February 27, 2015

Put a sweater on!

I am not much of a fashionista.  Never have been, and don't really care.  I prefer comfort over anything else.  Granted, I don't want to look like a slob, but I don't subscribe to fashion magazines, I don't need any specific labels, and I don't care if I am wearing last year's shoes.  In fact, I have many a shoe, sweater, and t-shirt that are older than my children.

Despite my general nonchalance regarding fashion, I do believe in some general rules.  While Labor Day might not be a hard deadline for packing away the white items, there is attire that is clearly meant for summer and warm weather.  And wearing it in winter drives me nuts.  
Now, I live in Texas, and there are some fashion norms here that I accept despite their cross-seasonal wackiness.  For instance, shorts on the bottom with long-sleeves, sweatshirts, and/or sweaters on top.  It just works.  
The trend of females on television news broadcasts wearing sleeveless outfits makes me crazy.
Is it a humble-brag thing, to show off toned arms despite the outdoor temperature?  This morning a local meteorologist stood in front of the green screen that was showing the blowing snow outside, warning everyone to bundle up due to the wind chill, and all the while, she was wearing a sleeveless dress.  The visual message does not compute.
I noticed the same thing the other day on Fox News.  The New York City studio windows showed the winter weather outside, while every single female in the studio was in a sleeveless ensemble.  I think it just makes you look stupid to present yourself as a well-informed news person, yet be inappropriately dressed for the weather that you are reporting on.
In other news, for reasons beyond explanation, a local weather man has become meme-tastic, after his spot-on predictions for school closures.  This was my favorite, the man himself posted the picture and caption on social media:

I told you kiddies school was going to be cancelled tomorrow! OK...tell me...who's your daddy!!!

February 24, 2015

Just shoot me...

The kids are on day two of school weather closures.  And now, this...



The temperature is supposed to get above freezing at noon today, but will drop again around 10 pm.  Not enough time for the roads to dry, so there will be a nice sheet of ice under any of the forecasted snow.  Praying that the track shifts north or south - north we just get rain, south it stays completely dry.  Otherwise, 2-4 inches of thick wet snow. Ugh.

Yesterday I let the kids take it easy, they played on the ice for a bit, watched TV, played video games, etc.  This morning I am lecturing them about taking advantage of these forced days off to get ahead, study, practice, prepare.  They glower at me and point out that they will be lucky to make it to school at all this week.

For as long as I can remember, our north Texas school calendars have had two bad weather make up days on them.  For as long as my kids have been in Texas schools (15+ years), they have had to make up extra days, get waivers for extra days missed, etc.  Maybe they need to plan better, so the kids aren't going to school for two weeks in June.

February 23, 2015

FOD

Last night I watched the Oscars.  Well, I read a book in the same room, while the show played on the television.  I like the music numbers, the pretty dresses, and the annual death montage which spurred me to say, "Lauren Bacall died?".  And, no, I didn't notice that they skipped Joan Rivers, Jan Hooks, and Elaine Stritch, among others.  As the names and faces of directors, writers, and marketing people scroll by, I understand that there are people unknown to me, that are important to the movie business.

I looked up from my book on occasion, as winners were announced, and listened to the self-serving crap that came out of the winners' mouths.

I find it distasteful for anyone to use an award podium as a political platform.  For actors to do so at the Oscars is all the more disrespectful and crude.  They are shitting in their own bed, so to speak.  Of course, their media darling of a president has set the example. Never before has a president acted so utterly un-presidential; be it late night talk show appearances, taking selfies at funerals, chomping on his Nicorette, and using the presidential podium as his bully pulpit.

How embarrassing that we Americans are represented to the world by Hollywood and Obama.  Part of me wishes that the outbound internet and television broadcasts stopped at our borders, so the rest of the world couldn't judge us by those who dominate the airwaves.

February 22, 2015

Here it comes...

Thundersleet.  Icemageddon Redux.  Thanks, Mother Nature.


