Monday, December 22, 2008

Bailouts, Capitalism and the Economy

Update: Oddly appropriate CNN article

Part one of a three part series.


I'm so tired of hearing these words as they come buzzing out of the mouths of every pundit, journalist and politician that I'm pretty sure they cause me physical illness. It wasn't the bbq nachos after all.

Yet, I haven't clearly stated my case on all of these issues, so here goes just in time for Christmas. I got you something after all.

Bailouts are a gigantic waste of our money.

I think this is obvious to everyone but the slimy politicians who vote for them because they can't stand to see their buddies lose their million dollar homes in West Palm.

If a financial institution isn't making money and isn't smart enough to put reserves away for times of trouble and acted fiscally irresponsible by giving out 110% loans to waiters for million dollar homes in the middle of crack riddled neighborhoods, then what makes you think they'll be smart enough to change their ways and be able to pay all of that money back?

Delaying the inevitable and pissing away billions of dollars all at the same time. This is what our politicians are good for.

The argument was that if they didn't set up this slush fund for banks to draw from, then credit would seize up and suddenly you won't be able to buy anything. Stores wouldn't be stocked with plasma TVs and we'd all die or something like that.

All of it, bullshit. Yes, companies that don't deserve to exist because they lose tons of money on a monthly basis and rely on an ever flowing line of credit to survive would shut down. But companies that operate the way their supposed to, i.e. make more money then they spend, would survive just fine. There may be a small short term cash flow squeeze, but they would get by.

And I'm sorry, but are you telling me that someone, some bank or some country wouldn't recognize an opportunity to loan a bunch of money because everyone else is frozen and come in and offer some credit? Bah.

The truth is that politicians and fat cat bankers are so tied into each other that they can't afford to see each other fail.


There are several reasons why they government acted so quickly to bail out Wall Street.

1. 700 Billion dollars is not that much to politicians. Three weeks before they passed the bailout legislation they passed a 630 Billion dollar spending bill that would finance the government between Oct. 1, 2008 - Sept 1, 2009. Or at leas part of that time. I believe it actually only represents 60% of the money that will be spent during that time, so really from Oct. 1, 2008 - June 1, 2009. What's another 700 billion when you already owe trillions?

2. Too many other countries own stakes in these banks and financial institutions to let them fail. This would mean that they'd be really pissed at us and could stop loaning us money.


3. Politician's best friends are wealthy people who don't want to see their money go up in
smoke. People with $100,000 or less were protected by the FDIC and probably weren't calling up the politicians complaining. But I guarantee you the wealthy people they see at cocktail dinners and fundraisers were calling like crazy. Most of the politicians themselves would have probably seen significant losses if they had let them fail.

I know, conspiracy theory. Let me ask you what's the difference between an auto industry bailout and a bailout of AIG? Why was saving AIG, Lehman and other's so damn important that we had the President begging for money on a daily basis while it's ok to publicly humiliate auto makers who are asking for 1/10th of the amount of money? Friends in high places make all of the difference.

For the record, I'm opposed to bailing out the automakers as well, but I think it's unfair the way they were treated in comparison with the free pass we gave Wall Street.


The impacts from not bailing out everyone would have been bad, no doubt. However, there were alternatives that were much better and would have dealt with the underlying fiscal problems instead of placing a band aid on the gunshot wound.

If you think this was the last bailout, you're wrong. This was just the first.
That took longer than I thought. I guess Capitalism will be next time.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Volunteer Work and the Holidays

I tend to be a negative person. I generally focus on the bad things that people do and this causes me to distrust people as a whole. I'm not real sympathetic (I'm trying to work on that) and I'm fairly convinced that I'm an asshole. I'm not sure if I would like me if I were someone else because of my "bad attitude".

Yet despite all of my short-comings, I do volunteer work. I've spent the last few months helping with United Way and the Oxford Christmas Store and I keep asking myself why.

I enjoy complaining about things, but surely my fetish for bitching isn't enough to drive me to help others.

I realized while speaking with my dad the other night that there are two main reasons why I do charity work.

1. I have trouble saying no. In most cases, some bleeding heart liberal or excruciating nice person has asked me to help out with a project or take on some sort of responsibility. "Sure," I say all the while thinking about how big of a pain in the ass the entire thing is going to be for me. I don't typically say no because I don't like to disappoint people and because my ego prevents me from admitting that I may not be able to do anything and everything. Understanding your psychological triggers doesn't necessarily mean you can control them.

So I say yes when people ask me to help or donate or whatever, and the next thing I know I'm walking around Wal-Mart for 2 hours after work buying toys for needy children.

2. Deep deep deep deep down, there is an optimist in me that believes that these little acts actually help people have better lives. That "Yes Virginia there is a Santa Claus" and that despite how silly or small I think things are; some things have a huge positive impact on people's lives. Cosmic Karma. A stone thrown into a still lake with ripples extending out to shore. Incredibly some small part of me still believes in all of that Campbell's bullshit for the soul. I blame my parents.

So it's the holiday season and I've been doing some reflecting. This economy, which I keep neglecting to write about but really need to, sucks. People are having trouble unlike any type of trouble they've seen in a long time and I'm going to tell you why you should help and how.

I've learned after a long Saturday of passing out toys a couple of things that I had forgotten.

People that need help aren't just people living in boxes or people on milk cartons. Sadly, it's people we see and interact with every day that probably could use a little something extra this season. It's people that we assume are ok because they don't have dirty baggy clothes, a cup and a sign that says "need money for beer". The reality is that teachers, waitresses, cashiers and many others are most likely barely getting by or slowly falling behind financially in life.

I've also remembered that my problems are petty compared to the issues that these people have to face.

True story. A woman was recently helped out by a very generous group of people from my company. She received a small pile of toys and clothes for her kids and when she saw it all, she started crying. Her kids had been asking when they were going to get a Christmas tree, but she had been putting it off. Not necessarily because she couldn't come up with the twenty bucks to buy one, but because she couldn't afford to put anything underneath it.

I think about this and the things that I worry about in my life and I realize that I need to be more grateful.

How do you help? There are a lot of ways beyond volunteering or doing an angel tree, but obviously all of those are great options. Leave an extra big tip one day at lunch. In Oxford you can call Interfaith Compassion Ministries and give them a donation. You can support the Christmas Store here http://olemissrotary.googlepages.com/christmasstoredonations

Doesn't really matter, just do something extra. Which brings me to my last point for the cynics who are thinking of kicking me out of the club. The hardest lesson of giving is to learn not to wrap your gifts in expectations. A gift is a gift and once given no longer belongs to you. It could be used for good or it could be seemingly wasted, but this is all part of it. You might end up buying some alcoholic one more drink instead of a turkey dinner. That sucks, but in a weird way has helped make the world a better place. Don't worry about the bastard coated bastards with bastard filling. It's worth getting them drunk if it means some kids end up with a Christmas tree and gifts underneath.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Too Old to Keep Living and Too Young to Give Up on Life

That didn't really come out as well as it sounded in my head while I was driving back from Clinton. It sounded much more profound late at night with stars over head and a car full of sleeping family. Highway 7 is a great place for me to collect my thoughts.

I need to preface this blog post by sharing an observation of life that I believe is one of the great universal truths.

Everything works in cycles. Life especially. Buddhists believe in a large arcing cycle of life and death. I believe that our attitude in life cycles as well.

In other words, I'm bipolar and I go from happy to sad and back again. As I climb out of depression and feel good about my efforts, I know in the back of my mind at some point, I'll be sliding down again. This is only logical if you think about the alternative, which makes no sense what so ever. That is either a non-stop decline, non-stop ascension or a complete leveling. Of coure you go through ups and downs, the trick being that it's always two steps up, one step down type of cycling.

So, I'm on an upward cycle which made me think of the catchy blog title. Too old to keep living like this or too old to keep living a life I'm not sure I want to live would be the un-abridged first half of the title.

Too young to give up on life and all of my dreams and plans would be the un-abridged second half.

Oh yeah, I'm at that point where I'm taking stock of my life and judging myself by my younger self's standards. Richard Bach who wrote Jonathan Livingston Seagull also used to write a lot about this type of self-assessment. If you ever want to feel inspired and depressed at the same time, you should read his book, 'Running From Safety'.

So what happened? Long story I can't comment on in public but basically I'm assessing my life and the person I've become. So far, I'm not that thrilled and I've seen to forgotten a few things about myself.

