Tuesday, January 31, 2006

It's All About Image

My sister and I had an interesting discussion today about people that live their lives to impress everyone around them. Where they live, what they drive, what and how they eat ... everything movement is carefully calculated to impress the Jones's. Isn't it ironic that these people spent so much time trying to impress their neighbors ... there was no time left to even meet them?

Monday, January 30, 2006

It's A War ... These Things Happen

Many members of the press embed themselves with troops in Iraq to provide a never seen before, up close and personal view of military operations. Unfortunately, it was just a matter of time until one of them got injured. Bob Woodruff and his camera man Doug Vogt were struck by a roadside bomb while riding in a military vehicle yesterday. Regardless of your views on the war, at least you and I back here in the states remember it's a war ... two opposing side fighting and killing for control of the same real estate. I often wonder if civilian news reporters on the battlefield forget about that. I wish all the best for Bob and Doug, but what's really troublesome is that over 2000 soldiers have already died in Iraq and not many recall their names ... nor do they get the amount of national news time Bob and Doug have. It's sad to see that once again, those who bring you the story are the ones you remember ... not those who MADE the story.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

The Multitasking Road Sign

While driving through some out of the way town today, I came up on a not so typical intersection. And as I do most of the time, I took a glance up at the name of the road that happens to intersect the one I'm on. Well as it turns out, I caught a red light at Cemetery Road. So while patiently waiting for a green signal, I to look up this side road and saw something I found absolutely hilarious. Apparently either the DPW crew or the cemetery employees have a really off the wall sense of humor, because any motorist that ventured into the graveyard was greeted by a "dead end" road sign. From what I could see, the road that serpentines through the cemetery really didn't have any exits. Although extremely funny, "no outlet" probably would have been more appropriate.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Worn Out ... Or Just Wearing In?

In previous posts, I've beaten up on the elderly pretty good in this blog. I still maintain that some people just cannot accept the fact they are getting old. There is an inherent problem with aging ... you wear out. It's nature's way of keeping the population in check. It seems like every time you turn on the news, there's some elderly person being interviewed complaining about being on a fixed income, or someone taking advantage of them because they're old and defenseless. (Personally, I can't help but wonder how thieves always seem to know who has cash stuffed under their mattress.) But today, I had the pleasure of having a really nice conversation with my 80 something neighbor. Aside from having virtually no sight and limited hearing, this man has suffered two strokes within the last two years and has had trouble with his knees and back for decades. Does he complain? No. He attributes his ailments to age ... nothing more. In fact, this man will be happy to share his life experiences with anyone, partly to reminisce and partly to pass on life lessons leaned. I wish more senior citizens would quit whining about their present condition, so they could share their past with others who would love to listen.

Friday, January 27, 2006

An Interesting Perspective

"Whenever you find you are on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect." -Mark Twain

Thursday, January 26, 2006

There's More To Love Than Hugs And Kisses

If you really love your friends and family, tell them about their musical deficiencies immediately ... or they might sneak off and try out for American Idol. It's bad enough that some people couldn't carry a tune if it had handles ... but to honestly believe they are the next big star in the music business, give me a break. What's worse, is Simon Cowell couldn't be any more blunt with his honesty about the lack of talent. And yet in the post audition interviews, contestant hopefuls can't accept the truth ... they're awful! This false sense of showmanship could only be attributed to parents and friends who didn't want to hurt their feelings when they performed ... I hope their proud of the musical mayhem they've created. I sure am ... it's great entertainment.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

It Looks Good On Paper

Many companies greet new employees with a binder containing rules, regulations, and expectations the new associate should adhere to. Typically, on the first few pages, a company mission statement is displayed outlining the reason for the company's existence, and will almost always boast the corporation's dedication to the consumer. At first glance, this impressive arrangement of words and promises causes the reader to feel proud of being a team player in such an organized and focused firm. In reality, I'll bet nobody actually remembers the mission statement of their employer, or even a small portion of it, off the top of their head ... so what's the point? Many Americans don't even know their own national anthem ... how could anyone ever expect them to memorize company propaganda?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The Economy Is Doing Great ... For Me

There seems to be quite a bit of economical reassurance going on in Washington lately, and quite frankly ... that scares me. Many American's wallets are now feeling the post holiday pinch compounded with rising home heating bills and escalating daily living expenses, leaving nothing extra. I guess it's easy to promote prosperity, when a self appointed pay raise is only a vote away ... the rest of us are forced to devise more resourceful ways to meet our rising financial obligations with less. I'll bet the 35,000 Ford employees may tend to disagree about this country's economic well-being. This shoddy attempt to boost consumer confidence is about as believable and humorous as a clip in "The Naked Gun" where Frank Drebin (Leslie Neilson) is standing in front of a burning fireworks factory telling onlookers "there's nothing to see here ... keep moving!"

