September 30, 2014

Worn Out

My house is nearly 30 years old.  The previous owners did an excellent job caring for it, but time takes a toll, and there are many things that are wearing out, seemingly all at once.  Coupled with 1-year old Labradors and 7-year old Crash, my list of things that need repaired or replaced is far outpaced by the time and money needed to do so.

I am now faced with prioritizing the needs and wants.  Sometime Sunday night, our main overhead kitchen light fixture quit.  We have some under-cabinet lighting, as well as a separate light over the sink, that has sufficed for a couple of days, but every time I walk into the damn room, I hit the switch expecting light, and am reminded that this is one of the things that needs to be fixed, and, now!

Several outside chores have been in a hold pattern, waiting for cooler weather.  Well, it looks like that weather is coming soon, so what excuse will I have for my procrastination now?

And then there are the things that I know are going to mushroom into a Major Ordeal, once the can of worms is cracked open.  The last time I had a little plumbing issue, it cost $10,000, two weeks of jack-hammering through the slab, and digging up the last nice bit of landscaping that we had, to get it fixed.

There just aren't enough hours in the day, not to mention the lack of enthusiasm when I work all week and then am faced with nothing but additional chores all weekend.  And it's football season, for goodness sake.

September 29, 2014

FOD

Obama thinks he is a world leader.

Seriously.

The occupier of the Oval meddles with personal freedoms, pushes socialism, and appears on The View, while Americans wish for someone who would act presidential.  Now we discover that he believes he is the most powerful man in the world.  Not D.C., not the United States, but the world.
In a "60 Minutes" interview Sunday evening, Obama was asked why the US was contributing such a significant portion of the military coalition against the jihadist group known as the Islamic State, or ISIS. Obama responded by arguing that other countries were not stepping up.
"When trouble comes up anywhere in the world, they don't call Beijing, they don't call Moscow. They call us. That's the deal," he quipped.
When CBS' Steve Kroft pressed Obama on the relatively small contributions from some of the US' coalition partners, Obama insisted such arrangements were expected.
"That's always the case. That's always the case. America leads. We are the indispensable nation," he said. "We have capacity no one else has. Our military is the best in the history of the world."
He is delusional.  And Steve Kroft hasn't ever asked a hard question of Obama, it probably isn't part of the deal the media has with this administration.

Our president lied on television (again), throwing the Director of National Intelligence under the bus:
Nearly eight months ago, some of President Obama’s senior intelligence officials were already warning that ISIS was on the move. In the beginning of 2014, ISIS fighters had defeated Iraqi forces in Fallujah, leading much of the U.S. intelligence community to assess they would try to take more of Iraq.
But in an interview that aired Sunday evening, the president told 60 Minutes that the rise of the group now proclaiming itself a caliphate in territory between Syria and Iraq caught the U.S. intelligence community off guard. Obama specifically blamed James Clapper, the current director of national intelligence: “Our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that, I think, they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria,” he said.
The world laughs at us.  I envision Putin sitting in his media room with a big bowl of popcorn, with shots of vodka lined up on the table, as he and his minions laugh and drink each time Obama declares himself a leader.

Quotes from here and here.

September 26, 2014

The religion of peace

I can't wait to see how the religion of peace will try to walk this back.
A man who had been fired from a food processing plant in an Oklahoma City suburb beheaded a woman with a knife and was attacking another worker when he was shot and wounded by a company official, police said Friday...
...While questioning the suspect's co-workers, investigators learned he had recently started trying to convert several employees to Islam, Lewis said. Moore police have asked the FBI to aid in the investigation and look into the man's background because of the nature of the attack, Lewis said.
Adding to the irony, if that is even the correct word to use in this situation, is this little fact:
Oklahoma Department of Corrections records show the suspect, whom The Associated Press is not naming because he has not been charged, has multiple religious tattoos, including one in Arabic that means "peace be with you." 
When will we learn?  I am sorry for all the Islamic people who may, in fact, be peace loving.  The very tenets of your religion simply don't allow for peaceful coexistence with people of other religions.  I appreciate that perhaps you are led by someone who has chosen to interpret your holy book(s) another way, but the fact remains, that there is a large part, likely a majority, of members of your religion that want others to join them or die. Sometimes in life, you are judged by the company you keep.  I would just as soon expel all Muslims from the USA.

