Thursday, July 26, 2007

Why do people fear cyber charter schools?

From today's Philly Inquirer (emphasis by me):

Pennsylvania's cyber schools serve students from struggling and poor districts, and a disproportionate number of cyber students are low-income. Yet cyber schools meet 46 of the state's 50 academic criteria for Adequate Yearly Progress.

This success with the hardest-to-educate students comes despite receiving only 73 percent of what school districts spend, on average, per pupil. So why are lawmakers trying to cut off funding for cyber schools instead of increasing funding?

Despite popularity among parents (enrollment grew from 1,848 in 2001 to almost 16,000 last year), cyber schools have come under increasing attack from school boards and some lawmakers. Legislation introduced by State Rep. Karen Beyer (R., Lehigh), House Bill 446, and Rep. Greg Vitali (D., Delaware), H.B. 1655, would limit cyber schools' independence and drastically reduce funding for students. This legislation is in response to critics contending that cyber schools are not accountable and take too much money from school districts.

HB 446, in particular, will defund cyber charter schools to the point that they'll be unable to meet the needs of their students.

Cyber schools use their resources more efficiently than traditional public schools, which spend an average of $11,485 per pupil. Cyber schools receive an average of $8,371 per pupil. Even ignoring construction and debt, cyber schools receive far less funding, spending only 80 percent of what school districts do on instruction and student services.

School districts clamoring about the losses of funding fail to mention that districts receive reimbursements from the state equal to 25 to 30 percent of what they spend for cyber students. Thus, school districts keep almost 50 percent of their per-pupil funding for a child they no longer have to educate. This helps school districts reduce class sizes and mitigate the need for new construction while resulting in an increase in per-pupil spending.

Look at that last paragraph! If MORE students enroll in cyberschools, the local school districts will actually MAKE money! Think of the benefits to those students still enrolled in them!
Furthermore, despite fallacious claims to the contrary, cyber schools complete every accountability and performance measure that district schools do, and more. Cyber schools also must renew their charters periodically, and underperforming schools can lose their charter to operate. ...
Tell me: when was the last time a non-cyber charter school lost their 'license' to operate??
Cyber schools serve about 1,500 of the 180,000 students from Philadelphia. This is not surprising, considering that 169 of the district's 270 schools failed to meet AYP in the 2005-06 school year.

The ultimate test for cyber schools is choice. If parents are not pleased with results, they can switch to another school. If public school officials are so concerned about providing a top-notch education for all students, they should levy their demands on themselves.

...

Yes, freedom to choose! Why isn't this spirit embraced by our politicians??

Read the rest of the Philly Inquirer article here, or at Commonwealth Foundation



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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Ranger Coffee

THIS is what I am talking about!

A few years ago, it dawned on Zach Thomas that coffee didn't have enough caffeine. At the time, he was pulling all-nighters as a student at the United States Military Academy at West Point. By the time he became an instructor at the U.S. Army Ranger School in Fort Benning, Ga., he lived by a common saying at his school: "Sleep is a crutch." "I used to just drink a pot of coffee, but then you have to go to the bathroom 100 times during the day. If you could just get more caffeine in one cup, then that would be the best of both worlds," he says. In 2005 Thomas, now 30, founded Ranger Coffee, with a "hypercaffeinated" blend that contains double the caffeine of regular coffee, or about 300 milligrams per 12-ounce serving—the equivalent of six Diet Cokes. ...

I wouldn't dream of comparing myself to any of the warriors at West Point. But I can identify with the notion Sleep is crutch, or as I prefer to say, Sleep is for those who cannot tolerate caffeine.

The Ranger Coffee website says the added caffeine is derived from the natural caffeine removed from other beans during the decaffeinating process. Talk about recycling!

At $1/oz, it is a little steep, but since $1 per bag goes to support those who are fighting/have fought the Global War on Terror, it isn't that bad.

h/t THE TANK at National Review Online



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Monday, July 23, 2007

Of B&N and HP (don't worry: no spoiler here)

So I was at a near-by Barnes and Noble Saturday morning. I half-expected to see people still sleeping on the sidewalk, using their beloved purchase as a pillow. I didn't see any sign, of course, of the late night party from the night before.

