Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Curious Case of Brad Pitt

I don't have anything against Brad Pitt, He just isn't one of the actors that fall in my "must see his next movie" category. Before today I had seen only four of his movies, Oceans 11, 12, 13 and Mr. & Mrs. Smith. They were all fun movies (except "12") that didn't particularly challenge the acting skills of any of the cast.

I don't even hold his escapades with Angelina against him. If anything, she makes Brad more interesting. I even thought that maybe her acting ability might rub off on him in this movie...wrong!

I thought the story of Benjamin Button was intriguing. A baby is born showing the physical traits of an old man, and over time grows younger. The movie was loosely (and I do mean loosely) based on a short story by F.Scott Fitzgerald. The times and places are very much altered for the movie. You can read the whole thing in eleven pages online here.

The home base for the movie is New Orleans and spans the time from WWI to Hurricane Katrina, but has none of the historical significance that I expected. The photography is beautiful, but after 2 1/2 hours, I was ready to get to the end. The only thing left to learn was how Benjamin came to his end. It was a tediously long sequence of events. I was glad when it was over. I didn't even stay to watch the credits; I didn't care who was involved.

I give it 2 stars. I promised Sweetie I wouldn't drag him to any more movies this year.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

My Sweetie loves Christmas

The first photos Sweetie sent me before we met were not of him but of his house, all decorated for Christmas. His decorations were the kind that would light up the sky to guide the way to his neighborhood. My idea of Christmas decorations had been a tree, some garland here and there in the house, and some electric candles in the windows.

By the time he had decorated his house that year, he had brought me some extra lights he had so I could light up the shrubs in front of my house. I had never had so much Christmas lighting before. He had also told me of how he had broken up with his previous girlfriend after two consecutive Christmases when she had been out of town and had returned to spend more time catching up with her girlfriends than with him.

After we married, and he moved to Raleigh, he adjusted his decorating to our house on the cul-de-sac. Our front yard does not have as much space as his old house situated on a corner lot. He makes up for it by overflowing to the edge of the neighbor's yard, and decorating the back yard. Inside we have animated Santa and Mrs Santa as well as animated angels. We have a Christmas Tree in the front foyer as well as one in the bedroom. This morning, he turned on the tree lights before he got dressed.

Sweetie even decorated a tree for my brother who recently had ankle replacement surgery, and can't get around very well.

That's my Sweetie, my own personal Santa.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Seven Pounds

I really love Will Smith. He's like one of my own, although mine don't have such ears. I feel like he owns July fourth and Christmas, so I had to see Seven Pounds.

With all the hype and secrecy, I was fully prepared for a tear-jerker. As a matter of fact after bad news from my periodontist this morning, I was going to find comfort in a good cry. I really didn't try to figure it out, but I did within the first half hour. Everything else after that just served to confirm what I knew was going on. That was disappointing, and I couldn't get my good cry on. Something about Will Smith being so morose to the point of being creepy just wasn't getting it for me either. And it was a long movie..."OK, let's get to the crying part." It was 2 hours after 30 minutes of trailers. So now I know that Dustin Hoffman will crash another wedding, there is another Madea movie coming, TD Jakes with Morris Chestnut(huh?), and Dirty Harry...a very old Dirty Harry is back.

They were so secret about this movie that people were just not getting the title. The woman in front of us in line asked for tickets for "Round Seven." The people behind us want just "Seven." They don't explain the title, but once you see it, you'll get it (if you can stay awake til the end).

I give it two stars.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Channeling Diane Sawyer

I never liked the sound of my voice. I hadn't paid much attention to it until I heard it on a recorder when I was in first grade. That was not what I wanted to sound like, and I became self conscious about it. I secretly wanted to sound like my friend Zelma. The teacher selected her to be the narrator for a skit we were doing in second grade.

Then in high school I tried out for Radio Workshop at school. I selected James Weldon Johnson's "The Creation" for the piece I recorded. I didn't get selected, but my friend Alva was. The teacher called me in to explain why I didn't get in. She played my recording and I sounded tentative. I didn't like my voice. I got through high school, college, and into my career without having to present anything until a mentor pushed me into Presentation Skills training. UGH!!

Somewhere along the line I discovered that if I had a whiz-bang technical presentation with all the critical information that my audience wanted, nice bullet points, nobody cared about my lack-luster voice. My audience was attentive, I got applause. I still didn't like my voice.

When I published my memoir, I forgot that somewhere along the line I would have to read some of it aloud...*groan.*

So far I have gotten by with small groups. I do cozy conversation pretty well. As a matter of fact when I have been called upon to speak, (my church-lady thing) I do the cozy conversation to the big group, and I can get by. A joke and a song, and nobody notices the creaky voice.

I've heard poets and authors do readings. Some sound like me, and will put an audience to sleep. Some shout their prose like a preacher, putting the fear of God in the audience. Some have that lovely cadence and pitch.

I decided that I'll strive for Diane Sawyer. We're about the same age, have the same kind of alto, the trace of Southern accent. I want her cadence, the way she lifts the ends of sentences without sounding like a valley-girl.

Maybe I'll just keep it short, before anybody falls asleep.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Colors like that

Isn't it funny how one photo can start you to remembering unrelated experiences.

It happened maybe 15 years ago. I had finished my workout at Rex Wellness Center, and was changing into my swimsuit to go sit in the hot tub. It was a Saturday. I don't workout there anymore, since I moved 15 miles away from Rex. Maybe they still have Saturday Morning Family swim time. That was the reason for the kids in the ladies locker room.

The little girl and her mother were changing into their swim wear. The mother's suit was a floral with beige background; the little girl wore pink. She must have been about five, the friendly, easy-to-be-with age. I was doing the quick change half under my clothes, so as not to offend the mothers with my nakedness. The little girl smiled, and told her mother while pointing to me, "That's a pretty color."

My suit was a plain tank suit, easy to throw in the wash and have ready for my next workout. It was solid green, bright emerald green. The woman reacted as if I had touched the girl, and said, "We don't wear colors like that."

