Friday, December 04, 2009

I'll drink to that!

If you are looking for a way to break up the monotony of the weekend, don't forget the anniversary of Repeal Day

The anniversary of the end prohibition isn't taught in history class, nor is it on many Hallmark calendars, but it is noteworthy.



  (as if you need a better reason for a drink?)

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J.Giels Band and 6 year olds

After having survived more than one music conversation with my oldest son (see here and here), it was time for the younger son to enter the fray:

Last night my 6 year old son was singing the chorus to a song he heard on the radio yesterday by that '80s favorite, :

Na-Na-NaNaNa My angel is in my cell-phone...

In one of those rarest of moments, I was at a complete loss for words.

Do I correct him..... no, then the next logical questionis the meaning of centerfold (and I've already avoided that chat with his brother once before).  

For those too young to remember 1981, or for those who want to be reminded, here's the video of the tune that's a staple on soft-rock radio today (doesn't Peter Wolf, the band and most of the girls look bored?  This was still the early days of music-video, for pete's sake)

Knowing that if I said anything, he'd likely go on to repeat the chorus ad infintum, I decided to bite my tounge and move on.

I'm getting too old for the sort of stuff..
Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs

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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

World AIDS Day

Remembering the ongoing human tragedy: I'd be remiss if I didn't take a moment to remember today is World AIDS Day. I doubt there are many who can honestly state they do not know a person who has HIV or is a loved one of one who does.

And yet as I much want to eradicate this vicious virus and rid the world of this epidemic and its bane, I can't help but to see how politics have polluted the fight.  More on that thread another day...

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President Obama and Afghanistan: Essential points, Q&A

Tonight is the long awaited announcement of President Obama's response to General McChrystal's request for additional troops.

There are a couple of points I believe must be made clear:

  1.  Starting tomorrow morning, without a doubt, this war is now the responsibility of President Obama.  For a year Mr. Obama has had the luxury of blaming much of his woes on his predecessor, President Bush.  After hand-picking Gen. McChrystal, and after deliberating 3 months on the general's request, there can be no more pointing to the past: Pres. Obama owns this war, flat out.

  2. There will be no immediate, instant change.  I point this out because when President Bush began the Surge in Iraq, there were critics looking for immediate change from the first of the surge troops to arrive in country.   Then the same critics demanded a change when it was announced the last contingent had arrived.  Changes in war do not happen immediately.  So I am hopeful that none of President Obama's critics expect immediate change when the first troops arrive, as well as I hope none of his supporters point to insignificant changes and give undue credit either.

  3. No matter how you slice it, Gen. McChrystal wanted a reported 70,000 troops.  Sending half that number may actually work in my opinion; however, given the avoidance of the word victory  and the frequent use of words similar to exit strategy it will be quite surprising if these numbers meet the general's goal.

  4. Tonight's speech will postpone the annual showing of A Charlie Brown's Christmas; say what you want about it, but my 6 year old now has a reason all his own not to be happy about President Obama. 

The Heritage Foundation has compiled a list of the Top Ten Questions and Answers on Obama's Strategy in Afghanistan and I believe it is essential reading for all.

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Monday, November 30, 2009

Quick Hits

Here then, after a length absense, is the return of Quick Hits:

  • Cops Shot: I was saddened when I heard the news of the 4 police officers executed in a coffee shop yesterday.   Sadder still at how the first 6 people into my office had no clue what I was speaking about this morning - inspite of the headlines and radio news stories saying the police had the suspect's home surrounded (do any of my colleagues follow the news besides Tiger Woods?).  That the alleged monster who did this won clemency makes me wonder if we, overall, give free-passes too often to violent criminals.

    There will always be people who think it is OK to shoot at anyone, even police officers.  That this act was so brazen, so unprovoked (as if any assault on a law officer could be considered provoked) makes one even more frightened at the prospects of tigheter gun controls.

  • Cyber Monday:  Come on, now: how can anyone seriously still consider this day - the first, full work day after Thanksgiving, as a major point in the shopping cycle?  Ten years ago, there were few people who met the following criteria necessary to make CyberMonday happen:

    1. people who had home PCs
    2. who would put up with the comparatively slow dial-up speeds of the day

    Fast forward to today: given the now-common practices of shopping online from home, mixed with the astounding unemployment rate over 10%, it seems to me that tracking the phenomona is as practical as tracking those who still use Christmas Club passbook accounts at their local banks (yes, youngin's there used to be passbooks for savings accounts).  Time to move on.
    • Health Care Bills:  The good news on this issue is that the Senate is only now beginning debate.  That means it is extremely likely (but not absolute) that no health care bill will be passed by the Senate this year.   And the longer it takes, the better the odds are that there will be no health care legislation passed at all.   One has only to look at the recent government recommendations curbing prostate and breast cancer screenings (after decades of just the opposite) as early indications of the kinds of rationing on the horizon should a we lose the ability to choose our own health insurance.   And there's ample evidence to show the kinds of health insurance choices we have today will evaporate should a federal mandate come down from Capital Hill.     I've said it before and will say it again: I'll do whatever 2nd, 3rd or even 4th job I have to in order to prevent my kids from falling prey to a national health care system.
      • Tiger Woods What can I say? His Cadillac Escolade backed into a fire hydrant before going forward into a tree. No air bag deployment. Questions:



        1. Where can you go at 02:30 in that part of Florida? In NYC there a half-a-million things you can do at a quater to three (thank you Huey Lewis); in that part of Florida there's the Waffle House.
        2. Airbags didn't deploy: either he wasn't yet going fast, or he has a hefty lawsuit to GM.
        3.  If the airbags didn't deploy, why did his wife need to take a golf club to the back window - surly the door frames couldn't have been bent!
        4. He went to hospital at around 03:00, and wasn't released for 15 hours.  If you or I go to our local ECU (ER), we're in the waiting room for a time before being seen.  Tiger Woods, on the other hand, probably didn't wait long.  If the injuries were so minor, why was he there so long?

        In the big picture, I can't really care any less about Mr. Woods and his woes. There are far too many more important things to deal with. However, this story won't go away anytime soon, and may well be the threshold of the end of his career.




      Christmas is coming soon... stay tuned for my annual reposts of holiday favs.

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      Friday, November 20, 2009

      Philadelphia Boy Scouts survive another battle...

      ... but the war for their right to exist continues:

      PHILLY.COM: Scout eviction ruling A federal judge yesterday ordered the city to "immediately cease and desist" efforts in Common Pleas Court to evict the local Boy Scouts chapter, the , from its rent-free headquarters building at 22nd and Winter streets while a federal lawsuit is pending. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Ronald L. Buckwalter does not prevent the city from pursuing similar claims in the federal suit.
      The CoL Council still has a long row to hoe in their battle to make the City honor their lease, but every win like this - albeit a small win - is a step in the right direction.

      More on this case by me:

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      Friday, November 13, 2009

      Touch of Grey

      Must be getting early, clocks are running late.
      Paint my love a morning sky, its all cold.
      Dawn is breaking everywhere, light a candle, curse the glare
      Draw the curtains I dont care, but its all right
      I will get by, I will get by, I will get by, I will survive.

      I see youve got your list out, say your piece and kiss off.
      Guess I get the gist of it, but its all right
      Oh well anyway, sorry that you feel that way.
      Every silver linings got a touch of grey
      I will get by, I will get by, I will get by, I will survive.

      Its a lesson to me, the ablers and the beggars and the thieves
      The abcs we all think of, try to win a little love.

      I know the rent is in arrears, the dog has not been fed in years
      Its even worse than it appears, but its all right

      Cow is giving kerosene, kid cant read at seventeen
      The words he knows are all obscene, but its all right
      I will get by, I will get by, I will get by, I will survive.

      Shoe is on the hand that fits, thats all there really is to it
      Whistle through your teeth and spit, but its all right

      Oh well a touch of grey, kinda suits you anyway,
      Thats all I had to say, but its all right
      I will get by, I will get by, I will get by, I will survive.

      Its a lesson to me, the devils and the east and the free
      The abcs we all must face, try to save a little grace.



