Saturday, 23 February 2013

The Plain Truth

In the state of Bama, there is an eternal battle between two university groups.  Typically, it's mostly about football.

After that, the Auburn crowd typically boasts of a vast number of engineers, veterinarians, farm science guys, and physics folks.

Alabama?  Well....they don't typically measure up in the same relative category.  They take in the business crowd, the history crowd, and have some pretty decent doctors that they produce.

It's kind of a sad fight.....two of the best universities in America....which attract a high number of international students, and eternally fighting over NCAA ratings, football players, and one single game in November that seems to matter.  You'd expect something better, but it's the only soap opera we can conceive in Bama.

Upcoming Furlough

This week at work....(in the Pentagon basement no less)....we got around to furlough acceptance version 2.0.

This is the point where you pretty much know it will happen....accepted the fact....and now wonder about how to maximize or use this 22-day period.

One guy I spoke to....has five or six days planned for minor yard-work, house painting, and cleaning the garage.  I asked about the remaining 18 days, and he just looked bewildered.  He hadn't got to a point of thinking on the vast nature of this.

Another guy had quietly admitted that his wife felt they could go and visit relatives in New York state more often (her relatives).  He wasn't that happy about that.

One of the older guys talked up this garden idea.  One of the younger guys talked up the idea of seeing more of Washington's museums.

Myself?  I live in a studio apartment....so there's no garage, yard, or vast list of things to do.  I could pick out twenty-two books to read....going back to the original Steinbeck list of mine and reading them a second time.  I could find some day-long cooking school in the area and actually learn how to cook Italian (pronounced I-TAL-an by southerners).

I could actually pull out the map of the Arlington Cemetery and actually walk the entire place in a circle.

I could venture over to southeast DC and see if I can get mugged or robbed.

I could hang out down at the Capital Mall area and talk to the Scientology guys (they always have a table set up and material to hand out).

I could actually go down to the Greyhound station in DC, and catch a bus out and ride cross-country for  thirty hours, before getting a train back into town.  You tend to meet some interesting people on cross-country buses.

There's the Arlington bus network which makes 7AM bus trips up to New York City....3.5 hours away.  I could venture up there and hang out til Saturday afternoon, and come back.  Bama guys tend to always have adventures in New York City.....meeting folks like Kramer or George Constanza.

I've got around eight weeks before this starts up.....so maybe there's adventures that I can get into.

We Used To

Once upon a time....we made Barbie dolls in America.  We made them here, and we sold them here.  From 1959 to 2002....we made Barbies here.  A decision was made....in the late 1990s, and by 2002....whatever was left in company production shut down.

It's safe to say that it simply added up on production cost, and even when you added the massive boat transport cost, and the movement from one continent to another....it simply made more sense to produce Barbie in China.

In the late 1990s....someone at Huffy Bikes sat there....added up the numbers, and talked to a few Chinese businessmen   Weeks later, the Chinese proved that they could make the same bike at a lot less than the American craftsman.

It's safe to say that it simply added up on production cost, and even when you added the massive boat transport cost, and the movement from one continent to another....it simply made more sense to produce Huffy Bikes in China.

For decades, Chuck Taylor tennis shoes were considered "the tennis shoe" that kids wanted.  NBA players played in Chuck Taylor shoes.  At some point in the 1980s....Chuck Taylor shifted operations, and ended up in Indonesia.

It's safe to say that it simply added up on production cost, and even when you added the massive boat transport cost, and the movement from one continent to another....it simply made more sense to produce Chuck Taylor tennis shoes in Indonesia.

For years and years....baseballs were manufactured in Puerto Rico.  By the late 1960s, the Rawlings Company who had the contract....had done the research and discovered that they could make the same ball for less....in Haiti.  Course, having Haiti under the "Papa Doc" DuValier regime didn't matter to the American public. After all the regime collapses of the DuValier family, Rawlings finally got smart, and moved to Costa Rica.  Even with cheap American labor in Puerto Rico....it was not enough to stay.