Children act as wonderful mirrors if you're willing to look at your reflection. Every time I encourage my kids to be stronger willed, self-disciplined and ambitious I eventually have to ask myself am I setting a good example of those traits. As a perfectionist the answer is always no.

The first manifestation of my self-inflicted inferiority complex is exercise. I'm exercising, doing the things I've been telling myself I should be doing if I only had the time. Exercise is great for upward cycles because it has multiple positive impacts. Exercise releases dopamine into your brain and chemically make you feel better. In addition, you tend to look better when you exercise which increases self confidence. And of course exercise makes you healthier, which is always good.

So I'm working out, running stairs and am getting ready to start a morning run routine. Fun times, but I definitely feel better since I've started.

Another manifestation which ties in with the exercise, is goal setting. I have real tangible goals. Not all of them are tangible, but a few new ones are and I'm working towards accomplishing those goals.

It's late and I'm falling asleep so I'll have to post more later.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

To Get You In the Mood

For Halloween..

This is completely a cappella and took 350 hrs. of this poor Frenchman's life.


Monday, September 29, 2008

Best Weekend Ever

Originally Corinne and I planned on being out of town for the debate. We had some reservations about missing a historical moment, but decided that our church retreat and fellowship was more important. Apparently God didn't agree and the trip was canceled.

We still considered leaving since we're way overdue for a visit to Corinne's Mamaw, but after some misgivings, decided that it was a good idea to stay. I'm glad we did.

We were about one degree away from anything exciting happening to us. One couple we know actually scored tickets. One friend had their picture taken with Howard Dean. Someone saw Oprah. Someone else went to the Democratic viewing. All of these exciting things happened to someone we knew, but never us. However, we still had a great time.

During the afternoon we went to visit the Grove. It felt like going to a football game, except there were beat poets and random bands rocking the vote in the Grove and stickers everywhere. You know Mississippians love free stuff and people were covered head to toe in free support swag.

I saw a lot of disappointed looks on some of the booth sponsors who seemed to be hoping for a larger crowd. The crowd itself seemed pretty happy because they could act weird. There were a lot of people acting weird, apparently that's how you be political.

Charles and Elise had a lot of fun dancing and listening to the "flowetry". Charles was so excited he threw up. Actually he was crying because Elise took his American flag and then he threw up. Kids are funny like that.

The throwing up part was a good sign that we had been political enough and it was time to go home and take a break before the actual debate.

I love my kids, but yelling at them can be exhausting and we almost decided to call it a night and watch the debate on the Internets. After some thought and a beer, we decided it was a good idea to go, hell or high throw up. So we packed a stroller, camp chairs and blankets and headed to the Square.

Oxford projected the debate on two big screens off to the side of the county courthouse. I wasn't sure what to expect and was very surprised to find a polite crowd seated in rows of camp chairs waiting for the debate to begin. Oh yeah, they were showing the debate on campus at the Grove as well which is probably why the Square was so subdued.

Elise was asleep before Obama and McCain shook hands and Charles was busy playing with a toy. 30 minutes into the debate when he started to get antsy, I handed him the iPod loaded with cartoons. He'd occasionally look up and yell something like "what did you say?" Kids with earphones are funny. They just don't get the concept.

The night was cool, but not cold and the crowd politely cheered for their candidate. It was like watching the debate with your church, people you might not agree with but didn't want to piss off because you'd see them later.

It was wonderful really. Occasionally I'd look up out of boredom and stare at the stars and wonder how such a community could really exist. It's not utopia, but it's pretty damn pleasant.

I wrote earlier that I was concerned about all of the news coverage being biased against Mississippi. I, like much of Oxford and Mississippi, was defensive because we're often the target of abuse, not praise.

I was wrong to be concerned. I had underestimated Oxford's charm which managed to win over quite a few people. Our progress was more apparent then I thought and we had some nice write ups in the national media.

This is commendable because typically no one really cares much about the host city. It's a location where two greats are debating, a setting not a character.

What was most touching was the pride that Mississippians and people with ties to Oxford seem to feel about the whole event. I read a comment from an old MSU alum who congratulated us despite being Rebels. For one night, Mississippi wasn't just the poor, uneducated fat kid everyone liked to kick when down. We were the star and we held our heads high.

Here is a list of some of the articles written about Oxford.

My favorite is the NPR audio.


USA Travel fluff piece

Commercial Appeal

Daily journal

NPR Scott Simon on Oxford

Clarion Ledger

Commercial Appeal

Giuliani in Oxford

Bob Schieffer returns to Oxford

AP video of Oxford preparation

New Orleans jealous, who knew?

Interesting behind the scenes

long video of debate events with pictures

Oh and to top it all off, the Rebels went down to the "Swamp" and beat the 4th ranked Gators. Really one of the best weekends I've had in a long time.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I Was Going to Post About the Debate

but I'm having to delay the post while I learn to walk and chew gum at the same time.









Yes, Oxford is bitter. Yes, that includes Republicans. Yes, I think it's one big political stunt that has completely blown up in McCain's face and quite possibly cost him the election. Yes, I have decided on who I'm going to vote for.


Yes, it's Elvis.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I'm Seriously Considering Voting For

Elvis.

There is apparently no one in politics who cares about anything other than politics and money.

The Democrats, who have a majority in both the Senate and the House, have decided to let the ban on offshore drilling expire. Really, what's the excuse here? Is this the best the Democrats can do?

Why did people bother to vote for change, if all we end up getting is the same stuff but with more whining? At least when the Republicans had the majority and the White House, you had an excuse.

So what does offshore drilling buy us? Well, the price of oil will go down in the short term, because that's the way volatile, un-regulated markets behave. But it won't be long before there is a good excuse to pump that price back up. For instance, OPEC could simply reduce production. Never mind that it will be past the first term of the next president before a single drop of oil is actually extracted.

It's also been proven over and over again that the price of oil is not directly related to the price of gas. There is only a correlation when the two are going up. There doesn't seem to be any correlation in the opposite direction. So, no it won't really reduce the price of gas either.

What about energy independence? There is not enough oil to in all of North America to do that. So no, forget that part. Besides as long as we're a little dependant, we're still dependant.

Again, so why would we do this? Money of course. Lots of it. Money for ExxonMobil and politician's campaign funds. Money for taxes and the Federal Government.

I am extremely disappointed in our government right now.

Six Degrees of Separation

are sometimes reduced to one with truly amazing results.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Friday, September 19, 2008

I Can Tell Already

The news coverage of Oxford during the debate is going to really piss me off.

This is the first national article I've read about Oxford in terms of the debate.

What does it focus on? Racism of course. Ole Miss's history of racism and how we're trying real hard, but we're still really racist.

My favorite line:

"On a campus where white students still rarely interact with black ones, the debate is leading to discussions across the racial divide"

Sweet goodness, you've got to be kidding me.

The other beauty was how Oxford only has a black enrollment of 14%. In 2006 guess how many blacks were admitted to UCLA. 216.

So why does this piss me off? After all, it is sort of true.

Because Mississippi and the rest of the South is held to some random racial standard that the rest of the country gets a free pass on.

I've lived all over this country and trust me racism in Oxford is nothing compared to racism in Orange County, CA. What? Uh yeah. See, out there the discrimination isn't just a black and white issue, although it's still an issue, but it involves all races. It's so damn prevalent, that people don't even stop to think about it. Slurs are common as well as de facto segregation.

Watch this video and tell me it's not racist. If you tried pulling a stunt like that in Mississippi it'd be a national news story. In California, it's funny.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4tq7g0K-PQ

In Hawaii, they tried to setup a school that only pure Hawaiians could attend. Again, try setting up an all white school in Mississippi and see what happens.

For the record, the school was forced to accept whites, but I don't see stories about Hawaii's troubled racial past when they have a televised college football game. And yes, they have a long history of racism, ask a Haole sometime.

You'll hear the "N" word uttered publicly more times in New York than you ever will in Oxford.
In France, there is no such thing as a black governor.

Give me a fucking break. You come to a beautiful city, full of a wonderful culture and people and the only thing you can think to write about is how damn racist everyone is?

There is no doubt that Oxford has race issues. But we're no different then the rest of the country, except maybe for the fact that we actually try to do something about it.

I know all of the coverage won't be like this, but damn.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Little Catching Up

Yay for high school and college friends. I got to see a couple of them last week and enjoyed their company. Both were randomly drawn to Oxford for various reasons and I'm glad their schedule left them time to hang out.

