Hanging out on his Birthday

Posted in Birthdays on February 25th, 2013 by Michael

Art by Mackenzie

Art by Mackenzie

It was an angry bird explosion of fun with bounce house, sugary treats, screaming, some jedi lightsaber action and more.


Posted in Birthdays, The Family on November 1st, 2010 by Michael

Not my favorite holiday, in fact, my second least favorite holiday, but it does serve a purpose — candy is effective at bribing the kids to actually all look in the same direction for a picture.  Saves me a ton of photoshop time.

Now if we can just get through the election without more frightful events from the corrupt, it just might be a good week.

And, of course, happy birthday to my mother.

Feb is nearly over

Posted in Birthdays, Michael's thoughts, Political Opinions, Ranting on February 26th, 2010 by Michael

So too goes the Olympics, hope for civility in Washington and Max’s baby years.

First thing first. I have not been a big Olympic fan since the commercialization started and the split of the winter and summer games occurred. Plus, they all are about winning not competing and that is sad. You got disputes, you have boycotts, you got your twelve year old gymnasts forced into action by government tyrants, etc.

Of course, you also have the yawn factor. Not many winter sports I actually like outside of bobsledding, ski jumping and curling. I almost like the luge but really think it would be more interesting if they went down head first. I feel bad for the family and friends of the person that was killed in the sport but do not like the fact that they slowed down the course. I agree with I think it was Bill Simmons at SI, that the highest ratings go to Figure Skating since it is one of the few sports both men and women can watch (that would be Women’s figure skating). I mean, the ladies enjoy that pageantry and the guys like the hot chicks. Potato, potato. That all said, I really do not like “sports” that have an artistic component to them. Did I miss that requirement somewhere? I’d love to see that in racing, boxing or football. “yes, ladies and gentlemen, Miles Austin breaks free for a 74 yard touchdown. Normally, 6 points, but he did not high step into the end zone so the judges gave him a one point deduction”. Pa—leeze.

On to other depressing news, the debate on healthcare was a joke. The open forum gave 2x time to the democrats and at the end, instead of “let’s go think about this ” the output was basically, we are going to do what we wanted to do in the first place, thanks for playing… Yep, open to the options! Obama continues to be a joke on this topic “don’t want to get into the numbers”. Well, that is what it is all about.

The Republicans went back and forth from whiny to brilliant (Paul Ryan). The Democrats continued to hold the company line and spew lies about how this is critical RIGHT this second since people are dying. I guess they forgot about the laws of the country that prohibited the denial of service for those in life threatening situations or the existence of Medicaid programs for the poor. Oh, but wait they didn’t since reduction of costs for emergency visits (outside of rationing care, cancelling Medicare Advantage, finding mysterious waste that they have never been able to find, lowering doctor’s reimbursement 22% and of course taxing everyone but unions) is their way of paying for the inclusion of an addition number of people into the system (that is already bankrupt). But don’t worry, the 400K new government employees required to administrate this option will solve that issue. Plus, it will help make the unemployment numbers go down. A win win !!! Now, if they can figure out a way to blame Bush more, it would be the trifecta.

I especially like the Democratic line about how people can not afford insurance because of a lack of competition. Well, then pass laws that allow inter-state options – this is what Republicans are asking for. It is what will enable the free market to work. But no… if successful, that would negate the “emergency” that allows them to “act” and create a public option (or exchange). Yeah, introduction of an anti-trus 800 pound gorilla is competition. BTW, it just dawned on me… public schools vs private schools. Which are seen as superior? Which has what funding model? Hmmm.

Enough of that. It gives me a headache.

This is supposed to be week of my vacation but that was short lived by pressing issues in the work place. However, I did make it out to visit the kids in Hot Springs, Arkansas. During my short tenure, we went to visit the Clinton museum in Little Rock. Not a big fan of Clinton (he gets a lot more credit than he deserves but was at least smart enough to get out of the way when necessary – – listen up Barack), but I do find the history interesting. This one less so than others I have been to but mainly because it was not really history for me. I lived it. Still, I plan on seeing more of them. Thankfully, Texas has the most (or will).