I was stunned. The things that raced through my head that I didn't say. "What are you trying to teach your child? You pale-faced heifer!" If you know me, you know I didn't say anything. My expression said, "You silly fool." It didn't surprise me that people still had thoughts like that in 1990-something. It did surprise me that they would say that to a child in my presence.

The photo speaks volumes. Laura Bush in her drab brown, and Michelle, my beautiful First Lady in red.

Michelle in whatever color she wants to wear, dazzling, bright, and confident.

michelle jewel by tojo1104.

michelle3 by tojo1104.

81348798CS035_Obama_Holds_F by tojo1104.

Yes, we wear colors like that!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Playing the Dozens with Al-Qaida

That old dude al-Zawahri apparently wasn't paying attention during the Presidential campaign. What does he think the response to calling President-elect Obama a "House Negro" will be. Does he really think he'll launch a missile and say, "Yo Momma?"

Doesn't he know our President's reputation for being the unflappable, No-Drama-Obama? The Original Mr. Cool, himself.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

who will be the messenger of this land

who will be the messenger of this land
count its veins
speak through the veins
translate the language of water
navigate the heels of lineage
who will carry this land in parcels
paper, linen, burlap
who will weep when it bleeds
and hardens
forgets to birth itself

who will be the messenger of this land
wrapping its stories carefully
in patois of creole, irish,
gullah, twe, tuscarora
stripping its trees for tea
and pleasure
who will help this land to
remember its birthdays, baptisms
weddings, funerals, its rituals
denials, disappointments,
and sacrifices

who will be the messengers
of this land
harvesting its truths
bearing unleavened bread
burying mutilated crops beneath
its breasts

who will remember
to unbury the unborn seeds
that arrived
in captivity
shackled, folded,
bent, layered in its

we are their messengers
with singing hoes
and dancing plows
with fingers that snap
beans, arms that
raise corn, feet that
cover the dew falling from
okra, beans, tomatoes

we are these messengers
whose ears alone choose
which spices
whose eyes alone name
basil, nutmeg, fennel, ginger,
cardamom, sassafras
whose tongues alone carry
hemlock, blood root, valerian,
damiana, st. john's wort
these roots that contain
its pleasures its languages its secrets

we are the messengers
new messengers
arriving as mutations of ourselves
we are these messengers
blue breath
red hands
singing a tree into dance

by Jaki Shelton Green published in breath of the song
used by permission
© 2005 Carolina Wren Press
Durham, NC

Jaki Shelton Green, Poet Laureate of the Piedmont

Friday, November 14, 2008

You had to have been there

William Ayers was interviewed by Chris Cuomo on Good Morning America this morning. Based on Chris' line of questioning and Ayers' responses, it became clear that there is a disconnect of about 30 years. Somewhere between 1970 and 2000, young people became apathetic. I commented often over those years about how college students were not politically active in anything the way we were in the 60's. I am truly thankful and impressed at how this current generation, "Generation-O" has taken the world by a storm and helped to elect our new President.

In the 60's we were in an undeclared war in Viet Nam. We were demonstrating against that war, fighting for voting rights across the South, and rising up against the failure of the cities in the North. Getting arrested was a badge of honor when your cell-mates where national leaders, and other students who took on the same cause. The closest I came to getting arrested was in Madison, New Jersey when I demonstrated against the local barber who refused to cut the hair of an African college student. I couldn't get arrested, but I was caught up in the emotion and the rhetoric of that time, shouting, "By any means necessary."

Most of us settled down into mainstream quiet lives and nobody considers us terrorists for all the involvement we had. I never owned a gun, won't have one in the house, but there are people I associated with in the 60's who probably caused my name to be put on a list with others who might by Palin standards be called "terrorists."

The guilt by association in light of all the social activism of 30-40 years ago makes no sense at all. Ayers described his association with Barack Obama in much the same way that Obama explained it himself. I have personally hosted gatherings in my house for political candidates who knew me only by way of a card that I returned in the mail saying I would volunteer. Nobody investigated my background. I have served on boards with people with whom I had no other connection than that board. I could probably meet most of them on the street and neither of us would even remember the other. The few that I even know the names are people who have been in the news since that time. Just being in the same place together is no indication of having the same philosopy, or even of sharing thoughts about anything other than the event at hand.

I'm glad that the majority of voters rejected the notion that Obama was "pallin' around with terrorists." I just hope we don't have to continue this conversation now that Ayers has rereleased his memoir.

Monday, November 10, 2008

I'm trying to stay away

I just can't help myself. I still click on all those links. Photos of Sasha and Malia, and Bridges around the world, Newspapers around the world.

I can't seem to get enough of our(my) new President-elect. Maybe I wasn't paying as much attention when we had the last changing of the guard, but it seems that Obama is getting more coverage during this transition. And I'm still excited. Just the thought of Michelle and my little girls moving into the White House. I'm getting goose bumps again just writing about it.

And we will be in Washington for the swearing-in and parade. I got on the list with our Congressman's office. But even if we don't get tickets, we'll be there in the crowd, cheering for our (my) new President!!

And dozens of people every day are still clicking on the blog I did on Obama love. I guess I'm not the only one. (If the video doesn't show, it means they're at it again)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Thoughts on a New Morning

I've talked to all my siblings over the last 12 hours, and the sentiment is the same. "I never thought I would live to see this day." And we think on what our parents would have thought if they were here.

My mind goes back to the first Presidential election I was aware of. I was seven years old in 1952, when my mother couldn't vote. She had left school early in the county where she taught English to get back to Petersburg before the polls closed. The polling place for our neighborhood was the corner store where Mother had to wait in line almost an hour before they told her she couldn’t vote because she didn’t have her receipt for paying the poll tax. I remember my late brother Ronald saying, "But Mother you were going to vote for Eisenhower."

Those barriers in the voting process were lifted through the Voting Rights Act back in the 1960's. Still so many of us did not participate in the voting process because of lack of faith in a country that continued to turn her back on so many of us.

This time was different. It was not just a matter of having a black man running for president. This time we have a community organizer who recognizes the power of the grass roots organization to get everyone involved in the process. I have participated in campaigns for other candidates in past years. In the past I stuffed envelopes, made calls, made contributions, stood in the rain holding a sign at the polls. Never have I been so engaged as this time. Never have I given so much of my time and money...you would think I was tithing when I got those emails from David Plouffe. THIS TIME, I knew would be different.

