Friday, March 31, 2006

Commercial Dad

Tonight I turned into a TV commercial.

Do any of you remember an old commercial, I think it may have been McDonalds, but I'm not sure. The commercial starts with a Dad and 3 or four young girls get out of a car in the McDonalds parking lot. One little girls looks at her Dad and whispers "You're not coming in are you?" The Dad laughs it off, says no, and gets back into the car. The scene cuts away to the girls sitting in a booth, laughing, talking, and eating french fries. Dad is sitting in the car eating his french fries and listening to the radio.

Tonight was fish fry dinner at Saint Ann's. As usual my oldest daughter wanted to stick around after we finihsed eating to help serve food and visit with her friends. So we left her with my dear wife's cellphone and headed home.

A couple hours later she called to tell me she was ready to come home. She also asked if we could give one of her friends a ride home. When I got to the church my daughter was waiting outside with two of her friends and they wanted to go to Baskin Robbins. Once I was assured that both girls parents were ok with them going for ice cream we headed to Baskin Robbins. I pulled into the parking lot, got out of the van and opened the back door to let the girls out. None of the girls said anything to me, but I sure wasn't feeling welcome in that group all of a sudden. So I handed my daughter some money in case she or her friends didn't have some with them and got back into the van.

So my daughter and two friends went in and had ice cream while they laughed and talked. I sat in the van and listened to the radio. I didn't get any french fries.

More Star Wars Prequels

I was listening to a Sci-fi Wire podcast today and they were talking about a new Star Wars TV show.

Rick McCallum says the Star Wars TV show is a go - "That's not going to happen probably for another year and a half while we develop scripts and everything else. But it's fantastic; we've got some incredible writers. It's going to be much darker, much more character-based, and I think it's going to be everything the fans always wanted the prequels to be. They'll be one-hour episode. It takes place between Episodes III and IV. It's going to be all-new characters, maybe a few bounty hunters in there to start the series off".

I was really looking forward to more stories from the Star Wars Universe. But do we really need another prequel. Is filling in the gaps between episode 3 and 4 really the best they can come up with? Do we really need to see the last death throes of the Republic and the growth of the Empire?

Now what would I like to see from the Star Wars Universe. My first choice would be the Jedi Academy. I would love to see Mark Hamil playing the older Jedi Master heading up the Jedi Academy on Yavin. With a wide variety of ages in the academy they could have adventures that would appeal to most age groups. Follow the Babylon 5 formula, a five year story arc with lots of weekly adventures.

Mark Hamil wouldn't even have to be in many episodes. Just occasional appearances, remember he is the head guy. How many college presidents still teach classes?

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Immigration Protests

I thought that protests were supposed to be about change.

So how come all the protests around the world this week are protests against change. In France kids are protesting trying to maintain the status quo. France has an unemployment rate over 10% and they want to keep it that way.

In America there are hundreds of thousands of people marching and protesting in the streets trying to maintain the current status of America’s immigration laws. The House and Senate this week are debating changes to our immigration policy. Just the thought that the current laws may be enforced or maybe changed has outraged the illegal immigrant population and their supporters in this country.

I have been trying to sort out the words to describe my feelings on this subject for several days now. Then this morning I saw this picture on Michelle Malkin’s Blog.

Mexican Flag Flying Over American Flag

Suddenly I wasn’t that interested in writing a well thought out, organized treatise on immigration. I was pissed off. I was sickened. This picture got my attention, which is what I’m sure the perpetrators of this act wanted. They wanted to get our attention and to make a point.

Well they succeeded. But not in the way I’m sure they intended. Until this morning I have been a staunch advocate of securing our borders. I have always wanted to see the tide of illegal immigration stopped. But when it came to dealing with the illegals that were already here I was conflicted. I was not opposed to some sort of amnesty program if they would take the proper steps to become American citizens.

I have been uncomfortable for years when I would go to Los Angeles or Orange County and see huge neighborhoods that seemed like they were trying to recreate Mexico here in America. There are areas where you can drive for blocks and if you can’t read Spanish you will only be able to read the street signs. I have walked into shops where I could not communicate with the person behind the counter because no one in the store could speak English. I actually had one clerk who spoke just enough English to me to tell me that if I couldn’t speak his language I should shop somewhere else. Which wasn’t really a problem, after all you can buy a Pepsi and a snickers bar almost anywhere. I wondered as I walked out of that shop if one of the signs on the door that I couldn’t read said “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Spanish, No Service.”

I have been skeptical of how stubbornly the Mexican immigrants (legal or illegal) here hold onto their national heritage. But I was always willing to give them the doubt as long as they put the interests of the United States first. Well that has changed.

I'm 5th generation American. My 1st generation American ancestors were Norwegian immigrants who did not sneak into the United States. They left their native country to legally make America their home. They settled the untamed Dakota Territories, they filed land grants and became farmers, they worked in shops in town and they stayed home and raised the next generation. While they struggled themselves, they made sure that their children learned to speak English. My maternal Grandmother (the third generation) was very proud of being full-blooded Norwegian yet she could not speak more than about 10 words of Norwegian. She could read even less. Her brother would say a table blessing in Norwegian but we are pretty sure most of it was just Norwegian sounding gibberish that he made up. Five generations later we are still proud of our Norwegian heritage. My home includes family heirlooms that reflect our Norwegian heritage. We still have our names (Kari, Karen, Ole, Karl, etc), our holiday customs and the jokes and stories told by our previous generations. My immigrant ancestors did not come here and expect America to be just like Norway. They were looking for something better. They were willing to take great risks to find it. They were willing to work hard to make sure that their life here would be better than the one they left in Norway. They did not come here to be Norwegian-Americans. They came here to be Citizens of the United States, you know – Americans!

