Archive | March, 2010

…Hey, Hey, Hey, Goodbye!

31 Mar

Picture it if you will…you’re told by your spouse to request a few days off from work, clear your calendar for the remainder of the week and pack a bag. No explanation, no hint as to your destination, just get ready to go.

Yep (points thumb to chest), welcome to a day in the life. My honey told me earlier in the week that he needed me to cash in my vacation time (that I’ve been meticulously accruing for three years now), pack some clothes and be ready to leave Wednesday night.

Hey buddy, what the deuce? Witness Protection? Running from some Fatal Attraction Stalker? Planning a cross-country census tour of our own? I mean, I love surprises just like the next girl, but help me to help you. The more I know about a situation, the better off we BOTH will be, don’t you think?

Well, after twisting his arm and thoroughly ruining the moment, my honey revealed that he wanted to take me away on a belated birthday excursion, but threatened that if I asked another question of him, he’d cancel every single plan and instead treat me to Double Fillet Day at Long John Silvers! Needless to say, I’ve been as quite as a church mouse (outwardly) while the gears in my head have been squealing and smoking as I try to decipher what all the 30th Birthday Getaway entails.

With that said, I thought I’d give you, The Pack faithful the heads-up that I will be out of pocket for the next 4 days, gallivanting to only God (and my honey) knows where. I’d initially planned not to blog while on vaca, but I can already feel deep in my bones that these next few days are going to be chock-full of Pack worthy material. So, although some “secret” but much needed R&R is planned for me, I very well may be keeping you guys posted!

To Be Continued…

THIS Is Why I Have DFCS On Speed Dial!

30 Mar

Vodpod videos no longer available.

An email that I received today made me realize that I am seriously close to losing all respect for this nation’s education system; that and the fact that I clearly need to step-up my PTA involvement…like ASAP. 

 The email in question came this afternoon from an associate of mine who sent what he thought was a “cute” video of the next up and coming young thespians of America.  What I witnessed however was a blatant disregard for integrity coupled with the worst type of loss imaginable…the loss of innocence.

 The video highlighted what looked to be primary school children reenacting the final scenes of Scarface; you know, Tony Montana in a cocaine induced shooting frenzy, inviting everyone to say hello to his little friend?  I kid you not people, only the stack of Tony’s coke was swapped out and replaced by a mound of popcorn, and his weaponry of choice was of the plastic, water-shooting and cap-popping variety. 

Kid-friendly props notwithstanding, the idea that some warped adult thought that paying homage to one of the world’s most violent, bloody and crude cult classics via a theatrical production starring children honestly makes me want to shed my cloak of non-violent objection for the sole purpose of kicking the offending party square in the teeth.

 Now, I will go ahead and tell you, I ended up viewing this nonsense more than once. No, not because I found any of the child-character’s likenesses to their original counterparts to be endearing or entertaining, nor because I believed that the concept of the play was ground-breaking.  And certainly not because I was awaiting the curtail call when the teacher would announce that the class would be performing The Godfather in the fall.  In all honesty, I simply could not believe the disturbing images I saw the first go-round, so I tried it again.  Unfortunately, the results were the same, as my mandible hit the ground. Again. Hard. 

 Oh, I don’t know, it could have been all the pretend cursing (exchanging an expletive for “fudgin” does not make the dialogue any less inappropriate for what look to be seven and eight year olds), or the shoot-out finale (that the children seemed only too excited to be participating in), that rankled me so.  Or maybe it was the fact that a school in Anytown, USA would allow this sort of foolishness, and at the end of the day everyone down at the school board still had their jobs.

 But don’t jump on my soap box and ride out this high-speed tangent with me just yet.  If I am being honest, and while I DO admit that there are some grave issues that affect our schools, I don’t believe that this sort of gross disregard for impressionable minds could truly exist in one of our nation’s school districts.  I guess the more I think about it, the greater the likelihood that this whole “school play” video was probably staged from the start (I hope), by some dill-weed who goes around exploiting children for internet fame.  And while that might let Anytown, USA and its school district off the hook, it doesn’t lessen my righteous indignation toward the parents who are to blame for letting their children contribute to this hot mess! 

