October 31, 2011


A couple of weeks ago, some lib named Ulli Ryder accused Herman Cain of minstrelsy because she doesn't like some of the things Cain says on the stump. Among other things,  Ryder took exception to Cain's joke that his Secret Service codename should be 'Cornbread', his comment that he wears gold because it looks good against his dark skin, and she doesn't like his use of the nonsensical phrase 'shucky-ducky'. 
Cain's wish to be called "cornbread" is also troubling, since it can be viewed, like watermelon and fried chicken, as a stereotype applied to blacks.
Yes, Cain is himself a Southern-born black man who grew up in a lower-income family, so it would be unfair to insist he's being inauthentic. But what is at issue here is how Cain uses these verbal tactics in front of white audiences; what Cain stands to gain from such strategies; and why these strategies seem to be working so well.
Ryder goes on to say:
But I see the very real and troubling possibility that Cain's use of vernacular, and his casual assertion of a desire to be called "Cornbread," may be ploys to put potential donors — many of them wealthy conservative whites with few, if any, ties to any black community — at ease.
And Blowie would never do that, right?
 I stand by my claim that Cain‘s speech is like a form of minstrelsy. This is very different from President Obama, who some say speaks "black" when in front of all-black audiences. In Obama's case, the use of folksy speech tells his audience: "I am like you and I understand you." For Cain, the effect is the opposite: "I do not look like you and I am not a threat to you."
Oh really?  In a speech to the Italian American Foundation, while lauding Nancy Goblowme Pelosi, Blowie turned on his own shucky-ducky goomba charm:
Obama made several other comments to try and connect with the Italian American audience, lamenting at one point, “I do not, in fact, have any Italian ancestry. Not all of us are that lucky.”
“I can’t cook as well as any of your grandmothers,” he added. “Michelle won’t let me have seconds or thirds anymore.”
Good for the goose but not the Cornbread gander, eh Ryder?  She should be eating crow (shit, can I say that?  Is 'eating crow' racist?  I mean, crows are ugly, black and annoying like the president, so I shouldn't say that, right?)

Blowie finished up his Jersey Shore guest appearance speech with this gem: 
“So all I’ve got to offer is a last name that ends in a vowel,” Obama said. “That‘s all I’ve got.”
Yeah, let's hope that's all you've got.

October 30, 2011

No rest this Sunday

Bang isn't as demanding as some of my family can be on their special day, but his requested meal preparation for this evening has had me running crazy.  Corned beef and cabbage are bubbling in the Crock Pot.  Chocolate sheet cake is complete.  Potatoes baking, to be made into a twice baked casserole.  Pie crust is chilling in the fridge, waiting to be rolled out and filled.  Bang decided to buck tradition and requested a birthday pie this year.  The cake is for those who don't like pumpkin pie. Grandma is making the obligatory salad and yeast rolls.

Kids are eating lunch, then it is on to pumpkin carving.  I usually carve 5 or 6 on my own - but I just don't have the time or energy this year.  Not even sure I will do one.  But, the kids have their patterns picked out and it looks like I will get to help with some detail work. 

Laundry, homework, typing in my credit card number for a couple of college applications, sole of a shoe to glue back on, button to sew and a birthday to celebrate.  Costumes and candy tomorrow.  Looking forward to Tuesday.

October 29, 2011

Let's talk about something else

(Other than that baseball game).

A survey by LivingSocial was outlined in this article.  As an only child and now parent of four kids, I am surprised that only 50% of parents fessed up to stealing Halloween candy from their kids.  Well, maybe not so surprised as the question was probably phrased wrong.  I don't necessarily 'steal' it, I blatantly take it.  Which is obviously what happened to me as a kid, since there were no siblings to blame for the dwindling stash.  My kids all ante up a Kit Kat or two, along with some Twix and any Bit-O-Honeys.  According to the survey, these are the most popular Halloween candies:
  1. Reese's - 43% of respondents rank it among their top five favorites
  2. Snickers - 38% rank among favorites
  3. M&Ms - 37% rank among favorites
  4. Kit Kat - 36% rank among favorites
  5. Twix - 29% rank among favorites
  6. Milky Way - 22% rank among favorites
  7. Butterfinger - 22% rank among favorites
  8. Candy Corn - 18% rank among favorites
  9. 3 Musketeers - 18% rank among favorites
  10. Skittles - 17% rank among favorites
Candy pilfering really isn't much of an issue at Harper House, as we usually buy the Costco ginormo pack of assorted chocolaty goodness and then have no one to distribute it to.  Sure, the younger kids made some treat bags for their class party, and the older ones took some candy to share with friends, but there remains a good portion and we won't have anyone ringing our doorbell on Monday.  Last year we had one family from across the street that came by.  Everyone with kids picks one of the tidy high density subdivisions to trick-or-treat in.  Little legs don't last long when it takes 5 minutes to get from one door to the next.  Plus, we've had skunks out the wazoo recently, which presents a whole different set of challenges!

Bang's birthday is tomorrow, a day often spent elbow-deep in pumpkin guts.  We'll post some pics of our awesome pumpkin carving skills.  I'm glad I didn't have my heart set on a Texas Ranger's theme.

October 28, 2011

Overwriting the file, girly style

Kerrcarto posted a truly vile photo of Clinton and Gore in running short shorts.  If you click on it, don't say I didn't warn you.

As I sit here biting my nails and praying that the Rangers can pull this one out, I still haven't gotten that image of Gore's sweaty crotch out of my brain.  Paul posted some boobage to offset it, and I do appreciate a nice rack - but I am a heterosexual girl and this calls for some Adam Levine.

Baseball hangover

Gawd, I am worn out.  Stayed up to watch the Rangers win the World Series, and instead ended up being pissed off, disappointed and unable to sleep for most of the night.  When I could sleep, the dogs were restless.  And the coyotes seem to be enjoying the cooler weather, yipping all night long.

I hate to be the one that says it out loud, so I won't actually say it.  What I will say is that I think several of the Rangers left it all on the field last night.


So I haven't had much time to process news stories and form a coherent opinion.  The one story that has caught my eye, turned my stomach and created a moral dilemma is the one about Girl Scouts in Colorado accepting a 7-year old boy into a troop.
We make the distinction that if a child is living life as a girl and the family brings the child to us and says my daughter wants to be a Girl Scout, we welcome her,” Rachelle Trujillo, vice president of communications with Girl Scouts of Colorado told CNSNews.com.
I believe in American ideals.  Free to be you and me and all that, as long as it doesn't encroach upon another person's rights.  I think that, in many cases, the age of majority is an arbitrary number set only because our justice system needs a dividing line.  We have seen over the past several decades that some children are capable of very adult acts, both good and bad.  Still, children are to be raised by their parents, not put on a pedestal with a hands off approach so that they can 'discover themselves' or some such bullshit.

Anyone letting their 7-year old boy live as a girl should be in psychiatric care.  7-year old children do not have physical or mental maturity, not to mention lack of hormonal development, to indicate any sort of gender preference.  I'm not saying you have to make the girls wear pink and play with dolls while the boys play in the dirt and flex their muscles, but, Good Lord, let them be kids and grow enough to really form their own thoughts and opinions.