What I did see, and what struck me as odd, is some 3 dozen unopened cases of Deathly Hollows stacked behind the counter. As I made our purchases, I asked the clerk behind the counter about the stack.

Oh we have plenty more in the back room, too!

This struck me as odd. Wasn't the turn-out what it was hoped to be, that they have plenty more in the back room? Or did they simply order multiple times as many as they predicted they needed?

I asked the woman if she started reading the book yet.

SHE: Oh and I finished it, too!! How far have you gotten??
ME: I just picked up a copy on the table and read the final page of the epilogue. I was just curious how it ended.
SHE: Don't you dare say another word! Not another word!! How could you???

Um, it was easy, really. She seemed personally offended that I read the last page. That she felt so betrayed in a store that lets people read anything, even if its not purchased, struck me as odd.

I haven't shared the contents of the last page with anyone, lest I suffer the wrath of someone who has no sense of humor. But the event brought me back to my youth, back when VCR's were still a novelty. I remember we once rented the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar.

As the overture started, and the cast poured out of the bus, I turned to one of my brothers and said You know he dies in the end, right? His knee jerk response of why did you tell me that? was immediately replaced with oh, shut-up! He probably punched me, too; I got punched a lot in my youth.

By no means is that to be construed that someone, anyone in Deathly Hallows dies (it's a story of Wizards, right? There could be reincarnation, too, right?). But this episode does show my sometimes-twisted sense of humor has been around for awhile now.

For another non-spoiler, check out Sunday's UserFriendly.org comic strip. All movie fans, I am sure, will find it funny, whether you love HP or not.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

BK Girls in New Zealand

See the Burger King commercial reportedly banned in New Zealand...



Every now and then I am told how the rest of the world despises the USA. Then I ask So why doesn't BK offer a New Zealand Whopper in the States?



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A, B, C's and the birds and the bees

Item:

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., told Planned Parenthood Tuesday that sex education for kindergarteners, as long as it is "age-appropriate," is "the right thing to do."
You know what? This is an idea that is so weird, its liable to be enacted!

If you wish to teach your 5 year olds about sex, that's the job for you, the parent.

But we also know that when the statistics tell us that nearly half of 15 to 19 year olds are engaging in sexual activity, that for us to leave them in ignorance is potentially consigning them to illness, pregnancy, poverty, and in some cases, death.

For over 30 years, the debate over teaching sex ed in school has hinged on the teenage pregnancy rate. Yet year after year, as the number of classes are increased, as the age of the students being taught decreases, the number of teen-age births continues to rise unabated.

I have read some hair-brained ideas before, but this is simply stupefying. This proposal even gives Liberals a bad name!




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Everybody is wild about Harry.... well, not everybody...

Unless you've been totally disconnected, you know this Friday is planned celebrated release of the final Harry Potter installment. In many homes around the world, this is a big deal.

Not in my home, mind you, but I'll wager if your house isn't all excited, you know someone who is waiting, perhaps not-so-patiently.

Our 11 year old never caught the HP fire. He is a voracious reader... I'll wager he's read more pages, year to date, than the entire HP collection combined, but he's never been interested in fantasy. He hasn't been interested in the movies, either.

And unlike quite a number of adults I know, neither my MBH nor I care a whit about HP either (and that's no surprise, since I've never been a big reader). On the other hand, I know of at least one father who is actually saddened about Friday night's planned events. He and his now-teenaged daughter have been going to their B&N for each prior release, but now has learned that while she is equally excited about the event, she isn't planning on hanging around with dad! I suppose he's equally hurt realizing his daughter is growing up, and fears he'll never have another activity to share with her. Something tells me, however, he'll realize in time she will always find time for him.

Now comes the news that some copies of the latest HP book have been shipped prematurely, and now J.K. Rowling is threatening lawsuits over those that spoil the surprise.

Right off the bat: Ms. Rowling has a case, particularly if the contracts signed with the distributors are even half-as-strong as it has been alleged. She's entitled to whatever damages her contract stipulate, and I won't argue with that at all.

What struck me funny, really funny, is her plea to those who have gotten an early copy to keep the book locked away. Please, Ms. Rowling: it's the final chapter. Your fortune is secure, with the added bump from the justifiable lawsuit. Do you really think pleading is absolutely necessary?

