Wednesday, July 23, 2014

"Man shopping" for clothes

Over the past several "semi-retired" years my wardrobe, modest in the best of times, has taken a nose dive.  I can count only three decent sports shirts that I can wear out in the evening or to a casual business meeting.  As I have another meeting tomorrow and they've already seen me as "Larry, Curly, and Moe", I figured it was time to go do a little shopping.

 Whatdayamean "Am I going out looking like this?"

Like many men, I'm not a good shopper.  That's why I rarely do it.  That's also why I usually look like a holocaust survivor, except for the part about being brutally starved.  (Trust me, I DON'T look starved.)  My default version of clothes shopping consists of going to the LL Bean website and buying some new shorts and t-shirts, then waiting for the UPS man to arrive.  Easy peasy.

But today I felt brave and ventured out to the big mall just a couple of blocks away.  I went in to Dillard's first, found the men's department in the back corner, and then found several shirts that looked nice.  The lady whose first language sounded like it was Russian told me they were now 40% off.  Sweet!

I whipped out my wallet and she said, "I'll need your Dillard's card, please."

I said, "I'll just pay with my debit card, thank you."

"Oh no sir (or maybe it was "Comrade"), the sale price is only for Dillard's Club members.  I'll be happy to open you a membership.  ("Membership" must now be the code word for credit card.)  Nope, no more "memberships" for me.

Bye-Bye.

At the other end of the mall was Macy's.  Same drill, found the men's department and a couple of nice shirts....they were Tommy Bahama....but they were waaaaay over $100 each.

Bye-Bye. 

Next it was on to Nordstrom's.  I found their men's department in the corner of the basement (how come women get 95% of the store?) and a couple of acceptable shirts.

The tag said the fabric was "modal".  So I said to myself, "Self, WTF is modal?  And more importantly, does it need to be ironed?"  I looked it up on the World Wide Web (thank you iPhone) and it said modal "pills" and likely needs ironing.

Bye-Bye.

I decided my last stop before I gave up entirely would be REI.  Fortunately they had a couple of Colombia shirts that I liked, never mind that they looked like I was going fishing, so I bought 'em.

Now I'm just hoping the "fisherman look" is better than the "holocaust survivor look".  I'm thinking it's a toss-up.  Meh.  ;)

S

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

What do you call a busload of lawyers going over a thousand foot cliff? A good start.



We have too many lawyers, and too many laws for them to manipulate.  I say this based in part on a piece I saw on the news this morning.

It seems a lady in a resort community (in Florida?) put her house up on Airbnb, a website that matches people who have property with people who want to rent a resort house or an apartment or even just a room for a short term.  A guy leased her property for 45 days, and paid her 30 days in advance.

After he was there only a day he began complaining about the "cloudy" tap water.  The owner said she would give him a refund and he could just move on.  He took her money, but then didn't leave.  She thought he would surely leave after his original 45 day term, but....no....he's still there.

Turns out the laws in that state view this guy as a "tenant", which means to get him out the owner will have to jump through all sorts of hoops and spend thousands of $$$ in attorney fees to legally evict him, which could take months.  So this guy is living in her house rent free, and perhaps trashing it in the process, and there is precious little she can do.

In this country today most laws are written by lawyers, and passed into law by legislators who themselves are predominately lawyers, and enforced by courts who are, of course, lawyers.  And they're written in such a way that the layman usually has to hire a lawyer to tell them what the document they're signing means.  And if something backfires, you have to hire a lawyer to save your a$$.

Sounds to me like lawyers have written their own ticket to a very well paid lifetime employment.  And the only way to stop them is to....hire a lawyer!  DOH!

S


Monday, July 21, 2014

Hello Monday



It was 45 years ago yesterday that the United States successfully completed its first moon shot.  For the record, my first successful moon shot predates that by about 11 years.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Speaking of mooning....what is it with Russian President Vladimir "Pootie Poo" Putin?  Why do we even sit down with him to discuss anything?  In his world lying through your teeth to get what you want is perfectly acceptable. 