I don't believe it was our founding father's intent to create a melting pot nation in which we welcomed those who wanted us dead.

September 24, 2014

Passive Aggression

My kids' school could be the feature on Passive Aggressive Notes every week.  Every week they send out a communique (and, yes, they actually call it a 'communique') with friendly reminders to the parents about how the car line works, what time kids are supposed to arrive at, and be picked up from, school, what to do or not do, bring to school or not bring to school, etc..

Not a week goes by that I don't comment that their attempts at discipline and rule-minding would be more effective if they would address the actual problems, rather than send out generalized friendly reminders.  As with all other things in life, the people that need to read the notices and abide by them, don't, or don't think it applies to them and their little darlings.

There is a drop off/pick up point on the school campus that is meant for handicapped students only.  Every week there is a reminder about this.  Every day of the week, a select group of parents that think their time is too valuable to sit in the car line, violate this rule.  The fact that they will park their Escalade at the curb, waiting on their spoiled little twats, taking up curb space needed for vans with chair lifts, speaks volumes about their character.  The fact that the school continues to draft weekly pleas for them to stop, rather than post a school administrator or police officer at that location a few times to address the scofflaws, speaks volumes about the weakness of school leadership.

Truth be told, I would guess that it all comes down to staying on good terms with the folks that write the big donation checks, a syndrome that is quickly destroying many a public school, as educational foundations become a commonplace way for schools to make up for the funds that the state no longer provides.

Just this week, I received one of those passive-aggressive notes that I know was directed at me (among others).  Crash, whom I quite affectionately refer to as my mother's revenge child (the 'someday you will have a child that treats you the way you are treating me' kid), snuck his binder of Pokemon cards into his backpack when I wasn't looking.  (Can you believe that Pokemon is still a thing?).  He had been explicitly told not to take such things to school.  His siblings quickly sold him down the river Monday after school., and by Tuesday morning, his teacher had sent out a reminder note for children to refrain from bringing toys to school, and she used Pokemon cards as one of her examples.  At least I have enough character to feel appropriately chagrined.

September 22, 2014

FOD

This is one of those posts that the NSA and FBI will hit on, so let me be clear from the beginning;  I am not threatening the president.

That said, how 'bout that guy that scaled the White House fence and made it all the way to the residence?

I wish that Obama had been there.  I know things probably would have ended much differently for the intruder if the president had been directly 'threatened', and, again, I am not publicly wishing any harm on the president, but, I enjoy the mental picture of Obama wetting himself on one of those fancy rugs.

This president is so out of touch, and so arrogant, that a face-to-face encounter with an angry American might do him some good.  

September 18, 2014

Fiddle or Violin?

My kids' school has an ear-splitting program in which they provide music instruction for certain stringed instruments in primary school.  It used to be mandatory and The Princess played cello for two or three years (it is too painful to recall), and promptly dropped it when the program became optional.  They are always touting some study about the connection between music instruction and increased academic prowess, but, sheesh, is there anything more excruciating than the beginner screech of violins and cellos?

Crash decided he wanted to participate, and thus I found myself purchasing a half-sized violin (same price as a one year rental, and I don't have to worry about him damaging a loaner instrument).  Crash came home with it yesterday and has been plucking away happily, while I count the days until the bow is introduced and I live in my noise cancelling headphones.

When we went to have him fitted for the instrument, I referred to it as a 'fiddle', which spurred a conversation about the difference.  There isn't any, really.  The moniker changes dependent on the genre of music being played on it, and the instrument is set up differently (action, bridge, string type), accordingly.

Crash hasn't decided what he wants to call his instrument, torn between the school and teacher's intentional use of 'violin', and  mom's contrarian use of 'fiddle'.  While he has been exposed to both violin music and fiddle music, there is an argument to be made for what category 'Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star' falls into, and whether it is more appropriately played on a fiddle or a violin.

I say we should scrap both titles and give the thing a name we can all agree on; Squeaky.

September 16, 2014

My funny kid

Yesterday morning, on the drive to school, the radio DJs mentioned the story about Kanye West yelling at a young man in a wheelchair, demanding that he stand up.  The DJs went on to share their own foot-in-mouth moments, and one of them shared that he had been on the air doing a live giveaway and he loved the accent that the caller had.  He asked her where she was from.  The reply, "Dallas."

