Thursday, December 16, 2010

Very Sleepy ... Must Fall Asleep

Wasted strokes: for some reason I always type "http://" or "https://" before every web address even though my browser will figure it out. What angle of human nature causes me to do that.

Anyway it is midnight and I'm about to fall asleep. I had checked a bunch of data records from raw data to a derived data set used in analysis. It looks right, so some people need to come to grips with what the data are telling them.

OK, I drifted off, so I'm getting off.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Happy and welcome news

We would have celebrated this weekend, had it not been quite so busy. My son got accepted to George Washington with an early decision. We had toured the campus in the spring and there was a clear connection for him at that time. GW has a lot of internships available within or around the government and my son is highly politically aware --- though he's almost libertarian --- so I'm sure it will be interesting. Other choices were American University and University of Maryland.

All would have been great and I do have a warming feeling about "Fear the Turtle," but it was certainly a nice way to spend the weekend. Not to mention, not having to worry about it for another three months.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Odd Debacles and Warm Feelings

First - a feel good story for the holidays - Katie the Star Wars fan saved by fanboys (and girls).

OK the the commercial is over - almost. My daughter is named after George Bailey. At the time my wife was pregnant with #2, we did not know whether it was going to be a boy or a girl. We were watching "It's a Wonderful Life" and we were considering naming a boy "George Bailey ..." (... being my last name). We got a wonderful girl instead, but we lost the George. A tough thing because that name has been around for 3 generations or so.

Anyway, I watched "It's a Wonderful Life" with my daughter for the first time and she didn't shed a tear. Actually the length of the movie was long for her teenage attention span, but what a great movie it is. I can't watch the movie without getting choked up, but that is that.

Odd thought: If aliens show up and enslave us in a 2012 or something, could it be that, ala 2001, perhaps they had manipulated us along the way until we were smart enough to make good slaves. Now that would be a truly evil set of creatures - spending millions of years genetically tinkering with some animals until they got the perfect set of people to capture.

Lesson learned: I recently lost it with the my youngest soccer club. I finally just pulled her from the team and we'll look for a different one. I had become an insane parent - but, in a way, I think I had been forced into it - because I don't think I should pay for someone to tell me how bad my kid and I are. Anyway - as I slowly gain some perspective - I realize multiple jerks were involved and I was only one. Further, as a result, I came up with a plan that might generate some money. It would be a nice little bit of irony if I was somehow rewarded for being a crazed "soccer dad."

We picked up a few new clients in the last couple weeks. After a very hard year. So, hopefully no more layoffs.

Miscellaneous --- the tree's been up since Saturday. I got the lights on Sunday, but still no ornaments. Better go water it.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Richey Rich

As we knew when Reagan first preached it way back when: trickle down doesn't work, giving the rich massive tax breakddddddddddddddddddd

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Guilty Pleasure versus So Glad You are Gone

Having teenagers in the house means you watch a few different shows - may be not all of the way through - but at least a big.

Guilty Pleasures:

Glee, Secret Life of the American Teenager, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit

Glad You are Gone or Looking forward to When you are Gone or Will be Gone:

Huge, 16 and Pregnant, Sister Wives, 19 and Counting, anything involving Sarah Palin or Kate Gosselin

Secret TV theory:

TLC is run by Mormons. Not only do they routinely go out of their way to promote massive families, they also promote polygamy. Next years TLC big hits will be the Glenn Beck reality show and a reality show based on a family that goes from millionaires to living in poverty by shoveling their money into the "Church of" Scientology.

If only I were a freak enough to have my own TLC series.

Bush Memoirs

OK - I'm tempted to read a copy of the Decision Points - but only if I can borrow it.

Bush was a stunningly bad President and his totally willingness to do what he wanted to regardless of the outcome helped put us where we are today with the deficit, the economy, and in Afghanistan.

Will he opt out of accepting responsibility by using the "it was a hard decision and did what I thought best" approach to not accepting responsibility OR will he own up to it?

Bush is like the drunk uncle that always ruins the party - it is a wreck by you can't help but want to see what he is going to do.

Sweet moves

Watch this trick play ... and be glad you weren't playing defense ... so you don't have to watch over and over again for years to come.

(Link found on the MichiganZone website)

10 weeks of dental work comes to an end

Over two months ago I went for a routine cleaning. That lead to a series of fillings, some gratuitous and some justified. One back tooth had decay under a filling, which lead to first a filling and then the need for a crown. The initial filling traumatized the root. A root canal was completed . . . and the crown placed. Total cost about $3,000.

