Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Parents - Grow Up!

I live in Winston-Salem, NC. Recently, an undercover operation in nearby Alamance County lead to the arrest of 49 high school students on multiple drug charges. The arrests were made after a systemwide undercover drug investigation by the Alamance County Sheriff's Office and the Alamance-Burlington schools. The investigation targeted dealers and distributors and was conducted over a five month period.

Being a father of six children, all of whom have either reached teenage years or moved past them I am no stranger to drugs or the ease with which they can be obtained. One of my kids, who went to what I thought was a great high school, once told me I couldn't name a drug she couldn't have in her hands within a half hour.

As a father who fought the local drug influence tooth and nail with some of my kids, losing more than I won, I applaud the Alamance County Sheriff's Office and the Alamance-Burlington schools for taking an interest in getting drugs out of their schools. Thank God somebody is fighting back.

Which leads me to the parents of these alleged drug offenders.

On Monday, February 23rd, a group of parents assembled to protest the charges and penalties levied on their children. Many of the parents said the undercover officers coerced the students into the illegal activities. One speaker suggested that the felony charges be reduced to misdemeanors. They demanded accountability of the officers and school system.

Accountability of everyone except maybe their kids?

I see this so often now it just makes me sick. Kids act without regard to consequences because they know Mommy & Daddy will buy any line of BS they feed them and will pay whatever it takes to keep them and the family name clean.

Parents... Grow Up.

Kids today will never become responsible adults if we don't hold them responsible for their actions. Let the legal system scare the hell out of them. If you are right and this was a fluke, your kids will learn from this mistake and never repeat it. The courts will recognize if the kids are first-time offenders and will tailor the punishment accordingly.

Standing in front of a forum of people and declaring how your child has been wronged is doing nothing but empowering your child to continue doing wrong.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Happy Birthday Little Granny!

Howdy Howdy was the greeting that my grandmother, Granny Wray, would use to welcome anyone who entered her home. It was a greeting that rang with sincerity and love. It always made me feel warm inside. We called her Little Granny.

Little Granny would have been 88 years old today, February 19th, 2004.

She died October 3rd, 2003, after a period of declining health including a fall that broke her hip.

Granny Wray was without question the greatest human being I have ever known. I am a better person for having known her. She understood the importance of family. Through example she made sure we did too.

She grew up in an era marked by the depression and World War's I & II. I can only imagine by what I learn from history what that must have been like. Yet, in spite of all she endured throughout her life I never once heard her complain... Not even on her deathbed when I know she was in great pain.

Granny's faith had a lot to do with her character. I think some people migrate to church when they get older because they fear death. It wasn't like that for Granny. I never knew her to be anywhere else but church on Sunday. I can pretty much count on one hand the number of times she was too ill to attend.

Granny had a work ethic that would run circles around anyone who considered themselves a hard worker. She rarely asked anyone for help and worked tirelessly throughout her life. Regardless of whether she was working in factories to make ends meet, raising, selling & canning vegetables, keeping house, raising children, cooking meals, keeping up the yard, etc. I get tired just thinking about how hard she worked.

She was a cook that could humble any chef. It didn't matter what time of day or night you dropped in, Granny would insist on finding you something to eat. Chocolate pies, homemade biscuits, chicken & dumplings, beef hash, sugar pudding... I could go on and on. She could also grow the best tomatoes and had a knack for keeping fresh tomatoes well into the fall. She knew her family well and if there was something you particularly liked, Granny made sure to have it when you visited.

For me it was her chocolate pies. I miss the smell of them on her kitchen table having just been warmed in the oven.

Mostly, I just miss her.

So Granny, I know you're watching. You know me... I'm a much better writer than a talker.

Happy Birthday. Your spirit will live within me forever. I thank you for that.

I'll always love you for that.

Michael Allen

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Martha, Martha, Martha

Oh my Martha, what can I say? To be honest, I'm getting just a little tired of this whole stock scandal. Are you guilty? Well, maybe, sort of... I think. Perhaps the bigger question is...

Who Cares?

