Sunday, January 31, 2010

The FFRF vs. The USPS

I remember a very funny piece of footage of Jay Leno’s monologue at a White House Correspondence Dinner during the Reagan presidency. Nancy Reagan had just been given international recognition for some program she had introduced and Leno said: ‘I’d like to congratulate Nancy Reagan for winning The Humanitarian of the Year Award. I’m glad she beat out that conniving little bitch Mother Teresa.’ The inference, of course, that brought the house down was the generally aloof and high-toned attitude that emanated from Mrs. Reagan and the monumentally humble character of The Good Sister Teresa. Well, it appears as if we’re going to snub this poor, departed woman once again. I was just edified by an article regarding the protestations by The Freedom From Religion Foundation toward the proposed issuance of a new US postage stamp bearing the image – and surely honoring – Mother Teresa. Apparently the USPS just unveiled its newly designed stamps for 2010 – I believe there are ten of them – and this one isn’t sitting well with our atheist pals. The article goes on to explain that the USPS has a list of a dozen or so regulations concerning that which can be lauded on a stamp and one of them includes language that they may not honor or celebrate religious organizations or individuals. So, I guess the non-believers have some foundation for their pushback. Nonetheless, these protests by the FFRF are harsh, over-bearing, insensitive, selfish, ugly, small, offensive, dogmatic and antithetical to the spirit of the recognition. Be she Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or atheist Mother Teresa was an exemplary human being having demonstrated with her life a heart for humanity, a love for children, a disdain for poverty and the humility to go about her work with little fanfare. In other words, as few others in my lifetime, she should not only be recognized and honored – her story should serve as a template for all of us. Interestingly, the FFRF has not protested (nor do they plan to) the prior issuance and continued use of stamps bearing the images of either Malcom X or Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.: one the voice of The Nation of Islam and the other a minister. Both were certainly leaders of humanity with significant followers; both approached their work from a spiritual platform and both can surely be associated with ‘religion.’ The spokesperson for this hollow and bold organization responded to that charge by stating that, ‘King was just a minister.’ Soon the remaining sane citizens of our country are going to rise up and say, ‘That’s it!’ I do hope it is peaceful and I do hope it is successful. This continued, subversive undermining of our most sacred values must come to an end. To stop the celebration of such a devoted life is sickening, at least. Oh, by the way: the FFRF’s suggestion is that their base purchase the new Katherine Hepburn stamp as she was a professed atheist. Oh my. Oh my.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Living Hand to Mouse

Hello. My name is Thom and I’m addicted to my computer and The Internet. ‘Hi Thom.’ This will surely become a nightly exchange at some future 12-step program for techno junkies. I may start a program myself in our living room. I’ve got to quit. I started documenting and analyzing my time on the computer everyday and it’s scary. I’m on it all day doing one thing or another. It keeps me from living, it keeps me from working and it keeps me focused on things that are very unnecessary. I check my e-mail first thing every morning. Then I go to my online banking site. Then I check out Facebook and then I go to my own web site. I surf to the web sites of both of my jobs and then I check my e-mail again. I have six e-mail accounts, which is absurd. They all have different reasons for existing although I shall not share that information with you for obvious reasons. (I used to check my investments but I no longer have investments because I am a songwriter and we don’t make money any more – we only withdraw the money from our IRA’s that was saved during the years when we did make money. Don’t get me started.) I have a handful of web sites that I go to everyday – bloggers I like, a few religious writers I enjoy, the Bible on-line, a couple music sites and a few organizations with which I am bonded. I am addicted. I have no idea what my life was like prior to The Internet. I’ll bet it was pleasant, relaxed, full of free time and thought provoking. After a morning on my computer I want to rip off my clothes and run naked in the streets. I feel empty-headed, stupid, small minded, unhealthy and wired. But then I return and start all over again: Has anyone written me back? What is so-and-so’s latest update? Is the world really going to end in 2012 according to the Inca calendar? Has KVD sent out his Curmudgeon in the Wry? What’s going on in Washington? It’s awful. I want to quit but I can’t. Guess I’ll have a drink.

The Hardest Thing

I have faced and had to do some very hard things in my life. We all have. But yesterday was more than I could take. It came in the form of vacuum-packed salami. When I go to the grocery I always buy lunch meat from the butcher counter where the employees pull out the rolls of roast beef, ham, turkey and cheese from the big windowed cases and then slice a pound or so, wrap it in white paper and place it in a plastic bag. It is fresh, sliced as requested and very easy to access once you get it home. When Sarah goes to the grocery she always buys pre-packaged lunch meat like Oscar Mayer Bologna or salami. Those packages are very easy to deal with. But recently Sarah has discovered these vacuum-packed brands. She doesn’t eat lunchmeat – or very rarely – so she is unaware of the tremendous physical challenges facing an average citizen when attempting to open these packages. So yesterday I opened the fridge and grabbed what I needed to make a sandwich for lunch and encountered a newly purchased package of salami. It had one of those zipper-type openers. I tried for a minute to rip the perforated plastic, as it seemed designed to work. I could not. I then opened a drawer hoping to find the scissors I try to keep in there for such circumstances. They were gone – they’d probably been gone since just before Christmas when someone was wrapping presents. So I tried to cut through the plastic with the rather dull knife I had in my hand. This did not work. I started getting really pissed off and let off some verbal steam. No one else was home except our two Golden Retrievers who ran from the kitchen as if hell itself had broken through the floor beneath my feet. I then resorted to the age-old device of placing the package between my incisors and ripping it open like an animal. It was too tough. Hell broke through again and the dogs ran into our walk-in closet. I went to another drawer and pulled out a serrated Cutco knife we bought from a high-school friend that I swore to never use again because I had almost bled to death the last time I used it. With great caution I placed the vacuum-packed salami package on the cutting board and simply sliced through the middle of it at a 90-degree angle. I picked up the two sides and ripped them apart. Then I made my sandwich. It was good.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Lane Kiffin and the Shallowness of Sport

This loud mouth guy came to our state spouting Volunteer pride, a winning way and a long-term commitment. His name was Lane Kiffin. He was vulgar, scandalous, confrontational and arrogant. He brought his dad along, delivered a very mediocre season and has found a new job after one year of service. He has taken the head- coaching job at USC following in the footsteps of a similar hollow man. I now have another huge reason to root against USC (as if I needed one.)