Monday, June 30, 2003

What a day

Some days you look at the clock after what feels like hours of work and discover it's only ten minutes since the last time you looked. Today was not one of those days. It was the kind of day I like, when you work for what seems like minutes only to discover that several hours have passed. The kind of day when you forget (almost, anyway) to stop and have lunch. Even the meeting I had today (which usually d.....r.....a.....g by) was over before it seemed like much time had passed.

It makes me wonder why more days aren't like that.

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    Friday, June 27, 2003

    I'll race ya!

    At least that's what UT says it's going to do. I still haven't figured out what the color of a persons skin has to do with diversity. Take a room of fifty people, all black, all white, all brown or any shade in between, and you will have a DIVERSE group of opinions on a DIVERSE number of topics. Some topics will have a plurality of opinion, others may have as many opinions as there are people. Only with a very miniscule number of topics will you find a unanimous opinion (try getting 50 people to agree on something simple, like a lunch menu, and you'll see diversity in action). Yet if the people in the room all have the same skin color, they are automatically not diverse.

    If I were to say that black people all think alike, or that they think differently from white people, I would correctly be called a racist. But if I say a group must include black people to make sure their opinions are represented (the implication being that they obviously think differently from white people), I am a champion of diversity.

    I don't know why diversity isn't considered just another form of racism.

    The other thing that bugs me about the diversity argument from universities like UT, is that they are only interested in getting the minority (I should say, the RIGHT minority) students in the door. They don't seem too concerned about getting them OUT the other side (graduating). If you look at the statistics (table D), a much larger percentage of these students wash out and never graduate. Exactly how is this helping? It all sounds pretty patronizing to me. Like minorities need "looking after" or something.

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    HTML again

    I told you I only know enough about HTML to be dangerous and I've already proved my point (Doh!). When you accessed my blog, you could only see one screen and couldn't scroll down (although you could click on the archives and see everything). Seems the problem was the Site Meter code I added originally (Java). I've replaced that with the normal (non-Java) code and voila! Ze problem, she is no more! My thanks to Dawn for pointing out the problem.

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    Do you smell that?

    Something about this story is setting off the old Stink-O-Meter. Why was the Reverend Gregory W. Spencer checked in to a low rent motel when he lived only six miles away? Was there something he needed to hide? Maybe his house was being fumigated (uh, yeah, that's it!)? The guy drove a Mercedes - you'd think he'd at least go to a mid-range property like a Courtyard or Fairfield Inn, but he's found strangled, suffocated and shot in a bed at the local Days Inn. Maybe he had a legitimate reason to be there, but right now it's quacking like a duck.

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    Wake up and smell the coffee

    Every now and then your kids do something that surprises you. My youngest daughter is twelve (12 1/2 dad!) and most days stays blissfully unaware of the world around her. Like most kids her age, she still believes it's all about her (when we all know, it's all about ME).

    This morning, when my wife and I got up, the coffee was already made (and she doesn't even want anything!). Just when you think you know 'em.

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    Thursday, June 26, 2003

    Texas justice

    Well, that didn't take long. I didn't think it would. What was to discuss?

    Drinking? Check.
    Drugs? Check.
    Reckless driving? Check.
    Hit and run? Check.
    Coverup? Check.
    Gross insensitivity towards your fellow man? Double check.

    There's no question that, originally, this was anything more than an accident. Why would anyone think that hiding this could make it anything but worse? The defense tried to paint this as not her fault, even going so far as to suggest that the Ecstacy she took was placed in a drink without her knowledge. I guess what bugs me the most is that she thinks (or wants us to think) that this is somehow not her fault. Read this and tell me how it's not her fault. She's sorry all right...sorry she got caught. On a positive note, if she's locked up the rest of her life, maybe she won't be able to procreate.