We didn't really play the "dang we're getting old" game, which I think is a good sign that we've accepted our fate and are getting old.

You'll never have friends like you did in college. Work is too much of an obstacle for that level of bonding. So I definitely treasure the friends I have. Even if some of you fuckers never call back. You know who you are.

I sold the truck. Some of you may know the truck from my myspace.com blog. If not, basically I owned a really old (24 yrs. old) Toyota pickup truck. This was our second car for a very long time and I spent lots of time driving, fixing, cussing, and caring for it. Sadly, the truck was no longer being driven as often as it should have and I decided that it was best to sell it.

You would be amazed at the level of demand there is for an old truck. Maybe it's the South or something, but I had it sold in less than a week with just a "For Sale" sign in the back. People were calling me constantly wanting to let me know that they really wanted to buy it. I used to receive offers on it, without the "For Sale" sign, so I knew it would go quickly, but it was still amazing the amount of interest that was shown for a rusty old truck.

I sort of miss it, but all is well, because I used the money to buy a computer. This is a very exciting time for the Jackson household, because we actually bought something new. I've been threatening to buy a new computer for some time, but just never could make the leap as long as one of the 7 yr. old laptops still connected to the Internet.

We bought a red Dell Studio 15. It has a back lit keyboard that seems to be malfunctioning, a built in webcam, and a pretty stupid finger print reader. It's amazingly cool (cool as in cold) and quiet and I'm not afraid my testicles are going to spontaneously combust while I blog. Yay for un-burned testicles.

I'm debating whether or not I'll send it back to get the back lit keyboard fix. When it works, it's awesome, but I hate to be computerless for another two weeks while I wait to get it back.

Charles is in 1st grade. He has homework and reading assignments, etc. He's selling Sally Foster wrapping paper and crap to raise money for his school.

Really he's not selling it, we are and I'm not really worried about him raising money for his school as much as I'm worried he'll be upset that he missed the pizza party because we didn't sell enough of this crap. Stupid Sally Foster. If anyone needs some crap, let me know because we're selling it.

Elise is taking gymnastics. I have no idea what that actually means. I've asked her, "Elise what did you do in gymnastics today?" and I get the same response that I get from Charles.

"I don't know."

I try to lead her with questions into telling me what she did, but I have no idea what you do in gymnastics as this age, so I'm not very good at it. "Did you play on the balance beam?" blah.

When she first started, I would have moments of panic when I thought what if she's really good? In gymnastics you peak at age 16 or something. Geez, what if we're already behind and wasting her natural talents.

These are normal panic thoughts for parents and eventually pass when you stare at your little pumpkin who wears clothing 2 sizes big and think, nah no way in hell. Sorry baby, I love you, but I'm not going to hire the Russian coach just yet.

All in all, all is well and all caught up for now.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Last Post About the LHC

So this is what it does.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

And in Other News...

The Large Hadron Collider was turned on and the world was not destroyed. Scientists cheered the historical moment with shouts of joy as the system powered up and began to hum and make "collider" like noises.

However, the celebration quickly turned to disappointment and dismay as everyone soon realized that no one was smart enough to read the results and explain if it was actually working.



"We think it's working," Nobel winning physicist Emil Loren is quoted as saying. "But we're just not sure. See these little red spots. We think that's good. The blue and green we're a little iffy on, but the red looks good."

Scientists are now working on the next phase of the CERN project which is to get smarter so they can determine if the LHC is working.

Monday, September 8, 2008

When Two Particles Collide

There is a very big geeky event occurring Wednesday. How big? 17 miles big. Somewhere between France and Switzerland, a European scientific group known as CERN will be firing up their Large Hadron Collider for the very first time.

I remember in college (long time ago) when my physics professor literally drooled as he described working on the collider and the day that it would "go live". Years later and this baby is ready to go.

What will it do? Depends on who you ask. Apparently some people are convinced that a particle collider of this size will quite possibly create a black hole, swallowing up Earth and essentially destroy the solar system. They have sued, cried, protest and sent death threats. But we all know those people are nothing but a bunch of losers, bent on ruining everyone elses fun.

So what will it do? I have no fucking idea. I read the wiki entry and I'm still pretty confused. The best I can tell, the LHC will speed up particles to a ridiculously high rate of speed and ultimately direct them to crash into each other in a head-on collision. This apparently will cause massive hard-ons for balding academics and lead to a flurry of scientific papers full of sexual innuendos about the creation of the universe and big bang theories.

Personally, I don't think it'll work. I mean, look at it.

It's more complicated than the Millennium Falcon. We still have trouble building cruise control for cars consistently and you expect me to believe that somehow a bunch of nerds got this thing to work? It'd be one thing if this was built in Japan, but France? Monsieur please.
All kidding aside, I hope it does work. Decades of work and tons of money have been poured into this project by a large unselfish international community, all in the name of science. This very well could represent our generation's version of the first man on the moon. I may not know exactly what it'll do, but I have a good idea what it represents if it succeeds. Besides it looks cool as hell. Something neat has to come out of it.



Tuesday, September 2, 2008

You so Crazy

Democrats, Republicans and Moderates are spinning with McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as a Vice President. The Dems are pointing out how bad of a choice it was and are furiously digging for dirt and skeletons. Republicans are wondering why Huckabee and Romney got passed over, but are excited about a woman that is relatively attractive and likes to shoot large animals with large caliber weapons. Moderates are shaking their heads trying to figure out what the hell is going on.

The real question is how will this all play out? McCain has consolidated his base. I truly believe this despite what the liberals want to say. Palin is extremely conservative and will appeal to all the conservatives despite her past. Let me emphasize that part again. DESPITE HER PAST. The only thing that could sink her would be if she had an abortion at some point growing up. Anything short of that will not stick with the Republicans.

What about the moderates? If McCain is smart, he'll let Palin deal with the conservatives and move towards the middle and collecting moderates. He'll paint Obama as a hedonistic liberal determined to take money from the "middle class" and give it to the non-working poor. He'll talk about national security and how the country must be made safe. He'll stay away from Bush. He'll talk about "work" programs that will help stimulate the country, just like FDR. I'll even bet he comes up with a program that plays off of the "New Deal".

If McCain is dumb, he'll talk about Obama being a celebrity. He'll talk about lack of experience in diplomatic situations. He'll downplay Democratic energy proposals.

And the Dems? They should be quietly digging into Palin's past and holding anything good until November. They should be appealing to the middle with solutions for the economy and energy. They should give clear examples of Obama's "toughness" and his ability to deal with bullying nations or terrorists. They should put a muzzle on Biden.

Obama should stop trying to tie McCain to Bush. This is getting old and he can let Biden and the rest of the Dems make this argument on his behalf. Obama should stay away from anything that could be seen as weakness towards the situation in the Middle East.

I'm still undecided, but leaning towards Obama. His acceptance speech was incredible and he should absolutely destroy McCain during the debates. McCain was smart to announce his VP pick the day after the speech. He totally sucked up the media attention.

I think economy and energy are going to be the most important issues to me this year. I think that probably reflects what most of the moderates are thinking.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Animoto

I was right, this is addictive. I'm not embedding anymore. Takes up too much bandwidth.

http://animoto.com/play/PWZmuL6HCqqVMJAp9abwCw

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Shampoooo


One of the first things you learn as a parent is that giving a newborn a bath is terrifying. Not something they really explain that well in parenting classes. In those classes you grab a plastic baby and pretend you have a tub full of water and wipe the baby down with a washcloth, all the while rolling your eyes because this is the dumbest exercise in the world.


Then you bring the kid home and you realize you need to bathe the little sucker because he's covered in piss and breast milk.


No biggie, we covered this already. Except they forgot to mention that newborns have no neck muscles. It's like holding a dead chicken. The head just rolls from side to side and you're praying to God that the damn thing doesn't break while you try to maneuver him so you can get at him with the washcloth. Oh and water temperature. What if it's too hot? If it's too cold, will it even get him clean or just piss him off? Soap, won't it like burn through their skin or something? God forbid if you get it in his eyes.


Which actually leads me to the original idea behind this post. Washing a kid's hair is an art and I am Michel-fucking-angelo. I obviously take great pride in my ability to wash my kid's hair without making them cry or scream or crying myself. It's hard, requires patience and a steady diet of boiled eggs and protein shakes.


