Looking at the Numbers

Median American Household Income: $51,939 (2013).

Median Home Price: $189,900 (2014).

Hmm…

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Black-ish played it safe

If you haven’t heard, ABC has a new comedy series out called ‘black-ish.  It’s about a upper middle class family who have ancestral roots from Alkebu-lan.  I like the show.  It’s a bit on the nose, but a change from the standard family sit-com is always welcome with me.  But Black-ish missed a golden opportunity to change the game for real last night.

Airing yesterday evening, the 5th episode of the young series focused on the younger son Jack’s proclivity for hiding, which lead to a great deal of anxiety for his parents.  Warned first by his mother Rainbow (cleva name for Tracee Ellis-Ross’ character) and again by his father Andre (Anthony Anderson) not to do such a thing anymore, Jack decides the fun of sending his family into a frenzy is too good to pass up.  After hiding once more, and not coming out when he hears the panicked cries of his family who is searching for him, Andre drops the hammer: for his misdeeds, Jack has earned a spank.

The rest of the show is a build up of tension and emotions as Andre and Rainbow belabor whether to follow through or not on the threat to dish out some corporal punishment.  This is a particularly hot issue in the wake of NFL Super Star Adrian Peterson’s pending child abuse charges.  Publicly most people claim to be against any form of spanking or physical punishment for their children, but those same people often share different views behind closed doors.  Most folks were given a spanking every now and the while growing up, and we all turned out fine right?  (except for those of you whose parent’s took things too far).  These days, spanking is taboo, almost as bad as bringing an undeclared guest to a wedding reception.

Although I had hopes for the best, in the end Andre chickened out and elected to tell his son Jack how “Disappointed” in him he was.  Apparently this is the new form of spanking, because Jack left his father’s room repentant and crying.  It was a cop out, but an understandable one.  The show is brand new, and they can’t afford to have the kid worshiping segment of society coming for their heads just yet.  Even a show as revolutionary and cutting edge as “black-ish” apparently isn’t about that life.

Still a funny episode; I will continue to watch.

Revisionist History

I want to introduce you to someone: his name is Clay Jenkinson.  He’s the guy in the revolutionary attire participating in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.  Mr. Jenkinson is also, among many other things, historian who host a weekly syndicated public radio program called the Thomas Jefferson Hour.

What Mr. Jenkinson looks like normally.
What Mr. Jenkinson looks like normally.

Each week, Thomas Jefferson (Jenkinson) and his co-host talks about events and happenings from Jefferson’s life and time as one of The United States’ founding fathers.  Later in the program, Jenkinson jumps out of character to discuss what he spoke about earlier, while in character.  I have caught the program on a number of occasions, and I can’t help but laugh to myself whilst shaking my head.

I didn’t have high expectations for the show.  I have listened to discourse on the weather in Paris while Jefferson visited, to the quality of that season’s tomatoes from the garden at Monticello.  I will assume that the subject matter has been more substantial on other occasions, but I’ve not had the privilege of experiencing it.  What I would like to point out is the manner in which the show sets itself up.  The premise is a leisurely conversation with one of the greatest human beings ever- Thomas Jefferson.  The 3rd President of the United States, Jefferson is portrayed as a warm, kind, fatherly, almost angelic being of the highest moral standard.  The listeners are made to feel a sense of gratitude, awe, and wonder as you listen to the sage words of this infallible man.  The Jenkinson gathers a great deal of pleasure portraying the Jefferson character.  It comes across in the way he roars his oratory and monologues across the airways.  This man is proud of his President, so much so that we went to great lengths to become Jefferson.

It makes me realize how powerful (and dangerous) it is to re-write history.  Even the most staunch Jefferson supporters should blush at the way his legacy has been delicately preserved.  But preservation has turned to cleansing, as not so endearing facts about his life are vehemently criticized.

Master of the Mountain

Mr. Wiencek states that none of the information presented in his text is in fact new, but one wouldn’t know this based upon to reaction to his, and other less than flattering works about Jefferson.  The problem is that over time, some have decided to dismiss the baser aspects of the man, whilst maintaining the Legend and Prestige.  This is disingenuous at best, and at it’s worst nearly criminal.  The goal of history is for present and future generations to look at events from the past, and learn from them what we can, in an attempt to repeat the good while being vigilant to prevent the bad.  But if we are unwilling to acknowledge that which we are not proud of, can we say an honest attempt at self-reflection and learning has been made?  I would like to see more movement in this direction.

Quality Time

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It’s the simple things that matter the most

I am a fairly busy person.  Married to a superwoman, father of two (soon to be three) cherubs, “working” full-time outside of the home, in addition to a myriad of other activities doesn’t provide for much spare time.  My son reminds me of Sonic The Hedgehog.  Kay-Kay as we call him, just can’t sit still for more than 3 seconds, before he’s off like a whirlwind.  Kay-Kay only knows one speed: fast.  My wife and I have long since ceased asking him to slow down or walk.  Kay-Kay loves life and wants to experience as much of it as possible.

On Sunday afternoon I asked my son what he wanted to do for the rest of the day.  Kay-Kay had just awoke from his nap.  My wife and I try to do get our children out of the house as much as possible.  They love to watch TV, which is not bad, but too much of it is.  Without hesitating he exclaimed, “I want to go to Mount Trashmore”.  Mount Trashmore is a landfill converted park adjacent to I-264 in Virginia Beach.  There are two play grounds, walking trail, and pond at the park.  The main attraction is a fairly steep hill (really a mount of trash with grass planted on top) in the center of it all.  At the top of the hill you are afforded a great 360 degree view of the park, I-264, and the nearby Town Center Area.  Unfortunately for Kay-Kay, his sister Kema slept about an hour and a half longer than he did.  She didn’t wake up until nearly 5pm.  There wouldn’t be enough time for us to go and spend enough time to enjoy the park, since my wife and I had an appointment that evening.  I told Kay-Kay we would go the following day.

Monday afternoon rolls around and I’m back home from work.  I had plans to surprise my wife with a fresh haircut, but it had been so long since I went to the barber that I forgot the good ones usually don’t open on Mondays.  Annoyed, I walked into our apartment.  Shortly after dinner, Kay-Kay reminded me “We need to hurry up so we can go to Mount Trashmore, right Dad?”  I didn’t respond immediately; I wasn’t in the mood to go.  My wife could see it on my face.  She just gave me one of those “you promised” looks.  Before I knew it I said, “sure son.  Let’s get your shoes on.”

We arrived at Mount Trashmore.  The park was teeming with people.  I assumed we would have a difficult time finding a parking space until a young couple hailed me down and informed us that they were leaving.  That was nice of him.  After we parked and unloaded, we began our accent up the Mount.  Kay-Kay raced ahead up the staircase, while I assisted Kema who was taking her sweet time.  We reached the summit and were rewarded with a steady cool breeze.  I brought Kay-Kay’s Transformers Kite, knowing the location to be ideal for this activity.  There was no difficultly getting the kite up in the air.  Kay-Kay was so excited, and so were the young children of onlookers.

I almost missed this tranquil moment with my family.  I thought of how many times I had forgone quality time with the people I care most about because of some thought or emotion from work or the day I had failed to completely process and digest.  I was convicted.  It is so easy to allow these chances to slip our grasp.