Friday, December 16, 2005


They said it was 1/4-1/2 inch of ice. It loaded up the trees and the trees came down. Power outages all around. Fortunately, our power came back late yesterday afternoon. So, we only lost it for about 8 hours. Cable was out a while longer, but it's back too. Internet now works, everything.

We're hosting a few people who weren't so lucky. Not a great place to stay, but it's cheap. Mi casa, es su casa and all that. We even had a potential for 7 more guests (family of 5 plus two people who whould have had to sleep in separate rooms). They would have been welcome too.

I am forever greatful to God from whom all blessings flow. He has given me much in my lifetime. If I can give some of it back to some of His people, well, I'll never get back even with what He's done for me.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Hats off to Burger King

I went by Burger King this morning to get my weekly serving of cholesterol. Sausage, egg and cheese on a croissant. If there was a legal limit on cholesterol, this would exceed that limit.

When I got to the driveup, the man gave me the bag, the coffee, cream and sugar. As I left, he said "Merry Christmas!"

I was shocked, but not too shocked to wish him a Merry Christmas as well.

Hats off to Burger King for being brave enough to risk offending people!

I may have a double helping of cholesterol this week....

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


If you google "define: providence" you get (among others) these definitions: "the guardianship and control exercised by a deity", and "a manifestation of God's foresightful care for his creatures ".

It seems ostentations (showy) to say "God planned this" or "God planned that" when something good happens. But it seems just the opposite to call it a coincidence. And while I like the idea of karma, Providence seems to fit better in this case.

Flashback, 1993, Carolina's Medical Center wants to be a "regional" hospital. They scour the country for talent and find Dr. Michael Bosse, trauma and orthopaedic surgeon and hire him from Johns Hopkins Hospitals. October 2, 1993, I am involved in a traffic accident and break my femur, my elbow and my ulna (forearm). Dr. Bosse does his stuff and puts humpty-dumpty back together again. I always thought it was Providential that he moved just before my accident.

Now, flash to present day. My back started bothering me pretty bad on Thanksgiving weekend. I hate doctors, but I went to see one on Tuesday. He gave me pills. The following weekend, I nearly went to the ER. But I waited until Monday. On Monday, I pushed HARD to see an Orthopaedic specialist. I called this one place (I had to do some detective work to even get the number) and they said that it would be a couple weeks. I puhsed harder and they said it would be Thursday. I accepted that, then they called me back and said they could see me that day.

The doctor came in and I explained about the stuff I had done in 1993. He said he trained under Bosse. He knew the guy well and write me a note with a lady in Bosse's office who could help me get the records from Charlotte. He knew the name and phone number without looking it up.

I truly believe it was the Hand of Providence working again. I was very nervous about this and He made sure there was a connection to the man I admired in the past. He made sure the right doctor was there, now twice.

Providence. I like the sound of that...

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Accounting for Economics

I'm finishing up my Management Accounting and Management Economics courses. I'll probably get a B in the first and an A in the second. I'm disappointed at the B, but I have some really good sounding excuses. It will be my second B in the program (first was statistics). Overall, not too bad. I've heard rumors that you're allowed to make two C's, my employer only looks for an overall GPA of 3.0, which should create no problem.

The accounting class is NOT a bunch of forms and stuff. Very little on the debits/credits. It's more decision oriented. For example, if you make widgets and get a special order for 1000 widgets at a discount price, should you accept the order? It all depends and that's what we study.

The economics class is sorta the opposite. Assuming you make widgets, how much should you charge for them? What will give you the most profit? Will accounting profit be more or less than economic profit?

There are lots of issues between accountants and economists. It's fun to take both courses at once and see how the professors deride the other profession. And to know, they could change hats tomorrow and never miss a beat. Reminds me of a football rivalry....

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Happy Holidays

A lot of people are getting upset over this "Happy Holidays". Stores, in the interest of diversity, say "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas". This way they don't offend Muslims, Jews, aetheists, agnostics, Hindu, Kwanza-nites or dogs. Christians are upset, because it means taking Christ out of Christ-mas.

First I believe stores should be willing to step out and take a risk. If you're buying things that are obviously Christmas-oriented (Christmas wrapping paper, Christmas lights, Christmas cards, etc), they could guess. If you're buying stuff that says Hannukah, they should wish you Happy Hannukah (I've said that to friends who were Jewish). If you're buying something that says Happy Birthday, they should mention that too.