Dentists are clearly better than tax collectors, but they always seem to involve both pain and cost.

I'd rather have my teeth go as long as possible, don't get me wrong, but it is what it is.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran's Day Ups and Downs

I started the day getting a root canal on tooth number 15. Way in the back.

At about lunch time, I got a call that my aunt passed away today. Her death was apparenlty pretty quick, either a heart attack or a stroke. My aunt had pulled the rope for assistance in her home and by the time they arrived, she was already dead. She was a kind soul who made an amazing grape pie. We spent summers and Christmas's with her family. I recently drove my Father to see her and blogged about the drive from Oxford to NC. My aunt was cared for by her daughter and seemed very thankful for where she was.

It leaves my Father as the last remaining surviving member from his generation on my father's side. There is a living aunt, wife of my Mother's brother, on the other side. It was something to see them together. Each knew it was quite possible it would be the last time they would see other and, even though it was a short visit, it clearly involved some introspection on both of their parts.

Life should be treasured.

A lesson worth remembering on Veteran's day. A time to be thankful for my Aunt's 88 years and for not to forget the many people that lost their lives or gave part of their lives for this country.

This evening I picked up a copy of the Community Sporting News in Chapel Hill. An old friend of mine writes a column on the back. It so happened that he was talking about our old soccer team, the "Head Beers" and how it was some of the best times of his life. I was honored to see my name mentioned, even though I was just happy to be tagging along. The "Big Guy" as we called him was sort of a genius. At that time he was a single father driving around in a beat up Toyota mini van running Rainbow Soccer. Later he would get a law degree and work with the District Attorney. Given a different set of circumstances he might have been a CEO and taken on Donald Trump.

Happy memories I did not expect to find on a sober day.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Finally some victories

Watched the first half of the Michigan-Illinois game. In case you didn't know, Michigan's defense is truly stunningly bad. There defense is occasionally really good. It was a classic shoot out today: Michigan 67 - Illinois 65.

UNC beat Florida State 37-35 to win tight ACC game. A nice victory for UNC after a tough start of the season.

After that I slipped over to watch East Chapel Hill High beat Chapel Hill 2-1 for the NC State Championship. My daughter was pulled up from JV to sit on the bench, so, as a result she gets a medal for being on the team (though because she didn't play wouldn't qualify for a letter - though she got one as a Freshman in Lacosse). She was ambivalent about the honor and that strikes me about right. The game, however, was pretty exciting. East Chapel Hill has won the title the last 3 years in row and will lose another set of key seniors.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Groundhogs Day All Over Again

[Revised 11/4]

Back in '94 I was pretty shocked by Newt's Contract with America and what seemed like a conservative take over. After being carefully kept in check, it culminated in the disastrous reign of George W. Bush. The Big Dawg, irritatingly disrespectful of his office and egomanical, managed to keep thing righted for a while, but GWB blew the doors of the budget and threw us into an extensive and optional war. Crazy financial deregulation and wild (lack of rules) on derivatives took us to the brink of a depression. A terrified Bush signed on to massive pumping of capital into the banking system along with future fall guy Obama which probably averted a collapse of the financial system.

So where are we now?

I wish I had some decent charting software:

Goldwater/GOP Fringe come ashore and create a bridgehead

Nixon/Vietnam lead to disastrous Presidency of JEC after a generally competent though balance challenged Ford keeps things calm with an adult demeanor. Lack of charisma acute.

Country fizzles with oil shock, post-war ripples, and Iranian humilation. Conservative GOP starts organizing.

Reagan / Falwell marriage begats the new breed GOP.

Reagan sells acid in the koolaid story that you can have more tax revenue by cutting taxes without spending (Laffer leads to tears). Democrats become deficit enablers by going along with tax cuts without budget gets. Huge deficits result. An alzheimered president still has wits enough to see he was wrong starts reversing tax trend. Arms for hostages and glorification of law breakers involved in the deals indicate expansion of the new breed. Wheels rolling for Limbaugh, Fox, and the merry band of morons.

George H Bush, smart guy and all around hero type, acts to stabilize the budget. Results of his courageous action ultimately help get to the balanced budget under Clinton. The new breed GOP turns on the Good Bush largely because of tax issues. A thousand points of light are extinguished. Bush retires to work with GF and JC and makes a good ex-President

Clinton arrives in office riding GOP fatigue in the general public, triangulation skills, and anti-Bush sentiment in the new breed GOP. He is generally content to do little and ride out the budget fixes from GHB.

