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.


Posted in Michael's thoughts, Political Opinions on July 1st, 2009 by Michael

I started in on some things a while back but got distracted and the memory, being what it is after running a such a supercharged level for so many years – and fighting off the abuses therein, I have spaced it so I shall endeavor to recount the events of the last week or so.

I do know a couple of things.:

  • I ate some perfectly cooked beef – and lots of it.
  • I am freaken wilting under the heat
  • Obama did basically nothing but spun that up as heroic to the masses
  • The kids have not been good at going to bed
  • There was yard work done
  • Garage cleaning started
  • MA suffered through another ailment of the week.

So, of that, not much is blog worth except maybe MA’s constant battle with all things Texas, be it ant bites, allergies or whatever. Fortunately, I do not seem to be sweet enough for insects to take much interest and/or I am not sensitive enough to be bothered by them. That said, it is a good thing that Costco has cortisone cream…

Max-man has started to take after his mother. We got through the battle with eczema and now he has a new hive based irritation. Keep him from sleeping a lot last night. Our preliminary research proves out the elementary nature of medical knowledge present in the world today. Not sure why doctors get paid so much when they know so little. Hopefully, it will go away as quickly as it came.

I played golf for the first time in a while. Yes, in the heat, but it was only in the low 90s with 90% humidity. I played from the tips and I have to say, it was a bit of a stiff test at 7000+ yards. Did okay considering it all. The course was interesting but too many opportunities for snakes. Never a good sign when they have signs posted about how snakes are aggressive animals and there are tons of little creeks… Not sure I will be going back there. Then again, my next golfing event is probably going to be in Columbus anyway.

We are starting to get some return on investment in our HOA fees. The pool has been a happening place.

Speaking of which, an epiphany occurred. I THINK I am going to write a book about Alister Mackenzie. I know there is already one but there should be more. I’m framing up some thoughts about it now – probably not going to be a commercial effort but a retrospective one. I’d like to tour his American courses and write about them but that is 1) beyond my discretionary income levels and 2) not easily done given most of them are private – two, being uber-private. I’ve taken the first steps in getting copies of most of the books about him and his craft. Thanks to Amazon and ebay, UPS will be knocking a lot this come week. Anyway, it seems like a good idea since I do enjoy writing (more so than talking) and I do enjoy golf. I just need a lucky break or two… And of course, some free time.

This week also marked the arrival of my remote flash units…from China. Had to get a new battery but they seem to work. Maybe I’ll make a formal photo of Meghan turning three – mainly as a celebratory event. She has announced that when she is three, she will go potty. Small steps.

I could not help but notice a little news worthy events. It is comforting that the Supreme Court got one right (and yet another over turn of a Sotomayer ruling). Of course, interesting in the liberal press how they label it “US Supreme Court rules for white firefighters”. Hmmm. I thought they ruled on the legal basis on discrimination. Plus, there were also Hispanic participants in the case. Guess, they don’t matter when it comes to headlines. Also, hugely concerned about the cap and trade bullshit. First and maybe foremost, is anyone home in the House? How do they continue to let things like this happen? This being, the writing of a massive bill with untold new taxes to be voted on without anyone reading it? I have no real idea if the pieces and parts are good or bad, nor does anyone else. Tidbits I have seen are troubling, but surely there are good parts. Of course, Barack is all about ‘saving the planet’ and ‘new jobs”. Leaves out the impact to the economy, the growing number of scientists that dispute the impact to the planet and of course all of the jobs to be lost either directly or indirectly as these things are implemented. Then again, those jobs are mainly in the south (oil country) and they are not a blue state so maybe he doesn’t care. I would say there is hope in the Senate to stop the madness but now that Al – a freakin nut job – Frankin was given the election by the Minn Supreme Court (that is just for the liberals out there that said GWB was given the Presidential election – – funny, no protests being reported!), I am not so sure. He’s a joke, but at least he is not Bill Maher. Al Gore has already been working the phones trying to get this passed. Not that he really cares now that he has made a handsome profit over this global warming “crisis” but a cap would no doubt fuel more books and speaking engagements for him. I have ZERO doubt that if the public – even John Q idiot boy – really knew what was going on, they would be outraged. However, no one is telling them. The press is still firmly lodged up Barack’s backside. Is it 2010 yet?

