Saturday, February 28, 2009
Friday, February 27, 2009
When I wrote the first, I had in mind to comment on how whipped I expected to feel on Monday, following two days on which I'd fungo practiced with my sons, who are playing high school baseball for the first time. Since I'd probably hit about 60-75 balls in each practice, plus some [slow] pitching, and a little fielding, I figured I'd pay for it this week.
Only it didn't happen.
Sure, I was a bit tired, but that could've been the result of staying up too late. I never got any back, or muscle aches, though.
Look for my new movie, "The Rookie II", coming to a RedBox kiosk near you!
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Collectively, the Fourth Estate are not doing well.
Anyone familiar with print, broadcast, or internet news knows that it's advertising revenue that makes reporting possible. The proliferation of communication media and the global economic slump have combined to divide a smaller pie of advertising dollars into more pieces. Major U.S. daily newspapers, some a century old, are shutting down operations. Magazines are going out of business. Broadcast television and radio outlets are cutting staff. Internet advertisers report disappointing returns on their investments.
Some of this, perhaps, is the normal ebb-and-flow of cyclical markets.
What concerns me, however, is that as news gathering institutions scramble to find a delivery model that allows them to survive, we have dwindling reporting capacity and a rapidly growing government monolith. Without the scrutiny of an active press/media, how are the people to keep the government in check? It's like going into the African veldt with a .500 Nitro Express or .375 H&H, only to find it's become a .22 when the Cape Buffalo start charging.
It's definitely a time for each of us to be vigilant in monitoring government and in disseminating news to one another, as there are fewer who can do it for us.
After a couple of reminder calls, I stopped by and gave this week. The technician who inserted the tube was not quite as adept as those I've had in the past - it was uncomfortable the whole time. And the tech who removed it allowed blood to squirt on my slacks just back from the dry cleaners.
Nonetheless, I recognize there are people out there in need, so I do my part.
I hope you will, too.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
No, I'm not talking about GEICO.
The notion of a large form factor firearm wielded in a small space just doesn't make sense to me as a primary arm. To my thinking, a large frame .45 ACP (1911 or P-90) or wheelgun should serve well. And I'm considering the car itself to be part of my defense strategy, to get the heck away from the threat zone.
So, there's my take on long guns as defensive arms in cars - they're secondary.
But, if the economy continues to deteriorate, maybe I'll buy one with my stimulus money...
Monday, February 23, 2009
Resurfacing again this year, with increasing shrillness in the name of "we've got to do something", is a proposal to allow gambling casinos in the Lone Star State. The argument cites money going out of state to Oklahoma (Choctaw Bingo and Winstar Casino) and Bossier City/Shreveport, LA. Two decades ago, the argument would've included New Mexico (Ruidoso) and the subject would've been horse racing.
Well, in the past two decades, we've reclaimed, I'm sure, a great exodus of funds by voting in parimutuel betting and a state lottery. And, as a result, our state coffers are just brimming over.
Apparently, it's not been the great financial salvation as was promised. Horse tracks were built, and many have closed, as they were not as 'stimulating' as expected. You must be as shocked as I was. Thus, now we simply must approve casinos to ensure a balanced budget.
As a small 'l' libertarian, noted in my profile, one might expect me to favor the allowability of gambling. Certainly I believe it's an individual's right to do with his or her earned income as he/she sees fit. But, what prevents me from supporting this notion is that it's a bill of goods when packaged as a solution, even partially, for our budget woes.
I guess I consider it an insult to my intelligence and that of my fellow citizens, for politicians to advance a plan that has a statistically negative return - after all, the house always controls the odds (blackjack card counters notwithstanding). Yes, there will be a gain in jobs, in constructing and staffing the casinos, not to mention the hookers and crystal meth dealers. And the notion that the money stays in the state is only a half-truth, inasmuch as any profits go to whatever gambling company owns the casinos. I hate to, uh, malign an industry, but I'm guessing the managements of the gaming outfits make the CEOs of failed Wall Street firms look like choirboys.
So, anyone want to wager whether Texas gets casinos in the next 4 years?
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Just then I noticed a tall fellow moving toward me down the same aisle, at about three feet and closing in. I'm not into men, but he was not bad looking, and I was wondering why he seemed intent on invading my space in the narrow passage.
At about two feet, I was just about to raise my hands to keep from being bumped over, when I realized he was wearing the exact same denim shirt, roper boots, and jeans as I was.
Yeah, I'd just been startled by my own reflection in one of those mirrored support columns. Sheesh!