The New Breed GOP (now capitalized) rides to its first wave. The future Tea Party people are still engaged in the main stream of the party. Newt and his ilk work to drive out moderate conservatives. Rationality on the budget exits: they shut down government and try to impeach the President (thus ruining impeach for GWB - who really broke the law). The public realizes that Clinton isn't so bad compared to the Dick(s) like Armey and Newtie. Limbaugh reaches a relative peak (extensive pain pill use may be cause deafness).

Country sees last balanced budget.

GOP re-organizes now New Breed GOP is co-opted temporarily by the neocons. GWB, unlike Reagan or his father, develops a pathological belief in tax cuts and not reversing anything he has done regardless of the effect. GOP with help from Clinton-era government laws roll the dice with the world economy.

Crazy tax ideas started by Reagan (though he recognized the folly) now accepted as a form of dogma for the New Breed GOP. Deficits shoot through the roof - even though the economy is riding a bubble.

Afghanistan, 911, and Iraq all happen. The right turns farther right. Ultimately the neo-cons burn their bridges with the New Breed GOP - however, neo-cons and close relatives are now pretty much the GOP establishment.

Gigantic financial crisis occurs due to irresponsible deregulatoin of banking industry.

Country reacts and brings in Obama.

Democrats fail to take any meaning steps to control the budget.

Chronic high unemployment and stunted economy resulting from long term commitment to ship jobs oversees and avoid paying to educating its own citizens, leave the US in a vulnerable position with no easy fixes. Immigration laws are broken. People are now afraid, very afraid.

Obama screws the pouch in a number of ways and does nothing to address peoples fears about budgets.

The New Breed GOP finally takes control of the house ... a mixed bag of nuts capitalizing the fickle (growing) independents dislike of the establishment Democrats and establishment GOP.

A stunning victory for the right!?!

OK - so why groundhogs day? Because this revolution will be like every other one - lots of posturing and other stuff, but no real answers and no way to implement sweeping change - because their central beliefs (tax cuts without spending control/isolationist/kill the enemy before you compromise/government shutdowns are good) helped put us here in the first place.

This is 1994 all over again, without a brainy Newt in the lead. This is a more hostile, more superstitious, less compromising stream in the GOP.

Independents won't like what they see in the next two years and it is 1996 all over again.

Pessimistic? Sure I'm pessimistic. Until I see GOP (New Breed or Establishment) and Democrats have the courage to seek compromises on deep spending cuts OR a plan to avoid spending increases long enough for the tax revenue to catch up with spending --- were going to stay on the same treadmill --- running in place and losing ground.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Waning Energy, Tea Party Stuff, Near Death Experiences

Just finishing reviewing (a first pass) through a 52 page report. I'll have to do it again tomorrow in more detail. I lost hours out of my day dealing with family related stuff. My day starts at about 6:15 AM and ends about at 10:30 PM most days. Rarely is there some totally down period. I don't read many books any more.

Work has been hellish for the last year. I think that is mostly over. A reduced staff, higher utilization, and a realigning of some employees. That has taken a significant emotional toll of its own.

My Mother's death in January and the resulting activities in helping my Dad resettle in NC also takes some energy. I am very happy he is here, however, and I wish both my parents had moved long ago like we wanted.

So - blogging got stopped for a long time - due to waning energy and interest (and a bit of playing EVE online).

Still, I experience outrage and disbelief when I'm allowed to concentrate on politics. The Tea Baggers (nasty term for Tea Party, since they tend to use the Democrat Party) offer up continuing proof of the idiocy of the American public. (To his credit, recently a founder of the movement lambasted the people that coopted it). The Tea Baggers are something the Morlocks from H G Wells The Time Machine. They are some bastardized and warped descendent of Reagan and the 1994 GOP that has been morphed by Limbaugh, Fox News, Hannity, etc. They are angry angry people without a coherent solution to anything. Tax cuts (they like that), smaller government (the only profess to like this, but they really don't want any cuts), and oooo foreigners are bad.

The Tea Baggers are proof that public education as failed and that conservative talk shows have won.

Obama should have been so lucky to have let McCain win. Then we'd be that much closer to closing the door on Palin and all of Bush's left over economic shit would not be getting slowly pinned on him. Laughably, really, most Tea Baggers are really Bush protoges, though Bush did have some kind feelings toward Latinos that is not too apparent in the Tea Party.

I will say that GWB always had a gung-ho attitude. Obama can be too aloof sometimes to be sure.

OK - so that is all the outrage I can generate right now.

