Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Colorado to become first state to legalize recreational marijuana January 1, 2014

Photo credit:  Courtesy of Associated Press
With all the battles that patients have had to endure to be able to get some relief with medicinal marijuana use, it is almost unbelievable that now marijuana may soon be widely available on the open market.Beginning January 1, 2014, Colorado will become the first state in the nation to make it legal for customers 21 and over to purchase marijuana for recreational purposes.
Newports, Kools, Camels, and other cigarette brands will now have some heady competition. The advertising companies will have a field day coming up with attractive packaging, memorable jingles and superbowl-worthy television commercials for marijuana. The possibilities are endless.
The biggest difference for medicinal and recreational users will be that those who partake of the newly-legal herbs just for fun will be subjected to a vice tax, if you will. What is a vice tax? According to this article from The Washington Times, “Federal and state governments annually rake in $96 billion in revenue fed by Americans’ appetites for easy money, nicotine and booze, according to an analysis by The Washington Times. Take away the taxman’s take on gambling, drinking and smoking, and many jurisdictions would be in serious financial straits.”
This raises many questions that will only be answered as time passes. Will prisoners currently serving jail time be released or be grandfathered into finishing out their terms because marijuana was illegal when they were arrested? Will this new law cause layoffs for correctional officers and other prison employees?
Serial murders and other horror-movie-styled crimes are actually not nearly as prevalent as it seems. They are just more sensationalized in the media. The majority of prisoners arrested on local drug charges are not running glamorized drug cartels, but possessing and/or distributing everyday, garden-variety weed. So this could lead to a floodgate of people being released. In many towns prison is considered big business.This article details some of the unexpectedly big profits that the detention industry yields.
It will likely be six months to a year before we can see any verifiable statistics on how the legalization of marijuana has affected society and our lifestyles. One thing is for sure, the state of Colorado and its residents can expect an increase of revenue from tourism if other states do not follow suit.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

USC's Connor Shaw's quarterback sneak from backup to "Athlete of the Year"

Photo Credit:  The State.com/MCT/Getty Images

The State Newspaper has selected University of South Carolina (USC) quarterback Connor Shaw as its 2013 South Carolina Amateur Athlete of the Year.  Shaw has an interesting and inspiring history.  He joined the USC football roster as a 2nd string quarterback in 2010 behind Stephen Garcia.  Garcia was a much-beloved hero of the Gamecock faithful,  however over time his favor began to wane.
Garcia was a comeback king who could seemingly snatch a game victory in the last seconds.  The fans loved his feats on the field, but things changed when stories of his antics off of the field began to overshadow his game performances.  Even the “boys will be boys” crowd had to take off their rose-colored glasses as more and more stories appeared about Garcia in trouble.  Finally in October 2011, Garcia was once and for all dismissed from the Gamecock football roster.

Garcia had a promising college football career that ended in shame.  But what was his misfortune turned out to be a window of opportunity for Connor Shaw.  He went from being looked at as an “also ran” to someone who could actually carry the team to victory.  In a complete turnaround Garcia became the backup quarterback to Shaw.  

Shaw has earned this award several times over, even surpassing hometown hero Todd Ellis’ long-held record for the winningest quarterback in USC history.  He is known for his love of anything military, and is even considering a possible career in the military, along with football.  And when a non-sports related story features Shaw, it is normally regarding some event he is speaking at, or a charity he is working with.  Gamecock fans will have one last opportunity to see Shaw play in a USC uniform.  He will be leading the USC Gamecocks on January 1, 2014, as they face the Wisconsin Badgers in the Capital One Bowl.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Lyrical Love

Hi everyone.  Well here we are four days after the one and only Mrs. Carter has shattered all ITunes records ever with the secret release of her latest album "Beyonce".  While I too am thrilled with her latest success, I am not at all surprised.  Jay-Z is still in the videos with her and she is still smiling from ear to ear.  So I can't help it.  I want to re-share a post I first published on February 8, 2012. Just because.  :)  

This post is pure indulgent romantica.  I am just so digging Beyonce's evolution of love right now.  Let's take a stroll "back down memory lane" (another great song, but we'll talk about that another time).  Now I'll be the first to admit that I wasn't really a fan of Jay Z and Beyonce as a couple in the beginning.  I thought he was too gangster and she was too elegant.  But as time went on, they kind of grew on me.  And now I'm totally rooting for their love to last.  Let me explain why I get such a rush out of this couple.