It is amazing how many guards they have there. They could use some of the rooms for Fort Knox overstock. Pleasant people though unless you touch something you are not suppose too – like the carpet in the oval office exhibit (no, not the one pictured to the left – that is in a public space). I get it was the carpet in the White House but still, most of the other carpet in the White House ended up in a dumpster. I really doubt decades from now, that people will be that enchanted with it (“OMG, that is the real carpet from the White House”). And secondly, so it was touched. People – thousands of people (especially those that did favors for Bill) walked on it (this is a PG site). I don’t think touching it is going to harm it in any way – it is CARPET. Of course, that is just my opinion. I don’t get paid six figures by the parks bureau (funded by me through taxation) to make that call however. I’m just glad the federal officer didn’t pull his weapon on us.

The waterfront there in Little Rock is really nice. Probably a great place to spend a spring evening. They even have a free fish and game exhibit area behind some of the restaurants. Really nice. I actually do not mind spending some of my tax money on things like that.

We also took the time to celebrate Max’s 2nd birthday. He is in a new phase of not liking pictures taken (the girls each experienced that as well). So, this will likely be the least represented year of his young life. That said, he warmed up a bit once the sugar from the cake started to take hold.

It was a fire truck theme since he seems to like them (Mackenzie’s favorite truck is the cement truck for those keeping score at home).

We also went to the Wax museum which was not that interesting but it was open (unlike a lot of things in Arkansas in Feb). Then we wondered through the hot springs and various bath houses. Funny what people use to do to themselves in the name of health. I have no doubt the next generation will say the same thing about us and our obsession with exercise. I’m a futurist hence I am already cutting back on that barbaric treatment of my body (though admittedly I have been considering putting a few miles on the bike this week before I have to hit the road again.

I guess that is it for now……….

Meghan is three!

Posted in Birthdays on July 31st, 2009 by Michael

Happy Birthday

Random thoughts and catch up

Posted in Birthdays, Michael's thoughts, Political Opinions, Ranting on July 30th, 2009 by Michael

It has been a little while since I typed out a thought or two on this fantabulous MacPro machine, even it is a little dated compared to the new models. So, here you go. Fair warning, random thoughts…

What has been happening outside of lies in Washington (or on the road via Barack’s carbon footprint killing tour)?

Well, I had a wickedly bad Charlie horse in my left calf – after that pain subsided, I got a week of residual soreness out of it. That always puts one in a good mood.

Another birthday came and went – this one for my father. Another birthday is coming up soon – this one for my daughter. We, at times, never thought “two” was going to end. Will the gray cloud be lifted? Thinking not immediately.

In Dallas, we broke out of the string of 100 degree days with a series of humid ones interspersed with severe thunderstorms. I’m generally keener on the latter types but not when it is 4am and not when it takes out parts of your house (which thankfully, we have not had happen in the last 3 years).

I have a toothache now and it is irking me. Thankfully, I have insurance than I am paying for so I can get treatment if required. Speaking of which, the girls went in for their first dentist’s appointment. No screaming. Was thinking maybe we should have them come over for bedtime.

On bedtime, the challenges continue. Now, Max man has taken up the banner. Seems that if he doesn’t go to sleep right away, he get s a second wind that lasts until about 11p. Not what we want… The girls room is now completely purple per Meghan’s request. Looks like Barney puked in there. Her new bed arrived and was assembled – with some help and hindrance of the girls themselves. Now, everything is done and symmetry achieved.

After not having bought any “art work” in some time, we got another invite to a weekend away. This one is in Dallas (versus the last one, which was in Branson). We might go just to get a free meal or two. We are not going to buy anything. That is the law and it is being laid down now. That said, we need to come up with some sort of theme to hang what we have. I’m still looking for ideas on how to go about it in the family room – can’t seem to find any examples. Maybe something will come to me.

Been going to Virginia a lot to work on this deal. Work may be a strong word for it. I guess I am their to make sure everything is coordinated. It is so boring to sit in a room with lawyers walking through redlines of a document. One of the many things that has gone horrible wrong with our country: litigation preparedness. This was a much better place back in the day when you could just agree to do something and then get it done. Hopefully, this deal gets signed sooner than later and I can move on.

To this point, think about the government for a minute… It employees how many millions of people? Okay, think about how many of those people actually perform value added services as defined in the Constitution? A shockingly few. Most are part of agencies set up to create rules and regulations – then other others to oversee those rules and regulations.