Someone in my office nearly choked to death at home this week. Only his wife being there to perform the Heimlich Maneuver saved his life. He came out of a happy dream slumped over the table with his wife saving him. On the way to a NDE. I hope I never have one myself. I'll work him for more details, but apparently he was headed out comfortably, only to be ripped back to the cruel world.

Final notes: NC state fair passed and I managed to avoid it. 5 Points to me.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Last Swings?

My kids are growing up and, soon, out.

My middle daughter played field hockey last year and this year as a sophmore. She's leaning against playing next year so we drove across town to see what might be her last or one of her last games.

They won 5-0 and she scored two goals.

A victory that I can't help but feel a little sad about.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday Stuff and the Dog's name

Monday is come in about 2 hours and 6 minutes. It has been a long October and there is still one more week.

We still dealing with the new dog who must be about 6 or 7 months old now. He probably weighs in between 50 and 60 pounds and will settle in 65 pounds. Since he came from the pound they said he was part lab. We had the genetic testing done and he is >50% American Straffordshire terrier and about 1/4 collie mix. E.g. he's a pit bull mix. He's really quite a handsome dog and good natured, but he is a destroyer ... meaning we hope we'll survive to the end of his teething. Also, take seriously that these dogs can be difficult to potty train. The fellow has a couple of times stood halfway out the door and peed half in and half out.

The dog's name is Baxter. We wanted to name him Petey after the Little Rascals' dog, but my older daughter made a scene about not wanting to name the dog after something out of a movie (she never having seen the show). My son slyly suggested Baxter and it was accepted. It was a bit of revenge on his part since, Baxter is the name of Ron Burgundy's dog in The Anchorman. About two weeks later when she found out where the name came from, she commented, "That's something boys would find funny."

Our older half-schwanzer half-jack russell is now nearly 15 years old. I think he hears about 5% of the things we say and sees about 50% of what he used to.

We attended a Halloween house party on Friday. They had Valentino and the Piedmont Sheiks playing. I'd seen them play before at a music bar and they are really good.

Otherwise - mostly attended family sporting events - one girl had a lacrosse tournament while the other had two soccer games. Most everything was a loss.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Layoffs and In the Book

I'm reading the Biology of Doom bit by bit. My Father has a short role in the book and I have had it for some years. So, I thought I would peruse it. Stashed at the old house is my Father's pistol from his officer years - I'd like to get it if I can when my sister cleans out the house. He was drafted into the Army and did some interesting things - most of which he has never talked about as it was classified I guess.

We lost three employees at work this week - not died of course - but left or let go. As an employer I can't talk about the details - except to say that it sad and maddening at the same time. This is a time when young people value social connections more than their jobs and employers. I have now stopped thinking people will know how to behave when they come to us, I just tell them what they need to do in a job: serve the company and their bosses by giving their best and being honest. If you look aside when someone steals or badmouths everyone else, you are at best enabling. I say at best, because you are much worse.

So we take a few steps back.

I have learned my lesson over the last few years that loyalty is as crucial as intelligence and a good work ethic.

I know a fair number of successful people who built companies and sold them. They surrounded themselves by good managers and made their companies first at all costs. They took with them and enriched the people that helped them and were there in the crunch. These guys aren't inherently nice or nasty, they just are doing what it takes to succeed.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Obamacare comes to town (no tort reform)

For good or bad (on the grand scale) this much seems to be true: Obamacare will finish off individual doctor's practices, reduce innovation in medicine, and ultimately cause a massive centralization in medical care providers and innovators. Ultimately, I suspect, that the providers will begin to purchase up products and producers until small innovators will be more and more pressed out.

The MDs ability to maintain individual practices is going away for a variety of reasons coming out of medical legislation over the last couple of years: breakdown in fees for service, bundling of payments, electronic records requirements, and incentive/penalties around medicare payments. All of these will force MDs to join up or "partner" to hospitals. (This may be good or bad for patients, but it certainly changes who will choose to be MDs).

I attended NASS (North American Spine Society) in Orlando a few weeks ago. I spoke with several surgeons who agreed the best artificial disc in use was available in Europe and the company has NO PLANS TO PURSUE APPROVAL in the US. That is because the path to approval has gotten so onerous and the future re-imbursement iffy. This will continue to happen without reform aimed at easying approval and offering companies some form of legal protection. (Though admittedly some companies have behaved badly).

In a separate discussion, if you practice medicine in NY/NJ, you face a much higher chance of getting sued. Is it because MDs are worse there? Does Obamacare reduce the risk of insurance for the MDs? No ... it just forces them into larger groups who will bear the cost.

Not worried yet? Look into the coming shortage of MDs and specialist MDs going forward. Not a pretty picture at all.

