Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve

Well, here we are. Christmas truly has snuck up on us this year. Below is what passes for our Christmas Tree. We are in the process of remodeling a house that we are scheduled to move into on Jan 11th. The move in date was originally December 28th, but the bank and our drywall contractor decided otherwise.

Here's my Christmas Ditty for 2012. I hope you have a very Merry Christmas and a very happy New Year.

Oh, and if you have any talent at drywall, electrical, plumbing, carpentry, tile work, gardening, roofing or interior decorating; then please feel free to drop by and give a helping hand. You see the schedule is tight and I'm not the remodeler I used to be. 

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house
Projects were awaiting both me and my spouse

The master bath walls need texture
and the master potty needs replaced
 the new vanities need installation 
since the old couldn't be refaced

The closet lacks shelving and wants new doors too
I've prepped them for paint now the painting is Vicki's to do

The ceiling fans have been hung though not balanced completely
The front bedroom fan swings left and then right quite neatly

The tile floors in some places require tile and grout
If you've got some spare thinset give me a shout

Some walls have different colors, shades all askew
So we'll get brush and roller and paint them too

If we're lucky We might meet our schedule
We might  get this right  So...

Merry Christmas to all and
to all a good night



Thursday, November 22, 2012


In no particular order with the exception of the last entry, here are the things I'm thankful for this Thanksgiving. 

I'm thankful for these beautiful days we're having this fall. We're taking walks in the afternoon at work and I'm particularly thankful for still being mobile and at least minimally active at 63.

I'm thankful for music, laughter, good books, good cigars, good whiskey and pretty women.

I'm thankful that after struggling with the recession, my wife's cancer, under and unemployment that we're buying a house this year.

I'm thankful for Love, for being loved and loving. 

I'm thankful that we'll be spending this Thanksgiving with some of our children and grandchildren.

I'm thankful that Vicki and I are still happy being together after 31 years.

So most of all I'm thankful that I've had 31 years with Vicki and I'm looking forward to as many more as God gives us.

I hope you have a great Thanksgiving Day.



Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Illusion of "Choice"

Thank God the election is only 3 days away. I am sick of all the political commercials. It is extremely galling when you understand that regardless of the outcome must of us will still be well and truly screwed. 

That's due to the small differences between the parties and the candidates when it comes to meaningful change. Both parties are run by the wealthy and powerful, for the wealthy and powerful. If you don't believe that just look at how much money, reported money that is, we don't know for sure the amount of so called "dark money" that's being spent on this election. The total is over 2 Billion Dollars. Even the Koch brothers call that real money.

The Dems will attempt to slow down (or appear to slow down) the decimation of the middle class, but the end will be the same as the more blatant Republicans. The goal of business and government seems to be the privatization of everything. We citizens are just a natural resource to be exploited and believe me we have been and will continue to be exploited no matter who takes the white house. The only real questions are how much and how soon will it take place.

It's not that these politicians and power brokers hate us (though some comments from the Romney camp sound that way) or that they take us for granted (though some practices of the Obama Administration look that way), it's just what the country, the culture and the people have become accustomed to. 

I work with people in their 30s and 40s who wouldn't know a good job if it bit them in the ass. Who think the economy, the political environment and the culture of our country is just fine. Most of that is because they never knew anything better. It saddens me deeply. I feel bad for their low expectations and diminished lifestyles. 

Yet they and I will still go to the polls on Tuesday and cast our vote. In my case I'm doing it as an act of citizenship in spite of my belief in its ultimate futility. Because I've come to feel that it doesn't matter. No politician has the balls to stand up to the folks that really run things anymore. There was a time that guys like Ike spoke about the detrimental influence of money and big business in forming government policy. Now it's not only taken for granted by both parties, but actually celebrated by the Republicans. They want us to believe that if we just let them run wild it will all work out. 

On the other side the Dems quietly pass bills, vote for more and more useless military expenses and grab all the money they can get, while telling us how they are looking out for the little guy. 

I do not buy either of their lines. It's just plain BS.

This is why I think our choice in this election is an illusion. I hate to admit it, but it looks like ole  Ralph Nader was right. We will never get what we need from the two major parties.  Until we have a viable third party or independent movement in this country we are destined to vote based on what we consider the lesser of 2 evils. 

