September 1, 2014

FOD - Labor Day Edition

FOD being a Monday tradition means that it falls on Labor Day, a holiday meant to celebrate the American laborer, and their contributions to society.  In fact, the Department of Labor has a webpage dedicated to the holiday, and defines it thusly:
Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.
The page goes on to paint a picture of some national espirit de corps in celebration of the working man.  This is a lovely bit of glossy spin on the bloody riots and violent labor strikes of the late 1800's.  Ironically, one of the most well known events was the Haymarket Affair, a 'peaceful protest' by striking workers that ended up pitting protesters against police, and resulted in the deaths of 7 police officers and 4 civilians, in Chicago.

Even today, if you Google 'Haymarket Affair/Riot/Massacre', you will find modern day sources that are clearly motivated by union influences.  If you replaced 'race' with 'labor' in Ferguson, the story would read much the same, and 128 years from now, the facts of the situation would still be a point of contention, as are the facts of the Haymarket Affair.

Eight years after the Haymarket Affair, there was a national railroad stirke, the Pullman Strike.  The country was in a depression, the Panic of 1893, which, incidentally, was caused by a railroad bubble.  When the Pullman company had to lay off workers and reduce wages, those still living in the company town felt that their rents should also be reduced, basic economic principles be damned.

If you have made it this far, thanks for sticking with me, here is the FOD connection...

Economic depression and labor strikes were the key components of social unrest then, while today I would say economic depression recession recovery and racial tension are the story of today.  The difference is a Democratic president, then, that was noted for honesty, integrity, common sense, and a desire to keep the country moving forward.  He intervened when unrest affected the country at large.  He appointed people to government office based on ability, not political affiliation.  He believed in upholding the Constitution.  Some didn't agree with his interpretation, but isn't an interpretation better than complete disregard for the document?  In fact, there were any number of actions and policies that Cleveland implemented that weren't and aren't favorably viewed, but he could defend his actions by sound thought and reason.

Cleveland enjoyed fishing and hunting, he had a rifle he named 'Death and Destruction'.  He is also known for consuming large quantities of beer.  And, while there is one or more golf courses named in honor of him, I find no record that he ever played the game.  And, we have him to thank for this day off.

August 31, 2014

Filters for Sale

We had to replace one of our heat pumps earlier this summer.  It was timed rather fortuitously, as I had recently replaced the filter with the last one we had on hand.

I generally buy the filters by the case, first comparing a local HVAC supply house against the going price on Amazon.  There are several companies that sell filters on Amazon, but upon arrival I always get a case that is direct shipped from the manufacturer (Glasfloss), on behalf of the seller.  This time, some company in Florida was the seller, but I got the box direct from the Glasfloss factory in Dallas.

Our new heat pump requires a 20x20x2 filter.  A mistake was made somewhere in the ordering process - I am fairly certain that I ordered the correct size, but there is no size designation on the order confirmation or invoice - just a part number that they now claim equates to what they shipped me, which is 16x16x2 filters.  A dozen of them, in a giant box.

Once they arrived, and the size disparity was discovered, I requested, and received, return authorization.  I trotted down to the local shipping store only to be told that shipping a box that size was going to cost me considerably more than I paid for the merchandise.  I took my box back to the car, returned to the office, and began to get quotes at my company's negotiated rates through Fed Ex and UPS.  The best rate quote was $30, about half the value.  Now I am stuck deciding whether to cut my losses and get a net refund of $30, or list them on Craigslist or something and have to deal with that hassle.

Which brings up the bigger issue, how much are these things marked up?  I save about $35 per case over the Home Depot and Lowe's prices, by buying online.  And, while I am sure that Glasfloss gets a heck of a good shipping rate, it can't be free.  And, the Amazon re-seller has to be getting their cut somewhere in there.  Are their margins razor-thin, or are brick-and-mortar end consumers getting completely screwed?

August 29, 2014

Texas Football

You are probably expecting some tribute to the greatness that was the Texas A&M football team last night.  Well, okay, but just a little.  I hate me some Steve Spurrier.  If the Aggies lose the rest of their games this season, I am okay with it.  Defeating Spurrier and his Gamecocks - and setting several records in the process, is enough to last me for quite awhile.

What I really wanted to talk about was a different level of football...

I have been avoiding Crash's football practices.  I am not terribly hung up on it, but I am a little bothered, especially considering that every day I see another story about sports-related concussions and the long term effects that are becoming evident.  The youth league commissioner and my husband had tried to allay my fears by putting it in simple terms of physics, telling me that the boys, at this age, simply aren't big enough, strong enough, or fast enough to hurt one another when they tackle.

I call bullshit.

I took Crash to practice last night.  I had a good, and expected, chuckle over the number of dads on the field, the amount of beer guts straining T-shirts, the reek of testosterone in the air.  There were moms, too.  The sort that questioned every call during the scrimmage, and encouraged their little darlings to, "Hit him HARD!."

I was not expecting the brutal recoil of little heads, as helmets made contact.  I wasn't ready for the clash of shoulder pads.  I cringed as those sweet little boys grunted and groaned and got knocked to the ground.

