Archive for September, 2009

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OLDEST SON OF AN OLDEST SON – VOL. 4

September 22, 2009

TravelinManLOGO

His visits are fast-paced, sometimes with places and times charted on a spreadsheet so that hopefully, all can be seen. A large family and many friends require extensive schedule coordination and pre-planning.

And so it is when my oldest son “drops in.”

Adam’s most recent visit was, as usual, multi-faceted and this time, with a High School Class Reunion thrown into the timeline. He never worries about a place to stay – whether it’s at our home or elsewhere. There’s almost always a car he can use while he’s in town. And food.

Meals are beyond plentiful – often causing weight gain for him (and me!). Because he genetically inherited my “non-existent” metabolism, it’s a major effort to get weight off quickly, which is exactly what he must do when he returns to the West Coast after a visit. He’s maintaining that “Hollywood Look.” Everyone in “the biz” is always ultra-focused on staying very slim. I’ve been “very slim” a couple times as an adult and I can testify that it is not easy for either of us. Eventually, I’ll get upset with myself enough, again, to do something about my weight, again. It’s a never-ending battle. Kenny (my other son), to his fortune, did not get this gene.

A couple of events stick out about this visit. Adam, Kenny and I – for the first time ever – had dinner together with no one else around. I felt a little like Lorne Greene’s character, “Ben Cartwright” in the old NBC western series “Bonanza,” dining with my two grown sons.

Cartwrights

They couldn’t be more different and even though they are 15 years and 2,258 miles apart, they appear to have a good relationship. I’m sure they know more about each other than I know about either of them – which is fine by me. I am not one of those parents that needs to know everything about my adult children’s personal lives. Lack of knowledge, in this case, is a good thing.

The other event that seems worth mentioning is – oddly enough – my brother, Nick’s, tattoo.

A little background.

Although we are only 14 months and 9 miles apart, Nick and I are as different as Adam and Kenny, and yet, there does seem to be a commonality between us. If you were to ask me to define it, I would fail the task. Other than being raised in the same household, by the same parents and grandparent, and attending the same schools through high school, those who know us would find it difficult to describe that which makes us enjoy each other’s company.

Defining the differences is much easier. Nick is ultra-gregarious – I tend to be more reserved. He really enjoys “a few” beers – I’m good for one, maybe two, as long as there’s food involved. He’s been married to the same woman for over 30 years. Me? Not exactly.

So Nick might do some things that I would never consider – like getting a tattoo. And not just any tattoo – but one from an award-winning tattoo artist.

Adam and I were saying goodbye to Nick, his wife and oldest daughter after a nice visit – and of course, lunch. As we were walking towards Nick’s car, I asked Adam if he had ever seen Nick’s tattoo.

“No. What tattoo?”

“Show him, Nick” I said, smiling as I anticipated Adam’s response.

With absolute pride and no hesitation whatsoever, Nick couldn’t pull up his T-shirt sleeve fast enough to show off Road Runner and Wiley Coyote, complete with background. After his initial shock, Adam immediately decided it was worth a picture on his cell phone.

NickAdamHouseSmall

 

NicksTatoo

Here’s another “look” from Nick. He’s wearing a Christmas gift from his very patient family members.

Nick 01

Please don’t get the wrong idea. Nick does have a “normal” look.

 Nick 02

But even this picture says, “If you’d have given me two more seconds, I would’ve given you a very different face.”  Like the cat that ate the canary.

Could the fact that Adam and Kenny being as dissimilar as my brother and me also be genetic? I don’t know and life’s too short to care. I’m just thankful for the relationships.

 Nick 04 

Kenny-Adam

There is an old Ricky Nelson tune called “Travelin’ Man” that I would also attribute to Adam’s visits here, there and everywhere. (I couldn’t resist the Beatles‘ reference). “Travelin’ Man” starts out like this: “I’m a travelin’ man made a lot of stops all of the world. And in every port I own the heart of at least one lovely girl”

This is where I exit and your imagination takes over.