So today we have an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants living in America. They tell us that they come here to make opportunities for themselves. They come to work. They come to have an opportunity to better their lives. Well that’s just great. Welcome to America. Now, fill out your paperwork, learn at least enough English to be able to speak the Oath of Naturalization. Get a job, pay your taxes, vote, teach your kids why you left Mexico, start acting like an American and insist that your children do so also.

"I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the armed forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God."

If you have a grievance, write a letter, write an e-mail, write a blog, call someone, tell someone, run for office, put up signs, get on television or march in a protest. But do these things as Americans. You will not convince your fellow Americans to come over to your way of thinking by disrespecting our Country and our Flag. Waving a Mexican flag will not make your point. Unless your point is that you don’t belong here. This is America. Your Mexican flag belongs on the wall in your home or handed down to your grandchildren as a reminder of where you came from. It should not be flying on a pole in public view. This is America, not Mexico. If you want to run that Mexican flag up a flagpole then head south until you pass a United States border patrol agent who thanks you for visiting America. Once you pass him, you can proudly run that flag up any and every pole you can find.

Michelle Malkin also had on her blog a picture of young girl being shouted at for carrying an American Flag at one of the immigration protests. She also included a quote from the young lady.

“My heart is with the Mexican flag and Mexico but I’m standing on American ground and I’m Mexican-American” - Michelle Marquez

Michelle Marquez – Congratulation for having the guts to carry that American Flag to that protest and the brains to know that carrying a Mexican flag would not have furthered your cause. But I have three questions for you. Why do you call yourself Mexican-American? Do you have dual citizenship? Finally if your heart is truly with the Mexican Flag and Mexico then what the hell are you doing in the United States? If Mexico is where your heart is then go live in Mexico.

I can’t find a better way to end this tirade than with a quote by Teddy Roosevelt from 1907:

In the first place we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the man's becoming in very fact an American and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag, and this excludes the red flag, which symbolizes all wars against liberty and civilization, just as much as it excludes any foreign flag of a nation to which we are hostile...We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language...and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.

Thanks to Rob Port for the quote.

So if you want to immigrate to America come ready to become an American. If you plan on being a hyphenated American we don’t want you. If you are already here and insist on being a hyphenated American then we can’t afford to trust you or let you stay – start packing. You’re either an American or you are something else and if you chose the something else then it is time for you to go home.

More Immigration Protests

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


I had a meeting at the golf course this evening to discuss the upcoming intramural season. The other team captains and I were gathered on patio outside the clubhouse and had just started the meeting when we all heard a loud rumbling that sounded like a large truck driving past. Only this time the rumbling rapidly grew in intensity until the building, patio and everything around us started shaking.

The shaking ramped down rather quickly and we all immediately started discussing how big we thought the quake was. Most guesses were in the mid to low 4s.

According to the USGS it was a 4.1 magnitude quake centered 5 miles east of Ridgecrest. It was a pretty good rumbler. But not as impressive as the 5.5 and 5.6 that we had about a week apart a couple years ago.

Job Riots

There are hundreds of thousands of students rioting in France right now over a proposed new job law. The CPE First Job Contract will make it easier to dismiss employees under 26 during a two-year trial period. The students don't like this idea. They seem want a guaranteed job with no chance of being fired.

"We're demanding the complete withdrawal of the CPE. You can't treat people like slaves. Giving all the power to the bosses is going too far," said Gregoire de Oliviera, a 21-year-old student protesting in Paris.

Well cry me a river. It's time to grow up, stop protesting, stop throwing molotov cocktails, get your butts back to class and learn the skills you need to get and hold a job. If you don't want to get fired - work hard, do your job the way your boss wants it done.

I got news for these morons. The bosses already have all the power. That's why they are the bosses. Granted there are some just bad bosses. But most of them are reasonable enough to give you a chance to do things their way.

I have had a couple of truely bad bosses in my life. Then I have had bosses that I absolutely hated, but they weren't bad bosses, we just didn't get along. I have been fired without cause twice in my life. Both times by the same guy. I was 20 and working summer weekends at the snack bar at the racetrack in Cheyenne. My third day on the job the owner counted up the receipts at the end of the day and noticed that he was several hundred dollars short. He immediately accused me of stealing from the cash box and fired me on the spot. The next weekend he caught a guy reaching over the counter and grabbing a hand full of 20s out of the cash box. He called me and told me that I could have my job back if I wanted it. No apology, no explaination. I needed the job so I swallowed my pride and went back to work for him. Four weeks later I had to go to South Dakota for a week for family stuff. I told him that I would not be able to work the next Saturday. He was pissed off but told me he would see me in two weeks. That next Saturday after only getting 3 hours of sleep on friday night I drove the 5 hours to Cheyenne and got into town at 6 PM that evening. Since my job started at 3 PM and I was dead tired and my boss wasn't expecting me that night anyway I didn't bother going out to the speedway. The next Saturday I showed up for work and was greeted by an irate boss. A friend of his had seen me driving in town the previous Saturday and so he knew I was in town and hadn't come to work. So without waiting for me to say anything he fired me again.

I spent the rest of summer doing yard work to raise money for college. I had a jerk boss there also but at least I didn't fire myself.

Granted its easy to fire a kid from a minimum wage job just because you are having a bad day or because you are an irrational jerk. But every professional job I have ever worked at had a one year or more probationary period. This is the period where your boss can say "It's just not working out, I have to let you go." Then you go.

So to all the French students. Stop destroying your country, shut up and get your butts back into class you whinny little wimps.

Terrell Owens in Dallas

OK, I'm a little behind the times with this posting.

On March 19th the Dallas Cowboys signed ex-Philadephia Eagle wide receiver Terrell Owens.

In the interest of fair disclosure I should point out that I am not a Dallas Cowboys fan. My favorite teams in the NFL are Dolphins, Bears, Broncos and anyone who is playing against the Raiders or Cowboys.