Seriously. The court doesn't seem to care or they wouldn't be throwing bones to your defense team. America doesn't seem to care. From what I can tell they didn't much care for you before this scandal.

It's not you personally... It's just, well, you.

People get a little tired of perfectionists being, perfect. Try raising two kids on your own, while working two jobs, barely keeping your head above bankruptcy. Maybe then it will start to sink in why you can't find the time to redecorate your den with artificial flowers you made using a roll of Charmin. Wake up already. In the real world people don't have time to sleep. Forget about being extra creative.

We might not like you but I'm not so sure we want you to serve time either. To be honest, there aren't many of us who wouldn't have reacted the same way you did if we got a phone call telling us a stock we owned was about to tank. You might have been really upset if you had not received that call but then again...

You wouldn't be on trial now.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Where's the Snow?

Ready, set, go... or not go as the case may be.

I have bread, milk & beer... all of the essential products for survival if stranded during a snowstorm. I have movies to watch & books to read. I have extra batteries for flashlights and a fully charged cellphone. There's birdseed for our feathered friends and corn for the squirrels.

What I don't have is snow!

It's supposed to be here. I'm sure of it. I watched both the Fox 10 o'clock news and the NBC 11o'clock news last night. Both were forecasting 4-7 inches by noon today, which oddly sounds a lot like my honeymoon forecast.

But I digress.

I was psyched up to be home today. Armed with a laptop computer I literally have my office with me regardless of where I am but it's relaxing to be home... even if you're working. I could have worn an old sweatshirt and pajama bottoms. I could have raided the refrigerator throughout the day at will.

But, looking out the window, there is no snow on the ground. Nothing. Nada.

Super Doppler my ass.

Where are Granny's arthritic weather predictions when you need them?

Tuesday, February 10, 2004


My wife and I recently joined the YMCA... the baby boomers substitute for sex.

The YMCA is great! You can work up a sweat, make yourself sleep better and you don't actually have to touch anyone.

Seriously though, sometimes I don't sleep any better at all. Sometimes I'm too tired to sleep. I used to laugh at my parents when they said that. How can you possibly be too tired to sleep? I thought being tired would be a great asset to sleep. Now that I'm older it all makes sense.

It makes sense that I'm older and have pain in places I didn't think could hurt. I'm reminded of the catchphrase No Pain No Gain. Well, I should be gaining my ass off. Hardbodied blondes should stop their workouts to watch me...

Collapse on the treadmill. Another pudgy middle-aged male trying to jog his way back into his twenties. The look of sympathy on their faces is genuine pain. I recover quickly once I realize that no one is going to rush to my aid, except that fat sweaty guy who can't seem to get off the stairmaster fast enough. Oh yeah, I'm feeling much better thank you very much.

Ahnold best watch out for me. I'll be sporting speedos in my 50's too at this rate. I may not be able to walk in them, but by God I'll be able to wear them.

Friday, February 06, 2004

Die Joseph P. Smith

I'm outraged.

God bless you Carlie Bruscia. Forgive us for not being able to protect you. We can only pray that you are at peace now in a much better place. My heart longs to console your parents for the overwhelming grief that consumes them. I did not know you personally but as a parent my heart breaks for you. My tears mingle with hurt and anger.

Die Joseph P. Smith.

I don't want you to go to trial. I find no consolation in convicting you of this heinous crime only to watch you sit for years on death row through appeal after appeal or worse yet to see you spend the rest of your life in prison at taxpayer expense.

I want you to suffer.

I long for the days of vigilante justice where your ass would be dragged into the street and the people given their way. I'd like to see you tied to a chair in a locked room with the father, Joe Brucia, along with his choice of Louisville Sluggers for however long he wanted to take with you.

Carlie Brucia did not deserve to suffer but you do.

Carlie Brucia did not deserve to die but you do.

Do I believe in capital punishment? Usually yes... But in your case that seems far too humane.

Die Joseph P. Smith

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Nobody parks anymore

I grew up in a rural community which is the educated way someone from there avoids saying,

"From the sticks."

