Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Senator Joe Lieberman

Senator Joe Lieberman a Democrat from Connecticut, recently returned from his 4th visit to Iraq in the last year and a half. The Wall Street Journal carried Senator Lieberman's opinions about the state of things in Iraq.

I have just returned from my fourth trip to Iraq in the past 17 months and can report real progress there. More work needs to be done, of course, but the Iraqi people are in reach of a watershed transformation from the primitive, killing tyranny of Saddam to modern, self-governing, self-securing nationhood--unless the great American military that has given them and us this unexpected opportunity is prematurely withdrawn.

Progress is visible and practical. In the Kurdish North, there is continuing security and growing prosperity. The primarily Shiite South remains largely free of terrorism, receives much more electric power and other public services than it did under Saddam, and is experiencing greater economic activity. The Sunni triangle, geographically defined by Baghdad to the east, Tikrit to the north and Ramadi to the west, is where most of the terrorist enemy attacks occur. And yet here, too, there is progress.

There are many more cars on the streets, satellite television dishes on the roofs, and literally millions more cell phones in Iraqi hands than before. All of that says the Iraqi economy is growing. And Sunni candidates are actively campaigning for seats in the National Assembly. People are working their way toward a functioning society and economy in the midst of a very brutal, inhumane, sustained terrorist war against the civilian population and the Iraqi and American military there to protect it.

It is a war between 27 million and 10,000; 27 million Iraqis who want to live lives of freedom, opportunity and prosperity and roughly 10,000 terrorists who are either Saddam revanchists, Iraqi Islamic extremists or al Qaeda foreign fighters who know their wretched causes will be set back if Iraq becomes free and modern. The terrorists are intent on stopping this by instigating a civil war to produce the chaos that will allow Iraq to replace Afghanistan as the base for their fanatical war-making. We are fighting on the side of the 27 million because the outcome of this war is critically important to the security and freedom of America. If the terrorists win, they will be emboldened to strike us directly again and to further undermine the growing stability and progress in the Middle East, which has long been a major American national and economic security priority.

Does this sound like the kind of fight that we should be running away from? Does this sound like we are losing the war? Does this sound like all the doom, gloom, and defeatism we hear spewing daily out of the mouths of Senator Lieberman's Democratic colleagues?

It's time for the Democratic members of Congress to stop harping and whinning about the past and why we are fighting in Iraq and time for them to start concentrating on the future. It's time for them to join Senator Lieberman in recognizing that the outcome of this war is important, not just for Iraq, but for America.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Winter in Ridgecrest

It looks, or more accurately, feels like winter has arrived in Ridgecrest. The folks in the mountain states, midwest and east coast who are getting snowed on right now might laugh at this. But for us poor desert rats it's getting cold here. Right now, it is 37 degrees outside. It may get a few degrees colder as the night goes on. For people who are used to months on end of 100 degree temperatures, 37 is cold.

On the bright side however is that it doesn't stay this cold during the day. We can still expect daytime highs in the 60s.

As we get closer to the actual winter season it will get colder here. We will have to suffer through nighttime lows in the 20s and occasional daytime temperatures that only creep into the 40s.

Very seldom do we get snow. If we do it only lasts for a few hours. Last winter we had a snow that actually resulted in schools and businesses being shut down for a day. The snow stayed around long enough to build snowmen, forts and to have some snowball fights with the kids. But those days are rare. Last winter's snow was the first one we had in almost 5 years.

So while the rest of the country is scrapping ice of their windshields, shoveling snow off their sidewalks and slipping and sliding around on icy sidewalks try not to hate us too much. After all we have to wear jackets to work in the morning these days. We can go out to lunch in our shirt sleeves, but if we get out of work after dark we'll need that jacket again.

Friday, November 25, 2005

CD Day

Today was CD Day - Christmas Decorating Day. This is the day that my dear wife explodes Christmas decorations all over our house. She never manages to get all the decorations up in a single day. Especially since putting up the tree and the outdoor decorations is my job. But she always gets a really good start.

Since the twins have gotten a bit older, all three kids have gotten into helping. This morning as I was levaing the house, as the door closed I heard both twins ask thier Mom, "Dad's gone, can we start now?"

Now I really don't know what goes on in my home on CD day. I haven't been here for it for almost 18 years. Eighteen years ago, before I was ever married several friends and I got together on the day after Thanksgiving to play a game of Advanced Civilization. That day and game has became a habit for us. Now it is a tradition.

