Saturday, 31 May 2008

Sitting & Thinking

So I sat and pondered this question about environmentalists....what makes them a bit lacking? I sat and thought over the various readings and discussions that you witness on TV...and finally came to several conclusions this week.

First....for the most part.....most of these environmental freaks....have no idea what the actual percentage of CO2 in the atmosphere is. You could make up any number, from a professor in English to a professor in Greek Literature and just state a number, and they'd accept it.

Second....it would strongly appear that the bulk of these folks don't know that
H2O is the most potent greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. Again....probably because they fell asleep or they just know very little.

Third.....most environmentalists don't understand a thing about
methane, nor would they realize that its the more potent greenhouse gas. Sadly, you can't find methane credits (like carbon credits)....and if you did....I'd run as far as possible in the opposite direction. Methane is like crack or meth....its a killer of an absolute nature.

Fourth....El Nino to a true environmentalists (one who never took a single class in science)....is like nuclear science. Even when you bring out the expert and have it explained to them.....they act like
they are still too stupid to understand that the El Nino affect is far more powerful on global weather patterns.

Fifth....maybe its just me....but most environmentalists seem to be socialists at heart and really hate people of wealth. They can't stand a society where people accumulate money and use it at their own discretion. The size of your house, the type of car, the vacation you took....all matter to this guy. They want to size you down. They want your wealth distributed to others. Don't work hard....because you shouldn't get ahead. If this mentality bothers you....smoke some mary-j-u-wanna, and feel good about yourself....in a different world.

Sixth....I get the opinion that 90 percent of the folks who claim to be an environmentalists (even the English Literature freaks)....have no
education on climatology or meteorology and got most of their information from Al Gore...who is the guy who failed miserably at all of the science related SAT tests.

Seventh.....no matter how its explained to a environmentalists....the earth's weather pattern can have nothing to do with the sun or solar activities. Even if all of the other planets are reacting....we, the mighty Earth, can't react (Al Gore rule number 44).

Eight....there are more environmentalists in California, Oregon and California....than in Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee. In fact...I could tally in South Carolina, Kentucky, and Arkansas as well....and still not meet the 50 percent point of the three western states. Lack of education? I kinda doubt it....the same percentage of idiots in school in Portland fell asleep during science class as they did in Red Bay. Strangely enough....there are more Christians in Bama, Miss and Tenn....than in Cal, Oregon and Washington....so could I envision this as a cult thing? They merely made up for a lost religion by accepting the Gore chant? They had to believe in something. More Washingtonians believe in Bigfoot than Bamaites....so this might lend to the idea of cult-acceptance.

Simply rumblings and chatter from a man in a pondering state of mind.

Half-Votes....Half-Wits


Sometime today....in the midst of democracy America....a DNC group will meet and determine the value of Michigan and Florida votes. The current belief (as of Thursday night)....is that they will agree to seat half the delegates at the Democratic convention from those two states....as punishment.

I'm sitting wiping away the tears of laughter from my face....as they openly declare every vote declared there in those two states...as half-a-vote....by a half-wit. These were registered half-wits....pure-blooded Florida and Michigan half-wits. To be honest....some of those half-wits actually were dually registered in New York, New Jersey, Ohio, etc.....and they got their real vote in there....and get a half-vote in this primary episode, which is fair to me.

Its hard to be a half-person, a half-wit, or even a half of anything....these days. It takes work....honest to God real American effort....to make something from a whole....into half. A half-vote? Is there such a thing? Well...from a historical view....we did have this prior to 1860...in most southern states....to actually count the slave vote but not declare the guy a whole person. The plus to this dimwitted strategy was to have a census every ten years and actually beef up the southern population to counter those damn yankees. But that all disappeared in 1860. We haven't had half-witted voting since that point.

I sat and pondered this. If we could do this in the senate....allowing for certain guys to have half-a-vote....after committing some crime or needing discipline. Like that Idaho fella who likes to toe-tap with other guys in airport bathrooms. We could have brought him in....and declared for twelve months....his votes were half-votes....thus making Idaho consider dumping him or just accepting 1.5 votes in their favor when Idaho legislation came up. We could have done this with various other congressmen....offering them a half-vote for a year or two as punishment. This makes good sense in this aspect.

But with such fine ideas...come problems. Folks would begin to question half-wits about why they stay on. Then folks would ask if you could quarter up votes....and then you'd have real trouble. So these DNC guys are going to have a great Saturday....and probably declare you folks from Michigan and Florida as half-wits. Be proud....the folks from 48 other states couldn't accomplish that feat. Be proud....you actually got the state into the weekend news....and it was NOT from a murder or crime. Be proud....you didn't even have to pay the DNC to accomplish this splitting of the votes. Be proud....America needs more half-wits like you.

So tonight, as you sit there at the porch....sipping your ice chilled tea....eating some saltine crackers....think of them poor folks from Michigan and Florida....and say a little prayer for them. They need it. They are the halves and we are the halve-nots.

Missing the Billions in Iran

What you won't really notice this weekend on the news....because of the incompetent nature of our analysts.....is the Iran story going around. The missing money.

The Shahab News folks out of Tehran are talking about an audit that the parliament has launched into....trying to find the location of $35 billion. Yep....BILLION.