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    My heart bleeds more

    To add to Monday's rant, I should also mention that my wife grew up in similar circumstances to mine. She never had a dad and her mom worked two jobs up until just a few years ago. They didn't have a lot in the way of extras, wore clothes until they were worn out, drove old cars and lived in a mobile home. She went to college on scholarships, work/study, and student loans (also paid, thanks). We paid for our own wedding by taking out a small loan. We saved money by having family members play, sing and take pictures. It wasn't the gala event of the year, but everyone who was there enjoyed themselves. Our first car was the cheapest we could find (Escort), lacking even a radio. It was a standard (I taught my wife to drive it), 'cause the automatic was $1,000 more.

    The fact that we had to pay sales tax didn't hold us down. I find the concept offensive and stupid. Poor choices are what defeat most people. Rewarding them with money they haven't earned doesn't teach them to make better choices, it just reinforces the bad ones.

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    Roadsigns revisited

    On the way home last night both of the temporary "right lane closed" signs were gone. There is a new, more permanent, "left lane closed" sign up at the beginning of the block where the lane is closed. OK, not much warning, but at least they got the lane right. Oh, one more thing. The placement of the new sign? 2/3 obscured behind a utility pole (if I hadn't known what the sign said, I would've been at the lane closing about the same time I could fully read the sign). Bubba and Jim Bob must have been working sign detail yesterday.

    Correction: It's not a utility pole, it's a tree.

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    Wednesday, June 25, 2003


    How hard is it to put up a roadsign, especially a temporary one? Do you need a high school education, or will junior high be enough?

    You've seen the temporary road signs. They are made of vinyl or canvas or some type of treated cloth, usually bright orange, stand about three feet tall on an X shaped brace. On my way home, there are several of these signs that went up last week due to some downtown construction (that dang Fortune 500 retailer again!). They say "right lane closed ahead." OK, I think to myself, I'll just go ahead and get in the LEFT lane now and avoid any hassles in four or five blocks. The lights change and I reach the spot where the lane is blocked. Guess what? That's correct, its the LEFT lane that's really closed, the right lane is fine.

    That was last week. The "right lane closed ahead" signs are still up and it's still the left lane that's blocked. You know, maybe they were all out of signs that said "left lane closed ahead" so they did the best they could? Nope. On the back of these signs (which I see when I'm going to work in the mornings), there is a little rectangular piece of material with the word "left" on it. Obviously, it is meant to cover the word "right" on the front of the sign when the situation calls for it.

    Is this too complex? Are there no city officials who travel this downtown street? Does this not bug anyone else? Sigh.

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    I know squat. Until I signed up with blogger, I never needed to know any HTML. But I do have a reasonably good intellect, a strong curiousity, and better than average puzzle solving skills (oh, to some day be like my oldest brother who works the crosswords in ink), so I've managed to sniff out a few things.

    I figured out how to add links on the right hand side of the page (very easy). I figured out how to add a site meter icon (moderately easy) so I can see if there is ANYONE of the 6 billion + people in this world who will read what I write. I figured out how to add an email address to the page (moderately easy) in case the aforementioned people cared to comment on anything I wrote. I haven't looked into doing much else so far with the site template. I know I only know enough to be dangerous and really muck things up.

    As time goes by, I'm sure I'll pick up other bits of flotsam to add to the page, but for now it's enough.

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    Writers block

    It's wierd. I've tried three or four times now to write about a particular subject. Every time I wind up deleting the whole post because it just seems - wrong - for lack of a better word. It's hard to describe why it's wrong, but it just doesn't come out like it should. Having not been writing for long, I don't know if this is normal, but I suspect it is.

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    Tuesday, June 24, 2003


    My oldest daughter got her learner's permit yesterday. She was so excited she had to call me on the way home from the DPS (DMV for you non-Texans) office to tell me. We're teaching her ourselves, so my wife handles the classroom part and I get to teach the actual driving. That works well because the book stuff bores me and my wife isn't patient enough to teach the driving.

