Friday, November 7, 2014

Tea Bags Bridge the Generation Gap

by Rose A. Valenta
Laugh a lot, and when you're older, all your wrinkles will be in the right places.”~ Mel Brooks

“You know, Mel Brooks uttered the best political line I ever heard, ‘If Presidents can't do it to their wives, they do it to their country.’ That’s why we have political activists like teabaggers.” Uncle Harry said over a hot cup of tea.

Muffled giggles could be heard from the college students seated at the dinner table, but they laugh at everything, so we paid no attention.

At least four generations of our family were represented at the table: Aunt Millie, who is 85, but too young to remember the original Boston Tea Party; Uncle Harry, who is in his late 70s; my husband and me; our oldest grandson, Johnny, who is just 19 years old, and his two college guests, Mike and Ben; and our straggler, Spuds, who is only 12, and our notorious little prankster. Of course, the generation gap almost always causes communication chaos. Today, for some reason, it was worse.

You would think that communicating with the 12-year-old would be a challenge, but it isn’t. The 19-year-olds have their own language code. They still say things to each other like “Mahna Mahna” and sit there and laugh. Only they know what’s funny about that.

"Nanu nanu,” I said to my husband, “Pass the sodium chloride.”

He laughed; and the kids just sat there silently looking at each other.

“Labadt,” he said, as he handed me the salt shaker. More silent stares from the kids.

“These teabaggers do have a point.” Harry said.

Giggles erupted from Johnny, Mike, and Ben. Spuds was just grinning.

“What do you think, Millie?”

“Lookey here, Harry, I don’t want to be discussing politics. It ruins my appetite. Two years ago, they thought Obama was the cat’s pajamas, now they want to give him the 23 skiddoo. So, quit talk‘in politics and pass the potatoes.”

“Well, this ain’t like the tea party you remember. Life was simpler back then, they just threw it overboard and that was the end of it. This is serious.”

“If you say one more thing to me about teabaggers, I’m going to have to hurt you.” She said.

The giggles were getting louder and Johnny’s face was all red.

“I think we should change the subject” my husband said. “Besides, that was taxation without representation; this tea party is about spending without any money. It’s a whole different concept. Why they use the term ‘teabagger’ is beyond me.”

Mike’s milk squirted out of his nose and the other boys were roaring. Spuds was on the floor gasping for air.
“I don’t know what you're up to,” I said to them, “but if you keep it up you are eating the rest of your meal in the laundry room.”

“Tea, Aunt Millie?”

“Bruhahahaha” Johnny couldn’t control himself, and Spuds was down for the count.

“That’s it! Get away from the table. I’m sorry this couldn’t have been a better time for you Mike and Ben; but obviously Johnny and Spuds can’t behave today. All of you will have to eat in the other room.”

After dinner was over and the dishes were done, Millie and Harry left, and the boys turned on the TV in the family room. They had an extra day off from school, so I knew I wasn’t going to get any rest.

My husband was outside putting something away in the tool shed, when Spuds tip-toed into the kitchen. I was sitting there with a glass of Fat Bastard Chardonnay. There was no calorie count on the wine label, just a hippopotamus. I felt comforted.

“What do you have to say for yourself?” I asked.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “It wasn’t all our fault, though. I can’t tell you why, but if you look at my laptop, you’ll understand. Just wait till I go in the other room, OK?”

Sincerity was written all over his face; but, for some strange reason I got the feeling I was getting punked.

“OK” I said, half expecting to find a dead mouse on the keyboard.

Spuds joined the others, and I got up and walked over to his laptop, which was on a small table in the nook, just off the kitchen.

In big yellow letters I saw “Urban Dictionary – teabagging.”

“OMG!” I blurted.

My husband walked in, took one look at the expression of horror on my face, and asked “What’s wrong?”

I pointed to the laptop saying almost incoherently “Mahna Mahna.”

