Friday, 29 June 2012

The Pig's Data

I tend to always use Piggly Wiggly as a punching bag for the heartland.  The truth is.....they are the guts of middle-America.  When Grandma cranks up the Chevy....it's typically to run over to Piggly Wiggly.  When Thanksgiving comes around.....most everyone in your community buys the Turkey at Piggly Wiggly.  When your birthday comes up.....the cake and everything else....comes from Piggly Wiggly.

As much as I'd hate to admit it....but our economics revolve around companies....such as Piggly Wiggly.   With sixteen states, and six hundred stores.....it is an economic factor that you just don't think about.

So I did some research, and here is the average salary structure:

A cashier makes on average....$18k a year, with a general maximum of $30k (you had to work your entire life and be head cashier, to be at that level).

The assistant manager makes on average.....$28k a year, with a general maximum of $42k (again, you'd have to work your entire life there, to be at that level).

The deli kid?  Well....he's typically pulling in $14k a year, and if the kid has been there his entire life.....maybe up around $24k.

The bagger?  The guy starting out is pulling in $11k and tips.  By the end of his vast career.....he might actually be hitting near $26k (figure another $7k a year in tips, if he's a decent bagger).

Finally, the manager.  Starting out at $25k a year.....it's the long-run that you dream about.  You could be hitting near $43k at your peak.

Data?  It comes from Career Bliss and their research.

Health care insurance?  Well....they do offer it.  It's generally in the range of what you'd expect with most companies like this.  Dirt-cheap?  No.  So a young guy might look at this and just decline buying because he'd like to put that $190 a month toward a car or some educational loan, or a huge bill sitting there.

Our Sean Thornton

For the Fourth, this is a blog to tidy up what you might hear once or twice over the next week....why America just isn't as great as it used to be.

In a typical week, you can find at least two or three wannabe journalists on TV who want to dispel the story of America, the Great. Occasionally, the New York Times or NewsWeak will come out with their yearly piece and try to preach to the remaining readers left. European elitist intellectuals will stir the pot occasionally with the best slam they can dream up. Once you remove these characters from the “story”, you end up with what most regular Europeans are voicing.

They’d like to find that Sean Thornton character from the John Wayne movie…..The Quiet Man.

They’d like to find that John Wayne character who quietly slips into a pub and never drinks much or says a great deal. He's the guy who listens intently and lets you feel like you were saying something important. The truth is….he is not going to intrude or make himself unwelcome. He's just a quiet guy at the bar and really wants to be left alone.

They’d like to find the John Wayne character who never mentions much about his past or restates his great triumphs in life.

They’d like to share company with the guy who never brags or states the obvious.

They’d like to find the John Wayne character that when you finally stir up his nature….that he’s focused entirely on what needs to be done or fixed.

They’d like to find the John Wayne character who has a passion for the common and forgotten man.

They’d like to find the guy who slides himself between some dark figure in the shadows and the little guy who really needs a miracle of sorts.

 They’d like to find the John Wayne character who would slug it out with the worst of the worst, even on a bad day.

They’d like to find the guy who just isn’t going to walk away from some mess and leave for others to clean up.

So, they’d like to know this Sean Thornton guy. He’s their American, who they proudly will raise a beer to or toast with a word of praise. Over the past fifty years, we’ve kind lost sight of these Sean Thornton characters.

Our political charm wants to mix in bragging talk, turn a two-minute speech into a hour-long sleep-fest, and blame problems on others. Our dimwitted journalists end up with talking points from some special group, and can’t really generate anything of an authentic or true nature.

Sure, our Sean Thorntons still exist in the heartland, and quietly monitor the cornstalks, draw out chalk lines on a little league field, and mix lemonade on a really hot day.

Our Sean Thorntons will sit patiently and listen to a woeful tale from the neighbor over her dead cat.

Our Sean Thorntons mow and clean up the community graveyard because it’s the right thing to do.

Our Sean Thorntons offer a quiet word of praise when necessary, recommend patience when anger erupts, and settles up a mess as quietly and as effectively as possible.

So on this Fourth that comes…..and you have some dimwit wanting to drag along this thought of America not being that great.....rest assured, we’ve got a million Sean Thorntons sitting in reserve. As much as one can utter a negative or two….there at the end of the pub will rest our Sean Thornton.

Our Sean will be sipping a beer and quietly viewing the room at large. He’ll grin and give just a hint of an indication that he’s ready for trouble or a full-up fight if necessary. It’s not that bragging hint that would disturb some intellectual idiot. It’s just a plain simple hint to everyone in the room….that he could take on the worst of the worst.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

How to Play Five Aces

Typically, when you lay down five aces, you get tossed out of the card game.  Most of the time, you'd be run out of town and on rare occasions, you'd be tarred up and feathered.  Today, Justice Roberts played five aces and shocked folks.  So a brief moment of time to lay this out.

Congress can't mandate you buy anything....from ointment, to diesel VW cars, onto Florida oranges.  But Congress can tax the heck out of you, if they desire.

So in the midst of this oral argument, there was this one moment where the government lawyer was asked....is this a mandated fee or a tax, and the government guy said tax.  Justice Roberts walks back to his office grinning.  He knows the law and the implications here.

So today....five to four.....the liberal cause wins, or you might briefly think that.  But here's the issues.

First, since this is a tax now and not a mandate.....it puts the President in an awkward situation, which he always denied it was a tax.  Now, it's absolutely a tax.

Second, the 2700 page law really isn't designed to build up "dirt-cheap" health care insurance for working-class or poverty-class folks.  Those who bring home $1300 from Piggly Wiggly after taxes....really don't have $166 to buy some family health insurance package.  They didn't have it before and they don't have it now.

Third, so the poverty-class family is going to get this statement from IRS in 2014....asking where their certificate of health insurance is located.  Answer?  There just isn't any health care insurance for them.  So they need to pay the $1k.  They can't afford it.  Now, this brings up this little topic which may burden the entire Democratic Party.....this ends up being the largest personal hike on taxes for the working-class and poverty-class in America....ever.  The middle-class and wealthy can slide by.....but these guys can't.

Fourth, so the President....if he is around in 2014....is now stuck with a huge problem to fix.  There's a slight majority in the House for the Republicans, and probably 52 Republican Senators.  He has to enter into a room and actually negotiate....which is something that he has never done before and likely not capable of doing.  The Republicans will ask for tax reform (top to bottom), unlimited fracking, open off-shore natural gas drilling, open drilling in Alaska, and probably forty different things which would make Nancy Pelosi weep on the House floor about.  He has no choice.....you can't allow a $1k bill to hit working class and poverty class families.

Fifth, I suspect that the President added up the numbers and figured five Conservatives were enough.  No problem.  He'd at least lose the mandate....which really helped prevent the tax issue on the poor, and he might lose the whole law.....which meant he'd have plenty of angry voters in November.  Well....five just wasn't enough.  This was all going to be a tidy plus-up for the election.

Sixth and just an observation.....but I forecast that hundreds of garage shops will open up in the spring of 2014....run by some guy named Larry. Larry will offer you a low-cost cheapo health care policy deal for $50 a month.  Naturally, you need this certificate in a hurry, and pay Larry $50 to stop the $1k tax fee.  Well...a week passes and you call Larry to cancel the health insurance deal.  Larry is happy, because there really isn't such a thing as a $50 a month health insurance policy.  Larry closes shop sixty days later and disappears to Aruba for twelve months.....returning to create another year's worth of certificates for the next group of idiots.

I suspect that President stood there in shock.....wondering how Roberts could possibly go this direction.  Roberts simply said....go for it....tax the heck out of the poverty-class and working-class, and let's see how far this goes.

So you can play five aces in a game, and get away with it.  Just don't mention this to the President.

Unemployment

There were interesting statistics released yesterday for unemployment.

If you lived out in Bismarck, ND....it was 2.5 unemployment.  In fact, there were a number of cities out in ND (Fargo, Sioux Falls, and Grand Forks), which were all around the three percent level.  For unemployment, three percent is like this number that would make most political folks weep.  Folks in places like this are happy....unlikely to be asking their politicians for anything at all.....and don't even want their political appointees to even show up for speeches.  Don't mess with a good thing would be the prevailing attitude.

Then you come to Yuma, AZ, with almost 29 percent unemployment.  Years ago, I traveled through Yuma, and stopped for lunch.  To be honest.....it's halfway between Phoenix and San Diego.  There's not much in Yuma except truck-stops and restaurants.  Without the Marine Air Station, I doubt if the population of the town would even be worth discussing.  Currently, it's around 93k folks living there, and a huge segment....are unemployed.  Basically, they are unhappy, and they'd really like to put their hands around the political folks to discuss what is not being done.

After Yuma, comes Yuba City, CA and a half-dozen other California towns which all run in the fifteen percent range.

I've come to this moment of historical analysis.  In the period after the 1929 collapse of the US economy....folks started to pack up and move to where the jobs were.  For some reason, this has yet to happen.  Course, I can admit that moving to North Dakota probably isn't an enticing idea....even for me.  But when you note that on any given day in Bismarck....there might be twenty jobs sitting there and begging for fill today, then why stay in Yuba City?