OK, I'm done bitching. Go out and vote on Tuesday. At least you'll have the feeling of speaking your mind to power; even if the power isn't listening.



Saturday, September 29, 2012


Well, in spite of my better judgement I have listened to some of our politicians ramble on about why we should re-elect or elect them for the first time. 

Mostly they speak in cliches, spin and great use is made of labels.

It seems to me that you have to be careful about labels. Cause in this country the labels used for political parties and ideologies are just plain crazy.

Example: You're considered a conservative if you believe we should be spending billions on Defense. (You know wars in far off places that have failed miserably to advance our interests since the 60s. Yea, Defense..)

If on the other hand you want to spend that money at home on infrastructure, education and helping out the less fortunate in our society you're considered a Liberal. Really? What's so liberal about common sense. Doesn't it make more sense to fix what's wrong in your own backyard before attempting to instruct the world about how to fix their problems.

Example # 2: The current crop of alleged conservative believe it's perfectly proper to regulate the most intimate part of a woman's body i.e. her womb. But refuse to regulate industries and companies that have wrought havoc on our country and culture.

If you think there should be controls on how much power corporations and wealthy individuals have on our policies then you're thought to be liberal. 

Not only are the labels used by both parties disingenuous; they're outright lies.

Example # 3: Our current president has prosecuted the "War on Terror" with more ferocity and efficiency than any Republican Conservative president. Obama has gone so far as to authorize drone strikes on Terrorists wherever they are found, something Bush & Cheney balked at doing. Yet Obama is called a Socialist, Commie, and of course a Liberal. Right! He's so Liberal that the real Liberals are calling him a War Criminal for whacking a few bad guys. But just ask a Republican about little Georgie Bush and all you hear is how great the guy was, how he backed the troops and Blah, Blah, Blah. Incredible!

Don't misunderstand: I am not a believer in President Obama's hope and change agenda either. He totally missed his opportunity to make any real change in his first two years in office. Instead he foolishly tried to compromise with people who were only  interested in the failure of his policies and his personal failure as well. The Affordable Care Act; disrespectfully labeled "Obama Care",  may turn out to be a great achievement, but only if the Dems can take back the Congress and stop the repeal crap coming from the obstructionists. And even if that happens we have stopped short of a true fix.

Think about this. How much talent and ingenuity is wasted in this country because people are forced to take or stay in jobs with poor pay and little chance for advancement, just to have health insurance? The one payer system would solve it, but is considered too Socialist for this country in spite of the many successful examples of a system not tied to employers used by many other countries.

Regardless of party or label the politicians of our day are sadly lacking in foresight, statesmanship and heart. Not one of the many blabbermouths has had a thing to say about a plan for our nation. None of them have a clue as to how to gain consensus and move from squabbling to action. And I have yet to see an example of "heart" from any of these folks. The closest thing of late was Gabby Giffords and her husband and she's leaving politics.

But I digress, this post is about labels. 

So here's an idea. Since all the Ads during election season are nothing more than  pre-packaged spiels put together by PR firms, lets have them apply digital labels to each political ad. On the label, just like on Medications, will be the ingredients. The first item listed is the most abundant in the drug, so in this case it should look like this....


1) Bullshit
2) Lies
3) Just plain crazy stuff

OK, I've spent as much time as I can stand on Politics.

Have a great weekend, and don't forget to vote. It may not change anything, but at least you'll feel better.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Things I Don't Believe about the Presidential Candidates

We will be finishing the Olympics coverage on TV soon and the incessant, inept, inane and incoherent political ads will grow in frequency and number. I am looking forward to reading more books, walking, riding bikes and doing any number of things that will protect me from the Television in my living room.

That being said, there are a few things I'd like to clear up concerning the presumptive presidential candidates.   

Concerning our President; here are a few things I DON'T believe about him.

I don't believe he's  ..................

  1. Muslim
  2. a Commie
  3. a Kenyan Citizen
  4. the Worst president ever
  5.  a tax and spend liberal
  6. evil
  7. in need of Rush Limbaugh's approval
  8. aggressive and forceful with congress and lobbyists (not sure there's much of a distinction any more)
  9. willing to push his agenda without compromise
  10. unable to see both sides of any argument
  11. a raving partisan politician
  12. not beholding to financial interests like every other hack in our system
  13. really there for the middle class
  14. deserving of being a one term president

Concerning Mr Romney; here are some things I DON'T believe about him. 

