Sunday, July 31, 2005

here's a change of pace

Some good news from the one and only eternal pessimist. My wisdom teeth ordeal has gone amazingly well so far. With the exception of the profuse bleeding the first few hours and that mega pain I ranted about, my experience has been very soft compared to what people have told me. I've had almost no swelling at all and my mouth hasn't been sore yet beyond a little nuisance pain every now and then (unless, of course, I have to clamp down on some gauze directly on the sores for almost an hour straight). I am pretty much back to eating normally, albeit slower. People at a get-together tonight were telling me how bad they felt for so many days and how many weeks it was before they were back on a normal diet, and how unfair it was to watch me chow down on chips and celery and basically eat whatever I wanted. It's very hard for me or anyone else to notice anything happened less than two days ago.

Of all the people I've ever known to get wisdom teeth removed I've had by far the easiest time of it. Guess I finally caught a break in my favor. Hopefully it's the start of more good stuff to come. Oh wait, it's me I'm talking about...I'm not holding my breath. did what? II

Man I feel like such a loser. Was talking to a friend tonight and he mentioned some dating/personals website he had been to recently. And, being bored but not really tired enough to go to bed, I for some reason decided to try it. Not sure what possessed me to do such a thing--I'm still pretty skeptical about those things even though they could perhaps be my only chance at meeting "someone." In a sense I'm ashamed to actually be putting any time into such a system. But on the other hand it's something new that I must admit to being kinda curious about. It's like, you know, when some ultra-charismatic minister dude comes to town to do his thing and you know you won't like what he says or does but there's this weird curiosity that makes you want to go see him just to observe it all. That's a bit how this is for me I guess...I can't say I have much confidence in it and I'm a little embarrassed to be spending my time messing with it but I've heard stuff and have that weird curiosity about it.

So I just input a bunch of personal info and preferences and stuff into a personality profile generator thing. Kinda did it on the fly and maybe relied on gut instinct too much without thinking through it, but it spit back the following description of who it thinks I am:
Risk Averse, Relaxed, Cautious, Seeks Variety

You are cautious about love, and life in general. You need to know quite a bit about a person before you invest in them. Even intense attraction won't make you jump in before you've gotten to know the person pretty well. You want time to test character and to get more than superficial background information. You want a person at the center of your life, as your life is not all about success or intense preoccupation with hobbies that would take up most of your spare time. On the other hand, while you are not the type to roam, you need a partner who has the same appetite for varied experiences (including your sexual life together) that you do.
Damn yo, that's actually impressive for some computer using 10 minutes worth of my info. The variety thing is a little surprising given that I'm a creature of habit, but I do really like variety and my willingness to do new and sorta scary stuff seems to be increasing exponentially these days. It's just that with life's mundane stuff I tend to stick to the same routine--same pattern each morning, same lunch each day, etc. But with activities and such new is good for me and I seem to have some sort of adventurous streak in me that never used to show up much until recent years. But I dunno about that last sexual life bit--what the heck does that have to do with much of anything? But I guess it's important to some people. And the computer probably knows more about that than I do. But enough of that. It also spit back some more stuff for me to take in:
Structured, Compromiser, Temperate, Extrovert

You are not the spontaneous, carefree sort. You are a planner and you have strong opinions about how things should be done. But unlike many other people who have a strong sense of how the world should run, you are a realist about how much of the time you actually need to get your way about it. Your genius is that you are willing to be extremely reasonable about how to discuss and accomplish your goals in a relationship. You are likely to be seen as a very orderly, pleasant, secure person because you have a firmly held set of ideas. However, you tend to be low key about how or whether they get accepted or activated. You are tractable, but it may bother you if you are with another S with opposing values. On the other hand, you might like someone more passionate than you to bring drama and intensity to your life as long as they weren't unreasonable.
Well, the description looks okay, but what the heck is that "Extrovert" doing in the title? Missed by a lot there. And I'm not sure about the pleasant part either. I see myself as a good confidant and easy to trust and be real with, but pleasant? There are a lot of words I'd use to describe myself before that one. I guess the problem I have with it is that it tends to imply personality and talkativeness, neither of which I have a large amount of. Though things are different when I'm with one or a few people. But more likely that's where the extrovert part threw the computer off.

But wait! There's more! Sayeth it about my match:
Risk Averse, Relaxed, Optimistic, Seeks Variety

This person is your match except that they are more optimistic than you are-that might be something you like if you don't think they miss too many important decision making considerations.
That's supposedly someone who's similar, and someone who's complementary...
Flexible, Compromiser, Temperate, Extrovert

If you want someone like yourself, but who won't butt heads on your own strong sense of how things should be done, all you have to do is look for an FCTE. An FCTE is more easy going about planning and various kinds of rules and lifestyle issues and has your temperament. They should be an easy match.
Someone more optimistic than me...okay, that's just about everybody. Thanks for narrowing it down there. Other than that, someone like myself. Makes sense I guess but doesn't really tell me much. And on the second one I can see where I would need to be able to call some shots, but I think I also tend to be easy going and down with doing pretty much anything within God's limits. I actually don't see that as a big potential problem. Or maybe I just underestimate my demanding nature and desire to control things--would be easy to do. But overall I didn't get much out of the matching parts. I mean, really all one needs to look for is the perfect woman. That's not so hard right?

Geez...look at how much time I've spent on this. I feel like I should ask God to give me that hour or so back, or at least I should have gone to sleep by now. But next is the part where they want money to keep going and see your matches. Cool, that was neat, but like heck I'm gonna fork over any large sum of money to some dating service. That much of a loser I'm not. See ya...

Anyway, I seem to be getting more interested in the whole romantic relationships angle of life. This reminds me of something I said last night. Was on the phone with my mom and she was doing the tell-me-how-good-my-life-is thing, which I've heard many times and still don't really buy into. But at least someone out there thinks I'm not a hopeless case. Anyway, she made some joke about just needing a wife to round it all out. And I said "yeah, that's the missing piece" or something to that effect. But for me, what a weird response that is. It's one thing to admit to myself that perhaps I ought to care about and pursue that more than I have for the past 26+ years, it's another thing to actually discuss things with friends who I'm close with but haven't known for all that long, and it's entirely different still to actually say that to a parent (albeit unintentionally and kinda off guard). Sometimes I surprise even myself I guess.

Friday, July 29, 2005


Got wisdom teeth removed this advice to anyone considering it is suicide is a better option. I can't remember going through this kind of pain and I don't expect it to stop soon. I'm literally in tears right now because my mouth hurts so &%@#ing bad. And until the bleeding stops that'll continue. Damn it all...shame there aren't tall buildings in this county.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

nessie and me

Turns out Nessie was the first interlocking looper in the states. Much more significant, however, is that BGW introduced the Monster to the world by hosting ACE's Coaster Con I in 1978 (I think). This marked the start of a great tradition that continues to this day and is no doubt one of the momentous events of the last century. Posted by Picasa


FINALLY got out and about this past weekend and hit some big-time coasters. For now I'll hit a few highlights and maybe do a detailed wrap-up and analysis later. Busch Gardens Williamsburg rules, right up there in the best of the best parks I've been to, and Paramount's Kings Dominion surprised me with how good it was. (I had expected worse given my experience at the mismanaged PKI some years back.) Waits were never longer than an hour on anything that I can remember except when Hypersonic broke down twice in a row. But hey, there's Hypersonic for ya.

