Tuesday, May 31, 2011

On Memorials

This past weekend was a trying one as two family members dealt with illness.

Both are seasoned citizens and have had health issues for some time.

Perhaps it's fitting that things culminated over Memorial Day weekend, when we pause to remember heroes who gave the ultimate sacrifice for America.

I read stories this year, as always, about soldiers determined to keep memories alive, remembering their comrades and hoping the rest of us never forget.

Unfortunately we are rapidly losing soldiers, and their stories.  Estimates are that over 1000 World War II veterans die each day. 

I remember hearing from Holocaust survivors in school as a child.  Most vividly, I remember their shared concern that when they die people would forget, or deny, their experiences.

Memorials take many forms. 

I have been blogging for about 16 months.  In my first post, I wrote about my inspiration, Aunt Jo:


Writing for me is great fun, and certainly a way to memorialize my thoughts.  I think about that a lot these days. 

My words will survive me, warts and all. 

There's no disputing your own words, as hard as some people try.  Who can forget Charles Barkley claiming he was misquoted in his autobiography?

How do you go about sharing memories?  I would love to hear from you.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Can You Tax Stupidity?

A couple of stories caught my eye recently. 

First, a so-called "fat tax" was proposed by a (until now) obscure Illinois state representative named Shane Cultra, a state representative from Onarga, IL. 

In Cultra's world, the parents of fat kids are to be punished, and he proposed taking away the state income tax deduction for the parents of baby mu mu.    "I think you need to look at a bill to take the tax deduction away for their child if he's obese, Cultra said."


Cultra tried to distance himself from the comments by suggesting they were in jest, yet video of his comments suggests he was dead serious.

Here's the thing.  Few would dispute our country has an obesity problem, and certainly youngsters developing good habits is important.  But obesity has many causes, and how exactly would you enforce the law?   Would H&R Block have scales handy to weigh in kids before signing a tax return?  Would schools need to set up "chocolate detectors" in the entrances? 

I was overweight as a kid.  My Mom used to order me toughskins jeans from the Sears catalog.  Husky size, code language for big boned, or overweight, or fat.  

Or obese.  We are a bit more enlightened today.  I grew, so in my case I was just undertall, not overweight. 

Perhaps Representative Cultra should chair a committee to develop new punitive methods for dealing with bad parents.  How about losing your tax deduction if jumping Jimmy has a tantrum on an airplane, or if little Laura scores poorly on a standardized test? 

Seems to me the pork crisis is in government, not our children.  I wouldn't vote Cultra for dog catcher.

And, of course, we have Arnold "The Sperminator" Schwarzenegger, who revealed that he has a ten year old "love child" shortly after news that he and wife Maria Shriver had separated.

Then things went tawdry with word that Shriver gave birth to her and Schwantzenegger's third child a week after the "love child," giving new meaning to his film "True Lies."

All of this is sad, particularly for the children involved.  At the same time, Shriver grew up in a family of Lotharios, and Maria knew she wasn't marrying Robert Young. 

"Ahnult" never hid from his behavior, acknowledging during his initial run for California governor that he had "behaved badly." 

In political terms it's a cliche.  See man run.   See man win.  See man be pig. 

And in Arnold's case, see man reveal affair and child only after leaving office.  As Saturday Night Live's "church lady" says, "How conveeeeeeeeeeeeenient."

I'm skeptical that Maria didn't know, given that the woman worked in their home for 20 years.  Besides, wouldn't it be hard to miss a toddler with a spray-on tan, thong and an Austrian accent?

Come to think of it, why not take away their state tax deduction for stupidity? 

Saturday, May 7, 2011

On Mothers Day

If the fire comes from Dad, the water comes from Mom.

I don't mean to sound cliched or sexist.  It's just how it is. 

To wit:  When I was ten years old I got upset one night and was ready to run away.  I went to my room and started packing my suitcase. Come to think of it I wasn't so much packing as chucking all of my belongings.

Dad probably would have walked in and said, "Knock it off and put your clothes away,"  or something to that effect.

Mom calmly sat down on the floor, looked me in the eye and said, "If you're going to go at least have dinner first."  So we went downstairs for dinner, and I stayed for another 12 years.

My mother always had a sense about people that I never had growing up, especially the opposite sex.  During my vulnerable teen years (yes its redundant) I connected most with Mom over girls.  She always knew who was diggin' me and who wasn't.  And why!  For a guy so clueless he would miss a woman with a post-it on her forehead saying "I want to date you" it was like having the secrets of the Manhattan Project.

Mom has her pet sayings, a couple of which are top of mind:

"Minimum expectations, maximum serenity."
"You're the one with dignity, you're the one with integrity."

And don't get me wrong, Mom has fire also. 

A couple of years ago my wife and I went to a play with Mom and Dad.  It was Shakespeare's Othello, and a group of college students were sitting in the row in front of us.  During the first act they gabbed away, giggling like 12 year olds and acting like they were on a field trip to see Porkys instead of pursuing an advanced degree.

By intermission I'd had enough.  I went to the box office and said in no uncertain terms that either ushers separate these ingrates or I wanted our money back.  Not to worry, they assured me, we will act quickly.

Not to worry, indeed.  I got back to my seat and sat next to Mom, who told me in a voice loud enough for all to hear, "Don't worry.  While you were away I told these kids, 'Listen, when that curtain goes up you are not to say a word.  Understand?  Not a word.'"

Not a word, indeed.

Happy Mother's Day.