I’ve decided not to go to Ireland on a golf junket – mainly a cost cutting/value proposition. I’ll get a little golf in while visiting the conceptual Midwest. Might schedule a trip out in the future though. By then, exchange rates will be killing me given the anticipated nose dive for the dollar under the current administration. Oh well, pay now, pay later. Everyone just wants you to pay.

Okay, let me go off on a tangent for a moment to talk about what a ludicrous thing this Obama healthcare plan is….Well, maybe not. It would take pages and pages. The bottom line is that this is a socialist plan masquerading as a populous feel good promise. Some facts (and opinions):

  • The 46 million uninsured? 10 million are illegal aliens. Around 14 million are eligible for insurance but choose not to have it (possibly self insured?) and another 8 million or so make over 88K a year. So, really, the number of hardship cases is in the 10-15 million range. Yes, if I were one of them, I would be concerned, but frankly, that is less than 5% of the US. Should you tax the rest of us more to cover them? If you are a socialist, you do. Their mantra is to take redistribute wealth. That is un-American.
  • No one believes that a government run program is really competition, do they? It is a replacement. Look at the House versions which mandate participation in a Government approved program. Hmmm. Yes, nothing like the fox owning the hen house. Secondly, who is going to try and compete against a loss leader when it is the only product? The federal program loses money? Can’t happen, it just taxes us more.
  • The federal program will be more efficient? Yeah, right. I am NO fan of the current overhead that we have in the industry but I do not want the same people who handle my taxes and the DMV to handle healthcare. Insurance companies no doubt run a series of shuffles that make most Ponzi schemes seem like checkers. But, in the end, they are more efficient in doing what they do than current programs like Medicaid/Medicare. Administration is less, fraud is less, etc. Don’t believe me? Ask your own government. BTW, the new estimates have us adding a couple of hundred thousand people to the government payroll to administer this program. More jobs? Maybe, more non-value add jobs – not to mention all of those people who will be loosing their jobs when insurance companies go out of business. Wait, didn’t we just pay a few billion to keep one of those in business because it was too big to fail (AIG)?
  • Medicaid is pretty much bankrupt (if it was possible to do that to the folks that print money). The Massachusetts’ plan, what seems to get a lot of traction in this debate, is out of money. They don’t work. Interesting vote today in the House…. Republicans – you know the evil ones – out forward an amendment that would require identification of folks to combat illegal aliens using the system. Well, it failed 29-28, along mostly party lines. When you give everything away for free, you run out of stuff. Plain and simple.
  • For some reason, Obama keeps talking about this being cost neutral? He has heard of the CBO, hasn’t he? Even his own drones in congress are not saying that…
  • Somehow, Obama, in the same speech, told us that the government would not get between you and your doctor but also said we have to make changes in how healthcare is used. That means limitations, rationing, value assessments, or whatever else you want to call it. It means that some bureaucrat can deny you coverage or a test or something else if it is not cost effective. Those guys on House, M.D. are shitting a brick right now. Frankly, we all should, except those in the government that are immune to this program, including its namesake, Mr. Edward Kennedy. The fact that they, by statute, are not included in this legislation and no one cares is mind numbing.
  • By the way, if you know the government is going to set the price on a good or service, are you going to go out of your way to invest to create or improve it? Not likely. This will absolutely stall medical innovation in America. I don’t know the folks over at Merck and other companies, and I am sure they are nice guys and all, but they spend the billions of dollars they do in research to make money on the backend. No backend, no front end.
  • You can also forget about the influx of people trying to get into the medical profession too. Most are noble, but many want to make the money. They are not competing in medical school to be a civil servant. BTW, I am not opposed to government training of doctors on some level. Sort of like the armed forces – we will pay for medical school, you give us 5 years then off you go. You could even use these doctors to provide Medicaid/Medicare services or for those that do not have insurance versus this elaborate scheme to cross mix government and private practices. A separation there might even make sense but I have not thought a great deal about it. Probably would change a lot of political opinions…

The list goes on and on. I am somewhat please to hear that the rush to vote has been delayed so that people can actually voice some opinion on it. I am also surprised by the change in rhetoric (aka sales positioning) that Obama has taken in recent days… it is more about health care reform, than coverage. And, frankly I think he realizes that he may not get what he wants and that this is the right place to go.