If you are reading this from a normal winter weather location, you likely can't appreciate the two things that make this such an event.  One, we are woefully unprepared for winter weather.  Our cities do not own the equipment needed to deal with winter precipitation, and there probably isn't much to be done for multi-story overpasses anyway.  Our citizenry does not own cars with snow tires, heavy coats, ice scrapers, etc.  Two, this is an ice storm.  No fluffy snow to plow off of roads, and for kids to play in.  Nope, this is sleet and freezing rain.  It will fall, it will coat everything.  There will be widespread power outages as tree branches fall onto power lines.  Idiots will try to drive on it, forcing emergency responders to take unnecessary risks to rescue them.  And, this weather event will dominate the local television stations for days.  Heck, it is already all they can talk about, which is what feeds the mass stampede to the grocery store.  Luckily, I did that yesterday.

It is all but a certainty that my kids will be out of school for the next two days.  I have a few hours today before the front arrives and the temperature drops, to grab some work from my office, and round up a few things to keep the kiddos occupied for their extended weekend.  I am trying mightily to make this a 'make lemonade' sort of event.  This is a gift of time, homebound, to catch up on chores, do some projects, get organized.  Optimism and enthusiasm are going to prevail!

Check back Tuesday, this will likely be me:

February 19, 2015

Honking Mad

More and more each day, as I drive, I rail about people who are on their phones while driving.  I don't mind, as much, people talking.  Except for the ones that clearly aren't capable of talking and driving at the same time.  If you can't maintain a safe speed and talk, then hang the phone up, dimwad.

What I am really at the end of my rope about, is the drivers that are clearly distracted.  There are the ones that hold their phone up high, in their driving line of site, for all the world to see why it is that they are weaving all over the road.  But, as more and more cities adopt 'no texting' bans and similar laws, the number of people that drive while staring down has increased.

This morning I reached something of a breaking point.  It actually started with a cow.  Surrounding my kids' school are lovely pastures filled with cattle.  The landowner clearly has the herd on a fall calving schedule, as there are have been several new calves lately.  This morning, I drove by a heifer that appeared to be in labor (I will spare you the details), which spurred me to wondering how many hours my grandfather had spent during his life, checking on his herd, pulling calves in distress, etc..  One thought led to another, and I recalled my grandfather's lifelong habit of waving to passing cars as he drove.  Not a full-on wave, but a slow raising of his index finger off the top of the steering wheel, as he met other cars.  In Farmland, Kansas, everyone waved back.  I fondly remembered riding to town with him in his truck, and thinking that he knew everyone!  I decided that I would try a friendly little experiment and greet each oncoming car with a similar wave this morning as I drove to work.

None of the frickin' people were looking up!  Try to do something nice to brighten people's day, and they ruin it.  It was ridiculous that nearly every single car that was passing me, was clearly focused on something in their crotch area.  So, instead of my 'do a good turn daily' type of plan, evil Harper emerged and I began laying on the horn each time I met a car with a distracted driver.  Thank you, Ford Motor Company, for not scrimping on the decibel level of my car's horn.

I might make this a daily thing.  Make eye contact with me, or clearly be attending to your driving abilities, or you will suffer the Horn of Harper.

February 16, 2015

FOD

The subject of Obama's religion has been long, and furiously, debated.  I don't really care, and I don't think he is Muslim.  I think Obama is a textbook narcissist, and, as such, worships and adores none before himself.  He may pretend to be one thing or another, but make no mistake, he loves himself first, and that doesn't work in any religion.  

So, it shouldn't come as a surprise that Obama's Department of Health and Human Services is trying to get churches to peddle Obamacare.  Since 2013, they have been encouraging churches to devote the second Sunday of each month during the enrollment period, to getting their congregation signed up.  They have an online toolkit with sample notices and church bulletins:


I wonder if HHS is also providing the churches with new interpretations of the Bible?
12 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’[e] but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’”  Matthew 21:12-13

February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day

I am pretty anti-Valentine's Day.  Not that I don't appreciate the intended sentiment, but, really, Russell Stover, FTD, and Hallmark pushed the envelope and set the bar ridiculously high years ago.

