Sunday, April 29, 2007

Golf Swing Advice

Now that the bowling season has ended its time for some golf. The intramural golf league that I have played on for the last several years starts up next tuesday.

I have to keep this guy's advice in mind when I tee off next time.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Coaching Lessons

I have been learning something about myself the last couple weeks. The city recreation volleyball league started play about five weeks ago. Both my daughters wanted to play this year so I signed the oldest up for division 2 and the youngest for division 1. I volunteered to help coach either or both divisions as needed.

Just before the season started the administrator asked if I would be willing to head coach a team in each division. I agreed but pointed out that they would have to assure that I didn't have any evenings where I had division 1 and division 2 games at the same time. They opted to have me head coach a division 2 team and help out as an assistant coach for division 2.

I figured being an assistant coach would be a snap. I would help out in whatever way the head coach wanted me to. Unfortunately I find myself in a situation I never expected. I'm working for a coach who I universally disagree with everything she says or does.

My youngest daughter's coach is the worst nightmare of youth volleyball in Ridgecrest. She teaches a very static style of volleyball. Tonight she actually told the front row players on our court to stand on the attack line and stay there.

But her worst offense is that she apparently doesn't care one iota about the kids on her team. This evening between warmups, three games, the time between games and the post game, this woman did not say a single encouraging word to any kid on the team. When the games are going on she just sits in her chair and watches the game, she doesn't move, she doesn't talk, she just stares.

I tried to encourage a couple of the kids who were struggling, but everytime I started to talk she would interupt me by telling them all the things they had been doing wrong. This makes it hard to try and deal with these kids. But what makes it hardest is that I have absolutely no credibility with the kids. The first two practices this season she would follow me around and contradict everything that I tried to teach these kids. After we got home the first night I asked my daughter why she was not doing things the way I showed her, and she told me the other coach told her that she would break her thumbs if she did things the way I was showing her and that she should never do them that way again.

That is this coach's favorite threat to these kids. So far she has told them that they will break their thumbs if they don't hold their hands exactly the way she showed them. They have been told that if they hold their hand the way I showed them to underhand serve they will break their thumbs and if the try to hit a volleyball the way I tried to show them they will break their thumbs. I really like to know what kind of volleyball this woman has played that she has seen all these broken thumbs. But regardless, she has these kids terrified of doing or trying anything I show them.

I'm glad that there are only three weeks left in this season, I don't think I could take much more of this. In the meantime I really feel sorry for the kids. They show up for practice, the work hard and all they want to do is become better volleyball players and have some fun. Instead they get a coach who teaches them nothing, and the things she does teach are fundamentally flawed.

So I discovered something about myself this season - I'm not a very good assistant coach. I guess I've just gotten too used to doing things my way.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Dating in Ridgecrest

I didn't grow up in Ridgecrest so I never had to deal with being a high school kid and trying to find somewhere to take a girl on a date here. For years I've heard that the evening activities for teenagers here in Ridgecrest are limited.

This evening, I finished the bowling season. We bowled our sweeper, collected our winnings and everyone headed home. To celebrate the end of the season I decided to get myself an ice cream treat on the way home.

I decided to swing into Cold Stone Ice Cream for my treat. I was not that impressed with Cold Stone Ice Cream when they first opened up here over a year ago. But last year after the Trona Volleyball Tournament my team went to Cold Stone to celebrate. One of my 7th grade players introduced me to an ice cream creation called Cookie Doughn't You Want Some - french vanilla ice cream with chocolate chip cookie, chocolate chips, chocolate syrup and carmel syrup mixed in. Now I suddenly like Cold Stone Ice Cream, maybe just a little too much.

So I wandered into Cold Stone this evening. The only other customers in the place were a young, high school aged couple who were holding hands and ordering a medium ice cream creation and two spoons. After they left I ordered my ice cream treat and headed for my car. Out in the parking lot I found the young couple sitting on together on the hood of a car, snuggled together and sharing their ice cream while looking across the Home Depot parking lot. They looked very happy.

When I was in high school we didn't have a Home Depot parking lot to watch while sharing ice cream. I guess in some ways kids here have it a lot better than I did.

