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National and Global, United States

Friday, February 26, 2010

Whither the maligned hot dog?

The American Academy of Pediatrics has decided that if you are under 7 and attempt to buy a hot dog...YOU will be 'carded'!

The menacing, All-American hot dog is out to get our children, says the American Academy of Pediatrics, noting that hot dogs cause 17 percent of the fatal, food-related choking incidents suffered by toddlers. The other 83% is from hamburgers, stale granola bars, Pizza Hut pizza, pomegranate seeds,  and BBQ'd Tofu.

While the Academy is craving a safer, new hot dog design that's less likely to lodge in childrens' throats, The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council is counseling reason, as they usually do, when it comes to this subject.

Many hot dog packages, it says, already feature warning labels and, besides, there are simpler solutions. Yea, I didn't know that there was actually a "hot dog and sausage council" either. Apparently, there is. And what small child is reading the 'warning label"? Not mine. They can't read!

You could cut it up before your kid eats it!
You could just eat it yourself.
You could order a salad or milk toast.
Or... some tofu shaped like a hot dog!

What will happen to the famous Dodger Dog or Nathan's Famous? Ball Park Franks? Will they become a distant memory? A by-gone era of rolls and big hot dogs.  Will they too have to 'down size'? Will "Hebrew National" still remain kosher?

Proposed new Warning label: "Don't eat this stuff if you don't have a big mouth!"

Whither the maligned hot dog?

On Senator John McCain's bid for another term...

Having lived in Arizona for the past 15 years or so, I can attest to the fact that we probably need a change in our representation in Washington DC. The problem is, whenever we elect someone new (in this case JD potentially), they wind up becoming part of the DC 'thing'. Maybe it is the water. I don't know. They seem to ultimately just forget who elected them and why they are there. It ain't to matter which one.
It is to represent the people who elected them. Strange thought indeed.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Just How FAR Down the Road is This?

Since President Obama's election, the Republican party has gained support across all age groups, says a recent Pew poll, with a 5 percent to 6 percent jump among baby boomers, Generation X, Millennials, and Civil War Veterans.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

This Week's Corporate LOSERS...

How would like to work for one of these disorganized organizations. Sometimes,goes to show that a change in management doesn't always mean a change in the 'smarts'

Mr Toyoda goes to Six Flags...

The President of Toyota today, was driving from New York's Kennedy Airport, to the US Congressional Committee hearings in Washington D.C. However, he ended up in Richmond, Virginia. Reason he said: "the car wouldn't stop".

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

You Can Get By on the Old Man's Money....

"You're a rich girl and it's gone too far
'Cause you know it don't matter anyway
Say money, money wont get you too far, get you too far..." Hall and Oates

Sunday, February 21, 2010

My First Day at Spring Training in MLB

OK. This was the 'big day'. My first day at Spring Training with the San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners. The broadcast booth as director. Arizona heat and sunshine.
It's a Sunday in the ballpark.

Oops. It is a rainy Sunday. Mudsville vs Dirtball in Arizona. The playing fields are closed. No sound of wooden bat on ball.No famous players to sign autographs. Nothing but me sitting by the broadcast booth, waiting for something...just anything.

Well, as fate would have it, I spend the entire afternoon, Manning a security gate that no one comes through. No famous players, no autographs, no fans. Just me and the 'walkie-talkie'. 10-4 good buddy. Over and out.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Musing About this Week...

The Governor of California says that aside from the beverage tax, he will now impose a pizza tax, by the slice. So... if you order a pizza, don't have them cut it. Ahead of the curve, as usual!

Friday, February 19, 2010

OPED: Obama's Stimulus

I guess there really are two-sides to every story. The New York Times and The New York Post have taken opposing sides on whether or not Obama's Stimulus is working.

Here they are:

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Hey, I'm From Jersey Too!

Having lived in New Jersey for some period of time, I came to what I believe, is a basic understanding of the "jersey accent".

Watching Frank Sinatra movies is a start. He had it 'down pat'. Well, he was from New Jersey after all. "The big lesson in life, baby, is never be scared of anyone or anything."

Sunday, February 14, 2010

My Italians...

