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Friday, September 29, 2006

What happened to the vows of poverty?

The priestly profession is becoming, how should I put this...increasingly criminal. Two South Florida priests have been accused of stealing money from the parish coffers over several years. Not all that long ago we were reading about priests preying on young boys.
A couple of questions: Did they ever go to confession? Did they take communion?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Serve me up some Slurpee

Hip hip hurray for 7-11. The company cut its ties to Citgo, the Venezuelan government-owned oil company, in protest (and fear) over Prez Hugo Chavez's comments at the UN over Prez Bush. I'm no fan of George W., but Chavez's comments -- Bush was the devil and he smelled of sulphur etc -- were way out of line. He overestimated himself and his oil power. I guess he figured we're so dependent on the black gold that we wouldn't blink an eye and keep filling up our tanks on Citgo.
Soon after his comments were aired on the news I told my husband I wasn't going to visit anymore Citgo stations even though they tend to be ones offering the cheaper gas around our neighborhood. Well, now the folks that made convenience shopping part of Americana beat me to the punch.
How about a Slurpee?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

C'mon, is your life really that interesting?

It's amazing what people will do to get attention. Just peek in on YouTube and you'll look at all kinds of people clamoring for fame. And they'll do anything for it, too. What's the big deal about having so many people watching you do idiotic things, especially when it's not your job? Are we all so hungry for celebrityhood? What is it about fame, anyway, that is so attractive?
Call it the Paris Hilton effect, when someone becomes famous for being famous. I don't get it.
Can somebody explain?

C'mon, is your life really that interesting?

It's amazing what people will do to get attention. Just peek in on YouTube and you'll look at all kinds of people clamoring for fame. And they'll do anything for it, too. What's the big deal about having so many people watching you do idiotic things, especially when it's not your job? Are we all so hungry for celebrityhood? What is it about fame, anyway, that is so attractive?
Call it the Paris Hilton effect, when someone becomes famous for being famous. I don't get it.
Can somebody explain?

Monday, September 25, 2006

Should we give up on vicious 15-year-olds?

So what do you do with three 15-year-olds who beat a homeless man. Didn't kill him, they told police, because they were aware of another beating that resulted in death -- and murder charges.
Do we lock them up and throw away the key? Do we hold parents responsible? Do we send them to therapy? Sad to say, I can't imagine them "finding the light" or "turning a new leaf." The parents themselves have said they had problems disciplining them.
I have a 15-year-old and he is often ornery, but I can't imagine him ever beating up anybody with such viciousness. You've got to be really really messed up to do something like that.

The incredibly shrinking household

A few weeks back, after my middle son left for college during the Labor Day weekend, I told my husband how strange it felt to have his room empty -- and neat -- once again. It was strange, too, to not have him sitting at the table whining with his brothers about the food. And it was strange that he wasn't hogging the washing machine, either.
I realized I'm used to a noisy and full household, and as each of my five kids flies the coop, it gets quieter and emptier. I continue to buy in bulk because I don't know how else to shop. I also tell friends, "Now I only have two at home," and people ask, "Only?"
So it was with some amusement that I read a story about the shrinking U.S. family. As our houses get bigger, our families get smaller. A matter of lower birthrates, more money and fewer generations living together, it seems.
My household remains on the large side, though -- two kids, three adults (husband, father and moi.) That, strangely enough, gives me a little satisfaction.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Bodies on exhibit

The exhibition of siliconed cadavers gives me the creeps. Even if these bodies were obtained legally and with the consent of the family, there's something quite ghoulish about the whole thing.
Yet...yet, I'm also very curious. What do these bodies stripped of all their humanity really look like? After all we rarely get to see our insides.
Should I go to the exhibit in South Miami, which is not too far from my home?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

What did she play with?

That's the first thing I wondered about when I read of the discovery of a 3-million-years-old fossilized remains of a little girl belonging to a species of our humanoid ancestors. Bet it wasn't Barbie or GameBoy that she entertained herself with. Tree branches and a little dirt were probably good enough for her. Not to mention she had to be on the lookout for some vicious predators so time for play was likely limited.
Now our kids worry less about some mammoth tiger and more about obesity.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Outliving your teeth

Despite conscientious flossing and toothbrushing, it seems I'm getting too old for my teeth. I spent a good part of the morning at the dentist, and it wasn't good news. "But I work so hard at it," I whined at him, when he told me I probably will need a root canal.
To add insult to injury: My puny dental insurance pays a laughable amount. My portion is about eight or nine times what Cigna dishes out. Why do they call it dental insurance then?!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A luxury lifestyle in college

College life ain't what it used to be. It's now part of a luxury lifestyle, with electronics (read: plasma TVs) becoming a sought after accessory. Here's one more sad sign of hyper consumerism.
We're growing too soft, too complacent, raising a generation of spoiled wannabe-rich kids. Whatever happened to the starving college student paying his dues, struggling to make ends meet and nursing that hunger for success?