The tears will be coming all day today, tears of joy, tears of remembrance of where we've come from, tears of hope for this new day. Last night I hooted and howled when each successive projected state was announced, I cried when the Obama family took the stage in Grant Park, and I shivered with joy when Barack referred to Michelle as the next First Lady of the United States of America.

I pray for our new President, for his wisdom and strength. And I pray for his protection, that Jesus will build a fence all around him, fight his battles, let no enemy rise up against him.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Step away from the computer!!

I have to admit, I'm on overload with this presidential election. I shut off the TV to get away from the constant barrage of negative ads, National, State, and local. I want to argue back at least half the time.

The advertising on the internet doesn't usually catch my eye. I learned to tuned out those blinking girls in the classmates.com ads long ago. But suddenly this one caught my eye. I think it's the red that does it. I can't cancel my "free" membership because of it either.

Let's talk about handouts and welfare. They say "the rich are different." They don't think of $700 billion to Wall Street as a handout. How many corporations have been bailed out in recent memory?

I like Wanda Sykes' explanation of it. Let's put AIG on Food Stamps!!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Trunk and Grey's Anatomy

I had a trunk as many college students had in the 60's that I used to ship the bulk of my clothes and personal effects to college, and most importantly to Germany in 1966 for my Junior Year Abroad. The trunk went with me to New York after college, and was a major piece of furniture in my studio apartment in Brooklyn Heights while I attended NYU.

After I quit graduate school and got married, I was ready to give up the apartment. I had a two year lease with an escape clause so I could leave before the two years if I wanted to. My brother Michael convinced me to sub-let the apartment to his friend Morgan the summer of 1968, so I left all my "furniture" in the apartment. The furniture consisted of a studio couch, a card table and four chairs, and the trunk.

The trunk contained assorted personal effects including a shoe-box full of letters from friends including ones from Jimmy. At the end of the summer, Morgan went back to Petersburg and Michael asked what to do with the furniture. I wanted to move it to New Jersey where I lived with my husband, but he didn't want anything to do with my pre-marriage baggage. He insisted we had no place to put it, although the apartment building provided a storage space in the basement for each apartment.

Michael agreed to move the stuff since he lived just around the corner in Brooklyn Heights. So he took the studio couch, card table and chairs, and the trunk. In 1975 my husband and I moved to Raleigh. Michael and his wife moved to Bloomington Indiana, taking all my old stuff. I remembered the letters, the two pieces of artwork from Jimmy, as well as my old collection of 45 RPM records in the trunk. By then I knew it was pointless to talk about retrieving the trunk.

After Michael had been in Bloomington for a few years, they had a house fire. Michael had been at home alone with his two little daughters. He built a fire in the fireplace in the family room and did something that firemen always warn against. He tried using charcoal lighter to get the fire burning. The flames traveled up the stream to the can of lighter and quickly ignited the room. Michael grabbed the girls, got them out unharmed and closed the fire-door to the family room. The fire was contained in that one room. Michael told me later that his piano was destroyed, along with my trunk and its contents. He said the 45 RPM's melted into one solid piece.

So I let go of the memory. But then Michael resurfaced with those 2 pieces of artwork to give to my daughter after we found each other. Among all the other old stuff he has been carrying with him from place to place, he recently found the box of letters, which he brought back with him from Ghana.

I wrote my book "as well as I could remember it" without the benefit of those 42-year-old letters. Michael thought there might be some surprises of things I had mis-remembered. There were a few. The biggest surprise was the letters from my Daddy. I had forgotten that he had written at all. The letters from Jimmy were more in number than I remembered, but the content was mostly as I remembered. The other big surprise was a series of letters from Sheltering Arms. I had forgotten the name of the adoption agency altogether until my son found them in 1998.

After seeing the last scene of the latest episode of Grey’s Anatomy, where Meredith opens a box of her late mother’s journals, I’m glad that I burned my old journals years ago, but I wonder what I should do with those old letters.

If you haven’t read my book, you may not be able to understand this blog.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The North Carolina Election for Senator

Elizabeth Dole has been our carpetbagger Senator for six years, and is fighting a contentious campaign against Democrat Kay Hagan. Hagan has been leading in the polls with ads reminding people that Dole votes with George Bush 93% of the time, and spends less than 30 days per year in North Carolina. She has not really lived here since 1959, but she claims residence in Salisbury since she inherited her mother's house there.

Her ads have been vicious, and have gotten worse since the polls show Hagan leading. Here is her latest ad. Hagan is planning legal action if Dole doesn't withdraw it.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

My First Booksigning

First-time self-published authors have a tough row to hoe. The Big-Box bookstores don't want to waste their shelf space if you're not a sure thing. And even some of the independent book stores will risk only one-at-a-time on consignment, under the desk, available on request. Thank God for the few remaining black independent bookstores.

I wrote about The Know Bookstore before when they first allowed me some of their real estate. The Know is a Durham institution, but even institutions need to stay afloat financially. The Know does it with the restaurant and the Friday night jam sessions. The owner, Bruce Bridges invited me to set up my table for a book-signing last night. I arrived before eight, and some of the regulars were staking out their places in the cozy restaurant already. They were very polite about listening to my pitch as I went from table to table. And a few even bought the book!

Then the crowd started coming, the regular musicians, and a few new faces, a teenager who plays a mean bass, and singer from South America. A few people came looking to see if Bruce had Crystal Mangum's memoir that was supposed to drop on Friday. She's the woman who accused the Duke Lacrosse players of rape. People were sure that if anybody had the book, Bruce would have it. He doesn't have it yet.

In between sets, Bruce pitched for me, and even let me take the mike for a minute. It sure is good to know some home folks at The Know.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Robo-call Season

It's that season again. The politicians and their assorted supporting organizations are calling all day. It's especially annoying since I have voted already. I have done my share of calling for candidates over the years, and I think the human touch helps sometimes. But you know how these robo-calls go.

First sign of the robo-call: Caller-ID says "out of area."

That doesn't stop me from picking up because I have relatives and friends who call from out of the country or from cellular areas that don't send the number.

