Saturday, 28 April 2012

New Rules

The Secret Service came out yesterday with some new rules.....because of the episode down in Columbia.

Basically, you as agent Ernie.....once you arrive in a foreign country....are prohibited from drinking excessively.  You have to finish up your booze ten hours before your shift starts.  Figure, if you start at 8AM, then you need to wrap up the last beer around 10PM the night before.

Also, you just can't bring any foreigners into your hotel room, period.  The hotel management are about the only folks who can step foot in your room....without you getting in trouble.

Then, there's this other rule.....you can visit any place in the foreign land that is considered in the category of disreputable.  It really was that clear and they hinted that they'd actually have a full list of all the places you can't go....address by address...compliments of the local state department folks.

Then, there's this final rule.....in some cases, which they again would not define, there would be chaperons to accompany agents on trips and check things out in the hotel.  Currently, it's mostly the team chiefs who are GS14s.  So I'm guessing they mean that the old guy in charge of each division....a GS15....would have to make the trip and be there strictly to monitor the drinking and excessive behavior of his team.  He'd naturally take the fall if something happens.

It's an interesting change.  I looked over these rules and kept wondering.....why couldn't Congress and the Senate run the same rules when they run off overseas for "fact-finding" episodes?

You'd round up the four Congressmen doing a fact-finding trip to Thailand.  You'd let them know right away that they couldn't bring any foreigners back to their hotel room.  Then, you'd tell them that their meetings started at 9AM the next morning....so the booze stops at 11PM.  Then, you'd lay out the places they couldn't visit....from certain bars and strip-clubs, to houses of ill-repute.  Finally, because it was Thailand.....you'd go to the senior ranking leader of the party in the House, and make that guy or gal go with the four-man group.  If the four screw up.....you bring in the senior party guy in charge, and fire him.  It'd be kind of simple.

My guess is that this wouldn't go too far.  As for the Secret Service guys?  The glory days have come to an end.  Your best bet is to stay local and party it up in Baltimore.

The Farm Kid

After the drama this week of the Labor Department discussing stringent safety rules over the farming business, and potentially barring all farm kids from ever working on the farm itself (it's way too dangerous for kids but not apparently for adults).....I started to ponder.  Having spent eighteen years on the farm.....I came to some conclusions about farm kids.

Farm kids come to realize that you can make one simple mistake and get killed by it.

Farm kids end up having an appreciation of living and what it takes to survive.

A farm kid can analyze and give you the odds of doing something stupid and the odds of getting injured or hurt.

A farm kid knows the expression....“acceptable risks”.

A farm kid is willing by age fifteen to go out and do some fairly dangerous things, and knows he’ll survive.

A farm kid knows the value of duct tape, baling string, a two by four, axle grease, a rag, a forty-foot piece of rope, logging chains, a roll of plastic, and a pair of leather gloves.

A farm kid knows the character and suffering of a hurt animal.

A farm kid seeks shelter in a lightning storm because it’s the right thing to do.

A farm kid knows to continually scan across high grass for snakes.

A farm kid has the decision-making ability of a 40-year old junior CEO.....by age seventeen.

A farm kid will sing a ton of praise over four lousy biscuits with honey poured over the top.

A farm kid worries about maintenance for dad’s tractor because if it fails...the family farm is in jeopardy.

A farm kid can smell rain coming in from ten miles away.

A farm kid appreciates the end of harvest season, the smell of fresh hay, the authority of a border collie, and the taste of real cold lemonade on a hot July day.

A farm kid attaches some kind of mythical view to a county fair....beyond mortal expectations.

A farm kid can honesty recite the forty reasons why you ought to buy a Ford F-150 over any competition.

A farm kid would move just about heaven and Earth to help an injured animal.

A farm kid thinks of rain upon a tin roof as being like some Italian opera, and softy sleeps upon hearing its distinctive sound.

A farm kid continually measures the distance between himself and a 1,200 pound calf.....to ensure nothing of a tragic nature occurs to either.

A farm kid experiments with fire, diesel, bug spray, axle grease, trucks without brakes, and paint.