If you are even mildly interested in seeing the book before Saturday morning, Allahpundit at HotAir has the latest info on how the book has been scanned - allegedly page by page - and is available online. I won't give you a direct link to the book, nor does Allahpundit, so you have no fear of any incidental reading if you are inclined to wait.



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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

It's performance review time, part 2

Yes, the day finally came. The annual review.

The review process began a few weeks ago and I completed the online self-appraisal (gag!). And I waited to see what, if anything, made it through the the 3 levels of review.

Then, last Thursday, the senior manager called an all-hands meeting. Management, he said, had reminded all senior-level managers to curve down all scores, else face strict demands for justification.

Looking around the room, I noted every one's disapproval with that announcement. Sensing no one had the balls to ask, I raised my hand and asked the Senior Manager (formerly the Project Leader who hired me ~3 years ago) May we have a copy of that memo from management?

Predictably, the answer was no, but he did chuckle at my request.

I did that because I feared the new Project Lead (PL), the man he picked to replace him after he was promoted, would consider such a question disrespectful. Hell, I figured I'd set the benchmark for any alleged disrespect by asking the question in front of 30 peers.

The point was, however, that I did not think the management's decision was fair, nor right, and I wanted to get it on the record as such. 3 people came to me privately for asking that question, because they wanted to ask, themselves, but feared retribution.

So on Monday, yesterday, I received my written review and my sit-down with the new Project Leader.

I lost .2 on my weighted average: I went from 3.7 to 3.5 on a scale of 1-5. No one - NO ONE - earns a 5 on anything, short of raising from the dead. But while my first reaction of WTF echoed in my head, the written comments were, in fact, quite good.

The sit-down review described how I would be assuming the role of Help Desk Team Lead, putting 2 people directly under me. This is sort of a plus, since no one ever reported to me previously, but I had autonomy in our group -- I worked on whatever Team needed my help, as I could schedule. But this is a step in the right direction, management-wise, which is what I want.

No money bump was yet discussed; that comes from Corporate, based on the reviews, and knowing how they divide up the pots of money, and how I won't see a dime for this new position until next year, I'll take whatever I get.

So now I have new position, with a team, and a new start, allegedly beginning in 2-3 weeks.

The cost? The former Help Desk Team Lead received a scathing review. I know this for a fact because he made it clear to all he was displeased, and based on what he told me, he's got good reason to be angry. His #2 person - his friend for +8 years - also received a bad review. The #3 person thought her review was lousy, too.

The former #1 had been griping to me, privately (and maybe not-so-privately) for weeks, thinking the PL had it in for him. He told me Monday morning (before my review) he had landed a new job, starting in 3 weeks, and was planning on giving the company 2 weeks notice.

Oh good: the outgoing Team Lead is mad as hell, and the two team members are pissed as well.

Just checked the office e-mail: as of 18:30 hours, I've been officially named as Team Lead. This tells me at least one person won't be at the office tomorrow.

Suddenly, I wonder how good this will turn out.



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Monday, July 16, 2007

The Murder of a Police Officer and Bearing Arms

Lionel writes

[On Saturday,] New York City Police Officer Russell Timoshenko died while on life support days after being shot in the face during a traffic stop. Officer Timoshenko’s partner was shot also but fully recovered. Here’s the story. Three men were arrested in connection with the shooting and now face murder charges. Get ready for the anti-gun crowd to use this terrible incident as an example of why we need tougher gun laws, not crime laws, but gun laws. Again, they will miss the point and fail to critically think and analyze what needs to be done.

Let’s look at some of the facts, shall we? It seems that these fellers realized that since they were facing life in prison for being in an allegedly stolen car, they had nothing to lose so ostensibly decided to kill the witnesses, viz. the two brave police officers. That’s what happened. Yeah, they had guns that were illegal but the crime involved wanton murder and a disrespect for human life. The gun part was incidental. True, had they had no guns, had guns never been invented, had the pistol gone the way of the hatchet, there certainly would not have been a shooting. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s look more deeply at what’s occurring here.

