3/31/2009

Thoughts About My Day at the Mall


I try to avoid going to the malls here in Mobile, AL as much as possible. I try to avoid Wal-Mart like the plague. The reason for both is that I have always hated large crowds. So, it was with considerable reluctance on my part to go to the mall this past Saturday. The reason I went was to get new eyeglasses. I get a discount at a particular eyeglass store in the mall. Thus, my reason for going Saturday afternoon.

The store has one of these one-hour deals if you don't want no-line bifocals or the stuff that makes your glasses turn dark in the sun. I'm not now nor will ever be a fashion follower. That's just not me. Anyway, I was told if I wanted to walk around the mall or whatever, they would have the glasses ready in “about an hour.” I always get a little nervous when someone says “about.” It gives them leeway that I do not like. “About an hour” usually means 2 or 3 hours. But, the mall was not very crowded for a Saturday afternoon. So, I got me some buttered popcorn at a vendor, a coke and sat down on a bench seat near this beautiful waterfall they have inside the mall. The sound of water is sooooo relaxing.

As I have said many times on this blog, I am a people watcher. No, I'm not a damn stalker. People just fascinate me. And I had my choice to be enraptured by Saturday. Take for example this young couple in front an electronics store. Look, I remember what it is like to be young. Hormones raging out of control and you have a pretty young thing with you. But, doing the tongue exchange is a bit much, especially in front of small children who were pointing at them. Next time, get a room, Romeo and Juliette. And, of course, you have the mother with all three of her kids and perhaps 2 or 3 of her neighbors kids as well walking through the mall. First, she wasn't paying any attention to them. Kids in a mall is a dangerous thing if you can't keep your eye on them at all times. I just don't understand someone doing that. Pretty soon, there was the proverbial argument taking place just behind the waterfall where I was sitting. As most people are doing this day and time, it was over money. I thought having an argument over money in the mall was a bit ironic. This went on for at least 10 minutes and I was starting to get agitated myself. I was just trying to pass time away, relaxing by this waterfall. They eventually went away to continue their argument elsewhere.

Of course, it never fails that if there is one jerk out of X number of people, he is going to find me. It is a simple law of physics, I believe. I don't know the exact formula. But, it works pretty well. Some guy comes up to me, and asks me if I would be interested in a good deal on some name brand watches. Yes, he asked this right in the mall, with a jewelry store right in back of us. I told him, no, I would not be interested in buying a watch. If I wanted a watch, I would go in the jewelry store directly in back of us. Well, this irks the guy. He said, “Well, you don't have to be so rude! I was just trying to help you out!” And then he storms off.  It just simply amazes me how these people can find me. Honestly. Then about 15 minutes later, a man gets into a big confrontation with a mall security guard. Why? Well, the man has a German Shepard on a leash walking him in the mall. You can not have animals in the mall. It states it right in front of every entrance to the mall. This guy is arguing he had brought the dog in on other occasions and no one said anything. So, that starts getting out of control and the man is arrested for disorderly conduct by Mobile's finest. Wonderful.

I decided to check on my eyeglasses and miracle of miracles, they were ready in just slightly less than an hour. Just in time. I mostly enjoyed my “yearly” visit to the mall. I love that relaxing waterfall. It is beautiful. But, an hour is about all I can take. I'll be back again.....”in about a year.”

3/30/2009

Matt-Speak: A Time for Mourning


If you will notice on the left column of this blog, you will see a list of my favorite links. One such is "Matt-Speak." Matt is one of the very first people to visit my blog (which is coming up on it's first anniversary on April 5th) and comment. I appreciated it and he kept coming back. He is a very profound commentator on politics, religion and whatever crosses his mind. But, people visit his popular blog due to his common sense approach to life. I respect him greatly.

Sometime in February, Matt lost his brother, Duane, who was only one year young than Matt. Duane's death was very unexpected. Matt has not made a post since February 15th as he and his family try to cope with this tragedy. I just wanted to make mention of this on my blog. I don't visit his blog as I did so regularly at the start of mine due to many different reasons. But, whenever I want to get a straight forward approach to political events, I know I can go to his blog. Matt-Speak is an extremely popular blog and I encourage everyone to visit whenever Matt comes back on a regular basis.

Why am I mentioning this almost two months after the loss of his brother? I am making it out of guilt, I suppose. I should have done it immediately after he made a post about the loss of his brother. Plus, I know how painful it is to lose a sibling. I lost my baby sister back in 1989 when she was just 25 years old. She had been married for only six months. It is like a part of you that aches and aches. They say time heals all wounds. I disagree. Losing your sister, or in Matt's case, his brother, is something from which you never really recover. The pain dulls somewhat over the years. But, the heartache is always with you.