Lights out for old bulbs

Video Credit:  Courtesy of Thomas H. Culhane

The 60- and 40-watt light bulbs will no longer be manufactured in the United States as of January 1, 2014.  It will also be illegal to import them.  Retailers will still be allowed to sell them until current in-store stocks are depleted.  This is all a part of President George Bush’s Energy Efficiency Act of 2007.

The 100- and 75-watt bulbs were already phased out in 2012 and 2013 respectively.  According to this law, the primary reason for this change is that “A standard incandescent is only 10% efficient – the other 90% of the electricity it uses is lost as heat”.  The government has issued the following guidelines to ease the transition of shopping for the new bulbs:

• If you used to buy 100 watt bulbs, look for a bulb with 1600 lumens.
• If you used to buy 75 watt bulbs, look for a bulb with 1100 lumens.
• If you used to buy 60 watt bulbs, look for a bulb with 800 lumens.
• If you used to buy 40 watt bulbs, look for a bulb with 450 lumens.

The Energy Act is projected to save as much as $6 billion per year.  But many are a little leery over the fact that these new bulbs contain mercury vapor, although a very small amount.  According to this article in the Scientific American, there is no danger to the household as long as the bulbs are intact.  However, if they break, it is very important to follow cleanup details precisely and all should be fine.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin's Brother-In-Law Murdered

Arthur L. Givens
Photo credit:  Courtesy of TheState.com

Residents of Columbia, South Carolina, were stunned by the news that a murder in Charlotte, North Carolina, had connections with two of Columbia’s most prominent families. Donald Everett Gist, 38, was shot to death in broad daylight this past Friday. According to authorities this was no random act. Police have offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of Arthur L. Givens in connection with the murder.
Givens is a known felon with a history of violent offences. Although no motive has been released, police stated that they have reason to believe that Givens and Gist knew each other. Gist was shot outside of a convenience store around 1:15pm Friday afternoon and was pronounced dead at the scene.
Gist is the brother-in-law of Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin, who was just re-elected to a second term in November. Mayor Benjamin was in Colorado attending a leadership-in-governance conference at the time of the shooting, but he and the Gist family issued a joint statement expressing their shock and grief.
In addition to being the Mayor’s brother-in-law, Gist’s family is also very influential in the state of South Carolina. His sister is a circuit court judge, the Honorable DeAndrea G. Benjamin. His father is Attorney Donald Gist, senior partner of the Gist Law firm. Gist is survived by his wife and son, his parents, his sister, and a host of relatives and friends.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Fight For Your Right To Party...er, Shop??? Black Friday Turns Violent!

Photo Credit:  Courtesy of Norman Rockwell
Compare the two scenarios. One is all about a multi-generational family gathered together around a delectable feast of Thanksgiving meal staples. The next step was usually everyone gathered in the family room in various states of what has been called a carb-induced com; often with the Thanksgiving Day football game playing unseen.
Video Credit:  Courtesy of Youtube.com
The video is indicative of a large part of the population that has replaced the lazy evening with the shopping frenzy that has become known as the pre-Black Friday sales. This means that many of the stores that used to open at midnight the morning of Black Friday are now opening as early as 5:00pm Thanksgiving evening.
Now we all know that certain professions like military, law enforcement and medical require its employees to pretty much have to be available weekends and holidays. Even some grocery stores have traditionally been open until 5:00pm-6:00pm on holidays for those last minute runs for milk, sugar, baby food, etc.
But with these situations, it was always readily accepted as a matter of necessity, if not life or death. Now we've come to a place of actually wanting to be out of there. It's a paradox that those of us who don't have to be out working, now actually choose to be out the fray. The retailers say they open because we stand in lines to get in, so we obviously want it. We say we are practically forced to come out because that's when the retailers offer the door-buster deals.
In the end it's a matter of choice, but where the line somehow needs to be drawn is the violence. This is a recent phenomenon. People have always associated hustle and bustle with holiday shopping. But what is new and disturbing is the absence of the gracious "thank yous", "excuse mes," and "pardon mes".
Various news media are reporting an animalistic savagery in some of our approaches to shopping. Sadly our sense of stubborn entitlement seems to rise in proportion to the sweetness and the rareness of the deal. It turns from an "I want such and such" to "I must have such and such". I submit to you some of this short temper may derive from lack of sleep from camping out to be first in line.
Whatever the cause, look at these pictures and dream. Dream that maybe, just maybe in 2014, we will extend our intention of a kinder, gentler nation into the holidays. After all there is enough to go around. Like the song says "Christmas is a feeling..." Let's all make an effort to do whatever we can to ensure a peaceful and safe holiday season in our own communities. Are you in?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Eddie Murphy Finally Comes Home To The Arsenio Hall Show

