Thursday, December 27, 2012
But thankfully, kindness also abounded, even in the most atrotious of places.
There is no appropriate category for what happened in the innocent confines of a Colorado movie theater on a warm summer night, or inside an elementary school in an idyllic Connecticut community eleven days before Christmas. Unquestionably, it was evil at its worst.
But out of such horror, emerged stories of heroism - a boyfriend who took a bullet for his girlfriend, and a principal and teachers who lost their lives by lunging at a gunman and shielding their students.
There was a lot of good embedded in those horrific moments in Connecticut and Colorado, and elsewhere, a reminder that even in the most abominable of times, benevolence and mercy can triumph.
Likewise, Superstorm Hurricane Sandy was Mother Nature at her worst this year - paralyzing parts of the northeast and wreaking havoc on many lives. But she didn't dampen the spirit of courage and determination, even in the face of rising tides and disaster. Those affected banded together to help neighbors, and volunteer support poured in from around the world, further evidence that the human spirit of helping one another is still alive and well. We saw it in the first responders, the selfless victims and volunteers from such organizations as the Red Cross who acted quickly to stave off further damage.
Looking back over the many ITMANNERSALOT blogs and columns posted and published this year online, at BakersfieldMom.com and in BakersfieldLife Magazine, some antics and other acts of thoughtfulness stood out. Herewith, is the best of the worst, and the creme of the crop, along with the hope that 2013 will usher in more good manners. After all, it 'MANNERS A LOT'!
THE BEST OF 2012:
1. Ann Curry: The class and grace the morning show co-host displayed during weeks of speculation of her demotion was worthy of an Academy Award. She too had read the blogs, the headlines, the anonymous quotes her employers had given to the press. She continued to show up for work, held her head high, turned a cheek, and bowed out with elegance.
2. Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords: One year after a gunman interrupted her life and those of 19, representative Giffords returned to Washington to submit her resignation from Congress. She did so with true grit and a determination characterized by faith and courage.
3. Wendy Wayne - Community activist Wendy Wayne lost her battle with cancer in June. She'd battled it before, and conquered it. This time, she knew she was outmatched, and decided hers had been a life well-lived, and surrendered gracefully, making her final days and hours special for those dearest to her. A grief-stricken community held tributes, and established everlasting memorials in the name of the woman who was as much a treasure to Bakersfield and Kern County as she treasured her community.Wendy's journey taught us about the power in the pillars of strength and resolve.
THE WORST OF 2012:
1. The Device: IPad, Ipod, Iphone, Smartphone - whatever the alias, the mobile device could not outsmart bad manners. If only there was an app for that! The virtual distraction still took the place of too many face-to-face conversations. Upgrades only downgraded our real-time interaction with one another to the point that 2012 may be worst remembered for the year we stopped talking to each other. The Gadget also served as a cautionary tale, that what happens in Vegas DOESN'T stay in Vegas, even if you are an heir to the British throne caught with your pants down in a royal flush of embarrassment exposing the crown jewels.
2. The Dismissiveness and Dismissed: Vice President Joe Biden's debate with Congressman Paul Ryan made for some great political theater, but it also exposed Biden's raw hot buttons and inability to contain himself within the confines of a setting where decorum should have been the abiding rule. His ticket may have been re-elected, but his lack of disrespect for his debate partner before a global television audience was not deserving of four more years. Here's hoping he can channel his inner pit bull as he wades into the national debate on gun violence.
In this economy, still crawling its way back from its own fiscal cliff, job layoffs are still common. They are unpleasant for everyone involved. But perhaps no demotion played itself out on the national stage more painfully than NBC's mishandling of the Today Show's Ann Curry and her reassignment. The backlash continues against the network, its venerable morning show, and its star Matt Lauer, widely considered to have placed the knife into his co-host's back. See #3 above.
3. Pajama Partiers: There was a time when sleepwear never saw the light of day outside the confines of one's residence. Probably the same era before cellular phones and the internet. Today, it seems to be the rule, not the exception - wearing pajamas in public. Never a good look, and always in poor taste. I can't help but wonder what will be next?
4. The Litterbug: Back for the second year in a row, the Litterbug was more like an infestation, especially in Kern County. Parking lots, auditorium seats and roadways were used as trash cans with increased frequency. Littering is a violation of local ordinances, and the ultimate sign of disrespect to our beautiful community. I heard too many complaints from out-of-towners who were aghast at the debris that littered the on and off ramps to our highways. Let's exterminate the Litterbug infestation in 2013!
5. The Famous Behaving Infamously: Besides the usual suspects like Lindsay Lohan, there were others who once again gave celebrity a black eye. Olivier Martinez gave Halle Berry's ex, Gabriel Aubry a shiner on Thanksgiving day, Angust Jones threw his own meal ticket - the hit TV show "Two and a Half Men" under the bus, actress Kristen Stewart felt compelled to purge herself of the secret the "Twilight" star had been harboring, her affair with her "Snow White and Huntsman" director, and Stanley Cup goalie Tim Thomas' inexplicably decided to turn down an invitation from the White House. Memo to all of the above: Your adoring fans are watching. Think FIRST before speaking, slugging or snubbing!
Sunday, December 2, 2012
Angus Jones, the young actor from "Two and a Half Men", infamously referred to his bread and butter job as "filth" in an online video that has since gone viral, encouraging viewers to turn the channel from the hit television show that is Jones' meal ticket.
Where was his mama? Unless he knew he'd have the winning powerball ticket, why throw your own job under the bus? Had he thought for a second, which obviously he didn't, about the potential long-term consequences of his ill-advised exercise at freedom of speech, maybe he wouldn't have SAID the darndest of things.
Perhaps he was taking a cue from another youngster, Justin Bieber, who WORE the darndest thing when meeting with the Canadian Prime Minister. I like that kid. I spend every weekday morning with him and my swooning teenager in the car on the way to school, but again, I wondered, where was his mama?
