Archive | April, 2010

God Hearts You!

28 Apr

slightlywarped.com’s Amazing Images: Natural Wonders

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.  In the case of this picture, I was rendered utterly speechless  when I saw it.  For those of you who question if there is a God or if he concerns himself with us lowly pions, I believe there is no more definitive proof than this!

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BRAWL: 2010 Ukrainian Edition

27 Apr

With the latest rash of “You Lie” and “Hell No” spewing forth from members of Congress and The House (side eye at Joe Wilson and John Boehner), I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I’ve been holding my breath in anticipation for some sort of MMA or Smack Down match up there on Capitol Hill.  I mean, with all the venom flying from across the aisle, doesn’t it seem like it’s only a matter of time before our elected officials resort to fisticuffs?  

 Honestly, I hope not.  Especially now that I’ve seen what politicians behaving badly (while on the clock) really looks like.  In Kiev, Ukraine today, lawmakers in parliament clashed, threw punches (and eggs) and set off smoke bombs in response to a Kremlin favored vote which would allow Russia’s navy to continue occupying one of the country’s ports on the Black Sea.  You can read more about the political brouhaha HERE.

The Prayers of the Righteous??? Hardly.

26 Apr

It seems that the original intent behind the development of social networks as a way to find and keep in touch with important people in our lives has long been forsaken, and in its wake, social irresponsibility, reckless conduct and avenues for collective hate speech has manifested.

Because of an inbox full of Farmville Foolishness, Mafia Invites and Sorority Gifts, I seldom log into Facebook anymore.  The day that I did decide to see “what’s new” on the largest social network in the world, I was surprised to come across a new take on a rather outdated and boorish attempt to disrespect the President.  An anonymous Facebook page administrator has created a Fan Page that promotes the death of President Barack Obama, and has attracted more than 1.1 million fans on the site.

The page is called “DEAR LORD, THIS YEAR YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE ACTOR, PATRICK SWAYZIE. YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE ACTRESS, FARAH FAWCETT. YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE SINGER, MICHAEL JACKSON. I JUST WANTED TO LET YOU KNOW, MY FAVORITE PRESIDENT IS BARACK OBAMA. AMEN.”

Although the identity of the fan page creator is unlisted (we all know that most people have an astonishing amount of confidence while hiding behind the strokes of their keyboards), the pages’ location appears to come out of Marysville, Ohio.

Facebook, which is always careful not to infringe upon its users First Amendment says that the Obama Prayer page does not violate any of the social network’s policies for use.   

“We’re sensitive to content that includes pornography, bullying, hate speech, and actionable threats of violence and we react quickly to remove content that violates our policies when it is reported to us,” said Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes.

“Facebook is highly self-regulating and leverages its more than 400 million users to keep an eye out for offensive content. We encourage users to report such content and we have a large team of professional reviewers who evaluate these reports and take action per our policies.”

The page could very well be some angry racist’s attempt to stick it to the POTUS, since his or her Tea Party infiltration hasn’t done much to slow the momentum of Obama’s 4-Year Plan (although I highly doubt it, seeing as how Michael Jackson was listed as their favorite singer), or just some simpleton’s perverse attempt at humor.  Either way, bandwagon hate is a very dangerous tool, especially when coupled with the instantaneousness of social media.  God forbid that any act of violence against President Obama occur based on the beliefs/actions of those who support this page.  What then would Facebook have to say (probably the same thing they had to say regarding Phoebe Prince’s harassment, after the fact of course)? 

 I’m not blaming Facebook or any other social site for the cruel and evil intentions of some of its users.  I just feel that by being a venue for hosting the thoughts and opinions of millions of registered users, there should be some mechanism in place (aside from a panel of reviewers) when those users act in an offensive or possibly threatening way toward another person.  Hopefully, the Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies are taking the necessary steps in assessing and thwarting any potential threat against the president by these latest Facebook Fan Page fanatics.

Big Ben Clocks Out

26 Apr

The sports world has been awaiting word from Ben Roethlisberger after it was determined by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell that the two-time Super Bowl Champ would be suspended for six regular season games for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.  The punishment was doled out in relation to allegations against Roethlisberger of sexual assault of a 20-year-old Georgia college student.  Although prosecutors did not charge the Pittsburgh star, Goodell still felt that Ben’s behavior was unbecoming of an NFL player and that the situation warranted tough and decisive action.  In an explanation letter written to Roethlisberger, Commissioner Goodell wrote:

“Your conduct raises sufficient concerns that I believe effective intervention now is the best step for your personal and professional welfare.  I believe it is essential that you take full advantage of the resources available to you…My ultimate disposition in this matter will be influenced by the extent to which you do so, what you learn as a result, and a demonstrated commitment to making positive change in your life…In your six years in the NFL, you have first thrilled and now disappointed a great many people.  I urge you to take full advantage of this opportunity to get your life and career back on track.”

