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Somewhere in Between

Originally written March 4th, 2009

Our culture is highly segregated, especially when it comes to advertising, marketing, broadcasting, and politics. Within these circles you don’t hear of individuals but demographical groups otherwise known as “demos”. Broadcasters see the 18-54 demo as the most coveted; the most sought-after. Advertisers narrow their message to reach a target audience, or demo, for maximum effectiveness. You can be sure that political campaigns re-tune their message depending on which demo makes up the audience on the next stop.

Until about 2 years ago, I fit into one political demo pretty well. Not so much anymore.

I consider myself a fiscal conservative and social libertarian. Because I’ve never heard of this demo, I don’t know in what camp I belong. What I’m sure of is what I am not and that is a socialist, communist, or Marxist.

Here are the two big litmus tests issues that make me think I don’t fit squarely into any one political party: Abortion and Gay Rights.

Abortion

A conservative would most likely stand on a complete and total anti-abortion platform no matter what the situation. At least, that has been my experience.

Here is where I split away from the elephants. Within myself, I fall in agreement with the anti-abortion platform. However, an anti-abortion bill has no hope of passing in today’s congress. Therefore, I would be in favor of a compromise bill, for certain medically approved situations, if it meant reducing the overall number of abortions happening annually across this country. This is an act to which most conservatives couldn’t bring themselves and that is why I can’t consider myself a conservative on this issue.

Gay Rights

Most conservatives see homosexuality as a sin that if left unrepentant, the offender would indeed go to hell upon his/her death as explained in the Bible. They also tend to view homosexual marriage as a slap in the face of God and His church and as something that should not be allowed in this country. Ergo, they seek a Constitutional ban on any marriages other than between one man and one woman.

Here is where I differ from the mainstream Conservative. Again, within myself, I agree that the Bible is crystal clear about homosexuality and what happens to unrepentant homosexuals. However, as a patriotic American who wants to do right by God and by the founders, I cannot support a Constitutional ban on Same-sex marriages because the very idea of discrimination against other Americans based solely on personal opinion is unconstitutional.

To put it another way, the Constitution does not afford me the right to tell one American that he/she can not have sex with another, of-age, consenting American…period. The constitution doesn’t afford me that right and it does not afford the government that right.

While the practice of homosexuality is indeed unGodly and makes my skin crawl, I cannot and will not unconstitutionally discriminate against other Americans who disagree with my opinions.

I’m not sure if my beliefs make me welcome in either the red or blue “demo” but I can rest assured that I’m not treading on anyone’s personal freedoms because of them.

Did it Have to be Tonight?

Originally written February 13, 2009


When I was little, my mom called the soap operas she always watched, “my soaps”. She had a schedule that she looked forward to every midday. She invested in them as if she owned them. Many of my friends have shows each night of the week. Perhaps Tuesday is American Idol night and Wednesday is Law and Order.

I only have two shows I claim as my own for the entire week. Monday is The Big Bang Theory night on CBS and Thursday is reserved for Hell’s Kitchen on FOX. That’s it. For a guy who used to make his living on TV, I’m pretty boring when it comes to actually watching it. I think it comes from my wife who doesn’t watch TV at all.

Having only two shows makes me pretty protective of the time I have to watch them. You can imagine my frustration when last night I turned on my TV last night expecting to find Hell’s Kitchen. Instead of watching Chef Gordon Ramsay yelling at some schmuck for under cooking her Jon Dory, I found the NAACP Image Awards, or as I like to call them the, “Here’s an award for being black” awards.

For shame. Now, I have to wait a whole week to find out if Lacy will get to survive another night in Hell’s Kitchen or if the brown-nosing Seth will scare Chef Ramsay to the point of dismissal. And for what? So a group of Americans could sit around and judge the accomplishments of other Americans on the basis of their race…on Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday.

Whatever.

Sago Mine Tragedy

Originally written January 4, 2006


Mornin' Everyone,

There is so much I wanna say about the Sago Mine situation. So much I wanna say about the national media's efforts to cover-up their mistake of running with a story that had not been confirmed, only later to say "Oops, we're sorry, your husbands, brothers, sons, and daddies are all dead". However, I need to learn from my past mistakes. There will be a time and place for finger-pointing and for blame-placing but that time is not now. Just as it was post-Katrina, we need to help people first then we'll worry about finding fault.

For those of you who don't know, we are the local CBS affiliate for the Sago, WV area. Our reporters know these people and their families. They are our neighbors. They are our brothers and sisters, church family and friends. When CNN pushes local people around so Anderson Cooper can have a better shot of our grieving statesmen, it doesn't go unnoticed. There was a swift and marked effort to only talk to the local media once those horrified people of Sago saw how the "big shots" treated West Virginia.

