Monday, December 31, 2007

Do opposites attract?

You've heard it before, opposites attract. I've even seen a few cases where it seemed to be true, my wife & I for one. My daughter & her husband are another. She's a planner, he's free wheeling. She expresses her emotions, he holds them in. As for my wife and I, let's just say we have a strange and wonderful relationship -- I'm strange and she's wonderful.

I heard once a saying (I think from Larry Burkette) that in a marriage if both people are the same, one isn't needed. So what makes a good relationship?

I think you have to have a common background. Some fundamental values that match up. It also helps if you genuinely LIKE each other. I've seen cases where a couple were in love, but didn't like each other. After a while, they tire of each other. I've seen cases where the fundamental values didn't match. When times get tough, they go separate ways. When all that's left is the basics, the basics just don't match.

I've known a couple who were in an arranged marriage. In their culture, this was the norm. When they were young, the parents chose them to be together. They had a choice when they grew older, but they decided if the parents set this up, they would go through with it. Today, they are doing very well with two children. They actually liked each other and they had the same fundamental values.

I also believe it takes a commitment to stay together. Both people have to have the commitment. I've long said it takes two to keep a marriage together, but only one to split it apart. Without a commitment, there are two many times where it would be easy to walk away. Or walk to someone else.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

Hope all of you have a wonderful Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2007

How old is that manager?

Lunch today was on the road, at McDonald's. Hey it was good enough for our former president, it's good enough for me.

Anyway, the sign says they are hiring managers, crew members, openers and closers. For the openers and closers, it said they had to be 18.

But there was no disclaimer on the managers. Can they be 16? I know a 16 year old can work there. A lot of the managers ACT 16 (or even less).

How would you interpret the sign? How old does the manager look at your local Mickey D's?

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Man shoots iHome

That's what the headlines should have read this morning. I don't know how many times that thing has gone off when my son has been somewhere else. With a sound something like a smoke alarm (but not quite as loud), it's hard to ignore.

It's also hard to figure out how to turn the stupid thing off. Lots of buttons, turn "dials", etc, they just don't seem to work. Then when I get it silenced and return to bed, I begin to drift off again only to realize that I only hit the snooze, not the off button.

I fugure a .45 slug in the top of it should manage to silence it for good. Since I bought the thing, it shouldn't break any laws. And I think it could be considered a mercy killing.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Ok, I'm offended

I work for a large company, one of the Fortune 500 companies. Today, I received a Holiday message from a Vice President over me. There are three levels of management between us, two between him and the Chairman, President and CEO (all one person).

The greeting said "Season's Greetings", "Happy Kwanza", "Boas Festas", "Happy Hanukkah", "Joyeuses Fetes" and "Feliz Navidad".

Where's the Merry Christmas? They can't argue that they're trying to keep the religous aspect out, Hanukkah is a religous holiday.

So why do they ignore Christmas? I'm offended.

Maybe I should send him a note back to say Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

War in Iraq

I don't often post about the War in Iraq or the Global War on Terror. Too much like talking about politics.

But I couldn't help but notice a few changes. The British are moving out of Basra, because they are no longer needed. And yesterday, Major General Joseph Fil, a commander of multinational troops in Baghdad told reporters that things had changed in Baghdad.

"The number of attacks against citizens in Baghdad has dropped by almost 80 percent since November, 2006," said Fil.

Now isn't this a good thing? Yes, it's going to take some time and yes the cost has been high. And I predict there will be times of increasing violence. But this is a good thing.

American troops should be pulled out as soon as possible, but we must be careful not to pull out too quickly. We made a mess when we pulled out of Vietnam, we shouldn't repeat one of our past mistakes.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow..

No, it's not snowing here in the south. I did see some snow a couple weeks ago when I was up in DC (my plane waited over an hour on de-icing at Dulles Airport).

But I saw a news report this morning about the ice/snow storm that has hit the north east. In Maine, the governer has even asked people to stay inside.

In the south, we get made fun of everytime it snows. We get an inch or so of snow and everything closes down. But in this case, Maine closes down. Oh, they say that we close with an inch of snow, there snow is much worse.

But, I'd be willing to bet that we have about the same number of closures per year as the Maine-ites.

So a word to northerners everywhere, don't poke fun us at when we close down. We want our snow days just as much as you do. We just have to take them when we can, with only an inch of snow.

Friday, December 14, 2007

I am Legend

We went to see this movie tonight. If the showing we were at was representative, it will make a lot of money this weekend.

Overall, it was a good flick. I'm an SF fan, so last-man-on-earth movies are nothing new to me. But, hey, it's got Will Smith, so it ought to be good, right? My wife was terrified at some of the scenes, she nearly came out of her seat. My sister (who hasn't seen it - we talked after the movie) said she thought it was a horror movie. In some ways, it was. But the horror was reasonable horror (what an oxymoron!)

What surprised me the most was the religious references. They were done in good taste, if a little bit hurried and pushed. Even Smith's character declaring there is no God made sense. And religious folks will be glad the way it was all handled.

Overall, a good movie. Made for the big screen, with surround sound and all (there was glass falling behind us in one scene - neat). Spend the $9 (or less for a matinee), don't wait for the DVD. And warn your wife that it could be a little bit bloody and jumpy.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Freedomswatch part 2

I got an email tonight that said that NBC has agreed to accept the Freedomswatch ads. (Last Friday I posted a note about the NBC refusal. See my previous post here.)

NBC said "We have reviewed and changed our ad standards guidelines and made the decision that our policy will apply to content only and not to a referenced Web site. Based on these amended standards the Freedom's Watch ad will begin to run as early as Sunday."

See the full article here.

I don't often do petitions, and now I'm wondering about the sanity of signing a petition asking for ads....

Crossing the Rubicon

I heard a new phrase today and it generated all sorts of mental images. The phrase was crossing the Rubicon, the idea is that you deliberately go past the point of no return. The origination of the phrase is to Julius Caesar's day, where he sent his army across the Rubicon River, starting his invasion of Ancient Rome. Once his people crossed that river, there was no turning back, the war had begun.

I heard the phrase in a commercial for an anti-divorce book or program to be used by couples. The individual said that he and his wife discussed divorced and nearly "crossed the Rubicon".

I know two couples whose marriages are in trouble and this image fits very well. One couple has already crossed the Rubicon, the second is close, if not already past. The image is that they are headed to this point, in some cases with increasing speed and the force behind them continues to push them. At some point, and you could almost draw a line, they have no way out.

An oft used equal phrase is burning bridges and a less used phrase is burning boats. I think it was Cortez who ordered his boats burned when invading Mexico to keep his troops from attempting to retreat.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Did Drew Peterson kill his wife?

All over the news, you'll see stories like this one about Drew Peterson in Illinois who is accused of killing his fourth wife. Her body hasn't been found, but they have exhumed his third wife's body and at least one investigator believes he killed her too (I found an interview with wife#2, but gave up finding anything on wife#1, the reports are just too sick). Mr. Peterson thinks wife#4 ran off with another man and just doesn't want to be found.

Now, teleport across the pond to merry old England where it's reported that John Darwin who has been gone over five years and presumed dead. The wreckage of his kayak washed on shore in March 2002 and a coroner pronounced him dead. His wife Anne, collected the life insurance money and recently moved to Panama. Now John has turned himself in claiming amnesia.

So what ties these two stories together? Is Anne Darwin's wife, Drew Peterson's next target? Or did Stacy Peterson, run off with John Darwin? No, nothing so sinister, no great conspiracy. I am just fascinated with the idea that people can run away and never be found. It turns out there are even books written about the idea: "Hide Your Assets & Disappear: A Step-By-Step Guide to Vanishing Without a Trace"

Let's see, didn't I say something a few days ago about moving to the mountains and becoming a hermit? (blog post here) If Santa wanted to bring me a book, maybe the above would be a good one...

Friday, December 07, 2007 - TV ads

NBC refuses to run some ads produced by Freedom's Watch. The reason they give is that the organization depicts it's web address at the end and the web site has some potentially sensitive issues.

Let's be clear. The ads that were requested are NOT politically oriented. They simply say "thank you" to the soldiers. Some also wish the soldiers a merry Christmas. At the end is a link to the website. You can view the ads here. If you disagree, please let me know and explain why. If you agree, sign the petition.

The website does show other TV ads which may cause some people to disagree (these are NOT part of the current dispute). Basically, it's an anti commercial. These ads clearly voice the opinion that the War in Iraq is related to the War on Terror which is related to 9/11. Now some will disagree with that. I will not voice my opinion in this post, because I think it's not relevant.

What is relevant is that NBC, MSNBC and CNBC are refusing to air ads that thank our soldiers. The ads are being shown by CNN and FoxNews.

(F0r the record, being a market-driven philosophy based individual, I believe NBC has the right to refuse any ad. But having the right, doesn't make it right)

Home again, home again...

My two weeks of ridiculous travel is over. I'm home for a while. I do have one out-of-town trip next week, but it's only one night.

It's good to be home.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


Yesterday when I should have been working, I instead procrastinated and went off on some odd tangents. I wanted to list the presidential candidates (17 of them) and then I saw Dennis Kucinich and beacuse of his funny sounding name ended up looking at news about him. He's proposed an impeachment of VP Cheney. So what does impeachment really mean?

Most of this I knew already and most of my readers will know most of it, but I decided to put it together in one place.

Generally, impeachment is thought of as kicking someone out of office. This is wrong. Impeachment is the process where an official is brought to trial. The impeachment trial can result in conviction or aquittal, conviction means kicking someone out of office.

The impeachment process starts in the House of Representatives (what a fine bunch). Typically, the resolution is sent to the judiciary committee. It may also wind through a couple other committees. A simple majority of those present and voting is enough to proceed.

