Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Happy Birthday Mom

If you know me in real life, you know I love to tell stories. I get that from Mom. She was always telling stories. Maybe it was her Cajun French heritage. Maybe it was because she was born on April Fools Day; that fact itself can lead to unique personality characteristics, right?

Some of her best and most surprising ones were told around two years before she died. Her short-term memory was slowly deteriorating but her memory of younger days was crystal clear.

The most surprising story I heard was related to how she and Dad met. I knew it was at work, but during one of my visits in 2003 she told me how she got the job there. Short version: she met a friend on the street while shopping and the friend gave her the job lead.

She had stories about her youth on a farm near the Mississippi River, south of Baton Rouge. She and her sisters used to play in the cow dung. Her Dad owned a grocery store and he was the life of the social scene in their rural area. A book was even written about the extended family and there is a chapter on him.

Mom had stories about “the War”, the Depression, building the house we grew up in, her friends, her tennis dates with Dad. She told and retold family stories and sprinkled them with her opinions. She told the tale of a road trip to Mexico with her parents and some of the siblings in the 1940s; six people on a three-week Louisiana/Texas/Mexico vacation in a car with no air conditioning on the pre-Interstate road system.

I often think about Mom when I’m telling or writing a story. And of course I think about her on her birthday. April 1st is a hard date to forget. It may be April Fool’s Day but she was no fool.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Photo Randomness

Fooling around with the camera today.



Sunday, March 28, 2010

Shopping Mall Randomness

- Please don’t tell me plaid pants are popular again. Plaid shirts too. I hate plaid on me. I have acquired and discarded plaid at least twice in my life and I didn’t like it then either. But plaid dominated the young men’s section of Macy’s and Penney’s during my shopping trip yesterday.

- Please don’t tell me pastel green and pastel orange are popular again. Repeat the above paragraph but substitute the word pastel for the word plaid.

- If I had kids, they would NOT be running up and down the aisles of mall stores screaming.

- There seem to be as many kiosks in the mall open space as there are stores with doors. I could buy watches, cards, cell phones, jewelry, pretzels and a condo without ever setting foot in a store.

- I’m certain that Stevie Wonder and Ronnie Milsap designed the parking lot at my local mall.

- I’m trying to expand my wardrobe in a bit bolder direction, but I keep buying Eddie Bauer. Got some more at the outlet mall today. EB is not especially stylish but it isn’t out of style either.

- I’ve lost ten pounds since December but I still don’t quite qualify for ’slim fit.’

- Some items at the outlet mall cost more than similar items at traditional malls.

- I’m no fashion expert but I do know that it’s time to donate my Hawaiian shirts to Goodwill. All ten of them.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

My Music Odyssey Continues

Tower of Power has been around since the 1960s. I discovered them in the late 80s thanks to some music enthusiast friends. They’re still around. Last night was the first time I saw their live show and it is every bit as good as their recorded material.


The band includes a lead singer, drums, keyboard, guitar, bass, three saxophones and two trumpets; one of the trumpet players also plays trombone and a couple of the other guys also do some singing. They play a fusion of funk, soul and jazz with an obvious James Brown influence through many of their songs. Their music ranges from danceable funk to cool ballads to the occasional cover of a classic soul song.


They did have a few minor hits in the mid 70s, including “So Very Hard To Go,” “You’re Still A Young Man,” “Only So Much Oil In The Ground” (a funky environment song – who knew?), “You’ve Got To Funkifize” and “What Is Hip.”


A few lines from "What Is Hip" ...

You went and found you a guru
In an effort to find you a new you
And maybe even manage to raise your conscious level.
While you’re striving to find the right road
There’s one thing you should know
What is hip today might become passé.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Reform Randomness

A few more thoughts relating to the health care reform bill.

-No one has read the whole thing, including me. But here is some of what’s in it:

-No more lifetime limits on policies.

-No more cancelling policies because someone gets sick.

-No more denying coverage to people with medical problems.

-No more charging women more than men for coverage.

-No government-run health insurance plan.

-Yes, it will cost too much. So did the misguided Iraq war.

-Yes, health insurance will be required. Aren’t we already required to have auto insurance?

-Yes, backroom Medicaid deals were made for Nebraska and Louisiana. Although I think the government owes Louisiana something for screwing up response to Hurricane Katrina, I don’t think it should have had anything to do with this bill.

I remind those who say we should have slowed down or started over that health care reform has been on the table since 1993. That was f-ing slow enough!

The bill isn’t perfect but it’s better than the status quo. The reform bill will be reformed some more before implementation, so some of these issues will be resolved.

The partisan crap has to stop!