How completely ignorant do national reporters have to be to refer to this state as "Virginia" or to utterly misrepresent themselves by giving "Tallmansville" as their location. You are not in Tallmansville, you are in Sago. Please get it right. I thought the people of West Virginia were the backhills hicks who didn't know their butts from holes in the ground...and here we have the National Associated Press using the incorrect state abbreviation, "W.Va." Attention media, the United States Postal Service assigned all of the states two-letter abbreviations while I was still in elementary school. The abbreviation for West Virginia is "WV". It is not W. Virginia. It is not W. Va. It is not, West V. It is WV...period. Even if you graduated from a sub-par Journalism School you should still know all 50 of the state abbreviations.

[deep breath]

I do not consider myself a West Virginian. I never will. I was born in Ohio, a completely different state with a completely different history and a completely different socio-economic make up. However, I am actually physically angered at the simple dismissal with which some folks in this country treat the Mountain State.

These mountaineers are laughed at, spit on, ridiculed, subjected to countless sneers and jeers, culturally emasculated, and dejected at every turn by more states than not. And for what? I suppose it is because West Virginians are "stupid, slow, tobacco chewin', cousin datin', back woods, good-for-nothin hicks". Such arrogance makes me sick. Let me remind those who currently have this mindset that West Virginias know in what state they live. They know how to spell it, they know how to abbreviate it, and they know how to appreciate it for what it is.

Today, they lost 12 of their brothers and you lack the cooth of properly identifying their town.

Shame.

Waffle House Stories

Originally written May 12, 2007


Everyone has one...probably more than one.

This morning I went there for breakfast since my wife is out of town on a Zoo Sleepover with the rest of the third grade in her school. I plopped down at the counter, all of the waitress said "good morning" with a few calling me by name, and I ordered my food.

While I was waiting I thought back to college and all of the fun my friends and I had at the Waffle House near campus. It was the only place open after curfew so we would sneak out and eat a late fifth meal. It was also the best place to sip coffee and study during finals week. That only happened during my senior year though because that's the only time I had a car.

College wasn't the only time I captured memories from WH and stored them for later retrieval. I think it was 2004 and my brother had just come home from his 14-month tour of duty in Iraq. I came into town for his homecoming and so had most of the family. We had patriotic bunting hung up all over the house and cake and all kinds of party stuff waiting for him when he got home. After the party, the pictures, and the gifts he brought back for us, he asked me and my oldest sister to go out for coffee. We arrived at Waffle House and he sat us down. He then gave us a special gift, one that was only for the two of us and no one else. He said,

"I know that my friends and family have a lot of questions about my time in Iraq. Only you two can ask me anything you want and I'll answer to the best of my ability. There are no boundaries, but only for you two."

That was one interesting night.

But I'd say the most memorable time at Waffle House was when I went with my last college roommate ,Manuel, and one of his friends from Panama. Manuel and I were great friends even though we had just met that last year of school. He and his Wife even came up from Costa Rica to be in mine and Amy's wedding this past October.


Anyway, back to the story. I forget Manuel's friend's name so we'll call him Edgar. While Edgar was driving, he was bragging to us that his money was no good at WH. The workers always let him eat for free and yadda yadda. Oh well, at least he always had a food option if he was low on funds so good for him.

While waiting for our food, I began doing what alot of people do at restaurants, stacking the coffee creamers. I started with a one-level base of around eight creamers then I started one single tower that kept creeping higher and higher. I had about ten creamers stacked one on top of another which was getting a bit of restaurant-wide attention. I felt bold so I stopped with the creamers and went for the salt and pepper shakers. Now, these shakers weren't the squared, plastic ones that you find at McDonald's, these were glass and metal with rounded tops and not that suitable for stacking.

The salt was the first to go up. After a few ginger repositions, it was stacked and balanced right in place. Edgar was beside himself with disbelief and truthfully so was I. I was never a stacker so this was all new territory for me. It was kind of exciting but I also feared how long of a clean up I'd be in for if this thing came down prematurely.

During this time, Edgar had been flirting with the waitresses and really hamming up the fact that he was going to eat for free and he knew it. So I decided to make things a little more interesting. I bet Edgar that if I could stack the pepper shaker on top of the salt shaker that he would have to buy MY food as well. If it didn't stack, I'd get his for him (even though he didn't need it).

All of the sudden, this cocky Panamaniac who thought himself King of the Hash browns was backing down off of his throne just a touch. He called one of his waitresses over and he explained the situation. Using some sweet talk and flashing his award-winning smile a few times, the waitress reluctantly agreed to cover his bet if he lost. I could tell that she wanted me to lose [It also occurred to me that some of the waitresses weren't exactly enamored with Edgar as he had earlier stated].