A small army of people make a lot of money protecting the Biebermachine, his brand and image. Wasn't there ONE person in his circle of handlers that thought the Biebermeister might look better in a collared shirt instead of overalls, and undone at that? Dear Mr. Greenjeans: Your fame may eclipse that of the prime minister, but it shouldn't be an excuse to disrespect the Canadian leader by leaving decorum back in the dressing room and WEARING the darndest of things.
And finally, this three-ringed circus of bad behavior wouldn't be complete without perennial problem child Lindsay Lohan, a human magnet for trouble, who this week again found herself in hot water by allegedly DOING the darndest of things in the pre-dawn darkness at a New York City nightclub. Accused of punching a patron, I wondered again where her mama was? I know, probably down the street at another club. Even Liz Taylor knew that NOTHIING good happens at 4 a.m. at a NYC nightclub!
If these overgrown kids, idolized for their fame and antics, had only thought before speaking (into a video camera), looked in a full-length mirror, or hailed a cab after last call like nice (not mean) girls do, they'd be doing a great service to the legions of fans who follow them like puppy dogs, and no doubt now have the mixed message that speaking your mind, wearing what you want, and settling disputes with limbs doesn't matter.
News flash: It 'MANNERS' a lot!
Wonder what Linkletter and Cosby would think?
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
In the coming hours, family and friends will descend upon us like the coming of the Locusts. We will greet one another with voices pitched so high that animals in neighboring counties will hear, like an old 78 RPM record on a carb-high. And as sure as there will be pumpkin pie on the dessert buffet, someone will say something that may offend somebody else, and the people we couldn't wait to see may be hurling verbal molotov-cocktails at each other.
For some reason this holiday, more so than any other, tends to bring out the best and the worst in people. Maybe it is the absence of gifts and colored eggs, or the presence of too many adult beverages mixed with heaping amounts of utopia-like expectations.
If you are hosting friends and relatives, remember that you set the tone. Don't fret over what is over-cooked. Frankly, it is the coming together with the people we love that matters most.
If someone else is putting on the spread, be a good guest and bring along a nice bottle of wine - you'll be granted immunity.
This year my wonderful sister-in-law will host our family - the size of a football team: 2% her side, 98% ours. I am grateful for her hospitality - and plumbing.
Thanksgiving has its own awkwardness, and all the ripe and ready ingredients for some ribbing, rubbing the wrong way or stepping on toes. But it doesn't have to devolve into an episode of Family Feud.
Carve out time to engage in authentic conversations with people whom you haven't seen in some time, offer to help, and feast on the blessings of family, friends, health and prosperity - afterall, "It 'Manners' A lot"!
Friday, October 12, 2012
To be clear, this blog is NOT about partisan politics. I enjoyed every second of the 90-minute debate. It was engaging, thought-provoking, and terrific public speaking. And at its conclusion, at least one thing was crystal clear: Paul Ryan is a dead-ringer for Eddie Munster.
But it was also an hour-and-a-half of cringe-worthy live television. Reportedly both sides had been prepping meticulously in the days leading up to the debate. But surely NO ONE coached vice president Biden on the type of behavior he couldn't seem to keep a lid on last night.
At times, dismissive and condescending, his inability to listen to congressman Ryan in silence without rolling his eyeballs, giggling or smirking became this circus' side-show. Even first-year lawyers with no trial experience know not to react the way Biden did when opposing counsel is up at bat!
At first, the bad form could be chalked up to the vice president being, well, very Biden-esque. His reputation precedes him. But it wasn't long before his reactions when the congressman was responding were just plain rude. I for one, was embarassed for him.
By the end of the boxing match, the substance the two sparred over was overshadowed by the way the vice president conducted himself on the national stage.
The. Vice. President!
Effective communication, conversation and civilized disagreement hinge not just on the words spoken, but on how they are absorbed as well. The art of being a good, polite, and gracious listener is waning these days. We see it across all media platforms.
But a passionate and lively debate is one thing. Habitually interrupting, mocking and laughing as the other person is speaking is really bad manners. It is juvenile and unbecoming, especially from someone a heart beat away from the highest office in the land. Too bad Mr. Biden didn't extend Paul Ryan the courtesy of being a polite listener as the congressman had.
Today, all sides are claiming victory, with the exception of social graces, which sadly, came out the biggest loser in last night's fiery display of bad form. Memo to Mr. Vice-President: It really DOES 'Manner' A lot!
Thursday, August 23, 2012
What was he thinking many wondered? I doubt he was, as he stood in his birthday suit, cuping the crown jewels. Royals are supposed to have handlers around to think those scenarios through FOR them. Apparently his security detail was asleep at the roulette wheel.
Hopefully, others will see his mortification as a cautionary tale in this digital age of instant snap-and-post where the underage beer pong and intimate lip-lock can be shared with the webiverse within seconds and without permission.
Remind your children, pre-teens and up, that they don't need to be famous to have their behavior captured by pixels and uploaded to the world-wide-web, where their wrong moves will live in infamy and haunt them for a long time.
Whether they are at a dance, fraternity exchange, or party, young people should be mindful that today's paparazzi need only a cell phone with a camera to catch someone in their worst candid camera moment.
Think of the internet - Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, like the front page of the morning paper or billboard at the busiest intersection in town. If you don't want to be pictured there doing something inappropriate, don't provide eager shutterbugs with the opportunities. Afterall, it 'Manners' A lot!
Friday, August 17, 2012
It's been 40 years since my mother took the 'baby' of the family to kindergarten. I can't remember what I had for lunch two days ago, but that morning is seered in my memory bank. There stood my mom, lips quivering, tears welling up. My sister stood motionless, like a deer caught in headlights.
This week that same little girl joined the growing ranks of baby-boomer empty-nesters, taking her baby to college a state away. We could have done a week's worth of laundry with the waterworks in our family the past couple of weeks. Had someone not known better, they would assume the college coed was being deployed to Afghanistan, or worse yet - Calabassas to live with the Kardashian clan. Who knew sending a loved-one off to the University of fill-in-the-blank would stir feelings akin to banishment in Siberia or crusing aboard Titanic?