Second sign of the robo-call: Long silence after I say hello.

I usually hang up at that point, but then comes the recorded message. This year there is a new twist. The message says, "Thank you for your patience. We're still trying to connect you" Translation: "Hang up you idiot!"

Now really! If you're making calls by machine, get a service that starts the message right away.

Obama has said that he doesn't like Robo-calls, but he did one series during the primary. The message was so important that I forget what it was. You see, that was during the Rock Star phase. When I heard his voice on the other end, I was like...(gasp) A call from Barack! Be still my heart! He hasn't called me since. (But I do get text messages on the regular.)

Tinkerbell has nothing to do with this. But have you noticed that sister-gurl has quite a bit of junk in the trunk?

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Secret Life of Bees

This is a Chick flick, but I think the guys should enjoy it too. I read the book a few years back when it was a GMA Book Club selection, and my book club read it too. I didn't remember all the details of the book, but as the movie unfolded, I found it to be very true to the book.

I remembered that there were a lot of heated discussions among book clubs that I knew about. You know some of us get a little annoyed when white people write stories about black people, particularly when they fit the "Magic Negro" model. You know the ones where the black hero seems to have no purpose in life other than solving all the problems of white people. Remember "The Green Mile."

But it was a good book that turns out to be an excellent vehicle for black movie talent...and they didn't even have to sing. Will and Jada Smith produced it. The stars were Jennifer Hudson, Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys, the amazing Sophie Okonedo (Hotel Rwanda), Nate Parker (The Great Debaters). Dakota Fanning always delivers.

The timing of the release was perfect. When you see what Jennifer Hudson's character goes through to register to vote, you will be inspired.

I give it 3 stars.

My favorite Youtube of the day

The kids are saying that Obama sonned McCain on this one.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Early Voting

Today was the first day of early voting in Raleigh, and we headed to the mall near us, Tinker, my brother and me. We parked in the curbside voting section because the line was long, and my brother can't stand that long and Tinker has his new titanium hip replacement. They had only four workers handling the curbside voting and there were two vans of seniors from retirement communities who were ahead of us. I decided to go wait in the regular line which I estimated as being 200 people.

When my brother called me to tell me that they were next in line, I joined them for this moment in history. This is one to tell our grandchildren about.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Belated Happy Birthday to me

We had a wonderful trip. I didn't know how stressed out I was until I started to unwind. We had four days at sea going, five days cruising around the Hawaiian islands, and four days at sea coming back. The at-sea days were the ultimate rest therapy. There's nothing like being rocked to sleep at all times of day.

We have lots of photos that we need to organize, but here is a preview:

We saw Julie and Naquam in San Diego. They drove from two hours away to take us out to dinner. Julie is as sweet in person as she is online. We met Naquam when we were in Cali last year. He's always entertaining. (Did I take pictures of the food?)

hawaii08 010 by tojo1104.

Our ship was the Radiance of the Seas. We have sailed on 2 other Radiance-class ships, the Jewel and the Brilliance, so it was like being at home. This time I climbed the ROCK WALL!!! (a few feet anyway)

Hawaii 2008 230 by tojo1104.

I celebrated my birthday aboard ship, complete with singing waiters.

And I returned to find out that I missed my turn at tutu, so I had to post it again for all. Cynthia Marie gets more creative every day. I love it!!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Reasons to vote early

The calendar says Election Day is still six weeks away, right? Well, if you live in Georgia, it's already here. Voters there started going to early polling centers today to cast their ballots. Residents in parts of Virginia and Kentucky can also vote now – and more states will follow in the weeks ahead.

In fact, 34 states allow in-person early voting and as many as a third of all votes may be cast before Election Day. North Carolina doesn't start early voting until October 16, so I haven't earned that sticker yet.

Here are some of the reasons you might consider:

1. You beat the crowds.
You know there will be long lines on November 4th. If you have to go after work, you might be standing in line well into the night.

2. You can choose your favorite place to vote.
Our nearest early voting place in the mall nearby. Lots of parking, and we can shop when we finish.

3. You can pick your day.
Don't wait until November 4th when you might have an emergency at work or a sick child.

4. In North Carolina, if you haven't registered already, you can register and vote the same day with early voting.

5. You have a chance to fix any discrepancies.
If they turn you away for any reason, you have time to correct it and try another day (or location). I always wondered in past years if all the voting challenges were resolved.

6. You can be proud that you voted before the big day.

Monday, September 22, 2008

My New Camera

I never would have gotten this shot with my old camera. It would have been a blur. I could say I have it all figured out, but I know it was just dumb luck. The "Image Stabilization" feature doesn't hurt either.

Taken with a
Canon PowerShot SD850 IS

Friday, September 19, 2008

Back to the Issues

There is nothing like a meltdown in the financial sector to get people thinking straight again. Maybe the Palin bump is over.

But I promised to talk about healthcare, at least my take on it. McSame thinks health care is a non-issue because sick people can always go to the emergency room and be treated there. That shows he's never had to go to an emergency room and be treated by a doctor who doesn't know or care who he is. Band-Aid treatment, besides being very expensive, never provides a cure, and never provides preventive treatment. Even if the patient doesn't foot the bill, somebody does. And you'll never get a PSA test, or a mammogram in the emergency room.

But who else has an issue with healthcare besides the emergency-room walk-in? Right now, I'm reasonably healthy, and I'm covered by my former employer's plan. As a retiree of the State of North Carolina, I don't even have to pay a monthly premium. When I reach 65, Medicare will be my primary coverage, and the State plan will pick up from there.

What I do worry about is my children, mainly #2 son. He has worked in sales for about eight years, on commission, no benefits. Paying for a private plan is out of reach so he's gambling with his health. He has had two major health incidents in the last eight years, so guess who took up the slack. When he was too sick to work, he even tried applying for disability, but it was not a chronic or permanent illness, so he was on his own.

Then there are people who have health coverage, or thought they did, until a major illness in the family exhausted the limits of the plan. They end up mortgaging their house or giving up everything, and going on welfare to keep their sick child alive.

I've traveled in third-world countries that do better by their citizenry than we do when it comes to health care.

