Thursday, December 25, 2008

Blocking, Tackling, and Gadget Plays

"Blocking and tackling" - it is a term you hear a lot, not only if you follow football, but also if you are in the corporate world. The term signifies all the basic things you need to do well to have a well-oiled machine, one that runs successfully no matter what is happening in the world. It identifies the fundamentals. Obviously, it means the same thing in football. Blocking is necessary on offense to make sure that your skilled players can do what they do - run, pass and catch. You know, make positive yardage and score. Tackling is necessary on defense to ensure that the other team neither moves the ball nor scores. They are the unglorious tasks to be executed by all players to make sure that the team can win its championship and get the glory.

At times, a team may also toss in the element of surprise by doing something non-traditional, non-fundamental. They may throw in a flea-flicker, a Statue of Liberty play, or something else like that. Those plays are termed "gadget plays". Why? They are not normally in the basic arsenal - you don't want to use them too much - but they are available as necessary. Teams usually use them for one of two reasons: 1) They are desperate and out-manned, and are not good at the blocking and tackling components of the game, and 2) A game is so evenly matched, so tight and difficult, that a team needs to do something different to shock its opponent.

But, when life is consistently bad for a decent football team - my local professional variety notwithstanding - coaches talk about going back to the basics, blocking and tackling, and repeating those basics until the team again gets them right, and becomes the well-oiled machine it once was.

Believe it or not, this is not a football post.

I thought about this last night as our family was in church, celebrating the birth of Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Our confessional Lutheran congregation is not glorious. It does not have any gadget plays in its repertoire. Spiritually speaking, it is a well-oiled machine, and blocks and tackles to full effect. The sacraments are distributed. Hymns are sung by the choir and congregation, with wonderful playing by our choir director and our substitute organists. Visitors familiar with the basic blocking and tackling of our confessional team can participate without question of what is going to happen next. No gadget plays. We don't need to sneak up on our rival - he knows Christ takes care of us through his Word and sacraments. We do not need the gadget plays of the modern Christian church - contemporary worship, bands, or topic-based sermons.

At our congregation, we just keep ungloriously blocking and tackling. The newborn Savior of the world does everything for us. He shows us our imperfection, yet through his death and resurrection, has saved us so that we can experience his glory. We don't need any gadget plays. Do you?

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Blurt Shirts!

I should be practicing for my next gig, but I'm just way too excited about something...

See those fancy, shmancy shirts that the Artist, the Engineer and I are wearing? They are my designs! And they are just two of the designs available at my new store, Blurt Shirts.

You all know that I'm not afraid to rant. I've done it here, and I even do it occasionally at my other blog. I decided to start blurting out my little quips onto shirts, and I am really pleased with the initial results. My Blurt Shirts store is hosted by I purchased and received my first shirts this week - Marie has one, too, but she was too busy taking the photo above to be included in the shot - and I love the quality of the shirts and the quality of the printed designs.

The pic above, even at this size, does not do the shirts justice. I've been working on opening up my store for almost two months now, creating designs (sports, politics, and music are also fair game) and organizing my store front as I could make the time in my schedule. Now that I have my own shirts in my hand, and am satisfied with the quality of manufacturing and delivery, I want to blurt out to everyone that


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

I'm Voting for Pedro

No, this isn't live blogging at the Presidential debate. The debate would have to be a living event, attended by living beings for that to happen. These two characters can't hold a candle to watching paint dry. Heck, if they are not careful, they might motivate me to login and do some work for my office tonight.

I walked away from the TV less than ten minutes into the debate. I've been listening from in front of the pc ever since. Multi-tasking is keeping me from going insane.

I could barely sit all the way through Napoleon Dynamite. But this debate makes it look like an Oscar winner.

A commenter on Michelle Malkin's site said this debate sounds like listening to Charlie Brown's parents. I had thought the exact same thing a couple minutes before reading the comment.

My comments:

  • Neither of these opponents can stray beyond their company line.
  • Politics without competition sucks. When you get good and have no competition, you play it safe. Both competitors are playing it safe. Which sucks.
  • The effeminization of our federal government is complete.
  • I'm voting for Pedro. At least he'll make all my dreams come true: I could ignore him, and not worry about the government doing ANYTHING to destroy my family.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Fantasy Land

In my dreams, it's still the same
Your love is strong, it still remains
In my dreams, you're still by me
Just the way it used to be
-- Dokken, In My Dreams

My dream candidate for POTUS is not Sarah Palin. It's definitely not John McCain, Barack Obama or Joe Biden. It may not even be Alan Keyes, Chuck Baldwin or Bob Barr.

So who is my dream candidate? What qualities do they possess?

Instead of putting it in terms of "qualities", let me put it in the frame of a response to a debate question:

Candidate "X", how can the American people trust you to reach across the aisle and put your differences aside?

Why, thank you for asking, Mr./Ms. Moderator, I have been hoping you would ask me that question. I think there is a lot to the question, and I will do my best to answer it within the two minute time frame.

Since 1980, Democrats have held the Senate majority for 2 years, the House majority for 6 years, and full Congressional majority for 10 years. Conversely, Republicans held the Senate for 6 years, the House for 2 years, and both for 10 years. Oddly enough, over the last 28 years, Democrats and Republicans have both held or shared control of the legislature for 18 years. You can see that both parties share in the creation of the problems over this period of time.

Now, to the question: "reaching across the aisle" is a myth that is meant to sound as though you are talking about compromise. But let's look at who is asked to "reach across the aisle". In my years of political experience, it is only the Republicans - and more specifically, conservatives - who are asked, and practically demanded, to reach across the aisle. Conversely, Democrats and liberals treat the aisle as though it's some type of invisible fence; should they cross it, there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth, and maybe even death. (smile)

So let's take off the blinders, and say what this really means: "Reaching across the aisle" is a call for conservatives to give up on their beliefs and ideals in order to write law that benefits Democrats and liberals. While Democrats continue to judge conservatives by their own values and call them on their indiscretions when they occur, Democrats are never called out on theirs, or called upon to compromise and sacrifice their beliefs and ideals for the good of the country. Shame on the Republicans for letting them get away with this! And shame on the Democrats for putting party over country!

