Thursday, December 30, 2010
That being said, the one list I tend to find or listen to or read is the one that reminds us of who we lost, who has passed from this earthly world. I read this not as a fascination of mortality or as a morbid curiosity, but as a passing farewell to those who I have known from afar as my life moves on. You find that you have heard of the deaths of most but every year there are one or two where the news slipped by or you just forgot.
This years deaths held some memorable personalities, some of long-time fame and celebrity while others held sway over several generations for other reasons. Some may not spring to mind as they aren't famous in the Hollywood sense but what they contributed was more than influential. As I place virtually no one of fame or celebrity on a pedestal, there were a few names that left me saddened as they were stars from my parents days.
If you are a list follower I hope you find one that tickles your fancy. I for one will look forward hoping the coming year brings joy and new discoveries.
Sunday, December 26, 2010
To some extent she is accurate. My gift list this year (which I only give out once prompted, actually prodded to do so) included warm socks, bourbon, a new remote for the garage door (as mine gave out eight months ago and I'm too cheap to buy a new one) and baked goods. I suppose as you get older baked goods are a very important step in the aging process. However, my daughter would someday like to open a cupcake bake shoppe. Why wouldn't I want some of those tasty morsels?
The older I get the simpler I need my presents to be. I have nearly everything I want that wouldn't be considered an extravagance. I don't want anyone buying me something they couldn't or shouldn't be able to afford. If I want something that badly I'll get it myself. The simpler presents are the best as they come from the heart and not actually from the store. My family together watching my grandson, his brother and the kids tear through packages makes the whole morning. Top that off with sharing those moments with My Beloved and that's all I need for Christmas.
Hope all had a wonderful Christmas morning. And, a hearty happy birthday to The Stache on his momentous day after. I always thought he got shorted a present every year to make up for the birthdays but I could never prove it.
See ya'll in '11.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
But what has it cost us? What are the benefits? In the everyday world, what have we used this new bounty for? We have a great new way to listen to music. It's an MP3 player in some form or variety. Back in the day it was a transistor radio. Guess which one you could listen to for free? Today, it's expanded televisions with high-def capability that you plug into the world of cables and satellites. Back in the day, television was plugged into a wall. Guess which one is/was free to watch.
Many things in the past were user fixable. I had to have a repairman come out to see why the television got such a crappy reception. He had to make adjustments, run a series of diagnostics, cut wires, change out a video box to fix the system. As handy a person as I generally am, not something anyone can do by themselves in the present day. Simple repairs now take an electronics degree and extra training on top of that.
The new electronic world has given us the computer and placed it in nearly every home. From my talks with my customers, about 85 percent of them can't do much more than turn it on and email or watch videos. Everything else is a mystery to them. A very small percentage of the population even knows what type of printer cartridge their machines use.
So, what have we wrought from all this technology? What benefit do we reap, the average citizen? We have spent colossal dollars to listen to music, play solitaire, watch television, talk on a phone and read what some idiot posts on an internet blog. Has this made anyone's life easier? Not in my book. Other than a few random acts during a week, most technology to the average Joe is highly overrated.
Sunday, December 19, 2010
As a long time manager and tasked with the job of getting people to accomplish things, I am very familiar with the workers and the fakers. Most are easy to spot but some may take a little more time to ferret out. The talkers are so busy talking about how to get things done and what should be done and in what order, most of the task is accomplished except the final acts by the time they join in the fray. This gets them out of most of the work and they help with the remnants which actually makes is seem as they did something.
The next group are those who work so hard at avoiding work they would actually do less if they simply joined the party and did the work. Every one knows them and every family has them. They are always at the family functions and seem to disappear when anything needs to happen. They must step outside to do something or run an errand just when the dishes need washed, dried, floor swept or anything else that accompanies a multi-family event. (Golly, Wally, did I just slide from work-place to family? How did that happen?)
The next group are those who simply get in the way. They try to help but always seem to be doing the wrong thing at the wrong time. When they get involved things get thrown into chaos and the work slows to a snails pace. They are generally not very organized and you can see it in most everything they do. It's best to give them other tasks to do which have nothing to do with the main event. As is the case, this should also be done in work situations.
Finally, there are those who simply get the job done. They have a sense of organization, protocol and timing and just know when to do things and in the proper order. Every work place needs these people as does every family at a family event. They are the first to arrive and the last to leave. They aren't waving goodbye when the last few items need finished. They are the ones who sweep the floor and turn out the lights, even though it wasn't their event to do in the first place.
Here's to the workers and the getter-doners; Merry Christmas and thanks for the party.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
A right is something everyone should be able to expect in society. Walking down a street in safety is a right. Being able to operate a motor vehicle is a privilege. One takes permission and a modest amount of practice and skill. And from what I observe on the open road daily, very little practice and very little skill. Air travel is not a right or a privilege. There are alternate ways to arrive at your destination it just may not be as convenient.
There are rights guaranteed us by our constitution. Many norms of society should be a right. But just because you want to do something doesn't make it a right. Many complain about rights to privacy. In my area red-light cameras are often argued as an invasion of privacy. No, if you are in a public place there is no privacy nor right to privacy. Likewise, if you choose to travel by airplane you must accept the norm of inspection. It's not the same world it was in 1999. One function of the government is to protect it's citizenry. Terrorist attacks are no different than an invading army on public security. If you are embarrassed by a scanning machine, ask for a pat-down. If you think a physical search is too 'personal' don't fly. Personally, I would only draw the line on a physical search if someone cupped their hand and placed in on my scrotum. Eight inches away isn't any different than three inches away. Horseshoes and hand grenades.
If you don't want the hassle or what you think is embarrassment, go Greyhound. The only right in air travel is the right to travel safely.
It is my favorite picture of her.
My eyes mist up every time I study that picture as I think about her determination, her "look out world, here I come!" outlook that was so tragically snuffed out ten years ago today.
We love you, Baby, and miss you more each day.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
The question took me off guard and required a few moments of thought. When does one become a man? Could it be different for different people? Certainly. Do some actually never become real men? Absolutely. I would however think there is a generally universal theme or time when one graduates from being a young man to a man.
Is one a man when he graduates from school, be it high school or college? I would say no. Having the physical attributes of an adult male has nothing to do with becoming a man. Some may argue a soldier is now a man. Some yes, some no. The dangers one faces in the armed forces generally doesn't make one become a man. It may hasten the process, however.
Does one become a man at, say twenty-five? No. Again age doesn't necessarily have much to do with it. How about thirty? Gosh, I would hope so. But why? That person is certainly older and in the eyes of the public looks like a man. If you walked down the street and saw him, you would certainly say he was a man but outer appearances can be deceiving. So what is the answer?
I can't speak to another's viewpoint but I would offer the following. A young man becomes a man when the world stops revolving around himself. He moves out of a self-awareness and becomes aware of a greater world, a greater responsibility. His family becomes more important than himself. His relationships with others change and often he may be secondary to others needs. As a young man a life is often viewed as a straight line. He is here and there is where he wants to go. He sees his future as an arrow. Unfortunately the world doesn't work like that and ones future and dreams takes a weaving course and being a man is how you deal with those changes while you maintain your relationships.
Life is a construction project and being a man is to be the best foreman you can be while respecting and keeping the respect of others while staying true to your underlying principles.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
There isn't much left of the true communist states. Oh a few rogue countries in South America, Cuba and North Korea. But look at the state of their people. Their economies are completely reliant on others often with chronic food or other shortages. It has become apparent over time that the North Korean government is shaky at best and will do nearly anything to keep themselves propped up including starving their own people for yet another winter.
Those who continually propose, 'just talk to them and everything will be just fine', a blind peace-activist only position, don't understand how the real world works. You can talk to the bully down the street but when he doesn't want to talk any more or you make him feel inferior due to your intellect, the gloves come off. Any government (or person) who is in a weaker negotiating position can't argue from a point of strength. That's when talks break down.
