All in the Family featured the curmudgeonly Archie Bunker. Archie was television’s most famous grouch, blunt, blustering, straightforward and untouched by the PC crowd. He was the archetype of the conservative male. Michael desprately tried to reeducate him, but he persisted in his breviloquence.

Looking back at the last 40 years, we realize: ARCHIE WAS RIGHT!



In college I waited tables to make ends meet.  I worked short hours, had decent pay and learned a few lessons about people.  For instance, if a person said that they were a great tipper, they weren't.  I can't think of a single time in my life that I've heard a person say they tip great, or even good, that I have ever seen them actually leave a medium sized tip.

The same thing happens with celebrities.  Important and self important people often have people who work for them as personal assistants.  A celebrities personal assistant serves a function that in Victorian times was recognized as a "servant".  The servant's job is to ensure the masters happiness.  There is nothing wrong with that in and of itself.

Why anyone would take such a job in modern times is a bit of a mystery.  Perhaps working with the rich and famous is its own reward.  Maybe the notoriety is appealing to some people.  I don't know.  What I do know is if the servant is asking me, "don't you know who this is?" and doing so in a tone of voice that conveys contempt, their boss isn't all they think they are.

I've met a handful of the rich and famous.  Some of them are very nice, classy even.  Bash the Bush's all you like.  Barbra is a super lady and very engaging.  Bill Cosby has been taking a lot of heat recently for things he may or may not have done forty years ago.  I met him once, shook his hand and made a little small talk with him back stage at a performance he was giving.  He looked a little sad, but was very pleasant to a mere mundane such as myself.  Latter I learned that his son Ennis had recently been murdered.  Somehow he managed to keep it together and treat the masses courteously.

This last week I had another celebrity encounter.  I hope I do not have another like it.  Posting the names and details of the incident would violate my employers social media policy and likely get me fired, so I won't.  I've got a job interview this Thursday, so maybe I can soon.

I've added to my personal list of truisms this week.  If someone asks "don't you know who this is", the person in question probably isn't worth knowing.  If they promise you a significant portion of a months pay to get you to go out of your way for them, you better get it in writing.




Happy Thanksgiving My Friends



T-Shirt Slogans

"That's It! I'm Calling Grandma!" (Seen on an 8 year old)

"Wrinkled Was Not One of the Things I Wanted to Be When I Grew Up"

"Procrastinate Now."

"My Dog Can Lick Anyone."

"I Have a Degree in Liberal Arts - Do You Want Fries With That?"

"FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION. It comes bundled with the software."

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a cash advance."

"Time's fun when you're having flies...Kermit the Frog."


GFF--Good Cop

Cops get a bad rap, mostly because they deserve it.  More and more it seems like todays cops are little more than bad guys with a solid pension plan.  Good men still go into law enforcement, like Georgia State Trooper Nathan Bradley.

A Good Man Doing a Tough Job
Trooper Nathan Bradley had the difficult job of knocking at the door of a family home in Newborn to report the car crash that had killed both parents on October 31. Crystal and Donald Howard had gone out to get more face paint for the kids— ages six to 13 — before taking them Trick or Treating on Halloween.
The couple’s four children appeared at the door dressed in their costumes, and with no adults there, Bradley couldn’t bring himself to tell the kids about their parents. Instead, he decided to save their Halloween.
He took them out for dinner to each of their favorite places, radioed headquarters and rallied his fellow troopers who ended up throwing an impromptu Halloween party. A sleepover at the State Police barracks kept them busy until their grandmother could drive up from Florida, seven hours away.
Only after giving the kids happy Halloween memories, and with the grandmother finally there, was the painful news broken to the children.
Trooper Bradley is a class act for how he did what he did.

Now for the rest of the story:
He set up a GoFundMe page for Justin, Amiah, Daimean, and Trayvion, hoping to raise $7,000 so their parents’ remains could be sent to Florida, near their new home with grandma. When the total started skyrocketing, Bradley asked that anything beyond that amount to go toward a college fund.
Nine days later, more than 12,000 people have donated nearly a half million dollars to the Howard orphans.
HOOORAH for Nathan Bradley.  We need more cops like this one.