Starting off with BGW... Alpengeist blew me away--easily, easily the best inverted coaster I've ever been on and I can't imagine anything else getting close. Its speed is unbelieveable and adds a new dimension to the already intense inverted experience. It could actually be the best B&M I've ever been on and that obviously speaks volumes. Apollo's Chariot was awesome as well and near the top of my speed coaster ranks but not on Alpie's level. Reminded me of those blissful Raging Bull weekends back in the day in which the two-minute wild ride was easily worth the hour-plus wait over and over again, weekend after weekend. Apollo's Chariot is that kind of speed coaster. Big Bad Wolf was sweet and was even kinda in the same league as the other two, and had an impressive wildness to it for a suspended. Nessie was actually a slight disappointment not only because I expected more from an old-school Schwarzkopf looper but because it's the first coaster ever to make my neck snap painfully and audibly. Not cool. And it has a severe flat-ride vacuum too--it's hard to make teacups suck but BGW slowed the damn things down so much they managed to do it. But three power-packed coasters and excellent theming make BGW the closest thing to an enthusiasts' heaven in the northeastern U.S.

Then there was PKD...not on Busch's level but a good park in its own right. Volcano is easily the best coaster in the park methinks, not the most intense but the best. The vertical blast-off is freakin' awesome and it holds its speed and intensity very well. Hypersonic has the best launch of any coaster out there with that insane acceleration, but after that it's human vs. coaster in a struggle to survive the beating it dishes out. Not even SOB or the meanest Arrow loopers can match the shuffling and headbanging this thing puts you through. You know there's a problem when you can watch trains coming around to the station and see the front car doing the Dinn Shuffle on steroids back and forth on the track like it doesn't even have wheels. My first ride was probably my most painful on any coaster save my vertebrae-shattering experience on the Boss a couple years ago. The launch and climb were great and then my head got slammed back so hard I think I actually blacked out for maybe half a second or so, as the next thing I remember is starting the downhill with my glasses dangling from one side of my mouth. The splitting headache was barely bearable and almost put a damper on the rest of the day. I actually did go back to ride it again and it wasn't as bad the second time around, but like hell I'll ride in that front car again. Congrats Hypo, you are the first coaster to both black me out and knock my glasses off, on the same ride no less. As for other stuff, it was good but not tons better than similar rides at other parks. The theming on the gravitron was a nice twist though. Too bad that was the only cool flat ride in the park. Again, a good park, but if one were to spend a day in the area it would be best spent at BGW.

That covers it for now. Maybe more to come, if I'm not in too much pain tomorrow to do jack. But I'll at least add a picture on here...

Thursday, July 21, 2005

use 'em or lose 'em

Not much blog time tonight so I'll cheat and post something here that I wrote for an employee survey earlier today. Quick background: my employer has this wicked and evil policy of forced vacation time usage each calendar year, meaning I get to carry over exactly zero hours of vacation time to the next year. So every January my total available vacation days for the next 12 months automatically resets to my yearly base, and thus I must either burn all of my vacation time during the year or lose whatever I don't use. Yeah, so that vacation to Egypt last year that cost me more than my yearly allotment of days with my new job? Nope, not with this policy in place. Missions trips overseas that use up more than my yearly stash? Again, shot down. There are lots of adjectives and labels that could describe such a policy as this, but let's just be polite and leave it at total bullbleep.

But anyway, on to the featured presentation...

The cancellation of any and all paid leave carryover from year to year (except in VERY extraordinary circumstances) is a draconian policy that I've never seen in any industry before and one that needs to be lifted. On paper this is made out to be a good idea and an attempt to ensure employees are happier at work by making them take due time off. But is someone who is forced to take days off simply because he/she'd rather do nothing at home than come to work really taking full advantage of that time off? Is that person glad he/she had to take the time away from work? Or would he/she be much happier both on and off the job if given more flexibility with how and when to use time off?

There are several very good reasons someone would want to carry over vacation days from one year to the next. The most obvious is that it allows for an extended length of time away from work. This is significant for employees who would like to spend time with relatives abroad, or those who would like to participate in foreign service or missionary programs that often last several weeks and become much more expensive if one does not go with the prearranged schedule. Currently the only way to do this without taking unpaid leave is to go on vacation during the winter so that paid leave from different years can be used in the same stretch of days off.

It would also help employees who end up taking more time off then planned (in other words, all of us at one time or another). In my case, for example, I have most of my vacation time remaining for this year with no set plans for extended time away from the job. Yet under the current rules I will be required to use that time before the end of the year. In effect this is wasted time off, as I have neither the money nor the arrangements to travel extensively and I will be spending weeks away from the job that could have been better spent helping with other projects. It would be much better for me to just carry over this time and have some in reserve in case, say, someone in my family were to become seriously injured and need constant care for some time, or for other reasons I was required to take more time away from the job than I had expected. In such cases I (and anyone else) would much rather use carryover time than have to potentially rework vacation plans or take leave without pay later in the year.

I can see some reasons my Business Unit would want employees to use vacation in a consistent manner from year to year, but there are far more advantages to a more flexible system. And to claim that the current policy somehow benefits us more than the previous one is simply absurd. I hope that this is a temporary system that will be changed soon to allow for more freedom with paid leave. A company that prides itself on being an "Outstanding Place to Work" needs to join the ranks of every other employer I've ever worked for and allow employees more choice in this matter.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

gotta give credit where it's due

Well...heck. Got me. Guess I gotta lay off Dubya for a while. I was sure beyond any doubt he'd cave in and go with a mushy moderate. And here he shocks us all with an unexpected display of principle by taking a white male with a solid history, solid views concerning limited government, and--most importantly--the hatred of the usual suspects on the other side. When you have trash like NARAL and the Alliance for Justice fighting you, you're doing something right. He's a member of the Federalist Society too. Sure seems to have his ducks in order when it comes to interest groups. He has been accused of being "heartless"--another nice feather in his cap and an accusation sure to be hurled at any good judge. He's got a solid anti-abortion track record. And his take on the Court's role...that's good stuff.

He's a bit risky though. Not much of a judicial record to go on, and some even say he doesn't change the face of the court much. And he's certainly no Thomas or Scalia, though few men are these days. I would have felt much better with Brown or Owen in the hot seat.