Why is it important to me? Well, I clearly remember when I was kid having my hair washed by mom and hating it. I used to scream bloody murder and it was the entire reason I hated taking a bath. The first problem was the nails. She would scratch my head and pull at my hair as she tried to scrub my scalp with her finger nails. IT hurt. But as if that wasn't enough, she'd get soap in my eyes. Johnson and Johnson can kiss my ass. Tearless baby shampoo only means there are no baby tears in the bottle, because there are plenty everywhere else.


I'd sit there screaming because my eyes are burning and for my suffering I'd get rewarded either by a swift dunking or a large cup of water poured over my face. Yay, nothing like suffocating to distract you from the fact that their is a cleaning agent in your eyes.


Bath time was traumatic for me. As a result, I'm sensitive to my kid's own hair washing and I take great care to avoid repeating the same mistakes of my mom.


The first trick is the water level. The water level has to be just high enough to cover half their ears, but not be near their eyes. I measure the water level by sticking my hand, fingers extended, into the water and seeing where it comes up to on my hand. I then compare that to my kids head to judge how deep the water should be when they are laying down in it.


I get their hair wet once and then have them sit up while I lather their hair up. The little hairs on the front of their forehead are not important enough to soap up their entire head. You can get a good lather on all of their hair without getting any soap on their forehead.


I don't have claw like fingernails, but I still slowly work in the shampoo. If you try to immediately rub into the scalp, it's going to hurt because the hair is still clumped together. Let the shampoo do its job and the hair will untangle allowing you to get to the scalp without pulling on it.


After the shampoo, I have them lay back down into the water. The second trick is to rinse your hands before you start rinsing their hair. The foam will be all over your hands and you can't avoid getting it in their eyes or dripping into their face unless you rinse your hands first. Once your hands are bubble free, then you can start rinsing their hair. If you pour the water slowly from a cup, it won't flow far from the lip of the cup. So you can pour the water directly on their hair line slowly without getting it into their eyes. It helps if you keep a hand over their eyes to block any water that might roll over the crest of their forehead if they move or you misjudge how quickly you're pouring the water. And that's it. One clean haired kid who'll need one less visit to the therapist.


Oh, you didn't think anyone could possibly put that much thought into washing a kid's hair? Michel-fucking-angelo baby. Michel-fucking-angelo.

Geek Post

Um, so as much of a geek as I am, I'm not this bad.

But I did find this cool new site that lets you make music videos.

Here's my first video. I've got a feeling this is going to be addictive. It takes a while to render, but the results are a lot of fun.

http://animoto.com/play/PWZmuL6HCqqVMJAp9abwCw?autostart=false

Saturday, August 23, 2008

And It's Done

Amazingly simple. www.kentavos.com now points to this blog and vice versa. You shouldn't have to change any bookmarks or links. darthkent.blogspot will redirect you to kentavos.com, etc.

If any of you blogging fools feel like doing the same, let me know. The instructions on blogger are surprisingly clear, but it can still be a little intimidating.

I suppose Otro will now find this site. Greetings Otro, I've been expecting you. Ha.

Friday, August 22, 2008

El Otro Kentavos

Most of you who know me, know my nickname Kentavos.

I use this for my personal email addresses and commonly for my message board accounts, etc. It's my online profile, because it's unique and usually easy to register.

I picked up the name in Cancun. While there during our Senior class trip, my friend Danny, who was so impressed with my Spanish and my ability to get around bars, bathrooms and buses, decided somewhere deep down I had to be part Mexican. That being the case, I had to have a Spanish name. What's the Spanish version of Kent? No idea, so it must be Kentavos, which in hindsight is a lot better then Kento or Kentido.

And Kentavos was born.

One of the funny things about the Internet is that it really shows how un-unique we all really are. What you may not know is that there is another Kentavos in the cyberworld. El otro Kentavos lives in Portland, OR; likes soccer and apparently club music.

I first became aware of the other Kentavos when I decided to see how much of my online life would be displayed if I did a Google search for "Kentavos". Various websites and message boards, where I had made smart ass comments or asked redundant questions, were returned.

Then randomly there was a website about soccer where a Kentavos was posting comments. Wait, that's not me, I've never been to that site. And so I discovered another me.

The Internet has become sort of a land grab between me and Otro.

I registered with gmail first.
Otro got myspace.
I've had hotmail forever.
Otro owns youtube.
I own a number of random logins.
Otro owns twitter.

It's a weird tango and I always know that if I go to a website and Kentavos is already taken, Otro has been there first.

I really think it's sort of cool. It's interesting that we both love soccer and I'm sure we probably share a lot of other interests, but I'm hoping we never meet. That would be sort of weird.

I did make the latest claim though and it will impact this blog. Look for this blog to move to www.kentavos.com some time this month. Check, Otro. Your move.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Cute Kid Story

Toddlers (2-4 yrs.) have a very strange view of the world. I'm not sure if it's their height or lack of experience, but they just look at things differently than you or me or even a 6 yr. old.

The other day, the family was all sitting around the coffee table doing something. Charles and Elise were bickering about the rules of some game they had made up.

"You can't do that, it has to move like this." Charles complained as Elise violated the laws of child physics, which is pretty hard to do.

"Nuh, uh Chawools. I know I can do it."

"How do you know?"

"I know everything."

"Oh yeah? Well how did the dinosaurs die?" Charles asked knowing he had her stumped. Charles learned in 5 yr. old kindergarten that no one really knows how the dinosaurs died, so this is his trick question to prove every one's ignorance.

"Like this Chawools?"

I looked over at this point, because I didn't understand her answer. Elise was laying down on her side with her eyes closed and arms and legs slightly sprawled in a very convincing dead dinosaur pose.

Charles rolled his eyes and Corinne and I laughed our asses off. She really did know everything.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Oh So Busy

I'm going to apologize for the reduced number of blog posts lately and the noticeable decline in quality and substance.

I've been besieged by responsibilities and activities that have left me fairly exhausted and uninterested in spending more time on the computer typing away. However, much like the dull un-sharpened knives sitting in my wooden knife block, the blog has been calling my name demanding some attention. And here I am.

What have we missed. Well birthdays for one. Charles and Corinne both celebrated birthdays in August. Read the wife's blog for details and pictures. I'll only add that driving multiple six year olds an hour and a half to Memphis and back deserves some sort of damn medal. I gave Corinne some drinking glasses and napkins from Catstudio for her birthday.


Speaking of cats, we now have one. uh, yay.

It's a black cat named "Pumpkin". Charles wanted to name it "Dark Knight Cat" and Elise wanted to name it "Sassy". I would have been cool with a compromise and called it "Sassy Dark Knight", but Corinne insisted on Pumpkin.

I can read your minds, how in the world did the guy who hates all things resulting in more responsibility end up with a cat? I have no fucking idea. I came home and here's this cat. What the hell? We also ended up with two snails for the fish tank, but since they eat algae and don't require money, I'm OK with them.

So am I Noah collecting animals before the flood? No. Corinne found this cat at the park and started feeding it there.


Fine, just don't bring it home.
OK, but I think I might get it fixed.
Fine, but you have to pay for it with your own money. Wait, what was that? Is that a cat? Dammit.


It's a sweet cat, unlike the last one that I'm still not really sure ever existed since it constantly hid under the couch and only came out when everyone was asleep to howl and run laps around the furniture. This cat, Pumpkin, will actually let you scratch it, hold it, etc. There is no litter box, so at least it shits outside and I don't have to act like some ancient Egyptian servant cleaning up its feces, but it has slept inside.


We'll see. I'm pretty sure the first time it carves up one of the couches it'll be spending a lot more time outside, but for now as long it behaves itself, it can stay. sigh.


Work has been keeping me busy as well. Most of my work would be considered fairly boring, so we'll just say the TPS reports are really piling up. I did have a trip to Seattle recently. That went well and I enjoyed visiting the city and friends. It had been a while, so it was good to catch up.


One of our good friends is moving to Seattle very soon. As a matter of fact, she is probably getting completely smashed at her themed going away party as I type. It was a stone age and out of space party or something like that. So long Anna, good luck in Seattle.


Ahh, I did blog about Seattle or at least the late night driving home. Damn, another thing I need to finish. What was the other "realization"? It was about race, which was why I was hesitant to post it. Unfortunately in this country it's incredibly difficult to have an honest conversation about race. As a result, I'm completely hesitant to publicly post some of my observations. It wasn't anything bad, but in this age of Political Correctness where a person can get fired for properly using the term 'niggardly' I'd rather not take any chances.