I don't believe  ..................

  1. his business experience qualifies him for office
  2. he has multiple wives and children scattered throughout Arizona and Utah
  3. he has nothing to hide about his finances
  4. he isn't a bigger pawn of the financial oligarchy than his opponent
  5. he is smart enough to be both leader and spokesman for our country on the international level
  6. he cares about the middle class and it's problems
  7. he is proud of what he did for healthcare in Massachusetts as the governor
  8. he would be less of an embarrassment than George Bush Jr.
  9. he has any real plan for helping the economy besides the old cut taxes and regulation line
  10. he wouldn't continue to gut any positive programs of reform in the federal government like the last president of his party
  11. he would be extremely worse for the country than Obama
  12. he is liked by his own party
  13. he wouldn't continue to help the rich avoid taxes
  14. he has any understanding of environmental issues and the will to take appropriate action as the leader of the free world 
So even though I will be voting this year like I do in every election, I don't have much belief in either candidate.

Who and what do you believe?


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Change for Change's Sake

I am posting for the first time in a long time. This is due to being gainfully employed again, in a much better job  than the one I lost by the way. And secondly because google  decided to change all the blogger pages, the setup and the way you post blogs and navigate around their site. 

In my view this is change for change itself. Too much of what the tech industry does seems to me to be just that; change for the sake of change. What it is about nerds that won't let them leave well enough alone?

And there is a third reason as well. I've lost interest, or at least the will to rant against the foolishness of my country's and my world's political class.

With the unending election cycle in full swing now we can look forward to political ad after political ad. I caution you; any time spent watching politicians jawbone is time you will never get back.

I am resigned to the fact that in my world corporations have the rights of actual people.  That 40 million dollars seems a reasonable amount to spend on a gubernatorial recall election in a state famous for cheese. That we can spend billions on wars, trillions on banks, but balk at spending anything for the most helpless in our society. 

People work longer for less money now than they did 20 years ago. What's wrong with that picture? I really feel sadness for my kids and their kids. The world will not be as generous a place to be as it was for me and my generation.

I am thankful for the blessings that my family has received, but wish there was something that one man could do to make things better. One thing that would significantly impact the world in a positive way. There seems to be so many wealthy people and powerful entities intent on making things worse.

What would you do to make the world a better place now and in the future?


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Thursday's Thoughts on Current Events

On the local scene our Arizona legislators have come up with another winner. The latest laughable labor of love in the state's continuing exercise in the ridiculous is House Bill 2625. This bill makes it OK for employers to pull contraceptive coverage from their health plans unless the female in question provides them with a good reason other than birth control. The legislator interviewed on Channel 5 said it was a matter of 1st Amendment Rights for the employer, but obviously not for the employee. It looks like Rush Limbaugh has a good following in our state capitol.

First it was guns on college campuses and now this. Does anyone know what planet we get these folks from?

On the national scene, gas prices are continuing in the news. The left (that's everyone but Republicans, (just ask them) thinks that Eric Holder ought to get after the oil speculators and calm down their activities. But it's not happening. The Right (that's Republicans, Tea partiers, flat earthers, birthers, climate change deniers) are content to beat the incumbent administration over the head with high gas prices right up to election day. (and thereafter if Mr. Obama is reelected.) So absolutely nothing positive is being done about the situation.

The financial press is reporting on an ex Goldman Sachs employee who published his resignation letter in the New York Times. The takeaway from this is that brokers routinely referred to their clients as Muppets. Ya gotta love those financial guys. Muppets are cute and funny, aren't they?

Speaking of financial guys, Matt Taibbi's piece at the Rolling Stone on Bank of America being too crooked to fail is a peach, or a prune depending on which side of the financial oligarchy you find yourself. He calls out the people, the company, and their actions. He also blames both the Obama and Bush Administrations for letting this company and others get away with massive felonies in the name of saving our economy. The list of malefactors and their crimes is quite impressive. In the days of Elliott Ness it would have been enough to put away the worst of the Mafia Kingpins, but in our time it just doesn't cut it. Amazing!

I hear there's some sort of Republican primary going on, but I try not to pay too much attention. The top two guys don't impress me much, but really no one in either party with the exception of Bernie Sanders, does much for me these days.