So I'm thinking we need a new reality TV program....to teach Americans that re-locating is OK.  You need to pick five American families from California who have been long-term unemployed and ship them off to Bismarck, ND.  You can imagine the shock of these urban California dwellers....arriving in Bismarck....discovering within seven days that they are now employed and working.  Then the local shock hits them.  There's no gang activity.  There's no weird political activity.  Most folks are all friendly and actually wave at you when you drive down the road.

Unemployment ought to invite folks to take chances and do things that they wouldn't normally do.  As of yet, I don't think most folks have reached the moving stage.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

From My Neighborhood

Last week I blogged on the University of Virginia, where the board had fired the Chancellor....mostly because she just plain refused to cut the budget (the second cause was a lack of pushing on on-line course development and building up more business in this direction).  I noted at the time that a number of folks were all disturbed on campus about terminating the Chancellor.

Well....things have simmered down now....mostly because the board re-hired the fired Chancellor.

The governor got involved, and a bunch of the board members got dumped on by various members of the community.  The students are all happy, and everything seems to be going back to "norm".

So, here's the thing.  In about twelve to eighteen months....there's going to be this announcement of a four-to-five percent increase on tuition costs for the University of Virginia.  The students and their parents will be all upset and whine about this for a week.  The Chancellor will choke back some kind of tears (mostly fake) over this terrible decision.  Two years will pass, and another four-to-five percent increase will occur.  Most folks upset, more tears, etc.

At present, it's around $11,500 for a in-state kid to attend for tuition.  You can figure by 2025, it'll be fairly close to $16,000 for yearly tuition.

I wouldn't worry about this cost business if I were the Chancellor.  It's like having a collection of magic beans and finding enough naive folks to convince that the magic beans will grow and give you a chance of finding some mythical and magical golden harp somewhere.  There's always going to be enough of these naive young folks around to sell this dream onto.  And it doesn't matter what you charge....folks will just keep returning for the magic beans.

Simply Observations

In 1960, 1964, and 1968.....if you were a big-name Democrat within your state....you went to the Democratic National Convention.  You might have gotten interviewed on the street by some fancy-pants CBS reporter, or the New York Times.  You generally ate rich food, drunk a fair amount of booze, and partied with other Democrats.  Today?  There are a growing number of Democrats who are hinting strongly that they won't be at the Democratic National Convention this summer.  Reasoning?  They don't want to be identified too strongly with the President or the various speeches to be read.  A big group?  No.  Just based on comments....I'd be guessing forty folks who generally would be known just in their state or region.  The interesting thing here is that a generation ago.....it was the dream of every single hardcore Democrat to attend the Convention, and today?  Well....things have changed.

The FBI has kinda hinted that they are tracking in some fashion....about a hundred guys who are in the US military and identified as Islamic extremists.  Naturally, if this topic came up in conversation with any US military unit....everyone would be concerned and asking who the heck these one hundreds folks are, and why they haven't been kicked out.  The truth is....you might be an Islamic in the US military, and simply gotten involved with some Islamic charity which is extremist in nature. The FBI has connected the dots, while you are sitting there and thinking that charity action is all pure and simple....no evil intent.  Who might be telling you about your charity with possible issues?  Well...not the FBI.

This week, it was reported that CNN is back to the statistical ratings that they had twenty-one years ago, which means they've dropped down to the level of Golf Channel or BBC America.  At best, it's around 450k folks who watch CNN during the decent evening hours, out of 350 million Americans.  Does anyone care?  No.  That's really the story here.  CNN could bring on a Finlandic blonde gal with a terrible accent to do the Pier show, and the numbers would stay the same.  CNN could hire some Iowa farmer and some Latin American dictator to do the 8PM news show.....the numbers would still be the same.  CNN could run a full hour of interviews with John Edwards.....the numbers would be about the same.  That's the sad thing about this entire story.

Finally, over the past week.....a vast number of folks from my home state of Bama....sat down and got into a deep analysis situation....with the BCS bowl suggested change.....a four-team play-off.  I started to look around at various chat discussions, and you can detect a vast amount of football analysis going on here.  There are at least twenty potential opportunities from years past, where Auburn might have made it by some miracle into the fourth NCAA slot, and won the NCAA title.  It's kinda like sitting next to a drunk and having him note what could have been or would have been.....while on the eighth beer of the evening.  Me?  Well...here's the thing....if this four-team play-off goes forward, what are the odds of Auburn and the University of Alabama meeting for the national championship game?  You can sense Bama pride at work here, and a miracle of sorts to occur within the next five years.  The TV networks would be all upset over such a match, but every single guy from Bama would be stocking up on refreshments for such a national match-up.

Why America is Great

Just a moment of your time.   You can go back to ESPN to view the Braves game, or switch over to an episode of I Love Lucy, or update your Facebook page after you finish my piece.

A lot of people walk around and want to spout off as an expert on why America isn't great, and get their three minutes of fame on CNN.  Some French or German folks will spend an entire hour discussing to the 44th degree why America is not great.  Off in some dusty cave in Pakistan....a half-dozen Islamic thinkers will discuss the evil America.  And in some Icelandic pub....four half-drunk Icelandic elitist intellectuals are going over the finer points of how America "isn't" anymore.

So you sit there in the heartland and lean against the barn, and you feel kinda angry.  You feel like someone just locked up John Wayne in the local jail.....that some Barney and Andy just got fired from their job in Mayberry....and that corruption is absolutely rampant in America.

So here's the blunt truth.

We are the most imperfect country on the face of the Earth.  You've taken from almost every single society and country, blending them into various cultures, and somehow arrived at some distinctive group which is supposed to function as a nation.  You are asking for most of what would be identified as a miracle.

America can never please anyone.  You could land 100k troops on Normandy, in an impossible invasion plan to counter the Nazis.....and someone would still identify faults in the results....seventy years later.  We could be asked to bring rescue forces onto some remote island in the Pacific, and there's bound to be someone who complain that we didn't get there within twenty-four hours of the emergency.

We often end up doing some things for the right reasons, and some things for the wrong reasons.  People hate the conviction of Americans because we will stick with the game-plan.

But here's some things to consider:

Generally, we aren't leaving our country.  Oh, some idiots will discuss the two thousand who gave up citizenship because of our screwed-up tax issues over the past issue.  But for every American who leaves.....there's a thousand sneaking in, and another three thousand who'd like to legally enter and stay.

If you were looking for the best place to open a business totally on your own.....this is still the best country to do that.

If you were looking for a country where forty neighbors would come over after the tornado wrecked up your house....to help you pick up belongings and offer up food and shelter....for days and weeks at a time.....this is only country where you might find neighbors like that.

If you were looking for a place where a guy could declare bankruptcy and ten years later....be in a recovery phase where you actually own another business, and making a total success out of it.....then you'd be in America.

If you were a fireman, and at age forty....you suddenly realized that you'd really like to be chemical engineer.....this is the only place where you might achieve that dream.

So for all the people who sit around and want to chat on why America just isn't great anymore.....the mere fact that they don't have much else to do....but whine about America....ought to make you laugh.  It's like some idiot who wants to talk to you over the direction that you cut your grass (it ought to be always pointed toward the road).  Or like the idiot who says your dog ought not be sitting in the lawn furniture.  Or like the dimwit who preaches that whipped cream should never be used with pecan pie, because they were told this via some TV cooking show.

We don't need to sit around and admire ourselves or get all peppy about feeling great.  We need to admire the dew on the grass.  We need to clean the grill for the best Fourth of July ever.  We need to saddle up and help neighbors after a storm.  We need to move heaven and Earth when innocent lives half-way around the world have been put at risk.  We just need to accept the fact that John Wayne never did walk away from a mess, and our attitude ought to be just as bold and just as strong as his.

At the end of the mess or the day....as we Americans quietly sit on our porch.....and you need something bad....just come around and ask.  We will offer our help....no matter how much bad-mouthing you offered last week.  It's the right thing to do.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Gadgets

I'm often amazed by gadgets.  This week, I came across two unusual ones.  First, it's the hurricane simulator at some local mall.  Basically, you pay a buck or two.....and this turbo-fan turns on at 10k RPM (my humble guess), and you have locked yourself in this plexi-glass area with air thrusting down upon you.

So for a minute or two....this fan is blasting away at you....at hurricane speeds.  You apparently feel thrilled, and happy over the whole experience.

I stood there for five minutes....hoping some idiot would walk by and put some cash in....so I could watch the whole thing.  Personally, I felt it was probably a good idea on paper, but as a business application.....it just isn't something that would sell to folks.

Course, if I were in some small podunk town in Bama.....and put one of these up....there would probably be this rush of sixty folks up to feel the thrill, and then.....the whole thing would max out after four weeks.

As for the second gadget?  Well....at the Pentagon, the boys out front.....the security crew....have this new "toy".  It's a Power Breezer.  So what you do is load this tub up with water, and then this fan comes on and dispenses "misty winds".

The tub?  Well....I'm guessing between 40 and 50 gallons.  The fan is fairly decent and I'd be guessing you could cool-mist up an area of 200 square feet in twenty minutes.