Photo Credit:  Arsenio Hall Facebook Page

Last night, 11/19/2013, was one of the better nights in the annals of late night talk show history.  Two of the funniest men alive, Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall were reunited on the Arsenio Hall Show.  Arsenio Hall frequently had Eddie Murphy on as a guest during the first incarnation of the Arsenio Hall Show more than 20 years ago.  They were flying high at the time, riding the waves of success.  Murphy, clad in a fitted red leather creation, was steaming up big screens around the country in the stand-up comedy movie “Raw”.  Together the men had audiences rolling in the aisles with movies like “Coming to America” and “Harlem Nights”. 

Flash forward and there they were last night, discussing the 25th anniversary of “Coming to America”, and teasing about a possible sequel.  I saw many comments on Facebook saying how remarkably well and fit both of them looked after all of these years.  The show opened up with a video of Eddie Murphy in a video performance of “Red Light”.  Murphy was singing lead and strumming guitar in the Reggae-styled tune, with Snoop Lion (formerly known as Snoop Dogg) lending some smooth raps.

The whole interview was good, but two segments were downright hilarious.  In the first one Hall recounted the story of how years ago he got Murphy to drink some screwdrivers at a house party.  The problem was that Murphy did not (and still does not) drink alcoholic beverages.  Hall said that with a houseful of guests, Murphy was so drunk that he was on the kitchen floor talking to a dog named Val and saying, “Val you’re the only one I can trust”.

The second crazy story involved Murphy telling about how he had actually been sued by an African prince after the movie “Coming to America” came out.  Apparently the African prince said that he had come to America in search of meeting and pursuing the actress Ola Ray, star of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video.  He accused Murphy of stealing his life.  Murphy had the audience in stitches imitating (with flailing arms and high-pitched African dialect) the guy screaming “You stole my life.  I want it back!”.  You can see the hilarious video clip here.

The only criticism I have been reading about was that the segments were too short and the commercials were too long.  Judging from the crowd’s reaction last night, 25 years has been long enough and we were ready to see these two do more movies, more television, more anything as long as it is together.  In an age where show business friendships are often discarded as quickly as yesterday’s shoes, there’s something that warms the heart when you see long-lasting friendships.  And in this harsh economic climate during which many people are looking for reasons to smiles, Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall gave us just that last night.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Behind The Author's Curtain

Photo Credit:  Courtesy of WritingMyDreams.com

"Today I welcome guest blogger and fellow author, Pamela Kay Noble Brown to Writing My Dreams. She's here to open up a little bit about what's really going on behind the scenes in an author's life, for those of you who want to be in the know."  ~ author C. Michelle Ramsey

***I am so honored to be a guest blogger today on author C Michelle Ramsey's blog. Would love to have you stop by and join the conversation. Thanks. :)

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Taxman: You Can Run But You Can't Hide

Photo Credit:  Courtesy of Google Images

Mention the word taxes and some people slip into instant disdain mode. Others pop their eyes like a deer caught in headlights, afraid that the tax boogeyman has found them at last. Still others are just fed up with the complex taxation laws of this country.
Count rock star Tina Turner in with this last bunch. Ms. Turner has always been known as a world class jet-setter; hitting far-flung spots on the globe like most of us would hit the corner deli. Well Ms. Turner has finally made it official.
She has lived in Switzerland since 1995, and the U.S. Embassy has confirmed that she has voluntarily given up her U.S. Citizenship and all rights thereto affixed. While love moved her there to be with her then-boyfriend, now husband Erwin Bach; it turned out to be the tax system that is keeping her there.
Not just regular taxes, but the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). Enacted by the IRS in 2010, FATCA has been slowly rolling out under the radar and is just now becoming a force to be reckoned with. Read here to see how the feelers FATCA has been putting out are finally coming to fruition and causing a ruckus among many that once placed their security in offshore accounts.
What then shall we say? Good riddance if someone doesn’t want to be a citizen? Bad on the IRS for running people away, including American Icons? We would all escape taxes if we could? Or we are proud to pay our taxes because it keeps the country running? I tend toward the latter group, however I do think the system needs to be revamped because they take entirely too much out of every dollar earned. What say you?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Football, Guns and Robbers!!!