God Bless you and your family, Matt. Come back when you can.

3/27/2009

Little Orphan Puppy


I was sitting in the kitchen early Thursday morning with my ever faithful companion, Ralph my beagle, when I heard whining from a dog. I looked down at Ralph, he looked up at me confused, thinking I was the one doing the whining. But, this sounded like whining from a puppy. So, I put down the newspaper, and opened the back door. Looking up at me with the saddest eyes in the world was a solid black puppy of about 8 weeks old, I guessed. It was a mixed breed with a bit of lab mixed in heavily. I brought him in and as you would guess, Ralph was far from being pleased about this sudden intruder. I had to put Ralph in the adjoining dining room to calm him down. It was evident by the way the puppy was smelling around that he was starving. I got some of Ralph's dry dog food, put it in a bowl and the little puppy went to work on it like a buzz saw on timber. He ate up the entire bowl. I don't know where he put it. But, he ate it all. I did not give him any more because I was afraid it would make him sick. He appeared to not have eaten in a couple of days or more.

I put the little black puppy in a old computer box, put some old warm towels in there and he went right to sleep. I went around to a few neighbors and asked if they knew if anyone had gotten a midnight black puppy and had lost it. I spent about an hour checking around and no one could help me out as to where the puppy came from and wound up on my doorstep. One neighbor told me that it was not uncommon for people to abandon dogs or little puppies they no longer wanted in a big neighborhood like ours. That made my blood boil. Then another neighbor suggested I call the animal shelter. That made my blood boil even more since that was a certain death sentence.

I don't know for sure what I'm going to do with him. He's such a little fellow and needs a friend. I am going to ask family members if they want him. I know a cousin that lost a beloved big yellow lab about two months ago. I don't know if they are ready for another dog or not. I just know I am not calling the animal shelter. I am not going to abandon him to a uncaring world either. I just can't do that. Ralph is not happy about it at all. Ralph will just have to get over himself. He might have a little brother now whether he likes it or not.

3/26/2009

U.S. Postal Service on the Brink of Bankruptcy


I worked for the USPS in the earlier part of my government career. The thing I remember most about it was the total acrimony between management and labor. There were constant day to day wars between both camps. Management would interpret the contract one way and labor would interpret another. The tension was very bad and I always worried if someone would go “postal” during the work day. I was glad to get away from there and move on. Maybe twenty percent of the work force actually did the day to day work to get the mail out the door. There were so many people who just didn't give a damn if the mail got out or not. They were still going to pocket a big paycheck regardless. Labor costs are take up about 75% of the USPS budget.

It was revealed by the Postmaster General [article link], John Potter, that USPS will run out of money this year to function. If they don't get help from Congress, they will have to shut the doors. USPS lost almost $3 billion dollars last year. This year they are on a record pace to break that number. One way I have always thought suitable to save money was to cut back delivery to 5 days a week. Tuesday is a day of traditionally low mail volume. If they were to stop delivery just on this day, they would save over a billion dollars. But, Congress has always been cool to the idea of 5 day delivery. This is nothing new as this idea has been bandied around for at least 10 years. I don't see Congress letting this happen. One way they could cut labor costs is to do away with the “casual workforce” of temporary workers. These are temporary employees who just get a paycheck and no benefits. They usually work two 90 day periods in a year and then are laid off. But, I remember it was the “casuals” who seemed to do all the work. The full time employees felt that hard physical labor was beneath them. I suspect if they want to keep their job, they will figure out a way that hard work will be better than the unemployment line. In fact, word I heard is that if you have less than 6 years of service, you could be laid off this year. I hope that doesn't happen. But, unless USPS does something to cut costs, everyone is going to be out of a job.

3/25/2009

President Obama, Please Pay Attention

I know late President Ronald Reagan was well hated and reviled by those on the left. But, this is the difference of when President Reagan, who also was facing a crisis of sorts in this initial inauguration, and the president we have now who believes government is the solution to all our ills. As President Reagan said almost thirty years ago, "You can't spend your way out of a recession." Well, President Obama is giving it all he's got to prove President Reagan wrong. "Yes we can" rings so hollow now, doesn't it? If ever there was a stark difference between substance (Reagan) and style (Obama), this video displays it for all to see. Sure, he had a contra affair that he was vilified about until the day he died. But, I would vastly prefer Reagan over what we have now. And, no, I am not a Republican.