I hear people arguing about the differences between Obama's proposal and Clinton's proposal for healthcare. My guess is that whatever comes out of the Congress will be something that resembles parts of those two proposals, but not exactly either one. That will be the time for discussion of the fine points, and calling our representatives about what we want.

What we need now is President who understands why this is an issue.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I'm guilty too

We've been sucked in, co-opted, distracted, and driven off course.

To quote Ariana Huffington:

The point is that Palin, and the circus she's brought to town, are simply a bountiful collection of small lies deliberately designed to distract the country from one big truth: the havoc that George Bush and the Republican Party have wrought, and that John McCain is committed to continuing. Every second of this campaign not spent talking about the Republican Party's record, and John McCain's role in that record, is a victory for John McCain.

The next few weeks are a test of Barack Obama.
He needs to dramatically redirect this election back to a discussion over the issues that really matter -- the issues that will impact the future of this country. A presidential campaign is a battle and this is the time for Obama to show some commander-in-chief skills.


So let's all get back to the issues. Pick your favorite one from this list and blog about it.


I'm going to start with this one:
(I'll be back with my personal take on it)

Help American Families Stay Healthy

Provide Universal Health Care and Lower Health Costs: Barack Obama is committed to signing universal health legislation by the end of his first term in office that ensures all Americans have high-quality, affordable health care coverage. His plan will save a typical American family up to $2,500 every year on medical expenditures by providing affordable, comprehensive and portable health coverage for every American; modernizing the U.S. health care system to contain spiraling health care costs and improve the quality of patient care; and promoting prevention and strengthening public health to prevent disease and protect against natural and man-made disasters.

For more information on Barack Obama's health care plan, please visit the Health Care Policy page

Saturday, September 6, 2008

No Child Left Behind

At a town hall meeting in Terre Haute, Indiana today, Sen. Obama answered a question about No Child Left Behind.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Centurion and The Queen by Minnette Meador

THE CENTURION & THE QUEEN, A Historical Romance

Centurion Marius is a tough leader to his men, despite the shame that drove him from Rome. Delia is sister to an uncaring Corieltauvi tribal king, warrior queen to her people. The last thing she expects is to find herself craving the touch of an enemy.

Thrown into the clash between 50,000 angry Britons and 10,000 Roman soldiers, they find themselves on opposing sides, in love, and unable to stop the future. The revolution that sparked their desire...could now destroy them.

"Ms. Meador weaves a beautiful story that I could not get enough of. Her characters are so full of life and were enjoyable to read. The setting was great too…This is one author that I would love to read more. The Centurion and the Queen is a book that will please those that love steamy romance to historical nuts. I was impressed with the balance between the two and recommend this book."
– Coffeetime Romance Review

Buy Centurion and The Queen

Visit Minnette Meador's Website

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Farm News

I haven't blogged about the garden much this year. But even with all the other stuff going on, Tinker has been the busy farmer. He's been out there within days of his hip replacement, pulling greens, picking tomatoes, and tending to fruit trees.

He's so proud to have a watermelon this year that's bigger than his fist. He has planted them the last few years, but with the irregular, or non-existent rainfall they didn't get very far. We'll see if this one is good to eat.

And his fruit trees!! LAWD Hammercy, we have an orchard in the back yard, apples, peaches, cherries, plums, and pears. This year the pears outgrew the tree. There was so much fruit that the branches couldn't hold up under the weight. After Tinker saw the birds and squirrels watching with big eyes, waiting for the right moment of ripeness, he decided to pick a bunch. I don't know what a bushel looks like, but see for yourself.

2008-08-21 001 by tojo1104.

Then he started pealing and cutting pears to make pear pie, and freeze some. I think he might have given some away, but they have so many ugly spots they don't make an attractive gift. But they taste good, once you peal them. When we go to the State Fair this year, we'll have to get advice on peaches. They reach about 2 inches in diameter then they get covered with spots. If you peal them they taste pretty good too.

Monday, September 1, 2008

I'm not talking about the children...

I am respecting the candidate's wishes and not talking about the children, but...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Obama Souvenir

This came in the mail yesterday. The envelope bulged a little bit, so I was hoping for a new Obama-Biden button.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

How many houses do you have, McCain?

"The rich are different from you and me." -- F. Scott Fitzgerald


My day started at about 4 AM. I couldn't sleep and couldn't nudge Tinker awake, so I decided to go practice with my new camera. You may have read my blog here, asking for recommendations. I took bigdaddycc's advice and got a Canon. I read the reviews on CNET and decided on a Powershot SD850 IS. It has image stabilization (that's the IS part), and face recognition. And it has a bigger display on a smaller body than my old Sony (plumb wore the old one out). It comes with a bunch of manuals in English and Spanish.

I got out the manual and went into the bonus room to try out the various settings. I knew I was in trouble on the first page:

2008-08-21 004 by tojo1104.

I should have gotten out the magnifying glass but I trudged on and skipped that page. I started pressing buttons and snapped a few pics, but I wasn't happy with what I saw. The flash was washing out the color, and without the flash it wasn't sharp. I started pressing buttons, and got screens like this:

2008-08-21 008 by tojo1104.

Then I started going through the manual trying to find what in the world I was doing. It shouldn't be this hard!! (If bigdaddycc can do it...LOL) After an hour of very little progress, I decided to go back to bed. I closed the book and saw that I had the "advanced" manual when I should have been reading the "Basic - Please Read This First"....DUH!!

In case you're wondering about the RTFM...In one of my former lives I was a geek...technical support. RTFM is what we would mumble under our breath after helping a client who didn't "READ THE F'ING MANUAL!" I just read the wrong one.

What a way to start the day. Then I couldn't get my sneakers on because my new Jelling insoles don't let my socked feet slide in.

I've had my walk, now I feel better.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Oscar de la Peña

He's back!! I blogged about him a couple of years ago. I was diagnosed with Osteopenia, not exactly Osteoporosis, but bad enough to get your attention.