But they don't have the submarine races that we would watch. You could park next to Lake Absarraca in Cheyenne and watch the lights from passing cars on I15 as they reflected across the lake. If you didn't look too closely, the lights kind of looked like submarines racing across the lake. Unfortunately I don't remember ever sitting on the hood of the car and sharing an ice cream while doing this. Of course my car was a 51 oldsmobile and the rounded hood would have been difficult to sit on.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Too busy to Blog

I haven't been writing much the last week or so. Not from lack of anything to say, but from lack of time.

My daughter's club volleyball season is winding to a close and I have been trying to get the photo albums and DVDs of all their games put together. I thought this would be rather straight forward but I keep making the task more complicated than it really needs to be. But I like the way things are turning out, so I'm going to keep chugging ahead.

I had planned once I was done with the club teams albums to get started on certificates, photo pages and DVDs for my three middle school volleyball teams. I usually present these things on Sports Night which is held the last week of school. But this year they moved Sports Night up a month on me and I have until May 10 to get everything done.

In the meantime I still have work, 2 city league volleyball teams, my son's basketball and soccer games to attend plus my normal list of honeydos to keep up with.

So blogging may be slim for a while until I get caught up with all my chores.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Harry Reid Surrenders

Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid announced today that we have lost the war in Iraq.

"I believe ... that this war is lost, and this surge is not accomplishing anything, as is shown by the extreme violence in Iraq this week,"

Speaking about a meeting at the White House on how to end a standoff over war funding Harry Reid told the President that we have lost the war.

"I know I was the odd guy out at the White House, but I told him at least what he needed to hear ... I believe the war at this stage can only be won diplomatically, politically and economically."

So there you have it. The terrorists now know what it takes to beat America. You set off a series of car bombs that kill 200 civilians and the glorious leadership of the United States Congress will turn tail and run.

I cannot begin to describe the level of loathing I feel towards this spineless coward. The terrorists are blowing up car bombs to kill hundreds of innocent civilians and this slimeball wants to deal with them diplomatically, politically and economically.

Sooner or later it has to sink into Harry Reids feable mind that we are fighting an enemy that doesn't want to negotiate with us. They only want to kill and destroy and no amount of economic or political incentive is going to stop them.

So we are facing a conflict here. Either the Harry Reid doesn't understand the nature of the enemy we are facing or he understands but is willing to sacrifice our efforts to defeat terrorism in order to further his political future, or Harry Reid doesn't know what his job is so he is making it up as he goes along. So which is it? Is Harry Reid an ignorant fool, a lying rat-bastard, or a traitor trying to usurp the Presidential Authority as the Commander and Chief of the Armed Services.

Nancy Pelosi overstepped her authority when she took it upon herself to negotiate with the enemies of the United States. Now Harry Reid takes it upon himself to announce that we have lost this war.

What's next? Are the Democratic Leadership going to start doing the Supreme Court's jobs for them also?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Tax Code Explaination

Today is Tax Day in the United States, usually this black day falls on April 15th but due to a weekend and a Washington DC holiday, tax day was moved back to April 17th this year.

For those of you who got a refund this year, and think that meant that you didn't pay any taxes, pay attention. What follows is a brief definition of how our tax system works. I have read this several times in other places. It is a good description of how our tax system and how tax cuts work.

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.

The fifth would pay $1.

The sixth would pay $3.

The seventh would pay $7.

The eighth would pay $12.

The ninth would pay $18.

The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

So, that's what they decided to do.

The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until on day, the owner threw them a curve. "Since you are all such good customers," he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20."Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men --- the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his 'fair share?' They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer.So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay. And so:

The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).

The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings).

The seventh now pay $5 instead of $7 (28%savings).

The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).

The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).

The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings. "I only got a dollar out of the $20,"declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man," but he got $10!"

"Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man. "I only saved a dollar, too.

It's unfair that he got ten times more than I!"

"That's true!!" shouted the seventh man. "Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!"

"Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison. "We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!"

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up. The next night the tenth man didn't show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn't have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

For those who understand, no explanation is needed. For those who do not understand, no explanation is possible.