But I have an answer to the indecisive who say "Happy Holidays!". Simply turn and ask them "What holiday?" or "Which holiday?" If they truly want the holiday to be happy, they should tell you which one, or what day it is. I'm not sure when Hannukah is, but I want to have a happy one. And Kwanza doesn't hold special meaning for me (I probably misspelled it), but I'm cherish the day (as I do other days). Besides, I could take the day off and relax with family and friends. I just need to know which holiday is supposed to be happy.

So next time the Wal-Mart greeter tells you "Happy Holidays", ask them "which Holiday?"

Monday, November 28, 2005

Hats off to Gary

For some reason over the weekend, I thought of Gary. Gary was my best friend in high school and college. Not sure if he knows how many times I tried to steal his girlfriend. I was unsuccessful, someone else stole her our freshman year in college. Last I heard, she was married with a couple kids.

Gary was the kind of guy who would do anything for a friend. My senior year, I drove my hunk-a-junk car to Atlanta for an interview. The transmission was slipping but it had never failed. I drove into downtown Atlanta for a trade show, then followed the person interviewing me out to the office on 285. On the trip out, I weaved in and out of traffic following the fellow and my transmission started slipping. At one point, I thought I was going to have to pull off, but it got me there (it usually worked better when it was cold).

On the way home, it quit. I let it sit for a while, still nothing. I sat for about 30 minutes, then walked 1/2 mile to the nearest exit (where are the highway patrol when you need them). I called my fiance and asked her to find someone to help me. She called Gary. He had been up all night the night before studying for a test and had just gotten in. He agree that he could help if she couldn't find anyone else. She tried several people, then called Gary back.

Gary ended up driving from Clemson to just inside Georgia to pick me up.

I'm not sure I know anyone who would go to that length again for me. My hat's off to Gary.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Day after Thanksgiving

It's the day after Thanksgiving, can I still be thankful?

I'm thankful for family who all came together yesterday. I'm thankful for food which they all brought and mostly consumed, so that there's litte left to stare at me next week. I'm thankful for humor, which I try to have and share. And which they have to have in order to put up with my attempts at humor.

I am thankful for someone who stepped into my life 5 years ago and puts up with me, and actually ENJOYS being with me and ENJOYS the family around me.

Mostly, I am thankful that I've been allowed to be here for 46 years. Tomorrow (or today) may change all of the above, but I am thankful.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

I apologize

For some reason, I feel the need to apologize lately. Yesterday, I got an email from someone who was offended by an email I sent (I think I spend all my time sending and reading emails). He explained that he wasn't normally responsible for the job I thought he was doing (he was a fill-in, my mistake) and that he had done his job well (no question about that on my part). He also made some comments about how I had done my job.

All this in response to an email I sent. I looked back over the original email. All it was saying was that a customer had encountered some problems and in retrospect, they could have been avoided. Would have required some work on my part and his part, his part would have enabled him to charge more for his work, which he SHOULD have seen as a good thing.

I started to fire off another email. Instead, I decided to pick up the phone (such a novel invention) and call and apologize for the confusion. I figured I would make a new friend.

Instead, he explained in more detail how wrong I was, how it didn't matter whether I did my job or not and how he wasn't to blame anyway. Then he proceeded to tell me he had missed three other calls that were important.

I apologized for him missing the calls...

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Clemson Reigns

Much was said last week going into the big weekend. I chose to remain (mostly) quiet. I have great respect for both schools (Clemson and USC). Each has their strengths. Each has weaknesses. Football is just a sport, just a game. But oh, what a game it was.

As hard as Clemson tried, they couldn't give away the game. From a muffed punt to an interception that was ripped out of their hands. I can't remember the last time the game was played and only one touchdown was scored by both teams combined.

How many nationally ranked teams has Clemson beat this year? I also heard a stat about Bowden being the first coach to beat both Spurrier and Papa Bowden in the same year. (not sure if this was in xx years of forever).