How is it that we live in America, speak English, and can’t agree over the real definition of a simple tea bag? ▪

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Chocolate -- The Real Deal

Most of the time, I stay away from junk food, soda and candy. My Italian heritage makes it difficult for me to keep my weight down, so it takes extra effort to stay under 125 lbs. I have to stay under 125 lbs. as I’m only five foot tall, maybe smaller in my stocking feet and I’m still shopping in the size 14 rack, which ticks me off. This morning, however, I was craving chocolate milk. Not the 1, 2, or 4 percent variety, but the real deal with all the fat from the cow mixed in with lots and lots of chocolate syrup. You know, milk with the real tasty cream that used to rise to the top of the milk bottle before dairies started to use homogenization.

There was a time, when kids could sneak out on the front porch with a spoon in the morning and skim the cream off the top of the milk. Most of those kids grew up to be stock brokers and investment managers. The kids, who ended up working for the government liked the homogenized milk better.

Anyway, I decided to reward myself for staying away from the junk food for over a month. I was wandering around the company café’, not located anywhere near Wall Street by-the-way, looking for a small carton of chocolate milk. The only thing I could find was 1 percent. I was pissed. I really didn’t want to settle for anything less than 100 percent. I deserved 100 percent. Besides, I can still squeeze my hand into the waistband of the size 14 skirt. So what if its elastic?

I craved the rapturous flavor of the fattening cacao content of chocolate milk.

There was none to be found with over 1 percent fat. We live in a sick world filled with cardboard health food bars, low-fat everything, manikin teenagers, Botox entertainers and Howard Stern, I concluded.

Then, I spotted it and began to drool. A pot of half-n-half was sitting next to the coffee pot in the café’. I grabbed a styrofoam cup and filled it half-way with cream, went over to the register and purchased a milk chocolate Hershey bar. I had another empty cup in my office cubicle, so I put the Hershey bar in it and microwaved it for 45 seconds. Then, I added the half-n-half - Yes!

The one percent crap reminds me of a Dave Barry quote: “Eating rice cakes is like chewing on a foam coffee cup, only less filling.”

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Mothers Against V-Chip News (MAVINS)

By Rose A. Valenta

While the FCC has adopted rules for the use of V-chip technology in television sets with screens that are 13 inches or larger; no one has restricted the behaviors of politicians and public figures with shorter penises and a deficient supply of grey matter.

Mothers can’t V-chip prime time news, people, and we need a strong activist to help launch MAVINS - Mothers Against V-ChIp NewS. The evening news is always on in the living room while the kids are supposed to be doing homework, and it will only get worse over time.

I first noticed something was wrong during the Clinton administration, when little Johnny came into the kitchen asking about protractors, sexual harassment, and oral sex.

“I can help you out with the math manipulatives,” I said “but the other questions you’ll have to run past your father. Where did you hear that anyway?”

“It was just on the news,” he said. “They want to fire the President for sexual harassment and oral sex.”

“That’s ‘impeach’ the President,” I said, “Not ‘fire’ him.”

That scenario continued non-stop from about January of 1998 to February 1999. Obviously, our President was deprived in his youth from what the Amish call "Rumspringa." As a result, little Johnny had enough sex education to CLEP credits on the topic.

He wrote an entire Dissertation on “Cheating and Sexual Mating Behaviors of Public Figures Based on Income and Risk” for his friends, while still in middle school.

Years later, it gets worse. Recent sex scandals brought to us family-oriented viewers, during prime time news, involve Herman Cain, Barney Frank, John Edwards, Jim McGreevey, Governor Mark Sanford, Eliot Spitzer, Anthony Weiner, Tiger Woods and 'The Energizer' bunny.

It was reported on the national news last year, that the John Edwards/Rielle Hunter sex video previously leaked by former aide, Andrew Young, was going viral online.

News of the video made me cringe, as Professor Johnny is now a college student and also a YouTube junkie. He thinks it is “sick,” not a bad term in this generation, and posted it on Facebook and Twitter to his 3,000+ sick followers.

When he is home from college, he uses the computer in my kitchen.

Just what I need while I’m cooking:
“Hey, Mom, what do you think of 'The Evolution of Cheating Self-Sabotage and the Sexual Mating Behaviors of Public Figures From a Darwin Perspective”?

“Go ask your father!”

Now I know why Elvis Presley sat around shooting out television sets.

To order my book “Sitting on Cold Porcelain” for $2.99 (less than a gallon of gas) click here SMASHWORDS, it is in all digital formats: Kindle, Nook, eBook, Sony, PDF, etc.