I was a Girl Scout until 4th or 5th grade, went camping, learned to make a Sit Upon and some basic First Aid.  My oldest daughter is in her 12th year of Scouting, though the last several years have been more about maintaining membership.  When Boom started out in GS, the national organization was routinely rearing its liberal head, making it all about 'girl power' and such.  It didn't matter because our troop and leadership was morally grounded in the original principals of the founder.  While I don't necessarily expect every troop to take a public position on accepting gender-confused youth, I am faced with the knowledge that the national organization has taken a public position.  The Princess has been happily making crafts, going on Scout field trips and is gearing up for her first cookie sale.  She's having fun and oblivious to the political statement that is represented by that trefoil pin.

What should I do?  Leave her be and hope that she tires of it in a year or two?  Demand a position statement from local leadership?  Hold my nose when I buy cookies, knowing that most of the money goes to support an organization that has abandoned its moral base?  Or should I yank her out of Scouting now?

October 27, 2011

Don't box me in

I skimmed through this article the other day and agreed with the basic premise that there is little to no 'family' entertainment worth watching on television.

Once upon a time, I loved 'Two and a Half Men'.  I loved the characters, I loved the biting dialogue, I loved the story lines.  Long before Chuck Lorre and Charlie Sheen got into their public pissing match, I was tuning in less and less.  In the name of 'keeping things fresh' or trying to attract that magical 18-25 year old demographic, the series had devolved into a weekly regurgitation of masturbation jokes.  And the jokes had regressed from hilarious innuendo and subtlety to forceful dialogue with a studio laugh track demanding that you join in. 

I admit to paying for an excess of channels.  There are channels I have never, and will never watch - but we can't get the channels we do want without having the rest bundled in.  My kids have their choice of several dozen channels designed just for little people like them.  They also have nature, history, military, music and other various specialized channels to choose from.  I think what the media misses in these 'demise of family programming' articles is that the demise is of network television.  Three of them have been duking it out for decades, in the battle for ratings and advertising dollars.  They used to put out some damn good products - and my family loves some of them, now found on lesser channels.  (They are mostly black & white and/or feature a cast of long dead actors).  What we enjoy more is the programming suited to our individual, and eclectic, interests 

I really don't give a damn if NBC ever gets their Thursday night groove back.  I don't care what ABC thinks a modern family should look like - My family has no problem finding a show to watch together. More importantly we don't have any problem finding other things to spend our time doing, together.  I have a secret method that I employ that organically limits the time my kids watch television.  When they ask if they can watch something I say, 'Sure, if everyone can agree on what to watch.' 

500 channels of HD glory, with the addition of on demand programming and a DVR.  If there are good family shows out there, good families will find them.  I think the demise of television and family programming has more to do with intelligent people finding other distractions and attractions.  It doesn't take much of a brain to figure out that the networks want to put you in a nicely labeled box, complete with your social demographic and spending habits, the better to sell their advertising with.  I'm happy to stay out of their box.

October 26, 2011

A picture is worth a thousand words...

...and vice versa.

I wish there was a photo accompanying this humorous imagery-inducing article:

A group of 60 Elvis impersonators had to flee a charity fundraiser after a faulty smoke machine set off the fire alarm, it has been reported. 

Guests leaving the hotel were stunned to see a group of around 60 impersonators, dressed in wigs and full rhinestone costume, gathered in the car park.
"I was in a bit of a state getting out of my room," one guest told the Daily Mirror. "But I was more confused when I got outside to see all these people dressed as Elvis.
"There were people in full Elvis jumpsuits and wigs standing by a roundabout, looking a bit worse for the wear."
Sounds like my kind of parking lot party.

October 25, 2011

Screwed again by Dodd-Frank

Whether it be the law of unintended consequences or just Dimocratic stupidity, I ran into yet another asinine example of how Dodd-Frank screws the average American.

We had a little neighborhood garage sale over the weekend.  On two occasions, people asked if we would take a check for their purchase.  One was a neighbor whose husband is a local high school teacher, I figured I could find her if the check bounced.  The other was a complete stranger.  Further muddying the should-I-or-shouldn't-I waters was the fact that she lives in a low rent area, had just recently moved there, in fact.  So recently moved that her checks had her former address on them.  I took the check anyway, thinking in her case, that if her check was no good, she needed the $25 more than I did.

Both of the checks were from Chase bank accounts.  I am not an account holder there, but there is a branch on my daily commute and I decided to cash the checks this morning, rather than run them through my bank and play the 'will they bounce?' waiting game.

That was the weirdest banking experience I have encountered.  There was no service counter with tellers.  There were several people milling about the lobby, waiting on customers to walk in.  It was like a furniture store, with each of the people waiting to take their turn.  So, five or six people greeted me and asked how they could help me.  I waved the two checks and said I needed to cash them.  A helpful gentleman guided me to his cubicle, offered me a seat and took the checks.  Then he asked if I had an account there.  I explained that I did not, but they were both Chase checks, so there shouldn't be an issue.  Right?

That was when Mr. Helpful informed me that they charge a fee to cash their own checks.  WTF?  $3 each, it is a non-customer check cashing charge, he explained.  Are you fucking kidding me?  For a check drawn on your own bank?  When did this start happening?  Thank you Barney and Chris, for setting limits on financial institutions that have them doing the airline version of finding every possible thing they can charge the average consumer for, to make a stinking buck.

Ultimately, and probably in no small part due to my colorful turning of a phrase, Chase waived the fee, as a courtesy and in consideration of the fact that the checks totaled a measly $55.

Before I end this, let me tell you about the rest of the banking experience.  After handing the checks over, I was asked to endorse them, put my index fingerprint on the memo line and provide my driver's license.  Mr. Helpful excused himself and left the cubicle with the items.  He soon returned and chatted me up about where I bank and why, doing the Chase soft sell.  In a few minutes, a man in a suit entered the cubicle and handed a bank bag to Mr. Helpful.  The suit never acknowledged me, which I found weird considering the mass welcoming committee in the lobby.  In the bank bag was my $55, and I was on my way.

I guess if that is the most efficient way that Chase can figure out to cash two friggin' checks, they probably need to be charging $3 for the privilege.