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

PS – Adam’s name came from Pernell Roberts’ character on Bonanza, Adam Cartwright

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MEET ERNIE

September 18, 2009

MeetErnieLOGO

I seldom watch our local news broadcast here in Columbus. It’s not that I’m not interested in my community, it’s just that I’m more interested in national news. I watch ( or listen to) many different cable broadcasts throughout the evening. They often air at the same time as the local broadcasts, so cable wins.

Ernie Anastos and Dari Alexander could change that.

 Ernie-Dari

As is true with any live broadcast, there is always a chance for a blooper or two. Ernie, however, has “perfected” the blooper and his latest does not disappoint.

But it is his co-anchor, Dari Alexender, who wins the prize for the absolute BEST reaction to a blooper ever recorded.

Reaction1

Everytime I look at the reaction on her face, I really do laugh out loud. 

It appears she’s had many opportunities to perfect her reactive “look.” Here’s a still from another Ernie classic. She’s doing all she can to hold back laughter. 

Reaction2 

And the blooper that led to that reaction?

Yup. If Ernie and Dari were our local news co-anchors, I would have to tune in.

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

PS – Dari Alexander did work as a reporter in Columbus for a short time, but was never an anchor. 

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CRANIAL FLATULENCE VOL. 5

September 17, 2009

Flatulence

Time for more road signs. No words necessary.

Don't Be Stupid

Don't Forget Mom

donttdrink

Keep Right

School spelled wrong

Sidewalk Ends

Sign Not in Use

Tank Crossing

Unexpected Road

Warthogs

You'll Never Get to Work

 Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

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THE DANGER OF A BROKEN RECORD

September 17, 2009

BrokenRecordLOGO

“When we lose our curiosity, we disarm ourselves as Americans.”

This quote is not from some philosopher. I didn’t hear it in a political speech or from a CEO. This was said by a man who is a former college football player and coach, a hunter and fisherman, and the owner of two small businesses. 

I’ll tell you who it is later.*

This lack of “curiosity” (or what many of us call “intellectual curiosity”) identifies a shrinking but noisy part of our citizenship. They loudly repeat what they hear, with no concern for the veracity of their words. If they heard it from their favorite commentator, it must be true.

In a nutshell, this is the formula for the success of FOX News and others emulating their format on TV and radio.

The people at FreedomWorks, (Dick Army’s organization), Glenn Beck’s 9-12 Project, the Tea Party Organizers and FOX News (the highest rated cable news network) decided to join forces for a show of strength against our President’s policies. With all of that publicity, and all spring and summer to prepare and promote this event, you would think that they would have packed the National Mall on September 12th. If it’s true that a large majority of the 300,000,000+ Americans aren’t happy with this President, one would expect at least 1% (3,000,000) to show up. But that’s not what happened. It wasn’t 1%, it wasn’t 1/10th of 1% (300,000), it was .022% (approximately 66,000) according to the DC police and fire departments. Not a small crowd, but certainly not what it was hyped up to be:

FreedomWorks said there were “…hundreds of thousands…” on their website.

FreedomWorksSite

The video below tries to make you believe that, “Rare footage from the terrace of the US Capitol building and time lapse footage of protesters marching down Pennsylvania Avenue illustrate the gathering of people who attended the March on Washing…”

Here’s a still from the footage. I noted the tower on the left for a reason.

FakeVideoSlide

Using the tower as a marker, watch how many times the same footage repeats to make you think there were far more people in attendance than authorities reported.

Here’s the rebuttal of a statement made at the gathering that ABC News reported 1 to 1.5 million attending.

Crowd Size Misquoted

In an attempt to discredit the truth, the picture below was distributed showing the National Mall filled with people. Once verified, it was revealed that the photo is at least 5 years old.

Fake Photo

The picture was of the Promise Keepers’ gathering in 1997. Less than one minute of research reveals this. Those with no intellectual curiosity don’t want to know. They find it easier to just repeat what they’ve heard.

I’m not going to bother to show you what FOX News, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck (who did not show up at his own gathering) had to say about the attendance. They reported anywhere from 1.5 to over 2 million. Unlike their viewership and listeners, the rest of us know how to use a PC for research. 

