Sunday, 31 March 2013

Simply Observations

After a long week in Bama, under trying circumstances...I've come away with an odd observation or two.  First, I've come to realize that I need to refer to myself as a "descendant of Mr. Van" (my grandfather).

From the visitation period that one evening, there must have been at least twenty-five stories told of Mr Van.  In truth, my dad is almost one hundred-percent Mr Van....and I'm probably pulling eighty-to-ninety percent.

Mr. Van ends up being this farmer in the local area who could carry a bit on wit and wisdom.  He also favored decent cigars, and could handle a fifth every now and then.....even in a dry county.  My grandmother probably could only manage him twelve hours a day with her disciplinary tactics....the rest of the time....he was free as the wind.

To be honest, Mr. Van did snuff, cigars, and probably did a fair amount of liquor in his life....and only lived to be one hundred years old.  If he'd skipped all those evils.....he might have lived longer.

My family has an odd history to base this wit and character upon.  The original descendant in the local area.....came to an unfortunate end....having a blind donkey, and attempted to ride him along a hillside cliff as darkness came along.  It's best to say that ever since that event.....we've had this sense of life hanging in the balance.....with a fair amount of wit on the other side of this balance.

The second observation?  Well....my dad and brother took me out the final day on a drive, and we passed around by an older house (I won't give my brother the location), but there was a hefty gal of 200 pounds out on the porch of this older wooden house in a bright red terrycloth bathrobe (appearing to not have much on underneath this), and sitting on the couch of the front porch.

For those who aren't familiar with home locations, old homes were traditionally within thirty foot of the road.

It's best to say this was a fair-sized eyeful.   Luckily, my brother was driving, and missed the event.

In Bama, you really need to ride as a passenger as much as possible, otherwise, you might miss seeing things like this.

Up in Virginia, we don't have many homes that near the road, or featuring couches on the porch, or having voluptuous women lounging within thirty foot of the road.  Maybe, that's a good thing.

My Week

It has been a long week.  My mom passed.  I went back to Bama for the funeral.

I have this vivid memory of the morning that I went off to the Air Force....1 Aug 1977.  The family all had breakfast.  My dad wished me well, and had to gone onto work.  I ended up being carried over to the bus terminal at the county seat, a thirty-minute car ride, and being dropped off there by my mom.  She offered up some last-minute cash to me....but I told her I had enough.  She gave me some well-wished words.  I got on the bus....waved to her, and left.

It ends up being this oddball memory that I always associate with her.  At least once or twice a year....it'll pop up in my mind for two minutes.

From the funeral?  I was surprised how many folks showed up.  It was a fairly big turn-out.  My mom hadn't been in great shape over the last decade, and hadn't got out much.....but folks remembered her.

After such a long week....I'd like to say that I have a week to recover....but I don't.  I probably had less than four hours a sleep per night, over the last five days.  I'll get one quiet Easter Sunday to find some way of recharging myself, and then go back to work.

Monday, 25 March 2013

TV: Sunday Night

I sat last night and watched three outstanding shows, which is shocking that they'd all occur in one evening.

First, came the NCAA game with Florida Gulf Coast College just plain beating the heck out of San Diego State.  Being rated 15th....really didn't matter for FGCC.  They could have beaten half the teams in the NBA last night, with a bunch of left-overs from the NCAA signing episode.  A guy could really wish on them going into the final game of the conference.

Second, came the Bible series...episode four.  I am a History Channel freak and they do screw up a number of historical things, and slip bigfoot and aliens occsaionally into the picture.  But the series is doing quiet well.

Finally, came the Walking Dead.  Merle's chance to shine came.  As much as I hated the character back when he got introduced.....his bitter ending was four-star in nature, and he was the hero as far as I'm concerned.

If you notice....I didn't mention any of the big three networks.  Yeah....they are losing....at least in my book.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Norway and Witchcraft

The folks in Norway have decided that they'd like to help the folks in Malawi.  The issue to fix.  Sorcery and witchcraft.

You see....folks around Malawi still today believe in witches.  It's so bad....that some folks have proclaimed it one of the top problems of the nation.

So the folks in Norway are sending down $600k to run a three-year program.  Once I saw the number....I'm amazed. For an American program, that $600k would have been blown in six weeks.

What do you do in cases like this?  Probably posters, and public statements by political groups.  It's hard to imagine in 2013, that witchcraft is still taken seriously.

How will the witches take this matter?  I'm guessing that they will discuss the matter within their group, and perhaps end a witch or two up to Norway....testing the local population there.

The Norwegian folks will probably have a bit of fun with this....until something odd happens.  Then news will spread through the communities.  After a couple of weeks....there might be two or three percent of the Norwegian population which then believes in witchcraft.  Then the government of Norway might have to spend a couple million Euro fighting the notion of witchcraft in their own country.

Stranger things have happen, you know.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

The End of Harvey

For Harvey Updyke, the Auburn poison oak tree episode has ended rather quickly.

In Bama, this is probably one of the most talked about episodes of the past five years....well...except for NCAA football stuff.

On Friday, the court finally rendered the verdict there in Wetumpka.  Declared guitly....Harvey has to serve a three-year prison sentence....but the judge determinded that he'd already done around a hundred days, and if he does six months minium....the justice folks could let Harvey out of the whole three years deal.  My humble guess is that he does roughly six to nine months and is let go.

Then there was this stipulation written into the judge's order....which is a curious piece.

Harvey can't go near any NCAA football game for the next five years.  He can't talk to any media folks or even cal into a radio-talk show.  Harvey has to be home every night by 7pm for the whole five years.  And Harvey can't go anywhere near Auburn, period.

All of this was handled rather quickly because Harvey dropped the idea of himself being crazy, and just admitted plain stupid guilt on this stuff.

The general feeling around Bama?  Auburn folks are still a bit upset over the guy.  Most of us consider him to be a nutcase, but like the other 250k Bama folks who are also nutcases.

I'd personally suggest this as a future movie.  I'd like to see Burt Reynolds play Harvey, with Hulk Hogan as an Auburn alumni guy on the hunt for Harvey.  Maybe bring in Terry Bradshaw to play the judge from Wetumpka.

So I suggest here....we Bama folks ought to drag out that forgiving nature of ourselves, and just give Harvey a bit of forgiveness on this stuff.  And if he were to move off to Mississippi.....we wouldn't say anything judgmental against that.

Ten Things I'd Really Like to Do

It's doubtful that the nation would just allow me the status of "king" and reign for about a week to fix ten things, but it'd be nice.

First, I'd like slice off the post office entirely from the federal government.  Hand them $500 million as a parting gift and just say good luck.  If they need to shut down 2k post offices around the country....let them decide on that, and not some idiot in Washington.  If they want to contract out half their services and dump half their union guys....it's their business, not mine.

Second, a congressional or senate bill....can be no longer than three pages.  You can use any font you want.....but the idea that you can pretend that you didn't read it and still vote for it?  We'd fix that by mandating each lady or gentleman sign a piece of paper before the vote to swear they actually read it.  The three-page deal?  You can figure it'll take twenty minutes to scan it and be sure of what's in it.  Don't want to vote for it?  Fine, let's move on.

Third, a limit of $7k a year to borrow for any college loan, either from a bank or the federal government.  Beyond that?  Go to your mafia guys and ask for a 18-percent deal with them, beg off your relatives, work for the tuition, or just forget about that third and fourth year.

Fourth, remove 350 of the channels from everyone's 400-channel selection off cable TV.  To be honest, on any given hour, there's only six guys across the nation watching Golf-TV.  A bunch of channels are dumped onto cable with no logic or reason.

Fifth, got a DWI today?  Your license is automatically revoked for 365 days, period.  You ever get a second DWI?  Your license is lost permanently  and you will never again drive a vehicle.  I don't have any real compassion after the first episode.  Just drink at home and be happy.

Sixth, anyone wanting to be a cop....from the biggest town down to a one-cop-town situation....has to go to a cop academy, take a written and physical test at the end, and then be reviewed every five years for issues.  We've got way too many idiots in the wannabe-a-cop situation.

Seventh, force congress to run a balanced budget.  If you only take in X amount of money....you can only spend that same amount of money.  End of the story.

Eighth.  Dump half the TSA agents at airports as you enter the country.  There should be forty passport scanners fixed up for a herd of travelers.  You pass through a line of the scanners and let it read your bar-code on the passport.  You move on.  To have dimwit Joe sit there and pretend he's doing something of a major significance is a joke.  After twelve hours on a plane.....no one is thinking clearly and just wants to get onto a bed and sleep for eight hours.

Ninth.  The Senate gets to July each year to work out a budget deal with the House.  If they can't come to a compromise by 1 August....they are relieved of the duty, and skipped.  No need to waste time.

Tenth and final.  To be honest, if I were King....I'd move ahead and kick that Piers Morgan character from CNN out of the country.  I'd bring back Larry King.  (Note, this is not to say that Kings always come down on the side of other Kings).

Getting in a Huff about the Huff

I generally regard the Huffington Post....as a loser commentary site.

This week, it came out that the Huff folks are looking for people who can relate special experiences in detail and be very specific about the episodes.  The topic?  Sex with aliens. Yeah, it's not a joke.  The Huff is seeking individuals who did lusty acts with aliens.