Originally we called it out Friday after Thanksgiving Civ Game. We shortened it, for communications ease to FATCG. Then after a couple years of winning the game, Rodney started getting a reputation of being the guy to beat. By this time we had made this game an annual event. So the name was changed to AFAT(RMD)ACG - Annual Friday After Thanksgiving (Rodney Must Die) Advanced Civ Game.

Rodney doesn't win as often as he used to. We don't really gang up on him like the name implies. But we do trash talk about beating up on him, but it is all in fun. Except for the one year that we had a new player join our group and he took the name seriously and spend the whole game attacking Rodney. We finally got him straightened out and he has become a regular for our game.

Just for the record, I won the game this year. I was playing Babylon and really had a lot of breaks go my way. It was almost too easy. I got to pick my civilization first. I didn't have any neighbors really pressing me for land until late in the game. I skated through most of the calamaties. I made several good trades. All in all it was the kind of game that I rarely get to play - one where everything pretty much goes my way.

Thanksgiving Day

OK, so I'm about 24 hours late with a Thanksgiving post. But yesterday was busy. The day started out slow. We ate some breakfast, watched the Macy's parade, and started making sure that we were ready to cook dinner.

About 1 PM I marinaded the ham, and put it in the electric roaster out on the patio. Then around 2 PM I fired up the heat under the peanut oil. Then I headed inside to get the old gobbler ready. I trimmed a little fat, dry rubbed the bird and injected the marinade. About the time that was finished the oil was hot and it was time for the turkey to take a hot bath.

We had only two guests for dinner. Rodney a friend from San Diego, who used to live here in Ridgecrest, and Dave, another local friend who is my main oyster dressing supplier. Dave makes a great oyster dressing and he always brings enough to share. Unfortunately he also likes turkey hearts. So we decided several years ago to take turns. This year was his turn so he got the turkey heart and I had to settle for the livers.

We sat down for dinner around 3:45. It was a huge feast and we all ate way too much. Just like you are supposed to. After dinner we were settling down to watch a movie and let our dinner settle before dessert. Shortly after the movie started my Niece Cassie, her husband Josh and new daughter stopped by to visit. Traditionally her family spends Thanksgiving dinner with us. But since her family has over doubled in size this year they wanted to spend a nice quiet Thanksgiving at home this year, with just the 15 of them. We told them they were all welcome. We couldn't get everyone around the table but since the temperature at dinner time was about 70 degrees we could have let the kids all eat out on the patio. But they opted to stay home and then just come visit for dessert.

We got to fuss over Cassie's new daughter for a few minutes. She is adorable just like Cassie was at that age, and still is today. Then 7 more of the family showed up. They brought a couple of cheesecakes to add to the four different pies we had here.

We were in the middle of dessert when Pete, Regine and their son Drew showed up from Corona. So they warmed up some leftovers and ate while we had dessert. Then they got their dessert also.

It wasn't a normal Thanksgiving for us, but eventually we had a house full of family and friends and everyone got to sit around, chat, laugh, and just enjoy the evening together. That made it a perfect day!

After everyone else had left the house, I got the turkey fryer cleaned up, and the rest of the dishes into the washer. Then my oldest daughter and I moved all of the Christmas decorations from the attic into the garage. That way my dear wife and kids could spend all day friday exploding Christmas all over our house. I am very thankful for my daughter's help. Her ability to handle boxes that I passed down to her saved me about 30 trips up and down the ladder. Which was a wonderful gift for my poor old broken down knees.

For my Thanksgiving Day I am thankful for:

My dear, sweet, loving, beautiful wife,
my three adorable children,
all our good riends who spent the day with us,
getting to spend some time with Cassie, Kym, Josh, and the new baby,
getting to know some of Dave's new family better,
my new job (even if I don't know what I'm doing there yet),
all our other friends and family that were not able to spend the day with us.

I'm especially thankful for my Nephew Chris who is deployed with the United States Navy in Japan where he serves as a P3 flight engineer, and my Nephew Adam who is deployed with the Marines in Iraq. I am thankful for these two men and all the other Men and Women of the United States Military who are defending my family's freedom.

I'm thankful for President Bush I hope he and his administration continue to stay the line on all fronts of the Global War on Terror, and don't give in to the irrational and illadvised attacks being constantly launched by his political opponents.

