Wednesday, February 28, 2007

I think I got the shaft

Yes, I was looking for a bargain. It happened in K-Mart in Bossier City. When I shop for the basics, I kind of stockpile. I buy two cans of shaving cream, or a big bottle of shampoo. You get it.

When it comes to toothpaste I only get one tartar-protecting tube at a time -- just a big one. So I thought I was really getting a deal when for $2 I could get an 8.2-ounce container of regular flavor Crest fluoride anticavity toothpaste plus a free slightly smaller tube of Cinnamon Ice paste with Scope. And they were wrapped together in plastic, of course.

I get home, and I obviously go for the fancy cinnamon-flavored one first. I open that box, and out slides a MUCH smaller one. I think it was .85 ounce. Like travel size. (However, if you go on a plane, always go by TSA guidelines if you do not want to be delayed.)

I was disappointed to say the least. That's barely enough for me to decide if I even like the flavor.

But at lest I can add that to the other three mini-tubes in my travel toiletry stock.

Enough TYRA!!!

During one of the rare moments I get to watch television, I had the pleasure to catch Tyra Banks' talk show. And her show was about being fat and celebrating Black History Month. Now, I know that some folks are absolutely sick of hearing about February but I had to share this.

Her show centered around it being 10 years since she appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated and she was the first black woman to do so (that was her BHM contribution). She decided to put on the same bikini swimsuit she wore on the sports mag's cover. Ten years ago, Tyra was weighed 123 lbs, now she's around 161 lbs (which is about my weight, gasp!)

I guess some folks had said Tyra had gotten a little chubby, so she wanted to prove them wrong. She's been on the covers of zines quoted as saying, "You call this fat?"

So on her show she puts on the same swimsuit she wore 10 years ago and took some pics. In order to do this though, material had to be added to cover the areas that had grown.

Click here to see Tyra ten years ago. And here to see her now.

I think its great that Tyra can be a role model for regular-sized folks like myself. I think its cool that she often tries to encourage young girls to love themselves. But to flaunt around in a bikini and commemorating yourself in the name of BHM is a stretch to me, regardless of the message.

I think I've had enough. Am I alone?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Is this how super-skinny models make women feel?

We always hear about how the TV and magazine industries make women and girls feel inadequately beautiful… Or then there’s all those times women are objectified by men.

I ask because I got a pretty serious haircut. It had been six months since the last time the clippers had touched it. That, my mom says, is the longest I’ve ever gone without one since I was a baby. So I guess I look a little different. My hair had gotten pretty curly, and it’s looking a bit straighter today.

Some of the commentary I received:
  • “You look like such a school boy.”
  • “So you got your ears raised?” (typical)
  • “Flabbergasted stare followed by immense laughter (Ashley)
  • “You just look so different.”
  • “Who is that?”
  • “I almost didn’t recognize you.”

    The comments didn’t make me feel victimized. It more or less got me to thinking about what other people were thinking. I guess I just wasn’t expecting that many people to pay that much attention. And I didn’t pore over GQ trying to find the right hair cut. I don’t think I’m that complicated.

    Well, I hope my youthful cut didn’t ruin anyone’s day. At least this is a newsroom, so something else will surely come along to distract anyone who is disturbed. Or laughing.

    My 90-year-old grandmother—who had been pretty adamantly against my “long” hair—is, of course, never satisfied. She had just told me two weeks ago that she wouldn’t allow any men “with ponytails” in her house. (It was definitely not long enough for a ponytail.)

    Her reaction: Well, you didn’t have to cut it all off. Thanks, Granny.

    Before the cut. That's my little cousin who apparently did not want to take a picture.

    And after. Today in the newsroom. With an American flag growing out of my head.
  • One day left...

    Well, folks...Black History Month is almost at its end.

    For some people that's like music to their ears. And for others, ending the month dedicated to all things for blacks is sad.

    For me, it's bitter sweet.

    But just when I thought I couldn't get another email from a reader either condemning or praising The Times' coverage of the month and its activities I got a special treat. David Cole emailed me to say he enjoyed reading an article I wrote about school integration and he sent me a poem he wrote last February.