North Korea won't sit down to talks because they have nothing to offer other than not shelling their neighbor. Give us want we want and we won't kill anyone. That's just not good enough any more. As I was formulating this ramble today I read an article concerning China's lack of influence with their ally. Even they can't strong-arm North Korea to start becoming a citizen of the world. It was suggested they could tolerate a unified Korea as long as U.S. troops were not on the ground.
The world isn't what it was in the fifties, sixties and seventies. Even communist China realizes communism doesn't work any more and it may be time to make the 'little bully' down the street put up or shut up. Wikileaks or not, you can't turn your back on your friends and allies no matter what you think of 'Uncle Sarkozy'.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
That leads me to my ramble for today. I was speaking with an associate at work and he commented on a particular song playing over the store's speakers. He was surprised it was such a religious song. He was sure the company would only have non-ecumenical songs playing so not to offend anyone. I understood his reasoning as he is a rather bright young man then gave him some of my own home-schooled wisdom. Besides, who wants to go through this most joyous season if it is painted only 'beige'?
Although our government is prohibited by our founding fathers from establishing a national religion we are undoubtedly a Christian nation. That is not to say citizens can not worship how they please, but we generally follow the Christian fundamental principles. I have found most who protest Christmas trees and other symbols of the season on public lands are narrow-minded and can only see the world through their foggy focal prism. They are unable to see other points of view or are unable to rationalize them to their beliefs. Perhaps they are afraid their world will crumble if they must open their minds to others.
What makes this country great is the wealth of opinions present and the differing views that abound. Those who push for a religious symbol of the season to be allowed must then tolerate another's. I know of no other prominent religious symbols that spring up as things do in the Christmas season, but if one did during Ramadan or some other month-long celebration of faith it should be allowed to stand as well. Those who don't believe in a particular religious system must learn to tolerate it as others have done for the Christmas season.
If I say Merry Christmas and you have a snide remark about that holiday saying, don't look for me to apologize for my beliefs and say I'm sorry. That's a 'your' problem, not a 'my' problem.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
I have wandered the corridors of this particular venue many times in the past twenty years for various family members. It isn't the closest but it is where I would prefer to be taken should anything arise. The building is older and has been expanded over the decades but the staff has always been excellent to my family.
That all being said, I can barely find my way around the place. Does anyone else have this issue? And it just isn't this hospital. Nearly every home of healing I have ever visited is like a hedgerow maze. Corridors twist and turn often with long stretches of hallway with no doors only to pop out into a lobby where you have five choices to go. I always seem to pick the wrong course when that happens. No matter how well signed these places are I become dubious when I walk the hallways.
Perhaps it is the medical field in general that has this issue. There are some doctor's offices I have been to that are just as confusing. Left, left, right and right again. It shouldn't take a map and a flashlight along with a GPS to get where you are going in an office no larger than my house. One of the tenets of architecture is to not only make a building functional and aesthetically pleasing but to make it practical to traverse. I suppose doctors and nurses get used to finding their way around but I'll bet the newbies get just as lost as the visitors. "I'm sorry nurse, I got lost on my way from radiology. What do you mean the patient died?"
Perhaps I will see if they have a map on-line the next time I visit. That and a compass could make the journey a little less confusing. And by the way, Pops is getting better. He's a tough old bird, like seven day old jerky.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
If you thought the airport travel lines were a pain in the backside before, you ain't seen nothin' yet. Apparently, though, there are certain someones who do see everything a person has on offer, even if it is not being offered, all brought to you discourteously by the Federal Grab, Grope, Molest and Peek-a-Boo Agency, more formally known as the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
Reports are flying in (pun intended) with regard to the so-called enhanced security procedures that are now in place in airports, unless you are a pilot, a politician with a security detail, or some other kind of Washington bigwig. It seems that the TSA people may be employing unconvicted molesters to do thorough "pat down" searches that are embarrassing, humiliating, and quite possibly unconstitutional (see 4th Amendment to the Constitution). All for refusing to go through a full body scanning device that can show in great detail every part of your body normally covered in public. It is akin to Superman using his x-ray vision to scope out everyone's anatomy.
Our political "betters" tell us that we must not profile people, as that is a form of racism or discrimination, so, therefore, nuns, 80-year old grandmothers, and 6-year old boys are being physically groped to see if they are concealing a bomb or other weapon before they board an airplane.
Don't want to be subject to a federal employee sticking his hand where the sun don't shine? Just walk through an image machine that can detect if you have been circumcised. Oh, but they cannot see a person's face, they say. Who cares about a person's face if you can get your jollies by looking at a woman's naked body or a man's or boy's package?
Rather than do something sensible like profiling or identity-checking for all passengers, such as the Israelis do, our government has decided all of us who fly should get to experience either having your body exposed to x-rays or having someone feel you up (and down).
It is too bad the election earlier this month did not displace the current president. It would be nice to have someone in DC say, Enough! No more enhanced "pat downs"!
It seems we will have to wait another two years before we can have a chance to put a stop to this nonsense. Even if the newly elected US House majority would pass a bill to ban these type of intrusions into our liberties, the Senate and president would never go along.
Unless THEY had to experience what we must endure! Then it would stop in a heartbeat!
Monday, November 15, 2010
This was built to a 3/5 scale of the original, the permanent Memorial in Washington, D.C. While I was there, I learned a few things about this exhibit. The one I visited was actually one of five that are traveling throughout the country. Each is slightly different, but all are modeled on the original. This particular Wall takes from 3 1/2 to 8 hours to assemble or disassemble and prepare for travel. The setup time varies because of the terrain on which it is displayed. A concrete surface, such as we had, is ideal, and leads to the shortest assembly time.
Each piece is numbered for assembly and breakdown, and has a designated spot on the 32-ft trailer for ease of packing. The Wall I saw was owned by a veteran's group from Florida.
Our local school district displayed a number of photographs and drawings from each school, and individual students contributed some of their efforts around the general military theme. There was also a display showing each of the young men from our county who had died in the Viet Nam War, complete with biographical details and a photograph of each soldier.
As I was making my way through the Wall viewing area, I was struck by the number of "Jrs" who were listed there. I thought, each of these families wanted to carry on the father's name, only to have it snuffed out while serving our country.
I also had several lines from the Statler Brothers' song "The Wall" run through my mind; most frequently was, "Oh Lord, could you tell him, he's more than a name on a wall?"
Viewing this exhibit was a moving and sobering experience for me. It gave me pause to think how fortunate I am that I did not have to go through what these brave young men did, and men and women like them still go through today.
Friday, November 12, 2010
There is something different about the change in this season. The colors are brighter and crisper and the sky is bluer. I suppose a scientist would likely explain it has to do with the angle of the sun. Perhaps. The light is not as harsh and the world just seems more vibrant and alive. Odd when you would think that all the plants are dieing. But with the shortening of the days we all begin a semi-hibernation. We all adjust to the cooler/colder temperatures with rituals. Some start in the kitchen with foods you wouldn't have in the summer. Big family meals with meat and potatoes wouldn't be regular fair on a summer's Sunday. It is internal. It is a warming we feel as we escape the rigors of the outside world and a cozy fire locked away from the cold nights.
We have returned to standard daylight time. I for one wish they would forget this process. What we gain in the morning we lose at night. We no longer live in a sun up to sun down world. The agrarian lifestyle has moved urban and we dwell in a virtual twenty-four hour world. I am though a creature of the light. Although there are times when the evening and night worlds hold my interest, nothing satisfies me more than a warm sun. It is harder in the winter to gain this satisfaction as the mid-western world is generally overcast and gray. Toward the end of winter I will take what few opportunities there are and sit in the sun in my den and let the light wash over me. It renews my spirit and to some extent my soul.
I do like the winter months. It is a time of great joy and festivals. It is Thanksgiving and the Christmas season, the start of a new year and an ending with Easter. I do not hate the snow as others do. I remember the fun times I had as a child and am looking forward to seeing how my grandson reacts to his first romp in the "white death" with his Paw-Paw.