My dislike disgust hatred for the Cowboys has very little to do with the players, now that Deion Sanders is gone. My feelings are mostly directed at Jerry Jones the owner. I personally feel that Jerry Jones has been a truely bad influence on the NFL. I have hated Jerry Jones since the day he took over the Cowboys and his first official act as new owner was to fire Tom Landry.

So I really like seeing the Cowboys sign Terrell Owens. They deserve each other. Does Jerry Jones remember that Sunday afternoon in October 2000 when Terrell Owens in a 49ers uniform was doing a touchdown celebration dance on the Cowboy's Star on the 50 yard line of Texas Stadium?

I'll bet that if George Teague was the Cowboy's owner T.O. would not be putting on a Cowboy's helmet this fall.

Monday, March 27, 2006

A New Volleyball Season

The 2006 Ridgecrest city volleyball season started tonight. Our first practice was tonight and our first game is on Thursday. That is one of the things I really dislike about they way they run this league. I get a single one hour practice before our first game. In that one hour I have to find and meet my players. Go over the rules and directions for the new season, hand out schedules and their tee shirts. Then I have to evaluate the players and get them playing on the court. We have to develop some sort of offensive strategy. All in one hour.

Division 2 where I'm coaching for the first time this year is the 13 - 17 year olds. I assumed that these girls being more experienced would not need a lot of time with the basics. So I jumped right into working on an offensive strategy. I think it was a mistake. I'm hoping that they are just a little rusty. Their serving was way off. Most of them struggled to try and serve three good serves in a row. Their passing was spotty at best. I do have two players with some high school experience so they may form a good basis to build the team around.

However I do have a problem. I wanted to get these girls (and one boy) playing at least a 4-2 offense. Maybe even a 6-2 if they turn out to be good enough hitters. But as I was leaving tonight I overheard one of the other coaches who also runs the league telling her team that the city requires equal playing time for all players on the team so they would not be able to run a set offense because the setters don't rotate out and therefore would get more court time. My solution would be to have a different pair of setters for each game. But past experience has shown that the league administrators would probably not go for that. They insist that this is a recreation league, not a competitive one. Then they go out of their way to make sure you aren't allowed to be competitive.

The contridiction comes in that they run the league like a competitive league not a rec league. They are really sticklers for the most insignificant rules. They expect the players to behave just like players in a competitve league. But they do not allow us to coach them to be competitive. Additionally they plan a post season tournament. But they have already set the pairings for the tournament. So we're suppossed to try and prepare them to win the tournament, but not teach them to play volleyball in a competitive way.

Oh well I should have about 15 minutes before our first game. I hope I can get them into a rotation that they can play a plain old center sets style of volleyball. I will let them do this for the first week or two and then see if I can get them into a more organized offensive strategy.

Friday, March 24, 2006

School Bond Issue Survey - Again

There is a move afoot here in Ridgecrest to get a new school bond issue on the ballot this fall. Last month I received a phone call asking me to take part in a survey. I agreed. I was then asked a whole series of questions geared towards getting me to say that I would vote for the school bond issue. The questionaire started out with the simple question asking if I would vote for a bond issue to help improve the public schools in town. When I said no I was asked a whole series of questions in the vein of "Do you think proper facilites are important for the education of our children? Do you support the improvement of the educational environment for our kids? Do you think that textbooks need to be updated regularly?" After being asked more than a dozen of these questions and answering yes to all of them I was then asked if I would vote for a bond issue that would provide all those things for our schools. Again I said no. I was then asked what my age was, if I had kids, what political party I was registered with and if I voted for George Bush or John Kerry in the last Presidential election. I really wanted to ask what these last few questions had to do with a school bond issue survey. But since I hadn't been asked a fair question in the survey I probably wouldn't get a fair answer to a question. So I was thanked for participating and the surveyor hung up. A few weeks later there was a report out showing that an overwwhelming number of poeple in this town were in favor of a school bond issue.

Well Duh? Considering the one sided nature of the questions I would have been shocked if the results would have been any different.

Then tonight I got another phone call asking if I would be willing to participate in a one question survey about a school bond issue. Out of morbid curiosity I agreed.

I'll have to paraphrase because I couldn't possibly remember it word for word.

Following an introduction that promised that the bond issue would build new schools, add classrooms, fix air conditioners, cure cancer, provide world peace and build a spacestation on Mars (OK, I make up the last three) but there was a huge long list of things this bond issue would provide, including an oversight committee to make sure that the money was only spent on things the voters voted for. Then I was asked "If this bond issue is on the Novemeber ballot will you vote for the improvement of our schools or would you vote against a better education for our children?"

Again I said "I would vote against the bond issue." I was thanked for participating and the call ended.

So I wonder how long it will be before they announce the results of how a majority of the people interviewed just followed our lead and answered our survey exactly the way we wanted them to. I also wonder why they didn't care who I voted for this time?

Now some questions I would like them to ask are:

  • If you say you will vote no, why?
  • Do you pay property taxes?
  • Do you have kids in public schools?
  • Do you have kids in private school?
  • Do you resent having to support a failing school system and a private school.
  • Did you vote for any of the current school board members in the last election?
  • Why not?
  • Do you trust the current school board to do what is best for your kids?
  • Do you trust the current school district administrators to do what is best for your kids?
  • If the bond issue passes do you trust that the money would be spent as promised?
  • If you vote no where would you recommend that we get the money to improve our schools?
  • Do you think you could trust a school district that cannot successfully negotiate a contract with it's teachers for over 18 months?

But they didn't ask those questions. I guess they believe in the old adage "Don't ask a question that you don't want to hear the answer to."


One brief clarification - the school district and the teachers union did sign a contract last week after our teachers worked for over 18 months without one.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

From Egg to Hummer

Rodger Schlong over at Curmedgeonly and Skeptical led me to a pretty cool series of pictures.

Vel (with help from Maggie) found and photgraphed a hummingbird nest from eggs to babies leaving that nest. In Roger's words:

Because you'll probably never in your lifetime see this again, enjoy; and please share.

