The World is Still Rich with Opportunity

A few years ago, I came across the quote below made by a reviewer of Richard Carlson’s book, Don’t Worry Make Money, that came out in 1997.         I don’t know the reviewer’s name and never found the review referenced again. But, this was and is an inspiration to me and I have always referred back to it over the years. I have a copy of it on my cubicle at work and on my bathroom wall so I can read it when necessary.

“Do you think that opportunity only knocks once? If you do, Richard Carlson, author of Don’t Worry Make Money, says you’re buying into one of the most perpetuated ‘myths’ in our culture.

Carlson argues that this kind of thing inspires people to do things they really do not want to do. That it is based on a ‘never enough to go around’ mindset that just isn’t true. Thinking that it’s now or never, often encourages bad decision making, for instance, he says. You might take a job you do not want or move to an area that doesn’t really sit well with you.

The world we live in is rich with ever-increasing opportunity, he says. The world is in need of creative people and everyone has their own gifts and talents to offer. You just have to figure out how it’s going to work for you. There are thousands of jobs out there that you can do. There are thousands of business opportunities.

But, Carlson says, first you have to overcome your fear: The fear of not having enough. The fear that you only get one shot and then it’s over.

It’s a big lie. Your life will be filled with great opportunities over and over again.”

On the other hand, you may be a person who has been blessed by some wonderful opportunities. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t more coming your way!

Submitted by Rosa L. Griffin

Review of book, Becoming, by immediate former U.S. First Lady, Michelle Obama, 2018

Make no mistake—this is Michelle Obama’s memoir!   Michelle’s book is about her life.   Her name is Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama.  

I can relate to former First Lady Michelle Obama’s life growing up.   Michelle was a black child from the south side of Chicago, Ill., and I was a black child from the east side of Baltimore, MD.    Michelle and I both grew up in a working-class community that rented.     As a young black child, she had neighbors of different ethnicities getting along just as I had when I was young.   She was considered a nerd just as I was growing up because we liked to read and write.    Her father died of complications of multiple sclerosis and my father died from complications of diabetes.   Neither man sought medical attention until it was too late. 

Black people became store owners, teachers, bus drivers, policemen, mail men, etc.   The neighborhoods were close.   Neighbors could discipline your kids.   She had grandparents, aunts and uncles living in the same neighborhood just as I did.  “Urban towns are full of good people who wish the best for their children.”  Michelle was just one of the young treasures growing up in every city in the world.   But Michelle does not try to paint herself as perfect in this book.  She talks about her flaws.

I believe her husband Barack Obama, U.S. President, was the epitome of what a President should be—to care for all people, new and old, not just some.    He respected all parties and attempted to work with everyone.  Michelle believed that Barack was the right person for that moment in history.   He would inherit a mess.   The president vows to protect the U.S. Constitution.   Oh, that’s what presidents swear to do when they lay their hand on the Bible at their inaugurations.

The President sees almost everything first:  tornado in Tuscaloosa, Alabama; extremist shot up Army base in Texas; mass shooting at movie theater in Colorado; shootings inside Sikh temple in Wisconsin, as well as shootings at elementary schools, high schools, and colleges.  20 first graders and educators were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.   Hurricane Katrina’s assault on Louisiana in 2005.   1800 people died and a half million were displaced.  A tragedy exacerbated by the ineptitude of the federal government’s response.   I can’t imagine having that much responsibility, knowing you have to try to do something about the problems that others can’t.

She wrote in detail about the difficulty of the presidential campaigns while trying to raise two children, run a household, maintain a job, plan and execute traditional White House parties and dinners, and personally organize and promote campaigns against obesity in children.

Michelle wrote positively about political opponents like John McCain.   Hillary Clinton’s gender was used against her relentlessly, but Michelle admired Hillary’s ability to stand up and keep fighting.     

I didn’t know that the President and his family do have to pay bills such as food and toilet paper, although the White House is rent-free.  They also have to pay for every invited guest’s overnight stay or meal.  Michelle paid for her own clothes and accessories.  

In 2008, Twitter was new and most adults had cell phones.   General Motors bankruptcy was coming.   North Korea was doing nuclear testing just as they are today.  There was an earthquake in Haiti.   A Louisiana oil rig was spewing oil in the Gulf of Mexico.    The BP oil spill was the worst in U.S. history causing local southern economies to suffer.   Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. Navy Seals.