So, with the particulars in check, I went for the pepper shaker. I was extremely nervous because I was still a novice stacker and here I am going for rounded object on rounded object. To my amazement, the pepper shaker went up pretty easily with only a few minor adjustments. I pulled my hand away and the tower stood firm. The corner booth across the room clapped and for the first time all night Edgar's smile was very forced and nervous.

I'd find out two weeks later that that night was the last night Edgar ever got to eat free at WH. :)

So, what's your Waffle House story?

My Memory

Originally written in 1998


If I had to think back to my earliest memory, it would be a difficult task. I have so many childhood memories that it's very hard to find the earliest one of them all. A funny anecdote is that when I was four years old I used to claim that I remembered the face of the doctor who delivered me. Who was I trying to impress you ask? I'm not too sure!

Since I have to choose one memory I guess I'll have to go with this one. I remember being wakened every morning by my mother when I was three. She'd come into my room and sit at the edge of my bed and lean over to give me a kiss. It's like she didn't want me to start out the day without me knowing that she loved me. And if I think hard enough, I can remember feeling Mom sitting on my bed even while I was still asleep. It just happened so often that I found myself aware of the smallest movement of the bed even in my sleep.

My memory isn't just about my mom waking me every morning, but what we did every morning that I'll never forget. My room had Fairy Tale wallpaper and it had pictures of all the famous storybook characters like Humpty Dumpty, the cow that jumped over the moon, and Jack and Jill just to name a few. Well, when Mom came in to wake me she would say, "Can you find the cow?", and I would smile and reach up my hand to touch the one closest to my bed and she would beat me to it. We both laughed and it became this little game to see who could touch the character first.

"Can you find Humpty Dumpty?", she would ask. Sure enough I would slowly reach my hand up to touch good ole Humpty and she would throw hers in just ahead of mine and beat me to him. I really didn't care is she beat me or not, I just thought it was fun to play.

Today my mom is 52 and just a little slower than she was twenty years ago. If we would play now I would have no trouble beating her. Funny, as I remember back to all the fun we used to have, I still think to myself, "I really don't care is she beats me, just as long as we got to play", and I think that's true.

Why do I still remember those mornings, I think it's because it was the only ten minutes in the day that mom was truly mine. That time we shared was just ours and no one else was ever invited to play along. If she called me up from home in New Orleans now and asked to play when I come home for Thanksgiving, I'd like to think she'd be able to beat me. Families are important to all of us; they're the only people we love to hate but when trouble comes, you have their back. Funny isn't it?

"Can you find your family"? If so, reach out your hand and touch them.

The Bachelor Auction

Originally written September 16, 2004


Mornin' Everyone,

Thanks to Kirsten's insistance upon an update, I give you the Bachelor Auction Recap!

So I get to the Radisson Hotel outdoor lounge after quite a hectic work day, hair appointment, gasoline stop and paycheck pick-up. I'm a bit...okay...alot nervous, but I'm a little disappointed that I couldn't find my favorite jeans so I was stuck wearing my Sean John's which are about two inches too short in the legs. I do my best to shrug that off as I enter the outdoor lounge.

I hook up with the Emcee of the evening and the American Cancer Society (henseforth known as ACS) folks at the registration table where I hand over my Bachelor Application. They inform me that I'm supposed to "work the crowd" and mingle with all the ladies so they can see what they'll be bidding on before the auction starts. I replay that sentence in my head and for some reason my brain only registers, "Go strut your stuff and work your game on these ladies". Mind you, I work three jobs and am finishing my Meteorological Post-Grad...when do I have time to "work my game" on ANYTHING..let alone HAVE A GAME in the first place? I immediately realize that I have gotten in way over my head, but the story doesn't end there.

I didn't go screaming into the night or anything. Instead, I tried to keep in mind that if I just stuck it out the ACS would be that much closer to a cure for cancer. That kept me motivated (or distracted) enough to go and "work the crowd" for about an hour and a half. I actually met some cool people and had a good time with them. Not as bad as I thought really...it was starting to be kinda fun...until it came time to start the auction.

I was second on the auction block so I had time to collect my thoughts and try to stop sweating all over myself. It didn't work, because just like that the first bachelor was purchased and he went for $80! Eighty bucks is alot of money! Suddenly every ounce of self-confidence I ever had was drained from my 6'3" frame. "There is no way I'm gonna go for $80", I thought. I'd find out sooner than later because the Emcee had just called my name.

So, I'm up on this stage ALL ALONE in front of approx 150 girls and assorted bachelors. The emcee wasn't even up there, she was IN THE BACK of the room so I was really ALL ALONE! She read my little Bachelor Bio as I walked up the stage and the bidding began.