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      Monday, November 09, 2009

      Remembering President Ronald Reagan's words


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      Friday, November 06, 2009

      Veteran's Day

      The following is a repost, refreshed for style and accuracy in time references, and updated with the very special video. This serves as this week's contribution to Dad-Blogs.com Fatherhood Friday.

      Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs

      The idea for this post came before the news of the horrible act at Fort Hood, Tx.  Prayers and thoughts to those brave soldiers who were felled in the last place they ever expected to be threatened.


      This is something I've come to share with my kids each , in my efforts to remind them of the importance of paying tribute to those who have served in the Armed Services.
      On the occasion of Veteran's Day, I wanted to take a moment to thank those who have served.

      I've never served in the military, but I've worked for Defense Contractors for the last 13 years; not sure if that fits the definition of irony or not. However, I don't feel particularly guilty about having not served; anyone who knows me in person can probably guess I may have very likely been passed over for induction. This much I have told to a number of veterans with whom I worked with in the Defense Contracting area, and no one has disagreed with me.
      Regardless, had I been drafted (assuming, of course, there was an active draft provision, I was old enough, etc.) I would have likely burst out laughing the first time I was told to 'drop and give me 20', knowing well that would probably be the last time I ever laughed in uniform. In the end, I would have made a good ol' fashioned 'dog faced' grunt, I would have done my duty and that would be it; I have no delusions of grandeur that I could be officer material.1
      Those same colleagues who know me - when they heard me say this - chuckled appreciatively and agreed.
      In college, I saw students in ROTC, and while others found it easy to joke about, insult, or in other ways disrespect them, I knew they had more courage than the rest of the student body to wear their uniforms on campus, in spite of the narrow minds who mocked them.
      Back in May '04, on the occasions of Memorial Day and the opening of the WWII Memorial I wrote a piece dedicated to my uncles:
      Anthony, one of my father's 3 older brothers, was called to service in March of 1942, just less than 3 months after Pearl Harbor. He served the US Air Force in crash recovery, piloting a PT boat, recovering the many who were downed during the battle of Midway. Unlike the average GI who served about 2 years (with furloughs), Tony served for 3 years and almost 10 months; no breaks, no furloughs. A year later, Gasper - my father's oldest brother - was drafted. He first guarded German POWs as an MP and later served as a medic, providing triage in France.

      My father and his other older brother, Vincent, had poor eyesight and were not eligible for the draft. They, like the majority of others, fought the war on the homefront, with war bonds, scrap drives, victory gardens, and by working hard.

      Six or so years later, John, my father's brother-in-law, spent years defending liberty in Korea.

      To these men, and to the countless others who have served this nations military, and especially to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, I salute you. My uncles all came home, but it was the Spring of '04 when we said our last farewell to Gasper, and farewell to John earlier this year, but the work they performed should never be forgotten.   And it never will be, if I have my way.
      The men and women of the US Military -- and their families -- have given in ways that only they can understand. Those of us who have never served cannot fully comprehend this, and are asked to do nothing more but to remember, and to respect their sacrifices. Anyone who attempt to denigrate or insult those soldiers, in peace or in war, deserve the utter disdain of the rest of us.
      As George Orwell has been widely attributed with saying, We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.


      Thank God for the brave members of the United States Armed Forces: past present and future.

      This weekend we will be visiting my uncle Anthony, who is celebrating his 90th birthday (geeze, I hope it's not a surprise party! How awful would that be?). My oldest son turns 14 today, and has heard the details of the above post many times before. His brother, 8 years younger, is still unable to grasp the concepts of war and sacrifice (as well he shouldn't), but he does appreciate the fact that his great-uncle was in the Army, and that my two nephews (quick: someone tell me what MY nephews are to my kids - their second cousins, 17-times removed or whatever) are in the Air Force.


      All kids should be taught to appreciate the sacrifices others have made in protection of freedom and liberty.

      Prayers and thoughts to all in the Armed Forces,
      and especially on the news of the Fort Hood shootings. 





      1This discussion with my defense contractor colleagues regarding my doing 20 push-ups occurred LONG before I began my Taekwondo training. At that time, the idea of my doing even 5 push-ups was laughable!

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      Monday, November 02, 2009

      Election 2009: So far, so good

      I write this post the night before the 2009 off-year election, expressing my gut feeling about the prospects.


      The results of tomorrow's election, short of a landslide for Democrat ticket, sets the stage for 2010 mid-terms.  Let me be clear: there will be Democrat victory in several races; there's no doubt.   I will predict some upsets, however.


      Now I am not talking about Virginia;  last week the NY TIMES featured a story of President Obama's administration talking trash about Creigh Deeds chances being spoiled, because he didn't follow the Administration's lead.   That's a done deal: Robert McDonnell is the next governor, to be sure.

      While the Administration will also suggest they weren't running with NJ Governor Jon Corzine, signs like this make it hard to swallow:





      My prediction: New Jersey tax payers will reject the wealthy Jon Corzine and elect Chris Christie, whose record as Attorney General US Attorney speaks volumes compared to what little Mr. Corzine has accomplished in regards to regarding his state's tendency for corruption.

      NY-23:  Ah, I love upstate New York.  Dede Scozzafava did a big favor to all registered Republians everywhere (and registered Conservatives in NYS -- I used to be one of them!) - she demonstrated what a liar she really was.  Tell me now: what level-headed Moderate in NY-23 who was on the fence betweeen Ms Scozzafava and Conservative Doug Hoffman would look at Democrat Bill Owens and think he's the next best choice?   Long time Republican and Conservative Newt Gingrich shot himself in the foot over endorsing Ms. Scozzafava; other than her rating by the NRA, she wasn't a very good Republican, let alone Conservative.  I've written a lot how disillusioned I had become in Mr. Gingrich a few years ago, and this has certainly hurt his cred with me even more.

      Mr. Hoffman will win handily.

      Of course, these are only predictions, and are based on the idea of fair electioneering and voting.   If you add into the equation the New Black Panther party,  SEIU, and ACORN, that can tip the scales quite a bit.

      Still, I am optimistic that tomorrow's election will be the first volley in turning around the radical, Liberal agenda of President Obama.  And hopefully scare enough Blue Dogs to kill the horrible health-care bill.   If that bill can be delayed past Thanksgiving recess, it will surely be dead in 2010 (with the mid-terms on the horizon).   Stopping the Socialized Medicine onslaught is my priority, and I am doing as very much as I can (in my real persona) to ensure my family isn't subjected to that misery.

      Here's hoping the 2,000 page nightmare begins to die of its own weight, starting tomorrow!

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      Tuesday, October 27, 2009

      Do car troubles come in threes?

      Faithful readers of my blogs know I keep 3 cars in my home. With the daily schedule my much-better-half keeps running with kids, and my long commute, we cannot afford to be down to one car for any real length of time.

      Her car is an '06 Toyota Highlander, with some 66,000 miles on it. My daily ride is an '01 Toyota RAV-4 (262,000 miles), and the back-up (and weekend workhorse) is a '92 Chevy Blazer (211,000).
      About 6 weeks ago the check engine light came on the RAV. I took it in for a routine oil change and my mechanic said it was the catalytic converter throwing the signal. He reset the indicator, and told me to call him if/when it came back on. Well 3 weeks later it came on again, so we agreed it was time to replace the 'cat'.

      So I scheduled to take my car in last Saturday (the 24th). Then I realized the Highlander needed its annual inspection before month-end. So a week ago today (20th) I called to change the appointment to the Highlander.

      Late Tuesday, I was running the Blazer to a Boy Scout Meeting (giving the RAV a brief rest) and when I hit the brakes, the pedal floored. I have either a blown brake line (relatively cheap) or a caliper ($$) or worse. I was fortunately close to the meeting so I was able to limp into the parking lot, catch a ride to a buy brake fluid, and was able to get home without any incident.

      So I kept the Highlander's appointment, and then brought the Blazer back, after the inspection. I managed to get the Blazer to the shop without ever touching the brakes, which is no mean feat, given the hills in-between my home and the shop (downshifting and the parking-brake all the way down.

      I get to the shop and learn - are you ready? - the Highlander will need rear pads and rotors to pass inspection. So let's see... when the Blazer is done, swap it for the Highlander, and oh yeah, finally get that cat for the RAV.

