Category Archives: Uncategorized

Let there be light!

My roommate stomped into the apartment the other evening clutching a wad of parking tickets and a scowl. She had just returned from the University of Tampa campus. I hardly needed to ask what the problem was, as she is a repeat offender in the parking department, but I love hearing about the ticketing woes at other colleges, considering the tab I racked up at SMU.

She was given a parking citation while sitting in her car, which I thought was a bit harsh. To be clear, I don’t furrow my brow at this because the guard was in the wrong. On the contrary, I’d like to congratulate UT on their outstanding parking enforcement. The thing that rubs me the wrong way is that my roommate has complained multiple times that she does not feel safe parking in the student garage at night and trekking across campus to get to class. I feel this is a legitimate concern, since the grounds aren’t very well-lit.

I feel that SMU has a similar lighting issue. No matter how many times I walked to the journalism lab at 5:45 a.m. to work at The Daily Update, I couldn’t help looking over my shoulder just to make sure there was nobody lurking in the dark while I booked it across the completely unlit quad. I did the same power walk/ look over the shoulder/ punch 911 in the cell phone just in case maneuvers when I walked home at night from The Daily Campus newsroom. If there were more lights, or even if the lights weren’t so dim, I probably would have felt more comfortable walking the quarter mile back to the sorority house.

According to UT’s crime statistics, from 2006 to 2008 there were 10 forcible sex offenses on campus. It can be assumed that this number is not entirely accurate, because many victims do not report assault. The fact of the matter is that anyone can walk on to the campus, a fact that should make women walking to classes late at night wary. In addition, a student was recently killed in a hit and run accident just off of campus. While he was off grounds, the student’s death should encourage school officials to take more precautionary measures where they can.

There are things that simply will happen on a college campus. The University cannot stop every crime. What it can do, however, is use some of the money it’s raking in from the heaps of parking tickets issued to put up more lights and emergency call boxes around campus.


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This afternoon President Obama swooped down on Tampa, shutting down roads and sending much of the city into a frenzy. He was scheduled to speak at the University of Tampa, thrilling most if its students. Not only was the leader of the free world at their school, classes were cancelled. I’m quite sure I heard a resounding “woop!” echo throughout downtown.

I spent the day running errands with my mother. We had just left Sam’s Club when a policeman kindly informed us that we were going absolutely nowhere because President Obama might show up sometime soon. So we snagged a parking spot near the road and hunkered down. We soon saw police cars zooming by at an unnecessarily swift pace, flashing their lights, blaring their sirens, and looking like this was the coolest thing they had ever gotten to do. This, of course, is silly, because, much like the rest of the drivers in Tampa, policemen in the Bay Area have a complete disregard for speed limits, stop signs, and traffic lights. Unless of course they catch you doing something wrong. But I digress.

Those of us trapped in the parking lot of the Sam’s Club and Home Depot took to the sidewalks with cameras. Men, women, children, and even one sheepdog patiently waited for the president to drive by after landing at MacDill Air Force Base. Some were slightly annoyed that they couldn’t get out of the lot and back to work. Others couldn’t wait to see the limo. One man made the best of the situation and put his sedan through the carwash across the street while waiting.

Brenda Thomas, a 50 year-old school bus driver and clerk at the Home Depot, was amazed at the power one man had over a city.

“It’s amazing how they can just shut everything down,” Thomas said.

Barbara Thomas

Thomas had never seen a president before, and couldn’t wait to catch a glimpse of the president rolling down South Dale Mabry Highway, though she was concerned because her lunch break was swiftly dwindling.

But Thomas and the other bystanders were not disappointed: soon a motorcade consisting of 38 motorcycles, vans carrying reporters, a bomb squad, three limousines, and a plethora of police cars drove by. Unfortunately, it was impossible to tell which limo the president was riding in, which many agreed was the safest thing to do, yet disappointing to all those who lined the streets to greet him. One woman joked that had the policemen tossed Gasparilla beads to the crowd, President Obama would officially be the coolest president ever.


Beginnings of the motorcade

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I went to Zumba. It was hilarious.