I had a two-year follow-up bone scan to see if there were any changes. I have been taking my calciium tablets faithfully every day. The bone scan shows that my spine has improved, but my hips got worse. My doctor recommends treatment. We talked about it, and I told her anything that "Can cause" digestive issues, usually "does cause" problems for me. So she left it to me to decide. The four leading treatments are Fosomax, Actonel, Boniva and Evista. The first 3 are similar in that they have to be taken with a full glass of water 30 mins(or 60 minutes for Boniva) before eating, and patient should not lie down during that waiting period. The big caution is the risk of upper gastrointestinal disorders such as dysphagia, esophagitis, and esophageal or gastric ulcers. If you have chest pain, new or worsening heartburn, or have trouble or pain when you swallow, stop taking the medication. They have different regimens of daily/weekly/monthly.

Those three scare me. I had an incidence of LPRD (Laryngopharyngeal Reflux Disease) a few years ago. I didn't have chest pain or heartburn, and didn't know I was having reflux unitl I lost my voice every morning.

The fourth treatment option is Evista. The big caution there is immobility while taking Evista can cause deep venous thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, and retinal vein thrombosis. Don't you just love the advertising for medication that tells you all the bad news. I should tell you that my siblings have a history of cardio-vascular disease including Peripheral Artery Disease.

So, I considered my options, and wondered if I should risk becoming Tinker's twin with the titanium hip somewhere down the road, or try something else.

What would you do?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Text Obama

I got a text message from Barack tonight. If you're one of his supporters you may have signed up too.....so you would be one of the first to be notified....when he decides...on his running mate. AIIIIIII!!

This is what the text message said:








Please reply to this message with your 5 digit ZIP code for periodic local Obama news and updates. Be the first to know when Barack is coming to your area.

I nearly had a heart attack for nothing.

He's agreed to allow Hillary to have her name put into nomination at the convention. I have a bad feeling about this, Luke. Well it will be a bit nostalgic to return to the old days of conventions when they had big demonstrations in the aisles. A gazillion balloons and tons of confetti, so the "Great State of New York" can cast it's votes for the Senator from New York. Get ready for the spectacle.

Anyway, Michelle is gorgeous, isn't she?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Earn Money from Home!!

We all know how that scam works. The patsy sends in her money and in return gets a mailing list with instructions to mail a letter to all the people on the list. And what does the letter say? "Earn Money from Home" and they get a mailing list too.

Well I'm about to participate...well it's not really a scam. It's more tit for tat. I've been doing research on Virtual Book Tours, and found a blog and book about it. The blog has some very helpful tips. I can enter a contest to win a free copy of the book "My Virtual Book Tour Secrets" by Bill Frederick if I follow his instructions.

Post a mention of the ebook on your blog. (Did that)

Include a picture of the ebook on your blog.
(Here it is)

cover-4 by tojo1104.

Include a link to myvirtualbooktoursecrets.com (You got it)

In your post, mention the virtual book tour with a reference to the blog where you heard about the book. It must be a blog from the Official Book Tour. (Now that I see the dates, I may be too late)


Finally, leave a comment on the blog where you read about the free book offer. In your comment, leave a link to your blog post. (Please include the entire URL.)

(I'll do that after I post this blog...I'll do it on 360 and Blogger for good measure)

Yall got that?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Congratualtions Team USA

The ears have it!!
(I told you it was a good year for ears)

So I didn't show the USA basketball team. Hold on there's a reason.

We know we can play basketball. What we don't know is swimming. If you look at statistics from drowning, you find that non-Hispanic black males die from drowning at a higher rate than anybody else.

We don't swim. It seems to me that we don't swim for the same reason we don't (or used-ta didn't) play golf or tennis. Until the Civil Rights Era, swimming pools along with golf courses and tennis courts were segregated in many parts of these United States or were part of exclusive membership clubs. So for a long time these activities were not part of our culture. It took Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe in tennis, and Tiger Woods to raise the awareness of black children and their parents to say "We can play golf."

We need to learn to swim. The statistics ought to tell us that our lives might depend on it.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Dark Knight

I had to see it, and I didn't want to go alone. It's been out 2 weeks already, and Tinker wasn't interested in seeing it. But I did my please, please, please, number and he caved in. He didn't like it. I kept waiting for it to get better. Too dark, too much violence, and the constant foreboding that somebody else was going to go over to the dark side.

I was exhausted by the time it was over...Heath Ledger was impressive...truly psycho. I still prefer Jack Nicholson's portrayal of the Joker back in the 1989 Batman movie. He was menacing in the Jack Nicholson way.

At least I got to see Samuel L. Jackson. No, he wasn't in The Dark Knight. They showed the trailer of his next movie, The Spirit. I'll have to resurrect my Samuel L Jackson Hair Chart...lord only knows what he has on his head this time.

Oh yeah, I give The Dark Knight 2 stars.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

I've got real estate!!

I'm right there between Minister Farrakhan and Barack Obama. Right up front.

I don't know how important bookstores are anymore. I have to confess I buy most of my books online. Independent bookstores are being swallowed up or run out of business by internet and the big franchises. Even Barnes & Noble has reported declining sales.

Black bookstores are as scarce as hen's teeth. There are a couple of by-appointment-only black bookstores in Raleigh. Wherever they survive they are a vital part of the community. In Durham there is "The Know Bookstore" (and cultural center, fried chicken and fish restaurant, and jazz club). The other stuff keeps the book store in business. When I stopped by this afternoon, the owner Dr. Bruce Bridges was in the kitchen frying up some dinners.

2008-08-02 002 by tojo1104.

But he took my books on consignment. I'll have to schedule a book signing on a jazz night.

Monday, July 21, 2008

I should pay better attention to Google

This is going to sound like an advertisement for Google, but it really isn't. Disclaimer: I own 5 shares of Google stock. But I don't pay enough attention to that either.

I used to be an "early adopter." I was always one of the first to try new stuff. Then I had a spell when the new stuff breaking down was getting in the way of getting my work done. I was spending too much time on the phone with support...in the days when support was right up the road in RTP.

Lately, I've let other people figure it out, get through the first round of bugs, and then convince me.

1. I was late adopting Google as my favorite search engine...I was suspicious of the context relevant advertising. Now I hardly notice the ads.