Some will choose to speak ill of the colors, or tradition (rubbing the rock, run down the hill, etc.) Some will choose to dig up old history, talk about a championship year from years ago and how it really wasn't deservered. (even though they point out the almost decade between the championshop and recruiting violations - a long time in football history). They will point out a dark history as if that represents the school completely (even though WB stadium was 1/2 empty after half time 2 years ago).

They point to all these things as "evidence" that Clemson is a lower class college. Instead, I point to the scoreboard....

Friday, November 11, 2005

Fixing things

Men are accused of trying to fix things. A woman comes to him with a problem and talks. And talks. And talks. He buts in and trys to fix it. Turns out she doesn't want it fixed, she just wants him to listen. On the show Two and a Half Men (which rates higher than Earl), Charlie said all you have to tell a woman is "I understand". I think he's right. It works for him.

Being a sensitive man, I like to listen to my wife's problems. I knod, say "uh-huh", ask inquisitive questions and such. Sometimes I say things like this: "I know you need to talk and I'm a sensitive person, so let me know when you finish" (for some reason, this doesn't help).

Women , on the other hand think they listen. They listen to the details, and ask questions. Then they say smart things like "it will be allright" or "you'll know what to do" or something else like that. What good does that do? If a man tells a woman a problem, he wants it fixed. He doesn't want just listening. It does him know good.

So how do we solve this problem? Well, as Garth Brooks said "I could have missed the pain, but I'd of had to miss the dance."

Oh, and by the way, I understand.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Anna Louise

Some very good friends of mine just had a baby. She was less than 24 hours old when we got to see her, to hold her. She's small. fingers not much bigger than toothpicks (well, a little hyperbole here). She was actually a big baby (7lbs, 14oz, don't throw that one back!), but they are still small.

Mother and baby and even father are all doing fine. Scared, but fine.

My dad once said that baby's are God's sign that life should go on. Something like that. He was right.

Congratulations to the new family and welcome to the world...

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


I used to be technical. I prided myself on how technical. The geekiest of the geeks. One of my customers bought me a button that said "That's Mr Nerd to You" and gave it to me. That's how proud I am of my technical abilities, it shines through.

So what am I doing now? Filling out spreadsheets and muckracking. A google on Define: Muckracking brings up this definition: "a journalist ... who investigates and exposes societal issues such as political corruption, corporate crime, ... and similar topics."

Ok, I'm no journalist unless internal emails count. The issues I've been investigating are not involved in political corruption, corporate crime or anything like that. But I'm stirring the pot and playing politics to make people mad and hopefully take action.

I'd rather be technical...

Saturday, November 05, 2005


I've decided to be a hermit when I grow up. You know, the kind of guy who lives in a house, way off in the mountains and never comes out. The idea is that you don't have to see anyone, or deal with anyone. You don't have to answer questions or anything.

If someone wants to come visit, they can. I may even have a spare bedroom or two. You could come and stay. But, when I build my hermit house, don't plan on me coming to visit you.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

dry humor - DOUBLE trouble

My economics professor is hilarious. The other night he was lecturing and talked about doubling the inputs to a production process. He started to write "DOUBLE" on the board and was talking. He wrote "DO" then turned around to say something. When he went back to the board, he wrote "BLE". Then he looked at what he wrote, "DOBLE", confused. That look that says, "something is wrong, but I'm not sure what".

Someone commented that this was Spanish for DOUBLE. He asked "Really?". They assured him that they were serious. He turned back to the board and said "Well, I'm bi-lingual and didn't even know it."

Later he commented about two economic terms, the short-run and the long-run. He wrote them on the board and asked the class the difference. Everyone was quiet (sometimes when he asks questions, he wants an answer, sometimes not). After a moment of silence, he commented well, in the long run, we're all dead so it really doesn't matter.

Class is always interesting....

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


I missed Halloween this year. I think it's the first Halloween I've missed in at least 24 years. I always enjoy Halloween, seeing the kids dressed up. One year I bought a gorillas mask. Sometimes, I wear it when the kids come to get candy.

Each year, I count the number of kids that come to the door. My mom came over this year and counted for me. 96 kids. That's a lot of candy. That's about how many we've had the last few years.

I missed it....

Saturday, October 29, 2005


Ok, I admit I'm enthralled with the idea of karma. Technically, I don't believe in it. It's (I think) and Indian Hindu philosophy. Google search turned up this definition:

a belief system that is similar to the saying "what goes around, comes around". Karma can be either good or bad. What you do in this life will determine whether you are rewarded or punished in the next life.