I have been a fan of talk-radio host Lionel for years. I used to listen to him daily when he was on WABC-77 in NYC, I then followed him on the now-defunct eYada. For a few years I lost track of him as he did late nights on WOR-710, but then re-discovered him via his podcasts.

Over the years, he was fairly even-handed in his political criticism. In the last year or so I've listened to him, he has become decidedly to the Left-leaning, while still claiming Independence. That doesn't mean an Independent can't disagree with the Right, but I find it increasingly hard to find him agreeing with anything the Right says. That has lead him to secure a morning spot on AirAmerica Radio. Now, at least, AAR can claim two hosts with genuine broadcast chops: Lionel and Randi Rhodes. I find the diatribes on the entire network repetitive and inaccurate, but at least now they have some on-air talent. Who knows? They may, one day, actually become profitable.

That being said, I encourage all to read the rest of Lionel's piece against further gun legislation (and some Independence cred for himself). If you can ignore the gratuitous slam against President Bush, he presents a cohesive and intelligent argument that should be today's required reading by all.

I was a responsible gun owner for years while in Florida. I had a carry permit and was armed constantly and I mean constantly as were thousands of fellow law-abiding Floridians. It drove anti-gun prohibitionists crazy who swore that once carry permits were issued, there would be a concomitant rise in accidental shootings, kids blown away, carnage and mayhem. You get the idea. Guess what: nothing happened. Crimes went down. Hell, bad guys read the papers and are for the most part less likely to engage in a home invasion robbery when there’s a good possibility that the homeowner is armed. You see, someone who registers a weapon, gets fingerprinted, takes a safety class and allows for a records check is not likely to be the armed robber you’re looking for. It’s been said before, if guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns. Well, take it a step further, they’ve got the guns now and unless we as a society make it really unfun to be caught committing a violent armed felony, the problem will get worse.

You can't deny he makes sense!

My sympathies to the Timoshenko family. He was the victim not of a gun but of a hominid who cares little for human life and who happened to have a gun.


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Friday, July 13, 2007

Stupid Teachers

This just in from Peru:

LIMA — About a dozen public school teachers tried to light a train station on fire in southern Peru amid nationwide protests against a new law that will require them to take periodic competency tests.

In the capital of Lima, police fired tear gas on about 1,000 demonstrators.

The teachers' union, Sutep, called the strike to protest a law signed by President Alan Garcia on Wednesday that will fire teachers who fail a job competency test three times.
Emphasis by me. Additional sources of the story here.

This shows how the Teachers Union is incredibly so far out of hand! Just think: if the teacher is so incompetent as to fail a test 3 times, they should still have their job?

And they resorted to arson to make their point!

Do not think this kind of twisted logic is only in South America. While no train stations have been yet threatened here in the States, the Teachers Unions in the US are against any sort of competency testing for their members. Imagine: if you knew you child's teacher failed a competency test 3 times... do you think you'd be comfortable in the kind of education your kid was getting?

Another vote for alternatives, like cyber charter schools.




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Economy humming along

In case you've missed the news (mostly because it is under-reported)

Stocks Extend Gains; Dow Passes 13,900...

Treasury Sec. boasts: 'This is far and away the strongest global economy I've seen in my business lifetime'.
..

Keep this in mind the next time someone suggest ending the Bush Tax Cuts.



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Things I'll wager you didn't know

Hat tip to the finn at Faster Than The Blog:

Peter Cullen, the voice of Optimus Prime, also does the voice of Eeyore in the Winnie the Pooh cartoons.

You can tattoo your eye. I mean, WTF ?... But yes, you can tattoo your eyes.

You can get at least three different tongues for a Real Doll... Why ? Just why ?

It's fairly easy to carbonate fruit. And, apparently, quite tasty.

And, finally, one of the more interesting stories I've read in a really long time....


I second WTF ... tattoo my eye? Nope.



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Update on Dell Laptop

Almost 2 weeks ago my Dell laptop took a hit in the hard drive. And I expressed the difficulty in understanding why next business day service meant 3-5 business days.

Because I have been swamped, I never did a follow up. The replacement drive arrived on July 5, and considering the Independence Holiday, that wasn't terrible (but still wasn't the next day, which would have been the July 3).

