Monday, February 07, 2005

Hero Salute

Nothing says America quite like a Sunday afternoon with good friends and a game of football on the TV. In fact, yesterday I really enjoyed spending some time with friends that I haven’t seen for a while, eating some great food, and watching the mother of all football games, the super bowl.

Its no secret that the super bowl has some of the most coveted advertising space due to the huge numbers of people tuning in for the big game. That’s probably why some of the most clever and memorable commercials make their debut during this event. Also, the money spent on this advertising space is enough to make blue collar America sick to their stomachs.
Many of the commercials this year were downright hilarious and made me laugh out loud, however there is one that struck a different vein within me. It was Budweiser “Hero Solute” commercial depicting American troops returning from war and passing through an airport to be greeted with standing applause.

First, I commend Budweiser for spending millions on a commercial that was bigger than beer, a commercial that encompasses the values of the United States and recognizes the true American Hero’s. Budweiser’s commercial was truly selfless and embodies the spirit of our American soldiers abroad.

Next, I commend our protectors of freedom. It is you who have heard the call and answered. You who have sacrificed immeasurably to serve your country and to defend the movement of freedom across the world. You who have risen among the ranks of Americans to fulfill a duty and a calling that can only be answered by the bravest of men and women. You who refuse to let tyranny thrive and evil reign. You who choose a life of uncertainty so that others may find it. To you brave men and women of the United States Armed Forces, I also say THANK YOU!

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Pharmaceutical Pixie Dust

Recently, I picked up a USA Today and found an article about promoting antidepressant drugs to teens to lower the suicide rate among this particular age group. I thought to myself, “Do drugs really prevent suicides?” Well, I guess you could say the truth is yes, but I feel as if we’re treating a symptom when the cure to the problem is right under our nose. Its almost like prescribing tissues for a cold. Sure the tissues help clear your nose, but it doesn’t stop the cold.

Teenage suicide is a problem that must be treated with utmost seriousness and dignity but to think that the answer to this problem is drugs is absolutely absurd. All we’ll have after that are a bunch of artificially giggly teens hopped up on pills with the exact same problems they had before. This problem must be treated at its root, and no, drugs are not a help for this stage either. We must think what is it that is making our teens so depressed in the first place. Go ahead and think for a moment….. I’m sure you can think of something.

First we need to keep in mind that these people are called Teens. No, teens are not the epitome of emotional stability, they are not always rational, and yes, hormones are surging into their bodies at incredible rates. Teens are supposed to be emotional. Its almost a right of passage or a capstone for puberty. Its just the way God made us.

Second, some teens have issues to be depressed about. The divorce of their parents. Maybe the lack of parent involvement in their lives. Maybe the lack of parents at all. It could be the lack of a safe home environment or a myriad of factors at home.

Thirdly, teens can get depressed ….well just because their spoiled. You say , “what? Spoiled?”. Yeah, that’s exactly what I’m saying. At the snap of their fingers, teens can get what they want usually from their parents. Cell phones, car keys, televisions, DVD players, and money are free for the taking if you can just pester your parents enough. Why shouldn’t they have happiness too? After all, they demand it, and their parents do all they can to give them fulfillment, as long as it doesn’t require time, effort, or discipline. Money? Well money we’ve got. The others are not commodities that we all can afford right now. Unfortunately, teens are now finding out that money does not equal happiness and that sucks. Basically, we’re telling our kids, that we can love them with our money, but not with our lives, time, or discipline. You say, “Discipline?” Again, yes, it may sound a bit weird but teens long for discipline and structure. “How?” you might ask. Well, caring parents are always involved in their teens life. They’re asking questions and setting guidelines for their protection and not matter how much teens rant rave or complain, they know that this equals love and love equals value. Once a teen has a sense of value, well sure the mood swings will be there, the crying over 2 day relationships and unfair parents will not soon go away, but when teens know they are valued, true clinical depression is a mile away.