There are so many emotions and layers of dynamics at play when the apron strings are loosened, the heart strings are tugged, and the nest is suddenly nothing more than twigs and branches, that it would take a year of Dr. Phil episodes to decode it all.
This much I do know, having walked down this well-worn path four years ago when we sent our oldest, a high school sophomore at the time, away to a military academy boarding school: I'm not sure whom the situation is tougher on, but like a great wave off Malibu, everyone will need to ride it out.
Some, like my sister, will do so clutching her youngest's ankles as her child heads to class; others will never even put the car in park long enough to wave goodbye.
A year ago, we loosened the apron strings even more, moving our collegian into his dormitory at Ole Miss, the pride and joy of the South, where 'hotty toddy' isn't a beverage, but a religious experience and the excitement and energy could power a third-world nation. Our emotional trip was marked by arguments in the school supply aisles of Walmart, disagreements over whether we were allowed inside the sacred dorm room (college kids need our money, but still view us as members of an alien nation), and verbal battles about the necessity of a small battalion of appliances for a room smaller than a futon.
In our case, we couldn't part company fast enough, and our exhasperation prooved a great distraction on the flight home, until we returned to our nest, and listened for sounds of life. Instead, we were greeted by the whir of our appliances and the computer.
Whether your child will be adjusting to elementary school or living away from home for the first time, how you react will set the tempo for them. If you are doubled over and grief-stricken, expect a similar reaction from your student. Talking positively about the excitement to come, reassuring your child that this new chapter is a wonderful thing, and that these days ahead will be some of life's 'best of times', will be the strongest medicine possible for homesickness, on your end and theirs.
And when everyone is feeling better, pat yourself on the back for a job well done. When birdies leave the nest, it is mom and dad who helped strengthened their wings. Then slip into a bubble bath and let Calgon take you away. Afterall, it 'manners' a lot!
Monday, August 6, 2012
A gully-washer of a thunderstorm loomed overhead. The sound of rolling thunder competed with the noise from inside the cave of oversized brushes and water works. The humidity promised a free wash for everyone.
The young man ahead of us was finally hailed over to his clean, grime-free SUV. A newer model. Like a Mars rover. Not the hillbilly wagon we were waiting to reclaim.
I worried those poor saps, dripping wet in the heat, polishing and wiping down cars, were going to keel over like the Olympic marathon walker last weekend. You just knew they'd rather be making smoothies up the road at Sonic. These hand-wash operators deserve every nickel of their tip - especially if it is a larger vehicle.
Curious as to whether the SUV's owner was going to reward the cleaner with a few bills, I watched as he approached his car, obviously his pride and joy. What happened next ultimately had my daughter and me doubled over in laughter, and then disappointment.
Mr. OCD inspected his vehicle with military precision, circling the wagon and pointing out a smudge here and a missed swipe there. Then his inspection focused on the interior. Oy. Every fiber of the carpeting was given the once over by this guy, while the car wash detail team stood by, aghast. Minutes rolled by to closing time. Mr. Obsessive-Compulsive grabbed a towel, apparently thinking it best to instruct these poor fellows on how to clean HIS car properly, as he waved the cloth in the air like a conductor.
Someone drag him over to our vehicle. He'd be horrified. Have a couple of kids. You won't be able to tell the difference between an inferior car wash and crayon marks.
The detail crew stood by, helpless. Was this a candid camera moment, perhaps? Unfortunately not. The owner of the vehicle proceeded to lift the hatch, and pull out his own cleaning supplies? Whah?! Either this guy is wound tighter than a fan belt, or the heat index has affected his thinking.
There is a myriad of items in the back of our vehicle - rusty beach chairs, an empty oil container, limbless dolls, but auto detail supplies are not included! He could have saved himself $17.99.
After the detail dance came to an end, and I prepared to gladly hand over my money to our wash boy, who looked as if he'd run through the sprinklers, I expected Mr. OCD to do the same.
Nope. Nada. Zippo.
Instead, the young SUV owner, upon green-lighting his own inspection, hopped into the car and sped away. I'm not sure what was worse, his insensitivity to the sweat and labor the boys had put into polishing his car, or his failure to tip them.
"I need a drink of water," the exhausted and deflated detail guy said as he walked by.
I think he just needed a drink!
Everywhere we turn these days, someone has a tip container at the ready, eager to be rewarded for doing next to nothing. There are plenty of self-services that don't merit a monetary appreciation. But the worker-bee who wipes down your car from bumper to bumper, inside and out, most certainly deserves a tip. Afterall, it 'manners' a lot!
Sunday, July 22, 2012
My inability to fathom such senselessness and callous disregard for human life was wrapped like a hot dog inside that theater, a presumably safe haven where generations of families flock to escape the weather, the challenges of everyday life, and immerse themselves in the art form of movie making and entertainment.
The innocence of an outing as American as apple pie was shattered with each and every bullet. Our children love going to the show. I thought of the countless times we have gone together, or I have dropped them off for a couple hours of fun and enjoyment.
And I thought about the parents who had done the same Thursday night in Aurora. The mother who is paralyzed in a hospital bed with a bullet lodged in her throat, unaware her six year old daughter is among the fatalities. And Alex Sullivan, eager to ring in his 27th birthday, unaware it would be his final minutes of life inside the death chamber of theater number nine, while his father awaited his return home in a few hours.
This tragic, dark chapter in America's history has resonated with our children in a way unlike others such as the Tucson shooting a year-and-a-half ago. It is as if they have experienced a death in the family, aware now more than ever of their own vulnerability. Like so many,they want to help in some way. Naturally, their 'Pennies From Heaven' service project will be deployed once again.