As of today, right now, the term "reaching across the aisle" died. I will play by the same play book the Democrats do. If they want compromise, they can walk into the aisle just as easily as I can, but I will not reach across the aisle any more than they currently do.
And then, the response to a second debate question:

Candidate "X", what will you do to work with Congress and make progress on behalf of the American people?
That is another great question that I am excited to answer. On behalf of the American people, I would not work with Congress. As defined in the articles of our great Constitution, which I, on inauguration day, will promise to uphold and defend, I will work to fulfill the responsibilities of my office. My expectation would be that the 535 members of Congress would do the same. We will do no more, and no less, otherwise we would be abusing the powers and duties granted to us in the Constitution.

What does that mean? It means that it is the legislature's responsibility to create bills that they deem appropriate for the country. When I believe Congress gets it right, I will sign those bills into law. And, when I believe Congress gets it wrong, I am to veto those bills. And if Congress disagrees with my veto, then they have the ability by super majority vote to override my veto. These checks and balances were created so that the federal government doesn't become some type of super power, meant to be taken over by two political parties or special interests.

See, this isn't about how well the President and Congress work together. That plays to our desire to get along, but doesn't lead to good government. This is about performing our duties and obligations as stated in the Constitution. So I will not work with Congress, and I will not expect them to work with me. I will expect that they will do what they are required to do by the Constitution, and nothing more, and that I will do the same.
The candidate who answers those two questions in this manner will be my dream candidate. That would prove country over party, regardless of the party.

I can dream, can't I?

(And doesn't George Lynch play a wicked solo on the song at the link?)

Party in power facts taken from here.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Obama? Left-leaning?

Whatever you've heard or know, I think you are wrong. You need to read this.

For my e-mail friends who think Obama is a bit left of center, they'll be receiving this article so they can see that they are wrong.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Full Moon?

I get the impression that we will have a full moon from now until all the November election votes are counted, and maybe even longer. I've been taken in by the reporting and commentary regarding the Dem and Rep conventions and the events that followed. Not in a good way. You can read about it here.

I say they are all idiots, and we should start over. What do you think?

Monday, May 26, 2008

Men & Women, and Their Choice of Tools

Sometimes, tools and talents go undiscovered by people for their entire life. Other times, it just takes a little frustration, inspiration or time for those tools and talents to be discovered.

My wife, Marie, has always had a talent for writing, and over the past couple years learned that she's pretty good at this knitting thing, too. (BTW...Happy Anniversary, Marie. We turned 17 years old yesterday!) She's decided to spread her wings, and start a second blog. You gotta see her new digs at Picking Up Pen and Needle.

As for me, I'm trying to upgrade Running in Circles a little bit, and make us more party- and event- available, instead of just having us play bars and deal with lots of the baloney from bar owners and booking agents. Plus, it'll keep us playing a couple years longer - getting home by 1am from parties instead of at 3am, like we do now.

I created this video, which I hope to use as a promo cd for the band. Let me know your thoughts. (Photobucket cut off the last 30 seconds, but the full video is viewable on CD.)

Finally, have you stopped at So Many Idiots, So Little Time yet? I'm looking for this week's submissions.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Idiots of the Week

If you're interested, take a look at this blog: So Many Idiots, So Little Time (SMISLT). The content and writing style may look familiar to some of you.

Blogging about my personal life was not my thing, and I wasn't "quipping" as I had hoped. The new digs should be more up my alley, and will get me back into the heavy doses of humor, sarcasm, and wit that I like conveying the most.

Oh, but I need your help. 'Tis a weekly thing, and I need your input. Can ya help a guy ferret out the idiots? Thanks.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Hi Ate Us

It's been almost two years since I followed in Marie's footsteps by creating my own blog. My, how time flies. I have thoroughly enjoyed making my Quipper News Service, Quipper Entertainment, Idiot of the Week, Definition Warp and music posts. I haven't necessarily liked posting about politics, but you could tell it hit a nerve with me many times.

Over the past couple months, I noticed myself having less and less quality time to peruse the blogosphere - including the personal blogs that I look forward to reading - let alone investing the time to find something meaningful or humorous to say.

Thankfully, though, I never obligated myself to writing a post or being on any regular type of posting schedule. Nor did I introduce myself to the blogosphere with any inclination of how long the fun would last, or that it would need to continue forever.

Yes, that means that I am terminating any semblance of regular posting to this blog. When I realized I wasn't even visiting some of my favorite "must read" blogs any more, I knew my time to concentrate on any regular blogging and reading had run its course.

Is the blog going bye-bye? No, I will keep it up. I plan on making reference to the political, music and referential links on the site regularly. I hope there were favorite posts that you would like to re-visit, too. I may still post the occasional Idiot of the (pick one: week/month/year), or a special note to my family, but the semi-regular frequency of posting will cease.

As time occasionally becomes a luxury, I hope to visit your blogs and comment where possible. I have enjoyed making new friends - and I do consider all of you to be my friends - across the U.S. this way. Maybe, one day, we can meet and sit down over a coffee, a beer or a meal. If you plan on passing through Cleveland on your travels, let me know.

God Bless,

Saturday, April 05, 2008

How Did That Happen?

What is this?

That's easy. It's a broken one of these:

Which usually sits right here (top left of the body of the bass):

And is used to hold this:

There is another fastener at the bottom of the body, but that one is not relevant to the story.

The useful life of this one fastener came to an end during last night's gig. Not only has this little component resisted gravity just in holding up the bass for the past two-plus years, but it resisted the added force from my jumping up and down during a number of songs that a bandmate of mine says have "jump value".

We were playing Take Me Out, the last song of our second set. On the jump value scale from 1-10, I say it ranks an 11.

About 1:10 into the song, right before we lead into the first verse, it happened! The fastener broke. It wasn't that the screw holding in the fastener was stripped and fell out of the hole. The fastener snapped. One piece went somewhere - where, I don't know. The other piece was still screwed into the bass itself. The accompanying part of the fastener, which is clipped to the strap, shaved through the part that was mounted on the bass.

