Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Maybe I'm Old-Fashioned

I grew up in the south....in rural Bama.  There are some things which are traditional in nature that you kinda stand for and against.

One of those things....is not having to live off your parents after a certain age.  If you are thirty-five years old and run into rough times....and need to live in mama's house for three months....that's acceptable.  If you just got divorced and need to live in your parent's house for a month or two.... eating nightly with them....that's perfectly acceptable.  If you got into trouble and need a place for two weeks while you sort out issues, then dad's place at age 50 is perfectly OK.  Dad might want you to cut the grass.  Mama might want you to paint a hallway.  That's all be fine.

The southern tradition is that you tend to stand by relatives and offer up what you can.  But there is this limit.  If you are doing something fairly stupid, and call up dad....and tell him you need big cash to pay for a brand new RV.....that's fairly wrong.  Same way with asking for financial help from your relatives to run off to Vegas and gamble for five days.

This week....it got admitted by one of the fourteen Democrat state senators from Wisconsin....that his parents are financially supporting him because he's not getting a paycheck from the state.  In a TV interview, he just plain admitted that he was running out of money to support the hotel stay in Illinois.  Then he went on to say that he basically lives from paycheck to paycheck anyway.  So staying at a resort hotel room in another state....was pretty much acceptable.

I sat there and pondered over this.  Its hard for me to accept this kind of help from my relatives.  Confidentially....I'd be a bit embarrassed and just couldn't admit to such a situation.  I just plain could not go up and ask for $1000....or even $200.....in a case like this....staying at a resort hotel.

If I were one of the Democrats in this case?  Well....I pondered over this as well.  I eventually decided that I'd be better off just sleeping in my car and maybe only checking into a hotel every third day at best (for a shower and a real night of sleep).  Now I admit....Wi-Fi would be a probable and I probably couldn't conduct interviews from my car in such a condition.  But the reality is.....I just couldn't go and waste money like this.

Yeah, I would consider a Motel-Six situation....renting by the week....at $120.  I'd eat baloney sandwiches, buy a case of Mountain Dew at Wal-Mart, and store up a hundred moonpies to get me by in the evening hours.  Once you look over this....it's $80 a day for the room....and around $30 for food.  So he's asking his parents for $700 a week....I'm guessing.

Maybe I'm outdated and a bit too old-fashioned.  But you know....when you get into serious trouble and need a week or two at the folk's place....theres no issue.  It's when you admit that you need $500 for a week of sleeping at a fancy resort....because you can't reside in your home state?   That just won't work.

Contracted Versus AF Blue Bus

Not that it really helps to criticize in this case....but after you examine the shooting at the Frankfurt, Germany airport of a couple of American GI's....by a Bosnian nut....then you come to the pictures.

It's a standard AF blue bus.  It likely comes every single day at a certain time, and guys get off with duffel bags...likely in civilian clothing.

Back around 1999....it was standard for all Air Force and Army personnel to use contracted German buses.  So you never knew they were connected to the US military in Germany.  Some idiots came up and said that the daily shuttle buses....contracted out....were too costly.  So they all reverted back to standard Army green buses (made in Ohio) or Air Force blue buses.

In three days....some general at Stuttgart will ask why we don't use contracted German buses and all of a sudden....it'll be switched back to civilian-type buses.  It's funny how something happens and you have to wait till something like this occurs....to convince people to do the right thing.

Jeff and the Storms

There is a big global warming/global cooling/climate change conference underway this week.  Naturally, you need headlines.  So a dire prediction came out....the world is getting warmer, thus making snowstorms bigger and worse.

Scientist Jeff Masters at the conference: "Heavy snowstorms are not inconsistent with a warming planet.  In fact, as the Earth gets warmer and more moisture gets absorbed into the atmosphere, we are steadily loading the dice in favor of more extreme storms in all seasons, capable of causing greater impacts on society."

I sat and pondered over this.  Basically, you can talk anything....to relate back to a dire situation.

Scientist Jeff Masters at the 2014 global warming/global cooling/climate change conference: "Lighter snowstorms are not inconsistent with a cooling planet.  In fact, as the Earth gets cooler and more moisture gets absorbed into the atmosphere, we are steadily loading the dice in favor of more extreme storms in all seasons, capable of causing greater impacts on society."