3/24/2009

Family Album - 1


I was cleaning out my hall closet over the weekend looking for some tools I had put in there about a year ago. I couldn't find the tools I was after. However, I did see one of several family albums I have. I think I may start to do a series on some of the pics there. There are a lot of people in there I simply don't know or just know by word of mouth from relatives. One such man was Luther Green from Yazoo City, MS. I don't feel comfortable just yet posting pics of people who were family friends (such as Luther) or of relatives just yet. But, I'm sure that will change. For right now, I'll just use a stock pic from Google.

Luther was no kin. But, he lived in my grandfather's work shed, in back of his house, in the late 1940s. I never knew Luther Green since he died before I was ever born. But, I remember my grandfather speaking about him. Luther came from a devout Methodist family in Yazoo City. All his brothers and sisters (all five including Luther) were subjected to stern discipline by the father, of whom my grandfather had "locked horns" with on occasion. My grandfather (maternal) was a hard drinking, foul-mouthed house painter who would give no quarter and ask for none. But, he did have a sympathetic side that was in direct contradiction to his personality. That sympathetic side came into play in the winter of 1948.

I remember my grandpa talking about the winter of '48 like he did about the Great Depression (something that we may all, unfortunately, experience soon). Many farm animals froze to death, many of them starved for lack of wheat or hay. Food was scarce and work was even more scarce that terrible winter. In the home of Luther Green, things were even tougher. With the disciplinarian head of the family, came hardships of doing chores in the worst of possible conditions. The family had one small fireplace where everyone would gather to try and get some warmth on the cold winter nights. Apparently, one night in November, sparks came from that fireplace and started a fire. The fire spread quickly in the old, pine wood home. All were killed with the exception of Luther. Luther suffered horrendous burns over 50% of his body. With the medical technology of that day, it was a miracle that he too did not die.

Luther endured several kinds of procedures that would probably be declared barbaric by today's standards. Whatever they did, it caused grotesque scars on both arms and around his neck. Luther always wore white long sleeve shirts, with the collar up, even in suffocating heat of summer in Yazoo City. Luther was then taken in by my grandfather when the local rehab center could no longer house him. Luther lived in the back of my grandpa's house, in that work shed, for the better part of 3 years. Grandpa even got him a job at a local textile mill so he could have a few dollars for the weekend in Yazoo City.

Luther Green took to drinking heavily to mask the pain, both physically and mentally, that haunted him in his dreams. It's hard to imagine losing your entire family and then endure the pain that he did. In fact, Luther took to drinking so much, he decided to start drinking on the job. He was fired from the textile mill and then had to go to working with my grandpa.

In May of 1951, Luther was coming back home from a Saturday night of drinking at the local watering hole around midnight. Luther was so drunk, he didn't realize he was walking in the middle of the dirt road when a milk truck, coming back from his run to Jackson, MS, ran over Luther Green and killed him at the age of 21. Back then, funeral parlors were a luxury for the rich. Grandpa and two other men made a pine box coffin and buried Luther Green on May 17, 1951, just slightly less than four months before I was born. Grandpa said there were only him, the two coffin makers and the preacher that were present at his funeral. Grandpa didn't like to talk much about Luther. I guess it was just a bit too painful even for a man like him.

***To see the second part in the family album narrative, click HERE. 

3/23/2009

Scribefire's QuickAds Nonpayment




I have tried several different ad networks over the almost one year of this blog. I've tried Goggle Adsense, AdBrite, Kontera, Adtoll and several others I can't remember right now. All of them were less than successful on this blog. However, back in October of last year, I subscribed to a new ad network called "Scibefire QuickAds" which was the monetization feature of the highly successful Firefox addon. The first month I made just over $60.00. Actually, that was made in only about two weeks of October. That was more than all the others I had placed on this blog or my other blog, "Diary: Alone on Earth." The month of December I made over $200.00 on QuickAds. It was looking good. I was very happy with QuickAds.

Scribefire QuickAds had promised to always pay to your Palpal account by the 7th of every month. I noticed they were mighty slow in doing this. Sometimes they were 2-4 days before posting to your Palpal account. I knew that was a bad sign. But, I also thought since it was a new company, maybe they were just having growing pains. That is what I convinced myself to believe.

About the middle of Febuary, I got the following email from Scribefire QuickAds:

Valued ScribeFire Publishers,

We are reaching out to you to let you know that we are in the process of revamping our ScribeFire QuickAds monetizing feature.

As of now, we will put our banner and intext ads on hold as we put together our resources and creativity to provide you with an improved monetizing product.

Your business has been valued up through this point and we hope we can count on it when our improved Beta is released.

Please go ahead and remove any QuickAds advertisements you are currently running of ours on your blogs. You will be paid for all your remaining earnings through this point.