Today, I uploaded a photo of myself at the beach on Facebook. The first comment it got was "Wow!! If I was 20 yrs younger, oh boy ;)". Yeah, thanks for that, grandpa.

Today, I was in the shower, oblivious to the outside world, when four police officers who had apparently been banging at my door, entered by force. They were doing a bust on a weed farm and got the wrong house.

Today, I found out that my 2-year-old brother is afraid of his own penis. Whenever he doesn't have a diaper on, he screams, cries and yells, "Ew".

Today, I had a job interview. I have a nervous tendency to rub my foot against the bar under the table. After the interview I noticed I had been rubbing my foot against the interviewer's leg.

Today, I found out that every single picture that I have ever sent to my boyfriend, his father has also received. Every. Single. One.

Today, I locked myself out and had to enter my house via the back door. Thinking I was an intruder, my 7-year-old daughter slammed a metal rake into the back of my head. Nice to know she can take care of herself.

Today, my English professor accused me of plagiarizing a poem I submitted, because she'd read it online earlier that day. The poem was mine; I posted it after writing it for her class, and even after logging into the site to prove it, she reported me to the school.

Today, my boyfriend picked me up to take me on a date. Just as we were about to drive away, my dad ran out of the house in his underwear and started yelling that he'd kill my boyfriend if I wasn't back home within the hour.

Today, I was at the book store when a book caught my eye: Overcoming Anxiety For Dummies. I wanted to look through the book but I was too nervous to pick it up, thinking everyone in the store would look at me.

Today, I went to the mall and had to parallel park. It took me 10 to 12 minutes of maneuvering before I got into the slot. When I turned off the car and got out, there were 8 people laughing hysterically and clapping for me.

Today, I realized the benefits at Burger King are better than at my company. I'm an engineer, have three degrees, speak three languages fluently, and work at a multi-billion dollar company. The guy flipping burgers has better health care and more corporate 401k contributions than I do.

Today, I ran into my boss outside of work. She smiled, and started trying to have an in-depth chat with me. I wouldn't have minded, if it weren't for the fact I ran into her at a club, whilst they were having an S and M theme night. And we were both fully dressed up for it.

Today, I suggested that my mother download Skype so we could video chat while I'm studying in London over the summer. After I had explained how it worked and that it was free, she said "'ll only be gone for a few months. It's not really worth it.

Today, trying to be nice, I sat with the lonely kid at lunch. While eating, he started laughing and showed me his hit list. I was at the top.


Thought on College Financing

You have no doubt seen pics like this one from last week.
I won't say anything about 6 students not being 1 million, or make any comments about the fact that the one guy in the pic not having enough game to tag any one of the five chicks that he no doubt was trying to impress.  I can only wonder if the other kids at this college were too busy spending time in the library or at their part time jobs to participate in the rally.

 Ya gotta love the Marines, they even try to protect the internet from stupid.  Not that anyone could win that war, but I admire him for trying.

The way to solve the problem with the high cost of college is very simple, get the government out of it.  I mean all together.  No federal grants to the colleges.  No federal student loans for the kids.  No federal involvement of any kind.  Of course that's not gonna happen but still its the best solution.

The best way to raise the pay for American  jobs is to kick out illegals and jail people who hire them.  Again not going to happen.  Still its the best solution, assuming that solving the problem is the goal.

The best way to do a lot of things is never going to be on the table as far as the politicians are concerned.  The second best way to help college kids with tuition and debt costs is responsible underwriting.

Back when I was a banker we had to do something called underwriting.  Basically underwriting is a process of deciding if a loan is a good risk or not.  Every kind of loan has a standard of generally accepted parameters that indicate if the loan will be repaid as agreed.  It's time to underwrite student loans the same way.