      When it rains, it pours.

      The mechanic will draw me up a firm quote forall 3 and I'll pay him in cash... can't wait for next month to begin

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      Friday, October 16, 2009

      Gifts for Dad

      Here then is my infrequent contribution to Dad-Blogs.com Fatherhood Friday. 

      Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs

      I am not a fan of getting gifts.      I had a fairly lengthy post on the topic 4 years ago, and nothing has changed over the years.    I enjoy giving gifts, but dislike shopping for them; I always over-think what the recipient would enjoy receiving.   So far, as near as I can tell, I haven't given any gift that has been soundly disliked.  When receiving gifts, I am cordial and thankful, but on balance would prefer if I didn't get any.

      My thoughts on receiving gifts are fairly simple:  if I need something, I generally go out and get it as soon as it is practical.   I no longer want things, at least not in the sense of wishing for them to be given as a gift to me.   In my mind, I don't need to get gifts from my much-better-half, kids or others because they - the givers - certainly have more important things to spend their monies on instead of me.   

      There are things I want to have, of course.     Case in point, I saw something that I would love to have (but in no way expect ever to receive).  From the Neiman Marcus Christmas Catalog:
      You will participate in the unique whisky-making process step by step, for an insider's look at how every detail makes every glass a special occasion. This gift experience includes a two-bottle memento of the rarest Maker's Mark bottles ever: Two golden bottles will be etched with your likeness and dipped in gold wax with 24-kt. gold flecks. You'll also get to hand dip six of your own 375ml Maker's Mark bottles in signature red wax and take them home.

      All for the value price of $7,500 -- and I am certain worth every penny!!  (Oooh!  Free shipping on this item!)   Maker's Mark is my favorite bourbon and adult beverage of choice.    Still, the caliber of this item, as fabulous as it is, is something I would never expect to receive, nor ever actually purchase.   Indeed, I'd be angry if my family purchased this for me. 

      Sure, were my kids sufficiently through college or should we hit it big in the lottery, I'd have a different position on the matter, but something like this is so far out of bounds it's worthy of a few aww, wouldn't it be greats and that's all.     A lot of my reasoning stems from being the only source of income in my home:  that's in no way a slight to my spouse, but the practical realities of our lives.  

      The idea for this post came to mind last week while I was waiting at the pharmacist counter for a few scripts to be filled. I readily identify with the guy's position, as I've had this very same discussion with my mate in the past.   The couple looked as if they were in their late-20s, early-30s.  Dialogue at least 95% accurate, as I jotted it down shortly after the discussion took place:
      SHE: So, your birthday is next month, what do you want for your present?
      HE: Nothing.  You know I don't want anything.
      She: Come on... we go through this every year.
      HE: And every year I say the same thing.
      She: How can I know what to get you if you don't tell me?
      He: I got you, that's all I want!
      She: Cute... come on, tell me what you want.
      He: I don't want anything.
      She: Well what do you need?
      He: If I need something, I buy it.  Right now I don't need anything.
      She: You almost never buy anything for yourself!
      He: Because I don't need anything.
      She: But it's hard for me to get you something you like.
      He: You always get me great gifts.
      She: I always tell you what I want.
      He: You do, yes.
      She: That way you know what to get me.
      He: Either by your telling me or when I ask Lisa.
      She: Lisa is three.  Come on now, what do you want?
      He: Nothing.
      She: There's absolutely nothing in the world you want?
      He: Of course there's stuff I want,
      She: Okay then.
      He: But we can't afford what I want, so why bother?
      She: Come on!
      He: Fine: a big screen, high def TV.
      She: (pause) What's wrong with our TV?
      He: See?  Nothing's wrong with it, so we don't need a new one. 
      She: Well the big ones are pretty expensive.
      He: No kidding!
      She: So that's all you want?   What if I get you a gift card for some place?
      He: Right. Use my money to buy me a gift card for stuff I don't need.
      She: Why are you being difficult?
      He: Who knew saying 'I don't want anything' was being difficult?
      She: You are so childish.
      He: I'm not the one insisting on something I can't have.

      Their prescription was ready, she signs for it and they both turn to leave.

      She: You know what? You're getting nothing for your birthday this year.
      He: Isn't that all I ever said I wanted??

      You know, I felt bad for the guy.  Here he is, being open and honest, and he's getting no credit for it.    

      So is it just me and this guy, or do other men think the same way about getting gifts?

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      Thursday, October 08, 2009

      Evidence of how state-run healthcare costs everyone more

      A lot of people asked why I wasn't actively supporting Mitt Romney for president.  Gov. Romney's conservative stances are very clear, and his track record speaks for itself with one glaring exception:


      Massachusetts health care.   The model that is held out at what the health care reform winding its way through Congress could be.  And that's what scared me then, and scares me now.


      HotAir.com has a post regarding how one notable Liberal Wendy Burton, a former speechwriter for President Obama and Senator John Edwards, found that her premiums more than doubled simply because she moved from Washington, D.C. to Massachusetts:

      Button has to pay a whopping 144% increase in premiums over her costs in DC, not exactly a city known for its low cost of living in the first place.  In order to provide coverage with all of the mandates Massachusetts imposes, health insurers had to more than double premiums to meet the costs.

      Nor is this the only such example of economic disaster that government-mandated coverage generates.  Earlier this summer, we looked at Maines DirigoChoice, an Orwellian term for a program full of mandates on individuals and insurers.  The combination resulted in premiums over 300% more expensive than in neighboring New Hampshire, and in an operating deficit so large that it no longer can accept all of the applications by uninsured Maine residents.
      So before we all embrace this health care reform nonsense, take a good look at where it's been tried, and see for yourself the downside to such government intrusion.

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      Tuesday, October 06, 2009

      You know you're getting old when..

      This weekend I was at a Scouting event during which several parents were gathered and talking amoung ourselves.


      Besides me, in the group were 4 parents, male and female.  One mom, the parent of 4 (3 boys, 1 girl) was discussing something related to high school, and how her oldest son would start in just a year.   The conversation drifted to other related topics, including graduations.   It was then I began to speak on my own experiences:

      Me: Well, when I graduated, it was 1982, and ...
      She: Wait!  You graduated when?
      Me: I said I graduated in 1982, and ..
      She: Oh, my God!
      At this point, the group of parents are more concerned at what she's apparently shocked at regarding 1982 - including me - rather than the point I was about to raise.
      Other Parent: Did something exciting happen to you in 1982?
      She: Um, no, not really.  I was only 5 in 1982!!

      Now every one started to console me about my apparent old age but I didn't care.. I never think about aging, or getting old.    Too many more important things that can be controlled are more pressing than worrying about aging.


      Still, the shocked look on her face was priceless.

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      Monday, September 28, 2009

      Single-Payer Health Insurance

      In case any readers doubt the intent of the Obama Administration, please take about 2 minutes to watch this video, then tell me why the intent is NOT Single-Payer Health Insurance

      Have I mentioned I'll go to whatever means necessary to prevent my family from having to rely on Socialized Medicine? If they're so dishonest now about their intents, why would anyone trust them going forward?


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      Monday, September 21, 2009

      First Lady Michelle Obama's misguided priorities

      I was stunned on Friday when I heard First Lady 's remarks on Health Insurance reform:

      I will never forget the time eight years ago when Sasha was four months that she would not stop crying. And she was not a crier, so we knew something was wrong. So we fortunately were able to take her to our pediatrician that next morning. He examined her and same something's wrong. We didn't know what. But he told us that she could have meningitis. So we were terrified. He said, get to the emergency room right away.

      And fortunately for us, things worked out, because she is now the Sasha that we all know and love today -- (laughter) -- who is causing me great -- excitement. (Laughter.)

      But it is that moment in our lives that flashes through my head every time we engage in this health insurance conversation. It's that moment in my life. Because I think about what on earth would we have done if we had not had insurance. What would have happened to that beautiful little girl if we hadn't been able to get to a pediatrician who was able to get us to an emergency room? The consequences I can't even imagine. She could have lost her hearing. She could have lost her life if we had had to wait because of insurance.