My maternal grandfather Dominic, split his time between brick laying and wine making. The latter was his passion. The former his need. My paternal grandfather, Rocco, was an anthracite coal miner, who probably had little time for wine making. They both made babies on a regular basis. It was either the wine or the loneliness of coal. Perhaps both. More then not, it was probably more the beauty of my grandmothers, Concetta and Anna.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Doctor J Syndrome...

I was working with a group in Washington DC awhile back. There was one partner with this company, that I fully remember. His name was Jae (initials for his first and last name). He had a PhD in something non-consequential, and was a former Air Force officer. was a PhD nonetheless.

He drove around Washington in a new Mercedes and had one of those ego-license plates.
His was "Dr Jae". Now, I recall Julius Erving of the Philly Sixers. That was Dr J. Who was this other "Dr Jae", I thought? Could he go for the dunk? Could he dribble past Wally Jones? What was this all about?

My funny-bone went out a bit when I saw the license plate of Dr Jae. More power to him.

Here's a white guy, with a PhD, in a suit, driving around D.C. in a Mercedes with the Dr. Jae plates. I just bet that at many a red light, he had to put his 'foot to the metal' just to get out of the way of a few Washingtonians who knew the difference between Dr. J and Dr. Jae. The latter could not dribble a basketball, I am sure, and the former did not have a PhD in anything but 'street ball'.

So... when you drive around D.C. and see the plates of a Dr. JAE, don't ask him to go 'one on one'. He won't know what you are talking about.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What If Everyone Just Stopped Sending Resumes?

I don't know about you, but over the last 10 years I've never gotten a job or a project by applying for it. Those that I did get, came to me...not me to them.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Where's the Tooth Fairy When You Need Him?

In a different time and far away place, I believed in the 'tooth fairy'. I did! He was my personalized Santa Claus without the fanfare.

When it was time for that little tooth to go, it would easily just fall out. I'd catch it and place it under the pillow at night. In the morning there would be a crisp one dollar bill right there, where the tooth had been. I think I did that about 30 times or so. I wasn't afraid because I knew then when one tooth fell out, another would magically take its place. It went on for a few years. Tooth in!

I went to the dentist last week. He said 'that tooth has got to go'. Instantly, I thought back to the 'tooth fairy'. This time however, it was not as easy as the first time. No little prodding to remove the little tooth. This time it was more serious. It was a big tooth. And this time, it hurt. The fact is, no tooth would grow back magically this time. It would need to be an 'implant'. Ouch!

So I sat back in the chair as the local anesthesia took its toll. I heard the pulling and the cracking. Finally, the tooth came out. A proud dentist exhibits the forlorn and lonely tooth. "Do you want take it with you", he states.

Thinking once again back to that early tooth, I decide that it's a good idea, to take a tooth that has been around that long, has no further useful life; take it home and place it gently under the pillow. So I did just that.

The tooth sat there below that pillow for a few days, wrapped in paper, waiting for the tooth fairy to magically appear and leave behind a crisp dollar bill.

Days went by. Finally, one morning I awoke and there under the pillow was an envelop with my name on it. I anxiously opened the envelop hoping to find that prize from the tooth fairy. And there it was. A bill for $175. from my dentist.

So, remember that the tooth fairy is on your side only when you are young, and you only can ask once for that reward for that tooth. When you grow older, the tooth fairy has little regard for your fantasy. As in most things in life,you only get one chance... with one tooth. The reality is just a bill from your dentist, and a yawn from the tooth fairy.

The tongue that concedes will not wear out; obstinate teeth fall out
Chinese Proverb

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I Know That I'm No Writer. I Can Prove It

Now, I know I have this bloggy-thinger going. That doesn't mean that I can write. I know that. One teacher in college told me 'you write good' (not her exact words), and should apply that to your future thoughts. And so I did. The results, as you will see, were less then stellar.

While in college, I went to work for a number of organizations as a 'writer'.

1) TV Guide Magazine -- I was hired as a 'promotional writer'. What that means is that you write copy for those little 'lap cards' that fall out of magazines when you open them. Yep, that was me. I was fired. Christmas Eve I recall.