October 24, 2011


Would you like a side of pork to go with your graft?
In just six weeks, nearly 200 companies and special interests have reported that they’re lobbying the 12-member supercommittee.
It’s a stunning ratio of lobbyists to lawmakers but makes sense when you consider the high stakes faced by interests ranging from the health care industry to Native American tribes. The groups fear the supercommittee will find $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction before Thanksgiving by cutting their funding or raising their taxes.
Lobbyists have blitzed Washington, blanketing Capitol Hill with phone calls to lawmakers’ offices, launching multiplatform advertising campaigns and working to activate grass-roots bases.
And lest you wonder about what segment of American industry is leader of the pack:
For now, the health care industry is leading the charge on the lobbying front, according to the latest lobbying disclosure reports filed late last week. Nearly 200 trade associations, companies and lobby shops working for groups such as the hospital association, insurance company WellPoint and drug manufacturer AstraZeneca are publicly disclosing for the first time that they’ve actively sought to influence the panel.
The AHA, for one, is carrying the torch for its members, arguing that they can’t take any more budget slashing after the health care reform bill slashed $155 billion from the industry.
Pollack said the group has been engaged in an advertising blitz and, traditional shoe-leather lobbying, and will have had two member fly-ins before the supercommittee produces a public report.
Obamacare, the legislative darling of the Dim party.  I watch those ridiculous pharmaceutical company commercials on TV, and AstraZeneca is one of the companies that always has a number to call 'if you can't afford your medicines'.  I wonder if they ever considered saving some money out of the lobbying budget to cover the 5000% mark up they charge on products for those less fortunate.

October 23, 2011

If Baby Lisa were mine...

Pardon the delay, some storms last night knocked our power out for several hours.

So, this Baby Lisa case has been on my mind. I am originally from the KC area, so big news stories from the area catch my attention to begin with, and this is about a missing baby, so it is even more compelling a story.

What has struck me as wrong, is that I have seen the mom of Baby Lisa on nearly every channel, talking to every sort of reporter, journalist, talk show host.  Megyn Kelly from Fox News spent nearly two hours interviewing the parents last weekend.  Time after time, there sits Deborah Bradley, fresh faced, bright eyed, hair neatly pulled back, sitting in the living room of what has been described as a 'safe house' or in a Hampton Inn lobby.

Deborah's story has changed quite a bit over these last nineteen days.  The timeline has changed, she now says she takes daily anxiety medication and that she drank enough to black out on the night the baby 'disappeared'.  Deb and husband, Jeremy Irwin, have now hired the same criminal defense attorney that represented Joran Van der Sloot.  Deb now qualifies many of her previous statements by saying 'that is what I was told'.

Let's recap in reverse order.  I get hiring an attorney.  Innocent, guilty or otherwise, in today's murky waters of the judicial system, law enforcement and the media, an attorney is a good thing.  I, personally, couldn't get past the moral dilemma involved in hiring Van der Sloot's, lawyer, but that is just me.

Deb was at home and responsible for the care of her two sons while she was boozing it up to the point of blackout.  Trying hard to think of how many prescription anxiety medications don't have a warning against combining with alcohol.

She can't get her story straight. 

For the first week or so, the family had only released one mediocre photograph of that sweet baby girl. 

There hasn't been a show of support in the form of family and friends surrounding the couple.

I haven't seen any flyers, signs, websites, T-shirts or any of the other items that people who lose so much as a dog manage to produce.

But what really makes this case for me is this:  If my child were missing, you couldn't hold me in a room, in front of a camera, in a 'safe' house.  If my child were truly missing, I would be combing the neighborhood, knocking on doors, looking in cars, tramping through the woods.  Mothers don't just sit back content that the world will find their children for them.  That woman is guilty of something having to do with the disappearance of her child.  Mark my words.

October 22, 2011

One man's trash

This weekend we are having a little neighborhood garage sale. Out here in what used to be the country, we don't get nearly the foot traffic that a subdivision garage sale would, so we tend to band together once every year or so in an effort to entice people to stop by and haul away our crap.

Garage sales are a lot of work and I usually give more stuff away than try to sell it. I would rather drop off a box or two at Goodwill every few months than store boxes until we have a sale. Plus, if I can get the kids to give up a toy or two, there is little room for delay in getting it out of the house before they change their minds.

Crash has repossessed a couple of items and has perfected a haughty glare that he levels at people who have picked up something that used to belong to him. I watched a kid put a truck back down, back away from the toy table and get back in his mom's car, without turning his back on Crash. The only thing that is saving us from a full melt down is the promise that the kids can buy an XBox with their garage sale profits.

I really can't explain the things that do and do not sell, except to say that it is never what you think it will be. If I threw it out there just hoping that it would get packed up and carted off to charity, then it sold first. If I thought it was the quintessential garage sale item, with a low, low price to match - it will still be there at the end of the sale. Men's shoes are definitely the most purchased item, both here and at the neighbors.

One final observation before I get back to it; we need to quit wasting money on expensive and elaborate ICE raids and sting operations. Have a garage sale, they will come to you. It was particularly entertaining to see the nervousness and attempts to hide in the hanging clothes, when the police chief pulled in my driveway. Our town tends to use the PD as a courier service, since they make the rounds a couple of times a day. The chief was dropping off some paperwork to me, but stayed to visit and wanted to meet the new puppy, as he is a Dachshund owner himself. He finally commented that he better leave so the guy hiding in the dresses could come up for air. Good times...

October 21, 2011

Two Awesomer Videos

Laughter is contagious, especially at our house.  Mr. Harper has one of those laughs.  There are certain things that send him into a hysterical fit of laughter, the sort of which is contagious.  I laugh more at his laugh, than at what he is laughing about.  Any para-sailing or parachute related blooper reel will do it.  The Scrat character from Ice Age sends him over the edge.  My kids refused to go see Ice Age 3 with him, knowing that people would be staring at us as soon as Scrat made his first appearance, which is usually during the opening credits.  One time we went to an Ice Age movie and had sent Mr H out for popcorn during the previews.  He got back to the theater right as the movie began, which featured Scrat, and had to sit down on the theater steps, cradling the jumbo popcorn and laughing so hard he couldn't walk.  Needless to say, we weren't standing up and waving him over to our seats, either.

This guy trying not to laugh made me laugh until I cried.

And this is just freakin' cool.  Perhaps best know as the sound effects guy from the Police Academy movies, Michael Winslow is still around and kickin' it:

Always finding something interesting on The Awesomer.

October 20, 2011

Qaddafi Dead, and I am left to wonder...

As the news broke this morning, I was listening to the radio in my car.  I heard the jubilation, the yelling in the streets, the horns honking.  I wonder about our 'civilized' society here in the United States.  How can we keep taking part in the execution of what we define as authoritative regimes, yet ignore the direction our government is going?  How can we share in the celebration of the death of a man that we think has harmed many, yet ignore the decades of damage being inflicted by our own president?

Would there be dancing in the streets if our president was assassinated?  Would it be any more right or wrong to celebrate the death of someone that I feel is leading an authoritative regime?  My ideals, morals, values, worth and sense of security have been plundered at every turn by Democratic leadership at every level.  Why am I a target of the liberal hate machine, when turning the tables on them would be considered so much mutiny?

I suppose the best we can do is hope for a celebration next November and the following January.

October 19, 2011

Local Occupation

Living near a town with two colleges provides plenty displays of youthful ignorance, and a couple dozen college students have decided to throw in with the OWS protests.  According to the local fishwrap, (which I am not linking to on purpose), there are between 15 - 30 protesters each day.  I am sure the number fluctuates based on work schedules, as one protester noted:
"...not everyone could afford to quit their job to go to New York or Washington, D.C., to participate in the protests."
Good Lord in Heaven.  What is wrong with these children, that they would even consider quitting their job to travel to the east coast to protest an ECONOMIC situation?  My dogs have better sense than that.

