Friday, December 28, 2007

Intelligence in Congress?

No, I did not lose my head. Okay, my illness made me woozy, but I'm not drain bamaged yet.

Don't believe me? Just read this article by the Tenth Amendment Center, and get on board!

Oh, the Irony

The Quipper family had a wonderful Christmas. We were a busy crew, but everything went well.

  • My brother and his fiancee visited from California. She asked for snow - lots of it - and got her wish. So much that family and friends were joking with her to stop asking for snow. Within 24 hours of their arrival, the snow started falling. So, of course, things needed to reverse as they prepared to go back home. Within 24 hours of their departure, the snow disappeared. Guess when they left? 8am on Christmas morning. Yep, green Christmas. They were able to spend practically the entire Sunday before Christmas with us, and were able to relax for really the first time on their "vacation". Everyone had fun, and Marie did a great job with food prep.
  • We had our traditional Christmas Eve with the Artist and Engineer. No guests, just us. We had a fun time doing what we do on Christmas Eve, which includes reviewing what we did over the past year and what we want to accomplish next year (I know, that has nothing to do with Christmas, but that's when we do it), attending Divine Service, and opening gifts afterwards. And Marie did a great job with food prep.
  • We went to Worship Service again on Christmas morning, but not before the kids opened what was left in their stockings by Santa Claus. (Yes, the Artist knows better, but she still plays along for the Engineer.) In the afternoon, both sets of parents and Marie's brother-in-law joined us for good food, fun, and gift opening. And Marie did a great job with food prep.
  • On Christmas evening, friends joined us and had a surprise in stow for their children. Their grandma flew in from Florida, and they didn't know it! You should have seen the looks of surprise and joy on the grandkids faces. They loved it, and so did we. And Marie did a great job with food prep. (See the recurring theme?)
But, Rick, what about the irony?

I explained the snow irony already; white pre-Christmas, green Christmas. Okay, so Marie called it a brown Christmas. Oh, well. At least we didn't have to shovel the driveway on Christmas as part of visitor prep at the house.

The other irony: I did not use all my vacation time at work this year. Since we are now on a "use it or lose it" policy, I planned as much as I could; however the company changed Christmas Eve and New Years Eve to holidays, so I lost two planned days. What am I doing today? Sitting at home, sick. Doh!

Happy New Year everyone!

Final note: if you are looking for good Christmas music to play throughout the day, and have broadband access, I strongly recommend using Pandora. You can register for free, and set up your own radio stations. I set up a Christmas station by asking for Silent Night, then selecting a version that was sung by a choir. For the rest of the day, my "radio station" only played religion-based Christmas songs (I wouldn't call them all hymns, though); no commercial Christmas songs hit the Quipper Family airwaves. It was a nice touch.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

A Pleasant Mistake

I realize that it is only Sunday evening, and Christmas Eve is a day away. Tomorrow is jam packed. I don't plan on hitting the blog, so I would like wish you all a Merry Christmas, and leave you with a pleasant "mistake":

I work with a Puerto Rican gal and an Italian gal in Florida. One is naturalized, and the other is on H1 visa but in the process of being naturalized. Both are professional gals, not too far removed from their native cultures and traditions.

Within the past week, each has notified their peers of their vacation, indicating they would not be in the office until after the new year. They made a "mistake" in preparing their notifications. Both said, as they were taught to say back home:

Happy holydays!

'Twas not a mistake to me. Christmas is a holy day, the day of the birth of our Lord. The unintended message was a comfort in these hectic times, a remembrance of God made man, who died and rose again for our salvation.

Happy Holy Day everyone! Christ, our Savior, is born!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Eight Points!

Our help desk manager got into the holiday spirit last week. One day, she wore a red cap with deer antlers sticking out. While walking through the halls, I noticed her hat, and commented to a passer-by who happened to be a hunter.

I said, "Look, a ten point doe!".

He looked, and said, "No, it's only eight points."