While I don't technically believe in it, I see it in practice. Every day. Someone works very hard in their job when it's not the perfect job may move from second shift to first shift. And someone else who does a poor job of managing their life and makes bad decisions may drive a cheap Bronco and it may have ongoing problems. (Good karma vs. bad karma).

The key is the motivation. Should I do more so I'll get more good deeds counted in my corner and then get good Karma later? No. You do good deeds because they're there. And then when good things happen to you, you do more good deeds. Recently, I was in the Atlanta airport and saw a lady walking around with a white cane. She was not completely blind, but evidently mostly blind. I was in the middle of a conversation with a friend, but I broke it off to go help the lady. She was lost and couldn't find her gate.

I was glad to help her, not because I was hoping for good karma, but because I could see my mother (and someday maybe even me) wandering around like that. I hope that when/if that happens, someone will step up to help. Sorta the same idea as the movie "Pass it forward" (which was a terrible movie built around a good idea).

Willie Nelson sang it in "A little Old Fashioned Karma"

There's just a little fashioned karma coming down
Just a little old fashioned justice going round
A little bit of sowing and a little bit of reaping
A little bit of laughing and a little bit of weeping
Just a little old fashioned karma coming down

Coming down coming down just a little old fashioned karma coming down
It really ain't hard to understand
If you're gonna dance you gotta pay the band
It's just a little old fashioned karma coming down

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

News journalist and Cobol programming

Why is news journalism like Cobol programming? No it's not a joke, it's true. I invite journalists to comment.

Cobol is an acronym for COmmon Business Oriented Language which was "invented" in 1959 (a very good year, but besides the point). Admiral Grace Hopper, a fascinating woman who served her county for many years, was part of the commision who "invented" it. The significance of Cobol is that it was the first computer language designed to make computers usable for business purposes. Admiral Hopper's idea was that computers should be programmed in English. Cobol is still in use today by most (all?) Fortune 500 companies.

The other significance of Cobol is that it is verbose. Writing a Cobol program takes NUMEROUS lines of code. A simple program for student purposes may be under 100 lines, but by the time the student finishes an introductory course, he is easily working with programs 300-500 lines. In the business environment, programs over 1000 lines are common and if you work on a system, you describe it's length in k-locs (pronounced "k locks"). One k-loc is 1000 lines of code.

Here's the similarity to journalism. In college, I learned that no one ever wrote an original program. Well, maybe Grace Hopper wrote the first one, then everyone copied that and modified it. In classes I took, we started with one simple program and modified it. In businesses, there are models everywhere that are copied and modified.

This morning, I was doing some web research on the Iraqi constitution. I recalled reading an article last night that told the number of voters and the number of voters in the January election. In looking through several newspaper (via the web) articles, I kept seeing the same articles over and over, with slight variations (maybe only the headline?)

So journalism seems to be just like Cobol programming. Comments?

Iraqi constitution again

Iraq's constitution has been ratified. Something like an 80/20 victory. Almost 10 million Iraqi's (63% of registered voters) cast their votes, about a million more than those who cast votes in January.

What is scary is that the province of Nineveh cast the swing votes. The Biblical aspect of this can't be missed. Maybe they've heard the voice of Jonah after all.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Earl again

OK, it's not great TV. But it's funny. Tonight they re-ran the first episode. I found out that the Earl's brother is named Randy. I'm not sure that's good, this Randy is even tackier than Earl, if that's possible.

Guest actor tonight (for about two scenes) was Horace from Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. Good actor, doesn't get enough screen time.

Ok, so Earl isn't good TV. But it's funny. We found out tonight the details about Earl winning the lottery and Earl's family life. Earl married a woman 6 months pregnant, the night he met her. Needless to say, it wasn't his baby. Two years later, she has a baby by his seed. Trouble is, the baby's black (Earl and his wife are both white). Hmmm, something is wrong with this picture. And the guy down at his wife's favorite restaurant is black... Can you say soap opera.

Anyway, Earl wins $100k in the scratch off lottery. Then gets hit by a car and loses the lottery ticket. While in the hospital, he discovers karma. Earl gets out and makes a list of all the things he's done wrong. He decides to go set the things straight. As soon as he decides to do this, the lottery ticket shows up. Karma.

