Monday, January 26, 2015

No, I'm not lost. They must have moved it.

My wife is "directionally challenged".  She has to use landmarks around the house in order to find the bathroom.  Going to the mailbox qualifies as a road trip.  I'm thinking I should keep a current photo of her available at all times for the authorities to put on TV and on those overhead highway info signs when they need to search for her.

For some inexplicable reason she made a doctor's appointment for today at 7:30 am.  She's a creature of habit (so am I), and this change of schedule has totally messed up her day.  

Before she left she asked me, "What street do we turn on to go to the animal hospital?"

ME:  That would be Custer Road.

Fifteen minutes later she called me, her voice very loud and several octaves higher than normal.


ME:  Did you turn on Custer Road?


ME:  So where are you now?


ME:  OK, Spring Creek at what side street?


ME:  Give me your doctor's address....I'll look it up.


ME:  Umm....then you should have turned at Independence.


ME:  I DIDN'T (now I'm talking loud and several octaves higher, too).  YOU ASKED ME WHERE THE VET WAS.  THE VET OBVIOUSLY HAS NOTHING AT ALL TO DO WITH WHERE YOUR DOCTOR IS!  *deep breath*  OK, now where are you?


ME: Which way are you going....Hedgecox runs east/west.  Are you going towards our house or away from our house? 


ME:  Is the sun in your eyes or at your back?

K:  NO!

ME:  No what?  No sun in your eyes, or no sun at your back?


ME:  *Ah-ha....a real clue*  OK, then you're going west.  The next major intersection is Independence.  Turn right there.


*Personal observation:  I'm thinking the authorities should give special dispensation to K due to her handicap.  Maybe a special window sticker or license plate symbol that will allow her to turn any damn direction she wants from any damn lane she wants. *

ME:  Yes, sweetie.  That would be great.

K:  OH, THERE IT IS!  Thank you.  I love you.  Gotta go now.  *kiss, kiss*

She called me 45 minutes later to tell me that she got the time wrong.  Her appointment wasn't until 8:30. 

Have a wonderful Monday everyone.  :)


Friday, January 23, 2015

Careful what you wish for

Americans tend to view things in absolutes.  One-issue politics is a good example.  A candidate can be an otherwise smart, all-around good guy perfectly capable of leading, but if he/she crosses you on your one hot-button issue, he's out.  We refuse to take a little bitter with our sweet, and it often blows up in our face.

The Mid-East today, complete with its radical Islam, is a textbook example.  Back during the first Gulf War against Saddam Hussein, President George H W Bush had a clear shot at taking out the Iraqi dictator.  But George The First listened to the Saudi King (I'll just call him Ralph because I'm too lazy to look up his real name) who told him to be careful, that taking out Saddam would upset the balance of power in the volatile region.  Bad as he was, we might end up with someone worse.

But we like to wear white hats, and wear white outfits, and ride white horses.  We're the Good Guys, always fighting for "Truth, Justice, and The American Way".  There's really nothing at all wrong with's a genuinely noble idea, actually....but it often doesn't play well in the cold, cruel, REAL world.  

Sure, there are no doubt sinister motives behind much of what we do, but it's always sold to the American people as "taking the high road".  And because we're basically good people, we buy it.

The old USSR first stirred the fire ant pile when they invaded Afghanistan back in '79.  The Afghan's, aided by other Muslims around the region and the US, showed them how to fight dirty.  (We didn't give a flip about Afghanistan at the time. We just wanted to poke a sharp stick in the Rooski's eye.)  That's where the shit originally hit the fan.

Saddam Hussein tortured and killed his opponents and gassed his Kurdish citizens.  Bashir Assad (Syria) did the same.  Libya's Muammar Qaddafi had horrendously bad taste in costumes uniforms.  Oh, and he killed anyone who looked cross-eyed at him.  And given half a chance we would have popped a cap in any number of other Mid-East dictators, too.  (Truth be told, including the Saudi royal family, also.  Their treatment of women and their cruel form of Islamic justice rightly rankles us.)  The world would be a better place if they were gone, right?  Right??

OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!  We indeed helped make it happen, either overtly or covertly.

But here's the problem:  Despicable as those people are/were, their replacements (or lack of replacements) are worse, just as Saudi King Ralph predicted.  Despotism/anarchy reigns in the Mid-East today, and it's in these conditions that al Qaeda and Islamic State flourishes.  We brought this on ourselves.

Our intentions were so honest and pure....we wanted to share our wonderful way of life with the downtrodden.  We want them to enjoy freedom and the good life, too.  But based on the fact that they didn't RSVP to our invitation, I'm guessing they don't want it.  To many of them, killing/bombing/beheading is just a way of life.  "Sniper", "bomb maker", and "blade man" are probably legitimate career choices recommended by Mid-East high school guidance counselors.  

Maybe we should have just left them alone?  Maybe we should just sit back and watch 'em hack each other to pieces.  There apparently isn't much we can do about it anyway.  *Note to self....we'll need more popcorn*

Sometimes there isn't anything wrong with wearing a slightly soiled hat.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Doing the wrong thing for the right reason

Tonight during President Obama's State of the Union speech that I'm not going to watch, he will request an additional tax on the wealthy in order to fund a cash distribution to middle class Americans. 

I read in the paper yesterday that by 2016 the 80 wealthiest people in the world will together own $1.9 TRILLION in assets.  Just last year it took 85 billionaires to equal that figure.  In other words, the rich are indeed getting richer.  The biggest gainers came from those with interests in finance, insurance, and health care.

"Well, yeah.  They're smarter, they work harder, and they deserve it", right?

Haha!  It seems by-and-large they got richer not by the sweat of their brow, but due to "multi-million-dollar lobbying campaigns to protect and enhance their interests."  They had connections.

That's the rub.  More people with more money to spend will mean additional profits for those who own the means of production...the wealthy.  Win-win!  Right now the wealthy are gradually strangling the goose that laid the golden (middle class) egg.  IMO we NEED more income equality, but just grabbing a chunk of the rich's cash isn't the way to do it.  

Aren't the foaming-at-the-mouth Tea Party types against government handouts?  Isn't a cash subsidy/tax break to the wealthiest just a high-class handout?  So why can't the Democrats and the Tea Party work together to end handouts?  (Love to be a fly on the wall in that conference room!) 

Come on Obama....wise up.  You're NEVER going to get a tax increase on the wealthy with the Republicans in control of congress.  But by holding the Tea Party's feet to the fire, making them produce on their promise to end government handouts, he just might have a chance.  End special favors, reform the tax laws, and income inequality will take care of itself.

And either the Tea Party will do what they promised, or they will be exposed as liars.  What's it gonna be, Tea Party?

Monday, January 12, 2015

You can crawl out from under the bed now, Mr. President

World leaders from almost every major nation walked arm-in-arm in Paris on Sunday, leading over a million Frenchmen in a show of solidarity against terrorism.  Note I said "almost".  Can you figure out who's missing?

Yep, no Barack Obama.  Or VP Joe Biden.  Or SecState John Kerry, or any distinguished group of former presidents such as George W. Bush and/or Bill Clinton.  Somewhere in that photo is the US Ambassador to France (read: big Obama financial contributor)....that's who was there representing the United States of America.  I'm embarrassed.

You've heard the old saying, "Lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way"?  Have we become so weak-kneed that we don't want to offend anyone?  Are we leading from the rear? 

I've heard/read in much of the media that our once close working relationship with the anti-terrorism forces in Europe and elsewhere has cooled considerably.  Why?  Why wouldn't we want to nip this societal cancer in the bud?  Internally our law enforcement seems to be doing a good job, but there's a big, wide world out there beyond our borders where terrorists are recruiting and training

I think the French just bitch-slapped us.  They voted with their presence at that march that they have the cojones to stand up to evil.  Not negotiate with it, not knuckle under to it, but step on its throat.

Vive la France!  Lead on.