I mean, really! These are babies people!  They should be embracing their immaturity like I do, when I “body rock” to Nick Jr.’s Backyardigans and Yo Gabba Gabba (My name is Tiffany,  and I’m an adult stan of kiddie shows).  They should not be “bustin caps” and telling the world to “fudge” off! 

And let me just say THIS: for those who think that this video is amusing or that these kids are “cute,” you just keep on turning a blind eye to the creation of these little monsters.  Just think, their behavior has all the makings of a home grown flash-mob in ten years!  Let’s see how cute you think they are then.

 So maybe at the end of the day, it isn’t my belief in the school system that is lost at all, but instead my faith in some American’s concept of parenting.  I swear, where is the Department of Family and Children’s Services when you need them?

 

Taking “Busted Brackets” to a Whole ‘Nother Level

29 Mar

As a sports fan, March is one of the most exciting and frenetic times of the year!  With March Madness winding down though, I must admit that my brackets were busted LONG before the Final Four Teams were established (although one of my teams is still in the running, and I have them listed to win the whole shebang).  Still, I will venture to guess that the majority of basketball fans are just like me in looking at their brackets and longing for what woulda, coulda and shoulda been.

You see, with the average college basketball fan’s lack of strategy in creating a winning bracket, coupled with those few Cinderella Party Crashers who come out of nowhere and steamroll top-seeded teams, it always seems next to impossible to ever win that coveted office jackpot, right?  But what if I told you that while I am sympathetic to your bracket plight, I think that another potential bracket busting mechanism should be in place come NCAA Tournament time next year?  Please, don’t throw me the side-eye until you’ve heard me out.

There is currently a proposal in the works designed by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, to prohibit men’s college basketball teams from engaging in postseason play if they fail to graduate at least 40% of their players.  And just like some of you (I can actually hear your murmurs and complaints), this idea certainly did not go over smoothly with the NCAA and the hundreds of coaches and staff currently in the throws of March Madness, and for obvious reasons.  Think about it if you will; if this proposal were to be accepted this year, nearly a dozen men’s teams would be ineligible to play in the NCAA tournament, including the recently defeated No. 1 seed Kentucky powerhouse that I am sure everyone (me included) had in their bracket line-up to go to the big show, which only graduates 31% of its players.  Other tournament participants that would be barred based on graduation rates if this proposal were enacted this year would’ve included:

Maryland = 8%

California = 20%

Arkansas-Pine Bluff = 29%

Washington = 29%

Tennessee = 30%

Baylor = 36%

Missouri = 36%

New Mexico State = 36%

Clemson = 37%

Georgia Tech = 38%

Louisville =38%

These findings are based on a Diversity and Ethics in Sports study out of the University of Central Florida. 

Of the remaining tournament contenders however, the Duke Blue Devils fair the best, graduating 92% of the men in their basketball program.  And because of their rate, and the majority of men’s programs that are above the proposed minimum graduating rate, Arne Duncan remains optimistic that it is a good standard by which to assess colleges and universities.

“Frankly, that’s a low bar, and not many teams would be ineligible,” Duncan, who played college basketball at Harvard, said. “Over time, we should set a higher bar. But it’s a minimum, a bright line, which every program should meet to vie for postseason honors.”

The minimum rate was not the only focus of Duncan’s concern though.  He was quick to point out the troubling disparities between graduation rates for black and white basketball players who attended these colleges and universities.  The annual Diversity and Ethics in Sports study found that 45 teams graduated 70 percent or more of their white players, but only 20 teams graduated at least 70 percent of their black players. The two teams with the most deplorable graduating rates – Maryland and California, graduated none of their black players who started school from 1999 through 2002 (EPIC FAIL). 

I know that as fans we tend not to focus too heavily on players’ academic accomplishments in comparison to their athletic prowess on the court, but to ignore these staggering numbers is like telling these young men that it is acceptable to be used physically to generate millions of dollars in proceeds for their schools and athletic programs, while allowing their own education to become and remain an afterthought.

Now before I’m accused of aiming all the blame at colleges and the NCAA, let me point out that NCAA spokesman Bob Williams says that the NCAA sports governing body does share Duncan’s concern about low graduation rates of some tournament teams.  Because of this concern, they have for the past six years, used a formula called the Academic Progress Rate that measures factors such as athletes’ academic eligibility, progress toward graduation and staying in school. According to Williams, a school faces sanctions and even scholarship losses if it fails to achieve a certain score for two consecutive years.

