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Ovation: The Twilight Wish Foundation.

untitledSeveral years ago, I stopped wanting to “get stuff” and I started wanting to “do things”.  I’d spent the better part of my adult life collecting things to assemble a home and I’d finally determined that my home was comfortable and cozy and I didn’t want any further clutter.  But, at the same time, it occurred to me that time would soon be running out.  Now I collect memories.  I collect as many as possible as frequently as I can and I hold on to them so tightly I can’t imagine that I’ll ever for get them.  I wish I had paid closer attention when I was younger and that I’d started consciously collecting memories soon.  “Wish in one hand …” Granny would say.

Sometimes it’s not too late to get your wish.

Eleven years ago last May, Cass Forkin was having lunch at a diner in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, when she noticed several elderly ladies struggling to put together enough money to pay their lunch tab so she paid it for them.  Their gratitude inspired her to found Twilight Wish Foundation, the first national wish-granting organization specifically aimed at making wishes come true for elderly senior citizens.  The organization grants wishes to deserving folks, ages 68 and older, who earn less than 200% of poverty level annually, or who live in nursing facilities.  By treating them with compassion, the organization feels that they help restore the seniors’ dignity and bring them hope.

Recent recipients are thrilled with their gifts!

ClaraClara, who says she was always a party girl and loved to go dancing, missed out on a “girls’ night out” in her younger days because her husband was afraid that other men would flirt with her.  Her wish was granted when she received a ticket on a Friday night “Oldies Dinner Cruise”.  “I don’t get to leave the house much, so I’m very excited,” said Clara.  “And if a man wants to dance with me, I’ll try to dance with him!”

CharlieCharlie and his friends are all huge baseball fans and watching the games in the main dining room of their nursing facility is often the highlight of their day.  Since most are wheelchair bound, the possibility of actually attending a ball game was out of the question until Twilight Wish made it possible for Charlie and seven friends to a major league game where they managed to get great seats, eat hot dogs and cheese steaks and even drink beer!  Charlie, apparently, told everyone that it was the second greatest day of his life … second only to his wedding day in Hawaii.

GeorgeGeorge was a lonely man with no family to speak of who was forced to retire because of health issues after working more than forty years of his life as an electrician, mostly working on carnival rides.  Because he was so depressed and lonely, Twilight Wish arranged for him to spend a day at a carnival where he surprised former co-workers who had, actually, thought George had passed away.  “I didn’t know such an organization existed.  They made it possible for me to see everyone again, which is nice because I don’t have family that comes to visit me.  Most of my days are spent sitting and watching TV” he said.

“We’re asking everyone to help make our world become a nicer place to age, one wish at a time, and help those who cannot make their own wishes come true in the twilight of their lives.” – Cass Forkin

The foundation has granted more than 2,000 wishes ranging from simple basic needs, like hearing aids or special chairs, to more elaborate lifelong wishes, like riding in a fighter jet.  Anyone can get involved in making a wish possible by fundraising, organizing or becoming a part of a local chapter.  Visit to learn more.


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Diatribe: Meth Grandma’s Tea.

teaI was a fortunate child inasmuch as I grew up in a small town where almost all of my family lived within an hour’s drive from home.  We got to visit relatives frequently and be a part of each other’s lives.  As more people follow their dreams, go away to college and leave their “nests” it seems that kids today don’t get to have that experience.  I was particularly lucky to have wonderful grandmothers … both of whom were avid coffee drinkers.

saccharinBack in the time of the percolator, it wasn’t uncommon to brew a pot at breakfast and enjoy it until it was gone.  Of course, the children were taught from an early age to keep our distance from the coffee pot because it was hot but one of my grandmothers had another reason to keep us from her coffee.  She used saccharin tablets.  This early form of sugar substitute was her way of trying to cut back on sugar and she guarded those little white pills like a Hollywood starlet trying to avoid a stay at Promises.  They were far from inexpensive and they were her guilty pleasure.  She made it very clear that they were not candy and we were never, ever to touch them.

Apparently, Cynthia Watson of Idyllwild, California, never taught her granddaughter to stay away from her coffee pot and her guilty pleasure was extremely different.  The fifty-one-year-old woman was arrested after her two-year-old granddaughter drank tea with methamphetamine in it.

One morning last week, the little girl’s mother called for help saying her daughter had not slept and was talking rapidly, scratching and she couldn’t sit still.  Later, at a hospital, it was determined that she had meth in her system.  An investigation revealed that her grandmother, who was visiting from Oregon, had made a cup of tea the night before and put meth in it to “get herself high”.  The little girl had apparently helped herself to granny’s tea when the cup was left unattended.

The little girl is expected to make a full recovery but her grandmother was held on suspicion of child endangerment.