As a follow-up, do you know the exact dollar figure that you paid in last year? I do, and between the Feds and the State of California it is a disturbingly high number. High enough in fact that it took every penny my dear wife and earned last year for the first three months of the year to pay that bill.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Stem Cell Cure for Diabetes?

The Times Online is reporting:

Diabetics using stem-cell therapy have been able to stop taking insulin injections for the first time, after their bodies started to produce the hormone naturally again.

These successes were limited in nature and not a cure. Richard Burt, a co-author of the study from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago noted:
“As a research scientist I am always hesitant to speak of a cure, but the initial results have been good and show the importance of conducting more trials,”

I want to point out that these successes were accomplished without embryonic stem cells. The procedure harvested stem cells from the patients, and then after using a mild chemotherapy to eliminate the white blood cells causing the damage to the pancreas the stem cells were reintroduced into the patient.

As I noted here, this is just one more success for adult stem cell research.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter Sunday

Our Easter Sunday started around 5 AM this morning. Sunrise services, which is our family custom, starts early, so we have to start early. We arrived at Church to find most of the chairs for the service taken. So we were trapped in every good Lutheran’s worst nightmare. We had to sit in the front row.

About half way through the service the sun came up. Pastor was really involved in his sermon and almost missed the sunrise. So he paused his sermon and we all moved over the parking lot where we could watch the sun rise over Home Depot. OK, we were actually there to watch the sun rise. Home Depot just happens to be in our line of sight for the sunrise.

After services we attended the Easter Morning breakfast which is put on by the high school youth group. As we entered the fellowship hall I stopped to pay for our breakfast. The youth group was selling tickets for the breakfast for $5 each. A young man who is a classmate of my oldest daughter was manning the cash box. I don’t know who in the organization decided to let this kid handle the money. But the next 30 seconds were one of the most eye opening experiences of my life. I told the kid there were five of us for breakfast. He paused with a confused look on his face for a moment, then he briefly looked at his hands. Finally he grabbed his cell phone, called up the calculator and quickly multiplied five times five. Then he looked up with a triumphant look on his face and told me “25 dollars please.”

While trying to wrap my brain around the fact that this high school freshman whose mother is a public school teacher was incapable of multiplying five times five without a calculator I opened my wallet and discovered that I only had two 20s. This caused a moment of dread, because I assumed that if the kid couldn’t multiply five times five he certainly would not be able to accurately subtract 25 from 40. But in the interest of science a bravely handed him the two twenty dollar bills.

This time the look of confusion on his face disappeared quicker than it did with the multiplication problem. I assume because he remember that he had his trusty calculator ready. So he punched in a few numbers, dropped my cash into the box, briefly thumbed through the small pile of currency in the box then with a triumphant grin on his face proudly handed me my $5 change.

I was going to correct him, but I it suddenly occurred to me that in the past when they just asked for a donation without specifying a value I usually dropped $40 in the basket. So this way I was at least $5 ahead.

After I got to our table and told my family what had happened, my 10 year old twins were able to immediately figure out, in their heads, that he owed me $15 in change not $5. Finally my oldest daughter figured out why he probably only gave me $5. She figured that since he probably added the two twenties together in his head and then did the subtraction on the calculator he probably added twenty and twenty and got thirty.

I know this kid isn’t indicative of all public school kids, but watching him struggle with the simplest of math problems gave me just one more reason to be glad we are sending our kids to private school for grades K-8.

After breakfast we returned home and found Easter eggs scattered all over our back yard. We were very relieved to discover that unlike last year, this year we didn’t have a couple ravens gorging themselves on our Easter eggs.

After our kids searched high and low for Easter eggs we relaxed for a while. Most of the family napped while I watched Masters Golf coverage and mixed up a couple dozen deviled eggs to take to dinner.

About 1:30 PM we went out to my Dear Wife’s parent’s house for dinner. We visited for a while and then had ham, potato salad, cranberry waldorf salad and veggies for dinner.

We cut out visit short because the family wanted to get home before 5 PM to watch the Discovery Channel special Planet Earth in HD.