Dunno much about the guy but so far I like him. Not the ideal choice but certainly a promising one and much better than what I expected. How often can I say that I'm pleasantly surprised by one of Bush's actions? I'd better enjoy this one while I can. So no more blogging on him tonight; more will certainly come as I learn more and as the Dems ramp up their bitching about a guy they just confirmed. If there was one thing that was absolutely indisputably guaranteed, it's the whining we'll be hearing from Democraps for a while.

Monday, July 18, 2005

i'll second that

Check this out, embedded in the fourth comment on this Jihad Watch post (emphasis added):
Some cultures are simply incapable of co-existence with other cultures, and Islam is one of them. President Gump and his crew should stop passing Islam off as peaceful. Muslims have had 1,400 years to prove that they're peaceful, and they blew it.
Hear, hear. Does that sum up the cause of the day's predominant conflicts or what? Good words, those.

tancredo watch: eye for an eye

An excerpt from some of his recent comments:
Talk show host Pat Campbell asked the Littleton Republican how the country should respond if terrorists struck several U.S. cities with nuclear weapons.

"Well, what if you said something like — if this happens in the United States, and we determine that it is the result of extremist, fundamentalist Muslims, you know, you could take out their holy sites," Tancredo answered.

"You're talking about bombing Mecca," Campbell said.

"Yeah," Tancredo responded.
Man, I love this guy! Talk about telling it like it is--or at least like it ought to be. Of course the media will take this out of context and try to present it as some sort of controversial remark. After all, isn't that what they always do? But he's right. Should the terrorists be able to go after our cultural and religious icons and expect us to respect theirs? Heck, they already took down the twin towers. They'll likely try to come again with something similar. And if they want to play hardball then let's play. What, are we going to enrage them even more and drive them even more insane? Yeah, like that's possible. Let's see how they like their own medicine. (Minus the civilians part if we can help it, of course. No reason to throw away all shreds of decency and follow them further into depravity.)

Even better, when pressed Tom stuck to his guns and backed up his comments. Sure, he gave the obvious "hypothetical situation" clarifications that were assumed anyway, but at least he didn't do the all-too-common roll over thing and apologize profusely or take back what he said. Nice to see someone who not only says what he means but will stand by it too. Even if I didn't like what was said I'd always rather see a guy stay with his story than try to get slick and squeeze his way out of a tough spot.

The more I hear from Tancredo the more convinced I become that it would be a travesty for him to not be in the White House in four years. Just when I was about to toss my little remaining Republican Party loyalty out with the trash, someone like this comes along to make me think again. Not that the Repubs are suddenly worthy of respect as a whole, but there are a few good apples in that bunch. Perhaps I'm just getting carried away with this glimmer of hope after all the recent failures of Republicrats and RINO's. It's possible but I sure hope not. The party desperately needs a real conservative and it seems Tancredo has the boldness and backbone to be the man for the job.

UPDATE: Note the following paragraph from the linked article:
Tancredo is known in the House for his tough stand on immigration and had a 100 percent rating last year from the American Conservative Union [for] his votes and positions on issues.
Now note the same paragraph, in its entirety, from the Communist News Network version of what was obviously the same script:
Tancredo is known in the House for his tough stand on immigration.
Hmmn, what have we here, a little media bias? We wouldn't want to include anything that makes a conservative look good now would we Commies?

Surprising? Never. Cheap and pathetic? Of course.

(Admittedly the Fox News staff could be the ones changing the script by adding something. But I doubt it. Much more likely that the extra bit was in the original given that it lends support to the first clause and the article as a whole. At least that's my take.)

UPDATE II: Some of my most trusted sources are taking issue with Tancredo's comments and trying to distance themselves. Check out Malkin and Captain Ed for a taste. Several make a good point in that such rhetoric doesn't help us in the cultural part of the war which includes trying to convince Muslims we aren't just out to get them. The fanatics have more material to propagandize with now and some passive Muslims may be alarmed. But others make a better point in that fanatics and even ordinary Muslims need to believe we're willing to strike where it hurts if pressed. Lest some forget, this is a war. Maybe, just maybe, they'll be a bit more cautious with their bombing spree then.

But I agree with most that Tancredo's comments may have done him considerable harm politically. There are a lot of things he could have said to get the point across and save some collateral damage. But as I said earlier, I like a straight-up guy. And I still like his remarks.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

all or nothing

A great Tancredo quote from that interview I linked a few posts back:
Here's the thing: if this nation does not believe in the importance of borders and we simply want to become a place where people reside and not a place where they are in fact citizens, then erase the borders, abolish the border patrol, eliminate the ports of entry, and let people simply come and go. Because the worst of all worlds is when you pretend like you have an immigration policy, you make coming into the United States without our permission illegal, and then you actually don't enforce it. That's when you end up with people dying in the desert, dying the back ends of semis, and you end up with border control agents being jumped. Why put everybody into harm's way if you really don't have the intent to secure your own border?
Very good point. If we don't actually want to have a border it makes absolutely no sense to pretend there is one and put on a charade every so often at the expense of lives and resources. If we still believe in having a distinct country with distinct laws and values, then we have to protect the damn border to protect everything inside of it. This is black and white, cut and dry; why people can't understand that or are in denial of it I just don't know. But it sure is frustrating living in a country with so many idiots. Not that I'm going to make an Alec Baldwin pledge or anything--by the way has he left yet?--but the whole overseas thing sure is tempting sometimes. When it comes to the border we lack the commitment as a whole to go either way, and being stuck in the middle is the worst position to be in.

The same could be said about a lot of situations we're in today. For example, if we're going to fight a war in a foreign country, we fight to win. As Herman Edwards so eloquently put it in one of my favorite quotes of all time, "you play to win the game." Not to look cute or to avoid stepping on toes, but to win. It's stupid to be there for any other reason. And yet, our military continues to try to play nice with a bunch of murderers and avoid anything that would provoke the [lots of expletives] press into another tantrum. But if we're not there to win outright and rout an unreasonable, fanatical mob of terrorist barbarians into submission, why do we have so many troops in harm's way? And why do we continue dumping so many resources into the effort? If we don't really want to win let's just get out and instead prepare for the inevitable outcome of another terror-friendly state. If we are over there to win, let's turn our guys loose and tell them to do what they're there for. We sent the military over there, not the freakin' peace corps. Forget about outside opinions and political soapboxing and all that; just kick ass and eliminate as much opposition as fast as you can. Then start rebuilding and setting up a lawful country. But you can't do both at the same time. No sense trying to build a house without clearing out the rubbish and setting your foundation first--it'll never stay and we'll just have a bigger mess to clean up later. Same with this nation-building crap. Uh, yeah, build a democratic government only to have it controlled and strong-armed by a bunch of terrorists? Shouldn't we subdue the terrorists first? Morons.