The more brutal the hit, the more excited the dads became.  I fantasized about kneeing them in the 'nads when they picked my kid up off the ground by his shoulder pads and smacked his helmet in some brutish display of congratulations.

I love football but I was not at all prepared for the visceral pain I would feel, watching my little guy play the game.  Fortunately, I have a plan.

As with most youth sports of today, the season kicked off with a parent's meeting, complete with 15-page manual of expectations and rules of conduct.  If I get mouthy at a game, they bench my kid - and I can do 'mouthy' pretty damn well.

August 28, 2014

The Limelight

Back in February I wrote about the school district in my town putting up some signs that advertised the fact that some of the school employees were armed and prepared to protect students.

For reasons I do not know, the national media made a thing of it this week.  Of course, the headlines are more along the lines of, "What this Texas school district has done will make liberal heads explode", rather than, "How one Texas school district is trying to improve school safety and security".

When I posted my picture of one of the school signs, I intentionally blocked out the name.  In this post, I haven't linked to the articles currently running, that identify the school district and list the name of my friend and co-worker that developed the program the school used to identify and train the appropriate people.  Why?  Because liberal heads don't really explode, they tend to craft evil schemes, and spew vile hatred that brings harm to good people.

After my friend appeared on Fox &Friends yesterday morning, I sent him a text, telling him he didn't look all that nervous(!) and that it was time to declare a moratorium on the media at his household.  Turn off the television, disconnect the internet router, put the newspaper straight into the recycle bin, and listen to recorded music over the radio.  

There is no reason that he should be pilloried for developing a program that may save a child from a school shooter.  There is no reason that his family and friends should be threatened by gun control crazies, that only have the right to speak their minds, because men like him stood on a wall with a gun and fought for them to have that right.

Cockroaches and rodents tend to scurry away when light is shined upon them.  I wish the same could be said for the vile people of America, those who can accept no beliefs other than their own, and who are attracted to the limelight, only because they want to do harm to those who are in it.

August 26, 2014

Therapy Dogs

My office is generally quite casual. We occasionally have visitors that warrant dressing up a little, but that generally means that the men wear clean boots and freshly starched jeans, and the women switch out their flip-flops for something less beachy for the day.

I have two co-workers that bring their dogs to work.  Both are small yippy Shorkie-somethings, one being the offspring of the other.  In fact, she was born here at the office, in what was a memorable experience, not just for being present at the birthing of a litter of pups, but for watching the men run for the door shouting ridiculous excuses over their shoulders.

I am a big-dog kind of a girl, always have been.  I still would not like to have a small dog in my home, but I have grown fond of having the little ankle biters around the office.  Each morning, when she arrives, she makes the rounds, stopping off at the offices that have dog treats stashed in their desk drawers.  She barks only at Hispanic men, new UPS drivers, and children.

Best of all, there is a tangible physical benefit to having a dog in the office.  I can feel my blood pressure drop, as she curls up in my lap on a stressful day.  People find it hard to be ugly to you when you are holding a ball of fluff.  

August 25, 2014


36 and 193 - that is the golf count for the year and cumulative total.  Whomever is in charge of keeping the presidential image intact failed miserably, as the main stream media has (finally) taken notice of the habit - and the president managed to play 9 rounds during his two week vacation - Ferguson, Foley, ISIS, Syria, Iraq, Israel, Ukraine/Russia, Ebola, etc., be damned.

It is Monday, and my day already sucks, so that is about all I am going to say about the poser in the Oval.  Here is a picture of a baby koala to brighten your day...

August 24, 2014

The Joke's On You!

Over at Bergheim Follies, my friend Tim is celebrating his upcoming empty nest.  Every Sunday, Tim posts a selection of cartoons and jokes related to a current or Tim-related life event, and today's jokes were all about the kids leaving the house.

Tim has two wonderfully bright, capable young adult children, the youngest of which is leaving for her freshman year of college today.  In the interest of full disclosure, I will admit that I have never met Tim's children, but am judging them partially on having survived Tim's influence on their upbringing, and mostly on their choice of higher learning institution.

My hope is that all of Tim's retirement dreams come true.  I wish for him breathtaking travel experiences (and I don't just mean the walking up a hill kind), and years of spontaneous, precious, heartwarming, and memorable moments with his lovely wife.

I won't point out that he, his very own self, has posted on more than one occasion, stories such as this one, that could ruin a man's plan for his golden years:
One in five people in their 20s and early 30s is currently living with his or her parents. And 60 percent of all young adults receive financial support from them.
These boomerang kids are not a temporary phenomenon. They appear to be part of a new and permanent life stage. 
And, in case you doubt it, a recent article points out that homebuilders are now catering to "multi-generational households".  Perhaps more alarming, still, is that more and more economists think sharing a home across familial generations is a great financial strategy:
...pooling financial resources among the generations is a smart way to lower the overall cost of home ownership. That’s before taking into account built-in child care (at least for emergencies and date nights) and easy monitoring when aging parents turn frail. Shared ownership allows young adults to build up savings and the older generation to draw down less on retirement savings.
 Sheesh, how long before kids just assume they are supposed to move back home as an adult?