Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor…and Your Gorgeous

From the pages of The Economist comes a story of great pathos. It seems Anthony Weiner, a New York congressman wants to help a group that has fallen through the cracks of the system…foreign born fashion models.

Here is the key to this near tragedy as reported by The Economist.

It’s not often that fashion models are paired with IT workers, except in the lurid fantasies of computer geeks. But because of a decision made back in 1990 they must compete for the same over-subscribed H-1B, a temporary work visa for specialised occupations. Until 2004, when the government lowered the cap on the number of H-1Bs it issued, it didn’t matter so much. But now demand has far outstripped the limited number of visas available, and many foreign models are being denied the chance to sashay down America’s catwalks.”

OH MY G-D!  What are these poor waifs to do. If it is up to Tony they will get a special exemption. Is this a great country or what!


Fame Is Fast And Fleeting: My 13 Seconds

Andy Warhol spoke of 15 minutes of fame. I settled for 13 seconds on the 10 pm news last Sunday.

My wife and I were in downtown Chicago walking to dinner with friends. As we are about to cross the street we are approached by a guy with a microphone and his buddy with a large video camera. The microphone had the logo of NBC5, the local Chicago affiliate. Always willing to mug for a camera we stopped. The topic?  The about to be published New Yorker magazine with a “satirical” drawing of Barack and Michelle Obama.

The New Yorker called it satire. As reported in the Chicago Tribune, Obama “said Tuesday that the New Yorker magazine’s satirical cover depicting him and his wife as flag-burning, fist-bumping radicals doesn’t bother him but that it was an insult to Muslim Americans.”

Want to know what I thought?  Watch the video. I am the one who get the most talk time. And one of the best looking!

Fame. I know of at least 7 people who saw me on TV either Sunday night or Monday morning. It’s Wednesday now and I am all but forgotten…until my next big break. Time to expand my media empire.


Air Travails

There is always the self-inflicted travel pain such as leaving a notebook with my blog ideas and some work stuff on the plane coming home from Columbus. The rest is all courtesy of the Friendly Skies.

  • No one is at the gate to check-in or answer questions for a growing line of tired travelers for a flight in Denver. When a harried agent finally does get to the gate he makes the normal PA announcements but then goes on to apologise for the Company’s lack of staffing and the inconvenience that it caused their customers.
  • 30 minutes delay because one of the flight attendants hasn’t shown up.
  • 30 minute delay because the meals for the pilot, co-pilot and flight attendants have not been loaded. The pilot lets the frustrated passengers that it is in their contract that they get fed. This is a 2.5 hour flight on which none of the passengers in coach will be fed more than pretzels. He mistakenly thought we would care. After 20 minutes the passenger next to me was ready to offer his bag of chips. I had a power bar. We discussed taking up a collection from the rest of the passengers. I offer to run to Chili’s. The flight was scheduled to arrive at 11 pm before the delay. I arrived at my hotel after midnight.
  • A 2+ hour flight to the east coast was on a small, uncomfortable regional jet. The 40 minute flight to Ohio was on a 737. Go figure.

My current standard for business travel–if it did not fall out of the sky all is good. Hopefully i will not need to lower my standards.

Little Things

There are too many big things in my life right now. Let’s focus on some little ones.

  1. Man, Cell, Urinal. Walked into the bathroom at work to find a man at the urinal on his phone. This happened to be the same day California’s no cell phone and driving law went live. All I could think of when I saw him was “at least he is unlikely to have an accident”.
  2. Small Plane, Small Bathroom. While on the subject, I took a 2.5 hour flight on a small commuter jet. One bathroom for a fair number of people with no options for a fair length of time. It was tiny. Barely enough room to do your thing. No room to join the mile high club there. (Not that I would, honey, if you are reading this.)
  3. Kids Say the Darnedest Things. In line for airport security the reminder “take your ticket out of the sleeve” was repeated endlessly. A boy of three looked at his mom as his hands moved in and out of the sleeves of his sweatshirt and said, “Which sleeve?”.
  4. Walk a Cat. In the old section of downtown Santa Fe a woman was walking her cat on a leash. I could only smile as the cat did what cats do and wove in and out of a statue until the leash was tangled and the owner on her knees trying to get untangled without letting go of the cat.
  5. Fashion Statement. The dress code at work is casual so you rarely see people entering the building dressed up. The other day was a lovely woman in a dressy black dress about 30 paces in front of me. She had a conservative leather case…and leopard print shoes.
  6. Cleverness. I love a quickly delivered, clever quip. One shot my way at work the other night from a woman that prior to this I would have described as reserved. The specific quip would be lost in translation if i tried to tell it now. Trust me. It was good and delivered without hesitation. I might of thought of something equally clever but not until 10 minutes after the moment had passed.
  7. Airport Stupid. this refers to a very specific kind of stupidity that has to do with air travel. Three 20-something kids with backpacks show up at the airport counter 20 minutes before flight time and expect to get on the plane. I realize that those that travel infrequently may be unaware of all the rules placed on getting through airports in recent years. However unless they have been hermits in some faraway mountain lair they should know that they have to check-in, check their luggage and get through security. 20 minutes. No f’in way.
  8. All Thumbs. When did this phrase go from meaning physically awkward to texting agility? 
  9. Kid Travel. I was on a packed car rental shuttle bus with two adults traveling with two small children. I gave up my seat to the dad as his son began to whine at high volume.  We began to talk about traveling with kids these days. They packed two humongous car seats in addition to two strollers in addition to their regular luggage and had to move all this plus the kids through airports, on and off planes and to and from rental cars. Made me smile to think that mine is all grown up.

