Wednesday, November 30, 2011

TSA Script: Airport Screeners Scream"Spread 'em!"

Here's something that'll make you think twice when you take that holiday trip.


I've noticed over the last couple of years that the airport screeners  all across our country do something disgusting that could present a health risk for passengers.


Some of us are  selected  for an item by item examination  of the contents of our carry-on. Those who examine  your bags wear those beautiful sky blue industrial gauge rubber gloves in order to protect themselves as they rummage through your belongings.


Here's the problem.


Sometimes the inside of a passenger's bag can be pretty disgusting.


When I was at Georgetown University in Washington D.C., I can remember getting ready to fly home back to Cleveland for the holidays.


I was always running late and figured I could just throw a bunch of dirty laundry in my bag  so mom could help me with her professional touch doing the laundry at home the way laundry ought to be done (as opposed to the disorganized  bachelor style methods I used living on my own).


So it was normal for me to be tossing dirty underwear, soiled socks, and mildewed bath towels into a humongous gym bag I carted off to the  airport.


And I'm sure you've seen the filth inside a bag when someone comes home having done a little camping. Hiking boots that tramped over moose ka-ka sometimes find their way into somebody's American Tourister.


In any case, I  have continued to observe that the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) employees wear those same rubber gloves from one baggage search to another  WITHOUT CHANGING GLOVES BETWEEN SEARCHES.


This means that Mrs. Shtoopenheimer's Chanel No. 6.4  could end up on little Jimmy Butler's blankie.


Residue from Mr. Planter's peanut puffs could  accidentally end up on my nephew's pillow.  My nephew has  a peanut allergy.


           My real  concern is for the gross things that will be transferred from one bag to another.


Remember my bag at  the airport during my college days? No hands plunged into my bag should have ever touched the contents of anyone else's bag without being completely sanitized at high temperature.


The Center for Disease Control lists the transmission of germs by hand to be one of the most significant health hazards that we face. Venereal disease, skin problems, and fecal residue are likely stowaways joining you on your trip to your destination because our government just doesn't give a damn.


James Fortenos, Public Affairs Officer for the TSA,   was kind enough to send me a copy of the official airport screening policy. The screeners have an official policy that does not require changing gloves between luggage searches.


If you want them to put on a fresh pair of gloves, you have to ask.


This is completely unsatisfactory for two reasons.


First of all,  you should never have to ask for something which is a matter of basic health and safety. Can you imagine having to ask the waitress to wash her hands before she handles your food?


 Your local health department would never tolerate this TSA practice were they given jurisdiction over such matters.



Secondly, the entire screening process is often so intimidating that passengers are afraid to request anything out of the ordinary.


 I think most of us are afraid that asking for special treatment  means we'll end up on some kind of list circulated throughout the offices of Homeland Security.


So here's a message to our government: keep your smurfy  latex out of my Samsonite until you establish an official policy requiring fresh gloves before you start rooting through my Fruit of the Looms.


Now that's not too much to ask, is it?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Father Guido Sarducci brings us Humor and Wisdom

Here's a question.

Where are you going when you die?

Survey after survey shows that the vast majority of us believe there is life after death.

So why do we live our lives as if we'll live forever?

You'd think we'd live this life as a preparation for the next.

Is that next life important?

Well,      if our next life lasts for eternity, then I'd say it makes sense for us to be prepared.

By the way, for a sense of the magnitude of eternity, follow this illustration described by Father Larry Richards of Erie, Pennsylvania.

Imagine an old man who picks up a grain of sand from the shores of Lake Erie and then takes 10,000 years to take one step.

He walks one 10,000-year step at a time to place that one grain of sand on the top of Mount Everest.

Then imagine this man making these trips walking to place every grain of sand from every lake, river, and ocean on the top of Mount Everest.

When he has finished,  the first day of eternity has passed.

 Mind-boggling isn't it?

So here is the question: If eternity is the length of our next life,  why do we waste even one second of this brief present existence on anything that doesn't help us to be ready for the next one?

Comedian Don Novello invented the quirky lovable character of Father  Guido Sarducci, Vatican emissary.

Father Sarducci once described heaven as a place where an angel presents us with a box containing all that we lost during our life on earth.

In a premonition, he saw his box in heaven, filled with lost wallets, car keys, watches, and parking tickets.