Despite this tragic tale, memories of my grandmother smuggling her little “sugar pellets” into Denny’s will always make me smile.


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Ovation: I Support The Firing Of Polly “Have a Blessed Day” Neace.

I Support US BankI have a job, I have a job description and I have a boss.  I do what is expected of me, I follow my supervisor’s instructions and I get paid for my service.  I don’t always like what I have to do.  In fact, sometimes I don’t look forward to it at all.  I think that’s why it’s called going to “work” instead of going to “fun”.  Some people seem to understand the concept of employment differently.  They seem to believe that their faith somehow trumps their paychecks and that it’s ok to defy orders if they believe it’s the right thing to do.  Pharmacists who refuse to sell “morning after pills” and county clerks who refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples when their job descriptions indicate that they are to do so are, quite simply, insubordinate employees … regardless of their reasoning.

In light of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby, the U.S. court system will surely fill with cases involving individuals and corporations attempting to use “sincerely held religious beliefs” as an excuse to avoid doing or paying for any number of things.  Or, as in the case of Polly Neace of Walton, Kentucky, to sue an employer after being fired from a job as a bank teller.

Polly NeaceMs. Neace, as a matter of practice, said the phrase “Have a blessed day” all of the time to customers as she worked, Monday through Friday in the local U.S. Bank branch.  Saying this phrase didn’t appear to be an issue at first but, in March 2011, she received a code of ethics violation stating that several customers had complained about her using the phrase.  Neace, who says she lives her beliefs every day, took her proselytizing even further by asking customers if they accepted Jesus as their savior.  The bank found this, also, to be unacceptable and she was reprimanded again but she continued, despite multiple warnings, to use the phrase until she was ultimately fired.

Polly Neace has filed a lawsuit against U.S. Bank claiming she was discriminated against for exercising her religious freedoms.

Sorry, Polly, you were fired because you didn’t do what you were told by the folks who were signing your paycheck.  In the same manner that fast food restaurants can instruct their employees to ask “do you want fries with that”, most companies can instruct their employees to refrain from asking questions or using phrases that do not conform to their standards and practices.

If Hobby Lobby can force religion onto its employees, why can’t U.S. Bank force secularism onto its own?

Surely, U.S. Bank will win the pending lawsuit filed by Ms. Neace as she was not discriminated against for exercising her “religious freedoms”.  She was fired because she didn’t perform her duties as instructed by her supervisor … she was fired for insubordination.

And those pharmacists should be fired, too.  And those county clerks.  I’d be fired if I refused to do MY job.

If Polly Neace wins this lawsuit, will it be just a matter of time before firemen refuse to put out fires at abortion clinics and paramedics refuse to give treatment to unwed mothers?  Before Jewish or Muslim customers are turned away at Catholic-run hospital?  Discrimination is discrimination is discrimination regardless of the underlying reason.  I wonder how Polly would react if the cashier at Piggly Wiggly asked her if she’d found Allah.

I support the firing of Polly “Have a Blessed Day” Neace.  Do you?


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Diatribe: GUEST POST – Online Car Loan Scams.

There's a lot of sketchy online auto loan lenders out there. Beware!

There’s a lot of sketchy online auto loan lenders out there. Beware!

A lot of us have been there before; for whatever reason, our credit score isn’t up to scratch and suddenly taking out a loan becomes a major undertaking. This is right about the time that the car decides to give up the ghost, requiring a replacement, which means trying to get a car loan.

Now, conventional wisdom says that a car loan is one of the easiest loans to get. In fact, a lot of experts say that if you’re starting out in trying to build a credit rating, start off by getting a car loan. But if you have issues in your credit history that makes you seem a bad risk, you’ll find yourself rejected by the dealer’s credit department, your own bank, and whatever other reputable institution that people turn to when they need a loan.

The sad thing is, the more you need a loan, the less likely it is that an institution will give you one. Yes, it makes no sense in some regards. Chalk it up to the same insanity that says that a prospective employer is more likely to hire you if you are presently working than they are if you’ve been out of work for a while.

Enter The Vultures
But as each door gets slammed in your face, out of desperation you decide to check the Internet to see if there’s an out. After all, the online world seems to have so many answers, right? Sure enough, you’ll find an army of companies out there that try to lure you in and have you commit to an online car loan. Regrettably, a lot of these places want to take advantage of the desperate, the people who’ve run out of decent options (note the qualifier word there: decent).

And that’s the sick part about these people. They prey on the desperate. They know that people are at their wits’ end, especially if their only car is now nothing more than a very large paperweight. They count on people being at the end of their rope and yet badly needing transportation. That’s why it’s important that you don’t let an online car loan connection scam happen to you.