Of course, there weren't many direct quotes in the article because, well...
Not all of the protesters wanted to speak to the press, saying that if their parents knew they were part of the movement, the parents would be upset.
Mom and Dad might be a little more than upset, should they learn that 6 weeks into the college term, little Johnny is cutting class to camp out and protest something .  If it were me, I would be even more pissed off that they can't even articulate what it is they are protesting for, other than protesting for the sake of protest.  As noted in an AP story from Washington:
“When movements come up with specific demands, they cease to be movements and transform into political campaign rallies,” said Legba Carrefour, who has a master’s degree in cultural studies but works as a coat checker.
This entire OWS charade reminds me of a conversation with a teenager:

What are you doing?  Nothing.

What do you have planned for tomorrow?  Nothing.

Why are you doing that?  I don't know.

When will you know?  *Shrug*.

October 18, 2011

Sole responsibility

Do you ever have those moments when you almost think that prison would be better than the life you are leading?  If someone were to lock me away, by myself, with nothing to dust, vacuum, wash, pick up or organize, for anyone other than myself, I think I would jump for joy.

Of course, I am not thinking very far into it.  I would miss my kids.  I would certainly miss my freedom.  But, I am sick to death of this domestic hell I am in.  Anytime we have any major cleaning or purging project, I get extremely bent out of shape, because Mr Harper simply can't be of much help.

It seems that I am the only one that can look at a pile of clothes, a stack of books, a container of toys, and know which ones are crap, which ones actually belong to someone else, what fits, what doesn't and what has great sentimental value.

Mr H tries to help, and that makes it worse.  He shuffles stuff around.  He takes stuff that I have sorted and moves it.  He throws away things that should be saved.  He saves things that should be thrown away.

Considering that The Princess clearly qualifies to be on an episode of 'Hoarders', I should be less concerned, but tucked among the detritus are things that mean something to her or others.  Barbie clothes from my childhood.  A scrapbook made for her by her best friend that moved away (even though it looks like scrap construction paper to the untrained eye).  The notebooks she fills with her drawings and thoughts.

When I was 6-year's old, my mom had a garage sale.  I had been off at a friend's house playing for most of the day.  I distinctly remember walking towards home, down the sidewalk, and seeing a man loading my rocking horse into the back of a truck.  I came unhinged.  My mom had to come grab me as I yelled at the man and tried to pull my horse off the tailgate.  It made no difference to me that it had been two or three years since I was of a size to ride the damn thing.  I loved that rocking horse.  I loved its huge (deadly) squeaking springs and its frozen plastic horsey smile.  I loved the red enameled metal frame.  I have never forgotten the betrayal I felt that day, when my mom sold my horse to some stranger.  I mention it to my mom at least twice a year.  I don't want any of my kids to go through that, hence the iron fist of control I keep over Mr H cleaning out the kids' rooms.

Until he learns that you have to sneak stuff to the trash, or up into the attic until garage sale day, he needs to stay out of things and distract the kiddos as needed.  Back to the grind...

October 17, 2011


STFU BHO.  What else is there to say about an opportunistic waste of oxygen like our president? 
'Obama will use anti-Wall Street rhetoric as central tenet of campaign'
In recent days, Obama has ramped up his rhetoric. He took the unusual step of targeting an individual company when he attacked Bank of America for its new $5 monthly debit-card fee, calling it “exactly the sort of stuff that folks are frustrated by.” And his campaign and the White House have distributed messages blasting GOP candidates and lawmakers for wanting to repeal Wall Street regulations pushed by Obama and opposing the confirmation of a leader for the consumer protection bureau created as part of the overhaul.

“We intend to make it one of the central elements of the campaign next year,” Obama senior adviser David Plouffe said in an interview. “One of the main elements of the contrast will be that the president passed Wall Street reform and our opponent and the other party want to repeal it.”
Thanks for the newest class warfare attack, Blowie.  Way to speak to the lowest common denominator.  Thanks for reminding us that there are millions of Americans (and I use that term loosely) that will get their knickers in a twist over a $5 debit card use fee, just because you mentioned it, rather than stop and look at their pay stub (if they have one) or their property tax statement or their 1040.  The government is the one raping you, OWS idiots, not Wall Street, not millionaires, not corporate America.

October 16, 2011

Following up

I wrote yesterday about the sudden Democratic streak that has shown up in the leadership of an organization I am part of.  While they do good work, they aren't good at the business side of things.  This may be part of the impetus behind their sudden demand for the state government to provide hay for them.

I have yet to meet anyone in the animal rescue 'industry' that can make smart business decisions.  I have yet to meet anyone in the animal rescue industry that can immediately make smart animal decisions.  I was very active in this rescue until the founder/president started down the wrong path. 

I have helped with animal seizures.  The horse in my yard came from dismal conditions.  She was standing ankle deep in mud and manure littered with broken bottles and trash when I first saw her.  She had an open, bleeding wound on her leg.  There were 11 horses and two llamas wandering freely around 6 mobile homes, junked out vehicles and open sewage trenches on a 4 acre compound, with no food or water in sight.  I understand that human nature is to save helpless creatures, but at some point we must remember that these are animals, not children.

The president of the rescue cannot comprehend that sometimes you have to say no to one, to be able to save a dozen.  He doesn't listen to veterinary professionals when they suggest euthanasia.  He has spent thousands of dollars extending the lives of animals that had should have been given the peace of an early, painless death.  He can't say 'no' when a law enforcement agency calls to ask if he can take more animals.  The one thing that he has done better than most rescue leaders it to adopt out healthy animals.  I can't tell you how many large animal and horse rescues do nothing more than grow a herd.  In fact, most 'humane' and 'no kill' small animal shelters have made it so difficult to adopt an animal that they are overwhelmed by the number of animals in their care.

For some time, I was content to accept the stupid/expensive decisions of the leader, since it was mostly on his dime.  As they have grown and developed some remedial fund raising methods, I have pulled back more and more.  I can't ask people for money, nor do I want my name associated with an organization that asks for donations, if I don't support the underlying business practices.

Many non-profits, and for-profits, for that matter, hit a low point early in their existence, some financial or moral situation that highlights the deficiencies in their business model and forces a transformation or ends the venture.  This one is getting close to that point.  Having survived as long as it has in this economy is impressive, but the law of averages says that their day will come.  I don't plan on going down with the ship. 

October 15, 2011

I think Shaggy had a few too many Scooby Snacks

This rivals the full double rainbow dude and the hippies crying over trees.

The devil you know

I am more and more surprised by people, acquaintances, friends, even, that I would normally classify as conservative or moderate or libertarian, that have some weird liberal, democratic or socialistic streak that comes to the surface.  What is most disturbing is that they don't even recognize it for what it is.

I serve on the advisory board of a non-profit farm animal rescue organization.  I consider the founder a good friend.  I have spent my own money, blood, sweat and tears volunteering for the organization.  My daughter worked for them last summer, mostly as a waste management specialist.  (Meaning she shoveled manure ).  To date, we have had similar political views, similar values, no major disagreements about anything of substance.