2. When somebody suggested googletalk for an organization chat, I groaned...not another chat thingy. And I had to sign up for gmail to get it. Groan...another email. Now I hardly ever chat on any chat, but gmail has become one of my first-line emails. (Don't ask how many I have)

3. When my new PC came with Google desktop, I groaned again. I was skeptical about anything indexing my whole hard drive. It took me a year of ignoring it until I tried it. Man!! That thing is fast as...(grasping for appropriate bigdaddycc simile)...a jackalope with the runs. I've had to reinstall the thing a few times after some weird error, but when it works, there is nothing faster.

4. Dear hubby volunteered me to put up a website for the church. They had already decided that I should use Google-apps, because it's free. Groan again, I told them "No such thing as a free lunch, just wait til you see the Google advertising." They still wanted it. It turned out rather well, no ads have shown up yet in 7 months. I even use Google-apps for my own website.

5. Donny has been pushing Picasa (now owned by Google) for years. I was probably the last to come along....kicking and screaming.

6. The latest from Google, they announced a few weeks ago, Google Reader. I looked at it and said, "Why do I want to read a bunch of different stuff all in one place." Then one of my Twitter links showed how he reads all the blogs he follows all at once every day. hmmmm. I decided to try it. Man!! It is so cool. I read a lot of different blogs, Yahoo 360, Blogger, Wordpress, Boing Boing, etc. Any blog that is public and had some kind of Feed or subscription, I can add to my Google Reader. Anytime I go to my reader, I see the latest updates from all of them. I can browse quickly...no waiting for a slow connection, and go to the source if I want to comment.

Google has changed my life. I can organize my procrastination!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Today we went to see the movie, "Hancock" starring Will Smith as a drunk, obnoxious super-hero. I wasn't expecting much. But I tend to defend Will Smith. When my son, the actor, said he wouldn't go see it, I said, "But Will Smith 'owns' the 4th of July." Ever since "Independence Day" the movie, he has had a big summer hit released around the Fourth. In spite of the bad reviews (what do they know), I enjoyed it. The surprise came from out of nowhere, nobody had leaked the ending to me. And I ain't telling. (Have to make Tinker keep quiet.)

Besides, Will has "matured" physically. I was just watching "Fresh Prince" on TV Land the other night, and it's amazing how that skinny kid has developed. Of course, his ears still stick out. But this is a good year for big ears.


obama ears

I give the movie three-an-a-half stars.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

I don't get it!!

That's what I said about blogging before I got into it. I thought, "Why would anybody be interested in what I'm thinking every day?" Well, here I am, telling you my stuff on the regular.

Has anybody heard of Twitter? That's the latest thing that I said, "I don't get it." The thing is to answer the age-old internet question, "Whatcha doing?" in a little box that holds 140 characters. So instead of a long blog, you do short bursts anytime, from work, home, phone, all day.

I still don't get it, but I'm sorta doing it, here. I'm following somebody's advice to promote my book. Gotta get out there.

The next thing on my promotion list is a trailer. A book trailer. I never heard of those either until a few months ago. Now I see them all over the place. Some are major film productions like a movie preview. Some waaaayyyy too long....borrrrrring!! The funniest one I've seen is this one.

So now I'm working on a script for my trailer. My son, the actor turned filmmaker, has reluctantly agreed to produce it. He wants it to be more theatrical. I want it to be funny. We'll see.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Lest we forget...

Exerpt from Portland Independent Media

Racist Rhetoric of the Right Wing-Part

When former Raleigh City Councilman Jesse Helms took to the air on WRAL-TV in Raleigh during the 1960s with station editorials, he made [the epithet] ''Martin Luther Coon, Jr.'' and an unrelenting rhetorical assault on the Southern civil rights movement led by Dr. King and others his trademark. While many whites agreed with what Helms said about the movement being ''Communist inspired,'' many Blacks, and whites, were appalled that the former sportswriter was allowed to say such things so blatantly.

That kind of racial plain talks is what propelled Helms into the U.S. Senate in 1972, as the conservative Democrat (who would soon switch to the GOP) rode the coattails of President Richard Nixon's ''Southern strategy'' to corral angry white southern voters.

Yes he said it on the air, I remember hearing it.

Blessed be the dead who die in the Lord. All others....

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Friday, June 13, 2008

Throw the rock and hide the hand

You remember those kids in the neighborhood when you grew up, the ones who didn't come face to face with you, but tried to get you anyway through an act of cowardice. Hurt you, but don't let you know who did it, so you never know who to come after.

That's the kind of stuff that happens in a political campaign. Obama has been and will continue to be attacked, not directly from John McCain or his official campaign staff, but from all kinds of splinter groups who can't be directly tied to anybody.

The emails full of lies started before he even announced his candidacy. At first he ignored the statements that questioned his religious affiliaation, and even his nationality. Ordinary citizens like me can say, "I won't dignify that kind of ignorance with a response." But when you're running for President, you have to respond to all those attacks. Just ask Michael Dukakis about Willie Horton. Ask John Kerry about Swift Boat. Those stories don't die unless you meet them head on.

I'm glad Obama is going on the offense with http://fightthesmears.com and I hope supporters will report all the smears as soon as they happen.

Aside from the lies that take on a life of their own thanks to our wonderful internet, there is another insidious tack going on, via an attack on Obama's family. He can say Michelle is off-limits all he wants, but the real motive is to paint her as ghetto ("baby mama," fist bump), bitter, racist, and not quite up to the role of "First Lady" organizer of teas and social events at the WHITE House. Maybe Barack can slip through as "multi-racial." (Aren't most of us in this country?), but "they" want the world to see that Michelle and Malia and Sasha might be too black.

We can't let the distractions get us off course. When they stick to the issues, McCain is so diametrically different from Obama that there should be no gray area. And we can't let the smears get anybody confused about what the issues are.

The photo above comes from http://www.truthfighters.tv/blogcomment/?blog_id=175, I got from Tucker's blog.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Why isn't Obama countering the "Popular vote" fallacy?

Is he just calmly walking to winning and ignoring Hillary's argument that doesn't hold water anyway.

Caucus votes don't count according to her math. So why did she spend millions in Iowa and New Hampshire?