As we hunker down for the end of the year, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. And may Miss Texas enjoy her first down-home winter.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
I had a techno-challenge moment today. We were leaving to run some errands and meet with family for a fund raiser and were packing things into the car. I hit the trunk button on the remote and...nothing. Like everyone else, what do you do? You keep hitting the stupid button sure in your mind it will eventually work. Hey, the other buttons worked. At last I gave up and retrieved the second set of keys and the other remote. Same result.
Now I was beginning to get fuzzled. I opened the drivers door and hit the 'manual' button. Again, nothing. I hit it again, and again. Nothing. I was beginning to get worried. How are we going to load up?
Then, My Beloved hit on the solution. Uhm, you could put the key in the lock.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
If you chose to participate in the electoral process, Congratulations!
Regardless of whether "your side" won or lost, you did something that is a fundamental right for American adults. It is a privilege as well as a right to be able to do so. It may sound corny to some, but men and women have given their limbs and lives to enable you to vote for the candidate of your choosing.
Beloved Father worked for many years at the county Board of Elections, much of that time spent as a humble bookkeeper. While that may not sound exciting, over the years he did many things not directly related to his duties as the bookkeeper that helped to make the election process as smooth as possible. He worked behind the scenes, and it was not unknown for him to put in a 20-24 hour day, especially on primary election days.
He involved all of us at election time when we were of age, moving and delivering voting machines, tabulating results, and helping out with whatever was needed. We received payment, of course, but that was not the reason we did it. We helped him because he asked, and we could, such was our respect for him, and, by osmosis perhaps, we became ingrained with the notion that what we were doing was important; it mattered.
We were never preached to about voting and doing our duty as citizens; rather, it was expected by his (and Sainted Mother's example as well), that we would register, keep informed enough on the candidates and issues so as to make an educated choice, and vote. And then do it again when the next election time rolled around.
It was a lesson learned, one that I have been following for the 37 years it has been my privilege to be called a voter.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
I read an article recently as to how the younger generations are not loyal to car brands. Back in my formative years there were really only the U.S. brands to choose from. Other than the VW bug there were not practical or affordable autos from other countries. Cars from companies such as Mercedes were (and still are for me) too expensive to afford. British cars couldn't be driven more than a month without a major repair and the offerings from Asian makers didn't hold up to the style and power of the American cars. Oh how times have changed.
Today's prime targets for automakers don't look at cars the same way I did, and to some extent still do. I use vehicles in the functional process such as just getting to work and hauling things to and fro. In years past the upgrades that were 'cool' were wheel covers, stereos and adding a tach to the dashboard. And if you really wanted to go on the edge you hooked up fog lights. Back then they weren't driving lights. I still own a twelve year old Isuzu that does what I need it to do. (And would look really cool with a set of fog lights).
As this blog should indicate, I understand the interconnected world. I try to move forward with it as best as I am able. But when does technology for technology's sake just not make sense. I have no interest in a car that 'syncs', parks itself or has a spot to drop in an iPod. Those extras have no value for me. These are the upgrades that appeal to the new generation of buyers, not a rambling fifty year old man. Sure, kids are likely cooler than I ever was.
It is a techie generation and it is the gadgets that the car buyers will flock to in the future. Our fathers purchased cars because their fathers purchased the same ones. Dear old uncle Herb would only own a Buick, I guess even if that same Buick fell apart as he drove down the highway. Todays buyers simply have more and better choices than we did growing up.
Still, I don't understand the appeal of the rice rockets that power away sounding like someone farting in a tin can. It just doesn't do it for me when I hear the deep rumble of a Mustang. I think I'll go to the parts store this week. I heard fog lights were on sale.
Friday, October 29, 2010
As I am fascinated by the oceans and the seas and water in general, something that has long had a pull on me, the question pops to mind, if you could do anything you wanted to do what would it be? Before you answer that or think about it you get to take this into consideration. When you start your new career tomorrow, you are endowed with the skills and knowledge it takes to do this job. In essence, you already have trained your entire life for this career. What would it be?
Many would pick glamor jobs, brain surgeon, astronaut, pilot etc. Perhaps it is a higher intellectual pursuit such a mathematician or astronomer. If that time ever came I think I would become an oceanographer. The physical study of the oceans and the life within has always held my interest. Two of the sites I have bookmarked are Woods Hole and Harbor Branch Oceanographic. I pull them up periodically to see what the latest projects and areas of study have become. Where are their ships and what are they doing?
Have some fun with it and if anyone wants to chime in leave your choice in the comments. And no fair picking what you already do if you are someone as smart as First Niece (Appfilly) who is an engineer. You have to pick something else.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
And it gets worse. In your forties you still think you have the moves to compete but then you find out you can't move your legs the next day. In your fifties, all hope is lost. Our week in Hilton Head was relaxing. We had a chance to romp in the ocean, stroll down the beach and lay pool-side. Several days into this demanding schedule I began to notice something. I watched for an hour and verified my 'scientific observations' over the next few days.
Down at the beach most of those in the water were children or men with fishing poles. We had one intrepid gentleman with a metal detector waist deep in the waves. The water wasn't cold but did have a slight chill to it. The pool however was just cold. I watched as adults slid around the pool and waded waist deep into the blue abyss, but virtually no adult (sans me) got their head wet!
Both men and women swam around without letting their locks touch the water. I will say more women were in the water than men but it was the same story every day. When did we become so grown up that we couldn't get our head wet on vacation. I understand women are extremely finicky how their hair looks at any particular minute of the day and most men just don't care. But to be ocean-side and splash in a pool and stay dry leaves all your childhood tendencies in the dust, a sellout to the adult world of rules and conservatism. It's not that your head has to stay dry because you're going out to dinner later. Jeesh, you still have to take a shower due to all the sun lotion and sweat.
So, come on, let out your inner child and dunk someone! (Except for North of 50 whose head swells like a basketball if he gets water in his ear). You are exempt, all others, play like you're ten. That's what a vacation is for.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
As we grew we still ran in some of the same circles. We swam together at the local pool. I helped teach you to swim at the puddle. You looked out for my safety and others as the lifeguard and we were only a year apart in high school.
That was when our worlds began to diverge. We took different paths although on the surface they were similar. You took the biggest step by moving away. I helped to bring you back once, but you moved away again. But the years again began to bring out the similarities in our lives. We both have families, children we love, a grandchild for me and someday for you, my children grown and yours nearly so, at least the eldest of them.
We have experienced the loss of our parents, those that set us on our path and guided us along the way letting us make our own success and mistakes, and now we are the adults, the leaders of our families. We move into a world again together though it is one a thousand miles apart, a world neither of us have ever experienced. I look forward to being your guide and running mate once again on the second half of our lives.
Welcome to the world of 'over 50'. The best is yet to come. I love you dearly.
Happy birthday, Baby Sis
Monday, October 18, 2010
My favorite other moments have been watching the children gallop around the beach. Being away from my boy I can only imagine what he would be doing as he discovered the ocean for the first time. (He is days away from nineteen months of age). I imagine him running in and out of the water then stopping as his feet get wet, screaming and hollering and laughing. He does that a lot. I watched today as a young boy about three or so ran after his brothers with a bucket in his hands down to the waves. They all stopped and threw their pales down and started digging in the sand. It was pure discovery. There was a time when all young boys discovered their world this way. Now, everything seems to be behind the screen of a game or a computer. I understand how facts can be gained this way but pure discovery is from learning first hand.
Later in the day another boy chased two butterflies around the beach trying to shoot them with his squirt-gun. They flittered and fluttered about as he ran behind them. Another five year old dug himself a hole in the sand and putted a golf ball with an iron. Each time success was had he reached into the hole and pulled out the ball raising his hand just like the pros do on Sunday.
Too often children vegetate in front of a screen, be it computer, game or television. I was fascinated to watch as I realized children can still play without being plugged into the electric world.