I recently learned that this organization, which I am publicly associated with, has started some sort of ridiculous petition and PR campaign, asking Governor Rick Perry 'to use state resources' to help alleviate the hay shortage in Texas.  They were even on the news pleading their case. 

Number one rule of effective petitioning; ask for a specific thing in a specific manner.  WTF does 'use state resources' mean?  Do they want the state to grow hay?  Buy hay?  Transport hay?  A few weeks back, my cousins in Kansas let me know how much excess hay they had and how much it cost to get it here.  I have one horse, and while it seems like she eats constantly, I don't have the need for 500 tons of brome hay.  So I did a little checking to see how I might find someone in need of that hay.  Our state's agricultural commissioner has a 'hay trading post' website.  They let people list hay needed and hay for sale.  This is a free service.  They have a 'hay hotline' to match people up with needed resources.  This, too, is a free service.  There are state and federal grants for livestock feed.

There are several taxpayer funded services already in existence to help people in need locate hay.  I have a bit of an issue with that much being done on my dime, and I am one of the unfortunate people paying triple what I did last year for hay.  I have helped with animal seizures, seen abused and neglected animals die.  I am no stranger to the horrors.  But that doesn't cloud my sound judgement on priorities (always human over animal) nor does it affect my basic values about what the government should do for me or anyone else.

I am left to shake my head, state my case, tender my resignation and walk quietly away.  My stepdad has a plaque on his wall that always comes to mind when things like this happen.  It says, 'Once you give up your integrity, everything else is a piece of cake.'

October 14, 2011

Ladie's Night

I never really thought about it before, but I have never lived alone.  I was an only child and my mom was a single working parent for many years - so I had plenty of time alone, but I have always lived with someone else.  Parents, then roommates, then spouses and kids.  I was an Army wife through long deployments and then the years as a single parent, so I had sole responsibility and was the only adult, but still, I was never alone.

I guess that is why I am able to enjoy time off by myself without wallowing in guilt.  Granted, it's not like I just scheduled myself a solo mini vacation, I am, as usual, doing something for one of my kids.  I dropped Boom off yesterday afternoon, and other than a couple of texts from her and a quick call to the other kids at home, I have been left to my own devices.

It is a crying shame that I have grown up so much.  Thursday night in a thriving college town, I could have gone to a bar for a drink.  I could have gone to a grown up movie, something I seldom get the chance to do.  I could have gone out to dinner at a restaurant of my own choosing, with no one else's opinion to consider.  I could have spent the evening with friends who live here.

What did I do instead?  I ran a couple of shopping errands on my way to the hotel.  Then I ordered take out for dinner and watched TV.  Went to bed early.  What a wild woman!

October 13, 2011

Bank Transfer Day, yeah, good luck with that

The Occupy Wall Street faux movement is stupid beyond words.  I have avoided the subject because I really can't think of enough negative adjectives to appropriately represent how I feel about it.  Now, an offshoot of OWS is calling for a 'Bank Transfer Day':
"Together we can ensure that these banking institutions will always remember the 5th of November!! If the 99% removes our funds from the major banking institutions on or by this date, we will send a clear message and give the 1% a taste of the fear that we experience every day when we aren't able to pay for our rent, food, medication, utilities, student loans, etc."
Number 1, somebody should wake these idiots up and help them count.  They don't represent the 99% they think they do.  The above statement, in itself, is contradictory.  If you don't have money to pay rent, food, medication, utilities or student loans, then what could you possibly have in your bank account? 

I will admit that I do not have an account at what would likely be considered a 'major banking institution'.  I have accounts at three banks.  USAA in San Antonio, where my insurance and retirement accounts also reside, a local credit union that was associated with Xerox back when I worked there and a locally owned conservative small bank with about 10 branches in North Texas.  I don't pay a dime in fees at any of them.  Why?  Because I shopped around.  Because I maintain the minimum balances that are required by some of them to waive the fees.  In the case of two of them, I have reached a 'loyalty' status, through the number of years I have been a customer.  I don't overdraw my accounts.  I don't bounce checks.  I know that some people think that such activities are in the course of normal life, but they aren't to me.  Banks might not make much in the way of fees where I am concerned, but they like a steady balance of cash with which to invest just as well.

I am further amused by the BTD movement's suggestion to move funds to credit unions.  Why?  I don't have the time to look it up, but, in Texas, at least, credit union laws changed several years ago, so that there is very little membership requirement.  What was the Xerox Federal Credit Union when I joined, and was only allowed because of my employment there, has changed names and allows virtually anyone to become a member now.  Credit unions also reciprocate with other credit unions.  My branch is most often filled with people conducting shared branch transactions for American Airlines CU.  If they think the fees will be any less, I got news.  A quick comparison of my fee schedules for each of the financial institutions I use shows virtually no difference in what they charge.  The true banks have better interest rates, but I guess that is only important to people with money in the bank and the ability to get a loan.  Most CUs used to be small non-profit businesses but are now, essentially, banks with tax benefits.

I don't foresee November 5th being memorable to banks other than they might get a few thousand deadbeats off their books.

October 12, 2011

Teachers who don't teach

One of the most often heard phrases that comes out of my house in regard to homework is, "I've already done _______ grade and I don't want to do it again."

I don't mind helping my kids with homework, but this crap is out of control.  When did elementary school kids start having homework?  I know I never did.  When Boom started school some 13 years ago, she had reading to do at home, which is simply the nanny state trying to make good, engaged parents out of bad, lazy ones.

The Princess has a weekly homework packet to be done Monday through Thursday.  It is mostly math.  The past two weeks she has been plotting points on a coordinate plane and taking surveys to turn into various types of graphs, which have to be done via a website. She also has spelling words to study.  Oh, and spelling bee words for the contest next month. And she is supposed to log 60 minutes per week on Rosetta Stone for the Spanish teacher.  Oh, and don't forget that a kid should be reading at least 15-20 minutes each night.  She is supposed to practice her cello at least 4 times per week and do her music theory homework for the music teacher.  THIS IS THIRD FREAKIN' GRADE!

While I think her homework is excessive, at least it is just homework.  The older kids seem to be doing more and more independent learning, which isn't always a bad thing, and I understand that if you can teach something that it shows mastery of the subject, but...some teachers' lesson plans seem, to be, 'get the kids to teach it'.  Teachers will take a unit or chapter and assign it to groups of kids to make a presentation and teach the class.  Again, that wouldn't be so bad if the teachers were first teaching the material to them, or guiding them along the way.  It would even be occasionally acceptable if the kids-only lessons were presented, critiqued and corrected before any incorrect material was presented as fact to the other students.  Ever tried to unlearn something?   