Scientist Jeff Masters at the 2016 global warming/global cooling/climate change conference: "Big huge snowstorms are not inconsistent with a hot dry planet.  In fact, as the Earth gets warmer and less moisture gets absorbed into the atmosphere, we are steadily loading the dice in favor of more extreme storms in all seasons, capable of causing greater impacts on society."

Scientist Jeff Masters at the 2018 global warming/global cooling/climate change conference: "Monster snowstorms are not inconsistent with a heating-up planet.  In fact, as the Earth gets hotter than hades and more moisture gets absorbed into the atmosphere, we are steadily loading the dice in favor of more extreme storms in all seasons, capable of causing greater impacts on society."

Scientist Jeff Masters at the 2020 global warming/global cooling/climate change conference: "Snowstorms of any type....are not inconsistent with any planet.  In fact, as the Earth can get hot and cold....thus allowing more moisture gets absorbed into the atmosphere, then we are steadily loading the dice in favor of more extreme storms in all seasons, capable of causing greater impacts on society."

Anything works.....because we all mostly slept through seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grade science classes.  The sad thing?  Jeff has enough government-paid projects to keep him employed till age 60 and he can retire to a $250k houseboat down in Florida.  Man, if only we'd paid attention in those science classes and figured out the scheme to get ahead in life.

In the Real World

Some folks woke up this week...and realized that they had worked for Muammar Qaddafi, and it was a bad thing.

Over the past couple of years....Muammar had invited (contracted out)....Usher, Beyonce, 50 Cent, Mariah Carey, and Nelly Furtado. As you sit there and scratch your head...it's an interesting arrangement. Muammar's sons had passports and traveled through Europe a good bit. They arranged big parties and impressed their friends with their "connections" to the stars.

How much could a star make via this arrangement? A million usually. When you sit and think about it....you arrange a dozen public concerts somewhere in Europe, then you do a couple of TV shows to bounce your name around, and then you arrange a couple of private sessions or parties where you pick up a million here and there. Sometimes, you report the money. Sometimes, you don't. These folks reported it.

So this group of performers have gotten noted, and suddenly it's a PR episode. They need to dump the money and look about it. They can't give it back....so they've got to find the "right" charity.

Here in the real world....we have an interesting thing which goes on. You make yourself rich, and then you devise a foundation as a charity drop to your name and money. You dump money into this charitable foundation. It's all tax deductible. Things look great. You get your picture taken. And you get a positive spin to that money.

Then, there's always this other side to your private charity foundation. They sometimes base their headquarters in Maimi, Orlando, or anyone of a hundred great places to visit. You call as the boss of your own foundation, and announce that you are coming for a visit. The foundation will use administrative funding to arrange a hotel, football tickets, and meals. So you spend a weekend over at your foundation....free of charge....and compliments of your tax deducted money.

 IRS doesn't care because everything is legal.  Over the course of a year....you probably get ten percent of your donated million back via these five or six visits.

It's kinda curious how this whole star thing occurs now with the Libyan dictator. It was ok in 2007 when one or two of them did the private concert....but it's bad today? I'm pretty sure if you go back....even ten years...you might find Micheal Jackson did a private concert for the Libyan dictator and his sons.

Life in the real world.

Maybe a Practical Joke on Historical Terms?

This is a history story...more or less...with a twist possibility.

Once upon a time....off in Vienna....going back to 1739....this rich and upcoming guy came out with something called the the Dresden Codex.  He had in his possession this documentation (74 pages, with a number of distinct hieroglyphics) that described the Mayan empire.  It naturally spells out their astrology, medicine, and even predicts the end of the world on 12 December 2012.

The Mayans were pretty picky about their calendars and they always wanted folks to know that there was an eventual end to life.

Naturally, if you a common sense guy....you'd ask where the heck does this Vienna guy get this document?  No one apparently wants to deal with this part of the question....they always want the interesting part of whats in it.

So this has been kept in the Savon State Library for the last 272 years.  Naturally, there are lots of folks who have "studied" it.  The authenticity?  Well....they never debate the document.  It's always accepted as absolute fact.

So today....we have a new story.  This German....Joachim Rittsteig....who says that he's not only an expert in Mayan writing, but also a Codex expert....is leading a small group of scientists and journalists.  They are hauling out to Guatemala to find this lost Maya treasure (apparently hidden in the deepest reaches of Lake Izabal).  They anticipate finding eight tons of gold there.

Naturally, this all comes from information on the Dresden Codex, or so they claim.

There are alot of things revolving around history, and you often need to ask where exactly you found this data to start with.  And if the source doesn't ring true....you ought to ask questions.