At this point, control passes to the Senate (another fine bunch). They sit in judgement over the accused. Conviction requires a 2/3 majority vote. Here's the interesting part. If the president is impeached, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court presides. In other cases, the VP presides.

So (in theory), the VP could preside over his own case.

In looking at some of the history of impeachment, it looks like James Madison had a good bit to do with that part of the Constitution. Thanks to him, impeachment can only occur due to "treason, bribery, other high crimes and misdemeanors." Incompetence is not impeachable. Jefferson's manual offers some information on impeachment as well (food for another procrastination).

There have been 17 cases of impeachment at the federal level, 13 of these for judges and justices. Of the judges, 7 were removed from office and 2 resigned. One senator was impeached, but he was removed from office by Senate rules before the impeachment proceedings. In 1876, the Secretary of War (now called Secretary of defense) was impeached, he resigned and then was aquitted.

Only twice has a sitting president been impeached. Andrew Johnson (Lincoln's successor) was impeached, but aquitted and Bill Clinton was impeached, but aquitted. Clinton was impeached on two counts: Perjury and Obstruction of justice. Two other counts were attempted, but did not make it to aquital: a second count of perjury and abuse of power. (Next time I procrastinate, I'll research those four charges)

Contrary to popular opinion, Nixon was not impeached. Impeachment proceedings were in process and would likely have resulted in impeachment, but Nixon resigned instead.

There have been 63 resolutions presented for impeachment including resolutions to impeach George Washington, John Tyler, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. Nancy Pelosi has implied that impeachment hearings against Bush & Cheney are not going to happen. It appears to this researcher that she just doesn't want her tenure bogged down in the proceedings. Since any vote is likely to be split down party lines, I would agree with her. Of course, I'm not sure there's much progress being made anyway, so I can't see much damage either way.

Sunday, December 02, 2007


This time of the year is always difficult for me. I know it should be the happiest time of all. I get to see my family more than normal, everyone is in a good mood and I get to do things that please them.

I think it's tough because of the stress. I want to do things just right and they don't always work. Some family gets hurt or offended, someone else doesn't like what's going on. And they all bring their problems to me.

I get the urge to move up to the mountains and tell them that if they want to see me, come on, but leave their gripes and complaints at home.

If my comments these next few days seem a little snippy, I apologize in advance. Don't complain about it though, you'll only make it worse.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Rudy G for president

Yesterday, I read an article on Rudy Giuliani's mayor-ship. You can read the article for yourself here.

It seems that while Rudy was mayor, he had police protection at one time for himself, his wife and his mistress. My objection is not over the waste of tax payer money, my objection is over Rudy's failure to keep his promise to his wife and to have an "affair" (I dislike that term - it's too easy) while he was still married. (I also object to wasted tax payer money, but that's a much lower issue).

If a man can keep a promise to his wife, how can we expect him to keep a promise to his voters?

It seems to me that we already had a president in recent years who was a philanderer. I recall that when he ran for office, people said it didn't matter. All they were concerned about was the economy. Everything else was unimportant. As a result, we had several terrorists attacks (not on US soil, but against US property), our armed services suffered and the US was seen as soft. And as for the economy, everyone got what they wanted until the bubble burst (and continues to burst -see earlier post on Citibank).

I am reminded of the story detailed in 1 Samuel 8: The people of Israel wanted a king, and even though they were told how bad it would be for them, they demanded a king. God saw this as a rejection of his sovereignty and let them have what they asked for. In 1992, we Americans got what we asked for. Let's hope it doesn't happen again.

For the record, I can not vote for someone who has been so reckless with his promises. Marriage is sacred. If a man treats his wife this way, he won't get my vote.

Typically, I leave Bible study and politics out of my posts, but this one just couldn't be left alone.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Citibank - proof the "subprime" lending mess is bigger than you think

Unless you missed it, Citibank (actually parent company Citigroup) got a bail-out yesterday from Abu Dhabi, the investment arm of the Saudi government. The Sauds paid $7.5 billion (yes, Billion) for a 5% stake of Citi. As such, they become Citi's biggest shareholder.

Some will see this as Bush's fault, others as Clinton's. Some will see this as a problem with big oil. Others will see this as an attempt by the middle eastern bloc to control the US. Any or all of those may be valid.

I see this as a sigh that the "subprime" lending mess is bigger than you think. It has impacted one of the top two banks in the nation (depending on how you look at it, Citibank is #1 or #2, Bank of America shares the lead with them).

We can no longer blame the subprime mess on irresponsible banks or irresponsible borrowers. I don't believe there is any simple "fix" for the problem and I believe it will affect us all.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Occupancy by more than 50 people...

... is dangerous and unlawful.

That's what the sign on the wall of this courtroom said where I spent the first hour of this day (more on why I was there in another post, another day).

So, when we crowded 92 people into this room made for 50, I was just a little surprised. What a way to show respect for the law...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Basic English

I was at Dulles airport today and saw a sign that said "SAS counters opens 2:30pm".

OK, I'm thinking SAS airlines don't fly much and the counter opens at 2:30. Simple enough.

But the sign should have either read "SAS counter opens 2:30pm" or "SAS counters open 2:30pm". Either there are multiples counters that open, or a single counter that opens.

Monday, November 26, 2007

GSP Airport

I love the GSP airport. It's small and friendly, but you can go anywhere from there. Something like 12 gates total, two concourses. A long line means 10 minutes to get through (compare with hours at Atlanta). Direct flights to DC, Newark, Dallas, Cincinatti, Chicago, New York, Atlanta, Ft Lauderdale, Orlando and probably more places.

Free Wi-Fi connections, decent foods, parking close to the terminal, who could ask for anything more?

But when going down the A concourse to my gate this morning, I noticed that gates A1-A4 are all empty. So why should I have to walk past them? Why not give me a shorter walk by moving the remaining airlines down?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Clemson Reigns!!!

Last night was the annual Clemson - USC game, a major event in our household. I have two degrees from Clemson, my duaghter has one (and soon a degree from USC). Her husband has a degree from USC. We have another mixed family, with one a Clemson fan, the other a USC fan. And our oldest is a Clemson fan, soon to be married to a Clemson fan.

This is a battle with heritage. My oldest brother attended both schools, but got his degree at USC. He also went back for a second degree at USC. My sister got her undergrad and Furman (after attending USC for a year), but her graduate degree at Clemson.

With all this in-fighting, some might think we wouldn't speak to each other. But last night some of us sat down and watched the game together (mostly Clemson fans). Yes we gave each other a little bit of a hard time (one complained loudly about the fashion statement Clemson players were making), but most of it was in good fun.

I cooked boiled peanuts, a first for me. They were good, but took a LONG time to cook.

And the best news, Clemson won by two points as time expired on the clock

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Family Man

Last night the movie The Family Man came on and my son (age 17) wanted to watch it. I think he had it confused with another movie, but he watched it anyway. I think I had seen it before on VHS tape.

The movie is a twist on "It's a Wonderful Life" or "Scrooge" and made me wonder exactly how many movies are made with that general theme - - give someone a glimpse of what their life might have been. In Science Fiction, we'd talk about a parallel universe or time travel. The movie gave Jack Campbell (played by Nicholas Cage) a good view of what might have been. It reminded me of Jimmy Stewart's character in a way, Jack Campbell was an enormous success who prided himself that he could buy anything he wanted. The alternate lifestyle Jack was in the center of middle class, two kids, a mini-van and 10+ years left on a mortgage. Without giving away any secrets, Jack does come to realize the difference between the two lives and is faced with some difficult decisions.

Jack's wife is played by Tea Leoni. I am amazed at how little this beautiful woman has done. I thought I had seen her in several movies, but looking at her filmography on shows surprisingly few movies. I guess she just stands out so much.

The Family Man is a good movie. It's rated PG-13, the TV version was of course much tamer. The website gives the movie a profanity score of 5 out of 10, a sex/nudity rating of 4 and a violence/gore rating of 3. Overall, I'm surprised it was rated PG-13 instead of PG.

Overall, the movie is very good and rates high with me. It's not deep or anything, just a good flick.

P.S. For those who've never used, I highly recommend the website. They give a very accurate representation of most movies and give a consistent score. While I feel like they are somewhat strict (this coming from a conservative), they explain their ratings and give details of why they are valid. You, the reader, can decide to agree or disagree. For example, they will explain the number of times you see cleavage (or more) and decide if it's important. Much more details that MPAA ratings.

Friday, November 23, 2007

I Walk the Line

We received the DVD I Walk the Line two years ago for Christmas. Someone in the family borrowed it and it went from one set of children to another for a while. We finally got it back a couple of months ago and finally sat down to watch it last night.

I have to confess, I wasn't impressed. Oh, the music was great. The fact that Joaquin Phoenix and Resse Witherspoon did their own music was quite impressive. The views of other singers of that era was also impressive. Reading the credits afterwards and realizing that Waylon Jenning's son played Waylon was cool.

But I was unimpressed with the story line. I'm sure it's true (most of the notes I've read about it indicate it was true, but possibly unfair to his first wife), but it was depressing to me. It turns out that the man who wrote the song "I Walk the Line" simply didn't.

While Johnny's first wife was at home raising his four daughters (including singer Roseanne Cash), Johnny was out on the road not walking the line. Instead he met and fell in love with his second wife, June Carter. The movie also showed him somewhat involved with two other women.

To me the central part of the movie will forever be Johnny's "Cheatin Heart" (Hank Williams song). Why is it that a man should leave the wife of his youth to seek out a new one? Why is it that a man can't stick with the woman who stuck by him?