All of these interviews will eventually lead to an article written, and posted onto the Huff.  This will create chatter, and commentary....which all relate to people visiting the site and reading over alien hot stuff.

I sat and pondered over this.

On any given day in Bama....there are probably three hundred folks who will openly admit that they've had relations with aliens (not the Latino type, but real UFO-type aliens).  They will go into a fair amount of details....describing every moment....keeping you focused on the act.  After thirty minutes, you almost reach the point where you wish that you could find some alien gal and enjoy some kinky stuff.

The odds of these events described being true?  Well....in Bama....if you believe it....then it has to be true. That's the sad thing about this story.

My humble guess is that a few folks will read the Huff Post over this....get into a fantasy situation, and for years....dream of having a Martian gal who does X, Y and Z.  Eventually, some TV network will agree, and work up a love interest deal...."Hot Martian Girl Talk", and it'll be a hit TV series.

So here we are....zombies, alien love situations, bigfoot, Doctor Phil, Amish mafia gangs, and fake political news.  Modern society, at its best.

Friday, 22 March 2013

College in the Old Days

I had a curiosity about what was really required of a college student in the 1800s.  So I went out to research this.  From the University of Pennsylvania  there is a publication left over from 1851.  There were two semesters each year.

Freshmen were required to take English composition and declamation (classic speech), ancient history and geography, algebra, geometry, Horace, Homer, Xenophon (Greek studies).

Sophomores were required to take modern history, English composition and declamation, trigonometry (with applications for surveying and navigation), elements of mechanics and chemistry, Livy (second Punic War), Horace, logic, rhetoric, and Demosthenes (a Greek orator).

Juniors were required to take general principals of equilibrium and motion of solids and liquids, Plato, chemistry with experimental lectures, machinery, evidence of Christianity, moral and intellectual philosophy, English composition and declamation, general theory of equations, Greek tragedy, Juvenal (a Roman poet), Constitutional history of the US, and international law (lectures).

Seniors were required to take lectures on geology and mineralogy, Aristotle, Cicero, optics, astronomy, heat-electricity, physical geography, magnetism-sound, moral and intellectual philosophy, English composition and declamation, analytical mechanics, elements of integral calculus, lectures on English literature, history, and Constitutional law (lectures).

Now, some observations.

First, you did a light class schedule even on Saturdays....which might shock some students today.

Second, as you gaze across the spectrum here, there was a good bit of Greek and Roman reading.  Logic and philosophy were a major part of your degree.

Third, speaking and orator skills were a standard requirement.

Fourth, what you generally left with....was a very developed mind to expand and take on more in life.

Fifth, you actually took a class in Christianity.

Sixth, you had a lot of basic skills in science.

Seventh, English was required each and every single year of the four years.

Eighth, declamation?  It's a speech activity that you give with strong feeling.  You say what you mean, and practice it....yearly.

Ninth, imagine trying to teach moral and intellectual philosophy today.

Finally, in an entire county of sixty young men graduating from school....if you had just one of them go off to this university...it was a big deal.  You didn't borrow money or ask the government for a loan.  You either paid or you worked your way through the program.

I don't think many kids today could make it with this list of topics.

The Leno Solution

Jay Leno is being let go, finally, by NBC.  What they will admit is that the numbers aren't there.  Young Americans aren't watching Jay.  And the older Americans, in pretty hefty numbers, are watching mostly Fox News.

Jay would kinda like to keep working but things aren't looking that way.

I would suggest that Fox go out and find two individuals to team up with Jay....in southern California of course, and run an 11PM one-hour show.  The studio would be laid out in a fashion that would make a grown man cry.

I would envision the studio having an entire area with car jacks and Jay might invite a guy onto the show and just spend thirty minutes talking cars, or motorcycles, or even go-carts.  Toss in someone who does interviews with the Hollywood elite, and finally a third Fox person who talks up the latest in gossip.

After a couple of months, the numbers would be significant, and Jay would be smiling most of the time because his magic was still working.

The Little Bill

The Republicans have worked up a bill in the House...which basically says if you owe back taxes, and you have a lien now on your or your assets, and you work for the US government....then we want to terminate you.  And if you apply for a government job....we want you to be disqualified.

The numbers?  312k employees fall into this lien category.  There roughly three billion dollars involved in the amount owed.

Chances of passing the Senate?  I'd give it less than twenty percent chance.  The Democrats don't appear to be interested.

The problem?  A bunch of guys are doing a lousy job, with their tax consultant, in estimating the monthly amounts to deduct.  They sit in shock after the accountant has added up the numbers, and they are anywhere from a thousand short, to forty thousand short.

How you get into such a mess?  Well....some guys did contractor work in Afghanistan and then got into a government job.  The overseas work is $82k free of taxes, but if they paid you $175k for twelve months of pay....it'd be a big mess if you did ten months in one year, and then two months in the next.  The government did a little game of changing the rules back several years ago.  The deal worked out great for the government in getting more taxes, but most guys really didn't structure themselves to pay less taxes.  No one wanted to pay some tax consultant $1,500 to manage their money.

I'm guessing the numbers will only increase in 2013, and this whole bill deal will come back in 2014 (an election year).  It might pass then, and you'd watch a bunch of guys run off to banks to beg for loans of $20k....to pay IRS immediately or get laid off.

That three billion owed?  It's simply going to grow....if you ask me.  By 2016, it could be eight billion owed by government employees.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

CVS

The CVS guys (the drug pharmacy enterprise) have come out and done a woeful thing to their employees.  Basically, there's a questionnaire  and it asks some pointed questions about their height, weight, body fat measurement, personal habits, etc.

Course, from the 200,000 CVS employees....there's a bit of hostility of the company getting into their personal business.  This is all for the health insurance deal that the CVS folks offer.  If you want to avoid the questions?  Well....it's a annual $600 fee taxed onto your situation.

I sat and read over the comments.  There is a bit of anger coming out of the employees involved in this.  They just don't want to answer these personal questions.

After a while of pondering....I just sat there and thought....well...who exactly needs to tell the truth?

Yeah, I can admit my age, but after that point....it's most how I see myself.  I'm a six foot guy and weigh 178 pounds (I might be 72 over that)....but I might suffer from some physiological problem where I forever see myself at the lean weight that I had when I finished Air Force basic training.

I might be a total advocate of no alcohol, yet suffer from a physiological problem where I consume it but never remember the occasion.

All CVS wants is fictional material to fill some database somewhere.  The idea that they'd bring you in and weigh you?  It just won't happen.  Checking you for nicotine?  Won't happen.  Checking you for alcohol consumption?  Won't happen.

You can imagine a staff of ladies at some CVS center in Nashville......all handing fake data over and just smiling.  The boss puts his fake data on top, and then everyone has cupcakes....at least four each.

Car Trouble

Reports out of Israel indicate that President's limo, which is dragged off to every country he visits....is in the shop.

Apparently as the guys arrived and drove it off the Air Force plane.....it needed to be fueled up.  The guys doing it?  Well....they fueled it with diesel and it should have been gas.

Having grown up on a farm.....I can attest to the fact that there is a distinctive smell to diesel, but after you've been out on the ramp area of a runway for a while, and sniffed enough fumes, you probably can't tell one thing from another.

Anyway, I'm guessing that Senator Harry Reid will quickly step to the podium this morning and say accurately that this is another indicator of sequestration and furlough pains.  Only by full funding the government.....could we prevent things like this from happening to the "Beast" (it's nickname).

Course, this would bring up the thought that maybe the Israel secret police might have mislabeled the containers.....to nudge the President a bit.

Simply Observations

It won't be on the news or mentioned much....but as the new Pope got picked....the Argentine President got all peppy and got an entourage up to go and visit her guy in the Vatican.  They stopped in Morocco  and from there....went by commercial airlines.  The reason?  There's a bunch of investor folks who have attempted on a couple of occasions when she's used the jet....to show legal papers to take it because of state involvement in hurting their investment fund.  So in effect.... Argentina has a presidential jet, but can't fly it anywhere where some oddball legal folks would attempt to use the local courts to grab it.  In essence, it's a jet for mostly show and almost no travel.

This nutcase killer out in Colorado....has shown a new side.  Strangely enough....he's studying and developing himself as a Muslim.  Some news reports indicate that he prays five times a day.  Was he converting back when he went off to shoot the twelve folks dead and wound fifty-eight others?  Well....you don't know.  It's just kinda odd, if you ask me.

Doctors in Detroit have found this older gal who did roughly a hundred bags of tea mixed up daily in one container, and drunk the stuff for at least seventeen years.  She's got all kinds of bone issues and they now believe that it's mostly all related to the tea.  My only question.....if you tossed a hundred bags of tea into a one-gallon container......how you could even sip that strong of tea without at least fifteen spoons of sugar or twelve lemons squeezed into it?  I'd have to do that as a minimum.  What the doctors aren't suggesting is that tea is bad....it's just everything else in life.....do it in moderation.  It's like fishing....you just don't want to go fishing 365 days a year....you'd probably die eventually....from fishing (that's Bama logic for you).

Some folks did some studying and have confirmed that there are still a couple of folks getting government checks for participation or just compensation programs....for US war vets....going all the way back to the Civil War (1865).  They have found two folks who still get payments today....being sons or daughters of such vets.  They found the same issues with the Spanish-American war vets, WW I vets, etc.  The intention of this data is to show that once you start a war....you end up paying for crap over the next fifty to a hundred years.  It's best not to start any wars, and just surrender things as quickly as possible when challenged.