Last night I struggled through a vocabulary quiz from 'To Kill A Mockingbird'.  Yes, I have done eighth grade before, but am reliving it with Bang.  This was the most convoluted piece of crap vocabulary quiz I have ever seen.  It wasn't over words from the text.  It was SAT words plugged into statements about the book.   When was the last time you used the word 'interdict'?  Exactly.  Could we teach these kids something actually useful?  We were correcting the quiz for extra credit, which was offered because NOBODY passed the damn thing.  Shouldn't that be a clue that something is missing from their learning cycle?

Over the weekend I helped Bang write a literary analysis about the importance of setting in the book.  It's been a few years since I read 'TKAM', so I was skimming through it as he mentioned certain passages.  At one point, Lee writes, 'The remains of a picket fence drunkenly guarded the front yard'.  I mentioned how much I liked that description of a crooked fence.  Bang replied, 'Yeah, that is kinda cool.  We never talk about the book in class, she just assigns chapters and gives us quizzes.'  WTF?  

Bang's English grade isn't too hot, so he went to this teacher's tutoring session to have her look over his rough draft.  I will remind you that his essay was about the setting of the book.  The teacher struck through his paragraph about the town of Maycomb and street that the family lived on, noting that she didn't need background information.  Huh?  Bang, bless his heart, never clarifies stuff like that, he is much too literal.  He never stopped to think that maybe the teacher forgot that he was writing about the setting.  So now I am left to argue with him about it, because he thinks the paragraph must be removed from his essay.   

Bang's science teacher is notorious for losing things.  Her reputation precedes her to the point that students know to photocopy their work before turning it in, because she will inevitably lose something and try to give them a zero for it.  At some point, like, I don't know, let's say, the 50 or 51st time that a parent signs a declaration that the photocopied work that a student showed you was, in fact, done and turned in on time, wouldn't you cop to having a bit of an organizational problem? 

There are many wonderful teachers and my kids have been fortunate to learn from them.  While I hate to give my kids the impression that some of their teachers aren't always as smart as they should be, in many cases it can't be avoided.  I guess that is a lesson for life, that just because they are 'in charge' doesn't mean they know what to do. 

October 11, 2011


Ridiculously busy morning, will have to catch up later.  In the meantime, this truism made me laugh out loud:

October 10, 2011

In the GOC tradition of Monday Puns

Imitation being the sincerest form of flattery and all, I have a Monday Pun, from the mouth of The Princess.  I don't remember third grade being this entertaining.
Have you seen that movie, 'Constipated'?
No, it hasn't come out yet.


A collection of quotes from Keith Koffler and his White House Dossier. Keith is the one keeping count of the rounds of golf Blowie plays (83 rounds this presidency, 25 this year as of Saturday's round).  Koffler rounded up these quotes with the title 'Mr. Obama doth protest too much, Methinks'. 

If only saying it made it so:
“The point that I’ve been trying to make consistently has been that  . . . we believe in capitalism” – March 18, 2009
“Contrary to the claims of some of my critics and some of the editorial pages, I am an ardent believer in the free market.” – Feb. 24, 2010
“We believe in the free market.” – July 8, 2010
“We believe in the free market system.” – July 8, 2010
“We believe in the free market.” – March 3, 2009
“We believe in free markets . . .  We believe in free markets.”  - April 28, 2011
“So we believe in business and we believe in free markets.” – June 30, 2011
“Now, I have consistently said I believe fiercely in a free market.” – April 20, 2010
“I’ve always been a strong believer in the power of the free market.” – June 17, 2009
“I’ve always been a strong believer in the power of the free market.” – March 12, 2009
“I have always been a strong believer in the power of the free market.”  - September 14, 2009
“As I said on this stage two years ago, I believe in the power of the free market.” – April 22, 2010
“I was in Wall Street just a few weeks ago, and I said I believe in the power of the free market.”  - May 13, 2010
“That’s what we Democrats believe in -– a vibrant free market.” – September 8, 2010
“I fundamentally disagree with their view that the free market is the source of all ills.” – September 25, 2009
“I think the free market system is the greatest wealth generator we’ve ever known.”  - July 22, 2011
“I believe that the free market is the greatest force for creating and distributing wealth that the world has known.” – July 7, 2009
“We believe in an America that rewards hard work and responsibility and individual initiative; that believes in the free market.”  - October 31, 2010
“We know that the foundation of a strong economy is a strong free market. We believe in entrepreneurship and individual initiative.” – October 30, 2010
“I’ve constantly said that what sets America apart, what has made us successful over the long term, is we’ve got the most dynamic free market economy.” – Sept. 20, 2010
“Our ultimate success has and always will depend on the incredible industriousness of the American worker and the ingenuity of American businesses and the power of our free market system.” – August 9, 2010
“And by the way — let me make this point — I want business in this country to succeed.” – August 18, 2010
“He believes very strongly in capitalism.” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney; – October 5, 2011

October 9, 2011

Look how far we have come

When I was a kid in Kansas, the liquor laws were such that you could buy 3.2% alcohol beer at convenience and grocery stores and 5% at liquor stores.  18-year olds could purchase the 3-2 beer, but you had to be 21 to buy 5-0 beer and hard liquor.

My parents had a local liquor store that they frequented.  It isn't as if they were lushes, but bought beer regularly and the occasional bottle.  Still, they were regular customers and the laws and enforcement were common sense enough that my stepdad would often pull into a parking spot in front of the store and send me in with the money to grab a six pack.  Thinking back, I am sure that the clerk probably waved, or somehow checked and acknowledged that I wasn't there on my own.  Even then, I am pretty sure that had the circumstances warranted it, my parents could have called ahead to the liquor store and sent me to pick up their order on my bike.

I don't doubt that there were other 8 to 12-year olds abusing alcohol during that time, but there was enough common sense in our society that a store clerk could make a judgement call and not go to jail for violating the letter of the law.

Same thing with cigarettes.  There used to be a cigarette machine in every restaurant.  Then, in 1997, our government stepped in and issued an enforcement edict bringing down an iron fist on selling to minors.  They banned cigarette machines in areas accessible to minors and started enforcing the minimum age to purchase.  I doubt that 14 years is long enough to notice any statistically significant reduction in smoking and smoking-related health issues.  It isn't too small of a window to notice the erosion of personal responsibility and freedom of choice.

I can tell you my two older kids were fully indoctrinated as to the 'horrors' of tobacco and alcohol through various, overly funded, programs like D.A.R.E.  So much so that I had to have a stern discussion with Boom several years ago when she started saying really derogatory things about people who smoked.  I appreciate the hazards, my dad died of lung cancer.  But that never made me a militant non-smoker.  I smoked right up until the day that the smell made me nauseous (which, incidentally, proved to be the first sign of pregnancy).  For me, respecting a person's right to make their own choices is more important.  But that's not the point I am trying to make in this post.