Oil money that was supposed to come in from 2006 to 2007....taken by the President's office and given to the Central bank to dispense by the directions from the Iranian parliament. The audit indicates that the president had this money, but never delivered it to the central bank. No one can explain its location.

In the real world....where billions are moved daily....I'm guessing that a guy could hide a million or two each week and no one would ever notice. Ammi-dang-ding-do could have easily hidden $300 million in a year and no one would say a word. He could have taken $700 million out of $35 billion easily. But to take $35 billion and simply make it disappear....thats very risky. Where would you hide money like this? How would you invest or make this kind of money disappear? $35 billion is a sum of money that you'd have to move far from the middle east and keep hidden. So where is it?

I sat and pondered this event. If you really wanted to hide money....you'd have to take it into third world countries....like Malaysia or Singapore or Brazil or South Africa. You'd have to find ways to invest it....to build. But then I thought....why build? Maybe my strategy as the president of Iran isn't to build a fortune....but to unsettle someone else's fortune. I could easily take oil profits.....$35 billion....and bulk up the futures market....to double the profit that Iran would get into the future. I could probably even make a profit....by accident. I could launch oil prices from $80 a barrel to $130 a barrel....and screw up the American economy....without firing a shot.

So I'm sitting here looking at an enormous story...which the Bush administration likely just gazes over and moves on....especially with their fantastic CIA finance folks. It wouldn't be hard to find $35 billion....if I wanted to find it....but then....maybe I wouldn't want it found....because it would explain why I'm paying $4 a gallon for gas, and how a dimwit idiot from Iran outstaged the American geniuses. Maybe....or maybe I'm wrong. But its a curious story.

Life in a Different World

So this week....we were told of a "lost" Amazon tribe whose never seen real world. The Brazilian government has reason to believe that no one has ever contacted this tribe....out in the further reaches of the jungle left in Brazil...near Peru. Personally, I have doubts....and probably think otherwise.

They apparently did try to shoot arrows at the helicopters involved. I'm pretty sure this week that a dozen US journalists are on the way and want to the first ones to engage the "lost" tribe and ask if they support the Bush war on terrorism. Somewhere in the translation....I'm thinking that a couple of knives come out and the journalist might be lucky to walk out alive.

If we did bring the "lost" tribe Oprah, or Countdown, or Ultimate Gladiators, or Baskin Robbins ice cream....would it really help them recover from being "lost"? I'm having doubts. Personally....I'd rather just stay "lost"....sip water by the stream....have two or three girlfriends from the tribe to entertain me....have fresh pig every Friday night.....discuss the virtues of sharp arrows versus dull arrows....and just lounge around the camp seven days a week. Sure....there might be a hunting trip or a couple of hours fishing each day. Life would be awful damn simple. Course, I would miss Battlestar Galacticia, waffles, whiskey sours, Katie Couric, Mountain Dew, real soap, bottled glacier water, and reruns of Scooby Doo....but it would be a tough choice.

I'm thinking just let the guys be. They got real girlfriends now....no marriage or divorce problems...no taxes....and a pretty healthy diet. Ain't no need to mess this up.

Miserable Work

After the big nuke episode last year....Minot Air Force Base got on the bad boy list. The commander got fired. The base lost its accreditation and had to go through an entire process to recertify everyone. So they had an exercise to test the base in mid-May, after everyone was satisfied that things were right and normal. Apparently, the base failed the exercise. So after almost twelve months of constant hassle....they now get to endear another month of preparing for a major exercise. My guess is that everyone on base would like to leave because there is a bad image to the base and the man-hours they are putting in...are way more than forty a week.

The inspectors at exercise in mid-May said two big events stood out (this from a tiny report in CNN where most of the results were apparently classified). One airman who was a guard at the bomb facility was playing a video game on his cellphone while he was supposed to be guarding the bombs, and a second airman was "totally unaware" of her duties and responsibilities. The second airman....I would guess....probably got to the base within the last two months and probably has actually been working for less than four weeks. She probably is simply manpower amongst a organization that has had its manpower trimmed and cut as far as possible....so every person who arrives gets immediate duty after in processing and initial orientation. Every base in the Air Force is now operating in this mindset.....sadly.

So 90 days will pass....with no time off for the summer period, except for maybe the 4th of July weekend. I would guess that all of the officers will be doing a minimum of fifty hours a week....with some even pulling sixty. The senior NCO's? Most are likely to pull a full ten hours a week....Monday through Saturday....and two or three hours on Sunday. Miserability scale? They are all maxing at 9 right now. The lucky guys have assignments coming up and can leave the base. The unlucky guys? The ones coming straight out of basic or tech school....a young 19-year old airman...arriving on a base like this and working long hours for several months until a satisfactory grade occurs.

The amusing thing to me....is that across the entire Air Force....I think few bases could pass any close inspection currently. They all cut manpower enough to own bragging rights to get the perfect management technique but now they have a chaotic situation where they can't do the real work required. They all spent lots of time on initiatives to reorganize their unit or base....then turn around a year later to reorganize their unit or base again. They all have senior NCO's who don't stay in a job long enough to fix or improve the situation....in fact....its hard to really learn your profession in this current trend.

So I pity the fools at Minot Air Force Base. Because of the nuke episodes of last year....they got a big red zero on their chest and they have to climb out of a pit. The pit as of mid-May....is four feet deeper now. I wouldn't be happy there....I wouldn't desire to stay....and I wouldn't brag about ever being assigned there.