Hence, the strap was no longer connected to the bass. The body of the bass started dropping, and I had to catch it. You're talking about 12-14 lbs of unbalanced weight, with the heavy part - the body - being the unheld part. Not only did I have to make sure I didn't hit any wrong notes as it was falling, I had to make sure the body didn't hit the ground - all with my weaker hand, which is loosely surrounding the top of the fretboard, at the position farthest away from the center of gravity.

Left hand works as planned. No bad notes, no dinged instruments.

But wait, there's more. I saw what happened to the fastener immediately, and knew there was nothing - NOTHING! - I could do during the song to fix it during the song. Yikes!

Having been on all types of stages - from making presentations in front of corporate officers, to performing in rock and jazz bands - I knew the show must go on. Thankfully, I was positioned right next to our speakers, so I was able to stretch up one of my legs onto the speaker cabinet, and prop up the bass on my knee. Okay, so that only took half the first verse straighten out.

Oh, yeah, I'm supposed to co-lead on the vocals on this song, too. So much for the first verse. But one of our singers had presence of mind to move my mic where I could use it, and I was able perform the rest of the song well, but without all the requisite jumping. It's a hard song not to move around to, but I did it.

During our break, I took off the fasteners, leaving only the screw used to attach the fastener to the bass. I attached the strap to that screw. This wasn't a great fix, but it mostly got me through the night. My focus on the strap did cause me to forget the first verse of Hang On Sloopy. (No Polly, that's not a reason for us to stop playing the song. Sorry.) No one cued me, because I'm known in the band for being the lyric guy; no one thinks I ever, ever forget lyrics.

Thankfully, I had all the proper hardware at home, and replaced the fasteners this morning. All is in working order again, ready for hundreds of jumps!

Come see us if you can. We are playing at Blue Canyon in Twinsburg on April 12 (a week from today), then at Flyers in Parma Heights on Friday, April 25. Come to think of it, I think that's the second anniversary of Running in Circles being on the gig circuit. Way cool!

Friday, March 28, 2008

A Takeover

Pastors and Pastorettes,

Do you have an awesome vision for your church and the way it should work?

Is your church membership bucking your vision, you know, the one given directly to you BY GOD?

Are your members acting like Christianity started some two-thousand years ago and actually has a history behind it?

It's up to YOU to do something about it!

Okay, enough of the gibberish. I stumbled across what looks like a rational view not of what happened to Issues, Etc., but the "why".

This is an excellent article by someone who has seen this before. I think the confessional congregations ought to tell their members - even those that do not have computers - about it.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Simple Math

You know, there are a number of simple mathematical equations that yield a result of 48:

6 * 8 = 48

24 * 2 = 48

96 / 2 = 48

47 + 1 = 48

49 - 1 = 48

But two simple equations are near and dear to my heart:

a) 4 * 12 = 48, otherwise written as

b) 12 + 12 + 12 + 12 = 48

You see, professional basketball is played in four, 12-minute quarters, or 48 minutes. However, if you've paid any attention to the Cleveland Cavaliers over the last two seasons, you've probably noticed that their games usually look like this:

12 + 12 + __ + 12 = 48

The missing number should be a twelve, because the total is still 48. But something happens when the Cavs come out of the locker room at half-time. Doesn't matter if it's the old Cavs, starring LeBron, Larry, Drew, Z, and Sasha, or the new Cavs, starring LeBron, Ben, Andy, Sasha, and Delonte. Many new faces, same old result: they stink up the joint. They normally lose the third quarter scoring battle. Many times it's a double-digit loss.

I have a difficult time believing that Mike Brown, the Cavs head coach, is that bad at preparing a team at half-time. He carries some of the burden, but not all of it. These guys get paid to play 36 minutes of basketball - oops, I'm sorry, they think they get paid to play 36 minutes. They get paid to play 48 minutes.

Maybe someone should explain that to them. My six-year old son, the Engineer, has already picked up on this problem. I'm ready to nominate the entire team for an off-season Idiot of the Week award.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Eleventh Commandment

I think God missed a commandment. I really do.

Okay, maybe He didn't miss one. After all, He is perfect. But if I could add another one, it would be this one: Thou shalt not take other people for granted.

Marie and I were talking late last week that it's not really laziness that irritates us. Yes, some people are lazy and unproductive. Hey, it happens. But when the lazy people pull us into their vacuum to the extent that our time, money or emotions are invested (or wasted) on them, then yes, we get irritated. Then, it's not just that the people are lazy, but that they have taken us for granted.

This happens frequently enough at work. I am a project manager, so I usually catch the brunt of it, and have to make up the difference. There, I get paid to handle it; it's part of my daily responsibility, and fits into the context of my career.

Outside of work, if you waste my resources, it becomes personal. We all only have so many hours in a day, are blessed with a certain income granted us through our business, job or career, and drain every bit of energy out of our bodies that we can every day. To me, taking other peoples' time, funds, talents and emotions for granted is one of the biggest disservices you can do to someone.

If you really respect the resources someone provides for you, make sure you sincerely let them know that. But do it before you waste any more of their time, money or talents.

Monday, March 10, 2008

A Link From a Link

I found the Health Insurance Myth off of a comment from the Tenth Amendment Center. The blog itself is interesting, and the links throughout the blog posts are just as compelling.

If you are interested in seeing the various sides and hearing all sorts of experiences involving health care, the Health Insurance Myth is a good place to start.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Oh No! Four-Oh!

I become another year wiser tomorrow. That officially means I go into mid-life crisis, right? I mean, I think this is the way it's supposed to go. I will get bored with my life, and look for some wild, exhilarating way to get meaning back. It might be a car...a house...another band (lol).

It may be that I get tired of looking out for "number one" and decide, finally, to want to make a difference.

After all, isn't that why David Archuleta sang Imagine and Another Day in Paradise, on the biggest professional music stage in the world, American Idol? (Wait! Before you think Idol is still about the little guy, read here. David A. has a great voice, but he already knows how to play the game; so do his handlers.)