This morning there was a news story about kids soaking gummy bears in vodka, so that they can walk around appearing to eat candy when they are really catching a buzz.  The article makes what I think is a ridiculous statement:
"The problem with teens and alcohol today is that it seems to be more accessible to them.  There doesn't seem to be as much parental controls as there once were or was so it seems to be escalating more and more."
More accessible?  How in the hell do they think that?  Store clerks can go to jail for the simple act of NOT carding someone they sell alcohol to.  Parents can go to jail for parties at their house, if alcohol is found.  My experience is that today's average home bar is far less well stocked than the ones of my youth - where we could always find some bottle stuck at the back that wouldn't be missed.  (Not often worth drinking, either, but kids aren't choosy.  For the record, I do not suggest a straight vermouth buzz).  With the drinking age being 21, the usefulness of a fake I.D. or an older sibling willing to furnish the alcohol are far less common. 

I think kids are a lot more likely to narc on their peers these days, as well.  All of these things add up to less accessibility, IMHO, not more.  I find it hard to believe that the time when two martini lunches were common was less dangerous than now, with the stigma of Dram Shop restricting bars and restaurants. 

So why would an 'expert' say that kids have more access to alcohol these days?  Perhaps they have been confused by the statistics that come with stricter enforcement, lower BACs, higher minimum ages and better record keeping.  Whatever it is, I think everyone has overlooked the long term damage of taking personal responsibility away and replacing it with government mandates and MADD-induced guilt trips.

Just you wait.  Next year, there will be a minimum age and a system to track your every gummy bear purchase.

October 8, 2011

Maybe I should just go back to bed

I am sick and freaking tired of of 'immigrant's rights' groups.  I am an American, through and through and appreciate that our country was intended to be a melting pot of cultures and nationalities of people that CHOOSE to come to America LEGALLY to become AMERICANS.  I have no respect, appreciation or patience for those who come here ILLEGALLY or even legally, but have no desire or intent to become Americans.  Screw you.  Go back to your own country if you don't like our laws or beliefs.  Stop trying to make America more African, Asian, Mexican or whatever the hell culture you associate with.

I talk about a misplaced sense of entitlement quite frequently.  I think that sums up so many of the issues with our youth, government and society in general.  Is there any place more saturated with a false sense of entitlement than that of illegal immigrants?  The mere thought that anyone, ANY fucking one, coming into MY country illegally and then thinking they have some right to claim public assistance that is paid for with my tax dollars, I can't even breathe thinking about it.

How did we get to this point?  Who are the leaders and legislators that have enabled this mentality?  Do they even think about how asinine this is?  Immigrants rights groups.  OMFG.  Would anyone, anyone at all, give the time of day to a child sexual abuser's rights group?  How about a 'people who have murdered elderly people' rights group?  How did our society get to a point that anyone breaking the LAW for any reason should have any sort of voice?

Nearly every day you can pick up a newspaper or click to a news site and read about some sort of criminal that turns the tables and ends up being the victim.  There are the people that get duped into buying fake drugs and have the balls to call the police and report it.  There are people who break into a house or building and get stuck and call for help and then complain about the conditions that caused them to be restrained.  When did our law enforcement get to the point of entertaining those sorts of complaints?

Someone I know owns a trucking company.  A thief, while trying to steal a semi from their lot, used a lighter to illuminate a gas tank, trying to determine if the vehicle had fuel.  There was, of course, an explosion.  The thief, of course, sued them for his injuries.  Who wrote the laws allowing this?  Who vetted the judges that will consider these cases?

I often read stories about the Gypsy squatters in England over at BMEWSThis morning I read a local story about a woman who rented a house to people that were trashing it.  After numerous code enforcement letters (which are the sole responsibility of the property owner), she went to the house, trying to clean it up and stay on the right side of the law.  Guess who got arrested for burglary?

Sometimes the world seems completely upside down.  Some days I think my America is too far gone to ever recover.  Someone remind me why I am willing to fight for the survival of this republic.

October 7, 2011

Forgot to knock on wood

I really should know better than to predict a future sleepless night.

I could have gotten to bed a little early last night, except for my procrastinating teenager.  I had her as a captive audience after the other kids were in bed and chose to force a couple of college application related issues.  Incidentally, it was fun to watch her pour her heart and soul into writing 3 essays, which included the optional personal essay, only to submit them and move on to the scholarship portion of the application and find out that there is a required personal essay with the same prompt question. Now she has to come up with another story of personal challenge and triumph or something.  Gah.

So I made it to bed around 11:30 pm.  Crash joined me around midnight.  He began throwing up at 12:44 am.  In my bed.  On my pillow.  On me.  Gag.

I got the little guy cleaned up and in his own bed.  I started the first load of laundry and then cleaned carpet.  I curled up on the couch around 2:15 am.  Crash got sick again at  3 am.  Ugh.

Luckily, Crash felt it coming on this time and met me in the hall as I came running from the living room.  I directed him to the bathroom, where he yakked in the general direction of the toilet.  Another bath, another set of pajamas and then on to the couch, because he wanted to be beside me.  At this point, I set up something resembling an old towel and trash can shrine surrounding the little guy, covering every porous surface within hurling distance.

I finally got back to my spot on the couch around 4 am.  The dogs let me sleep until almost 5 am.

I got the kids off to school and returned home to find that the horse is limping.  Shit!  I was really counting on a quiet morning.  At least Crash is keeping food down now and is in good spirits.  I just noticed some dried vomit in his ear.  Time for another bath.

This is the side of parenting that no one tells you about.  For good reason.  Maybe tomorrow I will get to think about things outside of my four walls.  Right now, I gotta get back to my glamorous life.

October 6, 2011

Running Behind

Recently Mr Harper re-acquired the El Paso market at work.  He has been traveling there frequently, on a schedule that really screws with the division of parental duties and my personal schedule.  At the beginning of the school year we spent days figuring out the logistics of various extra-curriculars, my fall work schedule and known social events.  Then Mr H's company re-aligned regions and mucked it all up.  His normal travel schedule leaves me flying solo the three busiest days of the week.  While I bitch about it, the truth is, his absence makes me all the more thankful that his job usually allows for him to pitch in and help cover the 6 different directions and destinations demanded by our children. 

The combination of offspring based demands and; old high maintenance dog, new high maintenance puppy, busy time of the year for work, busy time of the year for school, daughter applying to colleges and all the other routine events, has me worn out.  I got about 4 non-consecutive hours of sleep last night.  Maybe 4 and 1/2 the night before.  Tonight doesn't look promising. 

Next week, Boom is going to visit Texas A&M University again.  This time, she is spending a night with the Corp of Cadets, a program called, astutely enough, 'Spend A Night With The Corp'.   Mr H can't seem to grasp the title and has asked her, twice, publicly, when she is going to 'sleep with the cadets'.  I get to drive her to College Station to drop her off.  She will check in by 5 pm and be done by noon the next day.  While I love my daughter and realize the precious gift of uninterrupted time with her before she is off to college next fall, the part of the trip that I am looking forward to the most is the night alone in a hotel.  No kids.  No pets. No whining.  No crying.  No homework that even I can't figure out.  No teenage drama to hear about.  No meals to cook, no laundry to do, no noses or butts to wipe.

Nothing like a little perspective to make a quick overnight trip seem like a grand vacation.  How sad is it that one night will be more than enough to make me miss the kids, pets, whining and domestic duties that rule my life? 