As you probably gathered, I went to Zumba, and it was hilarious. You may be asking yourself, “Why, Liz? How could such a popular fad that involves bettering yourself to Latin music be funny?” I shall indulge you.

Not long ago, my parents, being concerned for my “well-being,” decided that we would all purchase memberships to the local YMCA. It was very parentish and annoying of them. They demanded that I begin going to the gym and attending exercise classes. Considering that I haven’t been to the gym in six months (two years), this came as somewhat of a jolt. Since, however, I am currently without a real job and am being fully supported by my parents (don’t you dare judge me- you will be zapped with bad-economy-layoff-karma despite what Obama says), I had little choice but to comply. As they said in that one Star Trek movie, resistance was futile.

So last night, after deciding I was looking a wee bit pudgy, I decided to wake up at the crack of dawn (7:30) and drag myself to the Y. My alarm sounded off like bells tolling for the gallows. So I pressed the snooze button.

Five minutes later I fell out of bed (I feel that is the most effective way to get up in these sticky situations. Not only are you fully awake from the impact with the floor, but you also stay awake due to the bruise on your hipbone). I scooted over to the Y and asked where I could find Zumba, that chic aerobic craze.

Apparently, at the Y Zumba is only chic if you are pushing 85 and have managed to avoid a walker. Don’t get me wrong; there were a few people there who knew how to use the interweb, but I was the youngest by at least a decade.

While I was observing my surroundings and beginning to feel the rush of excitement I get before an extraordinarily awkward situation, a sassy Spanish woman danced through the door, screamed “Arrrrrriba!” and turned a boom box up. She was rhythmic, she was coordinated, and I’m pretty sure she was laughing her ass off at me. I am somewhat gangly and awkward and tend to move like a New York pigeon with vertigo.

I danced (and by danced I mean fell over myself) for an hour straight. The only reprieve I had was when the Cupid Shuffle came on. I showed all those grannies what was up.

But despite my embarrassing dancing, which was enhanced due to my age, I cha-cha’d and “took it to Memphis” like a pro. A pro undergoing rehabilitation for a life-threatening injury, but a pro nonetheless.

To my surprise, I actually worked up a fairly good sweat during my Zumba experience. This may have been due to my uncontrollable laughter, or it may have been my swingin’ moves. We shall never know. All that matters is that my parents cannot sass me about working out until next week.

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Shoes, Scissors and Terrorism

When I was in college and being supported by my parents, not to say that my parents are not currently supporting me, my father and I made a deal. We agreed that, if he would buy me two dresses that I desperately wanted, I would neither buy nor try on a single pair of shoes for six months. Now, before you judge me (and I don’t care if you do, I love shoes), you must understand that if you could get hooked on an article of clothing, stilettos would be my heroin. Some people drink when they are upset; some people smoke when they can’t handle things; some people go so far as to actually hit the gym when life seems crappy. I do one of two things: take a nap or buy some shoes. Works every time.

I walked out of the department store thinking that I had just scored big time, which, well, I had considering I was now the owner of two new, killer dresses. I also thought that there would be no way my father would stick to the stupid deal we had made. Surely he knew me better than that.

A few weeks droned by and I refrained from touching any new shoes. I lasted a good two months before my friend, Erin, asked me to go shopping. Of course she wanted shoes.  I threw caution to the wind and tried on what can only be described as a freakin’ sweet pair of boots. Not to toot my own horn, but they looked great on me. Needless to say I purchased the aforementioned shoes and stashed them in my trunk so my father wouldn’t see them.

Another month passed before my father discovered the hot shoes. To be blunt, he was pissed. That was the first time I was caught with shoes in my trunk. The six months passed, and I let my dad think that my mother and I had refrained from any more “frivolous” purchases.

When I was 13 years old I visited my aunt in California. I brought along my backpack to keep up with my homework, and my mother escorted me through security and onto the plane (because you could do that then). I waltzed through the metal detector, excited about my big trip, when I was pulled aside by security and told that my bag needed to be searched. If they wanted my copy of Medea that was fine with me, but now I wasn’t going to have time to get McDonalds before the flight. Tres annoying.

