Mother's Day Technology Gift Guide

Mother’s Day is coming up soon and if you’re like me, you’re thinking that mom, grandma and your wife are tired of getting flowers and massage gift certificates each year. It’s 2016 and that means the women in your life will appreciate getting technology gifts just as much as your dad on Father’s Day.

From tablets and fitness tracking watches to smart home appliances and high quality headphones, there are so many impressive tech gadgets to choose from this year for Mother’s Day. Mom might not be craving a drone yet, but she’d appreciate a security camera or a smart scale to track her daily health. Most of these products are easy to use right out of the box so you won’t have to spend a lot of time helping mom with the setup or teaching her how to use them. Whether you’re shopping for an elderly mother this Mother’s Day or you want to show your wife how much you appreciate all she does for your kids, you can’t go wrong with any of these cool tech products — and of course you’ll find yourself wanting to borrow them too!

Here’s a rundown of some quality tech products Mom will appreciate this Mother’s Day:

LivSecure Home Security System – This is the best Do-It-Yourself home security kit on the market because it offers a 24/7 monitoring services in addition to being easy to install. The kit comes with an easy-to-use control panel, door/window sensors, a motion sensor, a smoke detector and a key fob. Users can add more sensors in addition to connecting smart thermostats, smart electrical sockets, garage doors, and indoor or outdoor security cameras. LivSecure uses Alarm.com for mobile monitoring, which means you can keep track of your home’s security all day and night with your phone or tablet. If you want mom to feel safe, give her the gift of security. Use code MOMSDAY for free equipment. www.livsecure.com Prices vary based on plan and equipment.

 

Onanoff iPad Air Sound Cover – Imagine Mom’s frustration when she’s in her kitchen trying to follow a recipe on YouTube, but the sound of the hand mixer makes it impossible to hear the chef give the next instruction. Onanoff’s Sound Cover solves that problem. It is a unique iPad Air smart cover with built-in flat NXT stereo speakers, offering powerful and high quality sound, boosting the iPad’s volume by up to 400%. The covers come in gold, grey and tactical black and it is ultra-thin and lightweight. www.onanoff.com On sale for $129.99

 

Blink Security Cameras – Blink is a completely wireless, battery-operated system that delivers instant monitoring from any location through the Blink app. More homeowners are turning to security cameras to protect and monitor their homes and the majority of these rely on more than one camera. Blink is affordable and and it’s easy to add more cameras. Blink is ideal for a new mom looking for cameras to keep an eye on the baby or for an elderly mother you want to keep safe. Comparable to Netgear’s Arlo security cameras, Blink offers motion detection, 720p HD video capture, instant alerts and live on-demand streaming. www.blinkforhome.com 5-camera system $299 (add cameras $60)

 

Proof – Carter Lloyd is a river guide in Moab, Utah, who was looking for a water-proof way to carry his phone on the river while still being able to enjoy the music coming from its speaker. So, Lloyd created Proof, a fully water-proof, Bluetooth connected speaker and microphone, phone pouch combo. Proof is currently available below wholesale cost for early backers on Kickstarter. If Mom needs to keep her phone safe from water this summer at the pool, swimming in the ocean or canoeing down the river, Proof would make a useful Mother’s Day gift. Available on Kickstarter.com

 

Rachio Sprinkler Control – You can give your mother the nicest, most meaningful Mother’s Day greeting card, but she’ll really feel appreciated when you give her Rachio this year. Rachio is a smart sprinkler controller that will make mom’s life much easier this summer. This product makes running sprinklers easy and convenient while saving water and money. There’s no guessing with lawn watering anymore because Rachio automatically creates a watering schedule to make the lawn look great and saves more of that precious resource for the environment. Rachio’s mobile app provides sprinkler system access from anywhere. It also integrates with more than 8 different platforms like Nest, Amazon Alexa, IFTTT, Wink and more. www.rachio.com $199.99 (8 zones); 249.99 (16 zones)

 

Tivo Bolt – If your mother loves watching TV, she’ll really love the Tivo Bolt. If she isn’t a big TV viewer, she will be when she gets this for Mother’s Day. Tivo’s been around for many years, but the company hasn’t rested on its laurels. The Bolt simply crushes the competition with so many great features like the ability to completely skip commercials with the click of one button once, a QuickMode to binge watch shows in a hurry and an enormous hard drive to save more TV shows and movies than she’ll ever have time to watch. The best part about the Tivo Bolt is its beautiful, intuitive and easy-to-navigate graphical interface. www.tivo.com $299.99 (MSRP)