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Although I took economics, and money & banking classes at UTA and NTSU, I'd love to either retake them, or take some additional classes on the subject, as I fear I may have slept through some lectures, or maybe have forgotten some things. It has, after all, been a few years.
I remember reading Lee Iacocca's eponymous book of the early '80s, in which he criticized the migration of our manufacturing infrastructure to overseas producers. At the time, the conventional wisdom, not shared by the then-CEO of Chrysler, was that we were becoming a "service economy", moving away from the industrial/manufacturing age. At the time, some of it, to me anyway, seemed to be semantics, as in a manufacturer saying it provided the service of assembling widgets. But, over time, we did in fact do less manufacturing, or assembly, whatever term you use.
In college, I was taught that an economy needs many inputs to succeed: Capital, raw materials, real estate (before virtual businesses), educated/skilled workers, access to transportation and to markets (customers). Individual businesses weigh these factors, as well as climate, and cultural/entertainment opportunities, in deciding where to locate their stores, factories, or headquarters.
The underlying assumption of the heirarchy of economies seemed to be that they progressed from agrarian to industrial to service to knowledge-based.
At the turn of the millennium, I worked selling software. Intellectual property development can be very fascinating, and profitable. You write the code, then sell it a zillion times, hopefully reinvesting some of your profits back into R&D to keep your product current. In the late '90s, this was all the rage as we raced to become an "information economy". Venture capital was showered on those who could produce even a nominal business plan, irrespective of deliverables or profits. Having come from the banking business, I recall looking askance at such practices and being told: "You just don't understand the new economy." True enough, but said 'new economy' hit a brick wall in 2000-2001, as investors started demanding to see returns, and 9/11 didn't help matters. Gradually, of course, the market restored sanity.
There's a book called "Fire Your Customers", extolling the virtues of culling unprofitable customers. The basic premise is sound, but I suspect many practitioners get it wrong, as they cut the bottom 10% of their client roster every year - works great if you're growing at 11% or better, but if not, you're likely gradually marginalizing yourself into obscurity. I've heard lots of otherwise intelligent people use the much-abused "80/20 rule", usually with much [undeserved] reverence, to justify this or that idiocy.
But back to economics. As we 'progress' into higher forms of economic activity, are we not like the balloon which is squeezed on one end, creating a bulge on the other end. This of course could beget a whole blog on Pareto efficiencies and optimization theory. With over 6 billion people on the planet, and relatively finite natural resources, can we forever count on there being sources of cheaper labor and raw materials? Or will we someday find that the economies we've helped establish and strengthen are now self-sufficient and we, having marginalized our work habits, we are like the final investors in a Ponzi scheme?
Like I said, I'd like to take some courses to brush up on economics.
Despite having a 177 cid I-4 engine producing an anemic 20 HP, these things would go where today we'd only take 4WD vehicles, since there weren't so many paved roads in those days. Of course, the closest I've come to driving a Model T has been the Cleburne Chaparral cars at Six Flags.
I think our cars, as well as our resolve, were a lot more durable then.
Friday, February 20, 2009
Today I got an email from the discount movie chain where I often take the kids for a cheap night out. I have commented in the past that it can be difficult to find fare that is suitable for 2 teen boys and one young girl.
Anyway, I was surprised to find that this week's offerings are: 1 - rated G (Despereaux), 3 - PG, and 4 PG-13s. I don't know if this is a conscious effort by that particular location, or the chain, possibly to draw in more families. The same theatre recently showed "Fireproof", which achieved minor cult status among many church groups for its pro-Christianity, pro-marriage message.
I'm not necessarily against 'R' rated movies. In fact, there are some stories that will demand such a rating, if they're told truthfully. But I am against the proliferation of profanity when it serves no purpose.
Does the theatre's ratings lineup reflect a new sensibility? A sign of the times? People saying 'enough is enough'? Who knows? But it is, to me at least, encouraging.
Thank you, Cinemark.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Monday, February 16, 2009
This one looks like a grouper.
If they'd picked a Deusenberg, Cord, Pierce-Arrow, a pre-'50s Packard, I'd agree. But the Citroën DS, especially in profile view, looks like it was designed by Hanna-Barbera for George Jetson. I would admit that the 2CV could get some kind of award in the homely/cute category:
#1 son fires first rounds of .45 ACP (1911 Series 80, Mk IV)
Maybe it's well that I'm not out using ammo, as I saw last night on the news that folks are stocking up (and prices rising) due to 'The Obama Effect'. Time to dust off the reloading press.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
As I've already established via this forum that I have no spousal unit, it may sound strange that I'd be attending a seminar on love. But, my thinking is that maybe during my time in the wilderness, so to speak, I can pick up a few nuggets of wisdom that might prove useful if I take another stroll down the aisle sometime.