Here are some criteria that should be evaluated before granting a loan:
  • Will the loan cover general studies or prerequisites?  It shouldn't you can't get a job by taking those classes.  No it doesn't matter that you have to take those classes to take the classes you need for your major. Either the student should pay for the class, or the college should find a way to make that class more affordable or eliminate it as a requirement.
  • What are the post graduation job prospects for a person with the major that the loan is being written for?
  • What are the odds that someone will actually hire the person we are lending money to if they graduate?
  • What is the likely income that a person with this degree will be hired for?  If it is too low to meet normal living expenses and repay the debt, then no loan.
There are many more underwriting criteria that could be added to a responsible underwriting matrix for student loans, but you get the idea.  Student loans cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.  The size of the loan can exceed the cost of a McMansion but no one is taking a good hard look at whether or not the kid could actually pay the thing back or if they can even get a job doing whatever the degree is supposed to get them a job in.  

Every other kind of loan you can get has requirements you have to meet before you can get the loan.  Want a car?  Do you have good credit, a job and does that job pay you enough to make the car payments after meeting your other expenses?  Want a mortgage?  Same requirements, plus some.  Why?  Because the lender wants to get their money back.

Student loan?  No credit, no down payment, no chance in hell of getting a job with that degree?  No problem!  Here's a cool $250,000.  It's all for the college of course, with a little beer and condom money on the side.  By the way you have to pay it back no matter what.  No other kind of loan works like this.  If I as a lender did this to anyone in any other lending situation it would be considered unconscionable and possibly unenforceable when it came time to collect repayment.

Underwrite the loans.  Will this keep some kids out of college and out of courses of study?  Yes.  So what?  If a kid wants a PhD in tiddlywinks, I'm cool with it.  Just don't pretend that he's going to be able to pay back a loan with that degree.  Don't give him the loan.  Let his parents or scholarships or whoever wants to pick up the tab.

Know what else will happen if kids can't just sign their name and rack up a ton of debt for school?  Colleges will have to get very competitive to attract students.  This means they will have to offer better programs, enforce stricter recruiting standards or lower prices accordingly.  Get the government out.  Let the market in.  Everybody wins.


Blatant Plug

Rabbi B has written a post in response to my request for an article.  I hope its the first in a series.  If you are interested in knowing the how of understanding scripture his post Garden of the Torah is for you. 

The big theological word for understanding how to study scripture is hermeneutics.  I've posted on this in the past and anyone who has spent any time with me talking about spiritual things has probably picked up on my interest in this subject.

I grew up in a home and church where a Strict Rationalist hermeneutic was taught.  That standard was expressed in three criteria:
  • Direct Command
  • Explicit Example
  • Necessary Inference
Strict Rationalism has a number of good points and will deliver a solid literal understanding of scripture.  Any serious student of the bible should utilize this method in their study.  I recommend it highly.  It took me over 30 years before I realized that Strict Rationalism is very, very good, but its not enough. This method will give a serious student a life time of knowledge.  Considering that most people don't "do" all of the things they know to be literally correct, Strict Rationalism is enough to keep a student immersed for a life time.

The traditional Rabbinic hermeneutic is different and more through than Strict Rationalism.  It allows a deeper divining of the full council.  I just starting to use it in my own study.  Check out what my good friend Rabbi B has to say in his Garden of the Torah post.  


Blessed Are You

In New Jersey its now OK to have medical marijuana in the schools.  In most schools kids can do, or say just about any crude or disrespectful thing they want.  Do you want to sport a t-shirt with the F-word on it?  No problem.  In more culturally sensitive school districts the kids are encouraged to convert to Islam by saying the Shahada.

In Georgia, part of the so called bible belt, a kid has to be very careful of wearing clothes with bad messages on them.

Foster: Green's top 3 finish disqualified for headband with Bible verse deemed logo
On Saturday, West Forsyth’s John Green was the third runner out of 226 to cross the finish line in the Class AAAAAA state championship race at Carrollton High School. Soon after collapsing from his effort and offering, as well as receiving, high fives from opponents as they walked by the cool-down tent, Green found out he placed 226th out of 226.

The Georgia High School Association is clamming up about why they did what they did.  They won't say what the reason is beyond a "uniform violation".  Except according to their own rules, they can't show that a violation took place.