Most humbling to Michele was visiting military communities and hospitals.  Wounded soldiers still wanted to rise and greet the President and First Lady.   Teachers, nail technicians, and physical therapists from one state weren’t recognized in another state which affected military spouses’ abilities to bring in additional income every time they had to move.   Childcare was not affordable.

If one didn’t vote, it could affect what kids learned in school, health care options available, or whether troops were sent to war.   Any U.S. economic crises sent devastating ripples across the globe just as they do now.

“No matter what I did, I would disappoint someone.”   She and her husband visited Archbishop Desmond Tutu, President Nelson Mandela, and other world leaders.   “Life was teaching me that progress and change happen slowly.  We were planting seeds of change, the fruit of which we might never see.”  

In 2011 the last American soldiers left Iraq.  A gradual drawdown was under way in Afghanistan.   Major provisions of the Affordable Care Act had gone into effect.   There were terrorist attacks on American diplomats in Benghazi, Libya.

This was one of the most interesting books I’ve ever read.  However, it was not an easy read, knowing that we lived through most of what Michelle talked about.   I salute you President and First Lady Obama for a job done as well as it could be done under the circumstances.

Written by Rosa L. Griffin 

Review of the books, When You Think No One is Watching: Wild but True Hotel Stories, volumes 1 & 2, by Emmanuel Gratzimi, 2016 & 2017 respectively

The stories in Mr. Gratzimi’s books on the hotel industry range from hilarious to deadly.  For example, a hotel client’s head was crushed by someone throwing a liquor bottle from the penthouse.    This was caused by minors drinking in someone’s room.  This was a very moving case which caused me to tear up—lives destroyed for a party.

Clients as well as employees break the hotel’s rules often in spite of the hotel’s security staff.   Clients have illegal parties, being so drunk that they don’t know someone is bleeding in the same room.  This applies to dignitaries, celebrities, and average hotel clients.

Some of the clients do such foolish things that they seem to want to be caught.   “From what I heard, from a later report, the man’s wife, who was in fact an attorney, prior to divorcing him, represented the prostitutes pro bono.”

There were cases of employees using rooms to have sex with other employees.   One employee’s husband charged a room to his wife’s credit card so he could have sex with a prostitute.  However, his wife worked in the same exclusive hotel and brought management and security to her husband’s room.

Unknown to me, emergency situations happen often in hotels in which paramedics, police and/or firemen have to be called.   I couldn’t even imagine the types of things noted in his books.   The books were eye-opening and shocking, but easy reads.

Written by Rosa L. Griffin

Review of book, Leave the Rat Race to the Rats, by Michael Irving Phillips, 2016

Mr. Phillips’ nonfiction book about the rat race is difficult reading for me because it’s full of statistics, research, history, philosophy, and truth–ideas which take some contemplating.  I find myself taking notes which certainly slows down my reading.   I bought his book at a Citylit book festival in Baltimore, MD. 

Phillips speaks of the “Goodwill revolution which will not be violent”.  He quotes many prominent leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr, Nelson Mandela, etc.     He says that “the social class systems divide people, resulting in envy, hatred, heartache, and much bloodshed.”  

“Revolutions are not unanimous (not supported by everyone).   Evil is very pervasive in our society…is an aberration, because we are born good.   The things that touch us deeply are the needs for health insurance, living wage, hunger of children, justice to prevail, abhorring bullying, abuse, and exploitation of the weak and innocent.”

“We deny our feelings of goodwill to embrace apathy, insensitivity, because we feel helpless to do anything about it”.   Rat Race is a book that everyone in America and the world needs to read.   I haven’t finished reading it yet, but I hope to soon.

I’m submitting this partial review to get his book out there for those who don’t know about it.   Michael Irving Phillips’ book is neither depressing nor boring, but very enlightening.

Written by Rosa L. Griffin

Woodlawn Page Turners Book Club

As I mentioned before, the Page Turners Book Club meets at 7 p.m. usually on the third Thursday of each month  (no meeting July, August, or December) at the Woodlawn branch of the Baltimore County libraries, 1811 Woodlawn Drive, Woodlawn MD  21207, https://www.bcpl.info/locations/woodlawn/index.html, 410-887-1336.   Come join us!

Woodlawn Page Turners

Book to be discussed: Sula, by Toni Morrison

3rd Thursday, November 21, 2019

7 p.m. in the Conference Room

All adults are welcome!