Ok, so it's not good TV (I think I said that). But what if more people believed in Karma? What if everyone went back to clean up the things they did wrong? Maybe bad TV could turn into good things...

Monday, October 24, 2005

Earl revisited

Last night I saw an ad for "My Name is Earl" (see earlier post). According to the ad, critics says the show is the highest rated new sitcom on TV this fall. My comments about this:

1) This shows the lack of intelligence of TV critics
2) This shows the lack of choice of TV crtics
3) The TV show is still stupid
4) The TV show is still funny

Friday, October 21, 2005

And another thing...

... About Iraq. For too many years, we (the United States) kept telling him, "you can't do that any more". Build nukes, wipe out people with chemicals, kick out UN inspectors, whatever. We sounded like a mother, fussing at her kids for misbehaving. But like kids who know the mother won't do anything, Saddam just kept on doing the same things.

WMD were not found, however, other illegal weapons were found. Saddam had no intentions of obeying the rules set for him by the UN. He cheated (with the aid of the UN) on the oil-for-food program. He sold oil, presumably to buy food for his people, and used it for himself and for illegal weapons (for example, he had unmanned airplanes - which were against UN rules.)

Previous administrations shook their finger at Saddam and did little to stop him.

It was high time that someone removed Saddam from power. It was high time that the United States stood up for what it said it would do.

(Written from Memphis. I looked for E. but didn't see him. I'm going to try the Krispy Kreme on the corner)

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Iraqi constitution

Ok, this may be boring, but it's important so listen up (or read-up)!

Much has been said about the Iraqi constitution. It has taken too long to set up, or it isn't approved by all the people or it's taken too long to get approval or whatever. One caller to a nationally syndicated talk radio program asked the host "Would you want to live under that constitution?"

I don't know much about the proposed-maybe-ratified Iraqi constitution. But I did a little research on the US Constitution. That document revered by both the left and the right and most of us in between. I went into it open minded with questions like, how long did it take to write, how long did it take to pass, what oppositions were there to it? Most of my research is from as it seems to have good information and is easy to read. I went off on a few wild goose chases looking for presidents and vice presidents (did you know that there have been several times when there was NO vice president?). But here's a summary of what I found.

Most people know that on July 4, 1776, the US officially declared it's independence from Britain. Over a year later, on November 17, 1777 the Articles of Confederation (the equivalent of a constitution) were submitted. These articles took 16 months to be drafted. How long did it take the Iraqis to draft a constitution?

The Articles of Confederation had to be approved by all 13 states. This process took another 3 years, 3+1/2 months. How long did it take the Iraqis to approve their constitution? The Articles as ratified, were almost useless. They provided a weak central governement and no ability for the new government to raise the funds necessary to keep it going. There was no executive or judiciary authority and even small changes could not be enacted. Each state had to approve changes in order for them to be in effect.

Before the Articles of Confederatoin was six years old, congress realized it's limitations and commissioners met to discuss adjustments. However, they took the radical approach of rewriting the entire constitution. Meetings were held in secret (what about the press?) and from the time originally commissioned to make adjustments to the articles, it took about a year for these people to write the new constitution. During the draft, one of the 13 states did not even send representatives (didn't the Iraqis have this problem?) The result was a new fundamental government design and it took an additional year and a half for ratification.

The secret committee (their names were published, but they met in secret) even went as far as only requiring 9 of the 13 states to ratify the constitution in order for it to be in effect. It was eventually approved by all 13, but even still it had holes in it. The succession process from Vice President to President (in case of presidential removal from office, death or otherwise) was so cloudy that the first time it was used, Congress (not the Supreme Court0 had to step in to interpret the rules. The original Constitution was so flawed, it required 10 amendments before even the authors approved it.

Over the years, battles for the Constitution have been waged. It has been amended 18 times, with the first time creating the original 10 amendments known as the Bill of Rights. One of these amendments even repealed a previous amendment.

A still ongoing battle is over state rights. In order to try to maintain state rights, SC declared it's independence and began the Civil War. The specific state right desired by SC was to allow slavery, an argument that had been upheld by the Supreme Court. Battles over state rights still go on today. Roe vs Wade comes to mind, in which some states desire to restrict or prevent abortion. In recent history, Florida election rights come into mind.

