Thursday, August 30, 2007

New Orleans

When I initially started this blog I anticipated that it would be about my assimilation into Los Angeles and a way to document my life. However, anyone that knows me knows that I am a complex person with various personalities. One minute I could be in my hood mode and speak with that vernacular. Then instantly I can turn serious and starting talking about community issues and politics. Then I might flip on you again and want to talk about things like the economy, personal finances, homeownership and failing school districts. Finally, I might go all girlie on ya and want to discuss beauty products, hair and garments. So basically I will be discussing a variety of issues on this blog so be prepared to see a great deal of issues addressed.

Yesterday there were many programs on T.V. that addressed the issues surrounding Hurricane Katrina. As I watched those images across my screen I immediately felt a rush of emotions.
I was sad, angry, annoyed and disturbed all at the same time. Yet while I only felt these emotions for a mere 1 hour program, the residents of New Orleans feel these emotions everyday. I have been told that great deals of Americans are in Katrina fatigue mode. This makes me mad as hell. How can we be tired of this, people are still suffering, premises were made and not fulfilled. Let’s not forget or get tired, these people are living in conditions that many of us can not image or fathom. With that in mind I want to discuss some of the issues faced by the people of the N.O.

Will lower and Middle Class Blacks Be Able to Return to the N.O.

There is a legitimate fear on the part of some African-Americans that it [depoulation] is happening," said Elliott Stonecipher, a political pollster and demographer from Shreveport, La., referring to a permanent black depopulation of New Orleans. "I don't know of a place where this kind of demographic shift has ever occurred. It is a huge, huge shift. (NYTimes, January 22, 2006)

Of course, Bush and the national government have tried to characterize it otherwise. Instead of the national government seizing the bull by the horn by guaranteeing and putting into place a means for all citizens to return to their homes (to New Orleans), they have set whites against blacks, the rich against the poor—by withholding or pretending that the necessary funds for such a task is unavailable or impossible to dispense.
New Orleans could lose as much as 80 percent of its black population if its most damaged neighborhoods are not rebuilt and if there is not significant government assistance to help poor people return, a detailed analysis by Brown University has concluded

The report's author, John R. Logan, concluded that as much as 80 percent of the city's black population might not return for several reasons: their neighborhoods would not be rebuilt, they would be unable to afford the relocation costs, or they would put down roots in other cities.For similar reasons, as much as half of the city's white population might not return, Dr. Logan concluded. . . .If the projections are realized, the New Orleans population will shrink to about 140,000 from its prehurricane level of 484,000, and the city, nearly 70 percent black before the storm, will become majority white.The study, financed by a grant from the National Science Foundation, was released Thursday, 10 days after the mayor of New Orleans, C. Ray Nagin, who is black, told an audience that "this city will be a majority African-American city; it's the way God wants it to be."The study coincides with growing uncertainty about what government assistance will be available for property owners and renters. Louisiana will receive $6.2 billion in federal block grants under an aid package approved by Congress in December, part of which will be used to help homeowners. But that will not be enough money to help all property owners in storm-damaged areas, Louisiana officials say. . . .

Mafruza Khan of the Center for Social Inclusion provided the following information.

• Our April report card shows 4 failing planning districts of which all are mostly non-white areas of the city. • The Lower 9th Ward and New Aurora/English Turn, both predominantly communities of color, still have no childcare.• The Lower 9th Ward is still the only area without complete gas, water, and electricity.• Less than half of public transit routes and public schools are operational, straining communities of color more than white residents, as they are more dependent on public transit.• Almost half the city’s hospitals, including Charity, the only public hospital, remain closed.

Largely missing from the national media coverage and our public conversations on rebuilding New Orleans is how flawed and discriminatory public policies are imposing the greatest barriers to entry for poor and middle-class Blacks and harming everyone. Structural racism, the interplay between our policies, institutions and practices that exclude and isolate poor communities of color from opportunities, continues today. It is not surprising that many African Americans believe that they are being deliberately locked out of their city.

Consider healthcare. The decision to close Charity Hospital, New Orleans’ only public and local healthcare provider has been a huge obstacle for the poor and the working poor in New Orleans, who are trying to rebuild their homes and lives. Only the basement of Charity flooded and doctors and staff have protested the closing saying that the facility could be re-opened temporarily without major structural repairs. Fifty two percent of displaced Blacks in shelters relied on Charity Hospital for most of their medical needs--and subsequent surveys in Texas .


In Mississippi, 33,378 occupied trailers are meeting 89 percent of the estimated housing needs. But there have been 34,000 repair requests and maintenance complaints, according to Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.).
In Louisiana, trailers have been provided for about 37 percent of the estimated 90,000 displaced families in need of housing. Officials acknowledge production bottlenecks and in-state battles over sites. Trailer costs have swelled from $19,000 to $75,000 apiece.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Small Business Administration are struggling to meet unprecedented demands. FEMA is providing rental assistance to 700,000 families, but about 75,000 people are still in hotels. In some places, there is a shortage of rental housing available for evacuees.
As of Jan. 16, 18,943 applications for rental help had yet to be processed. As of this week, the SBA said that 190,000 of 363,000 applications for disaster loans to homeowners and businesses are still pending.
"It just doesn't seem to be well organized," said Ronald D. Utt, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation who has written about disaster housing policy. "Things in some respects have gotten more confused than they were a couple weeks after the storm."

When Katrina hit the Golf Coast region donations to Habitat for Humanity skyrocketed. With donations around 140 million dollars many families in New Orleans were counting on these donations to assist in rebuilding their homes. Sadly on 15 million was allocated to New Orleans resulting in only 70 homes being completed. Some people were told that their wait time may be three years if they want assistance from Habitat for Humanity.