Those dumb rebel bastards in Ukraine apparently don't know there are ears listening to all their radio transmissions and eyes (and cameras) watching their missile launcher, minus one missile, hot footing it back across the border into Russia.  All while Pootie Poo says, "Nope, not us.  We didn't shoot down your plane.  Nobody saw us.  You can't prove a thing." 

I thought one of the benefits of doing business with "enemies" people who we have previously been at odds with is they wouldn't dare do anything to jeopardize their newly-found mutually beneficial business relationship?  It would "civilize" them.
  
Apparently Vladimir Putin didn't get that memo.   He is now the official "King of Mooning".  All Hail King Poot!

S


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Denial solves nothing


Unless you've been comatose for the past few months you know that, in addition to the normal influx of illegal immigrants, we've had tens of thousands of kids sent to the US by....their parents?....their home countries?  Who knows?  And the situation is getting worse by the day.

If their stories are to be believed, they are fleeing Central America because violence, likely drug cartel related, and dire poverty, are forcing parents to push their kids north, hoping for a better life for them.  

I don't know if that's true or not, but what I do know is we have thousands of kids, dirty, many of them sick, sleeping on floors inside chain link cages, in totally inadequate, unsanitary conditions.


The heartless among us are fighting tooth and nail to keep these kids from being humanely housed, even temporarily, in their communities.  They've actually thrown up roadblocks and threatened violence to keep these kids out of their sight.

I think that's shameful!

If there are mangled bodies littering the scene of a horrific highway crash, the first order of triage is to care for the victims.  There will be plenty of time later to determine what happened, who's at fault, who should pay for the damages, etc.  But first you provide care for the injured.

Can you imagine yourself as a 10 year old, away from your family and everything else you know, a thousand miles from home, regardless how pitiful that home might be, and you're being snarled at by people who think of you as scum?

We need immigration reform.  How should it be structured?  I have no clue.  But these illegals are here now anyway.  It is simply impossible to round them all up and send them home.  

We need to find a way to bring them into our system and make them useful, contributing, tax paying members of our society.  Sure, weed out the criminals and those who are here just to scam our system, but then welcome the rest and put them to work. 

The Democrats want this and the mainstream Republicans want this, too.  The latter's traditional base, corporate interests, definitely wants this.  But rank-and-file Republicans are petrified by the extremists on their Tea Party right and refuse to face reality.  The "problem" isn't going away.  We need action.

S

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Hump Day brain musings



I read in the newspaper yesterday that a Navy nurse at Guantanamo, Cuba is refusing to participate in the force-feeding of an Islamic detainee who is on a hunger strike.

The concept of a hunger strike makes no sense to me.  If it's some sort of protest, how does dying of self-induced starvation make you the big winner?  

"Ha!  I'm dead, but you're still alive.  I WIN!"


That might make sense in the eastern mind, but to my western mind it just sounds stupid.  If you're dumb enough to refuse the food offered you, especially since it's prepared in accordance with the sensitivities of your culture, well....then say "hey" to Allah for me.

So does this make me....what do the shrinks call it?...."passive aggressive"?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For the past several weeks all the sports news has been about nothing but the World Cup, ad nauseum.  I kept watching all those string-bean soccer players and wondering how they would physically compare with American football players, or even more of a mis-match, with English rugby players?


Ever wonder how those rugby guys get those big, powerful legs?


It's due to off season training like this....doing ONE LEG squats with about a half-ton of weights.  (That's pretty impressive.  I personally couldn't roll that much weight downhill with a tail wind.)

Let's review:


World-class soccer player


English rugby player


I'm getting a visual


I think I answered my own question.  :)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In this morning's email I received from Living Social (like Groupon) an offer to take a discounted stripper class.


I forwarded it on to K, with an offer of a full scholarship.  So far she hasn't said "no".  *Ha!  Not gonna happen*  :)

S




Tuesday, July 15, 2014

"Would you please be so kind as to forward to us $75.8 Billion Dollars?"



 Still waiting.

"Send cash".  That's what the Federales have oh-so gently asked of numerous banks, both American and foreign, who were caught doing unspeakable things to their investors and consumers.

Just last week prosecutors told BNP Paribas, France's largest bank, to cough up $8.9 Billion Dollars as punishment for sanctions violations and falsifying their records.  (That was more than da bank made last year, so I'm sure they felt it.)

