Monday, December 31, 2012

You Say You Want A Resolution...

So we arrive at the dawn of a new year.  It always seems to be a time of new beginnings.  Or at least wishes for new beginnings.  We look back wistfully, or proudly, or disappointedly and sometimes think of what could have been.  We also look forward.  I like to think most look forward optimistically.  That the new year will bring new challenges, new opportunities, new successes.  At least that's what I try to do.

I'm not huge on resolutions, but they can be fun.  They can also sometimes make us think.  Make us think about what we can be...what we should be...what is good for us and bad for us.  Unfortunately, many resolutions (I RESOLVE to do this!) don't last long.  They get forgotten in our hectic lives.

So I'm gonna try...try to state them...try to work on them...try to keep them.  Maybe I won't be totally successful, but I'm going to write these down, keep them in mind, and this time next year look back.  I hope it will be proudly...not wistfully or disappointedly.  Here they are:

Honesty--This might be pretty difficult.  We all take the easy way out on this one.  We don't say what we think.  Of course, it's very important to take feelings into account when giving your opinion.  Sometimes you need to be sensitive to hurt feelings.  But most times it's tempting to give the easy answer.  To tell someone what they want to hear.   To wimp out.  This year I RESOLVE to be honest.  You want my opinion, you're going to get my HONEST opinion.  If you don't want it, don't ask for it.  If you don't want to read it, leave here now.

Unsubscribe--This one will be easy.  I get way too much nonsense email.  I RESOLVE to unsubscribe to things I don't need/want and keep at it throughout the year.

Exercise--Need to do more of this.  I'm a pretty active person.  I get in the gym regularly...but not regularly enough.  I get out on a bike ride regularly...but not regularly enough.  You get the picture.  So this year I RESOLVE to exercise on a regular basis.  Wish I could say an interval or time schedule, but the reality of my life/job makes that not doable.  But this time next year I'll know if I fulfilled this resolution.

Moisturize--This is another easy one (hey...I need some that are no brainers!).  My doctor tells me to do it more.  My wife tells me to do it more.  I can look at my skin and realize I need to do it more.  So this year I RESOLVE to apply moisturizer to my skin more regularly.

Getaway Place--we (mostly me) have wanted to get a second home for a while.  I think it would be great to have another place in a resort area for a getaway.  And do it regularly.  And do it more and more.  Right now I'm focused on a condo in Mammoth.  The area it all.  Four seasons, lots to do (hiking, biking, fishing, skiing, golfing, festivals, and much more), pretty reasonable, close to drive to, etc, etc.  But I need to do some more research.  But I RESOLVE to narrow the choices, go visit the target area, and pull the trigger.  Hopefully we'll have next Thanksgiving at our place in Mammoth.  Stay tuned.

Electronic Sanity--I really like technology.  I have many of the gadgets that connect me to the world.  I'm all about the web.  It's revolutionized our lives and mostly for the better.  But lately I've become sort of disenchanted with how pervasive they can become if we let them.  I've experienced people who are truly over the top.  People who can't let it go.  They check their devices (whatever they are) constantly, as if there is some all important message or information that needs immediate attention.  It got me thinking...what did we do before these things?  Did we pay more attention to each other?  Were we more aware of our surroundings?  Did we give each other more respect?  So this year I RESOLVE to put the devices down and leave them down more often.  I mean...it's just not that important.

Weight--Okay...you knew this was coming.   Who doesn't go on a diet on Jan 2nd?  Jan 2nd because there are just too many good things to eat while watching football on the 1st!  I'm a big guy and carry it reasonably well, but could stand to lose some weight.  Especially at my age, I gotta eat better.  Of course, that's difficult because I like food so much!  But I'm gonna try.  This is one that will definitely be judged this time next year and I'll look back either proudly or disappointedly.  I'll let you know.

Try New Restaurants--Here's another easy one.  I blogged a while back about going out to eat.  We go out pretty routinely.  But sometimes we get in a rut.  Go to the same places over and over.  Nothing wrong with that and nothing wrong with being loyal.  But it's also cool to try new places.  Literally, every time we do we enjoy ourselves.  So we're going to try and explore new restaurants.  But now that I think about it, maybe not so easy.  If I'm going to lose weight, I better choose wisely in exploring new restaurants.  :)

So that's it.  I usually think of a few things in my mind and then go about my business.  But writing them down is helpful...and a bit scary.  I mean...they are out there for all to see.  At least everyone who is reading.  Check back next year, same time.  I'll let you know how I did.

Finally, here's a quote about the new year that I really like.  Pretty simple and straightforward...and one that after all is said and done I can aspire to...
“Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each New Year find you a better person.” –Benjamin Franklin



Sunday, December 30, 2012

Motivation Monday


Good Win

Any win over the hated Raiders is a good win!  I was on a plane and missed the game so can't comment on specifics but, hey...a win is a win!  And to finish the season beating the Raiders is sweet.  So now what?  Most (all?) believe Norv and A.J. are gone.  That is the nature of the beast.  Winning is the name of the game.   So they'll need a new coach, a new GM, and many new players. I also saw that they get the 11th player in the draft.  They better use it wisely!   Lots to do!!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Friday Funnies

As we go into the last week of the NFL season this seems appropriate.  Especially with the Mannings continuing to dominate the scene!


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Motivation Monday


Playing It Out

Chargers win ugly.  Jets are bad.  Real bad.  Which is interesting because they have three pretty good athletes competing for quarterback.  But now they are both just playing out the season.  The good news?  Padres Spring Training starts Feb 23rd!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Light Show

Tis the season as the saying goes.  It's my favorite time of the year, as I'm sure it is for many.  One of the fun things is to see all the folks who decorate their homes and businesses.  Makes everything festive.  I came across this collection and thought I'd share.  Some are over the top...but that's okay.  I think I like this one the best...


Stunningly Insensitive

So it's been a week.  A week of tears, funerals, agonizing over cause and effect.  A week in which it seems that people are at least starting to think about the culture.  Most responsible voices are talking about cause and effect.  About why we've come to a place where we increasingly experience the heartbreak of mass murders, of gun violence, of senseless killings.  The call for sensible gun regulations is heartening, at least to me.  The awareness of the need for increased attention and funding for mental health seems like a good and positive step.  Of course, there is plenty of evidence that many don't agree.  The stories of increased gun sales, of people demanding unlimited gun rights are still there.  But at least there is dialog.

And then the NRA comes out with their statement yesterday.  I guess advocacy organizations have to take an extreme stand.  They have to stake out a position that will allow a retreat to a position they can accept.  At least I hope that is the case here.  But...more guns are the solution?