Photo Credit:  Courtesy of Gamecocksonline.com

Anyone who comes even close to Gamecock territory in Columbia, SC, knows that University of South Carolina fans love their teams. They are some of the most vocal and loyal fans around. As a matter of fact, when ESPN College GameDay traveled to Columbia to cover the USC Gamecocks vs. the Georgia Bulldogs in 2012, the ESPN analysts couldn't stop raving about USC’s school spirit. Even veteran Senior Coordinating Producer Lee Fitting said, “The horseshoe is one of the best sites we've ever had for College GameDay.”
So of course the city was stunned when on November 4, 2013, former USC football star Kenny Miles was found shot in his car and rushed to the hospital. He was able to give authorities a description of the person who had attempted to rob him. First reports had him fighting for his life.
On November 5, 2013, a visibly frustrated Sheriff Leon Lott gave a press conference to let the people know there had been no robbery. He gave no further details of what had actually happened, but just wanted to let the people know that there was no armed robber running loose in the community. He expressed his displeasure at the wasted man hours and resources that had been wasted hunting a robber that didn't exist.
Now things have gotten even more confusing. An article in The State Newspaper, November 12, 2013, blared the headlines “Sheriff: Former USC football player Kenny Miles shot himself’. The comments on social media had run the gamut from “somebody tried to rob him”, to “drug deal gone bad”, to now a puzzled “Huh?”
Kenny Miles then issued a statement apologizing to the police department, the fans, his former teammates, and his family. He said he had made a mistake. We will be following and updating this story. But for now all we have is speculation. Was it a cry for help? Many college football stars are glorified. Not in a bad way, but we as fans scream our throats raw for them every Saturday. They’re sometimes treated a certain way in classes by professors in awe of their spectacular feats on the field.
Women, from cheerleaders to grocery clerks, dazzle them with starstruck smiles. And they almost always find a job through connections within the vast Gamecock alumni network. Kenny Miles, after graduating with a Criminal Justice major in 2012, found employment with the South Carolina State Attorney General’s office. So what could have gone wrong?
Time will reveal the truth, but we still must be vigilant over Kenny Miles and our other athletes once they leave that rarefied air of being king of the roost. What about the ones who don’t go on to the NFL? Many do fine. But for some, if that was their life, it can be quite daunting to work a regular 9 to 5 job. Of course it may have nothing to do with this and could have been a mistake while cleaning his gun. But we must be very careful of our athletes and not discard them like yesterday’s toys. More to come.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

You've Got To Know When To Fold 'Em!

Photo credit:  Courtesy of USATSI
On November 5, 2013, NFL Denver Bronco lineman John Moffitt sent out a tweet that was quite startling in this economy. He announced that after three years, he was going to leave football and all its glory. It's interesting that he would leave one of the big three cash cows (baseball and basketball being the other two) of sports.
When you look at the economy right now, everyone is hustling to try to make an extra buck. So many companies that have been around for years are closing their doors. This is only adding to the swelling lines at unemployment offices, many of which are facing dire budgetary concerns themselves and reducing benefit amounts.
Advocates are fighting tooth and nail to get the minimum wage raised to an actual livable wage. Many states are even having to reduce the benefit amounts of their WIC (Women, Infant, and Children) programs. These programs help provide milk and nutrition for pregnant women and/or their children in families that cannot afford it on their own.
Plain and simple, just about everyone you meet needs more money. Enter John Moffitt and the fact that he is walking away from a six-figure salary. Although most of us would do cartwheels over the moon to have a yearly salary one-third of that amount, there is a big part of what he is doing that is understandable.
Yes, playing in the NFL can involve injuries, fear of injuries, and time away from family. John Moffitt mentioned all of the above concerns in passing, but the first and foremost statement that he made is that "I just really thought about it and decided I'm not happy".
Wow. In this society where money is that elusive, almost revered entity that we sometimes so desperately seek, John Moffitt's statement is utterly refreshing. When something to which you are devoting your life ceases to bring you enjoyment, it is time to go. Granted we must keep a roof over our heads, but it can be done.
We spend, on average, 40 hours per week out of our lives working. That's too much time to be unhappy. John Moffitt is setting an example that no matter how crazy people might think you are for walking away, you must do what brings you happiness. Don't just run screaming out of the door today and leave yourself with no income stream, but start socking something away, pray about it, make your plans and you'll find yourself smiling a little more each day. Thanks for the reminder John Moffitt and we wish you the best.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Locals Count Too!