Those who have made death threats to Democrats who voted for the bill should be treated as terrorists. Men and women have died to give us the right to disagree and to express our opinions publicly; killing someone for their opinion is not to be tolerated, nor is threatening them. I wonder of the cowards who make those threats have the courage to use their real power to make change: their vote.

Our right to free speech allows a certain former Vice Presidential candidate to use gun sights on her web site to show that she has targeted certain House Democrats in her fight to remove them from office. That scares the shit out of me.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Health Care Reform … Oy!

It is pretty clear to me that our country needs health care reform, especially legislation that puts some humanitarian limits on abusive practices of some insurance companies. Will the bill that was passed Sunday do that? Who the hell knows? Certainly not Congress. I would be surprised if even one of the 100 Senators and 435 Representatives has read the whole thing.

Where can we, the lowly average citizens, find objective information on exactly what is in the bill? Certainly not from television networks. Fox News should just call themselves what they are: the RNC Network. MSNBC? The DNC Network. Diane Sawyer on ABC last night sounded more like a cheerleader for the bill than an objective news anchor. Is CNN objective? Maybe, maybe not. Radio talk show hosts? Don’t get me started on that one. My opinions on that subject are in an earlier post.

Clearly the bill was voted along party lines. Backroom deals and fear of not being reelected had more influence on individual votes on both sides than what was in the bill or what American citizens want. It just might be time for total government reform. All 535 legislators should be replaced with legislators who actually vote based on the wishes of their constituents and not based on party politics.

Republicans need to stop claiming that every time a Democrat suggest something that it’s coming from Satan. Democrats need to stop being so smug and claiming that Republicans have no good ideas. The best answers to these questions always come from a hybrid of multiple viewpoints. That is what this country is built on.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Music Randomness 1.0


My latest CD acquisitions include these three:

Sade – Soldier of Love.
Nigerian-born British citizen Helen Folasade Adu, better known as Sade (pronounced shah-DAY), hadn’t release any music for a decade, but this new CD is as good as her others. Moody and sexy.
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Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band – Greatest Hips, Vol. 2 Live
A funky ‘horn band’ based in Asheville, NC. Sounds like they have a fun live show.
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Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra – Tchaikovsky Symphonies 4, 5 and 6
Rock on, Peter T!! Evgeny Mravinsky, Conductor from 1938 till 1988, keeps your music alive and kicking.


Live music in my future:

Tower of Power – State Theatre in Falls Church, VA this Friday (March 26th). A horn-driven soul/funk band from the 70s and 80s that’s still around and still sounding funky. Got my tickets, convinced a co-worker to share the funk.
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Bon Jovi – Still working on getting tickets to this one, March 29th in DC.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

One Dance Step For Man, One Giant Leap ...

On July 20, 1969, astronaut Buzz Aldrin became the 2nd human to set foot on the moon, minutes after Neil Armstrong took the first step.

The same Buzz Aldrin just celebrated his 80th birthday.

That same Buzz Aldrin will be on Dancing With The Stars this season.



I have two things to say about that:

1) WTF?

2) do you think he'll Moon Walk?



I'm all for older people pushing the envelope for creative aging, but this boldly goes where no one has, uhhh should go.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Regrets? Maybe

Blogspot memes and Facebook surveys often ask the question, “Do you have any regrets?” I always answer, “No.” But I’ve been thinking about that one lately and decided that maybe I do have one regret: no children.

Add up the marriages and near marriages in my life and you’d see that I’ve had plenty of opportunity to start a family. It was specifically part of the plan twice, but relationships failed and plans changed.

I’ve been told I’d be a great parent, but the people who said that didn’t know me back when fatherhood was imminent. I’m both sensible and flexible now; I was neither in my twenties. I can think and over-think this matter all day but the end result is the same: I don’t know what kind of parent I’d have been and it is highly unlikely I’ll ever find out.

The regret part of this equation is partly idealistic and partly selfish. The idealistic aspect is that even though I would have made some of the same mistakes all parents make (kids don’t come with instruction manuals), my solid core values of respect for others and honesty might have produced some pretty special children who would have grown up to be special adults.

The selfish aspect is that when I become old and needy, my adult children would be around to help me when I need them the most. I won’t have that. Sometimes I regret that.

I’m certainly not the only childless Boomer. I have relatives in their 50s and 60s who don’t have children. I have friends in their 40s and 50s who don’t and won’t have kids. I’m not sure how they feel about that but I owe it to myself to find out.

I may be decades away from having to deal with this, but it’s never too early to plan for it.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Kid Logic and Muddy Floods

Kid logic says, “Why take a bath? You’re just going to get dirty again.”