One week after the slaughter at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the National Rifle Association’s  Wayne LaPierre took to a microphone to deliver a defensive, crackpot speech that didn’t fully grasp the impact of the murder of 20 first-graders at the hands of a madman with an assault rifle.  Everyone was to blame. The media and their corporate owners. The political class in Washington. Video games. Violent movies. The mentally ill. But at no point did he point his finger back at the NRA, the one institution that has made it difficult, if not impossible, to bring about common-sense firearms legislation in the country.
I believe a national effort to improve the culture is needed.   We clearly don't have the leadership to do that.  But some are trying.   It's also tough to do in a nation of 300 million and an environment where anything goes.  I believe in all the rights we are afforded under our unique and beloved Constitution.  But to keep those rights and to maintain our society requires fundamental personal responsibility.  That is woefully absent.  LaPierre's speech is a good example of that absence.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Navy Humor

Got the series of stories below from an old shipmate.  If you're attuned at all to the rivalry and camaraderie amongst the ranks in the military, you'll appreciate this humor.

"THE FIVE MOST DANGEROUS THINGS HEARD IN THE US NAVY"

A Seaman saying "I learned this in Boot Camp..."
A Petty Officer saying "Trust me, sir..."
An Ensign saying "Based on my experience..."
A Lieutenant saying "I was just thinking..."
A Chief chuckling, "Watch this sh$t..."

NOW THEY TELL ME

During a commercial airline flight a Navy Chief was seated next to a young mother with a baby in arms. When her baby began crying during the descent for landing, the mother began nursing her infant as discreetly as possible. The Chief pretended not to notice and, upon debarking, he gallantly offered his assistance to help with the various baby-related articles. When the young mother expressed her gratitude, he responded, "Gosh, that's a good looking baby...and he sure was hungry!" Somewhat embarrassed, the mother explained that her pediatrician said breast feeding would help alleviate the pressure in the baby's ears. The Chief sadly shook his head, and in true US Navy fashion exclaimed........ And all these years I've been chewing gum.

NAVAL OFFICERS and NAVY CHIEFS 


A group of Chiefs and a group of Naval Officers take a train to a conference. Each Naval Officer holds a ticket. But the entire group of Chiefs has bought only one ticket for a single passenger. The Naval Officers are just shaking their heads and are secretly pleased that the arrogant Chiefs will finally get what they deserve. Suddenly one of the Chiefs calls out: "The conductor is coming!". At once, all the Chiefs jump up and squeeze into one of the toilets. The conductor checks the tickets of the Naval Officers. When he notices that the toilet is occupied he knocks on the door and says: "Ticket, please!" One of the Chiefs slides the single ticket under the doors and the conductor continues merrily on his round. For the return trip the Naval Officers decide to use the same trick. They buy only one ticket for the entire group but they are baffled as they realize that the Chiefs didn't buy any tickets at all. After a while one of the Chiefs announces again: "The conductor is coming!" Immediately all the Naval Officers race to a toilet and lock themselves in. All the Chiefs leisurely 

walk to the other toilet. Before the last Chief enters the toilet, he knocks on the toilet occupied by the 
Naval Officers and says: "Ticket, please!"

Moral of the story? -- Officers like to use the methods of the Chiefs, but they don't really understand them.

MASTER CHIEF AND 3 LIEUTENANTS

One day, a Master Chief went to the Officer's Club with his Captain to eat lunch. When they entered the main dining room, they found the place was crowded. They did notice three Lieutenants sitting at a table with two empty chairs, so the Captain asked them if they could join them. They promptly invited them to join them. They ordered lunch and joined them in conversation as they ate. At one point, the Master Chief mentioned he had observed characteristics about many officers from which he could determine the sources of their commissioning. The Lieutenants were eager to hear about this and asked if he could tell how each of them had been commissioned.

The Master Chief turned to the Lieutenant on his left and said he went through ROTC. The Lieutenant confirmed that was correct and asked how he had noted this. The Master Chief replied that the Lieutenant, through his conversation, seemed to have a strong academic background but limited military experience.

The Master Chief then told the Lt on his right that he had gone through OCS with previous enlisted service. The Lieutenant confirmed this was correct and also asked how he had determined this. The Master Chief said, again through his conversation, that the Lieutenant seemed to have a firm military background and a lot of common sense.

The Lieutenant across the table from the Master Chief asked if he had determined his source of commission. The Master Chief replied that the Lieutenant had graduated from the United States Naval Academy . The Lieutenant stated that was correct and asked if he had noticed his high level of intelligence, precise military bearing, or other superior qualities acquired at the United States Naval Academy . The Master Chief replied that it was none of these that led to his determination. He had simply observed the Lieutenant's class ring while he was picking his nose.

ROUTE TO BECOMING AN ADMIRAL

Three men are sitting stiffly side by side on a long commercial flight. After they're airborne and the plane has leveled off, the man in the window seat abruptly says, distinctly and confidently, in a low voice, " Admiral , United States Navy, retired. Married, two sons, both surgeons."
After a few minutes the man in the aisle seat states through a tightlipped smile, “ Admiral , United States Navy, retired. Married, two sons, both judges."

After some thought, the fellow in the center seat decides to introduce himself. With a twinkle in his eye he proclaims: “ Master Chief Petty Officer , United States Navy, retired. Never married, two sons, both Admirals."

SEAMANSHIP TEST

One time during the underway watch the OOD decided to test a Chief Petty Officer's seamanship.
"Chief, what would you do if the forward watch fell off the side of the ship?" "Easy, sir, I'd call 'Man Overboard' and follow the Man Overboard procedures."
"What would you do if an officer fell overboard?" "Hmmm," The Chief said, "Which one, sir?"

OLD SALT

A crusty old battleship admiral died and found himself standing before Saint Peter at the pearly gates. Peter welcomed him warmly, "Come right in, Admiral! You've served your country well and you may enter Heaven!"

The admiral looked thru the gates and stepped up to Saint Peter, "Just one thing, sonny. I hope there's no Chiefs here. They are the rudest, most obnoxious variety of human ever, and if there are any of them here, I'm not going in; I'd rather go to the other place."

"Don't worry, admiral," said Saint Peter. “No Chief has ever made it into Heaven – you’ll find none of 'em here."

So, the admiral goes on into Heaven. Moments later, he comes upon an amazing sight. It is a swaggering figure in khakis, garrison cap cocked slightly on his head, a mostly empty bottle of Jack Daniels in one hand, and a beautiful woman on either arm.

Incensed, the admiral rushes back to Saint Peter and gets in his face. "Hey! You said there were no Chiefs here! So what the hell is THAT?!?"
"Don't worry, admiral," says Saint Peter gently. "That's God. He just THINKS he's a Chief."

A WISE OLD MASTER CHIEF ONCE SAID

A young Ensign approaches the crusty old Master Chief and asked about the origin of the commissioned officer insignias.
"Well," replied the Master Chief, " the insignias for the Navy are steeped in history and tradition.
First, we give you a gold bar representing that you are very valuable but also malleable.
The silver bar also represents significant value, but is less malleable.
Now, when you make Lieutenant, your value doubles, hence the two silver bars.
As a Captain, you soar over the military masses, hence the eagle.
As an Admiral, you are, obviously, a star.
Does that answer your question?"
"Yes Master Chief" replied the young Ensign. "But what about Lieutenant Commander and Commander?"
"That, sir, goes waaaay back in history - back to the Garden of Eden. You see we've always covered our pricks with leaves."