Here's a picture of John Green and his evil headband:
His guilt is plain isn't it.  Oh, you can't see it? well here is a close up:

That's a much better shot.  Clearly John should be sent to a reeducation camp for this offense.
For the 99.9999999% of people who still have no idea what is on the head band, its Isaiah 40:30-31.  Which says:
Young men may grow tired and weary, even the fittest may stumble and fall;31 but those who hope in Adonai will renew their strength, they will soar aloft as with eagles’ wings; when they are running they won’t grow weary, when they are walking they won’t get tired.
Before we jump to any conclusions about their motives we should explore the many possibilities:
  • The GHSA has it out for West Forsyth schools
  • They don't like white people and wanted to make sure a minority placed in the top 3
  • The GHSA is anti Semitic
  • Some other reason that is so blatantly obvious that we should all know what horribly evil thing this high school senior did
I wonder what would have happened if the head ban had a pretty rainbow on it and something less obnoxious like, "Katelyn Jenner is my hero" or "I like it up the butt".  I really don't wonder.  I already know what would happen, the GHSA would be defending against a multi-million dollar lawsuit. 

What would make for real entertainment is if the Jewish Anti Defamation League would sue the GHSA on behalf of young Mr. Green.  After all the offensive headband was a reference to the TANAKH.

There is such a real and present danger in America today of a Jewish reading material undermining western civilization and destroying our public school athletic programs that it must be stopped no matter what the cost!  Thank Ninsi'anna we have the GHSA to protect us from the messages on high school kids headbands. 

GFF--Dog Tail

I'm not a fan of the little yippee dog.  I like dogs that are big enough that you won't step on them and squash them like a bug.  That said, this little dog has a big heart.

Black bear pounced on Stas Nagornov as he returned home from the shop in the centre of Amgu village.
His friend Nikita Nikonov said: 'He caught up with Stas first. The bear threw him to the ground, began to trample him, bite him. He grabbed his head, then shoulder and back. I watched - and ran at the bear. I didn't think about myself or what would happen. I just wanted to save my friend.'
Stas, 8, said: 'Nikita ran and saved me. He hit the bear's head with a stone.' This made the bear turn his attention to Nikita, gnawing and clawing him instead. 
At this moment a little dachshund called Tosya arrived on the scene and barked furiously at the bear. Now the beast left Nikita and chased the darting dog into the forest. 
Tosya diverted the bear well away from the village, before losing the wild animal and returning safely home.
Apparently the wiener dog didn't know he wasn't a Great Dane and neither did the bear.   If I ever get into hunting bears behind dogs, I'll have to consider getting a Dachshund.

Dogs are some of the best people.


50 Years Ago...

I've been seeing stories and commemorative pieces about the start of the Vietnam War 50 years ago.  I'd like to interject my two words on this.

Baby Boomers America's most worthless generation, seem to want to define themselves largely by their position on this event.  Well fine, I guess.  There are three ways to go, Pro War, Anti War, or didn't care all that much.  I was born during the war.  It took several years before I traded Mr. Rogers Neighborhood for Nightline, so I'm one of the didn't care at the time crowd.
Today I care less.  I didn't always think that way.  My father enlisted in the USMC as did several of my cousins. Several of my family members served in other branches during this time period.  I was "pro war" at least by proxy growing up.
The war in Vietnam was a very minor event in terms of world history.  The Punic Wars had a greater effect on world history than Vietnam.  Vietnam wasn't even that important in American history.  Sorry, its not.  The war accomplished nothing.  Victory or defeat or just going home, would have no lasting consequence for the Nation. 
Sorry Boomers, in the long run Vietnam accomplished nothing.  If you are pro war, nothing came of it.  If you were an anti war activist, nothing came of it.  Yes for a short period of time it looked like you accomplished something you could be "proud" of, America pulled out.  Again big deal.  That would have happened anyway.
So Boomers, feel free to stroke your ego over your "roll" during Vietnam.  Like so much of your generation, it's collective navel gazing.  200 years from now, if we are still here as a nation, (no thanks to your efforts) the Vietnam War will be known for one thing, the near immediate access to war images via media.  That's it, it will be a footnote, a tiny asterisk, a question on Jeopardy.
Much like everything else the Baby Boomer generation "contributed" to the world, nothing positive came from it.  Like everything else Boomer related, we're going to have to hear about, because...well, because they're talking about their generation.