Photo on the left courtesy of Sean Rayford and Photo on the right courtesy of Jonathan Sharpe
We all flood out to the national elections and this is a good thing. We have a right to want to participate in electing the person that will serve as the leader of the most powerful nation in the free world. We know that our country will be led by this person for the next four, and possibly eight, years and we want to take a part.
Today I want to remind you to make sure you take that same fervent urgency to the polls tomorrow. Most states will be having some sort of local elections on November 5, 2013. Granted, these are not the big sexy, flashy elections that make the media swoon. Normally you only know about it from short blurbs on the evening news or from those "to the current occupant" letters that a lot of the candidates themselves send out.
But a statement that a candidate made on a radio talk show the other day really gave me pause. He said that while the President does many great things for our country, it is the local politicians that more so affect our day-to-day lives. They are the ones who make the decisions that will affect our water, sewage, trash collection regulations, and many other things. So it is really important for us all to get out and vote in our local city and county elections.
Please go out and vote for your candidates of choice. With that being said I wanted to share this map I found. It's really neat. You just click on the link here, put in your address and it will give you the district you are in, as well as who your representatives currently are for the South Carolina House, South Carolina Senate, and the Columbia Councilmembers. The elections tomorrow, according to the City of Columbia website are to elect a mayor and three councilmembers.
Let's make sure all of our friends have this information. And be sure to let us know your experience at the new and improved polls. It promises to be a much more organized affair. Exercise your right to vote because you deserve it. Thank you.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Kanye Takes A Chance On Love

Photo Credit:  Courtesy of Clyde Haygood
What a difference eight years can make. In 2005 rapper Kanye West soared to the number one spot on the Billboard chart with an infectious little ditty called "Gold Digger". Kanye rapped about a woman who was always wearing the most fashionable clothes, being seen at all the "in" places and ruthlessly leaving one man for the next spurred by the size of their bank accounts. During the song Kanye urgently warns his listeners "If you ain't no punk holla we want prenup. WE WANT PRENUP! Yeah".
Fast forward to Monday, October 21, 2013. Kanye West rented out the San Francisco Giants' stadium and proposed to Kim Kardashian in grand fashion, complete with a 15 carat sparkler to seal the deal. The proposal was especially touching because that was Kim's birthday. Now many late night comedians back in the day joked that young party women of the Kim type (although not her specifically) were the basis of Kanye's song.
Kim was catapulted into the limelight when a sex tape of her with R&B singer Ray J was leaked to the public. She had a media-spotlighted relationship with NFL star Reggie Bush, and a 72-day marriage to NBA player Kris Humphries. Like the song says she doesn't mess with broke or struggling. In light of her track record, there was a flurry of fan disbelief and backlash when Kanye West announced that there would be no prenup.
Let's give love a chance. This is Kanye's first marriage and Kim's third. He is stepping up to the plate and doing the right thing by putting a ring on the mother of their child. This might even be an example to the ever fruitful and multiplying Kourtney and Scott.
Kim and Kanye have named their baby North West, but that's a story for another day. Suffice it to say she probably won't have to fill out too many 9-5 job applications where human resources personnel might question her name. Kanye said he loves Kim and she has enough money so that she doesn't have to ask him for anything; and because of that he wants to give her everything. You can't argue with that. Congratulations to the happy couple.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Yes Bullying Should Be A Crime