Oasis For the Soul

When things seem to be crashing and the stress and pressures become overwhelming it becomes critical to find some peace for at least a few moments to build back your reserve for more of the same. Typically, I resort to curling up in the fetal position in a dark room. The problem with the virtual womb is it feels drastic. Comatose is not as healing as distraction.

After a rough work week and a morning in the ER with a sick mom, I was crashing. I was lucky to have two oases to visit in the past 24 hours.

First, Friday night at  Fitzgerald’s  28th Great American Music Festival. I wrote about this last year. The Festival is 4 days of nonstop music. I knew I needed distraction after spending much of the day in the ER. What I did not know was whether even music, which I love, could get through the thick wall of numb misery that had built up.

We arrived around 6:30. It was a beautiful evening. At first I could hear but not feel the music.  Eventually, slowly at first, it began to seem through. Between the quality of the music and the quirkiness of a couple of the artists I did finally notice a little body swaying, toe tapping and even a faint smile. 

The second oasis was on my bike the next morning. I had difficulty explaining to my wife why I HAD to ride the next morning. This was not truly a choice to be made.  Since my plan had been to ride Friday and Sunday, riding on Saturday somewhat messed up our plans for the day.

In the state I was in I NEEDED the physical exertion and the solitude of a long ride.  I was in luck. It was the perfect riding day. Sunny, a touch cool, barely any wind and few people out on the bike paths. In order to inconvenience my family as little as possible the alarm went off at 6:30. I leaped out of bed–at 7– and was riding by 7:40.

I had my iPod with me and would normally choose to be accompanied by tunes. Not that morning. It was quiet out. Little but the sound of the breeze and shifting gears. Little car or people noise. Riding without music connect me more to the act of riding. In pseudo-zen terms I was one with the ride. 3 hours and 27 minutes, 52.5 miles later some more of the toxins of the past days had been expunged.

The reality hasn’t changed. Mom is still in the hospital and i have tons of work to do. But, visiting an oasis now and then helps me face my realities for another day.


Don’t ever be sick or old and don’t let anyone you care about get sick or old. Definitely do not do anything that requires health care beyond band-aids on a holiday weekend.

I just spend 6 hours in the ER with my mom.

Short background.  Though only 76, her liver has not been working as it should. This has led to multiple symptoms. She looks like a picture of a starving African child. Distended belly, frail, sticks for arms and legs. She can barely walk with the help of a walker, her legs do not want to move. She needs help getting out of bed or out of a chair. It has been like this for months now. Best as we understand from multiple docs is that this is the rest of her life and she can only be treated to make her more comfortable.

Why the ER today. One leg has been getting numb and her ability to walk has decreased further. Her doc is on vacation. There is no where else to go on a holiday weekend. She needs more than the doc-in-a -box clinics that have sprung up can provide. Plus, while she is weak of body, she is still strong of will. I wanted to take her last night but she refused over and over. I was not ready to carry her over my shoulder. Unfortunately, she was in pain through much of the night and that convinced her to finally call at 6 am to have me come get her. My step dad has taken over full time care duties but moving her and dealing with the docs and the hospital is no one person affair.

I was at her house by 6:30 but it was almost an hour before we were able to get out of the house. Anyone who has dealt with and aged infirm parent can identify.

Checked in and in a bed at the ER by 8:15. Then the waiting begins. It was not busy there when we arrived so I had hoped things would progress quickly. I was delusional. Eventually a nurse comes in and asks the same questions the nurse at admitting asked. Sometime within an hour and a half a doctor comes in. Though this hospital and my mom’s doc are all part of the same group, he has no info on her. Therefore, he starts by ordering basic blood work and an X-ray. The blood is eventually taken and the sign in the room promises results in one hour. The sign writer is as delusional as I am.

So you sit. And sit. and sit. You get the picture. Over the course of the next 6 hours promises about next steps are made by nurses but nothing happens. At the 5.5 hour mark the doc walks in, gives us two minutes in which he tells us she will be admitted over night, answers his cell and walks out. At least four times in this version of No Exit we are told they will try to reach her regular doctor who I know is out of town because I spoke with his partner last night who had no more knowledge of my mom’s file than the ER doc or you do.

They admit her, my sister comes for the second shift and I get to go home for the day physically and emotionally drained.

Being Black: Nature Or Nurture

Especially given the race of the democratic nominee for president and his mixed race parentage I found this article especially interesting. A man was raised by his white mother and step father in a white life in a white neighborhood.

In his adulthood he searches for his biological father. He finds him and discovers that the dad is African-American. He has this whole other family that is black. In the article titled Incognito, published in the Chicago Tribune, he explores a little bit of how he begins to think about who he is. Is he a white kid because that is how he was raised or a black man  because of who his father is?

If he never discovered this would the truth be different? Are you who you because of how you are raised or your genes? My unscientific poll of all the people in my home office writing this article think that it is a bit of both. Nature and Nurture.