Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Dog Days Of Summer


Just a quick note to let all of you know that I am still alive and breathing out here in cyber-space (you do care don’t you?).

Things have been busy, which is nothing new. There are too many irons in my fire to count here, but I will be trying to document them in the future when the fire dies down.

The employment picture continues to be surreal but my long term readers knows that this isn’t anything new. But the level of the surreal-ness never ceases to astound me these days.

The wife and I are engaged in numerous household upgrades and projects. There will be a bunch of pictures posted to document all this upgradeable goodness when all the projects are done. However, it might be the end of the summer before all the dust settles.

In the meantime, I have been reading a lot of books and watching a lot of movies, because with the average temperature outside hovering at around 108 degrees (115 today), I am not in the mood to do a lot of yard work.

The books include "Catcher In The Rye" and Sarah Palin's "Going Rogue". Also unearthed some old journals that I wrote back in the early to mid-90s. Will be going through some of those in the future and posting some interesting tidbits. Boy have I and times changed.

The wife took me on a mystery date to the ‘iPic Theater’ in Scottsdale, Arizona last weekend, which was very interesting. This is an upper end movie theater with sofa seating, your own waitress who brings you food and drinks (wooo whooo Merlot) during the movie. Not cheap, but a fun thing to do. We watched Pixar’s “Cars-2”. If you liked the first one, you would like this one. But don’t expect anything really, really deep.

Watched “Albino Alligator” on Laserdisc a few weeks ago. A little known film by Kevin Spacey, starring Matt Dillon and Faye Dunaway. I have to admit it was interesting. Not a great film and bit implausible, but it made you think and had a very interesting ending.

So stay tuned for the long line of project blogs that I will be posting in the coming weeks, so you can marvel at all the handy work that my wife and I have lined up for this summer.

Friday, June 10, 2011

You're Not Helping


I would like to start out by saying, I am not racist, nor am I prejudice. At least not any more than the average American. I do have some qualms with stereo-typical ethnic behavior, such as wearing your pants around your knees so you underwear shows, or pushing a shopping cart full of Twinkies and frozen pizza 12 blocks and then leaving the cart in a local park for someone else to push back to the store.

This is a melting pot after all, and all those Irish, and Polish Europeans helped make this country what it is. They defeated fascism and made us into a great economic and political powerhouse on the planet. The Chinese helped build the railroads, and African Americans and Hispanics tamed the wild west and fought in the Civil War. People that come here, make a difference and work within the system to become part of the system are an asset.

Unfortunately, this isn’t really very common anymore. Many of the immigrants that I interact with at my job are here seeking the riches of entitlements. They want health care, good paying jobs, free food, and free assistance.

During this last week, I had to facilitate two hearings. These hearings consisted of numerous meetings that had to be coordinated and reviewed on a schedule throughout the day. The schedules started at 8:30am and typically ran till past 4pm in the afternoon. Many people are invited to these meetings since they deal with child welfare and and other social issues. Invitations are sent to all the interested parties to attend the meetings, both in English AND Spanish. The interested parties are not required to attend, so we never know exactly how many people will be at each meeting during the day.

So it was with a bit of disgust, that twice (2 times) this week, a Frito Bandito and his old lady showed up for a meeting, not being able to speak a word of English, and demanded that we supply them with translators so they could participate. We don’t have a problem with this, except for the fact that the invitations for the meetings state IN SPANISH, that if you need an interpreter, call ahead of time so one can be arranged for you.

These interested parties read the invitations, they knew when and where to show up, but they didn’t bother to inform us of their handicap before showing up. So the end result, is that we have to scramble to find an interpreter that can teleconference into the meeting for them to understand what is going on. This means that a 35 minute meeting runs 45 minutes overtime. In turn, this makes all the other interested parties that show up for their meetings have to wait an extra HOUR for their meetings to begin.

If that alone was not bad enough. Both of these individuals decided to cop an attitude in the meeting about how not enough was being done for them by the 'system'.

I have this sneaking suspicion, that if I got arrested for speeding in Mexico, and I coped an attitude with the magistrate in Ciudad Juarez and told them that their speed limits were stupid and then demanded an interpreter to explain that to everyone, I might not be seeing U.S. soil again for a very long time.