THE CHIEF AND THE GUNNY

An old Chief and an old Gunny were sitting at the VFW arguing about who'd had the tougher career. "I did 30 years in the Corps," the Gunny declared proudly, "and fought in three of my country's wars. Fresh out of boot camp I hit the beach at Okinawa , clawed my way up the blood soaked sand, and eventually took out an entire enemy machine gun nest with a single grenade. "As a sergeant, I fought in Korea alongside General Mac Arthur. We pushed back the enemy inch by bloody inch all the way up to the Chinese border, always under a barrage of artillery and small arms fire. "Finally, as a gunny sergeant, I did three consecutive combat tours in Vietnam . We humped through the mud and razor grass for 14 hours a day, plagued by rain and mosquitoes, ducking under sniper fire all day and mortar fire all night. In a fire fight, we'd fire until our arms ached and our guns were empty, then we'd charge the enemy with bayonets!"

"Ah," said the Chief with a dismissive wave of his hand, "all shore duty, huh?"

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Friday Funnies

This is funny.  Not Ha Ha funny.  Weirdly and truthfully funny...


Finally

The sad story of the Benghazi disaster has been ongoing for several months.  As I've posted previously here and several other times.  My point has consistently been to not focus on who said what in the aftermath.  I simply don't care.  But the response to pleas for help has been unacceptable.  Finally, we hear about the results of the investigation.  It seems pretty late but at least there are admissions of incompetence. People have been held accountable.  Some have lost their jobs.  And I think that is right.  The quote by William Burns says it all.
"We've learned some very hard, and painful lessons in Benghazi, and all are acting on them," said William Burns, deputy secretary of state, during testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "We have to do better. We owe it to our colleagues who lost their lives in Benghazi."

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

No Simple Answers

The Sandy Hook story continues...as it should.  I've posted on it in the last week and it still is fresh in my thoughts.  It was such a devastating and unthinkable disaster, that I believe (or maybe hope to believe) that some things will change.  Two issues that are getting front and center play are gun control and mental illness.  Both of these issues are controversial and impact on our rights.  But they must be dealt with.

I frequently look to others for inspiration.  One who rarely disappoints is Peggy Noonan.  She writes weekly for WSJ and periodically on her blog.  Her post is, I beleive, an inspiration.  It's titled simply, Newtown.  You can read it here:  http://blogs.wsj.com/peggynoonan/2012/12/17/newtown/?mod=WSJBlog
In the aftermath of this terrible tragedy, I think she makes three very valid points

     "...we must provide more treatment options for parents of children whom they know to be mentally unstable and potentially dangerous. If your child is hungry, you can get food. If your child breaks his leg, the hospital is there. But if your child is psychologically sick or mentally unbalanced and beginning to show signs of violent behavior, you’re more or less on your own. We have to change this. We are making more sick teenagers and young men now, not fewer, and this is going to continue as our culture breaks up. I think we all know this, deep down."  I saw a very applicable and scary story that someone posted on Facebook titled "I Am Adam Lanza's Mother".  You can read it here:  http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2012/12/15/i-am-adam-lanzas-mother  The choices offered today to help kids like this are unsat.  It must change.

     Second..."Congress should move quickly—really, right away—to ban something almost every member would ban next week if they were given a clean, short, unambiguous piece of legislation. Two years ago, after Tucson, I urgedPresident Obama to make such a bill a priority in his 2011 State of the Union Address.
A hot subject then was the polarizing nature of our political rhetoric. But I wrote:
Normal people are not afraid of a lowering of discourse in political speech. They don’t like it, but it’s not keeping them up nights. Normal people are afraid of nuts with guns. That keeps them up nights. They know our society has grown more broken, families more sundered, our culture more degraded, and they fear it is producing more lost and disturbed young people. They fear those young people walking into a school or a mall with a semiautomatic pistol with an extended clip.
What civilian needs a pistol with a magazine that loads 33 bullets and allows you to kill that many people without even stopping to reload? No one but people with bad intent. Those clips were banned once; the president should call for reimposing the ban. . . . The president should seize the moment and come out strong for a ban."
     Third..."everyone who has warned for a quarter-century now that our national culture has become a culture of death—movies, TV shows, videogames drenched in blood and violence—has been correct. Deep down we all know it, as deep down we know our culture has a bad impact on the young and unstable who aren’t sturdy enough to withstand and resist sick messages and imagery.  When Hollywood wants to discourage cigarette smoking it knows exactly how to do it, because it knows exactly how much power it has to deliver cultural messages. When Hollywood wants to encourage environmentalism it knows how to do it. But there’s a lot of money to be made in violence, and God knows there’s a market for it—in fact, the more people are fed violence the bigger the market grows, so it’s an ever hungry, always growing market. This is exactly what you want if you’re in a tough business and don’t have a conscience.
Republicans have no sway in Hollywood, none. They are figures of mockery, sometimes deservedly so. If they get into the act here, Hollywood will be able to ignore them, and nothing will change. But the Democrats and the president are in a different position. They could change things for the better."

I think all three suggestions are right.  We have to do something about the state of mental illness.  There are a lot of kids out there who need help but are not getting it.  They fall through the crack.  We also could do some quick things on gun control.  Magazines are a start.  But I really don't get why the average person needs a semi-automatic rifle.  An AR-15 Bushmaster is used for one thing...to kill a lot of people.  And I think the way to change the culture is to use all tools at our disposal, including the Hollywood crowd. 

My sense is that this time it's different.  The sadness is turning to outrage.  The need to make changes is compelling.  The question is whether or not we have the guts to do it...

Pet Peeve Wednesday

It seems that the tragedy at Sandy Hook has colored most of my thinking in the last few days.  Sadness has turned to outrage.  The idea that a guy with clear mental issues (if not illness) had access to an AR-15 Bushmaster is outrageous.  Really the idea that any civilian off the street has access to such weapons is outrageous.  And that leads me to this week's pet peeve.

And at first I thought it was situational, but the more I think about it, it really can be pretty generic.  When something happens in our society, wherever it is on the spectrum of good to evil, there is a natural reaction by our leaders.  The vast majority who have anything to do with it will speak about the need to take action.   To do something.  And I think they are usually just playing a PR game.  Because nothing ever gets done.  I've come to the disappointing conclusion that the majority of our leaders are quite simply, cowards.  If you're in a position of leadership, take a stand.  If you truly believe in a position, fight for that position.  I'm generally not a Dianne Feinstein fan.   But at least she is taking a stand.  She wants to ban these heinous weapons.  Good for her.  The rest could take a lesson...

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Inspiration Monday

Could there be anything else?

Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Numb

Yesterday was shocking.  Today I feel numb.  Numb to the killing.  Numb to the spectacle.  Numb to the idiocy.  I can't watch anymore TV.  It's too difficult.  They just go over and over the same thing.  And we've all been down this road before.  Virginia Tech, Colorado, Oregon, and many others.  It seems to be a variation on a theme.  Except.  Except this is so much worse.  Little kids mowed down.  20 of them.  And teachers.  People with a particular calling to help kids.  Gone.  Kids with futures.  Teachers with purpose.  Gone.  It makes no sense.

The battle over gun control is now emerging.  As I said yesterday, I don't know what the answer is, but serious dialog needs to begin.  Changes need to be made.  Somehow we need to honor and uphold the Second Amendment while at the same time putting into place serious regulations.  The Washington Post had a pretty good first editorial today.
"...whatever the facts of this case, that the country would be safer with fewer guns, that mass killings are more difficult with knives, that it is not the Second Amendment but political cowardice that precludes sensible regulation. That we are not supposed to exploit tragedy to talk about this issue, but that in the absence of tragedy it never gets talked about at all."
But I'm not naive.  I'm not optimistic that anything will be done.  If there is any dialog, it will be overshadowed by shouting and intimidation.  So I guess all I can do is declare my belief that the country needs some sort of gun regulation.  If I get the chance, I'll work for it and I'll vote for it.  Period.  This can't happen again.

We've also been inundated by news.  And this is certainly a newsworthy story if there ever was one.  But once again, as in every big story, be it the pregnancy of Princess Kate, a big hurricane coming ashore, or this unspeakable atrocity, the news media are spring loaded to going over the top.  Everyone needs to get an angle that others don't have.  It has always been that way but with our 24/7 news cycle, it's truly out of control.  We all want information, but what we get is saturation...over saturation.

I saw this little rant attributed to Morgan Freeman posted on Facebook.  I've also seen some articles saying its not true.  That he didn't say it.  But you know what?   I don't care.  I agree with a lot of the sentiments.
TURN OFF THE NEWS.......

Morgan Freeman's brilliant take on what happened yesterday :
"You want to know why. This may sound cynical, but here's why.

It's because of the way the media reports it. Flip on the news and watch how we treat the Batman theater shooter and the Oregon mall shooter like celebrities. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris are household names, but do you know the name of a single *victim* of Columbine? Disturbed people who would otherwise just off themselves in their basements see the news and want to top it by doing something worse, and going out in a memorable way. Why a grade school? Why children? Because he'll be remembered as a horrible monster, instead of a sad nobody.

CNN's article says that if the body count "holds up", this will rank as the second deadliest shooting behind Virginia Tech, as if statistics somehow make one shooting worse than another. Then they post a video interview of third-graders for all the details of what they saw and heard while the shootings were happening. Fox News has plastered the killer's face on all their reports for hours. Any articles or news stories yet that focus on the victims and ignore the killer's identity? None that I've seen yet. Because they don't sell. So congratulations, sensationalist media, you've just lit the fire for someone to top this and knock off a day care center or a maternity ward next.

You can help by forgetting you ever read this man's name, and remembering the name of at least one victim. You can help by donating to mental health research instead of pointing to gun control as the problem. You can help by turning off the news."
Like I said, I agree with most of it.  He (or whoever wrote it) points to mental health research instead of gun control.  I think it's both.  As a society, we need to attack both.

If I believe in anything in government, I believe in the First Amendment.  If there is any fundamental principle of our country, it's freedom of speech.  Once again, I'm not naive.  I don't think it will change.  I don't think it can change.  We're too far down the road and can't come back.  The news media is in it to make a buck.  And being first to report something, or continuing to report something, or finding a new angle that leads to more viewers, which leads to more advertisers, which leads to more revenue is the name of the game.  They will say they are just journalists cover a story.  Right.  But it's really about making a name and making a buck.  Free enterprise.  I get it.  But it's tough to take.  So I'm now a big fan of HGTV, Food Network, ESPN, HBO, etc, etc, etc.  Or going for a bike ride.  Or a walk.  Anything to not be subjected to it.

Finally.  Finally video games.  I haven't paid much attention to these things.  Have seen some advertisements.  When I drop by Best Buy or one of the other electronics stores, I've seen the boxes.  There are hundreds of these things out there.  I'm pretty sure anyone can get them.  Impressionable youth.  Sick weirdos with guns.  Anyone.  In case you're wondering if they are that bad, here's the description of the video game that ranked number one in violence in 2012.

No.1 Postal 2 

Taking the throne of video game violence is a mantle often reserved for only the elite titles, and Postal 2 easily captures the top spot. This is a game in which it is not uncommon to drop-kick grenades and whip scythes at unsuspecting civilians if they refuse to participate in your everyday life story (which is, after all, the plot behind the game). Of course, this includes using cat carcasses as silencers on your gun, hitting people with anthrax-laden cow heads and playing “fetch” with dogs using the severed heads of your dismembered victims. Postal 2 is the epitome of senseless, over-the-top video game violence.
Once again...something needs to be done.  At least...at the very least...we need to keep this kind of crap out of the hands of our kids.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Shocked

So what are we to make of today?  You know what I'm talking about.  Unless you were on Mars today you heard about the horror in Connecticut.  26 people, mostly little children gunned down at school.  It is almost unspeakable.  It is certainly unfathomable.  How are decent people even supposed to process it?  I was driving home this afternoon listening to accounts of the tragedy and found myself crying.  I was talking so my son about it and couldn't even continue.  Maybe I'm just an old softy, but it is just so sad.  I saw President Obama struggle to continue with his remarks and, for the first time, felt his sincerity.  This has touched most people deeply.  I just can't imagine the anguish that the parents of both the living and dead are going through.  All of our heartfelt prayers are with them, but it is small comfort.

And I find myself thinking about something else, that I've never considered.  We've got to figure out something to do about guns.  Don't get me wrong.  I believe in the Second Amendment.  But we've got to do something.  This is the worst, but there have been so many shocking gun tragedies recently.  I've never been a gun guy.  Just never got into it.  But I have friends who own guns.  Some own many.  Handguns, shotguns, semi-automatics.  You name it.  But I don't get why.  Why would you own something that can destroy so much?  I know, I know.  It's for target practice, or sport shooting, or competition, or hunting,or whatever.  But I just don't see it.  Get a different hobby.  Or they need it for protection.  Huh?  Every statistic debunks that theory.  Like I said, I just don't get it.

But the bottom line is that we seem to have gone to the extreme.  Why did that Mother own three handguns in a house with someone mentally unstable?   What was she thinking?  Anyone can own a gun.  There are literally millions in circulation.  There is very little control. I know, I know. We have the right to bear arms.  Guns don't kill people, people kill people.  We must have the ability to protect ourselves against the tyrannical government.  Really?  Really.  I guess I just don't buy it.

Here's what I know.  26 people are dead, mostly little children.  If that deranged monster would've had a weapon other than a gun, they would be alive.  And we've seen it over and over.  And I think we have to do something.  What?  I don't know.  But we've got to start talking about it.  Or it will happen again, and again, and again...