Submitted by Rosa L. Griffin

Review of movie, Serenity (2019)

Serenity was a picturesque but very complicated movie to put across. It’s the story of a teenage boy (Rafael Sayegh) who escapes into technology for relief from his and his mother’s horrible lives with an abusive stepfather.

The movie starts literally with a teenage boy’s eyes and your tv screen fills with the computer instructions he is working on. The camera then rushes over beautiful waters to his real father Baker Dill’s (Matthew McConaughey) fishing boat life in which he has no cares except to keep his boat running. He doesn’t even seem to realize or remember he has a son until his ex-wife (Anne Hathaway) arrives before her abusive obnoxious rich husband (played very well by Jason Clarke). The ex-wife asks Dill to kill her husband for $10 million which he refuses to do.

They seem to be kind of deadpan characters at first. The townspeople gave you the feeling of the tv show Cheers—”you ought to go where everybody knows your name” and your personal business. After Matthew McConaughey played in two of my favorite dramatic movies starring him—Amistad and A Time to Kill—he began making movies with characters similar to how this movie began with him being selfish and not caring about anything or anybody except catching the biggest tuna known to man, losing customers along the way.

thought it was a very different part for Anne Hathaway which gave the movie a film noire feel. She usually plays perky but serious young women in romantic comedies except for her dramas like Les Miserables in which she played Fantine, a dying prostitute. Dill’s partner, Duke (Djimon Hounsou), is the conscience of the movie all along and begs Dill not to kill the man.

The son’s imagination is creating all of this to get away from his abusive life. Then the science fiction aspect of the story takes over when Dill is approached by a man (a strait-laced “suit”) who tries to sell him a fish-finder to find the biggest tuna in the islands. But it turns out that the fish-finder salesman (Jeremy Strong) is actually the rules in the program/game who ask him not to kill the boy’s stepfather because it was not in the original program.

Meanwhile, the real son is planning to murder his real stepfather. I will not tell the ending, but it was quite a twist to find out other details which will not be revealed until the end. And, yes, there is nudity in the movie with Dill carousing with the local rich woman Constance’s (Diane Lane) partial nudity who pays him for sex basically.   And, Anne Hathaway’s mostly partial nudity in front of Jason Clarke’s abusive husband and in sex with Matthew McConaughey as she tries to convince him to murder her new husband.

Director Stephen Knight also wrote the screenplay.   The movie was released January 25, 2019: budget 25 million; box office 11.4 million.

Written by Rosa L. Griffin

$1 Coffee in a Jar

Remember my article “Cravings of the Junk Food Kind” that I posted on December 10, 2015, when I talked about how sexy coffee tastes and smells? 

Well, I was very disappointed with 2 small jars of $1 coffee that I bought from a Dollar Store a few months ago.  I knew I would soon be running out of Folger’s instant decaf coffee and bought those just in case I didn’t find a brand name decaf like Folger’s, Maxwell House, Nescafe, or Sanka on sale.

I’d had some very good Beaumont decaf instant coffee for a little more than $1 from Aldi’s in the past which was delicious.    If I’m on the run, I like McDonald’s decaf McCafé, Dunkin’ Donuts, Wawa or Burger King coffee. 

So, I thought I was safe, but I didn’t realize that you need to read the whole label when buying coffee.   First, the two small jars had no brand name at all.   They were just labeled Decaf Instant Coffee.  Secondly, my first cup of it had no taste at all, and I had the nerve to add milk which made it taste like weak tea with milk.  

After I couldn’t get past the first couple of sips, I read the label.  There was a warning posted. 

“Warning.  Consuming this product can expose you to chemicals including lead and acrylamide which are known to the state of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm.  For more information go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/food.”  It was made in Mexico.  Distributed by Transnational Foods, Inc., Miami, FL 33131 USA, Info@TFINC.com.

The jars also have an encircled U which means:

“the product is certified as Kosher by an organization called the Orthodox Union.  It is actually an O with the U inside and it’s the initials of the certifying agency.  This is one of dozens of kosher symbols that can be found on products across the US and indeed the whole world.  Kosher is a Hebrew word which means ‘fit for consumption’ by traditional Jewish people because their dietary laws have been followed.”   David Bratspis, Israel Tour Guide answered this question 5/13/18 on Quora.com

Unfortunately, this “coffee” was not fit for consumption to me.

If you are really particular about your coffee, see the following resources:

“8 Coffee Brands to Avoid”, Caffeineinformer.com

“We Tested 13 Grocery Store Coffees and Here’s the Best One”, Extra Crispy, S://amp.myrecipes.com, John Sherman, February 8, 2019.