But helping them make sense of this also means trying to explain the unimagineable, why someone would methodically calculate to end or destroy so many lives? We'll probably never know the answer to that, but in the midst of such devastation, the discussion must include the stories of the many good-deeds that attempted to triumph over evil just after midnight in that Century movie theater: The boyfriend who took a bullet for his girlfriend and her brother, the moviegoer who instructed strangers to 'play dead' in order to walk out alive, the police officers who abandoned standard emergency proceedure by loading people into the back of squad cars to rush them to the hospital, and the person who tried in vain to carry a mortally wounded victim to safety.
There was a lot of good embedded in those horrific minutes early Friday morning. May we as a nation remember that even in the most abominable of times, that benevolence and mercy will always try to rise above the smoke and poisonous gases of the most heinous and wicked acts.
Monday, July 16, 2012
Our family LOVES to entertain, no matter the zip code or level of formality! Opening one's home to visitors is a good reason to get our summer slugs up off their beach blankets, but it is also a great way to put so many lovely touches into a 24-hour or 48-hour window.
If you invite someone from out of town to visit, absolutely insist they stay under your roof, unless you live in a studio apartment furnished only with a futon and a bean bag. In our case, our guests will occupy the spoiled teen suite, forcing a temporary relocation of the natives upstairs. [Insert eye rolls and gasps here].
Like a bowl of She Crab Soup, they are warming to the idea, even getting involved in the preparations. Make sure bedding and linens are fresh, and don't forget to provide clean sets of towels as well. I like to have a small vase of flowers on the nightstand.
In our family, 'mi casa es su casa' is our mantra, so with that, I make sure the refrigerator and pantry are fully stocked with fruit, munchies, and beverages. It isn't necessary, but another thoughtful touch is to do some advance activity planning so everyone doesn't sit around staring at each other. Conversely, make sure to give your guests some down time to relax, especially if they have traveled some distance.
Plan your meals before guests arrive, so as not to put them on the spot about dining out. Make sure not to keep them up late either. They will be exhausted, and surely be anxious to get a good night's sleep.
Like dinner parties, entertaining guests overnight is about making them feel welcome and comfortable. If you're uptight, they won't be at ease. Remember, the goal is to create an environment conducive to spending time together, catching up and making memories. Remember, It 'Manners' A lot!
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
"Oh S@#t!" screamed the caller before hanging up.
Lucky me, I was the recipient, not once, but twice more after that awkward and impolite attempt to connect with someone else through my number. Had he called again, I was tempted to remind him of the right way to end a wrong call.
We've all done it. A harmless mistake, that can be easily rectified by saying something along the lines of "I'm sorry, I must have dialed the wrong number."
Punctuating the mistake with expletives is truly bad form. Simply hanging up is even ruder.
The next time you call someone by mistake, keep it short, polite, and clean. If you are on the other end of the line, same goes. "I'm sorry, I think you must have the wrong number" is all that needs to be said. To be sure, these types of calls can be annoying, but they needn't be occasions for rudeness and impoliteness. Remember, IT 'MANNERS' A LOT!
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Growing up, standing on our front lawn, gingerly writing our names in the air with sparklers, my sisters and I thought that was the bomb! Then our father would set off some 'safe and sane' numbers out in the street. There were no bottle rockets, molotov cocktails or tree fires. Just good old-fashioned patriotic fun.
Somewhere, i'm sure, there was mischief, as there will likely be again tomorrow. But on this Fourth of July eve, herewith are some important things to remember:
Be obedient. Respect authority and the traffic cops policing crowds. If you aren't in familiar surroundings, make yourself familiar with the restrictions regarding firworks, alcohol consumption, etc. When someone else gets ticketed, you'll be glad you did.
Be respectful of the property of others - whether it be public or private. July Fourth IS NOT a license to disregard the rights of others and torch consideration in a blaze of glory.
Clean up after yourself. Make sure you have a bucket of water on hand for the used fireworks, along with trash bags to haul your leftovers. Don't assume someone else will come and clean your mess!
If you plan to put on your own show, keep it LEGAL. Don't endanger yourself and others by lighting up gunpowder in order to show your patriotic pride.
Remember, too, to respect the noise ordinance. If you are still firing off smoke bombs at midnight, your neighbors will want to declare their independence from you!
The Fourth of July, wrapped in stars, stripes, patriotism and good times, should also be a display of the very best in us, courteous and civilized, respectful behavior. Because It 'Manners' A lot!
Happy Birthday America!
Thursday, June 28, 2012
Whuh? Winner? That's right! This episode in the network's programming of missteps (remember that guy Conan?) will haunt her the rest of her life, yes. But her heartfelt and tearful goodbye to her television audience this morning, and the way she has conducted herself in recent weeks as the speculation and gossip fueled by anonymous 'insiders' grew in size from a tropical depression to a category four hurricane, was nothing short of graceful and dignified.
She deserves the Emmy the show received. Throw in an Academy Award for best performance while you're at it for having to sit next to co-host Matt Lauer, who reportedly helped seal her fate. Handling herself with the-show-must-go-on composure and still reporting for work is admirable.
Firing someone, or demoting them, is never easy. But shame on the network for breaking the cardinal rule of putting it out there for the courts of public opinion, a few leaks at a time. The anonymous executives who were critical of Curry's style in the NY Times may have hoped they were providing justification for making changes (which they certainly are entitled to do), but allowing information to leak out BEFORE things transpired was a dirty trick to pull on someone who had given so many years of loyalty.
I'm a tv news veteran, and well aware of what is at stake and why changes are made. They are purely business decisions, not personal. But it is impossible, as Curry has said, to NOT take it personally when the 'situation' is handled so insensitively.
Some years back, I was the small-market version of Ann Curry, only my exit was somewhat thinly-veiled as a 'new' opportunity. A dear friend of mine suffered the same fate a number of years ago on the morning show of a rival network, again, for the masses to watch.
So i've been doing a lot of empathizing the past couple of weeks with Ms. Curry. Props to her for displaying class and grace, when certainly no one would blame her if she ranted on twitter or Facebook like everyone seems to do these days.