      And it was also fortunate that we happened to have good insurance, right? Because if we hadn't had good insurance, like many of the panelists up here, we would have been saddled with costs for covering that emergency room visit for her two days in the hospital. We would have still been paying off those bills.
      While this blog, clearly, is happy her daughter recovered from the ailment referred to above, I am taking exeption to a few things that was said above and beyond that good news.
      1. [W]hat on earth would we have done if we had not had insurance:  Are you kidding me?  Do you mean to tell me that a parent would say well, she's clearly sick, the doctor says go to an ER, but we have no insurance, so I guess we'll stay home.  I defy anyone to produce a person so cold hearted to suggest that absurdity!   And if you find such a person, the state should move to take the children away from them.

        I can speak first-hand that when a child needs an ER, you don't give a damn how much it costs.   This speech - and in particular this passage - is a rather lame attempt at pulling heart-strings in the name of getting a socialized medicine bill passed.

      2. This blog has never and will never condone the media or punditry using the children (specifically: under 18 years of age) of politicians as fodder for stories or blog posts.   The President and First Lady have gone on record many times echoing that sentiment.   The questions that begs to be asked: is Mrs. Obama guilty of violating this simple principle by invoking a specific issue concerning her daughter?  Is it fair for her to specifically insert her daughter and cite a specific episode into a policy discussion but then chastise everyone else who does comparatively less?

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      Monday, September 14, 2009

      Thought question: President Barack Obama, Don Imus, and ACORN

      Come with me now as we go back in time for a few moments:

      ABC NEWS 11-Apr-2007: "I understand MSNBC has suspended Mr. Imus," Obama told ABC News, "but I would also say that there's nobody on my staff who would still be working for me if they made a comment like that about anybody of any ethnic group. And I would hope that NBC ends up having that same attitude.

      "What we've been seeing around this country is this constant ratcheting up of a coarsening of the culture that all of have to think about," Obama said.

      [A]s a culture, we really have to do some soul-searching to think about what kind of toxic information are we feeding our kids," he concluded.

      OK, so as we all well know, said a stupid remark that was a poor attempt at humor in 2007. He was fired, and has sort of a resurrection in his career. When asked if he would ever appear on the Imus show again, then-Senator Obama said that he did wish to be an enabler or be encouraging in any way with the unbelievably offensive remarks made by a radio host (see video).

      In the last few days we've seen several blockbuster exposes of the organization wherein investigative journalists and have revealed the organizations willingness to do business with child prostitution (see video at HotAir).

      So, the question on my mind is simple: since President Obama was so clearly outraged at a bad joke involving 'hos', prompting him to avow never to enable the person who made such an offensive remark, will he now avow never to enable ACORN after their obvious and undeniable enabling of child prostitution?

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      Friday, September 11, 2009

      Never forget the attack

      And where the offense is, let the great axe fall.

      Hamlet, Prince of Denmark
      (
      Act IV. Scene V.)


      A list of the fallen of September 11, 2001.

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      Thursday, September 10, 2009

      President Obama's lies

      My analysis of President Obama's speech before the Joint Session of Congress, 09-Sept-09:

      It has now been nearly a century since Theodore Roosevelt first called for health care reform. And ever since, nearly every president and Congress, whether Democrat or Republican, has attempted to meet this challenge in some way. A bill for comprehensive health reform was first introduced by John Dingell, Sr., in 1943. Sixty-five years later, his son continues to introduce that same bill at the beginning of each session.
      Hmmm... maybe the legislators of the past know something that you do not know!
      More and more Americans worry that if you move, lose your job or change your job, you'll lose your health insurance, too. More and more Americans pay their premiums, only to discover that their insurance company has dropped their coverage when they get sick, or won't pay the full cost of care. It happens every day.
      Really? So what has ever become of The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), signed into law by President Clinton?? If that is so inefficient, shouldn't that law be changed?
      Now, these are the facts. Nobody disputes them.
      Um, sorry.. plenty of people have problems with the facts you present.
      First, if you are among the hundreds of millions of Americans who already have health insurance through your job, or Medicare, or Medicaid, or the V.A., nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have.
      In the interest of full disclosure, this is not a lie. HOWEVER: SEC. 313. EMPLOYER CONTRIBUTIONS IN LIEU OF COVERAGE in HR 3200 (PDF) states that a company must either provide health-care coverage or pay 8% of the average wages paid by the employer during the period of enrollment. Care to guess how much more than 8% your company pays for your health insurance? It will be cheaper for a business to pay the 8% and cancel your current plan. Don't be think it won't happen!

      That's why under my plan, individuals will be required to carry basic health insurance -- just as most states require you to carry auto insurance.
      ...because we all know the automobile is a perfect simile for human beings. You are required to purchase auto insurance to pay for the damage YOU can inflict on OTHERS. The comparison here is foolish, at best.

      Now, there are also those who claim that our reform efforts would insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false. The reforms -- the reforms I'm proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.
      OK, lets break these phrases down. For weeks, we were told there were 47 million people without health insurance (US News). Last night, President Obama changed the number to 30 million. Hopefully, someone in the media will ask him where the other 16 million went. However, when considering the US Census - an agency that knows something about counting people - puts the count at 46 million, it's easy to see how we can assume illegal immigrants will be covered. Walk into any emergency room, and you're covered. Plus, efforts by Republicans to specifically include language that would exclude illegal immigrants was rejected by the Democrat majority.
      They will no longer be able to place some arbitrary cap on the amount of coverage you can receive in a given year or in a lifetime. We will place a limit on how much you can be charged for out-of- pocket expenses, because in the United States of America, no one should go broke because they get sick.
      And when the insurance companies begin to show losses at the amount of expenses they're paying for these costs that won't be regulated by the free market, they'll close up shop. And you'll be forced to take whatever is left.
      Because there's no reason we shouldn't be catching diseases like breast cancer and colon cancer before they get worse.
      True, but unlike the rest of the world with socialized medicine, you stand a better chance of survival in the US than anywhere else.
      The best example is the claim, made not just by radio and cable talk show hosts, but by prominent politicians that we plan to set up panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill off senior citizens.

      Now, such a charge would be laughable if it weren't so cynical and irresponsible. It is a lie plain and simple.
      The federal government has no business being in the business of discussing end-of-life planning. But hey, what do I know? I mean, a woman in Oregon, under the state's Medicare plan, was told her cancer treatment was too expensive. So she was offered either hospice care or assisted suicide. President Obama, himself, told a voter that the best course of action for some might be to take a pain pill. Yep, we who are opposed to the current bill are just lying.

      I will not sign it if it adds one dime to the deficit now or in the future -- period.
      So, I suppose the CBO is lying, too?


      In short, President Obama's last-ditch (I hope!) effort at rallying the troops will give him a poll bounce, no doubt.  That bump-up should last 10 days - 2 weeks, I imagine.   The question that hasn't been asked, however,  is this:

      If this is such a great idea -- this bill is the be-all, end-all -- if the ultimate goal of the Obama Administration is to undo all of the mistakes of the last 8 years (and beyond),  then why aren't the members of his own party clamouring to vote for it?   Stick it to the Republicans now and make them suffer for not backing the bill come next election day.

      Or is the goal of the administration to take control of the economy, and use as many Republicans as a shield to say they voted for it,too! when the shit hits the fan?

      Final note:  Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) called out you lie when President Obama claimed illegal immigrants would not be covered.  As I've stated already, I believe much of the president's speech was lies, but I do not condone Rep. Wilson's outburst.   That much said, I find it interesting that Politico called that scene the defining moment of the night. I suppose the abject lack of specifics in Mr. Obama's speech left little for Politico to mention.

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      Wednesday, September 09, 2009

      Say NO to the current Health Care proposals

      Readers fo this blog aren't surprised to learn I am opposed to the proposed national health-care bills in Congress.

      Let me state, once again, that I opposed to any national health-care program.  There are not 47 million uninsured people in America.   Remove the illegal immigrants, the 20-somethings that don't buy-in to health insurance because they're-young-and-indestructible (many of us were the same way at that age), and the people who are lacking insurance as they migrate to new jobs.   That leaves some 12 million people who are eligible Medicare and are very likely under-served.