"No," he said, "Where are you from originally?"

Again, she answered, "Dallas."

"You have a great accent, though, you can't just be from Dallas."

To which the caller said, "I have a speech impediment."

Youch.

After we had our laugh at the expense of the DJ, Bang popped off with this:

"How do you think the unthinkable?"
>
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By hitting an itheberg.

September 15, 2014

FOD - some numbers

Golf Count: 39 rounds this year, 196 during his presidency (using the term loosely).

Number of beheadings causing 'bad optics' for Obama: 3

Number of airstrikes in Iraq over the past month: ~145

American soldiers in Iraq: soon to be 1,600

Decline in students opting for a school lunch under Michelle's guidelines: 1 million

Percentage of school districts reporting a lunch revenue decline since guideline went into effect: 47%

Days until Obama leaves office: 857 days

September 14, 2014

Dawg Slobber

If you stop by here often, you know that we have a pair 1-year old Labrador Retrievers, as well as a rotund little Dachshund.

We are, by no stretch of the imagination, gifted in the dog training department.  Perhaps that is why we have found Labs to be so agreeable - they are pretty smart and seem to catch on to the way of things, despite the mixed human signals we give them.
Our dogs have a couple of fenced acres to frolic in.  Perhaps because of the size, they have never attempted to escape by digging or jumping the fence.  There is something magical to them, though, about the unfenced front yard (and beyond).  Between three gates, four doors and four kids, there have been a couple of doggie escapes into the front yard (and well beyond).  And, let me tell you, once their paws cross that magical line, something primal takes over.  If we weren't so terrified of losing them, we could maybe take a minute to marvel at their speed, their ear-flapping, tongue-lolling glee as they make a mad dash away from the house.
None of our dogs respond to any recall method when they get out a front door or gate.  To be honest, their recall isn't great to begin with.  Often, we have to shake the treat canister or jingle a leash to get their attention, and, even then, they tend to take their time 'coming'.
I have been trying to improve the recall thing.  I need to know my dogs will react to my command, should they be running hell-bent toward the street.  I have read what the 'experts' say, and am trying to employ all of those methods.  One of the expert training tips I see most often, is that dogs need to think that approaching you is the Best Thing Ever.  'They' say to make sure to great your dog with wild excitement every time they approach you.  I have been trying, really I have.  
Problem is, our Labs can't hold their licker.
I doubt that greeting them with excitement is supposed to include, "NO!, NO!, BAD DOG!, Don't lick me, dammit."

September 13, 2014

Football weather

It is the first cool morning of pre-autumn, with a temp in the 50's showing this morning.  It feels like football weather, though I prefer my football weather to be coupled with darkness and evening activities, not breakfast.  Apparently, peewee football must be finished in time for everyone to get back home, or to the stadium, to support their college team.

Last night, at our local high school game, all of the peewee players led the team onto the field as they returned after halftime.  Little Crash was elated upon his return home.  He really soaked in the bright lights and cheering fans.  While fun for him, I just don't condone how high we have raised the youth sport's bar.  I am sure today's inaugural game will be a let-down, as I have no plans to get into a cheerleader outfit or shake a cowbell at him.

My day starts with football and ends with cross country, as Bang has a meet this evening, some 70+ miles away.  His meet is being run on a golf course, which seems like a good cross country course, as long as all of today's golfers do a good job of repairing their divots.  Otherwise, my next post is likely to be from the E.R..

September 11, 2014

Remember

Last year on this date, I posted a photo that I had taken a few weeks earlier, while visiting Ground Zero.  While there are more professional and poignant pictures that would serve to commemorate this day, this one is personal to me, and still evokes that gut wrenching feeling that I felt while visiting, which mirrored the emotion that we all felt on that September morning, as we watched our country be attacked by terrorists.

I will never forget.


September 10, 2014

Ineptocracy

Anyone else feeling a little nervous about tomorrow?

I realize that the element of surprise serves terrorists well, but it also seems to me, that terrorists like the notoriety and emotion that is attached to the 9/11 anniversary.