Before starting this I did a simple search about gun statistics.  It is literally mind boggling how many guns there are in this country, how easy they are to obtain, and how much damage they do.  This is just one small part of the problem.  Hat tip to TWJ





Thursday, December 13, 2012

Friday Funnies

Because I spent 25 years of my life as a Naval Officer, I pay pretty close attention to what's going on with my beloved Navy.  And as has always been the case, some crazy stuff goes on.  Of late there is a big hullabaloo regarding sailors on liberty in Japan.  Too many sailors doing what sailors have been doing on liberty since John Paul Jones was an Ensign.  Many (most?) think the Admiral in charge has overreacted.  You can read about it here and decide for yourself.  

But in light of these latest shenanigans, this seems appropriate for Friday Funnies.  Hat tip to JVB.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Pet Peeve Wednesday

Every Wednesday I do this fun little feature.  It usually doesn't take too much thought to think of something that bugs me and write about it.  It's usually not earth shattering.  Funny little annoyances mostly.  Things you'd never really comment on but it feels sorta good to vocalize the frustration.  No big deal...just a small vent.   This week and because of the time of year it was particularly easy to think of a subject.  After all it's Christmas time.  And that brings me to this week's pet peeve.

We've all seen and heard the idiots who carp about nativity scenes on public property.  Folks who need to get a life.  We hear about "holiday trees", "holiday cards", "holiday songs", etc, etc, etc.  All this complaining is, to me, the ultimate in stupidity.  I mean, there is no forcing of anything by anyone in celebrating Christmas.  And society gives plenty of attention to Hannakuh, Kwanza, Festivus, Rammadan, or whatever else anyone wants to celebrate.   After all, the country was founded by Christians, so it's pretty natural that we celebrate Christian traditions. As we used to say when I was a kid, "if it feels good, do it".  But some folks feel a need to see the negative in everything.  Here's my simple advice.  Just go about your business.  Let people alone who want to get a few moments of happiness by celebrating something that makes them feel good in this big old troubled world.  Is that too much to ask?  I don't think so.  Oh, and the second part of this vent is the need to use the politically correct term "Happy Holidays" when wishing someone well this time of year.  It's funny how many people have blindly bought into that nonsense.  As for me, I wish you all a  Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Everyone Just Take A Breath!

I feel sorta like I did when all the chaos and hullabaloo was happening prior to the election.  Non-stop, 24/7 coverage, opinions on the right, opinions on the left, do this, don't do that, doomsday if this scenario happens, easy street if that scenario happens.  It's like that now as the media, the pundits, the professional hecklers keep pounding away on the "fiscal cliff".  I had a post several weeks about where we get our news.  I said then and still believe that it's very important to check several sources.  But I swear sometimes they've all gone crazy.  Just take a look at Real Clear Politics for example.  On any given day they have  a collection of articles coming from both sides.  There are strident, pointed, opinionated, sometimes off the chart articles.  Try watching TV news.  The networks...in the pockets of the Dems.  And don't even get me started on the cable channels.   Fox and MSNBC...both bad.  CNN...at least they try.  NPR...please.  The fishwrap...nope.  I look at the internet news sites and I think CBSNews is the best of a bad lot.  The rest...not so good.  So as I said, you gotta look at everything.

I guess people have to be so remarkably opinionated to get an audience.  But for me...I just feel like turning them all off.  If someone is so far to one side or the other, in my eyes they are a jackass.  Now they would say they are passionate.  That they have strong beliefs because there is so much at stake.  That if they don't win disaster will befall all of us.  B.S.  This country has been through incredibly tough times, both from an economic perspective and from a national security perspecive.  Are we vulnerable?  Yes.  But with all the strong opposition for any idea that one side has, I don't see any radical moves occuring.

There is remarkable gathering commentary about the demise of the Republican party.  That it is just a bunch of old, white guys who are out of touch, hate women and minorities, want to protect the fat cats, and go to war at the drop of a hat.  Did I get that right Maureen Dowd?  Hmmmm...I may be an old, white guy but I'm certainly not any of the rest.  And I've got news for the smug winners and haters on the other side.  Things go in cycles.  Who's up now may be down soon.  I like to think we're all Americans and can get past the rhetoric.  But the hateful speech of the other side is tough to take.  Everyone should think about that before they go prancing smugly about claiming political domination for the foreseeable future.

As for the "fiscal cliff", something is going to happen.  The folks who beleive in big government and the protectionist/redistributionist state won.  There will be consequences.  But take a look at history.  Things go in cycles.  The pendulum swings.  So...taxes will go up.  There will be impacts on small businesses and those who rely on dividend income.  This Obamacare thing is going to be expensive and, I suspect, none too effecient.  But for the vast majority of the country it isn't a disaster.  We'll have to pay more.  Simple as that.  We'll give more to government and less to other things.  I know to most  of my ilk it's maddening that our taxes are going to fund bigger government, to make more people dependent and to squash the dreams of so many.  But it is what it is.  We've got a good check in the House of Representatives and I'm confident that Boehner will get the best deal he can.  He's in a tough position and I for one will support him.  Remember, what comes around goes around.  One of these days we'll be able to unshackle the economy and unleash the American entrepenurial spirit.  But for now...most are hoping we don't go over the cliff...but whatever happens I think it is going to be a pretty wild ride...


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Motivation Monday


Good Win...But Too Late

Credit given where credit is due.  Going into Pittsburgh to play in on a cold, rainy Sunday in December can't be any fun.  Add the injuries, the abysmal record, the pressure the coach and GM have been under and...well, you get the picture.  But credit given where credit is due.  The Chargers got an improbable win today.  Not classic.  Not pretty.  Not a difference maker.  But a win.  The defense played well.  The offense did enough, even though injuries continue to plague them.  Norv and A.J. Are obviously gone at the end of the season.  But they've got to be proud and satisfied with how the team played today.


Friday, December 7, 2012

Beat Army


I didn't go to the Naval Academy.  In fact throughout my Naval career I was among those who gave the "ringknockers" a hard time.  It was always good natured fun to engage in a bit of spirited rivalry between those who did and those who didn't.  Of course I always rooted for Navy when the game came along.  But it wasn't a big deal.  At least not to me.  

And then lo and behold my son announced he wanted to go to the Naval Academy!  I was about as proud as it was possible to be.  Of course I knew it would be difficult.  I knew the experience would change his life forever.  And I was right.  The foundation that I like to believe his mother and I instilled in him was built upon during four onerous but wonderful years.  I'm confident that he wouldn't change a thing.   Much of the strong, solid, ethical person he is was formulated and solidified during those four years in Annapolis.  And then my daughter met and married a terrific guy who also was a USNA grad and good friend of my son.  He is the second of three sons who attended the Naval Academy and has all those same strong character traits you see in the best this country has to offer.  We became a true USNA family!  Who knows...maybe one day one of the Grandkids will be reporting to Alumi Hall on I-Day.