Moving on. The Olympics. We turned off cable, but I've been keeping up somewhat. My favorite so far has been the Men's 4 x 100 relay. Absolutely inspiring. Lee Greenwood was probably crying.

Speaking of turning off the tv. I've been amazed at the amount of free content on the Internet. Comedy Central pretty much posts everything. ESPN has 360, which is free if you use ATT. There is Hulu.com which is now showing free full length movies, including some good ones like "Lost in Translation". There's Tidaltv, which has a random selection of free stuff. And I'm not even actively looking for stuff, these are just the ones I've stumbled across. I'm convinced that TV providers are becoming increasingly irrelevant.

Not that I'm really watching a whole lot of Internet right. So what else has been keeping me? I'm working on a couple of projects. They're both business interests that I'm keeping quiet until the appropriate time. One of them involves conquering the world, so of course that one is taking longer than I like. I've also been doing a lot of volunteer type stuff. United Way and Rotary club have been keeping me occupied. And disc golf. Ole Miss has a pretty nice course I've been spending a lot of time cussing on. It's fun and cheap, two of my favorite traits for any activity.

Enough for now. My next post should be about some global things I've been noticing. Obviously with Georgia and Russia there is a lot going on, but I'm getting the sense we're about to see some interesting stuff happen in general. More on that later.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Happy Birthday Wifey!

Happy birthday to my wonderful wife. She turned 21!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Cold Play, Fog and Insomnia

It's 2:18 AM right now and I'm bumping up against the 20 hour mark for waking hours. I didn't sleep very well last night and so realistically over the last 48 hours, I've probably gotten about 4 hours of sleep. For the last 10 hours, I've been traveling across the country from Seattle back home to Oxford.

And yet here I am, blogging in the middle of the night. This post couldn't wait, I had to expel it from mind or else I won't be able to sleep.

One of the things I learned in college was that you didn't need drugs to experience an altered state of mind. It only took going without sleep for certain periods of time. Trust me on this one kids; you will hallucinate after staying up for three days straight.

I wasn't seeing sombreros in the middle of the highway, but my mind was definitely on tilt as I traveled home on I-55 tonight. Which was good. Because my view point was different I learned a few things tonight.

I realized that I love I-55. I cringe when people mention how much they hate the drive between Oxford and Jackson because there is nothing there. I always want to mention the incredible sunset behind the rolling cow pastures somewhere between Durant and Duck Hill that I once pulled over to photograph. Or how incredible the stars look through the open sun roof in the middle of the night when there is no other light source to drown them out. Tonight there was fog near Senatobia and it was creating incredible effects. Cars would come over a hill and their headlights made the fog look like it was moving as a wave down the hill. I've spent so much time on I-55, it's like the street I grew up on.

I listened to Coldplay on XM. XM is doing a 30 days of Coldplay on channel 51 or something. At least that's what they kept saying as I listened to it on channel 29. I never knew Coldplay was prolific enough that you could devote 30 days to them. I always thought they were too busy fighting with each other to actually put out albums. Or maybe I thought that because all of their songs sound alike.

I realized something else, but I'm going to have to post it later after some thought. I just spent the last 40 minutes writing about it when I realized that I'm not sure it's something I need to hang out in the Internet. I also just realized that I'm so exhausted that I'm literally thinking in a British accent. I'm not playing.

I need sleep now.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

11 Billion Dollars and How to Spend it

ExxonMobile has once again beaten it's own record for the most profit in the history of America and has managed to make $11.68 billion dollars in 3 months. That's roughly $1,500 a second.




Oddly, it wasn't enough according to the analysts and their stock price dropped. They were supposed to make $12 billion.



If there was ever any doubt about how profitable oil is, this should clear it up. A sheik from Qatar recently needed an oil change for his Lamborghini LP640.






Rather than having just anyone change the oil, he decided it should be serviced by Lamborghini technicians. Only problem is that there are no Lamborghini dealers in Qatar. Oh, what's a poor sheik to do?

How about fly the Lamborghini to the Lamborghini dealer in London, England ? Yes, he flew the car to London for an oil change.


Awesome.

In an informal poll, it appears the American public is pretty fed up with oil companies. I'm not sure if they can be completely blamed, but I surely don't think they're helping the situation. The good news is that because Americans feel this way, it's less likely our politicians will open up protected lands for drilling.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince

Movie trailer has just been released. Yay!!

http://www.moviefone.com/movie/harry-potter-and-the-half-blood-prince/27063/main

Bag O'Glass with Irwin Mainway

After Corinne and the kids got back on Sunday, we immediately headed to a birthday party for one of Charles's friends. It was a great party with games, water balloons and wonderful food.

One of the games was a treasure hunt and involved clues and prizes. After tracking down all of the hidden clues, the kids discovered a "treasure box" full of toys. The kids each got to pick out a few of the treasures that they could then take home.



Charles chose a bag of marbles as one of his toys. I was thrilled, because I was an avid marble collector in 2nd-5th grade. Weird I know, but it used to be the cool thing to do at school. The bag looked to be full of plain jane cat's eyes, but was hard to tell with all of the plastic wrapping.



After eating cake, we went home and Charles opened up his bag of marbles. I was busy reading the paper when I heard, "Cool, there are jewels in here too!"



Jewels? "Hey, let me see that."



Sure enough there were some "jewels" in the plastic netting, if by jewels you mean sharp shards of glass, roughly in the shape of diamonds.



Apparently some of the mashers (larger marbles) broke apart into smaller pieces in the bag. I picked out the pieces and gave the rest of the marbles to Charles. Here's what the pieces looked like:







I know I should have been appalled or boycotting China or something, but I couldn't help but laugh. The whole thing reminded me of the Saturday Night Live skit with Dan Aykroyd as Irwin Mainway, who during the Christmas time tried to sell Bag O'Glass to kids.

We had a real deal Bag O'Glass. How cool is that?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Right to Privacy

Obama recently made a trip to Israel. As part of the trip he visited the Western Wall where it is tradition to leave a prayer in the crevices of the wall. Obama participated in the tradition and some schmuck stole the prayer and sold it to a paper.

This is fairly fucked up. Prayer is private for many different reasons.

Well, it turns out this isn't the first time this has happened. Apparently someone did the same to G.W. Bush when he was in Israel.

There are no boundaries, nothing is sacred.

All Is Not Cool at Cuil.com

A website made a pretty big splash today in the internet. It's a new search engine put together by some ex-Google employees. I don't know much more than that, so I decided to check it out for myself.

I tried to think of something random to search for and see how it worked. The first thing that popped into my head was "cows" for some reason. Here are my results:



There are number of technical reasons why this probably happened. A search for "Ole Miss" worked just fine. It's still funny though. I'll withhold judgement until they get a chance to deal with the huge amounts of traffic they probably experienced today.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Update and Such

Well, first off Happy birthday to:

Elise who is 3














Susan who is 21







Danny who is 30

and Jim who is in Chicago.

Lots of summer birthdays and good excuses to party.

Charles was grounded for lying. We had a long talk about what lying means and why it's bad. We grounded him for two days which meant he missed night swim at the pool. This was not fun for all parties involved, but no one said parenting was going to be fun all the time.

Corinne and the kids went down to Clinton this weekend to visit family that had come from Oklahoma. They left early to help with the cooking and cleaning, so I was unable to make it down with them.

So I had the weekend to myself to play some disc golf, drink beer, listen to bands, eat fast food and kill some fools on the xbox. It was altogether enjoyable, but I'm definitely glad to have the family back.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Mendacity

This is one of my favorite words in the English lexicon. Lexicon is another favorite word. I have no idea what the official definition is for mendacity, but it'll forever be defined for me by "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof".

If you haven't seen this movie, do yourself a favor and watch it. It has Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman in their prime and is inexplicably enjoyable.

Mendacity. Something about lying and the hypocrisy that often accompanies it. It is a subject we're currently dealing with at the Jackson house.

Our eldest has been caught lying. Not just fibbing a little, but an active attempt at deception. He hid some food he didn't want to eat behind a dresser. When he was discovered, he attempted to lie his way out of it by telling more lies. Crazy, drunken crack addict type lies. People broke in and placed it there, no it was put there by aliens or it has actually been there for over 100 years. Amazing.

Now before everyone cringes, we're not going to be too hard on him. Corinne and I understand that being caught in a lie is part of growing up. Coincidentally, so is being grounded. We haven't figured out yet how to handle this, but I guarantee you it will be a measured and rational reaction.