Or, closer to home, look at the game politicians and especially judges play when it comes to the supposed law of the land, the Constitution. Today's countless beaurocracies and hand-outs fly in the face of the limited government and states' rights principles laid out by our founding fathers, and our once-constant rights and boundaries seem to change with every new court decision. Yet very few ever raise an eyebrow about these obvious conflicts. People only seem to care or even pay attention when an idea they hold dear gets trampled. So if we're not going to actually obey our own founding document, why should we constrain ourselves by pretending to? That only creates a mess because we're trying to twist laws and powers to do things that were never intended or anticipated in the writing of the rules.

If we won't follow the constitution we have we ought to just scrap it, hold a new constitutional convention to come up with something that is more agreeable to today's way of doing things, and make that our foundation. We'd have something that might actually resemble the current structure and it'd certainly take some of the kinks out of governing. And if we want to stick with the Constitution as it's written, then let's stop contorting our current system beyond repair and start playing by the rules we claim to abide by. This would simplify government a lot and give states much more space to work with to fix their own problems. But the current contraption only serves to create a pile of twisted reasoning that nobody really understands and thus we're being guided only by the whims of the day.

One has to stand on his ideas and either go all in or stay out of the way. Otherwise we end up with situations of the likes we know too well today. If we're going to run ourselves into the ground, let's at least do it efficiently and save ourselves some pain and headache.

another rant: worship service distractions

Some things will never cease to amaze me. Or maybe annoy would be a better way to put it. No matter how often they happen, I think I'll always react with the same frustration at being stuck in such dire circumstances. Today's exhibit is distractions during a sermon at church. There are very few things I hate more than listening to a pastor and having my concentration snapped by some nonsense that should never take place in a sanctuary. Cell phones are a big one but thankfully they're pretty rare in my church and thus are generally not a big intrusion on my quality of life on Sunday mornings. Members who can't seem to keep their mouth shut for longer than two seconds (usually teenage girls, of course) are another. But this also isn't a looming issue at my church--surprisingly given the large number of said persons--and so it's not something that concerns me all that much. But loud babies...that's another story.

These days more and more Sunday sermons seem to resemble long plane flights. Not in that they're boring, or that there's nothing to do, or that they just seem to drag on endlessly. (Those could, however, also be true on some occasions.) But I know before sitting through each that there will undoubtedly be one or more screaming babies that annoy the heck out of me and that I won't be able to do anything to avoid. Frustrating as it is, folks like me have no choice but to sit there and barely contain our anger and desire to go deal with the problem ourselves while struggling to stay focused on whatever it is we were doing. I know when I walk through the church doors that no matter what, at some point in the service there will be a baby crying to break the otherwise peaceful atmosphere. Even worse, sometimes the mother will let this go on for minutes before finally taking the child to another room, if she ever does at all.

Now I lack patience with lots of things, but especially with noisy kids. Anyone who knows me or has spent much time around me will attest to that. But what really gets me about this is that churches, and mine in particular, go out of their way to provide nurseries to care for small children during the service. We always have plenty of volunteers in separate rooms to take care of kids who obviously aren't old enough to get anything out of the sermon or keep from preventing others from doing so. (Equally as curious is that people actually volunteer to have such pain and suffering inflicted upon them for the entire length of the sermon. I don't understand it--maybe the suffering brings them closer to God or something. But the world needs folks like them so folks like me can keep what little sanity we have.)

And yet, despite all these things, there will inevitably be mothers who will insist on keeping their small children with them during the service and who refuse to remove these children when they become disruptive. I'm sure there are a handful of good reasons for not dropping kids off on the way to the sanctuary, such as if the kid absolutely can't handle being away from his parents (like maybe autistic kids or something--I'm not even a novice on such causes but I'm sure they exist). But such cases, I suspect, are few and far between, so the vast majority of mothers who bring them in are without excuse. And not taking a noisy kid out? There's absolutely no excuse for that. Okay, except maybe if you're suddenly struck with paralysis or on the floor with a broken leg or something, but I've yet to see any such scenarios. Perhaps Pentecostals could get a free pass here. But anyway, the bottom line is there should very rarely be noisy kids in services, and even then they shouldn't be there for more than about 10 seconds. I mean, is this really too much to ask?

But as long as I'm alive I'll be suffering through this. It's been an issue at every church I've attended--not as much so with some as others but it's always there. I just can't understand why some parents are like that but until God gives me the power of mind control over others--which I'm hoping could be any day now--I'll just have to deal with it. Grrrrr......

Saturday, July 16, 2005 did what?

Well, since you asked, I just got back from a ballroom/swing dance at a local church. Now before you go into shock, assuming you haven't already, there's a perfectly reasonable explanation for this. I heard about it as a swing dance with lessons beforehand in an email sent out to the young adult group I'm in. Having been to such a thing way back in my UIUC days that was set up by InterVarsity, and having enjoyed it, I figured I'd give this one a shot. I expected plenty of people like myself to be there, most of whom would also have no idea how to do any kind of dancing, and some of my group would also be in attendance. Not to mention snacks and tables to talk to folks at if the dancing got boring (which I fully expected it to--I was going for the people not the activity). You know, basically a young adult gathering thing at a local church. So I figured I knew what to expect. Heck, I even talked another guy in the group into coming along.

When we showed up I knew I was in trouble. You could imagine our surprise when the three of us who rode together walked into a room with mostly middle-aged and older folks wearing slacks and nice shirts--not shorts and t-shirts like my friend and I. We weren't sure what was up but it clearly wasn't what we had come for. The lessons had already started and a lot of these people seemed to know what they were doing. Unsure of whether to take a chance or go with our gut instinct and bolt for the door, we hung around for a bit without paying the $10 entry charge. I think the only thing keeping us there--at least for me--was the fact that we had all rode together and nobody wanted to ask the others to skip out. But when we met up with two more from our crowd we decided to stick around. So we swallowed what little pride we had left at that point and jumped into the lessons crowd.

We then realized it wasn't a "swing dance" but more of a casual ballroom dance with some swing music mixed in. Turns out it's a club of sorts unaffiliated with the church that happened to be meeting there this month. After stumbling through some lessons we tried our hands--and feet--at the dancing to music part. Thankfully out of us five my friend and I were the only ones with zero prior experience, and one of the women was good enough to do a lot of coaching throughout the evening. There were other inexperienced people there, but those who came later were good and the vast majority seemed to be regulars.

We ended up staying the entire three hours plus the 45 minutes or so of lessons beforehand. Believe it or not I actually enjoyed myself. Quite a bit. We only danced to one out of every two or three songs and the rest was spent talking. The music wasn't bad and the floor was never too crowded--a very good thing for us rookies. And for the first time since moving here I felt like I actually connected with someone in the group on more than a small-talk basis. Myself and the guy I had talked to beforehand had some pretty good conversations and learned we have a lot in common. The dancing was a new experience, of course, for a guy who's been to one other dance his entire life and generally avoided them like a disease. It was hard but fun, although at times I felt awkward dancing with people who knew so much more and were offering tips and leads and stuff in something that I'm supposed to basically lead and direct. Not to mention doing more than the most basic steps and thus confusing me. Screw the details and fine-tuning, I was just concerned with trying to stay in step and avoid either plowing through another couple or sending my partner into someone else. And there were several near misses. (There must be some sort of etiquette for couples to avoid each other out there. Unfortunately I don't know what it is and couldn't react fast enough if anyone came within a few feet, so we'd basically stay in the same place and leave it up to the others to avoid us.)