Finally, experts in Bama have now admitted that poor roads around the state....are causing roughly $530-odd million dollars of damage to vehicle.  You can figure at $90 for a front-end alignment, that comes out to 5.8 million cars within the state each year.  Course, it's an oddball group.  Some are tires that wear out early.  Some are axles messed up after ten years of driving over dirt roads.  Some are just cracked windshields from stones tossed up.  Bottom line?  Mechanics in Bama are making a killing and quietly retiring to Florida by age fifty.  They really don't want road improvements....it'd just kill the industry off.  Besides, you wouldn't have a chance to ever meet such nifty and unusual Bama characters down at the Lube-and-Go Shop.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

My Neighborhood

Across the river, and on the other side of DC....into Maryland, is Silver Springs.  The local guys there, about a decade ago, got the city government talked into constructing this magnificent transit center.  This multi-floor contraption.....called the Paul S. Sarbanes Transit Center, was going to be the end-all solution to Silver Springs issues.

There was to be a huge open bay area for buses (34 spots), and be tied right into both the Metro and even the Maryland rail system.

You were going to be able to drive right in, and dump your passenger, and drive right out.  There's a great deal of engineering tied into the look and feel of the center.

The cost?  Roughly one-hundred and ten million....more or less.  Construction started in 2007.

I guess you are wondering about the end-date?

Well....that's really the issue.  Whoever drew up the plans....didn't really make it clear where you needed reinforced concrete, and re-bar.  The experts yesterday laid out the issues....it's just not strong enough to allow buses (in any number) to drive onto the terminal and drive down the next level.  They now admit.....you'd sit there and wait for a collapse....sooner or later.  Billions could be at stake in insurance claims if four or five buses fell through.

The fix?  The TV news guys simply laid out the issues and left it there last night.  It'll take months of study to reach some conclusion.  No one wanted to say anything, but I got this impression that they just might admit that the whole thing ought to be torn down and restarted.

As you look at the drawing on the right of what it'd look like at completion.... remind yourself that physically  it's almost ninety percent done and would have opened this year.

I'd hate to bet against it, but I'd be guessing a 2017 opening....with half the building torn down as a minimum 

Folks going to jail?  It never happens in Maryland.  The company that did the drawings will likely just walk away and declare itself renamed or bankrupt.  Folks in the construction zone will likely complain loud and long....they've spent almost several years waiting for things to be done.

My Neighborhood

This is a story that you'd hate to hear about or discuss.

Local kid....sixteen years old....decides to sneak out of the house one night....go booze up and party with his associates.  He's staying at his dad's house (divorced situation).  House is in the nicer neighborhoods here in Virginia.

The kid parties and drinks up a bit.  Then somewhere after midnight....he comes back to the back of the house....hops the fence, and misjudges his house for a house two houses down (they are all built the same way and look similar).

The kid opens a window.

He's drunk and clumsy.

The kid makes noise.

The real owner of this house.....up on the second floor....gets up and flips the lights on.

The kid thinks he's still in the right house, and just progressing up the stairs.

The kid won't stop.

The owner has a gun, and is yelling for the kid to stop.

The kid doesn't stop.

The kid is shot dead.

Cops come.  It's a very long look over the mess.  It takes hours to really come to some sorting of facts.  The dad is called.  A fairly traumatic event.  Cops finally lay out the whole episode.

There's doubt if any charges will occur.

The kid's family has come out and said they forgive the older guy who shot the kid.  They can understand how this all came down.

The mother?  She was in the local area today.  She lives in Indianapolis and kinda admits that neighborhoods there are a bit rougher, and she felt the son was safer with the ex-husband, than in Indianapolis.

You feel sorry for the kid.  But on the stupidity scale....he was pushing a ten.

The guy who shot the kid?  He's sitting there and asking himself how this all happened.  If he'd locked the windows correctly....if he'd just shot the kid in the leg....there's probably a dozen ways this could have gone another way.

A Few Seconds Over the War

Ten years have passed, and this week is a big hype on the Iraq war.  I'd say that fifty percent of MSNBC over the last day or so....has simply been war talk, period.  CNN has done various pieces today.

I generally go back and make three basic observations.

First, no one ever disagrees about our involvement in going into Afghanistan.  We probably did screw up in allowing the Jihad guys to walk out the backdoor, and simply prolong this whole episode while sitting in Pakistan (a place that is simply not to the ends of the Earth).

If we'd made the whole war about the Islamic radicals....things might have gone in a different way.  But the guys in DC just couldn't make it a fight over radical Muslims.

Second, let's imagine no war in Iraq.  Saddam would still be in charge today.  Qusay and Udah, his sons, would be running the day-to-day operations.  It'd be a miserable atmosphere for fifty percent of the country, and there's likely thousand Iraqis a year who would have disappeared under the continued regime.

Neither the Kuwaitis or Saudis would have been happy with this, and both would have been forced to accept continued US troop operations in their countries.  The radical Saudi folks would have been greatly infuriated by 2010.....with US troops walking in public situations.

The Iranians?  They would have focused on military options to use against Saddam, not spent so much time working on nuclear options.

I won't say things would be better or worse in this case.

Third and final.   Yeah.....there's a hundred-odd billion that got spent on DoD, Iraq, or the war business. It's a lot of cash, and other than some nifty developed toys like drones....there's not a lot to show for it.

Did the New York Times spend days and weeks discussing the Cuban missile crisis a decade later, and the mistakes of the Kennedy administration?  I doubt it.

Did the newspapers cover the end of the Spanish-American War and it's terrible impact a decade later?  I kinda doubt it.

Did US news sources cover the Grenada campaign a decade later?  No, not really.

Basically, there's not much for the news folks to cover, and the audience is rapidly losing interest over just about everything.  Maybe that says something about the way we've become.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

My Experience in Cyprus

Back in 2009, I spent roughly ten days in Cyprus....on a vacation.  It was one of those oddball trips that you'd take in your life.  Resort.  All-inclusive beverage deal (drink as much as you want, twenty-four hours a day). Beach.

With the recent financial mess going on, I follow the events more closely than most folks.

There's roughly ten things that I came away from the trip....on Cyprus:

1.  There's a heck of a lot of folks walking around the island who speak Russian.  From employees at hotels, to 'guests'.

2.  You don't flush any toilet paper down the pipes in Cyprus....there's always a little can by the toilet and you put the paper in there.  They just don't have adequate water supplies to flush anything of a paper nature.

3.  Electricity is fairly expensive.

4.  In 2009, there were a heck of a lot of construction projects going on, and new roads and streets being built everywhere....like they had tons of money.

5.  About every fourth person you ran into....was British.  Long-term resident of the isle, as I got the impression.

6.  There's an absolute hatred of Turks.  But beyond that initial hatred, no one can say much except how Turkey helped take over the north side of the island.

7.  After reading two weeks worth of local newspapers....I got the impression that politics is a full-time thing and they must have a Fox News-like network on Cyprus to help generate that much enthusiasm 

8.  It's actually a tiny island, with only around a million residents.  There's maybe 50k visitors there throughout the summer months.

9.  Just about every single dish they serve.....has some quantity of olive oil or vinegar added to it.

10.  Even if you go in September....you'd best dress as lightly as possible.  You still sweat twenty-four hours a day.

Simply Observations

I spent thirty-odd years in the Air Force....mostly all with that stupid top secret security clearance.  Every five years.....you had to submit a mountain of paperwork and show you live a lousy clean lifestyle, and then have some folks try to find otherwise.  I challenged the system at one point and asked how much this cost....to which one ranking individual responded that it only ran around $500 to get this five-year check done.  Another individual privately admitted that it typically ran around $5,000 for each one of the five-year episodes  and typically the first one (the more important one) ran closer to $8,000.  Well....today, after umpteen years....the Air Force, because of budget cuts, decided to stop all the secondary five-year background checks.  Oh, if you come up with some odd episodes which sustains itself (you are deeply into debt for example), then they will start a full-up background check and that could end your clearance episode.  But they've basically admitted that there are few if any folks who ever failed an investigation, and those who did....were obvious episodes. Amazing....probably billions spent on this throughout the last forty years, and now?  From this point on?  Saved funding.

Starting this Thursday...the furlough notices will start to be mailed out to DoD employees.  I think in the last month.....it's been pretty much accepted and folks are gearing themselves up for the twenty-two Fridays off.  The issue I see (besides a chopped up paycheck)?  At the end of this mess, twenty-two three-day weekends in a row.....we will all have to attend some recovery episode.  We might not ever be able to work the same again.

It is true, David Hasselhof (of BayWatch and Kit the Car fame) was in Berlin over the weekend.  There's a big construction effort underway to build some fancy condo buildings down near where the old Berlin Wall stood.  This has angered the common folks of Berlin.....you just can't go and tear down more areas of where the Wall stood, and put up fancy buildings.  The Hoff song his big song from 1989, which most all Germans connect to the Wall coming down.  A third chance for the Hoff?  Maybe a German police series or such?  No....don't count on it.