      So we're supposed to up-end the entire health-care system that the vast majority of Americans enjoy, because the Medicare system needs help.  

      Explain that to me.

      Here's my pledge: I will never allow my kids to be solely subjected to a national health-care program.  I'll do whatever side-jobs necessary, do without whatever for myself, in order to pay for private insurance/private health-care.

      THAT is how frightened I am of the president's proposals.

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      President Obama's speech to school kids

      Now that the dust has settled...

      President Obama's speech to school kids went off quite well yesterday.   Many criticize the parents who were concerned about the president might say.  I was one of those parents.

      My kids didn't listen to the speech live; they had other school sessions at the time when it was live.  As important as it is to hear from the president, there was no need to interrupt their schedule.   My kids are very involved in their schooling -- the 13 year old is an honors student, and the 6 year old is as excited about 1st grade as one can expect.

      Which is why the overall nature of the speech, while important, was not essential for them to hear at a designated time.   The fact remains, however, that the original lesson plans put forth by the US Dept of Education painted a far different idea of what Mr. Obama's speech would be about when the idea was first announced.

      It was that initial lesson plan that drew the ire of so many parents.   That the national media largely ignored those lesson plans and instead focused on some proponents of the Obama Administration who insulted those parents is yet another case of media bias.      The same media complained that President George H. Bush  ('Bush 41') also gave a speech to school kids, but the media often failed to mention the congressional hearings that followed;  yet again, more bias.

      The 13 year old agreed with the President's speech.  The 6 year old tried to look interested, but was lost to much of the speech.  Can't say I blame him, at that age. 

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      Tuesday, September 08, 2009

      Project 2996: Robert L. Cruikshank

      Foreward:

      9/11/09 will mark 8 years since the attacks of Word Trace Center I and II, The Pentagon, Shanksville, American Airlines Flights 11 & 77, and United Airlines Flight 93 & 175.

      On that day 2,996 people were ripped from their lives. But as the media and society tend to do, they have focused on the killers. We’ve all learned more about them than we wanted to. On that day many of us made a pledge to never forget what happened.

      The bloggers listed here are trying to keep that promise by learning about the people who died that day. Use the list below to visit their sites and read about the people they have chosen to remember.


      Robert L. Cruikshank

      Despite my efforts, I could find precious little about the life of Mr. Robert Cruikshank. In the interest of preserving what little I could find on Mr. Curikshank, I am reprinting the comments left by others in the event the referring website should cease to exist:

      • http://www.9-11heroes.us/v/Robert_L_Cruikshank.php I knew Mr. Cruikshank from Siwanoy CC in Bronxville, NY. He was always a kind gentleman. May he rest in peace. Posted by Johnny Mastro on 2008-09-11
      • http://terroristattack.com/messages.php?id=589: I had the privilege of working as administrative assistant to Bob Cruikshank during his tenure as CEO of Chicago's First Capital Corp., a division of the Equity Group. It's difficult to define the level of respect I have for Bob. He was one of the two true leaders I've met in my lifetime. I have framed a photograph of the two of us at an Equity Group Christmas party against a background of the American flag. Next to the photograph is a newspaper column describing his accomplishments and announcing his death on 9/11. His wife is quoted; "Knowing him, he was taking care of his staff until the end." Having worked with him, I agree with her 100%. He would have put the safety of his staff above his own. Each year since the disaster, the framed photograph comes down from its place of honor at home, and comes to work with me for the month of September. I will never forget Bob Cruikshank and the incredibly positive impact he has had on my life. -- Kelly Ripka 09/11/2006

      Not being able to discover anything more about this man, it may be fair to say he was an average person. Doing his job, minding his own business. That does not mean he ought not to be remembered, for he was simply doing his job on that sad day, and like the 2995 others, his world and the worlds of his friends, family, and indeed our country, will never be the same again.



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      Thursday, August 27, 2009

      Quick question

      Over the last several weeks I've been doing a lot of thinking about this blog.

      In connection with that thought, I ask you glance to the top right of the main page and answer a simple poll: what age bracket do you fit into?

      Thanks

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      Tuesday, August 25, 2009

      Remember when...

      I remember those awful Bush years when the media would remind us on a daily basis just how many American soldiers had died in that needless war.

      We always knew exactly how many soldiers had died in Iraq and Afghanistan because the media relished the gory details so long as they could have the blood be on Bush’s hands.

      Bush is gone, believe it or not. The way the Left keeps blaming him, you’d think he hadn’t moved his stuff out of Pennsylvania Avenue.

      Now that Obama is Commander-In-Chief, it seems as if the war has been largely forgotten. The bellyaching over the President being a war monger has certainly stopped now that Obama is in charge of the military.

      But the deaths and destruction continue on.

      Today I read that 2009 was the deadliest year for American troops in Afghanistan since the overthrow of the Taliban.

      DEADLIEST YEAR?? And it’s only August.

      Imagine the hysteria and the crazy chatter if BUSH were in charge right now.

      Where have all the war protesters gone? Where are all the obstructions of traffic? The daily, weekly, and monthly anti-war get togethers?

      Nowhere to be found.

      Remember when war deaths mattered?

      Read more: http://www.foxnewsradio.com/2009/08/25/remember-when-war-deaths-mattered/#ixzz0PDsEzMRG 

      I am not a fan of war; but I am acutely aware that it is necessary at times.    But the point remains:  do you recall the last time the nightly news, or any of the talking-head shows, ever mentioned the total number of dead soldiers since the wars began?

      Wasn't it before 20-January-09?

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      Monday, August 24, 2009

      More blatant double-standards in media - health care rationing

      This humble blog repeatedly warned the dangers of electing Democrats because of their likelihood of enacting a Socialized Medicine scheme.   We're on the threshold of such a horror today.  

      What's interesting is how such media giants as the New York Times are suddenly silent when someone they recently praised speaks out against President Obama's agenda.

      In January of this year, the NY Times said the following

      A well-known newspaper had this to say about writer Nat Hentoff upon his departure from the Villiage Voice at the end of 2008 after a 50-year run:
      Across his 83 years, his three dozen books and his countless newspaper columns and magazine articles, Mr. Hentoff has championed free speech and opposed censorship of any kind, whether by liberals or conservatives. Few have more assiduously and consistently defended the right of people to express their views, no matter how objectionable.

      The thing is that, agree with him or not, Nat Hentoff offers no opinion that isn’t supported by facts, diligently gathered.

      Mr. Hentoff may not hear as well as he once did, or stand quite as straight. But he will not fade to silence.
      All well and good if that's how what they believe.  So then why hasn't the NY Times offered Mr. Hentoff's opinion on President Obama's agenda thus far (emphasis by me):

      Jewish World Review, Aug 19: I am finally scared of a White House administration

      I was not intimidated during J. Edgar Hoover's FBI hunt for reporters like me who criticized him. I railed against the Bush-Cheney war on the Bill of Rights without blinking. But now I am finally scared of a White House administration. President Obama's desired health care reform intends that a federal board (similar to the British model) — as in the Center for Health Outcomes Research and Evaluation in a current Democratic bill — decides whether your quality of life, regardless of your political party, merits government-controlled funds to keep you alive. Watch for that life-decider in the final bill. It's already in the stimulus bill signed into law.

      .... No matter what Congress does when it returns from its recess, rationing is a basic part of Obama's eventual master health care plan. Here is what Obama said in an April 28 New York Times interview (quoted in [a] Washington Times July 9 editorial) in which he describes a government end-of-life services guide for the citizenry as we get to a certain age, or are in a certain grave condition. Our government will undertake, he says, a "very difficult democratic conversation" about how "the chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives are accounting for potentially 80 percent of the total health care" costs.

      ..... As more Americans became increasingly troubled by this and other fearful elements of Dr. Obama's cost-efficient health care regimen, (Dr. Wesley) Smith adds this vital advice, no matter what legislation Obama finally signs into law:

      "Remember that legislation itself is only half the problem with Obamacare. Whatever bill passes, hundreds of bureaucrats in the federal agencies will have years to promulgate scores of regulations to govern the details of the law.

      "This is where the real mischief could be done because most regulatory actions are effectuated beneath the public radar.