2) Bofinger-Kaplan Advertising (no longer around) -- I was hired as a copywriter for this ad agency. My job? Naming paints. The color swatches would come across my desk, and I had to come up with names. You see them all the time at HomeDepot.
Fantasia Yellow, Caboose Red, Green Tea Green. This is a tough job if you are color blind. I am not. I was fired.

3) Union Fidelity Insurance (no longer around) -- This was one of those direct-mail insurance companies. You know, pay premiums for two years before benefits and no physical exam. I wrote copy for their direct mail pieces. What do you tell an 87 year old woman, who has to pay premiums for two years, before she is covered? Hang in there? I was fired.

4) Rodale Press (finally a company that's still around) -- I was hired again to write promotional copy for Organic magazines. This job was a 60+mile trip one-way. 120 miles per day, five days per week is not exactly 'organic'. Nor was I.
I was fired.

Thus, at an early age I realized (or someone did it for me) that I was indeed, not a writer. I had visions at one time of Ernest Hemingway. But no, I was never to be that. I couldn't even put names to paint colors. Instead, I would like to consider myself a 'humorist'. Nice term.

A humorist is a person who writes or performs humorous material. The material written and/or performed by humorists tends to be more subtle and cerebral than the material created by stand-up comedians and comedy writers. The intention is often to provoke wry smiles and amusement rather than outright belly laughs.

My family members probably would say there's an oxymoron there between me (the person) and me (the humorist). Nevertheless, if I can't be a Hemingway, I can at least attempt to be Ambrose Bierce, Yogi Bear, James Thurber, or Dr Seuss. Ogden Nash and Frank Zappa also comes to mind.

I will assume that most who read this will say that I am indeed not a writer. Some will say 'nor a humorist'. I don't mind. You can't fire me. And that's the great stuff of a blogger.

As Garrison Keillor noted:
"That's the news from Lake Woebegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average."

"Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.". Even if you think I am a writer. Which I am not.

Play Ball! It's My Turn Again...

The last time I worked in professional baseball was for a few years starting around 1985. I was a Vice President of the Houston Astros organization. I think I attended almost all of the 180 game schedule, and coordinated the 1986 AllStar game in Houston.

I remember Jose Cruz, Nolan Ryan. Yogi Berra was a coach. That's about it. I would also chuckle as Yogi would hit the field in the Rainbow colors of the Houston Astros. Yogi was the consummate Yankee, and here he was in Houston...coaching! Not in pin stripes...but in 'rainbows'. How funny.

My young children would roller skate in the 'owner's box' during the games they attended. That 'box' was about 90 feet along, and ran just above the right field bleachers at the Astrodome. Free food too! Frankly, my children had little interest in the games themselves. They were there for one thing: to skate and eat.How much fun is that?

Well, it's about 25 years later, and I've owned my own management firm for a good many of those years. That being said, the closest I've come to professional sports is running a sports publishing firm in Los Angeles. Now, being the owner of this management firm, I can also take time-off to do other things that I consider 'likable'.

So, for six weeks (March/April) I'm going to work Spring Training in Arizona. Yep, I went and applied for a position and I got one. Now mind you, this is not VP of anything. It's managing the broadcast booth, showing people to their seats, taking tickets, etc. Hey, but that's ok. For once, I'm not doing it for the cash flow. I'm doing it because I just want to do it. And it is fun!

And that leads me to the current rationale of just doing things and working with people or companies, that I want to, because I just want to do it. For no other reason.

Call it maturity, mid-life crisis, or even immaturity. The fact is, I'm doing it for no legitimate reason, other then smiling, and having others smile at me. And the 'boss' can just wait for me to return, if ever.

"Hey, that's Smokey Joe Wood. And Mel Ott. And Gil Hodges!
Ty Cobb wanted to play, but none of us could stand the son-of-a-bitch when we were alive, so we told him to stick it!" Field of Dreams

Play Ball!

My Home: The Skating Rink

I live in a house that has no rugs on the floors and no floor tile. The entire flooring is concrete. End-to-end. Add to that the fact that there are no steps, and the hallways are twice as wide as the normal home.

