Saturday, October 31, 2009


I am one to read the newspaper on a daily basis as my work schedule allows. A great deal of ink is devoted to politicians and what they have to say. It is by nature what their jobs entail, they speak out on a variety of issues. Much of that is solely for the purpose of getting elected again. It is what they do, it is who they are.

My family has been in the government business for most of my life. The difference is none has ever been a politician. Beloved Father was at one time in the sixties a Ward Committeeman, whatever that is (was). I'm sure N of 50 or The Mustache will let me know. Others have been the doers of government, the bureaucratic red tape as it were. Politicians are elected to the head office and then get re-elected and mostly move on.

The question that has been gnawing at me is this: what qualifies these elected officials to run the offices they have? One family member having invested many years in state government work has seen countless 'heads' come and go. But again, what qualifies them to run this bureaucracy? Most politicians are relatively intelligent but does that give them the expertise to run a state office? How much training does one need to oversee a state's Treasurer's Office or Secretary of State when three years ago they were on a city council? After two years in a four year stint they normally begin running for their next office which is viewed as a step up and the campaign begins again.

Are they really working in the best interests of us, those that elected them or are they just trying to get the next best job. If we really wanted efficient government agencies they should be run by someone who has experience and not 'rent-a-politician'. If newspapers want more to write about they should look deeper into operations of government and stop covering only the politicians.

By the results we get, it's obvious you really don't have to be qualified to run anything.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A tale of two

In life one does not always have control of the cards they are dealt. Often people must overcome tremendous odds to have any chance of success or to even bring their lives up to 'average numbers' as measured by the charts (depending on whose numbers you choose to believe). I believe most who work hard typically will overcome most obstacles. Life is not fair by any stretch of the imagination. It is the internal devices that drive most to succeed.

What frustrates the average person is someone who has built in advantages and does not make full use of them. And believe me, I'm a very typical and average person by the numbers; height, weight (cough), income and status. My siblings and I were blessed with parents that cared and loved us and gave us discipline and guidance. When we underperformed we were told about it in no uncertain terms. They didn't expect us to be perfect but they did expect effort. Those who succeed even with advantages should be looked to with some amount of respect for using those blessings to help those around them and/or make the world a better place.

As an example, let us take two 'imagined' characters. Let's call one, hhhmm, 'Paris', and let's call one 'Ivanka'. Now 'Paris' and 'Ivanka' both come from very well-to-do families with generational money. Both are celebrities and are in the news from time to time. Now, 'Paris', even after having attended prestigious schools most of her life is a flighty, air-headed bimbo who couldn't string together a sentence with multi-syllable words if you wrote them down for her. She has succeeded in making a name for herself by being the butt of jokes and making an 'interesting' video. Her opulent spending on unnecessary trinkets with no redeeming social value should do nothing but further her family's embarrassment. Unbelievably, that lifestyle has only grown her fame. She is famous only for having a famous name. 'Ivanka', with the same built-in advantages is educated, well-spoken, personable and possesses a high degree of business acumen. She sits on the board of companies, albeit a direct result of her lineage, but accounts for herself and is a polished individual. She is not flashy as celebrities go but has earned her own degree of success. There is a path laid out and a direction to follow. Obviously someone cared enough to intervene in her life.

In this star-watching, image conscious world who would you rather have your child emulate? If you want to be proud of your offspring the choice should be easy. Make them put away the glitter and the rhinestone purse and pick up a book lest they be bound to suffer the same fate.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Through the eyes of a child

Children are a great source of entertainment.

Granted, they are also annoying, aggravating, infuriating, hard-headed and contrary, but on the whole they can be lots of fun, if you let them just be children while you can.

Most of the entertainment value of a child comes from how their n=mind works, in hearing what they say as they begin to develop their thoughts and see how they perceive the world. Looking at something through the eyes of a child can be quite illuminating.

When Wonderful Daughter was 3 or so, she and I were sitting in a McDonald's (horrors! some consider that child abuse nowadays)watching traffic pass by on a busy street as we ate our meals. She exclaimed, to the amusement of those nearby, "Daddy! Look! That car is jumping over that truck!". Heads turned quickly to see a car on a hook being towed. Through the eyes of a child.