Lastly I am thankful for my life as a whole. I have great family, good friends, a decent job and the freedom to enjoy them all.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

T-day minus one

Checklist for tomorrow:

20 lb Turkey
secret marinade
Peanut oil
Propane and burner
big ole pot
other secret marinade
wood chips

and cook lubricant - beer.

Add in several side dishes and desserts that my dear wife will be preparing and some friends and family to share it all with and we're ready for thanksgiving.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Jovon Bouknight

On October 24th I suggested that University of Wyoming Wide Receiver Jovon Bouknight would be a good candidate for the Heisman Trophy this year.

I know that this is extremely unlikely. The Heisman is supposed to be awarded to the best player in college football. But lately it had been awarded to the best player on the best team in college football. Unfortunately this leaves truely outstanding players, like Jovon, who play on mediocre teams out of the running.

However Jovon Bouknight has been named to be one of the 15 semifinalists for the 2005 Biletnikoff Award. I think this would be a wonderful way for Bouknight to end his college career.

Since Wyoming has played it's last game of the season Bouknight's college career has ended. As of this weekend he is 3rd in the NCAA in reception yardage, 8th in the NCAA is number of receptions, 6th in receiving touchdowns. Jovon did all this playing on a team the finished the year 4-7 and with a quarterback who threw more interceptions than touchdowns.

Jovon Bouknight was been a cornerstone of the Wyoming Offense for four years. He has caught at least two passes in every game he played the last 4 years, all 47 of them. He performs equally well as the long ball threat to go deep or the posession receiver who goes across the middle on 4th down.

I applaud the Biletnikoff Awarde Committee for their selection of Jovon Bouknight as a semifinalist. Now I encourge them to vote for him one last time. Even if they don't, there are several NFL scouts that should be paying attention to this kid.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Thanks for Nothing Hertz Rent a Car

I got a call from my Dad last night. They were stranded in Ann Arbor Michigan and were trying to rent a car. Actually they were only in Ann Arbor for the evening then they were going to get a plane ride to Cedar Rapids IA today. They had gotten to Ann Arbor on an Angel Flight so Mom could see her doctor there. Unfortunately they had to stay longer than expected and their return Angel Flight was canceled. The folks at Angel Flight assured them that they would get them home but it might take several days. They had transportation arranged to Cedar Rapids but would be unable to get them back to Cheyenne before Thanksgiving. So Dad decided that they could drive from Cedar Rapids if he could get a rental car.

Since Mom and Dad's funds are limited Dad had been shopping around for a good rate for a car. The cheapest one way rental he could get was at Hertz. I have used Hertz a lot for business travel and never had any trouble with them. But Dad did. They would not rent him a car with his debit card. Due to issues that I'm not going to go into here, Mom and Dad don't have any credit cards.

Dad called me last night and asked if I could get him the car. He gave me his reservation number and I gave Hertz a call. Once I got connected to a human being I explained the situation and said I wanted to put the charges for Dad's rental on my Credit Card.

Hertz just flat refused to do that. I was told that they would not rent a car to anyone, under any ircumstances, that did not have a credit card in their name and in their position at the time they picked up the car. I asked how I was able to get off a plane in Washington DC then, ride their bus to the Hertz parking lot, tell the driver my name and gold club member number, and get dropped off at a car that I could just get in a drive out of the lot. They let me rent that car without ever seeing my credit card.

I tried to explain the special circumstances involved in this case but the cold hearted bitch that I was talking to didn't care. I then told her I wanted to rent a car for myself out of Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, I was a gold club member and I wanted to list my father as an alternate driver. She refused to rent me the car. So I guess this gold club membership of mine is useless since they won't rent me a car when I need it.

When I asked what my options were to get my parents out of Cedar Rapids next tuesday she told me to buy them a bus or plane ticket. I explained that the chemo my mother's illness is requiring her to undergo will not allow her to ride on commercial air or ground transportation. Then this woman told me "I don't care what happens to your parents because they will not be renting a car from Hertz." Then she hung up on me.

I called dad back and told him that Hertz wouldn't rent him a car without a credit card. He is going to see what his other options out of Cedar City are and get back to me tomorrow. I told Dad he could try taking Mom down to the local office and make sure she throws up a couple times while there. Then tell them that since they are stranded there they would love to rent a car and leave, but they only have a debit card and are not sure what to do. He said he hopes it won't come to that.

