Friday, January 28, 2011

Breakfast Bargain

I rarely eat at McDonald's. In fact, I've only been to McDonald's a handful of times during the past 25 years. Today, I needed to take the car to the mechanic for its annual inspection; as I was walking home, I decided to stop at the local McDonald's. A few days ago, I noticed a sign advertising oatmeal and wondered what oatmeal at McDonald's would taste like. Would it be a version of oatmeal akin to reconstituted cardboard? I wasn't sure; but, I really like oatmeal, so I decided to give it a try.

I ordered a medium coffee and the maple fruit oatmeal. The oatmeal was surprisingly good. It had apples, raisins, cranberries and sultanas. The breakfast came to $3.41. Not bad for a light breakfast. As I ate the oatmeal and drank the surprisingly good coffee, I was treated to some background music as well. As far as I could tell, the music play list included a compilation of music classics from the 1980s, including David Bowie, INXS, etc. McDonald's has certainly come a long way!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

"Death Angel" Dies

John Dye died on January 10th. The cause of death was heart failure. Mr. Dye was 47, and will be remembered for starring in the long running TV show, Touched by an Angel. The show chronicled the exploits of two female angels (played by Della Reese and Roma Downey) who were sent to earth to help people in distress. Mr. Dye portrayed Andrew, the angel of death. He would appear regularly on the show and escort a particular character to the after life.

There were two groups of people who watched the show: those who found the show inspiring and heartfelt, and those who found it campy and funny. I belonged to the latter group. No matter how improbable the events, the actors always played it straight. You had to know that deep inside, the actors were laughing. It was one of the funniest shows on the air. And, if I may add, it was even touching.  

"Shame on You," Governor LePage

Governor Paul LePage is at it again. Last fall, he said President Obama "could go to hell." Last Friday, when asked about his refusal to attend Martin Luther King Jr. events, sponsored by the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), he told a TV reporter, "Tell 'em to kiss my butt." Later he said,"I am the governor for 1.3 million people. I am not governor for a special interest, for a small group. They are part of Maine. If they want to come talk to me about being a Maine resident, a Maine citizen, they're invited. If they want to come talk to me about race cards they're not invited."

Unlike many people in the blog sphere, I am not bothered by Gov. LePage's refusal to attend the MLK events. He has the right to attend or not attend any non-governmental function he wants. That's his right. What does bother me is the manner in which he conducted himself. His comments strike me as divisive political banter designed to provoke. 

As I mentioned in yesterday's posting, what has happened to common courtesy and politeness? What was the Governor's point in bringing up the "race card," or "special interest"? Moreover, why did the Governor find it necessary to use a coarse expression ("Kiss my butt")? The Governor (or his press secretary) could have politely responded to the NAACP's invitation. The Governor should have said, "I appreciate your invitation. Unfortunately, I am unable to attend the event due to scheduling." That would have been the end of the story. No one is embarrassed and no one looks foolish.

I do not always agree with the NAACP, but the Governor's comments were very rude and unseemly, especially given his position. The Governor's lack of civility and good judgment not only reflects badly on himself but the State of Maine as well.  

Friday, January 14, 2011

Let's Be Nice

After the Storm
One of my goals this New Year is to be more civil. Over the years, I have noticed an increase of bad behavior among people of every age, color and creed; and, I am no exception.   

We live in an uncivil age; and unfortunately, incivility now seems to be as American as apple pie. Polite greetings, sincere apologies, expressions of gratitude and sympathy, and just plain manners seem to be absent in our modern society. Public incivility now seems to define our national character. One need only watch "reality TV," the mudslinging among our politicians, or the venomous insults hurled by our media "stars" to see incivility at work.

Remember Congressman Joe Wilson who shouted "You Lie" at the President during a joint session of Congress, or tennis star Serena (hardly serene) Williams who shouted a barrage of vulgarities at a tennis official for calling her ball out? And what about the daily occurrences of cyber-bullying committed by our young people, or the fellow who refuses to cover his mouth while coughing or sneezing in a public area. 

There are even guidelines of professional courtesy and civility for lawyers (big surprise). What ever happened to common sense? Is it so difficult to treat people with respect and dignity? Aren't these the basic values that everyone should know?

And there is language contamination. So many people I meet think that it is appropriate to use the "f-word" as an adjectival expression for any deeply felt emotion. This word is not solely the province of sailors any longer. Middle class housewives, children, and businessmen all partake. The "f" contagion is ubiquitous. Sometimes I think that without this word, expression wouldn't be possible. In part, the use of this word reflects an impoverishment of our language skills, a desire to be like the "common man," and just laziness. 

These illustrations are merely a few ways civility is in desuetude. Clearly societies do not rise or fall on the basis of civility. But life is simply more pleasant when conversation is civil and people are courteous to one another. I want to live in a society that strives to be the best it can. And more importantly, I want to be the best person that I can be. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


A new catch phrase going around Washington these days seems to be "job-killing." This past week, there have been calls by Congressional Republicans to repeal the "job-killing" health care law past last year. 

I'm not sure how this law will kill jobs; since, if anything, it will create jobs as more people have access to health care. But this is a minor technicality. There is something more insidious going on. Over the years, there has been a trend by politicians to misrepresent facts, twist events, and now, blatantly lie. I know politics is a dirty business, but have we reached the point where it's okay to state an outright lie? Some of the changes in the new health care law will be good and some will be bad. But is this new law "job-killing"?  

It's true that lawmakers rely on rhetorical tricks to give their legislation an edge, and Democrats aren't immune. Last year, the Democrats tried to pass the DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act, a piece of legislation aimed at providing illegal aliens with free education and a path toward citizenship. (It seems the Democrats are not averse to sucking up to their political base as well.) And of course, there is the PATRIOT Act, a law that should have been named the "Give Up Your Constitutional Rights" Act. But that's another story.

I digress. Back to "job-killing." Calling something a "job killing" so and so apparently has some resonance. No doubt, the Republicans have done extensive marketing research and discovered that Americans are against "job-killing." Who isn't?  But to label something as "job killing" without a shred of truth does a great disservice to the American people. Do the Republicans truly believe that if you say something long enough, it will make it true?

Like many people, I was not happy with the final version of the health care law. For one thing, it did nothing to contain health care costs. In fact, the health care law eliminated the possibility of cost containment by removing the public option. The public option would have guaranteed competition by providing an alternative to the private insurance plans. By mandating that people purchase insurance from private insurance companies, while not capping premium rates, simply opens the door for abuse and high prices. Unfortunately, the public option was removed. The Republicans called the public option Socialism. I called it Free Market Capitalism. Which label do you like?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Welcome to 2011

There are a few new things for 2011: a new design for the Blog and easier access. You can now access One Foot in Berlin by simply typing: You no longer need to type blogspot in the address.

New Year's Day was unseasonably warm. It was in the upper 40s. I was even able to walk on the beach. It was a rare opportunity to breathe fresh air after being couped up in the house for the past week. Unfortunately, the weather forecast is for more seasonable weather in the next few days. Oh well, it is winter.