There's nothing like learning with sand in your hair.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
The role of the snitch has always put one in the company of a rat, one step above gutter slime. Often the tales told are between men, but what type of man? I have never heard a woman use the term snitch, at least that I can recall. The snitch term always pops up in prison movies, gangster films and similar genre. But when you discover an injustice, what would you do about it? Our moral upbringing, most people, say to stand up and do the right thing. Stop the injustice, correct the wrong. But then the whispering starts; snitch.
That often puts the snitch into a untenable position. Do what is right or face the wrath of others. I ask you though, what is the quality of the people that put the whistle blower in such a position? I would guess those who speak ill of the snitch aren't the type of people I would want to associate with anyway. In the real world pressure to keep quiet can be enormous. Someone works hard to establish a reputation and build a better life. Then, out of nowhere they can be faced with such a moral decision. They must consider how they would be putting everything they worked for in jeopardy.
I would propose those who belittle the snitch likely would be the same ones who would take part in the deception but no one has asked them to. They would often think twice about it but would at some point jump on the bandwagon. Think of a good 'cop show' that has taken on this type of storyline. Think of the cop who often is the best friend of the snitch. What happens to him. He always seems to be the one trying to talk the snitch out of uncovering the mess. Don't risk it, he says.
There are a myriad of things to consider when you step forward to do the right thing. The thoughts of those who would belittle you as a snitch aren't worth the brain power.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
My way home each day takes me on a highway overpass that overlooks a long stretch of tracks. They are by their nature nondescript as railroad tracks go, straight as an arrow resting on a bed of stone and earth higher than the surrounding points. They are flanked on either side by a long row of trees. Each day, if traffic permits I find myself snatching a glimpse over the rail watching the tracks disappear in the converging distance.
For some reason, trains themselves have little appeal to me, be they old fashioned or modern monsters. However, I find the tracks and structures of a railroad fascinating. Actually, I find them more intriguing when they are empty, sans locomotive. Perhaps the engine and all its cars represent the here and now, a passing by on the way to a destination. The tracks however don't give me that impression. They are a road to somewhere else, a possibility, never fully realized. They have potential, a treasure map to a far off place.
I don't know if I'll ever take a train ride to see where any tracks may lead, or ride on a trestle as it passes over a gorge or a hidden river, but I may walk a mile down the rail just to explore.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Tonight, I listened to a news interview on Walter Cronkite's network. Katie Couric interviewed several people that were unemployed in Ohio. They discussed the tremendous loss of jobs in the state and how these people viewed the election in November. As they spoke it seemed to me they all danced around the issue. Sure the economy stinks, jobs are scarce and the country is in debt up to our eyeballs. They all touched on these topics to an extent. The Democrats want to do this and the Republicans want to do this. However, no one addressed what I believe the real issue has become.
Perhaps I'm just late to the party, or it has taken fifty years for me to see the light, but the problem isn't the economy or jobs or any other one thing. The problem we have is a group of elected officials who are more interested in pointing fingers at each other and getting re-elected than anything else. We now face as turbulent a time as nearly any in my lifetime. Not since the threat of the cold war and the civil rights era has this country faced problems of this magnitude at one time. But instead of rolling up their sleeves and putting aside their differences, life rolls on in our elected capitols with nothing of substance accomplished. They may claim otherwise but I believe that is the perception of the public.
We elected these persons to solve the issues of our times and yet they either can't, or won't. We hear platitude upon platitude and then get legislative bills so massive to be voted on that no one has the time to read them, let alone decide what the consequences would be. And lets just tuck a passage into the health care bill about building gopher damns in Minnesota or some other such nonsense, and we'll figure out how that affects us after we pass it, along strict party lines.
It's coming close to a time when we do away with the party system and force everyone to run on their own merits. God knows we couldn't do any worse. It's time the politicians actually do the job they were sent there to do; work for the people that elected them. We'll never have a perfect world but this is ridiculous.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Frito-Lay, the maker of, among other delights, Sun Chips, recently came out with a new 100% recyclable chip package, replacing their previous, non-recyclable chip package. While the idea was fine, the execution left something to be desired. The new package was harder to open, and made enough noise to wake the dead. Make that, enough noise to wake Adam and Eve.
And then, the revolt of The People began! Complaints flooded into the Frito-Lay offices by the bagful, and this week Frito-Lay announced that they would be returning to their previous chip bag incarnation, you know, the one that will outlast the end of the planet.
I know many people who took the chips out of the bag and transferred them into a gallon size baggie to make it easy on their ears.
Power to The People!
Thursday, September 30, 2010
I meandered around through the wonderful aisles of savings and made my way back to men's suits. Now, it has been years since I purchased a new suit, too long actually. I believe it was about the time Baby Sis and Mr. Krinkles said their vows. My Beloved thinks it was the year Beloved Father passed away. Either way, a good suit should last more than ten years, shouldn't it? At least I can still fit in it. (I guess that's not the same as it actually fitting).
I pulled a coat off the rack and slipped it on. It was comfortable. My usual issues involve jackets fitting under the arms and across the shoulders. I popped in front of a mirror and, bam! It hit me. Putting on that coat aged me ten years. Most middle-agers I guess see themselves about ten years younger than they are, but I now looked like my drunken Irish uncles of Sainted Mother's heritage. My face aged like Bill Clinton's and my jowls dropped an inch. Slipped the coat off and there I was again! Me, in my stylish docker style slacks and ribbed V neck shirt! On, off. On, off. Old man, younger man. It was amazing.
This vision was unsettling as I now looked like I could slide into an old Polaroid photo that never truly developed full color. Not the image I'm currently going for as both myself and N of 50 have dropped a few pounds and worked to maintain our awesome physiques. But I guess no matter how hard we try life marches on and the heritage we keep at some time blossoms forward.
But I'm not going down without a fight!
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
The previous example may seem to stretch the boundaries to most but that scenario is very common. Many simply don't want to abide by the normal rules of behavior. If you wonder why it is difficult to get your point across to a customer service person, it's situations like these that make us weary. We want to believe you, we really do but we also must make the best decision we can with the information available.
My faith was restored the other day when a customer returned to my store. He had recently purchased a pricey item, over $500 which was ordered for him and was to be shipped his home. I had never met him as I was not involved with the original sale. The transaction didn't happen as it should have but after a series of conversations involving my corp office the money was refunded in cash and the item returned.
After solving this problem he was happy with the result and I was unsure as to why he needed to see me. He walked up and handed me an envelope containing a check for over $500 from our corporate office. They had mistakenly sent him a check for the returned item.
This customer has restored my faith and I made sure to let my staff know what he did. I know this person could use the money, he is not well-off by any means but he chose to do the right thing. There are still those out there worthy of our help and those are the people that keep me in the service business.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
I generally believe free trade will work in the long run and lift the lives of those in impoverished countries around the world. The one thing others need to realize as they push for the betterment of conditions is that those conditions will never match those of first-world economies. In some places making five dollars a day is really making it.
But there comes a time when we must take care of ourselves first. In a troubled economy Ohio or any state can't afford to outsource jobs to anywhere. Outsourcing is fine if there are other jobs that can be absorbed by the working/middle/lower classes that pay either equal amounts or better. In this shrinking economy there are few jobs to be absorbed. The other aspect that has to be address is this needs to be a two-way street. If we are outsourcing jobs to India or anywhere else, what is coming back to us in fair market value? Products produced can be an aspect but it is only one possible return. We're giving you jobs when we can least afford it, what are you giving back?