    We've been working in a big, empty parking lot up to now, and I'm making her learn on a standard. Start. Stop. Start. Shift. Turn. Stop. Start. Stop. And the ever popular: Kill it. We've chugged, we've chirped the tires, we've taken corners too fast, we've rolled backwards on hills. Yeah, this is going to be fun! Actually, for our first few road outings, I'll probably put her in my wife's car which is an automatic. Let's get the steering and speed parts down and then add the shifting. Right now, her biggest fear is going in reverse. Can I say that's also my biggest fear? - her going in reverse, that is.

    I learned on an automatic. The first time I had to drive a stick was on a trip to the dump with my brother's old Chevy pickup. That sucker had a heavy clutch, a column shift, and way too much power for a newbie driver. My brother tossed me the keys and said something to the effect of "there's no time like the present." My sister-in-law rode shotgun on that trip (she couldn't drive a stick either) and we both aged a month (hey! I discovered time travel!) that afternoon, but we made it to the dump and back without damaging the truck or ourselves. I think my left leg trembled and twitched the rest of the day (did I mention it was a heavy clutch?). I can still hear the whine of that transmission.

    Driving will be one of the last major steps to my daughter's independence. The only steps remaining are getting a job followed shortly by getting a checking account (she already has a savings account). After that, I'll have taught her about all that she'll be willing to learn from me. The rest she'll have to learn on her own. Just like me.

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    Monday, June 23, 2003

    My heart bleeds

    I opened my Sunday paper, and this is what I read, "Whom Would Jesus Tax?". Susan Pace Hamill, the author of this piece, says that it's unjust and immoral for poor people to be burdened by sales taxes and other forms of non-progressive taxation, and as Christians, we should work to change the tax system (Alabama's in this case) to relieve the poor by taxing the rich.

    Now call me crazy, but I've read the words of Jesus and the only tax policy I can recall him endorsing was that you should pay it. You know, the whole "render unto Caesar" thing. And while he did criticize the rich and the ruling class for taking advantage of the poor, he also said that the poor would ALWAYS (emphasis mine) be with us. You know, I have a hard time believing that the poor in Jesus' day are in the same boat as the poor in Alabama (who probably resemble the poor in my neighborhood).

    According to SPH's article, the poor should, "enjoy at least a minimum opportunity to improve their circumstances" which includes, "ensuring that poor children enjoy a minimum opportunity to achieve an adequate education." Shockingly, I agree with her completely. It's called GOING TO SCHOOL and GETTING A JOB. Surprisingly large numbers of poor people show little to no interest in either of these.

    When I was a kid, I got a new pair of tennis shoes, two pairs of jeans, and five shirts every year for school. Period. We ate a lot of beans and we grew our own vegetables. We drove old cars (our idea of a new car was one that was new to us), played a lot of games that cost little to nothing (have you ever played battleship on paper?), and owned the same small B&W TV as far back as I can remember. By the time I got to high school, I was embarrassed to have friends over because they would see our TV. I guess you could say we were poor. But we never went on welfare, never had food stamps, never needed rent assistance and ALWAYS paid our taxes. How many of Alabama's poor are still below the poverty line when you add in the social services they receive? How many of Alabama's poor own satellite dishes?

    When I graduated from high school, I moved out of my parent's house and in with a friend. After a year of working (fast food) and playing, I remember looking at my savings book and seeing a balance of $150. I flipped back in the book to the same date the year before. The balance was $150. I had spent a whole year and had zero to show for it (I did have a good time, though): No new clothes, no new car, no apartment/house, no new electronic gadgets, nothing but a few more albums and a stupid grin. It was at that point in my life when I decided I needed to do something different or I was never going to amount to much.

    I got a job that had career potential (that Fortune 500 retailer), even though I initially made $.10 more than minimum wage. I got a scholarship to college, moved to Texas, and worked full-time to pay what my scholarship didn't. The sum total financial support I got from my parents was at Christmas my freshman year. I got a $50 check and was grateful for it 'cause I new they couldn't afford even that. In the interest of full disclosure, I did get a little grant money from Texas and a little Social Security money because my dad was retired (most of which I had to pay back because I made too much money working) as well as some low interest student loans (paid, thank you). After I graduated, I got a job that was on the low end of the pay scale and started working my way up the ladder. Today my family is incredibly well-to-do by the standards I grew up with.

