Thursday, May 29, 2008


First, the bike goes to the shop for a once-over tuneup and regreasing.  I’m going to get back in the saddle this summer.

Meanwhile, I’ve gotten my schedule for the first of 2 summer classes—Information Systems.  I “only” have to read 20 chapters, plus 7 case studies, plus a book (with report due at the end of June), by July 2.  That’s all.  No big deal.

Also, my dog hurt himself and I’ve been struggling with the potential of a “worst case” diagnosis.  It seems he’s hurt his neck somehow, possibly a strained muscle, possibly a slipped or bulging disk.  If it’s just a strain he’ll get better with rest over a few days.  If it’s the other, however, we’re talking surgery and the need for a very, very hard decision.  A decision I don’t want to have to make.



So, Rusty was in his kennel yesterday morning because doctor’s orders are for STRICT confinement through the weekend.  No activity at all, if possible.  Walks out back, but only long enough to take care of business.  My sweet, sweet son sees “dog-dog” in the kennel, clearly looking hurt and sad, looks up at me with a questioning look on his face to which I respond “dog-dog is hurt and can’t come out”, and the boy begins crying.  That boy is a pretty clever boy.  He comes home that evening telling us “dog-dog bobo”.  Yes, dog dog has a bobo.  Daddy is very worried.


But the beat goes on, da da dum de dum dum…

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Now we have it

Maxine Waters has threatened to socialize… um, um…  take over the national oil companies.


Question:  Faced with an unpopular war and an unpopular incumbent president, can the Democrats find a way to lose a general Presidential election not once, but twice?

Answer:  See Maxine Waters.


Oh bless their ingenuity with finding new and unusual ways to screw themselves.  And to think, if GWB had run unopposed against Kerry, he might have lost.  John Kerry deserves a pat on the back for that one…  who will get the pat on the back this time around?



In other news, my brilliant little baby boy put himself to bed last night.  He had a LONG weekend of playing with grandparents and cousins, and at about 5:30 last night—2 hours early, I might add—went out and found Doogie, then went to his diaper bag and dug for his pacifier until he found it, then marched off to bed without any prompting from either of his parents.  In fact, we were outside chatting with guests when he decided it was bed time.  A friend of mine had to intercept him and change his diaper and put on his pajamas before he made it all the way to his bed.

Clever kid.  He got that from me.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


The world has gone stupid…


Can someone please explain to me how a simple endorsement is in any way equivalent to 20 years of membership at a church?  How seeking and getting the endorsement of a pastor is in any way equivalent to sitting in the pews, contributing money, nodding and applauding, and supporting and defending a pastor who makes statements which are, at best, out of touch with reality and at worst patently irresponsible, misleading, and demagogic?


Can someone also please explain to me how members of a government who allegedly hold fast to the same ideals that built this great nation want to seize profits and condemn companies for making a (gasp) profit?!?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Why robbers get shot

The clearance rate for burglaries in Houston is something south of 10%.

That means less than 10% of the time the douche bag who broke into your place and stole your stuff will be caught.


Any wonder why these dirtbags get shot by vigilante residents?


I’m going to be getting my bike tuned up.  Maybe I’ll put in a “time equivalency” clause to my mile a day thing…  I already do that on the elliptical, even though it’s clear that 10 minutes on the elliptical isn’t quite 10 minutes on the road.


More later.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

2 Americas

I’m going to steal John Edwards’ campaign platform here for a second, because he was right about the premise—there are 2 Americas, one rich, one poor—but wrong about the context in this year’s election season.  There are two Americas where the “haves” have an easier time of getting more and with sound financial planning have a fairly comfortable time keeping what they have while the “have nots” have a tough time doing anything.  For example, my battery died yesterday.  Because I have a little socked away specifically for emergencies, this was no big deal.  I went out and plunked down $75 and got me a new battery.  However, there was a time when that would have been disastrous and I’d have had to go about piecing together transportation for a few weeks to put together a measly $75.

It’s a fact of life.

But what’s also a fact of life is that even though there are these “2 Americas” where the “haves” have and the “have nots” struggle, there is still the means available to the “have nots” to drag themselves out of that ditch and plod forward if they make smart choices and not dumb ones (read that to say “payday loans” and “credit card debt” and “spending rent on lottery tickets”).  No, it’s not easy, but good things rarely are.


But John Edwards’ campaign was wrong about the context.  The “2 Americas” he should have been talking about, and that is timidly being skirted around with Obama’s campaign, are the America that is and that America that could be.

Let’s not be coy about things.  The America that WAS has serious flaws.  As a group we’re an ignorant people, insulated from the greater hardships that befall the world (some of which we introduce, some of which we fight to expel), and unconcerned about the ways and customs of “others”.  We’re ‘Mericans, by gawd, and if they don’t like it, they can kiss our fancy asses!