A few minutes later (and this being Christmastime) she turned to me while I was driving and said, "Daddy, watch out!". I told her OK, I would be careful, and thought no more of it. She repeated the same comment shortly thereafter, and again I reassured her. When we returned home I mentioned her comments to my wife, who told me that Wonderful Daughter wanted me to sing "Santa Claus is coming to town". When I expressed puzzlement, she started to sing, "You'd better watch out...". Through the eyes of a child.

Handsome Son was an active young lad, and often wore himself out playing. It was not an unusual request for him to come and ask us, "Can I go to bed now?", a request we never turned down!

Dearest Kelley was two or thereabouts when she was walking along the dock while we were on vacation, leaned over to peer into the water, and fell in fully clothed. I jumped in and managed to catch her as she came back up, and hauled her out. She was crying but we tried to tell her it was OK, she was safe. It turned out she was crying because not only were her clothes all wet, but she was afraid she had ruined her new tennis shoes!

I am having fun watching and listening to World's Greatest Grandson #1 (WGGS#1) as he tries to make sense of the world. And his sister, World's Greatest Granddaughter #1 (WGGD#1) just turned one, and she is striving mightily to catch up to him and do everything he does. She is jabbering away constantly, and one of these days real words will be coming out.

It is one of the great mysteries of life how a child's brain can process those weird sounds we call words, figure out how to approximately say them, refine it, and develop meaning and sentence structure. I wish I could say that process somehow worked for me as I attempted to learn French and Spanish, but, sadly, no.

WGGS#1 has always been a voluble child, doing such things as narrating his life as he acts it out. Something as simple as walking across the room would be a reason for commentary, as he would simply say, "Walking!" while he was doing so. Last week he was in the doctor's office ona sick visit for his sister. The doctor was wearing a michigan shirt, and Wonderful Daughter told WGGS#1 what the doctor was wearing. He promptly said, "Go Bucks!", which was probably the first time the doctor was schooled by an almost-three-year-old.

Last year we were eating at a local restaurant and, being a polite child, he kept saying "thank you" to the waiter whenever something was brought to the table. He was not getting any response, and stared at the waiter, who looked askance at him. Wonderful Daughter finally had to tell the waiter that WGGS#1 was waiting for him to reply, "you're welcome". He did so rather sheepishly.

Last week he was helping Mommy make pumpkin muffins. She turned on the mixer and heard: "Come on bowl! Let's rock it!" while spinning the bowl. "Wooooo!"

I am looking forward to hearing what he and his sister have to say as they grow. It should be quite fun!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

They call me Mizrahi

Well, actually they don't. I'm about the last person you would look to for fashion advise. My wardrobe consists of work uniforms, a drawer of tee shirts, a handful of golf style shirts, a few random sweaters for winter, three white dress shirts and one suit. Not much there but I tend to look respectable when I go out or travel. My shoes tend to have the same limitations; one black dress, two tennis (one of those pairs are reserved for workouts), two brown casual shoes and a black pair needed for work. Other than my work shoes that are new I likely haven't bought a pair of casual shoes in five years. They are however clean and polished as I take after my father and like the look of polished shoes. They're sort of snappy. Given all that I'm still two steps up on Graybeard in the fashion game.

My Beloved often says I look nice when we are to leave our abode. That usually makes me feel really good. This past week as we were traveling I surveyed the surrounding gate at the Philly airport. I noticed a middle-aged man standing in the Southwest Airlines lineup with his family. First was the wife wearing the current casual fashions and comfortable enough for traveling. Next came teen daughter who was suited similar to mom. And then, there he was; dad, decked out in his finest two dollar flip-flops, (at least he wasn't wearing socks), gray sweat pants cut off at the knee, and his crowning achievement, a white tee shirt. Not a stylish T mind you; underwear.

Now, I'm old enough to remember when traveling, specifically flying was thought to be an event and folk dressed the part. That however, is no longer the norm. Travel can be a rigorous affair and one needs to be comfortable but there is still no point in looking like a slob who just crawled our of bed. I'm surprised the daughter wasn't standing fifteen feet away sneering the whole time as teens are wont to do. And where was wife in this debacle? Any woman worth her salt should have turned husband back at the door and told him to put on something proper. I know mine would have as would Nof50's.

There is simply no excuse for being in public looking like a total slob. He has denigrated the men of the middle-aged world, the true icons of fashion. We sit on our perch, too old for the current head-gear fashions and saggy-ass jeans down to our knees and too young for black socks with white shoes and a white belt. I say to you, slob-guy: take pride in yourself or at least don't embarrass your family in public, unless they are just totally used to that by now.