Thursday, January 8, 2015


I know this is probably gonna cause plenty of stones to be thrown my way, but here goes:  I don't trust Muslims.*

I don't know how much more evidence we need before we admit there is a serious schism within the Islamic faith.  The PC position is that the overwhelming majority of Muslims "are just like us".  They go to school, go to work, raise their families, and harm no one.  Fair enough.  I wish them well.

But increasingly, as evidenced by repeated international surveys, Muslims have no allegiance to any particular country, and by inference, those countries values.  How many times have you heard of the movement within predominately Muslim areas to supplant the established law of the land with Sharia law?  It's all about values.

Granted, I'm sure it's a tiny minority of Muslims who actively plot/take up arms against our society, but all too often after an atrocity such as the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris we hear ordinary Muslims on the street say "I can't condemn killing in the name of Allah."  Really?  *red flag*

I don't advocate discrimination against Muslims here in America....that would be against our sacred national values.  Of course they can eat at any restaurant, shop at any store, go to any public school, worship at the place of their choice, etc.  But for my part, I'm going to keep an eye on those around me.  'Course, I'll keep a close eye on white people wearing sheets or members of the Westboro Baptist Church, too.

I'll still smile at them, hold a door open for them, help their kids where I can, help them if they're in danger, and extend food to them from our food bank if they've fallen on hard times.  By my values they're still God's children.  But I'm going to keep an eye on them.  I think there has been enough violence committed by extreme Muslims against peaceful innocents (and the frequency seems to be increasing) that my wariness is justified.

Agree....disagree....I don't care.  I try to keep myself in Condition Yellow, "aware of what's going on around me at all times."  Call it vigilance if that sounds less threatening.  Have a nice day.


* I'm speaking of the average "man on the street" encounters.  For those people known to me....neighbors, co-workers, childhood friends, etc, regardless of labels, my wariness meter relaxes considerably.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

"Simply sign in with your username and password, and...."

Here we go again.  They want me to sign in with my username and password on an account I signed up for 2 years ago.  I've slept since then and watched way too many football games to remember some silly password.

And I don't have one single username, or one single password.  The security types will tell you that's the surest way to have your bank account drained before dark.

If I picked ajax (I didn't), one site would want a minimum of 5 letters.  OK then, ajaxx.  Then another would want at least one digit.  Then make it ajaxx1.  Then a third site would want at least one capital letter.  Ajaxx1 for them, then.  Then someone would want it stretched to 8 characters.  *sigh*  Ajaxxxx1, on and on.  Now you tell me, without writing it down, which defeats the purpose of a password, how am I supposed to remember 6 months from now what my password is for site #3?

So you start guessing, but after 2 wrong guesses, they lock down your account.  DOH!  Now you have to call their 800 number and press one for this and two for that, and finally they tell you they will email you another password.

It shows up a few seconds later in your inbox, and it's Gkei86y#.  Well, hell yeah, I'll keep that on the tip of my tongue for....2 nanoseconds.  Maybe.  So I change it to Clorox.  Or was it Comet?  I can't remember.

I tried one of those apps that remembers them all for you, but I forgot what my password to the app was.  And even if I could remember it, they say you should change it at least every 30 days to stay a step ahead of the hackers.

Even the people who I used to go to for techie help are now getting left behind by the newest generation of technology.  Now even they are throwing up their hands.

I like the blond who listed her password as "MickeyMinnieDonaldGoofySleepyHappySneezyDopeySacramento".  She said she was just following instructions:  They asked for 8 characters and one capital.

I think I'll just be a 21st Century dropout.  :) 


Saturday, January 3, 2015

Jack? We don't need no stinkin' jack!

This afternoon it was a beautiful day so I took Jax on a long walk around our neighborhood park.  As we walked on the far side a young lady approached me and asked if I knew how to change a tire.  Always willing to help a damsel in distress, I told her I would be happy to change it for her (and thought to myself I would also SHOW her how to do it herself in a dire emergency).

Under the floor in the back of her Toyota Prius I found the donut spare tire and the jack, a standard jack-screw type.