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Sunday, August 17, 2014

A Sentimental Journey

by Rose A. Valenta

It was a yellow shingled, four bedroom Cape Cod with both a front and back porch purchased by my grandparents circa 1905, in Olean, NY - the home that I loved to live in every summer while growing up. It never mattered to me as a child that it didn’t have central or room air conditioning; but did have a leaky basement, a coal stove, and wood trim that needed painting every other spring. It was a comforting and wonderful summer refuge.

That home saw the birth of seven babies, four boys and three girls most of whom survived the great depression and learned how to become entrepreneurs. It hosted several weddings and two funerals in the huge floral papered living room equipped with sliding wooden doors located in the hallway across from the stairs leading to the second floor bedrooms. Later, photos of the nuptial events hung in the hallway leading into the large kitchen. Divorces happened infrequently, kids moved back home, and pictures of Mom and Dad would come down off the wall and be replaced by photos of grandchildren.

In the foyer, stood a telephone table that supported an old black Western Electric telephone and the only Heathkit hand-soldered, hard-wired, working answering machine in existence. My father built it himself after he returned home from WWII and it was the talk of the town. People would come for miles just to see it and pay him to build one for them. He dabbled in electronics after the U.S. Navy sent him to school to get certified in ship communications equipment. He built most of the CB radios used by the Olean Volunteer Fire Department and fixed television sets. He opened Bill’s Radio and TV Service out of the house, and had tubes spread out all over the dining room table most of the time, much to the chagrin of my Grandmother, who would rather serve food there, than clean up an electronics laboratory. She found resin, solder, irons, wicks, and PC boards everywhere on her good table cover. Occasionally, she would get fed up and cart boxes of the stuff upstairs and put them on my Dad’s bed. She finally convinced him to set up shop in a spare bedroom, so she could have her house back.

The attic was where I used to hang out most of the time; I would have slept up there if she let me. I spent hours rummaging through the maze of beckoning old chests and storage boxes. Me and my friends would play dress-up there, then go next door to my friend Susan’s house, play the organ, and pretend to be show girls like Shirley Temple. I recall making my Dad bring down my old baby coach once, so I could take my dolls for a walk. One of my dolls was a boy named Oscar, he had a baby bottle, a pilfered vacuum tube, several diodes, and capacitors in his possession, when he got caught red-handed commanding the coach down the 100 block of North 14th St. by my Dad, who was missing some parts for a job. Of course, Oscar got put in the bad chair after I denied all knowledge of the pilfering and swashbuckling; plus, he got a stern lecture and no tea and sugar cookies that night.

The front porch was where my uncles would gather to smoke cigars after dinner and my Uncle Joe would serenade all of us by singing and playing the accordion. The entertainment kept my Grandmother from going over the edge about all the cigar smoke and ashes on the deck. She sat there with a dust pan and broom waiting for intermission.

Remembering the events in the yellow house always makes me smile. Grandma was a rock and lived to be 90 years old. She sold the house in the 1970s, and moved in with one of my aunts a few years before she died. I was already married at the time, and unfortunately my husband and I both lived and worked in Philadelphia, PA. However, I would have gladly purchased that house in Olean, if I could.

In 1998, my husband and I found a wonderful little yellow cottage on Chincoteague Island, VA. We fixed it up and also installed a closed-in front porch. It has an attic, where I store old clothes, Christmas decorations, and household items. Near the attic window sits a child’s rocking chair waiting for a small boy or girl to come to Grandma and Grandpa's house and rummage through the place to find small treasures. Often, my laptop and a printer sit on the good table cover in the large dining room. You can spend hours on that porch listening to crickets, ducks, and other wild life; with Big Band music or Beethoven playing softly in the background from the stereo in the corner. Occasionally, I drift off to sleep there. Sometimes, I can distinctly hear accordion music and smell cigar smoke. I have friends in high places. It is my weekend/vacation refuge from the stresses and storms of life and I love spending time there.

Then tourist season and Pony Penning set in, the area becomes noisy. Things are never really perfect are they?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Will Rogers and the 2014 Federal Budget

Wasteful government spending that makes no sense is often referred to as “pork barrel” spending or just “pork” spending. It has been referred to that way since before the Civil War.