I also didn't like the issue with Johnny's father. Throughout the movie Johnny sought his father's approval. He never got it (the scene at the end implies that may have changed). Instead, his father always saw the cloud instead of the silver lining. Whenever Johnny did something good, someone else did something better.

But why should an adult Johnny blame his father for his problems? Why not accept the blame himself? At what point to we become our own person, responsible for our own lives, and not our father's children? No, the movie never blamed the father, but I hear a lot of viewers simultaneously saying "See, my dad was the same way."

Where's the movie about a guy that stayed with his wife, through good times and bad? A movie about a man who loved his mother and father in spite of their failures? A movie about a man who realizes that he is of his own making?

I have to admit, I don't see where the movie was unfair to his first wife. Sure she was a little bit whiney in the beginning. When they couldn't pay bills and were ready to be evicted, Johnny was squandering money on music magazines (including mags with cover pictures of future wife June Carter), Vivian wanted to go see her daddy. Ok, she should have "stood by her man" (Tammy Wynette) and suppoorted him, but somehow a mother of 1.5 children has a right to whine.

Vivian stood by her children and even was right to tell the young divorcee to "stay away from my girls." I hope to read her side of the story in the book "I Walked the Line: My Life With Johnny."

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

I want to wish all my gentle readers a very Happy Thanksgiving. In random order:

Today, I am thankful for my regular readers including Becky, Neil, David and John (that I know of), there are other readers who drop by sometime.

Today I am thankful for family, many of whom will be here today: Kayte and (soon to be family) Kevin, Ashley and Adam, Katie, Anthony and Adam and of course Grandma Rose.

Today I am thankful for friends, some of whom will be here today: Bob & Mary, Lisa, Anna, Barbara, Melody and Blake.

Of course, I can't leave out that today I am thankful for my lovely wife Nena. She is the one who plans this day, cooks (especially since our turkey fryer turned up missing), cares for all that are here. She puts up with me (which is a tall order) and cares for me.

Today I am thankful that I live in a country where I can choose my destiny. I am free to practice religion as I want, I am free to work as hard as I want and (sometimes) be rewarded accordingly. A country that stands behind me if wrongly accused and a country that defends me.

Today I am thankful for those who are willing to give up the priveleges I have in order to defend those priveleges.

Today I am thankful for God, for His soveriegnty. (If He left things up to me, I know I'd mess them up). I am thankful for His care and loving, for Him sending His son to make up for my inadequacies, for my failure, my sin.

Happy Thanksgiving to all

Monday, November 19, 2007

Customer service - Nationwide vs State Farm

Recently, I've had a chance to do business with two different auto insurance companies and I've seen a stark contrast in their approach. I'm not saying these incidents are typical of either company, one incident per company doesn't make a trend. But just listen to (read) my experience and see what you think.

In April (on my birthday no less), my son was involved in a small accident. No one was hurt, which was a blessing. He stopped for some turning traffic in front of him and his friend, traveling behind him, didn't stop quite quick enough. A jeep rear-ends a small Mitsubishi, not a good thing. It was obvious to me that it was a total loss. He drove it home to avoid tow charges and it sat in my driveway avoiding storage charges. State Farm (the other boy's insurance) was called on Monday morning and said an adjuster would call me within four days. That means they will call, not that they will do anything. Since my son was under age, no rental car was available to him. Another savings for State Farm.

(I blogged on some of this back on May 07, see it all here).

The experience overall was horrible, State Farm did a lousy job managing my claim and when I filed a complaint with their office, they just said that these things happen.

Fast forward to this month, my mother-in-law has a wreck. At 84, any wreck is major. She was very fortunate, she broke a couple ribs (no one told us just how many) and had some internal bleeding, but after only four nights in the hospital she's home recuperating. The accident was her fault, she ran a redlight (early morning sun seems to have hidden the light). It was easy to see the car was totaled, I contacted insurance to help her. Nationwide asked me about the damage and agreed it was probably totaled (it doesn't take much any more).

Within two business days, I got a call from the adjuster. He explained he had the case and would call me the next day. He called the next day and had an offer for settlement. His offer made good sense and he even emailed me a 15 page document explaining the offer and justifying it. He found cars in the area that matched her car and showed me where they were. He also included on the first offer the "extras" that he was allowed (tax, tag & title fees) - I don't think State Farm did that until I pointed them out.

A couple days later I got another call from Nationwide asking my mother-in-law's condition and telling me that she had coverage for medical payments. This coverage is issued direct to her to cover incidental expenses. They are mailing a check along with some papers (technically, they don't have to mail the check until the papers are signed).

Nationwide has gone about their duty quickly and efficiently. State Farm seemed intent on dragging their feet each step of the way. Nationwide's first offer was clear, concise and fair. State Farm's first offer was low, with no explanation. When I objected, they raised the offer making me feel somewhat justified. I never felt either offer was fair,

Now given the customer service listed above, who would you do business with? I've paid out more in insurance than I ever will recover (hopefully). I would like to lower my premium, but customer service is more important than getting the cheapest rate, especially if the company doesn't show they will hold their end of the bargain. For now, I'm staying with Nationwide.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Thank you to all veterans

It's late in the day, but still not too late to say thank-you to all veterans everywhere.

I am proud of the fact that there are several veterans in my family: 1) Step-son is the most recent veteran, getting out of the army about 2 years ago, 2) Two air-force veteran brothers, one got out about 8 years ago, the other 20 years ago, 3) sister-in-law is air-force veteran, got out about 20 years ago, 4) father was a WWII veteran, he joined in spring/summer 1945 (after victory in Europe I believe, but well before the end in Japan).

I also have a future step-son-in-law (if that's a word) who is active in the army guard and will be full time army when he graduates seminary.

Thank you to each of these, and to others everywhere. Thank you for service to you country. I know you gave up a lot for this service. Thank you for the willingness to step up and do your part. I hope I can in some way, repay you for what you have done.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Fall is here

I saw a visual representation yesterday of why Autumn is called "Fall". Beside our deck in the back yard are two tall trees we affectionately call our "Jack" trees. We planted these things when they were about 3 feet high. The first year, they shot up over 10 feet. Second year, same thing. Last year, I cut the tops off to slow the growth and they only grew around 5 feet or so. So, in my mind, it was like Jack and the Beanstalk.

Yesterday, I was standing in the sunroom looking out (while the dog was taking care of her morning business) and saw these trees shedding their leaves one by one. You could count the leaves as they fell, about one per second. The leaves on this tree are huge, almost a foot across. When the leaves all fall, it will look like a stick tree.

The kids had a Teddy Ruxpin that used to sing "Autumn is just an in between time, in between the summer and the winter". But it's a pretty time of year....

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

I've decided to move

Scientists report that a newfound planet could support life. I've decided that what with all of the global warming, I'm going to move to this new planet. But there's a little about the "science" of all of this that bothers me.

First, when I was in school, I learned that science was based on what we OBSERVED. So much of what we call science today is based on things that "scientists" can't see.

But enough of that, this planet, only 41 light years away is in the "'Goldilocks zone' - a place that's not too hot, not too cold, but just right." This planet is the fifth planet around this star. The planets are between the size of Jupiter and Saturn and are gas giants which "isn't a likely suspect in search for life."

Wait a minute, didn't the headline say it could support life? But wait, the story goes further, it says that "any rocky moons around (the planet) would be" (likely to support life). So we're talking about the moons around the planet being habital.

This should excite me. After all, if we can move to another planet, we don't have to worry about global warming. But it seems that science should count on what is truly observable and that until we can observe it, it seems like it should be reported as hypothesis.

Monday, November 05, 2007


I spent another night at a hotel last night. Last week, in Virginia, this week in NC. This time, the hotel was a lot like the hotel I worked at as a teenager. Small, inexpensive, right on the highway. But a lot was different too.

When I go to a hotel today, I expect coffee in the room along with an iron and ironing board. As a teenager, we had an iron and ironing board at the office, part of my job was to deliver it to anyone that needed it. Coffee was at the restaurant next door.

Breakfast this morning, was eggs (almost a cheese omelet), ham and a danish. Orange juice too. I could have had bisquits or waffles, but I'm watching my carbs. This vs. the restaurant next door.

The small, inexpensive hotel has changed..

Friday, November 02, 2007

Quote of the day

We hang the petty thieves and appoint (or elect) the great ones to public office.

Aesop - Greek slave & fable author (620 BC - 560 BC)

(That guy really knew what he was talking about, huh?

Taken from the quotations page.

WKRP Cincinatti

On my way back home, first leg was from Richmond to Cincinatti. A lady on the plane suggested we should all sing a song when we landed. I agreed and suggested the only song I knew about Cincinatti, the WKRP theme song. Of course no one knew all of the words, so we opted out. (I actually probably know most, but people say I sound like a cat that's been stepped on).

Cincinatti airport is fine if you don't have to go between C and A/B concourses. Then you have to take a bus. Seems like the carbon credit police should get after them for all of the buses, frequently idling.

I'll be home in a couple hours, that's all that matters

Virginia is for Lovers

I'm posting remotely today, from Fredericksburg, Va. I come to this town about 2-3 times a year to visit a customer here. I can choose to fly into Washington DC and drive down or fly into Richmond and fly up. Richmond is a nicer airport and an easier drive.

I always forget the Richmond is NOT a non-smoking town. It's hard to get a non-smoking rental car. After three attempts, I got a nice little Prius. After a couple of false starts (pun intended) and some help from a gentelman at the Hertz return "desk", I was able to get the car started and I took off. The Prius is actually a nice car, but I don't like the dashboard (too far away) and I don't like the view out the rear mirror (cut in 1/2 by a metal part of the car).

