Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Senator from North Carolina

Interesting article at Economist.com on Sen. Edwards and his run for the presidency. It has something for everyone, the anti-Edwards camp can point and say "see, I told you" and the pro-Edwards camp can do the same.

Most interesting to me was the emphasis on the detail the Edwards campaign has given on it's plans. I applaud the Senator from NC for being forthright. I do not agree with his plans, but at least he states them. And the short description provided in this article makes me want to learn more about the details.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Vacation is over

Vacation was great. Braves won 2 out of 4 games, Bonds didn't get his record breaking home run against my team (but it would have been nice to see it).

But today, I was back at work. And unfortunately, it was hectic, catching up with everything. Why must it be that return to work makes you regret (at least a little) the fact that you took time off?

The son of a very good friend of mine was in a major car accident about two weeks ago. I saw the friend and is one today and things are better than before I left for vacation. He has a severe brain injury, but they are talking about transferring him to a hospital close to home (he is about 4 hours from home now). They have (after almost 2 weeks) removed the ventilator and most of the tubes. Hopes are improved, but still no discussion of the long term prognosis. Your prayers are appreciated.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Blogging from the airport

End of vacation and we're headed home. Braves won 2 out of 4 games and Barry Bonds didn't hit a home-run (which is both good and bad).

We saw Muir Woods, one of America's redwood forests. We saw the Golden Gate Bridge, America's crookedest street (I wonder, does Nixon live there?) and the zoo in the last couple of days.

Overall, this was a good trip. I learned some things about my son and I hope he learned a lot. We saw a shoplifting, a wreck and a lot of homeless people. Things you don't see in everyday life (or at least I don't see them).

The games were great, homerun by Chipper Jones and someone else (I forget who). Lots of great hits by Franceour. I would definitely do this trip over again.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

San Francisco - a nice place to visit.....

I wanted to post an update on the city, not just baseball or vacation. We're staying downtown, outside of some of the traditional areas. It's not the financial district, nor is it China town. It's a little off the standard tourist area, but not too far.

The city is relatively clean, but not sparkling. There's not a lot of trash like in some cities. But most streets smell of urine. The number of homeless people is amazing. It's tough to walk a block without seeing 10-15. Many of these appear to have some form of mental/physical deficiency. Most are asking for handouts, but no one has been "in your face" with their requests. The few times we've been walking around at night, mostly for short distances, most of the streets are empty of these folks, so they must have somewhere to go.

As for the other people in this city, life is busy as in any city. The sidewalks are full in the daytime of people rushing from point A to point B. Cellphones and Bluetooth are out and a large percentage are making their next deal or calling their bookie (I overheard a conversation in the men's room). The people working here are generally nice, but a few have been down-right rude. These few aren't enough to spoil the city, but it's more than in most cities. The desk-clerk who was rude to his co-workers and some guests, the lady at the metro train station who treatedly me rudely because I had to audacity to ask questions.

The weather has also surprised me. Last night was down right cold at the ball game. 60 degrees for the high yesterday, (cooler after sundown) fog and heavy winds made it almost unbearable with our light jackets. Special thanks to my wife for asking about jackets as we left. Otherwise we would've been in bad trouble. I'm told this is normal.

And we wistnessed a shop lifting. We were at a department store and this fellow was folding shirts. He had a strange bulge under his jacket and I looked him in the eyes. He seemed almost catatonic as he looked back, sort of "the lights are on, but no-one's home." I walked away and then realized what was going on. I went to tell the security guard (who was almost asleep standing up) and she went after the guy as he left. She didn't catch him, but another security guard and store manager came. I explained what happened and then they re-deployed the store employees to watch for the next shop-lifter.

All in all, not a bad city, but not the highest on my list. The homeless people do bother me a lot. Why are so many here? I honestly believe it's a higher per centage than in most cities I've visited (including New Your which is high also). What makes this city attractive to homeless? What will happen to these people? I'm no bleeding heart liberal, some of them are quite capable of getting a job. But many aren't capable and clearly need help.

In the old days, these people would have been in an institution. Many of them should be today. That may sound cold, but they can't take care of themselves. Back in the 80's, many of the mental institutions were down-sized and the patients were main-streamed back into society. While this was good for many and the institutions were bad, it was bad for many more and the streets were worse. The cost of institutions was (and still is) high, but the humanity of leaving these people on the streets is worse.

I think of all the memories I have of this town, the homeless will stand out the most.

Day 3 of vacation

Day 3 started out very nicely with us walking all over creation (or at least all/most of SanFrancisco). We saw a lot of touristy things, Pier 39, Fisherman's Wharf, etc. Alcatraz was truly booked and no chance for us to see it this week, but we brushed that off.

