Saturday, October 16, 2010

I like voting. I hate politics. I'll pass on the latte.

In a few weeks voters will march to balloting centers across country and make their opinions known. I have always encouraged folks to vote, even if they have staunchly different views than mine. Government should not be homogeneous. If you fill a room with people who always agree with each other, you run the risk of stagnation. Diversity of ideas is necessary for a people to grow and innovate.

While I am a fan of voting, politics irritates me. Politics isn't even about government. Politics is about repaying favors, cutting sneaky deals and building influence.

These days I see and hear a lot of rhetoric based on politics.

How about we focus on what needs to get done rather than political agendas?

Here is what I would like to see, but doubt will happen:

Efficiency in place of bureaucracy. Responsibility in place of blame. Progress in place of false punditry.

This is commentary on the system, not a pitch for any party.

A great uproar has been made lately about which party controls the country. That is a distraction. Regardless of the party that fills the most chairs, government office is based on responsibility to the people. At least that is what it is supposed to be.

I've said this before and I will say it again: Even if your candidate does not win, your well-being is still the responsibility of those elected to office. Different groups may offer different ideas, but the big picture is supposed to be the same.

Do not wait until someone more to your liking gets elected. Push the issues you believe in. Demand, with proper courtesy, to be heard. If you spend your time grumbling but take no action, you become part of the problem. Keep moving forward and do not let those who scream the loudest sway you. The problems we have with the economy affect everyone, it just plays out differently for different folks.

For example, I watched a story about a man who lost his home to foreclosure proceedings that are now being called into question. On the advice of his attorney, the man took a hammer and attempted to break into the house which he claimed is rightfully his. The police arrested the man for busting in the window, etc. He quickly made bail and was released.

Before you rush to cheer this fellow as some sort of hero, this was a multimillion dollar home. The story did not reveal if the man had other properties that he owned. By all appearances, he was not "out on the streets".

So how did this seemingly affluent fellow lose that house? Unfortunately the story focused on the break-in attempt with little backstory. We can assume any number of things with the end result that he and his wife were overextended financially.

I have a hard time relating to millionaires who lose it all. I don't get how, for example, one of those Real Housewives filed for bankruptcy protection, auctioned items from her house then asked for and apparently got new diamonds for her wedding anniversary.

Yeah, life is REAL hard for her.

That example illustrates what I believe is the core problem that has held the economy back. This expectation of the party continuing without disruption is preposterous. If I have to listen to one more person in flip-flops sipping a latte make a quip about "survival of the fittest" . . .

If your big concern in life is what brand of champagne is in your mimosa, trust me, you probably will be okay. Or at least you should be if you took responsibility for their money instead of spending rampantly.

And I can use myself as an example here. I was deeply in debt several years ago, under the weight of high interest rates. I had to learn a different way of living, one where I became in charge of my finances rather than the other way around. I took drastic measures and cleared my debt, all of it.

That is what I think is missing from a lot of the political shouting. We all need to make better financial choices. Some folks have already done a good job of this. Some simply do not have the basic information needed to properly sustain themselves. Their is nothing intuitive about today's economy. Getting up and going to work is not enough anymore.

We created a system that requires much more forethought than we admit is necessary. How do we fix it? For starters, high school classes such as home economics should be about ECONOMICS rather than how to sew pillows or bake cookies. Teach people early on about creating a personal budget, credit, debt and nonvolatile ways of building equity. You should not be allowed to graduate high school without knowing these basics.

But there are others out there who do know better, are still partying like rock stars and don't want to pay their own bills. And if you tell me that kind of bad, excessive behavior is what our economy is built on because we are entitled to be irresponsible, we are SO SCREWED and it won't matter which party is in office.

P.S. The more I watch the political ads and debates from around the country, the more I see gamesmanship bent on winning rather than honest clear plans for good governance.

People aren't flinging mud, these are firebombs. And that includes independent parties. Showing people you are fired up about change doesn't mean you forget the purpose of political office. We all want a stronger economy but the pettiness of the rhetoric I hear makes me think these are tantrum-prone children running for office.

Monday, October 11, 2010


One of my favorite times of year. There is a fresh produce stand within walking distance of my place. They have ginormous pumpkins as well as plenty of fruits and veggies. I might carve up a jack-o-lantern. Haven't done that in a few years.

So I am not going to the Celtic isles for Halloween as hoped. Between looking after Mom and the sudden demand for my book, it just was not going to work out. Thought about a repeat trip to New Orleans for the vampire ball, but if I flew there I should have gone all the way to Scotland.

I am sure I can find some outrageous Halloween gathering in Manhattan or elsewhere.

This past Saturday at the Liberty States Fiction Writers meeting, the guest was Mark Sarro, founder and lead investigator of the Chester County Paranormal Research Society. Sarro talked about a few of his experiences and notable sites of hauntings such as Gettysburg.

I've been to Gettysburg, it was a pretty happy time. Stayed at the Herr Tavern, I think. They had a great bananas foster cheesecake. Took in a ghost tour as well as other history stops. I don't have the video of the trip anymore but I remember the stories. The thing is most ghost stories are extensions of real history. You don't have to believe in the supernatural at all, the real interesting part comes from what the tale reflects about the actual people and events of the day.

I think I mentioned in a prior post I found some commonality between the ghost stories in Gettysburg with the stories I heard down in Fredericksburg, Va. Both towns saw major Civil War battles but not every ghost story is about a battle.

Sarro said some interesting things about TV shows about ghosts. There is a lot of hokum in the media these days done to boost ratings. Some shows have investigators that try to "bully" ghosts by trash-talking them. That's just sad on so many levels.

But Sarro said even Ghost Hunters, which has a decent reputation, has been caught in staged chicanery.

Anyway, this month is fueling me with energy for those rewrites on Black Saturday. Got a suggestion on a possible editor to hire to comb through my novel. I want to be in a position by December to send the book to those who requested a look.

I am considering hosting a pre-holiday season party. I have a number of new recipes I'd like to whip up and yes there will be dessert. I must redeem myself for the Labor Day brownie fiasco. I know people still ate and enjoyed them, but I can do better.

I'd like to take a crack at making different pies, flavored creme brulee, serving up some mulled wine and even some homemade egg nog. My thinking is the longer things remain tough with the economy, the more I should try to do good things for folks I know. Keep your calendars handy, I will pick a day soon.

Flame and Bone

When I was made from fire
Poured into the tender vessel of caution
That keeps my smoke from rising
Quickly did I discover that apart from crisp drizzles or falling snow
The world chilled my touched
Walking the narrow cornered gap between girders and cut stone
One learns to tuck his shoulders in or risk
Jostling a neighbor passing by rapt with want
For a clear path without the distraction
Of another man's boiling eyes
The tip of a finger
That oldest of all weapons
Grown deadlier and pristine in its invention
Gathers a mote of a cinder on its bare flesh
And turns pondering how best to scratch the impious itch
Prying open the tender seam
Where the oil of thought dews
Offering a new wick to ignite
Squirming alive as a salamander of mischief
That yearns for a taste of air it is so ready to devour
The steam of breath betrays me
Before the glint of orange spreads
In popping bright waves
Eroding the fibers feeding it
Leaving naught but ash
As my shell of quietude falls away