Saturday, August 16, 2008

New Kid on the Block Rating Colleges

Forbes just came out with a challenge to venerable U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings of colleges and universities. America’s Best Colleges ranks 569 four-year institutions out of approximately 4,000 schools in the country.

My son happens to attend Hendrix College, which ranked #97—not too shabby for a little gem of a private college half-an-hour outside of Little Rock, Arkansas. I wonder though about any methodology that uses for 25% of the evaluation.

Oh well, what the heck. These beauty contests are what they are—just one tool to look at in the college-selection process. If your son or daughter is beginning the process, look up some parents whose students currently attend potential schools, have your student visit the campuses and sit in on some classes.

I had a Cincinnati mom write me asking about Hendrix College and I gave her my honest opinion, and my son blasted the college’s overbooked housing situation in the e-mail he sent. Word of mouth is just as valuable as these rankings.

More later after next weekend’s sojourn to Razorback Land. College Boy will be setting up housekeeping in an apartment. Are sophomores really equipped for this level of responsibility? Ah, the worries of helicopter parents.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Littlest White Sox Fan

Baby Nic is probably the littlest Chicago White Sox fan, and today he and his mom and dad will be at the game when the Sox play the Kansas City Royals. Nic is a lot like the White Sox team. He hasn’t given up when down and he has spunk and spirit unmatched.

Back in February when Nic entered this world months earlier than expected, all who have come to love him hoped for the day when his day-to-day world would not revolve around doctors, tubes and machines.

Finally, after heart surgery, EEGs, EKGs, feeding tubes, respirators, heart and breathing monitors and other invasive procedures, little Nic will be a boy attending his first baseball game with his mom and dad. It doesn't get much better than this.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Three Little Piggy Quotes

I don’t know if these quotes were really said by those to whom they are attributed, but I like them.

Thou shall not kill. Thou shall not commit adultery. Don’t eat pork. I’m sorry, what was that last one? Don’t eat pork. God has spoken. Is that the word of God or is that pigs trying to outsmart everybody? - Jon Stewart

You can put wings on a pig, but you don’t make it an eagle. - Bill Clinton

You should never try and teach a pig to read for two reasons. First, it’s impossible; and secondly, it annoys the hell out of the pig! - Will Rogers

Note: the artwork is available for purchase.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

A Higher Standard

I supported John Edwards before I turned to Barack Obama. I find news that the rumors of his affair were indeed accurate no huge surprise. He scripted a story for his ambitious campaign and followed it until he had no out but to say the National Enquirer got it right. Apparently, he even fooled some of his campaign staff, who insisted the NE was just engaging in cheap tabloid journalism. While exiting the political arena, Edwards fired a bit of a salvo in John McCain's direction when he mentioned McCain's own marital history.

But I don’t think John McCain will touch this story with a 10-foot-pole, since the war-hero returned home and found the wife he had left behind changed. The first Mrs. McCain, once a swimsuit model, had been in a terrible car crash and was disfigured. Accounts differ, but the marriage ended. From UK’s The Mail:
Carol insists she remains on good terms with her ex-husband, who agreed as part of their divorce settlement to pay her medical costs for life. ‘I have no bitterness,’ she says. ‘My accident is well recorded. I had 23 operations, I am five inches shorter than I used to be and I was in hospital for six months. It was just awful, but it wasn’t the reason for my divorce. ‘My marriage ended because John McCain didn’t want to be 40, he wanted to be 25. You know that just does.’
According to Carol McCain, McCain married Cindy a month after their divorce was final.

Sen. McCain is not quick to give much detail on this part of his life, preferring instead to emphasize the scripted version. It was a long time ago and I don’t blame him.

However, I find myself asking what matters in determining a politician’s character. Are our ties to Puritan forefathers and mothers too tight? Is there a new standard? Or a politicians’ standard (lower of course)? How are we to regard flaws of a moral nature? Every time a public figure admits to a transgression of Edwards’ nature, I wonder.

Yet, I recognize a politician who strays can still be an effective leader. I guess I just wish the politicians would realize that we are looking to them to be better. You are choosing this course. How can you think every rock will not be overturned in your public life as well as your private life? And y'all, please stop being so family values preachy if you do have these extramarital skeletons rattling around in your political closets.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Oh You Great Big Beautiful Doll

Some poll says people are tired of hearing about Obama. Maybe the media will take the hint and give us a break. I am for Obama, but I do not think I can stomach one more silly story about that ditzy Tyra Banks modeling as Mrs. O in Harper's Bazaar. On the plus side, it does give more fodder to E's Talk Soup and that cute and talented Joel McHale.

Even Dover Publications paper dolls are getting into the spirit of hype. They have new additions to their paper doll collection with offerings of Barack Obama and John McCain. I don't know, but I think the artist captured John McCain's rod up his back stiffness. Barack's likeness looks okay, but Mrs. O looks like a Stepford Wife.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The Answer

On August 1 two teenage boys found the remains of Sheila Joan Noblitt over six years after she disappeared one cold January day in 2002. It looks like she died from exposure.

I became acquainted with the case after writing about what happens when you Google your name. I heard back from a detective handling the case and from one of Joan’s relatives.

To the Noblitt family, I am sorry for your loss. We do not know each other, but I can only imagine how hard these last six and a half years have been wondering what fate befell Sheila Joan. May you find this closure as sad as it is, brings peace.

note: link to earlier post.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Health, Insurance and Calling Dr. Kildare

A few days after sending in a hefty check for COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) coverage, I pour over the differences between choosing a PPO or an HMO. I have a new job, and I must choose health insurance coverage. I long for the days of Dr. Kildare and Marcus Welby, M.D. Things were so much simpler then.

As I look at papers, more acronyms like HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) jump at me. I will have to call the benefits administrator to see if there is an exclusion for pre-existing health conditions like my Big C. Since I have had no gaps in coverage, I should be okay on this front.

Additionally, with a million dollar baby in the family, I watch my son and daughter-in-law struggle with insurance issues each day. A preemie born as early as baby Nicolas soon becomes a veteran health care consumer.

So, I do not know on what planet those who think everything is hunky-dorky with health care in the U.S. happen to be living. It certainly isn’t the one I’m on.

I don’t know if one politician can do anything to move America on this front and help bring much-needed reform in this area, but I damn sure don’t think John McCain, the so-called maverick Republican, can. I will give my vote to Barack Obama and hope he is a man of his word about working across party lines to bring this change.

It’s a real challenge to fight the influence of corporations and organizations with payrolls full of former politician- and backslapper-lobbyists, but I am putting some of what little money I have left after paying for my health insurance on Obama.

Pop Culture Note: Photos: 1) From Calling Dr. Kildare with Lew Ayres as Dr. Kildare and the great Lionel Barrymore as Dr. Gillespie. I had no idea there were so many Dr. Kildare movies in the late 30s and early 40s. I believe there were 10 with Lew Ayres and Barrymore continued with a few more movies as Dr. Gillespie after Ayres went off to war (as a conscientious objector who served in the Medical Corps). 2) TV’s dreamy Dr. Kildare portrayed by Richard Chamberlain is the Dr. Kildare I grew up loving.