      ..... Condemning the furor at town-hall meetings around the country as "un-American," Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are blind to truly participatory democracy — as many individual Americans believe they are fighting, quite literally, for their lives.

      I wonder whether Obama would be so willing to promote such health care initiatives if, say, it were 60 years from now, when his children will — as some of the current bills seem to imply — have lived their fill of life years, and the health care resources will then be going to the younger Americans?
      So if the New York Times is as balanced as it claims, they will give a nod to Mr. Hentoff's position on socialized medicine and town hall attendees.  Even if they disagree, they have to admit his positions are those that are supported by diligently gathered facts.

      Right?

      H/T to NewsBusters

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      Friday, August 21, 2009

      My how times have changed

      Remember when the stars of the Left were coming to the defense of the perpetual basher of President Bush, Cindy Sheehan?

      Well, the bloom has fallen off that rose.... as Byron York reports:

      In an appearance August 18 on WLS radio in Chicago, ABC News anchor Charles Gibson was asked about anti-war protester Cindy Sheehan's plans to travel to Martha's Vineyard next week, where she will protest the Iraq and Afghanistan wars while President Obama is vacationing there. Gibson, whose newscast and network featured Sheehan when she led anti-war protests outside President Bush's Texas ranch in 2005, answered, "Enough already."

      That's a remarkably different stance from the one Gibson took four years ago. On August 9, 2005, the ABC anchor conducted an extensive on-air interview with Sheehan. "Cindy Sheehan is her name," Gibson began. "She says she's not moving until the president meets with her, and I had a chance to speak with her a few minutes ago. Cindy Sheehan, bottom line, what do you hope to accomplish with all this?" During the next week, Gibson and ABC continued to cover Sheehan. On August 17, 2005, when Sheehan left Crawford, Gibson reported, "We're going to turn next to the standoff that is playing out near President Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas. Cindy Sheehan, you know, the mother who lost a son in Iraq, is now on the move, but she's still standing her ground. ABC's Geoff Morrell is in Crawford with the details…" The next day, Gibson reported, "All across the country last night, people held candlelight vigils in support of Cindy Sheehan…" Sheehan was mentioned in several other ABC newscasts, as well.

      Now that Ms. Sheehan no longer serves any purpose to the left-wing media, especially since President Bush has left office, there's little need for them to pay her even half the respect they did in the past.

      As I've said, the nation owes her a debt for the sacrifice of her son; it is a shame how she was led to believe she was the toast of the town, and is now being discarded by the very same people.


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      Wearing white before Labor Day is OK, but...

      I know; it's been a while.  I have fallen behind in my posting.

      No one who knows me would ever assume I am fashion authority.   My much-better-half still speaks of her disdain when she learned, some 20 years ago, my wardrobe consisted in a number of blue, white, and white-with-blue pinstriped shirts.   That's all fine by me, and little has changed (much to the chagrin, again, to my MBH).  Fast forward to today, when I observed what may be considered a fashion faux pas, which led to an uncomfortable encounter. 

      I am at a FedEx drop site;  my kid's cyber school is upgrading their equipment, so I am completing the RMA process to send back the older devices.   There's a few folk ahead of me in the office, so I am waiting in line. The temperature today was in the upper 80's, and it was quite humid.   I'd be a liar if I suggested I was listening to my better angels, but clearly my mind, and eyes, wandered to the person standing in front of me.    A tall woman, fairly rubenesque, stood in front of me, and what most notably struck me was her choice of white slacks.

      Again, I am hardly a fashion expert, but even I know the tendency to wear white in the summer temperatures, and this woman clearly understood this, as hers were probably made of linen. 

      What struck me odd, however, was her decision to wear a purple thong.  Now understand: I did not, in any way, go to any extraordinary effort other than to stand about 18" behind this woman, and I was very able to make this observation.    She did not bend over, her slacks weren't below her hips, and her top was tastefully meeting the top of her slacks, so this observation wasn't by any unusual methods.

      This wasn't the big awkward moment, however.   A few moments later, as I took a call on my cell phone, the woman standing in front of me turned around and said Hey Charlie, how are you?

      The woman who made what perhaps can be considered an unfortunate choice in her wardrobe was a former coworker of mine.   So I ditched the call and made small talk, agreeing to get together soon, amid the incredible awkwardness of the all-too-obvious - how can I say this delicately? - clashing of colors

      There's never a dull moment...

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      Friday, July 31, 2009

      Stupid Fool (redux)

      Yep, this is a post, but don't get too excited. Obviously, this stands very likely to be the ONLY post in July, so don't expect too much from me in the near future (at least for this month).

      And with this post I am hat-tipping to all the gang at Dad-Blogs.com and their Fatherhood Friday initiative... by all means visit there and partake in many other blogs deserving your attention.

      Dad Blogs

      I had to go back almost 4 years to find the last post on this topic, so that in a way is a good thing. Still, I am a stupid fool.

      Two weeks ago I was in a parking lot, backing up. Let me be more specific: I was leaving an ice cream parlor, across from a wildly popular amusement park (Dorney Park, if you're keeping score) on a Saturday evening (about 8:30 PM) in what had to be a perfect summer's evening weather.

      Translation: a perfect storm.

      For reasons far too numerous to state here, I was alone, in my much-better-half's 2006 Toyota Highlander, having just bought 10 pounds of dry ice and on my way back to meet MBH and kids (there was a big to-do on Sunday that needed additional cooling -- like I said.... long story). Anywho, I was backing up the Highlander, going less than 2 MPH as there were kids EVERYWHERE. I heard a kid yelp, yelp, cackle, scream - whatever. The were kids enjoying their ice cream sitting on benches in front of me, and the sound came from that direction, and it was a happy kind of exclamation, but still the reflex to focus my attention towards the front of the car was automatic, as was further depressing the brake peddle to stop the car.

      At that exact moment I heard it: the oh-so-painful crackling of my tail light.

      Apparently, some 20-something gal (with 2 friends in the backseat) rolled up BEHIND ME, perpendicularly to my vehicle. I hadn't gotten more than 2-3' out of the spot when I stopped, but that was apparently OK to her to roll up behind me.

      The crackling sound came from my tail light hitting her rear side-view mirror.

      Now when I say crackling, I mean the clear back-up lens is broken... not the turn signal, not the brake light lens. JUST the back-up. So, overall, if I had to break a lens, the back-up one is the least used (and the bulb still works, so all is good).

      The gal and I chatted and she was all eager to forget the matter, since she had no damage.

      Uh-huh. But what about my tail light?

      So I asked her for her insurance card, and she repeated her request to forget it. Now I want to see it, even more, because if she's driving without insurance, the cops will be called (even though I had 10 lbs of dry ice freezing my floor mat, and as much as I wanted to get back to my fam who were waiting for me). She finally agreed and traded information.

      The other reason I wanted her information was that in case she claimed I "hit and ran", having her information would be proof I spoke to her and traded said data. Who knows what could have happened if we smiled and went our way, right?  Remember: she had two friends, and I was solo.

      Looking at her car again, I agreed there was no damage but I made no promise to forget the matter either.

      Not wanting to bother the insurance company, I did let it go. Basically, I was in the wrong even though she was obviously driving recklessly in that she came up so close to parked cars, but the tail light assembly sells on line for about $120, so it wasn't worth the effort to go through a claim.

      Guess who did call the insurance company? Yep, she did. So I speak to my claims adjuster and hers. Three days later I find out: my company will pay her for some $575 in damages.

      Shocked, I demand photos of her claim. What I see appears to be two (that's right 2) dents that look suspiciously like a sledge hammer. Now bear in mind: my vehicle has a flat bummer -- nothing protruding out that could produce two dings. Also remember: I have a CRACKED taillight. How in the hell could I make 2 dents in her car if all I have is a cracked lens?

      The adjuster asked for my photos of her car: I had none. I was so pleased to see no damage on her (and in such a hurray to get back) I completely forgot to use my cell phone to snap a few photos.

      In the end, the adjuster said that while my explanation makes sense, the amount involved is too small to be worth their challenging it.