The principal here....is evaporative cooling. It's the same thing you do in Arizona.....in a dry climate.  This gadget would work fine as long as the humidity is around twenty percent or less, and the temp's stay less than 95 degrees.  Around Louisiana.....I doubt if it'd be any serious impact on your cooling.

I would say this though.....if you have any metal devices around where this is running twenty-four hours a day.....rust will develop fairly fast.  I'm not going to be negative about this.....but there are certain places this might not be appropriate.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

$200k a Year?

This week, it came out in Bama news....that newest county school superintendent of the Mobile area....has been hired up....at $200k a year.  If you count the $1,200 a month for a car and fuel....she'll clear close to $214,400 a year. The board hinted that the reason for the fantastic salary....is that they manage a school system twice the size of any county area in the state.

I sat and paused over the story.  $200k a year is a fantastic amount of money.  I would imagine back in the 1970s....the going rate was probably around $50k a year for the superintendent down there.

So the question is.....at the rate of growth and statistical average....what exactly will the superintendent be making in 2030 (eighteen years into the future).  I pondered over this and figure it's safe to say that they will be paying that individual almost $500k a year.  Toss in $3k a month on a car (figure a nifty 500-series BMW).

Maybe I'm getting old and just not grasping the reality of things.  But it's hard to imagine handing someone $200k a year....to go and just yank on the chain of principals or teachers, and run a school system.  The curious thing is that Congressmen and Senators pull $174k a year.....so they don't even make as much as the Mobile Superintendent.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

The Punks

I sat and watched yesterday the video clip of that 66-year old bus monitor gal being verbally assaulted by a bunch of punk 13-year old kids.  I suspect almost everyone now has viewed the clip at least a couple of times.

It bothers me that they just continued on, and on.  They didn't have any fear of her saying anything or getting into trouble.

As a kid in Bama in the 1970s....we didn't have bus monitors, but we probably didn't need them.  I can't imagine any situation arising where you'd need some adult sitting in the bus besides the driver. If the driver wasn't happy.....I'm pretty sure he would have just skipped your house the next day to make his point.

What should they do with these punks?  I'm of the mind to just dump them off the bus pick-up list for six months.  Let their parents figure out some method of dropping them off each morning until January of 2013.   That's probably enough to get their attention and get the parents to grasp the mess that the kid created.


Friday, 22 June 2012

Real History

Some smart guys....mostly from the University of Koln (Germany)....got around to Siberia recently....drilling holes down into the Arctic region.  So they've come to this conclusion.....there were various warm periods over the past 2.8 million years....where the Arctic region was fairly ice-free.

They can even say that two of these warm periods were within the last million years or so.  So this brings up an unusal fact....that glaciers might not even have existed on Greenland at the time.

What triggered the warm periods?  They don't know.

I sat and pondered over this.  It's fairly obvious that this can only be.....global warming, climate change, or global cooling. Yes, that would explain it all. The Nethanderthal Institute of Climate Change discussed this over the decades during this period.  They tried and tried.....to urge Cavemen to stop burning wood to warm themselves....but they just wouldn't listen.  They suggested alternate burning fuels....like pine-cones, peanuts, and seaweed....but the silly Cavemen would not listen.

You can imagine these German scientists returning home, puzzled over this new discovery.  It'd be nice to explain why climate changes....just for the heck of it.  Probably a million years ago.....the smart Nethanderthal guys felt the same way.  They'd go back to the cave....all upset that no one would listen to them.  Heck, they didn't even Al Gore around to help them explain the facts over global warming.

Simply Observations

It was kinda mentioned this week that VP Joe Biden's protective detail got into a big fight last year....between themselves.  It appears that the Secret Service got to a bar....had a few drinks, then got into a verbal and physical episode with a couple of Air Force Security Policemen on the VP's detail.  The more that you observe the various comical episodes around the President's Secret Service....the more they look like some Bama police force with wannabe cops.  It might be time to pull out the physical fitness test and force the Secret Service to perform it every two weeks.  I might give out the drug test more often as well.

In a few days, the Supreme Court will release their verdict on the health care law.  My guess is that the mandate will disappear as a minimum.  Without the mandatory nature to the law, it's hard to say if it can survive with one less page or not.  The sad thing here is that we will get an entire week of dimwitted analysis by various news channels.  Some experts will be experts, but the majority will be some guys from the Trucker Institute of Diesel Technology or such.  You will ask yourself briefly what the idiot is conveying to you....then determine to hit the channel button on the remote....to watch half an hour of French history from the 1800s....which says something, but it's best not to admit it in public.

Moodys stood up yesterday and downgraded fifteen major US banks.  So for the guy on the street, it means this.  If you bank with Citigroup and want a loan.....it's likely be half a percent to one percent higher now on the interest rate.  Moodys is admitting that all fifteen are not as stable as they'd like, and that they ought to be paying more to borrow money from someone else....so this means you the customer, will pay for the idiots at the bank and their stability problem.

Around 25 October 2005, the various bigwigs of news reporting led off the evening news with the announcement that the 2,000th GI had died that day in Iraq, during the conflict.  For an entire week, the news folks talked, and talked, and talked about the vast number of two thousand.  Well...seven years have passed, and this week....we passed the 2,000th GI dying in Afghanistan.  No one from the major networks even brought the topic up.  So you sit and ponder over what amounted to one hundred hours from CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, and Fox News in 2005, and what was talked about over and over.  Now, you can't even get six minutes of a mention.  Luckily, we did get a two-minute mention from ABC News that Colorado City, Arizona is being sued by the federal government for being polygamous in nature.    Hopefully, it won't expand out for 100 hours over the next week.

Some folks woke up this week in Hollywood and started asking a stupid question....with all this Hollywood fund-raising for the President's re-election campaign going on.....will it hurt the movie industry?  My belief is that as long as you can produce Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer for 16-year old kids.....you will do OK for the next year or two.  However, if you were producing adult-quality movies.....hoping for forty-two year old folks who might be leaning a bit to the right.....you might want to just ease off production for a year or two, until folks forget your star got himself mentioned with President Obama forty or fifty times in 2012.  It might be time to ship a couple of folks off to Italy and produce a couple of Italian cowboy westerns.

After two decades of war activity (the Balkans, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Albania, Iraq, etc), someone woke up at the Pentagon and realized that combat pay is unfair.  For those not familiar with it.....if someone deems you being in a hostile zone.....you get an extra $225 a month.  Naturally, you'd ask why so little because you kinda think ought to be like $15k or at least $6k a month.  Well....somewhere years ago....this $225 got invented and has stuck around for thirty-odd years.  So the new logic is.....a guy could be in a fairly hostile area, but had a ninety percent chance of never seeing any action at all.  Meanwhile, other guys could be in a certain hostile zone, and face gunfire or bombs on a daily basis.  Both guys made $225 a month, but the honest truth is one guy earned his pay for every single minute of the month, and the other guy was just lucky to be threatened maybe one minute out of the whole month.  So the discussion appears to be that the guy under the most threat....ought to get the full $225.  And the guy with minor threats.....might only get a percentage of the $225.  Fair is fair....so to speak.  Course, a guy in southeastern DC might say that everyone on the streets of DC ought to be getting $225 a month for life-threatening situations in Washington.

Finally, the judge down in Opelika, Bama....presiding over the poisoned oak tree episode down near Auburn University, and this Harvey Updyke character....suddenly realized that a whole lotta press just arrived in Opelika, and this is apparently getting national attention (it even appeared in the Washington Post).  The judge also realized that most of his jury is getting more and more attention....day by day.  Relatives of the jury members are asking questions, and it's all bound to taint some folks beyond the norm.  So the judge is contemplating the idea of moving it.  My suggestion would be to bring to northwest Bama (almost a state away)....to Lauderdale county.  Then go and find a dozen jury folks from the local area....mostly those who admit they don't watch any NCAA football or do more than fish or hunt on Saturdays.  Don't worry....Harvey would still get convicted because poisoning a tree just ain't going to carry any innocence weight....no matter where you go in Bama.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

A BCS Moment

Not that it really means anything, but the BCS dimwits.....commissioners actually....have finally come to reach a conclusion on their study for a NCAA football four-team seeded playoff deal.

They've reached step one.....where they can present it to the various university presidents and seek their approval.  If a vast majority of them were to agree to this....it would shift things around by 2014 season.

If I were a betting person....I'd say it's a fifty-fifty shot on agreement here.

What the guys are opening the door to....is that a little po-dunk college like Boise State....could actually make it to the number four position, and somehow get past the normal limitations....to win the national title.  For the university system, they'd really prefer that this never happen.  It's conceivable that even Brigham Young University might eventually make into the number four slot.  And I doubt if football experts really want that.

So I'm not believing in a change here.  And even if you got past that.....eventually some political idiots would want to double this to eight teams.  Oh, and if you figure this mess out....there's going to be two additional bowl games down the road to add.....making millions for someone, but it's best that we not bring up this topic.

That Drone Thing

There’s been a fair amount of chat over the last month with drones criss-crossing America, and actually watching Americans….not Arab guys or pirates. Naturally, this has got some Americans upset. So, I sat and pondered over this mess.