"What's shaking, Norm?"
"All four cheeks and a couple of chins."

"What's new, Normie?"
"Terrorists, Sam. They've taken over my stomach & they're demanding beer."

"What's up, Mr. Peterson?"
"My nipples, pour me a beer Woody."

"What'd you like, Normie?"
"A reason to live. Give me another beer."

"What'll you have, Normie?"
"Well, I'm in a gambling mood Sammy. I'll take a glass of whatever comes out of the tap."

"Looks like beer, Norm."
"Call me Mister Lucky."

"Hey Norm, how's the world been treating you?"
"Like a baby treats a diaper."

"What's the story Mr. Peterson?"
"The Bobsey Twins go to the brewery. Let's cut to the happy ending."

"Hey Mr. Peterson, there's a cold one waiting for you."
"I know, if she calls, I'm not here."

"What's going on Mr. Peterson?"
"A flashing sign in my gut that says, 'Insert beer here.'

"Whatcha up to, Norm?"
"My ideal weight if I were eleven feet tall."

"How's it going, Mr. Peterson?"
"I'm sorry to hear that."
"No, I mean pour."

"How's life treating you, Norm?"
"Like it caught me sleeping with it's wife."

"Women. Can't live with 'em...pass the beer nuts."

"What's going down, Normie?"
"My butt cheeks on that bar stool."

"Pour you a beer, Mr. Peterson?"
"Alright, but stop me at one...make that one-thirty."

"How's it going Mr. Peterson?"
"It's a dog eat dog world, Woody & I'm wearing Milk Bone underwear."

"What's the story, Norm?"
"Boy meets beer. Boy drinks beer. Boy meets another beer."

"Can I pour you a beer, Mr. Peterson?"
"A little early, isn't it, Woody?"
"For a beer?"
"No, for stupid questions”."


Whose Interest?

Barrack I HATE AMERICA Obama made an announcement last week rejecting the Keystone Oil Pipeline.

Obama's Rejection Of Keystone Pipeline

The reason White House gave for not finishing the project was:
"The Keystone XL pipeline would not serve the national interest of the United States,"
Notice I said finishing the project, not doing the project.  Several hundred miles of pipe line have been laid.  Millions of dollars of private money have been spent.  The project was waiting on some final sections of pipeline to finish up and connect the Alberta Oil Sands with refineries in Texas, Oklahoma, Illinois and Nebraska.

The project was OK'd some time ago.  This is about finishing a job, not starting one.

How is it that exactly that the; "The Keystone XL pipeline would not serve the national interest of the United States,"?

To answer that we need to answer another question, "What would be the result of finishing the Keystone Pipeline"?

The Pipeline would:
  • Deliver crude oil and other petroleum hydrocarbons from Canada to the United States
  • Pipeline delivery would have a lower marginal cost than trans Atlantic or trans Pacific shipment of crude
  • Pipeline delivery would have a lower marginal cost than rail transport of the same quantity of petroleum hydrocarbons from Canada
  • Pipeline delivery would have less of a environmental impact than other shipment methods
  • Pipeline delivery has a statistically lower chance of a major accidental spill
  • Canada is a trading partner with the US that buys as well as sells products here
  • Trading with Canada doesn't have the political and military encumbrances that trading with various parties in the Middle East does
  • Importing from Canada is more cost effective than importing from other countries, potentially reducing the price of gas at the pump for most Americans.
If Keystone was finished who stands to lose out?
  • Companies that ship oil from the middle east
    • George Soros
  • Companies that ship oil from Canada
    • BNSF-owned in large part by Warren Buffet
  • Companies that currently produce and ship oil in the middle east and their partners
    • The House of Saud
    • HAMAS
    • Halliburton
  • Companies who would have to compete with a lower marginal cost for raw oil products
  • People who want gas to sell for over $8 a gallon in order to make less efficient technologies viable for ideological reasons
  • Those eager for the economic harm of the United States
    • Every member of the Democratic Party
    • Obummer
Those lists are no where near conclusive.  Who stands to win if the pipeline was built?
  • The companies who have invested in it
  • The companies who sell oil and gas products delivered by the pipeline
  • Consumers who would enjoy lower or more stable prices at the pump
  • The recipients of Canadian mineral royalties
"The Keystone XL pipeline would not serve the national interest of the United States,"

