Sunday, November 20, 2005

Oh God Get Me Out of Here

Friday was the 10th wedding anniversary of the The Divine Mrs. M and me. To work in various work, divorce, and travel schedules our extended family was having Thanksgiving this weekend. The Divine and I thought that we'd ask the kid's grandparents to watch them while she and I had a nice dinner and then stayed in a local hotel.

First, problem. Ft. Wayne - the town I grew up in - doesn't have much to do. At least for us. There ain't crap here. And it's not like we come from an exciting cosmopolitian city now. We live in Cincinnati!

I took Friday off work so we could travel early. So of course, 4-year old Harper began puking on cue about midnight Thursday. We cancelled anniversary plans for another time and drove the 3.5 hours to Ft. Wayne on Saturday. Had a Thanksgiving Dinner at my sisters. Kids went home early with the grandparents, then the Divine started puking. We made it home to have Dagny greet up with puking. I'm puked out.

Harper, the instigator of all this, is bouncing off the walls, I have Dagny drugged out of her 8-year old mind, and Alicia is snoozing up in my old bedroom and I'm sitting in my mothers sewing room feeling my stomach begin to flutter with a 3.5 hour drive ahead of me.

I'm too tired to comment on articles I've gotten published today. There's three: Here's one in the Enquirer about a local family giving NKU basketball gift. Here's one a new credit report law and here's another on a local theatre troupe.

I still have about two hours of work tonight for the Enquirer. Think I'll make it?

Stay You.
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Thursday, November 17, 2005

Souuuuul Food!

Remember Soul Train? They use to play it on Saturday mornings in Ft. Wayne. Why Saturday mornings? Who wants to listen to dance music and watch that on a Saturday morning?

I did, baby. I'd watch when I was about 13 and say, "Yes, when I'm 21, I'm hitting the clubs and dancing and picking up allll the girls."

I ended up staying at home watching movies and making out with my girlfriend the current Divine Mrs. M.

Now, I'm out of my element again. Here's a review of a Soul Food Fest.

Just so you know. I have no soul. I have never gotten a grove on.

Stay You.
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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

We are the World

This is the country we live in. There are three people in my office. The boss is a first generation Greek who attends an Eastern Orthodox church. The secretary is a Roman Catholic German-American whose family has lived in the neighborhood for years. Me? I'm a protestant of Scottish and English heritage. My mother's side sharecropped in Georgia since the late 1600's and my dad's side moved to Detroit to work at the Ford plant in the 30's.

Not once have we had any ethnic or religious strife in the office. No crusades, Jihad's or purges. Kind of cool and unique in the history of the world and I'm in the middle of it.

Here's a story featuring a girl from Uzbekistan being taught piano by a Ukrainian in Northern Kentucky, USA of all places.

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Sunday, November 13, 2005

Good Food is Simple Food, but this is ridiculous!

Oh, I almost forgot, here's an article that was printed today in The Sunday Challenger on a local restaurant in my little city of Bellevue. My editor asked me for a quick story idea and I blurted out a review of Pasquales. It's my first restaurant review.

We ate a Pasquales when we first moved to Bellevue and didn't have a pleasant experience and never went back, but everyone around he raves about it. There's six Pasquale's in the area, but none of them are connected. It was some proto-franchise arrangement that was attempted in the early fifties. The original is Newport is a dive that can only loved by hometown people.

So I took the family out for a tax-deductible meal at Pasquales and did the review. My editor likes to put in a recipe with her restaurant reviews so I called up the following Monday and asked for one. Here's a secret: Pasquales doesn't so much cook their food as they just warm it up. Everything is brought in from a commisary, tossed in the dead frier or they build a sandwich, slather on their secret sauce (also from a commissary) and "presto viola!" a 40% mark up.

And I gave the food a good review. Well, it must have done the trick because I got another restaurant review assignment. This time its some new seafood place called The Chart House on the river - the Ohio River. The brown, barge traffic'd, drainage ditch of the midwest.

I was told never to eat seafood if I can't smell the ocean, but I'll just have to gut it out.

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I'm Not A Sports Guy

Here's an article I did yesterday on the Northern Kentucky University basketball Fan Day.

In doing the article I felt a little bit like a fish out of water. I know nothing of sports.

I've never hit a baseball wth a bat. I'm never caught a football in any kind of game. I've never gotten a basketball into the hoop in a game. I've never been able to sit through a college basket ball game. My own school only made it to the elite 8 once - while I was there. Other than that, it just rounds out the MAC Conference (Side note: During the preceding game of that Elite 8 game, I was working security carrying a walkie talkie and wearing a red vest. When the BSU team won a television came out the window of a 12 story dorm and landed about 20 feet in front of me. I called it in and was told to just keep an eye out. I radioed back that I wasn't going to get killed for $3.50 an hour and walked home. I showed for work the next day to return the equipment, but nothing was ever said about it. I worked there another year or so. Cool!)

