Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Crying Wolf...or in this case Racism

I confess.  I am a white man who grew up in America.  I make no apologies for it.  The reason I bring up my race is that I had a little run in on Facebook recently with one of my friends, who happens to be an African-American woman, who I went to high school with.  If you have read this blog before, then you know that I am a dyed in the wool conservative.  My former classmate, a liberal.

I wouldn't go so far as to say that my former classmate and I were close friends back in high school, but it was cordial.  We reconnected a few years ago on Facebook.  I can't recall who sent the initial friend request through Facebook, but needless to say we did reconnect.  The last time that I saw here was at the funeral of our mutual friend David Mills, who was also an African American liberal, not that it matters.

Our little run in occurred when she posted a link on Facebook with the headline "Rick Perry Refuses Obama's Offer For A Tarmac Handshake" that was on the liberal website Huffington Post.  Along with the link to the article were her comments of "So disrespectful. So racist."  That is where I took offense.

Ever since Barack Obama became president, it has become fashionable to label anybody who disagrees with him or gives him any sort of slight, it is automatically labeled "racist."  After a while, you get tired of hearing that same, tired, baseless attack.  Usually, I ignore liberal Facebook postings that I disagree with.  This time, I made a comment.  Perhaps, I should have stuck with my policy of ignoring those posts.

Essentially, I told my friend that I was disappointed that she decided to pull the "racist" card out of the bag.  Needless to say, she was not happy with my response.  I won't bore you with everything she responded with, but basically attacked me as a white man who would not understand what she experiences as a black woman.

To a degree, she is right.  I do not know what it is like to be a black woman, or a black man for that matter.  That does not mean that I do not understand what it is like or that I haven't experience racism myself.  I have witnessed racism in all its ugliness and I have been on the receiving end of racism when growing up.

When I was in elementary school, we were given the opportunity to bring music that we liked into the classroom to share with our classmates.  I brought in a record from the Disney movie "Dumbo" because I liked the song from the video below.
Several of my classmates mocked me and gave me a hard time because I brought in a record that was performed by some sort of derogatory term for African Americans.  I was quite hurt.

A few years later, I was an overweight, 4-eyed white kid in a school with a large African American student body.  I was left out of a lot of recess activities because I didn't "fit in."  Eventually, I was able to show that I could hang with the more athletic peers on the field of battle as it were and earn a level of respect.

I would be naive to think that racism doesn't still exist with some people.  People as a whole are fallen, sinful individuals, and nothing is going to change that.  Unfortunately, in the Barack Obama age, society has become like the proverbial boy who cried wolf.  The more people cry racism where it doesn't truly exist, the more likely people won't react when it really does.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A Not so Happy Mother's Day

Bowie Baysox
Bowie Baysox (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Here is hoping that everybody had a very happy Mother's Day.  I would like to say that ours was spectacular, but unfortunately that is not the case.

The day started off well enough.  My wife got up with me early and we went to my new church.  After church we went to do the grocery shopping before we started our primary plans for the day.  Our plan was to pick up our son at school and take him to a Bowie Baysox game instead of our usual visit of taking him to Golden Corral for lunch.

The visit started our well enough.  We picked him up, and he was excited about going to the game.  We got to the stadium, and he wanted a hamburger and french fries for lunch.  He enjoyed the game, but unfortunately our Bowie Baysox lost the game.  When it was time to leave, we stopped by the restroom before starting our drive back to his dorm.

That is when our troubles began.  After my son finished urinating, he announced that he didn't want to go back to school and dropped to the ground in the men's room.  Thankfully, another gentleman asked me if I needed help with him, and I had him go to the first aid station to see if they could help.  He called one of the park policeman working security for assistance.

The three of us tried to calm my son down.  We even tried to get my son into a wheelchair to try to take him out to our car.  Eventually, we had to call the fire department and have them send out a crew with a stretcher to try to get him out to the car.  I got him to walk out of the restroom, but he dropped again.  At that point, the security officer, two paramedics and I carried him out to the car.