Here's the financial fine score card since 2012:

     Bank of America.......$35.6B
     JP Morgan Chase.....$23.4B
     BNP Paribas...............$8.9B
     Wells Fargo................$5.3B
     Credit Suisse..............$2.6B

The Frenchies were forced to plead guilty to criminal charges, but it was apparently little more than a photo-op slap followed by a wink.  Nobody is going to jail.

This all looks good on paper, but here's my gripe:  The individuals involved got away with it.  Those billions of dollars in fines are being paid by the banks shareholders.  While the shareholders in a round-about way benefited from the bank's fraud, they didn't cause any of it.

We know from emails and other evidence that those bankers who sold those fraudulent derivatives, swaps, etc, knew exactly what they were doing, but were overcome by the "show me the money" syndrome.  In most cases this knowledge went all the way to the very top of the bank's hierarchy.  They knew, too, but did nothing....except cash their ill-gotten mega-million dollar paychecks every year.

Today they're still sitting on their pile of personal wealth.  They weren't forced to give it back, much less spend even a day in jail, when their banks were fined all those billions of dollars.

This really irks me because I personally know lots of small local businesses who closed their doors when the economy collapsed and credit dried up.  They lost everything....their homes, their life savings, their credit rating, all their assets....pfffft....gone.  (I was lucky.  I never stuck my neck out too far, so I was able pull back pretty easily when it all hit the fan.)

I want to see the bankers punished.  I want to see them driving Chevys and living in little rented houses on the edge of town.  I want to see them working 8 to 5 in a cubicle.  I want to see them pushing a shopping cart through Walmart buying groceries.  

I want to see them eating meat loaf and Hamburger Helper.  I want to see their VIP parking spot at the local country club now say "Reserved For the Caddy of the Month".  I want to see their credit ruined, so they can't even buy a TV on their signature.

I want to see them suffer the same fate as the millions of others they screwed over.  Show me that, then I'm willing to call things even.

I think it's gonna be a long wait.

S




Monday, July 14, 2014

I'm not a "joiner"

I had a fun day yesterday at the Frisco Gun Club.  I thought the Dallas Gun Club was nice (that's where I took shooting lessons once from the guy who was the "hunt master" (?) on the estate of The Earl of Something-Or-Other in Scotland), but I think this place could give it a run for it's money.



Ahh....nothing like "Hard Liquor and Handgun Night" at the club with the family.

I remember after a day of shooting sporting clays at the Dallas Gun Club a few years ago I was impressed enough I thought I would join.  I went online and filled out the membership application, then was instructed to send it in along with $5,000 and they would see if my nose was stuck sufficiently high enough into the stratosphere to warrant them talking to me any further.  

POP!  *the sound of my bubble bursting*

I seem to have a knack for taking my thinly papered wallet to places that require a personal financial statement be submitted prior to entry. 


When I was still in high school researching which colleges I wanted to go to I decided on the University of Hawaii.  At the time they didn't have any out-of-state tuition, so it sounded affordable.  

Then my dad asked how I was going to get to Hawaii, and then home again for the summer?  I said, "No prob....I'll just fly."  He asked, "On who's dime?"

Umm....  it was about then that Texas Tech, located in beautiful picturesque West Texas, rose to the top of my list....



That's "Diamond Head on the Plains" on the horizon, left.

Then when I was in college I saw a story in Life magazine (?) about an experiment at Vassar College in NY whereby they would begin admitting a few males to the previously all-girls school.   I wanted to be one of those select few.

  
Go Vassar!

I went so far as to write them and ask for an application and a catalogue.  They sent the application, but said I would have to fill it out and send it back with a $50 application fee (times were simpler then) before they would send me the catalogue.  I'm guessing I wasn't the only guy making that same request.

As it would have been challenging for me to scrape together $5 at the time, much less $50, my experience at Vassar was brief....and all in my head.  :)

Now that I think about it, I'm just gonna pay per visit to the Frisco Gun Club....no membership for me.  Groucho Marx might have been on to something when he said, "I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member."  

I do have my standards, you know.  :)

S