I think my lack of sports knowledge came rom the fact that we moved around a bit until the 5th grade, I never got that foundation of how to play the games. What the hell is a pick and roll? No one ever really gave me instruction either. I don't really miss it; I don't think I would have been much of a player. I was 5'11" at 14 and gangling. I put on another inch over the next few years, but stayed gangling until my early twenties. Too skinny for football, too uncoordinated for basketball or anything else.

I do have a sports rule however. I dislike people that wear college sports jerseys to schools they didn't go to. Around here everyone and everything is UK. I know these fat guys walking around wearing the blue never even audited a class there and I doubt if they've ever been on campus (which is beautiful by the way). In my home town of Ft. Wayne, everyone is Notre Dame crazy. A school of about 8,000 attendance couldn't have spawned that many alumni. I never understood the connection to a college or a team that you either didn't attend or didn't send tuition payments to. Do you need to be that desperatly connected to a winner?

Although, Rod Woodson went to my highschool and I always thought it was cool when I saw him playing for the Steelers. Go figure?

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Thursday, November 10, 2005

Making the Grades

Here's my latest Enquirer article on a proposed grading system change at Northern Kentucky University.

I wasn't much of a student in high school. In fact, I graduated in the lower half of my class of 600+. But I managed to get into Ball State. Freshmen first semester I did well, second semester not so well, but that's when I got in with a bunch of people at a fraternity I pledge. These were all business majors - and serious. Also, during high school things were - how can I say this - negative as hell.

Around a bunch of positive people trying to do well, I realized I wasn't stupid. I could actually get grades. I then met The Divine Mrs. M. who had to maintain her grades or lose her academic scholarship so I had a nice support system.

I majored in Finance and got all A's in those classes. I also majored in accounting and got all c's there, but that was more out of a lack of interest. Plus - to this day - I can't tell you why I got my accounting degree.

The funny thing is that, unless you're going to grad school, grades in college aren't worth a good goddamn. No one ever hired me because of my straight As in finance classes. Most employers just needed a hole to fill in their corporate structure and had to fill it was a "college graduate" but didn't give a hoot what kind.

I would have been much better off getting straight b's or c's and making connections on the intramural basketball courts.

That seems to be the way I learn however...after it's too late.

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Sunday, November 06, 2005

Edwards/Forbes Details

Thanks for asking M. Butterfly, but I'm nowhere near where the tornadoes hit. Actually, I didn't know aobut them to late Sunday because I was avoiding the news. I'm about 4 hours away - see.

So I promised answers to each of the questions I posed to Edwards and Forbes:

I showed up about 1/2 hour early for this press conference to an empty room. I found the university's PR guy and he let me know that others would be there. In fact, one other reporter showed up for another paper and no tv crews (they showed up at the main event). So chairs were set for about 20 and I, another dude, and a girl from the university newspaper were there.

The university's PR guy said that each would come in - Edward's first, then Forbes - he would introduce them, they would give a statement, then we could ask questions. I was thinking that "god, this must be bleak for someone who a year ago was being followed by the international press in a seperate 767. Now he gets so bozo freelancer like me who's just entertaining himself." At show time, Edwards walked in first. Ignored the pr guy, sized up me and the other reporter, then said, "Shoot!," looking dead at me and point his finger. This is the Breck girl? He looked a little impatient...grumpy even.

Jokingly I asked if he was ready to announce his candidacy for '08. He seemed to lighten up and said jokingly back with a pause, "Not yet."

I asked the Wisconsin question I posted earlier when I asked for questions. He said, everybodies worried. And a bunch of the tripe that I had already read. "Cheney lied. We would have sent more troops, tried the Iraqis already and brought them home already..oh, and Cheney lied.

Next, I asked how he would measure two America coming together. He said he would have narrowed the gap in assets and income. Oh, yeah? Socialism has been tried and failed. The Divine Mrs. M. got mad at that one" "He wants us all to be equally miserable!" Mr. E. said he would have done this by jiggering the tax code and making the US more competitive by funding education more. Yawn.
The other reporter asked about the tax simplification report that came out recently. Edwards honestly said he hasn't seen it, but then gave another redistributionist answer about the tax code.
I then asked about an article in the journal from that day - this one - and asked if he thought Americans were really willing to put up with some tax hikes. He said that George's Bush's policies were "insane" and that we should be afraid of the Chinese holdling our debt (oh, no the chinese hold paper with our name of it), etc.