Once we got him to the car, he got up on his own and climbed into his seat in the car.  We then headed back to school without incident.  Once we got back to school, he ate the dinner that the had for him.  While we were there, they showed us the technique they use for getting him up when he drops.  I hope we never have to use it, but it was good info to know for the future.
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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Autism and Compartmentalization

It has been far too long since I posted anything on my blog. It has been an even longer time since I have posted anything about my son and dealing with aspects of his autism.  This post will fix both of those items.

My son has always had a way of compartmentalizing certain things.  For example, there are certain games and activities that he will do with me that he won't do with my wife and vice versa.  There will be times that she will try to get him to play one of the word game routines that he does with me and he will quickly change the conversation over to one that he does primarily with her.

Likewise, there are certain activities that he associates with school or the dorm that he refuses to do at home.  Sadly, one of those is using the toilet for his bowel movements.  The school and dorm have been getting him to use the toilet for bowel movements.  There hasn't been any progress on transferring that behavior to the home setting.

Today, we saw another example of how he compartmentalizes certain things.  This time in regards to food.  For the past few days, he has been home on spring break for school.  Originally, he was scheduled to go back to the dorm tomorrow.  Since we have been having an extremely difficult time getting him back to school after breaks, my wife came up with the idea to take him back today after having Easter dinner at her parents' house.

All weekend long, he had been talking about going to Grammy's house to have ham and mac & cheese.  We got to dinner and he refused to eat the ham.  The only thing he would eat was the mac & cheese.  We left my in-laws house and took him back to dorm where we got there in time for him to get dinner.  They had fixed a plate for him consisting of ham, mac & cheese, green beans, meat balls, potato salad and a deviled egg.  After insisting that I remove the egg and potato salad, he then proceeded to eat everything on his plate, including the green beans.

I wasn't surprised to see him eat the ham and meatballs, and of course, mac & cheese is one of his favorite dishes.  I was shocked to see him eat all of the green beans.  If we ever tried to put vegetables on his plate at home he would insist that they be removed from his plate.  Just another example of how he will do certain things at school that he won't do at home.
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Sunday, February 9, 2014

No Coincidences-Full Circle

My wife and I are regional co-chairs for the Benedictine Foundation.  The Benedictine Foundation runs the school that my son has been attending for the last few years.  Today was the day that we had our regional meeting to talk about the annual Spring Gala that takes place in April.  This year, the theme of the event will be "Roman Holiday."

Since our home does not have a lot of space, my in-laws graciously agreed to host the meeting at their house.  They have been actively involved with the Benedictine Foundation for far longer than my son has been attending the school.  Prior to our son getting in, our nephew, their grandson, was in attendance at the school.  My father in law serves on the Board of Directors and was vital in getting our son into the school.

During the meeting, everybody went around the room to introduce themselves and to tell how they came to be associated with Benedictine.  My wife was first to speak and told how our son was currently attending the Benedictine School and that our nephew was a graduate of the school.  A few other people told theirs stories.

Then it was my father in-laws turn to speak.  He spoke about how both of his grandchildren were students at Benedictine and how much the school had helped them.  Then he spoke about an event that occurred nearly 50 years ago when he was in the United States Air Force and stationed in Taiwan.  He talked about how he and my mother in-law decided to adopt a local child to add to the family.

When they got to the orphanage, the nuns took my mother in-law to one part of the orphanage, and my father in-law to another.  After they each toured the facility, they met up and both had found the daughter to add to their family.  They found out that the girls were twins.  They decided to adopt the sisters to keep them together.  One of them became my wife and the mother of my son.

Now, I had heard the story of how they came to adopt their two daughters.  What I had not heard, and neither had my wife, was the fact that the orphanage was run by nuns from the Benedictine order.  In fact, one of the nuns was from Minnesota.  Years later when my in-laws related the story to Sister Jeanette, who was the driving force in making the school what it is today, that she knew the nun that was in the orphanage.