Monday, January 23, 2006

Bottled Water Vs. Tap Water

Some experts now believe that bottled water may actually contain more contaminants than tap water. Recent independent testing of major bottled water brands revealed that, aside from the fact there is no regulatory pureness standard for the industry, almost all bottling companies products contained traces of a wide variety of biological and/or chemical contamination. Personally, even as a high school Biology flunky, I've stated for years that once water is put in a bottle, mixed with air contained inside the sealed bottle, put in a 70 degree store with 24 hours a day of light ... something is going to grow in there. Where as tap water is piped underground, stays about 45 degrees year round, kept out of the elements, and IS subject to mandated regulatory quality standards. What really cracks me up, is many people claim drinking all this bottled water makes them healthier ... have you ever looked inside their refrigerators/freezers to see what these "health gurus" eat? They'll need alot more help than "natural" bottled water to stay fit.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Consider The Source

A small clinic in northern California claims that they have trained dogs to sniff out and identify present/future cancer patients, by merely letting the dog smell the subject's breath. Supposedly, these canines have identified affected patients with 99% accuracy rate. The animals are trained to recognize the scent of specific chemicals produced by the body, that scientists believe are generated as a byproduct from patients suffering from cancer. Although this promising breakthrough may help with the diagnosis of certain cancers, take into consideration that "man's best friend" keen sense of smell also causes unexplainable behavior such as; rolling in "yard bombs", and licking other dogs ... you know, and attempting to mate your leg. Would you accept a diagnosis from Fido?

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Environmental Priorities

With ever rising gasoline prices, many prospective car shoppers take the EPA fuel rating into consideration when purchasing a new car. Unfortunately, the formula used to determine the efficiency rating was last revised in 1985 when driving habits, vehicle construction, and traffic were not what they are now. It seems that even something as simple as a roll of toilet paper has seen greater design updates in the past 20 years. Many experts claim that the fuel efficiency ratings are not only incorrect, but can be wrong up to 50%. It's scary to think that an organization like the EPA, which is so concerned about the environment, hasn't pressured auto makers to produce vehicles that burn less gas. Instead, they've wasted their resources and time pursuing trivial things like checking people's gas caps for evaporation and cracking down on illegal/incorrect storm water run off. I guess if you don't address the issue, it doesn't exist ... the ostrich method.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Double Dipping

An interesting thought occurred to me today. In Pennsylvania, all liquor sales are controlled by the state (Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board). With the strong public demand for law enforcement officials to crack down a drivers operating vehicles under the influence of alcohol, isn't ironic that the PLCB initially sold the substance in the first place?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

"I'm Not Going To Pay Alot For This Engine!"

Today I saw a news story that brings insurance fraud to an entirely new level ... what level it is, I'm not really sure. Apparently, a man that owned a newer model BMW suffered a catastrophic mechanical failure when the engine died. Rather replace the engine, the owner found it more cost efficient to rent a back hoe, and bury the vehicle in a wooded area so he could claim it was stolen to his insurance company. He did receive a claim payment of $20,000 dollars, but was somehow caught and forced to return the settlement money and was also fined $15,000 (pretty expensive engine if you ask me). It's amazing to me that someone is willing to dedicate that much thought, time, and effort into creating such an elaborate scheme ... wouldn't it just be easier to put in a new engine?

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Land Of The Free ... My Foot!

In New York City, smoking in restaurants and bars has been prohibited for some time. Advocates in favor of the ban feel that a healthier breathing environment for everyone is worth the inconvenience of tobacco users. Coincidently, many of these same people insist second hand smoke carries greater negative health ramifications than directly smoking. (It's kind of like saying that the burns from a muzzle flash of gun are more deadly than being shot.) Regardless of your views on smoking, there is more to the issue than health. At what point does the local, state, or federal government get off telling private business owners what to do in their own establishments? If the owner chooses to have a non-smoking store ... great, that's their choice. But being forced to comply with laws that may ultimately cause the demise of your business ... ridiculous. And just think, these people were elected to represent you and your interests.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Plan For The Future

NASA is set to launch an unmanned spacecraft to Pluto. The part I find interesting is that when the craft "New Horizons" finally reaches it's intended destination of the furthest planet in our solar system (sometime in 2015), the technology used will be obsolete. Boy ... I hope nothing breaks in the mission control room, because I can't even find parts for my computer ... and it's only four years old.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Some Jobs Really Suck