 It's safe to say that it simply added up on production cost, and even when you added the massive boat transport cost, and the movement from one region to another....it simply made more sense to produce baseballs in Costa Rica.

So then we come to Black & Decker.  For decades, their heart was in Maryland.  They were an industrial giant in Maryland.  The day came....the Chinese industry said they could make the same product for less than half the costs.  It was adios to US manufacturing.

Today, you go down the list: suitcases, backpacks, lighters, TVs, light bulbs, chocolate, flashlights, Craftsman tools, Stanley tools, guitars, and even G. I. Joe figures.....all made somewhere else today.

If you haven't figure out why your cousin Gus hasn't had a real job since graduating high school fifteen years ago....you might want to ask how much industry is left here.  For those who do remain....how many months are left before they pack up and leave for Asia or South America?  And when the final company leaves....then what?

Just something to think about.

The Best Of

There are around ten shows that I can watch over, and over, and over.  So I've come to rate the best of each one.

King of Queens:  The episode where Doug has agreed to show up at a big fancy party that Carrie's company is hosting....with Japanese folks.  Doug has starved all day, and discovers there's absolutely nothing there at the apartment to eat except these expired eggs in the refrigerator, which trigger him in the final moments to throw up behind a fancy Japanese curtain in front of everyone.

King of the Hill: The episode where Peggy is arrested across the border in Mexico and goes defending herself with what she thinks is four-star Mexican language, but it just doesn't translate like the real stuff. The Mexicans would like for her to just leave, but there's got to be a court episode to settle everything.

Andy Griffith: The goat who ate the dynamite....is the best episode ever.

Friends: The two-parter where everyone goes to Vegas.

Chapella's Show: It was a short-lived series, but when he did the black blind guy who thought he was white and confirmed to racist standards....it was probably one of the great moments of TV comedy.

The Office: There's probably forty great shows that I'd have to pick from....but the episode where Micheal seeks out to prove he has courage....by allowing Dwight to take him off into the woods and dump him off.  He's ready to come back after two hours.

Seinfeld: The episode where George admits that he's a marine biologist and in the final moments gives the two minutes description of how he saved the whale is one of the great moments of TV comedy.  Coming in a close second....is "The Jimmy" episode. And in third place: the episode where George does a job interview with the intent of not getting the job....instead, by insulting George Steinbrenner of the Yankees...George is then hired to the greatest dream job of his life...as an executive to the New York Yankees.  OK....I admit it....every single episode of Seinfeld is on my best of list.

The 70's Show: the episode where Red gets doped up, and sells Eric's car.

Newhart: Episode 65, where Darryl and Darryl win some kind of jingle contest and threaten to up and leave because success has changed them eternally.

Two and a Half-Men:  Charlie's girlfriend wants to introduce Alan to this wonderful gal that she has bumped into.  So the boys arrive at the restaurant and realize....it's Rose.  And things go downhill from that point on.  I will admit....if I ever had to pick some gal that I'd like to spend a bad date with....it'd be Rose.

What May Come

The President and a long list of media journalists wannabe guys....have hyped up the effects of Sequestration.  After a while, I decided that I would add my list of ten on top of their list.

1.  Fewer McDonalds fries are sold, thus creating a backlog of fries in Idaho, and suddenly Idaho potato farmers are left with tons and tons of excess potatoes.  The President later starts a special program....of around six billion dollars a year for a potato-welfare project.

2.  Government workers will buy out all of the paint that Sherman-Williams stocks....as they prepare to finally paint their garages (after twenty years of talking about this project but never doing it).  CBS's 60 Minutes crews will be asking where the shortage of paint came from, and if this was induced by paint companies themselves.

3.  The TV statistics folks discover this sudden surge in viewing for Mondays and Fridays now....with the History Channel's Amish Mafia reruns suddenly getting double the viewership that would normally occur.  Busloads of government workers take their furlough day off, go by bus to Amish territory, to actually meet and have lunch with the Amish Mafia crew.