So, thanks for nothing Hertz. Here is also a friendly warning for the rest of you. Don't ever let yourself get into a situation where your transportation needs depend on Hertz. They cannot be depended upon. Especially if you don't happen to have a credit card on you at the moment. I guess they don't believe that old slogan on the cash in Dad's pocket - "Legal tender for all debts public and private." Funny, I don't remember ever seeing that written on any credit card I've ever owned.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Did Senator Jay Rockefeller Admit to Treason?

Last Sunday on Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace was interviewing Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller. Senator Rockefeller is the Vice Chairman of the Senate Intellegence Committee.

Most of the interview was based around the old lie that George Bush manipulated intellegence to drag the United States into an illegial war with Iraq.

I could rant and rave about a lot of what Senator Rockefeller had to say. But one thing really jumped out at me.

Chris Wallace had just played a video clip from October 2002 where Senator Rockefeller says that "Iraq poses an imminent threat."

Then Chris Wallace tried to get the Senator to admit that he was hyping intellegence even more than he has blamed the President for doing.

Senator Rockefeller's replied this way:

No. I mean, this question is asked a thousand times and I'll be happy to answer it a thousand times. I took a trip by myself in January of 2002 to Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria, and I told each of the heads of state that it was my view that George Bush had already made up his mind to go to war against Iraq, that that was a predetermined set course which had taken shape shortly after 9/11.

What I heard in this answer was that a United States Senator went on a trip to a known foreign enemy - Syria, and told Syria's head of state that the United States was getting ready to attack one of their allies - Iraq, before that attack ever took place.

Now I may be a bit naive but that smacks of treason.

Did Bush Lie?--Just Google It

Bryan Preston from Junk Yard Blog has a posting on Michelle Malkin's Blog. Bryan, among others is getting tired of the left trying to sell us on the lie that Bush lied. This is especially objectionable since there is so much proof out there that the politicians who are now claiming that they were misled knew exactly what they were voting for when they voted for the war in Iraq.

The latest buzz phrase in the blogoshpere is "Just Google It!" So here is a link to click on to see for yourself if President Bush lied about pre-war intellegence on Iraq. Bryan wants us to spread this around and trackback to see how far it spreads. So I'm just doing my part.


The link to the search is:


Bryan encourages us to swipe his graphic and use it with one small restriction:
Don't hotlink it, but feel free to swipe it and post it on your own bandwidth.
Sounds like a good idea to me.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

First Communion

For the last couple years the twins have just received a blessing during communion at church. This has always upset them because they could see that everyone else was getting something to eat and drink and all they were getting from Pastor was a pat on the head and some words. Needless to say they have felt left out.

Last year it got kind of bad because all their Catholic classmates went through first communion. The Catholic Church makes a pretty big deal of all this with special lessons, practices, nice fancy suits and dresses and a party afterwards. My kids and the other non-catholics in the room went through the lessons with them, but they did not join in the actual ceremony nor the party. Being excluded from all this stuff really upset my daughter. When asking why she wasn't going to do communion with her classmates my daughter was stunned to find out that she wasn't Catholic. My son didn't really care. He just wasn't interested.

Last year our Pastor asked if we wanted to get the twins started with communion. We decided to wait another year. Our oldest daughter was more than ready when she was in second grade. But the twins just didn't seem interested. They wanted some of what everyone else was eating or drinking. But to them it was only a snack that they weren't getting their fair share of.

This year we decided that they were probably ready. So last week they had a meeting with Pastor and he explained the Lutheran philosophy of Communion. After about an hour of talking with the twins he decided that they were ready. So this morning was their first Communion.

I think they were a little disappointed. Their Catholic classmates all got nice clothes and a party. My twins got new clothes, thier pictures taken and a Bible from Pastor. But that was it. They just got in line with the rest of us and joined the congregation in Communion.

I think they thought the whole thing was rather anticlimactic. However for their mother it was a bit traumatic. She isn't ready for her babies to grow up yet. This morning was just a reminder that they are, whether we like it or not.

Chuck Maples - One of the Good Guys

My dear wife and I picked up the Sunday edition of the Daily Independent this morning to discover that our friend and co-worker Chuck Maples had lost his battle with cancer on Friday.

This was a real shock. Especially for my dear wife. She and Chuck had worked together for many many years. Chuck had always helped her with anything she needed help with. Chuck was also one of her biggest supporters at work. I truely appreciated knowing that he would be there to "get her back" if she ever had any troubles at the office.