After all, isn't that why Green Day won a Grammy for American Idiot? It was because they wanted to make a difference...they wanted to get Bush out of office, and the lefty entertainment industry loved it. (Do you really think they would have won that Grammy had they written and released American Idiot when Clinton was in office? Oh, yeah, they wouldn't have recorded it...because the right person was in office!)

After all, isn't that why every feel-good show and sporting event talks about how the key actors and athletes are doing things for the community? To show that, no matter how much money they have, they are still helping others?

Well, I'll be forty years old tomorrow. And I am not changing a thing. Here's why:

  • I provide for my family, which enables Marie to homeschool our kids.
  • The kids get a two-parent, whole family perspective on life that is modeled daily.
  • I run the household to have a financial surplus. Debt is low and managed against intermediate term financial needs. If something happens to me, the family is taken care of. Rich? No, not at all. Managed? Yes.
  • I excel at my job - at least my latest employee evaluation tells me I do. Marie and the kids hear about what I do. The kids hear about the real life joys and frustrations of the daily grind. They will have no pre-conceived notions about dealing with people as adults.
  • Through my bands, I provide a release point for people, including myself. I'm not all buttoned-up in the bands, but get to let go a bit. My kids see that there is a difference between work and play, but that sometimes they commingle, like in the band.
  • Marie and I get to raise our kids they way we want.
  • I contribute to church and causes where I want and when I want.
  • I provide value in places where no monetary exchange occurs. Who cares if I don't do it for Habitat for Humanity or for a political party?
  • I am married to a wonderful wife who I can talk to about anything, and who is patient enough to hear me out. At times, that is not an easy thing to do.
What's my point? "Making a difference" has been turned into some romantic, idealistic thing. It's become sexy to make a difference. However, it does not take into account those little, daily, oft-repeated things that we do that make a consistent difference in the lives of those we encounter each and every day of our lives. I am making a difference to my family, my co-workers, my church family and my friends. Sometimes, they don't even know it. Other times, I don't even know it.

And that's the way it should be.

So, I'd like to thank the Academy, my family, and all of you up in the balcony who voted for me to reach my 40th birthday. I couldn't have done it without you. (snicker)

Thank you to all of you who make a difference to me, through your blog posts or your daily interactions. You make life interesting and fun.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Primarily Speaking

Tomorrow is the Ohio primary. Big deal, right? It should be, but I don't view it that way. I am a constitutionalist in Republican's clothing. (I have not renounced my party affiliation yet although I should get around to that.)

I am going to take this opportunity to vote Republican AND protest the roster of remaining, unqualified candidates. You see, Marie voted absentee a couple weeks ago, so I know who is on the Republican ballot. And I can still vote for a candidate that is no longer in the race. It will be my way, as a registered Republican, of expressing my displeasure with the party.

Rock and Roll Fun

If you happen to be out in Hollywood the weekend of March 14, be sure to see my brother's band, Elegantly Wasted, opening for Winger. If you grew up on 80's hair band music, you know who Winger is. (Snicker).

Tickets are available at ticketmaster for the March 14 show, being held at the Crash Mansion theatre.

And it gets more exciting for my brother, who will also be playing Rocklahoma this year! It's an 80's style rock and roll festival. The band should get themselves plenty of good press and an opportunity to sell lots of CDs and shirts! :-)

I'm really excited that the band has these gigs in their near future. Things are definitely coming together for them now. I wish them well.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Happy Leap Day!

And it's almost over. Sniff.

BTW...I'm two rehearsals into a second band project. This one will be primarily 90s and 00s rock, with some old stuff thrown in. Dance is not the goal here, but "jump value" - you know, head bobbing and foot stomping - is. Everything from Santa Monica, to Otherside, to No One Knows and Paralyzer. Then we want to throw in some curve balls, like an 80s-revised rendition of Puff the Magic Dragon (don't ask...just run with it, okay?), some Lonely Ol' Night, and Ice Cream Man. Maybe some STP and Pearl Jam and Foo Fighters and - well, you get the idea.

The four band mates all knew (or knew of) each other. The same guy assembled all the bands we are in now. We each looked to gig a couple more times per month, and approached him separately - within a couple weeks of each other - about starting or joining another project. How about that! We'll see how it goes; we hope to start gigging in late summer.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Question

This is not a test. It's absolutely, positively 100% open for discussion. I hope it turns into a nice, long, meandering thread, because it should.

Question: when does it become a national security interest for the federal government to prop up the economy?

I'm sorry, but "never" is not a viable response on this thread. I want to see reasons for every response.

As most (if not all) of you know, I am conservative in my political ideals. I prefer that government be left out to the fullest extent possible when it comes to the economy, and definitely when it comes to trampling our liberties. Even as a Christian - confessional Lutheran, to be precise - I don't like religion being pushed down my throat. I'm not for tweaking or skewing the Constitution, and I despise that none of the branches of federal government utilize all of the checks and balances they've been granted. I also don't like that those state-to-federal checks and balances aren't used.

That's where I start. Which leads back to the question: when does it become a national security interest for the federal government to prop up the economy?

Doin' Anything this Friday Night?

My employer is raising funds for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), and our Policy Services department wanted to do an after-work event. One of the managers was asked, "Why don't you ask one of your band friends if they will perform?" So she asked me if Running in Circles would perform.

Happily, the band said yes. This is a good chance for us to expand our audience - I've been trying to get some of these folks to come to our gigs for two years - and raise money for a good cause. We will be playing at the Mavis Winkles this Friday, February 22 starting at 8:00pm. Cover is $5, with proceeds going 50/50 to JDRF and the band.

For the employees, appetizers will be provided between 5:00-7:00pm. No, those of you reading are not employees, and I will not lie for you. :-p

Mavis Winkles is located in Independence, OH, in the Crown Centre Building on Rockside Road. Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Sinking Sand

I read this article, which sounds pretty much like doom and gloom. But I am not sure it is.

After all, if the economy is based on emotion, consumption, and the uncontrolled granting of credit, the bottom has to fall out some time. The scenario sounds more like a huge correction than doom and gloom.