    But it wasn't because I needed the state to relieve my tax burden (however, if they'd like to do so now...) that my situation improved. It's because I wanted to STOP being poor that I worked hard to change and to learn and to succeed. Maybe the reason we still have the poor among us is that they get TOO MUCH help instead of not enough. I have a hard time believing that a good number of them couldn't do better if someone would give them a swift kick in the pants to get started.

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    Friday, June 20, 2003

    I'm rich

    I am an evil rich man, at least that's what I'm told. I'm rich because I'm getting a tax cut and I'm evil because I think I'm entitled to keep the money I make. It's obvious I care nothing for the poor and underprivileged among us.

    So let me tell you about the poor and underprivileged that I know (anecdotal evidence and all that). We live in an older neighborhood. Quiet (relatively) with average size houses on 1/4 acre lots (our house is 50 years old). We bought our house because it was what we could afford, but that's another story entirely. If you go to the street behind ours, the neighborhood is significantly different. The houses are the same age, but they are smaller and run down. Same thing if you go several blocks in the other direction (and coincidentally into the next town which has very little in the way of business tax revenues and so gets most of it's money from speeding tickets - you know, going 46 in a 45 zone).

    The elementary school my kids went to draws kids from this general area. Over 80% of the kids at the elementary school are on the free lunch program. A large number of them get free breakfast too. Not only that, but their siblings who are too young for school can also come for a free breakfast. My kids take their lunch to school every day - for two reasons. One is that my wife wants to make sure they eat good (but not always healthy) food, the other (bigger) reason is the cost. Funny, but the kids who get the free lunches (because they're so poor) are the kids who generally have money to buy cookies, chips and ice cream every day.

    Not all, but most can be described like this. They dress in name-brand clothes and wear expensive sneakers. Their families generally go to movies, eat out frequently (even fast food isn't cheap), own video games/game systems, own multiple TVs/VCRs/stereos and have either cable or satellite TV with a large collection of movies on VHS and/or DVD. At school events, these are the parents who have digital cameras and camcorders.

    I don't think that it's wrong for them to have these things, I just think it's wrong that my taxes ENABLE them to have these things. I receive zero public/governmental assistance (and that's the way I like it!) and only buy the things I can afford (which is why the wife shops at Wal-Mart). I don't even have cable 'cause I'm too cheap to fork over the $30+ bucks a month. And now, because I can keep a few dollars more of the money I earned, I'm an evil rich man because I won't be funding someone else to live a better lifestyle than my own. I plead guilty.

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    Thursday, June 19, 2003

    Irony 101

    The presumption that a person will act/think a certain way because of their skin color is considered racist. Yet the presumption that white cops chased a black man on a motorcycle (who crashed and died - what do you expect at speeds of 100 mph? - oh, and by the way, that was the speed before the chase began) only because he was black is legitimate, 'cause everybody knows white cops are racist.

    In past years, some people stereotyped blacks as ignorant and brutish, incapable of higher thought or controlling their emotions. The way to combat this stereotype is to riot, smash and set fire to things.

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    Just shoot me

    Shots. No, not the kind you get in a bar. The vaccination kind. I was one of those oddball kids (now cut that out!) growing up. I never had any of my vaccinations. It wasn't until I was going to college that I got any vaccinations (with the exception of a tetanus shot or two as a result of stepping on rusty nails), and then only because they absolutely refused to let me in without them. It wasn't that I was so opposed to vaccinations, but my parents (my dad in particular) were dead set against them. There were no religious reasons to oppose vaccinations, it was just that my folks didn't like the government poking their nose into how they took care of their kids. So we were sort of conscientious objectors to shots.

    We moved around a lot when I was growing up (12 houses, 4 states, 6 towns, 4 school districts, 6 schools), so every time we changed school districts, the subject of my shots (or lack thereof) was raised. The conversations typically went something like this.