Most people's demotion or firing won't be played out on such a public stage. For the rest of us, if or when it happens, take cues from the likes of Ann Curry, whom I will regard from now on more for being such a class act than for being an experienced correspondent.
If you are on the receiving end of the pink slip, hold your head up high. Hard as it may be, try not to take it personally. Don't exit kicking and screaming. Express nothing but appreciation and gratitude for the opportunity, and the relationships you were able to build. Reserve your criticism, especially in the social media orbit. That workplace bridge may now have cracks in it, but for heaven's sake don't burn it down by badmouthing your former boss or co-wokers.
Curry-gate may be over for NBC, but long after the former co-host resumes filing reports from faraway lands, my hunch is the network will still be remembered for mishandling this employment situation, while Ann Curry will be praised deservedly for the decorum she displayed by rising above the mess and carrying on with a brave face and a head held high. THAT, Really 'Manners' A lot!
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Invitations are usually telephoned. Impromptu is okay. Despite a more laid-back mood, the menu can be as easy or involved as you like. You can certainly have a beautiful and elegant dinner outdoors with china and crystal, but for casual barbecues, I prefer to keep it simple with plastic cups, utensils and paper plates which make for easy cleanup. Although, if you are grilling meat, have regular steak knives available. Just make sure you count your flatware BEFORE the meal to make sure you still have the same amount at the end of the night and one or two didn't go into the trash.
Have plenty of beverages on hand, and a good variety too. Not everyone may want (or be old enough) to have an alcoholic beverage.
If you are having a picnic elsewhere, pick up after yourself. Dispose of everything in a receptacle. Don't expect the ants to take care of it!
If you are lucky enough to have everything in your own backyard, make the most of it. We turn our water feature on in the pool, have blow up beach balls for the kids, light tiki torches at nightfall, and make sure there are at least three or four different areas to sit, including enough stools around the barbecue's bar.
I'm also big fan of music too. It should blend into the background, not make it impossible to ear what someone is saying. If you have an outdoor entertainment center, find a nice tropical station to help set a festive mood. Better yet, if there is a playoff game on television, turn it on! The men in the group will love it!
Make sure you have plenty of finger food. It can be as easy as shelled peanuts, especially if a baseball game is on, popcorn for the kids, or easy-to-make Nachos.
The most important thing is to bring people together for conversation and good times, and make them feel welcome and as if they never want to leave. The host and hostess set the tone. Long after the last burger has been grilled, the hospitality you offered at your gathering will be what is remembered the most. Now get grilling! Remember, It 'Manners' A lot!
Friday, June 15, 2012
My earliest memories of my father are of his laughter. There's a dry wit that blows off the wheat fields of the Midwest. His has always been couched in subtle irritation or annoyance. I'm convinced his medicine cabinet has been stocked full of laughter all these years. If we can't do anything about it, we might as well laugh about it, he'll say. Of course, not everything in our life has been a laughing matter, but we have always been able to find the humor in something.
Fix it. The father of my children is a brilliant legal eagle, but i'm not sure he would recognize a hammer if he saw one. My father on the other hand, has always been ever at the ready with a tool kit to tackle any household repair. When my mother died, I looked for anything and everything that needed fixing. In time, those menial tasks helped fix his broken heart as well. Time is a gift, don't leave it idling like an engine or let it go to waste, he says. Anything can be repaired, especially fences needing mending.
Family First. At the end of the day, all we have is each other, my father says. Now in the sunset of his life, whether in a hospital bed or medical office waiting room, he will often say, "I don't know what I would do without you girls." The man who brought my sisters and me into this world, cradled us, fed and nurtured us, now finds himself in a reversal of roles. Frankly, I don't know what we would do without him, or his lessons of the importance of honesty, integrity, saying what you mean and meaning what you say, working hard, and loving and laughing even harder.
On this Father's Day, a tip of the hat to my wonderful dad, Herschel Kimble, and all the other men in my life and others who have left indelible marks on their children and grandchildren in their greatest of jobs - fatherhood. It 'Manners' A lot!
Thursday, June 14, 2012
On May 30, 1916, Flag Day was officially established by proclamation by President Woodrow Wilson, and while it was celebrated in communities across the country for years after that, it was not until August 3rd, 1949, that President Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14th of each year as National Flag Day.
In 1923, the United States Flag Code was first adodpted, prescribing flag etiquette and the treatment of it. Despite that, however, over the years, our nation's greatest symbol has been woven into the fabric of Americana, both tastefully and with brazen vulgarity.
According to the U.S. Flag Code, "No disrespect should be shown to the flag of the United States of America." The National Flag Foundation has helped decode the code for easy understanding of the do's and don'ts. Among them, ALWAYS display the flag with the blue union field UP. Never display the flag upside down, except as a distress signal. If the flag is hung vertically, the blue union star-studded field should be observed to the LEFT.
Raise the flag enthusiastically, but lower it slowly. Don't hang a flag after sundown unless you are able to illuminate it. And NEVER let the flag touch anything beneath it such as the ground, floor, etc.
In recent years, with conflicts overseas, Old Glory has been painted on windows, sides of buildings and on garage doors with words like 'Proud Navy Parents' written across them as an obvious expression of sentiment and pride. However well-intended, to do so is a gesture of disrespect to our national emblem. As per the Flag Code, Title 4, Chapter 1, Section 8, and again, interpreted by the Flag Foundation, the flag should NEVER have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture or drawning of any nature.
So hoist our Stars and Stripes today with grand treatment of our national treasure and all that it represents, because 'It Manners A lot'!
Thursday, June 7, 2012
There is no question that civility within the spoken word has gone down the drain. Check out Jim's take, and take pause. May we all clean it up (yours truly included), because It 'Manners' A lot'!
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Today many people are heading to the polls to cast their vote for candidates and measures. Tempted as we all are to weigh in on social media sites about our like or dislike for a cause or candidate, let us all keep it civil out there. Friend Judi McCarthy, whom I admire greatly, summed it up best this morning on Facebook: "Election Day. So here's the thing: we all have preferred candidates, but need we descend into vitriol and malice toward the "opposition?" Can't we shift perspectives a bit to be GRATEFUL that some citizens are willing to serve, unlike many of their critics and in spite of the beating they'll take in the press, their social circles, and even social media? FB friends that are also political firebrands, please remain dignified."