Part of the problem is that while Washington provides basic flood insurance, the government depends on private insurance agents to sell it as part of a standard homeowners' policy. Interviews, lawsuits and complaints filed with the Louisiana insurance commissioner's office suggest that many agents are underselling the flood portion of policies while overselling the company-provided homeowners' part.Some homeowners, like Louis J. Gentry Jr., who together with his wife, Kim, just finished rebuilding their Lakeview home two years ago and insured it through State Farm, have discovered themselves financially "upside down" without enough flood coverage to pay off their mortgage.
Homeowners are worried — apparently with good reason — that the rules are about to be changed so that many will have to literally raise their houses in order to qualify for flood insurance. For tens of thousands whose post-World War II suburban homes were built on concrete slabs rather than above the ground on piers, that's a near impossibility.

The Road Home is a program that offers homeowners grants of up to $150,000 for uninsured hurricane damages. However, only 25% of applicants have actually received a check.

Aug. 29 might be the first anniversary of the worst hurricane to hit this city and the Gulf Coast, but it is also D-Day for owners of flood-damaged homes to stop the city from possibly declaring eminent domain on their damaged property.

By that date, owners of those homes must clean, gut and board up their buildings under a controversial measure called the “Good Neighbor Plan.” The city has said the measure is aimed at defining what constitutes a public nuisance and educating property owners about their options and assistance available to them.
The Lower Ninth Ward — once home to about 20,000 of New Orleans’ citizens, mostly African American — sustained the brunt of the water damage. For the most part, the area looks the same as it did in the days following the levee break that brought high waters and destroyed homes and businesses.
The city’s measure, passed in April, gives owners of flood-damaged properties three options: to gut and board up their building; to renovate or rebuild; or to tear down, according to The Times-Picayune.
Struggling with day-to-day living in the aftermath of the hurricane, many people were unaware they must obtain permits before Aug. 29.

In the middle of the many issues plaguing New Orleans the AmeriCorps has been the silver lining in an otherwise gray sky. This organization has sent more that 1.1 million volunteers to aid in the rebuilding of New Orleans. Most of the volunteers are under the age of 21 but dedicated to restoring the city. People in the N.O. feel that AmeriCorps has brought a resurgence of hope and compassion to their communities. If you are interested in helping rebuild New Orleans visit for more information.

While it is impossible for me to document all the concerns, problems and issues New Orleans residence face on a daily basis, I do ask that you do not forget them and their plight. This could happen in any state that sits off the ocean, so while the hurricane landed in N.O. next time it may hit New Jersey. Understand this is an issue facing the United States not just New Orleans. We are not powerless in this if you cannot donate money or actually go volunteer to rebuild New Orleans contact your congressional representatives and let them know you want more funding to go towards rebuilding New Orleans. If you do not know who your congressional representative is visit

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

New Orleans..... Are We To Blame

Tomorrow marks the 2 year anniversary of hurricane Katrina. I will be looking at this issue from a racial, financial, homeowner, and economic part of view in tomorrows posting . However, while searching for information on the status of residents of New Orleans I can across a post that was very interesting. Please read and tell me if you agree or not.

Note: This article was written by Jesse Lee Peterson, who is black. There are two unfortunate things about this article. The first is that no white person could ever get away with what is said here, even though it badly needs to be discussed. The second thing is that it has been totally ignored by the mainstream. Blame has been talked about continuously since Katrina, but this article puts the real blame into perspective.

Say a hurricane is about to destroy the city you live in. Two questions:

1) What would you do?

2) What would you do if you were black?

Sadly, the two questions don’t have the same answer.

To the first: Most of us would take our families out of that city quickly to protect them from danger. Then, able-bodied men would return to help others in need, as wives and others cared for children, elderly, infirm and the like.

For better or worse, Hurricane Katrina has told us the answer to the second question. If you’re black and a hurricane is about to destroy your city, then you’ll probably wait for the government to save you.
This was not always the case. Prior to 40 years ago, such a pathetic performance by the black community in a time of crisis would have been inconceivable. The first response would have come from black men. They would take care of their families, bring them to safety, and then help the rest of the community. Then local government would come in.
No longer. When 75 percent of New Orleans residents had left the city, it was primarily immoral, welfare-pampered blacks that stayed behind and waited for the government to bail them out. This, as we know, did not turn out good results.

Enter Jesse Jackson and Louis Farrakhan. Jackson and Farrakhan laid blame on “racist” President Bush. Farrakhan actually proposed the idea that the government blew up a levee so as to kill blacks and save whites. The two demanded massive governmental spending to rebuild New Orleans, above and beyond the federal government’s proposed $60 billion. Not only that, these two were positioning themselves as the gatekeepers to supervise the dispersion of funds. Perfect: Two of the most dishonest elite blacks in America, “overseeing” billions of dollars. I wonder where that money will end up.

Of course, if these two were really serious about laying blame on government, they should blame the local one. Responsibility to perform – legally and practically – fell first on the mayor of New Orleans. We are now all familiar with Mayor Ray Nagin – the black Democrat who likes to yell at President Bush for failing to do Nagin’s job. The facts, unfortunately, do not support Nagin’s wailing. As the Washington Times puts it, “recent reports show [Nagin] failed to follow through on his own city’s emergency-response plan, which acknowledged that thousands of the city’s poorest residents would have no way to evacuate the city.”
One wonders how there was “no way” for these people to evacuate the city. We have photographic evidence telling us otherwise. You’ve probably seen it by now – the photo showing 200 parked school buses, unused and underwater. How much planning does it require to put people on a bus and leave town, Mayor Nagin?
Instead of doing the obvious, Mayor Nagin (with no positive contribution from Democratic Gov. Kathleen Blanco, the other major leader vested with responsibility to address the hurricane disaster) loaded remaining New Orleans residents into the Superdome and the city’s convention center. We know how that plan turned out.