You see, drugs are not the answer. In fact, its just downright stupid. Honestly, we’ve got drugs to cure headaches and all sorts of diseases but now we’re willing to drug our teens just because they feel down? Whats next? A drug that makes homework exciting? How about one that makes everybody like you. As for me, I say enough of our pharmaceutical pixie dust. We know how to cure the problem, it just takes effort.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

After the war

Who would have thought war would look anything like this. What a far cry from the frostbite and foxholes in the Arden. There, you didn’t even have time to think. As soon as you covered up for an hour shut-eye mortar rounds were landing all around you and in your buddys foxhole. You knew it wouldnt belong before one landed right between your legs and split you into bits. The thought was nearly a welcome one, as long as it meant an escape from that frozen hell.

I guess you could say I got my wish. The fellas from the 506 captured the Eagles Nest and Hitler killed himself shortly thereafter. So here we are in Austria, suddenly on friendly terms with the men we were trying to kill just weeks before. It nearly seemed dreamlike. We had been fighting so hard and so long that most of us were sure we’d never see the end of this war alive. I mean… there we were watchin our buddies holdin their guts while lying in the snow and screamin for a medic. Now here I am at the foot of the Alps in Austria with warm chow in my stomach, a hot shower, and a warm bed. We’ve occupied a chalet next to a small lake. Just on the other sides are towering snowcapped mountains that make you feel like a nothing. You couldn’t ask for better scenery from a presidential vacation much less from the United States Army. The days are sunny and warm and in the evenings we watch movies that we found here along with a projector. Problem is that none of us can understand a lick of German except for Lenny the platoon interpreter. He gets a real kick out of them though.

Occassionally we’ll see some of the boys from the Airforce do recon low level flights through the mountains and over the lake. Just the sound of those birds…. I remember countless times when they’d swoop in and save our ass by knocking out some kraut mortar or cannon fire. You’d thought you’d never a prettier site in your life, those P-51’s swoopin in, engines roaring full tilt, and guns blazin, givin those krauts hell. As for now, the P-51 is just as majestic as before, like an eagle nimbly flying through the mountains.

Anyway, you woulda thought the war for us is over. Instead, were here in Austria biding our time the best way we know how and waiting for our companies reassignment. There’s been talk of a Iwo Jima. Don’t know much about it but it seems this army is gunna kill us one way or another.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Screwed Over by Big Business

Ya know how when you get completely screwed over by a company, you want to let other people know to avoid that company? Well that’s what’s happening here. Let me explain:
My home loan was purchased by Chase Manhattan Bank and I received a letter assuring me that any serviced I had with my previous bank would be continued with Chase. As it turns out, Chase forgot to set up the automatic withdrawal I was using with my previous bank. I called Chase to inform them about the error. They said it would be fixed promptly, and it was. After receiving my monthly statement I noticed a $20 "Miscellaneous Fee". I figured, I wish I could start a business with "Miscellaneous Fees" that way I'd never have to explain why I was overcharging them. Being the economically minded person that I am, I called Chase bank to see what the $20 fee really was all about. I struggled to make sense of the poor and broken English of the representative on the other line. I was able to decipher that my $20 fee was from a payment over the phone. I explained my case and asked for the fee to be removed. One word this English prodigy did understand was, "apologize". Yes, Chase did apologize for their error but refused to refund my account. I explained that it must be nice to be a business that could charge their customers for the errors of the company. I do believe my words were wasted on this linguistic genius.
All in all, I do believed that I have been pushed around by big business and the worst part of it all is that there is nothing more I can do about this than warn others. Therefore, let this be your warning: Chase Manhattan is a corrupt bank that wrongfully takes money from their customers. Also, that many other businesses are doing the same and it is up to the consumer to hold these businesses accountable. Demand better service. Demand corporate honesty. And for crying out loud, demand to speak to someone that knows English.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Parents vs. Teachers