Thank you for your continued business and enthusiasm for ScribeFire!

The ScribeFire Team.


Ok, I again convinced myself this company was going through growing pains. I convinced myself this for about one day. Within a week of this email going out, I noticed they withdrew their email contact link and their snail mail address. In fact, you can no longer access the Scribefire Support Forum.

Please notice the part in the above email where they state "You will be paid for all your remaining earnings through this point." Nowhere do you see where they state when they will pay. Again, alarm bells went off in my head. Scribefire QuickAds owes me over $80. I will never see that money in all likelihood. I was ripped off as probably many other publishers were. It's not so much the money (well...maybe it is the money) but the lying and conniving of a company that does business with a major corporation such as Mozilla Firefox. I seriously doubt Mozilla will do anything about it. I thought about contacting them about Scribefire. But, decided it would be an exercise in futility.

I have been unable to find other people complaining about Scribefire QuickAds on the internet. I may be the first one. I have left several comments about QuickAds nonpayment on other blogs. But, I seem to be the lone wolf howling in the wind. I just don't like some damn body to rip me off. I don't care if it is just eight cents. I have waited on Scribefire to make good on payment and they will not even attempt to give you an email address to contact them now. I doubt it would do any good if they did provide you with a contact number or email address. They most likely have gone bankrupt. As I said, no one else has started complaining. Well, those days are over. This is the first official complaint to my knowledge on the internet. And I won't delete this post. It will remain in my archive so it can be searched by others who have been "Scribefired" like me.

3/20/2009

I'm Not Sure What to Think of This....

The first time I watched it, I was astonished and couldn't believe it. But, upon further reflection, I thought, at least parts of it, were fake. In fact, most of it may even be fake. But, if it is a fraud, it is an excellent fake. Whatever. Look at it and you tell me what you think.


3/19/2009

A Few Thoughts on the President


If I'm not mistaken, President Obama is just over halfway through his first 100 days. With that said, a few thoughts.

I noticed during the campaign, Obama did not respond well to criticism. In fact, he is very thin-skinned. That's a bad trait to have if you are a politician. Say what you will about "W," but he let criticism fall to the wayside like water off a duck's back. The entire fiasco with Rush Limbaugh was an embarrassment. The WH Press Secretary getting into a public spat with a private citizen? What the hell was that all about? I couldn't believe it. The best way to infuriate Rush is to ignore him. Instead, the WH gave him credibility by responding to his rants on his radio show. A very immature reaction by the Obama Administration.

I thought from the very beginning, Obama would be a typical Democratic President. By that I mean what the Democrats believe in; big government, love to tax the "rich," and to increase taxes across the board. Well, I was wrong. Sure, President Obama supports all the above. But, he is going at it in a manner never seen by the man occupying the Oval Office. Before it is all said and done, he will have spent 10 trillion dollars.....before his first term is over. It is historic the manner in which taxpayer dollars are being thrown around to the corporate elite, the same people the Democrats have heaped scorn upon for decades.

Every President has a "Waterloo Moment." Reagan's was the Contra affair, Bush Sr. was the "read my lips...no new taxes," Clinton's was Monica in the Oval Office, and "W" was the Iraq War, among many others. Just a guess here...and while it wasn't a real campaign issue, amnesty to illegal immigrants could be a "Waterloo Moment" for Obama. I think he and his administration have seriously underestimated the will of the American people on this issue. You would think it would have sunk in after a grassroots movement sunk "comprehensive immigration reform" in 2007. I suspect it has not. Obama, Pelosi and Reid will proceed with granting amnesty to millions of illegals despite millions of jobless Americans looking for work. What was that catchy little phrase the open borders crowd loves so much? The illegals do work that Americans won't do. Sure.

The closing of Guantanamo Bay could be classified as a "Waterloo Moment" for President Obama as well. They announced the closing of this base without any forethought as to what to do with these terrorists from around the world hellbent on killing American troops. Nobody wants these killers in Backyard, USA. But, where else do they go?

Things could have be worse, I suppose. "W" could still be president. That's a nightmare I was glad to see come to an end.

3/18/2009

Chuck Berry: Johnny B Goode!!!

Chuck Berry, in my opinion, has never really gotten his just due for his contribution to the start of Rock and Roll. Many say Elvis was the "King of Rock and Roll." If that is the case, then Chuck Berry is the "Father of Rock and Roll." Elvis couldn't hold a candle to Chuck Berry when it came to the guitar. And Chuck Berry had moves that the King could only dream about! The only problem for Chuck Berry was that he was a black man during the time of Jim Crow and the birth of Rock and Roll. His hits such as "Maybelline," "Nadine," "Roll Over Beethoven" were all classics of this man. My personal favorite is the one I have included in this blog entry, "Johnny B Goode." This is Chuck Berry at his finest. It's an old B/W TV appearance, and it's kind of creepy looking back on this 50s edition. There were better renditions available. But, this is a young Chuck Berry. Watch him do the duck walk...pure Chuck Berry.