By 2025, most every city of 100k residents or more….will have at least one drone. Cities like Houston or Nashville will likely have five or six. If you are a farmer around 2025….it’s likely that at least once a month….some drone will observe you…..plowing a field, baling hay, chasing up cows, or visiting your liaison gal Wanda at her trailer. If you live in an urban area….it’s likely that once or twice a day that you will be observed. I imagine you will feel some pressure on your back…..always being watched. But to be honest, if you were doing honest and ethical things to start with….why worry?

So then you start to think about the cost factor. Your Sheriff Larry will be leasing out services to some drone company for sixty hours a month of surveillance. It’ll run in the $140k range a year for this lease. The downlink will include tons of video, but then what? Will Sheriff Larry or Deputy Hoss even know how to view the video or what it means? I kinda doubt that.

Along the way, the leasing company will then offer night-time vision instruments, for an extra $200 per hour, which naturally….they will be willing to pay for this. The county will eventually ask stupid questions about why they are suddenly paying $180k a year and how that relates to arrest. Sheriff Larry will be hard-pressed to answer that question.

So then comes this nifty contraption that the leasing company will offer with a grenade launcher and shotgun mounted onto the drone. Figure an extra $40k a year for that toy. Who presses the button on that? Well….it might be interesting to know. I’m sure Sheriff Larry would like to be the only one pressing that button. At this point, folks start to question how quick Sheriff Larry is on the trigger and accidentally killing two or three folks a year with his new air assault vehicle. Lawsuits will be common and the assault vehicle option will be curtailed after three or four years.

Then we come to the most fascinating part of this deal….the news media. Channel thirty-one will come out with their own drone by 2025. The news folks will fly some drone on a continual 24-hour a day situation. They will see just about everything….everywhere. It’ll be like Doppler radar. Got a tornado reported….some drone will be dispatched and personally video it from a mile away. Folks will be all glued to the TV as they watch live tornado coverage from four states away. You can imagine a whole afternoon spent watching storm after storm, from Dallas to Memphis, and on up to Iowa.

Eventually, some private detective will offer drone services where you can observe your wife all day…..and if she is driving off to some trailer on the other side of the river to visit her high-school boyfriend from twenty years ago. You’ll pay $2k to get this video and feel all happy when the tape is delivered to you. If you ask me….the drone business will change America. I won’t say for the positive or negative.

The Walk in the Woods

Some smart guys from Glasgow University (Scotland) got around to studying the effects of jogging....especially in grassy or wooded areas.  Suddenly, they found that there was a tremendous positive effect on anyone who did that.....compared to just jogging in circles at the gym or track.  People who did some running in forests were much better off and in better mental condition, than folks who ran around public streets or on treadmills.

I sat and paused over this "discovery".  From around 1987 to 1998, I put out this major effort to stay in shape and ran fairly regularly.

In Panama, I ran along the streets, and an abandoned runway next to the housing area.  When I got to Tucson, I ran around the track at the gym, or on the base streets.  Then in 1993, I got back to Germany and would run most of the time in forests or woods.

I would say there was a total difference in relaxation once I did the woods routine.  I didn't need a radio with me.....I could just run and relax.  My blood pressure was absolutely normal and I could wrap up a forty-minute run in some local woods with a fairly positive feeling.

Yes, it was a tremendous difference between the desert landscape running in Tucson, and the wooded running in Germany.  I probably knew about this "discovery" way before the smart guys up at the Glasgow University.

Around the back side of my house in Germany....I had a paved trail that ran almost four miles, and would deliver me back to my starting point.  I had fields of corn and wheat around me for half of this, and woods for the remainder.  It was probably the best mental treatment that a person could ask for.  Three or four times a week, and you got a dose of some mental medicine that you probably needed.

The odd thing here is that it's going to be hard for a doctor to prescribe this "walk-in-the-woods" medicine to someone, and have them take you serious.  You can imagine this whole generation of folks with mental stress issues.....suddenly finding that things just aren't that bad, and life is pretty decent after all.....only because of a walk or run in the woods.

When you think about this, and how life was a one hundred and forty years ago.....we all walked a bit....mostly in wooded areas to get from one point to another....and we probably didn't have any stress issues in our life.

So we make another discovery in life.....about something that we probably already knew about....several generations ago.

Around the Corner

I work for a military organization that shall remain nameless.  We are the technology geeks of the Pentagon's massive structure.  For a number of years....Blackberrys have been the primary toy of Pentagon players.  For those in the know.....Blackberry kinda hit it's peak maybe four years ago.  It's just not the "toy" that it used to be.

So there's been this effort to bring I-Phones and I-Pads into the inner circle of the Pentagon.  There's a test phase underway.  A handful of folks have the new "toys".  I sat and talked to one of the folks who is kinda within the circle and can see all the planning efforts of this.

So I came to this question yesterday with him.  When I-Phones finally do arrive....will there be this sudden creation of "apps" and an entire military division of geeky guy working somewhere in the DC region making "apps" on a weekly basis.  My associate kinda smiled and nodded.

You can imagine this whole creation of a massive new structure.....just to make the generals happy....making various apps.

If I were to stay around here for another five years....I'd probably have an I-Pad and doing most of my daily work off of that....with forty or fifty various apps.  I'm not saying this is all positive....but it's the trend of things in life.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Where We Went Wrong

Most folks are fairly angry now about the political process in America.  They hate at least one party, and in a growing number of cases.....they hate both political parties.  Folks hate attending a family reunion because so many folks are aggravated and want to chat about their hostility over such and such political situation.   So let me offer up the ten ways that we went off-track and triggered this mess.

First, someone created C-SP*N.  It became the ESPN of political stuff.  There are people now who devote eight to twelve hours of their day....watching C-SP*N....then wanting to talk to folks and emphasize various bullet statements they got from their source.  We probably have 200k Americans who are doped up and fairly aggravated.....because they overdose themselves on way too much political news.

Second, cable news (CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News) are elephants that stomped into the living room and got the attention of a vast audience.  They kinda forced ABC, CBS and NBC to go up a notch.  Now you have six news groups running twenty-four hours a day.....talking mostly over a two-minute topic which they stretch out into an hour-long discussion.

Third, your local newspapers, with the help of Time and NewsWeak....decided in the 1980s to walk into a robust political forum.  They signed up to preach the gospel of politics and usually glued themselves to one party.  Strangely enough.....within the last decade, they've found that subscription levels are at a all-time low.  They don't know why....but they are losing readers almost daily.

Fourth, the internet came out and offered this opportunity for folks to gather facts and news......then dig into a topic that newspapers and cable news refused to cover.  A vast team of one or two guys....could dig up some huge story....make your regular news folks look like fifth graders, and put out a story which destroyed your trust in regular news outlets.

Fifth, special interest groups came out of the shadows....in the thousands.  A dozen senators could now be confronted and put into a bad position.  There's no law against the special interest groups.....but they aren't really helping the public at large...just their special interest.

Sixth, school teachers got around to being some funnel of knowledge or information....which was a one-topic type situation.  They convinced some kids that Republicans were evil, or Democrats were crazy.....instead of just plain teaching kids.

Seventh....and final.....a bunch of Hollywood characters started to charm the public and make folks believe they were smart on some political topic....when they weren't.  We are at a point where no one takes anyone serious from Hollywood anymore.

It's a fair mess....with no real fix or solution.

Simply Observations

The Wikileaks guru, Julian Assange, who is in trouble for messing around with two Swedish women (actual charges with jail-time).....apparently got pretty scared and ran off to the Ecuadoran embassy in London.  He's asking for asylum.  The British legal folks are a bit upset because Julian swore up and down that he'd play an ethical situation out with the procedures.  I imagine the Ecuadoran ambassador is kinda surprised....he probably gets one guy a year asking for asylum to Ecuador.  There's around $300k in bail money involved in this mess, and I suspect that it will forfeit rather quickly if Ecuador carries out this deal.  As for Julian?  Well....Ecuador is a fine third-world country and he might adapt to it.  Sadly, because of the problems that Julian got himself into.....I doubt if he ever leaves Ecuador once he gets there.  That might be a problem in the long run.  It's a pretty sad end to the guy....possibly stuck in Ecuador, and trying to be the leader of some vast empire of Wikileaks.

This Friday....will be the grand showing of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer.  Yes, I will be at the showing.  It's a pretty unusual scenario....Abe was a guy with a wooden stake and a pretty sharp ax.  He'd take down a couple of vampires at a whack....on his evening walks.  If this is a success....there's bound to be Thomas Jefferson: Vampire Stalker, Teddy Roosevelt: Werewolf Slayer, and Jimmy Carter: Bigfoot Tracker.  It'll open the floodgates for some great movie scenarios.

