Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Don't Look a Gift in the Beak

So it seems KFC or Kentucky Fried Chicken for you traditionalists is stirring up a little controversy. They have this campaign going on where they sell pink buckets of they're famous fried chicken parts. 50 cents from the sale of each of these buckets is donated to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization. The Komen group does extensive funding into the research to cure breast cancer.

Well a lot of advocates for curing this disease think this is just wrong. They site the horrible fat content of the Colonel's chicken as being a great health concern in itself. Duh! Do they think that people who normally chow down on yogurt and granola are suddenly going to rush out to KFC for a bucket of wings so they can help the cause?

This is money that Komen did not have before and they have now. In fact, so far it is 2.3 million dollars of money they did not have before. Is KFC chicken bad for you? Well, its not part of the South Beach Diet! Do you think this is a marketing ploy from this fast food chain? Well, yeah, you can bet you chicken rump that it is. But, it is also a donation to a worthwhile organization trying to make a difference in this disease.

Yeah, there's stuff out there that people consume that ain't good for them. A campaign like this is not going to change habits. If your the type that watches what you eat, try to live healthy your not gonna start sucking down buckets of fried chicken. And, you know what, if your already shopping at the Colonel's, enjoy your wings and thanks for the half a buck!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Sometimes I'll go several days without picking up a local newspaper. I tend to regret this habit everytime it occurs. Last week is one of those times.

Joan Gormalley of Salem passed away last week. Had I read that in the paper I could have paid my respects. Joan was my third grade teacher. She was the very first lay teacher at St. Pius V School in Lynn. That means she was this real woman in a school full of nuns! A lot of us little urchins thought this was a cool thing. We also thought we were going to be on Easy Street that year. Well, you can believe me, Miss Gormalley was able to dish out discipline just as well as any of those Sisters of Saint Joseph.

The one thing I will always remember about Miss Gormalley, is how she opened up the world of classical music for me. I had had brushes with the classics before my third grade encounter. I was a huge fan of "The Lone Ranger" television series, so the William Tell Overture was pretty big with me. I can also remember sending a few boxtops of Quaker Puffed Rice off to Battle Creek, Michigan for a recording of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture. However, Joan Gormalley brought a few records into class and allowed us to do nothing but listen. She had some music by some guy named Edvard Grieg, then something called "A Night on Bald Mountain" and then, Paul Dukas' "Sorcerer's Apprentice" which I remembered had something to do with Mickey Mouse. Somehow I thought this woman wasn't like the other teachers I had. Even apart from the nun's habit, she seemed different.

Joan Gormalley went on to be a member and president of the Salem Chamber of Commerce then, also, a co-founder of Salem's Haunted Happenings. She was always active in local politics. But, I'll always remember spending some magical musical hours in her third grade classroom.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Free Comic Book Day

May 1st is Free Comic Book Day. This is the day you can walk into a participating comic book store and get a free comic. The day doesn't always fall on May 1st but it's always the first Saturday of May.

I've always liked comics. I think comic books have made me a better reader. Along the way, comics have taught me a little about life. But, most of all, they've been fun and entertaining. I really wish my mother hadn't tossed out my collection from the 60's. What a gold mine that would be now!

This past week, it was announced that Archie Comics is going to introduce a gay character to the gang at Riverdale High. Apparently, a new arrival to town isn't concerned with that age old choice - Betty or Veronica. This guy comes out and states, "I'm gay!"

Now, a lot of realism has crept into comics in the last 25 years. And, comics have dealt with some hot topics in the past. Back in the 1960's, Marvel made a little civil rights statement by including a black man as a regular in their popular WWII mag,"Sgt Fury and his Howling Commandos". Drug abuse has been addressed even in the pages of "The Amazing Spiderman". But, come on, this is Archie! A simple little comic about being a teenager and its readership is mostly preteens. Do we need throw the gay thing at them in a comic strip?

Racism, drugs, gang violence and war, these are all issues that are currently in many comics and the so-called graphic novels. And, in some comic books they are handled creatively and thoughtfully. But, just like some of those issues, homosexuality doesn't belong in an Archie comic book.

When it comes down to it, being gay is a sexual preference. And, if that's what floats your boat, then fine but do we have to tout these preferences in comics aimed at young readers. Do we want kids to know that Blondie and Dagwood were heavily into S&M or that Hi and Lois were into wife swapping!

Yeah, kids are subjected to a lot more adult themed entertainment these days. And, its probably impossible to put the genie back in the bottle but, come on, its Archie for cryin' out loud!

Earth Day plus 2

Today was my Earth Day!