One of the best parts was watching the others. There were lots of really good dancers there, and some of the elderly folks were the most impressive. One woman was celebrating her 80th birthday that week and those two were among the best. You'd never tell from the way they walked but they were lots of fun to watch because they did so much improv and solo stuff--we all agreed they must have grown up doing it back in the big band days to be that good. It was fairly easy to tell the newbies from the pros though. Some couples were kinda clumsy in their steps and didn't move around the floor much, but most seemed to know their stuff like it was second nature and a few were just plain scary.

But overall it was a great time and something I'd probably even go to again if someone else I knew would be there. I might even go regularly if I was better at it and could go with others. The more I learned and the more I could do the more fun it would become. Supposedly there are classes for such things, and I think it'd be cool to try one out as long as I was with someone I knew who was also learning. Never thought I'd hear myself say such blasphemous things but what the heck. New ways of having fun I guess.

Friday, July 15, 2005

some light from VDH

Victor Davis Hanson is becoming another daily read for me. He's one of the few true renaissance men on the planet and he hits the point on so many issues with deadly accuracy. His site is like those sites aimed at young Christians I used to read in college in that I could spend hours and hours there if I'm not careful with my time. Everything the guy writes makes total sense. You get the impression from reading his stuff that not only can he see the world for what it is and understand politics but he has the intellect and reasoning power that very few, if any, other commentators possess. And, of course, he does. It's crossed my mind several times what a shame it is he'll never be President, but I guess someone with that intelligence would see through the games and never want such a dreadful job. And we at least have Tancredo to hope for.

Anyway, just read his commentary from Monday on the London bombings. Every paragraph is good so I can't choose just one or two to copy here. Just go read it all for yourself. I will post his closer though: "What a strange way to fight a war." I couldn't agree more.

One thing that stays in my head is that the Islamicists and the American/western left are similar in more ways that either would probably like to admit. When one attacks the other, the attackee (there's your new word for the day) will always respond by focusing their attention in such a way as to invite more attacks. If each had enough control of their respective sides it would be a never-ending, increasingly deadly spiral with more casualties over here and worsening economic and societal conditions over there. As VDH points out, Islamic radicals resent the success that us infidels have and the freedom our residents, even Muslims, enjoy. So instead of look at themselves and ponder what could have caused them to sink toward the bottom in the global order of things, they take out their anger by killing a few of us. Then, instead of responding with indignation and defending ourselves to prevent this barbaric madness from reoccuring, the left cowers even more and begs to know what they have done to bring such terrible calamity upon themselves.

Seeing the confusion and general chaos their irrational antics have brought about, the terrorists stick with what works and kill a few more. This reassures the lefties that they really are at fault somehow and they cry even more about the need for self-examination. The fanatics continue to tear down their own societies by directing attention and resources away from progress and toward actions that will never help their own people out of the mess they're in. The left continues to tear down its own societies by insisting that the very ethics and ideals their success is built on are wrong in the new age and we must all, in effect, learn to avoid success so that the potentially unsuccessful don't feel bad. And the cycle continues.

What the terror-mongerers don't realize is that they will never help themselves through the actions they've chosen. The best they can hope for is to drag everyone else down to their level so they at least don't have to be reminded daily of how backward their ideas and methods really are. But they're so possessed by their twisted ideology that they're stuck in their own wacky version of reality. They'll never stop killing long enough to survey the landscape and figure out what the best move might be.

What the left doesn't realize is that no matter how much they try to change they'll never appease the terrorists. They're hated for who they are, not for what they do or how they do it. They're free, successful, non-Muslim pluralists, and in the Islam of the enemy that's enough to warrant their death. If they want peace their only option is to throw away what they've accomplished, put on some Muslim garb, and start following the teachings of their attackers. But they're either unaware of or unprepared to take that step. Instead they insist that us westerners act differently and become all warm and loving toward our killers. Apparently the reasoning here is that if we stop hating them, they'll stop hating us. Their holy laws and centuries-long tradition of violence that indicate otherwise are never considered.

So, what's the answer? Glad you asked. Go after the root of the problem, not the easiest or prettiest solution that comes to mind. If no matter what we do we keep getting attacked by radicals hell-bent on eradicating our kind from the face of the earth, then we should stop trying to be warm and fuzzy and start playing some defense. Or better yet, go on offense and try to do something to change societies marked by centuries of barbarism and hatred. A good place to start would be trying to spread the ideals that have made our part of the world successful to other parts of the world that don't have those ideals. Such a move, if undertaken with the right motives and methods, would not only address the immediate need to slow down the machine of terrorism but would plant seeds for a better culture in generations to come. This is the only way such a machine of death will ever be stopped. We might slow it down a little, or make it slightly less effective, or become more able to predict its next movements, but if we ever want to stop it completely we have no choice but to attack the core of the problem.

For all his faults, I think Bush and his allies actually see the clash of civilizations for what it is and are intent on laying a foundation for change in the Middle East. World leaders from Carter to Clinton to Chirac and many before our time have simply tried to appease the enemy or ignore the problem. But Bush has at least shown courage and boldness by taking some initiative in a long and hard fight. And nobody with any sense expects the fight to be short--after all we're dealing with centuries of ingrained hatred and violence here. But in 50 or 100 years we may very well look back on Bush as a President with many faults but ultimately the right man in the right place at the right time.

So many more ideas to include...getting tired...

Thursday, July 14, 2005

run tom run!

According to a blurb I heard on C-SPAN Radio recently, Tom Tancredo, that awesome reform-friendly Colorado representative and potential savior of the Republican party, is ramping up his could-be presidential campaign. There's not much that could drive me back to the Republican fold but that would likely do it. (At least for the presidential race, that is.) Of all those Repubs in Congress he's one of the few that not only understands the huge threat illegal immigration poses to our future but is genuinely trying to do something about it. He's singlehandedly pushed a lot of immigration issues to the forefront and goes out of his way to encourage local leaders to keep up the fight. He's even said that if he ran for President he'd be in it for the main purpose of forcing people to confront immigration. He just might be the best thing to knock on the House doors since Ron Paul showed up.

What? He can't win with immigration as his front-and-center issue? Let us observe what happened in the recent British general election. For months leading up to the election the Labour Party was looking very strong against the Conservatives, and Blair led his main opponent, Michael Howard, by double-digit points in the polls. In the weeks just before the election, Howard played the immigration card and started pounding Blair on his anemic border control. Blair tried to ignore it and dodge the issue but it kept biting him from behind. And suddenly the race was on. Turns out that despite the horribly biased media over yonder in England the voters actually care a lot about such things. After all, they are smart enough to link a laughable open-borders policy with increased terrorism concerns and racial problems. And it started showing in the polls.