Movie reviews for the week? None. We had “27 Dresses” but I didn’t watch it and I don’t know what MA thought about it. We have “Gran Torino” on tap for this week, once time is freed up (hmmm, movie or exercise? See my dilemma?).

Not sure what else is out there to report today…

time in front of the tube is bad…

Posted in Michael's thoughts, Political Opinions, Ranting on July 1st, 2009 by Michael

Okay, I am here in Dayton waiting to catch my flight back to DFW and hoping that the severe storms that are due will hold off in time for us to get out of here safely.  No offence to those that live here but I am not really keen on hanging out here any more than I have to.

As with most nights in a hotel I have time to read (crap like USA today) and surf the internet.  Occasionally, I will flip on a show I normally would not watch (like more crap such as MSNBC).  I tend to eat out, which is also a just a bunch of crap.  There went two weeks of dieting.  Anyway, I will not go into it but Oblermann, the idiot, was on and he was dispensing his normal diatribe of how it is George W Bush’s fault.  Really, I have seen his smug mug a few times and inevitably, he blames Bush – doesn’t really matter what the topic is.  Doesn’t matter that his beloved Democratic party has been in power for the last several years, Doesn’t matter that Barack, his anointed one, continues the same policies.  It is Bush’s fault.

I mean, was it that easy to pitch the show to the executives there?   Okay, probably yes, given it is MSNBC but I can see the interview…  “Hi, I’m Keith.  I want to have a lot of close ups and I’ll make some inane conclusion based on some handpicked exert of some comments somewhere and I’ll blame Bush for it.  Polls show people hate Bush and love Obama even if they have no clue what whose policies are whose.  I’ll even have a ‘contest’ every show where I’ll reference some of Bush’s people and have them win ‘the worst people in the world’ award.  It will be a ratings hit.  What do you think?”

Of course, as soon as it was greenlit, some executive bean counter thought it was a great idea – low cost to produce and good ratings.  So, they wanted to clone it.  But, this time, the picked a woman (Rachel, the retread) and thought she should just try and smug up to the camera while blaming Bush.  Even, better, we will go back to back so those without any sense can stay seated on their love seat for two hours while waiting for the next government subsidy bill to be passed, the dollar to be devalued and the check to be mailed to them.  Geez.

I also watched a little O’Reilly since I think he is pretty good most of the time.    Occasionally (versus Hannity who mostly) falls into the trap of what MSNBC does 24/7 within his commentary but mostly keeps an open debate on the topic and labels things as he sees it, clearly calling out that these are his opinions and for you to make up your own.  That said, what kind of love fest was going on with Barney Frank last night?  I mean, he could have skewered that fat bastard but let him off the hook (even while Frank was being a little rude).  Hmmm.  Fire the assistant putting cat nip in O’Reilly’s coffee but definitely keep Megyn Kelly around as the legal analyst.  Enough said on that….

BTW, I hope those that Citigroup that just got a raise on my back enjoy it.

So, just to validate there is no liberal bias in the media… explain to me why IRAN, Citigroup raises, the horrendous Cap and Trade (touted as ‘green jobs’) or the equally misguided  – and as flagrantly mislead details on the healthcare plan, etc. are not the lead story on the national news, but a SC Governor who was knocking boots with someone else in a different country is?  I could see this being the lead story in say, South Carolina, but it is not national news.  Plus, we have decided, as a country it is not a big deal.  I mean, Clinton did it over and over again… and then some folks elected him as President.

Have not exercised in a week.  Keep thinking I should.  Really, with good intentions, just never seem to pull it together.  Plus, it has been hot.  I am not sure if it is physically possible to sweat your ass off, but I’m trying.

If I ever get a new car – now postponed due to the practical utility required for the last purchase – I am definitely going to get ventilated seats.  I am not sure why they sell cars with heated seats in Texas…. Anyway, the new ride is pretty sweet, even if it is like a lumbering whale.  Then again, smooth is good when one hits the highway for these extended trips.  The key on whether or not it was a wise purchase will be based on my ability to pack vertically.  Not a ton of room in the back behind the seats.  That said, having Z be able to get in and out by herself is a good thing.

Oh, we had some pictures of her taken at dance class.  They should be here in a couple of weeks (no, I don’t know why it takes so long…).  Contact MA for distribution.