This weekend's installment dealt with the book of Solomon. It turns out Brandon and Susan are the pastor and his wife. Sure enough, I learned a few things, possibly even some insights (too late, of course) into things I could've done better with my wife. I think I'll attend the remaining three installments.
And be better equipped next time.
"I can see where this is going", I thought.
At the next stop light, the Saturn was in front of me, and I could read all the messages: "Hate Is Not A Family Value" (OK, no surprise, based on the "="), "Something Wiccan this way comes". A couple of others were unremarkable.
Finally, the last one reminded me of an SAT test question: Pick the one that doesn't fit. It was a political bumper sticker, "So-and-so for Congress, Republican". Huh? I say 'so-and-so' because it wasn't a name I recognized from the districts around the Metroplex. So, I guess I was a bit surprised - on a vehicle driven by a gay witch - I didn't expect to see a Republican message amongst the others.
Maybe that's the 'Log Cabin' group?
Anyway, last night I took my daughter to a Valentine's dance in a Denton county town near ours. Last year, we went to our hometown's Park & Rec event, but thought we'd try a change of pace. Since I'd worn my tuxedo last year, as many (but not all) dads did, I did the same this year.
I was the only one so attired. Oh, well.
This dance was more geared to families, and wasn't strictly a daddy/daughter event. Nonetheless, we had a great time, and the town's Rec department did a great job, serving hors d'oeuvres, finger sandwiches, punch and tea (our hometown last year served punch and a cookie, at a designated time) throughout the evening. There was a DJ, and they had door prize drawings for some pretty good stuff: a DVD player, iPod, shop vac, flat panel (19") DTV, twisty-stik (?) skateboards, and some games. Only $10 a couple. Oh, and they also included a picture/portrait (with a professional backdrop) of each family/couple.
Since there were many small children, and the gym floor had lots of balloons covering it, there wasn't as much dancing as I anticipated, probably a good thing for this middle-aged white guy, as well as for anyone watching. My daughter and a newfound friend spent much of the evening bringing me red, white, and pink balloons, asking me to tie them together in a bunch. My creations looked like monstrous molecular models.
We didn't win any door prizes, but we did enjoy ourselves.
And I'm grateful for the opportunity, since it probably won't be that long when it won't be cool for her dad to take her to dances.
I didn't really stop to wonder why I got the paper today, even though I don't subscribe. I figured the paperperson (is that PC?) made a mistake. And generally, I prefer the printed one to the online version.
After I got home and had done some chores, I sat down to read the diminutive paper, only to find that what it was was some kind of special S-T supplement, designed to tell us how to stylishly spend our dollars, together with a bunch of ad inserts.
Now, I have it on reasonably good authority that there's some kind of an economic downturn going on. I figured this guide would be chock-full of ideas to weather the recession. So what do the genii (yes, that's the plural of genius - I checked) merchandise mavens at What Was Once Amon Carter's Newspaper think I should buy? The following:
- $138 fountain pen, from an online seller (uh, huh)
- $79 crystal perfume decanter, in Colleyville (what's the matter with the Old Spice bottle?)
- $500 custom-fitted golf club, singular (ah, I think I've got a bad shoulder...)
- $320 box of eight cigars (cough!)
The last couple of items were offered by fine Southlake retailers, catering to discriminating clientele. I hope they sell a ton of them, if only to prove P. T. Barnum's maxim*.
For myself, I'll spend the weekend writing my memoirs with my 10 year old Cross ballpoint, wearing Grey Flannel from a 12 year old bottle (and only my dog to appreciate it), thinking about playing racquetball with my sons using my $9 (on Wal-Mart clearance) racquet. I tried cigars, briefly, way before they were au courant, and was discerning enough to avoid that habit.
Maybe I can enjoy a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon from my wine cellar, er, pantry.
Happy Valentine's Day? Whatever...
Friday, February 13, 2009
I remember all the fuss when Mercedes announced they were going to sell their Unimog trucks in the U.S. Funny, but I don't remember seeing a single one on the streets of my town.
Same thing with the International CXT. I've seen one out at Alliance, but basically, it's a novelty.
I wonder if it comes with slide out aluminum ramps so you can drive a SmartForTwo in the back?
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
It's reported today that the country singer, who was apparently rumoured to be gay in the wake of his split with actress Renee Zellweger, has announced to the media that he has, uh, serviced, more than 100 women as proof of his heterosexuality.