Blair still kept a decent lead and ended up winning, but not by the margin he could have and Labour had to sweat a bit toward the end. Even "mainstream" pundits talked of how Blair should have won much more handily than he did and how the immigration elephant almost sacked him. The point here is that the race went from a foregone conclusion to an actual contest on the basis of a single issue. (And as a second point, one can read many articles dating back some years of how London is a "terrorist's paradise" of sorts with its easy access to vital information and practically nonexistent restrictions on who comes and goes. And that was recently proven to be at least partially true.)

I think the seeds are ripe for something similar here in the states. Polls show that voters, even hispanic voters, strongly favor stricter laws and tougher enforcement to combat the immigration problem. People may be starting to open their eyes and see what's going on at the border and the results of years of failure. As that continues to happen immigration will become a big issue. And heightened concerns about national security could also bring immigration to the forefront. A Tancredo candidacy will not only shed more light where it's needed, but will see Tancredo well positioned to benefit from an increased focus on the cornerstone of his platform. He could become this country's Michael Howard of sorts, seemingly out of the race but so strong on such an important issue that he becomes a real threat to the establishment. And if/when that happens I think he'll have a good shot at winning. I won't (yet) say it's likely or that he'd be a sure favorite but he'll certainly turn some heads.

So those of us who care about national security and immigration--no, I mean really care, not just pay lip service every so often--should keep our eyes and ears open for signs of a Tancredo run. He'd be an easy hero to root for and lend a hand to, and the payoff of a Tancredo administration would be too great to calculate. It's early yet, only 2005 for crying out loud, but the pieces are already being put in place. Here's hoping he jumps in with both feet. Tancredo '08, baby!

For the unenlightened, some quick googled info on Tancredo:
Team America PAC
Support from WorldNetDaily's Farah
Interview with Right Wing News's John Hawkins. This one is especially good. If you read nothing else the rest of the week read this.

another softball game ('bout time)

Finally had another game tonight in the church slow-pitch softball league...first one in weeks with all this rain. I can't think of anything else to blog about before I hit the sack that wouldn't take too long so I'll stick to this. Funny how I always think of plenty of stuff during the day at work but I can never remember it at night. Either I'm getting old or my memory just sucks. Or both.

I'm hopelessly inept at every sport I've ever tried, softball included. I'm a mediocre fielder when I don't have to catch fly balls (or better put, chase ones I should catch), the worst hitter in history, and not much better at throwing. Everyone on the field should be ready when I throw; the direction and trajectory of the ball are pretty much random. I can at least run and hustle okay in a league with plenty of older guys, but I'm only finally getting the hang of being where I need to be on routine plays.

But, in an anomaly as bizarre as any yet known, I seem to have a knack for pitching. I've pitched a few innings most games this season and I'm now able to throw strikes with some consistency. I can't say I'm 50/50 yet but I don't have to be--in softball you just have to toss 'em something that looks hittable and they'll go for it. I actually threw a couple of scoreless innings tonight (out of three) and didn't walk anybody. The competition was maybe average but still. Heck, just getting more outs than walks is a respectable accomplishment for many pitchers I've hit against. In fact, if I do say so myself, my accuracy is right there with that of a lot of others I've seen. My biggest problem seems to be not enough arc on my pitches, as this makes them easier to hit. This is evidenced by my tendency to give up lots of long fly balls but thankfully we have a good outfield (when I'm not out there). Not bad overall for a guy who threw his first pitch in practice a few months ago.

One of our captains mentioned in that first practice that a lot of the church's good pitchers in the past have been engineers and thus I ought to give it a shot. Must be something with the attention to detail, or maybe the perfectionism. Or that enginerd tendency to ignore all other humans and focus solely on the task at hand. (Doesn't help us much socially but damn it, we can sure toss a softball!) Whatever the reason, perhaps I have finally found a sport I can do something in. More likely not, but it's nice to think so anyway. And if I keep it up I might be pretty good at this in a couple of decades.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

nea: not educating anyone

The NEA is back to its usual tricks. You know, worrying about ethnicity verbiage, the many terrors of private Social Security funds, a boycott of Gallo wine, and other such pressing issues facing our youngsters. Really, does anyone out there take these morons seriously? This should erase any doubt that the NEA is right there with the ACLU, NOW, and other lefty extremist factions in the "they'd be hilarious if they weren't in our country" ranks. And for those of you still wondering if there's any hope whatsoever for public schools, note this as reason #145,739 that there isn't. Not as long as these loons have any say in what happens there.

Monday, July 11, 2005

well, imagine that

And now, for the "They actually spent money and effort on research to find that out?" fact of the week, courtesy Vox:
Women working full-time are 29 per cent more likely to get divorced than those who stay at home and raise children. Research to be published this week in the European Sociological Review finds that the probability of divorce is in direct correlation to the number of hours a woman worked.
And this surprises...who? Anyone? Yet another pile of research dollars that could have been better spent. Anyone who wasn't already convinced of something this obvious must be so determined to ignore reality that they'll find a way to get by this part too.

An few interesting remarks from the comments on that thar post...
Marriage minded young men would do well to consider an Asian or a Latin woman as the odds of a lasting and happy marriage improve significantly over pairing up with a North American woman.
I've been reading this from more and more sources, and given my experience around women in general I'm inclined to think it's true. Westerners for the most part seem to have forgotten what marriage is supposed to be. The more I think about it, marrying a foreign woman--from someplace where tradition is still intact--seems a no-brainer. I've often wondered whether one would be safer and happier in the long run marrying a non-Christian (traditional) foreigner or a Christian American. Given the huge risk associated with the latter it's actually a tough call. The first choice could be preferable--better to be yoked to a submissive unbeliever who at least respects the family model than a feminazi with some hints of godliness. Not that I think I'd go there anyway, but I'm just saying. The difference is that great. Christian or not, the poisonous culture in the states is just a lot for someone to overcome. And I've met a few decent American women in my days. But the there a riskier move in all of life? Hmmn...
I don't think a woman *has* to make a choice between being a wage earner and being a good mother.
In the vast majority of marriages that's bullbleep. Plain and simple. I'm sure there are exceptions but they're certainly not the rule and something I would look to avoid.
I'm sure that when these professional women are dead and gone, their kids will say: "I'm so glad that mom was a patent attorney and nuclear physicist (or secretary or public school teacher) and that we rode in a new Escalade (or Tahoe)" as opposed to "I'm glad my mom cared enough about me to sacrifice and stay home and raise me."
And that's the clincher, folks. Nothing more to be said.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

the weirdest play so far this season

Been pondering something for a few days...