Yes, even Honest Abe had some pork in his budget.

Pork spending often includes ridiculous things like “$2 million to construct an ancient Hawaiian canoe,” or “$1 million to preserve a sewer in Trenton, NJ, as an historic monument.”

Many of these bizarre and absurd pork items have been suitably noted in THE GOVERNMENT RACKET: Washington Waste from A to Z, by Martin L. Gross. In his book, Marti provides us with an extensive itemized list.

I have to ask myself, in these modern times, why didn’t Congress listen to Will Rogers in the first place?

Back in the pre-Obama era (1920s and 30s), Will Rogers had the right idea when he said "The budget is like a mythical bean bag. Congress votes mythical beans into it, then reaches in and tries to pull real ones out."

He also pointed out that during elections "The average citizen knows only too well that it makes no difference to him which side wins. He realizes that the Republican elephant and the Democratic donkey have come to resemble each other so closely that it is practically impossible to tell them apart; both of them make the same braying noise, and neither of them ever says anything. The only perceptible difference is that the elephant is somewhat the larger of the two.”

If Will were alive today, I can just hear him advising Congress to consolidate. You know, States like Rhode Island with only four electoral votes can be easily merged into States like Massachusetts, which has 13; Vermont can go to New York; New Hampshire to Maine; and so forth, until we evolve into an economic Godzilla. Then, we can go overseas and stomp on China for pirating, bootlegging, and violating US copyright and trademark laws. We should then be able to sue and raise about $100 trillion just on what we find in Shanghai, alone. That should wipe out our national debt, right?

Americans don’t have any use for a Gōng Yáng White House knock-off.

"If stupidity got us in this mess, why can't it get us out?" ~ Will Rogers▪

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Sending Mixed Messages

The game developer DICE has released a war game that allows players to take on the role of the Taliban and kill American troops.

Disturbing isn’t it? What will our young people learn from this?

My generation has very little tolerance for allowing kids to play games that dehumanize them any more than they already are from watching violence on TV. I know, I sound like my grandmother already; but why don’t these computer smart-ass wizards create something that contributes to a child’s sense of loyalty, creativity, self-respect and well being?

Just the other day, I walked past my grandson’s bedroom as his mother was confiscating the Xbox. Its fate was a sledge hammer. Apparently, the game got intense and his loud cussing was drowning out her evening ritual of listening to Jack Canfield, Deepak Chopra, and Loretta LaRoche in the living room to lighten up and relax. So, she marched upstairs where the loud unholy echoing vibes were coming from, pulled a Lizzy Borden, and gave it 40 whacks. At the same time, she began Googling an exorcist in the hopes of saving her son because he was having convulsive fits with an Xbox monkey on his back.

This is what happens to our children after they outgrow Barney, Blues Clues, and playing Fish.

I guess the game developers don’t have kids. They should be forced to understand the havoc these games cause outside the lab and test facility. A robot playing the game is one thing, a young adult does not respond the same way. Where the robot might politely say “game-over-my-avatar-lost,” the human child says “What the ^&*!?” and throws a wild temper tantrum. I could also elaborate on a few television programs that add those words to their vocabularies, but that would take me forever.

As most of us know, this offensive behavior does not contribute to the health and well being of other family members, especially seniors, even if you do take the batteries out of their hearing aids. The white noise can literally turn their nervous systems into jello.

Two nights ago, while Junior was playing Manhunt on his Nintendo and sending out demon vibes that bellowed down the staircase, Aunt Ida, who is 86 years old, thought it was the end of the world, said an Act of Contrition, and loudly proclaimed her innocence before she passed out. The fact that Uncle Harry was watching Bill O'Reilly on the TV in the next room at the same time, might have contributed to it as well, I’m not sure.

Poetic justice would be for a game developer to actually give birth to Rosemary’s baby and deal with the little monster while working from home.

Here is a cleaned up demo:

Monday, April 28, 2014

Transporting Sasquatch

by Rose A. Valenta

A bachelor never quite gets over the idea that he is a thing of beauty and a boy forever.”~ Helen Rowland

CNN recently reported on the continued search for Sasquatch, The Abominable Snowman. Uncle Harry was at my house reading the same story in the local newspaper. He was so tickled by the large Sasquatch footprint photograph that he cut it out and hung it on my refrigerator with tape, waiting for a reaction from Uncle Dick, who was expected to arrive for dinner any minute. These two single seniors in my life like to prank each other and have never quite grown up into manhood.