3/17/2009

It Never Ceases to Amaze Me


My three year warranty on my 2006 Honda Civic ended last Friday (Friday the 13th, naturally). I have had periodic problems with this car since I bought it. Oh, it's been little things like the battery suddenly dying on me after just 9 months of use. Two busted seals on the power steering assembly. The idiot lights saying "check engine" when there was absolutely nothing wrong, "time for service" after I had the scheduled service just three weeks prior. There have been a few other little problems also. It was more aggravating than anything else.

Yesterday, as I got into the car to go eat breakfast at the local Cracker Barrel, I discovered I had another problem; the starter has gone out on me. That is going to cost me some big money. I always thought Honda was known for its dependability. I am furious about this happening so close to the warranty expiration date. I didn't fool with an extended warranty because I've always felt they weren't worth the money. I should have learned my lesson with my 1988 Pontiac Grand Am. The warranty expired on it and within a month, I needed a new automatic transmission. It's almost like cars are timed this way to show the consumer the folly of not buying that overpriced extended warranty.

I intend to raise hell about it Wednesday when I go to pick it up. Yes, I know it won't do any good whatsoever. But, it will make me feel better.

3/16/2009

Mr. Landers and Alpha


As I have stated several times on this blog, I am very much into physical fitness at my ripe old age of 57. I think exercise is the very best gift you can give yourself, regardless of age. It's amazing how different you feel after about a 30 minute workout on the treadmill or just going for a leisurely walk in your neighborhood.

I take my beagle, Ralph, for his morning walk about 6:30AM every morning. The only time we don't go is when it is raining. The problem with that is Ralph doesn't understand why we still can't go even if it is raining (sigh). During our morning walks, we always ran into a man also walking his dog. I've gotten to know Mr. Landers over the past couple of years. I used to go for my morning walks even before I adopted Ralph (sometimes I think it was the other way around). I found out he was a widower, having lost his wife to cancer 5 years ago. He said he is 74 years old and never felt better in his life. He has told me he started walking Alpha, his big German Shepard, six years ago at the advice of his veterinarian. The vet even told him it would do him good as well. Sound advice from an animal doctor, Mr. Landers said. Mr. Landers was a nice gentleman and we have drunk coffee at his place a few times after our walks.

In late January of this year, I noticed Mr. Landers had missed his morning walks three days in a row. Concerned, one morning I decided to stop by his house. Mr. Landers was not there. But, his son was there. Mr. Landers son, Tom, told me that Alpha, his German Shepard that he had owned since it was six weeks old, had died three days previous at the age of 14. I could tell that Alpha was pretty old. Tom stated that his father was devastated by the loss of Alpha. I was pretty broken up about it as well. Alpha was a gentle giant that even Ralph seemed to like.

Mr. Landers stopped his morning walks after Alpha died. I would go by his house during my morning walk and would sometimes see him in his patio, say hello to him and keep going. I could tell that Mr. Landers wanted to be left alone. I had spoke to him before and expressed my condolences to him about Alpha. But, it seemed Mr. Landers no longer wanted to talk to me. And I understand that. People react to death in their own way. Some people want to be around others for consoling and some just want to be left alone. Maybe the sight of Ralph and me just brought the pain that much more to Mr. Landers.

Last Thursday, as I was going on my morning walk, I noticed a lot of cars in front of Mr. Landers house. Not sure what was going on, I kept on walking with Ralph. I decided to double around, thus giving Ralph a rare double treat in a morning walk, I noticed his son, Tom, getting something from the trunk of his car. I stopped by and spoke to Mr. Landers son and inquired if Mr. Landers was ok. Tom told me that Mr. Landers had died in his sleep Wednesday. Tom stated that the loss of Mrs. Landers and the subsequent loss of Alpha was just too much for his father.