 

Magellan MiVue 658 DashCam – Dashboard cameras haven’t been as popular in America as in other countries, but that’s beginning to change. Magellan’s MiVue 658 allows drivers to conveniently view the time stamp and GPS location stamp on 1080p HD video playback for post-accident analysis. If Mom gets into an accident you’ll be able to download and view the videos for insurance purposes. MiVue has a clear 2.7″ display that features a touch sensitive screen for superior DashCam control, in addition to a wide angle lens to provide enhanced peripheral views. MiVue 658 will even wake up and record on any impact it detects while the car is parked. A free MiVue companion smartphone app is available to download. www.magellangps.com $249.99

 

QardioBase WiFi Smart Scale – In the olden days giving your mother a bathroom scale for Mother’s Day might have come across as an insult, but in the Digital Age, a gift like the QardioBase smart scale will be appreciated. Giving Mom Qardio, a CES 2016 award winner, shows you care about her health and want her to have the advantages of new technology to help her live longer. The QardioBase measures body mass index (BMI), muscle mass, body fat percentage, water and bone composition in addition to weight. With its Smart Feedback Mode, Qardio will help your mom or wife reach her long term fitness goals with reminders and encouragement. The Qardio App automatically stores data in Qardio’s secure cloud. It works with Apple Health and integrates with Apple HealthKit. A pregnancy mode helps expecting moms track progress. www.getqardio.com $99

 

FitBit Blaze – The most important thing to remember about FitBit watches is that they are meant for fitness and not as a substitute for a smartwatch like the Apple Watch. Blaze is quite similar to previous FitBit models, but boasts a much better battery life and can act like a traditional watch. FitBit Blaze will fetch incoming call notifications and display SMS text alerts and calendar reminders. A nice addition is the ability to control music from the watch. Like other fitness trackers, Blaze will encourage Mom to get out and get moving to reach her daily steps goal and it will also record “active exercise” when it senses she’s working out after ten minutes. www.fitbit.com $200

 

Microsoft Band 2 – Microsoft Band 2 is the perfect gift for the active mother or mother of your kids. This fitness band looks beautiful and offers a lot for athletes — from running and biking to golf and strength conditioning. Band 2 boasts an ergonomic, comfortable feel and the battery will last for 2 days before needing to recharge. As someone who is sensitive to the sun, I appreciate the UVI (Ultraviolet Index) tile on Band 2 that informs me of the UV level to know when sunscreen is needed. Being able to take advantage of the GPS feature by adding golf course information will be an added bonus if Mom loves to golf. www.microsoft.com/microsoft-band $249.99 (MSRP)

 

Samsung Galaxy Tab A – This 8-inch tablet with 16GB is a force to reckon with. Mom will love being able to read books on it in addition to taking photos and video (5MP camera in front; 2MP in back) and watching her favorite movies on a plane or at the beach this summer. She can work straight from the tablet with Microsoft Office apps and then switch over to “Kids Mode,” which hides personal content. Bluetooth and GPS enabled, the Galaxy Tab A boasts a strong battery life and offers an Ultra Power Saving Mode that turns the screen to black and white and shuts off nonessential apps so Mom will get maximum battery life. On sale at Sears.com $169.99

 

Tado Smart AC Control – You know how much you hate it when Mom calls to tell you it’s too cold or too hot in her home? Well, the Tado Smart AC Control uses her phone’s geolocation to control her Air Conditioning unit from anywhere and at any time. You’ll be able to give your mother the ability to control her AC unit from her phone or you can do it for her. The bonus is that you’ll help her control her energy costs by using the app’s smart schedule of temperatures to match her daily routines. Tado is actually a smarter device than Nest and easier to set up. www.tado.com $199.00

 

DoorBird – With the German-made DoorBird Mom will never miss a visitor. She can speak with her visitors and open the door using her smartphone from anywhere. DoorBird won’t allow her to miss any more deliveries since she’ll be alerted immediately. There is perfect all-round visibility thanks to DoorBird’s integrated high-end motion sensor, which lets Mom know what happens in front of her home at all times. Additionally, the 180° infrared motion sensor can set off an alarm without the
visitor ringing the doorbell. DoorBird’s easy to install, has a HDTV camera, will connect to an existing doorbell, connects to WiFi, and logs visitor history. www.doorbird.com $349