And you thought I was Abe Vigoda.

Friday, October 16, 2009


I was saddened by an article I read this week calling President Bush a warmonger among other things during his time in office. Now, I am neither a Bush hater nor a broad Bush supporter. He had both failings and successes as president, but to call him a warmonger is just not accurate. Well, he put us in a war you say.

WWOD? Yes, what would Obama do? George Bush found himself in an unenviable position on September 11, 2001. The U.S. had just suffered it's most horrific loss of life on home soil since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. It's amazing just how quickly our memories fade. This country was shocked and then outraged. The president did the only thing he could do, he struck out to defend this country. Would President Obama have acted differently? My guess is not substantially, and if he would have done nothing he would have opened this country up to sustained repeated attacks. You can't take a sucker-punch in the mouth and defend yourself by singing 'cum-by-ya' with your enemies.

It seems President Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize simply because he was not George Bush. He is now hailed as changing the face of American politics and foreign policy. Applications for nominations were due two weeks after he assumed the office. At that point in time he had not affected policy in any way much less in a substantial way. It is a slap in the face to all the past recipients of that award to bestow it upon someone who has done nothing. He doesn't deserve it any more than I do. I could pen great passages of how this country should handle foreign policy and send them all over the world. But would that mean I actually accomplished something? In time he may establish himself as a leader to be hailed but at this point he has done nothing more than any other newly elected leader of any country.

The committee that awards the Nobel Peace Prize has lessened the value of the honor and shown it has no true meaning on the world stage if indeed it ever had any meaning or value at all.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Open mouth, insert 3M

I have noticed over time how the culture has changed from generation to generation. Now I'm sure our parents said the same thing as I grew older and took my place in the world. But I think as we grow older we morph into our parents, we often take on their mannerisms and thought processes, retain many of the values that they held and to some extent become them to a degree.

But generations do change and social habits evolve for good or bad. One bad change is a lack of a filtering process when in public. I was in the hallway of a hospital today to visit my daughter. I was reading something on a bulletin board across from an occupied restroom when a girl walked past. She was either late teens or early twenties and on seeing the door to the restroom closed she blurted out "where am I supposed to poop?" Thanks for sharing but that's something I really didn't want to know.

I am by no means a prude or one to cringe at the mention of bodily functions but this young lady obviously has no personal filter between her brain and her mouth. I don't want to know everything everyone around me is thinking or feeling. As I work with the public I notice this on a regular basis hearing personal comments that have no need to be expressed in public. It's called 'keeping it internal' and 'manners' and it makes for a nicer world all around.

They are running tests on my daughter and she should be released within a day or so. And for the record, if I'm ever in the hospital I want the bed closest to the window. I want light and lots of it. I am a creature of the light. When it's time to turn off the lights I want to sleep looking out on the lights of the city not drawn behind a curtain in a death pall. The inner bed is so depressing.

Friday, October 2, 2009

I am Abe Vigoda

We start our lives as smooth as my grandson's dimpled tuckus. We are pristine and flawless. As men, in our teens the sprinkling of hair begins to emerge and we consider ourselves now fit to be called a man. We pick up that razor for the first time and the transformation begins.

Now, I come from a rather hairy clan, although we don't feel the need to shave our backs. We have just enough manly mop to be masculine, debonair and handsome all at once. In the seventies, manly chest hair was it vogue. Yes, we were stylin'. Some of us could even get by with the seventies moustache. One of us still has it. (You know, the one that makes you look like a porn star). But, back then it was cool. I think only Tom Selleck can pull that one off now.

Then things changed. The population started growing hairless. Less and less men were seen with hair dappled across their chests. Then women began wanting that baby smoothness and the metrosexual began to evolve. But what about the rest of us?

We, simply grow older. We evolve with the times and stay combed, brushed and shaven. My personal lineage has always maintained a clean and neat appearance. It is something we have always had. Then, it happens.

As I slipped in front of the mirror the other night, a big hairy fur ball looked back. I had begun sprouting wild eyebrows. You know the kind, like a tamer version of Andy Rooney. I sighed, and three feet of nose hair blew in the wind. As I gasped and turned my head, I saw enough hair popping from my ears that I thought Greg Brady had moved in. My only saving grace was that it was white and couldn't be seen from afar. Hair was growing from places God never intended.

It was then I realized every man's shaking fear; I had become Abe Vigoda!