What we saw at this gathering was a re-run of what we’ve seen all spring and summer: the same derogatory signs, the same all-white crowds and the same speeches. Below are some pictures from this most recent event that could have been taken at any of the anti-Obama events this year.

DC 01

DC 04

DC 07

 DC 10

DC 11

DC 12

DC 13

DC 14

DC 17

DC 18

DC 19

DC 28

DC 30

DC 32

DC 34

DC 38

It’s beginning to look (and sound) like a broken record.

I can’t stress this enough: what we are witnessing is fear and its offspring: hate (in the form of bigotry). I do believe some are there out of a real concern for this country’s future and not just because they don’t like the color of our President’s skin. But because they are only “armed” with what they hear, they don’t realize they are protesting against their own best interests. Whatever freedoms they think they are losing are not in jeopardy. The so-called “out-of-control government spending” that they are protesting has been going on since the 1980s.

Reagan cut taxes on the top 2% and the deficit doubled in his eight years. Here’s his reasoning:

George H. W. Bush had to go back on his “Read my lips – no new taxes” statement and raise taxes during his term because the Reagan deficits were “out of control.”

In his 1992 debate, George H. W. Bush discusses the recession – obviously Reagan’s economic policies did not work. You also see why Bill Clinton won the election.

When George W. Bush came into office, we were operating with a balanced budget and a surplus. We were also reducing the debt.

Here’s some charts for you visual learners like me. 🙂

 SurplusesDeficits

SpendingTaxes

One reason for Clinton’s economic policy success was “Pay-Go” (new spending had to be paid for and could not be added to the national debt). It was, unfortunately, allowed to expire in 2002.

It’s doubtful that anyone in the pictures above has done any of this research. They instead chose to be fearful and angry. What’s more pathetic is publically elected officials who will not stand up for what they know (at least I think they know) is the truth about these issues. They allow the misinformation to continue to divide us, because it’s more important to them to be re-elected than it is to bring this country together. Three of them spoke at the gathering. 

3 Repubs

There is a subtle underlying theme through all of these events starting to creep into mainstream media that is disconcerting. It’s the lack of respect for our legitimately elected President. Not his policies – him. Many of our citizens will never believe that a black man deserves to be President of the United States. Former President Jimmy Carter brought this thought to the forefront in an interview with NBC’s Brian Williams on September 15th

I hesitantly agree with some of what he said. My hesitation comes not from disbelief of his words, but from a desire to not attract more disrespect for President Obama.

And while I do believe there is racism in the afore mentioned events, I do not want to leave you with the idea that I think everyone that attended is racist. The issue is in desperate need of serious and thoughtful discussion, but I’m concerned that even the most constructive conversation may be twisted into dangerous dialogue. This is when a lack of curiosity morphs into something far more harmful.

I pray this period of our nation’s history is not marked by something that I’ve lived through too many times before.

Dangerous dialogue, indeed.

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

* Ed Shultz, 09-15-09

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JUST GET IT OVER WITH

September 12, 2009

 

JustGetItOverWithLOGO

Is the Republican Party trying to commit suicide?

There is no other way to explain what most of us watched during and after the President’s speech on healthcare to a joint session of congress and the American people.

The “You Lie” outburst of Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) was, of course, deplorable.

Re. Joe Wilson - YOU LIE

Any publically elected official who can’t show respect for the office of the President of the United States does not deserve to be sitting in that chamber.

It's A lie - Reaction Shot

Yes, he apologized. But let’s face it, there’s no real way to apologize for being classless. His apology only came after party leaders told him to man-up. I realize a political party can’t be held responsible for every member’s actions, but they can make sure he doesn’t receive any support in the next election. They also could have denounced his actions in the rebuttal. Whoops. Never mind. That was pre-taped. (Another stupid move.)

Speaking of the rebuttal: why on earth would you pick Rep. Charles – call me “Lord” – Boustany (R-LA)?

Boustany

Obviously, the party didn’t research him any better than McCain researched Palin.

A simple Google search would have yielded enough negative information to give most leaders pause.