About five years ago, in a debate before the National Association of Black Journalists, I stated that if whites were to just leave the United States and let blacks run the country, they would turn America into a ghetto within 10 years. The audience, shall we say, disagreed with me strongly. Now I have to disagree with me. I gave blacks too much credit. It took a mere three days for blacks to turn the Superdome and the convention center into ghettos, rampant with theft, rape and murder.
President Bush is not to blame for the rampant immorality of blacks. Had New Orleans’ black community taken action, most would have been out of harm’s way. But most were too lazy, immoral and trifling to do anything productive for themselves.

All Americans must tell blacks this truth. It was blacks’ moral poverty – not their material poverty – that cost them dearly in New Orleans. Farrakhan, Jackson, and other race hustlers are to be repudiated – they will only perpetuate this problem by stirring up hatred and applauding moral corruption. New Orleans, to the extent it is to be rebuilt, should be remade into a dependency-free, morally strong city where corruption is opposed and success is applauded. Blacks are obligated to help themselves and not depend on the government to care for them. We are all obligated to tell them so.

In Debt Before You Start

Today I was looking over my student loan account online and I got a real bad feeling in my stomach. Currently I am in deferment but soon (in March to be exact) I will be paying Sallie Mae for my student loans. I must admit if I knew then what I knew now I would have tried harder to get scholarships or I would have worked my way through school, because I owe some major dough and I really do not want to pay. I know it is wrong but when I was borrowing the money I never kept track I what I really owed and how it could affect my financial future. To be honest at the ripe old age of 18 I thought I had the world at my feet and borrowing money to secure my future was in my best interest. My friends and I was fed a constant diet of “Go to college so you can earn some good money.” We were made to feel that simply by going to college would guarantee that we would be set for life and we will be able to choose the positions we wanted. As a matter of fact, I was under the illusion that jobs would be fighting over me, vying for my time and my mind. All the college professors and staff made us kids feel like our futures were so bright and that opportunities were abundant. I believed it all and thought, I want to have major cash so better up the antae and get a masters degree. I happily spent 6 years straight in school. I studied hard and dreamt of all the money I would be making when I graduated. The career center saw me often because I was constantly checking out who was hiring and what I should expect. Finally, I walked across the stage with my master’s degree. What a feeling I felt like I was on top of the world. I had obtained a decent job and could not wait to take on Corporate America. Then one day a letter from MOHELA came in the mail and it was a statement concerning my student loans and the expected payment. I read the letter and saw the total cost of my education (six-figures) and damn near fainted. All of the sudden I started pulling out old financial aid papers and adding figures up in my head. I was on the verge of tears, I felt like I had been scammed. How could I possibly owe this much money, and how did these people think I was going to pay $ 500.00 a month for the next 25- 30 years. I called MOHELA and they said we will place you into deferment. Whew, I could happily pretend that I never owed the money, or so I thought. My mind was constantly plagued with the thought of owing this large amount of money. While I made good money I hated my job and needed to quit because I was consistently unhappy. After much thought and consideration I decided to quit my job believing that my education would ensure that I would get another good job as a matter of fact I looked forwarded to getting a better job. After months and months of searching I was unable to find another great job. I was so frustrated because everyone promised that an education would lead to big money and a bright future. Here I was unemployed and could not find a job and I had invested a great deal of time and money into school. Watching daytime television left me pissed off because all of the ads for college, medical programs, and technical school. They all promised job placement and had testimonials about how going to school advanced people’s career and changed their standard of living. These schools were making false claims, they could not guarantee anything, yet they often made people feel like school is the way out of poverty. They forget to tell you about the debt you will incur and that you don’t always get the job you dream of. Many times graduates are so saddled by debt and a lack of a good paying job they can’t afford to pay back their student loans. In fact, two-thirds of graduating seniors at four-year universities now carry student loan debt, according to the Project on Student Debt's June 2006 report. And, with tuitions soaring well above inflation, average debt has increased by more than 50 percent, leaving a typical college graduate with $23,600 in student loan debt and $2,000 in credit card debt, according to a September 2006 report by the Campaign for America's Future. Additionally, Congress cut $12 billion from the student loan program in 2005, which many felt could have been used to keep interest rates low. The rise in unmanageable debt has raised concerns that many graduates won't be able to pursue careers in fields that have traditionally paid modest salaries. Nearly a quarter of four-year public-school graduates and 38% of private-school graduates who become teachers can't afford to repay their debts on a starting teacher's salary, a recent report by the Public Interest Research Group's Higher Education Project found.

Other factors contributing to a rise in loan balances include:

•Shrinking federal aid. College costs have risen by more than 50% since 1990, but federal aid hasn't kept up. Congress hasn't increased the Pell Grant, the most common form of direct aid for low-income students, since 2003. (The maximum Pell Grant is $4,050 a year.)
Both low- and middle-income families have been squeezed,

•An increase in private loans. Federal Stafford loans let students borrow using federally backed loans with favorable interest rates and repayment terms. Unsubsidized Stafford loans are available to all students, even if they don't qualify for financial aid.
But there are limits to how much undergraduates can borrow. This year, the total in Stafford loans that a freshman can borrow is $2,625; for sophomores, the cutoff is $3,500. There are also limits on the amount of Stafford loans that graduate students can borrow. In 2004-05, private-loan borrowing rose by about 30%, according to the Project on Student Debt.
As a result, many students who attend private or out-of-state schools or pursue a graduate degree often must supplement their Stafford loans with more costly private loans. These loans lack some of the advantages of federally backed loans — such as provisions that let borrowers defer payments — and are costlier,
Starting July 1, new Stafford loans will carry a fixed rate of 6.8%, up from the current rate of 5.3% for loans in repayment. That's a big jump, but borrowers who consolidate their federal loans before July 1 can lock in the lower rate for the life of the loan.
That's not an option for most private-loan borrowers. Interest on those loans is variable and linked to market rates. The rates on Weinberg's private loans range from 7.5% to 8.2%. "I'm really scared of even another half-a-percent increase," she says.