I couldn't have said it any better. Thank you Judi for the reminder that today, as always, there is no grace in being an ugly competitor, pompous winner or sore loser. Let's cast a vote today for civility as well. Remember, it 'manners' a lot!
Thursday, May 31, 2012
She hit an iceberg yesterday. Yet as unbelievable as her awkward exchange with Short was, and deservedly highlighted why television viewers no longer trust the newsreaders and talking heads, the incident, though unintended, displayed Short in perhaps his greatest role: Class Act! Unlike James Taylor, who some years back corrected Mrs. Gifford on air when she asked about his deceased brother, Short never flinched. Certainly no one would have blamed him for setting the hostess straight as Taylor had done. Instead, he chose to correct her off-air, rather than further embarrass Gifford. What a gentleman! Two wrongs don't make a right. Calling her out on national television would not have erased the blunder or brought Mrs. Short back. I only wish, at the end of the program, after a staffer probably half Gifford's age enlightened her, that the apology had come after a contrite admission that she hadn't seen Short in some time, or that she had not done her homework. THAT will never happen. But props to Martin Short, who deserves an Oscar for his performance yesterday, for exuding class in the most awakward of moments. It 'Mannered' Alot!
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Bakersfield routinely and unfairly gets beaten up and bruised a lot by outsiders who still think we live on flatbed trucks of hay. But those of us who have moved here recently, or whose roots run deep, know different. Our community is extraordinary on many levels.
Let us smash the stereotypes and lay our hometown feel on as thick as pickled tongue with visitors this week. Meet and greet with a friendly smile. Be gracious to someone asking for directions. And let's pedal our trademark kindness and courtesy forward. This type of global exposure doesn't roll around every day. Besides, It 'Manners' A lot!
Friday, May 11, 2012
For some time I have been threatening to give our children under this roof the experience of a lifetime - a walk in mom's bedroom slippers. Underappreciation (and too many school science experiments) had driven me to the brink! It's a pretty pampered world our kids live in here. And i'm solely responsible for creating the morning monsters who regularly get up on the wrong side of the bed, and might as well prefer nails over wheaties for breakfast.
In fairness, I gave them notice - plenty. But apparently it wasn't enough. I expected to sleep through it all, waking up to an empty house and the sound of silence. The calm after the storm. It didn't quite play out that way. Their father awakened ME to ask if our girls were planning to go to school today. The nerve! The Today Show's Ann Curry had already tossed to Al Roker and weather when the kids discoverd they had overslept. Uniforms never touched an iron, and breakfast was a handful of throat losinges. Today at lunch i'm sure they were at the mercy of their friends with handouts.
What I intended to be a lesson to the kids about their reliance on their mother, seemed to fall flat. There was no ah-ha moment for them, like "Mom, please, you have to help me straighten my hair." Just frustration and heavy sighs as they fled the house like a disaster drill in hopes of escaping another tardy slip. (They didn't!)
In their wake, evidence of a harried morning with them flying solo. I may or may not try this again, and it remains to be seen whether the experiment was lost on our children. This much I do know: come Monday morning, this mother will be back 'on duty', appreciative to have uniforms to iron, sandwiches to make, eggs to cook, and beautiful, healthy children to do it for!
To all the mother's in the world, especially my mother-in-law, may your load be lightened, and your special day be filled with love, joy and laughter. After all, it 'Manners' A lot!
Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Over the years our children have been blessed with amazing teachers as well - kind, compassionate and patient, even when they were tested to the outer limits of insanity. Our oldest, the unofficial record holder for most in-house suspensions at St. Francis school, probably contributed to the premature graying of a few instructors.
Through it all, their grace and committment, rainy day in, fog-delay day out, in sickness and in hyperactivity, in good grades and bad behavior, they have helped shape the most important people in our life - our children. For that I am eternally grateful.
Even if you missed Teacher Appreciation Day as I did, shoot your child's teacher an e-mail, jot them a note, or give them a hug the next time you see them at school. They deserve it! And remember, it 'manners' a lot!
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
We all have our ah-ha mistake memory from our childhood. In Jim's case, it was a pack of chewing gum. His recollection is another reminder that one of the greatest gifts we can give our children isn't a brand new car or ipad, but good, old-fashioned discipline by way of reinforcement and structure. No belts, spankings or tar-and-feathering need to be used as they will be no match for standing your ground, being consistent, providing structure, setting limits and making sure a lesson served is a lesson learned. Give it a try. It 'Manners' A lot! And read Jim's post at http://blog.jwloosecannon.com/2012/04/17/how-i-learned-stealing-is-wrong.aspx.
Friday, April 6, 2012
The only farm that mattered was the ant farm for the science project, not the cartoon plantation where one can amass corn acreage one stalk at a time on Farmville. But today, Facebook, and its spawn social networking sites, are as essential to daily living as food and water if some studies are to be believed. According to Pew Research Center, social networking among adult Internet users has more than doubled since 2008. They have changed the way we live, interact, and do business. Such sites have also cost people jobs, relationships, and reputations.
Just ask former Congressman Anthony Weiner.
According to another Pew study, 11% of adult responders said they had posted something they later regretted. That’s all? I suspect that number is probably much higher. Who doesn’t know of someone who was inexplicably fired or never hired for a job after some questionable status updates or photo shares?
All the crops, pokes, tags, friend requests and deletes are a permanent snapshot of you. Your digital signature engraved in the public domain can come back to haunt you. There are no erasers, just the perma-marker of potential sins serving as cautionary tales.
So absent social media’s Moses, and our inability to live with or without it, here's a tongue-in-cheek guideline of commandments to help prevent social disgrace of biblical proportion. After all, ‘It Manners A Lot.’