Chuck had a wonderful sense of humor. You really had to be on your toes around him. He could deliver the most hilarious one liners with no reaction other than a twinkle in his eyes.

Chuck was also one of the old school China Lake employees. He loved the work we do at China Lake. He also believed that we were a family, and that family helped each other. I always knew that if I needed a hand with anything I could call on Chuck. Whether is was a quick fabrication job out of his shop, borrowing a technician for a few hours, or the loan of some equipment. Chuck didn't care that the management stucture said that we worked on different programs. He supported my programs just as vigorously as he did the ones his own Branch was working on. Chuck understood that all the work we do is important. Chuck spent his career making sure that the United States Navy was one of the best armed and defended fighting forces on the planet.

Ridgecrest and China Lake lost a great treasure on Friday. The Navy lost a dedicated employee who truly believed that China Lake was the best weapons development lab in the world. His employees lost a boss who looked out for their careers and their lives. His family lost a wonderful husband, father and grandfather. My dear wife and I lost a good friend.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Broken System or Just Stupid Voters

Most everyone seems to think that we need to do something to fix the public school system in California. The Teachers Unions seem to think that the solution to the problems are more money. The Victor Valley School District thinks paying their superintendant an insane amount of money is the solution. Now the voters in the Romoland School District has found a novel solution to the problem. They elected a new School Board Member who is currently in jail for violating his parole on 1998 convictions for spousal abuse and drug possession.

Yeah, that's the ticket, lets elect people to control our school districts who beat their spouses and abuse drugs, then violate their parole and get tossed back into jail again. Yeah, that's just the kind of guy they need working for the good of their school children.

I don't know if this is just one more sign that the public school system in California is completely screwed up, or is it evidence that the voting masses in California really don't have a clue what they are doing when they enter a voting booth?

OK, I have to admit that attempting to condemn the entire state school system or all the voters in the state of California based on the small sample that voted in for this election in Riverside County is misleading. But you have to wonder, how bad were the two candidates who lost to this guy?

Thursday, November 10, 2005

United States Marines

Happy 230th Birthday to the United States Marines.

230 years of projecting the might of the United States abroad, protecting our interests overseas, defending our freedom wherever and whenever it is threatened. 230 years of defending every American citizen - rich, poor, conservative, liberal, promilitary, peaceniks, mainstream and radicals. They truely are the best of what makes this country great.

Tuesday the family and I were watching NCIS on television. At the end of the show they wished the Marine Corps a happy birthday and showed the words Semper Fi and the Marine Corp Logo on the screen. My oldest daughter turned to my dear wife and I and asked what does that mean?

I immediately answered "always faithful." Actually I think I may have said eternally faithful. But she got the idea. My daughter said "Oh, Cool." and turned back to the TV. My dear wife looked at me with a shocked look on her face and asked "Are you sure?"

When I assured her that I was positive that Semper Fi was short for Semper Fidelis and that it stood for 'Always Faithful'. She blushed and giggled and whispered to me "I always thought it meant 'F**k Off!" She then added "I always thought that was a pretty gutsy motto for a branch of the U.S. Military."

We both agreed that we like 'Always Faithful', but based on attitudes of several Marines we have known through the years her original assumption might have been a pretty good one also.

So Happy Birthday to the United States Marines.

Semper Fi!

Sony Spyware pt. 2

On Tuesday I wrote about Sony's new copy protection scheme that is nothing more than spyware.

Now, Sony's spyware, which has the ability to hide itself, is being used by several different trojan horse viruses to infiltrate the user's computer.

This move by Sony had not only intruded on their customers privacy but now is making them vulnerable to attack from other outside sources.

At least one lawsuit has been filed against Sony for this practice. I expect that there will be others.

I won't be one of them. As I said on tuesday I will never again purchase a product made by Sony.

San Franciscians Violate US Constitution

On tuesday voters in the city of San Francisco voted for a new gun ban that prohibits the manufacture and sale of all firearms and ammunition in the city. The new ban also makes it illegal for residents to keep handguns in their homes or businesses.

In addition the voters in San Francisco also voted in an Antimilitary measure that attempts to keep military recruiters off college campuses. The bill wouldn't ban military recruiters since that might put schools at risk of losing federal funding.

The measure encourages city officials and university administrators to exclude recruiters and create scholarships and training programs that would reduce the military's appeal to young adults.

So what these two measures boil down to is that 58% of the voters in San Francisco decided that since they were willing to give up their constitutional right to bear arms that everyone else in their city has to give up their constitutional rights also.