Written by Rosa L. Griffin

How to Identify Fake News

“Fake news refers to false news stories, hoaxes or propaganda created to deliberately misinform or deceive readers.  Usually, these stories are created to either influence people’s views, push a political agenda, or cause confusion.  It can also be a profitable business for online publishers.”

How to spot fake news

  1. Be skeptical of headlines.
  2. Look closely at the link.
  3. Investigate the source.
  4. Watch for unusual formatting.
  5. Inspect the dates.
  6. Check the evidence.
  7. Look at other reports.
  8. Do some fact checking.

“There are many good websites, like Politifact.com, Snopes.com, and FactCheck.org that can help you verify a story.”  When I worked in a library, some librarians relied on Snopes.com for verification of rumors.

No matter your age, you or someone you know can benefit from an article in the Beacon.   Read the details of the article below on their website, https://thebeaconnewspapers.com or pick up a free copy in various places like libraries, senior centers, etc.   Beacon has more than 2400 distribution sites in Maryland and Virginia (Washington DC, Howard County, Baltimore MD, and Richmond VA).   They have a circulation of 400,000 per month.

Source: Miller, Jim.  “Identify Fake News; Don’t Send It to Others”, Baltimore Beacon, September 2019, page 5.  The Beacon in focus for people over 50 , P.O. Box 2227, Silver Spring, MD  20915, (410) 248-9101, email: info@thebeaconnewspapers.com.

Test Your Fake News Sensor

Pew Research Center has a quiz for you–see if you can answer all five questions correctly. Take the quiz at pewresearch.org/quiz.

“When Americans call a statement factual, they overwhelmingly also think it is accurate; they tend to disagree with factual statements they incorrectly label as opinion.”

Source: Foster, Margaret. Technology & Innovations. Links & Apps. “Test Your Fake News Sensor”, Baltimore Beacon, November 2019, page 5.  The Beacon in focus for people over 50 , P.O. Box 2227, Silver Spring, MD  20915, (410) 248-9101, email: info@thebeaconnewspapers.com.

Submitted by Rosa L. Griffin

Be careful online

Links are the part of a text message on your phone or an email message on your computer that directs you somewhere else.  The link itself is usually a different color from the rest of the message and/or it may be underlined.  

Don’t open every email, text message, or click on every link you are sent, even if you know the person.   Sometimes, hackers may get your list of contacts so it could be a familiar name sending you a link.  But the link may not spell anything or looks too bizarre—a strange combination of letters, numbers, and symbols.   Don’t click on that link at all.  

It may not be worth the risk of your getting a computer virus which may also send that same virus to everyone on your contact list.   Instead, call that person to verify that they sent you a link if it looks like something you are interested in.  

Some of the same links sent on email is also being sent as text messages on cell phones.   The phone number is different each time (block it if possible), but the message tries to coax you into clicking on the link.  Each text promises you something different:  a prize, cash, a job, an adventure, a freebie, medications from Canada or Mexico, etc.  The same old wisdom is still true: “If it looks too good to be true, it probably is!”

Some websites you actually use will send you constant links or unwanted notifications.    Facebook does it 24 hours a day, notifying you of any change that a user or stranger with a place in your group has made, whether new picture, new photo, etc.   For example, if you have a Facebook friend who has sent out invitations to strangers under “public” (which covers the world), any of those strangers may become your friend and send you messages and/or invitations.  Facebook has 2.41 billion users.  I don’t answer requests when I don’t know the person.

Even a dating site like Ourtime.com will send you a message that someone is sending you a flirt just to start some interaction going.   The person may not even know that a flirt has been sent in their name.   On top of that, several dating sites are owned by one company, and they use the same participants on each site.

Finally, I’ve found it helpful to actually log off and turn my computer off after each use.   As a matter of fact, I don’t turn my computer on every day.   I missed a few worldwide viruses that way.    And, if Google asks you if you want them to save your password, I would pass that opportunity by.   Also, anyone who wants you to stay logged in 24 hours a day is suspicious.  Although I use antivirus software, I’m also suspicious of any company that says they CAN keep your information safe like Lifelock, Experian, Norton, McAfee, the Cloud, etc.   It’s been proven time and time again that ANYONE and ANYTHING can be hacked.