I still go for my morning walks, as I will this morning and will every morning until I too meet my final day. But, it's not the same without Mr. Landers and Alpha to walk with each day. In fact, I think Ralph is a bit despondent as well. I hope and I pray that Mr. Landers is with his wife along with Alpha at his side, as he continues his walks through the Heavenly Gates. Ralph and I miss them. I guess I always will.  I think this quote best describes Mr. Landers and Alpha...."The one best place to bury a good dog is in the heart of his master."-Ben Hur Lampman 

Ben Hur Lampman

3/13/2009

Madoff Pleads Guilty


I admit I have not been following this story [article link] until just recently. It is amazing to me how anyone could defraud people to the tune of almost $65 billion dollars! How in the hell can this happen on Wall St.? I don't follow the Dow or NASDAQ that much. But, when you read about some guy who was able to swindle nearly 65 billion dollars, that gets your attention. He had been doing this for decades! Madoff was once the chairman of the NASDAQ. So, I can see where people probably thought he was a reputable financier. But, it seems impossible someone could swindle that much money without someone asking questions at some point before it got to the billions of dollars. But, in a ponzi scheme such as Madoff had concocted, he was able to hold off early investors with money coming from late investors in the scheme.

People lost their entire life savings, retirement and any money they had made on the stock exchange. Madoff apologized to his "clients" (victims more like it) and contritely said "While I never promised a specific rate of return to any client, I felt compelled to satisfy my clients' expectations, at any cost." Wow, what a guy. So far, authorities have only found about $1 billion of investors money. It's not likely even one-third of that $65 billion will ever be found. It's possible when he is sentenced, he could get the maximum sentence of 150 years. He is 70 years old now. I give him 3, maybe 5 years before he succumbs to prison life. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

3/12/2009

Shootings in Alabama and Germany


As everyone knows by now, there was a shooting spree in SE Alabama Tuesday [article link]. The towns of Samson, Kinston and Geneva bore the brunt of the killings by Michael McLendon, 28 years of age. That's about a 3 or 4 hour drive from where I live in Mobile, AL. As of this writing, there were 12 people dead, including Michael McLendon who committed suicide. He practically wiped out his entire family, including his mother, grandparents, an aunt, uncle and cousin. Several law enforcement officers were wounded trying to capture McLendon. I do know that Mobile County police officers were sent speeding up I-65 in an attempt to bolster local law enforcement of these towns. Most of the small towns in Alabama have a "Mayberry" type police department. In a case like this, everyone in law enforcement within a 3 hour drive was called upon. There is not much more I can add to this. I know the gun control advocates will have a field day with this. But, not on this blog.

In Germany, 17 year old Tim Kretschmer launched a "Columbine" type killing spree [article link] that resulted in the deaths of 9 students and two teachers. Four other people were killed by Kretschmer before he too committed suicide. As was the case in Alabama, there has been no substantiated motive for Kretschmer to go on this killing spree of innocent people who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. There is news that, at least, in the Alabama case, McLendon kept a list of people who did him wrong. That is rumor at this point. Both cases are very disturbing.

I don't know what comes over someone who is an ordinary person one day; and then the next day is a mass murderer. My mind just can't process something like this. Hopefully, police will at least find out what provoked this outrage in both Alabama and Germany. There is never justication for either incident. I just don't know how you can possibly predict something like this. How can you stop it from happening again? And, even if you eliminate the 2nd Amendment, people are always going to find a way to get a gun. Of that, I am firmly convinced. It's a sad day here in Alabama. I'm sure the people in German are equally as sad.

3/11/2009

Roy Orbison: Crying

Roy Orbison was one of the very best singers during the golden age of Rock and Roll covering Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley and many others. I have read before that Elvis did not fear anyone but Roy Orbison taking the spotlight away from him. I can't think of many songs of Roy Orbison I did not like. But, this one is my favorite. Elvis had the moves and the looks, along with a good voice. But, Roy Orbison, in my opinion, could sing better than any of them of that era.

Ladies and gentlemen, Roy Orbison!!!

3/10/2009

Wikipedia Not Tolerating Criticism of the President


Wikipedia, that sanctimonious bastion of everything and anything, is refusing to allow [article link] entries critical of President Obama. Some users have once again made entries in reference to whether or not the President is legitimately a U.S. Citizen. The only question I have about this "issue" is why the sensitivity of the Obama Administration on this? I have read the President has provided a birth certificate to validate his birthright as a U.S. citizen. However, there appears to be questions surrounding the validity of this certificate anyway. So, the conspiracy theorists are having a field day with it.

Now, Wikipedia has a perfect, legitimate right to pull out such questionable entries surrounding the legitimacy of Obama. That is their right as a private company, I suppose. What I don't understand is according to this article, Wikipedia is also pulling out any references to the controversial racist former pastor, Rev. Wright and the known terrorist, Bill Ayers. There has been a great deal of news coverage in both the print and electronic media concerning these two men. President Obama does not deny his association with Bill Ayers and he certainly cannot deny his association with Rev. Wright.