4.  The President discovers that his Air Force One plane is diverted from landing in South Carolina for a speech....because the FAA tower crew are half-shifts for Monday.  He has to land in Georgia instead and ride eighty-eight miles to give some speech to a bunch of South Carolina farmers.

5.  Some government employees eventually figure out it'd be great to all hang out together on their day off.....get drunk off cheap beer....play softball....and get injured enough to stay out sick Tuesday and Wednesday each week as they recover from their one furlough day.

6.  The President does a unplanned show-up for a photo-op at some government agency....only to discover this was the day that sixty percent of the agency is off.  The agency goes out onto the street and recruits a hundred tourists to stand in, and act like government employees.....to fulfill the President's photo op.

7.  VP Joe Biden shows at a government agency for global warming on a unplanned visit.  Unfortunately, this is the day that Doctor Fred and Professor Carl are off on their furlough day.  Instead, he talks to Larry (the new guy) and learns that global warming is bogus, and VP Joe starts to repeat the facts that he picked....making the President and his staff very unhappy.

8.  By the eighth week of furlough, government agencies are reporting a very high incident rate of heart attacks.....as guys stay home.....attempt physical which they haven't done in years, and this triggers a massive manpower issue that no one expected.

9.  By the tenth week of the furlough business, Russian leader Vad Putin....finally decides to do a photo-op in the US.  He makes a dozen speeches....about the greatness of Russia....owing to the fact that his Russian government isn't bankrupt.  He repeats the phrase bankrupt sixteen times in each speech.  By the conclusion of the trip....every single American has learned the Russian phrase for bankrupt (обанкротившийся).  Sadly, even Fox News hosts start using the Russian phrase daily....upsetting the old American Conservatives greatly.

10.  Finally, after twenty-two days of doing furlough.....a number of American government workers have taken to bass fishing, and refuse to work the fifth day of each week....instead taking unpaid leave and fishing fifty-two Fridays out of each year.  The President admits later that they hadn't thought about this implication, and regret the Sequestration greatly for causing this obsession of bass fishing.

Simply Observations

At some point this week....locally here in the DC area....the small business operations suddenly woke up and grasped that if sequestration goes through....a bunch of government guys won't be around on either a Monday or Friday....which translates into less coffee bought....fewer burgers bought....less pizza sold....and less beer consumed.  This five-month period could rip into the 2013 profit goal.  They aren't happy.  DC has a unique situation compared against any other American community....they have no industry. Every business operation relies upon government employees or such....to survive.  So if sequestration starts up here....you can expect the local business community to be hostile over this, unemployment rates to rise, and a mini-crisis by DC region business operations.

Some smart guys sat around and did another survey, discovering that beards lessen the possibility of getting skin cancer.  It doesn't change much of anything.  You won't see a bunch of guys suddenly growing beards and saying it's because they want to avoid skin cancer.  It's just that it took the smart guys years and years....to come to see the connection here.  I imagine they will eventually discover that people who wear long-sleeved shirts all the time....also have a lesser chance of getting skin cancer.

Forbes went out and made up a list of the top miserable cities in America.  Naturally, Detroit made it easily to number one.  It's hard to outdo Detroit, with massive unemployment, and crime an accepted fact of life.  Who stays in Detroit?  This brings up an interesting topic....you'd have to have a significant amount of guts and courage, to continue living in Detroit.  You aren't a wussy here in 2013....living within the city limits of Detroit.  I'd probably Detroit residents at the top of the list for steadfast determination.  They know it's that bad, and yet still continue to stay.  It says something.

Finally, for the eleven million illegal aliens....just a hint here.  When this bill is passed into law this year.....there's not a single advancement on getting you legal status, until the border is secured.  Congress, the Senate, and the President....will absolutely do little to nothing to improve border security as this passes.  So unless you get all hyper yourself, and go out to put up the fence....not a single one of you will get legal status or citizenship.  You will watch and see these idiots in the Senate all pat themselves on the back as they pass the legislation, but it's basically worthless unless they did something for the fence requirement or security requirement.  Kind of comical.....a bunch of nothing....over nothing.