Outsourcing can't just be a one-way highway with outbound lanes. Any company that proposes outsourcing jobs should be required to maintain a job bank for those workers or lose tax breaks or other government sponsored benefits they may have enjoyed in the past. Although I don't believe government should 'punish' companies for behaviors those companies must work for the common good in a time of downturn. In the long run they will be protecting their profits in the future when this slide finally fizzles out.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Yesterday, I had the 'privilege' of holding a garage sale. It was a community event for my subdivision so that nearly guaranteed a decent turnout assuming the weather cooperated. (It did). Beloved and I decided it was time to pull out all the stuff from the crawl spaces that hadn't seen the light of day in over ten years. I then spent nearly three hours hunched over dragging boxes and assorted stuff to the end of the space. Over the next three/four days we cleaned and sorted, priced and presented all the leftovers from our life. Several friends and family members from nearby also brought items to donate to the cause. By the end of it all, our garage was packed with all manner of trinkets, baubles and bed knobs, not to mention furniture, a wetsuit, old tools and the like.
Then came the fun part. We opened the doors and awaited the fruits of our labors to all that would attend. As we live on a corner lot I assumed we would see a fair amount of traffic, and we did. As I helped our customers and generally strolled around I would look through the items recalling how they came to be with us in the first place. Some were gifts, others mementos of vacations, still others items we worked or played with. Several held special meaning, others not so much.
Then, it started, "I'll give you a dollar!" It occurred to me I was bargaining away what had once been dear to me. I have owned two golden retrievers for nearly thirty years and letting go of a certain figurine I once displayed proudly on our mantle made me feel as I was betraying my furry children.
But as the day wore on, I realized the things are that, just things and it will never diminish the memories I have of either of them. My drafting table sold, less clutter for the basement, the scuba gear gone meant not moving it randomly from one side of the crawl to the other every time My Beloved sent me to search for something. Even the small things that are now useless for Ragin' Cage were easily disposed of. His bouncy saucer doesn't now fit his running lifestyle, but I have the memory.
It's the memories, not the stuff that makes up a life. I'm quite sure I'll gather enough crap to have another sale in ten years, heaven forbid.
Monday, September 13, 2010
Now the spot is targeted at the average American taxpayer and is paid for by the energy pacs and companies. They spout that an energy tax would be paid for by the average citizen at a time we can least afford it. At some level, that may be true but that is not my point here.
The next time you hear this spot, listen to the accents. The voices are very average American, an Asian male voice, an African-American man and woman and a white southern female voice. Although some may say I am being not very 'PC' by identifying the race of the voices, get your head out of the sand. Why do you think those voices were chosen in the first place? Listen also to the lines and cadence. None are grammatically correct or flawless as they would be if spoken by an actor. That is of course if you believe they are not actors playing the role of the average citizen.
At times we are all just standing in lines doing as we are told and when we can we must break through the 'message' and listen to the delivery. This one is a play directed right at our wallets in a time of fiscal uncertainty. Make the call for yourself. Do you want to listen to Act Two?
Thursday, September 9, 2010
A local government entity is often no better than the enormously bloated national government we all get exasperated with, and we can only shake our head in wonderment at how inept and full of red tape a bureaucracy can be.
A long-standing local community tradition in Columbus involves the East High School Marching Tiger Band parading through the neighborhood around the school as they make their way from the school to their home football field about a half-mile away prior to every home football game. The community supports and enjoys this tradition by turning out to watch, appreciate, and encourage the band's efforts, which, sadly, are often better than those of the football team.
The school pays $251 for off-duty police officers to supervise the crowd at the games, plus $90 for a police escort for the band's parade. The streets involved are closed off for the duration of the short parade, and there has never been a complaint, problem, or incident during the march.
Nevertheless, despite the presence of the police as escorts for decades, the city has (just) now become aware of the parade, and has informed the school that the band now needs a parade permit for the band to march to the football field. The cost of said permit is $110.
For each game.
The Dept. of Public Safety says that any street closing to accommodate processions of people requires a permit for safety reasons. They say the streets need to be shut down "properly", and that "officer awareness" was another big reason why a permit is needed. Apparently, it takes a bit of money for the police to be "aware" of the parade; you know, the one they have been unaware they have been escorting for decades. Now that they are "aware" of the parade, I certainly hope they are now able to shut down the streets "properly".
A spokeswoman for the Department said she had no answer as to why a permit was never required before. She said, "As far as our part goes, we didn't realize they were actually closing the street down."
Right hand, left hand, anyone?
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
But RT, he's not just going to school, he's playing sports, you say. True, but you can't split the whole in this case. He has to do both. He must attend classes and pass the coursework (depending on what school you go to). The athlete gets his schooling paid for, housing and all his meals and many medical expenses. That is a tremendous expense to cover for any organization or family. Even if you call it something else, a rose by any other name... And guess what, most don't go to school in the summer.
Some point to how much money a school makes off his performance to justify payment. Well, my corporation doesn't pay me based on what the corporation makes. My salary is my salary and is defined by the position I hold. And by the way, that's $50K per year or $200,000 over four years. That is the median income of families in the United States. That's called payment.
How much would you pay a quarterback versus a second string punter? To give an athlete extra money serves no useful purpose for the universities. That type of payment structure is reserved for the NFL. Why not pay the athlete on the swimming team? You already do, you give them a scholarship as well. That's another $50,000 (possibly less depending on the sport) to participate in a sport while you are attending school that generates absolutely no income for the school. It is actually a drain on the athletic departments to fund these sports.
If my corporation paid for my home, utilities and food, I would certainly work for less as all the major expenses would be taken care of. Oh, I guess they already do, it's called my salary.
Monday, September 6, 2010
Now, this gentleman was one of those who carried himself well and by the tone of his conversation was reasonably educated. He belonged to an era when most did things themselves because they knew how and knew what they were doing. How is it possible then that such a simple answer to an electronics question remained a mystery?
Then it dawned on me. This generation of men especially but women to some extent knew only a world of tangible machines. By that I mean they could see the inner-workings of things. When you turned on a motor you saw metal gears moving, whining and spinning causing things to happen. The only issue most did not understand was the invisible force of electricity that still mystifies most today. Even with a typewriter, when you hit a key it activated a lever that smashed into a piece of paper thus providing the written word. With the advent of circuitry all the mechanical components began to disappear. As more and more tubes and circuits replaced moving parts specialized repair became the norm. One could no longer go to the local store and buy a part you could easily fix. Home repair to automobiles suffered the same fate. They became much too complex for the average person to maintain.
Such as it is with computers and their brethren. The average consumer hits a key on their computer. No lever is raised, no tangible action takes place in a mechanical sense. Humans evolved being able to rationalize the mechanical world and taking advantage of that action. That is no longer available in many instances.
So how does the printed word get to the paper on your printer? It's magic!
Saturday, August 28, 2010
Until recently I was never able to understand the total relationship regarding children. My grandson is now seventeen months old. That sensation of total devotion was near immediate. The first time I held my grandson the bond for me was sealed. In his short life I have been able to nestle him while he sleeps, watch him take his first steps, comfort him when he falls and observe his forays into the unknown. And boy does he foray!
For the first time in my life I am able to observe another as all aspects of the world opens up to their eyes and watch their mind develop. I suppose this is how the world unfolded for me as I took my first steps five decades ago. When he is near, I will follow him watching him amble around and explore the unknown world. My favorite times are snatching him up and taking him outside to visit nature. I shake leaves in his face and watch him laugh then put him down as he runs across the uneven grass. With this comes a protectiveness that is primal. I know he is safer no where in the world than in my arms.
When his father comes to pick him up, he sees the red truck and squeals. He is in love with his father. I own only a piece of his heart when he yells for his paw-paw.
A grandfather's love is...unconditional.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
The premise of the letter was that grades in schools are harmful to the U.S. school system. The writer states they are unnecessary and that students should be assessed via 'rubics, checklists and narratives...that reveal what the student knows and can do'. It also states that grades are meaningless. The author is a Director at a research institute.
There are several issues I have here. One being the system she would envision would never last. The grading scale works fine on its premise, however it has been bastardized to such an extent that it isn't worth the ink the letter is printed with. But such a system that she would espouse would very quickly befall the same fate. The problem is a world of teacher unions, school boards and other affiliations that have their own agendas. Your rubics and checklists would soon crumble under the weight. A rubic is an authoritative rule of conduct or procedure. Well, isn't that what the grade scale is supposed to be?