Then there's the latest mess in Afghanistan. If ever there was a poster boy for PTSD I'm guessing this guy is it. I feel bad for the families he killed, the people of Afghanistan, and our troops.


Friday, March 9, 2012

Reading "IS" Fundamental

While I have the time and inclination I've started reading serious material again. I was tempted to entitle this post as a little "Light" reading but was afraid the pun would miss. Besides, a light didn't really go off when I read the three books last week as much as a realization that many of the things I saw in our world were real and of concern to me. (Specifically while job and/or income hunting) And how I and millions of other Americans were blissfully ignoring the real condition of our world.

The first of the three books was "Freakonomics, a title from 2005. This book spawned a series of editions, a blog and a radio show. The book and related activities bring to light the erroneous nature of "conventional wisdom" and back up the findings with economic stats and calculations. This original take on our culture and economics looks at and defines actual drivers and motivations for things we either take for granted as natural occurrences in our world or have grossly mistaken understandings of the real cause and effect. As the little German soldier on "Laugh In" used to say; "Very Interesting."

From "Freakonomics" I moved on to "The Ascent of Money". This very interesting and somewhat more heavy reading material gives the history of how we came to have money, currency, loans, stocks, banks, insurance, bonds, and all the myriad financial instruments of our time. It highlights the need for much of what the financial industry does today to facilitate international commerce. It leaves the reader with a clear understanding of how we got to where we are concerning money, be it digital or physical.

Last but certainly not least and the one title I recommend for your perusal if you can only read one serious tome, is "That Used to Us." One of the authors is Thomas Freidman who you might recognize from his TV punditry. The material is quite dense, there is no getting around it. It is not however thick with graphs and studies like the very useful but tough work "Generations."

So.. You may need a little time to get through this one, but when you do you'll come out informed and hopefully inspired. The two authors lay out how we became a great country, the formula that made us that way and how we lost our way in the last 20 years. They favor no political party and they grind no axes. They do let the reader know what we did and are doing wrong, the consequences to America and the world if we don't change our ways, and they offer some ideas about how to fix it.

The bottom line from this reading is this. I and the millions of others in our country have to face the reality of our economy; that for millions of us our jobs are not coming back. That for a decade or two we ignored the effects of globalization and the IT revolution. That the financial meltdown just made it worse and that smart people must adapt.

I've also realized that in this climate of hyper-connectivity, highly collaborative workplaces and social networks that extend into the workplace; that I may need some help finding a place if I intend to prosper or even just survive.

While I continue to apply for the few traditional jobs that fit my age and experience, I will likewise search in other directions for workshops, support groups and any other resources that might help me find a new career or income opportunity.

One of things I took away from the books was the need to be flexible, be agile, and be willing and able to adapt. To do otherwise puts you on the path of extinction. I'm not ready for that just yet.


Friday, March 2, 2012

Voted off the Island

I got fired from my crummy $12 an hour call center job yesterday. While it is never fun to be let go, I have to admit to a certain amount of relief. It was perhaps the worst job I've had in 30 years and that includes a stint selling portable toilets. So, let's get the sour grapes, satirical wit and mini-bitterness out of the way so I can move on to more positive things.

Sour Grapes: The company culture was adolescent at best and just plain idiotic at worst. I complained vociferously about my supervisor yelling across the room while we were on calls, the need for headsets that worked and the quality of audio in our headsets, the lack of any decent sick leave policy, ( example: I asked for 1/2 hr off and put it in the system, (you can't just ask your supervisor) 3 weeks ahead of time and was turned down,) and the general lack of cleanliness in the facility.

After the last time in which I met with the Asst Mngr and my supervisor the die was cast. She looked for and found a nit picky violation of one of the many company policies and got me fired.

The termination process there involves you being brought into a room, told your offense, told you're fired and surrendering your badge. It is totally classless.