Friday, 30 May 2008

One out of 2,000,000


A bunch of smart dudes in the UK, calculated the odds of dying from a fall out of bed in the UK, where 20 people die normally per year. So far, no one has calculated the risk to cats.

Catholic Church & Reality

The Vatican went to the extent this week….of announcing it will excommunicate anyone….absolutely anyone….who attempts to ordain a woman as a priest, and the woman priest herself. Some dude named Cardinal Bill Levada felt that this was necessary, with things going out of control. Officially, the best we can say….is that around 40 to 50 women priest exists today….although none are recognized by the pope.

Its an amusing situation. The number of guys desiring to be priests drift downward every single year. You can’t readily recruit these guys, and you can’t contract out. In fifty years, I’d be guessing the population will be half of the current group….and you will have to wonder how the religion will be able to carry on.

Why continue the fight against the idea? Well….its more of a historical thing….because why change when history sits on your side. Then you add in the situation where women always want rearrange things and it’d just trigger trouble. Then you have the issue of voting on the pope and potentially it being one day some old lady….and most Catholics just can’t see that scenario.

The best answer here? Give up….let the Baptists win, and just take the gold and silver back to Rome. Face it….its a lose-lose scenario otherwise.

A Story

So this is a story that an associate told me about ten years ago. It involves his aunt & uncle, and his cousin. I will assume for all practical purposes on the truthfulness of the story, for at least he knew the three parties involved.

The aunt & uncle had been married for almost 30 years and had three daughters. Daughter one and two had finished high school and dad had paid for both to attend a local state college. Daughter one finished and ended up as a teacher, and daughter two finished to end up as a advertising hiree with a local TV station. Both had a decent salary….one was married….and both owned their own houses.

Daughter three came to finish high school, but two months prior to finishing….she announced that she wasn’t going to college and was now engaged to marry in June. Shock settled in for mom and dad. The groom? He was a local guy who wrapped up one year of college and quit. The guy spent a year with some commercial delivery service before becoming a salesman with some brick & lumber company. After five years of working as the salesman, the guy had a corvette and a rented apartment to show for his earnings….and little else. The guy spent money freely between casinos and weekends, so nothing was ever saved.

With the college plans shoot, dad had plenty of money to pay for the wedding and then intended to give a $15k check to the couple for whatever they wanted. That wasn’t the dream of the third daughter. She looked at the other two sisters and then determined that “Junior” and her deserved a house (bought and paid). So pressure came to bear, and dad came to the idea of a starter house and paying down $20k…which starter houses in the area were in the $120k range and thus this check of his and the grooms input would make this an affordable mortgage.

This logic held for a day, and then the daughter summarized the unfairness of the situation…her sisters had houses of value in the $150-200k range, and sadly…”Junior” had almost nothing to put down on a house. His salary was such that he could afford more than $700 a month. Dad then hinted that “Junior’s” parents ought to help contribute….which they agreed to funnel $5k into the contribution….thats it….no more. $25k total….with a $700 a month payment….didn’t equal a $150k house.

So eventually the deal was made with dad putting almost $35k into the deal and the daughter ended up with a $145k house.

The marriage ceremony came and went, and for a year….this deal worked. Then one day, the daughter came and asked dad to cover a month’s payment on the house. The two wanted a trip to a local casino and needed the $1000 to cover cost. Dad didn’t agree this time, and it triggered an argument.

A month went by, and a major car repair came up, with the daughter asking for $1000 to cover the bill, which Dad paid….and then discovered the couple left over the weekend for a casino trip.

A few months passed and the daughter appeared, asking for money to cover another car repair….which dad refused. The daughter insisted that this was a real necessity and yet no money came.

Somewhere toward the end of the second year….the couple broke up. Amongst the chief reasons, money. They couldn’t make the mortgage payment every month and cover lifestyle requirements. The daughter moved out and moved into Dad’s house. The divorce came and went….and the house had to be sold. The daughter came to be shocked in that the house barely made what it originally cost. By the time the bills were figured and the bank costs….the couple basically split $30k between them….with her share being $15k.

The daughter then insisted that she needed to go to college and dad should cover it like the other two sisters. Dad refused and told her to use the $15k that she had from the house sales….because that was her original college money. Needless to say, she wasn’t happy. After two semesters at college, she dropped out and ended up marrying some forty-year old guy who already had a house. There was no ceremony, and no cost for dad….he was happy about that part.

My associate went back to visit after this part of the episode….and the cousin was sitting there in a corvette that the new husband had given her. She was the trophy wife and enjoyed the attention. She lived in a huge house and lived lavishly….more so than the two sisters. No one appreciated her company.

I asked my associate what he thought she’d be doing in twenty years, and he figured married to husband number five. Its curious how you can see the path of someone start, and predict how the path will go.

Thursday, 29 May 2008

One of a 100,000

This week, in Austria, quietly and without worldly fanfare, Natascha Kampusch announced that she would be starting a interview show on Puls 4....network starting up on cable in Austria.

For those who don't remember Natascha....she was the kid who was kidnapped around age 12 and kept a prisoner by a guy in his garage (the grease bay pit). For eight years....he kept Natascha a prisoner......and only by a mistake....he put her into a position to escape....and she finally got away.