When we purchased the home, we thought that it was great for wheelchair access, if we ever needed it. My grandchildren thought otherwise. They had a very different mind-set on utilization of this space. Wheelchair access be damned. This was the perfect skating rink.

The main rink was the living room and 'extreme' skating occurred in the hallways, bedrooms, and bath. You could open all the doors (interior/exterior) and fly through the air from outside to inside and back out again.

All it needed was a little waltz music with thundering bass, and they could have been in Rockefeller Center on ice.

Whether I liked it or not, Roller Derby finally came to our house. Four or five kids on skates doing spins on the living room floor, then darting in and out of the bedrooms. Someone hiding in the closet, only to be found in a game of 'roller tag'.

It's not exactly what I envisioned in this home. When those kids arrive, it's as if the entire world of the home is transformed into that skating rink. And when they finally depart from the visit, the house reverts back almost instantaneously into a space that can accommodate a wheelchair. Not that I need one. I don't. And that's the rub. I don't now look at the home as 'wheelchair accessible'. Rather, I look at it as a place where these 'little people' can skate around their grandparents. Play tag, roller-derby, or double spin. Or hide in the closet.

These episodes offer new vision to 'graying hair' and bald spots. Instead of simply looking at the home as 'wheelchair accessible' I now see it as a roller skating sports complex. And the latter is so much better then the former in my mind.

The Name of The Game: TAXES

Everyone seems to be bemoaning all these new tax proposals, from federal to state to local. Municipalities need to cover 'shortfalls' in their budgets to the tune of millions of dollars. Here, they will start to tax ALL grocery items. Historically, if you ate a product, it wasn't taxed, unless it was 'prepared food'. Now, it will be everything you purchase, whether you eat it or not. This of course, is regressive taxation, but government doesn't care anymore. Regressive. Progressive. No difference.

Here's a few of the taxes I could come up with. And we all pay them. A little more won't hurt. We need to pay our representatives in the Senate and Congress, don't we?

Here goes:

Accounts Receivable Tax
Apartment Rent Tax
Building Permit Tax
Local Bed Tax (hotels)
CDL license Tax
Cigarette Tax
City Wage Tax
Corporate Income Tax
Dog License Tax
Excise Taxes
Federal Income Tax
Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)
Fishing License Tax
Food License Tax
Food Tax
Fuel Permit Tax
Gasoline Tax (currently 44.75 cents per gallon)
Garbage Pick-up Tax
Gross Receipts Tax
Hazardous Waste Tax
Hunting License Tax
Inheritance Tax
Inventory Tax
IRS Interest Charges IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)
Liquor Tax
Local Wage Tax
Luxury Taxes
Marriage License Tax
Medicare Tax
Personal Property Tax
Property Tax
Real Estate Tax
Service Charge Tax
Social Security Tax
Road Usage Tax
Sales Tax
Special Use Tax
Sports Commission Tax
Recreational Vehicle Tax
School Tax
State Income Tax
State Unemployment Tax (SUTA)
Telephone Federal Excise Tax
Telephone Federal Universal Service FeeTax
Telephone Federal, State & Local Surcharge Taxes
Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax
Telephone Recurring & Non-recurring Charges Tax
Telephone State and Local Tax
Telephone Usage Charge Tax
Toll tag Tax
Transportation Tax
Utility Taxes
Vehicle License Registration Tax
Vehicle Sales Tax
Water Tax
Watercraft Registration Tax
Well Permit Tax
Workers Compensation Tax

*And there's many, many more taxes not listed above we all pay already.

" And When he's gone, Do not relax,It's time to apply The inheritance tax."

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Bingo As Serious As World Peace in This Group

I decided to take my mother on her twice weekly trip to the senior center this week.

My intent was to see that she was in a positive and productive environment. On the other hand, I was looking to see what my world might be like a few years from now. From softball to Bingo, I thought. All in the blink of an eye.

Bingo, as I recall the game, was mostly 'laid back'. The cousin of Keno, but not so confusing. Simply place your chit on the numbers as they are called. So, I decided to sit and play-the-game with my mom and a group of her friends. They were all mature people in their 80's. Well-dressed, friendly and social. So I thought. Until the game began.