Amazingly enough this isn't Vel's first time with baby hummers. Hummingbird Nest '03

Monday, March 20, 2006

Impossible Questions

I was getting ready for work this morning and had FoxNews on the television. I wasn’t looking at the screen I was just listening to the talking heads on the screen as they were talking about the 3rd anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq War.
Then I heard some twit say, “What still amazes me is that we are 3 years into this war and the President is still giving speeches trying to defend his policies in Iraq.”

Of course the President is still giving speeches defending his policy on Iraq. He has to do this because clowns like him never stop using every second of airtime they can get to attack the President’s policy on Iraq.

Then this nitwit goes on to explain that asking questions should not be considered unpatriotic. He felt that loyal Americans have the responsibility to keep asking questions like: When will this war end? When are we bringing our troops home? and How many more will die before we bring them home?

I didn’t hear, and wasn’t able to see the screen to see who this nitwit was but I’m going to answer his three impossible questions. But then I would like him to answer three questions for me.

When will this war end?

Planning a specific date to end a war is only possible if you are the side that surrenders. Because until one side either surrenders or is completely eliminated the war cannot end. Since we cannot predict when our enemy is going to surrender or be completely eliminated. Then we can only assume that as a “loyal American” you are asking when we are going to surrender.

When are we bringing our troops home?

Our combat troops will come home when the job is done. We will have other troops stationed in Iraq for probably decades. Our last war with Germany ended on May 8, 1945. We still have over 70,000 troops in Germany. Our war with Japan ended on September 2, 1945. We still have over 8000 troops in Japan. Our war with North Korea ended on July 27, 1953. We still have over 20,000 troops stationed in South Korea. Our war with North Vietnam ended on April 30, 1975. We don’t have any troops stationed in Vietnam. Vietnam was the only war that we lost. At any one time we have about 200,000 troops stationed on foreign soil. If history is to be believed, the only way we will bring all our troops home from Iraq is to lose the war. As to when that will happen, see your first question. The only side that can accurately schedule the end of a war is the losing side.

How many more will die before we bring them home?

This is war, soldiers die. We don’t like it. We will do everything we can to minimize the number of American deaths. But the only way to absolutely assure that no more troops die is to end the war and bring them all home. But that gets us back to your first two questions and like them the only way to satisfy your question is for the United States to lose this war.

So there is the answer to your three impossible questions.

Now I get my three questions:

Do you still beat your wife?

What is the airspeed of an unladen African swallow?

Deep down in your soul you are really a disloyal, unpatriotic American who wants us to lose this war or you are truly so stupid and misguided that you think we can pack up and go home and the terrorists will just leave us alone. Which is it?

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Short Canyon Conservation

Yesterday my son and I went on a conservation project with his cub scout pack. The project was up at Short Canyon. The same place we went on a field trip with his second grade class last year. The field trip was a lot more fun. This trip was work.

Several of the father's and their sons worked to fill in the ditches that running water had eroded through the parking area. When we first arrived a couple other Dads and I had to move some rocks from the middle of the parking area. Some morons had moved several of the boundry rocks that mark the picnic and parking area into the middle of the parking lot to make a fire circle. Cleaning up the remains of thier fire we came to the conclusion that not only had they set up thier fire in the middle of the parking area. But that they were burning the signs that direct you to the hiking area. Boy there are some really stupid people out there.

After cleaning up the parking lot fire circle my on and I hiked up the trail a ways with another Dad and his son. We were replacing the water run off rocks. About every 30 feet up the trail there is a line of rocks across the trail on a diagonal. These rocks are intended to help direct running water off the side of the trail instead of down the center of the trail. Unfortunately people also like to screw these rocks up also. Their favorite method of destruction seems to kicking or throwing the rocks off the side of the trail.

After fixing up these rocks for a while we wandered back down to the parking area and help pick up trash. The trash of the day seemed to be peices of clay pidgeon and shotgun wadding. There was a lot of both around. I don't know why people seem to think that a picnic and hiking area is a good place to go skeet shooting.

Since we were working I didn't get to take too many pictures but I did manage to snap a few.

joshua trees
This stand of Joshua trees was right down were my son and I were picking up trash.

Clouds Over Short Canyon
The clouds were blowing over the crest of the Sierra Mountains while we were there. The whole east face of the mountain range was capped by thick white puffy clouds. Clouds like this usually means wind or weather for the valley. We got some of both that night.

Unknown Cactus
I don't know for sure what this plant is. My dear wife said it was a cactus. But didn't know what type. It is covered in spines when alive. But when it dies, it looks like this:

Dry Unknown Cactus

I though this hollow lacey wood was really cool. There were a couple dead plants of it around, but I decided to bring home just pictures instead of a sample.

If I find out later what this is I'll post an update.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Fish Fry

It's Friday. It's the Lenten season. That means it was fish fry night over at Saint Ann's. We really like the friday evening fish frys. Most of the good Catholics who follow the church's restrictions on eating meat on friday during lent will attend the fish fry. My family and I go for the dinner and the company.

Dinner consists of 2 or 3 pieces of fried whitefish, french fries and cole slaw. There is coffee and lemonade to drink. You can also buy sodas, and bake goods for dessert. I can feed my family of five at a fast food restaurant for about 10 dollars less than the fish fry costs. But the food is better, the company much more enjoyable, and the profits support the school.

Tonight the lower gradeschool grades hosted the fish fry. That means that the teachers from those grades convinced parents from those grades to work the kitchens, cook, take orders, and clean up afterwards. The school gets the profits from the fish fry. The parents from the host grades provide bake goods for the dessert table and the classes get all the profits from the bake sale.

My twin's class was one of the host classes tonight, so my dear wife baked a couple batches of brownies to donate. When we showed up I ordered our meals while the rest of the family staked out some table space. My in-laws showed up the same time we did. We usually meet them there every week. While we waited for our food the twins went to work serving.