Replacing the drive went smoothly, and a guy in my office loaned me a cable to salvage what data I can from the old drive, which I intend to do this weekend.

On July 10th I received an e-mail :
My name is Debbie and I am located at Dell Headquarters in Texas. I read your post on Blogger.com dated July 2. I am sorry to read your hard drive must be replaced. Please feel free to email me if you still have not received the replacement drive. I am happy to check on the status.

Thank you,

Debbie
Dell Customer Advocate

Cool; Dell scans blogs for their name. So I wrote back to her the same day, asking why next business day is interpreted as 3-5 business days. No answer.

So I dumped my access logs. On the 10th and on the 12th I had hits with this referrer

http://fusion.us.dell.com/Fusion/Core/update.aspx?id=6220313
and the hit on the 10th is minutes before the time stamp on the e-mail, so I can validate that their Customer Advocate is who visited. But I still have no answer to my question, even after yesterday's visit.

Maybe when this post pops up in their search, someone will answer my simple question. Who knows



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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Office Baby Showers

I can imagine some of male readers rolling their eyes at the subject line. Read on, however, and tell me what you think of this one-sided policy.

One of the gals in my office was given a Baby Shower today, because (duh!) she's expecting a child in about 5 weeks or so.

What made this weird, for me anyway, is the inconsistency of office behavior regarding the practice of such celebrations.

This same gal - with whom I have a friendly enough relationship with, more or less the same as I do everyone else here - had her last child about 18 or so months ago. Right about the time she entered her 5th month back then, three guys in the office announced (about a week apart) they were soon to be fathers: two of them were for their first times, and one for the 3rd time.

Since someone had organized a collection for the gal for her upcoming birth (which would have been her 3rd child), I approached the boss about organizing some sort of thing for the guys; I was sort-of the senior guy (after the Boss) of the group of men currently not expecting, so I presumed it fell on me. Certainly, not a baby shower, since that belongs to the moms, but a collection for the guys on behalf of their soon-to-be born children.

To my surprise, the boss expressed his displeasure at the idea. He went on to say he wasn't happy that another employee organized the shower for that gal, either. Hey, he's the boss, so who was I to question it? (In individual e-mails to each guy, I offered to buy the guys a drink in celebration of their fatherhood. While it wasn't a substantial gift, I figured it was the least I could do.)

Two weeks ago I was surprised to learn that the office took up a collection for this same gal for her latest child-to-be-born. Like for her last birth, I put in my share, even though I sense a dramatic double-standard. I can stand on principle, but to do so would make some leap to irrational conclusions that I don't like this or that person. I pitched in, I signed a card, but that's all.

I didn't attend the shindig on her behalf, either. I never do, really, even when they have the now-quarterly birthday clubs or the like. This annoys people, I think because they believe my non-attendance somehow deprives them of a cake during the time of year of my birthday.

But back to the point: what is the normal, social rule about baby showers? This gal is young enough: she and her husband may have a 5th kid; do we do it all again? When do we say 'congrats, here's a card' and that's all? Is there a limit? I am completely lost on this topic: my MBH waived a baby shower for both of our boys, so I am more clueless on this seemingly women-only event than usual.



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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

About last week

Last week was a banner week for me… I came face to face with humility and envy in the span of a few days.

For a time, I was finding myself envious of others for a variety of reasons, some too numerous to list here. Later in the week, I had many of those same thoughts again. I am not proud that it happened, but hey – I am human.

The latter event that brought these thoughts to mind came during my weekend visit to my MBH’s nephew’s home. Here’s a 30-something with a wife and kid, living in a beautiful part of rural NYS, in a home he built. Now I know, to many, this isn’t necessarily the picture of success but it does meet my expectations. And here I am, 15 years into a home in rural PA, and wondering when my success will be realized.

It was later that I learned that this young family is only sort-of living in this terrific home. Neither of them relishes the idea of long commutes, so most of the month they live in her parents spare bedroom in Queens. I kid you not. A young family, both parents working, paying a mortgage, utilities (not to mention NYS taxes) for a home that’s little more than a weekend getaway. Weekend get-aways are fine, but the costs involved in such an endeavor, combined with living in her mom's spare bedroom doesn't add up! Now I fully understand the costs involved in long commutes (in dollars, time, and life) but I considered those before closing on a home.