I don't want to debate what Mr. Edwards said. I don't believe most of it and can't understand how he reaches his conclusions, but that's cool. I didn't smell sulfur when he entered the room. Just alot of cliches and trite 50 year old thinking - but that's today's Democratic party. However, when I asked for a pic, he gave me pose.

Mr. Forbes entered the room a few minutes after Mr. Edwards left. He walked right toward me. I thought he was going to fall on me. He looks a bit frail - like someone who has had a back operation - but I don't think he has. He looks a littel goofy but doesn't seem self conscious at all. In fact, I thought he looked more natural than Mr. E.
He didn't fall on me, he grabbed the chair next to me then rolled it about 4 feet in front of me, sat down, then said "Let's talk."
This was all reform-the-tax-code-free-market stuff. I loved it. Mr. E. seemed very canned, but
practiced. Mr. F. just chatted. He seemed to be having fun.
I asked him about the Journal article above and he seemed incredulous. "Legislatures will raise taxes, but it's never been passed when put to the people," he said. Then he made some remark about throwing the bums out when they do. I had a little fun after hearing about the tax system and asked him how big his personal tax return it. He thought I was asking how much he paid, but I clarify and he said "about yea big" holding his hands about 6 inches apart.

He said he use to do his own, but now just pretty much signs what they put in front of him. He did have a funny factoid that I had never heard. The instructions for Form 1040 EZ are 36 pages long. This is the EZ form? I snapped a pic of him while he was talking to the campus newspaper reporter who was hiding off to the side.

After the press conference (i.e. me and the other guy) the p.r. guy set me at a computer with word and internet so I could do my first filing. However, 3 minutes after I start Forbes sits down right next to me to sign a bunch of books for a fundraiser they were doing. He kept up the talk with the girls and actually seemed interested in them. He grew a little miffed when the university person told him he shouldn't personalize them.

I was having a hard time concentrading what with a bunch of college co-eds walking around and giggling, when Mr. Edwards then sits down to do the same. So I got a pic of him too.

Later I crashed the private reception and told Mr. F. that I volunteered for his '96 campaign and he brighted up like we were on the plane together and started to talk about that particular war. I told him I spent a rainy Saturday handing door signs. he then let someone take our picture...However, The Divine Mr. M will confirm that I am not this fat. The camera misshapens my head into this fat thing sticking out of my collar., But here I am with Mr. F.

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Edwards/Forbes Apologies

After I got the story the Edwards/Forbes deal flew to Orlando where I became an IRA distribution specialist at the beautiful at least by Orlando standards Rosen Centre. Here's the guy's cheesy looking website. He's a smart guy and is the the Journal every other day and is the leading expert of making sure your IRA is handled right. Thought they were simple? Think again.

The charge for this thing was $1,795. There were 300+ advisors attending. The marketing speaker who we skipped out on probably paid for the hotel so he could sell his crap. So for one day of speaking and one day of questions, he nabbed at least $500,000. He does this twice a year. He did have to pay to bring a few staff members, but, God, that's great.

Anyway, the first night, a fire alarm went off in the hotel at 4, I couldn't get back to sleep. The next night I felt l ike hell and couldn't sleep again. Now I woke up early back in Bellevue.

I'm taking today off. Maybe I'll update you on Edwards/Forbes later today. I'm going back to bed.

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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Thanks for your help

Thanks to everyone who gave me questions for Senator Edwards and Mr. Forbes. I'm behind at work and tired so there will be more later, but here's something...

The press conference was sparce. As far as reporters go there was just another guy and me - behind us was a crowd of university organizers and sponsors. The published write up is here.

I had two deadlines. The first was 6:30. Edward went first for about 15 minutes followed a few minutes later by Forbes. After the press conference, the school PR person hooked me up with a computer. Edwards and Forbes had about 100 books to sign which they did about 2 feet from me. I listened to them talk while I wrote the story. I felt like I was in that Cary Grant movie (can't think of title, link later). While writing I grabbed a couple of students to help padd it out. Hit save linked to e-mail and off to the editors at the Enquirer.

I snagged some free food - cheese, diet Pepsi, nuts, and M&Ms left over from the press conference while I waited for the main event.

The event was at 7:00 at another building. I waited outside where my cell would work in case someone from the Enquirer called with a question. The event was packed - they said some things different from the press conference, some things that were more interesting. I spoke with some more students and filed a different report for the 10:30 deadline. The story linked above is a combination of the two that the copy editors put together.

In my previous poltical life, I've hung with big time politicos, but this was a different experience for me so it adds a new wrinkle in the brain and expands my horizons a bit. Kind of cool.

I'm tired and wore out and have alot of work to catch up on today so later.

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