I sat and watched her a few weeks after the escape....where they had a live interview with her. I expected a "lost" individual....someone with issues and no ability focus. I was wrong. Out of 100,000 individuals he could have kidnapped that day.....he picked the only one who had resolve and could survive. Natascha took the TV he offered, the books, and the magazines.....and simply forged ahead. She learned things the hard way....but she learned from a vast audience....with only time to absorb and perform self-analysis. The other 99,999 would have become idle and despondent.....seeking no information or reality. She was different.

I find this career move to be unusual....but probably the best job in the world for a person like her. She absorbs the situation.....the information....and mentality comes to conclusions. Its hard to think and react like this. Most folks are always a step behind.....Natascha likely thinks a step or two ahead. She is not "lost" and certainly not a nut as one might expect.

I have high expectations from this young lady.....who is capable of so much in my mind. I'm thinking in the years to come....she will emerge as a major interviewer in Europe.....and probably be respected for thinking beyond what would normally be expected.

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Aliens: Approved by the Pope

This week....a rather odd story came out which might shock true catholics. Apparently....the chief astronomer for the Vatican.....the Rev Jose Funes....a Jesuit (which is almost a Catholic but not quiet).....spoke for the Pope and said that belief in God and aliens was ok.

Yep....you can now be Catholic and believe in aliens. I realize most of you Catholics had other worries on your mind....but the Pope is thinking in your best interest.

Indeed, Jose even said that aliens could be perceived as "our brothers". You could say "hey" and "howdy", and it'd be ok with God. I'm pretty sure the Baptist guys are meeting in some church basement right now....contemplating how to twist this around and be as anti-Catholic as possible. The natural Baptist comment would be "would Jesus approve of aliens?".

Me? I'm thinking Jesus would probably not worry much about aliens....and just chill out mostly....sipping spring water and eating some saltine crackers off the front porch table. We've probably got better things to worry about....but we also probably need to find something for those Jesuit folks to worry about at the same time. They seem to have too much time on their hands.

Just a Fake, But a Real Fake

So, this is what we know. In the town of Gerald, in the midst of Franklin County, Missouri....a guy shows up. He says with complete authority....that he is a federal drug agent, and he is on loan to the town. The guy spends the next couple of months....actually helping them conduct drug busts.

The best we can say about this fake DEA agent...is that he is truly a 36-year old man from Washington, MO. They are fairly sure he is married. We absolutely know that he never ever has been a DEA agent. And that he has been arrested now for impersonating a federal law agent. So far, the prosecutors are a bit laid back on charging the guy.....because he didn't do anything much wrong and actually did bust a couple of meth dudes.
The fake agent seemed to know the ins and outs of law enforcement, according to investigators and those who worked with him.

The guy even had a cream-colored Ford Crown Victoria with a siren bar and police radio. You can't fault a dude who drives a Crown Victoria....they are in the style you need for law enforcement. The guy walked around with a black T-shirt with "Police" written across across the chest and even wore dark tactical pants with pockets down the sides. He carried a gun in a side holster. He even had a federal-looking ID card and a federal-looking badge. Locals even admit that he was sturdily built and clean-cut (unlike your typical local cop who was 40 pounds overweight and always with sideburns).

"He was everything that you'd think a federal office would be," Mayor Otis Schulte said.

The locals all fell for the act when the guy arrived.....believing the talk that DEA was footing his bill, and that he would leave his Crown Victoria there when the operation was finished.

Somewhere in the midst of this.....he even gave a telephone number for them to call and verify everything. One of the folks even called once and got a woman who answered, and right away....she piped up "multi-jurisdictional task force."

So the game kinda fell apart when some folks started pointing out to the local newspaper that these searches that he was making.....didn't involve any search warrants. Naturally, the reporter for the paper started to ask additional questions.

The amusing part about this story....is that he has told various stories about himself over the past few months while claiming to be the DEA agent. He said at one point that he was a Iraq War veteran, then he mentioned that he was a retired Air Force chaplain and a father of two. He claimed at one point to have worked briefly at the Treasury Department in St. Louis. He has claimed that he worked for police departments around the state (from Kinloch, to East St. Louis and even Sauget). Folks are checking on all of these stories, but believe none are true.

So the county stepped in last Friday, grabbing the fake DEA guy. Later this week....the mayor got around to firing the town police chief and two of his officers because of the compromise in law enforcement.

The county guys now believe that all of the arrests made in the past couple of months that involved this guy....are going to be questioned and likely thrown out.

The sad thing here....is that if this guy had merely shown up at the police station and wanted to do some volunteer time to help them out....they would have accepted him in the front door and likely used his services in various ways. In a year or two....he might have been qualified enough to go on stake-outs and authorized to conduct arrests.

I'm guessing the guy will likely get some local county jail time, but less than a month. After that....I'm guessing he will retire from "police" interests.....but you never can tell.

Smart and Smarter and Smartest

There is a fascinating project going on in Florida....where some kind-hearted folks settled on this idea of saving the Everglades....or maybe just restoring the Everglades.....or maybe doing nothing for the Everglades....depending on your point of view.