Source: https://www.statista.com for Facebook statistics

Written by Rosa L. Griffin

Review of movie, The Legend of Tarzan (2016)

You can write fiction to include historical figures like King Leopold II of Belgium or Samuel L. Jackson’s George Washington Williams character.    Williams was a real-life Civil War soldier, Baptist minister, historian, politician, lawyer, and journalist who died in his 40s.

I went to a movie theater to see this movie because I like Swedish actor Alexander Skarsgaard as an actor.   I first saw him in the HBO television series “True Blood” when he portrayed the vampire sheriff. 

Over 200 films have featured author Edgar Rice Burroughs’ character, a white orphan raised by apes in the African jungle.   A multitude of different white men have played as Tarzan since 1918, either in the flesh or in voiceovers.   I had seen all of the Johnny Weissmuller movies in which Johnny portrayed the fictional Tarzan, Lord Greystoke.   Weismuller was a 5-time Olympic gold medalist who made 12 Tarzan movies beginning in 1932.  For decades, Tarzan was Hollywood’s biggest foreign export.   In the 1966 NBC series, Ron Ely did his own stunts in his portrayal of Tarzan and ended up with lion bites and broken bones.  

What I didn’t like about the Tarzan character as I was growing up was that Africans were always portrayed as big-eyed and hopping around comically, always earning Tarzan’s vengeance or salvation.  The name Tarzan literally meant “White Skin”.   I also noticed that not all of the Tarzans were comfortable walking around in a loincloth whether in movies or television shows.

The Legend of Tarzan is the best of all the Tarzan movies.  It was made to reflect what is going on in the world today.  “For the first time in the franchise, black lives matter.”  There are many things I liked about this movie:

  1. The romance between Tarzan and Jane was different than in the Weismuller movies.  Jane (Australian Margot Robbie) was portrayed as Tarzan’s equal in many ways.
  2. Skarsgaard, being tall and lean, built up a lot of muscles for the movie.
  3. There was a dignified portrayal of African tribes made up of brave and intelligent men and women which is our history.
  4. In the movie, Tarzan seemed to be ashamed to be thought of as the book character published at that time and only seemed to relate to children as Tarzan. 
  5. The poignant part of the story of a younger Tarzan killing a chief’s son because the young tribesman killed Tarzan’s ape “mother” and the chief (played by Benin-born Djimon Hounsou) grieved and swore revenge over the loss of his son, resulting in his giving Leopold’s cause a box full of diamonds.
  6. The villainous Captain Leon Rom, played by Austrian Christophe Waltz, traded Tarzan for diamonds for King Leopold, “ruler” over the Congo.
  7. The CGI special effects, especially of the gorillas and other animals, were perfect.
  8. And, of course, Samuel L. Jackson, played George Washington Williams, who convinced fictional Tarzan to come out of retirement to help prove the slavery situation in Africa’s Belgian Congo which Williams actually promoted in letters.  

This movie, The Legend of Tarzan, was directed by David Yates, and written by Adam Cozad and Craig Brewer.   The movie cost $180 million to make and earned $356.7 million at the box office.

Sources noted in the articles below:

Keegan, Rebecca, Los Angeles Times Movies, “Can You Make a Non-racist Tarzan Movie?” latimes.com, July 1, 2016.

Price, Lydia, “15 Hunky Actors Who’ve Played Tarzan Throughout the Years”, https://people.com, June 30, 2016.

Bady, Aron, “The Only Good Tarzan is a Bad Tarzan”, Pacific Standard, July 8, 2016.

Hughey, Matthew.  The White Savior Film: Content, Critics, and Consumption.   Temple University Press.  2014.

Hochschild, Adam.  King Leopold’s Ghost:  A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa.  Mariner Books, 1998.

Written by Rosa L. Griffin

Mr. Bean as Maigret

Rowan Atkinson recently starred as Detective Inspector Jules Maigret in a 2016 Dead Man series that I saw on WETA UK.   The killer, Dacourt, played by John Light, who as a short man with delusions of grandeur, goes for the “bad” girl dancer while he has a wife and kids at home.

I saw John Light as a top thief who was on one episode of the “Father Brown” tv show and returned for a second episode later in that series.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Rowan Atkinson as a detective.   He was so great in the “Mr. Bean” comedy tv series in which his eyebrows and eyes were so expressive—a great part of his characterization.   I liked seeing him also as a department store jewelry salesman in the movie “Love Actually”.  

The icing on the cake was seeing him playing a dead-pan serious detective.   He played the Maigret character so well that it brought tears to my eyes.   Well-done Rowan!

Written by Rosa Griffin