    It was inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and its called "African American Dream." He said I could share it with others so here it is:

    African American Dream

    Like Martin Luther King, I too have a Dream/ It is a dream often envisioned but rarely ever Seen/ To have Black men and Black women unite as a Team/ Instead of bickering over nonsense blowing off Steam/ I believe as a team we can achieve many Things/ Such as economic enrichment and social Esteem/ Rather abject poverty and record breaking Unemployment/ We need educational enhancement and life Enjoyment/ Rather gangs, guns, and youth wondering About/ We need tough leaders that will stand up and Shout/ Rather than teenage pregnancy and youthful drug Abuse/ We need after school programs and youth mentors Too/ Rather than listening to music by Kanye West/ We need to read books by Cornell West/ Rather than listening to music by Paul Wall/ We need to read about the Apostle Paul/ Rather than listening to music by Young Jeezy/ We need to read about the Young Jesus/

    Like Martin Luther King, I too have a Dream/ It is a dream easily accomplished if we design a Scheme/ To use our resources wisely rather than buying designer Jeans/ Instead of having to rely on the finer Things/ I think we as a people can lift up our on Self-Esteem/ Don't tear down your brother, lift up your Brother/ Don't tear down your sister, lift up your Sister/ Don't run to the mayors office to complain about the Unjust laws/ Run for the mayor's office, legislate, and change the Unjust laws/ Don't take for granted the sacrifice...the Sacrifice/ That Martin, Malcolm, Rosa, Emmitt, Cheney, Goodman, and Swerner had to Pay/ So that we could be viewed as humans on this Earth, on this Planet, in this Day/ This is my African American Dream, let us all strive to make it a Reality/

    Hope you guys enjoyed it...

    Saturday, February 24, 2007

    A disaster changes everything

    Looking at the tornado-damaged homes today in the Carriage Oaks subdivision, I couldn't help but think about Hurricane Katrina. Granted, Bossier City did not record a single death or even a serious injury, and the houses were not nearly as wrecked as those in New Orleans. I've seen both up close. But seeing how vulnerable we are to Mother Nature always shapes our perspective.
    It's amazing how some homes had whole sections of their roof destroyed, while there were just a few tree limbs on the ground in other yards. Neighbors were helping one another. People were more than willing to tell their stories. Some businesses also lost roofs, or like Gemco Portable Buildings, a lot of their merchandise.
    Prisoners walked through streets and yards cleaning suburban-feeling Carriage Oaks. You don't see that every day.

    And then there were the emergency responders. Authorities set up a command center at Carriage Oaks church of Christ. It's always interesting to me when state-sponsored entities get involved with religious ones. But today it seemed to be a smooth transition. Raymond Watson, the man pictured above, is a deacon at the church. He said their auditorium received water damage but that the congregation was more than willing to let police and firefighters use their facilities for shelter when the wind and rain picked up.

    They were cleaning up the building for lectureship -- like a revival meeting -- to be held next weekend. The tornado changed things.

    Times like these force us to act quickly and question our priorities. I hate that it takes a violent wake up to make us do this, but I hope we remember what it feels like.

    Jim Flarity, owner of Gemco Portable Buildings, walks through wreckage at his store location on East Texas Street in Bossier City. The building behind him was turned upside down by strong winds on Saturday. (Adam Kealoha Causey/The Times)

    Friday, February 23, 2007

    Sorry Wendy's fans

    Your No. 1 is closing. The AP reports the first of now 6,600 Wendy's restaurants will locking it's doors next month.

    I know some of my cohorts will be really disappointed. (Like Janelle, who called me the other day to see if I could stop at a Bossier City Wendy's and get her a spicy chicken sandwich.) Fortunately the location that's closing is in Columbus, Ohio.

    Wednesday, February 21, 2007

    Cooking like Mom -- or trying to

    For anyone who has ever struggled to make biscuits or gumbo or meatballs like Mom, you have to read this story from the New York Times. For me, it's the meatballs. How do you get them with the right flavor and crispy on the outside while still soft on the inside but not so soft that they fall apart? I don't know.

    In the Times piece, the author tracks down her family in Italy to figure out why she can't get her mother's spaghetti sauce right. And she comes back with what I've always feared - she never will get it exactly right.

    Where is her mother?

    Yes, I'm talking about Britney Spears. I don't want to, but I can't help it.
    After a week that has included two less-than-daylong stints in rehab (yes, two, read about the latest one here), a shaved head and a couple of tattoos, Britney's mother is no where in sight.
    I'll admit, I don't know the inner workings of their relationship and maybe she's in this messy mix, desperately trying to save her daughter, but I haven't seen her and all signs point to her not being there.
    Maybe I'm overstepping my bounds, telling a grown woman how to raise her adult child. But I know if I had two young children, was divorcing a deadbeat husband and started partying all the time with some questionable characters, as soon as my mother got wind of it, she would be on my doorstep. Supposedly Britney's mother is who encouraged her to go into rehab to begin with, which I commend, but it seems like the girl needs more than the help of a bunch of strangers.
    Yes, Britney's an adult and free to live her life as she chooses. But even adults need their moms sometimes and this seems like one of those times.