Somewhere in the midst of this....is the South Florida Water Management District. They went out and got the $250 million to build this manificent 25-square-mile reservoir....largest damn reservoir in the world. Some folks think the final cost will be around $800 million by the end (2010, maybe).

There is another organization out there....by the name of the Natural Resources Defense Council. Naturally, they are defensive in nature....otherwise, they couldn't exist.

These folks from the NRDC say that the state just isn't committed to restoring the Everglades and this is all a bogus project. Goodness....truly bogus? When the state started....they said 80 percent of this reservoir would be for the Everglades and twenty percent for agriculture or development. The thing is....no one actually wrote a legal document saying anything.

I almost wept when I read that. To be so dang involved in a $800 million dollar project and not have a single legal document to guarantee how the water is used at the end....just makes my eyes puff right up. Brilliant....just absolutely brilliant. Not even Karl Rove could have dreamed of such a episode. Getting the $800 million and proudly talking about saving the Everglades must have gotten everyone's attention and made this a legit operation. But now? Those NRDC guys must have suddenly awaken and realized that things just aren't what folks say they are.

What happens next? If I were on the water commission....I'd write a powerful 400 page document and guarantee the Everglades water eternal....everlasting....and permanent. And around 2015, when you need this water...you pull out the document and change it. I'm guessing the NRDC guys are smarter than that though, and maybe there has to be a legislative effort here. I'm guessing also....that the state will run up a quick "fix" here and vote it quickly in. And in 2015, when you need that water....you just have a quick "fix" wrote up, vote it in, and then you steal the water back.

Those NRDC dudes may be smart.....but they aren't "Karl Rove-smart".

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Afghanistan and $50 Billion

Proudly yesterday, Afghanistan went before the international community and requested a gift of $50 billion to rebuild the nation. Yes, proudly.

By 12 June of this summer, the Afghani government says that they will produce a 5,000 page document, to explain how to rebuild the country, and will require $50 billion to accomplish this.

I was very impressed. Since I am a writer of sorts....when some guy says he is producing a 5,000 page document...it brings tears to my eyes. I start weeping, and then start thinking about grammar and paragraphs....then creativity....and finally a title for a masterpiece such as this.

How would I write this rebuilding document, to spend $50 billion?

Well...first off...a real country has to have a interstate, from one side of the country to the other, complete with rest stops and scenic view pull-offs. Additionally, you need a sea-world somewhere, and a six-flags. Somewhere in the middle, you typically need a real arch of sorts...like those St Louis folks have. Then you need five-star ski resort for the rich to enjoy. Then you need a major international airport where ladies meet you at the plane and escort you to the VIP lounge.

A major country needs a NFL football stadium, preferably a indoor joint with a retractable roof. They also need a 1st class NFL team, which in this case...the New Orleans Saints would be more than adequate and we could move them out there for the right price (the Kabul Saints).

Then we need strip joints, tattoo parlors, and fish-bait joints leading on the main highway out of Kabul. We need a hooters. We need a Philippine massage parlor. We need a beer garden and at least a dozen Wendy's joints.

We need a 10,000 acre catfish lake, and at least a dozen world-class golf courses. We need a Motel Six just outside of the Kabul Int'l Airport. We need a real Grand Ole Opry. We need at least a dozen national parks, with various paved roads and trails for folks to travel around. And we need a real international zoo, with polar bears and dolphins available.

I realize I'm asking for alot in $50 billion.....but you gotta feel sorry and weepy for my country.....Afghanistan. They don't even have a hooters.....and they deserve it. And lets face, you didn't give a damn about the New Orleans Saints. Its not like I'm sending the Oilers or the Cowboys out to Kabul.....you know.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Men, Real Men, Real Honky Tonk Men, & Otherwise

You will notice off my list of magazines to read.....I did leave Esquire off the list. Frankly, its hard for me to get into Esquire....I believe its for a certain type of guy....just not me (normally). This month's issue features an interesting article (not that I would normally read Esquire, you know). There are 75 skills that every man should have....or at least in Esquire's opinion. I was open....I read it.

Frankly, some of these skills are precisely what I have today. Yes....I can tell someone advice that matters in one sentence, if necessary. Yes....I can tell if someone is lying. Yes.....I can name a book that matters (you just won't read it though). Yes.....I can write a letter or even a blog. Yes.....I can calculate square footage. Yes.....I can shuffle a deck of cards and jump-start a car if necessary.

But then the skills got tough. No....cooking something like meat on something besides the grill.....why? Tell a woman her dress size.....doesn't she know already? Explain a light year.....I don't intend to travel in such a manner that requires a description. Know some bird types....sure....ok....chicken and turkey (turkey is better for a sandwich, I know). Negotiate a better price...if the guy put up a sign for $99....I'm assuming he is pretty sure about the price. Chop down a tree? Well...a chain saw is alot faster.

These skills that Esquire wrote up....just aren't on my list. My important skills would include (1) knowing the in's and out's of septic tank replacement, (2) making perfect ice tea, (3) slicing damn thin lemon slices for my ice tea, (4) setting the timing on a 1974 Chevy pick-up, (4) Grilling six different meats (including Ostrich) on the grill at one time, (5) knowing how to speak very very very low to the lady in the tube top at Dairy Queen so she has to lean over the counter, and (6) knowing how to evacuate New Orleans if a hurricane is forecasted. These are remarkable skills to have....and guys ought to learn them.