Rebecca Ann Sedwick
Photo Credit:  Courtesy of Heavy.com

Most of us were shocked and saddened at the suicide of 12-year-old Rebecca Sedwick. Rebecca lived in Lakeland, Florida, and according to the website Heavy.com, she was last seen alive leaving for school on the morning of September 9, 2013. She was reported missing at 7:00pm that evening. Around 2:30am the morning of September 10, 2013, Rebecca's lifeless body was discovered.
Rebecca's parents and the community were stunned at this news. As investigators struggled to get to the bottom of why a child would commit suicide, frightening details began to emerge. What unfolded was a real-life tale as ugly as the 70's movie “Carrie”. We all knew that that something was amiss when the police arrested two female suspects just this past Monday, October 14, 2013. It turns out that these girls had somehow managed to allegedly play Pied Piper to at least 15 other kids and lead them in a savage bullying attack on Rebecca.
Even after Rebecca's parents removed her from school in 2012 to protect her from the constant harassment, the assaults took on a cyberistic twist. The same things that make the internet and social media advantageous to companies and advertisers, e.g. it’s instantaneous, far-reaching, and easily accessible, is the same thing that can make them deadly in the wrong or ignorant hands.
This case seems to be a mixture of many things that went wrong. The facts are chilling. It includes: a gang pack mentality reminiscent of the manic neighbors in the Twilight Zone's “Monsters are Due on Maple Street” episode; girls barely old enough to see PG-rated movies without an adult insanely jealous over lost "love"; and this hotbed of tortuous emotions targeted at a young girl who could not escape the darts of cyber arrows because she, like many of us adults, are intrinsically attached to mobile devices, computers, and social media as a way of life. It's become a way we communicate, while becoming more isolated. Whether we call them friends, followers, or fans, it’s implied that these people like us. So more time we spend in front of our devices, the more real and personal these hurtful insults can be.
This young lady lost her life over meanness, plain and simple. Yes, we have to continue to instill in our young people a kinder, gentler nature. At the same time we must warn them that everyone is not kind. Let's give them the names and phone numbers of specific people they can go to in the schools who have committed themselves to squashing out the bully epidemic.
Finally, many people are in an uproar that these children have been arrested. I too believe in the innocent nature of children. But someone or something has exposed these girls to a hardness of heart well beyond their years. Doing something wrong and regretting it is one thing, but the 14-year-old's response on Facebook "Yes IK I bullied REBECCA nd she killed her self but IDGAF," the Facebook post read. Grady Judd, sheriff of Polk County, Florida, said the online vernacular meant "I don't give a (expletive)." absolutely lent itself to an arrest being made.
There have always been bullies trying to rule the playground. But the difference is their weapons are now much more sophisticated and in many cases, deadly. Let's continue to love, protect, and train our kids about life, feelings, and consequences.
My prayers and condolences to the family and friends of Rebecca Ann Sedwick. May she rest in peace.
**1-800-273-8255 - Please call this number immediately if you think you cannot go on, or have any thoughts of suicide. Or share this number if you know someone you think might feel this way. This is the toll free number for the Suicide Prevention Services of America. They are there to help children, teens, and adults. They will listen to you.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Time To Do Right By Our Military

Photo credit:  Courtesy of Defense One
America, to me and the majority of its citizens, will always be the "land of the free and the home of the brave". A place that is home and stirs the embers of our hearts. Oh of course like any other country we have had and continue to have our ups and downs. Like any family we squabble with our brothers and sisters. I have been angry with, happy for, and sometimes nonchalant about the everyday goings on of this great country. But rarely have I literally hung my head in shame, that is until yesterday.
The details are in this article courtesy of Defense One Newsletter. The first line "Call it a promise placed on hold." immediately gripped my heart with a what now feeling. The government is already partial shutdown while our two Houses of Congress play tug of war with our livelihoods. All manner of thoughts having to do with the economy, politics, and even scandals ran through my mind. But never in my wildest dreams, or in this case nightmares, did I ever think I would read something as dastardly as this.
I am a product of, and pretty familiar with military life. My father proudly retired from the Army and served two tours in Vietnam. My sister and brother are both Army veterans. And I have many family members and friends in all branches of the military. So from time to time I would hear complaints of some benefit or other that the person who was serving was promised when they enlisted, that over time changed, even though the person serving had completely fulfilled their part of the bargain. Usually it was something like a certain medical procedure, or dental procedure that was no longer covered.
Just as recently as earlier this week I shared a conversation with a retired veteran who is now paying for parts of Tricare that were promised free when she enlisted. I want to go on record as saying that these veterans can't go back and renegotiate their actions on the field, so neither should their care now be renegotiated after the fact. If financial challenges require cutting back benefits, let those who served under past promises be grandfathered in and new recruits be signed up fully aware of what the terms are now.
As bad as these changes were, I never felt the disgrace slapped harder in the face of our military as when I read the story of these soldiers who gave their lives in service for this country. The soldiers who defend our freedom to even stupidly shut down the government with our partisan shenanigans; these same soldiers' families were told that our country's solemn word to care for their families would still hold, but would be delayed. Congress their blood is on your hands for every tear their spouses and children shed. And it will be on ours if we continue to elect such callous, stiff-necked representatives the next time we go to the polling booths.
Any Congressman or woman who is still okay with the shutdown and benefits being "delayed", please put youself in these soldiers' shoes as they flew out of our homeland at peace because the government had their backs and their families would be taken care of. They did not hesitate. When they stepped onto the battlefield and into the line of fire for America, they did not falter, nor did they "delay". In all good conscience, how can you "delay" their due and sleep well at night?
To the military that are in harm's way daily, and the families of those that have paid the ultimate sacrifice, we honor you; our condolences and prayers are with you. We thank you for your services and our hearts are grateful. I hope you don't even get to see stories like the one above. Just know that we support you and your services. And we will call, write, text, tweet and do everything we can to get Congress to no longer "delay" a key mission and that is "fulfilling President Lincoln's promise 'To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan' by serving and honoring the men and women who are America’s veterans". And may God Bless and guide America.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Are They Laughing At America?