That being said, even approaching the worst case scenario could cost a lot of people their savings and their 401(k)s. Many companies could have problems. Banks could go out of business. There could be mass hysteria, rioting in the streets, people mandating that government provide for them (oh, that last one is happening already, I forgot). Maybe even governments defaulting.

So that means the federal government must step in, right? The writer of the article tends to think so. But isn't it the government that has fostered all of these moves - lending credit to those who don't deserve it in the name of fairness, attempting to control the markets through the Fed, and promoting an economy based on consumption - that put us in the situation we are in?

I will truly be sorry for the U.S. if this scenario happens. Many people will have built their financial foundation on what they believed was right: retail investments, such as stocks and bonds. They may lose that foundation after decades of building it, or retire with drastically less then they had 5-10 years prior.

The wise will keep both eyes on the economy and the markets. But that is not the rest of the story....

Not all our wealth comes from the markets. It comes from the gifts and talents we have been given...our ability to think and reason...our ability to bend, but not break...our ability to work...our ability to live below our means. You know, the stuff WE were taught - and hated to hear - when we were growing up at home.

The traditional, orthodox method of survival: working hard, saving what you could, and investing what you had left over. It's still the best program for success. It keeps us humble and aware of our environment. It keeps us from thinking the almighty markets or, heaven forbid, the government can straighten things out for us. It keeps us from becoming lazy, and keeps us mentally acute.

And last but not least...when were we supposed to depend on the markets, anyway? I cannot remember a time when Christ said to lean on government for our livelihood, or look to the market to financially save us, or to strive for the work-free lifestyle. Those are all by-products of our society, not the teachings of Jesus. We praise God for the good times; let us remain faithful in Him when all about us are flailing because of their reliance on mammon.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Did Someone Say "Dissolving Rights"

Not good, yet approved by Congress.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Fine Tuning

It was time to clean up the right side of my blog. I like the not-so-new Blogger, but there is some formatting I would still like to do on my own. Being relatively HTML-ignorant, I was helped immensely by this site for making the little changes that I wanted to make.

What did I do?

  • I removed the CLC Radio graphic, and replaced it with a link in 'My Links'.
  • I put all my links into one form. I also added the links Scott and I had on the Patriots & Tyrants site, and then added a sports links section.
  • I removed the Labels section. I display the labels at the bottom of each post, so I didn't see the necessity of cluttering up the right side of the blog with that info.
  • I added more AdSense stuff, and will likely add an Amazon or Musicians Friend store in the near future. (Thanks for the idea, Scott!)
'Tis all for now. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Strike That. Reverse It.

I was sooooooooo excited about my latest work project. We were going to convert our financial systems over to our parent company's system. It was going to be a full-year project. We were going to take our Senior Vice President of "I'm in the middle of everything" out of the picture for month-end closing activities. (Not eliminate him, just no longer have him be the single point of failure.)

We brought in a consultant who, in previous engagements, successfully conducted conversions to the system our parent company uses. She was just starting to understand our company's lingo, if you will, and make some productive gains.

Yesterday evening, around 5:15, I get the e-mail:

Subject: Ding, dong!

If you've ever been at a company where they FINALLY terminated that awful employee, or transferred them to another department, you know what that means. It means the awful horror is gone, as in, "Ding, dong, the witch is dead!"

I really didn't need to read the rest of the e-mail. Knowing who sent it, and to whom it was addressed, I knew. My project was terminated, thwarted, stopped, permanently delayed.


Talking to the parent company yields one set of reasons. Talking to our CFO and CIO yields another. I got better info from the grapevine from a peer who is working on other projects to integrate our systems with our parent company's. It is likely a case of not enough planning, then realizing that the conversion is, um, "bigger than a breadbasket". It was not like converting from Money to QuickBooks. The approved funding would not be enough, and would be better spent on another project.

So, that's the "strike that" part of the post.

I also had to tell our consultant and her recruiter that her services are no longer needed at the end of the month. She only started two and a half weeks ago, and was starting to make good progress this week. I hate that stuff; so does my boss. I called a face-to-face meeting with the recruiter to let him know what happened. Yuck!

I then had to call my systems administrator in Florida, and let her know the project wasn't moving forward. She is an expert with the current system, but was looking forward to the cultural change of everyone moving to a new system, and being educated by professionals on the right and proper way to use that system. So much for that. She and I convened today, figuring out how to make lemonade out of lemons. Only time, patience, and a swift kick in the pants to some of the Finance staff will tell if our ideas will be successful.

In other words, I am back to where I was in October.

That's the "reverse it" part.

Now tell me, without using Google or any other search engine, YouTube, or Wiki (or anything of a sort) what movie is my post title used?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Too Bad, So Sad

President Calderon of Mexico is upset at the anti-immigration tone in the United States. Just read what he says here.

Ironically, our pro-security President (maybe I should have put that in quotes) is working on a $1.4 BILLION stimulus/security package for Mexico, which would focus on securing Mexico's southern border.

Two plus two equals four.

Before you say this doesn't add up from the U.S. perspective, it adds up perfectly. At least, if you are Bush.

2 - Bush wants amnesty for illegal aliens coming across the Mexican border. Primarily, these aliens will be Mexicans.


2 - Calderon wants to secure his southern border from Central Americans. They just don't fit into the US/Canada/Mexico single-economy model.

= 4 - another step toward an American Union.

Monday, February 11, 2008

In a Nutshell

If you've never read the daily comic Non Sequitur, I think this strip is a good introduction. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Par for the Course

Patriots and Tyrants is going bye-bye. Based on blogs we had participated in prior to starting P&T, Scott and I believed more people wanted to discuss solutions for the U.S. rather than just gripe. Maybe, some day, we'll be able to start a similar site in the future, and get more action.

Would have probably helped for us to have posted more frequently, too.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Changing the Primary System

Update: I added a survey about the political parties to the right side of my blog. Take a look at the parties' platforms, then answer the survey.

What's wrong with having a national primary?