It was long long ago in the mesozoic epoch that an A meant the student understood ninety percent of the material, a B eighty percent and so on. In the Catholic schools where I was educated, a student must hit a ninety-three to receive an A, eighty-five for a B. With the introduction of extra credit one does not need to know the material but can up the grade by doing extra work or by taking honors courses. That is part and parcel from a phase not long ago that espoused not making the student feel worthless or bad because they didn't make the grade. If the student can't master the material, you flunk them, don't ease them forward hoping they at some point 'get it'. When more schools began to change from A to a 4.0 scale with 4.0 being the top, how is it then students now get 4.3's and more. Schools themselves have taken the grading scale and flushed it down the urinal and they have no one to blame but themselves, their teachers and affiliations.
The world grades everyone daily in their jobs and performances both professional and personal. Sheltering children from this reality does more harm that good. One learns more by failing occasionally than sailing through because someone didn't want their feelings hurt. Silly me, I thought a rubic was a brightly colored plastic cube.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
CT Dummycrat Chris Dodd, one of the "architects" of the big hairball in our throats that is the Fannie/Freddy mess, remarked as he prepared to vote "no", "If you make this requirement, you will restrict home ownership only to those who can afford it."
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Then, little by little those days were stolen away from us. First it was the gas station guy who had to work because more people were traveling hither and yon across America to visit grandma. Then it was the restaurant worker who now had to feed the traveling masses. Then, more and more businesses opened and the seven day workweek began. The problem is, it only applies to some of us. I would even speculate many of the problems of society today are due to weekend work for many.
At current there is a disparity among the working class. I for one have never had a job that did not require me to work weekends. I am not the only one. However, there are a multitude that has never had to routinely work weekends including government workers, higher-ups on the corporate ladder and more. Oh sure, they may have to put in a few extra hours at some event periodically, but they are not chained to their work weekend after weekend.
I propose doing away with weekends. If much of the working world must labor on the sabbath then so should we all. Corporate America has become a seven day event for many but a privileged few. I say it's time we all work weekends with rotating days off throughout the week. If it's so important that I am at my post on weekends, why doesn't the same hold true for my executive level bosses and other support structures of a corporation? Gosh, I'm sorry weekend shopper, I can't solve your delivery problem as there is no one on the other end of the phone to take my call. It's the weekend, after all.
Take it one step further and do away with days of the week. The days of the week are just remnants of a long-lost culture honoring gods we no longer worship. Days of the week are now meaningless and the calendar should be nothing more than a running numeric list. The U.S. is twenty-four hour working society except for the privileged few. It's time for them to put aside their weekend and join the rest of us.
Ironic that I wrote this on my rotating Sunday off, huh?
Friday, August 20, 2010
Congress lies to us all the time, but I guess since they do not first swear an oath before speaking to us, there is no one to indict them.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
My line of work doesn't help much in this matter. As we finish up the back to school season I will be jumping directly into the holiday session. But RT, it's only September. I understand, but I will receive a merchandise planner showing me where to put all the holiday stuff coming down the pipeline. That generally keeps me three months ahead of most people on the calendar. Gosh, how long did it take to pay off last Christmas? It's here again, at least for me.
It is unfortunate that we as adults don't get to spend too much time in the moment. Last year was a dull summer, not very hot and it seemed very rainy. I likely wasn't in the pool a dozen times. There were always other things to do, chores, family, work and all the rest. The summer was a summer that almost didn't exist.
Remember the days when we were kids? I have several children bounding around from our wonderful neighbors. It is fun to see life through their eyes. The boys, Menace and Mayhem are always on the move, always discovering, always taking things apart their mothers wished they wouldn't. They run around in shorts with no shirts or shoes playing pirate and other such games. Then they yell at me wanting to go swimming, not a care in the world. A little older, Princess has discovered the world of sports and in a short time has become an accomplished soft-baller at ten years old. She looks forward to practice and time pitching with the inimitable Mr. Doogles. We'll see how she does as the summer ends and other interests fill her days.
I remember those days somewhat where the days didn't rush by, playing baseball and football in the nearby fields, riding bikes all over the neighborhood. Sainted Mother would call us back to the house and dinner by walking into the backyard and ringing a cow bell. It's amazing how far that sound would travel. Every kid we played with knew the meaning of that bell; time to come home. The only days that flew by were the last few before school started again, like greased lightning in a bottle.
The only fear I have going forward is Menace and Mayhem will be instructing my grandson Ragin' Cage in their arts in the coming years. Time to batten down the hatches and prepare for the worst.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
There were many scenarios running through my head but I decided to keep it simple. I went back and looked at the final AP college football poll for all years since 1990. My first criteria was they must have finished in the top twenty at least five times. That gave me a list of twenty-five teams. After that, I assigned the point values, a one if you finished first and a twenty if you finished, well you get the idea with the lowest point value being the winner. But I needed something else. What about when you finish out of the top twenty? I decided to give that value a twenty-five.
Not one team finished in the top twenty in every year. Several missed as many as half the seasons. I would guess most have a rough idea of where many of the teams ranked but I think there are a few surprises. If a team hasn't been ranked in the last five it doesn't mean they weren't any good in the early nineties. That being said, here they are based on my simple system.
In order: 1-Florida 184pts; 2-Florida St. 225pts; 3-Ohio State 240pts; 4-Michigan 246; 5-Miami 254; 6-Texas 286; 7-Nebraska 288; 8-Tennessee 294; 9-Penn St 299; 10-USC 313; 11-Oklahoma 317; 12-Alabama 320; 13-Virginia Tech 337; 14-Georgia 345; 15-LSU 352; 16-Notre Dame 363; 17-Auburn 365; 18-Kansas St 367; 19-Colorado 370; 20-Wisconsin 396; 21-Texas A/M 397; 22-Boise St 413; 23-Iowa 415; 24-Georgia Tech 436 and bringing up the rear, 25-UCLA 441.
Some surprises I noted: I was surprised Kansas State rated at all but they had a strong run from 1993 through 2003 making the poll every year but 2001. Notre Dame was a little lower than I expected as was Iowa. Boise St made the list six times since 2002 but never appeared before that and LSU was surprisingly absent before most of 2001. I was also surprised Tennessee ranked as high as they did but they were fairly consistent only out of the top seven times.
Hope your team fared well; Go Bucks, although I'm not happy about crowning the Florida teams the winners.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Consider this; the same amendment also includes a passage that states apportionment of representation counting whole persons in each State excluding Indians not taxed. 'Indians not taxed'? Just how old is this document? What will they do with the next amendment, give slaves the right to vote?
The Constitution of the United States is a framework. It spells out the basic rights for all citizens and the powers of the governmental branches. However, this was written in a time when the 'Pony Express' was not even in existence. That was taken care of by the creation of the Post Office who isn't much more efficient than the P.E., but I digress. The populace of the current planet is able to move about in ways not imagined two-hundred fifty years ago. Our country has made gains in that time that have set us above much of the world that existed long ago. Many of the immigrants coming to our shores don't have a life much different than their ancestors two-hundred years ago. Stopping by and having a child gives that child a chance at a life he couldn't get elsewhere. In my view that was not the intent of this section of the amendment.
There is nothing wrong with interpreting the Constitution as the world changes. But that interpretation has to be consistent from court to court, decade to decade. It infuriates me every time a new Justice is elected to the Supreme Court the issue of abortion comes up as a litmus test. Asked and answered, move on. (Don't take that as believing I agree with the decision, I don't). But it shouldn't be asked of every nominee. Why not ask if they believe slavery should be outlawed? It's the same thing.
It is time the fourteenth amendment is brought into the twenty-first century; get apportionment to the Indians not taxed as well. Why should only white males over twenty-one have all the fun?
