Thursday, December 29, 2011

A growing gap?

I was reading an article yesterday from Time magazine. I was in a doctor's office so I'm sure it was several months old. The premise of it was that there is a growing gap between the American public and those that serve in the military. As I started reading, I was intrigued.

The author states the growing gap is due to improvements in pay and benefits that an all volunteer force is now provided. This force is better educated and has a stronger work ethic. Our current force often is more of a family affair where it is not uncommon for brothers and sisters to join, or sons and daughters of previously serving soldiers. Much of what was stated I can see, however I believe some of the article was built on a false pretext.

One of the foundations of the article was that there are fewer and fewer who had parents or other family members who had previously served in the military. He based this on the previous generations who had served through WWII. While that is true, the veterans of WWII were there often by choice but it was during a time of unprecedented emergency. At no time in our history had there occurred such a mobilization of men into uniformed service. It was an anomaly. It is not fair to use that as a basis of this article. Serving in uniform at that time was not a career choice but a temporary situation.

To be fair, benefits now issued to the armed forces are what they should have been, even though they now out-pace the benefits of the average citizen. And it is not uncommon for family members to gravitate to serving in similar situations such a firemen and police officers. They are members of groups where they feel more comfortable than in other groups. The enlisted and officers it was stated also have a higher degree of education than the population as a whole. That is understandable as leaders tend to fall into that classification as a whole.

I however, do not believe soldiers of this country are any more disenfranchised from the population than any other group, be they soldiers, police, priests or doctors. Each of us tend to gravitate to groups more like we see ourselves. Doctors and priests likely fall into all of the same classifications discussed in the article. We are a people as a whole made up of multiple groups whose membership has banded together from common insights and bonds. The military as a group is no different than any of the other groups, they just serve a different function, though it is a function not all of us could perform.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Hypocrisy, thy name is NCAA

We have spent the past year learning all about the foibles and transgressions of various Ohio State coaches and football players, each of whom was adjudged to be in violation of one or more rules as decreed by their judge, jury, and executioner, the NCAA.

While many people (especially locally) have decried many of these rules as stupid, outdated, unnecessary, and in other non-flattering terms, it comes down to this: a rule is a rule, and when you sign on the dotted line for good old State U, you agree to abide by said rules, on which you are tutored and instructed regularly. If you fall afoul of these rules, you (usually) have yourself to blame.

One of the transgressors from our dear old State U was penalized for accepting an improper benefit in the amount of $200.00, allegedly for work he did not perform, but for which he received recompense.

Many people are not aware that it is a violation of NCAA rules for a fan/booster/follower of dear old State U to do something so simple as, say, see an athlete in your local McDonald's and tell him, "Great job last week!. Here, let me get that Big Mac for you."

Nope! Said athlete is instructed to tell the person making the offer that it is not permitted for you to buy him so much as a sandwich, because he would be receiving that benefit solely because of his athletic expertise, UNLESS you are going to offer to buy a Big Mac or other like delicacy for any/all other students who attend dear old State U. If you do it that way, you can then pick up the tab for that sandwich. Another oddity is doing something (real case cited here) as simple as dropping off a plate of homemade cookies to athletes, even those from non-revenue sports, puts you/them in violation of the heretofore agreed upon rules of conduct. Since you are offering a free plate of homemade cookies to a university sports team you must be doing it simply because of the abilities of said athletes.

And then one reads an article in the sports pages of the Sunday December 25, 2011 edition of the Columbus Dispatch newspaper, wherein it is detailed the amount of "swag" (their term) the football players from Ohio State are legally (NCAA definition) allowed to receive simply by showing up to participate in this year's Gator Bowl football game. Each player is permitted to receive up to $550.00 in merchandise this year. That is merchandise that is given to the student-athletes solely on the basis of their athletic skills.

So, the rest of the student population of, in this case, The Ohio State University, is not entitled to get this sack of swag because they do not possess the necessary skills to put them in the position to be able to receive a bag of swag.

One Big Mac is an NCAA "crime", punishable by however the NCAA feels this week, but a bag o' swag is OK for the athletes to receive, solely because of their athletic abilities.

As stated above in the title of this piece,...

Oh, and MERRY CHRISTMAS to one and all.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

She's a way or another

It's that time of year again when we mortal men must do one of the things we hate; buying clothes for the lovely women in our lives. Now, I don't mind the gift shopping and the gift giving. Heck, I'll even go out of my way for something special, but the annual clothing thing I just can't handle.

Guys are simple to buy for. There are 'boys' sizes and 'teen' sizes and then the rest of the adult males. On occasion you may throw in 'big and tall'. Women on the other hand have sizes for girls, petites, juniors, misses and women. That's not too many more categories until you consider that none of the sizes mean the same thing. A ten is not a ten which is not a ten. When you buy for a guy there is small, medium, large and x-large. When you buy for a women they are numbered and I don't know a single guy that knows what those numbers mean. And recently I learned that the numbers from one designer/maker isn't the same as those from another. Really? Isn't that what a size is for?