Back to the lies. I have a personally issue with lying. I used to do it a lot. When I was in the first through third grade, I started lying about homework and just about anything I could think of that would make my life easier. However, it never helped, just made things worse. The lies would stack on top of the lies until I felt so much guilt, fear and pressure that I thought a giant rock was crushing me into the bottom of the ocean. It was horrible.

I vaguely remember one night staying up after not doing homework for weeks trying to cope with everything and completely breaking down. There was no more room to lie and I was trapped. I started crying to my dad trying to explain everything and the sense of hopelessness I felt because I was so far behind. He was patient and let me stay up all night to work on as much as I could. I remember sleeping with an incredible sense of relief offset by small twinges of guilt. Never again, I told myself. I will never again be a prisoner to guilt.

I still lie. My lies are different then before, they're much more acceptable, but I can't say that I don't lie, that would be an unacceptable lie. I tell my kids about the tooth fairy, I tell them that I'll always be around. There are certain truths kids just shouldn't be told.

So how does one teach a soon-to-be 6 year old the difference between good lies and bad? How do you teach them that their life will be much happier if they don't lie; if they live up to the consequences of their actions and put out the small fires before they become raging infernos, they won't cry themselves to sleep one night because of something completely preventable and inconsequential?

Parenthood is complicated sometimes.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Up All Night, Sleep All...

Well, never. I'm not going to be sleeping all day, that's for sure. 6 cups of coffee will solve that problem. You'll have to forgive this blog post ahead of time. It's mainly for my sanity, which might be entertaining, bust most likely will just be confusing.

This happens sometimes. Shit, I mean. It happens. I can't sleep because of it. My brain is working in overtime trying to figure out my position in life. It's like God's version of GPS stuck in my cranium somewhere. "Turn Right in 1 mile"

When this happens, my life becomes a puzzle with a picture of a chessboard. I have to arrange the pieces a million different ways to make them fit. Once I think I have the border done, I can start moving bishops and rooks.

I think I found all the corners tonight, while talking with Corinne. But damn if the board is not an ugly mess. It's going to take a lot of concentration and decision making to figure this one out.

I tend to second guess myself when I try and predict the future, but I also tend to be correct. I know that I'm closest to the truth the more panicky I become. I'm usually pretty early, but almost always see the writing on the wall well before the paint is dry. This can be both good and bad. Timing is everything in life and really nothing is certain, only probable or improbable.

Confused yet? It'll make more sense in about 5 months. For now, I've got to consider the possible and how it is probable.

There is hope. I can't forget that. There is always hope. With work and grace, once can accomplish much in the time between now and the inevitable. I need to remember that. I can and will make a difference, I just hope it's enough.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

How Do You Know When Oil Prices Are High?

When airlines start asking their customers to help protest oil speculation.





I received this email today from Northwest Airlines asking me to join them in protesting the rapidly rising oil costs which they attribute to speculators. They want me to join this site:

http://www.stopoilspeculationnow.com/


I haven't signed up and I'm not sure if I will. I find it sort of suspect that a corporation would ask me to protest another corporation like this. I guess the idea is that if I blame the oil company, I won't blame the airline for raising my rates.


It just seems weird to me that this is how they approach the problem. During the old Dot Com bust days, when I received odd emails from a company, it usually meant they were headed towards bankruptcy very rapidly. It was a sign of desperation as they would try anything, no matter how unconventional, to save their company.


Northwest is supposed to merge with Delta, but now I'm wondering if there isn't something going wrong with the merger that would cause them to send an email out like this.


We'll see.


Now for some Friday fun. Here's a cool image of a company that's doing well despite the shitty economy.


http://projects.flowingdata.com/walmart/

What Has Two Thumbs and is Above the Law?

This guy right here!


Not to make this a political blog, but I really couldn't let this one go without some sort of comment. Plus I thought the joke was funny and it took me a while to find a picture with GW giving two thumbs up, not one.

:WARNING: Not kid friendly and by reading this you'll probably end up on some sort of list since the NSA is monitoring what you're doing. :WARNING:

Yesterday the Senate passed an amendment to FISA, an act that essentially prevents the US Government from spying on American citizens without court orders. This is all part of the checks and balances thing we learned about in school.

There are a lot resources on the web for more info, so Google it to learn more details.

The long and short of it is that the Act was outdated and needed some revising. But in addition to revising, the US government slipped in a couple of pieces that gave retro-active immunity to the President and major telecom companies that helped spy on American citizens without court orders.

Wait, what?

That's correct, the US government has been spying on Americans without a court order.

Shortly after 9/11 GW began giving authorization to the CIA, NSA, FBI, ETC. to spy on anyone they thought might be a terrorist. This is good, except that someone should have checked them to make sure they were really doing their job and had good cause to spy on the Americans.

That someone is normally a judge or a court. Apparently that process is annoying and GW decided to skip it completely. That more or less violates the 4th Amendment, but hey who really reads that thing anyways.

In order to spy on people, the government needed some help from Telco companies like AT&T, Verizon, and Qwest. The list is bigger, but you get the idea.

So these companies were all presented with requests to allow the government to spy on people via phones, email and Internet. Most scratched their head, because hey such a request should have a court order attached. Where was the court order? Oh we don't need those anymore, we promise you it'll be OK, the President says so.

Most of the companies agreed and let it happen. One didn't (Qwest) and maintained that such action would be illegal and in violation of the Constitution. They were right, but that didn't stop the government from leaning on them. However, because the NSA didn't want it to get out that they were doing this, they couldn't really force them. So Qwest never did break the law, while everyone else happily complied.

So since 9/11 the government has been spying on American citizens without any checks or balances and in complete violation of FISA and the Constitution. They denied repeatedly that this was happening, while they were actually doing it and didn't come out and admit the truth until some true Americans started telling the truth.

This is bad. Really bad if people realized what was going on. So what happened yesterday? Well the senate passed an amendment and the President will sign it shortly that said, "all is forgiven".

Wait what?

Yep, the President has been violating our Constitutional rights and is about to sign a bill that says that it was all OK. In addition, he's going to save the asses of the telecom companies that went along with him and give them immunity as well.

It's utter and complete bullshit.

Well what kind of impact does this really have, you ask yourself. Well basically the FBI, NSA, CIA can monitor your phone, email and Internet usage anytime they want now. Later if they're asked by a court, they have to say they did it because they thought you were a terrorist, but that's all way after the fact.

It's bullshit.

Now the fun part. Who do we blame for passing this shit? Everyone. McCain supports it and Obama voted for it. Politicians at work protecting politicians and campaign money sources. Ugghhh. I love America, but damn I hate politicians.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

China, More Prepared Than the Boy Scouts


China has been massively preparing for the Olympics with new stadiums, pollution laws, weather control and anti-terrorism squads.

But I really wasn't expecting the flame thrower.

The anti-aircraft missiles I can somewhat rationalize, but a flame thrower? What exactly will that be used for, except to maybe re-light the Olympic torch? I literally laughed out loud when I saw this picture.

The irony of course is that they are going to such great lengths to maintain control in what is already an extremely oppressive country. I have trouble believing that we would ever see an anti-aircraft missile battery in America for the Olympics and yet our odds for needing one are probably significantly higher due to our comparatively lax laws.

All of this reminds me of how great this is going to really be and how backwards America can perceive things. China's hosting of the Olympics should be applauded and encouraged not boycotted and belittled.
I understand they have some serious human rights violations, but it's events like this where foreigners are welcomed to their country that will ultimately lead them to democracy and freedom. Not bombs or sanctions. Interaction and communication.
Also, I'd like to plug the blog from which this picture originates. The Big Picture is really great. Apparently the LA Times has a Big Picture blog as well. Boston's is better.

Exodus, Movement of the...

TV.

We've never been big TV folks at the Jackson household. This is actually very odd, because I grew up watching a lot of TV.

However, due to circumstances and lack of money, Corinne and I never got big into the TV experience. We started out with an old 19 inch TV that barely received PBS. We had that TV until 2005 when I used some Christmas and birthday money to buy a 27 inch Panasonic.

After our last move, we decided to get DirecTV. It's been like crack. We had access to everything and a DVR that could record anything we missed. However, like most relationships the bloom eventually fell off and we realized that we were watching a lot of TV. TV time was replacing talking time and becoming a way too convenient babysitter.