•Pressure for advanced degrees. When Rachelle Routsong, 24, graduated from Brigham Young University with a bachelor's degree in health sciences, the only relevant jobs she could find were administrative positions in doctors' offices and community health centers.
The pay was low, and "it was just a lot of paperwork," she says. "I didn't enjoy it."
Routsong decided to return to school to get her master's degree as a nurse practitioner. She looked into nursing programs at several community colleges. All had two- to three-year waiting lists. She entered an accelerated program at the University of San Diego, a private school, that will enable her to get a master's in three years. She's borrowed $65,000 and expects her loans to top $165,000 by the time she graduates.
Her student debt, she says, occupies a place in the recesses of her mind.
"I want to get married, and I want to have a family. What if I want to have a child and take time off while he's an infant? Will I be able to do that with all this debt that I need to make payments on?"
Law and medical students, who can usually expect lucrative careers, have traditionally borrowed to pay for their schooling. But more than 54% of education doctoral students — who generally don't expect high-paying jobs — also borrowed in 2004, according to the Project on Student Debt. These borrowers are primarily future teachers, principals and administrators. Their average loan balance: $43,029.
Long-term value?
One of the consequences of escalating loan balances is that today's graduates will spend a lot more time repaying their debts than earlier graduates did
While a Stafford loan has a standard 10-year repayment period, borrowers with large balances can extend their payments for up to 30 years. There's a good chance, he says, that today's borrowers with above-average student-loan balances will still be repaying their loans by the time their own children start college.

The problem for borrowers with heavy debts is that the loan payments arise long before the higher salaries do, says Luke Swarthout of the Higher Education Project. Most graduates are expected to start repaying their loans soon after they leave school. Besides earning modest starting salaries, they often have to shoulder the costs of moving to an expensive new city. "

Later this week I will discuss the "business of student loans"

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

How Did She Get That Glow .. Skincare 101

Great skin requires a great skincare system. Finding what works for your skin is key to getting that smooth even toned skin you crave. I am not a dermatologist but I will tell you what worked for me. I suffered from acne and I have basically tried every product on the market. Years of trying to solve the acne problem myself resulted in very sensitive and dry skin. I have tried most of the acne products on the market. Searching for a resolution I tried the cheap ones to the expensive ones sold at Macy’s. Most of these products will not work for people with moderate-severe acne. I advise people dealing with moderate-severe acne to see a dermatologist. My Los Angeles dermatologist prescribed me Retin-A- Micro which is made by Neutrogena. This cream left my skin really dry and sometimes my skin would peel. However a little moisturizer usually helped with the dryness. I started noticing a difference in two weeks. My skin was beginning to get clearer and the acne scars began to fade. After the full 7 week treatment 95% of the acne had disappeared. The cream also contains retinal which is great for treating lines and wrinkles. The down size is the price. I paid $157.00 for the cream but it was worth every penny. Some insurance may cover this product but mine did not.

After the acne was treated my dermatologist in St Louis recommended that I try the Obagi System. Now this is a skincare line sold in dermatologist and medi-spa offices only. This cleanser gets really soapy and one bottle last 3-4 months. It really takes a small amount to cleanse the entire face and neck region. The product promotes more uniform cells at the deepest layer for better skin structure and balanced, more even skin tone while pushing fresher cells to the surface faster, for smoother skin, reduced wrinkles and increased tolerance . My skin was left with a really clean feeling with no residue or tightness. This products cost around $40.00 per bottle, but again worth every penny.

Now there are some products that can be purchased over the counter that I find very effective. While I love Obagi my insurance only covers it when it is purchased it in a dermatologist office. My dermatatologist in LA does not carry Obagi so I stock up when I fly home to St. Louis. California is filled with medi-spas and while they may sale the product I will only purchase it where I can use my flexible spending plan. So when I run out I use OTC products and my favorite products are Healthy Skin, Anti Wrinkle, Anti Blemish Cleanser and Clear Skin Cream from Neutrogena. I can honestly say these products really work. They contain salicylic acid, a proven acne-fighting ingredient, penetrate deep into pores to treat blemishes and help prevent future breakouts. This light, oil-free formula glides on easily and absorbs quickly with no greasy residue. It also has retinol in it to help fight laugh lines and other wrinkles. Because the clear skin cream contains retinol it can dry out the skin and may require an additional moisterizer if you have sever dry skin. This can be purchased at any store and retails around $7.00 for each product. I am currently using this product and the clear skin cream and I am completely satisfied with the results, minus the dryness.

I recently began to search for a moisturizer to wear on top of the of my Neutrogena clear skin cream and discovered Hope In A Jar by Philosophy. This is one of the best moisturizers I’ve ever used. This cream is so light and feels great on the skin. My skin really absorbs this product unlike some products that just sits on top of the skin and you keep rubbing it in until you rubbed it off your face. The product smells really clean too, it smells soap and water clean, not real purfumy. Hope In A Jar does not leave me with what I call the Sambo face ( which looks real greasy like you rubbed Vaseline over your entire face). I really love this product it only takes a small amount to cover the entire face. It retails for 38.00 for 2oz. and can be purchased on line at or at Sephora’s. Also QVC sells an 8oz jar for $105.00 and will break it up in installments of $21.00 a month for 5 months. They guarantee that the product will last at least eight months and will automatically ship an 8oz jar every 8 months.

Now if you do not have an acne problem (or your acne problem has been resolved) try Dove facial cleansers. I like Dove because it does not strip the face of its natural oils. The sensitive formula works best for my skin and you can not beat the lather. I do not like cleansers that do not lather, I think it’s psychological , in my mind if there’s no lather then it’s not clean. This is another product that last for at least 6-8 weeks and can be purchased in a scrub as well. This can be purchased at any major retailer and cost approximately $6.00 .