We also got to participate in many activities while he was there and came to realize what a special place the Naval Academy is.  I was a parent but also a Naval Officer.  Over time I became as dedicated to the Academy and as embroiled in the the Army-Navy rivalry as anyone.  It is a wonderful rivalry.  A special rivalry.  A fierce rivalry.  It occurs in all sports but is most intense in football.  If you've never been to an Army-Navy game, you are missing one of the best events in sports.  Actually one of the best events in the country!  There is a special feeling in the stadium that isn't found anywhere else.  All these guys will be brothers in arms soon, but for tomorrow, they want nothing more than to beat the other team.  And they won't quit.  Both sides will play to the end...no matter what the score is.


Great Story!

I don't normally just copy things and post them here.  What fun is there in that?  But here's an exception.  A friend sent me the story below.  Or rather the two stories below.  Really worth the read.


Story Number One
     Many years ago, Al Capone virtually owned Chicago .  Capone wasn’t famous for anything heroic. He was notorious for enmeshing the windy city in everything from bootlegged booze and prostitution to murder.
Capone had a lawyer called Easy Eddie (aka “Fast Eddie”). Easy Eddie was Capone’s lawyer and for a good reason. He was very good!  In fact, his skill at legal maneuvering kept Big Al out of jail for a long time. To show his appreciation, Capone paid him very well. Not only was the money big; Eddie got special dividends. For instance, he and his family occupied a fenced-in mansion with live-in help and all of the conveniences of the day. The estate was so large that it filled an entire Chicago city block. Yes, Easy Eddie lived the high life of  the Chicago mob and gave little consideration to the atrocity that went on around him.
     Eddie did have one soft spot, however. He had a son that he loved dearly. Eddie saw to it that his son had the best of everything; clothes, cars, and a good education. Nothing was withheld. Price  was no object. And despite his involvement with organized crime, Eddie even tried to teach him right from wrong. Yes, Eddie tried to teach his son to rise above his own sordid life. He wanted him to be a better man than he was. Yet, with all his wealth and influence there were two things that Eddie couldn’t give his son.
     Two things that Eddie sacrificed to the Capone mob that he could not pass on to his beloved son: a good name and a good example.
     One day, Easy Eddie reached a difficult decision. Offering his son a good name was far more important than all the riches he could lavish on him. He had to rectify all the wrong that he had done. He would go to the authorities and tell them the truth about Scar-face Al Capone. He would try to clean up his tarnished name and offer his son some semblance of integrity. To do this he must testify against The Mob, and he knew that the cost would be great. But more than anything, he wanted to be a good example to his son. He wanted to do his best to make restoration and hopefully have a good name to leave his son.
     So, he testified. Within the year, Easy Eddie’s life ended in a blaze of gunfire on a lonely Chicago street. He had given his son the greatest gift he had to offer at the greatest price he would ever pay. Police removed from his pockets a rosary, a crucifix, a religious medallion, and a poem clipped from a magazine.
The poem read:
     “The clock of life is wound but once, and no man has the power,
     to tell just when the hands will stop, at late or early hour.
     Now is the only time you own. Live, love, toil with a will.
     Place no faith in time.  For the clock may soon be still.

Story Number Two
     World War II produced many heroes. One such man was Lt. Commander  Butch O’Hare. He was a fighter pilot assigned to an aircraft carrier, Lexington, in the South Pacific.
     One day his entire squadron was sent on a mission. After he was airborne, he looked at his fuel gauge and realized that someone had forgotten to top off his fuel tank. He would not have enough fuel to complete his mission and get back to his ship. His flight leader told him to return to the carrier.  Reluctantly, he dropped out of formation and headed back to the fleet. As he was returning to the mothership, he saw something that turned his blood cold. A squadron of Japanese bombers was speeding their way toward the American fleet. The American fighters were gone on a sortie and the fleet was all but defenseless. He couldn’t reach his squadron and bring them back in time to save the fleet. Nor, could he warn the fleet of the approaching danger. There was only one thing he could do. He must somehow divert them from the fleet.
     Laying aside all thoughts of personal safety, he dived into the formation of Japanese planes. Wing-mounted 50 caliber’s blazed as he charged in, attacking one surprised enemy plane and then another. Butch, weaving in and out of the now broken formation, fired at as many planes as possible until finally all his ammunition was spent. Undaunted, he continued the assault. He dove at the planes, trying to at least clip off a wing or tail, in hopes of damaging as many enemy  planes as possible and rendering them unfit to fly. He was desperate to do anything he could to keep them from reaching the American ships.  Finally, the exasperated Japanese squadron took off to another direction. Deeply relieved, Butch O’Hare and his tattered fighter  limped back to the carrier.
     Upon arrival he reported in and related the event surrounding his return. The film from the cameras mounted on his plane told the tale. It showed the extent of Butch’s daring attempt to protect his fleet. He had destroyed five enemy bombers. That was on February 20, 1942, and for that action he became the Navy’s first Ace of WWII and the first Naval Aviator to win the Congressional Medal of Honor.
     A year later he was killed in aerial combat at the age of 29. His home town would not allow the memory of that heroic action die. And today O’Hare Airport in Chicago is named in tribute to his courage of this great man.
     So the next time you are in O’Hare visit his memorial with his statue and Medal of Honor. It is located between Terminal 1 and Terminal  2.

You wondering what these two stories have to do with one another?
     Butch O’Hare was an American hero, and Easy Eddie’s son.



December 7, 1941
















It was proclaimed "a day that will live in infamy".  The attack on Pearl Harbor on that sleepy Sunday morning 71 years ago awakened a sleeping giant.  The country was largely isolated.  We were still reeling from the great depression.  Our attention was turned East towards the terrible war unfolding in Europe.  It seemed as if all of Europe was destined to go up in flames.  Hitler was on the march.  And suddenly life changed forever for our country.

The entrance of the U.S. into the war inevitably sealed the fate of its outcome.  People might not have known it at the time, but with hindsight we can see that our role in the war propelled us to a position of world leadership that has remained to today.  It also propelled us to an economic growth never
before seen in the world.  We became the symbol of what could be, what pulling together can achieve, what the defense of freedom means.  We saw a glimpse of it on September 11, 2001, but nothing like the coming together of Americans for the long, 4 year struggle that began on December 7, 1941.

My parents, my wife's parents, and countless others were proud members of the "greatest generation"  who lived through it.  My Dad, my Father-in-Law, and many others fought long and hard not knowing what the outcome would be.  It was a precarious time.  But once agin, with hindsight the outcome was never in doubt.  Many, many In that generation were born in poverty, went off to save the nation and protect freedom, and came home to build a nation and raise families.  We have lost most of them.  Probably before we could ever adequately thank them.  We are what we are today and what we can become tomorrow largely because of the courage, the fortitude, the vision, and the hope
of that generation.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Pet Peeve Wednesday

We go out to dinner pretty routinely.  At least a few times per week.  We have regular places that are consistently good.  It's nice to go to a familiar place with familiar people and enjoy a good meal.  We also like to try new places.  Sometimes that works out and sometimes it doesn't.   But, it's really good to find a new place with a different menu and great food.  But whether it's an old, familiar place or a new restuarant that we're eager to try, most of the time it's a pleasant experience.