So for the last few weeks Corinne and I have been kicking around the idea of turning off cable and moving the TV out of the living room for aesthetic reasons. I couldn't really bring myself to do it, but I came home last night to discover that Corinne had gone ahead and cut the chord.

She had caught Charles acting in some violent manner and decided that shows like the Power Rangers were to blame. This became the proverbial straw and just like that it was over.

Last night we tried watching some shows we had on the DVR and hadn't gotten around to watching, but they all sucked. This only re-affirmed our decision.

This morning I woke up early and turned the TV on with a slight feeling of hope that maybe DirecTV had messed up and we'd still get the Simpsons until I had to ship the DVR back. That was quickly squashed by a black screen and a little box saying I hadn't purchased this channel yet.

C'est la vie. The babysitters are going to hate our guts.

Monday, July 7, 2008

We Are Family

Family seemed to be the theme this weekend.
Corinne's Grandparents celebrated their 60th anniversary in Jackson. The Kelly Kids put on a good party and all of the kids, grand kids and great grand kids showed up. It was an impressive sight.
Their family isn't huge, but it's definitely bigger than mine. I always enjoy watching everyone and catching up. They're good folks and I'm looking forward to the next gathering.
My family has returned from camping and sun-bathing on the beach. We met in Jackson and drove back together. The kids seemed completely unfazed by the fact that they were gone from their house and their dad for 10 days. I suppose that's better than the opposite situation. I'll post some pics of the camping trip later.
Corinne is in a lot of pain caused by an abscessed tooth. She's been to the dentist twice and a ?gum? specialist once. This morning the dentist told her she'll need an emergency root canal, or it could get really dangerous. She's been a trooper, putting up with a lot of pain and taking care of the kids for the last week. Wednesday is her next appointment and hopefully everything will get better from there.
I'm glad to have them all back and am quite ready to quit my diet of beer and chicken tenders.

Edit: Pictures as promised.










Thursday, July 3, 2008

Yea! July 4th!

July 4th is an under appreciated holiday. There are a lot of great things that make the 4th of July one of the top three holidays of the year.


1. It's during the summer. The summer is awesome and any good excuse to party during the summer is awesome.

2. We celebrate it by blowing shit up.

3. It's about America. As much as we bitch about America, it's still better than most if not all countries out there. There's a reason people are willing to live in a shipping container for 2 weeks to try and sneak into this country.

4. Lee Greenwood.

5. No work!

6. Barbecue, hot dogs, hamburgers, watermelon, potato salad and beer.

I love it all.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

8 Years of Marriage, a Recap

I met Corinne at a coffee shop while in college. She was working there and I was studying some Shakespeare. Sounds dorky, but true. We use the book for a booster seat now. She was wearing a Phoenix Suns t-shirt and I used it as an excuse to talk to her.

There was definitely some chemistry and I remember very clearly thinking that there was a girl I could marry. I had no intention of marrying her and no clue why I thought that, since marriage wasn't usually the first thing that jumped to mind when I saw a hot girl.

The next few months were wonderfully awkward as we danced around the notion that we may actually love each other. We eventually admitted that we did indeed love each other and the relationship went from there.

It was never completely easy. We're both hard headed and pretty damn sure we're both right all of the time. Honesty is as important as compassion and understanding when you're in a relationship.

We married on June 24, 2000 despite everything and everyone. We were young, stupid and still in college, but when you've decided you've found the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, why wait?

Being young and married presented its own problems. Balancing school, work, life, money and marriage was incredibly difficult. Looking back, I'm not sure how we did make it with so many factors stacked against us, but we did.

The move to California was good for us. Isolation in a city of millions brought us closer together. Our marriage blossomed as our family grew.

We were premature again and had Charles in 2002. We were the second youngest couple in our birth class and people assumed we were married because of the pregnancy similar to the high school kids who were the youngest couple.

Once again we made it, despite the distance from family and the stupidly high cost of living in California.

Settling into our new family roles, we decided that it was time to go home and we managed to move back to Oxford.

The last few years have been less trying as the first ones. Our lives have been blessed and our family has grown. We're much better at fighting now and it usually takes only a few hours to work out our differences.

Shit. I don't know how to frame this summary without being cheesy or making lame ass metaphors. It's true, love is like a rose. :)

I realize now that marriage is not about trying to recapture that giddy feeling you have when you kiss someone for the first time. That part is wonderful and will make you surprise your wife with a kiss when you remember it. But marriage is about those feelings tempered with time and adversity. It's about looking back and realizing that it was your partner who helped you get through everything. Our history together defines our marriage now. 8 years of good and bad is what will keep us together through the next 8 years.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Blogger, Why Don't You Remember Me?

I have to re-login to blogger every day. I check the little 'remember me' check box, but as the sun rises, blogger forgets who I am yet again. Am I really that boring that websites forget my name soon after I leave the room?

Corinne and the kids are about to leave on a camping adventure and then a visit to the beach. I will be at home slaving away, financing the entire trip. Ha. I really do wish I could go, but I've burned up enough vacation days this year already and am extremely behind at work.

It's ok. I'm looking forward to a weeks worth of pizza and chicken tenders.

Since the family will soon be departing and I feel slightly guilty that I'm not going along, I decided we should spend some quality time together as a family. So we did dinner and a movie.

I'm glad restaurants have outside seating, because the kids can run around without pissing everyone off completely. I think people's expectations of behaviour drops considerably if you're outside.

They were pretty well behaved actually.

We went to see WALL-E. It was great. Most everything from Pixar is great, but this was really good. Completely recommend it.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Toothless


Charles lost his second top front tooth a couple of days ago. He's officially gummy. He actually lost his teeth out of order. He started with his bottom front, instead of the top ones. He's all caught up now.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Happy Anniversary

Corinne and I just celebrated our 8th Anniversary. She cooked a wonderful meal of Beef Wellington and stuffed mushrooms. I gave her a pyrex bowl with a red cover full of Snickers and Almond joys. I know I'm a real big spender, but we promised each other not to spend a lot of money.

I'm swamped at work, so I'll update later about the finer points of marriage from 8 year veteran's perspective.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Oil Companies Suck

The price of gas is obviously a pretty hot topic right now. Gas is about 3.92 for Regular Unleaded in Oxford right now. I spoke to a co-worker in central California and he's paying about 4.48 for the same thing.

I hear a lot of talk about how it's not really the oil company's fault, that they're just trying to get by like everyone else and it makes me want to puke. Sure there are economics involved, i.e. supply and demand, but if you honestly believe that's the only reason that gas is going up, you're crazy.

It's no coincidence that we're paying more at the pump than ever before and the oil companies are making more money than any other company ever in the history of the United States every year. 11.66 billion dollars every three months for ExxonMobil.

That's profit. That means after they paid all of their bills, employees, taxes, etc. they had over 11 billion dollars left over for a 3 month period!

To put that in perspective, that's roughly $38.30 per every person in the US.

If we looked at driving age citizens only and all of the oil companies' profits, I think we would find where that extra $50.00 towards gas we're paying is going every month. It's going in their pockets.

Now here's a little mystery that makes me think the oil companies are screwing us pretty good. Will someone explain to me why if I drive 90 miles away, I can pay $.15 less per gallon? In more populated areas, I can drive 4 blocks and get the same results. Why is that?

I thought there were no margins for the gas station owners. It's not their fault gas is so expensive according to everyone. They barely make any money from gas at all. I actually believe them on that, but I'm still left scratching my head.

A bag of chips costs the same amount whether I buy them in Mississippi or Alabama. So what makes gas so special that the price fluctuates so greatly? And it's not just taxes, unless there are city taxes on gas. To my knowledge, there isn't other than regular sales tax.

The reason that this is perplexing is because the price of gas goes up when something global happens. An oil field gets bombed in Kenya. Gas prices go up for everyone. Yet, I'm getting charged at a very local level. So if everyone is paying the same thing for oil, shouldn't the prices be the same across the country (minus state taxes)? Why is CA so much more expensive? What does this all mean? That gas prices are more arbitrary than the oil companies will admit. They say it's a set figure and they can't help it, but they can charge less in one area and much more in another. Seems to me that they're deciding how much it costs, not the "global market".

Oil people are sitting there yelling at the screen going "of course you idiot! It's all about supply and demand! Free market, free market, free....!!"

So let's look at a free market. What's a key factor in a free market. Low barriers to entry. What does that mean? It means that when oil companies become to monopolistic, someone can come along and start an oil company and undercut them. This stops the oil companies from over charging out of fear that an upstart will take away their business.