Monday, September 18, 2006

White buffalo: What's our sign?

A tribe in South Dakota is making pilgrimages to a farm where a white buffalo, considered a good sign, was born. It made me think of the countless other pilgrimages I've read about -- people traveling to shrines or trekking to pray in front of buildings where, it was said, the face of the Virgin Mary was smeared. Though I admire that kind of faith -- what sustenance in bad times! -- I don't find any solace in them. I think of The Creator as something more elusive, certainly not someone who will show sign of existence in grilled cheese sandwiches

Friday, September 15, 2006

A little whine served with breakfast cheese

It's Friday, so let me whine a bit:
1) Experts are telling us to throw out our bagged spinach. It may contain e. coli, that nasty, nasty organism that can makes us very sick. Spinach! It's about the only green thing I like and eat almost daily.
I've come to the conclusion that the act of eating is a dangerous thing. Eat cake and you get fat. Eat white rice and count those horrible carbs. Now you eat spinach and you get intestinal problems, maybe even death. Liquid diet anyone?
2) The death of Anna Nicole Smith's son in a Bahamian hospital, where he had come to visit her after the birth of a sister, is about as weird a tragedy as they come. In case your memory needs to be refreshed, Smith is a former centerfold who married a super-wealthy oil tycoon who was more than 60 years her senior. (You think it was love?) The poor little rich geezer kicked the bucket soon after and she's been battling his son in a very public court fight for the multi-millions. Could the death and the fight be related, hmm? Does this sound like an episode of that old primetime soap Dallas? And am I dating myself by referring to J.R. Ewing et al?
3) My 15-year-old had a high school football game last night. Started late and went into overtime. To get off to school he probably slept 5 1/2 hours. I think his first period was physics. Some friends gave me grief because I didn't let him sleep in. My feeling is that school comes first. If he wants to play on the gridiron he still has to perform at the top of his game in the classroom. What I want to know is this: Why do they keep scheduling games on a school night knowing full well that the players and the students who attend will be out late? I suggest we play Sunday afternoons if there aren't enough venues.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Air travel is a pain for Harry Potter, too

So we've all been whining about not being able to take perfume and contact lens liquid on board our flights. Tsk, tsk. We're so spoiled!
Turns out that J.K. Rowling, the mistress -- or is it goddess? -- of literature and creator of Harry Potter, had to insist that she would not part from her handwritten draft of the seventh installment in the wildly popular series. Who could blame her? I wouldn't part from my only copy of a book. In fact, the very first thing I do when a hurricane heads our way is to save online, and in various other forms, all drafts of my writings.
Rowling's experience, though, makes security look a little silly, doesn't it? We're harrassing the world's most recognizable author but have fumbled our way in the chase of bin Laden.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Can't afford to live here anymore

Once again we're reminded that South Florida is fast becoming a place for the well-to-do. More and more longtime residents are discovering that they can't afford to live here because of the escalating costs of property. Taxes are through the roof, and to add insult to injury, so are home insurance premiums.
My friends' neighbor, a third-generation Miamian, recently moved her family to the middle of the state because she couldn't afford the extra $1000-plus added to her mortgage payment in taxes and insurance. Both husband and wife worked.
I don't know how my children will ever be able to afford a decent home in a good neighborhood in Miami. We are a city increasingly divided between the haves and the have-nots -- with one ironic twist: The have-nots are working people, some college educated, many young and starting off. They've played by the rules, but the rules haven't played for them.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Some people have all the luck

I can count on the fingers of one hand how many times I've won anything in a contest, although there was one year that I want the door prize -- a GPS -- at my husband's fishing club's annual banquet. Otherwise, luck is pretty much a stranger.
This apparently is not true of everybody. A woman in New York has won the lottery TWICE. Life is so unfair. Wealth should be spread around