When the game started, each of those ladies would have up to 20 cards in front of them. My mom had two. She was definitely in the minority. The first number rang out: B-22. A hush feel over the auditorium. Next: N-16. Again, scrambling fingers and hands are all you could hear. I-3 rang out. More shuffling. B-16. You could feel the tension in the air. It was as the 50-yard dash had begun and the wheel chairs and the walkers were of absolutely no concern.

At this point, I attempted to add some humorous statement. Three words came out, and then I got those cross-eyed looks from just about everyone at the table. It was as if 12 mothers had found out that I had skipped school. They were looks that would 'kill'. Another number: I-12. Another hush. Again, I attempted to make a statement. Again, daggers from the group at the table.

I turned to mom and whispered: "what's going on here"? She turned and said: "keep quite. This is serious stuff. There's $25. at stake here, and if you make us miss a number, these ladies won't let me sit here anymore."

And so it continued for the next hour. B-2, G-20, O-14. I was mesmerized by the seriousness of the group. The total lack of wanting to socialize...or talk. They were there to win that $25. at Bingo, and you had better not get in their way.

There was no concern for political discussion, social input, news-of-the-day. Darwinist Bingo. Win or die! I could envision little old ladies being thrown over the table or landing a punch to someone. No wimps here.

I was glad when that day was over. I was exhausted! At the end of the games, everyone reverted back to their nice, social, and mature selves. Talking about how good the lunch of pot-roast was, and how nice it was to see everyone enjoying themselves.

At the end of the day, everyone said good-bye and 'we will see you tomorrow'! The wheel chairs and the walkers started to roll out the door in single file.

I now had a better understanding and appreciation for the game of Bingo. It raises the adrenalin level in this group. It's like younger people playing touch football. It's competition. In your face gamesmenship, taking no prisoners. Winning. $25. worth. I guess when you are in your 80's pomp and circumstance don't concern you anymore. I think you get that old by not being 'old'. Going for the 'gold' of $25., and determined not to let anyone get in your way, wheelchair or not.

I took my mom home, and went home myself. As I walked through the front door, I went to the television remote, channel-surfing. Looking for the Bingo Channel. There isn't any. But if there was, we'd have a whole bunch of old ladies fighting for the remote control and telling me to 'shut up' or die, while the numbers are called.

Obama's FAILED Budget Issues?

According to House Leader, John Boehner (R-OH), President Obama' budget has some real 'shortfalls'. These appear to be the most prominent:

President Obama’s budget contains a “secret sequel” to the trillion-dollar ‘stimulus’ it concedes isn’t working as promised. A majority of Americans oppose the trillion-dollar ‘stimulus’ and nearly three in four say it has wasted taxpayer dollars. What’s worse, President Obama’s budget projects that unemployment will remain near 10 percent through the end of this year. The Obama Administration promised the trillion-dollar stimulus would create jobs ‘immediately’ and keep joblessness below eight percent.

President Obama’s budget fails to pivot away from costly, job-killing policies that are causing uncertainty and making matters worse. President Obama’s budget accounts for the implementation of both a government takeover of health care and a ‘cap-and-trade’ national energy tax, two job-killing bills the American people have rejected loudly and clearly. The President calls for a new national energy tax to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent by 2020 – a proposal which CBO has estimated would increase taxes by $870 billion, a full $224 billion more than President Obama’s proposal in the FY2010 budget.

Economic News UP....Stock Market DOWN!

Let's recap some of the good news from the Economic front from last week(jan2010):

The Commerce Department said the economy grew in the fourth quarter at its fastest pace in more than six years;

The Institute for Supply Management-Chicago said its index of Midwest business activity rose more than expected in January;

Consumer sentiment in January as measured by The Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers hit its highest level in two years; and

Of the 220 companies in the S&P 500 index that have reported fourth quarter earnings, 78% of them exceeded analysts' expectations, according to Thomson Reuters. In a typical quarter, only 61% of companies beat Wall Street targets.

Sounds pretty good, doesn't it? So, how does the stock market respond? It goes down.

Some Thinkers