Last night for dinner, I met my boss, the customer and his "girl-friend" at The Log Cabin in Fredericksburg. We drove through part of the town (not the Old Town) and I was reminded how pretty this area actually is. On past visits, I've noticed how the rivers and rolling hills remind me of the foothills of SC. Dinner at this small non-chain seafood restaurant was excellent. We stayed for about three hours, enjoying gentle conversation. Yes, some work was discussed, but as my manager put it, we just wanted to show our appreciation to the customer.

I got some good news before the meal, I had thought I would be losing this customer next year due to some re-organizations in my department. After working with them for eight or nine years, I have developed a relationship of mutual trust. Fortunately, I'll still be able to work with them, possibly even at a deeper level.

I'm hoping that my wife and I can come up next spring for a visit. We would drive up and then go on up to see DC. But first, we'd spend a day or so visiting this area, having dinner with another couple with very similar backgrounds... it should be a nice visit.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween Tie

I have a presentation today and I decided I should wear a Halloween tie. Something with pumpkins or even a musical tie with ghosts that said "Boo" when you pushed a button. I looked in three stores by myself, then went to the mall with my wife and looked in a half dozen or more.

We saw Halloween clothes for women and children, but nothing for men. I guess men just aren't meant to be festive.

Happy Halloween from an unfestive presenter.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

This note is legal tender for all debts public and private

Check your wallet, that's what it says on all bills printed in the US. The idea is that it's backed by the full authority of the US Government (which sometimes is scary) and that you can use it anywhere you go to pay bills. No need to carry gold or silver or scales to weigh gold or silver. As Martha Stewart would say, "it's a good thing!"

Why then is Apple saying "your money's no good here"? And by that, they mean it's no good, not that you can have it without giving money. Seems like Apple is trying to track expenses and say who can buy their product and how many. Rationing. Discrimination. I can think of a lot of words. Bottom line, why can't I use cash?

I wasn't planning on buying an iPhone. I don't have/need an iPod (I do have a Palm Pilot that will play MP3's) and I already have a cell phone. My son is crazy about the iPhone, but they are WAY out of his price league. It just bothers me that you can't use cash.

When I was young, someone once told me that companies HAD to accept cash. It was the law. I know some companies today don't, but I also know I've heard stories about people demanding it. And I've heard the courts backed it up. I looked and couldn't find anything one way or the other. But, somehow, even if it isn't illegal, it's just wrong.

The article is here.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Sola Scriptura

This morning I was looking for some reference information and ran across an interesting article that took me way off track. It included the information below. This wasn't a key part of the article and I disagreed with the article's premises, but I completely agreed with these statements.

The article contained a definition of "sola Scriptura", which is Latin for "only the Bible". (I like quoting Latin, it makes me feel important". It said:

"Some Christians chafe at the discussion because there is no Bible verse (on subject of your choice). This charge is especially relevant to a Protestant such as this author (and this author), who believes in the Reformation principle of sola Scriptura.

"But sola Scriptura does not mean that Scripture is the only authority to which one should listen, but that Scripture is the final and non-negotiable authority, the norm that norms all other norms. I look to (my favorite mapping tool), not to Leviticus, to find my way from Louisville to Chicago, but if (my favorite mapping tool)—or the Third Vatican Council or the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention—tells me there was never a City of Jericho, I submit to the authority of Scripture over theirs.

"Moreover, sola Scriptura has never meant merely a concordance approach to the Bible (Where’s a verse on sex reassignment surgery? Not one? Then it’s fine? Well, no). There is a comprehensive storyline to Scripture, against which we must judge our actions, especially the actions of our churches as we testify to the reality of the gospel."

Ok, it's not ground breaking theology, but it expains a lot of how I feel. And since I couldn't find the information I was looking for, this serves two purposes: 1) it gives me something to put here and 2) it will help remind me of a basic tenant of my belief.

If anyone's interested, the full article on a totally separate subject is here. I'm very interested in any comments on this statement...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

When is a library not a library?

When you can't check anything out! See the article here.

Seems the Bill Clinton Presidential Library has a limited selection of information available to the viewing public. In particular, a collection of emails and papers about Hillary is not available and won't be until long after the 2008 election. Is she trying to hide something? How long did it take for her to find Whitewater papers? She must've used that as a trial ground to work this angle.

The story I heard on the radio said that less than 1/2 of 1% of all of the material from the Clinton days is available. This after Hillary promised us the library would be open.

Several republicans are running on the platform that they are the one who can beat Hillary. I've never liked someone who runs on a platform like this. But she is one person who almost makes me change my mind...

P.S. There's also a fishy report I heard about Hillary receiving donations from the China connection. I haven't researched it yet, but will post an entry when I do.

Monday, October 22, 2007

30,000 pounds of bananas

Fans of Harry Chapin (or residents of Scranton, Pa) may recognize the subject line as a song. If you don't recall, the lines, you can see the lyrics here.

Alas, the residents of the eastern half of Simpsonville, will be like the residents of Scranton in the second ending of the song (the first ending and the second were both rejected if you listen to the live performance).

The ending was:
A woman walks into her room where her child lies sleeping
and when she sees his eyes are closed, she sits there, silently weeping
and though she lives in Scranton, Pennsylvania
She never ever eats ... Bananas
Not one of thirty thousand pounds .... of bananas

Tonight was my son's last night on the job stacking bananas. Now he's going to take a break from the world of capitalism. Until the grocery store finds another banana stacker, the residents will go without. Stock up Simpsonville!

P.S. The song was based on actual history. Visit the link above for the details

What a weekend!

The weekend was busy!! As normal for our house, we had an invader for the weekend, our 18 month old grandson. He has more energy than both of us combined. The big event was a surprise birthday party for my 80 year old mother (Happy Birthday Mom!).

I was nominated to put together a slide show with old pictures, so I finished pulling them all together Friday night. Of course first, we had dinner with some of the folks who had come into town for the surprise.

Saturday involved finishing up last minute details and getting ready for the party. A little setup, a little moving furniture, then everyone started arriving. Three hours of meet & greet, take tear down it all and then to dinner again (we're a family that likes to eat).

Saturday night we crashed as soon as the 18 month old invader would let us. Sunday morning, I had the privelege of hearing my favorite singer worship her (& my) Lord by singing at my mom's church (another birthday present for Mom). And of course after church, what else, but go eat again.

Yes, a busy weekend, and no time to think about things I normally blog about. But it was a good weekend.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Evolution and the Wisdom of the Crowds

Does fundamentalist religion cause the rejection of evolution?or is it the other way around?

OK, I'm not abandoning my fundamentalist Christianity. But this was a well written article explaining a non-religious reason that some people reject evolution. Go see the full article here.

The article is a not an easy read, but if you read it like a school paper, it's not too hard. Basically, it suggests that the way to convert those of us who are anti-evolution is to address the conceptual difficulty in accepting evolution. Rather than go into details on how to do this, the article defends the process by showing three areas that are "evolution-like" that have the dubious honor of everyone believing would fail, but actually work.

The article uses as a reference a book called "Wisdom of the crowds", a book I read in my MBA. I found the book interesting and believable, but when I tried one experiment from the book, it failed miserably (if interested, I'll blog about that another time). The author suggested many references to back up his work, I have to assume my failure was an anomoly.

The article looks at Wikipedia and the fact that it is exceptionally high quality (higher than Encyclopdia Brittannica) even though it can be edited by people with little or no education. Then it goes on to look at predictive markets and explain how they work and recommendation systems (like Netflix - one of my favorite systems).

The article concludes that pro-eveolutionists should use different teaching methods to teach evolution and avoid the conceptual difficulties.

So what's my point here? Well, first it is NOT to suggest I believe in evolution. Second, it is NOT to alert my anti-evolution friends of some new method of disputing the Truth. Instead, my point is to share a well written article about the Wisdom of the Crowds and how it can help in some practical way. Hope you enjoy it.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Birth control for 11 year olds

In Portland Maine, a middle school has begun dispensing birth control pills and patches to students. Yep, it's true, look here for the article.

Seems the school board voted 7-2 in favor of the action (at least 2 thought the plan was ridiculous). Of course this shouldn't surprise anyone, condoms have been available at the same school since 2000. There is a requirement that parents allow treatment at the school health center, but who wouldn't sign that (I guess "treatment" includes condoms and birth control).

I guess the next step is to give them the phone number for Planned Parenthood and the nearest abortion clinic. Thinking about that, I wonder who sponsors the pills and patches? Even adults have trouble knowing how to take the pill, don't they think these children will make mistakes while thinking they are "safe"? As for the patch, students will wear it some times, then remove it at others and the patch won't be effective.

Why must schools teach students that pre-marital sex is ok? Why can't they stick to teaching academics and let parents teach morals?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Texas Student Booted - Follow-up

Several days ago, I posted an entry titled Texas Student Booted from School for Wearing John Edwards T-Shirt. In the post, I said “the question becomes, does the school district have the right (or responsibility) to restrict the clothes worn in order to keep the peace in school?” I sided with the schools.

I generated a couple of responses and promised to do more research. Special thanks to David and Tom who made me think (something that hasn’t happened outside of work in a while). This post will be long, I apologize but ask you to read it in full. Dissenting comments are welcome and expected.

While I have: 1) spent a lot of time in research and thought, 2) taken one (business) law course and 3) stayed at a Holiday Inn Express once or twice, any attempt to use this post for legal advice should be considered foolish. Or, if you use any arguments here in a bar and get into a fight, please don’t sue me.

Here’s a rough outline of my post, First, I will cover stare decis. It’s painfully long, but important. My second point will look quickly at some points on this specific case, along with points from cases that are similar. Finally, I will wrap up with my opinion and some supporting information.