I am sure that a lot of people will think that this is all one big coincidence.  I prefer to think that it was more like the Hand of Providence.  How else could you explain that my wife and her sister would be in an orphanage run by Benedictine nuns, both would have sons with autism, that would attend a school founded and run by Benedictine nuns.


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Monday, January 20, 2014

A Working Life

I have spent the vast majority of my working life in the retail industry.  When I was 15, I started working at a local convenience store.  From there, I moved on to a small local grocery chain that had about seven stores in the area.  I worked for them for about 5 years when I landed a job at one of the major supermarkets in the area, thus doubling my hourly wage.  Unfortunately, that position only lasted two months before the chain decided to pull out of the DC market.

After I lost my job at that chain, I was unemployed for about two months until I landed a job in the Safeway chain.  At that time, no frills warehouse stores where you bag your own groceries were popular.  I started with Safeway with their version called Food Barn,  After I graduated college, I moved from the store side of the business to the backstage side in the local division buying office.  I spent 21 years at Safeway before the company decided to centralize the buying function to their corporate offices in California.

That was the start of a rather tough period in my life.  It took almost a year to find a solid full time position that would pay the bills on a regular basis.  We thankfully made it through that tough time, but it was definitely a struggle.  We didn't have a lot of money in the bank, and unemployment didn't come close to covering our expenses.  I had a severance package for a few months, but after it ran out, I went through whatever retirement savings I had in my 401k with Safeway.

It was during this one year period that I tried a failed attempt to work in sales.  I really floundered as a salesman.  A lot of what I did was cold telemarketing.  It was brutal.  Most of my calls were calling numbers out of the phone book.  It wasn't very productive.  I might have had a little more success if I had of had access to a service like List Giant.  They provide targeted lists to sales and marketing folks for the purpose direct mail and telemarketing.  With a more focused and targeted list of potential customers, I might have been more successful in sales.

After that, I moved on to a company that did the category management function in the stationary category for grocery chains in different parts of the company.  Unfortunately, it looked like that company wasn't going to be around for long, so I left there after a couple years when I landed a job as a buyer for a company that sold products to property management firms for apartment rehabs.  I stayed there for another two years before I finally got back to what I knew best.

For the last six years, I have been back in the retail world and it is the happiest I have been since my Safeway days.  It is also the longest tenure of a company that I have been with besides the 21 years at Safeway.  The company I work with now has retail stores in airports across the country.  I started off as the candy and snack buyer until we decided to put in a software package to do our store planograms.  For those that don't know, a planogram is a diagram of where to put product in the store.  I volunteered to head up that initiative for the company and it was one of the best decisions I ever made.
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Sunday, December 29, 2013

If You Like Your Lightbulbs....

Electric bulb from Neolux (max. 230 V, 60 W, E...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
If I were running for president today, I would run on the platform "If you like your light bulbs, you can keep your light bulbs."  After all, that particular line worked pretty successfully for one particular president when it came to his health care bill.  So what if it was a big colossal lie.

Thanks to the ruling elite who know far better than the rest of us what types of products we should have and use, effective January 1st, the United States will ban the production of an item that has been in American homes for over 100 years, the incandescent light bulb.  Thomas Edison must be spinning in his grave. You'll still be able to buy them until existing inventory sells through, so stock up now.

George W. Bush proved that he was no real conservative when he signed into law the bill that phases out the traditional light bulb.  Sure compared to Barack Obama, he is a right wing nut job as my liberal friends would say, but no true conservative would take a safe and reliable product used by nearly everybody and force people to have to go to more expensive, and in some cases, more hazardous products.  That is not how the free market works.

Granted, the choices we will now have will last longer and save you on your electric bill, but the initial outlay is a bit much for the average person's wallet, especially those who live paycheck to paycheck.  It is really going to be a hardship for lower and middle income families.  I am not crazy about any of the options the government is forcing upon its citizenry.  Just another little bit of our freedom being taken away from us.