      In short, my driving record takes a hit for a stupid cracked tail light. And for me trusting a young gal, who quite honestly looked young enough to have been my daughter.

      Considering I still log will over 1000 miles a week commuting to work, I shouldn't complain about to bumps in 4 year period, but it still grates on me. I am a better driver than that, and I know it. On the other hand, if I go another 4 years without any incident, who am I to complain?

      The moral: In any case involving a claim, ALWAYS assume the other guy/gal is going stick you with it, and be sure to take photos!

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      Monday, June 22, 2009

      Changes coming

      Some interesting news in recent days....
      • Continental Pilot dies while in air: The Continental Airlines pilot who died on a trans-Atlantic flight from Belgium to the U.S. was in "perfect health" and fellow crew members initially thought he had just fallen asleep...,  Begging your pardon, am I the only one who wonders how often pilots are likely to fall asleep at the stick??   This reminds me of an old joke: when I die, I want to go like my grandfather: peacefully in his sleep.  Not like his passengers...
      • There are jokes abound regarding the Iranian elections (including those that state the some 16 million votes were actually cast for Pat Buchanan).   Still, the leader of the free world is steps behind the leaders of France and Germany in rhetoric.  No one is suggesting military action in Iran, but our posturing in Washington, D.C. is interpreted as weakness, and that weakness is being amplified again and again.
      • ABC News has pretty much given up any pretense to being non-biased with the upcoming airing of the health care special.  Just imagine: had President Bush offered to hold such an important meeting on FOX NEWS.   Had the 3 broadcast networks been invited to participate, I would have less to say about the matter, but clearly there is no longer any attempt for the major media to appear unbiased.   How far has our nation's free press fallen...
      I have been wrestling with various issues in recent months, and many of them intersect with my humble blog.
      A lot of changes are in the air.   I mentioned this a year ago and it is even more true today.  While my job remains largely static (and expects to be so through 2013), I have done little to advance my own cause in education;  clearly, that is very wrong in this economy (and my age/status in life). 
      In spite of the grand efforts by many, and the paltry ones of myself, this move towards Socialized medicine is gaining speed.  Some say it won't make it through Congress, others are are convinced it will.  I, for one, am scared to death it will.  I said over and over: I will work as many jobs as I must, sacrifice anything and everything, in order to prevent my family from relying on any so-called universal health-care, and I meant it.    This matter is far too important for me not to be taking a greater role in campaigning against it.   It is high time I take a more visible stand against this gathering storm.
      In recent months my postings have fallen off the pace set in previous years.   This trend will likely increase....  as much I as enjoy reading issues of politics, pop/odd culture, and commenting on them ... as much as I enjoy visiting other blogger's sites, I know I can't keep that pace and do the things I have to do.    So if I don't visit your blog much, if I don't post here too often, do not think it is because I've given up.  I have a lot of fight in me, and I now have to better direct those energies to where I can affect the most changes.
      I'll be around... just not so often.

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      Thursday, June 18, 2009

      Standing up to tyrants

      Some of the readers to this lowly blog of mine may well be too young to remember a time in our nation's past when an oppressive regime pressed the boot of tyranny on a nation.

      In 1981, the People's Republic of Poland enacted Martial Law to quell the uprising against Communist rule. President Ronald Reagan made public the transcript of a phone call he had with Pope John Paul II:

      The President. “Your Holiness, I want you to know how deeply we feel about the
      situation in your homeland.”

      “I look forward to the time when we can meet in person.”

      “Our sympathies are with the people, not the government.”

      Nine words said it all: Our sympathies are with the people, not the government. That wasn't meddling, but rather compassion for the people.

      It's safe to assume now that the Iranian Mullahs are not likely to have any sort of open-door policy in respect to their nation's election; having banned Western media clearly states their intention to keep order. That might have been different had President Obama had exhibited more back-bone when the results first were reported. Instead, the world was treated to Mr. Obama extolling the virtues of his speech in Cairo.

      Critics of Mr. Obama weren't surprised of his lack-luster approach to the Iranian crack down. Recall last summer, when Russian tanks rolled through Georgia:

      [President Obama] first recommended the UN take action, with a plea for restraint on both sides (as if Georgia was the blame for their invasion). Later on, no doubt after a considerable chat with his 10 score of foreign policy advisers, condemning Russia's actions and a call for a cease-fire (which, reportedly, Russia has ignored).

      When liberty and freedom are in harm's way, Mr. Obama has demonstrated two times now that he'll plant his feet firmly on the fence, instead of taking the correct stand. That doesn't mean I advocate US military action in Iran, not anymore than did Mr. Reagan do in Poland.

      Words have meanings. Ostracizing Iran could have gone a long way. What President Obama has done (or rather, not done) this week can easily be compared to what President George H. Bush did (or didn't do) to support the Iraqi rebels after the push-back out of Kuwait in 1991.

      Should more deaths arise out of Iran's efforts to crush the resistance, what will the Mr. Obama do then?

      Whether President Obama cares to say it or not, the American people's sympathies are with the Iranian people.

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      Wednesday, June 17, 2009

      Exactly how disgusting am I?

      Readers of my humble blog know I've studied Taekwondo for some time now (approaching the 6 year anniversary), and from those posts they know that I tend to perspire. A.Lot.

      The instructor used to move me away from the door, because (as he put it) he was afraid prospective students would see me sweaty and panting and that would put them off (true story!). It should be noted our dojang has no air conditioning, and our classes always begin with about 25 minutes of cardio, which means I am always good and sweaty before too long.

      The other night we were doing one-step-sparring, where we are paired-off and take turns practicing basic defense moves against an opponent throwing a punch. My opponent, a gal slightly younger than I, blocked my punch and grabbed my shoulders as she was about to sweep my leg in a take down.

      Suddenly she recoiled, her face was showing an expression of twisted horror as she held her hands stretched from her sides.

      My God, you are so gross! How does your wife stand you??

      Her voice was so loud, everyone stopped and turned. Interrupting a class like that is generally answered by the Instructor with push-ups to all offenders, so I quickly answered: Why do you think we have just 2 kids, 7 years apart?

      Uncharacteristically, the entire dojang broke down in laughter at that point, including the Master. No push-ups were assigned, but I did get a towel for my partner after class, who profusely apologized for her outburst.

      What could I say? It's not her fault that I sweat a lot!



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      Friday, June 12, 2009

      All those who don't suspect the son is responsible for his mom's death...

      ...raise your hand:

      Son charged in fiery death
      A 26-year-old former Slatington man told police he had just put his ailing mother to bed and wanted her cat to join her, so he reached behind the bed and flicked a lighter to see if the cat was back there.

      The cat never appeared, so Chad Matthew Lever went downstairs to look elsewhere. Before Lever reached the bottom step, his mother, Lisa House, began yelling.

      The mattress had caught fire.

      After repeated attempts to get his mother, who suffered from Lou Gehrig's disease, out of her burning bedroom, Lever was overcome by smoke. Lisa House, 47, died in the February fire at 424 W. Washington St., Slatington.

      OK, I don't particularly like cats (hey, show me one that fetches and I'll reconsider), even though we have one.  That much said, I would never think to use a lighter to attract a cat!

      During interviews with Detectives Lou Tallarico and Michael Millan with the district attorney's Homicide Task Force, Lever said he had played the lighter trick with the cat in the past. Normally, the cat would be scared by the flicker of the lighter and jump onto the bed, joining his mother, he told the detectives. 
      What astounds me most is that this guy was arraigned this week after the February fire. Over 3 months to get an indictment on this story?

      He said that after hearing his mother yell, he ran upstairs and noticed smoke coming from the side of the bed where he had been flicking the lighter. With his mother still in the bed, he pulled it away from the wall and saw a small flame on the side of the mattress.

      Lever said he went into the bathroom, grabbed a dry towel to try and put it out, but couldn't and the fire began to spread.

      He said he leaned his mother against the headboard and ran to the basement to grab a fire extinguisher. After unsuccessfully trying to operate the extinguisher, he called 911
      Yeah, I can see how that would happen.   Leave an invalid in a burning bed, and grab a dry towel.  Why do I imagine this guy gets acquitted on a technicality??