Don't mean to sound like a prude or The Church Lady ("Isn't That Special...") here, but it occurs to me that you can be as straight as an arrow with only one woman, so long as the number of men you're with is zero. Anyway, as the title of this post suggests, it's not my problem.
Like the other blogger, I'm not necessarily outraged, only wish Chesney didn't feel compelled to show he's morally challenged just to prove his masculinity.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
John Kennedy once said to a assembled group of scholars in the White House; "I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered at the White House - with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone."
The quotes below could prove his point.
- When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become as corrupt as Europe.
- The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.
- It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.
- I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.
- My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.
- No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.
- The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.
- The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
- Thos. Jefferson
- Very Interesting Quote:In light of the present financial crisis, it's interesting to read what Thomas Jefferson said in 1802: "Banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered."
Doesn't this sound eerily familiar to what is happening in America today?
(I couldn't corroborate the above quote in my brief research, but did find the following: "A spirit... of gambling in our public paper has seized on too many of our citizens, and we fear it will check our commerce, arts, manufactures, and agriculture, unless stopped." --Thomas Jefferson to William Carmichael, 1791.)
I wonder if this kind of thought wasn't popular at Columbia and Harvard?
So, I thought I'd run this: How many church people does it take to change a light bulb?
Charismatics: Only one. Hands already in the air.
Roman Catholics: None. They use candles.
Pentecostals: Ten. One to change the light bulb, and nine to pray against the spirit of darkness.
Presbyterians: None. God has predestined when the lights will be on and off.
Episcopalians: Eight. One to call the electrician, and seven to say how much better they liked the old bulb.
Mormons: Five. One man to change the bulb, and four wives to tell him how to do it.
Unitarians: We chose not to make a statement either in favor of or against the light bulb. However, if you have found in your own journey that light bulbs work for you, that is fine. You are invited to write a poem or compose a modern dance about your personal relationship with your light bulb and present it next month at our annual light bulb Sunday service in which we will explore a number of light bulb traditions, including incandescent, fluorescent, three-way, long-life, and tinted, all of which are equally valid paths to luminescence.
Baptists: At least fifteen. One to change the light bulb, and two or three committees to approve the change. Oh, and also a casserole.
Lutherans: None. Lutherans don't believe in change.
Methodists: A whole congregation. One to change the light bulb, and the rest of the congregation to be sure that he doesn't backslide off the ladder and have to change it again.
h/t: "That Dude"
Saturday, February 7, 2009
A gentleman in one of my men's groups (a young 88, his dad was a Baptist preacher) tells the story, apocryphal perhaps, of growing up in a rural area west of Fort Worth. He says he was 7 or 8 years old at the time.
One day my friend and his father were at the general store or gas station along the main thoroughfare. A family driving a truck with all of their belongings loaded and lashed aboard pulled up, and the driver asked the father, "We're moving our family from xxx, can you tell me what kind of people live here in this town?"
The father said, "Well, sure. What kind of people did you have in xxx?"
The driver replied, "Oh, they were just terrible. Dishonest, nasty, thieves and adulterers."
"Well, that's the kind of folks we have here also", said the father, and the driver said something and went on his way.
Just a short time later, another truck, similarly laden, happened by (maybe this was during the dust bowl), with the driver posing a similar question, to which the father again asked, "What kind of folks did you leave in your old town?"
The driver responded, "They were the best people on earth. Hardworking, honest, caring, salt-of-the-earth people. We sure hated to leave."
"Well those are exactly the kind of people we have in this town - they're great folks", said the father.
After the truck had left, the boy asked his dad why he'd had different answers for the same question. "Son, folks tend to find whatever it is they're looking for" was the father's reply.
In the same vein, I have given some thought to how we regard one another. All of us flawed, we have the choice of how we view our fellow humans: friends, co-workers, kids & parents, spouses. Do we look at them through the lens of love (I'm not talking romantic love here) and with compassion and understanding, or do we count up only the negatives that support a hypothesis?
I'm sure I've unfairly judged other people's actions or motives, and I know my own actions or motives have been at times misunderstood or purposely maligned. The result, of course, is hurt and frustration. It's a fundamental human desire to be understood by others.
I think it was the late country songwriter Paul Davis who wrote "Lord, if I'm worthy, let me hear. If I'm heard, let me be worthy."
So, here's to taking the time to understand, in hopes of being understood.
Monday, February 2, 2009
Sunday, February 1, 2009
And I was so hoping there was actually someone out there who thinks like I do...
Nonetheless, thanks to Shay R. for 'fessing up and revealing the actual source of the telegraph sign.