Not true, it would serve some Americans and Canadians very well.  The ones most "helped" by marginally less expensive petroleum hydrocarbons are unfortunately not the ones who count in Obama's book.



We've got a couple of stories this week.

If you haven't finished all your hunting for this year, you might want to skip watching the video on the link for this story.

Baby Deer Refused To Leave Side of Man Who Rescued It

You watched it anyway didn't you?

I'm not sure if how I'm going to like the next Star Wars installments.  Oh, I'm going.  I saw them all as a kid and I'm going to go.  I'm not sure I'll take my son to see them.  We'll have to see about that.  That's not the point.  Growing up Star Wars was the coolest thing on the big screen, which is why this story got my attention.

Star Wars Director Grants Dying Man’s Wish, Just In Time

The Force was strong for Daniel Fleetwood. The Star Wars fan with terminal cancer wanted to see the latest sequel in the movie series before it went public in December–and his wish was granted last night. He and his wife were treated to a private screening of the unfinished movie.
The 32-year-old Texas man whose house is packed with Star Wars memorabilia isn’t expected to survive until the film’s opening date of December 18.
Mark Hamill, who plays Luke Skywalker in the movies, tweeted his approval.
“I just read this and am elated for Daniel & his family!”
I'm no Jedi and I don't play one in the movies either, but I approve too.

I caught this story and I thought it worth posting.

This CEO Urges His Workers to Take 6 Weeks Paid Vacation
The boss at this Los Gatos, California-based company is telling his 2,200 employees to take six weeks of vacation every year, just like he does — and he’ll pay them to do it.
“I take a lot of vacation and I’m hoping that certainly sets an example,” Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said Tuesday. “It is helpful. You often do your best thinking when you’re off hiking in some mountain or something. You get a different perspective on things.”
We've known for some time that employees who take between 4 and 6 weeks vacation each year are more productive and more profitable.  The Europeans have proven this.  Some how Americans have never caught on to the fact that rest and relaxation makes work more productive. 

Good news out of Detroit:

In addition to club meetings, band practices and football games, University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy teens are also signing up to serve as pallbearers for homeless veterans.
Six students recently volunteered to be pallbearers for three dead homeless veterans.
Senior Joshua Gonzales is one of the student leaders who helped develop the program. He said this new opportunity for students is "meant to help dignify and respect the human being."
The students' initial plan was to carry the caskets for homeless individuals, said the Rev. Karl Kiser, the school president. But after working with local funeral home A.J. Desmond & Sons, the students narrowed their focus to the largest group of homeless people in need of the pallbearing service: unclaimed veterans.
More than 50 students attended the first training session at the beginning of the month, a number that surprised funeral director Kevin Desmond, who said he expected no more than 20.

It has to be Heavy

There have been ups and downs in my fitness quest.  Some things are a learning process. 

I started off with a program "guaranteed" to loss weight.  That program had me lifting six days a week doing lots of exercises each day.  I lost some weight.  Then I switched to the Strong Lifts program.  That worked.  I lost weight which was good.  More important I was gaining strength and feeling great.  That made it easier to stick with. 

As I started hitting strength goals I started slacking off.  I knew I needed to get cardio in so I could be in shape for hunting season.  Except I hate cardio.  So I slacked off some more telling myself that as long as I was hitting one heavy set I would be OK.