When you order your food you are given a large card with a number on it to put on your table. When you order comes up, the volunteer children deliver the orders to your able. The twins went to work delivering food while we waited for our orders.

Once our food had arrived My oldest ate her dinner then she went and helped deliver food so her brother and sister could eat. After dining we visited for a while then headed for home. My oldest likes to stay for the whole evening. So we left her there. She helps deliver food then when things slow down she hangs out with her friends. Usually my dear wife leaves her cell phone with Chaos so she can call me to come get her when they are finished. Tonight she called just to get permission for one of her best friend's Dad to bring her home. So I didn't have to go back out once I got home.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Miami Quarterback

The Miami Dolphins traded a second round draft pick for Minnesota Vikings Quaterback Daunte Culpepper. I love this trade. Sure I was excited about the possibility of Drew Brees ending up in Miami, but in no way would I consider Culpepper to be a second choice. I just hadn't thought about Culpepper ending up in Miami. This should be a great fit. Being raised in Florida and going to school at Central Florida should make Daunte Culpepper a very popular home town favorite.

I just hope that Culpepper's knee has healed. His season ended last October when he tore three ligaments (ACL, MCL and PCL) in his right knee. The Vikings report that he was ahead of schedule in his rehab. The Dophins organization are apparently convinced that he will be ready to play this season since they terminated the contract of their starting quarterback - Gus Frerotte.

If we can get Ricky Williams to stay off the field this should be fun season to be a Dolphins fan.

The Dolphin's Website has a brief rundown of Daunte Culpepper's impressive career here.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Four Dozen Years

I turned 4 dozen years old today. For some reason 4 dozen doesn't sound like as big a number as 48. I guess I could celebrate the 27th anniversary of my 21st birthday. I remember celebrating my father's 45th birthday and thinking "Wow, Dad's getting old." You know something, I was more right than I knew.

My dear wife is fond of telling me "You are only as old as you feel." I usually respond with "Well, I feel old."

I can usually sum up my feeling about my age with my favorite line from the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark - "Its not the years, it's the mileage."

In keeping with a long standing tradition of mine I took the day off today. I have not attended class or showed up for work on my birthday since I was in 9th grade. In high school and collage my birthday fell either on a weekend, spring break, or for two years on snow days. Once I got out of school and started working I found that I prefered to take the day off. Sleep in, have a "bad for me" breakfast, watch a movie, read a book, play golf, nap, whatever. It's a day off to do nothing.

This morning I had to skip the sleeping in part. I had to have the van over at the repair shop at 7:30 this morning. So I delivered the van then got a couple frosted donuts and a large white chocolate cappuccino for breakfast. Then I watch a couple hours of the first season of 24. I wandered out to the golf course this afternoon to hit a bucket of balls and work on my putting. It was really windy or I would have played a round. The family and I went out to dinner at a Chineese Buffet and then came back home. We're watching a couple episodes of season 2 of Babylon 5 and then we're having homemade carrot cake to celebrate.

It's been a pretty good day even if it meant I had to get a year older. But like I told my mother in law a while back "Birthday's are good for you. The more of them you have the longer you live."

Kindergarten Information Night

And now a shameless plug :

Saint Ann School will have a Kindergarten Information Night on Thursday, from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the kindergarten classroom on the school campus, 446 W. Church Ave. Emily Miller, the kindergarten teacher, will explain the program at Saint Ann School and discuss Kindergarten readiness.

All parents/guardians of children who will be turning five by Dec. 2 are invited to attend this meeting.

For more information, call 375-4713

If you are looking for a kindergarten for your children you couldn't find a better one than Saint Ann School. The teacher, Emily Miller, is absolutely fantastic. The program and school provide the best environment for the education of your child that you could ask for.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Watkins on Eminent Domain

John Watkins, Publisher of the Daily Independent published an editorial in Sunday's newspaper titled Corner should be dealt with now. Mr. Watkins seems to attempt to explain why we should use eminent domain or just plain vandalism to solve the problem at the corner of Ridgecrest Blvd and China Lake Blvd.

According to Mr. Watkins, leaving this corner of town undeveloped will adversely effect the outcome of the latest BRAC.

The city’s infamous corner at China Lake and Ridgecrest Boulevards is taking on all sorts of proportions. It’s been an eyesore for some time and needs to be dealt with now, not in the future.

I agree Mr. Watkins it would be nice if the corner in question was cleaned up and developed. But it is not the only corner in town that could use some cleaning up. You would be hard pressed to drive a mile on any street in town without finding a run down home, an empty business, or an empty lot that could use some fixing up. But since this is the only corner that the city is considering taking away from the lawful owner in order to give it to another we'll deal with this corner.

The issue has some long range consequences for the city’s growth through the BRAC recommendations. It is no secret that some elements of the Navy are “circling the wagons” around Point Magu both in Ventura and back east. And according to my sources, despite BRAC decisions being acknowledged as law, they are winning.


Simply put, it is issues like the corner in question, poor streets and basically poor infrastructure. Time is short; now is the time for action not flowery words or committee meetings on top of committee meetings.

This should not surprise you. The last BRAC determined that 2000 jobs from Pt. Mugu should be moved to China Lake. Of course the managers at Pt. Mugu are going to try and fight this. But what you should be asking is why they seem to be successful in their efforts to thwart the will of congress, the pentagon, the Secretary of Defense, and the President of the United States. I seriously doubt that the heart of their champaign to keep their jobs is an abandoned gas station and an old nightclub at "the corner."

China Lake Naval Weapons Center leaders have done their part to help the city by earning the Center of Excellence merit. They are to be commended for this achievement. Such an honor did not come easily.

Kern County is now doing its part by developing a specific plan to protect the base from encroachment but at the same time the plan addresses growth issues.