As I walked further down the hall, he caught up to me and said, "Hey, Rick, doe don't have antlers." I said, "I know. Just making sure you were paying attention." :-)

Friday, December 21, 2007

Beware Who Funds You

Have you heard? Senator James M. Inhofe delivered his latest report about the growing number of global warming skeptics. The report identifies over 400 individuals who have scientifically expressed their healthy skepticism via peer reviewed papers.

Al Gore's response? His spokeperson declared that 25-30 of these skeptics may have received funding from Exxon.

If I were a lib, I would jump on that and say, "See! It's industry that is promoting and funding the skeptics. Without Big Oil, there would be no skepticism because it is all manufactured anyway."

After months of not knowing how to address this, I finally figured it out:

Well, no one in the scientific or green community would fund their efforts to dispute the status quo. Where else should they go to get funding?

Funny how lib educators and scientists can exhaust all opportunities for fundraising so they can conduct their research. But when a skeptic does it, they are bad for going to bed with Big Oil.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

This Isn't What Christmas Is About

I won't steal Scott's thunder. Just go to his post to see the sacrilege that is masquerading as a "cute Christmas message" in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS). Scott's comments are excellent. I, like he, fail to see the cuteness in this bit.

A Quipper News Service Exclusive - 12-19-2007


The federal government, in order to cut down the occurrence of knife usage in cafeterias, kitchens and restaurants across America, passed a bill scheduled to take effect on February 29, 2008. If signed by President Bush, all food placed before the public would need to be presented so that using a knife is no longer necessary.

Congress recognizes that this issue cuts to the heart of the ever-increasing violence issues in schools and elsewhere. "This issue has teeth," said one congressman.

President Bush is expected to sign the bill. His spokesman said, "There is no need to slice up this bill."

"We are incisively following this concern," said Dee Sagust, chairwoman of the nonpartisan organization Parents for Bliss. "There is sharp division between us and our opponents. We believe no child should be put in a position of hurting themselves or others. The temptation to do evil here is too great. It's not like we are talking about condoms; we are talking about kitchen utensils."

Congress has not yet dealt with the issue of knives used in meal prep. As a long term resolution, Congress believes that serving only pureed food is the safe option. WalMart is pre-emptively bidding to provide below-cost pureeing plants in China, while Tyson is offering to provide the service inexpensively by hiring only aliens with criminal records to perform the work.

An adult's eye view of beef puree, rare

The prickly issue of violence caused by fork tines will also be eliminated by the longer term solution.

Sagust says, "As long as people only use spoons, the world will be a much safer place."

The food service industry is carving out a response, as restaurants have the most to lose by this proposal. On the other hand, Gerber and Beech-Nut are enthralled with the new bill.


Sunday, December 16, 2007

Freakout Mode

In my career as a project manager, I have devised a number of trite phrases that define what I do, or what other people do, and situations that pop up on occasion. Some of the phrases need no explaining:

  • I take the slings and arrows from all comers and still make sure the job gets done.
  • Project management is like herding cats, only harder.
  • Project plans are never "fact"; they start as "fiction" then go straight to "history".
  • You wouldn't need project managers if people would just do what they already committed to doing.
  • The five business days prior to a project being implemented for everyone to use are called "hell week".
  • You can't cram for a project implementation like you can for a final exam.
Then there are the funniest ones. Not that they are really funny, but I look back at the situations where I've used them and laugh.
  • Freakout mode - that is the period after people realize that they have responsibility for a project - much later than when the responsibility actually started - and try like crazy to make up for lost time. Depending on the person and the importance of the activity, some people may go into freakout mode before hell week. But most don't. Freakout mode is always preceded by the last item...
  • The "OH, SHOOT!" factor. Yes, I cleaned it up for public consumption. No matter what amount of planning, conversing, and reminding you do with some people, you cannot help them avoid this moment. Bribing, encouraging and cajoling do not help. So, you do all you can to avoid it, but you can't.
It's funny - okay, not really - when an entire department collectively hits the "OH, SHOOT!" factor. I get it a lot.