Finally, there's commentary out there that the Today Show's Matt Lauer....will be allowed to leave, and then take the big job at Jeopardy.  Folks are kinda admitting that the Today Show is doing lousy numbers and it might be time for Matt to move on.  As for some magic with Jeopardy?  Don't count on it.

Monday, 18 March 2013

That Satan Guy

The Bible series was again on last night, via the History Channel.  The curious episode was the moment when the devil came up.

So you gaze at the face for a minute, and you have this feeling....it's Obama.  It's actually an actor, but you just have that momentary feeling....Obama....Satan.

An accident?  Well, the producers just say it's a minor appearance thing and nothing else.

Me personally?  I'm probably locked onto that image for the rest of my life.  It's too bad that they couldn't get GW Bush for a week and have him play Noah.  I might have had better feelings for "Noah" Bush.  This satan guy?  Yeah, it kinda bothers me.

Note: Now, a true Baptist would cite various references in the Bible that Satan can take many forms, and if you think you are looking at President Obama (Satan), then it's a spiritual thing and you might have a point there.

The Capitalism Argument

The Washington Post had an article from yesterday...."Is Capitalism Moral".

It's a long piece and basically states the terrible things about capitalism.  It's unfairness, it's limits on helping society, and it's inability to help the poor.

My general question in every single case where people present cases against capitalism....what exactly do you want to replace it with?  Most of the contraptions suggested....always involve a government system which monitors everything and someone makes decisions for the government to increase production, decrease prices, or guarantee jobs when no income occurs.  Basically, the solution is a fake economy that only the government can be running.

The economists who write such articles?  Most are folks who sit in universities and have never been an actual employee for a company.  They have no common knowledge on what makes business situations successful or failures.

How would innovation work without capitalism?  Well...you'd have to convince a government employee of selling Twitter to the public, and I doubt that Twitter could ever be sold by a government representative.    The same could be said of a guy who has a self-oiling chainsaw and wants to bring it to the public, and finding government representatives lacking interest.

In the real world, you have an idea....find a risk-taking company who likes the idea.  The company puts up money and then markets the item.  They make a profit, and the world gets an innovation.

These continuing articles....always slamming capitalism...make for enjoyable reading but really contribute little to nothing to society.  The alternate to capitalism?  Probably more capitalism, not less. But who am I  to suggest that?

The Crazy Law

This week will put the Senate and the mass media into an odd position.  Senator Lindsey Graham (R, SC) has put a bill on the Senate table that says if you are declared mentally incompetent....you have to be put into the national database, for gun purchases.  You are then immediately disqualified from owning a weapon.

You can see some complications here, which the mass media will have to either ignore the bill entirely or pretend that it would hinder the mission at hand.

The Democratic Senators?  They have to pretend the bill doesn't exist.  Otherwise, you start to dig into much broader questions.  For example....if a person is mentally incompetent....can you even allow them to vote? Or how about the purchase of alcohol?  A driver's license?  Could someone accuse a member of the Senate being mentally incompetent and then have them forced from the Senate floor?

After a couple of days....the mental health community will weigh in, and condemn the law.  It's just not right or fair.  The crazies need to retain their gun rights.  At that point...you will shake your head and ask if the mental health community is crazy itself.

The truth?  There's probably a million Americans who fall into some category of being mentally incompetent....either temporary or permanently.  We could run around the US and accuse a dozen people in every community of a thousand folks or more.  Using Graham's law....you'd just appear in front of some local judge....recite the federal law (if passed), and then folks declared incompetent.    They wouldn't have to worry....no one will ship them off to a state facility....they'd just start to lose their rights as an American.

You can sense that a bunch of political folks are busy....doing mostly nothing....at a turbo speed.....and ending up with some results of questionable value.

If I lined up the sixteen mass shootings of 2012 and drilled into the mentally competency of the sixteen shooters....I think more than half would have been declared crazy.   So there is a point to this.  The question is.....just what else gets attached to this in the years to come.

Passage of the law?  Forget about it.  I just don't see more than two Democrats lining up to support this. And the media will not discuss the matter at all.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

The New Rule on Ramstein

In my youth, while in the Air Force, I spent a number of years (between five and six) living in the dorm (barracks is a more appropriate word but the Air Force hates the term).  It ended up giving me a fairly different view on life.

The dorm room was simple.  You had a bunk, a locker, a desk, a chair and a night stand to yourself.  Typically, you had a refrigerator shared between you and your associate.

Over those years of life in the dorm, you got used to alcohol being around, and on rare occasions....some stupid events would occur.  I came to eventually realize that it was the same issues that you had in college dorms.

This past week, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany....the wing commander has decided to fix an ongoing problem at the base with alcohol incidents in the dorms.  He banned all alcohol  period.  No booze, no beer, no wine.  You can't bring it in.  You can't store it.  You can't drink it, within the dorm.

The logic of the commander?  He believes the dorms are merely an extension of the training atmosphere. The idea of the dorms being a living atmosphere?  Zero.

The issue in his mind is that alcohol consumption has triggered various cases that gone into the Air Force court room on base....throughout the last decade (I'm guessing).  Once his tactic has been demonstrated and he goes for sixty days without any alcohol incidents....he'll consider it a success.  It won't go away unless some General gets into the mess to toss the rule, or until this wing commander leaves the base and a new guy arrives to toss the rule.

What happens now?  I suspect most guys will simply store their booze, beer and wine....in their car trunk, and drink mostly in the parking lot.  The cops will report this and the commander will try to devise a policy of no booze stored in a private car....which base legal will laugh themselves into a fit and tell him that you can't really make up a rule like that.

Male and female banding together and just marrying for the heck of getting out of the barracks?  It was an odd tradition in South Korea for twenty-odd years and made it into several other countries where the Air Force had installations.  I could see twenty such arrangement occurring this spring as marriages are negotiated and just occur to get permission to move off-base.  It's silly, but it's a solution.

So out there tonight....are Airman Gus, Airman Charley, and Airman Chad.  The boys are all twenty years old and been on Ramstein for eight months.  They'd like to have a party in their dorm.....but the best they can arrange for refreshments is water, Tang, and Doctor Pepper.  The boys are wondering....if this is the way that things work in real life.

Down the street from our Airman on Ramstein....is the German barracks.  I'm guessing....there's this wicked grin on the face of the German military youths.  The wing commander's authority doesn't affect them.  He can order just about anything he wants on Ramstein....but their barracks (notice, I didn't say dorm) is beyond his authority.  They've got plenty of beer piled up in their rooms.  Life goes on.

It's a bold new world out there.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Harry

I don't normally lay out obituaries in my blog.  However, there's this one obit which got published in the last week, and it's been on my mind.  This old guy has passed on, and his daughter sat down and write up a personalize obit.

Normally, obituary writings are pretty serious and lay out a long life.  No one ever says what's on their mind....but in this case....she pretty cleared the deck and wrote the best obit that I've ever seen.  I frankly admit.....I would have liked to have met the guy.  He is likely a one of a kind individual.

Harry Weathersby Stamps 

December 19, 1932 -- March 9, 2013 

Long Beach 

Harry Weathersby Stamps, ladies' man, foodie, natty dresser, and accomplished traveler, died on Saturday, March 9, 2013. 

Harry was locally sourcing his food years before chefs in California starting using cilantro and arugula (both of which he hated). For his signature bacon and tomato sandwich, he procured 100% all white Bunny Bread from Georgia, Blue Plate mayonnaise from New Orleans, Sauer's black pepper from Virginia, home grown tomatoes from outside Oxford, and Tennessee's Benton bacon from his bacon-of-the-month subscription. As a point of pride, he purported to remember every meal he had eaten in his 80 years of life. 

The women in his life were numerous. He particularly fancied smart women. He loved his mom Wilma Hartzog (deceased), who with the help of her sisters and cousins in New Hebron reared Harry after his father Walter's death when Harry was 12. He worshipped his older sister Lynn Stamps Garner (deceased), a character in her own right, and her daughter Lynda Lightsey of Hattiesburg. He married his main squeeze Ann Moore, a home economics teacher, almost 50 years ago, with whom they had two girls Amanda Lewis of Dallas, and Alison of Starkville. He taught them to fish, to select a quality hammer, to love nature, and to just be thankful. He took great pride in stocking their tool boxes. One of his regrets was not seeing his girl, Hillary Clinton, elected President. 

He had a life-long love affair with deviled eggs, Lane cakes, boiled peanuts, Vienna [Vi-e-na] sausages on saltines, his homemade canned fig preserves, pork chops, turnip greens, and buttermilk served in martini glasses garnished with cornbread. 

He excelled at growing camellias, rebuilding houses after hurricanes, rocking, eradicating mole crickets from his front yard, composting pine needles, living within his means, outsmarting squirrels, never losing a game of competitive sickness, and reading any history book he could get his hands on. He loved to use his oversized "old man" remote control, which thankfully survived Hurricane Katrina, to flip between watching The Barefoot Contessa and anything on The History Channel. He took extreme pride in his two grandchildren Harper Lewis (8) and William Stamps Lewis (6) of Dallas for whom he would crow like a rooster on their phone calls. As a former government and sociology professor for Gulf Coast Community College, Harry was thoroughly interested in politics and religion and enjoyed watching politicians act like preachers and preachers act like politicians. He was fond of saying a phrase he coined "I am not running for political office or trying to get married" when he was "speaking the truth." He also took pride in his service during the Korean conflict, serving the rank of corporal--just like Napolean, as he would say. 