Earlier this week I saw a highlight on ESPN Motion, that little screen that plays ads, clips, ads, and ads when you go to the website. It was from a MLB game but I don't remember the teams or players involved. The highlight was shown and mentioned in the clip but wasn't reviewed later. I found this a bit surprising since it's by far the strangest and most confusing baseball play I've seen so far this year.

Okay, so here's the scenario. Runner on first, less than two outs, some dude at the plate who would hit a home run later in the game. He pops up over the right side of the infield. The first baseman comes in on the infield grass a couple of steps, a few feet or so inside the line, and waits for the ball. Of course the runner on first is staying put, and the first baseman notices that the batter isn't bothering to run this one out. The fielder holds his arms out as if to signal his teammates to stay away and lets the ball drop. Of course the baserunners are now sitting ducks. The guy still on first no chance of beating a throw to second, and the fool who hit the thing is standing dumbstruck near the plate instead of hustling down the line. So the first baseman picks the ball up and flips it to second, the guy covering second throws it back to first, and a double play is called.

Now, the obvious question is, how in the world is the infield fly rule not in effect here? The whole point of the rule is to prevent exactly this sort of play. Under the infield fly rule the hitter should have been called out immediately when the ball hit the ground (or when the ball is in the air and the set-up is in place--can't remember but that detail is irrelevant) and the runner shouldn't have had to leave the bag. I mean, this is little league stuff, right? If not then why don't we see much more of this trickery in the majors?

I watched the clip at least five times to make sure I saw what I thought I saw, and indeed it was a double play. But the Sportscenter guys didn't even mention how it was allowed; they jabbered on as if covering a routine series of highlights. So I must be missing something here. Perhaps the fielder can call off the rule if he does it early enough? Did the ump just screw up and not call the rule when the ball was in the air as he should have? Is there some bizarre reason it doesn't apply to such a situation as this? I've tried to come up with any scenario which could make this play work out and by my understanding of the rules it isn't possible. So until I find an answer it has to go down as one of the most freakish plays I've ever seen in any spot.

Weird I tell ya. Scary weird.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

london bombings: the bottom line

Of everything I've heard today about the latest installment in the war on terrorism, it should be no surprise that Vox Day sums it up best:
Much will be made of today's bombings of the London Tube and bus, but the most salient lesson will be missed. Sooner or later, allowing immigration from third world countries that contain jihadist elements is going to bite you in the rear end. Open immigration is NOT libertarian, it is foolish, unnecessary, and both socially and politically destructive in the long term.
And all right-thinking people said Amen. It's refreshing to see the usually ultra-libertarian Vox take such a position on immigration. It's not necessarily this particular point that struck me but his underlying message that the vast majority of civilized people will condemn this as the cowardly fear-mongering that it is but will not consider the kinds of measures needed to effectively combat the problem. Sure, taking the war to the enemy is a good start, but would it not also help to tackle the problems at and within our own borders?

As expected Malkin covers the immigration angle here, here, and here. Hopefully it will get a bit more play but I doubt it.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

anywhere but here?

Been reading comments on this Vox Day post for a while. Seems I'm not the only one who wants to expatriate sometime down the road. And lots of them are in much more of a hurry than myself just to get a bit more freedom. It's interesting to see the countries that keep coming up. Most are in Latin America or the Asian Pacific, with a few scattered ones here and there. And, of course, it's universally agreed that most of Europe sucks.

I figured Egypt might make the list but I haven't seen it yet. As far as living expenses and freedom it's a nice bet. By freedom I mean real freedom, as in what's actually enforced as opposed to what's on paper. The drawbacks would be the void of any visible Protestant churches and the lack of any rights if the authorities ever come knocking. That's the catch--you're free unless you happen to be the one they dislike that day, in which case you have no rights or power whatsoever. But it would seem to be fairly easy to fly below the radar. There are plenty of expats from the U.S. and various Euro countries in the populated areas that wouldn't be there if it were terribly risky business.

But the most interesting and eye-catching thing that keeps coming up is the general agreement that the south is the place to be in this country. The people are much friendlier there, concepts of God and faith are appreciated or at least accepted, the living expenses are much lower, and the climate is easier to deal with. And, perhaps most importantly, laws and taxes are much less oppressive. From my experience all of those check out well. There aren't as many populated areas so if you want to be near much activity your options are kinda limited. But that's a huge plus for anyone who likes peace and quiet or outdoors stuff. And the terrain there is good and includes variations just about everything you might find elsewhere. Come to think of it, other than its overall remoteness and lack of stuff to do (important to a bachelor like myself with time on his hands and in need of stuff to do and ways to meet people), I can't think of any good reasons for not living somewhere in the south.

Hmmn...and I just moved from the one of those more populated east coast states...with more pesky laws and impossible-to-afford housing. Man, that was ingenious. I love how I always figure this life stuff out a few years too late. If anyone were to write a one-sentence synopsis of my life thus far it would resemble that. And by the time I'm ready to move back the local tax-collecting politicians will probably have already yanked my land. and learn I guess. But preferably before I jump.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

nats game

Finally! Will be in D.C. with my bro watching the Nationals smack the Mets around tomorrow afternoon. Should be a good game, as the Nats are one of the baddest teams in the league and the Mets are such an easy team to hate. Kinda came together at the last minute and the best we could do is nosebleeds up there in the upper deck above right field, but that's probably good for a first game at RFK. We'll be able to see a lot and get a feel for what seats are good so I'll know what to look for next time. And they're cheap--trying getting into an NFL or NBA game for $7 apiece. I wish I could have planned it out a bit more and maybe gotten some others in on the action but there's always the rest of the season. Should be a great time had by both.

UPDATE: Nats lost 5-2, figures. That Sunny Kim ain't worth much as a reliever. And the Nats' fielding and effort on defense left lots to be desired. But it was good nonetheless. The seats were some of the only ones in the stadium that were shaded the whole time and we had no trouble following the game from up there. In fact, I'd say given the $7 price tag those would probably be among my top choices for matinee game seating (the bleachers are on the eastern side so the sun would be blinding from there in evenings). The drive in sure sucked--stupid parades and swarms of clueless tourists and all, and police blocking random intersections that I needed. But that shouldn't be such a headache next time.

vacation ideas

An imminent crisis has been getting closer and closer. That is, the question of what I should do for a vacation this year. I have a couple of weeks scheduled off in September and I desperately need to come up with something cool, fun, and most of all cheap. And preferably something that can be done alone and still be a great experience, as I seriously doubt I'll be joined by anyone (especially since zero people know and/or have been invited so far). It's July now so I'm down to two months to either figure out something to do or think of another way to burn up those days.*

My plan when I scheduled my time off for the year (that was in December) was to go overseas. I have done this twice before and loved it both times. Well, after I got used to it anyway. I figured since I'd never been out east I'd give that a try--maybe Japan (coasters!) or some islands out that direction. But, such an idea fails the third criterion given above. And with my recent land purchase and hopefully an upcoming home purchase requiring loads of capital on hand, capital that I don't have as it is, I certainly can't spare much to throw at leisure stuff.