English: Compact fluorescent light bulb
English: Compact fluorescent light bulb (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The compact fluorescent bulb, or CFLs, are the most affordable of the options that we will have to choose them.  Frankly, I hate them.  I hate there twisted curly-q shape.  Sure, there are some that have the twisted bulb nicely encased in a more traditional light bulb shape, but even those still have their problems.  They are dangerous.  CFLs contain mercury, which is such a horrible toxin that states, including Maryland, have banned the use of mercury in thermostats for your home cooling/heating system.  If you happen to break a CFL, you might need to call in a hazmat crew.  If you think I am exaggerating, just check out what is on the Environment Protection Agency's website regarding cleaning up a broken CFL.

The other option that folks have to choose from are LED lights.  LED lights apparently aren't much safer as they may contain arsenic and lead.  Again, there are very detailed instructions on cleaning up an LED light if they break.  One site I saw said to wear gloves and a mask when cleaning up a broken LED light and to use a broom, no vacuum.  Then dispose of those gloves, mask, and broom after cleaning.  Also, LED lights are extremely expensive.

Today, I did my grocery shopping at my local Wegman's Supermarket.  I decided to pick up a few packs of incandescent bulbs.  Unfortunately, there was only one 4-pack of 60 watt bulbs available.  I looked at some of the options available to me and was saddened.  Some of the LED lights were nearly $20 per bulb.  I conservatively have about 20 light bulbs in my house.  When I do have to replace them, they usually come in bunches.  That is not an outlay of cash that I am prepared to make.  Hopefully, there will be something more affordable.  Until then, I will be stocking up on my incandescent bulbs while I can.


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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Spread Some Joy--Say Merry Christmas

The Christmas holiday season can be a time of great stress for some people.  I am not immune from the stress of the holidays.  My son has been home from school for the Christmas break since Friday.  I am already stressed about trying to get him back to school on January 1st.

I should explain what happened on the Thanksgiving break with our son.  From the time he got home for that break, he refused to leave the house.  Even though he talked about going to my brother's house for Thanksgiving dinner, when it came time to go, he refused.  We ended up having dinner at home.  Thankfully, I had bought a small turkey that my wife planned to cook the day after Thanksgiving so that we would have "leftovers."

When it came time to take our son back to school on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, it was one of the worst experiences in some time for that task.  We fought him for most of the afternoon before giving up for the night.  He hit me so hard in the ear that my ears rang and I had some residual hearing issues for several days after.  My wife finally got him back a day late but it was a monumental task.

So what has me stressed a few days before Christmas?  You can probably guess from the preceding two paragraphs that so far during the break, my son is refusing to go anywhere.  I offered to take him out to lunch for hamburgers, no luck.  Same thing with trying to get him to go for a ride to look at Christmas lights.  So far he is saying he is going to go to my sister's and my in-laws houses for Christmas.  Let's hope he does.

Sunday mornings is one of the days that I usually use to take care of my grocery shopping.  I left the house to go take care of the groceries and it was pouring down rain.  I got in the car, with everything on my mind and headed to the store.  By the time I got to Wegman's, the rain had slowed to a trickle, so at least I wouldn't get drenched going from the parking lot to the store.

My stress did not subside once I got inside the store.  In fact, it started to increase.  One of the first things that I was looking for in the meat department was out of stock.  It was going to be dinner tonight so I quickly came up with a Plan B.  The store was particularly crowded, and the aisles of the store were stacked with merchandise so maneuvering through the aisles was difficult at best.

As I was nearing the end of my shopping trip, I am sure that my face was not the friendliest it could be.  It was then that I pushed my cart pass another father pushing a car with his little daughter in the seat.  She leaned over and with the biggest smile on her face squealed to me, "Merry Christmas!"

My demeanor instantly changed and the frown on my face melted and was replaced with a smile.  I look at her and cheerfully said to her, "Well Merry Christmas to you too!"  She laughed with delight.  So do yourself and someone else a favor and put a smile on your face and tell somebody "Merry Christmas."  You just might make someone's day.
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