Monday, June 29, 2009

Is it Possible to Exploit Michael Jackson's Death?

A recent headline in the Daily News self-righteously trumpets "Bloodsuckers positioning themselves to exploit Michael Jackson's tragic death".

And... what, exactly, is the Daily News doing?

I think it's truly silly to complain now about all the publicity surrounding this freak. After all, Jackson thrived on it for all of his life. Oh it's true that he, like many celebrities, dramatically complained about the adulation that he received. But with that adulation came money.

If, as the Bible says, the love of money is the root of all evil, it's pretty apparent that Jackson was willing to put up with some evil for the money that he adored. Jackson slung around money like a flower girl slings rose petals at a wedding.

If Jackson was truly a shy, retiring flower, he never would have dangled his youngest child out of the hotel window to show him off the the adoring crowds below. In the ultimate act of egotistical arrogance, he named his sons Prince Michael I and II. And as everyone knows, wearing masks in public will never draw attention. No, never.

Jackson was a male version of Madonna. Until his molestation trial, he had truly never met a piece of publicity he didn't like, despite what he claimed. If he had wanted to live a quiet life, he certainly could have. Excesses such as Neverland and his ongoing plastic surgeries and skin bleaching were bound to create talk, and he knew it. The trumpeted musical genius was hardly stupid.

Jackson became the Elephant Man he adulated. And just as we continue to refer to the Elephant Man today, we will also continue to refer to Michael Jackson as a symbol of an unpleasant yet talented freak. He will continue to be the three ring circus he was in life. Death will not stop the process, nor would he want it to.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Mark Sanford Gets Lucky

After reading the title of this post, you could arguably say that Sanford already "got lucky", which is why he's in such a pail of hot water.

But Sanford got even luckier: Both Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson died yesterday. Talk about a twofer! The news was about nothing but celeb deaths, and Sanford's little pecadillo was swept under the rug.

For now.

Rabbit Trail Alert: You know what's odd? I googled Sanford's wife and she was not pretty. She's gaunt, and looks older than her years. Her complexion is pasty, her coloring poor. Then I googled Sandford's mistress, and I have to say the man didn't stray far - his mistress looks like a younger version of his wife.

OK, back to my original post. The rabbit has been coralled.*

In my opinion, Sanford's SNAFU needs to be covered more, while the celeb deaths need to be covered less. Sanford has or could potentially affect all of us through his politics, but what does it matter if Fawcett or Jackson are dead?

Fawcett is known for her red-hot swimsuit poster that lived in the rooms of young boys everywhere throughout the 70s. She was also known for her poor acting ability and her breathless role as Jill in Charlie's Angels.

Jackson was known for his singing talent and molestation of children.

Neither is a great loss as a human being, although there is no doubt that both contributed to American pop culture.

But I am concerned that we are getting so used to politicians being slimy that we may collectively sigh "Ah, well... What's next?"

If a man can cheat on his wife, it tells you what kind of man he is. I said it about Bill Clinton, and I'm saying it about Mark Sanford. When a man is willing to lie to and cheat on his wife, we can be sure that we'll fare no better if it's in his interest to do so.

Additionally, it appears that Sanford may have used taxpayer's funds to carry on his dalliances. If so, he needs to be brought up on criminal charges. Certainly he has a history of lying to everyone, so I wouldn't be surprised to discover this.

Sanford is stepping down from his role as chairman of the Republican Governors Association, but that's small potatoes. He needs to step down from his post as Governor of South Carolina, as well.

*This is actually not a hoax: Large rabbits like this are bred in Germany by Karl Szmolinsky. There have been email hoaxes about them, but they do indeed exist and are a specially developed breed that cannot live in the wild.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Confrontation

Since I am now working part-time on my business and part-time for someone else, I am lucky enough to have the best of both worlds and for that I'm truly grateful. I'm exposed to two very different companies with situations that don't even come close to overlapping, and it's exciting.

When I'm not working for myself, I'm working for "Claire", who fired one of her two top people and hired me to replace them. It's not hard to compete with the former talent, as she literally did nothing for 5 months and got a salary of $8,000 a month to do it. The fact that I can work part time for Claire and do more should tell you something.

Claire had been considering firing the other top person who was equally useless, but she hadn't made up her mind quite yet.

Yesterday I was in the office, reviewing a proposal, when the other "talent" came storming in. "Doris" was furious, because Claire was no longer taking her calls as regularly as she'd like. Doris was way too important to be ignored (she told us) and she demanded to speak with Claire. Claire was out of the office, so I took Doris outside to discuss the issues with her.