So, I guess my question is why is Wikipedia so sensitive about entries concerning these two men when even the President doesn't deny his own association with the two? Do you see why so many Republicans are paranoid about the media (although I am not sure you can categorize Wikipedia as news media...but still) being biased in favor of President Obama? I have lived a long, long time and have never seen such blatant favoritism for one individual as there is for President Obama. Even during the Clinton years, when the news media basically "willed" the Senate not to convict Bill after impeachment, did you see such an obsession to cover for "The Anointed One." It's ridiculous. Show the same objectivity toward President Obama that you did toward Bill Clinton, at least. Every president without a "D" after his name has been summarily blasted to bits by the media. Stop this school girl crush you people in the news media have on the man and let him succeed or fail on his own merit. Damn.

3/09/2009

Ohio Janitorial Position Nets 700 Applicants


In what is surely a sign of the times, 700 applicants applied for a school janitorial position [article link] in Canton, OH. The position pays approximately $16.00/hrly with benefits. Laid off factory workers, assembly line workers to...well, you name it. Times are tough in Ohio as they are everywhere. Maybe they are especially tough in that area of the country. The big new ThyssenKrupp steel mill that was due to open in Mobile County is being delayed about a year due to the economic turmoil. Just 18 months ago, employers were begging for people to work for them. They had job fairs, on site nursery for children just to get people to fill out an application. No more and this one job in Ohio for janitorial position is living proof how difficult the job situation is today. I don't believe you can say there are jobs Americans won't do any longer. I hope the Chamber of Commerce is paying attention since they have long advocated cheap, illegal labor for employers.

I don't know what the answer is going to be. It seems things have gotten worse since President Obama took office. I sure as hell hope this isn't what he meant by "change you can believe in." I know he has the built-in excuse of blaming everything on George Bush. But, how long is that supposed to last? This year? Or maybe throughout his entire term as President? I do believe creating jobs with taxpayer money isn't the answer. Maybe it is the short-term answer. But, we have yet to see any "stimulus" in the economy as yet. If anything, Wall St. continues to tank. That is something that needs to reverse. Soon. I keep worrying about the 1929 Stock Market Crash that preceded the Great Depression. It appears, if things don't change soon, we could be entering that arena.

3/06/2009

GM Sinking into Oblivion


Reports yesterday [article link] that General Motors (GM), for decades the leading automobile sales leader, might have to file bankruptcy even with the money from the Stimulus Bill. Continued operating losses and sluggish car sales means this titan of the corporate world may soon go the way of the dinosaur. In fact, sales of it's automobiles are so poor, they will not have the cash to pay a one-billion dollar bond due on June 1 of this year. An accounting company stated they have "substantial doubt" GM can continue business due to an inability to have sufficient cash flow to meet it's financial obligations. This would be a terrible blow to an economy already on the skids in the USA. GM was already looking at laying off substantial numbers of employees, both white and blue collar workers, in the coming months. Now, it appears layoffs for virtually everyone is on the horizon.

I hate to see anyone lose their job. I really mean that with all my heart. But, GM, Ford and the Chrysler Corp. have for years ignored the quality and quantity of Japanese imports making such a substantial impact on the automotive business in the USA. The quality of cars by the Big Three has never matched the overall customer satisfaction with Honda, Toyota and even the South Korean imports, Hyundai. They made passive attempts at matching foreign imports. But, it just seemed to me the Big Three never worried enough about trying to take over the Honda Civic for MPG and safety. It never really cared much about fighting to counter the Toyota Camry. I bought my last American made car in May of 1988. It was a 1988 Pontiac Grand Am. That car was beautiful and I constantly got compliments on that blue, metallic finish it had. I was proud of it. What I was not proud of was the fact it had to go to the Pontiac dealer about once or twice a month. Once the extended warranty ended, it was only three weeks later that the automatic transmission died on me. I got rid of it. I was convinced that the Big Three were only concerned with what was on the outside of their vehicles. But, like so many things in life, it is what is on the inside that counts.

3/05/2009

A Bit of Advice on Refinancing


Like a lot of people, I have decided to refinance my home mortgage in the hopes of getting a better interest rate and, conversely, a lower monthly payment. Something I learned Monday, open your mouth and don't be afraid to ask questions. A mortgage broker can be intimidating as they try to force a type of loan on you that you really don't want. When I bought my house, I went with a conventional loan. I was told there would be closing cost of about $8500. I said no way in hell I can pay that. So, I was forced to finance the entire loan. I remember I mentioned to the broker about a VA loan. But, she said there would be letters of eligibility I would need, it is a much slower process and you really want to be in your home now, right? Well, of course, I said I did. I had just gone through a divorce and needed a place to live. So, I bit the bullet and agreed to a conventional loan.