Harry took fashion cues from no one. His signature every day look was all his: a plain pocketed T-shirt designed by the fashion house Fruit of the Loom, his black-label elastic waist shorts worn above the navel and sold exclusively at the Sam's on Highway 49, and a pair of old school Wallabees (who can even remember where he got those?) that were always paired with a grass-stained MSU baseball cap. 

Harry traveled extensively. He only stayed in the finest quality AAA-rated campgrounds, his favorite being Indian Creek outside Cherokee, North Carolina. He always spent the extra money to upgrade to a creek view for his tent. Many years later he purchased a used pop-up camper for his family to travel in style, which spoiled his daughters for life. 

He despised phonies, his 1969 Volvo (which he also loved), know-it-all Yankees, Southerners who used the words "veranda" and "porte cochere" to put on airs, eating grape leaves, Law and Order (all franchises), cats, and Martha Stewart. In reverse order. He particularly hated Day Light Saving Time, which he referred to as The Devil's Time. It is not lost on his family that he died the very day that he would have had to spring his clock forward. This can only be viewed as his final protest. 

Because of his irrational fear that his family would throw him a golf-themed funeral despite his hatred for the sport, his family will hold a private, family only service free of any type of "theme." Visitation will be held at Bradford-O'Keefe Funeral Home, 15th Street, Gulfport on Monday, March 11, 2013 from 6-8 p.m. 

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you make a donation to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (Jeff Davis Campus) for their library. Harry retired as Dean there and was very proud of his friends and the faculty. He taught thousands and thousands of Mississippians during his life. The family would also like to thank the Gulfport Railroad Center dialysis staff who took great care of him and his caretaker Jameka Stribling. 

Finally, the family asks that in honor of Harry that you write your Congressman and ask for the repeal of Day Light Saving Time. Harry wanted everyone to get back on the Lord's Time.

The Wetumpka Affair

It's not worth much to talk about unless of course....you are a Bama NCAA die-hard enthusiast.  But today, the judge handling the Harvey Updyke case....decided that folks around Auburn University and the town of Opelika, Bama....are just too judgmental on Harvey, and ordered the court episode to be moved.

Who is Harvey?  Well....he's a die-hard University of Alabama football fan, and he decided to lay out some poison down on some sacred oak trees at the Auburn University...near the stadium in the fall of 2010.  Yeah, the oak trees died off.  If Harvey had just kept his mouth shut....he would have been OK   But he wanted to admit all of this on a sports radio talk show....in Bama.

Naturally, things went down hill from that point on....with the cops involved.

We've pretty much burned through two years of court action so far.  At one point, a judge wanted a mental test of Harvey....to make sure he was just Bama-crazy, and not real crazy.

Then there's been various scientists and tree experts to dig and note hundreds of pages of analysis over the dead or dying oak trees.  I imagine an entire volume of books could be written over what they found or didn't find.

The Auburn school folks launched an investigation.

The local cops of Opelika launched an investigation.

Some local folks are now thinking the poison might have seeped into local city drinking water, and this is making analysis more detailed and might force folks to drink bottled water (something that Bama folks cannot imagine).

Harvey?  Well....the curious thing is that he's a retired Texas law-enforcement officer, and not even a pure Bama resident.

The new court location?  Well....the judge did an awful lot of checking and asking around, and finally decided that the folks up in Wetumpka, Bama.....just a bit north of Montgomery....are pure, honest, and probably only ninety percent obsessed with NCAA football.

I'm guessing the proud folks of Wetumpka are a bit dazed right now.  They'd never imagine a character like Harvey being charged and tried in Wetumpka.  They probably will have ESPN, CNN, Fox News, and even 60 Minutes come to analyze Harvey and the court case.

Will Harvey's case spoil Wetumpka?  Well....yeah, that probably will happen.  The jury members chosen for this will be legendary in the state of Bama....for an eternity.  Interviews will be made, and analysis will be discussed over at the Chicken Shack and Shoneys Bigboy.

The weight of Harvey's life hangs in the balance.  Based on legal comments....most folks think Harvey could get up to ten years of prison time.  Prison life might settle down Harvey's NCAA feelings.  You don't typically get to watch too many games, and you can't tell....most guys in Bama prisons might be more Auburn, than University of Alabama.  Well....you just don't know.  It'd be a bad spot to be mixed up in a state prison, with a bunch of Auburn fans.

How much has been spent on Harvey by Auburn and the law enforcement community?  I'm betting we've gone past the two million dollar point.  With the Wetumpka affair (sounds like a Cold War movie, if you think about it).....this will get up to four million by the end.

Could the Wetumpka folks find Harvey innocent?  Only by insanity....I think.  And the question is....is Harvey Bama-crazy or real-crazy?  Only a Wetumpka jury can reach a verdict like that.

So tonight....out across Wetumpka....there's twelve folks who are quietly sleeping, and in the coming weeks....they will be thrust into the biggest adventure of their lives.  This is the stuff movies are made about.  Life....will never be the same.  Heck, Brad Pitt and Terry Bradshaw might star in the future movie.

Oh, and I should add....this event will be second only in Wetumpka....to the meteor hit back eighty-three million years ago.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Those Silly Iranians

This week....the topic of Argo....the new factual movie about the six Americans rescued out of Iran during the crisis period came out....in Iran.  Basically, the Iranians are a bit disturbed over the depiction of them as evil characters and they think that the bad Americans rewrote history.  Some Iranian government officials believe it's time that a true movie of the entire event....be made in Iran and tell the Iranian's true story.

Some journalists from Iran talked over this commentary.  They kinda pointed out.....Iran has never produced a single TV show or movie over this period and the way that the Americans were held.  For over thirty years....nothing.  So to them, it's a bit shocking now that the government suddenly wakes up and wants to tell the story.

You can imagine this scene....Mullah George and Ayatollah Larry....meeting up in some five-star decorated government office.  They decide it's time to take the evil American's story and discard it.  They need a big Tehran-style Hollywood producer to make this happen.

So Ali Perkinator comes over.  Ali produced 'Five Jihads to the Wind', and 'Disco Tehran 2005'.

Mullah George starts up....this needs to be a family movie where a typical Iranian wakes up and rejoices because the evil Shah is gone, and the evil Americans are taken prisoner.  Fresh fruit should suddenly appear on the street....at a highly discounted price.  Gas prices drop overnight.  Kids rejoice with new and fresh schoolbooks available....with Islamic themes in math and science.

Ayatollah Larry jumps up....suggesting that almost overnight, the terrible British and American TV shows stopped, and live Islamic prayers were telecast around the clock.  Then he talked about the friendly nature of everyone to him from that first day on.  And finally, he talked up the clean streets and freshly painted offices of the government that he toured.

Ali sits there quietly.  You can sense his mind at work.

Finally, Ali asks....to make this authentic....he will need some Americans.  Would Ayatollah Larry and Mullah George mind if he hired Lindsay Lohan, Martin Sheen, and half the cast of Amish Mafia.  He wants this to be a combination of Islamic themes, action adventure, soap opera romance, frustrated Americans who drink and gamble greatly, and nicely tied up ending where the Iranians knew for days where the Americans were....but decided to just let the Canadians and CIA sneak them out of the country.

Mullah George and Ayatollah Larry sit and analyze the idea.  Well....if you could get that Clint Eastwood guy....say Mullah George....to be the Ayatollah Khomeini...then this would all work out fine.

Ali leaves the meeting and sits in his luxury BMW....how the heck could he talk Clint Eastwood into being the Ayatollah?  Then he envisions the real Ayatollah having four pistols under his robe and being fierce and confrontational.  It all makes perfect sense.  

A Bullet Here or There

I spent twenty-two years in the Air Force.  From basic training, until the very end....you had to maintain a proficiency in firearms.  For the Air Force, this typically meant you spent three hours in a class, then practiced with fifty rounds, and then shot around forty to fifty to 'qualify'.  You did that every two years generally.  So I fired around 1,100 total rounds in my Air Force career.

A Marine today....getting ready for his deployment to Afghanistan or some distant land....will fire at least a thousand rounds.  Some, with the heavy duty machine guns (M2HB) might fire a couple thousand rounds easily.  If they stuck around for twenty years....they might fire twenty-five thousand easily, as a minimum.

I was sitting there and discussing this new directive from the Marines to their young men and ladies....to save on ammo as much as possible.  My co-worker, an Army guy for twenty-odd years, will often tease me on Air Force short-comings.  I usually take it in stride.

The truth is that some folks just won't ever be on the frontline operations....like ninety-eight percent of Air Force folks.  That hundred-odd rounds we fired....were enough.

The other truth here is that if I was a Marine....I'd probably ask to fire three hundred rounds a week for at least six weeks before I deployed anywhere....to ensure I felt up to the task.

But there's a historical point of curiosity   If you went back to 1860....you signed up with a Confederate unit or a Union unit.  You might have spent two weeks in camp and going through some practice....mostly marching and forming up in columns.  Total rounds fired over that two weeks?  Maybe  twenty to fifty shots.  After that, you were considered proficient, and probably met the enemy within a few days.  You lived or died, based on how quickly you could reload or your ability to stay in the back of the column.