These are simply positioned under the hardened jacking point behind the front fender well (or ahead of the rear fender well) on level ground, and you turn the crank to raise the car.  Piece 'o cake!

Except on a Toyota Prius. 

There was no hardened jacking point where there normally should be.  It was just a mass of cheap plastic.  Putting my Man Card on the line, I asked to see her owners manual.  It showed there to be only one front jacking point, under what looked like an engine mount.  It was a good 1 1/2 ft back from the front bumper.  It was physically impossible to get the jack back there, then crank the handle to raise the car.  WTF?

With my manhood now in serious jeopardy, I decided the instructions.  *gasp*   This is what it said:

Toyota, you idiots!  It didn't come with a FLOOR jack, but if it had, you're saying to NOT use it?  No Plan B, no "see next page"?  Nuthin'?  So what am I supposed to use for a jack then, huh?  And what was that useless jack-screw thing for?  

Her boyfriend and his buddy eventually arrived and had no more luck figuring it out than I did. I think those smarty pants Toyota engineers are sometimes too brainy for their own good....they might can tell you how to build a watch, but they don't know how to tell time.

You think this was some sort of Japanese passive aggressive revenge for that little atomic bomb thing back in '45? 


Friday, January 2, 2015

Chameleon Man

It's funny to me how everyone today wears a label of one sort or another, usually "liberal" or "conservative".  I'll write one thing, and my conservative friends will scream, "He's a raving liberal".  Then a few weeks later I'll give another of my unsolicited opinions and my liberal friends will yell, "Oh no, he's sipped at the Tea Party well."  Truth is my opinions are usually based on a longer ranged, common sense, outcome based models.  Consider this:

I saw this in a recent online business journal....

Our income is grossly unequal and needs to become more balanced.

*I knew it.  He's gone raving liberal.*  Look carefully.  Look at the dates of the last time things got this skewed.  1928-1932, the beginning of The Great Depression.  When the massive, consuming middle class is held down, our economic system bursts under the strain.  We almost saw that in 2008, but were saved (temporarily?) to see stock market highs again today grow into the stratosphere.  Can this go on forever?  Does anything?

Look at our most stable period, 1948-1970.  Our largest employer was GM, and their average pay/benefits adjusted to 2014 dollars was over $50 an hour.  Today our largest employer is Walmart, and their average store employee makes $8.81.  Figuring in their executives and salaried workers, their average pay packet is still only $12.78 an hour.  Numbers like those don't have the buying power to keep our economy going indefinitely.

Beginning in about 1970 (see chart) we became enamored with the idea of "trickle down economics" breaks to the more affluent so they can accumulate even more wealth and use it to create new jobs for an expanding middle class, or so the theory went.  As we now see, many of those new jobs were often bottom-feeding jobs, but *big shock* the 0.1% began their rapid rise to controlling 22% of our wealth.  Again, this can't go on indefinitely.  Never worked, never will.

Change tack:

We need to approve the Keystone pipeline ASAP.  *Oh he's a card carrying Tea Partyer.*  Why?  Because the oil will make it south anyway, only more and more will come here via railroad tank cars, traveling through towns and cities, where accidents and terrorism can bring down havoc on us all.  Common sense says moving oil by rail is NOT ideal.

Plus this is just one more component in some day making us energy independent.  That means more US dollars staying at home vs going overseas to countries that do NOT have our best interests at heart.  It will make us STRONGER, and it's at a time of economic strength that we can begin to phase out all the tax breaks, subsidies, and other perks the wealthy have used since the 1970's to gain a strangle-hold on the middle class.  Over time income will begin to level out, and in the long run we'll all be better off for it.

Is the US going downhill?  Unless we do something, yes, we probably are.  But does it HAVE to be this way?  NO, not at all!  We need to sit together, liberals and conservatives, look at things from a longer ranged perspective and not just from a "what's in it for me now" position, dust off our 'common sense' gene, and make some tough decisions.

It's the start of a new year.  Let's begin it with a new, can-do attitude.  Anyone have the guts to give it a try?  Think we can get any politicians to compromise for our common good?