I don't think it is any accident that the White House is starting to make noise about ISIS, nor is the president's planned address to the nation on the eve of 9/11 just coincidental timing.  I am sure that Obama is gazing at himself in the mirror this morning, thinking that he is assuming the mantle of the great comforter, or some such B.S., while the rest of the nation recognizes the truth, and visualizes terrorists laughing at our president, and planning their infiltration and attacks.

The president isn't expected to announce any actual plan, or military action in his speech tonight.  Instead, insiders indicate that it will be more of a sales pitch to the nation, and the international community, trying to rally support and a coalition of nations, to address the threats in Syria.

In other words, another broadcast announcement that we aren't really ready to do anything about it yet, but, By God, we sure are thinking about it.

I wonder if Obama understands that to properly employ the Big Stick ideology, you can't have previously admitted that you don't have a plan.

September 8, 2014

FOD

I realize I am late today.  Sorry, life keeps getting in the way of blogging.

And, a few weeks ago I mentioned how tired I was of political matters.  Obama stinks, and pointing it out week after week is tiring, but FOD is still very much 'celebrated' in my home each Monday.

Here is an upbeat FOD topic:
Political opposites turned friends, former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush launched a new scholars program at four presidential centers with an opening act that might have been mistaken for a comedy routine...

The 42nd and 43rd presidents joined together to announce the Presidential Leadership Scholars program, a partnership between the Clinton, Bush, George H.W. Bush and Lyndon B. Johnson presidential centers. At a time of partisanship and gridlock, both presidents said they hoped the scholars program would attract people in business, public service and the military interested in learning about presidential decision-making and applying it to their own careers.
Clinton revealed that he and Bush would speak twice a year during Bush's second term, 30-to-45 minute conversations about policy and politics. While they didn't always agree, Clinton said he never talked about their discussions and said the talks "meant a lot to me." 
Two men, with both faults and successes, both recognizing that their unique shared experience as president could lead to shared ideas and positive programs for society.

Obama doesn't give two shits about the American people.  And, I really can't foresee any living former presidents that would want to have any sort of relationship with him.  Heck, at this point, even Carter recognizes what a pariah Obama is and wouldn't want to tarnish his reputation by hanging out with him.

September 6, 2014

His own worst enemy

My husband can sufficiently operate a computer.  His job is mobile, and he relies on his computer for everything; communication, reports, forms, surveillance, etc..  Like a large majority of business people, his computer is a tool.  And, like many others, he can use the tool, but he can't repair the tool, or troubleshoot the tool.  Add to that the one thing that many computer novices cling to...if something goes wrong, I will turn it off and back on and see if it magically fixes itself.

While there are any number of glitches that can be fixed by a hard reset, one thing completely confounds me.  Something that was displayed by Mr. H just this morning.  There was something on his screen that he didn't like, I think it was a formatting symbol or something on his email.  His computer was otherwise operating normally, he had full internet connectivity, and, rather than use, what is arguably the most powerful informational resource in the world, he turned it off.

Thank you, to every third-world call center support tech that conditioned people like my husband to hit the off switch at the first sign of trouble.

September 5, 2014

Overreach

This past January, a 10-year old boy died.  We won't ever know the facts surrounding his death, but there are two sides to the story of what happened after his death.  Arnav Dhawan was found in a bathtub, wrapped in a shroud, and packed in ice.

The Dhawan family's version of events claims that he died of natural causes, and that his mother was trying to preserve his body until Arnav's father returned from a business trip.  The family is Hindu, and the father's administration of last rites, as well as many other culturally unique death rituals, were of great importance to them.

As you would imagine, the Frisco, Texas police department isn't too well versed in Hindu death rituals, and their version of events differs.  Mrs. Dhawan was accused/suspected/publicly humiliated in connection with the death of her son.  Not yet charged, but going through a grand jury vetting.

The police case hinged on one disputed act.  They claim that Mrs. Dhawan nodded her head affirmatively when they asked if she killed her son, a confession in their minds.  Mrs. Dhawan said she only nodded 'Yes' when they asked if her son was in the bathroom.

There are a litany of Hindu traditions that offer a reasonable explanation as to why Mrs. Dhawan would have been trying to keep her son's body in the home after his death.  There are, I suppose, an equal amount of criminal indicators, in the eyes of American law enforcement.  Unattended death, not reporting a death, and packing a dead child in ice are worthy of investigation.