And that brings me to this week's pet peeve.  I said "most of the time it's a pleasant experience".  But sometimes (and this happens more often than I expect) we get seated very close to someone with a loud, booming voice that seems to have no idea that they have a loud, booming voice.  Now, we're of an age when we go out we usually like a nice, quiet, pleasant atmosphere.  No Chucky Cheese for us.  Don't get me wrong, sometimes we go to restaurants with a lot of activity and raucous atmosphere.  Especially when we're with a group, that can be fun.  But most times we're just out for a quiet night to enjoy a pleasant meal.  Unless we get seated next to someone who is bloviating for the entire restaurant to hear.  So next time you go out to restaurant, ask yourself if you have a louder than average voice.  And if you do, try to control yourself and keep it down.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

I Say We Jump!

I feel like Charlie Brown.  This time she's going to really hold the football and I'm going to kick it.  But it's not to be.  Predictable.  But Charlie never sees it.  I feel like Charlie as the news of the negotiations to avoid the fiscal cliff take hold.  Thinking that wiser heads will prevail.  That since no one wants it to happen, that the adults will step in.  But I'm not so sure.

After Obama won the election, it was obvious that there would need to be concessions from the Republicans to avoid the fiscal cliff.  From everything I've read, they have done that.  Revenue is on the table.  Simple as that.  But concessions are one thing, capitulation is another.  Of course they thought they'd start from a point, the other side would start from a point, and they'd move to the middle.  To a place that is acceptable to both sides.   I've been in my fair share of negotiations, and that's how it works.  Or you walk away.  Simple as that.  One thing that's really weird is that Obama either can't or won't negotiate.  He either doesn't have the skills or he's an arrogant jerk.  If I were more generous I'd assume the former, especially since he has no real experience.  But I believe it's the latter.  I think he feels comfortable in the campaign mode behind his podium and his TelePrompTer so that's where he goes.  But that's not how to get anything done.  So he's not being serious...yet.  The question is will he ever be?

Obama wants "the rich" to pay more.  His story is that by doing that, it is a good way to reduce deficits.  But every analysis says that the plan to tax the "the rich" more won't do much to reduce the deficit.  There is no way that will have much of an impact.  But let's ignore that for the sake of argument.  He wants "the rich" to pay more.  Okay.  So the Republicans agree to raise revenue by closing loopholes and limiting deductions.  That would get around $750 billion.  Pretty close to the $800 billion Obama wanted last summer.  But no.  Now he wants $1.6 trillion.  So he has doubled the ask.  The natural thing would be to get some of it from the Republican's ideas and some from Obama's.  But Obama won't consider closing loopholes and limiting deductions in the negotiations.  He wants taxes raised on anyone making over $250K.  Period.  Hmmmmm....You have to ask yourself what is behind this.  He's a smart guy.  Or at least has the credentials to claim to be a smart guy.  But he's stuck on penalizing those who make a certain amount of money.  He's not willing to look at other ways to raise revenues.  So the question is, what is the goal...to raise revenue or to punish success?  Given his position, it's clearly to punish success.  Now I know that $250K seems like a lot of money.  But if you go to any metropolitan area in the country, you will see families who are working hard to become successful and they probably break the $250K benchmark.  Is that true in the inner city where Obama was a community organizer?  Probably not as much.  So the only thing I can think is that he saw a lot of suffering and vowed to level the playing field if he ever got the chance.  And that's what he is attempting to do.

So this will impact a lot of folks.  And it won't do much to impact the deficit.  He claims a mandate because of the election (that he won by 3 million votes out of 100 million) and because polls say people beleive "the rich" should pay more.  But of course they do.  The number of people actually paying taxes is below 50%.  So of course those not paying anything wouldn't complain about "the rich" paying more. Now don't get me wrong, I won't complain about paying more taxes if everyone has to pay something.  I believe in our progressive tax system so that "the rich" pay more.  But shouldn't everyone have to pay something to be a part of the team?  Seems only fair to me.  But that's really a different argument.

I just can't come to any other conclusion than his real goal is to divide Americans further and impose a new Socialism on the country.  It's just so European.  So wrong.  So doomed to failure.

Oh, he also wants a new stimulus package.  And he wants unlimited Presidential authority to raise the debt limit.  And to add insult to injury, he won't discuss limits on spending until next year, after the deal is struck.  Huh???  What is this, Venezuela?  In what universe would any Republican remotely trust him to come back to the table to discuss spending cuts.  The sad thing is that Medicare is clearly and badly broken.  And if nothing is done our kids will be in bad shape.  But these guys won't even discuss fixing it.  Sad.  Disgusting.  Shameful.

We live in the best country in the world.  We are free!  We live in a Capitalistic system.   It is not fair.  Just like life.  Work hard and reap rewards.  Maybe.  Or maybe reap rewards temporarily, get beat down, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start again.  And maybe do it many times.  Or maybe never make it big.  Maybe just get by.  But we are each responsible for ourselves and that's the way it is.

The great democratic experiment has survived worse than this.  If we go over the cliff, we're in for some tough economic times.  But I'd rather suffer tough times than convert the country from Capitalism to Socialism.  Step up, hold my hand, I say we jump...






Friday, November 30, 2012

Just Fix The Problem!

Benghazi.  What a mess.  I've posted about it several times, the latest being here.  As I feared the focus has moved into the political realm.  Now it's all about fixing blame and seeking advantage.  Who said what and when.  Who can be blamed for posturing, dissembling, deflecting.   I guess it was inevitable, but disappointing none the less.

There's a pretty good analysis by Steve Donnelly at Tom Ricks Blog at FP.  Not sure I agree with all of it but I think the bottom line is that our diplomats are doing the nation's work in some very dangerous places around the world and deserve support and protection.  They can investigate all they want to discover the intricate details of that night which are probably not discoverable.  They can express outrage and regret.  But they can't change the fact that those guys were hung out to dry.  By bureaucrats in the State Dept and NSC.  I guess the best we can hope for is for the lesson to be learned.  And a very tough lesson it was.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Too Bad

If I would've won Powerball tonight I was going to invite all my blog friends to take a ride on my new yacht!  And that was only for starters!!






Wait A Minute

In my post immediately below I forgot about the other side, or as I like to call them, the dark side.  Here's their field:









Once again, buckets:

NO, NO, NO--Joe
Inevitable--Bubba's wife


Too Soon?