It Ought to Be a Joke, But Its Not

For those who've never noticed...all government buildings have florescent lights. They are usually the two foot version or the four foot version. In the typical 15 by 15 foot room, there are at least twelve of these four foot bulbs in the ceiling. To be quiet honest, everyone likes the lighting but they can't stand changing the bulbs or the starters that go with them. There is mortal fear that as you "twist" the bulb...it'll shatter. In a typical year across a base....there will at least two dozen incidents where the guy unscrewing the bulb will suddenly find the bulb shattering in his hands....because it was tough to twist or it just wouldn't twist all the way. So folks let burnt bulbs sit there....for weeks and months and even years.

This week....at some base in the Air Force....this email came out:

From: (Building Manager) Civ USAF AFMC 753 ELSG/OM
Sent: Thursday, May 08, 2008 12:24 PM
To: 753 ELSG Bldg 1607 Occupants
Subject: New Burnt-out Bulb Replacement Program

The IAP (Replaced Del-Jen) Civil Engineering Contract does not provide for burnt-out bulb replacement and it is considered an “Occupant” responsibility for all lights at 10 feet and below. Our ceilings are 9 feet. IAP will replace bulbs in stairwells.

If you have any burnt-out fluorescent bulbs that need to be replaced, we have made a cart that has a ladder, safety goggles, and a supply of new straight and curved fluorescent bulbs. It also has separate boxes to place the burnt-out bulbs in.

It will be located in the Demo Room lobby.

It is recommended that you form a team of three. Bulb replacer, ladder holder, and bulb handler to give and take new and used bulbs. Safety goggles are provided and must be worn.

The lack of volunteers necessitates this new approach.

Call (the building manager) at x3-6718 if you have any questions.


It is truly a fascinating E-mail. So to take out a stupid bulb....it takes three Air Force personnel. Using the old joke....it would have taken five Polish guys....but then maybe the three Air Force guys are a bit smarter. Sadly, they are not.

After twenty-two years in the military...I retired to become a systems contractor for the Air Force, and work in a vault...with lots of florescent bulbs. As indicated in this E-mail that they sent out.....none of the airman or NCOs I work with are volunteers to ever replace the bulbs.

But here in this case.....I would not want them to (try twisting a four-foot florescent bulb). I open the fixture and with a time-tested method of twisting the bulb... I remove the bulb. I've never broken a bulb in my life. It takes me 60 seconds to switch out a bulb. If I went around looking for volunteers, then searching for safety gear, and conducting the proper removal...I’d spend 30 minutes per bulb. Maybe I should rent myself out....just to change bulbs for the Air Force....but then I'd have to actually get paid REAL money and they wouldn't like that.

Burma

I'm really the last guy around who wants to use the term Myanmar for Burma. It doesn't work.

In recent days, the Junta of the country....who really run everything....have probably made themselves look as foolish as they possibly can. They don't care. They don't ever leave the country....and if they do...its strictly to run out to Hong Kong or Malaysia for a weekend. The country has no industry and makes almost no money. Tourism is non-existent. Nothing really matters. Folks have been talking about this for twenty years and the UN never grasped that this is a serious situation.

So close to a 100,000 folks are dead in Burma. And within a month....there could be another 100,000 dead from starvation or disease. By August....maybe even another hundred thousand. It doesn't matter.

So the UN will sit there and argue and argue and argue....while people die. You can't force help upon these idiots. Even the US Air Force is debating just dropping tons and tons of food and water to the affected areas....to avoid landing there. They aren't worried about being shot down because Burma doesn't even have the ability to defend their air space.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Another Fad Diet?

The Karolinska Institute in Sweden decided to conduct an interesting test. What would happen if you ate strictly a caveman's diet (fresh or frozen fruit, berries or vegetables, lean meat, unsalted fish, canned tomatoes, lemon or lime juice, spices and coffee or tea without milk or sugar) for three weeks. Then they banned dairy products, beans, salt, peanuts, pasta, rice, alcohol, sugar, and fruit juice.

Somewhere in the midst of this.....they added two potatoes a day, and some dried fruit, cured meats and a portion of fatty meat as a weekly treat.

In three weeks, the fourteen participants had lost an average of five pounds each. Then they found that Systolic blood pressure, the higher of the two readings taken, had fallen by an average of just under 5 per cent, while levels of a clotting agent in the blood, which can cause heart attacks and strokes, dropped by 72 percent.

The doctors won't admit that the diet is great.....because there is little calcium in the diet.....but they admitted that a diabetic might find the diet very helpful.

Somehow, cavemen survived off this diet and flourished. We often sit around and laugh over Caveman Joe and his lifestyle....but maybe he did better than that we'd like to admit.


Thursday, 8 May 2008

Our Little Vallejo & Bankruptcy

Vallejo’s bankruptcy episode continues to spill a bit of information….some rather shocking.

If you are the Vallejo police captain, then you are making $306,000. A Vallejo police Lt makes $240,000. The Vallejo fire captain earns $207,000. The average firefighter in the city makes $171,000. None of this includes overtime pay, or the cost of benefits….like health insurance or retirement contributions.

So then you pull out the Wiki and look up the presidents pay. What does GW make per year? $400,000. Yep….the Vallejo police captain makes almost as much as GW, and if you counted in overtime….I’m betting that he makes almost the same amount.