Of course I wish them nothing but happiness and success in their endeavors, and while this may sound catty, it made me rethink my position in a more positive light. Yeah, so we won't (yet) take the kids to Disney... maybe next year, right?

The other issue, earlier in the week, is a bit more difficult to explain. Everyone has reasons to think their life is worse than anyone else’s. And in some scope, everyone has their own cross to bear, and row to hoe.

Suffice it to say, however, that there are plenty of reasons why we should not allow ourselves to be bogged down in these thoughts. It may be self-serving, now and again, to let ourselves think we’re worse off than anyone else, but to let those thoughts monopolize your way of life is wrong. Given a little time, we can all think of others who have situations that are worse off than anything we can imagine handling ourselves.

Of course, that is the hook right there: far and away, few of us know how much we can handle, and yet there are times in our lives when we are tested that we actually find out. Sometimes, people who are observing think that the tests we’ve endured are pretty amazing – and they are – but often when we reflect on what we’ve been able to accomplish, it really wasn’t that bad. It’s just what we did because we had to do it.

That we do what we have to may not sound humble, in the manner I present it, but that is the gist of what I was talking about Saturday. And now, looking back, I was probably over-reacting to the situations, making much a-do about very little.

Here’s hoping this ramble made some sense.

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Monday, July 09, 2007

How hot was she??

Not surprisingly, the temps were high in Pennsylvania today (it is July, after all). MBH doesn't fare well in the heat; she definitely is an Autumn kind of gal.

On the way home from Karate, I asked my 11 year old son:

Me: So how was your mom's mood today?

He: She was fine.

Me: Was she hot?

He: If you mean temperature-wise, yes.

Me: (pause)
And if I meant any other wise??

He: Um, um... uhhhhh um,..... I mean.... um...

Me: At ease, soldier, at ease.

Some how, I can imagine Johnny Carson smiling at my choice of this post's title.




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Pennsylvania on Furlough

So begins a day in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania without non-essential services. That is because the PA legislature has yet to pass a budget that our esteemed governor, Edward Rendell, will sign.

The big issue is that Gov. Rendell wants to raise taxes (Get out! A Democrat wants to raise taxes??) and the Republican Senate disagrees.

The interesting issue, of course, will be who gets the blame for the furloughed state workers. Since the Senate has passed a legitimate budget, the shutdown ought to be the blame of the Governor. Time will tell, of course. I know of several kids who were counting on attending a nature program at Beltzville State Park this week which has been unfortunately cancelled.

Interestingly, the Turnpike and Liquor stores are open, since they fund themselves. Perhaps the DCNR ought to find a way to become self sufficient. And, in fact, this entire exercise begs the question: if the programs are non-essential, why are we paying for them in the first place?

Food for thought.




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Saturday, July 07, 2007

Educational week

This has been such an educational week for me. In the span of a few days, I've experienced situations that tested my humility and ability to handle envy.

The situations were totally separate, and yet very connected in different ways. It is interesting, at least to me, how these two items intertwine.

For now I'll shower, kick back with an adult beverage or three, and reflect on the week that has passed. I'm not sure if the muse will strike me to post it all presently, but you never know.




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Round two

Back in April I bitched spoke about attending a 5 year old's birthday some 3 hours away.

Today is round two: the other kid's party, another 2 hour drive away


And I can't even expect to get drunk, either!

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Friday, July 06, 2007

Ron Paul draws more money than John McCain


Though often regarded as a long shot candidate for president, Republican Ron Paul tells ABC News that he has an impressive $2.4 million in cash on hand after raising an equal amount during the second quarter, putting him ahead of one-time Republican front runner John McCain, who reported this week he has only $2 million in the bank.
So says ABC NEWS' George Stephanopoulos. What he and the others in media seem to have forgotten is that Sen. McCain pretty much stuck a fork in his own rear with that ill-written Immigration bill (a/k/a Shamnesty). After weeks of telling us how good the bill was, and how wrong people who were opposed it were, who could forget those very un-statesman like plea "this isn't the bill I would have written".

With all due respect to Sen. McCain, for his years of service in the military and in the Senate, he will not be the GOP nominee for president.