No, I don't mean where the highest vote getter for each party gets all the delegates, then automatically gets their party's nomination. Heck no, think of all the revenue the parties would lose by not having to hold a national convention. (snicker)

No, I am talking about keeping all the state rules for delegates, but having all of the primaries on the same day. Talk about shaking things up? Then, the left-leaning RINO's in New Hampshire, and the liberals voting as independents in the open primaries in other states, wouldn't have as significant impact on my voting options.

Lookie here:

  • Mitt Romney - out before Valentine's Day
  • Rudy Guliani - out before February
  • Fred Thompson - out before February
  • Duncan Hunter - out before February
  • Tom Tancredo - out before the new year
So my "choices" for my Republican vote in the March Ohio primary are:
  • John McCain - who moves to the left on issues of importance to me when it's time to govern.
  • Mike Huckabee - who attracts Christian voters, but would be labeled a Democratic nominee if you just looked at what he did in Arkansas without looking at title or faith.
  • Ron Paul - libertarian/constitutionalist at heart, but with whom I disagree on matters of defense and foreign policy.
Be honest...where's the "choice"? I'm not being negative; I'm being a conservative realist. Would I choose the pro-amnesty, pro-election "reform" candidate? The tax-raising, amnesty-happy, Mexican-consulate creating "populist" candidate? Or the isolationist, we-are-the-problem, get out of everywhere NOW candidate?

I can honestly say none of them represent me to my satisfaction. Some of the eliminated candidates may have, much more than the remaining crop. And that was my thought before Romney suspended his campaign.

So, why not set up primaries so that I can at least vote for who I believe does represent me, and let the voters sort it out? Who's to say Vermont wouldn't select Paul as the 'R' candidate, while Arizona selects Hunter, and Utah selects Romney? If none of them get enough delegates, good for us! We arrange a do-over. :-)

I would also add a binding "none of the above" option for all primaries, without a do-over for the party whose winning candidate is "NOTA".

If I did that though, I would also level the opportunity to begin a campaign. We conservatives always talk about equality of opportunity, while being against equality of results. In terms of elections, we have neither, thanks to the goofy election laws.

So why not make our vote really count, instead of making only our "hold our nose" vote count?

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Class Action

Can I sue the Republican Party?

That's a serious question.

The Republican Party has given up the ship. Every remotely conservative candidate is out of the race. Except for Ron Paul, of course, for whom no "thinking" conservative would ever cast a vote. Well, that's what the media AND the Republican leadership say, isn't it.

Since the Republican Party is no longer as advertised, what is the opportunity for filing a class action lawsuit against the party for false advertising? The Dems are bozos, idiots, pacifists, , but for the most part, they are as advertised. The same cannot be said for Republicans.

Since I am still a member of the Republican Party due to the one $30 donation I made fifteen years ago, and the party has left me, can I seriously consider creating a class action lawsuit against the idiots who try to tell me, "I represent you, dammit, so vote for me!"?


Read this article. The points are well founded and make sense.

But that's not why I want you to read it.

After you've read and digested it, then let it settle in your brain for a little bit, I want you to tell me what's wrong with it.

Monday, February 04, 2008

That's Entertainment!

After not paying attention to the Super Bowl hype, I got home from band practice just in time to sit in front of the tube with the whole family and watch "the big event". The Engineer, front-runner that he is, was rooting for the Patriots. The Artist didn't really care about the game; she was rooting for the commercials. Marie was doing the same, conducting research for the next day's post.

In a post I submitted a couple weeks ago, I said I didn't care who won. As the game went on, though, I found myself slowly getting excited about the opportunity for...for...for...


As the Giants hung on via their stifling defense, I couldn't help but start rooting for them. After watching them play the Patriots so well during the last week of the season, I thought they had a chance; they wouldn't be blown out, but I didn't know if they could win. But, as they kept thwarting the Patriot's offense, and Eli Manning kept not looking like an idiot (see his last three years to understand this), I grew more excited for the Giants.

Enter the fourth quarter. New England took the lead with less than three minutes left. You could even hear Marie groaning, "Oh no, not the Patriots!" As the Giants took over on offense, I thought, "They have enough time, they don't need to rush." They earned a couple first downs, then got themselves into a third down situation when this happened:

Awesome. The most awesome play I have ever seen in a Super Bowl. Probably the best non-trick play I've ever seen. David Tyree caught the ball with his right hand AND HIS HELMET! Talk about concentration. Talk about strength. Wow!

At that point, I knew they COULD win. Then, with less than 40 seconds left in the game, the Giants scored a touchdown, and stopped the Pats from scoring again. Game, set, match: New York Giants! I actually ended up rooting for a New York team. Imagine that!

All over a game I didn't care about two weeks ago. It was the best Super Bowl I have seen in my lifetime, all 39.912328767123288 years of it. I guess I waltzed into the den thinking, as some of my band fans say, "I'm coming to watch you play; DON'T SUCK!" Well, the Giants didn't. Neither did the Pats. The better team, on that day, won the game.


Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers played an excellent halftime show yesterday. They sounded great. Looks are a concern, though. I wasn't sure if I was watching Tom Petty

Or Red Green

Maybe they are related.


And finally, here are the songs Running in Circles chose to learn. Or, will at least attempt at our upcoming practices:

*1. Dirty Little Secret - All American Rejects
2. Over You - Daughtry
*3. Authority Song - John Mellencamp
4. Love Song - Sara Barellies
5. Absolutely (Story Of A Girl) - Nine Days
*6. Anyway You Want It - Journey
*7. Talk Dirty To Me - Posion
8. You And Your Hand - Pink
9. Lovefool - Cardigans
10. Kiss Me - Sixpence None The Richer
*11. Paralyzer - Finger Eleven
12. Who Says You Can't Go Home - Bon Jovi
13. Life Is A Highway - Rascal Flats
14. Sweet Caroline - Neil Diamond
15. Fire - Red Hot Chili Peppers/Jimi Hendrix
16. Give A Little Bit - Goo Goo Dolls / Supertramp
17. Saturday Night Is Alright For Fighting - Elton John

Songs marked with (*) are songs that, for various reasons, I am ready to perform.

