Monday, March 30, 2009

Ooops...Sham Wow! guy busted..

ShamWow Guy In Slap, Chop Bust

TV pitchman battered hooker in South Beach hotel room brawl

MARCH 27--Meet Vince Shlomi. He's probably better known to you as the ShamWow Guy, the ubiquitous television pitchman who has been phenomenally successful peddling absorbent towels and food choppers. Shlomi, 44, was arrested last month on a felony battery charge following a violent confrontation with a prostitute in his South Beach hotel room. According to an arrest affidavit, Shlomi met Sasha Harris, 26, at a Miami Beach nightclub on February 7 and subsequently retired with her to his $750 room at the lavish Setai hotel. Shlomi told cops he paid Harris about $1000 in cash after she "propositioned him for straight sex." Shlomi said that when he kissed Harris, she suddenly "bit his tongue and would not let go." Shlomi then punched Harris several times until she released his tongue. The affidavit, a copy of which you'll find here, notes that during the 4 AM fight Harris sustained facial fractures and lacerations all over her face (she is pictured here in mug shots snapped following busts in 2008 and 2005). After freeing his tongue, a bleeding Shlomi ran to the Setai lobby, where security summoned cops. Harris refused to cooperate with officers, who recovered $930 from her purse. "Both parties had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage emitting from their persons," police reported. In a brief telephone interview, Harris declined to answer TSG questions about her run-in with Shlomi, though she did say she is considering a lawsuit against the pitchman. Asked if she worked as a hooker, Harris declined comment. As seen in the below mug shot, Shlomi was also injured during the fracas and, court records show, was treated at Mount Sinai Medical Center. While Shlomi and Harris were both arrested for felony aggravated battery, prosecutors this month declined to file formal charges against the combatants. Police records list Shlomi's occupation as "Marketing," but make no mention of his affiliation with the ShamWow or the Slap Chop, both of which sell for $19.95 (plus shipping and handling). (6 pages)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The old house in Miami...

I had a dream the other night that I was back in Miami at grams and gramps old house on 117th Ave and 177th Terrace. There was this great concrete structure built over it. To get to the house, I had to go down these steps almost going underground. I told the workmen that I needed to go into the closet in the bedroom because mom had made an inscription on the wall. And this is true---mom told us years ago that when we moved out of the house and up here to North Florida, she wrote on the wall in the closet in what was her and dad's bedroom, but originally had been her room when she was growing up. The room was pink and while it was mom's room, Nonna, her grandmother would use it.

I've often dreamed of that closet and that mom made an inscription in the wall high above the doorframe. At least that's where I think it was. I'd really like to go back and read the inscription. There were so mnay good memories in that house, maybe that's why I dream about it. In my dreams I've often walked around the house and the neighborhood, sometimes to the other side of the city, of course having a problem getting back LOL. I know that house like the back of my hand, and I've often met up with my family in my dreams there, especially gramps. It was nice.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Just hearing this makes me ill...

I'm just pissed over all the cuts in public education both at the secondary and post-secondary level. How in the hell are people supposed to get an education if there aren't enough resources like teachers and courses? WTF are we supposed to do?

When I hear that elementary, middle and high schools are cutting new teachers I think "how are they supposed to begin a teaching career if they're going to always be the first ones laid off?" Right now we are in a TEACHER shortage and we are laying them off. Why is there a shortage? Well because there isn't enough funding. Why isn't there enough funding?

Good question. Either school districs are mismanaging or the population of students and the expenses of running the schools is increasing. I believe in the majority of the cases the latter is the answer. What do we need to do? Raise taxes? Well I wouldn't mind paying MORE taxes to education but somehow I doubt that will do much good, the amount that would need to be raised is enormous.

What makes me angry is that we have billions for pork projects yet not enough for schools. Schools are cutting art, music, phys ed, sports, clubs and organizations, after-school programs, teachers, educational field trips, necessary equipment....the list goes on and on. These things IMO are necessary for a school to function properly. Kids need a well-rounded education that includes art and music. They need extracurricular activities to let out their steam, to maintain good health physically and mentally and to boost their intellect.

Most people I talk to who want to do more for education say they don't mind paying taxes but they're worry is that the money won't go to the schools, it will wind up used for something else. When there's so much ridiculous spending going on at the local, state and national levels, so much pork for so much shit, we're just left asking "WTF is going on here?"