    On another, completely unrelated note, this is the funniest story I've read in the last seven days. This is proof that those of us living in apartments need to be aware of what other people hear coming from our homes.

    Roll down those car windows

    Or put that top back. Better yet, just walk to your next destination if you can.

    My hair is probably looking crazy since I was letting the wind blow right in on the way to work. But it is worth it because the weather is gorgeous out there today.

    Prepare for spring fever to set in.

    (By the way, the lady pictured above is not me and she is not riding in my convertible, because I don't have one. It is a Times file photo taken in 1995 of Marty Jones in her 1965 Ford Mustang.)

    Tuesday, February 20, 2007

    My addiction...

    Folks, I don't know what's come over me.

    But I've found myself addicted to one of Louisiana's delicacies: KING CAKE!

    I can't help myself. People in the office bring them in all the time and I have to try every flavor. I've had strawberry and creme cheese, amaretto walnut (my favorite so far), and many others.

    I love them. I'm tempted to buy them everyday but I manage to fight off the temptation. But, I just finished eating a piece. Maybe there won't be so many around anymore since its Fat Tuesday.

    I certainly hope so...if this keeps up I'll be big as a house.

    Or, maybe I'll just buy about two of them before they leave the shelves...

    Yay. Mardi Gras!!!!!!!!!

    Monday, February 19, 2007

    More YouTube stuff

    Here's an article about how more folks than just the YouTube founders should be cashing in on the recent $1.65 billion sale. We're talking millions again. Wow.

    Catching beads and sucking crawfish

    I had a blast at the Krewe of Centaur parade last Saturday. Well…I had as much fun as one possibly can while working.

    My job was to report all parade happenings from Shreve City. I thought it would be easy since I live there but Saturday’s Shreve City was a different experience for me. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many inebriated people in one place here before.

    And people, for some reason, really wanted to talk to me. As we all waited for the parade to get to Shreve City (it took two hours), people yelled things to me like, “What station are you from?”; “Can you put me on the front page?”; “Interview me!”; “Take my picture!”. It was all very hilarious.

    Since this was my first Shreveport Mardi Gras parade (I caught the end of the one in New Orleans in 2005—that’s a different kind of parade), I tried to do all the things the natives did. I tried to yell and scream when the floats came but my voice grew tired. I tried to jump to catch beads, but I failed miserably. Every time a float passed with beads, shirts, cups, and other goodies flying overboard I stuck my arm up to catch whatever was coming my way but I always ducked when the came near me. One parade-goer told me that if I wanted to leave Shreve City with lots of beads I had to be fearful. I failed at that too.

    At one point, a strand of purple beads slapped me across the face. I screamed because I saw them coming for me and I couldn’t duck in time. And as the beads slapped my face a man was removing them from my person. I screamed when he touched me and then he said, “Since they hit you I guess you can keep them.”

    Darn right. I earned those beads. But why he was trying to take them from my face is another issue…

    What was even more funny (at least funny to Louisiana natives) was the fact that I had never eaten crawfish. That was, until I met Allen Rhodes. He was absolutely determined to be the one to expose me to the critters. And he did.

    Luckily, fellow blogger Adam Causey was on hand to video my experience. Click on the link below to watch it. Don’t laugh though, I look really crazy.

    Saturday, February 17, 2007

    It wasn't even during a parade...

    ... so there was no real excuse in the past two days for the terrible drivers around here who were not only trying to stress me out, but quite possibly were endangering lives.

    The first was in Bossier at the Old Minden/Benton Road T. It was about 1:15 p.m. Friday, and the Port City's good neighbor to the east was in gridlock! Seriously, people, if you can't get through an intersection while the light is still green, you don't have a good chance of making it once it's red. Trust me, Posado's and everything in Heart O' Bossier can wait.

    Next was just 10 minutes later in downtown Shreveport. As the sedan driver in front of me and I were both yielding to a pedestrian crossing Market Street, some jerk behind us starts honking. I presume he wanted us to let him come tearing off Texas Street so he could show us and the poor walker who's boss. It's not like we were going to be losing a whole minute by letting a throng of people cross pass. Then he revs the engine to his SUV because that really demonstrates how much tougher he is than the armorless human he tried to outpace.

    And worst of all? My car almost got hit by a fire truck today out in Haughton. Don't ask me what the driver was thinking. We were facing opposite directions at a red light. When it turned green, I was going straight and apparently he was turning. Rather than yielding -- because he didn't have lights or sirens on, so there was no apparent emergency -- he turned right in front of me, nearly clipping my front end.