Apparently, way back when Christ was a Corporal and the two of them attended their Senior Prom, Harry’s date Matilda earned the nickname “Sasquatch” when she poured her size 24 self into a size 18 ½ brown chenille A-line gown, complete with large gaudy feathered accessories, for the Prom.

They traveled to the dance in an old Ford Roadster. Matilda weighing in at 240 lbs. had to literally back into the car to get into position for the seat. Dick’s date looked more like Olive Oyl, in her size 5 spinach-green Edwardian-style gown.

After Harry finished waltzing Matilda and before the night was over, she had literally punctured the floorboard in the Ford with her high-heels. Harry swore that there was no necking room inside the car and that he had to stretch like a deer forging for figs, to reach her face in the moonlight.

He noticed that you could actually see the dirt road whizzing by though the holes in the floorboard on the way home. So, he went to the local bakery and talked the head baker into selling him a sheet pan to cover the damaged floor in the car. The next day, he and Dick repaired the floor and hid the pan with a throw-rug for future use.

Dick told him that he should seriously consider dating thinner women, but Harry wouldn’t listen. In later years, Dick would tell Harry that all those “No Hazmat” signs on the highway were there because of his old dates, rotted floorboards, and general taste in women. As I recall, Harry’s ex-wife actually did look like an Abominable Snowman in her wedding dress. Her maid of honor wore a gown that rivaled Tula’s bridesmaids in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.”

Just then, the doorbell rang. Dick came in with a bottle of Chardonnay and a case of Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat that he promptly put in the refrigerator. He immediately saw the photograph of the alleged Sasquatch footprint.

“Harry, you never told me that you took Tildy out for a barefoot walk on the beach on Prom night,” he said.

One story led to another and they had me laughing all night. I figured that "Transporting Sasquatch" would make a great episode for Shipping Wars.

I’ve never been quite sure if Helen Rowland, author of The Rubaiyat of a Bachelor, actually knew my Uncles Harry and Dick.

© 2014, Valenta, All rights reserved.
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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Throwback Thursday - Give it up For 'The Flim-Flam Man'

by Rose A. Valenta

My Uncle Harry has it in for complainers. I feel that God has to look out for them more because they are misguided; so is Harry, but he is clueless.

Harry smelled my bacon cooking this morning and invited himself over for breakfast, as usual, with a solution to yet another social issue.

“Look at how many complainers there are,” he said. “Some people only complain about a few things, like the high price of food, clothing, and shelter; while others complain about practically everything. Do you realize how many personal attacks there are because Kilroy was here and Paul, the late Psychic Octopus, picked Spain to the win the World cup? Some people have no sense of humor. Whatever happened to honest solutions and self-motivation?” He said.

“Harry, what have you been smoking?” I asked. “I just rolled out of bed; put the cat out; started cooking bacon and eggs; still need coffee to wake up, so I can put on Tyler Florence and enjoy myself; and you come over here talking about Kilroy and self-motivation. I was already motivated before you came over.”

“See, you’re complaining already, just what I’m talking about.”

“How do you want your eggs this morning?” I asked.

“Did you check the expiration date on the carton?” he responded.

“Harry, can I get a straight answer, please?” I asked. “Obviously you forget that I’m always in the world of discombobulation before coffee.”

“I’ll take them scrambled, but not watery like they were on Sunday.”

“Oh! Okay, here is the frying pan and two eggs. I guess you can get self-motivated. I’ll be in the next room watching Tyler. The bacon is cooked already. It’s an honest solution.”

“It’s my day off, like Sunday!” He said in disbelief.

“Yes, and I just asked God for inspiration. I said ‘God please help me deal with this man, who questions my cooking; doesn’t pay for the food; watches that idiot Bill O'Reilly, who forgot to ask the President Super Bowl-related questions, on my TV; stores his flip-flops on my screen porch; and thinks he can solve the world’s problems because he is being influenced by chronic complainers.”

“What chronic complainers influence me?” He asked.