As to Congressman Ron Paul: well, he had a good quarter for someone polling in the single digits, but to beat Sen. McCain after the month he had is no big deal. I know there are considerable supporters who would say otherwise, but I have yet to read anything from him or about him that makes me think he has snowball's chance in Vegas of winning the Primary.


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Talk about a blast from the past

Back some time ago, when I was unceremoniously in between jobs (read: unemployed), I signed up at a variety of sites to get my name out there. Included in this was Classmates which I signed up for but never visit. I couldn't name 3 people that I went to high school that I would be even remotely interested in speaking with so many years later. Of the people I knew in college, I stay in touch with 2 who actually mean something to me (one of which is my MBH).

So you can imagine the surprise when I get an e-mail from Classmates saying there's a message for me, and when I clicked on it someone wrote:

Were you in Sr. name's class in 1970?

+36-odd years ago, and I'm supposed to remember this guy? I guess, since he apparently remembers the scrawny kid that was me.

I replied, confirming I was in that class, but admitted I have no recollection of his name. I am almost sorry I replied at all; as I said earlier, if I don't give a damn about a high school reunion, why would I care about a kid I allegedly knew in 1970?

The again, who knows? Maybe he owes me money!

Let's see.... say $.05 x 3.5%, compounded annually...



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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Day after Independence

Well, we tried to watch Philadelphia's own fireworks last night. But
due to weather they were postponed until after the kids were in bed,
at which point they WEREN'T postponed. Gotta love them City
officials.

Today is a vacation day for me: taking me business with the
fam and back to work tomorrow. Yep, I know what you're thinking.

--
I posted this via mobile GMail on my ancient cell phone... a few typos due to T9 spelling were corrected at night.

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Why I am disappointed in the matter of L. 'Scooter' Libby

I was out of pocket last evening, so I've only done required reading this morning...

L. Scooter Libby is a decent man. A dedicated employee, he performed admirably throughout his career.

In the matter involving the leaking of Valerie Plame's name, who allegedly was covered by covet status in the CIA, after a thorough investigation, no such crime was found to be committed. In fact, to this day, no Court has ruled that Ms. Plame was, indeed, a covert operative at the time in question when her name was published.

If you can demonstrate that a cover-up can exist when no crime was committed, I am interested.

I was hoping for Mr. Libby's appeal to play out, because I remain optimistic the result would have been acquittal, and this render any discussion of his pardon as OBE. In issuing the commutation, President Bush made a logical decision but did it in an unfair manner.

In order to pardon Mr. Libby, as so many have called for over the last few months, Mr. Libby would have had to accept responsibility for his crime, and an admission of guilt1 . Clearly, if he was guilty of no crime, no such admission could be offered. Waiting for the appeals process to acquit him (hopefully)was the only route, as the pardon would be the last resort.

President Bush did the best he could do, under these circumstances, in that it is uncertain if an Appellate Court will hear Mr. Libby's case. Perhaps before he leaves office, Mr. Bush can fully pardon the man who has done so much good for his Administration, and has done so little wrong.


,




1 Wikipedia: Pardon

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Monday, July 02, 2007

A sentence rightfully commuted

I'm not terribly surprised that President Bush commuted L. Scooter Libby's sentence. When over Conservat

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Country Music, Kids and Badonkadonks

Our 11 year old son is a big fan of Country music, and that's definitely from mom's influence. I tune it all out, really... if it's not something I enjoy (a good Rock-n-Roll tune, some Jazz, and none but a few Country songs) I ignore it like white noise.

So as the whole family is out driving Saturday, and my MBH happened to be speaking to her sister on the cell phone, #1 son decides to ask Dad, what's a Honky Tonk Badonkadonk?

Good thing mom was on the phone....

Quickly, like a cop scanning a security cam after a convenience store robbery, I replay the last few minutes of background noise in my head to figure out what prompted this question, and sure enough there was a song on the radio more than one song ago that peaked his curiosity. Figuring it would be a discussion best left for another time, I told him we'd talk later.