Monday, September 11, 2006

Five years after 9/11 -- so much has changed

I've spent a good part of the morning tuned into the activities in New York and elsewhere to mark this fifth anniversary of 9-11. In many ways it seems so long ago; in others, it seems to have just happened.
I remember watching the second plane hitting the towers at my sons' elementary school's office. I was dropping something off, and the TV was on. We were horrified. Mrs. Kaplan and Mrs. Ruiz, who were in the office with me, were speechless. Finally someone said, "Oh my God!" Then I thought, We've been attacked. This is war. The horror only grew worse as the day progressed.
My mother, who was then fighting pancreatic cancer, had been looking forward to traveling with my sisters and me to visit Lourdes in France. We were scheduled to leave the following day. Needless to say, we didn't cross the Atlantic until more than a week later, and that was over the objection of all our husbands. As it turned out, it was a wonderful trip and wherever we went in France, we were greeted with open arms. One man at a store left his cashier's post to shake our hands. We saw little American flags waving all over Paris.
I doubt we would get the same reception now.

Friday, September 08, 2006

And we're expected to be grateful for THAT?

So gas prices are going down. Wowee! Hold me tight while I try to curb my excitement.
For the record, gas prices are still darn expensive. The fact that they're heading south simply makes them appear as if it's getting cheaper to drive to work and to the grocery store. When it takes 40 bucks to fill up a Toyota, that's no deal.
In the meantime, gas companies keeping raking in the profits. Hmmm....

Thursday, September 07, 2006

A no-hitter? Dreams do come true

I watched the last two innings of Marlins' Anibal Sanchez's no hitter last night with my husband, my father and my youngest son. Nick loves baseball. Wait, love is not the appropriate word. It's not hefty or encompassing enough. If it were up to him, he'd play baseball all the time.
In any case, you can imagine his excitement -- and mine -- to watch baseball history in the making. This is what sports is truly about: the weeping by the 22-year-old, the standing ovation by fans, the celebration from teammates. Sometimes we forget that when we're assaulted by stories of steroid use and contract fights.
The irony of this is that we might not have been able to see the game on TV if not for the downpours earlier in the day. Nick's opening game of travel league was postponed, so we got to stay home.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Who's the grownup? Football coach attacks player

Just in case you still doubt that youth sports and some coaches aren't over the top, check out this story about a football coach who attacked a 13-year-old playing on the opposing team. Apparently he was angry about the teen who had a late tackle on a play. Late tackle calls are not uncommon -- and even if they were, are no excuse for such behavior.
I hope authorities throw the book at the idiot.

Katie Couric's debut leaves me wanting

She didn't wear pearls. Katie, I mean. And there wasn't much of anything else to convince me to switch over to CBS, either.
Don't get me wrong. I'm a huge fan of Katie Couric. I watched her every morning on NBC's Today Show. I would watch her on CBS, too, if only out of curiosity. Curiosity about how her wardrobe has changed. (My hubby predicted pearls would become as important as ties.) Curiosity about how she will affect the way news is delivered. Curiosity (and hopes) that a woman solo anchor can make it big in the evening.
But her debut reminded me of eating a salad for lunch -- fills you up momentarily but then you're hungry an hour later. There wasn't a lot of anything except an overlong segment in Afghanistan. And a photo of Tom Cruise's baby daughter?!! Puh-lease.
My time, especially in the evenings, is very limited. So if I'm going to devote a half hour to something, I want to get my money's worth. Come on, Katie, you can do better -- with or without pearls.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Family rivalry: The Canes vs. The Noles

It's a dismal, rainy day -- appropriate for University of Miami's loss to FSU. Like most of Miami, I stayed up to watch the Canes get trampled in the second half of an otherwise exciting game. The UM-FSU matchup is always plenty of fun in my family because of the internal fireworks. My husband, an FSU graduate (both undergrad and grad), always cheers for the Noles. The rest of us wear our orange jerseys.
Now the worst part of losing is having to eat crow. Hubby is going to rub our faces in this victory for a long time to come. No more wide lefts or wide rights jokes for us.

Friday, September 01, 2006

And the prices keep going up

Anyone who has shopped for groceries, pumped gas, and paid for electricity knows that prices for almost everything have been creeping up. Now there's official confirmation that it's costing more to live. I nearly fainted when I got my last electric bill. After blaming the kids for lowering the thermostat and leaving the lights on, I went back and read it more carefully, only to discover that we are actually using less kilowatts per hour -- just being charged more. (This may be the only time the kids aren't to blame!)
Milk's gone up, too. As have vegetables and fruit and some meat. I can cut back on how much I drive and how cool it is inside my home, but I still got to feed the five men and almost-men who live at home -- and they can really pack it down.
The only thing that hasn't gone up with the price of oil? Our salaries and reimbursement for auto expenses. Hmmm....