“My child is treated unfairly.” “You’re singling my child out because you don’t like him.” “Why is my child’s grade so low in your class?” These are just a few of the questions teachers may receive on a daily basis from the parents of their students. Aren’t parents and teachers working on the same goal, the education of young minds?
Where did we go wrong? Maybe it was with all the legislation ensuring the rights of students to fair educational opportunities. This legislation is good. However, like any good thing, it can be bent, twisted or manipulated for anything but good. Somehow, people have used this legislation as ammunition against teachers and administration as some sort of bill of rights that their child is entitled to. I can understand as much as the next person that we all want what is best for our future generations but we’re curing educational symptoms when the deep-rooted problems are still alive and well.
The problem is that parents and teachers seem to think that educating the children is some sort of tug-o-war match with the student in the center. Families are constantly blamed for the misbehavior and irresponsibility of today’s youth. Teachers are criticized again and again for disciplining a student for something he or she did wrong. The truth is, parents and teachers need to be on the same side of the rope. It is absolutely imperative that parents support a teacher’s disciplinary action 100% at home. Anything less is completely undermining the authority of the teacher and represents the teacher as a harsh and irrational quazi-authority who disciplines to his or her whims. As you may have guessed, this renders the teacher completely ineffective first as a disciplining and secondly as an effective teacher. I wish sometimes I could shake a parent, look them straight in the face and ask them, “Do you have any idea what you’re doing when you fail to support your teachers?”
It may seem that I’m shifting the majority of the responsibility on parents. If that’s the case, you’re very astute. The disciplining of a child starts and ends at home. The plain fact of the matter is, if the child doesn’t get their discipline at home, they can be sure they’ll get it at school. The only problem then is, the cycle starts over once again. The child screams “injustice” to the parents and the parents echo “injustice” right back at the teacher. Only it’s just a little louder this time.
I submit to you that this cycle has to stop sometime, somewhere. It’s got to stop even before school. It’s got to stop at home. Parents need to support teacher’s disciplinary decisions and teachers need to communicate with parents. Only by having parents and teachers on the same team can we effectively mold the generation of tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Positively good

I figured I didnt want this to turn out to a complaint blog so I'm making a resolution to insert positive stuff thus, the regularly scheduled complaint about schools and parents will be postponed until another date.
My positive thought for the day is actually a reminicance. (of when i could spell...... yeah right) I was thinkin about how it was to be small. I'm not talkin thin because....I've never actually been thin. I used to be quite a round gentleman. I'm talkin short. Let me be clear though, I enjoy being tall but there are also some distinct advantages of being small. Let me explain. I remember going to a Christian camp to pick up my brothers and sister at the end of the week. I was there with my parents around a fenced in dirt horse arena. Turns out the horses were doing tricks and people were riding on the horses while standing up and all that stuff. Well, I would have had a great view however the very first rail of the fence was right at eye level. After a lil complaining, dad threw me up on his shoulders. Now I wasnt only taller, I was on top of the world. Honestly, what cant you see while your on your fathers shoulders. Unfortunately I am now too tall and to round to get back on my fathers shoulders.
Second, when your small, your bed is huge. I could roll and roll and never reach the edge of that bed. Blankets were like being wrapped up in a huge fuzzy parachute. I could practically fit my entire body on a pillow. It was great. Here are a few more good things about being small.
It doesnt hurt as bad when you fall.
Climbing on things is a way of life
People expect less from you.
Hide and go seak is easier to win.


Monday, January 10, 2005

Please Hold

Ok, so a while ago a purchased a Cingular phone and a plan. Not a bad idea all in all. Turns out my phone dropped at least half of the calls i tried to make from home. I figure its time to return the phone. For a week with the Cingular plan, the company still charges me a connection fee as well as prorates my usage. All of this is understandable. I was told that there would be no early termination fee. Turns out over 2 months since I dropped Cingular, I get a bill for $160. I'm thinkin they've got some sort of racket goin here. They charge people bogus charges long after they've forgotten and torn up their contract. After plenty of time on hold they were finally able to erase all my charges but 7 cents. I payed the seven cents but, do they charge everyone that cancels 7 cents? Again, their making money hand over fist at the expense of average joe. I'm tellin ya, it just aint right. There is a point where big business just gets too big and tries to bully everyone around. I'm tired of it. I guess you could say this is my plea to you. Dont take any charges at face value. Cingular, credit card charges, late fees, McDonalds.... you name it. Call them on it and get your money back. Furthermore, demand compensation. Someone has got to keep big business accountable and it's supposed to be the consumer, so I say, "Consumer, do your job."
Stay tuned for tomarrows lecture on teachers rights vs. students and parents rights