Unfortunately, the cultural differences weren't well appreciated.  And, the police announced from day one that Mrs. Dhawan confessed.  Though the Dhawan's attorney was confident that the grand jury was going to no bill her, one can only imagine the pain of losing a child, coupled with public humiliation, as well as the inability to properly lay your child to rest in keeping with your religious beliefs.

On Wednesday, the Dhawan's were found dead at their home.  The police are now showing the restraint that they didn't show in January, and have not released any details about their deaths, other than to say that there is no threat to anyone else and that they are not pursuing any suspects.  In other words, either double suicide or murder-suicide.

As I said, we will never know the facts.  I do know a few people who have been unjustly accused in their lives, and am aware of the acute sense of fear and hopelessness that accompanies the embarrassment.  I don't have much appreciation for society's appetite for grisly details and the media's eternal pursuit to appease that demand.  If all parties in this situation had been allowed to do their jobs, gather the facts, and let justice run its course, outside of the glare of cameras, and without grandstanding for the press, perhaps two more lives wouldn't be lost today.

September 4, 2014

For all the world to see

My kids have never known the world without cell phones and the internet.  Every week, when sharing some story about my youth, I find myself pointing out those differences.  When I had a question, I couldn't just Google it.  When I was going to be late getting home, I had to search for a payphone and a dime, to let someone know.

And, if there was ever an instance in which a NSFW photo was going to be taken, it was done with a Polaroid camera (unless you had your own dark room).  There were always rumors that those little photo developing shacks kept copies of the racy photos that they developed for others, and in more recent years, there are well documented cases of pedophiles and other criminals that were caught because photo developers turned their pictures over to law enforcement.

Despite daily discussions about the various dangers of our digital world, my kids have never known anything else.  'The Cloud' isn't a mysterious technological wonder to them, it is an everyday part of their world.  I am not sure how to impress upon them the real damage that can be done through the information, and images, that are out there floating in cyber space.

I have about zero sympathy for celebrities who were hacked, and whose nekkid amateur selfies ended up for sale online.  They should know better.  And statements about respecting their privacy are worthy of a hearty laugh, since their very success depends on exposure.  For them to think that they can control the amount of exposure, yet record images like that, is naive.

Is our current societal addiction to capturing everything we see and do, conceit, narcissism, a desire to immortalize, or something else?

Whatever it may be, I strive to keep the dearest parts of my life close to the vest.  Probably because I was young and dumb once, too, and face every day wondering what happened to those pictures from that Trash Can Punch party in 1982.

September 3, 2014

Where do they keep the testicles?

I just want to know.

Other than the ones that strong women seem to be carrying around, can you tell me where to find a strong leader that has a pair?

September 2, 2014

Supernatural makes me look cool

My older kids watch this show called 'Supernatural'.  I have been exposed to an episode or two and get the feeling that I might like it more, had I watched it from its first season.  What it does have going for it, is an awesome soundtrack.

As my kids have watched, in true young people style, by dialing up episode after episode on Netflix, they have been exposed to great music of my generation.  I can generally tell when either of them has been watching, as they will come peruse my CD collection, or ask me about a song.

It started with 'Carry On Wayward Son' by Kansas, which has been featured as the opening song in all but the first season finale over nine seasons.  My son asked me whether I was familiar with the song 'Bad Company' last week.  (Am I familiar?  Heh, it was the song of my people, son.) I have heard Rush, Supertramp, Skynyrd, CCR, BOC, Molly Hatchet, Triumph, Foghat, Doobies, AC/DC, and more.  They mix in some newer stuff, and some more obscure stuff, as well.

I asked my kids if the music had any significance, other than being awesome.  Bang told me that part of the story-line is that the much of the music is from cassette tapes that were in the car that is featured in the show, a 1967 Impala that belonged to the lead characters' father.  This also explains why my daughter started looking at classic Chevrolets with a vengeance last year.

My kids have always been exposed to a breadth of music genres and timespans, but this show has done something by the way of giving the songs meaning for them.  Not the same way that they did for me, as they were the break up, make up and party songs of my younger days, but they envoke feelings, just the same.  And I look like some sort of musical encyclopedia/genius when I can name artist and album to their song inquiries, and can generally produce a recording of it for them to transfer to their fancy little digital music devices.

The show has great outtakes, too...


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.