A farm kid eventually learns the value of a shade tree.

A farm kid doesn't really care much about the nutritional value of XXL-breakfast of beacon, eggs, hash browns, biscuits and sugar cane syrup.  The same kid doesn't care about the nutritional value of catfish, hush puppies, or coleslaw.

A farm kid values the warmth of the interior of a pick-up in the midst of a January snowstorm.

Finally.....a farm kid doesn't really ask for an awful lot in life.

Magical Buckets of Money

Somewhere, out of thin air.....a smart bunch of folks create a magic bucket of education money.  You can go to various schools (thousands of schools)....taking money out of this magic bucket of education money.  You agree to pay the money back....at roughly 3.5 percent interest.  You don't like the interest rate, but with other magical buckets of education money....it'd be around six percent interest.  So you like your magical bucket of education money.

Now, you never ask many questions over where this magical bucket of money came from....that's obvious. To be honest, the bucket is backed up by millions of Americans.....but that's really not important.  The nifty 3.5 percent interest?  Well....you only get this rate....because Americans are willing to accept a lousy pay-back on their contribution to this magical bucket of money.

Somewhere along the way, someone starts to note that the magical bucket of money has grown in size in terms of what's NOT there.  All total.....shortly, folks will owe $1 trillion dollars.  Course, as a user of the magical bucket of money.....you don't really care.  It could be a trillion billion million dollars, and you don't care.  Note, you aren't taking economy classes in college to grasp basic economic principals anyway.

The bucket does have a limit, so folks at the top of the management of the bucket.....start to get worried, and want the magical bucket made bigger.

Somewhere along 2010....as other folks wanted a magical bucket of health care money.  For some odd reason, instead of just grabbing money out of thin air.....they decide to take money from the magical bucket of education money instead.  No one in the media or the kids using the magical bucket of education money said anything.  The amount taken?  Roughly eight billion dollars.

Somewhere in the strategy of magic buckets of money.....you should have sat there in 2010....asking when this problem would arise over the size of the magic education bucket.  Days, weeks or months?  It was guaranteed to come back up.  Naturally, no one cared at that moment.

So now, to pump up the magical bucket of education money....some Republican Congressmen have gone back to the magical bucket of health care money....reliving it of roughly six billion dollars.  The guys write up a bill and just agree to move money from one magical bucket of money to another.  You can only do this....as a properly elected magician.  The interesting thing is that this was originally education money anyway....but magically re-vamped into being health care money.

Minutes pass after this suggestion of passing magical money from one bucket to another.  The President gets all hyper.  The head of the health care empire for the government gets upset.  Various media folks and wannabe journalists jumped up to say something.  None of these folks said anything back in 2010, when one bucket of magical money was opened and had cash moved to another magical bucket of money.  It's comical in a way....that was acceptable in 2010, but it's not today.

A guy stands there now and ponders over this magical bucket deal.

To be honest, this magical bucket deal for both education and health care....is kinda like Grandma's cookie jar.....not a magical bucket.  It'd be nice to have some bits and pieces of odd-ball health "cookies" but you had to pay for those cookies to start with....out of Grandma's pocket.  It's nice to have cheap loan money for kids and college.....but again, it all started with money out of Grandma's pocket.

I'm guessing on down the road....some other group in 2013 will arrive and try to take money from the magical education money bucket and the magical health care bucket, and try to help some other group, creating another magical bucket out of thin air.  Eventually, people will confess that they didn't realize that forty or fifty different magical buckets of money exist....confusing the heck out of them.  Folks will ask for magical septic tank replacement buckets of money, or magical flood/hurricane buckets of money, or magical heating oil buckets of money.

The curious thing about this entire mess....at the other end of the spectrum....is this enormous magical bucket of money....which you have to fill....out of your own pocket.  There's no real rhyme or reason to the size of that bucket, and the same magicians dictate how big that magical bucket of money ought to be.  The truth is.....you've started to question the value of the magical buckets of money.  Maybe everyone ought to have a fancy magical bucket of money....just for ice cream.  That would make all this chit-chat go away....at least for a brief moment.