“FoxNews!” I answered. “They could be 'Mikey' in a cereal commercial. You're addicted. Just think about how much more pleasant your world would be today, if you put on ‘Funniest Home Videos’ or, since it's Women's History Month, a nice documentary about Eleanor Roosevelt, instead of Fox News on the TV.” I said.

“Very Funny!” He said sarcastically. “Obama’s got the whole world on a sinking ship, and you want me to watch comedy or a woman's life story, who could have beaten Eisenhower hands-down if the Democrats weren't so stupid. They chose to run Adlai Stevenson? Ha!”

“It’s the way you look at things, Harry. Why dwell on politics every day, when you know Obama's term is almost over?”

“Like the Mayan Calendar ran out in 2012 - its too late, and we owe $17 trillion.” He said.

“Oh, so you saw that movie too! No wonder you are grumpy. You would prefer that they skin Obama alive in 2014, so you can watch and buy Gold because the world might come to an end after all? How will you spend your earnings? That makes a lot of sense. You’re going to have to trust me on this, Harry. If you watch every comedy movie ever made via Netflix between now and the primaries, instead of Fox News, your blood pressure will drop 20 or 30 points," I said.

"Nothing will change, Fox has made a soap opera out of our Commander-in-Chief called Rodney Dangerfield Incarnated. You will be pleasantly surprised at the new list of candidates for 2016. Maybe the media will show some respect for the next person we elect. After all, Obama is our president, not the dictator they depict. He consults with the Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, and Veterans Affairs, as well as the Attorney General. As far as I know, none of them are communists,” I added; plus, if you have any doubt about his sense of humor, watch the real interview he did with Between Two Ferns."

“Damn! and you didn't have coffee yet? Will you make me some scrambled eggs, if I wean myself gradually?” He asked.

“How about watching the cooking channel with me today?” I answered. “Tyler doesn’t spew hate and makes a helluva good old fashioned American apple pie. Then, we can go out to the movies and see the old comedy for throwback Thursday The Flim-Flam Man.”

“Okay, it’s a deal,” he said.

Yes! Give it up for The Flim-Flam Man!

Monday, February 10, 2014

A Stimulus for President’s Day

By Rose A. Valenta

President’s Day is an annual Federal holiday celebrated on the third Monday of February. It was originally celebrated on February 22nd, President George Washington’s actual birthday. However, in order to include President Abraham Lincoln, who was born on February 12th, the celebration was consolidated to fall in between those two dates and generically called "President's Day."

Although, George Washington was our first POTUS under the Constitution, we completely forget that the 13 colonies were operating as a government before that under the "Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union" with John Hanson of Maryland as the first POTUS. John was born on April 14th, so I am including him today, because he participated in drafting the U.S. Constitution.

I'm not sure I like a generic President's Day. The achievements of our American Presidents are legendary, so there is no need to elaborate, but since our current President, Barack Obama, is so fond of signing “stimulus” packages to help off-set our national debt, it would make more sense for us to celebrate all our significant President's birthdays separately.

He should repeal the consolidated holiday. It would stimulate our economy to have three President’s Day sales in February and April, and if all applicable Federal agencies, schools, and financial institutions were closed on February 12th, 22nd, and April 14th; employees and students would be cutting coupons and out spending more money on millions of consumer products. This would be a win-win situation for both shoppers and retailers.

Not only that, but how can we justify an almost hit and miss celebration to pay tribute to the impressive sacrifices and achievements of such honorable men?

With an in-between birthday - Lincoln’s belated?

If they did that to somebody like Ann E. Dunwoody, she’d be pissed and she’s only a retired four-star general! She wants her NordicTrack ViewPoint™ 3600 right on her special day.

We need American retailers of all bottom lines like Best Buy, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Bloomingdale's, Costco, Brookstones, Fingerhut, Hallmark, JCPenny, Pier 1 Imports, Pep Boys, Saks Fifth Avenue, Sam's Club, and Victoria’s Secret to come together to work, struggle, and convince the powers that be to pull off three President’s Day Sales for the betterment of our economy and to pay tribute to three of our greatest heroes.

In the words of President Barack Obama, “What do you think a stimulus is? It's spending - that's the whole point, seriously!”

I want to go to Macy's, I ain't loafin':