Perhaps we guys are just stupid to need our pants labelled with 36-inch waist and 30 long, but as least we know what we're getting. Try that when buying the wonderful present for your wife or girlfriend and see if it gets returned. Often in my case, I have just enough taste that My Beloved likes what I buy but the size is always wrong. I made the mistake one year of buying sexy unmentionables thinking the size on those matched the size of her other pants. Boy was that an incorrect thought process.

Here's the best advice I can give all the men out there as they muddle through this for Christmas; buy a size you know is too small and tell her that's how she looks in your eyes.

Merry Christmas

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A writing sample of White Staff

I thought I would post a sampling of the writing in White Staff for those who might be interested. This is just a few paragraphs from a random chapter. There is a preview available on-line through Amazon which is several pages long.

“Lay still and do not move. Utter no sound. Death is above us.” Hafram reached over and startled Eston covering them both in Hafram’s black cloak. “We are hunted from the skies.” Hafram’s words were spoken in hushed tones. “Death circles above.”

“How do you know this?” Eston returned his in kind.

“I am a wizard,” Hafram replied with a raised brow.

They lay still for several minutes before Hafram would allow them to rise. He peeked carefully from beneath his cloak scanning the sky. No star now twinkled from existence again to relight. The shadow had passed.

“What was that?”

“The tables are turning. The stakes have just been raised in our hunt.” Hafram again looked to the stars to make sure in his mind the shadow was gone. “Blackness rides the night sky. My captor has a new method. He rides a night-demon, nearly dead but not so. If he had seen us the garrison would be upon us. We must change direction.”

“We can not afford to lead Dreash to Aethan.”

“You are correct. I think it is now time to make contact with both of them.” Hafram took his customary position and began his journey. He purposefully moved his thoughts north, the opposite direction of Dreash’s travel.

His thoughts were bent on Aethan and Falton. He needed to make sure they were in no current danger. The Noran Dur loomed before him as his eyes passed over the shadows below. He covered the landscape with his thoughts but the recognition he sought would not come. He found himself moving westward, over the scrubby town of Kohl. He was being pulled in that direction, but why? A new thought burst into his consciousness. Cirah!

He let his thoughts free themselves completely and the grounds below passed with great speed. The mountains of Noran Dur gave way to the Hallerstrom and the lands of Korsand. His spirit dove as he now found himself within the city walls of Thyroborn the ancient capital of this northern world. The pull from Cirah was strong. Hafram’s spirit entered the great hall as his form lay now before all present.

“Peace be to you Hillarsol, Sovereign of Korsand."

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Trapped in my own idea

Okay, here's the situation, a real one, not the stomach-board idiot from Jersey Shore. Sometimes we can be a victim of our own good ideas.

About a week ago, I left a little note to My Beloved in the guise of the Twelve Days of Christmas song. A day or so before she had a scratchy throat and wanted a roll of cherry Life Savers but couldn't find them anywhere. On a trip to the grocery, I saw the book of five rolls you always see at this time of year. (I always used to get one as a stocking stuffer. Doesn't happen much any more.) So I put the note on the table with the Life Savers. My gesture then went on Facebook with her 'friends' wondering what was going on. Well, you can see my dilemma. Instead of just a nice little treat for My Beloved, I now need eleven more days. I have delivered two more 'Days of Christmas' and have ideas for three others. But now I'm getting stuck.

Here's your chance to help a good idea that got in trouble. I'll take ideas!!!!

Then again, if it was a good idea I wouldn't be a prisoner to it.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Who needs facts anyway?

In one of the local community newspapers here in our great metropolis, there was an article concerning where the buses should turn around at the end of their run. It is needed as at some point buses do indeed need to turn around. The current location used just happens to be out my front door at work, however the owners of the shopping center have asked that it be moved so they can further develop the property. Understandable, as in these economic times, development can be a good thing.

Now the debate on where to move the site rages on. As is generally the case, no one wants this type of thing in their backyard. Everyone has their opinions but when arguing, one should use facts as opposed to just making it up. One resident, a particular Mr. Cox stated in his arguments that the buses should not use a residential area to turn around (as it happens to be near the area where he lives) and should continue to use a commercial area. He stated the exhaust dissipated better into the atmosphere in those areas. He also stated moving the exhaust to a residential area is not eliminating the problem, just hiding it. Well, isn't that what you are asking as well?

Now, I'm no scientist but I'm not an idiot either. In our metro area we're not talking about comparing wide-open tracts of wilderness to a heavy industrial area. I'm fairly certain that the 'air' in the shopping center and the 'air' near his home a mile away (or where-ever) is likely the same and will have no bearing on how the exhaust dissipates.

I would like to see the study that shows this distillation point from Mr. Cox or his buddies from the Sierra Club. Until then, if he can't beat you with facts he'll just make it up as he goes along, a typical NIMBY.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


The (formerly) august body known as the Library of Congress has signed a deal with Twitter(!) to receive the entirety of Twitter's archives.

Reportedly, this would help those who do such things to study the contents and perhaps uncover what passed for trends and other "important" information for this particular time period.

I wonder how "important" things such as "OMG!!!!!!!!!!!I JUST SAW KIM KARDASHIAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!OMG!!!!OMG!!!!!!OMG!!!!!!!!!!" really are?

Gee, I hope that did not use more than 140 characters.