Cutting funding for EDUCATION is a very bad idea if that funding is not being mismanaged. Cutting teachers and programs which are necessary is NOT the way to go.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Has it been this long already?

Whew, it's been 11 days since dad died and sometimes it doesn't feel real. I look at his picture and I close my eyes and remember every time in my life he was there for us, and I try to be strong. We all lost someone special. Kim, Dave and I lost our pa, mom lost her husband, grams lost her son-in-law who was really more a son to her, mamaw lost her baby boy, Annette, Judy and Martha lost their brother. No matter what, we all bear a great loss. And nothing we do can bring him back to us.

It's just weird that going over to the house and not seeing dad in his office at the computer or outside piddling, or sitting at the bar in the kitchen talking to mom while she cooks dinner. I remember I'd go over there, put my stuff on the counter, and stand across from him as he sat in his barstool and we'd chit chat.

I fondly remember living with my parents from 1994-2001, they were among the best years of my life. We had so much fun. We ate dinner together, talked all the time, watched movies, worked outside, we were always together. I really enjoyed those years, it gave me something I didn't have before and now when I need to feel close to mom and dad, I can close my eyes and remember those times. I remember going to bed on a Saturday night, kinda late, dad was already sleeping, but mom would stay up in the living room in her recliner and she'd watch "I Love Lucy" and I could hear her cackling. And I remember when I was in bed at night and she was listening to my "Our Miss Brooks" old time radio shows while on her computer, she'd be laughing. Back then she and pa shared an office, sometimes they'd be in there together but usually late at night pa would be sleeping, I'd be in bed and mom would stay up late.

When Kim and Dave would come over on a Saturday, we'd just hang out and do our thing. Usually we talked and we did a lot of laughing. That was always nice. I lived there of course but when Kim and Dave came over, mom and dad loved it, they had all their kids together. And we'd spend hours just BS'ing about anything and everything. Usually we spent some time sitting on the front porch chatting, playing with Buddy Bean, mom would be inside getting her sauce ready for the dinner which would take place in a few hours. She always had to start the sauce early. We liked chatting though, dad would always work in a funny story or two. I remember Dave sitting on the steps by the front door, me readin gthe newspaper, and Kim playing with Buddy. As you can see, even Buddy Bean got into the spirit of the fun.

We loved family dinners. There were only two things mom would make when the family got together, it was either fried chicken or pasta, usually it was pasta. As you can see here, we're all either talking or stuffing our face!

Dad liked sitting with Kim and just talking to her. They could talk about things the rest of us dared not talk about. I think that dad saw a lot of himself in her, she has his personality, his strength, his guts, and so they bonded pretty well. They'd sit out on the bench under the trees and just chit chat about this and that. I know pa never wanted her to go home but he knew she had to.

I especially liked when dad would ask me for my opinion on something. He liked talking to me because I always gave him the other point of view. And there were times he told me that my point of view helped him in making a decision. It made me feel important :)

Oh and he loved his workshop! I remember pulling my car into his workshop every weekend and waxing it, while watching Die Hard II on the TV he had in the garage. He'd won this television at a convenience store drawing, it was a big ole Magnavox and it was nice. He put it in the workshop so we could watch movies while we worked. It was great! He was real proud of winning that television!

I could spend all day in there with pa, watching Bruce Willis or John Wayne movies and pidding in the shop, sometimes waxing the car, sometimes building stuff, sometimes just cleaning things up . Dad would get up before sunrise, make coffee and be out in the workshop working up a sweat by the time mom and I woke up. He'd come in three times a day for meals and in between for coffee breaks. But the rest of the time he was outside. He'd work out there after dinner until it got dark and he'd put the lights on in his shop. I do think that shop was his favorite place to hang out. He loved it there.

We do have years and years of wonderful memories. Mom's still here and we need to focus on her now and appreciate her. Mom promised us she would take care of herself and I know she will. She is much stronger now than she's probably been in years. I know she will go on and be ok. I know it's tough for her but we have each other, we're a family and so we'll all help each other out. When I think of dad I smile and he is with me and I feel ok.

I miss you pa, I miss you so much. But I'm ok, and we're taking good care of ma for you!

Love, Gaga

Friday, March 20, 2009

You know you've changed...