 

Logitech Circle – Give your mother or spouse a new way to stay connected to the family with Logitech’s Circle Home Connection Camera. This portable home security camera captures the moments that happen at home every day and delivers them through a simple mobile app. With Day Briefs, Mom can see a full day’s highlights of the home’s activities in just 30 seconds and then easily save the 30-second brief to share with family or view again later. www.logitech.com $49

 

Kube Clock – I discovered the Kube Clock at a hotel and realized it would make a great Mother’s Day gift. This 21st century bedside alarm clock comes in black or white and has wireless charging, Bluetooth mode, built in cables for Apple and Android devices, and easy to use controls. Imagine how excited Mom will be when she can just drop her phone on top of the clock at night and it will be fully charged in the morning, plus she can charge multiple devices at once. www.kubesystems.com $149; $179 (wireless)

 

NewerTech Kitchen Kit – This is an ideal gift for a mother or wife who loves cooking and baking, but needs a convenient stand for her iPad in the kitchen. NewerTech, which also makes a line of well-designed, beautiful phone, tablet and notebook cases, created the Kitchen Kit iPad stand to allow anyone working in the kitchen to use their tablet cleanly and easily while cooking. The Kitchen Kit includes the NewerTech NuStand 360 iPad holder that rotates 360 degrees and pivots up and down and the NewerTech NuScribe Stylus, which functions as a stylus and twist-barrel ballpoint pen. The stand features a soft touch, scratch-resistant rubberized black aluminum finish and a weighted, anti-skid rubber base with removable silicone blocks. www.newertech.com $24.99

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Are the Salaries of Verizon's Executives being Charged to Low Income Families?

From the Verizon 2015 Proxy Statement

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  • Are low income families, seniors, small businesses, and anyone using the Verizon utility communications networks getting charged for executive compensation?
  • Is the executive pay part of the larger “Corporate Operations” expenses that are being dumped into the state utility to create ‘losses’?
  • Did the company manipulate the financial accounting to make the wireline networks pay the majority of these Corporate Operations expenses so that they would appear unprofitable, to help the company’s policy goals–‘shut off the copper’, slow down or stop maintaining the wires, much less upgrading them to fiber optics; and, of course, get rid of the unions?

While I personally don’t care how much someone makes a year or their net worth, in this case, I care when the salaries and other compensation somehow end up being paid for by local phone customers in an expense item called “Corporate Operations’, a large financial garbage pail where almost any corporate expense can end up being charged to the local networks to fulfill harmful anti-public interest outcomes. And while it will take audits to actually see the extent of the damage, interviews with forensic auditors and specialists in telco accounting and FCC rules agree it is most likely that most, if not all of the executive compensation was divided up by Verizon and placed in the state utilities, like Verizon NY or Verizon Massachusetts. But this practice is national in scope and is most likely being done by the other incumbent phone utilities, such as AT&T and CenturyLink.

And it begs the question – should local phone customers, especially low income families, be charged for the corporate holding company’s expenses, much less the personal rides of the CEO on the corporate jet? And how much of these expenses are for the wireline, local phone networks vs cross-subsidizing the wireless or entertainment development, or lobbying about items that have nothing to do with the wireline local phone networks?

The Verizon 2015 Proxy Statement,
which includes executive pay, was filed with the SEC last month, and it shows (see the first chart) that lots of money is going for compensation to the top four Verizon executives–$114,322,605 in the last three years alone for just salaries; $41 million in just 2015 to just four people.

Considering that the average household income is about $50,000 these days, four Verizon phone company executives made as much as 820 households in 2015, and this represents, according to the US Census, about 2,167 people.

But that’s just the annual salaries. Lowell McAdam also gets $40 million if he gets terminated, he racked up $126,000 for the personal use of the company aircraft, (included in his salary) and there may be an additional $22 million extra paid when he became Verizon CEO in 2011, and $7.6 million in 2015.

Now, I’m certainly not a specialist in the arcane manipulations of executive pay. In fact, I probably left out other compensation due to the gobblygook nature and obfuscation going on. There is no single chart in this proxy statement with all of the current and potential future payments for just Verizon’s CEO Lowell McAdam, for example. So, I included some of the actual info for your own analysis.