    Please, drivers, get it together. You have to pass a test to get a license. Let's all drive like we aced that thing, OK?

    Thursday, February 15, 2007

    And on another sweaty note...

    This year's Bonnaroo lineup has been announced. Besides being a fun, sweaty, showerless, sleep-in-a-tent hippie fest, I'm thinking this might be the cheapest way to catch The Police on their reunion tour.

    Not to make it seem like I only care about the really big-name band. But I don't think anybody on the list performs for free. I mean, this is America.

    Anyhow, Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals, Wilco, Gillian Welch, and Damien Rice are among other performers I'd like to see. Plus you'll have those festival-friendly jam bands Widespread Panic and The String Cheese Incident (had a great time watching folks skip in circles to these guys’ songs in New Orleans one time).

    I'm planning to make the trip to Manchester, Tenn., with my buddy Gustavo, pictured in his tent at the '06 Bonnaroo, (thanks for the pic, G, although I can't tell whether you're sweating or not) and a few more of our pals. That would make for some fun blogs, I'll bet.

    Hey, Ashley. You’re from Tennessee. Did you ever go?

    Wednesday, February 14, 2007

    Nothing like a little man sweat to make it Valentine's Day

    You've got to check out this article. It proves the obvious, right? Women love a good, sweaty man. This is the perfect Valentine's Day blog!

    I always knew it. So many say only women strutting it on the dance floor are appealing because they glisten. But this means that when I'm out there jogging in mid-August drenched in my own biological coolant, I'm really sexy, not gross.

    And now researches at Cal-Berkeley have proven it. By the way, could there have been a better school to figure this out? Berkeley was wear the late "Naked Guy" went to school and was kicked out in the early '90s. Sadly, he was found dead in jail in an apparent suicide last year. You'll have to search for photos of him and his sweat on
    your own.

    OK, ladies. Chime in. How do you feel about all this manly perspiration?

    (Photos courtesy of The Times archive. LEFT: Some guy has a lot of back sweat. RIGHT: Ben Jones [left], Rusty Sharp, and Mark Walker, all of Ruston, race through Stoner Woods in Shreveport during the second "Mud, Sweat and Beers" race.)

    Tuesday, February 13, 2007

    Valentine's Day for us number crunchers

    As some of us are scrambling to get together the final touches for Valentines Day, and some plan their own festivities for “Singles Awareness Day,” I came across some interesting facts about the day designated to celebrate love.

    The U.S. Census Bureau has a fact sheet full of useful (or useless, depending on how you feel) information about Feb. 14 and love.

    Most purchased cut flowers in 2005?
    Lillies - $76.9 million
    Tulips - $39.1 million
    Roses - $39 million

    In February 2006 the 28,772 jewelry stores in the United States sold $2.6 billion worth of merchandise.

    25.3 and 27.1: The estimated U.S. median marrying ages of women and men, respectively, in 2005.

    2.2 million: The number of marriages that take place in the U.S. annually. That breaks down to more than 6,000 a day.

    119: Number of single men who are in their 20s for every 100 single women of the same ages.

    904: The number of dating services nationwide as of 2002 that pulled in $489 million in revenues.

    Monday, February 12, 2007

    The latest on everyone's favorite video site

    In case you didn't hear, YouTube creators Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim have recently cashed in on their freakishly popular site -- to the tune of about $650 million in Google stock. Sure, they had to divide it among themselves. But I think I'd be OK with that.

    Read more, and think about it the next time you watch that funny Super Bowl commercial or Lonelygirl15 clip. What if you came up with something like YouTube?

    Saturday, February 10, 2007

    Miracle or scam?

    In one of those rare, precious moments of spare time, I was - as Wendy Williams calls it - "luxuriating" at my apartment last week, thoroughly enjoying my latest digital channel discovery: VH1 Soul. (I LOVE this station! It’s like nostalgic R&B-meets-neosoul/underground R&B/Soul. Thank you Comcast!)

    Anyway, so this commercial comes on that really catches my attention. It shows a series of young black men and women who appear to be around my age, all varying in shades of black from deep mocha to chocolate to café au lait.
    And in each shot, each of them proudly states their hometowns: “I’m from the Bronx.” “I’m from Atlanta.” “I’m from D.C.,” etc.
    Then, they show each of them put a cotton swab in their mouths, and again they state their hometown, but there’s more. For example, one girl takes the cotton swab out of her mouth and says something like this: “I’m from the Bronx, but my people are originally from Nigeria.” And each person goes on like this, stating different African continents.
    Then, the voiceover says if you want to trace your roots, visit the VH1 Soul web site.
    I’m shocked because it appears the people on this commercial are able to do what, up until this point, not many of us black folks have ever had the resources to do: Trace our roots back to Africa.