I had to stop by the store after work yesterday, and had a constant grin on my face, watching teenage boys and dads with kids, as they filled their carts with teddy bears, flowers, chocolate, and glittery cards.  Again this morning I had a laugh, as a friend posted a photo of the special breakfast her daughter prepared; half a banana, a piece of toast, and four mini muffins.  A carb lovers dream, and very similar to breakfasts that my kids have made for me.

Perhaps more infuriating, from my anti-commercialization standpoint, is the fact that as I shopped last night, store employees were consolidating the remaining Valentine's merchandise and putting out Easter candy.  Oh. Hell. No.  C'mon, give us a day or two in between the merchandise switch.

I hope that your day is meaningful to you...


February 9, 2015

FOD - 710

710 days until a new president is sworn into office and the Obamas slink off into the sunset.

Barack played his 215th round of golf this past weekend.  At the beginning of his second term, I predicted he would break the 200 mark for round during his presidency, despite the lack of golfing during the election year.  He has certainly made up for lost time.  I wouldn't be surprised to see him reach the 300 round threshold.

What is left for Obama to ruin in 710 days?  It is almost too painful to think about.  Luckily, some of his idiotic State of the Union trial balloons were quickly deflated and put on the back burner, if not completely put to rest.  I swear, "Free Shit" should have been his campaign motto.

It is too depressing to think about all of the damage Obama could still do.  I prefer to number his remaining days and count the things that are dwindling.  Only ONE more SOTU.  Only TWO more taxpayer-funded Hawaiian Christmas vacations.  No more midterm elections.  We are finally on the downhill side of this catastrophe.

February 8, 2015

Staring at the train wreck

A plane crashed half a mile from my backyard.  A twin engine Cessna, on approach to an airport over 6 miles to the north.  The weather might have been a factor...it was misty and dipping below freezing, with some gusty wind.  Unfortunately, the lone occupant, the pilot, died in the crash, so we will only ever know what the investigators piece together.

After  listening to 15 minutes of emergency sirens that seemed to be circling my neighborhood, I clicked over to a FB page that monitors local scanner feeds and heard about the plane crash...and that the initial reports were coming from an address very close to my own, but closer still to my company's warehouse and equipment yard.  I jumped in my car to go check on the building, only to find that the police wouldn't let me near it.  As the 10 pm news came on, and the first pictures of the site started coming across social media, the downed plane seemed to be very near our building.

As it turned out, the plane's wing pushed our perimeter fence in a foot or so.  Had the pilot managed another 100 feet of distance, he would have been in our building.



Amateur theories suggest that the plane iced over and stalled.  The numerous reports of the sound of the plane's engine revving just before it went down, support the theory (as stall speed increases when lift is lost).  The overhead shots of the site reveal that there was no slide or skid.  It appears that the plane just fell straight down out of the sky.

I have since been thinking quite a bit about people's desire to stare at the train wreck, or, in this case, plane crash.  My kids asked me to take them over the next day.  I did, but we didn't get close, and I didn't really even look at it.  A man died in that plane - though looking at it, one might think that he could have walked away.  The cockpit is intact, it is just on the ground.  It is hard for kids to grasp that the human body can't survive a jolt like that, they think that anyone seat-belted in should be safe.  Maybe because I had already come to know more about the man that had died there, I didn't feel the need to gawk at the place where he lost his life.

News crews hung around like vultures, descending upon anyone that showed up at our gate.  The minute they saw anyone with a key, they ran to beg entry and get an up close view of the wreckage to beam out to the masses.  Helicopters hovered.  They conducted the "I saw it, I saw it!" interviews.  And by the early morning news the next day, they had already rang the doorbell and tried to confront the widow.  They had trolled social media and posted tear-inducing photos of the dead man with his six young children and beautiful wife.

What makes us want to see this, what drives this sort of morbid fascination?  Is it a method by which we try to face our own mortality?  To stare a known death in the face and celebrate the fact that we are still living?  I suppose it is somewhat normal to be curious about the circumstance of death, as we all will face it at some point.  It is just unseemly, that a 'normal' man's death brings the circus of celebrity to his grieving family, just because of the way he died.  