Down in Bama.....at Opelika....the court case is proceeding over the poisoned oaks at the Auburn campus.  This guy, Harvey Updyke....is in a bit of trouble because he acknowledged that he was the guy who poisoned and killed a couple of trees on the Auburn campus....mostly because he hated the NCAA football team that Auburn has.  Now, I realize that most folks don't ever get this serious about football.....but in Bama....we probably have 10k folks in the state who would start a fight or do something stupid over NCAA football.  So yesterday, the first phase of this court episode started....where they were looking for a fair and impartial jury.  With eighty-five folks called....it started off pretty badly when half the folks admitted that they had relatives connected to the campus or were pretty die-hard Auburn football fans (which you wouldn't want on this particular jury).  At least thirty-nine of the folks admitted they had been at the trees during past celebrations....which took them off the list.  Legal experts actually admit this may take two weeks in court, which shocks most of the Bama folks.  As for Updyke?  Well....I'd say (I'm fairly impartial on this, although my brother attended Auburn) that he ought to get a $100k fine, get 2,000 hours of community service, and be forced to watch copies of every Auburn win since 1966.  It's not worth the time or space to put the guy in jail, and it'd just make him feel bigger than he is already.

Finally, somewhere in Houston a day or two ago....this mother was driving around with her three kids in the car.  An accident occurred, which is still unexplained.  The mother then got out....walked over to the nearby drug store by herself....leaving the kids in the car.  They are 5, 12, and 16 years old.  At the drug store.....she bought an ice cream and then proceeded to disrobe.  As cars arrived....she was totally nude. They approached in a kindly fashion, as you'd imagine cops confronting a nude gal eating an ice cream.  She got a bit hostile.....quickly.  The confrontation went to the cops, who promptly took her down (without guns or taser).  My best guess...bath salts.  The thing is this.....if you were a kid in the car and observed this.....could you ever allow Mom back into the house?  I'd be calling up grandma or Aunt Wanda....begging for them to pick me up.

From My Neighborhood

Over the last month or so....we've had this episode brewing here in Virginia, which probably won't make it into the national press.  The chancellor of the university had been hired two years ago, and told to prepare for cuts.  The board wanted her in the frame of mind....to take measures and help bring the university into a positive position, with lesser budget issues.

The chancellor....Teresea Sullivan....came up a couple of months ago and kinda hinted that she was going on a certain pace for the cuts.  This didn't sit very well, and this week.....the board basically "let" her go (fired might be appropriate).

Ms Sullivan hinted strongly, that corporate-business concepts didn't work well with the university crowd, and that things needed to be done at a very slow pace.  The board hinted back that tuition was on a spiral upward, and that there would be tough decisions to be made.

It's become a comical affair.  You've got a number of facility members who are now fearful about what is coming and really came to the aide of Ms Sullivan in the final days of her leadership.  At one meeting this week, Ms Sullivan wanted everyone on the board to know that people would be poached and grabbed by big-name universities because of all this turmoil.  I suspect that the board was fairly happy to be dumping their high-cost players, and would quickly replace them with folks making twenty-percent less.

My guess is that a number of 4-star colleges are watching this affair and thinking of their future.  This rising tuition game is a major topic on every campus.  Some programs are going to find themselves curtailed.  Some folks are going to be told to retire or move along.  Some chancellors are going to be challenged to make tough cuts.  There's just not much of an alternate plan to play out here.

Monday, 18 June 2012

The Swedish "Thing"

Months ago, out in the bay between Sweden and Finland....some guys had a radar bounce back with a fairly big chunk of "something".   This image is roughly 200 feet in a circular pattern.  They vowed they'd come back and dive down to check it out.

So, they've finished diving and have some odd comments to make.  First, it's a stone device, with absolutely no silt attached to it (it should have some).  There's some soot on it....meaning that it was used for some type of fire purposes.  The boys are fairly sure now....that it's not a natural thing.  And it's about 250 feet down from the surface.

Aliens?  UFOs?

Well, no.  My humble guess is that around 50k odd years ago.....the ocean levels were at least 300 feet less than they are today.  This bay between Sweden and Finland?  I doubt if it even existed.  This was probably a valley area and a small lake lay about mile or two away.

What were the boys doing 50k years ago?  Well....they obviously had some stone-making knowledge, and a bit of time on their hands.  Maybe it had a special purpose.

So the guys who found this are still looking at the pictures.  I'm guessing over a hundred folks are now interested in this and willing to toss a couple of million into going down and doing a major "dig" at 250 feet under the water.  At some point, they are going to discuss the idea of bringing this thing to the surface.

I'm reminded of a British movie made in the 1960s.....Five Million Years to Earth.  Some Brits are digging around London and find this strange "ball" buried far down in the Earth.  By the end of the movie, it's become apparent that they never should have cracked up the stupid  ball.  For some reason.....I'm thinking whatever some idiots did 50k years ago....maybe there's a reason to just leave the "cork" there in the gulf between Finland and Sweden.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

The Darn Swiss

The ideal situation in a democracy is that you are smart enough to find a guy, who says he's honest and capable of thinking like you do....and you get enough votes for him to represent you.  Part of the end deal on this....is that the guy you elect....actually reads, comprehends, and is fully willing to vote on things.  If the idiot just goes over to the capital....refusing to vote on anything, then demands a national referendum by the voters, then he's saying he just isn't willing to do his job.

Yeah, kinda like those guys in California for example.

This week, there's an episode that has occurred.....which won't be in your local paper, or spoken about by CNN, ABC, or CBS.  Nobody would dare talk about it because it'd make you start to think about the spiral of things in the US.

Folks in Switzerland for the past decade, have been seeing more and more referendums appear in local and national voting.  The leadership, which they vote and pay salaries to.....really don't want to have any say on things like this.  They'd prefer that the public votes on things, and they ride the easy train into work each day.  No arguments....no discussions....just let continual national referendums be part of the public situation.

Well.....today, there was a vote to occur which will basically says that they've gotten sick and tired of having too much democracy...too much national referendums.

As one individual put it......"too much democracy kills democracy."

Eventually, a guy might get to the point of asking why bother having to pay out money to political folks....if they aren't willing to do the job you elected them to do.  At that point, things might get sour real quick.

You can imagine something like this eventually occurring in California.  Folks realize that nothing ever gets fixed, and this voting mess just means billions gets generated every election year to fight over one cause, or support another.

It's best that CNN avoid discussing this mess.  You'd just start to ask stupid questions, and figure one of the top five problems with politics in America today.

The President's Talking Dog

This past week...a couple of days prior to the President's change of heart over immigration....came a new issue of Time.

I quit picking up or reading Time almost six years ago, but I noticed the cover, and by this weekend....I was asking myself a fairly stupid question.

It's odd that five days before the President makes a huge speech and one of the top three impact changes of 2012....this major topic comes out in Time magazine.

It's like you getting an advertisement by your dentist a week before your visit over a new-fangled cleaning procedure not covered by your dental insurance....which has a cost of $200.  As Doctor Joe brings you into his chair.....he brings up his information packet from the last week.  It's all geared for a gentle sale to you.

A humble guy would look at this and have a laugh.  Somewhere about six weeks ago....there was a drawn plan for the immigration change.  Some Time writer was likely brought into the White House circle.....given ten pages of info and statistics, and asked to gear this piece toward gently informing the public of some major topic.  It would be a easy sale when Doctor Obama came into the office and smiled as he lifted the curtain over a major change.

Poor journalism?  Well yeah.  But then....how many folks are on the subscription list now....compared to thirty years ago?  To be honest....Time lost touch with a majority of Americans over the past decade.  So than acting like a talking dog for the President.....it's mostly a comical side of the whole immigration story.

The Latino Moment

After a fair amount of pondering, I've come to realize three significant things about Friday's episode with the President and the immigration business.

First, he could have come out and asked Nancy Pelosi to press forward on this deal and work a compromise through the House, then have Harry Reid slam this through the Senate.  Sadly, what the President wrote in sixty-odd lines...would have required the House and Senate to craft over 1400 pages of text.  So, the President saved a significant amount of time by doing this....the way that he did.

I will admit....the S3992 bill....the Dream Act...which Senator Rubio wants to press forward on....contains most all of what the President mentioned, and is only 27-odd pages long.  But it'd freak out most of the head Democratic guys if you tried to make some that readable and understandable....if you ask me.

Second, and on the odd side.  The unemployment rate across the US runs from five percent to over ten percent.  Some areas are in serious trouble with unemployment closer to thirteen percent.  So, you are turning 800k folks loose in the US....with new work visas....assuming that they will find work amongst the mess in front of the current folks?  Right?

Something about this doesn't make much sense.  My humble guess is that 250k of these folks will be lucky enough to hang out in some community college or university.  But the remaining 550k folks will actually be seeking jobs with work visas within forty-five days.  By the end of September, they will have issues and will be asking stupid questions over where the jobs are.  Did Doctor Frankenstein create a create to roam the countryside in an unhappy state of mind?

Third and final.....for every single one of the 800k folks....there's happy feelings.  I'm guessing that another 800k of folks who cannot meet the criteria.  You can guess here....they aren't happy.  Course, they can't vote.  But they can stand there and comment about the unfair nature to their relatives who can vote.  There should have been a broad stroke of the pen, and all of the campers covered.