Job related hazards exist in every occupation ... especially airports. Apparently, a mechanic was sucked into a jet engine of 737-500 during a routine engine check before takeoff. Although this tragic scenario probably could have been avoided from multiple points of view, I would like to offer a different perspective. What REALLY scares me, is the fact that not one person bothered to look out the window before winding the engines up. The cockpit crew is responsible for the 114 passengers and 5 crew members aboard ... not to mention the thousands of people they fly over everyday. These pilots are trained to fly across the world in all kinds of weather with the finest navigation equipment available ... but forget to look outside before testing an engine. Now it makes sense why the FAA mandates all commercial flights have cockpit voice recorders (black boxes) ... to weed out the bad apples.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

We All Make Our Own Beds

Last Friday Christopher Penley, a 15 year old boy, brought a pellet gun that was painted black to resemble a 9mm handgun to school. Apparently, there was some sort of scuffle for the weapon with another classmate that ultimately caused the young man to take his gun and hide in the lavatory. The school was promptly evacuated, and the authorities were called. After multiple negotiation attempts failed to prompt the student to give up the weapon, the SWAT team cornered him and also demanded he drop the firearm. For inexplicable reasons, Christopher pointed the gun at the surrounding officers and the police opened fire. After being declared brain dead from his injuries on Friday, today he unfortunately passed away. After following this story for the last few days, I am intrigued to see how the aftermath of the incident unfolds. Sure as flies on ... (well you know), every bleeding heart will find their way to any network talk show that will listen, and attempt to use this boy as a martyr to push their gun control agenda. But here is the bottom line; I was raised with guns in my house and still to this day enjoy target shooting. Any gun enthusiast will tell you rule #1. "Never ... ever aim your weapon at something you are not fully prepared to shoot and kill." The police did exactly what they were supposed to ... defend themselves. Besides, nobody made him take the gun to school ... that was his choice. How about putting the accountability where it ultimately belongs ... with Christopher.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Up In Arms

The United States of America promotes all countries to be independent as a nation and self sustaining. Just looking back at our own history, for the most part, we as citizens of this country have demonstrated these ideals can hold true. But I become a little confused when we decide to tell the world who can and can't research and develop nuclear energy. It goes without saying that the leader of Iran has a few screws loose, but who are we to put the stoppers on what they as a sovereign nation decide to do ... nobody stepped in to stop us when we were developing such technology. Is it nothing more than the boys in Washington fear competition? I mean, it would be much more difficult to bully the world if they had the same toys we do.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Celebrity T.V.: What Will They Think Of Next?

As if ABC's Dancing with the Stars wasn't enough to make you want to go and take a dip your septic tank rather than watch, FOX has come up with a rebuttal to this star studded phenomenon ... Skating With Celebrities. From what I gather, it's pretty much the same concept. Find celebrities with little or no athletic ability, try to teach them how to figure skate in a short amount of time, and judges (who rate their performances) watch them crash land all over the rink. The only possible explanation for such stupid television material is to attract more male viewers by offering a greater chance of "bodily injury" live on t.v. (It's got to be nothing more than a beer bet between opposing network executives ... nothing more.) Let's face it ... guys like anything that involves any sort of wreck. If you don't believe me, turn on any police chase show with men in the room ... we're hooked for hours . I can only imagine NBC must be working on another ridiculous program to out do the others like "Curling With Movie Stars" slated for late 2006/early 2007, and PBS will follow suit with "Horseshoes With Professional Wrestlers" in late spring of 2007. My God ... where does it end?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Green Pig? It's Not Hogwash!

On the noon news today, I saw a story about how researchers injected green fluorescent protein into pig embryos, and created a fully functional green pig ... inside and out. Yes it's true, I couldn't make this stuff up. According to the scientists who conducted the experiment, the pig has green internal organs ... and even glows in the dark. It's quite comforting to know that while sickness and disease still plague the earth, scientists in the genetics field have nothing better to do than fulfill their childhood dreams of Dr. Seuss's Green Eggs And Ham.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The FCC: Giving Mixed Signals?

Well as of 1/09/06, Howard Stern has moved his talk show to satellite radio. Many speculate that the transfer was because this radio "shock jock" racked up to many complaints from the public, and fines from the Federal Communications Commission. Others hypothesize that moving to a paid service, and hence putting the show out of reach from the FCC, will grant Mr. Stern for all intents and purposes an unrestricted license to take his program to all new heights of uncensored adult programming. Although I personally do not follow the Howard Stern Show, the whole thing got me thinking about the how the FCC attempts to uphold some sort of morals and decency throughout the broadcasting business. With that in mind, the advertising of beer and cigarettes are not acceptable material for television ... but condoms are. The same goes for radio, how many times have you listened to graphic and specific commercials for male enhancement products? I guess children listening to the secrets of "complete sexual satisfaction" is far better than hearing a beer commercial.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Stop The Presses!