Stare Decis
It’s important to understand a little bit about American law. Much to the disdain of my more conservative friends, criminal law in the US is based not only on the constitution and legislative laws, but also based on previous decisions. A policy of “stare decis” (I love speaking Latin) applies in the courts. Literally, this is translated “to stand by things decided.” It means that the courts recognize that prior court decisions must be recognized as precedents.

In cases involving the Constitution, the Court has often overruled its earlier decisions. For example, in the years 1946–1992, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed itself in about 130 cases (according to Wikipedia – not always the best source, but usually good).

In his confirmation hearing, Judge Clarence Thomas said “Stare decisis provides continuity to our system, it provides predictability, and in our process of case-by-case decision-making, I think it is a very important and critical concept. (This was in a response to Sen. Strom Thurmond, my SC senator for roughly 100 years).

But Thomas hasn’t always followed precedence. Judge Scalia has said "Clarence Thomas doesn't believe in stare decisis, period. If a constitutional line of authority is wrong, he would say, let’s get it right." Thomas would rather go against a previous ruling than continue a mistake. The judicial oath requires loyalty to the Constitution, rather than to precedence. Stare decisis is not mandated by the Constitution (again, thanks to Wikipedia).

Specific cases
I found a variety of cases regarding schools and enforcement of dress code. Nearly all focused on the student’s freedom of speech vs the school’s requirements for peace. Tom mentioned a benchmark case (Tinker vs Des Moines School District) where students wore black arm bands to protest the Vietnam War. The courts said that the school could not limit the students’ rights to free speech unless that speech constituted a “material disruption.”

Many cases go back to this 1969 decision. When looking at this specific case (Texas/Edwards t-shirt) it should be noted that the school district dress code prohibits all writing or slogans on student clothing except for “school spirit” slogans and “university logos.” The legal question would be: Does this school’s dress code meet the Tinker criteria – does the t-shirt create a “material disruption?”

The courts have decided that age of the student makes a difference. In Baxter v. Vigo County School Corp., the courts ruled that elementary school students' rights were not violated when students were disciplined for wearing expressive T-shirt reading: "Unfair Grades" and "Racism". The court concluded that the students failed to demonstrate the right to wear expressive T-shirts while in school. The court indicated that age can be a relevant factor in assessing the extent of a student's free speech rights.

In my words, elementary age students have no freedom of speech. (oops opinion slipping in too quickly)

Not only can age be a factor, but community standards can also influence school policy. In Hines v. Caston School Corp. the court noted that The court noted that evidence was presented that the enforcement of a strict dress code was a factor in improving students' attitudes toward school, and that this change in attitude had led to improvements in school attendance, drop-out rates, and academic performance.

The court stated that a community's schools be permitted to reflect its values. The court also said that "it is a valid educational function to instill discipline and create a positive educational environment by means of a reasonable, consistently applied dress code."

In my words, the courts saw value in dress code.

The same held true in a 1987 Illinois case prohibiting male students from wearing earrings as part of an effort to curb the presence and influence of gangs in the school. In this case, the school provided substantial evidence of gang presence and activity and resulting violence in its schools. The court upheld the policy, concluding that the Board's concern for the safety and well-being of its students and the curtailment of gang activities was rational and did not violate the First Amendment. (Oleson v. Board of Education of School District No. 228)

But the courts have not always supported a dress code. In California (where else?) in 1993 students filed and won a lawsuit against a dress code that prohibited clothing identifying any professional sports team or college. The court ruled that the policy violated the student’s First Amendment free speech rights. (Jeglin v. San Jacinto Unified School District)

And in a 1992 case in Oklahoma case, the courts held that the dress code was unconstitutionally applied to students when the district banned T-shirts with advertisements for alcoholic beverages. The school district failed to meet its burden of proof that the T-shirt message in question would be perceived as an advertisement for alcoholic beverages or that it would result in substantial disruption to the school. (McIntire v. Bethel Sch.)

Probably the most recent case was the “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” (2007). Seems a young man created a sign with the aforementioned slogan and held it at a school-sanctioned event (students were let out of class and accompanied by their teachers). He was suspended for 10 days for promoting illegal drug use. The courts ruled his rights were not violated and his banner was “sophomoric”.

So, staring in the face of stare decis (sorry couldn't resist), precedence going both ways, how should this case be settled? The courts have ruled both ways depending on whether or not they see a need for the policy. If it disrupts school, leads to gang violence or drugs is against community standards or if the children are young, the courts have upheld dress codes.

On the other hand, they have often torn down dress codes in the spirit of free speech. There’s no telling which way the court will rule here IF (big if) the people involved appeal. I wouldn't bet one way or the other.

My opinion remains the same. I side with the schools. If they have a policy against political comments on t-shirts, they should enforce it. Students who violate the policy should be disciplined.

If an individual is concerned about free speech, they should go to the school board meeting and voice their concern (no evidence that this was done in this case). If the school board fails to respond, a lawsuit could be filed WITHOUT disrupting school. You may argue that this shouldn’t disrupt schools, but it will. The teacher involved and the principal will have to decide whether to enforce the rules as handed to them, or violate them (and risk their jobs). Students will begin to lose respect for the system as a whole.

It’s possible to effect change within the system.

Thanks for reading this entire note. Special thanks again to Tom and David for making me think.

Saturday, October 13, 2007


This word has been on my mind a lot lately. I think I read it in the book Wild at Heart by John Eldredge (a good book, by the way). The word literally means to remove the entrails. Picture a hunter who has caught his prey, he removes the entrials to prevent them from infecting the good meat. You gut a fish before you catch it. Same thing.

But my mind hasn't been on hunting. Instead it's been on a friend of mine who has been eviscerated. Those who know some scorned or vengeful women may have an image of how an man can be eviscerated. In this case, that image doesn't fit exactly, but leave that image in your mind.

The friend has been told by many of those around him that he's not a man. He grew up in an abusive home (I'm assuming "mild" physical abuse - if there is such a thing) with an alcoholic parent. His parents divorced and the alcoholic hasn't remarried. The other spouse remarried and ignored my friend. (I think the remarriage and ignorance happend after my friend became an adult - not while he was still a child).

Now, his marriage is on the rocks. He wants to be a good husband, he wants to be a good father. They've been to counseling, but it didn't help. Certainly some (most?) of the blame for the failure of their relationship falls on his shoulders. He admits this as fact. That doesn't make it any easier to resolve things.

When I look into my very cloudy crystal ball, I see them headed for more problems. I wish I knew an easy way to un-viscerate him and convince her that they can recover. There may already be too much water under the bridge.

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Strong One

Last night my wife and I went to a Clint Black concert. It was in a city theatre (rather than an auditorium) so the ambiance was very nice. His tour is appropriately called "Up Close and Personal". Even though we were some 15 or so rows back, we had excellent seats as did everyone in the theater.

Along with a lot of favorites, he sang his new song "The Strong One" - a story about the strong ones in our lives: our mothers. It's a story about a single mom and it includes the line "you tell me who the strong one is." Excellent song.

Clint also did a Willie Nelson song and he actually did a better Willie than Willie does. His story about the time he met Willy before a CMA show was hilarious.

The opening act was Laura Bryna. She was good and I'll probably buy her upcoming CD just to hear more of her. She still has a ways to go. I read her resume on the program and it was impressive. Her personal comments also gave me a lot to believe in.

Overall, the night was a nice change from everyday doldrums. If you get a chance to see the tour, you should go.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Dedication to God, love of family and Country

This article tells a story that is sad. Seems a young eagle scout (age 17) wanted to honor his grandfather with a flag flown over the capital. So he filled out the necessary paperwork, paid the necessary fees and included a personal dedication that said it was for "his dedication to God, love of family and County." [sic]

But the official rules prevent religious expressions, so the word "God" was removed.

I thought the first amendment said that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." Wasn't this eagle scout exercising his freedom of religion? Isn't Congress (who set up these rules) prohibiting him from that exercise?

(Note: Some headlines and radio reports said that Nancy Pelosi defended this policy. I couldn't find any facts to back that up. If you find any comments by Pelosi pro/con please let me know)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Failure to plan on your part....

... does not constitute an emergency on my part.

My day today has been shot. I planned to go to Columbia, instead I'm headed north of Charlotte. I planned to work on several things this morning, instead I got an urgent call at 9:30. IF we order something, how long would it take to arrive? Oh, we've been sitting on it for weeks. We've known all the deadlines for months. We should have ordered it days ago. But we might get around to it and when we do, we want it RIGHT NOW. Just in time. No matter that the order has to be processed in Brazil, no matter that it has to be built to order in Mexico, no matter that it has to come through customs with more scrutiny than a pick-up load of illegals.

And that's just one of the fires I'm fighting while I spend 6 hours of my 10 hour day driving.

Hopefully, I'll have my follow-up and the school with John Edwards t-shirt problems tomorrow...
(Can you tell I'm frustrated?)

Monday, October 08, 2007

Obama speaks at church - Updated

Last Thursday, I posted a blog showing that Sen. Obama intended to violate the constitutional [sic] requirement for a separation of church and state. Since I'm sure most of my readers don't read the local newspaper or listen to local newsradio, I thought I'd update here.

The article can be found here. Apparently, Sen Obama stuch to his faith-based message and didn't drift into politics. He reported that his late-blooming faith is "what keeps (his) eyes set on the greatest of heights."

A listener to the local Christian talk radio program phoned in with his view. He reported that Obama seemed shocked by what he saw at the racially diverse congregation and probably wondered what role the government might have (none) since this was already diverse. He said Obama was stunned and for 20 minutes didn't even realize the congregation was standing. This listener said he spoke to Obama after the service and told him that "God can not bless you until you drop your pro-abortion stance".