He says that he now purposely loses things just to make sure he is well supplied when he gets to heaven.

It's a pretty good bit of humor but it carries a subtle message.

             Are we giving up the pleasures of this life in order to ensure a more glorious existence in the next?

Look, I'm not arguing abandonment of your family or your job.

I am, however, urging a reassessment of your daily priorities.

We are all dying.

I recently met a 35-year-old stenographer who two months ago saw life turned upside down as the doctor told her that the pain in her chest came from a malignant  tumor. This young mom is thinking about eternity.

Are you?

Better hurry up and do so.

We are all one pathology report away from eternity. One turnpike car wreck away from facing the path that requires 10,000 years to take one step.

Are you going to do one thing, anything, today that helps you to be ready?

Do you live a daily life that does nothing, in terms of a real plan?

We are not plants. We are not animals.

There is more in store for us after the ICU screen reads flatline.

Pick up a Bible.

Volunteer at a homeless shelter.

Create something good and noble.

Help someone without any concept of benefit or gain for you.

Selflessly love someone.

Do something.

Forever after you die is a very long time.

Get ready.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Remains of the Day... could belong to Your Son or Daughter

            Societies reveal their most cherished values by showing respect for them.


            That's why we whisper in church and bow and kneel before our God.


            That's why we remove our hats in Court.


            Respect for that which we hold dear.


            And that's also why we pause to honor our war dead.  They are perhaps the one group of heroes that most universally joins us together as Americans.


            In rural towns and crowded cities, our military's fallen inspire thousands of Americans to stand solemnly curbside, hands over their hearts or hands in salute.


            The very deepest of respect for those who paid the ultimate price on our behalf.


            That's what's so disturbing about the news reported from the Dover Air Force Base Mortuary a few days ago.


            It seems that is has been a regular practice to have the unattached body parts of our slain soldiers cremated.


            And then dumped in a landfill!


            Family of our most gallant had been assured that the ashes had been given deserved respect.


            The government lied about that.


            The Washington Post reported that families of Americans who lost their lives on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan were never told the truth.   


            Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz recently told congress that they now bury the remains at sea with a proper ceremony.  Problem fixed, he claims.


            Nevertheless, the story was stunning and disturbing.


            The body parts that can't be identified must be treated with respect.


            We treasure these young men and women.  If the ravages of violent battle separate them from any part of their body, we should honor these heroes by honoring those sometimes shredded and difficult to manage remains.


            Every drop of their blood is a tribute to their courage.


            No greater love has any man than to give his life for a friend.


            I am relieved the situation has been rectified.


            But I wonder how Mrs. Jones feels as she bows in prayer at Arlington Cemetery, knowing that the severed limb of her young son is scattered among the rats and decayed garbage at Waste Management's landfill center.


            General Sherman told us that war is hell.


            Must we perpetuate hell for families by disrespecting their noble children?


            Never again, you say General Schwartz?


            We hope and pray that you are right.


            If not, we stand for nothing as a people.


            Americans, let's keep this promise.


                Our war dead deserve nothing less.




            DAVID M. LYNCH

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Agony of Defeat Often Focuses Our Priorities

  Here's a personal story.


            Someone I am close to ran for office the other day and lost in an extremely close race:  one-half of one percent difference in votes between winner and loser.


            I have been on both the inside and the outside of the winner's circle in the past at different times.


            Losing an election is often tough, even emotional at times.


            In any case, I received an e-mail from the losing candidate that put life into perspective.


            Here is an excerpt from that e-mail.


            I awoke early after a restless sleep, tossing and turning all night, trying not to think about what I might have done differently.  I walked into my kitchen feeling a little sorry for myself.


 I kept thinking that after all the time, money, and effort spent on my campaign, hadn't I earned the victory?


 As I reached for the coffee, Razzy came trotting in, same as always.  She stretched and padded over to the refrigerator and waited for the small piece of cheese she's come to expect each day.  She wagged her tail in great expectation.


 She could not have cared less that I was not going to be elected.  Her love, attitude and expectations were unaffected by my disappointment. I began to be jealous of my dog!


            God's love for us is pure, constant, and eternal.  His divine providence is not dependent on our failure or success.  He is the same every morning, and He is good all the time! 


 We all face disappointments in life, yet God remains faithful!  Faith is always easier on the mountain top, but it is in the valley where we learn the important lessons!    