They have also sent a message to the criminals in the city that if you chose to commit a violent crime in their fair city the only people who will be able to stop you are the police, and other criminals. After all they will be the only ones in the city allowed to protect themselves.

Lastly they have decided to spend a lot of tax payer money developing scholarships and training programs designed to convince students not to get interested in joining the military.

I guess the voters in San Francisco don't trust high school and college students to be mature enough to make up their own minds about their career choices. Which is ironic because they also voted to defeat a state measure that would have required underage girls to have their parents notified if they were going to have an abortion. So children in San Francisco can decide on their own to have abortions, but they can't be trusted to make their own decisions concerning their careers.

Normally I wouldn't worry too much about a city in California passing some reactionary laws like these. Afterall most ballot initiatives that are passed by the voters in California get overturned by some reactionary judge in San Francisco. But since these measures were passed in San Franciso I'm not sure where they are going to find a judge willing to overturn these measures.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Sony Spyware

The Boston Globe is reporting that Sony has started including software on their music CDs that is automatically installed on computers when you play that music CD in your computer. This software which is not obvious, nor easily removable, hides itself in the Windows Operating System and limits the users ability to copy the music onto their computers. It also locks copied files so they cannot be shared over the Internet.

According to Computer Associates International Inc. the software also collects information from the computer that plays the discs. It then secretly communicates with Sony over the Internet if the computer has an Internet connection. The software transmits the name of the CD and the IP address of the listener's computer to an office of Sony's music division in Cary, North Carolina.

Computer Associates considers this Sony Software to be spyware that collects personal information without the computer owners permission.

I consider this move by Sony to be dispicable and dishonest. Sony says that they have a website that will allow users to uninstall this software. "So what?" The software shouldn't get installed on a users system in the first place. So providing a means to remove unautorized software is not enough. I don't share music or software online. But I do like to play CDs on my computer. I buy CDs for the music not for the software that may come on the disc. I consider this latest move by Sony to be an invasion of privacy and an act of sabotage. But more importantly it signals a concious decision by Sony to adopt a corporate attitude that they can't be trusted anymore.

My solution to this situation is simple. It will be a cold day in hell before I ever again buy another music CD, or anything else for that matter with the Sony name on it. I have used Sony electronics since I bought my first VCR in 1983. I have owned a Sony Rear Profection TV and several other audio or video devices. But the items I own now will be the last I ever buy. Sony has proven that they are willing to invade my privacy and sabotage my computer. I am certainly not going to pay them to do so.

A final note to Samsung and Sony's other Blu-ray DVD partners. Sony just made a marketing move that is going to drive away their customers in droves. You had better get ready to buy a DVD-HD system.


Today is the day to take a few minutes to stop by your polling place and vote.

I don't want to sound melodramatic but this election could very well shape the future of the State of California.

This is our first chance to try and take control of this state that many of you love, and the rest of us are resigned to live in for sevral reasons. We have the opportunity to take steps to get state spending under control. We can make a small start to try and fix our State's failed public school system. We also have a great chance to take control of our state legislature out of the hands of the radical left wing who have had a stranglehold on state politics for too many years. For too long almost half this state has languished without a real voice in state politics and being oppressed by an overly legislative Democratic Congress.

So don't blow off voting today. The future of California, even your own personal future may depend on how the vote goes today.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Horror Movie Night

Last night was Horror Movie Night at my oldest child's Middle School. They watched Jaws and The Birds. This was a first time event and seemed like it went over pretty well. Good turnout. It was a little tough to plan. The ages of the kids ranged from 11 to 13 so we had to be rather picky about which movies we watched.

All the really good scary movies have always been rated R or occasionally PG-13. We were trying to keep the selections to PG. Which made the selection limited. Several kids with coaching from their parents submitted lists of movie suggestions and then the class voted on which two to watch. Both movies picked were on my suggestion list.

I was recruited on Friday night to help out as one of the adult chaparones. The middle school teacher who was managing things needed one more adult and knew that as the volleyball coach I had the two requirements she needed for this event. I had all my paperwork and fingerprints on file in the office, and I have proven the I can spend several hours with a room full of these middleschool kids without killing any of them.

The night went well. Most of the kids thought Jaws was pretty funny. Which just goes to show how movies have change the last couple decades. When I saw Jaws in the theaters it was pretty intense and scary. Kids these days see it has hokey and silly. To them the shark is very fake looking.