Is that truly enough though?  I will be the first to admit that I’ve known more than a few collegiate athletes who probably would not have gotten into school, had they not had some sort of athletic ability and been awarded a scholarship for said talent.  But to commit several years of athletic service to a program, while a school allows an athlete to do the bar minimum (in class) to stay eligible in the first place is simply beyond my comprehension.  No, I am not saying that we should deny a young man who could be an asset to a university’s athletic program the opportunity to attend college simply because he is not academically prepared for secondary education.  What I AM saying however is that there ought to be some reciprocity in the relationship; a little more give and less take. 

Of those scholarship athletes that I knew both before and during college, I can recall in almost all of their cases, the stories of how various coaches had come to visit their homes to sell the glitz, glamour and recognition associated with being a star athlete without once committing to getting any of these guys prepared to walk down the aisles in a cap and gown in four years (And as it stands now, three of them have degrees, and only one has made it into “the league”).

I mean really, If a young man is going to commit several years of eligibility to growing and enhancing a team, there has to be some better preparation in getting him educated with the understanding that a college degree is an invaluable asset to have as he continues his life, be it as a potential NBA prospect later in life, or outside of the realm of sports altogether.

 Now don’t get me wrong, I am not naïve enough to believe that the NCAA or colleges and universities around this country could ever strongly encourage all of their athletes to not only graduate from college, but to spend their entire four (or more) years careers there in the first place.  Especially not when they have the John Wall’s of the world playing for them with talent in spades, and so many people buzzing about how easily entering the draft after freshman year would be, thereby making them overnight NBA sensations.  What I do believe however, is that a 40% graduation rate is not too much to ask of schools that use these young men to enhance their own enrollment, recruitment and overall collegiate illustriousness.

Like I said before, I am all about this proposal coming to fruition, although the likelihood that it actually would is slim.  By law, the federal government cannot mandate a minimum graduation rate of collegiate athletes.  That remains a decision of the NCAA; a decision that I am sure will remain as is. Personally however, I think that it is high time that athletes are encouraged to be more than simply bigger, stronger and faster.  We need to strive for these kids to be astute, cultured and scholarly as well.   That is truly how one creates a well rounded student-athlete. 

But hey, I suppose until we find more coaches who care as much about winning on the court as off (obliterating side-eye to the Terrapins coaching staff) or until the parents/potential recruits learn to leverage their skills and talents to truly benefit themselves both athletically and academically, you all won’t have to worry about the graduation factor jacking-up your brackets any time soon!

For the World, It’s Lights Out!

28 Mar

Did you celebrate Earth Hour this weekend?  On Saturday, March 27th, the international population was asked to turn its lights out for an hour. The focus of this celebration was as global citizens, for us to take a moment to signify and call attention to the fight against global warming.

In response to this annual initiative, cities across the world pledged to “go dark” for one hour on Saturday.  Landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, Sydney’s Opera House, The Empire State Building, the Vegas Strip, the National Cathedral (Washington, DC) and the Coca-Cola Headquarters (Atlanta, GA) were among the many notable sights and attractions worldwide that lost their glow for an hour.

Millions of people around the world switched off their lights and appliances from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. as well, in a gesture aimed at highlighting environmental concerns and that called for a binding pact to cut greenhouse gas emissions. 2010 marked the fourth annual Earth Hour, organized by the World Wildlife Fund.  WWF’s Director General, James Leape was pleased with the global participation and collective efforts to the cause of environmental responsibility:

”[This weekend] hundreds of millions of people raised their voices by turning out their lights. It was a simple act, but a powerful call to action.”

Last year, more than 80 cities took part in Earth Hour, which is an event supported by the United Nations as well as global corporations, nonprofit groups, schools, scientists and various celebrities.

 Now, while I wholeheartedly support Earth Hour and did my part in turning off various lights and television sets in the raucous abode also know as The Pack Household, my motives ended up being a little self-serving.  With all of the fracas that goes on in my home, I did the program one better and sent everyone to bed early.  I guess you can say that one woman’s Earth Hour is another woman’s night of solace (don’t judge me).