Isn't part of Iraq's issue with their constituion a battle over state rights? What power would Kurdish states have over Sunni states and Shiite states? How strong would the central government be?

My conclusion is that the Iraqis are not having any more problems that we, the US, had. In fact, they may be having less problems. Time will tell how solid the constitution is for the Iraqi people. But we should let them have a chance. And the only way they will get a chance is if we help them. Our armed forces are doing a great job training the Iraqis to take care of themselves. But they will be needed for a long time. What better task can we ask of them than to help a county regain it's independence from a tyranical leader and begin to govern itself?

I'm not a fan of us spreading our democracy all over the place. If a country wants demorcracy, they should get it themselves. It's not our job to save the world. However, in Iraq there was a dictator who was allowed to reign for too many years. He reigned by killing those opposed to him. To simply "take him out" would have created a bigger problem than existed when he was in power. The only choice we had was to take him out and help establish a new government or keep our tail between our legs and wring our hands over the issue.

Lastly, to answer the question "would you want to live under that constitution?" The only thing I know about the constitution is that it establishes a central religion, Islam. Based on that alone, I can answer no. I would not want the central government establishing ANY central religion, much less a pagan one. However, if this is what the Iraqis desire, then they have a new constitution. And if it's not what they desire, they can amend the constition. We amended ours!

Friday, October 14, 2005

A Bond with no gadgets??? Say it ain't so!!!

I heard on the radio a bit ago that they've chosen the new Bond, James Bond. His name is Daniel Craig and he's blonde (which I think is good). However, they are saying that they won't have Q in the new movie (or his replacement R) and that Bond won't have gadgets.

Let's hope this isn't true. A Bond without gadgets just isn't bond. One fan has already asked "No gadgets or Q, eh? Why not get rid of the theme music, the cars, girls, and vodka martinis as well?" (well, maybe not the girls - life without Bond girls is worse than life without Bond gadgets).

From Blue X-Ray Glasses to imitation fingerprints, from a jetpack (how AWESOME is that?) to cars that double as submarines. Mankind needs James Bond's gadgets so that we can dream. We can dream of tools that science can give us, tools the make the world safer (even if they do blowup a few cars once in a while).

Next thing you know, they'll take away Bond's catchy one-liners. What will we do then??

I say we should unite!! Call everyone you know and tell them we'll boycott. Put off buying that BMW or Aston Martin!! Tell the dealer you want a classier Bond!

Now excuse me, while I go have a vodka martini, shaken not stirred...

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

My name is Earl

There's a new show on TV. My Name is Earl. It is probably aimed at about a 10 year old. The focus is karma. Seems Earl did a lot of bad things in his life. So many bad things, he has bad karma. So bad that if something good happens, bad things happen to even it out.

He won the lottery and then got hit by a car. While in the hospital, he decided to clean up his act. Now he has a list of all the bad things he's done and he's trying to set them right.

Earl has all the class of a tornado in a trailer park. In fact, he looks like the stereo-typical trailer park resident. Complete with pink flamingos and a car up on blocks.

The thing is, the show is so bad it's funny. Earl tries hard to make things right, and doesn't seem like he can do it. But somehow, he manages to come through.

It's not good TV, but it's relaxing. It takes absolutely no thought power to sit and watch. And to laugh..

Monday, October 10, 2005

For shame, for shame

OK, I've been shamed into it. I'll start updating my blog. I got bored, because I had maybe 3 comments back. I have a short attention span. I need positive (or negative) feedback. Jokes, wisecracks, even stupidcracks. I need them

So here's my shot for today. Some of you may have heard this already. I'm taking an economics class. We were talking about substitute products and the effect on the primary good (called the "own" good in economics class). The question was about the availability of methadone in the UK to anyone who admitted being a heroin addict. The net of the question was, what would you expect this to do to the number of addicts in the UK vs the number in the US (the answer is you'd expect more in the UK, since a substitute good is available at a low price - free).

The professor, said "of course this assumes that methadone is a good substitute for heroin. I myself haven't shot up lately..."

He's hilarious. Every class is full of the same dry humor. Even makes economics interesting. I'll sign up for whatever he teaches next...