I suspect that history will look back over this in a decade, recording it as a hasty directive by the President, without much thought over implications or the end result.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

That Kid of Mine

My son often amazes me.  If you wrote up a page of sixteen instructions on how to do something....he'd try to cut twelve instructions out, and do it in four easy steps.

The kid has finally passed through 99 percent of the German apprenticeship program for a clerk certification, for an operation like Lowes.  You can pull out a 12-cent nail, and he'll identify it, and figure what a bucket of such nails cost.  He's learned the whole inventory system of the operation, from the smallest nail.....to lumber....to plumbing fixtures.

There were various requirements for this three-year program.  Two weeks ago, he wrapped up the final written test deal.  In the next ten days.....he'll wrap up a verbal test.

This week....his instructor reminded him of the third critical portion of the certification.  He was supposed to be writing up a monthly log....detailing the significant number of thing he learned over that month.  There's supposed to be around thirty-two pages to this log.  As a minimum, there's supposed to be at least twenty lines or so.....per page.  The instructor wants to see his log in approximately two weeks....as the final part of certification.

Well....as I said starting out.....the kid likes to cut corners.  So for all this time....he's never written a single page.  Nothing.  He thought this was unnecessary and would never figure into the final certification.  He was wrong.

So he bought this booklet, and over the next week.....he has to go back create some awful creative logs over things he imagined that he learned but doesn't really remember much about now.

I kinda laughed over this detail.  It's creative writing at its best.  He'll likely mention some imaginary customer that he handled. He'll talk about the vast differences of a 12-cent nail and a 15-cent nail upon examination.  He'll try to limit the story for each page to twenty lines.  He'll comment over snow falling, the heat of the hot sun, or a storm approaching from the west.....all fictional of course.

You can imagine the company instructor looking at this....remarking how it's strange that he used the very same ink pen for the entire log.

The kid may learn something out of this....but it's mostly that you can write pretty fiction...if under pressure.

If, and If, and If, and If

I sat down and read over the President's immigration directive, and it struck me as a logical writing scheme that some engineer or software designer would write.

You can get a "waiver" if you are illegally here and arrived in the US before the age of sixteen, which you have continually lived here without ever left the US, continually been here for a minimum of five years, which you are thirty years old or younger, must be in school or college or have a diploma, or GED, or be a member of the military, or honorably discharged vet, never having been convicted of a felony or serious misdemeanor, or multiple misdemeanors, and never posed a threat to anyone.

Software designers always write software code with "if, and if, and if, and if, and if, and if".  Basically, some idiot on the White House staff is a a code-writing graduate of some university.

Now, if you fit all of the "ifs" here....you get a two-year waiver.  That's all.  The President decided that he really couldn't do more than two years.  But to be honest, there's no law that even says two years is ok or not.  The President himself....wrote his own code....with a two-year limit on the length of operation for his "if" situation.  What happens in 2014?  Well....we just don't know.  Would the President still be this friendly over the situation?  Would it still be this easy to extend yourself?  You just don't know.

How many people does this affect?  Well....the administration says 800k.  To be honest, it's a fairly big guess here.  Where are the 800k?  Well.....again, it's a guess.  In Alaska, I'm guessing it's less than 500.  In Maine, I'm guessing it's less than 1k.  For Texas?  It might be 75k.

Does this deal get you in-state tuition?  It would depend on the state....in most all states, the answer would be no.

Does this deal get you citizenship at any point?  No.

Does this deal get you a driver's license?  For a handful of states, yes.  For most....no.

The sad thing is that the President sat down in 2011 and said he could not perform an action like this.  It was in front of a Latino group, and he just plain admitted that he couldn't executive-order this kind of deal.  So around a year passes, and now....he magically has this power.

What if you arrived here after age sixteen....like age 19?  Well....you can't use this deal.  What if you lived here for two years, and left for six months, then returned for three years?  Well....you can't use this deal.  What if you got drunk and had a serious car accident at age 21?  Well....if you this were a felony type situation.....you can't use the deal.  My humble guess is that for each person who passes the "if" test, there's another person who fails.

So you could have this really nifty deal....if, and if, and if, and if, and if....things were just so.

If You Build It......

I always watch over events in Bama and their influence upon the state.  This morning, I was looking at Bama business news and came to see this big story out of north Bama.....Jack Daniels coming to start an operation over near Decatur.

Course, you'd ask yourself what JD would want in the Bible-country of Bama?  Well.....they are putting in $60 million to make a plant that will have eventually 200 employees.  Their job?  To make precious barrels for Jack Daniels.

The folks at Bloomberg (which had the story) indicate that the starting wage is around $16 an hour, which is a pretty fine wage for Bama.

The curious thing about this is that you basically to a rural area of Bama and asked them to go back and recreate something by the standards of the late 1800's.  You can use modern tools, modern measure devices....even modern wood treatment finishes.  But it's basically got to be an end-product of an absolutely perfect barrel.

This Jack Daniels barrel will be put on a flatbed trailer, and hauled up the road a piece....delivered to the distillery, and probably be in use for the next thirty to fifty years.

I'm guessing the Bama guys who do get eventually hired for the factory....will be awful proud of their products.  There might be a tear shed over each and every barrel produced.  Call a source of Bama pride or Bama enthusiasm.....but we've been waiting for a chance to partner up with Jack Daniels.  Life just went up a notch around the Decatur area.

Just Observations

First, around two weeks ago...this story appeared in the news....some guy traveling around America on foot....writing up a book to be called "The Kindness of America"....gets shot on the side of the road.  He (Raymond Dolin) gives this description....which ends up with an arrest of some guy.  Well...the cops involved in this came around to this odd suspicion of things, and this Raymond Dolin apparently shot himself.  There aren't alot of details to this but it would appear that Raymond's potential book....Kindness in America....may have hit a point where kindness wasn't a motivating factor for a book topic.  It's hard to say what happens now.  I'm guessing Raymond will have some charges put up against him and spend sixty days in some local jail where he suddenly gets an idea for a new book...."Kindness in American Jails".

The President and this Friday afternoon deal for immigration?  I will offer two observations.  First, this Marco Rubio guy.....potentially the VP for Romney....is scheduled to release a book next week....make several major speeches.....and do at least a dozen interviews.  I kinda get the impression that the President is awful fearful over what Rubio can do in an election, and this was the only silver bullet he had to take Rubio down a notch before next week.  Second?  Well....so you are the guy or gal affected by this Presidential order, and you can stay around a while now.  Can you vote?  No.  Can you get a US passport?  No.  All you get from the President is this free ticket to wait things out....nothing more.  You can go to school and work.  But beyond that....the President didn't really fix much of anything.  At the end of the day....you just ain't American, and no President can executive-order you into being an American.

Finally, some idiots did a survey and found increasing numbers of liberals are fearful of having a Mormon as President.  No one mentioned to them that Harry Reid is a Mormon.  My personal guess is that there's a list of forty different factors which would bother liberals in general about potential folks assuming the Presidential office.  They'd probably be against rodeo clowns, Fox News journalists, long-haul truckers, retired Marines, cattle ranchers, engineers, former New York Yankees, anyone from North Dakota, a graduate of Texas Tech, trailer trash, right-wing conservative wrestlers, and doctors specializing in plastic surgery.  So if you are Mormon and upset that liberals are holding a grudge against you and might deny you the office of the Presidency.....don't worry, it's a pretty long list and you might be in good company when you think about it.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Clothing Style

When a company comes around to the point of establishing a dress code….it’s typically because some idiots or dimwits….have grossly violated general rules of dress. It’s a sad thing, because the newly written dress code starts to inflict pains upon a large group of folks, and tends to get excessive.

This week….out in the Tucson area of Litchfield…..the school district decided that teachers have run amok. So there’s new rules being discussed. Proposed? No rubber-soled flip flops, which might be understandable.

No visible undergarments, which means if you are a woman…..you don’t have some blouse with half your bra showing, or a pair of pants with a fair amount of your underwear showing.

There’s not to be any blouse outfit that shows your gut (men or women). That kinda takes out tube tops and such.

Your pants, blouse, skirt or otherwise….should not be regarded as “too tight” (the judge on this issue will have a job on his hands).

The clothing you wear should not be too loose or “transparent” (meaning that your bra shouldn’t be seen from sixty feet away, if you know what I mean).

There can’t be any bare shoulders, which cuts out tank-tops for men or women. Short skirts are not supposed to be acceptable.

Exercise pants are to be absolutely forbidden.

And guys need to wear a shirt with a collar….at all times.

On top of these recommendations right now (it hasn’t passed yet), the board asked if hair color or obvious body piercings ought to be put on the list. You can imagine the heated feelings for some gals who have twelve different piercings that are normally noticed, if they make an effort. They even hint of a discussion on tattoos being visible….which might mean that nifty $700 tattoo on your leg might be issues.

You can imagine the heated discussions now in the teacher’s lounge. Summer is about to arrive in Tucson, and a few folks were fixed up for summer school….in the heat of a Arizona 110-degree period. Teachers over the last forty years have gotten used to minimum clothing, flip-flops, and tank-tops (even the 60-year old teachers).