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      Tuesday, June 09, 2009

      Replacing AVANTGO

      Last week I was in complaint-mode because I learned was going dark.   Long before web-enabled phones were the norm, AvantGo provided PDAs and certain smart-phones the ability to update content - not unlike a feed reader - whenever the device was docked (or if you did happen to have a data plan).   For years, my smart-phone (and Pocket PC before it) provided me reading material for idle times -- waiting on a meeting to begin, watching data compile, etc.

      But as of 30 June, AvantGo will be no more.  Actually, it is a good as dead now, since most of the content providers I subscribed to have already abandoned the platform.   So I've been in search of a suitable substitute.

      Most of what I found out there require a data plan for updates.  That's just not in my budget, especially now (although I've never found justification for one previously). Mobipocket, however, does provide updates via ActiveSync, which means whenever I sync my Outlook contacts and appointments, my reading material gets updated, too.   So far, the actual reading panes are not quite as nice as AvantGo's offerings, but I am getting used to them.  I am looking into using Mobipocket's Creator tool to convert PDFs into readable files on my phone, too.

      Check it out: Mobipocket.com

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      Wednesday, June 03, 2009

      Supreme Court Nominee Sonia Sotomayor

      I've gone on record saying is entitled to his choice of nominees for the Supreme Court:

      I defended President Bush's right to nominate justices and I will do the same for President Obama, despite the fact that I oppose his positions on nearly 100% of the issues.
      And I stand by that statement.

      So it is interesting to hear what then-Senator Obama had to say regarding the nomination of Justice :


      So while I would go so far as to say the President is entitled to his nominee, what senator will have the moral fortitude to take a stand such as Mr. Obama? After all, if denying Judge Alito confirmation on the basis of his philosophy and ideology was good enough for Senator Obama, why wouldn't the same logic hold true for Judge Sontomayor for today's senate?

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      AVANTGO on the way out?

      I've used AVANTGO for years;  first on my Compaq iPaq PocketPC, and currently on my Samsung SGH-i607 (the original BlackJack).   It's largely geared to those who subscribe to a data plan to get real-time updates (for instance: instant flight information), but I've taken advantage of subscribing to a number of sites that offer reading material.  Many an idle moment has been saved from boredom (like waiting for appointments, dead air in meetings, etc.) by my reading articles posted to WIRED, CNET news, Cato Daily Commentary, and even Rolling Stone.  Updates to these sites are provided whenever I dock my phone at my PC and sync up to Avantgo.

      After this morning's sync, I noticed a banner with unfortunate news:

       From June 30, 2009, AvantGo will no longer offer mobile Web content.
      Subscribers will not be able to sync their AvantGo accounts or update channels.
      Now word of a company going bust is hardly news, but there has been no mention of this (yet) that I can find online.  And it seems odd that a company not going under would suspend their primary function.

      Does anyone have any clues?

      UPDATE: Replacing AVANTGO

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      Welcome fans of MoneyGirl

      A big welcome to fans of Laura Adams, the QuickAndDiryTips financial advisor who goes by the name Money Girl.

      I've been a fan of Money Girl for some time now; she offers practical financial advice while not talking down to her audience.  I've adopted more than a few of tips into my own routine, and am working my way through  her considerable archive (125 episodes and counting) to learn what ones I've missed.  Recent topics include:

      • Five Financial Tips for New Graduates
      • Paying Off Student Loans
      • Preventing Identity Theft
      Ms. Adams graciously plugged my humble blog this week after I added her widget (seen in the right panel), and so I appreciate the traffic from her considerable fans (why not say hello in a comment?).   I listen to her Money Girl weekly podcasts via Lexy.com, which streams my favorite subscriptions to my cell phone for free.   There's a wide variety of shows available (including other QuickAndDiryTips authors) which make my 2 hour commute that much easier to bear. 

      Subscribe to MoneyGirl through iTunes, your favorite Feed Reader, or through Lexy.com; you won't be disappointed.

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      Monday, June 01, 2009

      Susan Boyle

      Well, I am trying to get back into posting, and have had a post on Ms. Boyle for some weeks now in drafts, but  have never quite finished it.  Today seems as good as any day to do so.

      lost in the final round of .

      If you haven't a clue who she is, I can't help you at this point; you're more out of the mainstream than even myself.

      In the interest of full disclosure: I've never seen anything more of BRITAIN'S GOT TALENT than Ms. Boyle's initial performance.  I've never seen anything of AMERICA'S GOT TALENT or even AMERICAN IDOL for that matter.   If this means I am disqualified to review Ms. Boyle's performance, than so be it.  Find something else to read.

      The entire concept of 'Got Talent' shows - be it Britain's or America's - sounds good on its face, but hopelessly fails upon review.  How can a dancer be compared to a singer be compared to a plate-spinner be compared to a comedian be compared to .... etc?   The premise of one genre act winning over another genre act is a silly one.   's did it right (although I can't recall ever watching that show either), with categories of winners. 

      As for whether she was unfairly overlooked because of her looks:  it's possible, but under the circumstances, how could one claim that when the comparison was her apples (singing) to a dance troupe's oranges?

      When I looked at her photos, I had a diverse view: also in the interest of full disclosure, Ms. Boyle's got nothing on me.  I make no bones about the fact I am hardly an attractive man, by any stretch, so I can understand more than most how difficult it can be under many circumstances (but certainly not all) to compete with those who are attractive.    And in the looks department, I got Ms. Boyle beat (and I mean that as a compliment to her).    But at the same time, compared to what passes as attractive in women's music - and we all know what I mean - she is at a disadvantage.  Should that mean she should have won had she been young, thin and glamorous?   Perhaps, but then again, perhaps not since the dance troupe kicked-ass.

      In the end, all things considered, this whole issue has been overblown - much to the delight of Rupert Murdoch - and is not worth the time I took to type this post.  If you like her voice (and she has a great range), then buy her CD;  you know she's got a contract even though she lost the big prize.    If not, don't.

      But can we please stop obsessing over these programs?

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      Sunday, May 31, 2009

      Judge Sonia Sotomayor

      If you are reading this and haven't reviewed the entire speech where Judge Sonia Sotomayor clearly suggested that a woman of Hispanic origin could often make decisions better than a white man, you're head has been in the sand for a lot longer than I have been away from previous position routine.   I won't belabor the points on that issue beyond saying the obvious: had a while male said a similar statement, well, we wouldn't be discussing that guy's nomination any further, now would we?

      Be that as it may .... I applaud Judge Sotomayor's rise from a poor family to the threshold of the highest court in the land.  It reminds me of the story of Justice Clarence Thomas, whose own background would likely be comparable to Judge Sotomayor's own (not that either judge would ever want to compete in the can you top this contest regarding their family life - there are certain contests that ought not be run).  Her background, however, has little to do with her judicial experience.

      As Deboarh O'Malley of The Heritage Foundation points out:

      Judge Sotomayor has made several public statements denouncing -- and even lightly mocking -- the idea that courts should be impartial and shouldn't engage in policymaking. During a Duke University panel discussion in 2005, Sotomayor stated: "All of the legal defense funds out there, they're looking for people with Court of Appeals experience. Because it is -- Court of Appeals is where policy is made."
      She flippantly brushed off this statement, to laughter from the audience. "And I know, and I know, that this is on tape, and I should never say that. Because we don't 'make law,' I know. Okay, I know. I know. I'm not promoting it, and I'm not advocating it. I'm, you know..." She did not go on to clarify what she apparently did mean, but the words speak for themselves.
      So there is blatant reasons why the Republican minority in the Senate are obliged to question Judge Sotomayor on her judicial philosophy and her own words.  What did she mean when she said you know?

      Where does she stand on the 2nd Amendment, for example.   What about the 1st Amendment?  These kinds of questions are not about filibustering, but about advice and consent.

      Look, I would be a fool to suggest the Republicans could defeat her nomination.  That's not to say they should roll over and give her no review, but elections have consequences, and President Obama deserves to nominate his justices.  I defended President Bush's right to nominate justices and I will do the same for President Obama, despite the fact that I oppose his positions on nearly 100% of the issues.

      How many left-wing critics had the intellectual honesty to say that during President Bush's administration?

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