United States Congress
A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand
Photo Courtesy of:  LibertyNEWS.com

One second after midnight, October 1, 2013 will be remembered as a dark (pun intended) time in American history.  The last time the United States shut down the federal government was in 1995 and it lasted 22 days, according to political website Policymic.  You can refresh yourself on all of the gory details here and see how things were eventually resolved.  And there is good reason to relive that era of our political befuddlement because as philosopher George Santayana so eloquently put it “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”; alas, and so it appears we have.  At least we have begun to repeat it with the shutdown of what have been deemed the non-essential services of our federal government.  Although I am positive the missing work pay is considered very essential to the affected families.

So after 18 years for congress to ponder, rethink, and improve their professional communications and interactions, guess what?  We have allowed the government to again shut down, largely over arguments about Obamacare.  I say we because we the people elect the good congressmen and women who believe in a government “for the people”, but we are also responsible for electing the people who say my way or the highway and fiddle while Rome is burning.  If we learn nothing else from this fiasco, let us think long are hard as we enter the voting booths in the future.  Let us remember who really represented their constituents’ best interests versus who had tunnel vision for their own agendas regardless of how many innocent everyday workers became collateral damage.

One thing we must remember is that any nation considered as great and powerful a leader as the United States is always under the microscope of the world.  I shudder to think that Syria and their friends might be laughing at us this morning.  After all, a few weeks back we all but hog-tied and forced them to negotiate on a world stage or else.  Yet our own House and Senate of Congress could not or would not negotiate with each other in our own backyard, over business pertaining to us right here in this country.  Let us do better ladies and gentleman of the Congress.  Our neighbors are watching.  And may God Bless America.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Book Lover's Fall Feast

Photo courtesy of:  pagesofperception.com

This Saturday, September 28, 2013, book lovers in Columbia, South Carolina, will be treated to a feast of the mind and palate.  Pages of Perception Book Club is presenting a book club conference that will thrill book lovers, as well as authors, near and far.  Pages of Perception is a local book club whose members not only bond over tasty literary plots, but they also thrive on doing things that will better the lives of people in Columbia and the surrounding communities.  You can read all about this marvelous group, their service to those in need, and ways you can participate, help, or donate, on their website here.

Saturday, the Pages of Perception Book Club Conference will be held from 9:00am – 2:00pm at the beautiful South Carolina Archives and History Center.  The conference will open up with a delicious continental breakfast and close with a marvelous lunch.  Sandwiched between the opening and closing is a wonderful day filled with workshops on a variety of topics.  There will also be several speakers, including Karen Jenkins, host of  the weekly “Women, Wealth and Wisdom” segment on Live at 5, shown locally on WISTV 10.  Although space is limited, you still have time to take part in what promises to be an inspiring literary conference; full of books, knowledge, resources, food, and fellowship.  We’re also told there will be a fabulous vendor village that is not to be missed.

It’s all in the details:

  • Date:  Saturday, September 28, 2013
  • Time:  9:00am - 2:00pm
  • Location:  South Carolina Archives and History Center,                                                 8301Parklane Rd., Columbia, South Carolina
  • Convenient online Conference Registration:   PagesofPerception.com

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

"The Butler" Hurts So Good

Photo Credit:  Collider.com

“The Butler” is a wonderful movie in that it is a lot like real life.  Life is quite often good and fulfilling, but not always pretty.  Such is this movie.  Kudos to the actors for being willing to forego the glamour, and let the characters be the main focus.  For instance, after leaving the theater I remarked to a friend that I was under the impression that Mariah Carey had a role in the movie.  When my friend pointed out the character that Mariah had played, I was surprised because I hadn’t even been aware that it was her.  She played her role in such a way that the audience only saw her character’s plight.