I went to another broker about refinancing Monday and got the same song and dance about how a conventional loan would work out better for me. This time, I asked the broker if there were closing costs to a VA loan. He didn't really give me a direct answer, saying something about possible lender fees, etc. I then asked if there would be a need for mortgage insurance as I am paying now. He said he did not know. I thanked him for his time and left.

I went to a VA mortgage center online and found out what I needed to know. Indeed, there were no closing costs to a VA loan, no need for mortgage insurance since the loan is federally guaranteed. I was also assured of getting the best interest rate with my credit rating (827). Just because the mortgage broker was less than forthcoming does not mean he or she was deliberately misleading me. But, I did not feel comfortable doing business with him. So, if you are a mortgage broker I am not saying you are all bad or misleading. My point here is that you need to do your homework before going in there to conduct business. Make sure you already know the answers to any questions you ask the broker. If they don't give the answers you expect, simply leave. I saved myself about $200.00 a month in my mortgage payment by simply following my own advice above.

3/04/2009

Crazy Beagle and Raccoon Willie

This is a short video of a beagle and what is obviously a pet raccoon. I don't advocate people keeping wild animals as pets. They are called "wild" for a specific reason. Some people find that out the hard way. Anyway, I thought it was humorous the way these two appear to be old friends. They have a couple of play fights and just seem to be enjoying each other in the hot summer afternoon. I can only imagine what my beagle, Ralph, would do if a raccoon came into our yard! Enjoy!


3/03/2009

Fish Eats Cell Phone....Cell Phone Survives


Ok, I admit I love strange, but weird stories like this [article link]. A businessman in the UK lost his cell phone at the beach. Like most people, he thought he had lost it forever. He probably was wondering how much he was going to get hammered for a new phone. A few days later, his girlfriend got a phone call from.....the cell phone! It seems a fisherman had found the cell in the belly of a 25lb cod. This was a week later after the businessman lost the cell phone! A week!

The businessman had to change out the circuit board of the cell (probably would have been cheaper to just buy a phone) and started using it again. It had the fish smell, which I'm not sure how you can get past that when you try to make a call. I think this proves, as the writer of this article illustrates, cell phones made today are a lot tougher than we give them credit. I dropped my fragile looking cell on the pavement at least three times in the two years I have owned it. Beside a few chips and nicks, it works just fine. I even had my beagle, Ralph, grab the cell phone in his sharp teeth, slobbbered all over it and it still works.

I know this story appears kind of "fishy." But, apparently it is true. As for the cod, I imagine he wound up as dinner somewhere. But, he, at least, had his 15 minutes of fame.

3/02/2009

"The Rest of the Story..."




One of the great titans of radio newscasts, Paul Harvey, passed away Saturday[article link] in Arizona. I was a bit stunned, but not surprised. I knew Paul Harvey was getting up there in the age bracket. Paul Harvey was 90 years old. I heard the news with sadness. He was one of those people you grow up listening to or hearing about all your life. And, then all of a sudden, he is gone. I used to listen to him "Page 2..." as he was about to go to commercial break. I loved the anecdotal stories of famous people he related to his listeners and then told them "and now you know...the rest of the story. This is Paul Harvey.....gooood day!" That was probably his most famous line and one of the most famous in radio broadcasting.

I listened to him for many years as I was going to work on the night shift. His prerecorded newscast would come on about 11PM as I was leaving for work. It was about a 30 minute drive. So, I was able to listen to his entire broadcast. He always managed to get in a strange, but funny story to make you chuckle. He was probably as a familiar voice as Walter Cronkite was at one time. I realize most of the 30 and below never heard of him or are not familiar with Paul Harvey. He was an American icon for over 50 years on the ABC radio network. Paul Harvey had a syndicated column in newspapers for many years. Many did not agree with his conservative viewpoints. But, very rarely, did you meet someone who did not respect him. He was a largely non-controversial commentator. But, the one time he met derision was when he turned on President Richard Nixon's Vietnam War agenda. After initially supporting the Vietnam War, he changed and felt America should get out. He caught hell for that. But, he stood firm on this change of heart. He never gave a reason why he changed positions on the Vietnam War. I guess he really never had to.

I'll miss that familiar voice, the one I admit I had not thought much about over the past few months. I thought he had retired. But, a man like Paul Harvey just doesn't retire easily. He couldn't retire. Paul Harvey loved his job. How many people can say that? And, now, you know the rest of the story.

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