And sticks it was... And for the most part still is. With no cable, playstations, or cellphones to keep us company we made our own entertainment. In other words, we picked up our girl, put Bob Seger in the 8-track, found a place to park and worked on our, uh, Night Moves!

While we're on the subject... When did oral sex become just another base before home? Where the hell was I when this rule went into effect? I never got the memo. Where does it fall on the baseball diamond? Did it replace third base? Is it between third and home? Who writes these rules anyway?

I can hear it now...

"I'm sorry Johnny, I'm saving myself for marriage."
Johnny looks away dejected.
"I'll blow you though."
Johnny's eyes light up.

Kids today don't park. It's not that they don't screw around as much as we did... They're just too lazy to do it. They would rather forego all decency and inhibition and screw on someone's sofa while their friends played video games, got high, or watched TV in the room next door or worse yet... In the same room.

Personally I think they're missing out by not parking. As a teen you haven't lived until the local law shines their flashlight through your car window while you're, uh, busy.

My wife and I don't park anymore either. When you're a teenager and get caught, most of the time you're just sent home with a lecture. When you're 43 and get caught, you end up having to call your kids to make bail.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Little Ones Create Big Smiles

I had a lousy day at work yesterday. Truth be known it's been a lousy couple days. I went home tired and irritable, something my wife always looks forward to. It's a pretty quick trip from "Hi Honey I'm home" to "Oh God, he's home."

Can't say I blame her. I can be a real ass sometimes.

I'm a man... we start training early.

With me in a bad mood and her trying to figure out what not to say we were well on our way to being sent to our respective corners of the house.

Then the phone rings. Turns out my daughter wanted us to keep our granddaughter Elly for awhile. It seemed the least we could do since our schedules never seem to work out. We volunteered to pick Elly up and took her with us to Costco, a warehouse store similar to Sam's Club. Elly was a riot and it wasn't long before my bad mood was history. We went all over the store, sampled food, and bought her some pajamas with little ducks on them that she never let go of until we pried them from her hands to pay for them.

After getting back home and eating some dinner we put the pajamas on Elly and she kept us laughing with her antics and dancing until Mom & Dad showed up to take her home. After she left I felt less stressful than I had been all week.

The next time I have a bad day I think I'll pick up a phone instead of a drink after work. Maybe I can borrow one of the grandchildren for awhile. The effect is still a high and there's no hangover the next morning.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Bob Knight has a temper?

Well, Bob Knight is reportedly in hot water again for verbally lashing out at his University Chancellor at a grocery store of all places.

Bob Knight has a temper? Who knew?

You would think he would be a little more selective at who he blasts but it's certainly no surprise given his history. To expect less would be like putting Mike Tyson in front of a group of reporters and expecting him to be a perfect gentleman. It's not going to happen. I don't deny he's a successful coach. Notice I chose the word successful over good.

Fear is a hell of a motivator.

People from all walks of life to include dictators, bosses, spouses, along with sorry-ass parents use it rather efficiently. Coaches are not the exception. Will Texas Tech take action against Knight? From the cheap seats I doubt it. Winning has become too important to the bottom line in college sports. If I happen to run into Bob at the grocery store however I'll think twice about asking him how he's doing!

Monday, February 02, 2004

Superbowl or Superboob?

Okay, I surrender. I can't run from the internal desire to add my voice to the countless others before me. It's Monday night and I'm still recovering from the Superbowl and Budlight, having been saturated by both. I wanted the Panthers to win and I'll offer no apologies, wimpy explanations, or concession speeches as to the outcome. I was happy the game wasn't over in the first five minutes but that's about as far as my joy extends. From what I hear Janet Jackson's boob is getting more press than the game. I didn't see it live but thanks to technology and the almighty web I have not only seen the spot, but up close and personal. Costume malfunction? Yeah right. Of course, most tops worn by women will malfunction when you rip them off. And did you see the size of that piercing? How the hell do you ever get through airport security with that thing? I can only guess she put it in prior to the show with the intention of it being seen. I guess it all depends what you're into. As for me, I'll pass. A person could chip a tooth on that thing.