    While many other families can trace their family history all the way back to England, France or whatever other continent, because of the nature of our “arrival” here, many of us black Americans don’t have that option.
    Thanks to Alex Haley’s “Roots,” my parents’ generation and perhaps generations before them at least had a chance to get a glimpse or idea of what our roots may look like.

    So, you mean to tell me in 2007, there’s a Web site that can solve this mystery as easily as, say, finding a daiquiri shop on Bourbon Street?

    Well I went to the VH1 Soul site and it provides a link to this site which is supposed to provide this incredible information. Sure enough, they do promise to help you to find your roots, but, of course it’s gonna cost you. Like somewhere between $250 to $500, depending on what package you choose. And those are just the Black History Month specials.
    I shared this with an older relative and before I could even get it out good, his first words were: “It’s a scam!”
    But what do y’all think? Is it really possible that one DNA test can unlock the mysteries of centuries-old bloodlines all the way back to the Motherland? Or is this yet another attempt to exploit black folks?
    I mean, if you think about it, they could tell you anything if you don’t know the answer anyway. Right? Or maybe I’m being too skeptical?

    Thursday, February 08, 2007

    Sometimes shock and sadness travel together

    Some soap operas never end, but today a real-life drama closed on a tragic note.
    If you don't know by now, former Playmate and tabloid staple Anna Nicole Smith died today. According to reports, she simply collapsed and was gone. She was only 39.
    By anyone's standards, her life was a roller coaster ride.
    She went from being a topless dancer in a Texas club to Playmate of the Year. A short time later, she married an elderly billionaire who died and left her a huge portion of his fortune -- the same fortune she essentially spent the rest of her life fighting for. Her husband's death sent her into a public downward spiral which transformed her from a sex symbol to a running fat joke; but she somehow parlayed that into a popular reality show. She finally lost the weight thanks to a diet drug. Yesterday, she and the company that makes the drug were named in a class-action suit. About five months ago, she gave birth to a baby girl only to have her 20-year-old son die days later. And now her daughter's paternity is being questioned.
    Anna Nicole was a nearly endless source of entertainment for us celebrity watchers, but beneath it all, she was a real person. No matter how crazy and unbelievable her life was, her death is probably the most shocking thing she's done.
    What do you think? Are you surprised or did you see this coming?

    Sensitivity up, sense of humor down

    Okay, it’s been about four days since the Indianapolis Colts walked off of the football field in Miami with their Super Bowl win…but the game is still being talked about.

    No, people aren’t talking about offensive or defensive strategies, or even the fact that history was made with Tony Dungy being the first black coach to lead his team to a Super Bowl win.
    All people are talking about is the drama.

    I don’t know which controversy is more ridiculous…

    In the ‘Faces in the News’ section in yesterday’s Times, there was a brief from the AP about some talk concerning Prince’s half-time performance.
    Problems for some viewers arose during the legend’s “Purple Rain” segment when he played his guitar behind a sheet, creating a silhouette. Some thought behind the sheet, the guitar looked like an extension of his…ahem…manhood.

    “A number of bloggers have decried ‘Malfunction!’ – including Sam Anderson at New York magazine’s Daily Intelligencer. Daily News television critic David Bianculli called it ‘a rude-looking shadow show’ that ‘looked embarrassingly rude, crude and unfortunately placed.’”

    Come on people, he’s Prince…how does he shock or surprise you anymore? And compared to some other performances he’s done, I’m sure many considered it pretty tame.

    Then there’s the stuff about the commercials.

    A story in USA TODAY talks about the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and a letter sent to General Motors criticizing their ad about an assembly-line robot dreaming about jumping off a bridge after dropping a bolt. Really people? I mean, suggesting that that commercial could harm humans is a long shot. Kind of makes me think folks over at the foundation don’t have much to do…

    Then, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation is upset over the Snicker’s commercial where the two guys chewed on opposite ends of a candy bar until they kiss, then proceed to do “manly” things, I guess to ward off any feelings of homosexuality.

    GLAAD promptly issued a statement, calling the commercial 'anti-gay.'
    I'm sure I haven't covered all of the commercials that didn't sit right with some, but you get the idea.
    My question is, don’t some people watch the big game just to see the ridiculousness of the commercials?

    The last time I checked it was 2007, not 1907.
    Where’s everyone’s sense of humor?