Well I wasn't OK.  It's not even close to OK.  Half a years work can be undone in six weeks slacking off. 

Last night I made up my mind to start lifting heavy sets again.  I only got through 2/3's of what I had been doing previously.  This morning I am sore.  Its a good kind of sore.  My body knows it was worked.  More importantly I know that I'm ready to work hard again.  Underneath the soreness is a feeling of physical accomplishment.  Even though I didn't do everything on my list (no dead lifts) I did something worthwhile.

I know that there are lots of exercise and weight loss programs out there and that folks like them.  I think I'm learning that, for me, I need to lift heavy weights.  I'm told that old guys shouldn't try to max out cardio and push for maximum lifts.  That's probably wise.  I'm probably in that category of old guy.  In order to lose the weight I want, I'm going to have to incorporate cardio, with heavy lifting and a disciplined diet.

The plan now is to stick with the Strong Lifts program, with a minor modification.  Once I hit a strength goal with an exercise, I'm not going to try to exceed it.  I keep doing all my lifts at that weight for all the sets.  Then on my rest days I'm going to add what I'm calling my 3 tens.  I'm going to do 10 min's each of elliptical, treadmill and rowing machine.  The plan is to increase those times as my endurance increases and to utilize some of the HIIT programs that are available on the equipment.

On the diet front, I'm a sugar junkie.  I'm going to work on cutting that out.  It's also the eating holidays so we'll see how that goes.  I've already started doing this but since I haven't got a full week in yet, I'm going to count 90 days starting this Sunday and then reevaluate.



Frank, … You know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there on the planet? What happened to the dandelions, violets, milkweeds and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long-lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honey bees and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colors by now. But, all I see are these green rectangles.

It’s the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers ‘weeds’ and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.

Grass? But, it’s so boring. It’s not colorful. It doesn’t attract butterflies, birds and bees; only grubs and sod worms. It’s sensitive to temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?

Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn.

The spring rains and warm weather probably make grass grow really fast. That must make the Suburbanites happy.

Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it-sometimes twice a week.

They cut it? Do they then bale it like hay?

Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags.

They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?

No, Sir, just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.

Now, let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow. And, when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?

Yes, Sir.

These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work.

You aren’t going to believe this, Lord. When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it, so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.

What nonsense. At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn, they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the
trees and bushes. It’s a natural cycle of life.

You better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a new circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away.

No!? What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winter to keep the soil moist and loose?

After throwing away the leaves, they go out and buy something which they call mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves.

And where do they get this mulch?

They cut down trees and grind them up to make the mulch.

Enough! I don’t want to think about this anymore. St.Catherine, you’re in charge of the arts. What movie have you scheduled for us tonight?

‘Dumb and Dumber’, Lord. It’s a story about….

Never mind, I think I just heard the whole story from St. Francis.


Conversation With a Bureaucrat

I had opportunity to speak with a Federal Bureaucrat last week.  The conversation was ordinary, non-political small talk.  That was until he started complaining about how broke his employer is and how rough its making his life.

I tried, I really tried to keep my mouth shut.  I was at work, on my employers dime, and my employer does business with the government.  Do not upset the apple cart.  Do noootttt....

Him:  "You have no idea how hard it is to get by on a G-15's pay".

Me:  "That's like what, only six figures right?"

Apparently he missed the sarcasm in my voice.  Unbelievably he thought I was commiserating with him.

Him:  "It's a little better than that, but they cut my overtime and per diem waay baack".

Me:  "Maybe your boss should cut back on all his extra curricular activities."

The conversation morphed into a discussion on Obummers habits and the fact that according to the person I was speaking to it costs several million dollars for him to leave the White House to go anywhere.  Little excursions like playing golf can set the tax payer back $16 million an outing.  The president only does that between 2 and 3 times a week.

Not part of my conversation, but lets do some math.  Assuming 2 times a week and $4 million a pop (keeping this estimate at the low end) and only golfing 48 weeks a year, that works out to:

48*8years = 384 weeks * 2times a week = 768 golf outings * $4million per outing = $3,072,000,000 for golf.