Anyone want to start an oil company? It's a free market after all. Oh wait. Nope, the barrier is ridiculously high, which means this idea that's it a free market is bullshit. So if it's not a free market what is it?

It's a monopoly. The oil companies are controlling the price of gas. Plain and simple. They raise the price on speculation and lower it only slightly when we complain loudly enough. Once the bitching dies down, they raise it again. Do not trust them.

Here's another nice fact about oil companies. They're complaining that if oil was cheaper, they would be able to provide cheaper gas. So please let us drill in protected wilderness. We'll do it without harming the environment.

Why is this bullshit? First off, they have consistently harmed the environment and shown no regard for the environment. Remember Exxon Valdez? Guess how much they paid for that mess? Umm, nothing. It happened in 1989 and Exxon is still appealing.

Second, they haven't drilled in all of the spaces they have available now. Why? It costs too much. So they want easier targets, like national parks.

Third, this is the same company that tried to drill protected wetlands in Florida because there was a drought and the land was no longer "wet". What a bunch of assholes.

The list goes on, but this post is long enough already.

In summary oil companies suck. They're proven liars and greedy bastards. Do not trust them.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Sooooo....

Well that didn't take long. April was my first post and here I am already behind. Geez, even I am amazed by my slackiness.
So what brings me back? My grandma died.

I love my grandma. She was one of the few constants in my life. Both of my grandparents served as an inspiration for me. Their love and personalities had a clear influence on the type of person I have become. I try to model myself after my grandpa's clear and tough outlook on life and my grandma's unwavering nature and generous personality.

Growing up, Grandma was always there to add a little joy to my life. She would send cards with $5.00 for almost every holiday without fail. Halloween, Valentine's Day, Thanksgiving, Birthdays, Anniversary, etc.; I could always count on a card from her. It would brighten my day and offer a much needed foundation to my life.

Christmas was her favorite time. Grandma's "goodie bags" became legendary in our family and were the most anticipated part of Christmas morning. She would spend all year gathering random items and surprises that she knew we would like and place them in a large burlap bag. They were never expensive items or luxurious, just little things that you knew she picked out just for you. She also included a $50.00 bill in each bag with a small bank envelope that framed the president so you could "buy something you'd like."

I once told Grandma when I was 15 that I liked a certain candy called "Sixlets." After that, I got a package of them every year in my bag. It was little personal things like this that would remind me how much my Grandma loved me, no matter how far I lived from her or how often I visited.

When I got older and Grandma couldn't get around as well, I took delight in being able to repay all of the care that she had shown me. I loved buying her surprises and little presents because she took so much joy in receiving them. I loved being able to run errands and fix things around the house for her because she genuinely appreciated it. Our roles had reversed a little and it was my turn to spoil her and we both enjoyed it.

Grandma has had some tough times in the last few decades. When my grandpa died, it was heartbreaking. I can only say that I hope my own marriage will live up to the love the two felt for each other.

Grandma was sad, but she never gave up living. She stayed busy and maintained the life they had started together. In 1996 when Hurricane Fran washed away the house they lived in for 17 years and all of the mementos they had collected through out their lives, Grandma mourned again. But she didn't give up. She moved to Rose Hill and began the process of rebuilding. There was never any question as to if she would live on the beach again, even though her neighbors and friends all sold their properties and moved on. Grandma was going to rebuild and start over at age 70.

That spot on Topsail Island is where her husband took his last breath. It's where his ashes were scattered. It's also where her daughter-in-law's ashes were scattered. Grandma was determined not to leave that spot.

So as she reached her 80's and could only walk down the ramp to get her paper and mail once every two days, I began to worry that time would win out over Grandma's determination. She couldn't stand up longer than 30 minutes at a time and she had long ago stopped walking down her back steps to the beach. I kept thinking it was ridiculous that she lived by herself in a house so ill suited for someone in her condition, but I kept my thoughts to myself and I did what I could to help her stay longer.
Grandma never let her health get in the way of living her life. She adapted to each difficulty with walkers and medical alerts, with loud tv's and orthopedic pillows. I'll never forget the last time I visited her. She asked me to take her car for an oil change and inspection sticker. When I brought the car in, I checked the mileage. 36,000 miles on a 7 year old car. She hadn't driven the car in a year, but she knew the inspection sticker needed renewing and she wanted it done.
This was my Grandma. She was not going to let old age stop her from living her life.

My dad called me late Sunday evening and told me that Grandma was going to the hospital in an ambulance. I was surprised because I had spoken to her on Saturday and she had said she was doing fine. But apparently Sunday morning she woke up feeling strange and shaky. My aunt spoke to her on the phone and decided to spend the night with her and take her to the doctor on Monday. But after spending some time with her she decided that it was best to go the hospital right away.

At 2:20 AM, I got a phone call from my sister telling me Grandma had had a stroke and was in a coma and on life support. The doctor's didn't expect her to make it through the night. My dad was on the way to NC and they would call if anything changed. I didn't sleep much that night. I got up early and got ready for work. I wasn't really sure what to do.

At 7:45 AM I felt a wave of sadness wash over me and I cried for the first time. I didn't know it at the time, but my Grandma had just died. I went to work and around 9:00 AM my dad called and let me know that Grandma had passed. I spent the next 12 hours working and getting ready to leave for the rest of the week.

Grandma was to be cremated and have her ashes spread over the same stretch of ocean as her loved ones. There were some difficulties in finding a pilot and plane capable of making the illegal flight to spread the ashes and it was decided that the three grandsons would spread the ashes. We were to paddle out on surfboards, past the breakers, and spread the ashes in the ocean.

Walking into the ocean with a surfboard under one arm and my Grandma's ashes in my other hand was surreal to say the least. This is what she would have wanted. The waves were choppy and there was no clear line of breakers. It was difficult. At one point after paddling and getting pounded by waves, my worse nightmare occurred. A wave crashed into me and washed away the plastic container I had tucked between my chin and surf board. I quickly turned and started swimming back towards the box. I caught it about 15 feet from the coast line. Exhausted, I turned back once more to try and swim out into the water and join my cousins.

I struggled for what felt like forever, but finally made it far enough out that the waves were only breaking at the tips. My cousins and I were spread out, but we yelled out each other to start the process. We opened the boxes and let the ashes free. Surprisingly, they didn't swirl around like I was afraid of, but dropped cleanly into the water. I sat on my board and watched as they dissipated through out the water.We sat there for a little while and then paddled back in. I was completely spent. There is a picture my uncle took of the three of us walking back and I look like I'm smiling. I'm not, I'm wincing.


I realize now how the burial was fitting. It was fitting of course, that she be buried in the ocean she loved so much, along side the people she loved so much, by the people that loved her so much. But it was fitting that our final chore for Grandma was a struggle. A testament to the love we felt for her. A testament to her struggle to live by herself on the beach she loved so much. A testament to how well she taught us the life lesson to never give up, no matter how hard the task may be.

I love my Grandma.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Cleansing

A public blog. This is new for me. Most of my blogs in the past have been either private, industrious or anonymous. I have many thoughts that I consider strange, offensive or in general counter to the public image I like to present. As a result, I tend to shy away from associating myself with myself.

Why all the concern about how people perceive me? I don't know really. Yet another weird social tick that I developed during my formative years from my wonderfully dysfunctional family.

What I've noticed though is that blogging done properly allows for a connection to the many people you meet as you go through life. People can keep tabs on me on their own terms. Whether it's a 5 minute scan to see if I'm still alive or an hour long analysis into my social insights.

This is good, because often I won't call, write or visit as much as I'd care to. I get lost in the daily hum drums of my life and become too weary to pick up the phone. I've also recently discovered that I get too weary to even blog. My myspace blog was supposed to serve this purpose, but logging into myspace has become more of a hurdle than I ever expected. I also don't feel that it's fair that people can't just go to my blog without logging into myspace first.

So, this is the true purpose behind this blog. That and to serve as a platform for my horrible grammar and odd views of the world. To fulfill this purpose, I've had to simplify a few things. I've deleted a number of my other blogs to forever remain anonymous and clear up some url's for some long over due projects. I'm going to link this blog to one of those urls, but I'm not sure which at this moment. Also, by deleting some of the other blogs, it'll become much easier to just post in this one. I don't really know how to describe all of the steps I took, but basically I did some Spring cleaning.

Stay tuned, there will be a flurry of posts and then a lull, but I should stay with it.