What drove the bankruptcy wagon? Well…in July….the police and fire department guys were set to get a 5.5 percent increase in pay. Other employees in the city were set to get a 3 percent raise in pay. Over the next three years….the cops and firemen were slated to get a 21.4 percent pay increase. Electrical works in the city were slated for a 10 percent increase. The amusing thing is that salary increases were moving along across the city at a rate of 11 perent annually. Tax revenues, were set at a pace of two percent.

You are sitting there and scratching your head by this point. The city would have easily bankrupted itself at the current pace. The city revenue guys knew this. The city council knew this. The cops and police knew this. I’m guessing that even the local newspaper folks should have figured this out a year or two ago. Why would anyone allow salary situations to go out to this extent? The answer is that the political entities were sleeping in bed with the union leadership. Everyone thought that this could just go on.

The cherry to this cake? Well…a number of state political players are now suggesting that the state could provide grants and sales tax money, to help lend a hand….so that salary increases can continue and the city can survive without bankruptcy….at least until grant money becomes scarce in three or four years and then bankruptcy arrives again.

We even had an assemblywoman (Noreen Evans – D) who said “I'm very concerned other cities will take a look at Vallejo and follow suit. They've made it easier for other cities to do the same thing.” Yes Noreen, we would be very concerned too, if dozens upon dozens of California cities were unwisely handing out massive pay increases to the police and fire department folks, that were beyond the fiscal capability of the city to survive.

What happens to Vallejo? I’m suspecting someone will arrange a state grant, in the range to keep them out of bankruptcy for twelve months. The political entities will tell city leadership to “fix” the problem and move on. The only fix that can occur at this point is cut the number of city workers by twenty-five percent, which the unions won’t agree to. So the grant will buy twelve months of time before they repeat the whole exercise next year. As a city council person, my number one priority would be to sell my house and move out of this area as soon as possible. There isn’t anything positive to expect out of this place.

Contract America

As mentioned in my blog in previous days, congress is busy on the tail of various contracting companies, who have shifted that headquarters to the Caymans or the Bahamas. The House has passed some kind of legislation to fix this problem….treating foreign subsidiaries of U.S. government contractors as American employers. That means that they will HAVE to pay taxes that finance social security and Medicare programs. So far, the senate is still working their version, and it may be different….and it may never happen.

Between the two groups of idiots, they have an imaginary number of $846 million in revenue over ten years that they will gain. They actually had to stand there and admit that it might be “higher”, since its unclear how widespread the use of this secret opening is. Hint: it might be less, but then we really don’t know anything. So this is an attempt to look good in front of the camera before elections in the fall.

Senator Kerry even went as far to suggest: “Companies that avoid this responsibility undermine the country. If everybody avoided their responsibility, where would we be?”

Yes, remarkably….where would we be?

Of course, none of these idiots mentioned that they write around 5,000 lines of tax code per year, to help at least 10,000 individuals or companies get tax credits. Was this an effort to avoid responsibility? Yes. Where are we? In a bigger mess than any of the idiots would like to admit.

Will the senate write a similar proposal and iron out the differences between their laws? I seriously doubt it. In a month, we will be fully into the election period and no one really care to bring up this problem because we’ve said just about all we can say. So the Caymans companies will likely sigh and breathe easily after June, as they figure the pressure is peaked. Life will go on.

Myanmar & Cheap Existence

So to be honest, there might be 80,000 to 100,000 dead from the typhoon in Myanmar (aka Burma) right now today. But by the time the food and medical folks finally arrive and get into place, and fresh water is delivered….there will be an additional 50,000 dead. I would even go as far as predicting another 10,000 in the month of June will die from various diseases and dehydration.

There isn’t much to say. The UN can’t do nothing about this and the Junta that runs the country can’t be punished in any fashion. Life will go on, although when you cut 160,000 people out of such a small country….you start to carve out a major part of the country. There will be vast areas where 3,000 folks lived before and today there are 1000. But the Junta doesn’t survive off tax revenue or business income. There aren’t major industries at stake here or massive tourist-related hotels at stake.

Burma is a country that simply survives. It is a full step above North Korea, where a guy could have a family and just live a simple existence, without a lot of complaints. If I went around the US….I would imagine less than 50,000 people have been in the country in the past twenty years. Its not on a big list of places that folks would like to go….and few if any ships ever stop there.

So life will go on in Burma….with just fewer people.

Our Secret America

Russ Finegold wrote an interesting article in the LA Times which has to do with the various laws….secret laws….that the Bush administration has created. It seems that congress has finally woke up and grasped that it isn’t just a few acts here and there. There are vast secret laws which have been approved by the administration or by the cabinet chiefs….which the public really doesn’t know anything about.

Its kinda like playing Jeopardy or Monopoly, and suddenly you jump up to announce that you’ve got a free “pass” card or you can do a “super-double-triple” Jeopardy question, which no one has ever heard of such a card or question.

Russ indicates that congress is finally asking some stupid questions, which no one really wants to answer, because the answer is a secret. This is a problem in the real world, where we try to be law abiding citizens and only fire warning shots at prowlers.