Sunday, August 8, 2010
She was working to gather signatures on her petition to show that I lived in a 'concerned' neighborhood. Are you familiar with said company, she asked? I am, I responded. Said company is an oil recycler. Well, they're spewing toxins into the air such as 'fill-in-the-oxins'. We want to show the judge we live in a concerned neighborhood. The EPA has taken them to court. It will take a year to get them to stop. With her youthful outlook it likely doesn't register with her that this type of court proceeding, if indeed it took just a year, would be like a rocket through the judicial system.
For her part she seemed genuine and really believed in what she was asking me to sign. I am not one to sign most petitions. On face value they are not what they seem to be. How many voter petitions do you hear about being thrown out because half the signatures aren't from registered voters. They aren't worth the paper they are printed on. Well, if the EPA already has taken them to court what will this do? It shows we are concerned, she said.
It is likely she would have been the same person who worked to get this company into production because it is a recycling business and 'green'. Those who tought going green and similar projects for some reason always think it stops there. Recycling is better, cheaper and cleaner. Unfortunately, that is rarely the case. Each venture has its own problems. Recycling adds at least one more step to a process already in place. If you recycle paper you must add a capture, sort and clean procedure to a industry that already produces a product. Do you really think that lessens the cost? Sure, I want some things recycled so they don't end up in the ocean, but that isn't always an alternative to everything. It is likely the 'toxins' this company is putting forth is the same type or similar emitted from when the oil was produced in the first place. Why? Because it starts with the same ingredients, therefore you must use similar techniques to re-manufacture it.
I think that's the one thing the green recyclers just don't understand. Recycling will produce an entirely different set of problems as we move forward with green, and if you want to save the world you likely will have to tear down something you built earlier telling the rest of us it wouldn't happen to our project.
When your bloom falls, at least it comes back next spring. Always keep your hopes up, young lady.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
The former City Center Mall has been demolished after a short life span, and in its place will arise, if such a thing can be said to "arise", a park.
This park is quite close to the center of downtown, and is the result of a misplaced vision of tax dollars and tax abatements being thrown at the novel concept of "if you build it, they will come". Indeed, they did come, for a few years, anyway, until the rise of suburban super malls with ample free parking, more and better shops, no security issues (read: no gangs roaming the mall) a few years later doomed the City Center to a slow, agonizing death.
The current county commissioners have pledged $3 million toward the creation of the park, and they were mightily miffed when one of their partners in the deal sprang the idea of a carousel in the park upon them, seemingly from out of the blue. They harrumphed that tax dollars should be spent toward more important things like "getting the people back to work". How a park will accomplish this, they do not explain.
"Hold on a minute there, Commish!" cried the executive director of the special improvements district that was created to help bring the park project to fruition. "We've always wanted a carousel", he said. "Various plans have envisioned a carousel for more than 10 years". (Hmm...I am a lifelong resident of this area, and this is the first I have heard of it.)
Apparently it has just been a matter of executing the plan properly, I believe they said.
A company in nearby (50 miles away) Mansfield has been tapped to construct the carousel; they have one in Mansfield that has become a "destination", and it gives people a reason to go Downtown", according to a spokesman for the company. The planned Columbus carousel will "serve as an anchor" and "create a draw that will pull people Downtown", stating "that's what carousels have been doing since the turn of the century".
I presume she meant the turn of the 19th-into-20th centuries, since we had our own fin de siecle not so very long ago.
Not to be cynical, but a holiday-season Ferris wheel and an ice-skating rink, as well as the current firewalk on the river were supposed to suck in, er, draw in crowds. The first two died a quick and painful death (read: bad weather and apathy), while the third has done little to bring flocks of free-spending people back downtown. And whatever happened to that carousel from Ameriflora, circa 1992, anyway?
The difference now, of course, is the "synergies", according to the executive director.
See, the Ferris wheel did not work out because "we overestimated people's sense of adventure." But, it is different this time because, and I could not make up this quote, "Kids love coming Downtown...(and) taking the bus is like going to King's Island for them."
Oh, really? I am certainly happy I was never one of your kids, buddy.
Besides, while the carousel might not survive by itself, when you pair it with other Downtown activities (all of which are minimally six blocks away and most of which are at the opposite end of Downtown), it will serve as the piece de resistance to your Downtown spending spree, I mean, trip.
And there is this gem:
"The surprise element of the carousel may ultimately add to the park's intrigue." It will be located in the south end of the park in a grove of trees, not near the center of the park where "it might not be utilized"(!). The location in the trees will provide "a delightful element of surprise". No mention of how long that surprise will last, though.
The capper to the article, though, must be quoted at length:
"If an unrideable, frightening carousel is the worst case scenario, the second-worst might be a melodic spinning thing in the middle of Downtown that nobody but a handful of vagrants is able to enjoy.
Even that ain't all bad, Ricksecker said.
"A carousel will provide light and color and life to the city - even if people don't ride it."
Wow! They plan to charge a fee to ride this puppy, so if nobody rides it, how long will it take for them to come begging the county for money to keep this vital Downtown resource alive?
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
I have maintained a relative healthy life-style and 'worked out' on a semi-regular basis for much of my life, at least staying active. Over the last couple of years some of that activity has lessened, some due to nagging joints or just overall fatigue from the daily grind.
A few months ago I was feeling rather sluggish and decided it was time to get back to it. I picked up my workout regimen but this time decided there would be virtually no day that some type of exercise was not performed. I have two lifting workouts and two cardio workouts. I detest running so the cardio work is either swimming or a running-in-place/boxing routine I do in the basement. All are usually less than thirty minutes in length. My Beloved and I own a pool,(no we're not rich, it costs the same as a decent automobile and can be paid off in the same amount of time). It is long enough to swim laps. In the past if I was feeling too tired I would skip the workout. I promised myself I would not do that. My eating habits haven't changed that much but I do try to watch what I eat a little more carefully, which means I order and eat a medium pizza instead of a large.
In the past two months I have lost eight pounds and have stuck to my new routine. I have a new energy I haven't felt in years. No matter how tired I feel I get the exercise in. I don't like morning workouts so I workout in the evening or at night depending on my work schedule, right before I go to bed. Five per week is the minimum. Sometimes you have to let the body rest.
Yesterday was the end of the line and today I have a day off. Even though tired I got my lifting workout in and decided to cool off in the pool before bed. The waters were placid with the light shimmering a soft blue below the surface. I waded gently in and watched the subtle waves made by my presence undulating across the surface. As waves do they bounced off the far end of the pool and returned between the crests of the waves going forward. That simple wave repeating itself over and over again made the water's surface milky from the reflected light. Waves are a form of energy transferred to the water. Then I let myself slide beneath the water to cool my salt-encrusted head.
I guess I was more tired than I thought.
Sunday, August 1, 2010
This little piece appeared online today at the website of our dear litle daily newspaper:
It costs more than twice as much as a traditional sound wall and, if all goes well, will look like a giant Chia Pet towering over the interstate.
But will it screen out the sound of cars whizzing by? No one knows for sure.
Still, the Ohio Department of Transportation is moving ahead with a proposal to install a 400-foot "green" sound wall along one side of I-70 near Pataskala this fall.
"It's a research project that we have initiated," said Scott Varner, spokesman for the state transportation agency. "There's still a lot of questions."
State transportation officials admit that the new sound wall -- made of dirt and plants as opposed to concrete, wood or Plexiglas -- is an untested concept in Ohio or anywhere else. Cold weather or salty runoff from the interstate could ruin the vegetation; excessive rain could cause the wall to erode into the road.
Then there's the cost.
The price tag for the 400-foot wall is estimated at $300,000, which comes to nearly $4 million per mile. A traditional concrete sound wall costs about $1.5 million per mile. The see-through acrylic walls that are popping up in parts of the state -- such as a stretch of I-71 in the Polaris area -- are priced at about $2.4 million per mile.