Lot of variety, although I think we are becoming more of a family/party band than a bar band. We'll see where that leads us. (p.s. It is not worth watching the RHCP version of Fire. Trust me on this one.)


So, when's my birthday? Marie, the kids, and anyone with our church's calendar cannot venture a guess. (That includes you, Scott!!!)

Sunday, February 03, 2008


While Nero fiddles, and 90% of Rome along with it:

(talk about gibberish)

There are actually some leaders (10%, hopefully on the increase) who think something ought to be done about it.
And if you don't like the way Congress runs its operation, you may want to get behind this bill.

No one forcefully constrained us into supporting only two political parties. We do it to ourselves.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Is There a Football Game Tomorrow?

Somebody told me ("you had a boyfriend". Sorry, I couldn't resist.) that a pretty important football game being played tomorrow. Last I recall, it didn't include the Cleveland Browns, so it cannot be all that important.

It has been a busy week, and I actually haven't thought about the game very much, only when asked. Beyond that, it was a typical week:

  • Someone in the family was sick (poor Engineer - he's okay now)
  • Someone in the family went to the hospital (my mom - she's okay now)
  • Construction crew continued the kitchen improvements, which went slower than expected because the crew chief/owner was sick.
  • I started working with a consultant/business liaison on the big Finance project at work, then...
  • Our parent company asks if they can leverage my consultant's experience on similar projects. Um, that was never part of the deal....
Along with that, I'm learning new songs to play with a second band that will rock out more than Running in Circles, but won't fill the dance floor nearly as much. And, tomorrow we are celebrating my father-in-law's birthday at lunch, then I am leaving the lunch to attend band practice for Running in Circles. Each band mate is bringing a list of songs for the band's consideration, as I mentioned in a prior post. I chose...

I'll let you know which of my songs the band chooses...after the break.

I'll get home from practice between 5:30-6:00pm. Just in time to eat dinner. Then log into work to submit my time sheet and prepare for tomorrow. Then obtain the songs that RIC has chosen to learn. Then start learning them.

Oh, yeah. Is there a football game tomorrow?


What song contains the lyrics in quotes in the first line of my post?

Monday, January 28, 2008

A Response to GDAEman

I was going to respond to GDAEman's comment to this post in the comments section. I didn't realize I was writing another complete post!

An introduction is in order: GDAEman is a regular commenter on the Patriots and Tyrants blog co-hosted by Scott and me. (If you consider our posting on P&T to be regular.) If you looked at all three of our personal blogs, you would probably say that we shouldn't be agreeing on anything. However, we all believe there is a greater good than the two political parties we succumb to, and have some good conversations that transcend the current goo called U.S. Politics.

I also added GDAEman to my links on the right today. Welcome, GDAEman!

Here it goes.


Agreed that we have gotten smarter on some principles, and made amends (pun intended). There is something to be said about "life, liberty, and property" though, that gets lost in the mix.

That which I am given, I tend to find less valuable. I'm not talking about family heirlooms or priceless treasures here, which are given to us and are extremely valuable, but primarily only to us. I am talking about commodities on the low end, and common assets that were once seen as luxuries - houses, cars, etc. - on the high end.

Those things that I earn - through profits, wages, battle, debate - I tend to defend and protect. Why do inventors protect and defend their ideas? Because of the years of toil and strain. It's pride of ownership.

What happens when pride of ownership disappears? When someone buys a house, and gets it on a zero down-pay mortgage, then cannot afford the mortgage, what did they really lose? Not the $20,000 they saved up for 5-10 years, because they didn't save it in the first place. Not the ding to their credit score, since their credit score might have been bad already. And who cares when it is socially acceptable to declare bankruptcy at the drop of a hat?

I'm not bundling everyone into the same category here in the sub-prime fiasco. My point is that it's easy to distance yourself from failure when there is nothing to defend, nothing that you owned.

We don't have to earn much nowadays to have more than people in 65-70% of the world. The monthly earnings of some entitlement recipients, which aren't taxed, rival the post-tax discretionary incomes of some low-level professionals and many blue collar workers. We look to be given more, instead of looking to work for more.

We are so far removed from the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, where U.S. liberty was defended on American soil. This pride of ownership issue not only applies to tangible goods, but to ideals as well. Today, we take our liberties for granted, as though they were given to us as a gift, not as something for which we sacrificed lives. We don't "own" our country any more. Pride of ownership is taboo, because it makes those that don't own feel inferior. We can't have that now, can we? Instead, we must build up their self-esteem, tell them how wonderful they are, yet still not nurture them into being thoughtful, productive, progressive members of society.

What I'm saying is that we are a country of enablers. We enable politicians to take us for granted, to use us as their own pieces on their big Risk game board. I can hear it now:

"I want to be red this time."
"Okay, I'll be blue."
"Can I play, too?"
"No! There is only enough room for two of us."
"But what about all those other playing pieces?"
"Won't work. We'll both gang up on you so you can't win."
We enable businesses to take advantage of us by trying to create legal monopolies and stifling competition. We accept 'free' offers for cell phones, wireless service, and for 'click points' on websites. Or we register our buying habits with grocery stores...gas card companies...all so we can pay a little less, or nothing at all, on our next gas purchase or big-ticket-I-still-can't-afford-it fantasy vacation (it's for the children, after all). Nothing like letting all these companies know exactly what our buying habits are. We might as well just give them the keys to the house!

We enable political action groups to tell us when to emote, while never actually delving into why they want us to emote. Why should I MoveOn, when it's just about bashing the Right? Same with Kos. Same with many right-leaning websites. Heck, lefties bash Kucinich and righties bash Paul. What's up with that? Each party now cannibalizes their own non-conformists, instead of letting the voters give them the thumbs up or thumbs down.

We enable the media to whittle down our presidential nominee list for us by volume of positive or negative coverage.

And, conversely, politicians enable us to ask for more, because they keep giving it to us. We get lazier and lazier, ask for more and more, and defend what we have less and less.