Mark Knoller an "expert" on Obama's golfing pegs a much lower number of outings through this last August, 247 rounds.  Again that math looks like:

247 rounds * $4million per round = $988,000,000

Gee that's a lot better, not quite a billion bucks for O's golfing.

Take your pick, between roughly 1 and 3 billion dollars so Obummer could hit the links.  This isn't counting all the private vacation trips for his wife and girls or his normal vacations.

There are over 100,000,000 Americans out of work (labor participation rate).  There is another huge but unreported number is the underemployment rate which peaked this last year at 16.2%.   Out of the 218 million people working,  35,316,000 of them are working at jobs that the are overqualified for and probably underpaid.  I'm in that number.

For the record a GS-15 pay rate scale STARTS  at $101,630 and goes up to $132,122.  I didn't know that, I had to look it up.  This guy lives in West Virginia.  The average annual household income in that state is $40,034.  I can't imagine how he's managing to scrape by.

What does he do that he is so unfairly paid?  He is in Wyoming this month to draft provisions to decrease coal mining productivity and artificially increase compliance cost as a precursor to shutting down our domestic energy production.



What is normal?

There are a lot of ways to answer that question depending on how it is approached.  The social sciences define normality one way.   A statistician defines it slightly differently.  Erma Bombeck defined normal as a setting on the clothes dryer.

Some time ago our church had an evangelism campaign.  That effort brought into our church some people whose background was radically different than our normal church members.  The person I spoke to yesterday was one of these folks with the radically different life experiences.  I'm going to call that person "AP".  (Anonymous Person)

AP had a messed up childhood.  Followed by a messed up adolescence.  Which resulted in a chaotic young adulthood.  During AP's life the state was involved.  Due that involvement AP became institutionalized in the sense of expecting social workers, programs and whatever bureaucratic initiative was en vogue to "fix" or "improve" AP's life.

AP has now spent about 10 years in church and even married a life long church member.  During that time AP would seek out advice from other church members and ignore it.  It didn't matter what the subject was, money, child rearing, relationships, etc.  AP wanted advice but when that advice didn't fit AP's view of "normal", it was disregarded.  This created some conflict at church. 

Most folks are happy to help out with a listening ear and a bit of advice.  When the person asking for advice goes out and promptly does the opposite, its a bit of a slap in the face.  When AP would go back and want to talk about how things were an absolute train wreck the people who listened patiently before, were less than enthusiastic.

That became AP's pattern.  Ask advice.  Ignore advice.  Experience train wreck. Wonder why people weren't as friendly about talking about the absolutely predictable train wreck.  Experience people pulling away.  Rinse and repeat.  Add to that cycle some complaining about how being married and earning an income disqualified AP from getting all the social welfare services previously enjoyed and you get the picture.

Well, not the whole picture.  AP was growing in faith and love of the Lord.  One other thing, AP could be counted on to help out with just about any and every project at church.  Sunday school, VBS, taking the teens to a youth rally or bible camp, AP was game for any and all church related activity and would pitch in.

Good heart, willing to help, growing faith and predictable drama and personal upheaval.  That was AP's new church normal.  Recently AP experienced another train wreck.  In fairness I don't know how anyone, including AP could have seen it coming, at least not without a lot of information that most folks wouldn't have.

This last train wreck involved one of AP's kids.  This situation is causing AP to question the previous "normal".  It's taken several years but now the reevaluation of "normal" is under serious consideration.

As humans our world view is a big part of what we call normal.  As long as things are going along the way that we expect there is no reason to change course.  As long as there is no real discomfort, there is no reason to question "normal".

Unfortunately we see this truism mostly in its absence.  It's easy to look at a situation that is sub-normal and see the deficiencies.  An organization, such as an employer, that has a sub-optimal management or operating structure is easy to spot, from the outside.  The same holds true in government, formal education and a host of other human endeavors.  Discomfort and pain is almost always a requisite for humans to object to what they have come to expect as normal.

The enlightened man seeks a higher state of normal.