But, before I Go into the Exec-u-Pork, here are Three Things You Should Know about the Corporate Operations Expense.

First, here is the Corporate Operations expense definition from the FCC’s rules
on telecommunications (trimmed for the article). It’s a veritable garbage pail of Verizon Corporate’s wishes.

§ 32.6720 General and Administrative

This account shall include costs incurred in the provision of general and administrative services as follows:
(a) Formulating corporate policy and in providing overall administration and management. Included are the pay, fees and expenses of boards of directors or similar policy boards and all board-designated officers of the company and their office staffs, e.g., secretaries and staff assistants.
(b) Developing and evaluating long-term courses of action for the future
operations of the company. This includes performing corporate organization and integrated long-range planning, including management studies, options and contingency plans, and economic strategic analysis.
(d) Maintaining relations with government, regulators, other companies and the general public. This includes:
(1) Reviewing existing or pending legislation (see also Account 7300, Nonoperating income and expense, for lobbying expenses);
(2) Preparing and presenting information for regulatory purposes, including tariff and service cost filings, and obtaining radio licenses and construction permits;
(3) Performing public relations and non-product-related corporate image advertising activities;
(4) Administering relations, including negotiating contracts, with telecommunications companies and other utilities, businesses, and industries. This excludes sales contracts (see also Account 6611, Product management and sales);
(5) Administering investor relations.

Thus, Corporate Operations includes paying the lawyers who are negotiating the union contracts, it is paying for the PR to make the company look good, it includes helping to create legislation and filings that are designed to optimize profits and not the public good, even though these companies control the state utility, the critical infrastructure. In short, Corporate Operations is paying for… well, everything that has nothing to do with the expense of running the state utility’s local networks, or items customers should be paying for.

And if you hear things like – But those FCC or state rules were ‘forbeared’ or removed or… In 2014, Verizon New York and the NY State Public Service Commission never changed the accounting. And if you hear But these prices are ‘price capped’–say “Garbage. Explain how the prices continue to rise based on ‘losses’ in New York State, for example. They are tied to expenses and the arbitrariness of the regulators to grant rate increases without any audits.

2) Low Income Families, Seniors, Anyone with Phone or Broadband Service were Overcharged. In 2014, we know that Verizon Corporate Operations expense – in just New York, was $2.6 billion and that 60% was charged to Local Service. I.e., the local phone customers, including seniors, low income families, small businesses and everyone else paid billions in this expense for just the copper-based phone service and ancillary services.

Taken from the Verizon NY 2014 Annual Report, Local Service brought in $1.4 billion in revenues but paid $1.6 billion in this Corporate Operations Expense; this is 109% above the revenue. This alone made Local Service ‘unprofitable’.

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This made the state utility networks look unprofitable and Verizon NY showed massive losses. Add to this, since 2005, Verizon received multiple rate increases of 84% on basic phone service, (commonly known as “POTS”, Plain Old Telephone Service) and got 50-300% price increases on various add-on services, claiming losses. This added about $1500.00 extra to customers’ bills over this period, 2006-2015–and the overcharging is growing. Prices should have been in steep decline, however, as the actual expenses to offer the copper-based phone services are nominal.

And low income families get a multiple whammy from Verizon. First, many of the areas NOT upgraded by Verizon are in low income neighborhoods, so these customers can’t get fast broadband or have Verizon offer direct competition to the cable company. Next, local phone customers also paid extra for upgrades they will never get as there were multiple rate increases, some of which included fiber optic upgrades. Third, prices should have been in steep decline, not increasing. Finally, they, like all users of the wireline networks, are the victims of this manipulation of accounting and could be paying for McAdam’s personal rides on the corporate jet, among other executive perks.

3) Local Service has Paid the Majority of this Ever Increasing Expense for a Long Time. Because of a failure of the FCC and states to properly audit and monitor the expenses being dumped into the state utility, among other problems with the accounting, Verizon New York and every state utility used faulty mathematics that dumped the majority of Corporation Operations expenses into Local Service. And it’s been getting worse, year by year. In 2003, Local Service was 65% of revenues and paid 65% of expenses and the other categories paid expenses based on revenues. But, by 2014, Local Service still paid 60% of the expense but brought in only 27.6% of revenues. The other areas, such as ‘Access Services’ (including ‘Broadband Data Services’, also known as ‘Special Access’) and ‘Nonregulated’, like FiOS TV, pay a fraction of this expense, based on their revenues. For example, Nonregulated services has almost the same revenues as Local Service in 2014 but only paid 10% of the expenses.