By game time, we were both very tired. We got to the game and found it was very, very cold. And windy. But we enjoyed the game. Late in 7th inning, Bonds struck out and it looked like he wouldn't get another at-bat. Lots of folks left and we moved down to some really good seats in deep center field. Bond came up again in the 9th, but he popped out. With the Braves winning
4-0 and 2 outs, we decided to head for the Muni (train service). Once on the train, we found we left too early. Giants came back and tied it up.

While on the train, Bonds came back up. I was nervous that we would miss one of his big home runs.

Well, if you're a ball fan, you know the rest of the story. We got back to the hotel room in time to listen to the active parts of the extra innings (game was blacked out from TV) and the Braves won 7-5. Bonds did nothing spectacular.

Lesson learned. It ain't over until it's over...

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Vacation - End of day 2

Day 1 ended in a major mess (no luggage, the wrong hotel room). Day 2 started out not much better. Luggage finally arrived around 2pm. Then it got better.

We move to a better room after the luggage, got into clean clothes and made our way to the ball park. $2 for the "Muni" to get there, then enjoyed a good game. The Braves won and Bonds didn't get a homerun (actually, I'd like to see him at least tie the record, so I can say I was there).

And we heard some encouraging word about Alcatraz. We're going to go down in the morning and hopefully get to see the place.

As for the luggage, I have some serious problems with the way lost luggage is handled. They contract out the delivery to some local company. Once the delivery company picks up the luggage, it's out of their control. In my case, they tried several times to contact the delivery company with no response. They had no idea what happened after that part.

I have a nasty letter to write and hopefully it will go in the airline's file for the local delivery company..

Monday, July 23, 2007

Vacation part 2 - not off to a good start

I'm off this week on my second big vacation of the summer. The first one was all family (which was great!) and this one is just my son & I. We did this two years ago, we pick a city where the Braves are playing away from home and we go there. Last time was St. Louis, this time San Francisco. But it's not off to a good start.

Our initial flight plan included a 2 hour layover in Atlanta. However, our first flight was delayed an hour and 45 minutes, so that became 15 minutes. We made it, but I was out of breath. An old man shouldn't run that hard.

Of course the "meal" on the plane was a snack pack. 4 crackers, some cheese, 2 oreos and a small box of raisins. I was glad we ate before we left. When we got to San Fran, we found out our luggage was still in Atlanta. We were promised it would be delivered by 9pm.

Checked the web several times, our luggage finally got in around 11pm. Now it's promised by 11:30am. Still not here (7:30am local time)

Our hotel isn't what I hoped for and I'm not sure we can get tickets to Alcatratraz (I really wanted him to see that).

Hopefully things will get better. Our tickets to the game are lousy, but they're in the park. I have my camera and my binoculars, so even if I'm wearing dirty clothes, I'll be ready. And it's some personal time with my son. That counteracts all the bad stuff.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Donate encyclopedia

I have some old Funk & Wagnall encyclopedias that I want to get rid of. I hate the idea of throwing them away. They are 14 years old. It's a complete set.

I searched the web and found that at least one library won't take encyclopedias over 10 years old. I've called a few charities and no one wants them.

Any ideas on donating? Is recycling available?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Eco-Vandalism as an answer to gas guzzling

Seems some globally minded people didn't like the fact that this person wasn't globally minded. Gareth Groves bought a Hummer. No question that it's bad for the environment, he was the one who paid $38,000 for the vehicle and paid for the gas at 14 mpg, so he figured it was his problem

Some eco-friendly people thought otherwise and they decided he should be able to drive such an unfriendly vehicle. They smashed the windows, slashed the tires and scratched FOR THE ENVIRON in the side.

So I guess this is fair, Garreth now understands that his first priority is to protect the environment. He got what he deserved.

See Hummer Gets Eco-Vandalized in Washington Neighborhood

Note: In case anyone misses it, I intended for my comments in the last paragraph above to be sarcastic.


I've been out of pocket for a couple days and it doesn't look like it's going to get any better. Work has been very demanding and when I did have time to do some blog work, I've been reading Neil's blog.

Neil had the audacity to post some very long posts that grabbed a lot of comments completely blowing my theory on long blog posts. Way to go Neil! :)

I strongly recommend Neil's posts....

Monday, July 16, 2007

How much of that email did you read?

Several years ago, I heard a statistic that the average person read on about a 5th grade level. The email system we used had an option to check the grade level of the words in an e-mail. By default, it was set to flag words over 7th grade level (I guess we thought we were smarter than average). You could highlight a word that was flagged and it would tell you the grade level of that word.

During that time, I began watching the way I sent emails. I intentionally did things to make them more readable. Short sentences, paragraphs with 2-3 sentences and lots of white space. When necessary, use of bold or (less often) italics to get attention. Oh and in case you hadn't noticed, lots of (parenthesis) to denote sub-thoughts.

I've been told by many people that the e-mails I send and documents I write are very good. This often came up when we were talking about other things, so I take the comments as true. I feel I have a special talent to be able to explain complex situations up and down the management food chain (at least when it's job related).