I sat and pondered over this. I grew up in Bama during the 1960s and 1970s. Female teachers dressed appropriately….meaning that they dressed like they were going to church. For about the first eight years of school….the worse you can say was some teacher had on too much make-up or too much perfume.

Somewhere around 1974, I started to notice a teacher or two in the transparent department, with outfits that you couldn’t buy in Bama (obviously, they’d been to Atlanta or Nashville). In the eighth grade, we had some new female math teacher that arrived and taught for one year….who wore clothing that you expected off some cocktail waitress in Birmingham (that was back in the better days when you could drink a cocktail in Birmingham).

In the twelfth grade, I had “Bear” as a biology teacher….who was some WW II vet who dressed in a plain short-sleeved white shirt every single day and a plain black tie. I can’t even envision “Bear” even wearing a blue or green shirt….he just wouldn’t do it.

Clothing “too-tight”? I can remember a college class at Ramstein in the mid-1980’s where the college instructor gal showed up wearing a size 12 dress, when it ought to have been a size 14 size. Every single class meeting was the same dress issue. I was always afraid that she’d bend over at some point to pick up the chalk off the floor, and bust open her outfit.

Up at Tacoma, I had a university instructor gal, who dressed in rough tough men’s clothing for the outback of Montana, and admitted one day that this was the only clothing she owned….having spent the last six years at some archeological dig and now run out of funding to dig…..so she had to teach to make a living. I guess it was acceptable, but I just sat and wondered how she ever did the interview with the community college director in an “Indiana” Jones outfit and work boots.

I’m guessing the union will pick up on this issue and get all torn up about the intentions here. The sad truth is that you have teachers who’ve given up on dress and appearance. They look more like flower shop ladies in Santa Monica, farmers from Red Bay, or homeless folks from Philly. They’d wear exercise pants because they feel mostly like they are in pajamas. I’m guessing there’s even tramp of the day competition going on between five or six teachers.

The sad thing here….there’s probably an English teacher or two….who have tongue piercings. These folks spend hundreds of hours each year mispronouncing English words, and some kid graduates to go onto university, with a pronunciation of teptic tank (instead of septic tank) or Bradil (instead of Brazil). The kid has mastered the English language via some tongue-tied high school teacher with a fancy tongue piercing. We’ve gone and lost our compass in life.

The Kid

Dixon, Illinois isn't really known for much.

In it's hayday of the late 1920s.....the locals had this little park along Rock River. There was this couple (the Graybills) who managed the park, and ran concessionaires there.

This was before the great depression, and there was ample money to be made. The draw? Rock River of course, where you could come out and swim.

There was one problem with this great opportunity for folks.  It really depended on Rock River and an element of safety. You just couldn't allow anyone to drown. It was bad for the park.....bad for business.....and it affected possibility of you losing your business license. Bluntly......you just could have anyone drown. 

So Ed and Ruth Graybill went out to find someone that they could trust to be the lifeguard.

Unlike the wussy atmosphere of today.....if you were a lifeguard working for the Graybills....you were a multitask individual, and put into a full twelve-hour day....probably seven days out of the week.  If stormy weather was predicted....that was probably your only way of getting a day off.  Don't even bother discussing a forty-hour limit. Don't even think about talking over bonuses or extras.

Ed and Ruth found this one punk kid from the local area. He was clean-cut, willing to work the extra hours, and polite. The kid admitted he was a pretty fair swimmer. In those days....you probably were certified by some Red Cross guy.....but there wasn't any real training to be a lifeguard, compared to today's atmosphere.  So, you really had to know something about swimming.

This punk kid hired.....quickly learned the routine. He had to haul around the coolers to get filled with ice each day, for the concessionaires. He made sure things were kept clean and orderly.

Ed and Ruth tried hard to stretch out every single nickle and dime for their business....so they even got real floodlights.  This would have been new and unusual for the era, and placed them along the river. The hopes were.....folks would stay around past dark....sipping sodas and munching on snacks they sold. You can imagine this concentration of effort....to bring every single cent into the operation.

This punk kid had an opportunity to watch this.....seven days a week. It's an amazing thing to consider, but the punk kid worked alone. Ed and Ruth just couldn't afford another lifeguard. The kid had to be there on time....do the odd tasks....watch for dimwits in the water....and stay way past sundown.

On an average day.....there might have a couple hundred folks come by....on a great weekend day....maybe a thousand.  Rock River was a decent draw for the local area. This punk kid had to stand there and act in a capacity that few teenage kids could imagine today.

History records that Ed and Ruth hired the same punk kid each summer for six years. The kid just kept returning and doing what had to be done.

Folks are shocked to find out that over six years.....the punk kid saved seventy-seven people from drowning. The kid documented every single episode....like a mark on a pistol, or a bomb on a fighter. The kid was proud of the seventy-seven number. He was also proud that not a single person drowned over the six years at Rock River.

At the end of six years....the kid had some other things in life planned, and just had to leave.

The punk kid, Ronald Reagan, probably had the best training in his life at Rock River....but he'd never admit it. There are seventy-seven folks who probably went on in life....never really grasping what happened to them on that day or why they got dragged out of the water by the punk kid.

It would have been curious to ask Ronald Reagan which he appreciated more....the eight years in Washington, or the six at Rock River. The best we can say....is that something mythical and magical occurred in Rock River.....for their benefit, Reagan's benefit, and ours.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

The Fifth Grade Dilemma

Up in Onalaska, Washington....the local school got itself into hot water.  The state requires all fifth graders to get a dose of sexual education.  So in the last week....the Principal came down and briefed the kids in the fifth grade on lusty affairs.  It was supposed to stop at intercourse, thus allowing everyone to understand the evils of getting pregnant at fifteen.

Well....at the end of regular information....some kid asked if there were other methods to sex....other than intercourse.  Naturally, the Principal (a lady) goes off into detail about oral and anal.  The fifth graders rush home to inform the parents about this....probably in hopes of showing them something that they don't know.  I'd guess somewhere along the way, they informed the sixth graders....who knew nothing about this.  And they probably even discussed the situation with the bus driver on the way home.

As you can imagine....parents are visibly upset, and demanding action.  This is just way too information for a fifth grader to comprehend.

I sat and pondered over this.  Out of my old fifth grade in Alabama.....if this had occurred and the Principal had even started to say something....old Ms Barnett would have picked up the wooden paddle and whacked the Principal by the head.  She would have made every single effort to protect the innocence and naive nature of every Bama kid in that room.

For some reason, I envision this turning into a Southpark episode, where most kids yawn after being told the second and third methods of sex.....then Cartman would have stood up and announced there was a fourth method.....detailing something involving aliens, Manbearpig (the Al Gore creature), the use of peanut butter, and scenes from some 1977 Love Boat episode. The rest of the day would have involved hundreds of people walking around town in a daze.....trying to imagine Cartman's fourth method.

The sad thing here.....is you always have one loose cannon in a classroom.  So one punk kid wants to drag the conversation out to outer edges, and open the potential for more juicy stuff to be discussed.  The Principal was stupid enough not to stand there and just admit there's one one method in life.....and just lie.


Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Simple Truths About the Poor in America

First, they don’t pay taxes, so they don’t care how broke the nation gets.

Second, they typically aren’t stupid enough to borrow $80k for student education loans, $350k for a house loan, or $40k for a car loan.

Third, they don’t really care how much you pay the local school teachers because it’s not coming out of their paychecks.

Fourth, they don’t care if banks fail.

Fifth, they don’t care if Wall Street stumbles or falls off a cliff.

Sixth, they don’t care about import/export ratios.

Seventh, they don’t care about corruption in Washington, or for that….even in their own neighborhood or town.

Eighth, they don’t care what happens to that Snooki gal, Lindsey Lohan, Jessica Simpson, or the Oprah Channel.

Ninth, they will laugh at any IRS agent who shows up at their door, and refuse to even correspond with IRS on any issue.

Tenth, the highest priority in life….tends to be how many groceries you can put into a cart, with just a $100 a week for food for four folks.

My Neighborhood

They ran an article to compare things here in Virginia with the rest of America. It was kinda shocking to me.

Your typical average guy from Virginia who has student loan debt….owes an average of $30,855 right now….enough to buy a brand new Mustang fully loaded.

Your typical average guy from Virginia who has a mortgage debt…..owes $209k right now.

And your typical average guy from Virginia who has a credit card…..owes $6,340 right now.

It’s a shocking amount when you sit there and think about it. It’s a snapshoot of how a bunch of folks are living right on the edge….probably tied very tightly to their job and the economic survival of the United States. Just a tumble of one thousand folks going into the unemployment line…..would have catastrophic consequences for a long list of banks and loan organizations.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

My Neighborhood

Down the road from me....there's this bike trail that extends out several miles.  It's arranged in such a way, that there's almost no hills.  So you can imagine a guy on a bike.....doing ten to fifteen miles per hour very easily....maybe even twenty miles per hour.

This morning around 0715, something happened that kinda changed the prospective on the bike trail.  You see.....it's a walking trail as well.

This morning....this eighty year old gal was doing her morning walk....when along from behind her came this sixty-odd year old guy on a mountain bike.  We can only assume that he was traveling at a fair clip.....but he yells out "to your left".