Boustany-Google

Boustany actually tried to buy the title “Lord” from a couple of conmen in EnglandWhen he realized he got scammed, instead of just letting it go so it wouldn’t become public, he sued them! He has hauled in $1.25M from Health and Insurance Industry. He was a “Birther.” He’s been sued 8 times for malpractice. He co-sponsored the end-of-life consultation portion of the current bill in the house (HR 3200), saying that it was a good idea – then backed-off when things got heated. Surely, the Republicans could have found someone with less baggage.

Let’s don’t leave Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) out. He could be seen texting nearly every time the camera went to him.

Rep. Eric Cantor - Twittering

Dana Milbank of the Washington Post, wrote an article highlighting the events that took place on the floor while the President was speaking.

Add the “Tea Parties,” the “Birther” Movement, the “Deather” Movement, the “Socialist Indoctrination” of our children, the ministers that believe (“according to the Bible” no less) that President Obama should die, and the staged town hall meetings on healthcare, to the above events, and you have a party that is not only shrinking, but is on a path to self-destruction.

Why prolong the agony?

Take the pills, lie down, and get it over with.

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

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YOU GOTTA LAUGH, OR YOU’LL CRY

September 12, 2009

YouGottaLaughLOGO

I can’t believe I’m even writing about this.

The President gives a “pep talk” to our students, encouraging them to stay in school, work hard, behave and follow their dreams. Most of us heard these words growing up – from our parents, our teachers and yes, our Presidents. Somehow, this simple, traditional address to our children, has been turned into “Socialist Indoctrination” by the loonies in the Republican Party.

The “additional” materials were a guideline for students to be able to follow what the President was saying – hardly propaganda or indoctrination.

This “man-on-the-street” video is interesting, showing a UPI reporter asking questions

Here’s some of what our President had to say.

Even Laura Bush praised Obama for his speech.

I don’t know if this little blip of an “outcry” is stupidity or bigotry, but it is certainly politics at its worst. If it was only coming from the talking heads on radio and television, it would not be unexpected, but coming from publically elected officials in congress, it is what President Obama has previously called part of the “Silly Season.” He is being kind.

In closing, I couldn’t resist sharing these comments from NBC’s “Newsvine” blog.

Sometimes, this is too much fun.

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

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THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO

September 12, 2009

TheyKnowNotLOGO

The depth and breadth of my Christian understanding exceeds that of most church goers. I was a volunteer, a team leader, a musician, and ultimately the administrator for my church. It was a rewarding, albeit, exhausting time in my life. Being “on the inside” of church operations allowed me access to information and knowledge few will ever have. I will never forget the experiences.

Our minister did far more than give messages on Sunday morning. She was as much a teacher as she was a pastor, always lifting people up, never judging anyone, and often putting her own well-being on the back burner to be there for others. Growing up, I assumed all ministers behaved this way.

Wow! Was I ever wrong.

Meet Rev. Wiley Drake and Pastor Steven Anderson.

Drake-Anderson

Watch and listen to what they have to say about the death of the President of the United States.

Then of course, there are those who would follow through with action.

Fueling these fires are many who hide behind fictitious names like “Sleek1978” spewing their hatred. Here’s what was posted after Pastor Anderson’s sermon:

“Well Mr Pastor ….the whole ARAB WORLD support you and Amen to your prayer…Americans: this presedent is hijacking your country and the world to bring about the demonic agenda of the NWO ..be prepared America the micro chip is coming to you soon as it has been implemented in 3rd world countries as a test on pets now in united arab emirates and the RFID will be inforced by 2010,The NWO will not spare your blacks nor whites,its all planed folks and their plan is in action..which side youre on?”

Isn’t it interesting how little this person knows about our country’s language and its grammar?

Our nation is changing – for the better. But change never comes without discomfort. What is being revealed, now that we have our first man of color as President of the United States, is the truth about where and with whom the hatred, anger and bigotry rests in our land. This too, shall pass. These elements of our society will fade away over time. Those of us of the Christian faith will denounce the teachings of “false prohets” and move on.

There was a time, a couple decades back, when I would have been angry and writing hateful words of my own in retaliation to what you’ve seen and heard here. Now, I do my best to adhere to the teachings of our Way-shower.

“…forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

These words have saved me from experiencing much anguish.

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com