Doris proceeded to unload on me, accusing Claire of being highly unprofessional. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black: Doris used language that would make a sailor blush.

"And you tell Claire," Doris screeched, "That while she's busy f-ing around with her new boy toy in that adulterous relationship, she is wasting time. Don't think I don't know! She is avoiding me and it's a load of sh-t!" As she said this, she turned and graphically hit her butt to demonstrate what sh-t meant. As if I couldn't figure that one out.

"I'll be sure to pass it on," I said cheerily, waving goodbye to her.

I happen to know that Claire's going through a divorce, and she doesn't have time for an adulterous relationship, but it's not Doris' business (obviously).

I passed the conversation on to Claire, who was understandably furious.

Doris got the confrontation she wanted, through email. And Doris scrambled backwards so fast you'd think the roof was caving in. Her denials were loud, and she protested that she couldn't understand what game *I* was playing.

Yeah, Claire bought it. Not.

So Doris finally pushed her luck too far and she was fired yesterday. As for me, I get to take up her workload also. Since she was doing nothing, it's not a heavy load.

I think I can handle it.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Lasik Eye Surgery AGAIN

Today I had another attempt at a correction of my botched Lasik surgery. I'm resting, and won't be posting until Monday.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Swine-Avian Flu

A recent title in the BBC News assures us that "Flu risk 'still low' after death."

At least the dead get some peace. *

But for the rest of us, Swine Flu remains a true threat. It was just officially declared a "pandemic" by the World Health Organization and there's no end in sight.

The CDC declares "WHO’s decision to raise the pandemic alert level to Phase 6 is a reflection of the spread of the virus, not the severity of illness caused by the virus." However, little is known about this flu, and no one has immunity to it since it's never cropped up before.

"Swine Flu" is really a misnomer and should be called Swine-Avian Flu, due to the fact that it shouldn't be confused with former swine flus. This one is a true mix, which makes it particularly nasty, apparently.

As a chronic asthmatic, I am very concerned. Right now, those of us with lung disease are cautioned to avoid large crowds and take the necessary precautions. But when you're in business, this is almost impossible. What am I supposed to do: Walk around with a face mask all day?

And what's a large crowd? A football game? A cocktail party?

I know that I'm one of the ones that could truly die due to this, but I feel hamstrung. Until it is recognized by everyone as a true threat, I am going to look like a paranoid freak if I respond in the way that they're recommending.

*Yes, yes, I know: The title does not accurately reflect the article's contents. Please don't pester me about that.

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Tax on Health Benefits?

I just heard a news interview with Sen. John McCain. Everyone was talking in shocked tones about how people may get taxed on their health benefits in order to bring in enough funds to start a national healthcare program.

At first, I was shocked: How could they do such a thing? But this was a knee-jerk reaction. Then I started thinking about it.

Say your income is $30,000 on the books, but your benefits add another $5,000. You're really making $35,000, right? So why should you get $5,000 tax-free when your neighbor might be paying taxes on his $35,000 income and having to get his own healthcare, which adds to the expenses he's incurring?

A tax on health benefits seems fair.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Domain Game

I am now working two jobs: Running what's left of my own (very small) empire and working for a minority-owned business. "Claire", the woman who owns it, is just amazingly cool and doesn't like to micromanage anyone. That's great for me, as I thrive when I'm let loose.

Being a former website designer, I immediately asked why her main site is still parked with a GoDaddy sign on it. She told me that her website designer was still working on it. After several months.

Uh huh. This is what you get for a mere $4000 - $5000.

I called him for a status update and found out that he hadn't even started it yet. At that point, the owner agreed to letting me put up a site so that we can get this party started. So, I logged onto GoDaddy and asked Claire for the password.

She looked blankly at me.

The woman she had just fired that morning was the only one who had the passwords to all of Claire's domains.

So Claire called Miss Thang and asked for all her passwords. Miss Thang informed her that she felt that she was entitled to a big settlement check and once it cleared, she would let Claire have her information.

Oh no. I wasn't going to let it go down that way. So, I called GoDaddy.

One complication is that Miss Thang had originally signed up for the domains under her own name and paid for them with her own credit card. Even though Claire had reimbursed her (and had the documentation to show it), GoDaddy was now in an awkward position.

We ended up compromising.

I sent in reams and reams of documentation proving domain ownership, and even then it will take a couple of business days to reassign the domains to Claire's corporation. And Claire had reimbursed Miss Thang an additional $500 for some additional GoDaddy services that couldn't transfer, so Claire will have to pay for them again.

But, we know that we will soon be in posession of those domains, and it allows us to tell Miss Thang to kiss off.