This last comment comes off sounding very negative. When the speaker reported it on the radio, it didn't come off that way. Rather it sounded like he was impressed with Obama and wanted to share his opinion. Reportedly Obama looked down and went to the next person. Again, this wasn't reported as negative, just factual. I did not get the impression that the speaker took it negative. If you infer that either side of this was negative, I did a poor job reporting.

My point here is that Obama did what many conservatives do, and that is to speak in front of the church. Let's not forget this when Bush speaks in a church and is accused of violating this constitutional edict.

Update -
Where is the equal time? Will Fred Thompson or Sen. McCain be allowed to speak? Also, if there is such a push to shut out Rush Limbaugh, why not shut out this church?

Friday, October 05, 2007

I hate MySpace

I found a good blog, someone who lives in my area and shares some common interest (except college choices). But I can't comment because I don't have a myspace account. I guess I have to go create one, but do you KNOW how many userids/passwords I have? 51! (I just counted)

I have them recorded somewhere (it's a secret where). That's not good for security, but making them all the same isn't either. There has to be a better way!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Separation of Church and State

Another case of a presidential candidate trying to use religion to get votes. See the details here.

Seems that Sen. Barack Obama is going to speak at Redemption Outreach Center, a non-denominational church, in Greenville this Sunday. In the past, similar actions have caused an outcry for "a wall of separation" between the Church and the State.

My reaction may surprise people on both sides. First, I think each candidate is guaranteed the right to speak about his/her faith (or not to speak as they desire). I personally hope each one explains his/her faith position and how it will impact their decisions should they win the White House. Maybe the answer is it won't affect them, that's ok too. At least I'll know where they say they stand.

I would like to go hear the Senator speak. I heard his speech at the Democratic National Convention and was impressed. I realized then that this was a Senator to watch. While I disagree with most of his positions, I think he is an excellent speaker and he brings a lot of good thinking to the floor.

It's unlikely that I will be able to hear him, I have commitments at my own church this weekend. It's not clear what time he will be speaking, so it's still possible.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Texas Student Booted From School for Wearing John Edwards T-Shirt

Apparently, it's against the rules in a particular Texas school district to wear t-shirts with political slogans. Read the whole story here.

The question becomes, does the school district have the right (or responsibility) to restrict the clothes worn in order to keep the peace in school? Apparently, the fact that it was an Edwards shirt really didn't matter, the student would have had the same punishment for wearing a Clinton, Obama, Rudy or Thompson shirt.

The parents are talking about a law-suit (of course), claiming freedom of speech. I side with the school district here. If the policy was well documented (I'm assuming here), then they should be allowed to enforce the policy. The parents could sue, but shouldn't allow their son to wear the shirt until the policy is changed.

Somehow parents need to understand that the schools are at a disadvantage. They get complaints when they don't set standards, and then complaints when they do. Parents should support the schools, then work through normal channels to effect changes if needed. Using your kid (or allowing your kid) to effect the changes is just plain wrong. Kids need to respect authority, even if the authority is wrong. There's a better way to correct the wrongs.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Write in Jenna Bush for president

According to an MSNBC report, Jenna Bush won't be seeking the presidency. Uhh.. someone should check their constitution (with apologies to Al Haig). You have to be 35 to be president. Young Jenna is only 25 according to the same report. She'll have to wait out the next 3 elections.

MSNBC also says her fiancee doesn't aspire to the presidency. He's not much older, this site says he's 29. He'll have to wait out this election and the next.

I think this qualifies as stupid journalism (with apologies to my son-in-law)

Oh, as for changing their mind? Remember that in 1992, Hillary Clinton said she wasn't a "stand by your man" woman. Somewhere along the way, I guess she changed. Jenna and her husband-to-be are entitled to change their minds too


This past weekend, my wife & I took a short trip to Savannah, a first for both of us. This was in celebration of our sixth anniversary.

Let me first say that I am married to the most wonderful woman in the world. How she puts up with me continues to be a mystery and the fact that she deigns to my level is still beyond my comprehension. But she doesn't consider it that at all and that's even more mysterious.

Savannah is a nice town to visit. At 60 feet above sea level (lower in places), I'm not sure I'd want to live there. There's lots of history, back to the revolutionary war, the Spanish-American war and the Civil War. We walked through a Colonial cemetery and read some of the tombstones. The first I saw was a woman who died after the birth of her 15th child. I think it was self-defense.

We strolled along the river, saw street performers and just enjoyed the first evening. On Saturday we went to a light house. It was nice, but looked like all the other light houses I've seen. I'm sure I'll see more in the years to come.

After the lighthouse and the lighthouse museum, we went downtown for another stroll. (I find that I stroll more now that I'm older). Saturday night we took in a riverboat cruise. It was nice and relaxing, but we couldn't see a lot. Sunday morning we took a carriage ride. Lots of historical information.

Savannah is smaller than I imagined. It would be hard to make a full week out of it, but it's a nice weekend get-away.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I lied and committed ID theft

I confess. Tonight I committed ID theft and I lied.

A little over 2 months ago, I helped my wife apply for her free credit report. For some reason, it couldn't be sent online, so we asked for it to be mailed. Tonight I decided to find out what happened to it (it never arrived). So, rather than try to explain it to my wife and have her call, I called them myself and told them I was her. I also gave them her social.

The first person I spoke to passed me onto a second, so I went through the same scenario. This person at least questioned when I gave them my wife's name, but she went ahead and helped me anyway.

They're mailing the reports again. I lied. I confess.

(I told my wife all about it when she came in)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Should Chelsea's picture come down?

Chelsea Clinton had her picture taken with the owner of a restaurant and he put it in his window. He has photos of other famous people including Regis Philbin and even politician Rudy Giuliani. Apparently though, the Clintons aren't happy with the photo.

Bill Clinton's lawyer sent a letter to the restaurant owner, demanding the photo be taken down. The letter included threats of "any and all options" if the picture stayed.

The legality comes down to weather or not Chelsea is a private citizen (she is) and whether the owner has the right to publish the picture (he doesn't).

But wouldn't it have been a little nicer if Bill has sent a letter asking him to take it down? Maybe Hillary could have gone and had her picture taken to replace the Chelsea photo.

You can view the story here. Note that the restaurant seems like a nice place, the man claims that he looks at Chelsea as his daughter and he's a well dressed, nice looking man. In short, it's a good picture.

I agree the picture should come down, the request should have been more civil. I'm not sure this is as much an attack against our former president, as it is an attack on society in general. When we have to threaten through lawyers instead of just making a request, I think we've gone too far.

Friday, September 21, 2007

What part of "until death do you part" can you ignore?

A friend is going through some major problems in his marriage. It's hard to get the facts, but he's asked her to leave (several times) and she just might take him up on it. She's making a "Plan B" kind of plan and making sure there's somewhere to go.

Oddly enough, I think their marriage is salvageable. He needs to swallow his pride and admit his mistakes (of which there are plenty) and she needs to not get historical about them. And she needs to search her soul and find her mistakes (women are always subtle about their mistakes) and he needs to let her do the searching.

It seems that divorce is never (or seldom) clean. There's not a single incident that you can point to and say "that's what caused the divorce." Let's home in this case, they don't get that far. To borrow a line from a friends recent blog post, let's hope they "stay together for the kids."

Thursday, September 20, 2007


Ever wonder what margins on the paper are made for? Probably not, but I'm just weird, I think about things like that.

Wikipedia is no help, it has three different definitions, one for finance, one for economics and one for typography. None explain why we have margins.

When I was in school (back before Al Gore invented the internet), I was taught that the margin on the paper was in case you had to make corrections. Word processing involved a pencil and eraser and you could insert new sentences in tiny "font" in the margins.

We had this discussion at dinner the other night. My wife thought I was talking about the margins in her life. Actually, I was directing it at my son, but it could apply to other people as well. Please take the time to read this and see if it applies to you.

My son talked about a "margin of error" in math. That makes sense, you know the answer is X within a margin of error. In both the math case and the written paper, the margin allows you some wiggle room in case you've made a mistake.

My point to my son was that we need margins in our life. We need extra time. When I drive to Columbia, I know I can make it in an hour and a half, I allow two hours. I may have to stop for gas, or to get a bisquit. Or I may run into traffic. The margin allows me to still make it to my destination at the appointed time.

For school work (or job work), I allow margins. If something is due Tuesday, I'll work on it to be finished Monday. This way if the phone rings and I get busy, I have a margin to absorb the extra work.

In financial terms, Dave Ramsey calls this an "emergency fund". If the refridgerator breaks (ours did a month ago), you dip into the emergency fund to replace it, then build the fund back up. The emergency fund becomes your margin. A bigger margin is needed for job security, most analysts tell you to keep 3-6 months expenses in savings for such as this. Again, it's a margin.

When we start eating into our margins on a regular basis, problems come up. If we use all of our emergency fund and don't replenish it, next time an emergency happens, we're in trouble. If we have no margin on our homework, we can't handle things outside the norm (late dinner, extra chores, etc). If we have no extra time in our trip to Columbia, and we run into traffic, we will be late.

Margins are necessary in all aspects of our life. Financial, time, or just to give us some reduced stress.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A new road...

I'm excited. I found a new road today. I head to Columbia about once a week, sometimes two or three times, sometimes not for a couple weeks. But I average about once a week. It takes me about an hour and a half (longer if I get a bisquit).

Today, I was going to a different part of Columbia, so I plugged it into my GPS. I didn't have the exact address, so I plugged in something close. Well, the GPS took me down some different roads. I went through some very small towns and saw some nice old houses.