After a pizza and soda break we started The Birds. The kids were bored with the first hour of the movie. But by the time it ended most of them were rather freaked out. The two who went home with me walked out to the car, looking into the sky and over their shoulders to see if there were any birds lurking around.

I can't wait to see what their reaction is the first time they drive by a mess of crows sitting on fence here in town. We have a lot of crows around here and the scenes with the crows in them were the ones that seemed to disturb the kids the most. I guess they could relate to the crows. Being the desert, we don't see alot of seagulls around here so flocks of them attacking people didn't register too much on them.

Everyone seemed to have fun. When we left the teacher and a couple kids were already talking about doing a Christmas version of Movie Night during the holidays.

Friday, November 04, 2005

The 13 Year Olds Are Taking Over

Tonight is my oldest daughter's birthday party. Her birthday was actually over a week ago but with the out of town volleyball tournament last weekend she had to put the party off until tonight.

So about 5 PM this evening the number of teenagers in our house suddenly increased by 700 percent.

This evening has been loud, full of giggles, and a blast to watch. I usually see these girls only at school or volleyball. So it was really fun to see them just having fun together. So far they have played Ghost in the Graveyard, which is a version of hide and seek that involves one person hiding and everyone else looking for them. Once the ghost is spotted everyone has to run for base. If the ghost tags someone then they are it. The offical method of communication for this game is screaming. The game has one flaw - everyone wants to be it.

After dinner they played some statue games, charades, dressed up with the wrapping paper from the presents and worked on their giggling.

Right now they are settled down and watching movies. Which is good, this way the neighbors might be able to get some sleep this evening.

Well it's time for me to disappear for a while and let them have some time without a parent hanging around. So far the house is still standing and structurally sound. Lets all hope it is still that way in the morning.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

New Job

I have tried to get into the habit of not writing about my job. Mostly I don't write about my job because I don't want to think about it after hours when I do my blogging. Secondly I don't write about it because some things about my work aren't meant to be discussed outside of work. It is easier to avoid crossing one of those lines if i just never get into the habit of writing about work.

But there have been some big changes going on for me at work lately. A week and a half ago my boss walked in and told me that the program I have worked for, in several different capacities, for almost 19 years was running out of money, they had to make some cuts and I was one of the cuts being made. I was ordered to stop working on their projects immediately and start looking for a different program to support.

This a real body blow. I had just finished a programming project and was starting the verification effort pending a delivery in November. I figured that they would at least want me to finish that job first. I guess I was wrong.

So I started an immediate job search. Looking for work is actually pretty tough to do. Management is of little or no help at all. My branch head gave me an outdated list of job openings to look into. My Division Head and Department Heads are non-existant in the help department. Unless of course they find out that my salary is coming out of their overhead budget. Then they get involved quickly. They won't help me find a project to work for. They'll just nag me daily for a progress report on my job search.

The base does have an e-mail list that goes out daily about job openings. But the selection is limited and most of the points of contact on the list never return calls or e-mails. So getting booted off a project means that I am pretty much on my own to find a new job.

This can be difficult if, like me, you have spent the last 19 years working with the same people. I don't get out much nor make many contacts.

So I sent an e-mail out most of my friends and aquaintances asking if they knew of any work.

My best friend was looking out for me again. Twenty years ago when I wanted to get out of my job in Texas he turned my resume into a branch head here who eventually interviewed and hired me. Last week he gave my resume to his boss who eventually interviewed me and hired me. They were looking for programmers who knew FORTRAN and C, which I do. So naturally they are talking about putting me to work programming in C++. But that's managers for you.

I started my new job on Monday. I spent most of the day packing up the stuff in my old cubical. It was tough sorting through 19 years of files, piles and stacks of stuff. I managed to get my personal files and stuff finally sorted out of the work stuff and into boxes.

Then today they had a large multi-agency program review. I was told to sit in on it in order to try and gain a familiarity with the program and the players. It was a lot like watching the spanish channel on TV with the subtitles turned off. Lots of nice pictures and people talking about things that make no sense to me.

This is the first non-missile program that I have ever worked on. They don't build anything that doesn't go boom. So I'm a little out of my element. Hopefully I can get some instructions, introductions, and a better start on my new responsibilities after this review.

In the mean time tomorrow is another day of meetings. One of the other programmers promised to bring me an acronymn list so maybe I make a little more sense of what is going on.