The wife and I went out early to pick up some plants and more bags of various types of soil. We got some potting soil, some gardening soil, even a few bags of top soil. That last one especially gets to me. I never thought I'd see the day I'd be buying dirt. But, yet, I have bought a ton of it. Actually, between the two houses I've owned, I have bought several tons.

Still, it seems odd to me. I grew up with a yard that had plenty of good soil and the empty lot next door was on the edge of a swamp and had plenty of pear moss. My old man's garden grew like crazy!

Anyway, we got back to the house and I turned the soil in my garden. I mounted a couple of window boxes on the shed that went up last year. If your like me your asking yourself why the hell do you need window boxes on a shed. Well, the answer is called living together peacefully.

We got the boxes filled with the plants. I trimmed back a rose bush. I cleaned out an area where I want to transplant a peony. All in all, it was a damned nice day!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Global Warming or just Damned Good Seed

I really haven't made a concrete decision on this global warming, yet. I've gone through an awful lot of seasons here in New England and I've seen warm winters and I've seen cool summers. It sure seems like we must have altered something with all the carbon we've thrown into the air. However, history tells us we've gone through a lot of climate changes over the years. Scientists tell us we've had several ice ages along with a few periods of worldwide tropics.

There's one thing I do know. It seems to me, I've been cutting my grass a lot sooner in the past few years. I'm one of those guys who don't mind cutting the lawn. It's kind of a private time where you can be alone with your thoughts.

I like it, its just that it starts so early I get to like it a lot more than I want to. My grass is in good shape but, you know, it could be global warming too!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Toys in the Attic

One aspect of aging is watching your parents pass away. If your lucky you get to spend some quality time before you lose them for good. If your real lucky and the situation allows you might be able to bring a dying parent into your home. Then you can allow them to spend their last days with family. Ideally, with lots of family visiting often and creating a safe, comfortable atomoshere so that your mom or dad can have a feeling that their family is staying intact.

Of course, that's not always possible. Sometimes we have to depend on facilities designed to care for the elderly. It may be the only alternative available at the time, but knowing that doesn't make it any easier. As you watch someone who raised you, taught you, cooked many meals for you, sitting amongst strangers when you wave goodbye after a too brief of a visit.

Another part of this process is taking care of dismantling what the parents acquired and accumulated over the years. If they owned a home its up to you and any siblings to go through that house to prepare for a sale. And, its quite an adventure sorting through the stuff that your folks stashed away over the years. Its interesting trying to understand their mind set of why they felt the need to store dozens of pairs of shoes in the attic. And, while your in that attic, try to figure out what made them hold on to every gift box from every Christmas you can ever remember.

But, then you come across the good stuff. You find that some of those boxes have pictures and letters from not only your lifetime but theirs as well. A few things to remind you that they went through this same process with their parents. So, you see pictures of your parents when they were children. You see your grandparents as young adults just starting out. And, hopefully, you see pictures that show happy faces caught many years ago having many good times. And, you think about somebody climbing up into your attic someday and you hope they find some of your boxes.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Birth of a Nation and a few Bills

Today is known as Patriot's Day. An actual holiday here in ye olde Massachusetts Bay Colony. It's the day that commemorates the kick off of the American Revolution that in turn led to the formation of these United States. I don't think nation building was in the back of the minds of those so-called minutemen on that morning back in 1775. They were a group of craftsmen, farmers, brewers, tradesmen who had had enough.

A lot of talk these days is about how those colonists were fed up with taxation. That was a very big part of it, but this was 1775, the famous tea party was three years ago. They had successfully mounted a boycott of British goods that got the Stamp Act repealed back in 1766. The taxes hurt, but another big factor was Parliment was chipping away at their rights as British subjects. They ended up going to war for the right to govern themselves.

Today, some people are saying that these founding fathers would be outraged at the amount of taxes we pay to the government they forged back then. I wonder about that. You see, after they fired those shots heard around the world that April 19th morning, the die was cast, as John Adams said. They had to go through with it. The most bizarre thing was they won! They got into a match with the biggest superpower of the day and they beat 'em!

Of course, then they had to form a country, with a government, and pay for it. Once they got into that part of the deal, they found out you have to get money from somewhere if you want to lay down a few streets, build a few ships, pay your soldiers. So, they found themselves on the other end of a revolution when they started taxing the guys who made whiskey. And, they did some of the same things the Brits did earlier. They sent the army after these tax evaders.

The thing is they found out you need money to run a country. So, I think they would understand the dynamics going on 230 years later. How to ride that fine line, maintaining a government that can provide what people want and need but, yet, keeping taxation fair and equitable. And, I'm quite sure that they would be quite familiar with the fact that you can't please all the people, all the time. Also, if they had it to do over again, they'd probably want to ease up on the whiskey tax!