My adult version might be, “Why wash your car? It’s just going to get dirty again.”

I took my car to the car wash two days ago for the first time since the blizzards last month and it came out clean, shiny and looking like the luxury car I really wanted when I bought this one two years ago. Today, however, it is raining; pouring actually. The nearby hilly highway is more like a river, with flowing streams of water and mud cutting paths across every bend; and I just splashed through every puddle.

Now my black car is tan and black, but not in that cool two-tone look of 1950s era cars. Ragged streaks of sloppy mud paint random design across the doors, roof and wheel areas.

More adult logic: Hmm, the muddy tan does match the color of the leather seats.

More kid logic: don’t wash the car again.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

You’ll Cry But It’s Worth It

The single thing I am most proud of in my media job is the tiny role I play in a huge annual effort to raise money for the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Our radiothon is going on today and tomorrow (Thursday 3/11 and Friday 3/12, 5am – 7pm EST both days).

Their work with research and care for children with catastrophic illnesses is amazing and they were recently ranked as highest in trust by a Harris Interactive survey. I’ve seen the facility three times and have met many patients and parents. Yes, children die. And yes, children survive. Sit in the lobby on ‘baseball cap day’ and watch how much joy and hope there is in that place.

During the radiothon you’ll hear stories mixed in with powerful country songs. You’ll hear appeals from sincere and sometimes emotional DJs as well as children who have been patients there. You’ll hear from some DC area parents whose children survived. You’ll also hear from parents whose children didn’t make it. Those parents come back as phone bank volunteers year after year because St. Jude’s gave them just a little more time with their kids.

If you listen, you might cry a little but it is worth it. This is as real as radio gets. And a phone call or a web visit from you can make a difference.

If a country station in your area is doing a St. Jude Country Cares event this month, make a donation. If they already did one and you missed it, call mine and become a Partner In Hope.

Click here to donate or to learn more.

Click Listen Live on that page to hear the radiothon. (or click here)

Thank you.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Saving Henry

Inspiration comes in many shapes, sizes and ages. One of the most inspirational people I have ever encountered is a boy named Henry. I know his mother and she just wrote a book about the short but extraordinary life of her firstborn and his positive attitude in the face of the rare, catastrophic illness that led to his death just past his 7th birthday.

I never met Henry, but after reading half of the book I feel like I know him. He apparently was smiling, happy, gregarious and caring, just like his parents. Mom says he lit up any room he entered. For much of his brief life he didn’t seem sick. The diagnosis of his extremely rare disease came within days of his birth, so fanconi anemia dominated his life but did not interfere with it. He lived a full life and was, as I said, an inspiration.



Laurie Strongin had her first ‘author reading’ this afternoon at Politics & Prose Bookstore in Washington DC. It was my first as an attendee and I’m glad I went.


I’ve known Laurie for about 3 years and I’ve interviewed her twice on one of my radio shows, a year ago about her Hope For Henry Foundation and two weeks ago about the Book “Saving Henry: A Mother’s Journey.” She is a great guest not just because the story is so compelling but because she tells it with ego-free grace and confidence. Click here to hear my interview with her, of better still, look for her soon on Good Morning America and other national television shows.


Saving Henry may seem like it would be a sad story because you already know how it ends. But it is a joyous story because of what we can all learn about living life to the fullest, even of the teacher of that lesson was only a child.

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Hope For Henry Foundation

Saving Henry: A Mother's Journey

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Do You Matter?

Did you ever hear a song that is so powerful and real that it reaches out of the radio, slaps you in the face and makes you a little teary-eyed the 1st time you hear it all the way through?

I had that experience on the way to work this morning. Matt Kennon's "The Call" is a relatively new country song. There are 2 or 3 stories in the song in which the character feels that maybe their life doesn’t matter much to anyone. Each ends with a phone call from a friend that profoundly and positively affects the person’s life by assuring them that their life does matter to someone. One character in the song was on the verge of suicide and a call from a friend asking him if he’s coming fishing ‘cause it wouldn’t be the same wihout ya’ changed his mind. Another character was about to have an abortion and a call from her boyfriend resulted in her having the baby and them getting married.

I have never been suicidal (or pregnant) and I do know I matter to some people because they have told me so. But that song still had a profound effect on me. I really did cry when I heard it. My emotional valleys and peaks have been lower and higher than usual for the past year, so things hit me harder.

The song ends by saying if you’re thinking about someone or someone matters to you, reach out and tell them.

What you say may seem so small
But they might be glad you called
So make the call


... or the text or the email. It might really make a difference. At the very least, it’ll be a nice ‘hey I’m thinking about ya’ surprise.
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Hit this link if you want to hear the song.