But then there’s the America that COULD BE.  This is the America that you experience as individuals.  The one on one interactions that show the depth and breadth of generosity and caring and loving that’s rooted in our values of individual achievement and giving back  when you’ve been blessed so much in so many ways.  It’s the America that sees the guy in the rain on the side of a road trying to change a tire with a crappy little factory jack that stops and helps out with the hydraulic floor jack you have in your trunk.  Not because you SHOULD, but because you can.  It’s the America that brings a hot lunch to a neighbor who just had a baby because you know how crazy and hectic those first few weeks after becoming a new parent can be—or you can’t fathom that kind of hectic schedule and you feel that much more empathy.

These are the two Americas.  The America that has a great well of compassion and wealth that’s more than willing to share both with any cause out there, good or bad.  But there’s also that shallow, callous America that doesn’t understand that where giants trod, villages are inevitably smashed underfoot when no though is given to the proper path to be taken.  This is the America that perpetrated the relocation of Indian tribes.  This is the America that perpetrated lynchings, and segregation, and slavery.  This is the America that had Jim Crowe laws.  This is the America of Tuskeegee.  This is the America that has committed any number of morally ambiguous actions over the years in the name of a greater good, without thinking of the chaos being left in the wake.


I don’t consider an “America that IS” because in part the “America that IS” consists of a mishmash of the America that WAS and the America that COULD BE.  There’s this confluence of the two that at times has been historic in nature—see the 1960s and the 1860s—and sometimes it’s a little more subtle—see the 1990s.  But the “America that IS” is almost always a transitory beast that you can’t really put your finger on at any one point in time.  The America that COULD BE is always fighting a battle against the America that WAS and trying to put right the ills of the past and promote the promise of the future.  The America that IS promotes democracy in a war torn Lebanon in line with the hopes and dreams of the America that COULD BE while fighting against the elements that the America that WAS had an integral part in creating.  The America that IS has community education and outreach programs in place to help bring about the America that COULD BE in neighborhoods and cities that wouldn’t exist were it not for the flawed (and subtly racist) programs of the America that WAS.  The America that IS fights the crime, discontent, and disconnectedness that the America that WAS had a role in creating (ref. housing projects in Chicago for a prime example), in order to shepherd people out of that world of darkness and into that world of hope that the America that COULD BE represents.


The “America that could be” is what most of us are most familiar with.  This is the America of rising incomes and home mortgages and acquiring wealth and stability and hope.  This is the America where we live.  This is the America where, if we take care of our families and live within our means, we can do better than our parents.

But the “America that WAS” is an America that Rev. Wright preaches about.  It’s what the Jesse Jacksons and Al Sharptons of the world believe in where they see “Whitey” holding us down under every rock and around every corner.  A honked horn is a racial attack and not merely a notification from one auto to another in traffic. 


Sure, the America that WAS has flaws.  But that’s where the disconnect with what I believe to be the vast majority of Americans exists—because the vast majority know the America that COULD BE and sees THAT America in the America that IS winning out over the America that WAS.  And I think that’s what worries people about Mr. Obama.  He came from a place  that was intimately aware of the America that WAS and that seems to have trouble seeing the America that COULD BE in the milieu that is the America that IS.


That’s the conversation that needs to be had.  Not some ignorance about whether or not someone will wear some stupid button.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Big ass belt buckles and other stuff

Ok, so I came to the conclusion this weekend that running (an average of) a mile a day isn’t really that important to me.  Otherwise, I’d be doing it.

However, I do need to drop some LBs.  I’ve got to figure something out.


In other news, I finally got that big ass belt buckle.  To commemorate earning an “A-“ in statistics in Spring 2008, I went out and bought me a trophy.  It’s not huge, about as big around as a coffee mug.  But it’s big enough.


In my undergrad days, I took statistics 5 times.  Stat I was a D the first time I took it.  Then came Stat II with a pair of Fs.  So, back to Stat I where I earned a “C”, and back to Stat II where I got another “C”.  Now I’ve got an “A-“ to add to my FFDCC.


Thankfully, my undergrad GPA will not factor in to my graduate GPA.


More later.

Friday, May 09, 2008


Here’s a remarkable story:

A company in Minnesota was able to recover data from a hard drive that was in Columbia when it disintegrated during reentry.

That’s remarkable all by itself, but it’s not the remarkable part of the story.

The remarkable part of the story is that the Space Shuttle—the most complex machine ever built—runs hard drives with a capacity of only 340mb.  My jump drive has more storage.  Hell, my Ipod has more storage.  My notepad has more storage—the 200 page one, not the 150 page one.  Seriously, wow.