Check out some of the famous cities and landmarks that participated in Earth Hour 2010.

Buffoon of The Week…Hint: He’s a Little Rascal!

26 Mar

It’s been a pretty long while since the last time I’ve done a weekly recap. THIS past week would have been ideal for an insightful wrap-up analysis, but seeing as how SO much has happened (beginning with the passing of Healthcare Reform Legislation to the “Earl Grey” Uprisings), my summary would have easily become an electronic dissertation.

So in an attempt to spare (and keep) my readers, I propose to you a clever but poignant end-of-week recap known simply as The Buffoon of the Week.

There were several contenders and many honorable mentions that I carefully considered before extending this award, but I believe that my choice of jackass to receive this honor is spot-on and well deserved.

Ladies and gents, I present to you Mr. Corey Poitier. A stauch opposer to President Obama’s Healthcare Reform (which he so affectionately refers to as Obama-care), and a budding GOP congressional hopeful, Poitier thought it reasonable, warranted and acceptable to liken the President to one of Spanky’s homeboys in a speech he made to his supporters:

“Listen up Buckwheat, this is not how it is done!”

After a slew of bad press and outraged emails, calls and letters, Poitier felt the need to “clarify,” explaining that as a black man himself, he’s certainly no racist, AND he’s never seen Buckwheat as a disparaging African-American character, but one that people love.  Admitting that he and his brother have often called each other Buckwheat when chiding one another about dumb or silly behavior, Poitier says that his reference to the president was not to call HIM dumb or silly, but to express that his ideas on healthcare reform where.

With that said dear Corey, I don’t think that YOU are a jackass per se, but your thought process (or lack thereof) in believing a Buckwheat comparison to ANY progressive brown person was a good idea reaks of jackass-ness!

It is for this reason that I wholeheartedly bestow upon you the Buffoon of The Week Award. I’ve placed it in the mail today. Once you receive it, feel free to make a brief acceptance speech and then by all means go get missing…O-tay?

The Thirty & UP Crowd

25 Mar

I’ve chosen to dedicate today’s blog post to my friend Dee. She gets this acknowledgment, not because of her big sister-friend advice and tell-it-like-it-is insight (though she has all that at the ready for my consumption whenever I need it), but instead because she refuses to acknowledge the fact that I’ve chosen to maintain my “twenties” status for the rest of my life.

For reasons unbeknownst to me, Dee refuses to accept that I refuse to accept (stay with me here) being thirty-something. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with being older. I look forward to aging gracefully and living to a ripe old (mature) age, I just intend to remain in my twenties while I do it. Impossible, you say? Well, I beg to differ. Case and point, as of yesterday, I turned “twenty-ten” years old; ten years from now, I’ll be twenty-twenty. When my kids put me in a “home”, I’ll be twenty-seventy…see how that works? 

To my way of thinking, this is a completely logical age progression strategy. To Dee, not so much. She believes that I’m SO delusional that she felt it only proper to remind me of the subtle differences between the over thirty crowd in comparison to this young microwave generation that we see before us today.

Check out the email that she sent me this morning:
 
If you are 30, or older, you might think this is hilarious!       

When I was a kid, adults used to bore me to tears with their tedious diatribes about how hard things were. When they were growing up; what with walking twenty-five miles to school every morning…Uphill…Barefoot…BOTH ways… yadda, yadda, yadda! And I remember promising myself that when I grew up, there was NO WAY I was going to lay a bunch of crap like that on my kids about how hard I had it and how easy they’ve got it!       

But now that I am over the ripe old age of thirty, I can’t help but to look around and notice the youth of today: You’ve got it so easy!  I      mean, compared to my childhood, you live in a dang Utopia! And I hate to say it, but you kids today, you don’t know how good you’ve got it!       

I mean, when I was a kid we didn’t have the Internet.  If we wanted to know something, we had to go to the library and look it up ourselves; in the card catalog!! There was no email!!  We had to actually write somebody a freaking letter – with a pen! Then we had to walk all the way across the street and put it in the mailbox, and it would take like a week to get there! Plus, stamps were 10 cents!       

Oh, and Child Protective Services didn’t care if our parents beat us.  As a matter of fact, the parents of all my friends also had permission to whoop my tail! Nowhere was safe! 