Some time ago I decided I wanted to be a kinder, gentler person. I wanted to live by the "be kind over being right" philosophy. Doesn't mean I wanted to be a pushover, it just meant that I needed to consider the big picture, other people's feelings and the repercussions of my words and actions so as not to hurt others. When I made the decision to let a lot of things just "roll" and try and be a kinder person I was serious about it. It wasn't as if I was a mean person, it's just that sometimes I just didn't think and said things that hurt others. I didn't want to be like that anymore. I'm living proof that people can change if they really want to.

An examples is this discussion forum I belong to. One of the guys was going on and on about this and that and I got tired of hearing him preach about this and that so I just said something to him that he was annoying the everloving shit out of us. Of course it was just me annoyed and I shouldn't have professed to speak for everyone else. Well someone called me out for that not just publicly but in a rather rude email with some profanity, asking if my dad would have been proud of my actions and how I shouldn't speak for anyone, how I hadn't changed one bit, and how a lot of people have been through worse than I've been through lately and it's no excuse.

Now the old me would have told her to f*ck off but the changed me realized that first off, I shouldn't have come out at the guy and that at least I should apologize to him, and second, that there's no reason why I should start cursing this woman out and lashing out at her like she did me. So I publicly apologized to the guy and I sent a nice reply to the person who sent me the message letting her know that yeah I did screw up and that it wasn't a very nice thing for me to post that to him and the decent thing to do would be to apologize. I felt better after I wrote her back and after I posted the public apology. I hold no ill will against her, hey she wrote what she felt right? No harm in that. Besides what is the point of getting mad at someone you don't even know about something so trivial?

It's weird how as we get older we become better people, at least that's the way I see myself. I think taking the high road is always the best way to handle things. That's the way I want to continue living my life. It makes me feel good. :)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Another reason not to fly...

Given the BILLIONS we just sent overseas to foreign banks, the BILLIONS in bailout money just being sunk down the drain, that lousy $2 million really needs to be used elsewhere, ya think?

I don't know about you, but I'd feel a lot safer flying if I knew my pilots were armed.

Newsmax reports:
The administration recently diverted $2 million from a program to train and certify pilots to carry firearms safely while on duty. Instead, it is using the money to hire additional field inspectors to help discipline pilots who step out of line, according to a report in Tuesday’s Washington Times

As you can see, there is nothing more important than our national security.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Today is a new day, time to let go of the old, in with the new. I've got to focus on taking care of myself and living life to the fullest. :)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Happy Birthday "Pay Pay"

My dad would have been 63 today. I knew I'd written a rather lengthy piece for him awhile back and I finally found it. I wrote the piece on dad's 60th birthday, March 14, 2006.

I just re-read it and especially dad's comments and it brings me much comfort.

Pay-pay I miss you so much it hurts.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The roughest week of my life.

It's been a week since I last posted and frankly I wasn't sure how to begin today. It's been a very difficult week for me and my family. Sometimes it doesn't seem real but I know that it is.

My dad is gone. He's gone. And I don't know what to do.

I talked to him Monday morning, he called me at work as he usually did several times a week, the conversation going something like this:

"Hello gaga!" (Gaga was my childhood nickname)

"Hi pa!"

"You busy?"

"Yeah I'm always busy, what's up?"

And so we talked for a half an hour about this and that. I told him about the topic of the most recent discussion in one of my courses, it was the American labor movement. We discussed unions and his experiences with them working for Southern Bell. I told him what I'd learned in the class so far, and he was so interested. Then I told him about this reality show I watched the day before called "Inside American Jail" and how it covered what goes on inside a jail when a person is being booked. It was quite a funny show and dad and I laughed at some of the outrageous crap that goes on inside jails during the booking process. Dad could relate to that, having embarked on a second career as a Correctional officer after his retirement from Southern Bell. He spent nearly ten years as an officer in a private prison, state prison and county jail.

Anyway we talked awhile and before we hung up he asked me what time I would be at the house Saturday for his birthday. I asked, "What time do you want me there?" and of course he said "anytime" and I said I'd be there at 10:30 a.m.

That was the last time I talked to him. That night he had a stroke and he'd woke and tried to move but couldn't.  He had a bad back from years of climbing telephone poles and so mom thought that was the problem, that his back had given out on him. She was in shock and had no idea he'd had a stroke. I don't know if dad knew what was happening to him. Hours later they called an ambulance.  Dad was coherent from the time they brought him in to the ER at 6 a.m.. At about 1 p.m. they moved him to the Internal Observation Unit where he was still coherent. His speech was slurry and his left side was paralyzed and his eyes were open for a little while. But he had a terrible headache at that time. I was in the room with him when mom told him I was there. I think he acknowledged that but I'm not sure. He was responding to commands and kept saying he had a terrible headache. They did a CT scan and some other tests. His blood pressure had been extremely high all day, and at that moment it was 197/85.