Now the City of Ridgecrest management and current city council members must do their part. They are a part of the county specific plan but in addition to that effort they need to address internal city issues. They hold the city’s future in their hands. Their legacy as individual councilmen, as well as a council as a whole, will be determined in the next six to twelve months.

Yeah that's setting a lofty goal. The China Lake Navy Base earns a Center of Excellence achievement. The County is protecting the base from encroachment. Now all Ridgecrest has to do to contribute is trample the property rights of a local taxpayer by taking their property away from them. Do you really believe that a brand new Rite-aid pharmacy at "the corner" will convince Pt. Mugu management to abandon their efforts to bypass federal law.

Then Mr. Watkins says that he is against the use of eminent domain and offers two other solutions. Except that they aren't solutions, nor are they options.

Personally, I am against eminent domain. But to resolve the issue concerning the restaurant in question such a process may be necessary ... or is it?

Two simple solutions come to mind.

One is to get three appraisals on the land in question, throw out the top one, throw out the bottom one and then use the middle one for the developer and land owner to settle their differences. Appraisals should be secured from licensed offices that do such work and should be generated by the land owner, potential buyer and the city.

The second one is also simple. If the potential buyer has already secured the gas station site as well as the JD’s building, tear them down. And when, it is my belief, you tear down the JD’s wall adjacent to the restaurant I believe it will leave the restaurant with only a three sided building since the restaurant was built as such a using JD’s wall as the fourth frame.

The first solution is not an alternate to eminent domain, it is just way to determine the price that the city will pay the property owner when they force him to sell his property. That Mr. Watkins is eminent domain.

Mr. Watkins second "solution" is even more abhorent that eminent domain. Since the property owner won't sell, we should damage his property so as to make it unusable. Now I'm not a legal expert but that plan sounds like vandalism to me. But then I guess I shouldn't expect too much from Mr. Watkins. Anyone who doesn't see a problem in forcing one business to move so that another business can have his land probably wouldn't see a problem with tearing down a wall of the original business in order to force him to move. Where does this end Mr. Watkins? If I don't mow my lawn regularly will my neighbors be justified in burning the weeds in my grass? Or if my neighbor leaves his cars parked in front of my house for many days am I allowed to destroy them in order to get him to move them?

So there is the solution to the eminent domain issue at "the corner." If you can't legally steal it, destroy it.

Mr. Watkins final statement ammounts to a proclimation of doom:

But one overlying factor needs to be made and be made sooner than later. A resolve of this issue is mandatory for a progressive city to emerge in the future.

Mr. Watkins, Ridgecrest was built around and by people who spent their professional lives working for the freedom of all Americans by improving the ability of the United States Navy's to defend our nation. We don't need Ridgecrest to emerge as a progressive city, we need Ridgecrest to stand as a free city, protecting the rights of all it's citizens. If gaining 2000 new jobs means we have to surrender our rights to property or submit to violence or destruction than Pt. Mugu can keep the jobs. They are not worth having.

More eminent domain in Ridgecrest stuff here:
Eminent Domain - part 2
Eminent Domain in Ridgecrest

City Bowling Tournament - Final

The Daily Independant published some of the results of the Ridgecrest City Bowling Tournament in Sunday's Edition. The results were published in a regular weekly article called Pin Talk.

In the team standings my team finished in 8th place. Which is the highest finish we have had since I joined the team about 6 years ago. Unfortunately we were a long ways out of first place. To be exact, 265 pins out of first place. That works out to over two more marks per person per game for the team event. However we were only 67 pins out of second place. That would have only required two extra marks per game as a team. A much more reasonable expectation. So we had one team that really bowled their brains out. The rest of the top ten were clumped together pretty tightly.

In singles I eventually ended up in 10th place - net. My scratch score was the fourth lowest score in the tournament. But because I'm bowling left handed for the first time I'm getting a lot of handicap. Not counting on the handicap I managed to shoot 70 pins over my average for the series. That got me up into tenth place in the singles event. In the net scores I was still 110 pins out of first place. So there were at least 9 other bowlers out there that had even better days than I did.

In doubles my partner Scot and I finished in 12th place. A pretty good showing for the two of us.

In the all around I ended up in 10th. Actually I was tied for 9th. But the bowler I was tied with, RC, a friend of mine had a higher scratch score so he got 9th and I got 10th. There was a big point spread in the all around catagory. I shot 220 pins over my average for the 9 games, which got me into 10th place. But I was still 212 points out of first place. If I could have made the extra 2 marks per game I would have needed to make up that difference my team would have probably placed a bit higher also.

When all is said and done I don't think I earned any winnings in the tournament. But I definitely had my best showing ever. I just hope that one of these years I can have that dream weekend that I always get to watch other guys have. Until then I'll have to go with the Chicago Cubs mantra of "Wait until next year."


City Tournament Day One
City Tournament Day Two

Saturday, March 11, 2006

First Blogaversary

Today is my first blogaversity. That means just one short year ago I made a decision to spend an unreasonable amount of my spare time prattling on here about my life, my dear wife, my kids and our little corner of the world called Ridgecrest.

There have been only a couple days where I have regretted this decision. Sure there have been days where I didn't write anything. There have been days when I made several postings.

I'm sure I haven't solved any of the world's problems here. I certainly haven't solved any of the City of Ridgecrest's problems here. But I have managed to give myself a place to write, to complain and to document my year. And that is what I was looking for. So I guess I found it.

So far my children haven't disowned me, my dear wife hasn't divorced me and most of my friends still speak to me so I guess I'll give it another year.

Catching Up and Rewiring

I haven't posted much this week. Been busy. Which is a shame because there has been so much going on to write about. Congress plans to bar all foreign nations from port operations, the Dubai company backs out of the ports deal, idiot radical islamists are still threatening or carrying out violence over some stupid cartoons and our city is still contemplating misusing eminent domain.

With all that happening I decide to take a week off blogging. Actually I didn't decide to take a week off. It's just that everytime I sat down to try and write anything I feel asleep. I've been really tired this week. Do you think maybe not getting to be before midnight any single night might have something to do with that?