Satirical Wit: We referred to the supervisors and their favorites as Kool-Aid drinkers. If you didn't drink the kool-aid you couldn't get time off the phones for special projects and just plain BS.
My friend who sat next to me made it to his second anniversary there and was given a balloon. He is 50 years old. (I may have mentioned this in the meeting with a somewhat disparaging attitude) I missed my 2 year anniversary by 7 days. Just enough so they won't owe me two weeks vacation pay my wife believes.
The carpeting in the building was over 30 years old and very stained and nasty. (I may have brought that up as well), but they had a big balloon budget.
The accounting department must have been run by a descendant of Ebeneezer Scrooge,because they made you pay for the cheap little pads on your headset when they wore out.
I had to bring in a Doctors note to have a lunch break during the lunch hour. otherwise the computer would give you a lunch break as early as 9:30 or as late as 2:00.
I was once told by a manager that not everyone could have the luxury of a Monday-Friday schedule. I'm here to tell you that there was nothing luxurious about my Mon-Fri schedule.

Mini-Bitterness: The call center culture is ruining our businesses and effective customer service. Companies bring on entry level workers, give them minimal training and put them on the phones. The center I worked at had a business model that worked with 80% turnover. The company used a government program to make money on each new hire and then relentlessly weeded them out. This particular company has an insidious group think mentality that is scary. Supervisors regularly spout the company line when confronted with the ridiculousness of their actions.
The constant monitoring, nit picking micro-management, and the sheer pettiness of the enterprise was soul killing. Other workers complained to me of the constant stress they felt in the workplace. There was one well meaning but overly emotional co-worker who cried at least once a week.
The really sad thing about this particular company is how seriously these folks take themselves. In the end it's just a job folks. Many of the people for whom I worked were single or divorced and I believe the company culture and work schedule may contribute to their situation.
While informative and eye-opening, my tenure at this company was a waste of my talents and experience, they were totally devalued there. I stayed for the insurance and ease of commuting. Clearly I overstayed my welcome. Oh, well!

Positive Things: I stayed as long as I did at my work due to the insurance issue. We needed coverage for Vicki. Well, just a couple of weeks earlier she was hired on as a full time employee at her work and immediately covered by her insurance. So, no problem there. The only reason for me to stay no longer exists.

With the economy slowly coming back there is a better chance to find work that is rewarding, interesting and more attuned to my age, attitude, experience and skills. It's a big Ole World out there and I look forward to the opportunity to find my economic muse.

Even at my age I am not suited to fly a desk. Eight hours a day sitting is unhealthy and unnatural. Therefore I will look for work that has at least a minimal physical component, such as walking, driving, on site inspections and the like.

The world is still my oyster, let's see what I find inside.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Mr Obama goes to Chandler

Well, the Pres showed up in my town today. He flew in to Gateway Airport out in East Mesa and cruised on over to Intel on Dobson road. The Intel property borders Oakwood which is part of Sun Lakes. I managed to avoid the traffic jams caused by his appearance, but my wife got caught up in the mess. She made it home about 45 minutes later than usual. This was due more to the local police not having a clue about where and how to reroute around Intel than the Pres's presence.

As is usual on Wednesdays I adjourned to my driveway (it faces west and is warm in the winter) for a cigar and an adult beverage. (Wine tonight since we were having fish for dinner later) Once I had my lawn chair setup, my cigar lit, a good book and the wine at hand I noticed a noise to the north. Lo and behold it was our President making his speech outside the construction at Intel. All I could hear were cheers and an occasional word from his speech. I walked back inside, turned the TV to channel 5 and there he was, making jokes, being charming and presidential just a few blocks from my home. Literally within shouting distance. (Or really within loudspeaker distance)

Of course nothing that happens in our state can be do without the presence of our governor, Jan Brewer. The takeaway from their meeting is a picture of the pair with Brewer putting her finger in the Pres's face. This chick is a total piece of work. I'm guessing he couldn't wait to get out of here.

Channel 5 showed the plane getting ready to takeoff, so I stepped out on the patio and sure enough there was Air Force One taking off headed to Vegas. How did I know that it was his plane. I mean it was dark and the airport is miles away. Ah, here's how it works when you're the big guy. There were no other planes in the air. Not a one. See when AF1 takes off they clear the airspace for his departure. So not too hard to figure it out.

I watched the plane fly out of sight, gave the Pres a little salute, and walked back inside to do the dishes.

The excitement never ends around here.


Sunday, January 15, 2012

"Much Ado about Nothing"

The title of today's post is pretty much what I think about this presidential primary season. The current crop of alleged "conservative" nitwits filling our airwaves with right wing banalities is both scary and boring. The only bright spot so far has been Stephen Colbert's attack ad on Mitt the twit.Link