    "Mr. and Mrs. S, there doesn't seem to be any record of your son's shots in his enrollment forms."

    "That's because he hasn't had any."

    "He hasn't had any? Well, I assume you'll have that taken care of at the earliest possible opportunity?"

    "No. He isn't going to get any shots."

    "But, without his shots, he'll be at risk to catch all of the childhood diseases."

    "We know, but we're willing to take the chance."

    "I'm afraid that won't do, Mr. and Mrs. S, I mean, if your son catches these diseases, he may infect the other children."

    "Tell me, Mr./Mrs. School Administrator, have all the other children had their shots?"

    "Why of course!"

    "Then they shouldn't be at risk to catch anything from my son. Unless you're telling me that the shots don't work? If they don't work, then I don't see the need to make my son get them."


    "Do you have a waiver form or should we just write something up?"

    Every time I changed schools, my parents would be told I couldn't go unless I had my shots. Every time, I wound up going without them. I don't know if this would even work today (my kids have had all their shots, thanks), but I have never had anyone be able to explain why a student without shots is a risk to the other students.

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    Do as I say

    There's a funny (ok, it made me laugh) little quote on the news this morning about the special session. The chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Texas says that the special session on redistricting is "a waste of time and money." Well, yeah. Since when has either party been overly concerned about wasting taxpayers time or money? Isn't that their goal? If they were concerned about the time and money, why didn't they get it done the first time? The irony here may turn out to be that even if (when) a redistricting plan is passed by the house, there is a better than even chance that it will not get passed by the senate (Republicans are two seats shy of the necessary 2/3 majority). So tell me again why it was necessary to go to Oklahoma?

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    Wednesday, June 18, 2003

    How special

    Rick Perry just announced he'll be calling a special session of the Texas (I spelled that Taxes the first time...coincidence?) Legislature. Guess what's on the agenda? Yep, you guessed it - redistricting. This should be entertaining. Better close the borders.

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    Hug a tree

    I used to live in Northern California. No not San Francisco (look at a map will ya?), that's CENTRAL California. Northern California starts around Ukiah. There was/is a big disconnect between Northern California and the rest of the state: different people, different politics, different lifestyle, different values. When I was there ('70-'78) there was even some semi-serious talk of splitting the state into two states on a North/South basis because of these differences. I don't know if there's that big of difference any more.

    Because I used to live there (Arcata and McKinleyville), and because I still have a sister who lives in Arcata and a sister who lives in Eureka, I keep one ear cocked (it's not loaded) for news from that area. If you haven't read it, the police log on the Arcata Eye is a thing of beauty. Arcata is a college town (Humboldt State) and is THE last great refuge of hippies (don't tell IMAO!). In fact, many of them are now members of the "establishment" which can lead to very entertaining dilemmas (as long as you don't have to live there). It's quite possible that they are more radically left than the folks at Berkeley, but since the university is not as well known and the town not as big, they don't garner the attention. Anyway, I ran across this item this morning. It concerns trees, which as everyone knows are very controversial.

    I've never understood people who think that forming a human chain around a tree or sitting in a tree or, more seriously, spiking a tree (can cause serious injury and death to loggers) is a good idea. It looks like it's more prevalent now than it was in the 70s. The green/logger debate has been going on a long time. One of my favorite bumper stickers used to be "Sierra Club - kiss my axe". It seems to me the easiest solution (next to just shooting tree huggers) would be for the greens to just buy the acreage from the lumber companies and then there wouldn't be a conflict. Of course the lumber companies would want an exorbitant price, but wouldn't it be worth it to save just one tree? But then they wouldn't have any reason to get their names in the paper (which coincidentally is made from... ). Besides, if there were a forest fire, they'd be out all that money and still wouldn't have saved the tree (a guy can dream, can't he?).