As expected, Oprah Winfrey, Forrest Whitaker, and Terrance Howard turned in exceptional performances.  The makeup artists worked magic in showing the effects of life in the faces of these characters as they aged.  Oprah and Forrest were amazing in their portrayals of the subtle nuances of aging; from the slowing of their steps to the slightest turn of the head and tremor of the fingers.   Actors David Oyelowo and Elijah Kelly as their sons were outstanding.  They so accurately portrayed the deep love underlying the sibling spats and differences, that you felt like you were home at the kitchen table with your own family.  And Cuba Gooding, Jr. is an incredible comedic actor.  His timing is pitch perfect.

The movie was good, but the subject matter definitely hurt.  It took you on a rollercoaster of emotions from pride at the tremendous courage of the characters, to dismay at knowing that people really faced such atrocities.  The hurt hit home all the more due to director Lee Daniel’s use of actual news footage from the volatile civil rights struggle of the 1960’s.  Courage is a good thing, but no human being should be called upon to prove it while staring down the dripping fangs of German shepherds; nor whilst being slammed into walls by torrents of water gushing from fire hoses.  But survive they did and, amazingly, with their dignity intact.

“The Butler” is bittersweet, but I would definitely recommend seeing this movie.  Though long forgiven, these instances of man’s inhumanity to man must never be forgotten in order to not be repeated.   This movie is also delightfully entertaining.  It has an almost Forrest Gump type of charm where we, the viewers, feel like we are being inserted, right along with the characters, into fascinating slices of history.  The movie has numerous laugh-out-loud moments and occasions of downright joy.  So bite the bullet and take the pain because like momma always told you, this medicine may not taste so good, but you will feel so much better afterwards.  

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Senators' Hard Hearts: An American Farce

 Photo Credit:  Doug Mills/The New York Times

Shame, Shame, Shame on the Senate of the United States of America.  Against the hard brick wall of partisan blocking, President Obama brought out the big "guns" (so to speak) of almost the only thing sure to turn hearts of stone into human hearts:  the eyes of those who had  lost loved ones in the Newtown Massacre.  And believe it or not, the Senate didn't blink.  They stood their ground against all reason.  Read, and please remember come election time, how your Senator voted. Did he/she vote in a way that really represents what you believe in?

The Senate trampled through the salty puddles of tears from the combined families with weak excuses like:

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

That's What Friends Are

Photo Credit:  www.mindfiesta.com
Our Daily Bread had a very interesting devotion today on Friendship. (1 Samuel 23:14-18. The Matthew Henry Commentary: "The very sight of Jonathan was reviving to David; but, besides this, he said that to him which was very encouraging. 1. As a pious friend, he directed him to God, the foundation of his confidence and the fountain of his comfort: He strengthened his hand in God. David, though a strong believer, needed the help of his friends for the perfecting of what was lacking in his faith; and herein Jonathan was helpful to him, by reminding him of the promise of God, the holy oil wherewith he was anointed, the presence of God with him hitherto, and the many experiences he had had of God’s goodness to him. Thus he strengthened his hands for action, by encouraging his heart, not in the creature, but in God. **Jonathan was not in a capacity of doing any thing to strengthen him, but he assured him God would.**"

Have you ever regretted that you didn't have the material resources to help a friend desperately in need? Well do all that you can to help, but remember also that even just showing up and/or praying for/with them can be the greatest gifts of encouragement because it releases them to the ONE who can do for them what you and the world (for all your good intentions) cannot. Be good to your friends and may your friends be good to you. :) Have a Blessed day.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Is The Water Killing Our Marines?

Photo Credit:  hammeringsparksfromtheanvil.blogspot.com

Dateline NBC recently aired a segment that was quite upsetting. Read the latest update here. This poor veteran and his family are suffering terribly.

The gist of the segment on Dateline NBC was that there are upwards of 500,000 veterans and their family members (adults and children) now suffering from a variety of different cancers that have been linked to contaminated water that was consumed or bathed in while the families were stationed at Camp Lejeune. The sad and sickening part is that it took so long before the public was made aware. To be fair the Marine Corps did provide a full response to queries raised by this story. Read here and form your own opinions.