By late afternoon, they told us they were putting him in a regular room, we left with hopes to see him the next day. No one in our family had ever had a stroke so we didn't know what we were supposed to do or what would come next. We thought he'd be going into therapy.

When I arrived home hours later I called the hospital and his nurse told me they'd decided to place him in PCU instead of a room because he needed more care. Not long after, the doctor called me and said that she didn't expect dad to make it through the night, that while that morning he had been responsive, he'd gone downhill by 7 pm (just as I'd arrived home) and he'd become unresponsive with severe edema. Again she told me he would not make it through the night.

I yelled at the doctor, not at her specifically but I screamed WHAT????  I mean how could that be happening? He could not be dying! Not my dad. And then when we got off the phone I realized I had to go back to mom's house, I had to tell her dad was dying and that we needed to go back to the hospital. I called my mom's sister asking, "How do I do this Aunt Jo Ann? How do I tell mom that dad is going to die?" and she said "You do it Jessie, you call mom and you tell her what's happened and that you're on your way to pick her up."

And so I did just that. 

We went back to the hospital where we met up with my sister, a family friend, my aunt and uncle and my brother's wife and her daughters (my brother was in the hospital in a nearby city after having had surgery). Dad was breathing on his own but his vitals were still high. It was somewhat comforting to see dad lying there so peacefully sleeping as he hadn't done in years. It was nice for once to see him not in any pain as he had been in so much pain for years. We spent the rest of the night with him, we were all talking, sometimes laughing, sometimes crying, but we talked to each other and to him. We are all confident he heard us. There were moments when we laughed and his vitals changed slightly. We were told by the nurses of the possibility that coma patients can hear and to this day I believe it.

I had left the hospital around 3:30 am with plans to sleep a couple of hours and go back. His vitals had been stable and we thought he could hold on until I would return a few hours later. But sometime around 5:45 am, when everyone in his room got quiet because they were so exhausted and maybe because they knew the end may be nearing, his vitals began to change. My sister called me to come back up there but it was a 45 minute drive and I knew I would not make it. I laid in my bed crying, knowing it would be over soon. And just fifteen minutes later, at 6 am on March 11, 2009, when his family had finally come to terms and accepted what was happening, he moved on. In a matter of minutes, he was gone.

Dad had been in pain a long time though he tried not to complain. His back bothered him greatly with pain from bad discs. He had arthritis everywhere, he had gained weight from the lasix and from not being well enough to exercise. Mom told us later that he had been in pain every day, all day and could not sleep at night. Had he survived the stroke, he might've been in rehabilitation and it's not likely he would have done well considering his other health problems. Even worse, he might've been in a vegetative state. Dad would not have wanted to live confined to a wheelchair or bed for the rest of his life, barely able to communicate, if at all. We knew him, it's not what he wanted. Looking back, I think dad knew he was going to die soon. His actions point to that. He'd worked hard to finish the remodeling on the house, though he'd been in extreme pain. Everything we needed after he died--documents, contact information...was available and easy to find. Looking back....some things become clearer. I think he knew it was coming. And he prepared. But he never said a word to anyone about it.

And so just as he lived on his own terms, he died on his own terms. He'd always said he wanted to go in his sleep and he did. The last sounds he heard were the voices of the people who loved him as he left this world and entered another. We grieve for OUR loss, but we are happy dad is no longer in pain. I believe, we all do, he is in a better place. I know that he came to terms with God, I know he made peace with all of us, I know he is ok now. But it hurts so much. I wish I had been there, to experience it, to see him take his final breath and then mom told me that perhaps it was not meant to be.

My mother, sister and grandmother described the moment my father passed away. His vitals plummeted, and for a moment everyone in the room felt his presence, alive and surrounding them, embracing them. They described it the same---that a sense of calm and peace had enveloped the entire room. And then...his face changed color and he was gone.

Just like that.