Fun times.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Train Wreck

A train traveling to Los Angeles leaves New York City at 10:00am, due west, at 100 mph. Another train, traveling from Los Angeles to New York City leaves at 2:00pm, due east at 110 mph. Assuming that neither train makes any stops and are traveling on the same track, at what time would they crash? (Note: all times are EST.)

That would be quite a train wreck, wouldn't it?

All things considered, Running in Circles had a pretty good gig last night. We were more pit crew than band prior to the gig, because the venue was hosting a benefit that ran 45 minutes late. Instead of staging our equipment and then setting up, we went into fast-forward mode. Hence, we were not allowed to bring in any equipment until folks cleared out. This worked against us in two ways:

- The place was packed...for the benefit. Which means it looked full before we started, and anyone who popped their head into the venue would see there were no tables available, and go elsewhere.

- We were hurried and not in good form on a couple songs in the first set. We recovered, but were somewhat frustrated. Our cover of American Girl, by Tom Petty, always goes over well. This time, we got our wires crossed during the intro, but too far into the song to declare a mulligan.

The result...train wreck. It was the only one. Looking back, I realize we hadn't had a good train wreck in over nine months. I guess we were due, but I would have preferred it to happen in the last set, and not in the first.

This is the second weekend in a row where I have been to a gig that occurred right after a benefit. Last week, I watched Disco Inferno go thru the same thing; crowd loss, first set not tight as it could be. Fortunately for us, a number of patrons actually approached us and the venue manager to compliment us on our performance and song selection. The manager liked us, too. Can't complain about that.

But this is Sunday, Rick. Isn't this the time you craft some wily, wooly Idiots of the Week post?

Of course. Let's talk train wrecks:

  • The one that almost happened by My Idiots, the Cleveland Browns. They forgot that the games run for four quarters again, and made a can't-miss win a nail-biter again. It seems to me the coaching staff is still learning on the job, too, based on some decisions they made in the second half. Neither the players nor the coaches know how to close out games they should win.
  • The Detriot Lions season. The Lions were 6-2 at one time, and have since lost the last five. That is not significant from the sports perspective, but from another. After the Lions won their sixth game, QB John Kitna, a born-again Christian, declared that God destined their team for the playoffs. I hate when people do that. I will not go further here, but you can add your thoughts as you post your comments.
  • The Miami Dolphins season. Terrible, absolutely terrible. The road to 0-16 is more interesting than New England's road to 16-0. It is ironic, too: the only team to go undefeated for an entire season was the 1972 Miami Dolphins.

Now, for the Idiots:

Win - The Browns defensive coaching staff, for playing the prevent defense for practically the entire fourth quarter. It almost prevented another victory; they gave up twice as many points in the fourth quarter as they did the rest of the game.

Place - John Kitna, QB for the Detriot Lions. Shut your mouth, and play football.

Show - QB Derek Anderson. for the second consecutive week. He has problems throwing passes in less-than-optimal conditions. He had problems in this game, and in the Steelers loss. No nail-biting this game if he throws a couple good passes in the third and fourth quarters.

Honorable Mention - The Miami Dolphins, who are redefining "incompetence".

Friday, December 07, 2007

Gateway Crime

I broke the law today. Yes, I admit it.

Since I had a vacation day today, I decided to stay up late last night, learn some new songs, and traipse around my favorite blogs and sports web sites. I finally went to bed around 2:00am...

...which meant I slept in until around 9:00am. Being garbage day, I needed to take the garbage out.

Before 8:00am.

In our suburb, it is illegal to place your garbage on the lawn after 8:00am on garbage day.

So what does this crime lead to? Not taking out the garbage at all?


Thursday, December 06, 2007

Bittersweet Returns

I watched the value of my stock holdings increase at a satisfactory rate over the last couple of days. So I am jumping for joy, right?

No, not really.

But there was an upward correction, and all is right in the stock market again, isn't it?

No, not really.

But confidence is starting to rise again, isn't it?

No, not really.

But President Bush threw his weight behind government assistance for the country's mortgage issue, didn't he?


That's exactly why I am not satisfied with the general uptick in the market.

Where the stock market was somewhat based on principled fundamentals and commitment to long-term investment, and driven by market forces, it is now driven

Good grief!