    Wednesday, February 07, 2007

    Music, food, and an HIV-test

    Today, in honor of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness & Information Day, I got tested.

    Blacks only count for about 13 percent of the total population, but in 2005 blacks accounted for nearly half of the new HIV and AIDS cases in the nation--more than any other ethnic group. About 15,000 people in Louisiana are infected with the disease and 10,036 are black. That's 67 percent of the total AIDS population in the state.

    The Brotherhood Task Force of Northwest Louisiana offered free testing at their site on Hope Street. I decided to go so I could blog about my experience, but I didn't know I'd be so frightened to take a simple test.

    My fellow blogger Janelle and my co-worker Vanessa went with me for moral support. They too, decided to get tested. Vanessa seemed to be at ease about taking the stigmatized test but Janelle and I were terrified.

    We assumed we didn't have HIV or AIDS, but the reality is that you can never be sure until you're tested.

    I'm careful. I use protection. I'm very, very selective. But it isn't always about what you're doing, sometimes its about what other people are doing and what those people are doing too. The bottom line is this: you never know until you KNOW.

    When we got to 838 Hope Street for our test (the group plans to conduct free testing every Wednesday from Noon to Midnight until 2008) we were nervous and ready to get the results. There was music playing in the background and Cedric Murphy, co-founder of the task force, was playful and very helpful.

    I was the first to be tested. Vanessa was next and then Janelle.
    We had to swab a stick over our gums and wait 20 minutes to get results. If one, pink line showed up on the test, we were negative for HIV.
    Here's my test below. Vanessa took the picture just after I'd swabbed my mouth with the stick.

    My anxiety went away after we took the test. While we waited, Murphy and others talked to us. We sang the songs we knew when they were played and he even offered us chili dogs and gave us the choice between lemonade and sweet tea. We even got cake for desert.

    I looked around the room. There were several posters about HIV Awareness and condoms. A bowl of condoms was on a counter for the taking. We all got some. There's the picture of the bowl to the right.

    Murphy even showed us a few tricks while we waited. He showed us how to insert a female condom and how to "cheek a condom." Cheeking a condom involved placing an unused condom in your cheek and inserting while performing oral sex. It's a trick because the male won't know you've put on a condom and it protects from spreading disease.

    We talked to another lady who was tested. We even talked to other members of the media who showed up to report the goings on at the site.

    Just when we seemed to be having fun, Victor Jackson, co-founder of the task force, called me back to see my results. I was relieved when I saw the pink line. Vanessa and Janelle had pink lines too.


    Great music, good food, and a negative HIV test.

    You can't beat that with a stick.

    Daytime drama comes to life

    Man, I might skip DVR’ing “Young and the Restless” this week and just tune in to CNN or MSNBC or something. I mean have y’all been following this?
    I’m sure women everywhere are shaking their heads on this one. Heck, I know I am. I mean here we have an otherwise smart woman who seemed on TOP of her game.

    I mean, Lisa Nowak had it all – A successful career. (The woman was a freaking astronaut! It doesn't get any cooler than that.) A devoted husband. (We’re talking 19 years, y’all! They don’t hardly make marriages that last that long anymore.) Not to mention three kids. (5-year-old twin girls and a teenage son. Imagine what kinda teasing he’s facing at school these days.)

    But somehow, based on the allegations, it seems like Nowak lost her mind and now she could lose everything else. And for what? A MAN! An ol’ knuckle-headed man who wasn’t even thinking about her. (OK, I don’t know the man, so maybe he isn’t a knucklehead, but still. Well, check him out…)
    Now ladies, just in a general sense, I know y’all can relate to the whole scorned lover thing. I mean, we’ve all had that girlfriend who was ready to provide, at the very least, a tongue-lashing, at most, a tire-slashing or “butt-whupping” on a cheating boyfriend/husband and/or his mistress. (Wait, let’s keep it ALL THE WAY real: I know each of us have actually BEEN that enraged girlfriend or wife at some time or other.)

    So while I didn’t condone Nowak’s plans of violence, I understood her rage and empathized. That is, until I read that this was a MARRIED woman! And that the object of her twisted affection, the impetus behind this whole bizarre plot was NOT her husband, but basically a co-worker she kicked it with and may have had an affair with.
    That’s when I really shook my head and let out a big “Umph, umph, umph.”

    While I know right now everything is still in the “alleged” phase, I have to admit if this was truly her intention, homegirl was focused! I mean, she thought of everything - all the way down to the astronaut diapers!
    But was it worth it y’all?