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    Tuesday, June 17, 2003

    Cristy Ryno

    Last night, there was a report on the trial of the scum who sexually abused and murdered Cristy Ryno (a three year old). The guy who is on trial was a friend of a friend, and the mom didn't really know him all that well. But she had no problems inviting him over to smoke dope and snort cocaine. You know, bad things happen sometimes and there isn't much you can do to avoid it. Then there are the bad things that happen as direct or, in this case, indirect consequence of bad choices. This guy was scum to do what he did to a little girl (he'd still be scum even if it was a big girl), but I have a hard time feeling sorry for the mom when it was her stupidity that opened the door.

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    Yelling at the news

    When I was a kid, my father was the biggest loser I could ever imagine. He was old (44 when I was born), he was close minded and old fashioned, he took Sunday afternoon naps, he routinely fell asleep in his recliner by 8:00 PM (so what if got up at 4:00 AM?), and he yelled at the news. I swore to myself that I would NEVER be like my father. Yeah, right. The only thing that's different is that I was younger when my kids were born (ok, and I get up at 5 AM and doze off at 9 PM).

    It didn't really hit me how much I was like my father until a couple of years ago, when I started yelling at the news. I looked at my wife with wide open eyes and said, "that was my dad talking." Now don't misunderstand, my dad turned out to be a pretty good guy. By the time I was 20, he wasn't all that old, he lived his traditional values, took power naps and went to bed at a sensible hour (and still yelled at the news). Somehow in 10 years my dad went from being a big loser to a great guy. I wonder what motivated him to make all those changes? Good thing for me he did.

    It took another 15 years for me to start yelling at the news. In that time I got an education, got married, had kids, worked hard and got promoted. One thing that I noticed in that time was that my favorite section of the newspaper changed (excluding the funnies). Where once I read the sports section from cover to cover, now I hardly glance at the headlines. The commentaries, editorials and letters to the editor drew me in and I started having opinions. Small ones at first, to be sure, but opinions none the less. Then my opinions started growing and branching out until they required me to verbalize them while listening to the news.

    I think the news is biased, you see, so it's my job to yell back to straighten them out. I think the newscasters must be hard of hearing.

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    Monday, June 16, 2003

    Monty Python - once removed

    Watched The Holy Grail with my oldest daughter on Saturday. The only awkward (awkward is such an awkward word) moment was the scene with Sir Gallahad where the phrase, "and then the oral sex!" is uttered. Ummm, no honey, what you didn't catch is that they were talking about number theory. What they said was, "and then the ordinal sets!" She'd never seen it before, but had heard some of the lines somewhere (must be from those slackers at school -we certainly never say "Ni" at home) and really reacted lukewarmly in all but a few spots. So my original thinking is that she wasn't impressed (what will all my geeky friends say?), but as it turns out, she is related to me after all.

    You see, the funny thing about The Holy Grail is that it's not THAT funny of a movie to watch. The acting is bad, the dialogue cheesy, the editing nonexistent, the sound is horrible, and the story jumps around without any real continuity (now run away before I mock you again!). However, it's a GREAT movie to talk about. Somehow, the next day, you can laugh hysterically about scenes that you only found mildly funny when you watched it. That's what happened with my daughter. By Sunday afternoon, she was in tears talking about "der moose" and the llamas in the opening credits, Roger the Shrubber and Sir Not Appearing In This Film. It was a happy Father's Day after all.

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    Friday, June 13, 2003

    Wal-Mart Redux

    Okay, so the deal that got me started on Wal-Mart in the first place was this article by Tom Teepen (who from all inferences I can make is a total load). Tommy T thinks that Wal-Mart is going to sleeve selected womens mags and stop selling selected mens mags because of "sustained harassment from religious-right outfits" who are little more than "the voices of organized prudery." Oh! The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy! Did you see it? It just ducked behind that tree!

