Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Blame Game

Whatever happened to personal accountability? It seems as though our society has become a society of “blamers.” Everything bad that happens is someone else’s fault.

If I eat fast food five times a week and become obese, it’s the fast food company’s fault. If I smoke and get lung cancer, it’s the tobacco company’s fault. If I place a steaming hot cup of coffee between my thighs and then spill it on myself, it’s the store’s fault (how dare they make hot coffee)! If I get drunk in a bar and trip and break my leg going out the door, it's the bar and the wine company's fault (as well as the door-frame maker, the shoe-maker, and my parents for passing on the Clumsy Gene).

The parent blames the teacher for the student’s poor performance. The teacher blames the school system. The school system blames the Board of Education, and so on. The CEO blames the CFO, the CFO blames the auditors, the auditors blame the accounting department, etc.

We’ve become a society of finger-pointers. Whenever anything negative happens to us, we look for someone to blame, or worse, sue. The personal injury lawsuit phenomenon is a multi-billion dollar industry. What disturbs me the most is that we’re raising a generation of children into a world of “victim thinking.”

When we don't accept responsibility and our kids see that, then they think they don’t have to accept responsibility, and the cycle continues right up through the highest levels of our government.

What's going to happen if this trend continues to get worse? I don't know, but don't blame me when it happens.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Eye on the Sky

Spring has sprung in the South, and with it, the typical outbreak of violent thunderstorms and tornadoes. This time of year, it’s not uncommon to have a couple of tornado warnings a week. Warm air from the Gulf of Mexico collides with cold air from Canada, and before you know it, your house is in another state.

Savvy Southerners have created tornado shelters in their basements that serve double duty as a wine cellar. That way, when they have to spend a couple of hours hunkered down in a basement – at least they can enjoy themselves.

Last week, we had a “super cell” storm in the area that spun off several twisters. I was home alone and spent an hour in the basement with the bare essentials: flashlight, blanket, dogs, plain M&Ms, book, cell phone, lip gloss, and weather radio. It was a little scary, but for the most part, not too bad.

Unfortunately, some people aren’t so lucky. Also know as “The Finger of God” these storms can be devastating and deadly. But unlike earthquakes in California, at least you know when a twister is coming (which is a Southerner's excuse for not living in California).

Today however, the weather is divine. The sky is blue and the grass is green and the trees and flowers are blooming like crazy. This brings up another topic – pollen – which I’ll discuss in another exciting edition of Beyond the Blue.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

It is Time

The night was black velvet, full of stars. The snow was deep and soft and the purest white. The trees limbs bowed under the weight of it. But the light of the full moon reflected on the snow, making everything seem half-lit, like a pale blue dream.

I stood beside the road in a long red coat and boots, with a white scarf wrapped around my head. The night was so still I could hear my heart beating. I waited.

From a distance, I heard a horse galloping. Out of the dark, the Messenger appeared. He rode a beautiful black horse and wore a hooded cloak of fine grey wool, leather gloves and boots. He reined the horse to a stop beside me. Its powerful breaths sent billows of warm air in to the night.

The rider reached inside his cloak and removed a fold of paper. As soon as the message was in my hand, he kicked his horse and without a word disappeared in to the forest.

I turned over the paper. A beautiful red wax seal adorned it. Embossed in the seal was the image of a tree. The tree was surrounded by a circle of vines. Above the vines three birds flew towards a crescent moon.

I gently folded the paper until the seal broke in half. Carefully, I opened the page.

Inside were three words, written in black ink from a quill.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

I hate to complain, but....

I don't know about you, but I think airplane travel has become a bit of a testy experience these days. The amazing thing about the decline of the flying experience is that it is neither the fault of the airlines nor of the federal government. OK, it's mostly their fault, but the biggest problem for me lies with our fellow passengers, and you know the people I'm referring to.

These are folks who wait until they get to the head of the security line before they start fishing around for their boarding passes and IDs. I call them bad passengers, or "BP" for short.

The BP is clueless at the X-ray and metal detector. They never know what to place in the X-ray machine, so let me answer all of their questions right now. Yes, your shoes have to come off (hint: wear shoes that are easy to remove and put back on). Yes, you have to take your jacket off. Yes, you have to take your laptop out of the case. No, you don't have to put your folding money through the X-ray machine, but if you do, the security officials can declare it a tip. No guns. No knives. No razors. No fingernail clippers. No scissors. How hard is that?

Once they get to the gate, the BPs continue their mayhem. Carry-on bags are supposed to be… carried on, but some insist on dragging onboard a duffle bag that's large enough for a whole cadaver (vs. a partial one). Then they wrestle their gi-normous sacks into the overhead compartment and consume all available space. Sometimes BPs don't even use the overhead space by their own seats but selfishly take the overhead space near the front of the plane. I think that if anybody puts their luggage in your overhead space, you have the right to look through their stuff during the flight and help yourself to whatever you want.

Since the airlines no longer serve meals, they allow passengers to bring their own food on board. This is all well and good, but if you are going to pack in your own food, you should make it as non-offensive as possible for the rest of us. All I ever pack for the trip is a granola bar. If I can't go for four hours without eating more than a granola bar, I have a problem. However, I've been seated next to BPs who pulled garlic and Limburger sandwiches out of their carry-ons.

How do you spot a BP? They are easy to find. They're always seated right next to me.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Ode to Casual Day

I love to wear my jeans to work
I get so much more done
If I could wear them every day
this job would be more fun

In fact, I think my pjs
would make work days so fine
I’d even like to go so far
as not to start ‘til 9:00