February 4, 2015

It is time

My family has an informal betting pool every year, each of us trying to guess when a certain neighbor will take his Christmas decorations down.  This year his decorations were rather subdued, likely because many of his outdoor decorations were trashed from being left out for so long in previous years.  He didn't put up any lights that required a ladder, so we were thinking he might un-decorate much earlier this year.  As of this morning, Santa and three reindeer are still adorning the yard.  (He started with eight reindeer several years ago, but the weather has thinned his herd).  I won the family bet one year, having guessed Easter as the occasion by which he would take down the decor, so I am not at all surprised that he is still stuck in a December mindset.

I am surprised by the number of people that accompany him.  On our morning commute to school there are half a dozen or so homes that make it seem as if we are in a pre-Christmas time warp.  There are lights, nativity scenes (my favorite is the indoor display that is set up outdoors in a large fish tank), plastic holiday characters, and inflatable snowmen.  I can almost understand not having the time or energy to put things away properly, but there is a whole other dimension to those people who haven't cut the power.  Lights still blaze at night, and inflatable characters are still bobbing up and down out of gift boxes.

Seriously folks, unplug the timer, flip the switch.  It is time to pack Christmas away.

February 2, 2015

FOD

Keith Koffler, of White House Dossier, on the Obama budget proposal:
UTTERLY IRRESPONSIBLE
The most astonishing thing about the budget President Obama submitted today is that he is not even pretending to try to do anything about the debt and the deficit. NOT EVEN FAKING IT. Okay, he’s faking it a bit. He’s pretending the deficit won’t go up. So let’s give credit where credit is due!
And credit, so to speak, is the name of the game here. You see, this is the first president I remember who proposes budgets and doesn’t even offer a path toward eliminating the deficit so our kids don’t have to finance our indulgence.
The deficit, Obama asserts this year, is okay. It’s all cool. What’s a mere deficit in comparison with the grand plans of great men? We’ll just run a deficit that rises in nominal terms but stays at about 2.5 percent of the economy, the “norm” over the last few decades.
EXCEPT THE NORM HAS RESULTED IN $18 TRILLION OF DEBT AND INCLUDES YEARS DURING WHICH THE DEFICIT SOARED OVER $1 TRILLION.
That’s okay? What type of ethic is it that says to go and be profligate and don’t worry about piling on debt?
The deficit will decline to $474 billion under the president’s plan, and then rise to nearly $700 billion over ten years, while staying at roughly the same high level as a percentage of GDP, while total debt also rises nominally but stays at about the same percentage of the economy.
But look at the assumptions. Obama thinks that somehow the economy will grow at 3 percent this year and in 2016, which it hasn’t done so far during his  term. He assumes unemployment declines to 4.8 percent. That we will allow soaring Medicare and Social Security costs to squeeze out other “investments” and that the economy can withstand the $1.44 trillion in new taxes Obama has planned for us.
But here’s the real kicker: The forecast assumes no future recessions of any significance and of course doesn’t work in a major terrorist attack or a new war, any of which would send the deficit soaring again. That is, we’re planning to be in bad shape, and when the inevitable catastrophe occurs, we’ll be in really bad shape.
This is irresponsible. It’s juvenile. And it’s dangerous. How can the leaders of a great nation make such plans?
Obama would do nothing – absolutely nothing – about the future entitlement meltdown. Leave it for someone else. This would be way to hard for someone who can barely lift the phone to call Capitol Hill.
If you want a sense of this – according to the budget documentsproduced by the OMB, outlays in the federal budget for Social Security and Medicare are expected to double over 11 years from $1.35 trillion in 2014 to $2.6 trillion in 2025. Where’s that money coming from? Current payroll taxes will pay for only a portion of it, and an increasingly small portion. You didn’t think Social Security and Medicare were self-financing, did you?
By delaying decisions on what to do about entitlements, Obama is making future solutions far more onerous. By failing to rein in the deficit, the president is putting America out on a tenuous, brittle limb.
But who cares? As long as we have free birth control and free community college, all is well in the land.