    Give me a break. Maybe what Wal-Mart is doing is listening to their customers and making adjustments to their product mix to keep the maximum number of people happy and buying? Nah, Tom thinks they are just corporate prudes. Look, I worked at a Fortune 500 retailer (not Wal-Mart, are you nuts!) for 16 years and I can tell you the only thing driving the suits is how to put an extra nickel on the bottom line (after they've raked off their cut, of course). Very, I repeat, very few things happen to promote a social agenda. Corporations have no morals and they have no soul. They can be influenced to a limited extent by top management, but if that influence lowers profit more than a fraction, you'll have new top management next week.

    I think Tom's real problem is that he doesn't like Wal-Mart's clientel (you know those redneck, hillbilly, trailer park denizens /sarcasm) and their traditional values. Having shopped at Wal-Mart (shudder) myself, the one thing that you notice right away are the other people that shop there. While you will find some upwardly mobile types, for the most part the customers are of the blue collar, livin' paycheck to paycheck, just trying to make ends meet variety. The unkind among us (who me?) would call them freeks and geeks 'cause these are NOT what you'd call 'the beautiful people'. To be fair, I imagine it's what the Lexus and Mercedes types would think of me if they saw me at Saks or Neimans. Anyway, I don't think it's the magazine policy that's really getting Tom's dander up. I think Tom can't stand that these people (with their unwashed and uneducated "values") should actually have a say in shaping society (by influencing Wal-Mart with their dollars). They should leave that to their betters (like Tom for instance) and just do as they're told without complaining. Is Teepen a French name?

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    Thursday, June 12, 2003


    I hate (and there aren't a lot of things that tip me into the "hate" category) Wal-Mart stores. Don't misunderstand, I like their products just fine, it's their stores I can't stand. Too many people in the aisles, too few stockers to keep the merchandise neat, too few "associates" to actually find one without searching the whole store, and mostly too few people running the registers. I think the last one is the one that pushes Wal-Mart into the hate category. I have a self imposed ban on darkening the doors of any Wal-Mart store

    There's a Wal-Mart a block from where I work. One night last year I decided to go against my better judgement and stop at the Wal-Mart on the way home to pick up some weed-and-feed for the lawn. I'm thinking I don't even have to go to the main part of the store, I can just check out in the garden area and be on my way. I pick up two 20 lb. bags (literally pick up. I mean, who needs a cart when I'm going to be in and out, just like that?) and head for the register...only there's no one there. No problem, I go back outside and find an associate who tells me that he can't run the register, I'll have to use the main registers in the front of the store. I really need this weed-and-feed (procrastination is another of my traits) so I pick it up off the counter and head to the front of the store. With just two bags, I head for the express lines 'cause I can see all the normal lines backed up. There are two express lines (one forward, one back) with about four people in each line so I pull up in the back line. This checker finishes with the person they are helping and then turns off his light and announces he's going on break. Not "I'll only help the people already in line and then go on break" but "I'm late for my break. Y'all are out of luck" (Ok, he really didn't say that, but I got the message loud and clear) Now instead of being fourth in line, I'm eight people back (still holding 40 lbs. worth of weed-and-feed). I was going to get a cart, but by this time there were another four people behind me and I didn't want to start over at the back of the line. It took another 30 minutes to get to the front of the express line and I figured out why "express" was anything but. The girl running the register had these 4" nails that curl and basically make her hands useless for anything up to and including picking her nose. I'm thinking, how does she perform basic restroom hygeine with nails like that? Slip when you wipe and you find yourself in the emergency room a la Edward Scissorhands. I was so mad by the time I left. Not to mention hot, sweaty and tired after holding 40 lbs. for so long.

    Anyway, I blame myself for breaking my "no Wal-Mart" rule. My wife goes all the time and it doesn't bother her. The woman is a saint.

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    I learned a new word today. It means to have a smooth or slippery quality.

    The ice's lubricious surface lay hidden under a thin coating of leaves.

    Makes sense. But the other definition is to act wantonly (Now you're talkin'!).

    She eyed me like a lubricious school girl.

    Kinda makes your mind wander, eh? Even gives the first definition a little different slant...ahem.