    That’s what we always have to ask ourselves during those moments of intense rage and anger. You know, during those times when you find out just how trifling the opposite sex can be when it comes to your heart and you’re so blinded by just or unjust rage that you can’t see straight.
    Call up a girlfriend, or even better, have a little talk with Jesus and ask yourself: “Is he really worth allllll that? Is he worth me shaming and possibly losing my family? Is he worth me risking my freedom? Is he worth my ultimate downfall?”

    I mean do you really want to go from this:

    To this:
    That should be a no-brainer. Can I get an amen?
    photo 1: provided by AP
    photo 2: provided by Reuters
    photo 3: provided by AFP/NASA/File)
    photo 4: provided by AFP/Orange County Jail/File

    Tuesday, February 06, 2007

    It's not really about sex

    On Friday, the governor of Texas announced he would require the relatively new HPV vaccine for all girls entering the sixth grade. The move has some people up in arms, saying it encourages girls to have premarital sex or that Gov. Rick Perry made the decision because of his connections to Merck, the makers of the Guardasil vaccine.
    Yes, Merck has a lot to gain by pushing governors and state legislators to require the vaccination. At $360 for a course of three injections, the company stands to make billions of dollars. The company’s motives certainly aren't selfless, but really, $360 is a lot less expensive than months of cancer treatments and the loss of affected women’s fertility.
    As far as the issue of premarital sex, I knew this was going to be a problem when I first heard about the vaccine months ago. The decision to vaccinate one's daughter can bring up some unsettling thoughts.
    First, the vaccine's maker calls for girls to be vaccinated between the ages of 9 and 26, and really, earlier is considered better. Apparently, sixth-grade was picked as the hallmark in Texas because most girls aren't sexually active before that age.
    If I were a parent of an 11-year-old, the last thing I would want to think about would be here future sexual activity. I would be concerned about how to explain this round of vaccinations to her and how much I should really tell her. Of course, by the time she’s 11, I hope we would have already had a serious conversation about the birds and the bees. This might be a good time to add some new information.
    Second is the issue of premarital sex. For some, the ideal situation would be that no young person have sex before they married. But that situation rarely exists. For better or worse, people always have had and probably always will have premarital sex.
    Even if my theoretical daughter waits until marriage, what's to say her husband has? Why not give people the best protection possible? This isn't an issue of moral standards or proper behavior -- it's life or death.
    What do you think? Is Perry overstepping his bounds or is he right on? Go ahead and comment and let us know. And if you're feeling really fired up, let us know here.

    What's with small dogs?

    (This is Lilly. Notice her spiked collar.)
    A few weeks back, I was actually about 10 minutes late to work (but I stayed 10 minutes late, of course) because of a very small problem. Or problems. Three to be exact.

    It was my grandmother's little dogs. They are each less than a foot tall, but they think they run things on their block out in Doyline. Two are chihuahuas (actually, one of those is mine -- she gets to go visit sometimes) and the other is a chihuahua-schnauzer mix.

    On my tardy day, they were actually chasing an almost-grown German shepherd mix out of Granny's yard and into the nearby schoolyard. I think the other dog just wanted to play, but these girls -- yes we call them the girls -- don't mess around. They wouldn't get 10 feet back into their one yard before they would run back across the street and chase the other poor dog nearly into the shop building. (What? You didn't have wood-working and mechanics class at your school?)

    So the shop teacher came outside to see what the fuss was about, and so did Granny. She didn't want me to leave until those dogs stopped terrorizing the neighborhood and interrupting school. It took about 20 minutes for me to snatch up all the little dogs and lock them on the back porch.

    Seriously, if these were bigger dogs, they would be dangerous. They are so protective of their territory. Pit bulls, rottweilers and others have bad reputations, but if these little yippers had half their size, they would really be known menaces.

    They're viscioius, but they're still pretty cute.

    (Again, the elusive Lilly. This makes me look like a really bad photographer, but she could tell everytime the camera was about to click and she'd jump out of the way. I barely caught her here.)

    Monday, February 05, 2007

    A Super Moment

    On the gridiron, of all places, we made a little black history during Black History Month. Appropriate, huh?

    Tony Dungy, as gentle and thoughtful a soul as there is in football, led the Indianapolis Colts to the Super Bowl title Sunday, making him the first black head coach to claim an NFL championship.

    His team managed to defeat the Chicago Bears, who are led by head coach Lovie Smith. Lovie, a native East Texan, was the first of the two first black head coaches to make it to a Super Bowl sideline (Dungy came through a little later on that day two weeks ago).

    They are friends, proteges and excellent role models for those kids who may have thought their only place on a football field came between the sidelines and wearing helmets. They are unabashedly Christian, uniquely even-tempered for coaches and brilliant tacticians, something they aren't given enough credit for.