My mother watched as the officer motioned a heavily armed guard closer. And when I say heavily armed, I mean the man was carrying a gun that would make Rambo’s mouth water. The officer proceeded to remove my pencil case and extract upwards of four pairs of scissors. My mother gave me the look that simply screams “Are you serious?” It was a very tense/ awkward moment. My mother was so embarrassed she did what any woman in her position would have done: begin to apologize and loudly ask me what was wrong with me and what could I possibly have been thinking.

In all fairness, I didn’t remember about my scissor stash. It had taken me weeks to pilfer all of my mom’s shears, an act that had driven her up the wall. Every time she would look for a pair to cut something they would have magically disappeared. Watching her buy new scissors every week and then lose it when they went missing was more than mildly entertaining. The fact that she never checked my pencil case was hilarious.

My mother pleaded with the security guard not to throw her lost collection away, and to let her retrieve the scissors after she had dropped her problem child off. Shockingly, they consented. I got on the plane; my mother regained her scissor collection.

Two weeks ago I drove down to the Tampa Port Authority. I was going to interview someone for an article I am working on. To get access to the port one must pass through a security checkpoint. Thinking nothing of the contents of my car, I zoomed up and rolled down my window. I was told to open my glove compartment and trunk, both of which I knew were packed.

What I didn’t think about was the fact that I had twelve shoeboxes in my car from my recent move into a friend’s apartment. The guard, Omar, opened the trunk, whistled, and called two more guards over. A very stern- looking man walked up to my window and asked in a cold, monotone voice, “What’s in the boxes, ma’am?”

Needless to say, I felt like an idiot. I assured them that they were filled with shoes. They ripped open every box just to check, and honestly, knowing my history, I can’t blame them.

They let me into the port, I got my interview, and I went home. When I told my family the story they simply shook their heads. They failed to see the humor in the situation.

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A Healthcare Argument Part Two

Here is a series of emails that has been sent around concerning the healthcare legislation. I found them extremely interesting and that both sides had valid points. Names have been changed for privacy.


I normally delete emails after reading them.  In the case of your email below from mid-September, I did not.  I kept it because I wanted to respond, not in a kneejerk fashion, but in a more thoughtful manner.  Over the past weeks, I have returned to your email many times.  In doing so, I have wondered whether you wrote it after serious reflection, or whether you sent it in reaction to your irritation over a media report or something that you saw on the web.  In all likelyhood, it is due to the serious health issues that many in our extended are facing at this very moment.

Several items in your missive caught my attention, the first being your reference to “lily white screamers.”  The statement is one of those lines that both the left and the right throw out with little or no backup.  In essence, if I am a liberal and you disagree with me, then you must be white, and you must be racist.  If I am a conservative and you disagree with me, you must be a socialist who wants to divide the pie, rather than enlarge the pie.  Both are shallow, sophomoric thinking and both serve to limit real debate on critical issues.

Such statements also dismiss the opinions of a large number of Asians, Blacks, Hispanics, and others who do not happen to adhere to positions that they are expected to hold, primarily by self-styled leaders who have forged lucrative careers out of claiming to represent them.  We have too long tolerated the kind of thinking that says that a black conservative must be an Uncle Tom, and the kind of mindlessness that allows such statements to go unchallenged.  It is the kind of discrimination that allows the statements and opinions, regardless of how outlandish they may be, of individuals such as Al Sharpton to have standing, while dismissing and/or vilifying the opinions of intellectuals such as Thomas Sowell or Walter Williams, regardless of the quality of their education, intellect, accomplishments, or research.