But the soil-and-plants wall, standing 12 feet high, could muffle road noise while also cleaning the air and looking more natural than a concrete barrier.
"Ohio is willing to treat this as a research opportunity to measure the sound reduction based on different types of vegetation," said Anna Schiessl, operations manager for British Columbia-based Deltalok, the company picked to build the wall. "They'll be using different types of vegetation every 100 feet."
Among the types of vegetation planned for the Ohio wall: wild bergamot, Indian grass, brown-eyed Susan, ryegrass and dotted St. John's wort.
Deltalok is building another "green" sound wall in its home city, Vancouver, later this summer. But the company can't point to any precedents for the Ohio project.
In the mid-1990s, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation built a sound wall out of plastic, soil and plants near Milwaukee that lasted about two years before weeds and erosion forced its removal.
Schiessl said the technology behind the Wisconsin experiment was "completely different" from Deltalok's planned sound walls in Vancouver and central Ohio. The new walls are designed to last at least 75 years, she said.
They also should be effective in absorbing road noise, said Joel M. Lerner, founder of Environmental Design, a landscape consulting firm in suburban Washington.
"A sound barrier has to be dense enough that there are no openings -- that's the key," Lerner said. "That's all it takes -- one little opening -- for the sound to just pour through."
Lerner called the concept "very innovative," saying he'd never heard of anything like it before. But as for whether the wall will survive Ohio's heavy rain and snow and other extremes of weather, he couldn't say.
Neither could Varner.
"It's more of a research project than a construction project," the state transportation spokesman said.
I just love the way our various government entities throw money at anything anybody says "might " work without any actual proof of anyone trying this idea out privately. Why do we need to have, in this state and economy, an untried idea suddenly have a large amount of our money thrown at it without a shred of proof that it is anything more than a dubious waste.
Saturday, July 31, 2010
I was appalled. Since when is the school district a transportation company? The price for these rides was over a half-million dollars. I nearly fell off my chair. It is not the business of a school district to transport children to events or nearly any regular classes as far as I'm concerned, at least not in a major metropolitan city. This isn't Podunctville that needs bus service on long rural roads. Nor is it the seventies when busing was mandated for integration (gosh, where did that get us) and children didn't attend a nearby school. The vast majority of students live within a few miles of the school they now attend. Where are the parents? Isn't it their responsibility to get their children to school for virtually every function their child wants to participate in? The outcry was Johnny has to give up football now because he has no way there. Boo-hoo.
My family growing up was able to provide our own transportation to every event we ever needed to go to. Our parents drove us, we hitched a ride with a friend or we walked. The citizenry cry twice a year every time a new school levy goes on the ballet. Oh, we don't have enough money. We'll have to cut sports, they cry. Do you wonder where your money goes? This is a prime example of a school district trying to be everything to everyone who has a whim.
It's time for school districts to get back to their primary focus of educating the child, not being the butler, maid, chauffeur and parent to everyone who walks through the door. If you can't get your child to school you shouldn't have the child. It's part of being a parent. Get off your *ss and be a parent; take your child to school and get involved.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Those of us who missed out on the original presentation got to watch a video of the presentation given a few weeks ago.
The presenter knows her stuff, and did a good job with it, but, having heard the same (basic) pitch for a number of years now, it does get dreadfully boring.
I have long believed there is a simple answer to ethics questions, and the 75-minute presentation could be much more narrowed and focused, and dispensed with quickly.
Presenter: "The answer is, 'No'!"
Questioner: "How about..."
Questioner: "What about..."
Questioner: "What if..."
Presenter: "No! Got it? Good! See you next year."
Or, as suggested to me today by a co-worker,:
Presenter: "Is that your signature from last year?"
Presenter: "Good. Sign here, date it, same ethics rules apply; see you next year."
We were fortunate that in the large room in which the video was shown, there was ample space for us to not have to sit too close together, especially after they turned off the lights. Which gave one co-worker the excuse to play with her cell phone; texting, I presume. Probably not very ethical on her part.
I would have complained if I had not had one earplug in listening to my ipod.
Sunday morning as I shuttled about the family room a house hunting show was on. I wasn't paying particular attention until a phrase cause my ear and turned my head. The prospective homeowner mentioned passing up this house due to the maintenance of a hot tub. Really? Maintenance on a hot tub? I have owned tubs/spa for years and believe me, there is generally very little one needs to do to maintain one, add a few chemicals now and then and drain the water a few times a year. If that's what is stopping you from buying a house you better stick to renting.
The problem today is very few people know how to do anything for themselves. They can't paint, put up wallpaper, fix a leaky faucet or nail two boards together. Have we become such a pampered society we have to hire specialists to do everything for us? Does that need to include helping us walk our dog because we are too busy or can't be bothered? I live in a neighborhood with fairly nice homes, some well-kept, some downtrodden. I have never understood why someone would sink their hard earned money into a respectable home and let it to go pot. I have a neighbor whose lawn often resembles a field of wild flowers. Last week I was tempted to take a bottle of Round-Up and spray a message in his lawn. Fortunately, respect for others and a nasty look from My Beloved led to cooler heads.
Houses, cars, tools, spas, pools and nearly every mechanical device needs some sort of maintenance. If you haven't figured that one out, ditch the car and take a bus. That's why your engine blew up; you need to change the oil more than once every fifty thousand miles.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Back 'in the day', Ace was the number one co-op followed by True Value and ServiStar. The latter two joined forces and formed the corporation of TruServ then usurping Ace's position as the top dog. That was in 1999 (I think). Each banner would be supported going forward with the benefits for all. That seemed great on the surface.
As the merger began to take place there were signs (at least to me) that things weren't going to happen even-handedly to both banners. There are operational issues that needed to be overcome such as skus. A sku is the 'stock keeping unit'. It is a number assigned to every item to track, order and sell it. TV used six digit numbers and ServiStar used five digit. It was decided that all member would use six digit skus. As these types of issued were overcome it appeared that the ServiStar owners always lost out to the TV owners. I had this discussion with my owner. She said it didn't matter and they were assured things were equitable. After six months of working through these issues I told her I gave it no more than five years and the name ServiStar would cease to exist and if she wanted to stay in business she should start saving for a new TV sign out front.
I worked for her for less than two more years before moving on, seeing the writing on the wall. The business closed after another two years after surviving twenty good years. That was not the only factor in the close but it was one.
I hadn't thought of it for some time and the other night I went on the internet and looked up the word TruServ. On the first Google page was a hit for the article that said on January 1, 2004 TruServ would officially change its name to True Value Corporation.
It doesn't take an MBA to see the writing on the wall. You just have to pull your head out of the sand.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
I wasn't going to comment on this as it has unfolded but it just doesn't want to leave the airways. I am not a viewer of pro basketball. As it is I haven't watched more than fifteen minutes of a pro game (combined) in the last decade. It does not interest me. I know the participants and the teams due to the fact that I am a regular listener of sports-talk radio. And, alas the former king is a resident of my home state.
I don't care that he has vacated his position as king and savior. He is in a business and as an employee should look out to better his position. As a rule I don't think that theory naturally applies to major superstars who will make more money for a partial season's work than I will see in my lifetime. Still, on the surface I don't deride him for changing teams as that is the common state of professional sports in our day and age. No longer do stars complete their careers with the teams they started with. Cleveland, get over it.
That's on the surface. As I have listened to the debate drone on, the one thing I haven't heard from anyone in the media is this: LeBron James built his entire status as the savior of the Cavs, the hometown hero, the man who would pull the city of Cleveland into New York status. He labored for seven years, not nearly an entire career then took his ball and went home. Well, actually he went to warm sandy beaches.
For that reason I don't blame the fans of Cleveland for wanting to burn his house to the ground. He created his status not only on the court but by his words to his fans and the city that they were the most important thing in his life and his career, then just up and left in a gregarious way. If he had not cultivated this savior status he would be no different than any other player. But he did. For that reason the fans of Cleveland sports have every right to be enraged at his actions.