Due to an upcoming family matter that requires my fullest attention, daily posts of "Is It Me?" will be temporarily put on hold.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Hurricane Katrina Victims Now Starring As Public Entertainment

I found out today that a bus company is offering tours of hurricane ravaged Southern Louisiana. For a mere $35.00 ($3.00 of which is donated to hurricane relief funds. Great ... more money pumped into the bureaucratic abyss), you too can roll through downtown New Orleans to see the devastation first hand. And as an added bonus, this bus company will take you through residential neighborhoods so you can, as one patron put it, "Feel the full impact the storm had." The only impact a bunch of rubberneckers loaded on a bus would feel, would be me throwing the softball sized fragments of what was left from the foundation of my home through their windshield! If the $3.00 donation rolled into the price of your ticket helps you justify your subconscious need to watch the misery of others, and makes you sleep better at night knowing you helped ... wonderful, I'm glad your that shallow. To really help, get off the bus and ask these people face to face how you can help them. Just the act of offering help in person goes much further than $3.00 ever will.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Another Example Of Stellar Customer Service

I know I've already went off on the lack of customer service today in an earlier post "Customer Service? What's That?", but yet again I find that employees have the attitude that they did the boss a favor by showing up for work. Tonight I didn't feel like cooking dinner and was in the mood for something different. So I hopped in my "heep", and took a ride down the highway to the closest Arby's. My initial intent was to hit the drive-thru and bring dinner back home, so I pulled up to the ordering spot and waited for an acknowledgement from the staff that I was there, before placing my order. So I waited ... and waited ... the line got longer behind me ... and we all waited. Finally, I decided to just go in to order. (Partly due to an overwhelming curiosity as to why nobody answered the talking menu.) After I finally got my order in, I noticed the store manager apologizing to all the customers about the wait. When she got to me, I inquired about the drive-thru wait. She laughed and said, "Oh ... when we get busy inside, we just don't answer it." and walked away chuckling. I couldn't believe what I just heard ... FROM THE MANAGER! "Why not kill two birds with one stone ... turn the light off so drivers don't go through" I replied. I didn't get an answer.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Good Journalism ... It's All In The Timing

This morning I tuned in to ABC's Good Morning America and was informed of the 13 trapped miners in West Virginia. One can only imagine what the families and friends of the miners, and the miners themselves, are going through. But human emotions for loved ones obviously play second fiddle to Diane Sawyer, who had the honor of interviewing West Virginia's governor. Rather than ask pertinent questions about the possibility of survivors, search efforts, or rescue techniques, Diane felt the need to flaunt how in the know ABC News is by reciting safety violations the mining company had received earlier. It is completely possible that these infractions played a part in, or are responsible for the current situation ... that's a given. But is now really the time to point fingers? Why not focus on the matter at hand ... THE GUYS THAT ARE STUCK UNDERGROUND!

Monday, January 02, 2006

Sign ... Sign ... Everywhere A Sign

Just drive down any stretch of road, and chances are you'll see billboard advertisements everywhere. In fact, they have become so commonplace, many don't even see them anymore. Really ... when is the last time you NOTICED a billboard? (If you have to think about it ... you don't remember.) Many states are now ratifying bills to have cell phone usage banned while operating a motor vehicle, unless a hands free device is used. (I wonder if this also applies to motorcycles?) I really can't say I blame lawmakers, many traffic accidents are caused by drivers paying too much attention to the phone conversation and not enough attention to everyone else on the road. With that in mind, why do billboards continue to keep popping up at amazing rates all over the place? I'd personally rather be near a driver that wasn't listening ... rather than not looking.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Time Has Finally Caught Up To Dick Clark

Last night, I tuned in to ABC's new years eve party and found what I saw a little peculiar. Forgetting that Dick Clark had taken a stroke earlier, I thought he had a been doing a little new years eve partying himself and had a package on ... I really did. Mr. Clark, without a doubt, has become and will always be an American icon. But, there is a point in one's career where it's just time to hang it up ... Mr. Clark has not only gotten to that point, he's passed it. Aside from finding him incredibly difficult to understand, I actually felt sorry for him because he struck me as a man who just wouldn't let go. Sometimes, it's better for people to remember you the way you were, not the way you are ... especially in the broadcasting business.