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NOTE: While the overall revenues of Verizon New York went down, this is mostly because as services became deregulated, their revenues were no longer shown as part of the state utility financial books. However, much of the expenses stayed with Local Service.

When the company says ‘local service is unprofitable’, then, the answer should be – We demand audits and investigations.

Let’s Go through the Executive Compensation.

  • Annual Salaries

The beginning chart showed that the four senior management made $114.3 million dollars from 2013-2015–three years. (NOTE: According to a recent email, Lowell McAdam’s salary when up to $23.1 million in April, 2016, from $18.3 million in 2015.)

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You should note that the tax law only lets the company take $1 million dollars in deductions, and that’s why companies have a handful off different payouts after the word ‘salary’; but there are caveats. According to Verizon:

“Federal income tax law generally prohibits a publicly-held company from deducting compensation paid to a named executive officer (other than a chief financial officer) that exceeds $1 million during the tax year unless it is based upon attaining pre-established performance measures that are set by the company’s compensation committee under a plan approved by the company’s shareholders. The Committee has the flexibility to take any compensation-related actions that it determines are in the best interests of Verizon and our shareholders, including determining when to request shareholder approval of incentive plans and when to award compensation that may not qualify for a tax deduction.”

But, besides taxes, Verizon found other benefits–from rate increases and creating losses in the state utility, as well as not paying state or federal income taxes. In New York, Verizon lost over $2.5 billion annually for 5 years, 2010-2014 (with a caveat for 2013). It is unclear if corporate salaries were or were not part of the tax ‘benefits’ from the losses, or were used as part of the deduction. I.e.; the company dumps the salaries as part of corporation operations expense into Local Service. It makes Local Service show losses; the losses are used to not pay taxes. Is that a disguised equivalent to a tax deduction through a different financial back door?


Outstanding Equity Award–Bonuses, it would Appear, above the Salaries.

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Below is the gobblygook explanation (from the footnotes) about $22 million more for Lowell in just 2011. As you can see from the text, they have figured out elaborate ways to make these calculations seem legitimate. Note: the $7.6 million listed for McAdam is not specifically listed in the opening chart, but may or may not be included in one of the other payouts.

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My only question is–was this added to the Corporate Operations expense in every state?

Compensation Tables: Potential Payments Upon Termination or Change in Control

CEO Lowell McAdam also would have gotten $40 million dollars if he got fired, with or without cause, or died or was disabled in 2015.

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According to the Proxy Statement:

“Estimated payments. The following table shows the estimated value of the awards that the named executive officers could have received in respect of their outstanding unvested equity awards if any of the following events occurred on the last business day of 2015: (i) a change in control of Verizon without a termination of employment; (ii) a change in control of Verizon and an involuntary termination of employment without cause; and (iii) a termination of employment as a result of an involuntary termination without cause, qualifying retirement, or death or disability.”

  • Pocket Change and Personal Use of the Corporate Jet

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This last collection of corporate largesse is particularly poignant considering that the Unions are on strike. Lowell got $600,000 in benefits, from the personal use of the corporate jet to money for his savings plan, life insurance, and the use of a company vehicle for personal use; he even got his ‘out-of-pocket’ expenses reimbursed for a preventive medical examination. (These payments were included as part of the $41 million 2015 payouts in salary+ to these four executives.)

This is some of the fine print from the Proxy:

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Were these expenses added to Corporate Operations expense? Did customers really pay $19,000 so that Mr. Stratton’s wife could attend a corporate party? Are Verizon customers all paying for the executives’ “financial planning” or Lowell reimbursed to get a ‘routine’ preventative medical check up by a doctor?

It’s time to audit the books. It’s time for investigations.

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Sunday Roundup

This week the nation got a glimpse of the future, as the frontrunners
tipped their hands about what lies in store for us. After big wins
in several states, Donald Trump proclaimed, to a sideways glance from Mary Pat Christie, that “the only card [Clinton] has is the woman’s card
.” Clinton responded by saying, “If fighting for women’s health care and paid family leave and equal pay is playing the woman card, then deal me in
!” It’s a curious strategy to start off the pivot to the general election by insulting 52 percent of the electorate. Republican women lawmakers responded
by urging Trump to nominate a woman as VP. But as insulting as Trump’s comments were, even worse for women are his policies. Policies denying women equal pay and access to reproductive rights are pretty good examples of “playing the man card.” What’s clear is that the GOP’s Dais Strategy — reaching out to a group put off by its policies by bringing a member of that group up on the dais — isn’t a winning hand.