Your second characterization was that those opposed to the health care proposals were “screamers.”  It is true that there have been some loud town hall meetings, but there have been relatively few in which people were drowned out and not allowed to speak.  To me, the most striking aspect of the protests, and the tea parties in particular, has been the stark contrast with traditional protests and demonstrations that we have seen from the left.  It is now a  common place occurrence in institutions of “higher learning” that faculty who once marched in protest of the Vietnam War and for freedom of speech while trashing facilities now seek to ban those who disagree with them from speaking on campus.  When that fails, they encourage students, not to listen and debate, but the disrupt the presentations so that those opposed to their views cannot speak.  Left wing protests at G7 summits are frequently violent, and liberal protestors the Republican National Convention last year threatened attendees with violence and accosted at least one conservative female commentator.  The only violence to date at Tea Parties have been attacks on participants by liberal thugs.  The most visible of which was the SEIU’s beating of a black man in St. Louis for selling t-shirts and other items saying “Don’t Tread On Me.”

As you know, I lived and worked in Washington for 5 years.  During that time I saw many protests and have followed others since then.  Events such as the “Million Man March” and even the celebratory presidential inauguration earlier this year leave the Mall in a mess and the taxpayer borne cost of clean up is high.  There are two such protests that stand in stark contrast to the norm.  The first is the farmers protest that took place in the dead of winter during early 1979, my first year in D.C.  Farmers drove their tractors from all over the country and parked them on the snow covered Mall.  At the time, both Beth and I worked for Secretary Califano and our offices were in the Humphrey Building on the Mall.  During the protest, many of the farmers ate in our cafeteria.  The were polite, hard working Americans, who left the mall clean when they were finished.  This summer’s July 4th Tea Party was another such event.  There was no violence on the part of the Tea Partiers, and before leaving they cleaned up their own trash.  While they exercised their right to protest, they did so with respect for public property and for the taxpayers who foot the bill.

Your complete statement was as follows: “It is time for some of us to start speaking up rather than allowing the lily-white screamers on the Right to completely have the floor”. What an interesting statement.  Just when have these folks controlled the floor?  ABC, NBC, CBS. MSNBC,CNBC, CNN,the Washington Post, the New York Times, the LA Times, the Miami Herald, the Boston Globe, Time, Newsweek have covered these events only when left no choice.  When they have covered such events, they appear to be adversaries, not journalists.  Certainly, you cannot mean that Fox News constitutes a majority of one.  By the way, I rarely watch Fox and I find it difficult to listen to O’Reilly or Hannity for more than a few seconds, and therefore, rarely do so.  Furthermore, the Democrat Party controls the White House, the House of Representatives and has a filibuster proof majority in the Senate.  There is nothing that the Republicans could do to stop a united Democrat Party.

Let’s turn to health care, the subject of your memo.  Do you know anyone who would argue that health care is bad?  I would venture to guess that even the most hardened among us agree that there needs to be some kind of health safety net. Most would agree that no one should lose their home and/or be financially ruined due to a catastrophic illness.  Most would agree that there is some degree of moral obligation when it comes to health care.  The questions are what form any safety net should take, how it should be paid for, and the point at which collective responsibility begins and personality ends.

As you of all people should know considering your background with LA County, Federal and State Governments do provide a number of health care programs for children and for the poor.  In addition, veterans are provided benefits through the VA, and seniors thorough Medicare.  Hospitals are not allowed to deny emergency care based on ability to pay.  None of this is perfect, and emergency room services are abused, but health care is there for the elderly, the poor, and children.

Of the remaining uninsured, a significant number are in this country illegally.  Whether they should be given legal status and the rights and benefits that go with that is a complex subject for debate that needs to be decided though our political process, not through health care legislation.  The numbers of uninsured include young adults that can afford, but choose not to purchase health insurance believing that their risk is small.  Others are uninsured for short periods between jobs and can elect to be covered under COBRA.  Then there are those who loose their jobs and cannot get/afford COBRA coverage.  Others fall between the cracks and cannot afford expensive coverage, but have incomes too high to qualify for government programs.  The actual number of uninsured that do not have the ability to obtain insurance is very important because that number should drive the the types of solutions that we seek to apply to the problem.  Like the fat kid in a canoe, the pending health care legislation will fundamentally alter our economy and will control our budgetary course from now own.  This is a game changer, not a pass it now and iron out the problems latter issue.

