Wednesday, May 30, 2007


small acts of kindness get overlooked all the time. holding a door open for a stranger. giving the right of way on the open road. sacrificing a seat on a crowded train. even if the act wasn't warranted or even necessary, it should be acknowledged with appreciation. too often, too many people habitually refuse to say a simple "thank you". people have their reasons. the proudly self-sufficient. the militant feminist. the cell phone conversaters. no one has to be nice. its one of the great things about this country. some folks just have it in their heart.

gratitude can make a difference to those people who choose to go above and beyond. a "thanks" from you does a lot to perpetuate the boy scout behavior. a snub could send your samaritan on a steep downward spiral to crack whoredom. that's a lot of weight for a conscience to bear.

so here's where i get confused. most roads are free to all. in fact, if all our roads and bridges were tossed in a giant sack, a very small percentage demand a toll for their use. maybe a fraction of a percent. in the occasion when one uses one of these roads or bridges, one most pass through a toll booth and fork out some cash for being allowed the privilege of passing through. most roads and bridges ask for neither our money or our time, but when any of us is required to pay up, we kindly thank mr. or mrs. toll booth collector. i've never known anyone not to say thanks.

their job is to sit on a stool and take money from motorists and dispense change. its a lousy job, but also an incredibly easy one. the occupation will likely be extinct before long. change catching baskets and EZ pass sensors are equally qualified and don't require a 401k plan. i never seen anyone make an extra effort to make my toll paying more enjoyable. i don't understand how this became worthy of automatic gratitude while so many others receive turned cheeks.

Monday, May 28, 2007


several months ago, i wrote about the banana runt. the odd man out in an otherwise tasty assortment of fruity flavors. i wondered, and still do, as to how this gross flavor has managed to stand the test of time.

not long after, i saw new runts at an airport newstand. two new flavors and one flavor taken out of the rotation. lime was no more but now we are treated with blue raspberry and watermelon. and yet, banana still shows its ugly curved yellow mug.

...but wait. the winds of change blow strong at the willy wonka candy factory. last week, while perusing the aisles of wal-mart, a shelf of orange boxes catches my eye. a whole shelf of runts. as i picked up a box, i noticed that the raspberry and watermelon flavors are hanging tough, but as i set them back in their place, i noticed an unopened case further back. curiosity made me pull it out.

new flavors!

i knelt to the floor in silent exuberance. two new flavors, and so soon after the last flavors overhaul? it seems they're seeing things as i had and went with some more tropical tastes. somehow banana still drifts throughout, but now it shares company with pineapple and mango. unfortunately, its a little bittersweet. lime is still gone, but so, too, is cherry. one of my favorites. i find it hard to believe that more people like banana than cherry. as i looked a little odd sitting on the floor, rifling through a case of runts, i bought a box of each for further analysis.

the plot thickens. the mango/pineapple runts box was bilingual. unlike the other box, its had both English and Spanish text. were these intended for a latin destination, only to be hijacked at sea by wal-mart pirates to keep "selling for less"?

that's my theory.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007


i was given a small allowance as a boy. my parents, i assume, did so to teach me the value of a dollar. i had forced myself to maintain my manners and help out around the household in order to get my grubby hands on some of those sweet greenbacks at the week's end. sure enough, come wednesday, i would come groveling back for more.

"Where'd your allowance go?" mom would ask.
usually, my answer was plucked from a hat holding only three choices.
video games.
comic books.

instead of holding onto my small wage for something more worthwhile, i wasted it on things i didn't need. bad habits seen through the eyes of a parent, but ones which could lead me to one day becoming our nation's president.

the legislative and executive branches of our government have been butting heads since the congressional elections last year. lately, the arm wrestling has centered around a military funding bill. the president refuses to pass it due to the troop withdrawal deadlines that have been added. there in lies the debate. not the actual dollar amount that the bill will allocate to fund the middle east war effort. everyone is in agreement there. an additional $126.2 billion. not if, but when this bill passes, we, the tax payers, will have spent a total of $456 billion dollars funding this war on terror.


that's just for the war effort. today, while looking more into this disturbing bit of information, i came across an article on The Boston Globe's website that proposes some alternate options for spending that money, had we not gotten enveloped in this mess. i summarized it below, but feel free to check out the original here.

  • 2,949 Newton North High Schools (the most expensive, state of the art high school in Massachusetts. it educates over 2,000 students and boasts a full dramatic theater, dance studio, pool, TV studio, extensive art department and photography darkrooms, and much more)
  • free gas for everyone for 1.2 years
  • for 1/6 of the 456 billion (or about 1/2 of the amount stated in the upcoming bill), the federal government could pick up the tab for converting every registered vehicle in the united stated to run on ethanol. a conversion with a measly $500 price tag.
  • 14.5 million full 1-year scholarship to Harvard
  • medicare benefits for 2008 (with a 2 billion left over for candy)
  • according to the World Bank's estimates, $456 billion could keep the entire planet's impoverished both fed and educated without assistance for 5.5 years.
next years descretionary budget will, as of now, be doling out $717 billion to military and department of defense spending. that's approximately 66%. meanwhile, the federally funded NEA (National Endowment for the Arts), which provides financial support and grants toward artistic excellence and education, will be receiving a mere $121 million annually - 1%. almost seven times that will be spent on bullets.