So I figured I'd stay in the states and go park-hopping out west. Cheap, lots of outdoors and nature stuff, learn a bit about camping and solo travel and such. I've only been to the Rockies once and I've never been to any national parks west of the Mississippi, so it certainly has the excitement and exploration factors going for it. But there's that climate thing. Nah, it's September, I thought. No biggie, should have nice semi-cool weather around that time. Well, makes sense to a hick like me who's never lived outside the midwest for any good length of time, but alas, elevation is working against me. A quick check of the expected weather for that time of year seems to point to one of three scenarios happening wherever I go: (1) I freeze my @$$ off, in which case I probably wouldn't enjoy the camping too much; (2) I get rain and flash floods with little or no warning, in which case I might not enjoy the day stuff too much; or (3) the temperatures vary widely with next to no predictability and I'd have to constantly add and remove layers of clothing to compensate, in which case both days and nights could suck. So, based on climate, I either need to do a heck of a lot more research into this idea or, more likely, scrap it in favor of something easier to plan in the short amount of lead-up time I have to work with.

Something that has crossed my mind is a missions trip stateside or overseas, but it's a bit late for that. There's the support and fundraising crap to deal with, and that takes months. Not to mention the planning and networking and stuff. Too bad, should have crossed my mind months ago. But maybe someday. Oh to turn back the clock a few years and know what I know now. All that time and no job to tie me down...damn.

There are probably plenty of other options out there but I just haven't thought of them or checked into them yet. I'm not very good--okay, I'm terrible--at this whole planning ahead thing; seems I work best when it's crunch time and I have to do something. Hence I'm still trying to figure out where to go and what to do. Alaska has come to mind though I know very little about it and the cost could be prohibitive. Coaster tour...out, most parks of interest are closed or weekend-only by then. A New England trip has been suggested, but how cheap could that be? And how much outdoors stuff is there to do up there? And the, gotta use that time to get away from those types and remind myself that there are still good, decent folk in the world. I've thought about a cruise, but what fun is there in being out on a boat or on a beach for long stretches without someone to keep you company? Or, the easiest thing to do would be to just go hang around at home (I still consider Arkansas home), but I don't really know many people there anymore and I'd get bored to death in a matter of days. Although I'm sure my father could put me to work on something and at least keep me occupied--oh wait, I don't know crap about any of that work.

So...back to where I started. What to do...?

*My employer doesn't allow carryover of vacation time from one calendar year to the next. Yeah, I know, that's total bullbleep. And their rationale is bullbleep too but that's for another day. In any case, it seems to be a yearly policy now instead of the one-time constraint it was initially advertised as. So, whatever time I don't take off I lose--no comp time, no buybacks, no nothing. Therefore I must figure out how to use that time. I guess it's not such a terrible dilemma to have, but I'd hate to just blow it off and end up doing nothing more than the usual.

Friday, July 01, 2005

good fireworks & music concert

Finally made it out to one of the St. Mary's College free concerts tonight. Basically they're your concerts in the park kinda events. Bring a chair and whatever food you want (or buy from the many vendors), come early for a good spot on the greens, and relax and enjoy. And did I mention they're free?

Scorching heat and unreal humidity aside, I picked a good one to attend. The music was great, but I'm a sucker for Independence Day style orchestral music so that was a given. But I was pleasantly surprised by the fireworks show. We were actually kinda close--not like other ones I've been to where you have to show up three hours early to get a seat with a decent and close view of the display. It lasted for a long time, probably a half hour or so and a good 10 minutes after the orchestra finished the 1812 Overture. (As a side note, the 1812 Overture is indisputably the best piece of classical/orhcestral/whatever music ever composed by anyone, anywhere.) And the best part was the admission price--can't beat free.

I expect to be back for a few more this season and maybe some of the other shows too. It's about all the cultured entertainment available 'round these parts, at least that I'm aware of, and membership isn't at all bad compared to what I remember of Walton Arts Center prices. But hey, membership or no membership it's hard to beat a free concert every Friday. More areas of the country need to catch on to this.

One thing I must ask, though, is why must some people insist on distracting everyone around them during the middle of a show? This happens everywhere--movie theatres, outdoor concerts, sporting events, you name it. Didn't happen too often tonight, and it was a music show after all, but it still sucks to be trying to watch the orchestra or the firemen displays on the side and have someone near you trying to set up their space, messing with their kids, or standing right in front of you gawking around the crowd for someone or something. Hello, wait until intermission or between songs. Or at least try to be courteous and quick about it. Or better yet, just freakin' show up on time, know who/where you're supposed to meet, and don't bring an infant you know won't deal well with the heat/noise/crowd/whatever. Fools.


I guess I just don't get this whole stock market thing. A couple weeks back I saw that Healthsouth's stock was suddenly looking solid for the first time in a few months. And Scrushy's trial was wrapping up at the time too. I figured a conviction would help the company out and push the price up, and it was looking good anyway. So, with my usual (lack of) deliberation on such matters, I threw a sizeable sum of money into HLSH stock looking to make a quick buck or few.

Well, great timing. The price decides to peak just after I buy in--surprise! And Scrushy apparently stole at least enough money to buy off enough legalites to walk on all charges. Shoulda seen that coming with today's "justice" system, but didn't. And so I've lost about 7% of that in the last week alone and the stock price is going the wrong direction in a big way. Awesome.

Overall I still can't complain, though. I've made money off of every stock I own except Sux Flags, and they're at least climbing. I scored pretty big from getting some HLSH cheap and hit the jackpot when Sungard was bought out some months back. So I suppose it's done me well, though my biggest gain was unexpected and my buy-low record is about even right now. Maybe the trick is to not bother with analysis and just rely on dumb luck. Consider that dumb luck with no outside influence gets me to 50/50, and I don't think I know enough about markets and trends and stuff to get that far on R&A. So time to just buy a dartboard and start investing in random stocks? Maybe not, but I'd probably do about as well.

naive quote of the week

From Scott McClellan, concerning Justice O'Connor's retirement:
I can't imagine that the Democrats would want to engage in controversial tactics when it comes to a nominee for the Supreme Court.
Naw, me neither, Scott. After all, when have those Dems ever used controversial tactics on key issues? Gee, I can't think of any. They're just too...honest.

Yeah. And I'm from Pluto. We all know the Democraps will pull out every controversial tactic in the book and invent a few more if Bush taps a conservative. Seems that this was just a warning shot from the White House trying to get Dems to play nice and act dignified for a while, but it's a waste of time. And trying to somehow set them up to look bad won't have much effect either. After all, this is the party led by Kerry, Dean, Pelosi, and Kennedy, to name a few. They wouldn't know dignity if it bit them in the face. And their answer to losing voters has been to get even more nasty and more liberal. So forget trying to bring them around. Time for Dubya to just put his dwindling stash of political capital to work and nominate one of those controversial (i.e., good) types. Let's get it on already.