I sat and pondered this situation….wondering if I could put in a special secret tax credit to IRS and ask for $40k in credit for maintaining my septic tank. Perhaps I could go and have a new passport done with a picture of Gumby and claim a new Bush secret law entitles me to remain anonymous in nature when traveling to Bolivia. I could insist to the old ladies at the county voter registration office that any guy with a IQ over 110 should have two votes instead of one, compliments of a new Bush secret law.

After a while, you can see that secret laws have a problem. Course, if they weren’t secret, then it wouldn’t help us defeat the forces of evil or Doctor Doom or recapture Holy Grail from the Exxon Corporation who currently secretly hold it in a vault in Salt Lake City with the rest of the LDS “Moses” stone tablets.

I can’t remember an occasion like this in the past where everyone ran around making up secrets and then playing the secret game like it was Jeopardy. Its like an imaginary land where you think you’ve crashed your plane on a island of paradise, and then discover monsters, a secret lab, and a guy named Ben who might be trustworthy…..like “Lost”, but then America isn’t lost (or is it?).

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Another Brick in the Wall for Vallejo

So about a month ago, I wrote a blog on Vallejo, California and its band-aid to get financially by, with outrageous police and fire department salaries. The city was hoping to negotiate and talk both unions into some kind of cut, to allow some restructuring. Well….yesterday….life changed in Vallejo and the council decided time had run out. So bankruptcy is now declared. The largest town in California, to date, has declared itself bankrupt.

There wasn’t a lot of chatter from the police or fire department yet. Both are standing there in shock, I would imagine. Neither side would say what happened in the talks over the past month. The city apparently want one fire station closed as a minimum, and a six-percent pay cut across the board for everyone (top to bottom). I’m guessing the units figured they could be tough on this and just settle for nothing. Neither side could budge and the cut that the city asked for….was probably just enough to get by….not to fix the problem.

So what happens next? The bankruptcy court will approach the city and figure out the bills on the table and the revenue. Then the court will likely appoint someone to oversee this bankruptcy. This guy has the power to basically terminate any agreement, and I’m guessing that the cop agreement will be the first to go. As the announcement occurs of the police terminated…there will be chaos and hostile feelings amongst the police members. The city will turn to the state and request a dozen state policemen to come in for 60 days while they reorganize and reset the pay schedule.

New cops easily hired? Well….not from around that region or the state. Remember, the rest of the state has bloated pay schedules and most guys aren’t going to readily accept a reduced Vallejo pay scale. So the city will advertise outside of the state and suddenly find a hundred resumes on hand….with half of them exiting military policemen from the Army. Within sixty days, they will hire the new force and settle into a better situation.

Now as for the firemen? Well….they are simply watching the police episode unfold and know that the city will come to deal with them as soon as the cop issue is resolved. I’m guessing that the bulk of the firemen will also refuse a drastic pay scale cut, so the city will announce these guys terminated. A make-shift fire department will be put together….likely to be county or volunteer guys. Again, resumes from out of state will surge, and they will have the number they need.

Vallejo will survive, and will be the first major city in California to emerge from the salary episode. Across the state, I’d be guessing at well over 100 communities which have a problem, and they will all visit this idea of bankruptcy as businesses decrease and tax revenue shifts into a lower gear.

Getting Yous Priority Right (Florid-dia accent)

Jim Piculas was a sub teacher over near Land O'Lakes, Florid-dia (Florida accent). Jim apparently decided to show some magic trick in class.....and apparently a day or two later.....got a phonecall from the boss....he was out. He was accused of wizardry (similar to witchcraft, but better because its a guy doing it and not a woman).

Yep, the boss said that this wasn't fine or acceptable and Jim appears to be done at this school. He won't be invited back as a sub teacher. The neat trick? Well....he made a toothpick disappear.

The thing here....you folks have to understand....if you are from Florid-dia....you gotta have priorities straight. Basically....we need more female teachers touching, kissing, and cavorting with male boy students, then we need some warlock or wizard conduct toothpick tricks. So Jim has to go. I'm sure most of you can understand this....especially if you are a male student around 14 and in need of a hot 50-year old teacher babe. Warlocks and wizards are just not the same in nature.

In Bama, we'd have problems with warlocks, witches, and wizards as well. The things they tinker with....are not normal. We'd all be better off with normal hot lusty female teachers....just my humble opinion.

I'm pretty sure Jim will find work with some local TV station or police department.....who can accept this kind of wizardly stuff.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Austria and Its "Dirt" II

So now almost a week into th Austria case of the father who kidnapped his daughter and held her for 24 years.....raping her.....and collecting seven kids along way.....we are left with a couple of questions still.

The steel door at the entry of the hidden area in the basement.....is way more than a normal man could lug around or hang on the hinges. So how did this guy....alone.....do it? We are told by the local cops that there was this guy, and no one else. But some things don't work.

Then we come to the three trips he made in recent years. In one case, he was gone for three weeks to Thailand. He left his wife and the three kids upstairs at the house, but no one will explain how the folks in the basement were fed for three weeks. Again, we are told that no accomplishes were involved with the guy.

The original basement did not have all of the security that he had built in the past ten to fifteen years. So how did he keep his daughter captive in the first four or five years?

These are all curious points...and maybe it was just him but if it was.....one has to wonder what would have happened had this guy had a heart attack on the street and the wife would have only discovered the prison a year or two later.