Three weeks after the election and the post mortems have been coming hot and heavy.  Everyone has an opinion on what went wrong, what to do now, what direction to go, etc, etc, etc.  Pretty silly.  But so what.  It's sorta fun.  So here's the generally accepted field:













My take at this early point?  Well, I can only do big buckets:

NO, NO, HELL NO--Bachmann, Bush, Perry, Santorum
I Think Maybe YES--Ayotte, Haley, Jindal, Martinez, Paul, Rubio
Maybe but not sure---The rest of them

It will be a fun four years.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Pet Peeve Wednesday

I travel a fair bit for my job and we like to hit the road when we can and have time.  This year I have about 130,000 miles on United.  Not earthshattering but not bad.  I've got all the airport procedures down to a science.  I get all the TSA concerns.  I dutifully remove my shoes, change, belt, toiletries, laptop, etc, etc, etc.  (although I don't have to do that in most other countries).  Going through the scanners is a pain, but not a big deal.  Like I said, I get the concerns.  Once through security it's on to the boarding area to wait.  I've gotten pretty good at timing it so that the wait isn't too long.  Because of my status I'm in the first group to board.  So I schlep my stuff, get it stored and settle in for the pre-takeoff routine.

Which brings me to this week's pet peeve.  I would really like to meet the moron who decided that the energy of a cell phone will impact a modern jet's electronics.  And things like Kindles and head phones with on/off switches must be turned off.   Not that I'm so important that I have to stay connected or can't wait a few minutes until we get to 10,000 feet, but the flying waitresses/waiters make it seem like life as we know it will cease if any piece of electronics is left on during takeoff.  I mean, come on.  These folks need to get a grip.  It's an idiotic requirement that is incredibly annoying.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Inspiration Monday


Done

Just when you think it can't get any worse...it does.  The Chargers lost to the Ravens in overtime and looked terrible for most of the game.  They essentially gave the game away.  With less than 2 minutes  to go the Ravens had 4th and 29.  Hold them and the Chargers win.  But the Ravens somehow got a first down.  Unbelievable.  They then got a field goal to tie it and go to overtime.  And of course they won in overtime.  Mind boggling!  

The Chargers are now 4-7 and have no chance at the playoffs.  That's probably a good thing because they would just embarrass themselves.  If AJ Smith and Norv survive we will know there is no interest in winning football games in Charger ownership.

The NFL last week declared that games could be played in the Rose Bowl until the new stadium is ready in L.A.   Now the speculation begins in earnest about them moving up there.  And this time it might not be so far fetched...

Saturday, November 24, 2012

What He Said



I have a definite love-hate relationship with the columnist David Brooks.  At times he infuriates me with his writing.  Other times I think he is spot on.  This week is, I think, one of his best columns.  It also provides me with good validation regarding what it means to be a professional writier.  I started this blog to share some opinions, provide some commentary, and have a bit of fun.  But I'm not a professional writer.  When I read some of the stuff by Brooks, Peggy Noonan, and others it makes me realize how difficult that job would be.  And how great they are organizing thoughts, keeping a logical flow, and making the reader really feel what they are trying to say.

This week Brooks' column in the New York Times is titled "Why We Love Politics".  It is all about the recently released movie, Lincoln.  I posted about this last week.  But I wasn't close to expressing the texture of the movie, the message, the meaning when compared with his column.

It (Lincoln) shows that you can do more good in politics than in any other sphere. You can end slavery, open opportunity and fight poverty. But you can achieve these things only if you are willing to stain your own character in order to serve others — if you are willing to bamboozle, trim, compromise and be slippery and hypocritical.
I think most people view politics as a rough and tumble, very dirty business.  And it is.  But, it is also an endeavor that can deeply impact people and if the politician can achieve positive results, it must be very rewarding.  Of course, Hollywood and the media has their own spin that has influenced people to take a very cynical view.  To be a politician has become almost a dirty word.  And yet we still pay huge attention at every election to who we elect to represent us at every level...local, state and federal.  And that is because the actions they take can directly impact our lives.

The movie also illustrates another thing: that politics is the best place to develop the highest virtues. Politics involves such a perilous stream of character tests: how low can you stoop to conquer without destroying yourself; when should you be loyal to your team and when should you break from it; how do you wrestle with the temptations of fame — that the people who can practice it and remain intact, like Lincoln, Washington or Churchill, are incredibly impressive.
Brooks describes the evolution of a leader in a brilliant manner...from Gettysburg to the Second Inaugural Address.  From stating a grand vision to doing the incredibly difficult and lonely tasks demanded of leadership.  The movie eloquently shows Lincoln struggling with compromising his own views for the greater good, deciding that the 13th Amendment was so important that the war had to be extended.  It was very powerful and not a fairy tale.  It was real.  And doing that further built the character of our greatest President and led him to write what is generally regarded as one of the best speeches ever written, his Second Inaugural Address.  If you've never read it, here it is.  And for goodness sake, if you haven't seen this brilliant movie, go see it!

Second Inaugural Address of Abraham Lincoln 
SATURDAY, MARCH 4, 1865

Fellow-Countrymen:

At this second appearing to take the oath of the Presidential office there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement somewhat in detail of a course to be pursued seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself, and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.
On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it, all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war--seeking to dissolve the Union and divide effects by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came.
One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war, while the Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.




Friday, November 23, 2012

Bond...James Bond



We went to see the new James Bond film "Skyfall" this afternoon.  It was everything you expect a Bond film to be.  Good guys against bad guys.  Lots of shootem-up.  Amazing feats.  Returning from certain doom.  Deadpan understatement from 007 in the face of impossible circumstances.  Cool gadgets from Q.  And of course the obligatory Bond girl.  Ooh La La!  All in all a very fun movie that provided great escapism for two and a half hours.

At the end they flashed up that 2012 marked 50 years of Bond films.  Huh?  Could this be true?  Well, like everything we have a question about we fired up Google and sure enough, there have been 23 films over 50 years.

Official James Bond films

  1. Dr. No (1962-Sean Connery)
  2. From Russia With Love (1963-Sean Connery)
  3. Goldfinger (1964-Sean Connery)
  4. Thunderball (1965-Sean Connery)
  5. You Only Live Twice (1967-Sean Connery)
  6. On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969-George Lazenby)
  7. Diamonds Are Forever (1971-Sean Connery)
  8. Live and Let Die (1973-Roger Moore)
  9. The Man with the Golden Gun (1974-Roger Moore)
  10. The Spy Who Loved Me (1977-Roger Moore)
  11. Moonraker (1979-Roger Moore)
  12. For Your Eyes Only (1981-Roger Moore)
  13. Octopussy (1983-Roger Moore)
  14. A View to a Kill (1985-Roger Moore)
  15. The Living Daylights (1987-Timothy Dalton)
  16. Licence to Kill (1989-Timothy Dalton)
  17. GoldenEye (1995-Pierce Brosnan)
  18. Tomorrow Never Dies (1997-Pierce Brosnan)
  19. The World is Not Enough (1999-Pierce Brosnan)
  20. Die Another Day (2002-Pierce Brosnan)
  21. Casino Royale (2006-Daniel Craig)
  22. Quantum of Solace (2008-Daniel Craig)
  23. Skyfall (2012-Daniel Craig)
Of course now we need to play the favorite parlor game when it comes to Bond Films.  Which movie was your favorite?  Which Bond was your favorite?  How many Bond films have your seen.  And of course, who's your favorite Bond girl?  Have fun!