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Here Are Obama’s Best Jokes From Tonight’s Sizzling White House Correspondents' Dinner

 

At President Barack Obama’s final White House Correspondents’ Dinner Saturday night he walked on stage to Anna Kendrick’s song “You’re Going to Miss Me When I’m Gone,” and smirked as he told the audience, “You know it’s true.”

He mused about what he’ll do once he becomes “couch commander” after his presidency and received both boos and applause when he hinted at who may take the stage as president at next year’s Correspondents’ Dinner. “It’s anyone’s guess who she will be,” he said.

See the video below. Obama’s remarks start at 2:35:00.

The president complimented Bernie Sanders’ “Feel the Bern” movement, and teased Hillary Clinton’s struggle to attract young voters. He compared her tactics to a “relative who just signed up for Facebook.”

Republicans got the worst of the roast, of course. Obama couldn’t resist poking fun at Ted Cruz’s “basketball ring” mishap
in Indiana, and dismissed candidates who “didn’t poll high enough to earn a joke.”

Toward the end of the speech, Obama faked out the audience by wrapping things up without talking about Donald Trump. But later he took swings at the GOP front-runner’s previous ties with Miss Universe, and said Trump may have an advantage in closing Guantanamo Bay because of Trump’s experience “running waterfront properties into the ground.”

Obama left the stage with two words: “Obama out.” Then, he appropriately dropped the mic.

Watch Obama's Remarks From The 2016 White House Correspondents' Dinner

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President Barack Obama brought the laughs at his last White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

Obama touched on everything from the media to the 2016 race, and even took some time to poke fun at himself.

Watch a video of his remarks above.

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Larry Wilmore Drops The N-Word On National Television

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Comedian Larry Wilmore concluded his remarks at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner by dropping the n-word on national television after talking about how much having a black president meant to him.

“When I was a kid, I lived in a country where people could not accept a black quarterback. Now think about that, a black man was thought by his mere color not good enough to lead a football team,” he said. “And now, to live in your time, Mr. President, when a black man can lead the entire free world.”

Saying words could not do him justice, Wilmore simply concluded the last White House Correspondents’ Dinner of Obama’s presidency by saying, “Yo Barry, you did it my n***a.”

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You're Not Supposed to Feel Sad in Spring

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It’s the season of possibilities–the time of year when life blooms and the slow drag of winter has finally come to an end. Even the rain is comforting–warm spring showers that smell like new growth and possibility. Both of my daughters were born in spring. I was born in spring.

But I’m balancing an impossible reality this year. My teenage daughter has terminal cancer. My brain wants to leap forward in remembered anticipation of hot summer days, but the green sprouts, the returning birds, the longer days…all of it seems diminished, almost sinister. Cancer has once again twisted the natural order of things, turning spring into something menacing and dark.

Spring makes the passage of time too obvious, providing visual proof of how fast the days come and go. I mark each new week by the way the trees keep changing, but this doesn’t give me comfort like it once did, because it also means my daughter’s cancer is growing. I’m reminded, with heavy certainty, that this will likely be her last spring. That puts a special kind of pressure on every single moment–a pressure that might shatter me.

This year it got warm too quickly in March and my neighbor’s Magnolia tree began to bloom, but then it snowed and the flowers died on the branch. That’s where they’ve remained–dark shadows of dead flowers that never fully opened. Why this year? My daughter deserves to see the flowers open until the petals drift down, covering the grass like pink frosting.

I wish I could flip the years back to the days of driveway chalk and blowing bubbles, to when spring held the promise of a dozen seasons stretched endlessly in front of us – me and the girls. Cancer wasn’t supposed to happen to my child.

I’m the person you don’t want to be. I’m the worst case scenario.

The other day an old friend of mine called to tell me she’d gotten fired that morning. We shared a laugh when I suggested she’d called me because I’m the one person who can help her put losing her job into perspective. She’ll have more time with her 12-year-old daughter, after all. She can always get another job.