While cleansing and moisturizing the skin is essential to great skin, exfoliation is also a necessary step that should be included in each skincare program. Exfoliation involves scrubing the skin with a gritty substance to remove the dead surface layer. Removing the dead surface layer will reveal the glow in your skin. It takes that ashy look away from the skin. Last night I tried the best exfoliate I ever used. It’s called the Micodelivery Peel from Philosophy. This is a two step process that requires you massage your skin with fine crystals for three minutes and then place the activation gel on top of the crystals. Once both products are on the face it will start to warm. This product contains vitamin c- this antioxidant and collagen stimulator offers anti-aging benefits, helps brighten the skin and helps protect against environmental attack, keeps skin clear with salicylic acid- helps shed pore walls of dead skin cells and helps skin which helps promote smooth, healthy skin. I could not keep my hands off my skin. My skin was soooo soft and touchable. It was like a 3 minute skin makeover. Because my skin is sensitive I will use this product twice monthly. I defiantly recommend this product. This product retails for 65.00 and can be purchased on line at or at Sephora’s.

You may be asking yourself " why is Black Doll concerned with wrinkle products and she ain't old". Well I am not in my early twenties either. Whoever told you black don't crack lied to you. It is best to start working on wrinkles before they show up instead of looking like a prune and trying to get Lancome's help. Not to mention I do not believe in cosmetic surgery for the face. However, I am not afraid of growing older I am just taking preventive measure to preserve my sexy baby.
I know some of these products are a bit pricey so I will post (at a later date) some great skincare concoctions that can be made in your very own kitchen. Understand that when it comes to a great skincare regimen you must find what works for you and your skin type. This may involve a mixture of some high priced items and some affordable items. Believe me just cause it is expensive does not mean it's the best for you. It has taken me fourteen years to find the right skincare combination for my skin. If you are unsure I suggest you see a dermatologist especially if you suffer with acne. I waited years before I sought out professional help. These OTC products will fool you with those wonderful commercials and product claims. Don't be fooled most acne requires prescription strength products and the care of a dermatologist. I suffered from low self esteem for years due to my acne prone skin. Now my skin is chocolaty smooth and looks great. The basic steps to great skin is to cleanse, moisturize and exfoliate. The products mention worked well for my acne prone, sensitive and dry skin. If you have a favorite skincare product please mention them along with your skin type so others can easily determine if their skin type matches yours.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Skrippers get trick arrested

Dude was just trying to make it rain. But he was not aware that Diamond goes to Jr. College getting her associates in economics and just skrip to pay for college.

SMYRNA, Tenn. (AP) -- A man who authorities say used his computer to make fake $100 bills to buy lap dances at a strip club has pleaded guilty to counterfeiting charges, federal prosecutors said.
Strippers at Deja Vu in Nashville were suspicious of the bills and called police after Damon Armagost spent $600 of the fake money April 16, authorities said.
When officers arrived, Armagost first told them he got the money when he sold gold coins for $1,400 to an unidentified person.
U.S. Secret Service agents later determined that counterfeit bills with the same serial number had been passed in other parts of the country. When they went to Armagost's Smyrna home, about 20 miles southeast of Nashville, a family member told agents that an image of a $100 bill had been on a computer there.Armagost then acknowledged that he had downloaded the image from the Internet and printed 14 of the bills, prosecutors said. He pleaded guilty Friday to manufacturing and passing counterfeit currency and has a sentencing date of Nov. 5

Party Like A Rock Star...... Sike

As I attempt to assimilate into the LA lifestyle and culture I recently came to the conclusion that I need to bring plenty of patience, have time to waste, and a very laid back demeanor when it comes to partying in this town. When I was in my late teens early twenties I partied like a rock star on a daily basis. I remember me and my friends going to clubs when we were 17 and 18 straight kicking it. We knew we were too young to get into the clubs but back in the day getting a fake I.D. was really easy. Clubbing, booze and early morning breakfast as Denny’s became a regular weekend thing. Back then we would leave the house around 1:00 am, close the club down at 6:00 am and then go get something into eat ( If you live in STL, try Uncle Bills on S. Kingshighway after the club, great food and they have the best coffee, it will sober you up real quick), by the time I got home it would be about 7:45 in the morning. This continued every weekend for about six years. Needless to say my party like a rock star days are over, and I am lucky if I can stay up until 11:00 pm to watch Juanita Bynum on the Word Network (what, a sistah gotta get her word) . Basically my life consists of working, exercising, domestic activities, shopping (when funds permit) and if I am really feeling cooped up I may go to the movies or out to eat. As I try to climb the corporate letter and loose 90 pounds I have basically lost my social life and sometimes I crave my old East St. Louis party days. So in an effort to reclaim my social life I decided since I now live in LA I should partake in a few activities and occasionally go to a few clubs.