Moral responsibility.  Is that responsibility simply a collective responsibility, or is it an individual responsibility as well?  When does one stop and the other start?  Collective responsibilities are always easier to get behind.  This is especially true for individuals who pay limited taxes because someone else foots the bill.  Keep in mind that the government pays for nothing.  The government taxes to fund its programs, it does not create wealth, but if the pending legislation passes it will surely redistribute wealth.

Individual moral responsibility.  Does that responsibility require indivuals to conduct their lives in a manner that dictates they do not abuse their bodies, they do not have children they cannot/will not care for, that they deny themselves luxuries in order to buy health insurance, that they prepare themselves to earn a reasonable living, and that they conduct their affairs in a fiscally responsible manner?  Does the safety net come in after an individual has conducted themselves responsibly but still needs our assistance, or does it excuse/promote irresponsible behavior and force someone else to pick up the tab?  Does it lie somewhere in between?  If someone truly believes that there is a moral responsibility to provide health care to the poor, are they donating their time and resources to charitable organizations dedicated to that effort, or are they waiting for the collective we to take care of it.

Critical that we pass health care this year?  Are you sure, and if so, why?  Act on tort reform, bring down State barriers that limit competition for insurance, stop penalizing small businesses, and get serious about defining who we need to cover and what form that coverage should take.  We need a health care system that sensibly addresses the needs of individuals, not “the people.”   We need to increase choice and self reliance, not promote dependance and increase the public dole.  When I am Mary’s age, I want to know that I can have access to the kind of cutting edge treatments that she received.  I do not want a bureaucrat deciding if I am worthy, or if I am too old.


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A Healthcare Argument Part One

Here is a series of emails that has been sent around concerning the healthcare legislation. I found them extremely interesting and that both sides had valid points. Names have been changed for privacy.

Let’s talk about health care for a moment. It is time for some of us to start speaking up rather than allowing the lily-white screamers on the
Right to completely have the floor.

Health care is good. It takes care of us when we need medical attention. Without our health, we are nothing.  And it is morally wrong to deny health care to the needy poor–those who can’t afford it. We are talking about men, women, and children whose lives depend on it.

Passage of a health care bill this year is vital to this country whether it is a perfect bill or not–and most certainly perfect it will not be, but let’s get something on the books and iron out the wrinkles later. There are 535 lawmakers in Washington who love nothing better than to pass amendments.

You have heard about the standing “uninsured,” but this group is not the whole of it. Every day in this rich country of ours thousands are losing their insurance coverage every day that rolls by.  Spend just a few hours in a hospital to have a hernia operation and get a bill from that facility in excess of $10,000–not to mention the bills that come in from the surgical team and others. Or, spend five to seven days in a hospital for a major illness and get a bill from that stay for $100,000.  This is us. Having Blue Cross only for the latter charge, I negotiated the hospital down from $30,000 left owing to $20,000–so long as it was cash on the barrel head.  What if we had not the means?  Care denied or charged to the public dole?

A young professional in the family (in his early 40’s)  was let go from a lucrative position due to the depressed economy. His health insurance with the company is due to expire. He has been denied coverage by insurance companies he has approached because (1) he had two benevolent polyps removed after a colonoscopy; (2) his 6-year-old son was not insurable because he had too many head colds; (3) his wife was also determined  uninsurable even thou her health is good.

The Arcadia, Ca., police department recently sent letters to its retirees that if they wanted to keep their coverage they would now have to pay the premium themselves ($1500 a month).  Where do you go for coverage at 55 to 64 years of age or more? Who wants you? And how many can absorb this cost?

We desperately need a health care system that sensibly addresses the needs of the people. Reform of the entire system is the right way to go. It will take a lot of work, a lot of tweaking, to get it right. For decades nothing has been done–except to ignore the problem or turn our heads the other way. Special interests are working their asses off to insure that nothing gets done. Too many people have their fingers in the tilt.

It’s time–it’s past time–to do something about it……………..Lewis

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Are you having fun yet?

Recently, I had the opportunity to serve as a runner for ESPN during the University of South Florida’s homecoming game against Louisville. I was ecstatic and jumped at the opportunity. I had done this once before a year earlier and loved it.