October 5, 2011

Bad Lip Reading. Funny.

This made me laugh.  A lot.  There are more at the link.  The Michele Bachmann soundbite is worth a click.

From Bad Lip Reading

October 4, 2011

A Beneficial Border Fence

Are there any sane people in San Francisco?  Seriously, WTF is it about that city that makes the rest of California look conservative and intelligent by comparison?
Dog lovers have formed a political action committee to promote the interests of their four-footed friends, namely space to run free in one of the world’s largest urban national parks. And they are calling on mayoral candidates to defend their stands on canine affairs.
“We expect the dog vote to be a game-changer,” said Bruce Wolfe, president of DogPAC, which held a forum attended by several mayoral hopefuls Saturday.
A dog owner's PAC.  And some of the candidates are playing right into it:
“Making San Francisco a family friendly city means recognizing the multitude of ways in which we define families,” City Attorney Dennis Herrera says on his site. “And in the city of St. Francis, that includes dogs and companion animals.”
I love my dogs, and may even, in casual conversation, refer to them as 'family' - but to define a family as including dogs and companion animals?  GMAFB.

What color is the sky in the world inhabited by people that think dog waste trash cans and government mandated pet-friendly housing are the key issues in an election?  Apparently there are no concerns about crime, infrastructure or human public services in San Fran.

I have to wonder what DogPAC's position on spaying and neutering is, considering that San Fran is the city that tried to ban circumcision.

I've never been a fan of the fence idea for our nation's border.  If we want to restrict free passage from places with radically different ideals and values, we better start with fencing off California.

October 3, 2011

FOD 2, The Fed as Big Brother

Hit the link to see a Request for Proposal from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, whereby they are looking for a 'Social Media Listening Platform' to monitor social networking sites on behalf of the FRBNY. Some details from the RFP: 
Social media listening platforms are solutions that gather data from various social media outlets and news sources.  They monitor billions of conversations and generate text analytics based on predefined criteria.  They can also determine the sentiment of a speaker or writer with respect to some topic or document.  The information gathered can guide the organizations public relations group in assessing the effectiveness of communication strategies.  Here are some of the services it can offer:
  • Track reach and spread of your messages and press releases
  • Handle crisis situations
  • Continuously monitor conversations
  • Identify and reach out to key bloggers and influencers
  • Spot emerging trends, discussions themes and topics
Anyone care to guess what 'reaching out' to key bloggers and influencers looks like under the current administration?  I am guessing the marketing department over at Ford could enlighten us.


I like watching the Blowie look-alike get crushed by the giant fish sandwich.

October 2, 2011

Phrases I never imagined I would utter for $1,000, Alex...

This morning I watched with pride, as my 17-year old daughter took the wheel of a BMW 328i, floored it for about 500 feet and then slammed on the brakes as she entered a turn. 

If you haven't guessed, this was part of a driving course, the purpose of the above exercise being to let the driver feel how anti-lock braking systems work, and how to steer through them correctly. 

Next, Boom floored it again, heading for a line of green traffic cones a few hundred feet ahead of her.  At the instructors signal, she let off the gas and executed an evasive lane change maneuver to simulate what one might have to do, should an obstacle suddenly appear in front of you on the highway.

The last in-car exercise was, by far, the most entertaining to watch.  This batch of Beemers had the traction control turned off, so the students could learn how to steer through a skid.  They took off at 'stomp on it' speed again, racing down a watered course of pavement into a sharp turn.  As the back end starts to fishtail, the kids are instructed to let off the gas and steer into the skid.  More accurately, they were told to steer and look where they wanted to go.  Of course, every kid did at least a 180, some an impressive 360, and some did the 180 each direction variation.  None of the cars had any special right seat equipment.  The instructors did have control of the gear selector, which is how they averted disaster on the skid course.  Time after time, we watched the cars spinning out and heard the engines whining away, as the driver, in a panic, had their foot all the way in the gas - but the instructor had kicked the car into neutral.  Often, when they stopped spinning, the front tires were perfectly straight, indicating that the kid never bothered to turn the wheel, either.

Most of them eventually got through it successfully, even if it was partially due to their natural inclination to not go quite as fast on subsequent runs.

One of the key points made by the founder in his opening remarks, was that traditional driver's ed teaches a kid to pass a test, not to drive.  That is so true.  They also point out that a great assumption to make while driving is that everyone else is an idiot.  That has worked for me all of my driving years.  They didn't mention whether yelling at other drivers to emphasize their idiocy was a good thing, but I do that as well!

All of this was part of an awesome (free) program dedicated to teaching teen drivers the things they would never learn in a traditional driver's ed program.  If the Driver's Edge tour ever comes anywhere near you, and you have a kid with a permit or license under the age of 21, SIGN THEM UP.  Better yet, click on over to their site and sign up to be notified when they will be in your area. 

October 1, 2011

A Chinook-sized can of whoop ass, as needed

Yesterday's post about idiot parents raising brats for kids brought to light one of the probable reasons for my most recent school-related tirade and anti-establishment talk to my kids.

Bang has one of those teachers.  You come to her class on time and prepared (no argument there) and, short of bleeding out or vomiting on her desk, you do not leave the room during her class period.  Class periods are 100 minutes.  It is 'her' time, you see.  Students are not allowed to waste 'her' time.  Being an English class, there is a fair amount of reading.  In fact, they are finishing up To Kill A Mockingbird next week.  Bang is my considerate kid and, even having been given the iron fist full of instructions, didn't think that asking to use the facilities during independent reading time would be much of a reach.  Apparently, it was.  Not only was he told 'no', but he was taken to task loudly and in front of the class.  Care to discuss who is causing the disruption on 'your' time, Teach?

Bang survived to tell the tale, but it brought up what has become an annual speech/instruction around our dinner table.  It goes like this:

If any of my children have a bona fide need to use the restroom, see the nurse, stay seated, get up, leave a room, stay in a room, etc. - and a teacher refuses them, they are to respectfully re-phrase their request in a manner that emphasizes the immediate need.  If they are again refused, they are to respectfully announce that they will be taking the action anyway and will then report to the office all on their own.  I have reassured my children that I will handle it from that point forward.

I understand that there are kids that play the system.  Kids that constantly interrupt or never plan ahead.  It seems like more than ever, though, the number of teachers that don't stop to think about who they are talking to and what else might be at stake, has grown exponentially since my oldest began school. 

Do they not require educators to have some sort of sensitivity training?  Especially those that teach adolescents?  When a boy declines coming to the front of the room to stand in front of the class, couldn't you just give him a few minutes and try again?  When a teenage girl is panicked and has tied a sweatshirt around her waist - could you lay off the dress code lecture and let her go to the restroom like she asked?

I don't know what has changed about schools that has resulted in teachers who don't get to know their students well enough to call bullshit as indicated and indulge as needed.  Maybe it is class sizes, standardized tests or No Child Left Behind.  I suspect it is a hardening of spirit, having to deal with all the little shits and their helicopter parents.  I don't hover, but if you refuse my kid an occasional trip to the head, you won't soon forget your mistake.