This is a ‘melting pot’ folks, not a smorgasbord. Learn how to blend in and become part of the whole instead of standing off to the side screaming for attention. You're not helping your ethnicity, your race or your cause.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

They Should Call It Crack-Pad


I finally broke down and got one of these last weekend. I am selling my motorcycle and figured I owed myself something for the loss. So I went out and bought this to console myself.

First of all, I really didn't 'WANT' one of these. They appeared nifty and all, but I have this sneaking suspicion that this is where the world is going, so I figured I better jump on the train before the last car left the station.

So I plunked down my debt card and picked up a 32 gigabyte WiFi only model of the Ipad-2. While I was at the Apple Store purchasing the thing, the Sales Associate told me that he would check, but that he couldn't garrantee that they would have the model I wanted in stock. He said that when shipments arrived, they usually sold out within 3 hours, so I might have to take whatever I could get regarding the models they had on hand. I was lucky, I was able to get one of the last two of the model I wanted from the shipment that had arrived 2 hours before I did.

I have to assume that they are backing up semi-truck loads of cash to Steve Jobs estate every hour because of these things.

I have been setting up the device for the last several days, configuring wifi setting in our home and loading applications (apps) that I am downloading from the Apple App Store (more boat loads of cash for Apple) and generally trying to figure out Apple's iOS operating system.

So far.........I am impressed. I mean really impressed. I can see where this device is a game changer. It isn't a replacement for a computer or a smartphone, but it does drastically change the way you use the internet and communicate with it.

One of the reasons I have not been reading or writing blogs that much of late (besides the yearly melt-down in staffing at my office) is that I can see where I will be reading almost everything on-line from this device, once I have it all set up.

The iPad2 would make an excellent gaming device, if you wanted to use it for that purpose. As for me, I have no interest in that what-so-ever. As a reading device it has almost limitless potential.

For example, one application that I have come across is called 'FlipBoard'. This App is going to change the way I read and view blogs forever. While it is hard to describe, it takes the entire content of my online Google Reader and reformats into a magazine style layout. Imagine picking up a copy of Newsweek, but instead of news stories, all the blogs you read are laid out in REALLY slick formating with pictures, graphics and text and you can just browse through them like reading a magazine or book. I gotta tell ya, it is sweet. It makes all of my fellow bloggers look really good.

It wasn't cheap, but I am glad I got it. It is like putting a turbo-charger on your socially networked life. I am looking forward to catching up on all the stuff I haven't read for a while as soon as things settle down around here and I can cuddle up with the iPad and a cup of coffee.

There is only one negative that I would have to comment on regarding the iPad. It isn't lite. It is actually pretty solid and heavy at around 2.5 lbs. That isn't a lot, but if you hold it for about 45 minutes, your arm is going to get tired. Needless to say, I will be building up my arm muscles over the next few weeks.

Friday, June 3, 2011

First Friday Flashbacks

First published: July 24, 2008
One of the many lessons that life has taught me. I hope my grandchildren read this, before it is too late.

Back Of The Bus

Never really arrives

One of the axioms of life that I have learned is, 'It all depends on where you sit'. Much like the 'Glass half empty, glass half full' question, it tells a lot about a person even though they don't know it.

From the time we were in grade school, certain children always wanted to sit in the back of the bus. They usually wanted to be as far away from authority (the bus driver) as possible, so they wouldn't be caught doing things they weren't supposed to.

Fast forward to college, and I realized that the same thing applied to 20-somethings. The slacker students always sat in the back of the class. They rarely lasted more than a semester. In the beginning, I usually sat somewhere in the middle of the classes. I suppose I was a slight under-achiever.

Then it dawned on me in my junior year. If you wanted to get ahead in life you had to take on the world and meet it face to face. The "A" students always sat in the front row. So I started sitting in the front row. I quickly realized that when you do this, you are mano y mano with the instructor, you have to have your homework done, you have to be prepared and sharp. You have to be engaged. You aren't a spectator anymore, you are in the bull ring.

While taking the bus home from work, I usually stand near the exit. That way, I don't have to worry about finding a seat and who might end up sitting next to me. The back of the bus is always crowded, with the transients, the homeless and the rebellious, slacker youth.

I am so glad I learned to move to the head of the class in college. Once you muster up the courage to sit in the front row, you will never sit in the back of the bus again.