Also, there were no MP3’s or Napsters or iTunes!  If we wanted to steal music, we had to hitch hike to the record store and shoplift it! Or we had to wait around all day to tape it off the radio, and even then, the DJ would usually talk over the beginning and jack it all up! There were no CD players!  We had tape decks in our car.  We’d play our favorite tape and “eject” it when finished, and then the tape would come undone, rendering it useless.  Cause, hey, that’s how we rolled, baby!  Dig?       

We didn’t have fancy crap like Call Waiting!  If we were on the phone and somebody else called, they got a busy signal, that’s it!  There weren’t any freakin’ cell phones either. If we left the house, we just didn’t make a darn call or receive one. We actually had to be out of touch with our “friends”. OH MY GOD !!!  Think of the horror…not being in touch with someone 24/7!!!  And then there’s TEXTING. Yeah right. Please!  You kids have no idea how annoying you are. And we didn’t have fancy Caller ID either! When the phone rang, we had no idea who it was!  It could be our school, our parents, our boss, our bookie, the collection agent… We just didn’t know!!! We had to pick it up and take our chances, mister!       

Hmm, what else? Oh, we didn’t have any fancy PlayStation or Xbox video games with high-resolution 3-D graphics! We had the Atari 2600! With games like ‘Space Invaders’ and ‘Asteroids’.  The screen guy wasn’t even a “guy” but a little square!  We actually had to use our imagination!!!  And there were no multiple levels or screens, it was just one screen… Forever! And we could never win. The game just kept getting harder and harder and faster and faster until we died; Just like LIFE!     

For scheduling, we had to use a little book called a TV Guide to find out what was on! We were screwed when it came to channel surfing! We had to get off your tails and walk over to the TV to change the channel!!!  NO REMOTES!!! Oh, no, what’s the world coming to?!?!     

There was no Cartoon Network either! We could only get cartoons  on Saturday Morning.  Do you hear what I’m saying? We had to wait ALL WEEK for cartoons, you spoiled little rat-finks! And we didn’t have microwaves.  If we wanted to heat something  up, we had to use the stove!  Imagine that! 

AND our parents told us to stay outside and play… All. Day. Long. Oh no, no electronics to soothe and comfort.  And if we came back inside…we were doing chores! And car seats – oh, please!   Mom threw us in the back seat and we hung on for dear life.  If we were lucky, we got the “safety arm” across the chest at the last moment if she had to stop suddenly, and if our head hit the dashboard, well that was just our fault for calling “shot gun” in the first place!

See!  That’s exactly what I’m talking about! You kids today have got it too easy. You’re spoiled rotten!  You guys wouldn’t have lasted five minutes back in 1980 or any time before!     

Regards,       
Dee, of The Over 30 Crowd

Yeah yeah, I’ll admit it; all of that WAS true! Clearly, this is Dee’s subtle way of telling me to embrace thirty, short of hitting me in the face with a piece of my birthday cake, huh?

Okay Dee, I get it: “I am thirty, hear me roar!”

Happy Born-Day To Me!

24 Mar

On this date, some three decades ago on the tropical island of Oahu, yours truly sprang forth full of life, exuberance and two lungs full of hot air.  Not a lot has changed since those many years ago, huh?

 My outspoken bravado notwithstanding, please excuse me for the remainder of this day, while I forgo the customary Fanny Pack blog post to instead celebrate another wonderful year of being blessed with life, family, friends and OF COURSE the gift of wordsmithery (yes, that’s right…and no, don’t bother looking it up, it’s got my trademark).

So, in honor of this special day, let’s all take a commemorative picture walk through a few of my “life and times” moments.  The way I see it, today marks another fabulous year, another fabulous outlook on life.  I’m alive and well when many people weren’t granted the opportunity to continue this walk.  The fragility of life has never been lost on me, and being given another day to try to “get it right” keeps me humbled and grateful.

With this in mind, I will always celebrate my special day with all the extra-ness I can muster…and what could possibly be more EXTRA than a Yo Gabba Gabba birthday serenade from the Ting Tings (you can thank my two-year old for my addiction to this show)?

*Woooo Hooo*  Happy Born-Day To Me! *Throws Confetti*

~Tiff

            

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