Ben’s six game pine-riding sessions could cost the star quarterback roughly $2.8 million as well as a hefty sum from his organization.  Since Roethlisberger’s suspension is the Steelers’ second under the league’s personal-conduct and drug policies, the team must pay 25 percent of the suspended player’s forfeited salary (wow, is the NFL job-shadowing Uncle Sam???).

What’s interesting, (and in my opinion, incredibly telling with regard to Goodell’s assessment of league players and their behaviors) is the fact that Roethlisberger is the first player who hasn’t been arrested or charged with a crime yet received a suspension from Goodell. The commissioner said the league’s conduct policy gave him the right to punish Roethlisberger, regardless of whether or not the quarterback broke the law:

“The Personal Conduct Policy also states that discipline is appropriate for conduct that ‘undermines or puts at risk the integrity and reputation of the NFL, NFL clubs, or NFL players.’ By any measure, your conduct satisfies that standard.” He continued in his letter to Roethlisberger.

Although Ben’s bad behavior has undoubtedly embarrassed Pittsburgh (let’s not forget the motorcycle crash, an allegation of rape back in 2008 and now this latest drama with his Georgia Peach), The Steelers seem to still have his back.  They’ve recently offered their first tentative show of support for Big Ben, with director of football operations Kevin Colbert saying the quarterback has earned the right to make up for his behavior.  Coach Mike Tomlin has also chimed in, telling the media that Roethlisberger will issue a statement today.

“I know he is going to make a comment regarding the discipline of the commissioner… and I’ll let him do that,” Tomlin said. “My understanding is at this point he’s ready to meet those challenges and take the necessary steps to move forward with his career.”

Now, I’ve expressed on various forums and blogging outlets that as critical as I’ve been of Roger Goodell over the years, I believe he’s aptly addressed this situation, and for the most part has been equitable in citing players for these sorts of infractions.  If anything, you’d think that his continued hard-lined stance would make these NFL players rethink their propensity for bad behavior. Not only are they negatively impacting their reputations and their money, but they are totally ruining the fans’ game day viewing experience.  In the case of Roethlisberger and the Steelers, who wants to watch an injured Charlie Batch leading the Steelers down the field for their opening game and 2 months thereafter, when it is apparent that Big Ben is the ultimate draw for many fans and the viewing audience (sorry Charlie, that was kinda rude, huh)?

Hopefully though, Big Ben’s poor decision making coupled with this latest high-profile suspension will send the right message to would-be league policy offenders this year that Goodell “don’t play dat!”

I Heart The Penn Relays

24 Apr

With the brief and newfound free-time that I’ve been afforded today, you’d think that I would have been lounging on the porch while penning my memoirs and sipping a strawberry splash.  But alas, I do still very much have my mind on sports and sports on my mind.

The annual running of the Penn Relays began this past Thursday and continues through today.  Every track enthusiast, aficionado, past and present track athlete who wasn’t there (jumps up and down, waving hand emphatically) and every track athlete who was there with spikes laced and blocks set was geek’d about this multi-day relay mega event.  Hosted at Franklin Field by the University of Pennsylvania, Penn holds the record for the best attended track event in the U.S.  (well over 50,000 in the span of a day) and is easily the largest and most recognized competition in the states and around the world.

If you’ve never been to or watched coverage of a Penn Relay, trust me when I tell you that the registered participants numbers are just as impressive as the spectator figures.   On average, each year the event sees more than 15,000 participants from high schools, colleges, and track clubs throughout North America (including Canada) and abroad, (most notably Jamaica) competing in more than 300 events over several days.

Because of the origins of the Penn Relay’s which date back to 1895, many people still hold fast to the belief that this historic event popularized the running of relay races.  Some 90 years later, Dr. Heathcliff “Combustible” Huxtable confirmed this widely held sentiment as he was off to the races with his long-time college nemesis Sanford “Tailwind” Turner (arguably one of the funniest Cosby Show episodes eva!).

As a member and a parent of USATF athletes, track and field is in my blood.  Whether it’s Trials, Nationals or Worlds, I’m usually tuned in or checking stats. Penn though, is something a little more special in my opinion.  Although touted as “USA vs. The World at Penn”, this event is more inclusive, having participants of all ages, races, creeds, colors and from all walks of life.  Of course Track & Field royalty are often in attendance, but most times, their celebrity is no more highlighted than any other qualifying participant.  Penn allows those whose heyday has come and gone to get back out in front of a global audience and show the world that they are still alive and kicking, and gives young upstarts a platform to showcase not only their speed and talent, but also their will and determination.