To be clear, I did not love it because being a runner is a glamorous job. In fact, it is anything but. I spent the initial 30 minutes of my first day making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the crew. Some people may have been turned off by this, but I saw it as a badge of honor. Now, I can one day say that when I started out I made sandwiches while sitting on a cooler at Raymond James stadium. What’s up?

It amazed me just a bit how many friends you can make by slapping some peanutty goodness on two slices of bread. Within the first hour I had met everyone on the crew and had been given the title of “Best Sandwich Maker Ever.” So when the cooler no longer needed refilling and everyone had enough bananas to satisfy their cravings, I was asked if i wanted to head off with the cameramen to set up equipment. I accepted.

Not many 22 year-old girls can say they have been in almost every nook an cranny in Raymond James. I can. Behind the scoreboard? Been there. Press box? Been there. Crow’s nest? Been there. Field? Been there. Locker room with the Buc’s starting lineup? Haven’t been there. Would have been cool, though.

I spent the day setting up cameras and running equipment back and forth to the press box. By the time we packed up for the day my calves were on fire from running to the tip-top of the stadium to retrieve cables and cameras and bring them back to the production bus. I didn’t mind this, however, since the most physical activity I’ve gotten in a while is from the Wii Fit, and it recently asked me if I trip when I walk.

Day two of my ESPN adventure started out as before: with PB&Js. I felt that my sandwich making skills were nothing short of masterful at this point and my chip and cookie display could have graced the cover of Southern Living. I began trekking coolers and cables to the press box when I met a very friendly police officer. I must have been sweating because the first thing he did was chuckle and ask, “Are you having fun yet?” I gave an enthusiastic “yes!” and heaved my cooler out of the elevator and down the long hallway.

My cop friend must have spoken to everyone at the stadium, because I could hardly walk, or run in my case, anywhere without someone shouting “Are you having fun yet?” Each time I gave my cheery “yes!” and continued on with my work.

Then I got some news. The producer had decided that I would take the place of one of the utilities on the field. I would be piling. Great. Piling sounded awesome! I had no idea what it meant, but I knew I could absolutely do it.

Then I learned what piling was. Basically, you run behind the cameraman with the massive cable attached to his back and make sure he does not get caught on anything. To make things a bit more interesting, I would be the number two piler and would be farther back than number one. Easy, right? Well, not if you have no idea what you are doing. As it turns out, people are all over the sidelines, and when you trip them with a cable they don’t like it. Even more awkward is the fact that if you attempt to apologize for clothes-lining them, there is a very good chance you can get yanked over by piler number one tugging on the cable. Alas, even more tragic is the fact that most utilities wear gloves because the cable can and will burn your hands when you let it out. As I said earlier, I was a runner. No gloves for me.

It seemed as if every five minutes some middle-aged man would ask me if I was having fun yet. To be honest, during the first half, I was having anything but fun. I was stressed out, had been heckled by some rowdy fans who thought the girl sprinting with 50 pounds of cable in boat shoes (yes, I was wearing boat shoes) was hysterical. To make matters worse, every female’s worst nightmare came true when a squad of rosy-cheeked and glittery-eyed cheerleaders began gaping at me and snickering behind their hands. I was sweaty, I was wheezing for breath, and I was being laughed at by not just one, but an entire force of cheerleaders. Fun gone.

At half-time one of my ESPN friends took pity and  gave me a lesson on proper piling, after asking me if I was having fun, of course. It was like the clouds parted. Suddenly, I understood what my purpose was, what I was actually supposed to be doing. It made so much sense.

By the second half of the game I was a piling master. I had beautifully coiled cable and was sprinting along the sidelines like I had been piling for years. Cheerleaders stopped staring, drunken fans gave me an encouraging yell, and I began having a blast again.

I ended the day covered in sweat, my hair plastered to my face and my hands spotted with blisters, but I was happy. I may want to write and report, but that doesn’t mean I won’t make sandwiches and run with 50 pounds of cable. In fact, I think it might be the perfect way to get there.

When I left my cop came up and asked me one more time if I was having fun. You bet.

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