It was a good week. I made some pretty good progress with my project at work. I bowled well on wednesday and my team has moved into first place in the league. I don't know the final results from city tournament yet. Hopefully they will have the results posted by next wednesday. On Friday my dear wife and I were treated to lunch at the kids school. The lunch was a thank you to the technology committee for all the work we have done in getting all the classrooms in the school and the parish offices networked and connected to the internet. They served salad, shrimp creole and dessert. The lunch the delicious. Then of course since we are the technology committee we had to spend at least an hour trouble shooting one of the computers that was acting up.

Then thursday night my DVR died. I turned it on to catch up on a couple shows I had recorded. It unit told me that it had detected a hardware error and that I needed to call Directv to get it fixed. So I called them. After finally getting through to a human, then another human I was finally told that I had to reset the system. This would wipe out all my programs, plus all settings. I didn't like this idea but didn't have a choice. So I reset the system. Directv said that this reset takes between 2 and 4 hours. It took four.

Once the system was reset I started through the set up routine. I got about 5 steps into the guided setup routine and the system suddenly restarted itself. It repeated this 5 more times at the same spot. So I called Directv back. Once I got through to a human, and then to another human I started to explain my problem. According to the tech support person I should not have been getting to the screen that kept crashing. He said that screen only happens on aftermarket DVRs and not on Directv specifc DVRs. I explained that my DVR is a Directv DVR, it says Directv right on the front of it and that I got it from Directv. The tech support told me that he couldn't verify that because their system was updating and it would be several hours before he could find out exactly which system I had. I told the guy on the phone what my model and serial number were and asked what I should do next. His reply was that without his system to verify what system I had he couldn't help me. Again I told him which system I had and that it had come from Directv so what should I do next. His reply again was "Since I can't verify which system you are using I'm not sure what I can do for you." My reply was "You could try the novel appoach of believing what your customers are telling you and not keep insisting that they are lying to you, Asshole!" Then I hung up.

Several hours later I called again. This time the first human I talked to told me that their system was updating and they wouldn't be able to assist me until after 6 AM on friday. So I thanked her and headed to bed.

On Friday morning I called again, eventually I spoke to a human and then another human. This tech support person listened to my problem and without even questioning which system I had, told me that it would have to be replaced. She murmered something about an apparent dustup with tech support that I couldn't understand completely but apparently there must have been some record of my phone call from the night before. The tech support told me that a new DVR would be shipped out and I should have it in 2-5 days.

My new DVR arrived today. I like this kind of service. The company promises 2-5 day delivery and delivers it the next day. I don't know if the trouble I had with their tech support on thursday night had anything to do with it and I don't care. I ws just glad to have my recorder back.

So today I rewired the entertainment center. Since I had to pull it out from the wall to get the old unit out I figured I should take care of some wiring troubles that I have been having. My old receiver is failing. It seems each year that another function stops working. I should replace it but just havn't bothered yet. Also I still had two VCRs in the system which I don't need anymore. I still want one so I can continue coping my old tapes to DVD but I no longer needed two.

So I rewired the system. I took the old DVD player that wouldn't play home recorded DVDs out. I took one of the VCRs out. I put the DVR and my DVD recorder back into the system and got everything rewired. Once done, I actually had room left in the entertainment center to set my laptop there. So I can get it off the endtable where I normally set it.

Well time to stop writing. Dinner is here and we're watching Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire during dinner.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Drew Brees in Miami?

I have been a Drew Brees fan since his days at Purdue. I was very pleased to see him turn into a really good NFL quarterback the last couple years.

Now there are rumors floating around that the Miami Dolphins are interested in talking to him once the free agent season starts, maybe on Thursday.

The Sports Fan .tv thinks

This is not big news, though. Everyone expected this. The two are a perfect fit.

I would just like to point out that in the 2001 draft Miami had the 26th pick of the first round. Drew Brees was still sitting there waiting to be picked. Instead Miami selected Jamar Fletcher, a defensive back out of Wisconsin. I remember spending several minutes screaming at the TV "Pick Drew Brees!" Then after the pick I spent several more minutes yelling more colorful things. (The kids and my dear wife were at her folks so I was able to express my disappointment without censoring myself.)

For 3 years with the Dolphins Jamar Fletcher played in 41 games, made 48 tackles had 2 interceptions and was eventually traded to San Diego for wide receiver David Boston who in the last 2 years has played in 5 games and caught 4 passes for 20 yards. But in David Boston's defense he has been injured.

Now suddenly the Dolphins are interested in Drew Brees.

Its about damned time! If they had listened to me in the first place they could have avoided all the interesting quarterback fiascos of the last 5 years. Does anyone remember Jay (I'm really a third stringer) Fielder or A. J. (I broke my butt) Feeley, who incedentally is on San Diego's roster right now.

Miami has been gutting their defense this last week so they should be able to afford Brees. They are going to need him. If they keep dumping defensive players they are going to need someone on offense who knows how to score points.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

City Bowling Tournament - Day Two

Today we bowled the team event of City Bowling Tournament. The team event is four man teams. I had another really good day. My lowest game of the three was 17 pins over my average. As a team we did pretty well. The first two games we had three of us over average. The last game we managed to get all four of us over average. Unfortunately I don't think we were far enough over average to get into the paying positions. There were a lot of guys out there this weekend bowling better than we were.

The highlight of the day happened in the third game when Mike T. who was bowling three lanes away from us rolled a perfect game. It was an impressive 300. His eleventh strike was a little shakey. But his twelveth was a rock solid shot. Mike maintained his cool really well, especially when he got to the last shot and the whole bowling alley had stopped to watch him. It was really quiet. The only noise in the place was the sound of shuffling feet of nervous spectators.