I'll try the road again, just for fun. Next time, I'll take my camera and take some pictures. It's just exciting to find a new road...

Monday, September 17, 2007

Is there always a purpose?

Yesterday was a good day at church, it set my mind to thinking in several areas. More on that later. But I had an interesting question.

The story was Daniel and the lion's den. Daniel was thrown in, the lions mulled around, Daniel got out, Daniels enemies became lion's lunch.

One of the points of the message was that there is always a purpose? While I believe that is true, and I believe the purpose was a good one, was the sole purpose of that event to be able to tell us the story some 2000+ years later?

If you had met Daniel a week after the event, what would he have said? "Yep, it was a good thing. I had to get rid of the pants I was wearing that day after that lion nuzzled up next to me, but I see what the plan was." If you talked to Daniel a year later, would he have said "I'm glad that it all happened. It worked out so much better than any other way. I can reach so many more people as a result of that experience and I would do it again if I could."

I suspect that Daniel never really understood the purpose. And I suspect that, given a choice, he would have tried to reach the purpose another way.

Friday, September 14, 2007

On this day in history...

Twenty-four years ago today, something wonderful happened. It had been anticipated for nine months (actually longer) and was greatly expected. A little girl was born. Little did her parents know that she would go from a smiling little girl to the woman she has become today. From the days when she could barely open the door to her kindergarten school (she wouldn't take help), through the days where she got up before her parents, made her own breakfast, did her daily chores and readied for school, she showed the traits, the inate drive that would carrry her to today.

One year, she "forged" her mother's name on a paper. While I probably overdid things by explaining by suggesting that the FBI could investigate and she could be imprisoned for 20 years, I think I drove home the need for honesty. When she began to talk to other teenagers, she explained she couldn't help it if her friends called too late. When I explained that I COULD stop it, she learned the importance of handling things herself.

The girl who lived through all of my mistakes has truly become a woman. Ashley, Happy Birthday.

Monday, September 10, 2007


Recently, my son and I had a discussion at dinner time about friends. He was surprised that I wouldn't call someone my friend, rather I called him "an aquaintance." This was a person that I last saw about 6 months ago, I have had lunch with him once in the last 5 or 6 years, I see him at weddings, funerals and such.

I pointed out that there is one friend from long ago that I still consider a friend. I haven't seen this guy in over a year, and before that was about 4 years. However, I know I could call him tomorrow and say I need help and he'd be there in a minute.

It got me to thinking, what are the qualities of a friend? Before I go there, let me say that you can be a friend, without having a friend. You can have a friend without being a friend. It's not (necessarily) a two-way street. You can provide friendship to someone without having it returned. That may sound like it's bad, but not necessarily.

Let me then give an example of what is not friendship. Recently, I was with some aquaintances that I see at least once a month. Conversation slowed down and one person asked a question about how a certain aspect of my life was progressing. After listening to the first sentense, this aquaintance went on to another subject. They did give great details on their life and I listened patiently, even asked questions. At the end of our time together, we said our niceties and went our separate ways.

So what is a friend? Someone who wants to share your joy, share your pain. Someone who laughs with you (and VERY occasionally at you) and someone who cries with you. Someone who you can call and know they will listen, and maybe even have answers to questions. Someone who will challenge you when you're down and will support you on your way up. A friend is someone who will listen to your embarrassing stories and say "that's not bad", but will also tell you when it is.

Here's to friends.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Maturity (updated)

What is maturity? That question has entered my mind a lot the last few days (I'm telling on my self for not acting mature). A quick Google search turned up many definitions that looked like this "The date on which a bond or other obligation is due to be repaid.'

But I'm talking about maturity in a person. Dave Ramsey says "Being willing to delay pleasure for a greater result is a sign of maturity"

I think there's another side to this. I think maturity is basically self-discipline. Dave is correct, but it applies to many other things. Being able to decide that (sometimes) it's more important to work, to study or whatever is a sign of maturity. Paying bills on time, instead of delaying (or abandoning) them is a sign of maturity. These closely related to Dave's idea and I'm sure he'd agree with them.

What about keeping secrets? That's a sign of maturity too. Sitting in a group, knowing something that the others would DIE to hear, and keeping your mouth shut, that's maturity. Sometimes, it's better to keep from telling the story.

Another sign of maturity is admitting your mistakes. Too often we make mistakes and then say "well, I meant to do that" or "I still think it was the right thing to do". Maturity means learning from our mistakes (I make so many, I have lots of learning opportunities) and facing them.

And a final sign of maturity is cleaning up after your mistakes. You break a glass, you clean up the shards and you pay for the glass. You give someone bad information, you go back to them and set the record straight. As a waitress, if you take an order and forget to put it in, you would face the people, explain the problem, and then finding a way to do something extra (I like free desserts)

Maturity - that's my focus this week.

*** Update

One more thought on maturity - that's when you realize that you're not the center of the universe. My 18 month old grandson has learned the word "mine". When he gets to the stage where he can learn to share, he's reached a point of maturity. But the same "mine" mentality affects a lot of people over the age of 2. The teenager who doesn't think about his actions, or what impact they have on those around him and the young adult who sets a schedule two days in advance and expects you to adapt to it both show signs of immaturity. Only when you begin to realize that you are a small part in a big world, that others have emotions and things called schedules do you begin to experience maturity

Thursday, September 06, 2007

My take on sub-prime

I've been watching the sub-prime fiasco for some time. The questions are 1) What is sub-prime lending?, 2) Why are lenders in this business? 3) Who loses? 4) Who's to blame? and 5) What can (should) we do about it? The next several paragraphs explore these questions. It's long, but should be easy to read. Please comment.

During my MBA studies, I paid attention to real estate and to legal matters. While I didn't explore either in enough depth to get a real estate license or a law degree, these areas interested me. For my White Collar Crime class, I did a paper on real estate fraud. So I've done some research.

First and foremost, I need to define sub-prime lending. Most lending today is done by a FICO score. If you watch enough TV, you'll see ads about getting your FICO score (don't do it, not worth you money). Basically, you get a score from 0 to 850 that tells your liklihood of repaying a loan. Lenders group everyone into two categories, those with high scores are called "prime" and those with low scores are called "subprime" (sounds like beef). Typically, prime borrowers get good rates and good terms, subprime get higher rates and terms that aren't as good.

Second is why are lenders in this business? Simply put, it's business. Lenders have found that they can make money on these kinds of loans. They may have to increase fees, prevent the borrower from refinancing, increase rates over the life of the loan and anything else. They are taking a higher risk by lending these people money, so they want a higher reward (MBA motto - more risk = more reward).

Another part of the answer to why lender are in this business is that borrowers are in this business. In the past (and somewhat now that the crisis is upon us), subprime borrows simply couldn't get a loan. They weren't able to buy houses at all. Now, thanks to subprime lending, we have the highest home ownership rate in history.

So third is who loses when the subprime industry falters? Well the borrower is the one who is most affected. The borrower who can't pay his mortgage loses his house, trashes his credit and makes the next house even harder for him to buy. His family is rooted up out of his house and his part of the American dream becomes a nightmare.

The lender also loses. Sure they make up for it on other borrowers, but they lose for each borrower who goes under. And in the long run, some subprime lenders will fail. This means the stock-holders lose their investment. Other companies who have supported the lender (including mortgage brokers, appraisers, real estate agents, etc) also lose. Jobs will be lost, mothers will go home to report that they have to look for another job. And because credit tightens up, prospective home buyers everywhere will pay more interest for their mortgages.

One additional loser is the renter. Since mortgages have been so easy, many renters purchased homes. Less apartments have been built and now, the renters are returning. So the supply of rentable space has decreased and the demand has increased. Guess what happens to the average rent payment? (it goes up).

So the next question is who's to blame? The republicans or the democrats? The borrower or the lender? Big business or the little man? Simply put, there's enough blame for everyone. As mentioned earlier, the low rates and easy credit has given us the highest home ownership rate in a long time. More importantly, low income families have benefitted the most from the easy credit situation. They are likely now to lose the most. Everyone who takes credit for the former, also gets credit for the latter. Our capitalist society (in which I gladly participate) means when there is a need, someone will fill it in search of a dollar. So the lender is simply filling a need. Big business is finding a way to help the little man. Could they do it with better terms? Sure, but less people would get loans.

Now, what can we do about it? First and foremost, I believe in personal responsibility. The borrower needs to learn the ins & outs of mortgages (at least HIS mortgage) before he applies. He also needs to practice some discipline, show the lender that he will indeed pay his bills on time and wait for a home until he can actually afford one. Lending terms need to be policed a little better. This burdens me to say this, I typically avoid most legislative changes. But some of the terms in these subprime loans are simply wrong. The purpose is to trap the borrower. Only by cleaning up the laws can lenders be held accountable.

Please post your comments here.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


I don't often post on spiritual matters, my blog friend Neil does a good job of that. You can read his entries here.

But lately, some issues have come up where I felt I had to post my feelings on the tithe. In order to do so, a lot of the jargon will be Biblical and Christian in nature. I apologize in advance, if you'd like an explanation of any part, just email me (my email address is on my profile and blog page).
A quick search of Wikipedia says that a tithe is a one-tenth part of something, paid as a voluntary contribution. Today, tithes are normally paid in cash, cheques, or stocks, whereas historically tithes could be paid in kind, such as agricultural products. (liberal editing done by me).

With my favorite search tool, I found that several people don't believe the tithe is still required. I had heard this before, but was surprised to find some long articles on it. I won't argue with them, but I think they're wrong.