We've changed a great deal in a hundred years.


Tuesday, 12 March 2013

New TV Show?

Spring is usually when the big three networks start to put together the new hopefuls for the fall TV season.  This is when you get a chance to notice the good, the bad, and the really bad.

NBC has decided to pick up on this idea of a modern Hatfields and the McCoys....a dramatic piece...to be done in Pittsburgh.  Forget about the Kentucky and West Virginia angle.

The basis of the whole show?  Some murder has occurred, and triggered this family feud.  Yes, in modern 2013, a family feud with blood to be spilled.

If the series lasts longer than four episodes....it'll shock me.  The problem with these idea guys....they just throw some idea on the table and some executives like the sound of it.  You can figure there's forty decent ideas floating around a sea of five hundred lousy ideas.  And so you get stuck with the Hatfields and McCoys.

Now, if they wanted to make this interesting....have a series called Mr Hatfield-McCoy...about a wussy guy who marries up with some Kentucky wildcat lady and takes her last name to his.  Yeah, it'd be a comedy of sorts....with some California guy learning the fine art of hunting, fishing, and moonshine.  Course, I don't get to mingle with the network executives much, and it just won't go anywhere.

Simply Observations

Some economical experts in Europe are reaching a conclusion that unemployment with youth....between the ages of 15 and 25....is so bad in some countries (Greece, Spain, Ireland, etc).....that they are thinking of a "youth employment guarantee"....where the government would offer up a guaranteed job for four months after you graduate from school.  It'll be discussed this week at a EU meeting.  Billions at stake?  Probably so.  You can imagine the scenario....Joe graduates from some university and finds that the market really isn't looking for a art major, so the government steps in and gives Joe a fake job for 120 days to help make him feel good.  He'll likely show up at some city or county office and simply offer art advice....mostly worthless....to the local folks.  Yeah, it's pretty much a waste of money, but they have to show they are doing something and it's the best they can do.  Call it a bold new fake world.

This whole secrecy to the Pope-choosing business has reached a new level.  Local Rome cops are installing a jammer device to ensure none of the Cardinals in attendance can use a hidden cellphone to talk to folks on the outside while they are in seclusion to pick the new guy.  Why a Cardinal would want to talk to outsiders during this episode....is a mystery to me....unless they are idiots and can't figure out who to vote for.

If you can imagine this....Matt Lauer reached a point last year....seeing how dismal things were becoming....that he was suggesting to the Today Show management to rehire Kathy Couric.  It would appear...for a day or two....they were considering the idea and then realized how expensive the Matt and Couric team could become, and then just plain refused.  It could have been a pretty interesting combination....for a week or two....before folks lost interest and just went back to the Fox Morning Show.

Finally, the AAA guys went out and asked for numbers from the DC city government....how many parking tickets they are issuing per year and how much they make....off parking fines.  The amount?  Ninety-two million dollars.  An amazing amount of money.  There were 1.8 million tickets issued in 2012.  You can figure roughly four hundred tickets per hour....at the very least from this deal.  DC is an area of roughly seven by seven miles, and you have to wonder just how many people they have on the parking ticket force (this didn't come out of the report).  I'd be guessing at least two hundred people who do this full-time....probably at least fifty operating on weekends....and maybe even a dozen folks working the night-shift.  It's a tremendous amount of money.




Monday, 11 March 2013

My Neighborhood

Across the river....a good safe distance from Arlington....we had another shooting in DC last night.  Cops now say that seven people (minimum) were shoot by a drive-by guy in a BMW....around 2AM Monday morning.

Reason?  None.

The best they can say is that a group of folks were simply out front of an apartment complex....talking on the sidewalk area at 2AM, and the guy drove by to fire some rounds.  All will survive apparently.

The thing that generally gets me....almost all of these shootings (the vast majority)....end up occurring between 10PM and 3AM.  In an entire year....there might be three shootings during daylight hours.  Toss in a dozen-odd shootings from 7PM to 10PM as the sun starts to set.  The vast majority all happen in the later hours.

So you are left with this question....why the heck would you be out on the street at 2AM?  And you really can't answer that question.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

The Zombie Thing

Around a year ago....I sat and watched my first episode of the Walking Dead....the zombie TV series off AMC.  To be honest, it was an unusual script and after one episode....I was hooked.  I went back to episode one, and got myself caught up.

If you look at the statistics for Sunday nights when each new episode comes on....Walking Dead is getting huge numbers.  Between them and whatever the History Channel puts up....they are destroying the big three networks for the evening.

The basic scenario?  A zombie virus has arrived and destroyed civilization in America.....fairly quick.  These redneck folks have banded together and survived.  Course, along the way....about every other episode....someone new drifts into the group, and one of the original folks gets whacked off.

For survival strategy....their thing has been to find a prison and turn it into a temporary home.  I personally would have picked a boat and just anchored it in the middle of some river.  I'd feel safer that way.

The curious thing is that the zombie show is really attracting a major audience, and the big three networks are just standing there in shock.  They never expected a regular cable TV channel to beat them in the ratings game.  And the mere idea of zombies beating Sixty Minutes or Once Upon a Time....well....it's just silly that such a thing could happen.

So we are left to a show where a dozen-odd folks are fighting off zombies each week....in a soap-opera like setting.....and pretty much enjoying the story-line.  Yeah, it doesn't make much sense in the end.....I admit.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

The Five Great Mysteries of Bama

Over the years, there are a couple of weird events....which I tended to view, as mostly unexplainable, and more of a mystery...from the state of Bama.

First, there is the 1965 event of "Bloody Sunday"....where cops from Bama got into a mess with black marchers....going from Selma....to Montgomery.  The mystery here....is how anyone could put together such a fifty mile walk....without any water stations or rest points.  Over the years....I've looked at the route and am generally amazed that anyone could be talked into this....especially in March.  It might have been a terrible mess in July....with the heat on....but still, March is not a great month to go walking in Bama.

In general.....you get the impression that the plan was thrown together at the last minute so no one could react to it much.  The reaction by the Governor?  Well....that's a mystery too.  There's no state law violated, and other than looking for trouble....that's mostly all that the Governor could pause and say.

Even if you came to me today and said we need to march fifty miles over to the West Virginia border....I'd be asking questions.  Where's the water and food?  Where do we camp on the way?  What if it rains? In this case....no one asked many questions.

The second mystery?  Back in 1957, over near Phenix City, Bama....some kid found a coin in a field from the island of Sicily....dated 490 B.C.  To this day....no one is saying much except wondering how it got there, and if a bunch of Italians were marching around Phenix City back two thousand years ago.  The odds?  Well....you just don't know.  They might have checked things out....found out it was "dry" county back then, and just left looking for a place where you could get a real drink.  You just don't know.

The third mystery?  At the 1860 Democratic Convention in Charleston....things turned into a literal mess. Stephen Douglass was pretty much set to win, and easily beat the Republican candidate.  But the Bama delegation came into play....demanded a certain platform that Douglass would not support (it'd screw up the votes in the northern states, had he gone to support slavery).  So at some key point, the Bama delegation got up and walked out (led by William Yancy).

The election?  The Democrats had to meet a second time...up in Baltimore.  This went swell for Douglass, but the southern Democrats got all hostile (thanks to the Bama group again), and got up a Southern Democratic Party candidate.

As you can imagine....Douglass simply could not win enough votes in the north, or the south, and sat there in a mess at the end.  In essence, the Bama group helped Lincoln win, and helped to start the Civil War.  And for what?  Just words on a platform, which typically mean nothing anyway.

Fourth?  Per square mile, Bama probably has a listing of more haunted places than any state in the US.  You stop any guy on the side of the road and ask for a local haunted site, and he'll likely throw three out at you...all within ten miles.  Why so many hauntings?  More disturbed Bama dead folks than over in Georgia or South Carolina?  That's a mystery.

Fifth?  Two guys walk into a Bama bar....total strangers.  It only takes a mere sixty seconds for a conversation between the two to start over: (1) NCAA football, (2) hunting or fishing, (3) Baptist revivals, (4) love gone wrong, or (5) the problems of digging up septic tanks.  You could put the two guys into a Wal-Mart, a Piggy Wiggly, or even a bait shop....and they'd still start talking over the same topics.  Fate or mystery?

The White House Thing

This week....the White House made the decision to shut down tours.  A bunch of folks have gotten upset about this.....with the general comment of this occurring....mostly because of sequestration.  After the comment is uttered, then the government usually says it's a woeful and terrible thing....with a sad puppy-dog look on his face.

The cost of the tour?  Nothing.

Who conducts the tours?  Well...it's an interesting thing.  They have a huge number of volunteers who do it for free, and the few federal employees involved ...are National Park Service folks.

The real cost?  Mostly security folks who check every single person, and ensure the absolute safety of the White House and the President.  So at this point....it's hard to say what these security folks will be doing for the next five months....or the National Park Service folks who ran the desk operation.  Sitting around?  Yeah....mostly sitting and waiting.

The folks could have started up a $3 fee and most everyone would have understood and readily paid $3 a person.  The problem then is that you would have shown something profit from this, and then been the only US federally-run operation in America....to make more money than it spends.  And you just can't have that.