I will have to wait and see where we ended up in the team event and the overall on Wednesday. They didn't have those standings posted today. In singles I finished up in 11th place and Scot and I are in 12th in doubles. All in all, regardless of positions I had a great weekend. This is the first City tournament where I didn't have a total breakdown in at least one game of each series or in an entire series.

Academy Awards Predictions

Tonight is the 78th Annual Academy Awards Ceremony. There are a lot of predictions floating around as to who is going to win the awards. So I figured I would make a few Oscar predictions of my own.

1. I predict that neither I nor anyone in my home will watch the Oscars Award Ceremony tonight. From a sense of morbid curiosity my dear wife and I may tune into the pregame show just to see what kind of clown suits the "stars" are wearing. But you can rest assured that once the awards portion actually starts, we won't be watching.

2. I predict that the big winners of tonight's ceremony will be the people who don't waste 3 hours of their life watching a bunch of out of touch fakers pretend that they are an important part of our lives.

3. I predict that the big losers of tonight's ceremony will be the movie studios who just don't understand that they are telling us are the best of the year are all movies that none of us paid to see. There are 54 different films nominated for awards this evening. Do you know how many of them some member of my family paid to see in the theaters this year? - 3. One additional movie we rented on DVD. Making our total viewership of of Oscar nominated films 4 out of 54, or 7.4%.

4. I predict that sometime during the Oscar's Ceremony this evening some brain dead actor or actress is going to stand up announce to the audience "I hate this country, I hate all you ignorant rednecks, and I wish you would all die." OK they might not use those exact words. But that will be their general meaning.

So there are my Oscar predictions. If you didn't get the hidden meanings there I'll spell it out for you. My family and I don't go to the movies much anymore. We used to go a lot. While dating and before we had kids my dear wife and I would go to the movies almost every saturday afternoon. But we don't do that anymore. The two main reasons are that first off there is so few movies being released that we have even a passing interest in seeing. Secondly it is just to expensive. For a family of 5 to attend an afternoon matinee costs $30.00. That is just more than we are usually willing to pay for less than two hours entertainment.

This is unfortunate because my family really likes movies. We spend at least 2 or 3 nights a week having a family movie night. If the kids get their homework done we will eat dinner in the living room, while watching a movie. So what do we watch? We will pick one of the many DVDs we own, or we will watch some movie that I have TIVOed for just such an occasion. We watch a lot of movies off the Turner Classics Channel. We used to watch a lot of American Movie Classics. But since they added commercials and don't show the moives letterboxed we have stopped watching them also.

If you are looking for an alternative to the Oscar's this evening check out Fox Movie Channel. They will be showing Patton during the Oscar preshow fluf and Young Frankenstein and High Anxiety during the Oscar telecast. I think my family will be watching those movies, or maybe we will watch a couple season 2 episodes of Babylon 5.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

City Bowling Tournament - Day One

Well it really wasn't day one of the city bowling tournament. Many competitors bowled last weekend. One of our teammates had a conflict last weekend so we had to wait until this weekend to bowl.

Historically I do not bowl well in the city tournament. I don't know why not. I do OK at state. I just seem to struggle in city. Five years ago I finished dead last in the singles event. This accomplishment earned me several months worth of ribbing and teasing from my fellow competitors.

Today was a different. In singles I shot a 670 series with handicap. Which is pretty good. I was anywhere from 19 to 28 pins over average all three games. This is the first series in city that I have ever bowled where all three games were over my average. Unfortunately based on the results for last week I wasn't the only one having a good weekend. I think my 670 puts me somewhere in the high teens for position.

Doubles was just more of the same. My regular doubles partner, Scot, and I have a tradition of at least one of us not bowling well. We take turns. One year he will carry the team, the next it will be my turn. This year I was over average by 20 to 40 pins in all three games. Scot was just over his average in two games but way under it in the second game. So our tradition continues.

Tomorrow we will be bowling the team event over at Hall Lanes on base. I like Hall Lanes. I like the shot there, the lanes, and the manager. I just hope I can bowl well. I think it would be a big boost to my confidence in learning to bowl left handed if I could get through all nine games in City Tournament over average. I may not win any money, but it would sure feel good.

Friday, March 03, 2006

My Friend Joe

Tonight was Joe's retirement party. Joe is a very good friend of mine. I started working with Joe almost 18 years ago. Through the years he has been a mentor, a coworker, my barber and a very good friend. For the last 10 years Joe's office has been the place I go to think. If I get stuck on a problem I could always go visit Joe and talk to him while my subconcious looks for a solution to my problem of the moment. While talking with Joe or listening to the details of his latest task or sharing stories about our children I have solved countless problems over the years.

Joe was my mentor when I first tried my hand as a program manager. He taught me everything he could. But it took several years for me to realize that while Joe relished the challenges of program management, I hated it. But during those years Joe became my friend. Of course that was easy. Joe is naturally a likable guy. It helped that we had so many things in common. We were both draftsmen in our early careers. We both like home improvement projects. Once he badgered me into trying golf and got me hooked we were able to share that also.

Today was Joe's last day at work. He didn't want to anyone to make a fuss over his retiring. He told his wife and coworkers that he didn't want a party. He didn't want plaques or presentations. He didn't want anyone making a lot of speeches. Joe just wanted to ride quietly off into the sunset.

So of course being the wonderful wife she is, his wife ignored his wishes and planned a surprise party. So Joe thought that his children and grandchildren were coming into town to celebrate his retirement by going to dinner with him. So when Joe got to his retirement dinner, there were 30 of his closest friends and coworkers waiting there to celebrate with him.

We had a delightful evening. Joe got a load of gifts, plaques, and stories told about him. We all had a wonderful dinner up at the Indian Wells Valley Lodge.

I'm glad that Joe has retired while he is still young enough and healthy enough to enjoy it. But I will miss him at work. But then it's not like he is leaving the area. He will still be living only 1 mile away. So it will only take a little more effort to see him regularly.