So how would a Vienna rich guy come up in the early 1700s with some Mayan writings?  The more you ask yourself this.....it doesn't make much sense.  So like the Hitler Diaries of the 1980s that everyone thought were real....and weren't.....I'm of the mind that the Dresden Codex was written by someone in the 1700s who knew a bit on Mayan language and simply inferred a number of things....like the end of the world in 2012.  The guy was likely grinning as he wrote this and figured that a bunch of dopes would be standing there and in absolute belief of a good joke....to come three hundred years later.

Just my humble observation.

A Sure Way of Profit

Just an observation from a story in the news today.  Some folks are discussing this fantastic new idea of a reservations situation for emergency room patients.  Naturally, you'd be thinking....what the heck are you talking about....when an emergency is an emergency.

This idea revolves around the idea of the national average now being four hours to be seen in an emergency room.

So hospitals are talking about this idea....a computerized online system where you enter your credit card info and your problem....and they make an appointment that day for you to arrive.  The fee?  It ranges from $15 to $25 (urgent, but non-life threatening illnesses or injuries).

I sat there and pondered over this.  My emergency room visits are about three in my entire life.  I had food poisoning for one....and was seen in twenty minutes (Saturday afternoon).  I had to take my son over for 102 fever one night around midnight on a Friday and faced a two-hour wait (they had all the drunk Army guys who gotten injured in the bars ahead of me).  And finally, I had a broken finger....which they walked me straight in and took me with sixty seconds of waiting.

I worked with a guy who had a major cut on his leg and he ended up spending almost five hours waiting at some city-run hospital.  I told him he'd been better off to drive one county over to some some small clinic and just pay the folks a $50 bill to see him immediately.

There is a bit of history here if you think about this.  Up until the 1940s....you didn't really have an emergency room situation except in major urban centers.  Folks got used to these in the 1960s and 1970s....and they were smart enough to divide emergencies into "now" and "later".  In those days....you'd just decide that things weren't that bad and you'd call your personal doctor for an appointment for tomorrow.

I suspect...in the 1990s....folks got real picky about getting urgent care for just about everything, and the emergency room made sense for 300 percent of all cases.  It kinda violates common sense, but we watch too much TV and think we might die from a minor thing.

If you walk into most emergency rooms and sit there....out of twenty folks....half of them shouldn't be there.  They either don't have much of a real emergency or they just didn't have patience for waiting till the next day for their own doctor.

We've got a problem here....but heck...if giving $25 to some on-line emergency reservations program makes you happy and gets you into the hospital within twenty minutes after you arrive.....then fine.  I'm pretty sure the hospital business folks will figure out that you would be agreeable to paying $40 within three years.....and eventually paying $75.  Money is money....you know.  And in this case....it's all profit.

My Neighborhood

As most of you know....I live up here in the Arlington area....overlooking DC.  Things happen here that you can't possibly imagine happening anywhere else.

Around two weeks ago....because of a city-law passed.....strictly because of budget issues....there is a mandated furlough day imposed in Feburary on emergency dispatchers in DC.  The fire department and police are exempt from this rule....but all other city departments must comply.

So some folks wrote this rule, that all workers had to take this one period off during this two-week pay period....to comply.  For some odd reason....the idiots who run the 911 call center in DC....decided that instead of the normal sixteen employees on a Sunday night between midnight and 6AM....there would only be three guys.  So folks got around to counting how many 911 calls were unanswered.....200 unanswered 911 calls.

Naturally....the union chiefs are furious about how this mess ran out....and the city now promises a new investigation.  The union.....naturally....wants folks to exempt the 911 crews just like the cops and firemen.

I sat there and pondered over this.  Typically, you'd run a shift planning program and design it to meet certain goals.  If it takes sixteen folks to run a shift.....you might admit that twenty-five percent could be released....but certainly not more than that.  So there should have been at least twelve folks there....NOT three.

Who runs the planning part of the 911 crew?  That would be a curious thing.  I'm kinda wondering if the union guys have control of this piece and intentionally planned for three just to make a point.

The city's reaction?  Well....they say an investigation will be conducted.  That means that six to eight weeks will be used by a team of audit folks to determine who did what and why things got screwed up.  A short forty page report will go out and from the whole city council....no one will admit in public that they read more than the cover page.

Again, like I've said forty times.....I feel sorry for you folks in DC.  I just don't see how things can work this way on a daily basis.