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Empty Nest

I've been told I was suffering from Empty Nest Syndrome. I believe it's something like "why isn't it empty yet" syndrome. For the record, I have enjoyed raising my children and don't see my job being over yet. The work that began 20+ years ago won't be over for at least 20 more. They will always be my children.

I have enjoyed raising children of all ages. When they were infants, I enjoyed feeding them and even changing diapers (I'm very proud of the fact that never once did my son nail me during diaper changes). I enjoyed singing Ricky Scaggs' songs to them as they went to sleep. Strange as it sounds, I enjoyed sitting with them and crying after one of the XYZ shots (I know there were letters in it and I know it hurt my little girl). I enjoyed walking with them to the bus stop and standing there waiting on the bus. I enjoyed "parent" days at school where I sat at lunch with them or PTA meetings. I enjoyed band concerts, chorus presentations, plays, band competitions, baseball games, cross country meets and all of the other things.

But I also enjoy the thought of one day being free. No more questions about "what's for dinner" or "what are we doing this weekend". I can choose or (more importantly) I can NOT choose. As Dr. King quoted "that old Negro spritual 'Free at last, Free at last, Thank God, I'm free at last."

The most impending note of freedom is a wedding. Dads are supposed to be upset with the guys that take away their little girls. I'm not. If there is one thing that I think I did right, I think it was to teach my daughter to make good choices. In this case, she has made a good choice. Not that everything will be roses. It never is. But rather it's a choice that she can live with. Each day (well at least most days) she can look back and say "yes, it was a good choice". I don't think she will ever wake up and say "why did I do this?" She's been told that she will and maybe because of that she will, but it's not in her nature. Instead, her nature is not to question it. In a few days, it just becomes fact. An important day in history, but just fact. She starts a new chapter in her life.

And once the new chapter is opened, you can't go back to the old chapter. Once the page is turned, it can't be un-turned. And she will never look back.

So, I look forward to the empty nest. I can rest easy with the fact that my oldest has learned well. I also look forward to the job of parenting an adult child who thinks my job was over years ago. It will be strenuous at times (it sure has been the last few years) but it's a new chapter in my life also.

I still have one in the nest and the one out of the nest that shouldn't be. The nest maybe emptier than before, but the job is not over. Empty nests are for birds...

Friday, April 29, 2005

It's a terminal case

Let's face it, we're all terminal. None of us make it off this earth alive. It's just a matter of time before that egg you had for breakfast, or that steak you had last night reaches out and kills you. Maybe it will be the cigarette you smoke (I only smoked a little in college, and like billy, I didn't inhale) or the pick-up truck coming at you at you at over 100 miles an hour down a windy two lane road at just after mid-night. Or maybe it will be natural causes at the age of 126. But regardless, which one of these it is, we are all going to die.

Several things that have happened lately have made me realize that it's important for all of us to realize this. Or at least important for me to realize it. And we (I) need to be ready for it. I think I'm ready.

Mind you, I don't want to hurry the process along. Just like the country music song says, I want to live until I'm too old to die young (notice that everything relates to country music?). I have a lot of things I'd like to do while I'm here. I love my family and I want to spend time with them. I look forward to the day when I have grandchildren to play with. I consider it my personal responsibility to spoil them. I think God's gift to parents is seeing how much trouble they can help their grand-kids got into, how much they can get their grandkids to give their parents a hard time. I want to continue to learn while I'm here. That's why I'm going to school.

But eventually, the time will come to leave this all behind. When that time comes, I'm ready. I've raised three children and they've turned out ok. None of them has the perfect life I always dreamed they'd have, but then I don't have the perfect life I always dreamed I'd have. One of them is still young, but his feet are well planted and he's growing well. It doesn't take a crystal ball to see that he will do well. If I leave before he (or any of the others) is completely grown, there are enough loving people around to help him through the rough spots (are any of us ever completely grown?)

I have provided for my family financially. They won't live rich, but they can finish school and be prepared for the real world. After they've finished school they're on their own anyway. I plan to help as much as I can, but they're on their own at that point.