Listen, no one is saying that healthcare in America is perfect. No ONE. I know the President, the press and the Pelosi police like to call out Republicans on this issue. It is the old, tired and untrue position about how they hate the little guys and are only for the rich. It is a game. I have not heard anyone on the right side of the aisle say they do not want reform, that it is not needed, etc. Have you? No, they simply do not want this reform. I don’t want it either. I do want us to take care of our people. How is the question.

We need to start at tort reform first. You take away these billion dollar threats and your insurance costs drop dramatically. In some cases, 75% + of what you pay a doctor goes to these companies. At 25% of today’s costs, could Americans afford it? I think the answer is yes. Would we be able to provide better services? I think so. I am for some other things in the bill too. I am for better record keeping. I am for doctor ratings. I’m for doing the right tests. These are good things but a drop in the bucket to the costs of litigation and that does not seem to be in the discussion. They are focused on lowering payments to the doctors… well, they have to eat too.

Is it is a surprise the amount of money that legal firms contributed to Obama’s campaign? Nope. You can call a lobbyist whatever you want but they still smell the same. Money talks.

Sorry Matt, but we have too many damn lawyers in this country.

Oh yeah, Obama acted stupidly…….I think some of the rose color wore off America’s glasses this week.

Switching gears, on the public news front, Michael Jackson died (or was killed by a doctor or suicide or something…). That’s too bad – I mean, it is sad when anyone passes away but those that are iconic to a generation (same with Walter Cronkite) – especially if it is a positive one, stings just a little bit more given the widespread impact. I liked his early stuff before he went crazy. The OxyClean guy too died as well as Farah. It was a tough month for public figures.

Kim Kardashian broke up with her boyfriend. First, who the hell is she and secondly, why is she in the news all of the time and have her own cable show? I mean, did Paris Hilton get hit by a truck when I wasn’t looking? Can we limit the waste of valuable bandwidth to one egotistical worthless dumbass at a time?

Emily Watson had a wardrobe malfunction at the Harry Potter premiere and is going to Brown. That’s okay, I still think she is all that and more. She deserves more bandwidth. We need more young women to emulate her instead of Kim or Paris. I mean, she is smart, kind (look at her charity work), has a keen sense of fame’s role in ones life and nice hair. Really, good stuff. Still have not seen the movie but MA and I will likely make it our fourth movie date when on vacation. One of the Harry Potter’s was our first, with an average James Bond and Star Trek rounding out the list. BTW, you can pre-order Star Trek on Amazon now (release date: 11/12, I believe). Best buy has an exclusive package that will include replica insignia.

Haven’t really spun up the netflex in a while – due much to traveling to Richmond but we did watch Gran Turino. That was pretty good. Burn Notice has found some of its form back ion season 3. It was renewed for another season so I am not sure what direction it is going to go. “In Plain Sight” has started to grow on me. I just bought the blu-ray Ultimate Dirty Harry Collection. Can’t wait to spin those up. Yes, it goes without saying but it will, make my day.

Tiger is in a slump according to the press and needs to win soon to salvage his season… Hmmm. Only guy with 3 wins on Tour. In 10 events, had 8 top 10s. Yeah, that season is in the crapper.

We got another camera – a P&S for MA to use. For the first time in a while, we did not go with a Canon but a Sony. Read some reviews. Has a strong flash unit and was relatively cheap so we are giving it a try. The first couple of images were okay… Has a smile feature (so you press the button and when the subject smiles, it shoots. Darn thing works too. The Lumix LX3, a fabulous but somewhat complicated camera that served as its predecessor, is probably going to go on ebay. There is a demand for them. Waiting for another one of their ‘sale for free’ days.

What else…. Moon landing anniversary has come and gone again. Watched a lot of specials on it when I could. I love space crap. I still hold out hope for an astronaut in the family. I think Meghan has a shot at it if she doesn’t become a grunge band singer. Mackenzie is a no, since it is dark out there. Max is a possibility but still too young to have the spacesuit fitted just yet. We shall see…. I think another trip to the Johnson Space Center is in my future.

Finally, chili should always have meat in it. Preferably cow but some pork and turkey are acceptable in moderation. That’s all I am sayin’ on the subject, for now.

Happy Birthday, Mary Ann

Posted in Birthdays on June 24th, 2009 by Michael

She is less than 40 years old, but has impacted our lives positively more than 40 thousand times.  Happy birthday Mary Ann.

Hope you enjoy the toy.