1. Thou Shalt not post pictures of any body parts other than the face. It’s Facebook, remember, not breastbook or bootybook. If you want to remain employed or gain acceptance to that prestigious university, don’t share the photographs of last weekend’s wild party. What you post can be held against you!
2. Thou Shalt not covet thy friends’ friends. No one likes a facebook poacher. If you want to friend someone you and others have in common, include a message introducing yourself. There is no obligation to confirm a request either. If the number of your facebook friends exceeds the enrollment at the local junior college, consider pruning or taking a break altogether.
3. Thou Shalt not drag your newfound ‘family’ of acquaintances into your real-life relationship drama. Remember, public domain and privacy don’t mix. Ever. Case in point: The now infamous facebook-ranting, laptop-shooting Jordan family of North Carolina.
4. Thou Shalt avoid being a ‘Debbie Downer’. No one likes a complainer. If you are a daily dose of lemons with your updates and not one soul so much as ‘likes’ your status, it’s time to change your tune.
5. Thou Shalt not post everything you are doing. If you are having your first cup of morning coffee, guess what? So are millions of others. If you are tired and going to bed, just do it! It’s not like we’re going to jump in our cars and drive over to tuck you in! Even in facebookland, there is such as thing as Too Much Information. If you seriously think I will find it interesting that you changed the litter box, we have no business being friends.
6. Thou Shalt not post everything you are thinking either. Profanity and racial slurs have no place here or anywhere else. If you can’t temper your gutter mouth, private message your ‘friend’. The old rule of thumb about avoiding heated discussions about politics and religion at social gatherings applies here too. Sharing something of political interest to you could trigger a ‘comment’ firestorm of opinions from the left and the right. Avoid the mine field of mudslinging.
7. Thou Shalt not be vague or cryptic. You may just simply be at a loss for words when posting ‘thanks for everything’; your 1372 friends may fear for your well-being.
8. Thou Shalt not bombard with challenges. We all have our special projects, and the occasional request for prayer or contribution to a worthy cause is certainly no reason to de-friend someone. But week after week of asking others to repost the color of one’s undergarments or middle name spelled backwards for the sake of cancer research or just because it is second cousin week will be a surefire way to go from ‘friend’ to ‘scroll on by’.
9. Thou Shalt pause before posting, sending, or sharing. Jostens, the national yearbook and graduation company, has launched the public service campaign ‘Pause Before You Post’. So ask yourself, who will be able to see the post, will anyone be embarrassed or hurt by the post, are you proud of it and how would you feel if someone posted it about you? If wouldn’t want to see it on a billboard or the front page of tomorrow’s newspaper, don’t do it!
10. Thou Shalt Profile Prune from time to time. Just like spring cleaning, deleting unwanted friends, comments and photo tags is growing in popularity as the sites become the main communications channel for most. One study suggests two-thirds of profile owners have dropped people from their network, a number that has doubled in the last three years. Remember, it is still YOUR wall, and 'It Manners A lot'.
Monday, April 2, 2012
Flying in the middle of the night used to have its own set of unspoken rules. First and foremost: Take your seat, buckle up, and call it a night! But somewhere between SFO and JFK, those rules went the way of complimentary on-board meal service to the land of lost luggage. My thoughtless seat mate to the rear decided to descend into the dark night with his overhead light on for the duration of the trip, as if his row was going to help navigate us onto the tarmac safely. Then he engaged his poor companion in non-stop conversation which sounded more like a deposition. He completed his cruel triage on the rest of us by playing with the wrapper of his purchased food, every crinkle, tear and peel like his own concierto of incivility.
Some people like meeting strangers, but after 10 p.m., forget about it. Save the small talk for the landing when everyone will be awake in the predawn darkness whether they like it or not. When the interior lights have been turned off, that signals slumber-time. Of course, not everyone , no matter how many sleeping pills or mask or cocktails, can nap on an overnight plane flight. If you're one of them, it is still no excuse for disregarding the public air space of one's neighbors. If you must read, or work, opt for a personal book light instead of the overhead beam. Everyone around you will thank you in the morning. And honor that code of silence - literally. If you think extending this basic courtesy to your fellow passengers is impossible, next time, book a midday flight, or take the train. And remember, 'It Manners A lot'.
Sunday, March 18, 2012
The Catholic Guy's Lino Rulli has devoted entire radio shows to the topic, and places of worship do their best to remind the faithful through weekly or monthly bulletins, but the word according to the book of decency is still falling on plenty of deaf ears.
This weekend, at the rear of a Catholic church where a newly-installed Bishop was presiding over a Confirmation service, there stood a disinterested family, taking photos on their i-phone, then critiquing their shots. All the while the Celebration of Mass was underway, as jaws dropped and eyeballs rolled.
A few rows up, sat others chewing away their afternoon. Standing along the aisle, still others giggled.
Holy Inappropriateness! What happened to reverence, I wondered? Have people forgotten, or has no one been taught about such basic public behavior? I would have been wacked from here to Dublin with the wooden ruler of Sister Mary Mighty.
Another set of commandments, one reserved for civilized behavior inside a place of worship, is long overdue.
1. Thou Shalt not chew gum. De-clase, no matter how expensive the clothing you are wearing.
2.Thou Shalt not allow children to disrupt. If you didn't bring along small toys for fidgety youngsters, find the crying room, or take the kids outside.
3. Thou Shalt not talk. Whispering is as distracting as giggling.
4. Thou Shalt not use electronic devices, even if you are desperate to get in touch with your maker. If you can't be disconnected for an hour in worship, you belong in the confessional!
5. Thou Shalt not be late. All eyes, ears and intentions should be focused forward, not on the entrance to the venue.
6. Thou Shalt dress appropriately. I know, this is subject to absurd interpretation, but for starters, men, hats off; ladies, if you or anyone else at home thinks you look like a Vegas show girl, cover up.
Remember, too, that even though you may not practice the service's particular faith, common courtesy and consideration of others knows no specific denomination. After all, 'It Manners A lot'!