"Let's start the bidding at $50", she said, "do I hear $50".

Inside I'm screaming, "FIFTY BUCKS...LADY ARE YOU CRAZY", knowing that I'd never go for $50 right off the bat. But I did. Then with the auctioneer prompting $55, I got another bid from the other side of the room. The call came for $60 and the original bidder was back in the race. Miss 55 now wants $65, so it becomes a two lady race on opposite sides of the room!

By this time I'm really getting into it, I'm starting to work the room and get these bids higher and higher. Soon $65 would become $70 then $75 finally the call came for $80. I thought surely they would stop at $80 and not make the first bachelor be outbid so soon.

Well, then came $80 and we flew right on past it as the auction got hotter and hotter. Eighty dollars...eighty-five dollars...ninety dollars...ninety-five dollars...100 DOLLARS!

This was madness! Someone just bid $100 and the auctioneer was asking for $110! I couldn't believe it! This was great! The ACS was getting all this money and I had a "ripped from the pages of a citcom script" auction battle going on!

We sat on $100 for a while...looking at the other bidder to see if she would finally put that winning bid up for $110. Waiting...waiting..waiting. It never came and I was sold for $100!

So I'm going out to a fancy country club with a very nice person where we will be enjoying all the attention of a four star chef at his exclusive "Chef's Table". I'm looking forward to it, it should be fun!

There you have it. My worst fears melted away, I had a great time on the block, and the ACS made a C-Note for my little ole self. Everyone walks away a winner.

I hope you walk away with some laughs and good thoughts of charity after having read this. Take some time and think about how you could be serving others in different and unique ways.

You'll be blessed because of it!

Until I see you again,
Be good and be God's ~

Originally written February 20, 2007



Just yesterday Bob Chirdon, the Vice President and General Manager of WTOL, aired this editorial on the statewide smoking ban that Ohio voters passed back in November. He praises the Ohioan voter for passing this ban after walking into a smoke-filled Italian restaurant in Milwaukee over the weekend.

During the election season, all of the folks in the newsroom were tossing around their opinions about this measure. There was one common reaction from just about every person to whom I talked and that was, "Ew...I hate smoke. I hope it gets banned in November". Well I, too, hate the smell of cigarette smoke and the cancer causing ingredients in contains, and the fact that it is the only product on the market that when used as directed kills you. Please don't misunderstand that. However, I think a larger point has been missed here and that is government should have no right to tell a private business owner to whom he can or can't open his doors.

How is it that a "No Smoking" sign couldn't have been enough to tell smokers to go elsewhere to light up? How is it that a "smoking section" isn't enough of an indicator that if non-smokers don't want to smell smoke, then they should be seated in the non-smoking section? So what...because smokers and non-smokers alike couldn't follow the plainly written placards, the tyrannical majority felt it necessary to force a moral highground issue down citizen's throats? How is that the American way?

Again don't get me wrong here, I hate it that people are addicted to this garbage. This habit is debilitating and kills too many moms, dads, and kids each year. But if you don't want to smell smoke, then don't frequent the establishments that have smoking sections; this includes the ones that are poorly ventilated. If you want to light up after a meal, don't expect a non-smoking restaurant to cater to you or like cliental. How is that hard to understand? Now, in enclosed spaces where it is difficult or impossible to remove yourself from unwanted secondhand smoke (i.e. a train, subway, or work place) it is pretty universal that smoking is prohibited and only permitted outside of these facilities or in a designated smoking room with ventilation (i.e. large airports). Now with this ban, smokers don't even have that choice anymore.

This smoking ban should have never made it to the ballot in the first place. It should have been left up to the free market system to handle. If there is a greater demand for non-smoking establishments, then more and more business owners will cater to that crowd. If there is a large smoking population nearby, locally owned, private business should be able to offer goods and services to them without the government's dissatisfaction. Now that this precedent has been set, what civil liberty will voters take away next? Will they ban private gun ownership because, "I don't like knowing there are guns in my neighborhood"? Will they vote away your right to spend your money at wal-mart because "I don't like that they forced mom-n-pop shops out of business"?

New York is already banning the use of trans fats like there is no tomorrow and the wackos on Capitol Hill are trying to do the same all over the country. When are we finally going to look at the 400lbs. lady who cries that McDonald's made her fat and call her out for her lack of personal responsibility? I don't need Uncle Sam to save me from myself, thank you, and I don't need the voter to do that either. What if I want trans fats in my hamburger every once in a while? Am I gonna have to go to Canada to get it (did anyone else shutter when they read that)? Come on, people!

Dave Hudson said it best, "Just pave my road and kill those who are trying to kill me. I'll take care of the rest".

I wish that were true.

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