A close second, is that NASA runs programs in DOS.  Described in the article as “ancient”, I remember running DOS on my old Apple IIc.  I remember “run program.exe” commands on my old high school computer classes WAAAY back in the early 90s.  DOS?  Seriously?  Not some kind of in-house unix or linux based system?  I suppose running a DOS system does prevent viruses and such, since hackers would be using equipment and software fabricated this century.  There’s no way they’d be running a Mac OS, what with all the virus problems they’d have if they tried to invade another planet (a la Fourth of July).

Although, the Space Marines should seriously consider investing in some Mac based viruses…

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Stupid and poor

How long before either Hillary Clinton supporters, or Hillary Clinton herself, become offended that they are described as less wealthy and less educated.  It’s the same as saying successful, smart people support the other guy, but her supporters are stupid and poor.  Why, exactly, jump on that band wagon?

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

A "terrorist" from a different view

Ok, so I ranted for a few moments the other day about whining about oil and gas prices and how the REAL solution is to buy stock in Exxon/Mobil rather than capping earnings with some stupid windfall tax (or, if you prefer, nationalizing the company).  The beauty of our economic system (that SOME politicians would prefer to undo) is that profits from companies filter to the owners of those companies either through dividends or valuation.  In the case of publicly traded companies, every single one of us has the opportunity to take part in that success (or failure, as the case may be).

Consider the alternative.  That would be a nationalized company like… say…  Mexico’s oil and gas company that is larger than Exxon by several degrees, but isn’t NEARLY as profitable.  Why isn’t it as profitable?  There’s no profit motive.  The CEO of the company is a political appointee and his job is to ensure the maximum amount of cash goes back to the government (and/or his friends) with the minimum amount of payout.  Big capital outlays cost money that otherwise would be available to line his pockets and bank accounts.  The people of Nigeria don’t see a dime of their national resources—those funds go  straight back to the government that pisses the funds away on ruby encrusted mop buckets and guitars that are, like, double guitars (Simpson’s reference, bonus points if you know the episode).  Meanwhile, over here the owners of Exxon, that is, you and me and whomever else owns a large-cap mutual fund, experience the growth and success of the company (and, yes, if you own a large-cap mutual fund you are very, VERY likely to be an owner of Exxon/Mobile stock).

But back in Nigeria where the folks have no access to the profits of the national company it’s a different story.  You have situations where people who need fuel oil, or gas, or a little extra money, (or a stream of contraband funds to provide for a nascent militia force), will drive up to a pipeline and cut a hole in the side and install a valve.  From that valve they’ll fill up a tanker, seal the valve, then drive off to make $120 a barrel on their new-found resources.

The problem is that the valve won’t always be installed properly and it’ll leak, flow downhill, and eventually find an open flame.  We see “TERRORISTS BLOW UP SECTION OF PIPELINE IN NIGERIA”, when in actuality the story is more like “LEAK FROM VALVE IN SIDE OF PIPELINE CAUSES EXPLOSION”.

Of course, that’s not to say that EVERY explosion in a pipeline in Nigeria is a mere accident, but it is most certainly saying that EVERY explosion on a pipeline in Nigeria is not caused by some naer-do-wells hell bent on causing havoc for the pure joy of causing havoc.  Sure, sometimes a turd blows up a pipeline just for the sake of blowing up a pipeline.  But sometimes it’s just someone stealing bread because they don’t have money to feed their family.


Thank God we live in a place where we have the opportunity to share in the success of companies that are doing it right.  And maybe pray to the same that we don’t get stupid and elect someone who would undo that.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Speed Humps

I know, I know…  speed humps are great for neighborhoods.  They stop people from flying down your street between busy roads to avoid traffic.  They really are great at controlling speeds and should be a staple on any residential through-street that isn’t a main neighborhood artery.


They’re designed to limit the comfortable speed of cars in a neighborhood to 20mph.


They are excellent suburban and residential planning tools.


What they are not, however, is a speed bump, or stop sign, or electronic gate.


Let me repeat that for clarity.


Speed humps limit the comfortable speed of a car to 20mph.  They are NOT speed BUMPS, or stop signs, or some kind of magical, electronic, invisible gate.


So, to you wonderful, delightful folks out there who insist on coming to a near complete stop at these things in your giant trucks…  QUIT IT ALREADY!!!  They’re designed to go over at speeds up to 20mph—not come to a complete stop before you reach it and slowly creep over it.  IT’S NOT THE HIMILAYAS!!!!  It’s a slight rise in the pavement meant to remind you that HEY, DUMMY!!  KIDS ARE PLAYING AROUND HERE AND YOU NEED TO SLOW DOWN A LITTLE!!  It’s not meant for you to come to a complete stop.


I’m a big fan of driving carefully in neighborhoods.  On more than one occasion I’ve whipped eggs at cars driving too fast down my street.  Residential roads are not drag strips.  But you damn idiots that come to full stops at speed humps are going to get yourselves rear-ended, and you deserve it.


Also, I plan to run a few miles tonight.  (GASP!!)  Yea, I know.  Shocking.  Like electricity or something.