Yesterday I went to see Raheem Devaughn at B.B. King’s Blues Club. I love neo soul and I saw him perform live on VH-1 so I thought this would be a great opportunity to mingle, have some great food, and listen to the smooth sounds of Raheem. I purchased my tickets from Ticketmaster and was told that doors open at 5:30 and the show would start at 7:00. So I was hyped all Saturday and went shopping to ensure that I would be looking “fly” in case I met my ex-boyfriend that night. Unfortunately, I have not met any friends in LA so I go out by myself a lot and I was looking forward to seeing some black people ( I live in Ventura County, not many black folks round here). Okay, I get to the place and it cost $10.00 to park ( if you live in LA you are probably used to paying for parking, but I am still trying to embrace this concept). Now BB King’s is located in Universal Studios City Walk. It took me about 30 minutes to find the damn place because there are only two directories in a 7 mile radius. It was hot yesterday as I began to sweat my make up was starting to shine, plus I was afraid I was gonna be late because it was 6:30 and I wanted to get a good seat because Ticketmaster said the show was gonna start at 7:00. Once I finally discovered were BB Kings was located I saw a line of people wrapped around the building. Now I was a bit upset because I did not expect this massive group of people to be waiting outside, and this was the pre-paid line! I starting asking around and was told that they had not opened the doors yet. They started letting people in around 7:30 (yes my pisstivity level was very high). Once seated I decided to hell with the diet and healthy crap I’m out so I’m gonna have what I want. I ordered some hot wings, sweet potato fries, peach cobbler with ice-cream, and advised the waitress to bring my special (grey goose, tonic water, with limes and olives). I immediately went to the restroom to get myself together and refresh my make-up. When I got back the people began to set up the stage and I was like okay Raheem is about to relax my mind and when my drink come I will be feeling groovy. Then they announced someone by the name of Ima D was gonna start her set. I understood and was like okay she is opening for him. Ima D. took to the stage sang three songs and still my drink had not arrived. Then they started setting up the stage again, I thought come on Raheem baby, take my mind off this mess. No Raheem another group called O.N.E. (but I’ma call em Jodicky because they reminded me of a young Jodeci mixed with Pretty Ricky­.) No one in the group appeared to be over the age of 20. At some point in the performance the group leader fell to his knees and began to curl up in the fetal position while he sang about begging a woman to please let him stay. Now these fools sang four songs and it was close to 10 o’clock at night still no Raheem, no drink and no damn food either. So I stopped the waitress and was like I been waiting two hours for a drink and some food, when is my order coming. She had the nerve to tell me that my order was lost and she needed to retake the order. I ice grilled that chick so hard she had to drop her head. In an effort to be courteous I lowered my voice and told her my order again. As I looked around no one in my area had food or drinks. Now you know black folks don’t like to be kept waiting and people were starting to grumble and wanted either some liquor or some Raheem asap. Okay Jodicky left the stage and they just started playing random music. So finally at 11:30 my wings show up, no drink or fries or cobbler. Sistah just dropped off the damn wings with no napkins or anything. My last meal was at 3:00 and so you know I was hungry as hell. I said screw the napkins I will eat the wings and worry about wiping my hands later. As I bit unto the wings they were cold and soggy like they have been sitting for hours. Ah hell naw, this was not gonna work, I could only stomach 2 wings because they were just that nasty. Not only is my mouth on fire because of the hot sauce and I have no drink but now these $10.00 wings (only came with 6 wings) taste like sh*t. Next thing I know my whole section is about to riot the place, all I know is security, police and managers are in my section. Black folk (myself included) was pissed and they was about to let the lil waitress feel it, she went and got back-up. The manager got bombarded with people saying “I ain’t paying for this. I know you ain’t trying to charge a 15% gratuity fee when we been waiting hours for drinks and food.” Oh it was bout to be straight South Central in that piece. Man my folks showed their ass so good they comp the whole section. At midnight the peach cobbler that I ordered finally arrived and they were setting the stage up again, this time a bunch of background singers showed up and the stage was looking real professional so I really needed Raheem and now that I had some cobbler it would make seeing Raheem even sweeter. Finally the band is on the stage, the four background singers have taken their place and the announcer says get ready to experience the Queen of the West. I was confused for the moment then some lady shows up saying she is the Queen of the West and she started to sing songs I never heard of before. Still no Raheem (and no drink ). I later found out the Queen of the West is Latoya Williams (right, I don’t know who the hell she is either). But the LA natives are screaming like she is the next Mary J. Blidge. Don’t get me wrong the girl could sing but I really did not want to hear her. Finally the lady next to me got her water and she noticed that I had been without a drink for 4 hours and was dry hacking like crazy so she was nice enough to give me her water. Finally around 12:45 Raheem finally came on the stage, but half the people left because they could not take it anymore. Being hungry, hot and thirsty can make any crowd consider other options especially black folks, we really like to party but we appreciate good customer service too. Raheem apologized to the crowd and said that keeping people waiting was not his style but he had no control over the matter. As soon as he said that I forgave him and decided to keep the attitude at bay and have a good time anyway. Raheem sounded good and looked good too. He has cut his braids off and his voice sounded like silk. Around 1:30 I began having difficulty staying awake plus I had to be at work in the morning. No to mention the 35 minutes it would take me to get home. I blew a kiss to Raheem and decided to leave. As bad as I wanted to leave I could not find my car. The parking lot structure is huge and I could not find the level that my car was parked on. After another 25 minutes of looking for my car I finally found it and drove home. By the time I got home it was close to 3:00 and I was hungry and tired. Next weekend I am suppose to go to a comedy show I hope I don’t encounter the same problems or I may have to modify the way I party and try some white clubs or hang outs. If you have any suggestions let me know.
**** Oh the photo is of Ima D. I was too tired to by the time Raheem came on*****

Friday, August 24, 2007

Thank You For All That You Do

Good evening everybody,

I just received an e-mail from my good friend Ann* about her military training. Ann* is training incase she is deployed to Iraq. After reading her e-mail I was very thankful that we have people volunteering to go into the military and I appreciate all that the soldiers do to protect our country. I never really thought about the many challenges that the women in the military face. Here is an excerpt of Ann’s* e-mail

I worked 16 hours days, slept in a small tent for most of the days and then we had to move into a big tent with other females. I went 4 DAYS with out a shower and hot food. Can you imagine working all day in hot sun sweating and then you have to wipe yourself down with a freakin baby wipe. I felt so yucky not to mention mother nature paid me a visit. The 16 hour work days consist of standing watch for the enemy in either a foxhole or hummer truck for all of that time. Anyway we had to wear our fight jacket (bullet proof vest 10 pounds), CBR gear (in case of biological chemical attack) and carry our weapons with ammunition, water canisters at all times. The stuff was so heavy....I need to check with a spa when I return ..... Anyway I was constipated for days and could not use the restroom due to the MRE's. They did not taste as bad as I thought they would but they are loaded with sodium so I only ate one a day until the galley opened which one MRE a day is worth 3000 calories. For the most part I was just very tired, irritated by my smell and others.