I’ve lost faith in spring blossoms–given up on seasonal rituals and milestones–even though I long for them in a way that’s almost physically painful. I see them played out on Facebook, at my children’s schools, on television…everywhere. My daughter is supposed to get her driver’s license. She is supposed to go to prom. She is supposed to graduate from high school.

My daughter is supposed to grow up.

I’ve lost faith in “supposed to’s” because nothing about what’s happening to my child, to my family, makes any sense. Life is supposed to make sense, right? My family is maintaining a nearly impossible balancing act of trying to live each day without looking too far ahead in the midst of a world that obsesses over the future. Have you ever tried doing that? It’s really hard.

I spend weekdays gazing out my office window as the minutes tick by, trying to get my mind to focus on work, on getting things done. I visualize the seconds pouring out of each day, overflowing into minutes, then hours–time I’ll never get back. We use time up like it will never run out, but it does run out, doesn’t it? Even in spring.

Everything seems pointless when I’m sinking into the darkest part of my life. I know that daily tasks are a way to keep the boat from sinking faster, but most days I want to give in, watch the boat fill up. I want to go down to the bottom of the ocean with it.

When people ask how I’m doing, I usually say, “Fine.” But more often than not, I’ll start crying because my brain carries me forward to the place of unthinkable thoughts. I know it shows in my eyes–especially to other parents–and I don’t blame them for backing away. No one wants to look at this place with me.

It’s a foreign place where my daughter’s room is empty, except for things she filled it with, things I know I can’t bear to move. Empty without her, full of her memories. How can something be both empty and full?

When your mind can’t tune out thoughts of death, then death becomes a filter for everything you see and do. I can’t focus on the fact that the Magnolia tree is sprouting tiny green leaves. I can only see the shadowy silhouettes of dead flowers that never got a chance to bloom.

My daughter looks healthy. She feels wonderful. She’s gained 14 pounds in the last two months, weight she desperately needed after an intense surgery followed by three weeks of chemotherapy in February. She’s been smiling a lot, coming out of her room to ask for an iced green tea–her new favorite drink–and thoroughly enjoying it when she drinks it. She’s wiser than me, at 14, she knows what’s important.

It’s the final cruelty of a disease that’s offered up a thousand cruelties–watching my daughter heal yet again, letting my thoughts carry me forward to a place of miracles that don’t exist for her. It’s also the final gift that she is healing, that she feels good. I don’t have a resolution to this pain because I’m embedded in it. All I can do is share something from a friend of mine who lost her husband to cancer five years ago. She mourns his loss each day.

“You cannot carry this all alone. You have to lean, and share this load…I keep you in my heart and prayers, and continually ask the Universe to bless and protect your darling girl…and give you all peace and comfort despite this cruel storm that rages around you.”

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Obama Literally Drops The Mic

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In his eighth and final address at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, Obama went all out. He stole the show, unleashing a delightful series of jabs at politicians
, celebrities
, the media
and himself
.

It was a knockout. And Obama capped the night with style that will not soon be forgotten.

 Thanks Obama.

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Obama's Last White House Correspondents’ Dinner In 3 Minutes

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President Barack Obama and comedian Larry Wilmore did not hold back during their 2016 White House Correspondents’ Dinner speeches.

The two took jabs at almost everyone, especially the national media. 

Watch the best moments above. 

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Obama Predicts The Future. And It's Funny.

President Barack Obama gave everyone a glimpse into the future during the 2016 White House Correspondents’ Dinner on Saturday. A very funny glimpse, coming from a president who sounded irreverent, cool, and not entirely sad to see his administration coming to an end.

Here are some of Obama’s best predictions for the future:

  • “You all look great. The end of the republic has never looked better.”
  • “If my material works well, I am going to use it at Goldman Sachs next year, earn me some serious Tubmans.”

  • “This time next year, someone else will be standing here in this very spot. And it’s anybody’s guess who she will be.”

  • “In just six months, I will be officially a lame duck. Which means Congress will flat-out reject my authority …. It’s not just Congress. Some foreign leaders have been looking ahead, and anticipating my departure. Last week, Prince George showed up to our meeting in his bathrobe. That was a slap in the face. A clear breach of protocol.”

  • “The prospect of leaving the White House is a mixed bag. You might have heard that somebody jumped the White House fence last week. I have to give Secret Service credit, though. They found Michelle and brought her back … Only nine more months, baby.”

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