Okay, enough ranting. My point is that the Constitution may have been written by wealthy men looking to protect their assets from other wealthy men, but look what happens when we don't want to protect anything - ideals, borders, faiths, liberties. I remember seeing a graphic about the rise and fall of civilizations, I think by Benjamin Disraeli. Looking at the natural regression of civilization after we get "too much", civilization declines rather quickly. From what I recall of the representative graphic, we are almost halfway down the decline.

Geez, I didn't think I would be writing a sub-post. :-)


***I wish I could find that graphic somewhere, something about the body politic. Someone please help; even just citing a legitimate reference would be good.

Affirmative Action Presidency

Are we going to make Barak Obama the first affirmative action President?

I'm not talking about his credentials. I'm not talking about his races, considering he is multi-racial. I'm not even talking about his beliefs or political aspirations.

I'm talking about the people who claim him for their own.

Is the need to vote for "my person" going to put us in a position where qualifications and an affinity with the candidate's direction of the country don't matter?

Okay, stop laughing. I know they don't really matter to any of the candidates still seriously in the running today, or to the people that will vote for them and only them. For those folks, it's still about "us vs. them".

But, seriously...are Oprah's disciples so starved for a "black" man to be president that, should a white man with the same political beliefs and ideals run against other white men, her disciples wouldn't look twice at him, but would instead vote for one of the other candidates?

And there, you would have it. The "unqualified" white version of this man would remain unqualified. The "unqualified" mixed race version of this man would be promoted over others more qualified. That sounds like affirmative action to me.

Of course, that would mean we had qualified candidates. But that's for another post....

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Song Quest

Hello friends,

We are at it again. Running in Circles is looking for new songs to add to its repertoire. We are looking for a couple different types of songs:

- sing-along anthems, like Journey's Don't Stop Believing
- dance or danceable rock songs

The way this works best for our band is that each band member picks five songs they would like the band to consider. Everyone listens to those five songs, and the band picks one. Six members, six songs selected. Unless our keyboardist says, "just tell me what to learn," then it's five new songs.

So I have to pick five songs. Here is my short (too short) list from which I will choose my five:
- Lovin' Every Minute of It - Loverboy
- Oh Boy! - Buddy Holly
- Any Way You Want It - Journey
- No Matter What - Badfinger or Def Leppard version
- Somebody's Baby - Jackson Browne
- Heart & Soul - Huey Lewis & the News

Like I said, it's a short list. Got any other ideas?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Super Test

With Super Tuesday coming soon, I think it's time to have a Super Test. The test is simple.

1. Read these articles:

Article #1
Article #2
Article #3

2. Answer this question: what does each article reference that which our current crop of Big Box candidates only gives lip service?

If you fail the test, then maybe you shouldn't vote in the November Presidential election, because you have no idea on what this country is founded.

If you fail the test, you should visit my political links on the right, because you just don't get it. back to your regularly cordial Quipper.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Rooting for the Favorite

The Engineer does not know who Bill Belichick is. He does not know what that name means to Cleveland sports. All he knows is that the New England Patriots had no losses prior to today's conference championship football games.

I asked the Engineer who he wanted to win the games. He chose New England and Green Bay. When I asked him who he wanted to win the Super Bowl if those two teams played, he chose Green Bay. (Must be something with the green.) He is asleep now, but will be disappointed tomorrow morning to hear that Green Bay lost. My guess is that he will pick New England.

I, on the other hand, really don't care who wins. Like most of the playoff games this year, it's a case of which team I disliked less. (Sounds like how some people approach voting in elections, doesn't it?) Whereas the Engineer is compelled to root for one team every game, I can watch a game without needing to root for one of them.

This is how I will be watching the Super Bowl. Generally, I don't like New York sports teams. Then again, I've had my fill of Boston teams winning all the marbles, too. The Belichick angle does not bother me, although I know it bothers a lot of other Clevelanders. The guy is an emotionless, abrasive, arrogant genius. We see what he might have been able to do in Cleveland if we weren't so star-crossed with our quarterback at the time, Bernie Kosar. I still can't root for the Patriots, though, but I'm tired of seeing the Manning quarterbacks in Super Bowls.

What is a football fan to do? I will watch the game considering the historical implications on the sport itself. The Patriots are in their fourth Super Bowl in seven years, and could still have an undefeated season. The Giants could, ironically, play the giant killer. They've seen this script before, and didn't like the way it ended during the last game of the regular season. And how's this for drama: New England and New York, playing the final game of the post-season after New York tried to end New England's undefeated year during the last week of the regular season. Poetic.

And if the game is anything like the regular season ender between the two of them, it should be a very good game.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Under the Bus?

I was presented with two fabulous opportunities this weekend. From the business and Christian perspectives, however, I couldn't take them.

See, both were opportunities to throw someone under the bus. One was band-related, and the other work-related. Some heat was exchanged in the band-related issue, but nothing significant will come of it. I know who the culprit is and what to expect of them. I don't have to be happy about it, but will keep a closer eye on certain situations in the future.

The work issue relates to a C-level employee and a Senior Vice President. They tried throwing me under the bus on Friday, but they could only do that by providing scant information about a situation they knew about, but let fester in myriad ways. I could expose a significant number of issues relating to these persons' department, but that would do nothing. Instead, I took the high road and answered the charges factually, thoroughly and professionally.

I will be working with these folks on a huge conversion project this year. This project, by its mere existence and sponsorship by our new owners, Farmers, will eliminate virtually all of the causes and symptoms of the current situation. These two folks already do not trust IT, yet become their own worst enemy because they then try to have unqualified staff do the work IT should do. So why should I fan the flames of animosity if everything will be sorted out in the next twelve months?

In the meantime, I do what I do best: use my project management and organizational skills at work, and play bass and entertain the crowd at gigs. But, in both situations, I also bite my tongue and exercise patience, neither of which are easy for me.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Mulligan '08

Between illness, lost days at work, and other things going on for family and friends, I am officially declaring a mulligan for 2008. We can all forget that the last week really happened, and can start the new year over tomorrow.

Happy New Year everyone!