Monday, March 12, 2012
Those 'tip' containers are so commonplace at burger joints and coffee stops, that it took a minute to re-sensitize my sensibilities. Then I wondered, for what service am I expressing my delight with the superb treatment? How politely that car wash cheerleader took my money and handed me a trash bag? Come to think of it, that guy with the perma-smirk did manage to wave me onto the automated rails without incident or mowing him down, and I did understand what he meant when, using sign language, he pointed to the instructions on the wall that told me to put my vehicle in neutral. But from there I really was on my own. Maybe I deserve a tip! I was the one guiding my vehicle onto those automated rails through the Lava lather rinse. I was the one who did the heavy lifting/vacuming. But by the time I reached the green light to exit (by myself), I was still wondering who else would reap from any moneys deposited in that 'tip' container? Mmmmmm....the guy who empties the trash containers, maybe? The landscaper? The automotive repairmen across the street? This is a slippery slope, I know.
For the record, when I'm not in a hurry, and take my office-on-wheels to be handwashed, I can be accused of going overboard when it comes to tipping. They deserve it, every wipe, wax and swish of the vacuum.
But when we are expected to treat the person who guides us into the do-it-yourself car wash with the same monetary expression of appreciation as we would our hairstylist or the concierge, something has really gone haywire. After all, 'It Manners A lot'.
Thursday, February 2, 2012
I often blog about a hostess gift. Super Bowl gatherings get a pass. Just bring food, your food, the supermarket's food, food. Period. And beverages. Always, always appreciated.
Remember, it is JUST a game! If, God willing, the Giants beat the Patriots, and Tom Brady is your idol, don't take it personally. Don't sulk, use profanities or throw things. Unless you want to be thrown out. If people in neighboring states can hear you curse, tone it down, and cut yourself off!
If the gathering is on your home turf, above all else, make everyone feel welcome. On the patio, in the den, kitchen and anywhere else people will gather to view the game. Relax and have fun with your guests. Be discreet about picking up used cups and plates.
Enjoy yourself and the company of friends, moderate (these are four very long quarters including the commercials) and don't forget to thank the person who invited you....or the guest who accepted the invitation.
This is a winning gameplan for a super Sunday of Super Bowl fun.
Afterall, it really DOES 'Manner A lot'.
Friday, January 27, 2012
And yet there, in the midst of all the bad form, was a petite woman with a pixie, struggling to ascend steps and speak in the nation's capitol, with a smile wider than the Mississippi river, reminding all of us of the indomitable spirit within. Watching Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who nearly lost her life in an assassination attempt, deliver her resignation, victorious in her battle to live, was the very epitome of Amazing Grace. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called Giffords "the brightest star among us." Pelosi went on to say "she has brought the word 'dignity' to new heights by her courage."
And like Giffords, Friday's front page of The Bakersfield Californian featured the poignant photograph of a young man in the prime of his life, now at death's door, who was gifted, through the generosity of a loving community, the opportunity to put memories on file for loved ones. Amazing. Grace.
Too often on this blog and elsewhere, these 'lights' of hope and promise don't receive the attention they deserve. It it is easier to focus on the 'lemons' of a celebrity behaving badly rather than the 'lemonade' of the truly beautiful people in our midst.
May the Jose Gameros and Gabby Giffords inspire all of us to treasure the beauty of life, and of the amazing grace of valiance and bravery.
After all, it REALLY does 'Manner A lot'!
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
As per Emily Post from her Blue Book of Social Usage's tenth edition, 'an invitation to lunch or dine at The White House is a command and automatically cancels any other engagement'. Period. Post goes on to write that 'there are very few acceptable excuses for refusing an invitation to The White House, and the reason must be stated in the note of regret - such as an extended absence in a foreign country, the recent death of a close relative, or actual illness.
Not accepting the invitation for anything short of that might be exercising one's freedom -which no one is arguing against here - but is also the height of bad manners. An invitation from The White House is an honor and as coveted as they get.
The boycott was a slap in the face to the nation's Commander-in-Chief regardless of his political leanings, as well as a hockey stick smack up the side of the helmets of his teammates. The spotlight should have been on the Stanley Cup winners, not the player who was a 'no show'.
Besides, if the MVP is truly in such a lather over the state of the nation, presumably he would have had the perfect opportunity to 'bend' the President's ear for a minute or two about how to get America back in the game. If his 'ice out' of the man who occupies the highest office in the land was intended as a powerful protest, it fell far short of that goal. Tim Thomas gets my mvp title of Mr. Very Pitiful for disrespecting our nation's leader. What a puck! After all, it really DOES 'Manner A lot'!
Saturday, January 21, 2012
Don't let that paralyze you from extending compassion.
A condolence letter won't ease the heartache of the recipient, but it will give them a measure of comfort knowing they are in other people's thoughts and prayers.
That is where our sincere notes and letters come in. It is the worst time in a family's life, yet anyone who has walked that path will tell you how much the handwritten notes and letters meant to them.
While greeting card companies produce Sympathy cards, the occasion of the death of someone special absolutely calls for a handwritten note on personal stationary. Do not, under any circumstances, tweet, facebook message, or e-mail condolences.
The letter needn't be lengthy. A heartfelt expression of sorrow for their loss, followed by a personal remembrance including the name of the descedant is sufficient.
The letter should be written within several days of learning of the passing. Beyond two to three months, unless you've been living on the moon, is at expiration-status, too late and risking insensitivity.
On occasion, I will tuck a linen handkerchief into a note or have it hand-delivered for the recipient to place in their purse for use the day of the service. Often people remark that they'd never thought of a gesture so intimate.
Expressing condolences opens up a window of possibilities of ways to reach out, comfort, and console...whether it be handerchiefs or handmade pot pies.
This time-honored tradition is more than just a gesture of thoughtfulness, it is a way for us to connect, comfort and underscore the essence of civility. Afterall, it really DOES 'Manner A lot'.