the editors of this or that magazine (aka gossip sheets) deliver these breathless tidbits about celebrity marriages, divorces and plans for the future, and I’ll bet a million dollars that very few of them, if any, have ever met or spoken to any of the celebrities whose business they seem to know so much about.  Give me a break!
So fed up with seeing and hearing these so called experts on everything on TV, I decided to start reading the newspaper more.  After all, they’re rapidly disappearing and I figured that I better read a few of them while they’re still around.  In the past the news was pretty reliable and fairly detailed, so here I was expecting to be free of the so called “experts” in print, and lo and behold I run across this headline:  “Many Contemporary Christians are Pious Parrots”.  Say What?!  Pious Parrots?  
The headline alone made me mad.  I’m a Christian and I’m being compared to a bird? Then under that it read:  “They repeat trendy phrases they don’t understand or distort”.  I was so hot after that I barely noticed that the article was written by somebody named John Blake and that it came from CNN, which I know is the TV news show. 
Among the many things that the article said was that many Christians don’t know what they’re talking about when they say things like to “name and claim” something and after getting it announce “I’m highly blessed and favored.”  It said that Christians are just repeating these words like “pious parrots”.
Some Episcopal theologian—which is an undercover way of saying expert—named Marcus Borg, said that “he heard so many people misusing terms such as “born again” and “salvation” that he wrote a book about the practice.  Am I surprise?  Don’t most experts write books?
I won’t even go into all that the article said, some of which I don’t agree with and some of which made sense.  All I know is that I’m sick and tired of experts.  If I remember correctly it was experts who said that the Titanic couldn’t sink, the Hindenburg couldn’t crash and probably never would have considered that the Twin Towers could ever fall.
I think I’ll just muse on that for a while. 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

EDUCATION: WHAT’S THE POINT?

I recently I went back to college to take a few courses that were of interest to me.  Believe it or not, a friend asked me why.  His exact words were, “Beatrice Bell, you’re in your sixties so why would a woman your age go back to college?”  I chalked the question up as one being asked by a fool. Then one of my grandchildren heard about my going back to school and my grandchild told me that it was the dumbest thing that I’ve ever done.  Passionately, he tried to convince me how pointless it was to go to college at any age. 
He cited the statistic that the United States’ unemployment rate was 9.1%.   He said that companies are laying off workers at an alarming rate.  He further pointed out that the 401 retirement accounts of many workers have taken a serious beating to the point that people are wondering if they’ll be able to retire at all.  He rambled on about how instead of senior citizens having a nest egg in their golden years, they’re ending up with egg on their faces.  (Ain’t he precious?)  It was at this point I wanted to tell him to get out of my face and sit down. 
That’s when he hit me with the bombshell.  “Grandma,” he said, “why should I waste time and money going to school when there are no jobs out there.”  I finally got it.  Mr. Know-it-all had been working up the nerve to tell me that he wasn’t going to college, and his argument was that not only would he and his parents spend thousands of dollars on a “worthless” diploma, but he could be saddled with well over $40,000 in debt and no job to pay it off.  “Have you ever thought about that,” he asked smugly?
I put on my best grandmother face and sweetly explained to him that a college education never guaranteed anybody a good job.  “It does, however, increase the likelihood of employment,” I told him.  “It gives you options for your future and makes you an appealing candidate for a job.” 
I reminded him that according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a person with a Bachelor degree generally earns $51,000 a year or almost double the $27,915 a year that he could earn with a high school diploma. As for the astronomical cost of school, everybody doesn’t have go to an Ivy League school or even one of the Big Ten colleges.  I reminded the boy that in the city where we lived, there were fourteen—count ‘em—fourteen community colleges to choose from.
As for the cost of going to college, we did a Google search together and found enough scholarships, grants, and contests to make your head swim.  “But I don’t qualify for any of those!” he complained.  “My grades aren’t that good.”
I told him that he might not have a perfect grade point average but he still might qualify.  “Oh, and miracles of miracles” I said, “First you have to actually apply for a scholarship or grant.  If your grades are at the bottom of the class, that’s a definite problem, so study.”   Actually, I knew that the boy would have to be pushed to do that as well as write an essay to apply for grants or scholarships because he’s kind of lazy.  I read that a lot of free money is not awarded because the students are too lazy to write an essay.  I had to explain to him that, yes, even in the computer age, employers expect you to be able to string enough sentences together to form a cohesive thought.
I went on to enlighten him on the fact that a person didn’t have to get a four-year degree.  Even an associate’s degree could open up more opportunities, and having a plan for the future could help a lot.  Attending college just to have the experience of a 4-year party binge is not the object.  Knowing what fields are losing jobs and avoiding those might work.  Also it would be wise to aim for a degree in fields that are gaining jobs.
A blog entitled “Why College” written by Terrell Halaska and Kristin Conklin, who are partners of HCM Strategies, a Washington, DC public policy advocacy consulting firm, notes that in 2009 and 2010, an average of 20,000 jobs a month have been added in the health field.
So why college?  The answer is more options, additional knowledge and a broader future. I looked at my grandchild and reminded him that life is ever evolving and when an opportunity rolled around, he wouldn’t be able to seize the opportunity if he hadn’t prepared for it. Who knows what new jobs might come along, but would he be ready for them?  Besides, for him, college is two years away and he will be going. 
With that I gave my last piece of advice, “Get your behind in your room and study!”  And he could muse on that for the next two years!