The rest of this story?  Frankly....put yourself into this position.  You get elected to be President, and then have to explain to your wife Wanda....that the family must move from Bama....to Washington.  Then you explain you have to live in a 200-year old house....that is really more of a museum than an actual house.  Then you explain to Wanda and the kids that they'd best not break anything.  Then you explain that no one can walk around the house in their underwear or pajamas.  Wanda and kids would be fairly upset about this and ask if better accommodations could be arranged.

I can't think of anyone that would sign up to live eight years in a museum.  Even if you threw in a fancy pastry chief, or some cook who'd make the best pastrami sandwiches in the world.....I just wouldn't be interested.

Cable TV?  I'm guessing that the President probably has the 2,000 channel package....with a 60-inch TV in the bedroom....all compliments of the White House.  He's probably got a personal refrigerator by the bed, with various international beers inside.

The appeal of this tour-the-White-House thing?  I don't know.  I've been here three years and have yet to tour the White House.  On my list of things to do....it might be way down....maybe at number two hundred.

So if you were hoping to do a big three-day-see-all-of-DC trip this summer....you'd best adjust your viewing list and remove the White House.  Don't worry....there's still a bunch of things open and life is pretty much normal for the rest of DC, during sequestration.


Two Things

There were two minor stories of interest from Friday.

First, from Tennessee....there's a small town which had a number of problems with its cops....and racism.  Things got out of control.....so they fired all of the town's policemen.  They've gone out and hired a new chief of police.  And he's ready to hire new cops for the town, but there's one stipulation.  You have to take a law detector test, and prove you are not racist.

Based on two articles....it appears that there just aren't that many applicants for the jobs.  Most legal experts say it's legal, but they have doubts that it really works like it is intended.

Typically with a lie detector test....if you really believe you are pure and clean....you will pass, but after you get into a conversation.....you might easily demonstrate that you are racist, but you just don't know it or believe it.  So the test might be worthless.

I'm guessing some cops are just fearful they might be other questions, and get into details of their life that shouldn't be discussed in public....like doing drugs or handling stolen property.

Will it catch on?  I'm guessing some people will ask more questions about the test, and discuss the idea of opening it up for real police departments.  Value?  In my book....less than zero.  You could have a whole department pass the test, and discover that every member is Klan member tomorrow.

The second story?  Up in New York state....the schools got all hot for having cops walk the beat in schools.  So in the Highland Central School District....they had this episode occur. A cop was walking within the school's hallway, and his gun went off (accidentally, he says).  So far, the school is in the midst of an investigation....that mostly goes nowhere.

The likely scenario?  The cop probably has a gun with a safety that easily flips from safe to fire.  The cop rounds a corner....bumps the wall...it flips to fire, and with a hair-like trigger....it simply goes off.  Luckily, not hitting the cop or any kids.  Or maybe the cop actually pulled it from the holster and was playing with it (the Barney Fife-trick).  You just don't know.

What starts to get interesting now is that parents are concerned over the safety of their kids in the school.  It was bad enough to worry about some nut.....but you need to now worry about some cop and his gun. You might have to actually pass a law that guns are simply not allowed in a school period....even with the cops.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Just Observations

First, up in New York City....the community college system run by the state....now says that approximately eighty percent of the kids graduating from high school....can't read.  They are testing and then requiring the young punks to take a remedial course before they can take real college classes.  Added up....that's around eleven thousand punks who can't start to college on day one....because they really can't perform at the level expected.  The kids even admit that after the remedial activity....they now realize that they just weren't up to the speed required.  What's this say?  Basically....we need to admit high school is just a lower school activity, and maybe offer up another entire year of school.....call it the thirteenth year....for young punks who want to go off to college or university.  The bigger question is....what exactly are we teaching for the last three years of high school?  You have go and attend classes, take tests, and graduate....but what exactly are you getting from the teachers?

I don't normally pay attention to this Justin Bieber kid.  Over the last couple of days....he's been in London....getting prepared for concerts.  For some odd reason, he's been wearing a GI-issue gas mask.  He won't explain why....but when he leaves the hotel....he's wearing this thing.  Well....he shows up last night at the concert hall, and getting prepared to sing...walks out on the stage, and collapses.  They rush him off to the hospital....give him some oxygen....testing him to see what the heck is going on.  Here's deal....having done the gas mask routine for the Air Force period of my life. You really have to suck in air and blow out air....to make the dang gas mask work.  You aren't getting as much oxygen as you really need....if you are walking around or performing some physical action.  My advice....dump the mask asap.

Some scientists are now thinking....Karl the Neanderthal dude....eventually died off because he hunted down all the big-game animals....and just never adapted to smaller game (in particular, rabbits).  The scientists have found significant evidence of a rabbit population, but when they go to the caves and look for rabbit bones when Karl and his buddies would have thrown them....they just aren't there.  Some of the scientists want to believe that Karl and the Neanderthal population died off eventually because they just couldn't adapt to a new world developing around them.  They hunted down all the big-game.....and basically starved themselves because they wouldn't accept change.

Finally, from CBS News out in Denver.....a drug-testing company out in Colorado says.....since they passed the pro-marijuana law....more kids are smoking weed, and smoking more frequently.  In the old days (a year or two ago)....when you had a 'hot' kid (a weed smoker)....his THC levels were way down...near 50.  That was mostly an acceptable level.  Now, these high school kids are showing up....doing the drug test, and popping 500 to 800 on the THC levels.  In the real world....that would be the stoner-level.  Hoping to be able to concentrate in high school classes?  Forget it.  What happens?  I'd make a guess that around ten percent of the Colorado high school kids will be lucky to finish high school at this rate, and basically end up staying in Dad's house for the next forty years....maybe delivering pizza as a part-time job, and not worried about anything much in life, while smoking some four-star weed.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

The Delay Game

Florida is working up this interesting bill.  If you want to buy a weapon or ammo.....and you want to take item immediately  then you should have completed an anger management course.  Otherwise, you have to wait three days to get your ammo, or gun.  Naturally, just taking one such anger management course for the rest of your life would not be enough....you'd have to repeat it every ten years.

The odds of it passing in Florida?  It's not clear.  Several legal experts have commented that it might be challenged, if passed, and then thrown out by the Florida State Supreme Court, or by US federal court system.

The idea here is that if we could teach people the proper way to react to situations.....then they wouldn't be so quick to shoot someone.  They'd stand there with the robber....discuss the matter for two or three minutes....talk about solutions....work through various techniques that the anger management guy discussed, and wait for the robber to shoot first.

The problem with this logic is that when you combine booze and drugs in some fashion....a hundred anger management classes don't matter.  Then you toss in the mentally unstable folks, who could sit through a thousand anger management courses, and it wouldn't matter.

Personally, if this was such a great idea....why couldn't we mandate that you had to take a financial affairs class, before you went and borrowed $250k to buy a house?  Why couldn't we mandate you take a defensive driving class.....before you renewed your licences?  Why couldn't we mandate a safe farming class every five years for farmers?  Why couldn't we offer a safe drinking class for all college students before the first day of school?

There's a list of things that ought to be coupled up to this.....if it made sense.  But obviously, we aren't going to be that smart.

I'm going to take a pretty good guess on this....that most gun shoot victims in Florida....come from some robbery attempt.  Would anger management help?  Probably not.

It's an interesting topic, and probably will spend an entire day on the front page of every single Florida newspaper....but otherwise, it'll just drift away after a while....my humble opinion

The End of the Truce?

It kinda made page one news for maybe four hours, and then got pushed back pretty quick.

North Korea now says the truce between the US and North Korea....intact since 1953 (sixty years this year).....is now out.

Officially, by North Korean standards....we are back at war.

So far, no one much at the White House has said much.  This sequestration is still bothering the big guys, and frankly, there's about sixty major topics in front of the truce being terminated (to include global warming, the President golf episodes, the NCAA March madness selections, the TV show Bible on the History Channel, selection of the Pope, and blizzard reports).

I would imagine that North Korea probably has forty or fifty spies spread throughout the United States and send back reports each week.  It probably gets back to the big boss....no one knows much of anything on North Korea.  If you asked about the 1953 war.....folks keep referring to it as "Nam", which is mostly a sign of confusion by Americans.  I'm guessing North Korea is all upset about not being noticed.

Should we worry?  Well....1953 was a long time ago, and to be honest....no one on either side can say much over how the war started.

The folks over at Fox News and MSNBC really don't want the war....because then we'd get off political topics.

The folks with the Washington Post and New York Times don't want the war....mostly because it'd confuse the public at a time when sequestration is supposed to confuse public.

The UN and EU folks don't want the war....because they got enough to worry about with Haiti still recovering from it's earthquake, and those evil Microsoft guys running loose.

You can't find anyone much except the North Koreans who want to end the truce.

What should we do?  If there ever was a time to hire Lindsay Lohan for a national post.....this is it.  Hire the gal....give her as much booze and meth as she wants, and send her to negotiate long-lasting peace with North Korea.  Put a film crew with her....and televise this as reality TV on the History Channel.

My Neighborhood

Over the last couple of months....thanks to the internet and the Metro forum....folks have come to realize that we have this female scammer in the DC area....that walks up to you in the public transit areas.....talking up how she's lost her money and needs money to return home.  Typically, we aren't talking about $3.....but more likely a hundred or one-hundred-fifty bucks.