Today I was crafting an email. The note will surprise some of the folks as they weren't aware of some activities from over the weekend. So I had to explain a complex situation from the start and reassure them that all was under control. I was proud of the job I did and at the last minute separated a paragraph into two and bolded the last one (is bold a verb?). As I did so, I thought, these people probably won't read the whole email, best to get the info out quickly and tell them which parts to read.

So, here's my thought for the day, how much of any given email does the average reader read? I'm guessing around 50%, but I'd also guess it varies depended on the sender, the subject line and the length of the e-mail. You're more likely to read all of an email from someone you know and trust with a subject line that grabs your attention and if it's short.

Surely someone has done a study on this funded by our over-zealous congress.

As a side question, I wonder if the same applies to blogs???

Friday, July 13, 2007

Quote of the day

Thanks to TV and for the convenience of TV, you can only be one of two kinds of human beings, either a liberal or a conservative. - Kurt Vonnegut

This seems so true...

Thursday, July 12, 2007

You gotta love Dulles

I flew into Dulles airport this morning. It will be a short trip, in this morning, out in the afternoon. I'm probably using too many carbon credits (anyone got any to spare?).

This airport is strange. You get off at one terminal, then ride in a bus that looks like something out of Star Wars to get to the main terminal.

I did meet a pilot (while in line to get expensive eggs) and talk to him for a few minutes. I wanted his recommendations for a 17 year old who wants to be a pilot. Jet Blue may not be able to get you off the ground, but the pilot was very friendly. I hope he has an uneventful flight to Long Beach.

I'll be home tonight in time for supper. Short presentation this morning and lots of airport time this afternoon.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Evan Almighty

While on vacation last week, I went to see Evan Almighty. It was supposed to be some father-son bonding time. While we both enjoyed the movie, there wasn't a lot of bonding (a subject for another time).

The movie was impressive. Not one that you walk away from and say "MAN, I'm glad I saw that", but one that rather one that you say "I enjoyed that". Very subtle enjoyment.

Throughout the movie I kept being bothered by how they would handle the issue of God breaking his promise. After all, God promised He would never flood the earth again, yet here He kept telling Evan there was going to be a flood. How could God break this promise? I knew I was going to be upset.

Without spoiling the movie, just let me say that God is true to His word and as usual does what He says. If you've seen the previews, you know there's a flood. God manages to keep his promise and flood the earth at the same time. Even this conservative, literal minded fundamentalist was not upset.

The thing that impressed me the most in the movie was the use of signs. God doesn't speak to me in a still small voice, He knows I'm way to slow for that. Instead, He speaks to me through signs. Not just one sign, when He wants to get my attention, He sends a bunch of signs and usually smacks me in the head with them. Evan had the same problem I did. When he received a direct word from God, he still didn't believe it. So God smacked him in the head with signs, over and over. Eventually, even Evan got the sign.

Another impressive thing was the way God dealt with prayer. In the movie, God didn't just answer prayer like a magic genie released from a bottle, instead He made people work for the answers to their prayers. I think He does this in real life, in order to make us grow. As I left and revisited the movie in my mind, I was very impressed with God (both movie character and real life).

Overall, a good movie. I highly recommend it. I also suggest you see it with a friend and talk about it afterwards. Ask what they thought about it. How do they think it plays out in real life? Use it as a starting point for discussion.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Deja Vu

The newest Netflix delivery was the Denzel Washington movie Deja Vu. I had been told that it involved a lot of time travel and was sometimes confusing due to the different time lines.

Instead I found an EXCELLENT movie. The time travel was a little confusing to my wife and son (I've read enough science fiction that I decided long ago just to ignore the issue of time travel). But we all enjoyed the movie. My favorite line was "I guess I picked the wrong week to stop snorting hash."

I was thoroughly impressed!!

Some language was a little rough for the little ones, as was some of the violence. No sex to speak of, but a shower scene with some nudity. Actually the shower scene was funny.

Hope other enjoy the movie.

Lost titles.

For some reason, Blogger won't let me edit the title box. The box is there, with the familiar "Title:" in front of it, but the box isn't clickable (strange word). I've tried it when I create a post and when I edit a post, neither one works.

Sometimes, I hate PC's.....

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Last week, my family went on vacation. Most of my readers are family, so they knew that and probably were there. For the outsiders, we went to Myrtle Beach and rented a house for the week.

With 5 kids, spouses, fiancee (congratulations again to Kayte and Kevin) and the one grandson, we had a house full. Each "child" took one night to cook dinner. The menu for the week ranged from stir-fry to low-country boil, from crock-pot enchiladas to burgers and dogs, from bbq chicken to chicken pasta alfredo with grilled salmon. What a feast!

Weather was good, family was great. My wife and a couple of the girls took over 600 pictures, I took about 5 rolls (I'm still on film).

I'm back now and catching up on blog reading. I'll also be blogging more this week. I know you missed it...