    Of course, some people will say last night didn't matter. That it was an insignificant milestone. That if it's not about medicine, law or some other professional field, then we aren't really making progress toward racial equality.

    And, to some extent, those people might be right. But I will take my milestones wherever I can find them, and if you can't find it within yourself to root for Tony and Lovie, then maybe you can't appreciate history. Or maybe you have a problem with progress.

    Either way, you will have to move out of the way. We're moving forward, all of us, black, white and all shades in between, in small and large steps, whether people like it or not. Especially on the football field and on the sideline

    MLK Day the same as Black History Month or not?

    Do ya'll think that Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is the same thing as celebrating Black History Month?

    I find it interesting that lots of the events we put in The Times about Black History Month focus on Martin Luther King (and his counterpart, Rosa Parks).

    It's almost like other black leaders didn't exist. But I know they do.

    I think it's important to highlight the accomplishments of Dr. King, which is why the nation celebrates his birthday in January. In February, the focus is to be on all leaders of Black History, even the ones in our own community. Some people try to lump them all together. But I think some people thing King Day is exactly the same as Black History Month.

    I had to coordinate efforts to cover MLK Day and Black History Month. When one of my colleagues handed me a note on a King Day observance, she wrote on a post-it that the papers she was giving me were for MLK Month.

    Last I checked, King didn't have a month.

    But maybe he does. Maybe February is King month. Schools and other people planning events sure seem to plan events around him...and that's a good thing.

    Still, I think some folks think King was the only leader of the time. I think some folks think Parks was the only woman who refused to give up her seat on the bus. I also think there were several folks who refused before Parks but because she was the secretary of the NAACP, she got more fame for it than others.

    While it is extremely important to celebrate King during Black History Month and on his birthday (and any other day on the calendar), I think its equally important to discuss and celebrate other leaders as well. We don't have to stick to the cookie-cutter leaders that other folks say are O.K. to laud. We can do more, right?

    Or maybe King and Parks were the only two that mattered. Maybe people like Angela Davis or Malcolm X don't matter. I don't know.

    Or maybe folks get confused about King's day and Black History Month because the two are only a month apart.

    What do ya'll think?

    Friday, February 02, 2007


    Ok, so as journalists I would think we have pretty interesting jobs. Relatively speaking, of course. I mean, being in a journalist in Shreveport doesn’t compare to being a journalist in New York City, or even Dallas for that matter.
    But on average, we’re always into something. Always learning something. Digging into something. Going somewhere. Meeting folks. Never a dull moment.

    So when they announced earlier this week that Friday was job shadow day and asked for volunteers, I gladly said “Sign me up!”
    But I didn’t remember until my job shadow student was sitting right next to me that today wasn’t going to be one of those kinda days. I mean Fridays are generally slow days in the world of journalism and media, especially in the business journalism world, which is my beat.
    Fridays are like the cool down part that follows a rigorous workout, which usually starts Tuesday (and sometimes Monday) and peaks out by Thursday. You basically spend Friday tying up loose ends, finishing up any lingering stories, maybe cranking a daily or two, depending on what’s happening and then getting prepared for stories you’ll be doing in the coming week.
    Fortunately, my job shadow student - a bright-eyed, sweet and intelligent 8th grader with a name that was amazingly similar to mine – was a good sport about the whole thing.

    In fact, we found out we had about as much in common as any two girls with more than a decade between them in age could have. She attends my old middle school (shout out to Caddo Middle Magnet!) and she’s hoping to begin high school at my alma mater, C.E. Byrd (Go Jackets!)
    But one of the things I always enjoy most about these kinds of experiences is seeing the enthusiasm in the student’s eyes as you’re showing them processes, routines and procedures that have become second nature to you.
    And I liked that she wasn’t afraid to ask questions or share her own opinions about certain issues. Even jotted down some of her own story ideas. Makes me feel good about the next generation of journalists out there.

    Thursday, February 01, 2007

    On another career related note

    How's this for grown up? I was a featured speaker this morning (really early for me) for career day at North DeSoto High School in Stonewall. I had a lot of fun telling freshmen through seniors what it's like to work late at night and occasionally see a dead body.

    And be asked why the Justin Timberlake concert at CenturyTel was canceled.

    This is apparently career week, because Times employees can bring job shadows to work tomorrow. I don't think they wanted me hauling kids to the scenes of shootings or to the Caddo Correctional Center. But have fun if you are teaching an up-and-comer how to do your job!

    Watch out -- they might be taking it for cheaper pay one day.