All in all it was a good day. But then I don’t recollect every having a bad Easter Day.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Feinstein Corruption Scandal

Last week California Senator Diane Feinstein abruptly resigned her position as the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Military Construction Appropriations Subcommittee (MILCON).

The MILCON subcommittee is in charge of supervising military construction. The committee also oversees "quality of life" issues for veterans, which includes building housing for military families and operating hospitals and clinics for wounded soldiers.

During her six years as MILCON leader Senator Feinstein had a conflict of interest due to her husband Richard C. Blum's ownership of two major defense contractors, who were awarded billions of dollars for military construction projects that were approved by Senator Feinstein.

That's Billion with a capitol B. My very own California Senator Diane Feinstein may have just hit one out of the park folks. By directing Billions of dollars of our tax dollars to her husbands companies, DiFi may have have set a new record for corruption.

According to a report compiled by MetroActive a San Francisco area newspaper Diane Feinstein used insider information to direct billions of dollars of military construction projects to companies, URS Corporation and Perini Corporation, that were owned or controlled by her husband.

While setting MILCON agendas for many years, Feinstein, 73, supervised her own staff of military construction experts as they carefully examined the details of each proposal. She lobbied Pentagon officials in public hearings to support defense projects that she favored, some of which already were or subsequently became URS or Perini contracts. From 2001 to 2005, URS earned $792 million from military construction and environmental cleanup projects approved by MILCON; Perini earned $759 million from such MILCON projects.

792 million and 759 million works out to 1.551 Billion dollars. And what portion of this billion and a half dollars did DiFi and her husband pocket?

In 2005, Roll Call calculated Feinstein's wealth at $40 million, up $10 million from just a year earlier. Reports show her family earned between $500,000 and $5 million from capital gains on URS and Perini stock. From CB Richard Ellis, her husband earned from $1.3 million to $4 million.

Public records show Blum's company paid $4 a share for controlling interest in Perini, and later sold about three million shares for $23.75 each.

The report also showed URS' military construction work in 2000 was only $24 million, but the next year, when Feinstein took over as MILCON chair, military construction earned URS $185 million. Additionally, its military construction architectural and engineering revenue rose from $108,000 in 2000 to $142 million in 2001, a thousand-fold increase.

In late 2005, Blum sold 5.5 million URS shares, worth $220 million

So a US Senator has used insider information to direct billions of tax payer dollars to her husband's companies and yet I have not seen one word of this in a single antique media outlet. Where is the outrage, where is the indignation, where are CNN, Fox, MSNBC, NBC, ABC, CBS news? And even more importantly where is an investigation by the Senate Rules Committee? Oh wait, Difi is the newly appointed chairman of the Rules Committee so I guess we can rule out an investigtion there.

So after pocketing over as much as 300 million dollars as a direct result of her involvement with the MILCON committee DiFi just walks away unscathed?

Where is the investigation and where is DiFi's resignation followed shortly by her indictment? Or does that only happen to Republicans?

Full information can be found here and here and here.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Movie Meme

Mostly Cajun has this movie meme up on his site and I decided to steal borrow it:

1. Name a movie that you have seen more than 10 times.

Star Wars
Empire Strikes Back
Return of the Jedi
She Wore a Yellow Ribbon
Young Frankenstein
Raiders of the Lost Ark
The Quiet Man
The Adventures of Robin Hood
Yankee Doodle Dandy
Quigley Down Under
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
Yankee Doodle Dandy
Singing in the Rain
Little Shop of Horrors
Captain Horatio Hornblower

2. Name a movie that you’ve seen multiple times in the theater.

Star Wars
The Empire Strikes Back
Return of the Jedi
Halloween (There were several girls in college who wanted to see this movie and I was one of the few guys willing to go see it with them. I saw it 5 times. Mommy always taught me to be a gentleman. So when those poor sweet dears needed someone to hold onto when the movie got scary who was I to deny them my protection)
Young Frankenstein (Ditched English to go to the 3 PM show and sat through the 5:30, 8:00 and 10:30 showings also)
The Karate Kid (see number 14)