I also told Claire to put together a bill to Miss Thang for reimbursement of this loss. When Miss Thang pays Claire, Claire can in turn pay Miss Thang for any services that remain unpaid.

Miss Thang=0

For now.

And the moral of the story?

Don't reimburse anyone for something you may have to prove ownership of later. It's OK to allow employees to be reimbursed for meals or mileage, but all major purchases need to be paid directly by the corporation itself.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Cell Phones & Blogger

I know that Blogger has a feature that allows you to blog via your cellphone. How practical is this? Has anyone used it? I'm wondering if my posts would start looking like my texts:

Obamas l8est push 4ward in health insurnce seems 2 b a mistake. Altho i would like 2 c universal health care, i dont think it should be mandatory.


Anyway, I'm considering buying a BlackBerry Curve 8330. I've grown tired of the difficulty I have texting from my regular phone, and now that I have two jobs I'm responsible for, I need to have instant internet/email access anywhere at anytime.

Who has a BlackBerry out there? Has it been a rewarding experience? And furthermore, how durable are they? This is an investment that I don't lightly make. And I know that if I have a BlackBerry, I will actually be able to advance in my texting abilities. That is a huge plus for me, as it will save me from sounding like an idiot.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Wedding Pottery

Here's the pottery I made for my brother and his wife. They were just married a couple of weeks ago. They're actually handpainted with their names, but I am eliminating their names to protect the innocent. The pictures really don't do them justice - they are much nicer looking in person:

Friday, June 05, 2009

What I've (Re)Learned This Week

1. Summer = Sunburn.

I was out of commission on Wednesday (when I usually post) due to a severe sunburn. I hadn't realized how much my eye surgeries had kept me isolated and I hadn't been in the sun that much over the last couple of months.

I learned my lesson and can strongly recommend some stuff we always call "Blue Goo". It's a hard-to-find product by South Beach Sun but it's the most effective treatment I've found. It really helps diminish peeling.

2. Dogs Like Trash.

No matter how civilized you think your dogs are, they are waiting for an opportunity to root through your trash like mangy dingoes.

After we had a nice dinner of a chef's salad and boiled artichokes last night, I threw the shrapnel from the artichokes in the trash. I never in a million years thought my dogs would revel in discarded artichoke leaves and I came across them, looking guilty, with the trash on the floor and artichoke leaves hanging from their mouths.

Everyone went into lockdown and I became the Prison Warden.

3. Teenagers Love Sleep.

Waking up my kid is like trying to raise the dead. This is the kid that used to be up at the crack of dawn, peeling back my eyelids and staring into my pupils for any sign of life. I never thought I'd miss those years, but I am now chained to a Sasquatch that I cannot roust out of bed.

4. When You Stop Looking, You Find It.

This is a horrifically annoying phenomenon. It applies to missing thoughts, keys, and important paperwork. You are at the mercy of the universe, and must either wait for magical intervention or the help of someone with a better attuned GPS system than your own.

I am one of those odd people that can never find anything when I'm looking for it. My dad is the same way. When we were children, Dad could open the refrigerator, stare at the gallon of milk on the shelf, and finally irritably call out to my Mom "Hon? I think we're out of milk!"

I take after my father.

Monday, June 01, 2009

I'm Back!

Thanks for your patience (to those of you who are still bothering to check in on me!)

The last eye surgery was successful to a certain extent, though my other eye is now having complications. I would never recommend continual lasik eye corrections now that I know what I know.

I've also had various situations happen with friends and family which absorbed me to a great deal. I won't go into the details now, but perhaps I will some day.

Here are some wonderful recent discoveries I'd like to share with you:

1. The novel Creepers by David Morrell, author of First Blood (the book that launched Rambo). I've been an urban explorer (a.k.a. Creeper) for many years, and the beginning is true to the usual experience. Happily I've never experienced the remainder of the novel but it's a great action/adventure story.

2. The completely campy zombie movie Undead or Alive, which is great for the times you don't want to think but want something with a little more kick than the Hallmark Channel.

3. Pottery painting is FUN! It's not just a girly-girly thing to do (though most of the people are women).

My brother got married last week and I was able to make some personalized things for them such as mugs, goblets, a pasta bowl and a platter. They have really weird names (like Ermintrude and Horace), so it's not like you could walk into a store and find their names on anything. Yeah, my parents were a little creative with our names. Ah well, it could have been worse... I could be a Shaniqua.

4. Here's a catchy new song out by Michael Franti - the guy who wrote and sung the Obama campaign song. See if it gets your toes tapping like it does for me!