We had his funeral service Thursday afternoon, it's what he wanted--to be buried the next day. Mom is Jewish and though dad wasn't, he respected her traditions, and that was one of them. We placed him in a simple casket in a simple service and it was just immediate family and a few close family friends. On short notice, my friend Susan's pastor officiated for us, Amazing Grace belted out on the bagpipes, which is what he'd always wanted, and then it was over. They lowered him into the ground and it was done. We all went back to mom's house and we ate food that my friend Susan had cooked for us and we laughed and talked about old times.

But that night, when the sun went down and I was home with nothing to do but think, it hit me.

He's gone and he's not coming back. Ever.

And at that moment I wept. I wept for my dad's mother and his siblings who live in another state who had not had a chance to say goodbye to him. I wept for my mother and 43 years of marriage gone. I wept for dad and how he deserved better. I wept for my brother who had been in the hospital and unable to see dad before he died. And then I wept for me and 39 years of memories which were all I had left. I became angry and I lashed out and cursed--dad, God, everyone and everything. And then...exhausted...I cried some more. What else could I do? I felt lost and as if my entire childhood had been ripped away from me. And I knew at that moment, I would forever be changed by that. I would never be the same.

Alas, this whole week has been one big blur. It seems surreal most of the time just like we're going through the motions. Mom and dad were married 43 years, he would have been 63 on Saturday. He is supposed to be here. And yet the man who was the center of everything in our lives is gone. How do we move on from that? How? People just say we take it day by day. And we try. But it's hard. It's supposed to be. Sometimes we feel good, sometimes not. I know I am in the denial stage and I know eventually I will go through all the stages of grief including...acceptance, though I fight that every day. I will not accept it. I cannot accept it. If I do, it makes it true and then it hurts that much more.

But dad...he would have wanted us to keep pushing forward, to not give up. He would've wanted us to band together and get through it. His biggest concern was always mom--and how she would handle it. He just wanted her to be okay. And she will be. 

They say time heals. And I know this is true. And because I know this, I know that eventually I will be okay too.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Comprehensive list of earmarks in Omnibus Bill...

I am indebted to the Taxpayers for Common Sense organization for putting together this incredibly long list of earmarks listed in the Omnibus Bill.

When you click on that link, download "Version 3" which is the most recent. It is a safe, virus-free, excel-file spreadsheet put together by the organization.

The earmarks total some $7.7 BILLION. When you see this list, you're jaw will just drop!

Friday, March 06, 2009

More of the "religion of peace"

And they complain about our system?

Saudis order 40 lashes for elderly woman

By Mohammed Jamjoom and Saad Abedine

A Saudi Arabian court has sentenced a 75-year-old Syrian woman to 40 lashes, four months imprisonment and deportation from the kingdom for having two unrelated men in her house, according to local media reports.

According to the Saudi daily newspaper Al-Watan, troubles for the woman, Khamisa Mohammed Sawadi, began last year when a member of the religious police entered her house in the city of Al-Chamli and found her with two unrelated men, "Fahd" and "Hadian."

Fahd told the policeman that he had the right to be there, because Sawadi had breast-fed him as a baby and was therefore considered to be a son to her in Islam, according to Al-Watan. Fahd, 24, added that his friend Hadian was escorting him as he delivered bread for the elderly woman. The policeman then arrested both men.

Saudi Arabia follows a strict interpretation of Islam called Wahhabism and punishes unrelated men and women who are caught mingling.

Click here for the rest of the story...

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Did someone say "taxed to death??"

I don't even KNOW how I missed this one...I found it on the Tax Foundation's Website here!

I love it! Being charged a tax to file your taxes?

February 25, 2009

New York's Proposed $10 Fee to Pay Your Taxes
Joseph Henchman

Governor David Paterson's proposed New York state budget includes a new $10 fee for filing taxes on paper:

State budget officials believe the paper filing fee could generate $6.8 million during the next fiscal year.[...]

In 2008, 41 percent of state income tax filings were received in paper form — and could therefore be subject to the new fee. The plan would, however, waive the fee for people earning less than $15,000 annually, or $30,000 for couples.

State officials toss around a factoid of "93 percent" of all filings being electronic. But that includes people who fill out the forms, print them, and mail them in. The fee would apply to those filings.

We recently filed a brief with a California court arguing that a "fee" imposed on those who pay taxes, with the money used to fund tax collection activities, is actually a tax. It's hard to say whether that would be the case in New York.

I was however interested to learn that the mailed returns in New York are processed not by state workers, but by workers at Bank of America.

Check out
our fiscal fact on Paterson's budget proposals, and past blog posts on New

Just keeps getting better folks.