3. Name an actor that would make you more inclined to see a movie.

Not many of todays actors or actresses will get me to the theater but I have rented, bought or gone to watch a movie simply because of:

John Wayne
Cary Grant
Jimmy Stewart
Marilyn Monroe
Doris Day
Olivia Dehavallind
Errol Flynn
Mel Brooks
Gene Kelly
Fred Astaire
Red Skelton
Bob Hope
Judy Garland
Audie Murphy
Debbie Reynolds

4. Name an actor that would make you less likely to see a movie.

Johhny Depp
Jane Fonda
Barbara Streisand
Most of todays young actors who exhibit a pathological need to shove their political views down our throats or condemn my lifestyle.

5. Name a movie that you can and do quote from.

Young Frankenstein
Blazing Saddles
Star Wars

6. Name a movie musical that you know all of the lyrics to all of the songs

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
Yankee Doodle Dandy
Singing in the Rain
Little Shop of Horrors

OK my dirty little secret is out - I like musicals

7. Name a movie that you have been known to sing along with

All the musicals listed above as long as no one else is in the house. I love to sing, but I can't carry a tune in a wheelbarrow. So I don't sing where others can hear.

8. Name a movie that you would recommend everyone see.

Watch the DVD box set Firefly
Then watch the movie Serenity

The Quiet Man
The Adventures of Robin Hood
Anything starring Harold Lloyd
Captain Horatio Hornblower

9. Name a movie that you own.

There are too many to list here. The actual number is well into 4 digits. Most of them self recorded onto DVD. I love movies. I like to collect actors works. I have over 100 John Wayne movies, and all but three of Judy Garland's Movies. I'm working my way through most of the rest of the list at number 3.

10. Name an actor that launched his/her entertainment career in another medium but who has surprised you with his/her acting chops.

Bing Crosby and Bob Hope

Just kidding....

11. Have you ever seen a movie in a drive-in? If so, what?

Yes, but not since college. The most memorable were a Mel Brooks Marathon, The Trinity movies marathon and a John Wayne/Howard Hawks marathon

12. Ever made out in a movie?

Um.. Yes.

13. Name a movie that you keep meaning to see but just haven’t yet gotten around to it.


14. Ever walked out of a movie?

I walked out of The Karate Kid when my date got sick (flu) and wanted to go home. No reflection of the movie. When I saw it later I enjoyed it.

15. Name a movie that made you cry in the theater.

Yong Frankenstein (tears of laughter)
Old Yeller (the other kind of tears)

16. Popcorn?


17. How often do you go to the movies (as opposed to renting them or watching them at home)?

In my young and single days at least once a week. When my dear wife and I were dating and before we had children we spent almost every saturday afternoon at the theater. For the last 5 years I get to the theater about 5 times a year. We still love movies, just not most of the crap they are producing these days.

18. What’s the last movie you saw in the theater?


19. What’s your favorite/preferred genre of movie?


20. What’s the first movie you remember seeing in the theater?

That Darned Cat - my grandfather took me. We stood in line for what seemed like forever. He bought me popcorn, soda, and candy all three of which I spilled on him at one time or another during the movie.

21. What movie do you wish you had never seen?

Emmanuel the Joys of a Woman. They showed it at the Student Union in College, I had completed three final exams that day and was exhausted. But this was the first chance any of my friends and I had to see an X rated movie. So we went. I fell asleep, then in the middle of one of the heavy sex scenes, I (while sound asleep) toppled over out of my chair into the aisle. It was extrememly embarassing. I should have just followed my first impulse and gone to bed that night. I guess this is kind of a phony answer since I never actually saw most of the movie.

22. What is the weirdest movie you enjoyed?

Rocky Horror Picture Show. I avoided this movie for months, then finally went to a midnight showing where the audiance (except me) were all dressed like characters in the movie and they all knew the responses, what to throw an when. Once I got over being self concious I had a blast.

23. What is the scariest movie you’ve seen?

Tie between Alien and Halloween

24. What is the funniest movie you’ve seen?

Young Frankenstein

I have seen lots of hillarious movies in my days, but I never laughed so hard at a movie in all my life.