            In this age of emphasizing the importance of winning, this candidate reached some pretty important conclusions about life, God, and keeping your priorities straight.


            It's easy to admire the winners.


            Sometimes the losers have something important to say.


            At a handicap Olympics a few years ago, one boy shot to the front of the footrace while another fell to the ground only a few yards into the race.


            The lad about to break the tape at the finish line stopped dead in his tracks.


            The crowd shouted "You're a winner, Jimmy, you're a winner!"


            Jimmy didn't win.


            Instead he looked back at his fallen comrade and shouted "you're a winner, too, Frank!"


            He then came back to Frank and helped him limp to the finish line, both  tied for last place.


            Victory is the frequent calling card of the Yankees, the Steelers, and Southeastern football teams.


            We bask in the warm light of superiority as Americans who are used to winning and being number one.


            There is nothing wrong with striving for excellence and realizing our loftiest ambitions.


            Let's just not lose sight of the fact that despite Vince Lombardi's coaching mantra, winning isn't everything.


            Nobility, virtue, and faith can be found outside the spotlight and in the shadows where the losers wistfully observe the celebration at home plate.


            Are your  priorities in order?


            St. Peter doesn't give one dog-gone about your promotion or your new Lexus or your high school state Championship or your stunning electoral victory.


            He wants to know how you treated people and whether you kept God's goals high up on your list with your own.


            Razzy and God love you for who you are.  Not for what you've done.


            So give the Razzy in your life a little chunk of cheddar and give God the chance to see the kindness and faith that you give to others.


            Win or lose.



David M. Lynch

Friday, November 4, 2011

And the Survey Says... When Buckeyes go to Hollywood

            Here's a true story about a game show experience.


            Years ago, my sister-in-law had us audition at an Eastlake hotel for an appearance on the "Family Feud" game show.


            I didn't really think it would go anywhere.


            I was wrong.


            We were selected to fly to Hollywood and appear on the daytime version of "Family Feud".


            I was the guy or the end, you know, the family member who is there as the husband of one of the family members.  I was pretty sure that, being on the end of the panel, I'd get the least attention.


            Again I was wrong.


            I was Mayor of Euclid at the time and the producers decided to designate me as the head of the family – my wife's family!


            They made this switch, transforming me from the barely noticed to the spokesman and team captain only five minutes before we went  live on National TV!




            The Host was a wonderful  TV personality named Ray Combs who was beloved  by the Family Feud Production staff because of his professionalism and kindness.


            Apparently this was quite a contrast to his predecessor, Richard Dawson, who launched the original show.


            Dawson was notorious for kissing female contestants and acting like a jerk off the air.


            Well, it all came to a crashing halt as we were eliminated on our very first day.  We came home, tails between our legs, better off for the experience but disappointed.


            A few months later, we received a phone call.


            My wife's family was so engaging that they wanted us to return and appear on the night- time version of "The Feud".


            So off we went again, this time competing for larger prizes and before a bigger audience. 


            The producer, a man affectionately known as "Howie",  greeted us like old friends.  They gave us a rental car, spending money (were they nuts?) and put us up in a posh hotel.


            The same old set felt like our home court in Television City in Hollywood.  By the way, the sets look great on TV but up close they are pretty cheap and much smaller than what viewers see.


            We were veterans and we were ready!



            We rolled to victory and we went into the bonus round where lurked substantially larger prize money.


            In this part of the game, two players provide responses to survey questions hoping to match the most popular answers.


            My wife's sister went first while I contemplated life in a sound-proof booth that played elevator music to ensure that I couldn't hear the questions.


            Released from my cubicle, it all fell on me.


            The last question, the one where I needed a good response,  was this:  Name something people do with snow.


            I said build a snowman.  Ray said try again  because this answer  had already been given.


            With only 3 seconds to spare I blurted "make snowballs!"


            A suspenseful revelation of the point totals a moment later said that "make snowballs" was the number one answer and we won the grand prize!


            We went home, the conquering heroes.


            Now it's all sort of faded away and I realize how shallow the whole process was.  People acting excited just to win a few bucks on television.


            Ray Combs committed suicide shortly after that, the  victim of pain pill addiction after a serious car accident.


            Sometimes I pause to consider this: When it snows, do you first think Frosty or  snowball fights? The correct answer could earn you big cash…or just some great memories.