Yes, it has been driven by emotion for some time. Welcome to our "modern" world after all, where feelings are more important than objectivity. Where immediate returns are better than long-term prosperity. Where uncalculated risk-taking is better boring old saving and "buy and hold" investing.

We sure could use a little good news today, right?

I don't believe the last two days' gains for the Dow are good news. Not from the societal perspective, regardless of how good the gains look financially.

The Dow improved because the government communicated a proposed "amnesty" (my word) for the public relative to their mortgage woes.

Since when is it a good personal business decision to acquire a mortgage that you can't afford?

Since when is it a good corporate business decision to lend money to those who aren't a half-way decent credit risk?

Since when is it a good national business decision to prop up a consumer economy, when the propping will only make things worse in the future (higher taxes to maintain the amnesty or a steeper fall of the stock market)?

Good news? No, not really.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Truth Shall Set You Free

Too bad the author of this article writes for, and not a rag that would also be read by people that aren't sports fanatics.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Curious Questions

Some of the muck going around in my mind today:

1) If an Allah-loving jihadist celebrates his religion's victory over an infidel by shooting his AK47 in the air, but forgets that bullets do not defy gravity and therefore kills a fellow jihadist, is the killed man considered a martyr?

2) If a Muslim man despised a woman because he couldn't have her, would he rape her so she could be executed on account of her promiscuity?

3) The British teacher that was pardoned for naming a stuffed animal Mohammed apologized sincerely. Since Islam is the religion of peace, will she be forgiven by those that wanted her murdered?

4) While the crazies in the U.S. want to ban smoking to lower the costs of health care for society, and are doing their best to ban trans-fats, why don't they want to reduce the occurrence of conception out of wedlock, which would have greater utilitarian benefit?

5) On the subject of health care, why is prevention a valid option for everything except AIDS and HIV?

I know the answers already, but the questions were churning in my mind anyway.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Bad Behavior

I thought it might be safe to table the Idiot of the Week awards for a while, but I was mistaken.

Before I go there, I would like to say how much the Browns' offense reminds me a bunch of the Brian Sipe-led Kardiac Kids of the late 1970s. When the Browns are behind, the opposition must be scared stiff. It seems this team responds best while under duress, which isn't where you want to be against the better teams in the league. They almost pulled out another win today, in a game they had no business winning.

"Why?" you ask? That's a short list:

  • The offense only really played for two quarters again.
  • The special teams didn't show up at all.
  • The defense lost their head on a few bone-headed plays that either resulted in points given up or yards lost for our offense.
Yet they still almost won. If these guys ever learn how to play as the favored team, they could go far. Until then, we have to watch this team take their lumps.

Drum roll, please...

Win - Leigh Bodden, cornerback. After the defense stopped the Cardinals to bring up 4th down, Bodden kicked the ball off the field of play. This is a penalty, called "unsportsmanlike conduct". Instead of the Cardinals punting, they were awarded an automatic first down, and proceeded to score a touchdown. There are seven points that should not have been on the board.

Place - Simon Frasier, OSU Buckeye alumnus and Browns special teamer and defensive lineman. He head butted a Cardinals player as our special teams were returning a kickoff to set up for our final drive of the game. Penalty again. 15 yards further to drive, requiring more precious seconds to tick off the clock. Dumb, just plain dumb.

Show - QB Derek Anderson. He knows how to play from behind, but gets too relaxed (or lazy, maybe) when expected to win. His first quarter play was horrendous and directly cost us seven points, although he almost made up for it at the end.

Honorable Mention - The BCS, for not finding a BCS game for Missouri. It's time for a playoff system in college football.

Kudos to Kellen Winslow and Braylon Edwards for their spirited play today. Winslow's end of game catch, although being pushed out of bounds, is highlight reel material. Too bad the ref swallowed his whistle instead of a) calling pass interference, which he should have (the hit came before the ball touched Winslow's hands), or b) declaring that Winslow was pushed out of bounds, as everyone was griping about.

They get to try again next week. Hopefully they will have learned their lessons.