Naturally, the eighty year old gal turns to her left.....stepping probably a step further to the left than necessary.  The biker whacked completely....sending her head to the pavement, and knocking her out.  Within half an hour or so.....she was pronounced dead.

 By eight AM....the news had filtered out to almost everyone in Arlington.

I'm guessing within a month....the town council will sit and start to discuss speed limits of bikes on the trails.  A number of folks will come to be very negative about this.....believing its not an issue.

I've traveled around the US for fifty odd years now.  I'd have to say that Arlington is about the most bike-friendly area that I've come across....in the United States.  Sadly, the truth is.....folks might be a bit aggressive about their biking, and maybe some changes might be necessary.

Just Observations

Yesterday, the folks out in North Dakota....voted on the issue of property taxes in the state.  It kinda shocked some political folks that a majority in a state would go to this length.  So, the political guys have to wonder how $850-odd million will be made up....if it had gone against them.  In the end, a majority figured out that you kinda needed property taxes.

If you look over at Indiana news.....they passed a law which basically says if the cops "invade" your home.....you have the right to fire away at them.  This goes back at the issue of cops shuffling up paperwork for some judge to sign, and suddenly show up at 10PM at night at your house to investigate something.  There's been enough screw-ups.....where the wrong houses were targeted....that the public is just fed up with the mess.  Judges wouldn't step in to curtail the direction of things....so laws had to be changed.  My humble prediction is that within twelve months.....some cops pick a house and process the paperwork to show up at 10PM that evening.  The husband and wife end up shooting several of the cops, and are arrested for murder.  The judge pulls out this law, examines the circumstances, then releases the couple.  The cops then wake up to realize their glory days of SWAT are gone, and life goes back to normal within five years.

Finally, if you check the business news....Bank of America has come up and pledged fifty billion dollars for climate control/global warming over the next decade.  Basically, the only real method that you can imagine some bank of inventing five billion a year to do this kind of thing....is by raising fees and costs, which doesn't make any sense unless you had some political figure writing up special tax credits to give you twice the tax credit for a donation like this.  I'd hate to suggest some evil wrong-doing by political folks.....but it's likely some idiot is writing some tax credit deal for the "poor" Bank of America.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

The XXL Problem

Sadly, this is stuff, that I can't make up.

There's a crematorium in Austria that caught on fire a couple of weeks ago. To be honest, crematoriums are designed to burn bodies, and you rarely if ever....have an out-of-control fire at such a facility.

The fire department folks came to investigate this, and it took several weeks.  So they finally issued their report.....which got into the Austrian press.  I kinda doubt that it'll make into the US news, but it lays out this curious issue.

The crematorium had been contracted to burn the body of a 440 pound Austrian woman.  What transpired during the episode is that the body fat apparently got around to the blocking the filter system, so the crematorium started to overheat.  This triggered a fire to start with the layer of insulation that lines the walls of the crematorium.

Apparently, several other folks came out and admitted that they had been other fires in both Germany and Austria....relating to the same issue....obese folks.  They hadn't really admitted it in public, but it'd happened before.

So the fire chief of the town....has now issued out a warning on the danger of such activities.  What he suggests....is that if you want to continue crematorium activities for XXL folks....you need to design and build a place that can handle the "load".  He even suggested in a way.....that maybe the government might need to get involved.....to ensure there is one such facility around to handle this.

I sat and pondered over this.  Typically....Americans don't get into the cremation business.  We'd prefer to be buried.

You can imagine the government getting involved in yet another activity supporting the people of the country.....designing and building a XXL crematorium and probably operating it.  It's just another layer of tax revenue that you'd need to put on the shoulders of the public.

In the end, you can imagine this family calling around now.....for a crematorium to handle a dear departed aunt who weighed 380 pounds.  In the end, you have to ship the body off almost a thousand miles....to some Russian guy who simply tells you that he can handle someone of that size and weight.  He wants twice what it'd normally cost, but you have no choice because there's no one else willing to assume the risk.  And there's something in the back of your mind....questioning this whole thing.

Prometheus


I went out this weekend and watched Prometheus at the theater.  I would have to say that it has a terrific story, and is worth watching.  It's not as gory as Alien was, but it is certainly action-packed.  I would also say that it will twist and turn throughout the movie.....so you really aren't sure about how it will end. 

It does leave you with two lingering questions.

First, these 'engineers' came and planted mankind....then eventually came to a point where they felt mankind needed to be destroyed....and then finally found that mankind must survive.  The opening scene starts you on this lingering question.  

By the end of the movie.....you are really curious and left wondering why changed the 'engineer' plan to destroy mankind.  

You are left with literally a dozen clues that convince you that the 'engineers' came back to Earth around the period of Christ, and had the destruction plan in their mind.  Somehow, they just didn't do it.  

The robot commentary at one point in the movie over religious conviction....obviously lays down this idea that motivation can be crafted by a belief.  

This plan in the ending sequence of the one remaining crew member, and David, the robot.....lays out the path that they will seek the planet from where the 'engineers' came from.....to find out why destruction was never triggered.

The second question left.....is just how far you trust David, the robot?  He is not acting on behalf of any human, and you are left with this thought that David didn't exactly translate things the way they should have....to the remaining 'engineer'.  

David.....I suspect....is a bigger threat....than the 'engineers' in the end.  

So if you have $12 and an afternoon.....it's worth watching.  

A Bounty of Sorts

For those who didn't know.....there's a total bounty package of thirty-three million dollars for various members of the al Qaeda faction.

As of this week, there's also this other total bounty package being offered....by al Qaeda....on US officials. The deal is ten camels for President Obama and ten hens/ten cocks (20 total chickens) for Hillary Clinton.

Now, a guy from Bama would sit and pause over this situation.

First, VP Joe Biden was never mentioned, and he's probably sitting and laughing over being left out of this bounty package.  If you asked me.....Joe would have been worth fifty-five cases of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer and several Lotto scratch tickets, but then....these al Qaeda guys don't drink or buy alcohol, or gamble.

Second, all the various characters from the House and Senate were also left off this list (Harry Reid, John McCain, etc).  They have to be fuming a bit that they were rated so low, that they don't even rate for three chickens.

Third, Bill Clinton is probably grinning from ear to ear.....thinking that chickens were a fitting bounty for Hillary.

Fourth and final.....the vast number of Islamic guys would read up on this bounty....are guys who drive cars, own houses, and use computers.  Out of a million Islamic guys....there might be four guys who would be venturing out to claim the camel package or the chicken package.  The rest of the Islamic folks reading this deal.....are probably laughing at the dimwits who sit in caves and dream up this whole camel bounty business.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

How Things Work in Bama

I tend to follow Bama news, and there's always a comedy of sorts that occurs.

Yesterday, the folks down in Jefferson County....our big county in the central part of the state that is moving toward bankruptcy.....had to shut down it's computer network that collects bills and handles deposits for the county.

If you were on this road to bankruptcy....you'd really want what money does exist and should be in your pocket.....arriving.  And getting bills out to residents of the county would be priority number one.  But the county had this issue.

From about a decade ago.....they'd gone out and built up a pretty good computer server system.  At one point, they had around sixteen servers operating.  There were back-ups being made, and weekly maintenance done.....to keep all the servers up and operational.

Over the past decade, there were all these debt issues, plus the sewer-system episode, then they had the loss of local jobs which meant less tax revenue.  The county did what they could....laying off employees.

Well....one of the cuts that they made along the way....was the normal life-cycle of the servers.  Typically, you'd start planning on your replacement servers at the beginning of the fourth year, and you would have replaced it by the fifth year.  The county is nine years into operation, with one server operating, and it finally failed this week.

The county admitted that it failed Sunday evening of last week.  My humble guess is that the one technician that they have for maintenance and back-up services.....probably noticed some problems on Saturday, and kept hoping (praying probably) that when he rebooted the server on Sunday....it'd come back.  Well....it didn't.  I'm guessing he rebooted several times, and then finally called his boss.

You can imagine Monday morning.  The IT support boss is talking to the county management folks.  He was probably begging for $20k, and the management guys just weren't going to give it to him for a new server.  They didn't have the cash. So the boss probably went back to "Jimmy"....his one and only smart server guy, and asked what they might be able to do.  Jimmy probably hinted of hard drive replacement....figuring the cost around $3k for all the hard drives he'd need.

The boss likely went back....pleaded for the money and eventually got the money.  They wait till Wednesday for the hard drives to arrive, and then start the rebuilding process.  Friday, things came back together, and the nine-year old server is back into action.

How long will the nine-year old server continue?  Well....with new hard drives, and hopefully a decent cooling temperature....it might be around for another three or four years.

The sad thing here is that this one IT server support guy probably deserves a raise for his fine work.....but with the county in dire straits.....he'll be lucky if the boss buys him a Subway sandwich and a soda.

There's another sad thing here....in that there won't be a replacement for this poor server for 2012.  So that IT server support guy will likely find the critical nature of his job doubling over the next couple of months.  Comments made via the local news indicates that the county swears they are budgeting enough money to buy several servers for 2013.  One can only hope that's true.