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    Blair Hornstine

    Never heard of her, right? She's created quite a stir in NJ since she sued in federal courts to be declared the sole valedictorian at Mooreston HS. I don't know whether she should or shouldn't be valedictorian, but isn't it sad that this is something that you think is worth going to court over? (BTW, my oldest daughter is currently top of her class with two more years to go) I know, I know, scholarships, guaranteed placements, etc., but still, is this a federal case? Turns out that her daddy's a judge (nothing to look at here. Move along) and suprise, she wants to be an attorney. (what the world needs now...) Looks like she's got a head start on all of her future Harvard classmates.

    Anyway, her suit made her valedictorian, but it may turn out to be a case of be careful what you wish for. Seems she also wrote a column for the local paper and cut and pasted large chunks of other people's work without any attribution. Her response is that she was ignorant of journalistic standards. Excuse me, but I learned in grade school that copying and claiming someone elses work was wrong (how old fashioned!). Think about it. The smartest girl in school doesn't know about plagiarism? (note to administration: check the work she turned in for all those good grades)

    The sad end to this story is that even though she has been declared valedictorian, she will not attend graduation after all. Seems that some folks have been making death threats and vandalizing her family's house. I don't know who to be more disgusted with, Blair or the cretins who think that threatening assault (or carrying it out) is OK.

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    Time zones

    I just notices my posting times were Pacific instead of Central. That should be fixed now (like it was a big deal). Little things bug me disproportionately. Maybe I'm anal retentive, but if so it's selective. My shoes for instance. I don't wear the same pair of shoes to work every day. Depending on what I have on, I wear brown loafers, black dress shoes, cowboy boots (the footwear du jour) or tennis shoes. Sandals I reserve for the weekend. They start the week in my closet (courtesy of my wife, who obviously cares more than I do) and as I wear them, they collect at the end of the dresser by the foot of the bed. That's where I take them off (it's also where I put them on). By the end of the week, I have three or four pairs down there. Doesn't bother me at all. But let a time zone be wrong...

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    Wednesday, June 11, 2003


    Checked my secondary email account today (the one I use whenever I have to order/register for something online. Keeps the family account from getting any junk) and about had a heart attack. My family has had the tradition of holding a family reunion every other year at my oldest brother's house. This year it's the last weekend of July. No problem to arrange time off at work, no problem for the kids since we didn't sign up for any activities for the summer (summers should be blow off time for kids, their lives are already too hectic as is), even managed to find cheap airfare by driving to Oklahoma City and flying out of there instead of DFW. Ha! Outsmarted the airlines, I did.

    Until this afternoon. I checked my secondary account and not ONE but TWO emails telling me to call because the airlines had made changes that affected my itinerary (seems they had been trying to get in touch for about a week). I called and sure enough two of my flights have been cancelled. I'm thinking, "Oh crap, this is going to be a mess."

    Not so. The surprisingly helpful rep rebooked me on later flights so now I'm stuck getting back at midnight, but hey, no price differential. Looks like the worst case (so far) is that I'll have to take one more day off from work (gee, that's too bad). Either that or drag my tail in with just a couple hours of sleep (who'll notice?). The downside is there's still over a month to go so there's plenty of time for them to squirrel it up again.

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    Just sent an email to the Acidman to tell him that he gave me the extra nudge to sign up. Decided to add this entry just to see if I could actually include a link that works. Seems not to be too tough.

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    I confess. I'm a lurker. I've been lurking for months now trying to decide whether or not this blog thing was for me. I finally decided just to go for it. Maybe I've got something to say, or maybe not. If nothing else, there is the vicarious thrill of putting my thoughts out for anyone to read. Will you like me? Eh, I'm not sure I care. I can give you fair warning about one thing, though. I have a predilection for puns and word play (as you can tell from the name). Oh yeah, one more thing...I like using parenthetical thoughts (but I won't use the whole Ed- thing as that would be a blatant rip-off of Kaus). Anyway, let's let 'er rip.

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