So when my time comes, it will come. I don't want anything major done to keep me around. Mind you, if I have a lot of years left, I expect work to be done. If I need a band-aid, put it on. If I need a shot, give it to me (I had morphine when I was in the hospital several years ago. I highly recommend it!). But if we're only prolonging the misery, I don't want the prolonging.

For the record, I have all of this documented in a legal terms. A lawyer drew up the papers a few years ago, I signed them, they're stored away. I hope that those that love me will love me enough to respect my wishes. There's no sense wasting a lot of time and money to try to change things.

I'll close with the words of an old Gospel tune that reflects my opinion:

This word is not my home, I'm just-a-passing through,
My treasures are laid up, somewhere beyond the blue.
The angels beckon me, from heaven's open door,
and I'm just not welcome in this world anymore.

(Let's just hope they wait a while to beckon.....)

P.S. Any comments on this post or any other one of mine is welcome. In fact, I'd appreciate knowing that someone is reading it....

Saturday, March 26, 2005

unsociable security

Much has been written about the potential changes to social security. I'm not going to write about what should be done. Rather, I'm going to write about some of the background around the issue. Why? Two simple reasons. First, the arguments are heated on both sides and I don't care to get involved and second, I feel there are some basic arguments that are being ignored.

So for the first backgound, we need to pay a visit back in time to the creation of Social Security. At that time, social security was designed to pay retirees (old folks) a basic amount of money for basic living. Today, it does that. Social security provides retirees with enough income to survive and not much more. You may argue that it should provide more, that will be covered later (see final shot number one at conservatives below).

The second background item is that social security provides for all Americans. There is no ability to choose retirees who will die earlier, so the payouts for some people continue for a long time.

Regarding projected changes, some are suggesting private accounts. Others are suggesting changes to the existing system. I won't suggest that either one is better than the other. Rather, I will suggest that proponents of private accounts are ignoring one simple fact. The proposed changes ON AVERAGE will involve the same tax increases and/or payout cuts as the changes to the existing system. There is a limited amount of money in the system. This money is created by the people paying into the system. This money can either be saved (invested) or paid out. At the rate things are going, less money will be available. With private accounts, some people will receive less than they would under the traditional plan and some people will pay in more. I'm not suggesting that this imbalance is unfair. In contrast, it is probably more fair than the traditional system. All I'm saying is that the both plans will involve increased taxes and decreased payouts.

This brings up my next point. Notice that I called social security payments taxes? That's what they are, taxes. Had this great nation realized my extreme intelligence and made me king, I would have erased the line between taxes and social security a long time ago. (Actually, I wouldn't, but that's immaterial). Social security is nothing more than a tax to help retirees. The only difference is, the way it is managed now, it creates an expectation of a payout at a later date. This expectation creates problems (see next paragraph).

Now, I referenced some parting shots at conservatives. Let me first note that I consider myself a conservative. I vote for conservative causes. I believe that the government which governs the least, governs the best (a quote often attributed to Thomas Jefferson, I've heard it's someone else). My biggest complaint about most government programs is that they create an expectation. Welfare (at least reportedly) creates women who have babies just to get welfare payments. Everyone expects the government to pay them. After all, if the government doesn't take care of them, who will?

The problem I have with conservatives (parting shot #1) is that, by promoting private accounts, they have succumbed to this same mentality. All the arguments about private accounts compare how much social security pays out versus how much we could get in private accounts. Isn't this an entitlement mentality? Isn't this a way of saying that "I'm owed a certain amount of what I put in"?

My second and final parting shot on conservatives is to ask, where is the care? I have heard nothing in the private account plans that would indicate there is anything that would provide for the less fortunate. As mentioned earlier, the total payouts will only increase if total payins increase. Some people can't (or won't) manage the private accounts. How will these people be taken care of? As a conservative, part of me says to "let them eat cake." But, as a Christian, I have to make sure that the less fortunate are cared for.

So, what is the solution? I don't know. I'm willing to listen to ideas than answer that question and I'm willing to listen to comments contrary to my ideas above. I'll read any comments posted here.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Launching Entry

Well. This is my first attempt at blogging. I've never kept a diary. I've created a website, but never kept it update. Why would I want to blog?

I can think of only one reason. Because it's there. Men climb mountains because they're there. I blog because it's there.

I promise, future postings will be more interesting, more relevant. I'm interested in what you think, what you want to hear about.