Obamacare isn't totally stupid, but it is based on looking away from some of our current biggest problems and homogenize/reduce care (I'll avoid the use of ration here).

What do we really need:
  • A path for training more MDs that is cheaper and values MDs appropriately (E.g. fund higher education).
  • Reform of medical malpractice and tort law - replaing it with a superfund to pay for legitimate medical cases. This will have set payouts and operate as a general insurance funding by fees across the system.
  • Easing of approval process, but an increased tracking of product safety and value for response (this is something consistent with Obamacare).

So... Obamacare isn't all bad in concept ... but it will end private practice, fail to address MD shortages, and continues to lead toward a stifling of medical innovation. But we still need to big government solutions.... which no Tea Partier will like.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fall Colors and Incredibly Boring Travel Links

I just completed a blitz of driving. Thursday I flew into Detroit/Ann Arbor to help my Father emtpy his safety deposit box and pick up some stuff. I could see there was a soccer game at Huron High school, my alma mater. We had the distinction of being River Rats, something I found rather pleasing then and still now. I never knew any of the famous people listed on the Wikipedia page for the school.

On Friday, we then drove to just north of Cincinnati on Friday. Saturday, we started from Oxford OH (Home of Miami of OH University) headed south on OH 127 then went on US 71 towards Columbus. It was then a jaunt down highway 35 through Chillocothe (which had a very bady smelling odor) and Gallipolis (we debated the pronunciation) on the way to US 64. US 64 ran into Charlestown, a city which my son holds in some disdain for reasons I can't understand, where we got US 77 and the West Virginia turnpike.

The colors were pretty spectacular and the sky cloudless almost the whole way.

I thought I was going to get a ticket in VA just a bit after the Big Walker Mountain tunnel. If you drive through VA avoid speeding - unless you find yourself on US95 - then everyone seems to zip along. Anyway, I had coasted down a hill and nearly reached 80 mph when a cop pulled out onto the highway just as I passed. He flipped on his lights then drove past me and pulled over another car.

After Fancy Gap you head down a long long hill with this incredible view towards NC. You can see the oddly shaped Pilot Mountain and Mount Airy (it should remind you Mount Pilot of The Andy Griffith Show).

After that, though, and hour and a half on US40 from Winston-Salem to Burlington is not exactly enjoyable.

The whole trip went from SE OH, WV, VA, and NC.

On Sunday, I drove to Greenville NC (home of ECU) for my youngest child's soccer game. They played horrible and lost 3-1. Then it was back in the car for 2 more hours of driving. The purple and yellow was out everywhere on Sunday, since ECU upset NSCU on Saturday. The town was reasonably impressive.

Total time 4.5 + 9 + 4 = 17.5 hours of driving - but beautiful fall colors.

As the links indicate .... not too exciting though.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

20 Years and Counting

Married 20 years today. Looking forward to 30 or 40 more years.

Marriage counts:

3 kids
3 dogs
3 guinea pigs (2 surviving)
2 minature hamsters
perhaps 15 fish

4 Christmas inflatables

2 houses (1 sold)
1 condo (for sale)

4 cars

1 neighbor alienated

Monday, October 11, 2010

Snappy Birthday

365 days and counting to the big five-oh. Say a prayer for me.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Massive Past Deletes and Odd Energy

To post again?

It has been over a year or year and a half. In that time, my Mother passed away, we got a new dog, my Father has moved into town, and things have moved on. My business has contracted - though may start growing again - I've had various personal conflicts and mental batterings.

In all, I would say, rather tiring. However, I abandoned playing an on-line game for lack of time, so I may now have enough time to blog a bit.

The Internet has a memory of three to five years

At one time I had about 700 to 800 posts between two sites. I deleted them all. Starting over at some point. They don't seem the readily searchable any more.

I was proud of a few, but not that many were very good.

My real world identify has quite a few links. It takes a while to unravel them. I don't think they could be eliminated. However, as time goes by, if I get out of business, they will go so far down into Google as to functionally disappear.

This should give some hope to people who have posted all sorts of stupid stuff on the web.

Interesting stuff from the past week:

Attended NASS for a couple of days in Orlando.

Jeb Bush was flying on the same plane as me. I didn't pester him.

Saw a kind of good talk by Daniel Ariely.

Learned that physicians will never be in private practice again once the latest set of government laws are fully enacted. I feel very bad they will be regulated so heavily. Just as they are being chased out of their profession - we are faced with a future deficit of general practioners and specialists. You should be very afraid about the future of medical care.