So here's my start. I believe a tithe is 10% of the top. That means before taxes. One friend said that he believed God blessed us for the tithe, and he'd rather be blessed on the gross as opposed to the net. I like his idea, but more importantly, I believe that God said bring in a tithe of the FIRST fruits. That sounds like the gross to me and it's clear from the definition above that tithe = 10%.

I've also explored the issue of cash versus "in kind, such as agricultural products." God didn't bless me with a green thumb and I don't raise cattle or sheep, somehow I don't think he would think 10% of my 'maters or my dog would be an appropriate tithe. My income is in US Dollars, so I tithe based on that. Basically, I look at the Gross Income box and move the decimal one place (a little more complicated, but close enough).

Now the question that comes is what about the guy who doesn't tithe? Does that man go straight to hell, do not pass go, etc? No, I don't think so. Nowhere have I seen that tithing is a requirement for salvation. The price for salvation was paid long ago and my 10% can't measure up. So he gets off free? Yep, best I can tell he does. (more on this below)

What if I give more than 10%? Does that get me a better place in heaven? Does it pay me back now? (A lot of ministers say so). Doesn't the Bible promise 1000% ROI? This is where it gets touchy. For the first, there aren't "better places in heaven". One size fits all. The life-long Christian and the guy saved 10 minutes before death are on an even playing field. Remember the price was paid years ago and it was sufficient to cover the super-tither and the cheak-skate. And while there may be some short-term payback, there is no guarantee. Like the stock market, greater risk does not guarantee greater reward. And that 1000%? Well, it's a neat idea, it just doesn't work that way.

That's not to say that there aren't rewards in heaven. There are. And the rewards are based on our giving. But more importantly, they are based on our hearts and the reason for our giving. My thought is to just ignore the hereafter and concentrate on what you're here after. If you're after the short term reward, you shouldn't be here. The short term rewards can be real, but typically aren't measured in dollars (unless you count the tax savings - woo hoo). The emotional rewards in the here and now are real, but that shouldn't be our reason either. If it is, we'll be disappointed a lot (or won't give much).

So, why is the tithe important? Seems like a bad deal based on everything I've said. In order to explain this I have to steal some thoughts from Dave Ramsey (Radio talk show host and Christian Financial Counselor). Dave explains that our Father is a giver and He wants us to be givers. He enjoys giving to us (just as I enjoying giving to my children - only better). When we get something good, He smiles. He wants us to be happy. Only trouble is (like my children sometimes), we don't know what we truly need. So sometimes, we don't realize what He has given us. He's trying to teach us, some of us (me) are just slow. Remember when He had to teach us to pray? When I read that passage I think of holding my children's hands together folded at the table (sometimes with great force). When He teaches us to give, He has to treat us like little children and say "this is how it's done."

When we give, we become a little more like Him. When we begin to see the good that it does, to see the way others react, we see how he feels. I know at Christmas I feel good when my children open their gifts. When I see the good that is done with my tithe, it makes me feel good. God must feel like that a lot. But more importantly, when my children go out of their way to help someone, I feel good. I hope God feels like that a lot.

So if God is teaching us to be a giver, why is the tithe important? Why not just give what feels good? Simply put, it's because good enough, isn't good enough. 10% isn't enough. But it's a starting place. God doesn't need our money and 10% isn't going to make a dent in His budget. But by setting the standard, He tells us what He expects us to do. When we fall short, He is saddened. Much as we are saddened when our two year old learns the "mine" word. God doesn't want us to hang on to our stuff and He wants us to share. Just as he's saddened when we say "mine", he smiles when we share and play nice.

I know this post is long, but I hope you made it through. Take time to read it over a couple of times. Then post your comments. I won't argue with you if you see things differently. I firmly believe everyone is entitled to their opinion, even if it's wrong. :)

Friday, August 31, 2007

Nothing in life was ever settle on a conference call

A large part of my job involves working with people to solve some of their problems. Frequently, this work is done on the phone. Sometimes, I'm solving the problems, other times, I'm getting someone else involved who can solve it.

The last two days, I've been on conference calls with 10-20 people and someone on the call tried to solve the problem. This meant that 2 of the 10-20 people had a deep technical problem, when the other 8-18 of us sat there, bored. To make matters worse, the person solving the problem (or trying to) argued with the other person. And of course the other person argued back, dragging the call down to a shouting match.

I'm firmly convinced that nothing in life was ever settle on a conference call.

(Can you tell I'm frustrated?)

The Facebook generation

Recently, a young girl from a town close to mine died while jogging. It was her first week at college. I didn't know her and she didn't go to my son's high school, but she went to a school very close by and there were likely some friends in common. I told him about it as I wanted him to hear from me first, not from his friends

Later, out of curiosity, I went to see if she had a facebook page. Silly question, all kids that age have a facebook page. Hers was open and I could see comments and messages that other people had sent her.

Several people left her comments after her death. They knew she was dead and were saying things like "we will miss you" or "I can't believe it's true". Some messages were spiritual and offered hope for the girl or hope for others who read the messages.

This struck me as very odd. I would never leave a message like this. After all, we know the person won't get the message. But I thought it was very neat.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Second Empire

Last night I had dinner at one of those fancy downtown restaurants in Raliegh. One of those built into an old house. It was a nice dinner, but it wouldn't be my first choice for a place to go.

Our first question was "what happened to the first empire?" Well, we obviously showed our ignorance, the first empire was the Roman Empire and the second was the Napoleonic Empire. The restaurant was named for the style of the house.

This was the type of place where, when dinner arrived, several waiters/waitresses decended upon the table and placed the meals down all at the same time. It was sort of like synchronized swimming.

If you get to Raleigh and want to impress someone, this is a nice place. Plan on a long evening, it was relaxing and quiet (we were loud). Bring a big credit card, it was expensive...

Monday, August 27, 2007

To Vegas and back - without losing my shirt

My Vegas trip was a success and I'm back safe. The return trip was interesting as we diverted to Knoxville due to weather, sat on the ground for two hours, then went to Atlanta only to sit on the taxi-way for another hour. Needless to say, I missed my connection. I stayed overnight in a hotel, then drove back (the earliest flight I could have caught would have had me waiting for another 12 hours).

I confess I played slots a little, I lost a total of $14 or $34 depending on how you count. Compared to the dinners I had, that was cheap.

We had some wine one night with dinner, over $300/bottle. I'm glad I wasn't paying. It was good, but so was the $30/bottle stuff.

I also saw two shows, The Blue Man Group (excellent show!) and The Wayne Brady Show (good, but not as good as the Blue Man Group).

Everything in Vegas is over the top. I was going to say extravagant, but that's not descriptive enough. Even for extravagant, it's over the top. The hotel lobby with about 12 dozen fresh roses on display, the elaborate costumes (Caesar's palace), all of the artwork. I got upgraded to a suite and there was even a baby grand piano in my room. I keep wondering about all of the things we could have done instead of spending $300 for a bottle of wine and money on all of the stuff.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Viva Las Vegas

I'm heading to "Sin City" for a week long conference and not sure how much time I'll have to post updates here. Most people hear you're going to Vegas for work and they say "sure, I bet it's work".

I'm not attracted to either to the common sins in Vegas. Sure they can have a woman in your room in 30 minutes, but I have a beautiful woman at home, why would I want anything else? And as for gambling, that's a "sin" that's wrongly named. Gambling implies there's some chance of winning, when I do it it's called "losing".

So I get up east coast time, catch up on work, go to conferences all day, entertain customers at night and come back worn out. Lots of fun.

Churches in Vegas....

I've been to Vegas before, but it's been about 7 or 8 years, so I did some research into the town. It may come as a surprise to you, but there are more Catholic churches than casinos in Las Vegas.

Not surprisingly, some worshippers at sunday services will give casino chips rather than cash when the basket is passed. Since they get chips from many different casinos, the churches have devised a method to collect the offerings.

The churches send all their collected chips to a nearby Franciscan monastery for sorting and then the chips are taken to the casinos of origin and cashed in.

The one going to the casino to retrieve the cash is known as the chip monk....

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Divorce American Style - Part 2

This story doesn't exactly involve a divorce. At least not yet.

Seems Mike Moore (not the movie guy) is a deputy in Elko, Nv who arrested a woman for DUI. Normally, this would create much of a stir, but this time he arrested HIS WIFE. TWICE!

You can't make this stuff up. See the article here.

Monday, August 13, 2007

NPR is not known as the most conservative radio station in the US. That's why I wanted to reference this program titled "Cautious Optimism on Behalf of the Iraq Surge". You can listen to it here.

I heard other references to writer Kenneth Pollack's op-ed in The New York Times, titled "A War We Might Just Win." (bytheyway, he had trouble with the word "win"). Pollack spoke out against the war early on, but in his editorial, he argues that U.S. troops are finally making progress in Iraq.

If you don't want to listen online, you can read some of his comments in an article titled "Pollack: ‘Surge’ Producing Real Progress in Iraq" at this webite.

Interesting reading...

Proof that the right saves more gas than the left

With gas prices (back down for the moment), everyone wants to save gas. And some are concerned about global warming and all should be concerned about polutting less.

So if you knew a way to save gas (and $$) an pollute less that didn't cost you anything, would you listen?

Seem UPS has found that making right turns instead of left turns saves gas. Company reps say it decreases the amount of time idling, which will, in turn, make each vehicle more fuel-efficient. On an individual truck-by-truck basis, the difference in fuel efficiency is minimal, but on a fleet level, the increase in fuel economy becomes quite significant.

Additionally, making right turns leads to less accidents than making left turns, thereby increasing your life expectancy and reduces the need for goverment sponsored health care.

So, UPS has given us proof that the right is better than the left.

See the article here.