Ann* is one of my best friends ( ** note to Mike Vick, Ann would be a great friend for you, she’s from the hood, she won't snitch, plus she knows how to handle a gun if she needed to, she straight a ride or die chick.) I would like to thank all of the men and women serving in any capacity of the military. A sistah like me would die from sheer exhaustion. Please shout out in the comment section all the military people you know.

Nothing New..............

Saw this article and I could not believe it. This is defiantly a testament of what type of society that we live in . I just can't believe this issue had to be addressed in the media (see the article below) . East St. Louis is directly across the bridge from St. Louis, Missouri. I am originally from St. Louis and this type of thing has been going on for years and nothing has ever been said about it. I guess too many white folks got jacked for their cars, cause believe me they are primarily the people particapating in the "rentals". Tell me what you think.

Stolen car reports due to “dopefiend rentals” on rise in Illinois

05:48 PM CDT on Thursday, August 23, 2007
Watch News 4 coverage
(KMOV) - Reports of stolen vehicles in the Metro East are growing.

In 2006 there were 560 reports of stolen of vehicles.
Already this year there have been 392 reports of stolen vehicles.
Stolen vehicles are problems on both sides of the Mississippi River.
On the east side of the river false reports of stolen vehicles are growing.
Sgt. Gary Brewer says "It’s frustrating we see a series of these we are tying up man power on these phony cases."
He goes on to say the source of the problem is what he calls ‘dope fiend rentals.’
The urban dictionary defines the term as:
"A vehicle obtained in trade for drugs usually for a set amount of time, and occasionally the owner will call it stolen."
Out of the fifty cars reported stolen a week in Madison and St. Clair County two of those cases are dope fiend rentals.
Sgt. Brewer showed News 4 where some of these false reports were coming from.
He took News 4 down 9th Street in East St. Louis.
Then Sgt. Brewer parked his truck and showed how sometimes even prostitutes get in the mix.
He says sometimes the women exchange sex for the use of the car and not returning it.
"If you come with intent to use your car for drugs and file a false report we will prosecute," Brewer says.
Reporting a false crime is considered a felony.
The chief of police in East St. Louis says the department is cracking down on dope fiend rentals.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Keeping it Real

Oh my Goodness. Man, I cannot stand when people come over to my cubicle being nosey. You know how your co-workers are; they think they slick trying to look at your computer screen to see what you are working on. Ole boy here at my job constantly walking around looking to see what people are doing, that sh*t makes me sick. Moving on…… LA traffic sucks everyday. It does not matter what time you get on the highway plan to be there for a long time. I basically plan my life around traffic. It takes over an hour to drive 30 miles, so many damn people in one location is not good. I can’t wait for my job to relocate me because I just can not get into the Cali lifestyle. I am a Mid-West chick, we move slower and we are just more down to earth. For example people in LA believe you should look good at all times (it’s an unspoken rule). When I first moved here I went grocery shopping on a Saturday around 7 o’clock in the morning. Silly me, I threw on some jogging pants, a t-shirt, flip-flops and a head wrap. People were looking like WTF. No lie, everyone was dressed up in the grocery store at 7 in the morning. See where I’m from that’s not how we roll. In St. Louis we just handle our damn business and get fresh when needed. Now I do not want to misrepresent STL, because there will always be a few people that feel like they must be dressed to the nines at all times. However, I am not one of those people. I dress up Mon- Fri, on the weekend I like dressing up to be an option. In LA if you are not dressed in the latest fashions (or swap meet fakes, depending on how you roll) sales reps will pay you no attention. I went to one of my favorite stores (Sephora’s )to get a few necessary items. I had on some jeans and tank top, very casually dressed but still cute. I could not find what I was looking for, so I kept going to different sales reps and don’t you know all those heifers pretended to be busy. I was about to go straight sistah girl on them, and before I get my neck rolling, finger pointing game into action a sales rep in training came to help me. Whew, they better be happy because they were about to feel the fury of a sistah gone mad. Man, I spent way more money than I anticipated. I am like a kid in the candy store when I’m in Sephora’s. All the other sales reps were looking like whoa, we didn’t expect t-shirt and jeans to spend that much! Anyway, I thanked the sales rep in training and told her to never judge a person on how they look because you never know how much money a person is holding. Oh, I want to talk about one more issue before I end this post. My friend Ra-Ra and I were discussing the Michael Vick situation and she was pissed that he might get some jail time. I’m like who gives a damn. The man is a multi-millionaire and he is participating in dog fighting! How stupid is that, it’s not like he needs the damn money. I am from the hood and I know dog fighting is a common practice, just like shooting dice and hustling on the block. However, once you reach millionaire status you should leave hood practices in the hood. He risked his multi-million dollar contract and future earnings and endorsements on a damn dog fight! I don’t know maybe he got knocked in the head too many times and had a few lapse in judgment. Yeah I know other sport figures have beat women, been involved with drugs and most recently started brawls at strip clubs causing people to get hurt. Most of these black sport figures come from the hood and they lose their damn minds when they get a little dough. On top of that ole boy crew starting snitching on him, I guess the stop snitching campaign is losing momentum. With friends like that who needs enemies, some straight Benedict Arnolds. Hood lesson 101, never do dirt with people that will snitch on ya. In my old hood you would hear people saying things like snitches get stitches or dead men tell no tales. Then to add fuel to the fire the NAACP got in the fight. I am trying to figure out why they got involved. Vick can afford a lawyer and this is not a racial issue. Where is the NAACP when it comes to rebuilding New Orleans, resurrecting failing school districts, high rate of foreclosures, homelessness, rampant unemployment, HIV/AIDS, should I continue? The NAACP’s mission statement is: Ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination. Tell me what Vick’s case has to do with that. In the end I wish Vick the best, and hope that he gets fair and equal treatment from the justice system. In the future I hope he makes better decisions and choose his friends more carefully. However, I feel that he should face the music and deal with it.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Knowing When To Call It Quits