There's always some story to this.  You are in the tunnel and about to hit the turn-stile area.  There's an ATM machine nearby.  The gal approaches you.  There's a woeful tale that takes about a minute to tell.  She's traveling....car is broke-down.  Her daughter is sick or in the hospital.  She needs rail fare and taxi money.

Enough folks have commented on this now....in chat forums......to realize that it happens over and over.

I'm taking a guess that she probably does it twenty times a day and probably pulls in at least $200 on a good day....mostly looking for innocent or naive folks.  You could almost make this into a full-time job....with no taxation involved....just cash.

The cops?  They never have much interest in this.  You can't charge a person with much of a crime.  Other than some misdemeanor....there's not much you can except she has no ethics about what she does.

One of those odd things about living in the DC area.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

USA Today

I sat and read through a USA Today newspaper article yesterday....then sat and pondered.

The article?  The thrust of this was that hospitals are being swamped with gun-shooting folks, and billions are being spent on their care.  It was a woeful tale.....explaining the practical necessity of gun-control....to ease up our medical care cost.  Mixed into it....bits and pieces of people explaining that young America has no ability to back down from a nasty situation....they have to react with gunfire.

There's a problem with journalists who write like this.  They fail to see the big picture.

These sun-shooting victims   Where are they?  Urban areas.  In the rural areas of America?  Hunting accidents mostly, with a couple of violent gun assaults.  I can go to my home county in Bama....talk to the emergency room staff, and they will admit that there are around fifteen-odd folks to arrive in their facility per year from gun-shoots   Most of them either are hunting episodes or guys being stupid while cleaning a gun (it's a popular excuse for stupid gun-play).  The rest?  A wife shooting the husband or some guy breaking into a home.

Since folks are all hyper about this business of too many folks utilizing hospital care for gun-shoots.....why not also include the folks who drink two six-packs of soda a day and get into serious health issues?

Or how about the guys who drink a half-bottle of Vodka each day and have health issues by age forty?

Or how about the idiots who drive their car at 80 mph....even in rainstorms?

Man, we could clean up hospitals if we'd end speeding, booze, cigarettes, pop-tarts, t-bone steaks, jealous husbands or wive, motorcycles, speedboats, go-carts, baling hay, handling of snakes during worship services, honky-tonk bars, airline flights, circus wire acts, paper-cuts  bad dogs, and stop the sale of butcher knives.

We could save billions and billons at the hospitals......maybe even shut down half of them.  If we'd only act on everything, and not just the gun stuff.

This is why I consider USA Today to be a one-star paper, and only pick it up maybe once a month.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Two Things

First, some guy decided to dress up in priest clothing and actually was able to enter the Vatican with the hundred other Bishops as they discuss the replacement strategy for the next Pope.  He got past the initial security, and it's a bit later when the Swiss guards wake and toss the guy out.

You can imagine this scene.....none of the priests have special ID cards or entry passes.  For a thousand years....they've never been necessary.

A fake priest?  Sneaking in?  Other than getting some free booze and sandwhiches.....I'm not sure what else you would have gotten.

The thing is....this guy could have gotten through the first day and got buddy-buddy with a dozen priests.   The second day....they would have walked him in with no issue.  "Larry" would have discussed matters and suggested various strategies....which might have amazed the big guys at the meeting.  "Larry" would have been thinking outside-of-the-box, by their understanding.

A week or two goes by, and "Larry" is now totally accepted.  Free food, free beer.....you couldn't ask for a better deal.

Then the day would have come when all the boys decide that "Larry" is the best choice, and suddenly vote him in as Pope.  "Larry" would have been shocked, and then looking toward the exit door....trying to figure a way out of this mess real quick.

Well....it could have happened.

Second?  Word is out that the Today Show is all screwed up and they are marching toward this idea of replacing Matt Lauer.  Course, you will remember that Matt got a new contract last year, and everyone was all happy over keeping Matt.  Then later, they kinda remembered that their viewing audience is shrinking and Matt is considered more of a problem than a solution.

The problem is....who replaces Matt?  And then....because of that silly contract business....what the heck do you do with Matt?  Make Matt be an actual reporter?  It just isn't going to happen.  Giving Matt his own show?  Just won't happen.

NBC is mostly screwed now.  A loser show, and virtually no way of handling Matt.

The MRAP Dimwits

Back in the midst of the Iraq war....with tons of roadside bombs going off....the Pentagon determined that it needed a vehicle that would safely get their guys from point A to point B....alive.  It needed to be a truck vehicle....not a tank.  It needed to have room for a dozen guys in the back.  It needed to survive some pretty rough treatment.

So they invented something out of nothing.....the MRAP.  They bought several thousand of them.  They run around $500k each.  They do a great job of keeping solders alive when traveling from point A to point B.  No, it's not an assault vehicle.  No, it has no cannons or fancy weapons.  It just has tons of armor and would survive a landmine hit on the undercarriage.  For that, a GI would say it's worth the $500k each.

Somewhere in the midst of events this past year....the idiots at Homeland Security decided that they needed these.  They bought three thousand of them.  You don't want to do the math on this....because it's a serious amount of money....thrown into the wind.

The expectation presently....because no one is talking much....is that they are going to hand them out.  Law enforcement will get them.  You can figure that the border patrol guys will get some.  The US Marshals service will get some.  The FBI will get some.  Most major cities will get some.

What are they getting?

Well....this is a vehicle with a high point of gravity.  That means that you will survive a land-mine episode.  Course, we don't have many land-mines in America.  This means if you are traveling at 55 mph (top speed for the truck)....and make a decent turn at some intersection....it'll likely flip over.

It'll also flip over if you are traveling at a good speed (say 30 mph) and hit a high curb.

They generally require communications and this means that you have several antennas on it....and while a tall vehicle....the antennas will hang taller than usual.  So when you hit an low-lying electrical line.....you might get a decent dose of electrical voltage.

At around three to five miles per gallon....you can figure one decent drive for the morning will burn up $200 of fuel very easily.  Larry, Bob and the local cops go to some big episode out in the suburbs?  Well....someone needs to refill on the way back home that afternoon.

A vehicle made for urban areas?  Not really....it's more for open roads.

A vehicle for breaching a house, fence, barn?  No....it's made to drive Larry, Bob, and the local cops from point A to point B.

Spare parts issue?  Anything that breaks for the first year or two...is covered by warranty.  But this is a vehicle that will eat up your operations budget after three years.  You can figure at least $10k of parts being required if you drive a fair amount.  Most agencies will realize this and limit it's use later to only really important events....mostly for show, and little else.  It'll be in town parades....just to show off their toy.

Waste of money?  Yeah.  You could have bought a Chevy van to get the cops from point A to point B.  It would have delivered everyone safely.  If you were looking for a tank?  Well....it's not a tank.  This is why the government is going bankrupt....buying toys for the "kids".

Monday, 4 March 2013

My Neighborhood

Last year, we had a pretty heated episode brew up at the University of Virginia....down in Charlottesville. For those who haven't heard of Charlosttesville....it's smaller Virginia town in the south of the state, with the claim of fame being the town next to Monticello (Thomas Jefferson's home).

The University had a Chancellor by the name of Teresa Sullivan.  Based on the description of her background....she was liked by the community and generally an executive who connected to students.  On the negative side....the college board....had visions of the University of Virginia going in a different direction.  It's safe to say that they realized that she just didn't have the business talents that they felt was necessary.....so they wanted her gone.

Well...student and local reaction went in a totally different direction, and a couple of weeks later....Chancellor Sullivan was back at her job.

In the last couple of months....Virginia's governor got into the mess, appointing a new Rector to the school board.  The way this business works....it's kinda like a business operation.  The Chancellor is the figurehead or CEO, but the board and it's chairman (the Rector) can put a list of goals out in front of the Chancellor and demand that they move in this direction.

Back in the fall....the Chancellor listed out a couple of goals and felt pretty safe that they were achievable and within the limits of her office.

Here in the last month....the Rector handed the Chancellor a list of 56 goals.  You can imagine the shock on the Chancellor's face with this list.  She immediately came back and said they were micromanaging the school and this list of 56 goals was not exactly something that you could accomplish in the time that she has.

I sat and looked over at the Rector.  Helen Dragas is the appointee by the Governor.  Her background?  Business.  She's not a lifetime university player.  She has a fair amount of knowledge on how you build and operate a business operation.

So what is this whole argument about?  Generally, the Washington Post and the rest of the Virginia newspapers tend to skip over this part of the argument....focusing mostly on the terrible woes of the Chancellor and the unfairness of 56 goals.

What the state leadership wants....is to turn the University of Virginia into a major operation....getting deeper into government research programs, government funding, science projects of a national-level, and this would all relate to bringing big name educators and professors to the university.  They want a big step up, and they know that Chancellor Sullivan is the type that simply maintains status quo and makes the local community happy.

If you asked most folks around Charlottesville, they'd say that the university is a nice quiet community and they like things the way they are.  They aren't exactly jumping on this wagon of growth and expansion.

As for the 56 goals?  That's a strange thing.  No one will talk publicly or mention in any news piece....what the 56 goals are for the current Chancellor.

The end result?  I'd predict a new Chancellor selected by this fall.  The longer this mess continues....the more comical it gets.