Although as competitive as any sanctioned USATF event, The Penn Relays are easily the “Feel Good” races of the year.  That’s why I love them, and am already making plans for 2011.

Saturday Solace

24 Apr

It is seldom on the weekend that I wake up with a flexible or unoccupied time slot (gasp) in my schedule.  Aside from my standard weekend laundry duties, arising well past mid-morning to play my day totally by ear is an experience that I’ve not quite learned how to wrap my mind around.

 Usually, my Saturdays are filled with waking early to make breakfast, ironing uniforms, packing coolers full of snacks, loading folding chairs and tents and storing them in my truck for a full day of events.  Then it’s attending my baby girl’s tennis matches, swapping out her tennis gear for her track uniform, then toting all of the kids to the field.  Their track meets usually begin early in the morning and don’t end until mid-evening, so having the necessities (water, grapes, apples, trail mix, pretzels, roast beef sandwiches, Sun Chips, and some celebratory cookies) are essential in ensuring that not only is everyone satiated, but that my nerves and stress level remain on a dormant plane.

 This morning however, was a bit of an anomaly (in the good way).  Although forever programmed now to stir at the crack of dawn (thanks to a demanding line of work, and equally demanding children), I was granted the opportunity to lay fixed in an abnormally quite house to witness the purplish-orange hues of a beautiful daybreak, the rise and fall of my honey’s chest in slumber and to relish the tranquility that comes with simply being still.

 As someone who is always on the go, I’d be lying if I told you that I didn’t love my active lifestyle, but in all honesty, I take great pleasure in embracing those few and far between “peace be still” moments as well.  I’m so grateful to have been afforded one of those moments this morning.

Dandruff and Bed Mites and Serpents, OH MY!

21 Apr

Anytime I travel, whether it’s for business or pleasure, I experience a deep sense of anxiety.  Thoughts of breathing in “recycled” airplane air, resting on reclaimed airline pillows and blankets, and the idea of a potentially grungy hotel room practically consume me.  It doesn’t matter that the items are wrapped in plastic or that on the lodging website, the hotel has a 3.5 or better star rating or that housekeeping has left a card explaining that prior to my arrival, the room underwent a thorough cleaning and inspection.  All my overactive mind can generate are images of someone else’s hair follicles, crummy bed linens and brown commode or basin rings.

Now as dramatic as I’m being, I’ve been fortunate enough to have never experienced an instance of the utter repugnance described above, but that fact doesn’t stop me from thinking about the traveler’s catalog of what-ifs because the reality is, some people’s idea of person hygiene are just all kinds of foul when compared to my own.

So having said that, can you just image how I would have behaved had I been the lucky individual who checked into this LaVista Hampton Inn last week (think: bypassing morgue, funeral home and cemetery and instead ascending STRAIGHT to heaven)!?

According to USA Today, a female guest at a Hampton Inn hotel in La Vista, Nebraska, who was about to sit on her hotel room toilet (really???) suddenly stopped in her tracks after spotting a snake slithering in the bowl.  Fortunately for all involved, the woman spotted the surprise snake before sitting down. 

But wait, it gets better…the creature turned out to be a 3-foot-long python! 

See, this instance right here is exactly why I have traveler’s what-if anxiety in the first place.  I have NO DOUBT that had this been me, I would have probably killed my fool-self in a hasty retreat, as I’d have tried to bound out of that hotel room, totally oblivious to my pants on the ground!

 In an effort to assuage the startled woman’s undoubtedly shattered nerves, hotel management called in the Nebraska Humane Society to collect the creepy crawler, and its snake experts determined that the slithering beast was likely someone’s left-behind pet since pythons don’t typically like water, especially cold water in sewer pipes (how reassuring). In a further make-it-right act, the hotel chain threatened immediate action against the previous patron, as Hampton Inn has a strict no pet policy. Yeah, good luck getting this person to come forward Hampton Inn.  I’m pretty sure no one accidently left behind a potential man-eater!

Nonetheless, The usually drama-free hotel chain, which is a member of the Hilton Family of Hotels, has a statement on their website guaranteeing their guests 100% satisfaction or the stay is free.  I hope for Hampton Inn’s sake that their munificence extends well beyond a complimentary stay.  With the what-if quotient for this situation measuring through the roof, if it were me, next week you all would be seeing new commercials all over the airwaves introducing a vastly improved Hampton Inn: Under New Management.

Believe That!

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