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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Talking about the stock market (or real estate)

Last night at my son's baseball game the talk among the parents wasn't about double plays and homeruns. No, siree. We were all blabbing about the steep drop in the stock market. All of us there had been burned by the bottoming out of 1999-2000 and now worry about the same happening again.
Of course now we're older and closer to retirement. We can't afford to take a step back.
Funny how the average Joe and Jane now seem so versed in the intricacies of the economy. Just a year or two ago everybody was talking about making a killing in real estate. That conversation has since drifted to the stock market. Are we just looking for the gold over the rainbow? Is the little man (or woman) completely out of the league when it comes to the vagaries of the market, stock or otherwise?

Monday, February 26, 2007

If you've got a kid in public school... know that today is a special day. Yep, the start of the dreaded, revered, ridiculous FCAT. Life in the classroom will stop the next few days as students bubble in and write short answers to prove they've been learning.
I'm a lucky parent. My children have consistently done very well on the test, yet I hate the way it's used to grade schools. It's completely shortsighted. My children have everything going for them, so of course they'll shine. They've had wonderful teachers, are enrolled in excellent public schools with very motivated and involved parents and -- perhaps most telling -- they get a lot of pushing from significant adults in their lives.
I think the FCAT will have a limited use until we focus heavily on early education beginning at home. Parents remain a key to good education. What's more, it's unfair to punish teachers when they are teaching students who come to school unprepared, hungry, unmotivated, scared and with no support.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Give me obscurity any day

I like my life normal and obscure. Let me worry about the simple things: my mortgage, the kids' colds, the ridiculous FCAT. These are everyday concerns that you and I have.
Maybe people like Brit Spears, Whitney Houston, Paris Hilton and the late Anna Nicole Smith should have had more of that. Fame -- and the pursuit of it -- is slowly destroying them. Read the latest on La Spears as she goes bonkers shaving her head, checking in and out of rehab and bludgeoning an SUV with her umbrella. A sorry saga.
Know that saying about absolute power corrupting absolutely? Surely too much fame corrupts too much.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Anna Nicole: Chapter 7,923,419,078

The sad, sad saga of Anna Nicole Smith continues, with parties duking it out in court -- ostensibly to get the rights to bury her. At stake, we all know, is not so much a burial as strengthening the claim to her baby daughter, who stands to inherit more money than you and I put together will ever see.
Do you think anybody in this tragic play is motivated by real love?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Tax relief or a shifting of pain?

I can't afford to move out of my big house. Like so many Floridians, downsizing doesn't mean lowering my housing costs because whatever I cut back in maintenace costs is more than erased by the jump in property taxes to another home. Now legislators propose shifting the burden of taxes from property to the highest sales tax in the land. That would benefit people like me, for sure, but I think non-homeowners -- read: poor people -- might get the short end of the stick.
What's more, business owners would be hit especially hard. I have several friends who own small businesses and manage to make an OK living. They're not getting rich, by any means, but they do complain plenty about the sales tax. Increasing it will only hurt them.
It's great our elected officials are trying to come up with ways to alleviate the pain. It's a good, first step. But here's a challenge: Cut the pork barrel projects. Look at mismanagement within the government bureaucracy. Tune out the special interests that cost the little people so much money. Now that would be a real legislative feat.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Road rage as a sign of our times

When I think of road rage, I think of big cities and snarled traffic -- in other words, State Road 836 during rush hour. Apparently we don't have dibs on this kind of behavior, though. Three young men were charged in connection with a murder in central Florida, a tragic case of road rage.
I've been plenty mad driving some roads, but I can't imagine what would push people over the edge in this brutal way. Not to be flippant about it but I think there may be a market out there for some kind of feature built into new autos, something that soothes and calms the beast in us. Maybe it would measure the heartbeat of the driver and then play classical music, or just work as a restraint to keep him from leaving the driver's seat.
It could come as a standard feature, along with GPS and side air bags.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Cold enough for you?

I had to really force myself out of bed and to the gym this morning. It was so darn cold. So cold, in fact, that I had ice on my windshield. Hubby and I had to sit in the car for a few minutes, get it warmed up, and then run the wipers so we could see to drive.
Nonethless, I like this cold weather -- if it's in small doses. I get to wear my sweaters and curdoroys, show off my leather jacket, sip hot chocolate. But I'm a Miami girl. Three days of this is all I can bear.

Friday, February 16, 2007

A kind of dunk for Hardaway?

Former Heat player Tim Hardaway is getting all kinds of grief for making anti-gay comments. And he very well should. What he said on the radio was hateful.
Two thoughts come to mind:
1) What he said publicly people say privately. He's far from alone in these sentiments. Doesn't make it right but it does show the extent of prejudice.
2) However we feel about Hardaway's words -- and the apology that followed -- he has every right to spout horrible words. We, in turn, have every right to censor him. That's what makes America great.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Post Valentine reality: How to celebrate true love

Hubby and I didn't do much for Valentine's. We exchanged cards; he presented me with roses. Even that was a big thing for us.
I think our behavior is rare. Plenty of people I know went out to fancy dinners. Some received jewelry. One of my sons is flying home early for the long weekend to be with his girlfriend. All very sweet.I want something different.
Not to be a party pooper, but I'm the kind of person who likes expressions of love to be less commercial and more regular. In other words, cook for me, wash the dishes, help out at home -- and do it daily.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Siesta time

I've long advocated institutionalizing siesta time -- a short break in the middle of the day, right after lunch -- so we can crash when our eyelids get too heavy to hold up. My friends always laughed at me. Now finally I'm vindicated.
Researchers say naptime might prevent heart attacks.
ZZZZZ anyone?