Friday, May 23, 2008

Season Finale - Will they be back next season?

I don't mind at all when the Season Finale is a cliffhanger. It gives you something to wonder about all summer or howver long it takes for the show to come back in the fall-winter. But two of my favorite shows decided to mess with my mind this time.

Desperate Housewives rapped up all the story lines, even got that evil bad-seed of a "love child" sent away to her grandparents. Then they did a "Five years later..." WHAT!!?!?! Bree and Orson are back together, and Susan has a new love? Huh? Is the series finished or are they just leaving space for contract negotiation.

Then Grey's Anatomy did kind of the same thing. Meredith and Derek get back together; same with the Chief and his wife; George gets another shot at the exam; Christina stops being so mean to her interns; and Izzie and Alex are... And they live happily ever after or what? The only loose end is Callie and her new-found identity...HUH?

I guess we'll have something to wonder about all summer. But I did peak at the ABC web-site. Both my shows are on the fall line-up.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I want to take my vote back!!

I voted for the Mondale/Ferraro ticket in 1984 (what a year that was). I would expect the standard bearers of the party to be the "party faithful." Now Geraldine says she might not vote for Obama in the fall.

I know a lot of Hillary's supporters are saying that the campaign has been too sexist. It never occurs to them that people are not rejecting Hillary because she is a woman, but for a whole laundry list of other reasons. It's on Hillary to help get the party in line, starting with Geraldine. I might just have to send my button back....if I could find it.

Meanwhile, I don't know what to say about Joe Liebermann. Has he lost his mind?

Friday, May 9, 2008

Iron Man

Another Marvel Comic comes to the big screen. I don't remember Ironman in comic books. My boys were into Superman and Batman. I didn't have any real expectations going in except from the trailers I had seen.

It was great fun. Robert Downey Jr. is an unexpected super-hero, making this movie kind of a Batman meets Spiderman meets the Transformers. We're not in Kansas or Metropolis anymore...try Afghanistan. There is quite a bit of violence, shooting and explosions, but it's nowhere near as intense as Transformers, and there is a the unexpected humor.

Downey was great. Terrence Howard got second billing making it a "buddy movie." I had to post the pictures of Jeff Bridges. I didn't recognize him at all with the bald head. I'm used to his more simpatico style as in K-PAX. I had to read the credits at the end to know it was him.

It was a good afternoon diversion. I give it 3 stars.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Obama comes to Raleigh

It was difficult getting a good shot from where we sat. The "party faithful" got all the good seats up front, and some random people, mostly campaign staff sat on the stage.

But we were there. It was like a rock concert. He had to sing some well-known favorites. It was all about solidarity anyway.

I had to stand on a chair and hold the camera over my head for this video. I didn't know what I was filming, but I managed to get him in there toward the end.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

South American Cruise Videos - part one

We're still recovering from our last trip. The getting home part is always the worst. We're still catching up on mail and laundry, and still organizing the hundreds of photos. Meanwhile here are some videos.

ONE - Aboard the Splendour of the Seas off the coast of Chile. The sea was really rocking on Easter Morning.

TWO - Porto Montt, Chile. Dancers at the Sausage and Wine Tour

THREE - Chilean Fjords. Anybody want a taste of 2012?

Friday, March 21, 2008

Dream Team

SANTA FE, N.M. - New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, the nation's only Hispanic governor, is endorsing Sen. Barack Obama for president, calling him a "once-in-a- lifetime leader" who can unite the nation and restore America's international leadership.

Can I put this on my bucket list as something I never thought I would live to see?

Lord, grant us traveling mercies!!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Ranting against this country's sins

I was going to stay out of this discussion since so many of my friends have blogged about it already. Barack Obama is supposed to make a statement today about race in this country. As "clean and articulate" (Joe Biden's words) as Obama is, I'm sure he will address this issue in a much better fashion than I can.

But I did want to share this article from the Huffington Post:
You can read the whole thing click here

Frank Schaeffer says:

Obama's Minister Committed "Treason" But When My Father Said the Same Thing He Was a Republican Hero

"When Senator Obama's preacher thundered about racism and injustice Obama suffered smear-by-association. But when my late father -- Religious Right leader Francis Schaeffer (the author's father) -- denounced America and even called for the violent overthrow of the US government, he was invited to lunch with presidents Ford, Reagan and Bush, Sr."

For the most part, Sunday morning in this country is the most segregated time we have. The black church in America was founded during slavery. Some major denominations started in the 1700's by freemen who could not freely participate in the white church. Southern plantation owners allowed the slaves to have their prayer meetings because it kept them quiet. Little did they know that those gatherings became the basis for liberation.

The black church became the only place where we could talk about liberation and the social concerns that are uniquely ours. The Emancipation movement and later the Civil Rights movement both started in the black church.

Now that we have a black presidential candidate, whose religious affiliation has been questioned from the start because his middle name is Husein and his father was a Muslim, now the world has to look inside the church where he has been a member for 20 years.

Jeremiah Wright has had a reputation for being a fiery preacher for a long time. I had heard of him long before I heard of Barack Obama. (I've been traveling in preacher circles for most of my life.) His message does not offend me. Some of the sound-bites we have been hearing on the news may be laced with urban legend, but that's all part of the dramatic leanings of the good preacher.

It's unfortunate that Obama has felt the need to distance himself from the message as well as the messenger. I do hope that his "major speech on race" today will make me feel more comfortable with his "political correctness" in this whole thing. He has my vote regardless of what he has to say.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The next trip

Friday we leave for our next cruise. We fly to Santiago, Chile where we board the Splendour of the Seas, and go south from there, through the Strait of Magellan, then north to Argentina and Brazil. We fly home from Sao Paulo. The first challenge for this trip will be having the right clothes for changes in climates. It will be chilly in Chile, then it gets colder as we head toward Antarctica. Then coming back up to Brazil it gets warmer. And we have to pack it into 2 suitcases each.

The next challenge will be going without the daily news of the Presidential campaign for two whole weeks. News junkie that I am, it will be hard. We'll probably be able to see CNN aboard ship, but it's never the US version. It will probably be the UK version. That ought to give us the perspective of what the rest of the world thinks of our "democratic" process.