Just Another Internet Scam
You’ve probably heard the expression “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”. And let’s face it, the Internet is positively rife with scammers, spammers, and rip-off artists who will happily take your money and/or lock you into a state of perpetual usury without a second thought.

GuestBloggerOnce upon a time, if you got suckered into giving money to a shady business, you could at least march down to their physical location and confront them directly. Today’s online hyenas don’t even give you that option; they are safely hidden by the anonymity of the Internet, free to skulk around unseen, looking for some poor schlub who has a less than stellar FICO score.

And speaking of which, those FICO scores can be a joke sometime, and unfortunately they up being the only thing that stands between you getting a loan at a respectable financial institution or owing money to some shady outfit run by a Nigerian prince or Russian bridal dating service. A few inaccuracies, a few missed payments, or even participating in a credit card counseling payment plan to settle old debts, any of these will turn your FICO score sour. That’s when the nasty bottom feeders twirl their mustaches evilly and emerge from the shadows to “help” you.

In addition to visiting the link above, see if the company you want to deal with has a history with something like the Better Business Bureau. Or see if you can scrape together a few hundred bucks and get a temporary beater via a classified ad or something like Craigslist (although make sure you keep in mind the ol’ caveat emptor!).

A bad credit score takes a while to turn around, but in the meantime, if you avoid the scammers and work with a responsible lender, you can still find a way to a decent vehicle.

john terraJohn Terra has been a freelance writer since 1985. He’s had unusually good luck finding cheap cars via friends who know someone who’s selling theirs.


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Ovation: Endless Appetizers At TGI Fridays.

TGIFI love a good happy hour.  In my younger days I used to look forward to stopping on my way home from the office to have a cocktail with colleagues one night and with friends another night at least one night each week.  I try to leave problems around the house at home and leave office drama at the office.  So, a stop on the way home allows for an opportunity to blow off steam or just have a few laughs.  Nowadays, however, I’m much too anxious to get home after a long day at the office to take off my shoes and relax with a happy hour of my own.  In either case, the snacks can make or break the event.

At home, we keep a supply of staples on hand … crackers, pretzels and a wedge of cheese … or, if we have the opportunity to plan ahead when friends can join us, we’ll bake a wheel of brie or assemble a nice shrimp cocktail.  When we go out, however, it’s a different story.  Our happy hour funds are, more often than not, reserved for beverages and not for snacks.

But, as of yesterday, happy hour revelers who choose TGI Fridays as their destination can enjoy “Endless Appetizers” for only ten dollars per person.  During the summer promotion, guests at the company’s more than 900 restaurants can choose one appetizer from the chain’s most popular starters including loaded potato skins, boneless buffalo wings and mozzarella sticks, and receive unlimited refills.  Apparently, while sharing will be discouraged, the rule will not be enforced by servers.

Happy HourI think this sounds like a great idea for a big group at happy hour that might want to pass and share a few plates of appetizers while they have cocktails and visit but many restaurant analysts doubt the strategy will lure customers during the tough summer season.  In fact, they seem to think that discounting signature brand items does nothing but reward frequent customers who are already willing to pay full price but will certainly take the bargain instead.  I sure would!

I try to avoid all-you-can-eat experiences because my eyes are much, much bigger than my stomach and in the past, like many others, I’ve found myself over-eating in an effort to get my “money’s worth”.  So odds are I won’t be visiting a TGI Fridays for a happy hour any time soon.  I’m quite confident, however, that I could do some damage to their mozzarella stick inventory after a second cocktail.

Do you think this “Endless Appetizer” promotion is something you might enjoy?


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Diatribe: “Married At First Sight”

married_at_first_sight_coverI’ve written before about my disgust for people who don’t take the privilege of marriage seriously and the good folks at the FYI Network are giving us another reason to question the motives of those who marry for marriage sake.  Marrying a stranger probably isn’t the strangest thing people have done to get on television but when you see Married at First Sight when it premieres tomorrow night you might think it’s one of the creepiest.

The premise of the show revolves around three men and three women who have been “scientifically and psychologically” matched for compatibility and then designated as couples.  They are introduced to each other at the altar where they are married.

They go off to start their new life together and they’re giving a month to see if it’s really going to work.  If they decide that their new marriage is doomed to fail, they get a divorce.  It’s that simple.

This potentially disgusting spectacle could actually make “reality dating” shows like The Bachelor and The Bachelorette look like exercises in legitimate matchmaking.

In some cultures arranged, even forced, marriages have taken place for centuries.  They’ve served different purposes for different families for many generations … but they’ve never been packaged as entertainment and televised to the masses on a basic cable network that most of us have never heard of.

We’ve come a long way since The Dating Game.  Will you watch this new show?


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