I am listening to the Michael Baisden Show and the topic is Drug Addicts and people who love them. There are so many sistahs calling in saying how much they love these men and that they are hoping that their love will pull them out of the clutches of addiction. I ache for all these women that have sacrificed so much of their being. Call after call women are saying the same thing. “I can’t give up on him, I’m all he got”. Of course, Michael tries to give these sistahs some pearls of wisdom and advice. But then I asked myself, what is the difference between someone loving a drug addict and loving someone toxic. We all have been involved at one time or another with a toxic lover. I recently kicked a toxic lover to the curb. The sad part is I waited way to long to through up the peace sign and chuck the brother the deuce and keep it moving. I let this man keep me angry, waiting, and pissed off most of the time. Actually, I felt empowered when I let that relationship go. My spirit kept telling me to leave this man alone, but I pushed the feeling aside for a few more weeks. Then I realized my feelings were trying to communicate to my brain and heart that this was no longer a workable arrangement. ( but hey the sex was good, that will cloud a sistah judgment real quick) I have always heard the phrase “Do not through your pearls before swine”. We can not love men that do not love us in a productive way. Men that do not recognize the jewel that you are are not for you! Trying to hang around and love someone hard enough hoping that one day he will see the value in you is foolish. Because a relationship does not work or the man does not choose you, does not mean you are flawed in anyway. Now it would be unwise to get out of a counterproductive relationship and not do some self evaluation. I always do a self check. I want to correct any foolish behavior patterns real quick. Believe me being single is not the worst thing in the world and when applied correctly can be used as a time for self evaluation and reflection. Happiness, joy and peace are byproducts of self love. No one ever taught me about self love and how to love me. This led me to be involved in some questionable relationships. I began to think that my partner’s perception of me was more important than my own perception. Now, I am not gonna say that I let a man straight dog me, but I did have a high tolerance for bullsh*t. The disrespect had to be so blatant that I had no choice but to react. With each misstep there is a lesson. The key is learning from the relationships doing some adjustments and keep it moving. Currently I am a vision of self love and the byproducts of happiness, joy and peace are coming into my life, and I will happily share this when the right man comes along. Until then I am single and ready to mingle!

Fighting the Fat

Due to depression and pure laziness I managed to gain about 80lbs over the last seven years. Earlier this year I decided to take control of my life and resolve some of the issues that have plagued me for years. In 2005 I moved to the west coast away from everyone and things that were familiar. Thankfully during this time I was able to hear God’s voice clearly and uninterrupted. Its amazing how when you don’t have family and friends to distract you from your inner struggle what one can accomplish. Don’t get me wrong my people never held me back, but it was easier to pretend that I was okay with my life as long as I had them around. When it’s just you and God he will show you your weakness and your frailty. When I moved to the west coast I wanted to get myself together and get a clear vision of what I wanted to accomplish in life. Needless to say I have dealt with a majority of my emotional issues now I must shed the weight. To me the weight is a representation of a time when I was walking around with my head in a cloud, so it is imperative that the weight comes off. However, losing weight is easier said than done. I started gaining weight in college (shout out to Central Missouri State University) and then once I got into the “real” world I ate when I was depressed, to celebrate, when I was bored, when I was happy, and any damn time I felt like it. So finally I said I ‘m not going out like Lutha and nem I was going to get myself healthy and lose at least 70lbs. I’d like to announce that I have successfully lost 26lbs, but now it is getting really hard. As I sit here typing I’m hungry as hell! This morning I was suppose to go for my morning walk and I was just not in the mood ( I got on the scale and I did not lose any weight and I got pissed off and went back to sleep). I generally walk/jog 6.8 miles 5-6 times a week, but the weight is coming off so slow that at times I get discouraged and say F*ck it, and today was one of those days. Tomorrow I will get back on the horse and start all over again. But I am still sticking to the eating plan,1000 calories a day, come on give a sistah a break you know I could snap out any minute living on a thousand calories a day with fruit for snacks and at least 8 glasses of water everyday. Okay, y’all I gotta get back to work. I may post again today if I get the chance.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Beautifulness Is Not Cheap

Okay y’all, I recently bought 3 pairs of fierce stilettos. The same shoe in three different colors. Don’t be shaking your head. I know you do it too. I saw the shoes yesterday and told myself do not buy those damn shoes; you know you are trying to get your finances together. I tried to keep the shoes off my mind, and then I started thinking about all the clothes that would look great with the shoes so I decided what the hell and whipped out the credit card and bought the shoes. (My girls know that key pieces in the wardrobe is worth every dime you pay) Now I have over 50 pairs of shoes in my closet already not to mention the mounds of clothes (some still have tags) that are hanging in my closet. Then I thought about the face cream and exfoliate I bought for $195.00 not to mention the $200.00 I plan to spend on my hair next month. I am totally overwhelmed with all the sh*t I do to stay “fly”. Now believe me I’m bossy like Kelis, but unlike Kelis I have no Nas and my paycheck is not as fat as I would like. Don’t get me wrong I don’t take the rent and car note money and spend it on bullsh**t, but I do like to look good. I wonder if the brothers know how much we go through to stay looking fresh to death. But real talk… Good credit is the building blocks to financial wealth. Oh best believe, that a sistah does invest and participate in the 401(k) plan at the job. Shoot I am trying to buy a house in the next year or two. Nothing wrong with looking good ladies but I am striving to look good in the future too! Well I will talk with y’all tomorrow. In the mean time pray for the Jena 6