I Googled the song to get the artists name. Trace Atkins performed it (and until then I thought that was a gal's name). Let's see.... references to Donkey Kong and slap you grandma : yeah, I can see how this would peak a tween's interest (in case you are as ignorant as I was: lyrics are here, the video - which sounds more disco-infused than what was on the radio - is here). This will be a good discussion, I'm sure. Let's hope he doesn't bring it up again.

Lo', and behold: he remembered to follow up with me on the topic Sunday night. This time, in private, so I talked to him.

First of all, what's a Honky Tonk? A type of bar, nightclub sort of place. Usually rougher than the kind of place you'd take your mom. Honky Tonk is also a kind of music played at such places. OK, so far.

So what's a Honky Tonk Badonkadonk? Well, badonkadonk is sort of a slang term for a woman's rear end.

Huh?

Her butt.

Oh, I get it. So mom has a badonkadonk!

My life flashed before me: "Now take my advice: do not ever suggest that to your mother! Both of our lives are stake here!"

I should have seen this coming; and admittedly, I hadn't taken the hint during a conversation 2 years ago that linked together Kelly Ripa and Playboy. The conversation went fairly smooth from there, and even went in a direction I hadn't expected:

If it's rude to stare at people, why do so many magazine covers in the supermarkets show women wearing almost no clothes?

Explaining that magazines and such for grown-ups are not the same thing as the magazines for kids satisfied him. For now. At least I have, what I believe, a stable platform to build on when the time comes.

And if mom ever chastises the Rock N Roll I listen to because the lyrics are overly suggestive, I'll have some ammo.



By the way... among the many blogs I follow, there are more than a few that qualify as daddy blogs, the kind that bring every minute detail of the life and times of the author's kids. Those are fine, and I have no toruble with them.

Should I ever transform this humble blog into a daddy blog, I will immediately cease and desist all blogging. I have nothing against DBs, but they are not what I think is appropriate for me to put out into the ether. Like this post, there will be some entries about my kids, since the obvious humor involved isn't particularly embarrassing to anyone (other than, perhaps, me).

But if you're looking for minutiae about my kids, you've come to the wrong blog.


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From old PCs to New Pictures

Where to start?

  • Spent much of Sunday indoors. Much-better-half's aunt wants to connect her Compaq desktop (running Win98) to her daughter/SIL's wireless network (she lives in apartment in their home during the summer).

    SIL, a very competent house painter and general contractor, knows not of his own router (his buddy gave it to him, so he can surf with his laptop when visiting), so time was spent cracking the router cpanel. In the end, I couldn't get my USB-wireless adapter to run on Win98 (it works on Win98SE, which she doesn't have). She won't buy a new PC because she lives in Florida for 8 months of the year, and has another PC there. So she'll remain on dial-up. Overall, a sad way to spend a nice afternoon.

  • My old boss Kash once said

    There are two kinds of hard drives: those that have failed, and those that have not yet failed.
    Kash knew well, and I learned a lot from him; or did I?

    My Dell laptop took a hit Saturday night and won't boot: the dreaded NTOSKRNL.EXE is missing or corrupt. After Googling the error, I found the drive, itself, is bad. A pity it's been 2 weeks since the last backup. Kash would be disappointed in me for not having a more current back up. But hey, I went camping last weekend!

    Dell Support tells me I'll get my new drive in 3-5 business days; I point out that my warranty clearly states 'next business day.' He says yes, but if it doesn't come in on Tuesday, you'll get it Wednesday! Imagine his surprise when I informed him Wednesday is a National Holiday in the US! Still, he could not explain why my contract says next business day and he says 3-5 business days; that's an argument I'll have when I finally get the drive.

    Now to get an adapter to rescue as much data from the bad drive as I can...

    UPDATE: Read about an e-mail from Dell Customer Advocate...

  • I was big on Yahoo's suite of tools years before I heard of Google. I had Yahoo! Mail, Address book, Notepad, and My Yahoo! long before anyone even dreamed of iGoogle. But, yeah, over time, I went towards the Google light. Today I got a note from Yahoo!, telling me my Yahoo! Pictures would be folded into my Flickr account. Now I know Yahoo! owned Flickr, but I had no idea I had any pics in Yahoo! Pictures. I agreed to the merger, so now I have to wait until it is finished to find out what pics I had in Y!

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