Monday, February 12, 2007

Poor little rich baby

The continuing soap opera that was (and is) Anna Nicole Smith's life continues with the fight over her daughter's future. What a pathetic sight! And how sleazy of all of us -- media and audience alike -- as we run front-page stories and tune into breaking bulletins on coroner's reports, paternity tests etc etc.!
This little girl doesn't stand a chance for a normal life. All the inherited wealth in the world won't buy her what she needs most, and the sad part is that she is a complete innocent in all of this. The judge who decides her fate will need the wisdom of Solomon.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Anna Nicole: her death and her times

Anna Nicole Smith's death hit the news the same way her life did, and I'm in no way implying this was a good thing. But the pinup/billionaire widow/actress/famous-for-being-famous woman's sudden passing says as much about her as about us as a society.
Her death led the local news, and we couldn't get enough of it. I know plenty of people -- moi confesses -- who have tuned in for regular updates from the coroner's office.
Can you say celebrity obsessesed? Can you spell voyeur?
Too bad we can't show the same kind of interest in something of substance. Moi confesses again.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Take a pill in the morning...

...and shed off the pounds. At least that's what a drugmaker is saying with a new over the counter pill that stops your body from absorbing fat.
I'm sure this will be a welcomed help for the many people who have dieted and not done as well as they wished over time. Yet I'm wondering if an OTC drug like this will be abused by the thin-obsessed among us, people who have only a few pounds to lose but don't want to hassle with the sacrifice of going hungry. Then again, your body, your health, and no business of mine, right?
I'm of the belief that less (drugs) is better, that letting the body fend for itself ultimately helps me become stronger, but I suppose that's outdated in a world where drugs are prime-time ad stars.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

How much do you make?

My husband sent me an email that lists the top 50 money-making jobs. Surgeons top the list, no surprise. In fact, few of the entries -- CEOs, for instance -- surprised me. Nonetheless, the list was a reminder of how poorly (and ungratefully) we treat people who deserve better, people who are entrusted with our children and our future well-being.
How come we're so chintzy with our teachers? Our child care workers?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

He's not worth it, honey

Talk about a love triangle! Turns out a female astronaut has been arrested for wanting to "take care" of her potential rival in the competition for the affections of another astronaut, a shuttle commander. Sad part, this woman is married and has three kids.
What's more, I saw the picture of the man in question in his space suit. As one of the women in the gym said this morning while we all watched the news, "He's not worth it, honey."
Actually, even if he was Brad Pitt's double, Mrs. Astronaut should've had more pride.
Could her reaction have been a result of her space mission last year?

Monday, February 05, 2007

Super Bowl duds

OK, I didn't care that much about the Super Bowl game, though I watched it start to finish and cheered for the Colts because I empathize with the Indianapolis coach. What interested me were the ads. When you're paying $2.6 million, they better be GOOD.
I thought that they were, by and large, duds. (I liked the Bud and Doritos ads.) Is it possible that we keep expecting more every year? Have we as viewers raised the bar so high that it takes a miracle to wow us? And why is it that the beer commercials tend to be so much better than the rest? For instance, the one on the nuts as mid-afternoon snack was pretty awful. Robert Goulet? Half the people I was watching the bowl with had no idea who he was.
The Herald is taking a vote at and I'm really curious to see what the public thought.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Super Bowl: football or feast?

Truth be told, if the Dolphins aren't in the Super Bowl, I don't care that much about the actual game. I've always watched it and know the intricacies of the plays -- I've spent countless hours watching four sons on the field -- but I rather have a personal stake in the contest to get all gung ho about it. This year, without the Saints in it, I'm ho hum, though I'd like to hear Billy Joel sing the national anthem.
Yet...the food! The chili! The appetizers! The desserts! Every year my neighbors across the street have us and a few others around the block over for the game (and other TV events as well.) They have this incredible media room with a humongous screen and surround sound. It's much much better than being in the actual stadium. While this electronic experience is awesome, the food is better. It's non-stop feasting starting in the mid-afternoon. I'm pretty sure I eat more that one Sunday than I do for Thanksgiving or Christmas, when I'm too busy laying out the food for my family to actually sit down and enjoy it.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Road to riches: file a suit

A woman in Bradenton claims she found a razor in her egg McMuffin. If true, that's pretty bad. Can you imagine her breakfast?
Still, I can't help but be skeptical. I've read too many outlandish claims -- remember the fingertip found in a bowl of Wendy's chili? Which, BTW, was a lie.
Isn't it interesting that the razor lady immediately went to speak to attorneys? Hmmm.